tv World War II Veterans Discussion CSPAN September 2, 2017 8:55am-10:19am EDT
the national world war ii memorial teachers network and conference, five world war ii veterans recall their expenses and explain why it is important to continue discussions with students. three took part in the battle of the bulge. this is about one hour and 20 minutes. >> look at this handsome gentleman right here. [applause] >> good morning. thank you for your patience. anchor at a cbs affiliate in washington, d c. i am happy to be back as moderator. it is a very special occasion. asm meeting some new friends well. before we get underway and we honor the greatest generation and will go over the goals, i would like to call up before we
get started, chairman of the friends of the national memorial to say some things. [applause] our greatest ally and most famous ally during the second world war was winston churchill. , succeedingsaid generations must not be allowed to forget their sacrifice and and, to me, the beauty and urgency of assemblies like this with people like this is in fulfillment of what sir winston urged us to do. allt is a great honor for of us gentlemen, and we cannot wait to hear what you have to say. thank you. [applause]
so as we get underway, we would like to set a few goals to see what we would like to achieve by being together this morning because these gentlemen and another gentleman i will introduce you to in a minute are valuable resources and we need to soak up as much as we can because, boy, can they tell a story. we would foremost, like to try to learn as much as we can from this panel of heroes. what they have heard, phelps, experienced, and the lessons they have learned so we can share them for generations to come. we would love to, because this is a teachers conference, try to explore the best ways to teach stories to our students and family members. when you try to teach a lesson on world war ii, it is pretty complex. there are a lot of theaters. maybe they can give us some insight on how to share their stories effectively. , all thes, conflicts
things they were able to go through, and we want to gain appreciation as we continue to face challenges in war around the globe, these german have understand us and i what we face. let's introduce our distinguished panel. left,e way over to my far 96 years young as of this month, james purple heart. --riffi, purple heart. he came out with 30 years of service. one step closer is the handsome man in the red jacket, a test de airmen who holds records for 409 combat missions and proudly, he is an eagle scout. round of applause. [applause] scouting also.
mr. harry miller, 22 years of service, world war ii, 740 take battalion. he was also in the korean war and in general macarthur's headquarters in the communications department as well. around of applause for mr. miller. [applause] closest to me, colonel frank:, battle of the bold, legion of merit, bronze star recipient. thank you for joining us this morning. [applause] >> these are very brief introductions. want are brief because i to let them share with you. you will see what i mean in a second. i'm going to make the
announcement and i will bring the microphone so you can hear them. there is a gentleman in the front row his name is garnet hammond , he went to dunbar high school, howard university, 95 years young. he was in the army in the european theater, and he is an absolute hoot. he is a lot of fun. [applause] pleasure to it is a be here with you. god bless you. [applause] mike: one of the things that they can bring us is perspective. when you start looking at statistics, they can be a little bit dizzying when you try to find how many casualties happened in each theater for each country, and the statistics vary. one of the things we can gain by today's perspective -- if you think about one of the more recent statistics that we have
had, the war in afghanistan, 13 years long, nearly 2500 we lost -- service members we lost. that happened alone at omaha beach in one day. these gentlemen have seen and experienced things to a far greater degree than pretty much every other generation, so one of the things we would like to do is get them the chance to talk about themselves a little bit, and we will open up for questions, and where the discussion leaves is up to you -- leads is up to you because we want you to leave with some valuable, tangible information you can use to teach your fellow students, teachers, and bring some of this information back. why don't we start with colonel riffe? if you would like to say a few words and tell the army about your experience. what would you like them to be able to impart to the students about world war ii that is maybe not being taught, maybe not being discussed the way you feel it should be?
col. riffe: what i would like for you to take away is the fact that the -- those of us who served in world war ii are noted as the greatest generation, and i have always had some exceptions to that because i remember the millions and billions of americans who were on the home front. we definitely could not have won the war without the things they produced, the planes, the tanks, the ships, the millions and millions of other items that were necessary. when i hear that we are the special people from world war ii, i have to say that what i believe is that the people who served in uniform on the war front and the people who served in the home front -- that was the greatest generation.
him him i would like for you to take away that not only to honor those of us who served in the military, but those who also served on the home front. thank you. [applause] mike: colonel mcgee, if you would, can you discuss your experience? it is a varied experience considering when you entered service and how you progressed throughout your distinguished career several decades? col. mcgee: certainly i would like to do that, but i think we need to understand where the army stood at the time. say something if i'm not coming through clearly. my experience begins with the
1925 army war college that after world war i determines how this 1/10 of our population would be used if america ever got in another war. three of the report says facts bearing on the problem, the negro is physically qualified, mentally inferior, morally inferior -- anything you can think of inferior. second-class citizen. so if we ever got in another ditches, could build cook food, build roads, drive trucks, but do anything technical? impossible. that was sent to washington to become a part of army mobilization policy, and washington bought it, so our country declared war -- world war ii, and provided what it took to win the war. the army did not change the policy, but they gave us an opportunity to serve, and we dispelled those biases and generalizations and in some cases, racist ideas about the negro population, but the army never changed the policy.
it took the air force in 1947, two years after the war was over, to determine america needs to change, and the air force lead in that. i was just glad to have the opportunity to serve and be among those who helped dispel those biases and generalizations that had become part of mobilization policy. and, folks, i think we need to understand, as i said, world war ii, we declared war and provided what it took to win the war. korea, still divided. vietnam, not any better. unfortunately, when we use military power for political purposes, there's no wind. . politics is a compromise. we need to understand that lives are lost.
we need to recognize and remember those who give, but we need to understand where we have been, where we are, where we are moving. thank you. [applause] mr. miller, if you would, 740th tank battalion, korean war, your service, 22 years. talk about what your personal experience was like on a day-to-day basis. oftentimes, when we try to relay stories to our students, when we talk from 30,000 feet, so to speak, about the larger picture, sometimes the things that can actually grip them are the personal stories -- what your day today was like, the emotions you went through, some of the jobs you had, some of the people you met that made an impact on you, because those personal stories are what can really help teenagers, college students understand world war ii.
mr. miller: ok. i am probably the strange one of the bunch. i got into service when i was 15. my father had died when i was 12. my mother died when i was three. i always wanted to be a soldier. i don't know why except that we had a small army post near where i was born, and i always wanted to be a soldier, so i lied about my age, went in, and my first assignment overseas was the 740th tank battalion. when i got there, all i had was training in armor, which was all i really needed at the time, except when i got there two months before the battle of the bulge started, and suddenly i realized i did not know a heck of a lot. the day today coverage for me -- they assigned me to the assault gun platoon at headquarters company, and the assault gun platoon, in case you don't know what that is, it was a standard sherman tank with 155-millimeter
main tube on it, where as most of the tanks had 75's and 76's. our first real action with the assault gun platoon was the town of stoumont, which is in belgium, and what happened was at the beginning, the bolts started on december 16. december 19, we went into action for the first time. on that first day, we sent three tanks down to stop the first ss panzer division, which was one of hitler's's favorite outfits, and our c company manager stopped three leading tanks in this first ss panzer, and they turned around and left. meanwhile, the rest of us were
at a chateau, just outside of stoumont, and our lieutenant colonel, colonel was his name, he decided he wanted to flatten the next town down so that the first ss panzer would not turn around and go back at us that way. so he lined up all six of our assault guns, and he also commandeered a 155 that was heading down the road to get away from the germans. he stopped them and made them come over with us, and he stood on the back porch -- well, it was kind of a veranda more than a porch. with binoculars, he looked at
the town of la gleize, which was the next town over, and decided we should flatten it because the ss panzer division, part of it was there already. so we opened higher, and demolished the town. there was a chapel left and the skeletons of other buildings, but not many because we had 6, 7 guns firing at them, so that happened in one day. after that -- mike: were civilians involved in that? mr. miller: civilians were smart enough to get out. that was one thing. they got out when they knew trouble was coming. right after that, of course, we had to go back into the town of stoumont and clean out a hospital that was there. it was one long building, and there was a catholic priest that had taken 50 belgian kids into the basement of a hospital because he figured that was a safe place, not knowing the germans apparently.
he hid these kids in there, and meanwhile, on the first floor, part of the 30th infantry division, people were stuck on the first floor in the different rooms of the hospital. at both ends of the building, there were open windows, and they had a german tank setting up there, a panther tank, and he was firing down the hall. anybody that got near, naturally, they were hit. we finally got three tanks upon onto this land because it was steep. we had to build a corduroy road with logs, if you know what i'm talking about. we got three tanks up there at night and managed to knock out that panther tank. after that, we cleaned up a lot of the germans that were in there, and we freed the catholic priest and the 50 kids. they were mighty happy to see us, by the way. mike: i can imagine.
mr. miller: generally, the people would get out -- they knew when things were coming. they got out, and they went somewhere -- i guess into the woods or someplace. one thing that that the germans did -- they would ride down the road and just for kicks, i guess, they would see a group of people standing alongside the road looking at the tanks coming through, the germans were just automatically shoot you. no reason. just they would shoot you. nobody could figure out why. when we saw these kind of things, it made us mad, and later on, they heard about a massacre -- if you do not know , it was when coming it the germans captured a unit that was on the road, and they held them prisoner for a short while, and then all of a sudden, somebody opened fire from one of the german tanks, so they all opened up, and they killed a whole bunch of americans that were there. when we found out about that, i really believe the attitude -- and i think maybe the gentleman
on the end here can agree with it -- i think the attitude over there changed quite a bit. all of a sudden, it was a do or die thing, and i don't think anybody wanted to take anything from the germans that they did not have to, and i don't mean material things. i'm talking about tricks. everything was on guard from then on. other than being scared as hell all the time, that was it. [laughter] mike: i can understand. mr. cohn, as you look back at your service, what are some of the emotions that you think about that hit you still today? after all these years of being back to civilian life, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? is it a person, a place, an event, is it a smell?
what are some of the things you recall first when you think about your service? mr. cohn: i sort of came in differently. i had been born in germany, and i was jewish. we escaped from germany at age 13. this was in 1938. at that point, i knew about the germans, and it certainly was a different situation when i came back in 1943 facing the germans in a different capacity. that was a feeling that you just cannot describe. it was different. mike: when you say different -- mr. cohn: i was in charge, when, in fact, in germany, i was the victim. i turned from victim to being in charge. mike: that's called payback. [laughter]
mr. cohn: it wasn't really payback because the one point we were making was we are not going to be like them, and that was very important. mike: i understand it. mr. cohn: the other point i would want to make is that as you listen to us, each one of us really was in a different war. we only saw a certain segment, and you cannot generalize on any one of us. you really have to listen to everybody, and then you can make your generalizations. as far as my service was concerned, i came into the battle of the bulge. because i spoke german, they put me in intelligence. mike: can you hear him, by the way? i just want to make sure.
mr. cohn: as intelligence, we worked initially as counterintelligence officers. while i was only a pfc., i did not show any rank. i was always u.s., u.s. because they were not to know who was what when we were intelligence. our mission during the battle of the bulge was to find germans who had penetrated u.s. uniforms. they were a hazard for us because they could do all kinds of damage in the back of our lines. we did find that this was a legitimate mission because when we hit an infantry roadblock in belgium, they had wiped out four of those fellers with a bazooka. we searched those people. they do not have anything on them except u.s. dog tags, which we confiscated because we could tell that these people were either prisoners or they were
dead. our mission in germany was that we had to move into the big cities as they were captured and we had personality and building targets. the personality targets with the people who were going to be tried in war crimes. the building targets for anything that could be useful to the forces afterwards. these were, first of all, government buildings are nazi party buildings for prosecutions. they were utilities that we could use. they were industrial complexes, military complexes. those were all targets that we had. the first city was cologne, and then we moved. we had duesseldorf. we went into frankfurt.
the last one we had was magdeburg. and you never know what is important, really. the captain needed a russian interpreter, could not find one. he said i'm senator vitter, come with him. i was trying to get out of it because i don't speak russian. he said no, you're coming, carry the mat. mike: flooding alert, by the way. i'm sure all your phones are going off. i apologize. mr. cohn: it was really a singular type of thing because eisenhower had indicated u.s. troops were not to cross the
elba as well as soviet troops were not to cross so the armies would stay across. it was the dividing line. we went across because he had a top-secret map to show where the occupation zones were. they were not going to do magdeburg until maybe six months later. they were not going to tell me what the mission was, but i figured it out. anyway, the reception you cannot imagine. we had not the need to fight all the way because the germans knew the war was over, and they were giving up, coming from all as we moved on the autobahn, they were coming from all sides trying to give up to us because they were hungry. of course we waived them away. so no fight. the russians, on the other hand, had to fight all the way up to the river. they saw for them the war was over and they had survived. that was the reception we received. mike: i want to open it up to questions in a couple of minutes. i'm going to ask the panel one
more question, but can i have a show of hands -- how many of you are teachers? ok, wow. how many of you are teachers at the elementary level? middle school? high school? beyond high school? ok, looks like middle and high school are the bulk. what i would like you to do is ask questions that could relate to how -- i am going to ask the panel one more question, but start thinking about it -- how it could relate to making your job teaching world war ii easier because, as mr. cohn so aptly put it, we should look at this as individual conflicts and wars, and a lot of these gentlemen never crossed paths. oh, yeah, because you cannot see them. oh, sure. if anybody needs water, give me a shout. -- on the table.
ok, got it. check. [laughter] mike: as the teachers start thinking about their questions, i will start with you, colonel when you hear other people talk about world war ii and any of the various conflicts and theaters, what do you believe is maybe misunderstood or maybe often stated incorrectly? do people state things incorrectly about the war because they have only read a smidge about it, and they could probably do more study? are there things that are misconceptions about world war ii? col. riffe: i think the experiences of each individual is so different, it's pretty difficult to come up with something that might be normal. however, i find that, for example, going back to the history to answer that question, i have about probably 10 or 12 books on world war ii history, and you can read each one, and
there's a lot of differences in what historians have your say about world war ii. i would say that if you are interested in the history of world war ii, you can go to the library, get you a book about world war ii, and read it, and you will find a perspective at least for the individual who is the author of that particular book, but one thing i do not like to talk about world war ii is because it is not very pleasant. i think this is about the third time since i turned -- in the 1990's -- mike: 96 as of july. [laughter] col. riffe: i have talked about world war ii. i came out alive. i was wounded.
i came out and open out what. okinawa. i was the first lieutenant leading an infantry of men, most of whom were 18 or 19 years old , and i was the leader of that platoon for about a month before i was transferred to another job, but during that one month, seven of those young americans gave their life for our country, and 14 others were seriously wounded and evacuated, and i never saw again. a couple of them may not have survived because they were very seriously wounded, so i believe that if you talk with each of us up here, that you will get a different perspective of what they view as world war ii and how you should approach any study or consideration of it. thank you. ike: colonel
mcgee, misconceptions, things you are stated incorrectly about world war ii. col. mcgee: there was a lot i had not heard about it, but i think there are some people that do not like war. i don't think any of us do, even though we sit here and have served our country. still, the prayer is that one day wars will cease. will that come in our lifetime is the question. for your teaching our young people is what do we give them and what do they get from our experiences that help carry forward into the future of our country and the things that we so much enjoy about america, even with its problem areas. that is what we have to, i think, pass on to the young
folks. they need to understand world war ii to me is different than any of the others because war was declared in the country coming out of 10 years of depression, behind the job opportunities in the service being the various elements brought a change for the world. it changed europe. it changed our country, and we have to realize that. as i say, the key is -- what do we give our youngsters for whatever the future is? some of us will not be here in their future, but certainly we need to be mentoring them in a way that preserves the freedoms that we have so much enjoyed. mike: mr. miller, for those of us in the room who have connections to world war ii through our families, oftentimes
we learn, and maybe you guys can say yes or no -- the people in our lives who have connections to world war ii very rarely was begun about it. i would ask my grandpa. he did not want to talk about it at all. same with some other family members who have connections. to world war ii. do you believe that could lead to people maybe not understanding the war as well as they could? are there misconceptions in your mind that maybe people could do better with? mr. miller: it's funny you ask me this because this morning, i had the opportunity to wake up at 4:00, and i was wondering why i could not go to sleep, and i got to thinking about just what you are asking about. i don't know how many people that i have talked to. i have gone to schools, talked to classes. i have talked to teachers. i have gone to history buffs who have programs, and they all say the same thing -- i had a father or grandfather, but he never won
wanted to talk about the war. can you tell me why? well, i have given that a lot of thought, and the only thing i can come up with is you see so many things -- i hope i don't break down, because i have -- but you see so many things that you cannot believe that are actually happening in front of you, and i think about it right now, and i don't want to. i want to think about this. but i think the reason they don't want to talk about it is because they don't want you to know how terrible it can be. i think probably if any of you have fathers or grandfathers that would not talk about it, i'll bet you they went maybe into the bathroom, locked the door, and cried. or i'll bet they went to the
basement down to their workshop and cried. they don't want to talk about it? that is the reason they don't want to talk about it. it is just damn horrible. continuing on, at the end of the war, they allowed some of us to go see the concentration camps, if you see some of those, you don't want to talk about it. everybody has a memory of what that was like. kids have asked me -- well, how did it smell? i tell them you think of everything that you can think of that smells and stinks and put it all together, and you still don't have the smell. it is indescribable, but you think about the people that went through this, and this is terrible.
i can remember going through the -- i hope this does not get to you -- i remember going through the crematorium, and there were bricks on the floor, and there was a gray matter of some kind. i looked at it, could not figure out what it was, but i went to the rear of the ovens were the people had been burnt up, and there was a pile of ashes, and i thought my god, i've been walking on all these people. it still gets to me. hope it doesn't bother you. mike: that's why. that's why. maybe, mr. cohn, would you think that having at least small versions of these conversations could help with misperceptions and maybe lessons learned, so we
do not repeat some of these awful things? mr. cohn: first of all, the end of the war is perhaps the big lesson in the whole thing. in germany, there was no question of how we won the war, but it was still going on in the far east. japan had not really suffered much from the war from us. there were some attempts made to get there and bomb and so forth, but we were going to have to invade japan, and it was going to be rougher than the way we invaded europe. that was predictable. when president truman dropped the atomic weapon, it was not a problem for us. now it becomes a problem on debates as to whether this was the right thing to do, the wrong thing to do, if it should have been avoided. maybe just one bomb, not two bombs.
there was no discussion. if he had the bomb and he could end that war, that was it. that is what we wanted. there was just no question about it. that is something that develops in hindsight with history, putting a different light onto to the situation as it developed. mike: was that because the lives lost after dropping that bomb were much fewer than the war had y would have been had the war continued? mr. cohn: it saved a lot of lives, it saved a lot of japanese because many more japanese would have been killed if we had had to invade japan, as they had proclaimed there were going to resist to the last man -- or woman, for that matter. mike: colonel riffe, you had your hand up. col. riffe: i have some numbers on that also about japan. my unit was on okinawa when the war ended, and we were so happy that it did because in november
of 1945, the u.s. army and the marine corps were scheduled to invade the southernmost island of japan. they were going to use 14 army and marine divisions, and president truman was very interested in all of this, so he asked general macarthur, for example, who was going to command all the forces, with the what would the casualties would be? that initial invasion, which would be in november 1945, macarthur said about 100,000 in casualties. that was to be followed in the spring of 1946 by assault on
honshu where tokyo is located. at that time, president truman again in quiet as to the casualties, and the best estimate was the japanese would lose 10 million people in our conquest of japan or americans would lose one million people. they also briefed president truman on the casualties of okinawa, which were significant. the bloodiest battle in the pacific. based upon those, president truman gave permission to start the atomic bombing on the sixth of august. they bombed nagasaki. then the ninth of august -- i beg your pardon, six of august, they bombed hiroshima. the ninth of august, they bombed nagasaki. there had been all kinds of questions about how many japanese were killed during those two bombings. i have contacted the japanese embassy in washington, d.c., and the number of casualties they report on hiroshima was about 270,000.
where is in nagasaki, it was about 140,000. you are talking about less than half million people, but if we would have had to invade japan and conquer japan, the japanese could have lost -- best estimate -- 10 million people, and we would have lost one million. actually, the atomic bombing saved not only american lives but it probably saved at least 9 million japanese lives. mike: yes, sir. >> [inaudible] the word casualties -- is that killed, wounded, and missing, or is that killed? mike: specifically with mr. bartlett wants us to be specific, when you say
10 million, one million, is that they believe just killed specifically or killed, wounded, and missing? col. riffe: in japan, every man and every woman had a pledge to the emperor, that they would die for him. the japanese did expect we would invade the homeland, so even the women were given bamboo spears, they would have fought to the last person. the only reason the war in did ended is because hirohito, the commander of the military forces in japan, because the imperial staff told the group they did not want to surrender. hirohito said no, he said the enemy has dropped a bomb on us the likes of which we have never known before, and if we continue this war, the whole country will be wiped out.
so on the 14th day of august of 1945, hirohito, through his imperial staff, got word to the allies that japan would surrender, but it is an amazing thing also that on the 15th of august of 1945, emperor hirohito went on the radio and explained to the japanese people why they were surrendering, and that is the first time that they had ever heard the voice of emperor hirohito. even though he was aware, for example, of the raid on pearl harbor -- he knew about that. he could have stopped it, but he did not, but he did in his authority -- he was considered to be a member of the sun god. he did stop the war in japan and surrendered officially on the 14th of august. the formal surrender took place on the second of september on the battleship missouri in tokyo bay. mike: thank you, colonel riffe.
i would like to open it up to the floor if we could. obviously, trying to tell the stories can be complex when you try to lay out a curriculum for your students. maybe we can help create some organization or you to bring back to your classroom. ma'am, your name? >> i am from indiana. i read that -- said that they were 18, that they were lying. >> how did i pull it off? my father had died, of course, when i was 13.
i wanted to go in right away. i almost went to canada because you could go to canada and they would take your word for anything. they needed people bad, but my sister found out that i was doing this, and she asked me not to do it. she said wait until i could go in the american army, and i said ok. i found out from a friend of mine that the army had what they called the enlisted reserve corps during world war ii, and the purpose of this was to get kids interested in the army, because the navy had a reserve unit, and the marines had reserves, but the army did not worry about reserves. everybody was on active duty already or were being drafted. so i thought ok, i will join the army reserve, because i wanted to go in the army. after i got into it, i found out -- this is another story about birth certificates. reminds me of this. i found that i could put in for active duty, which i did. they accepted me. when i look at my pictures from those days, i don't know how anybody was fooled, but i kept my mouth shut everywhere i went, and i did when i was told.
i stayed out of the way of officers because they were generally looking for people to do something, and i did not want to do anything i did not have to do because i did not want to get into any trouble, and that was how i did it. but i did not need a birth certificate. i will tell you, i wanted to bring this up. about 20 years ago, i put in for a passport so i could go back over to europe. they said you have to have a copy of your birth certificate. i said i don't have it, i said, the army sent me all over the world, why do i need it birth certificate to go as a tourist. well, there's no reason for it. it's just our policy. [laughter] >> sounds like the army again to me. anyway, i wrote off for a copy of my birth certificate, and they had a copy of it, which they did not have before. i think the reason was because they put it on -- they put all the information on computers and
they could bring it up, which they did not do during the war. anyway, i got the birth certificate, and it had my mother's name, father's name, where i was born, when i was born. my name was blank. so i was always sorry i did not tell them my name was clark gable or somebody. [laughter] >> could have made a little money off of it, you know? [laughter] mike: for our friends at c-span, are you ok audio-wise? just want to make sure. >> [inaudible] my grandfather served with general willoughby. he talked about macarthur as being an ok guy.
he said he would stand outside and watch the shelves and watch and watchs -- shells the shells come in. he did what he had to do. however, the history books talk about the men not liking him. i was wondering what your perspective on douglas macarthur was. mr. miller: i served in macarthur's headquarters during the korean war. that is really the only thing i can talk about there. i heard in the pacific that the marines and the navy hated him. the army, some of them liked him, some of them did not, but during the korean war, he was not liked at all by anybody, i don't think. i certainly never met anybody except people that have been with him in the philippines, and he still had a lot of his people that were still with him from world war ii at that time.
mike: colonel riffe, are you looking to weigh in on this as well? col. riffe: only that he was talking about the philippines, which as he indicated, japan declared war on the united states on december 8, 1941, but that same day, they started bombing the philippines. a few days later, a major army of japanese soldiers invaded, and at that time, there was about 75,000 u.s. army troops, and they were with about 30,000 filipinos. within several days, the americans and philippines got pushed back into sort of a peninsula sticking out into the pacific ocean. after the ninth of april 1942, all the fruit has been gone, they had eaten the horses, everything they could get their
hands on, so 75,000 americans surrendered. that is the largest surrender of americans than any battle in our country. also about 30,000 filipinos. they had no ammunition, no food, no water. you probably heard about the death march. it was 65 miles away. it's almost unbelievable to realize that on that death march, 7000 americans died, and 3000 filipinos died of starvation, disease, but mostly from the cruelty of the japanese guards. macarthur, of course, did not stay in the philippines. president roosevelt ordered him to australia for campaigns in the pacific.
macarthur and his wife and the president of the philippines through u-boats and airplanes, macarthur finally made it back to australia, and he, of course, committed the armed forces in the southwest portion of the pacific. you can say what you want to about him. he was a very conceited individual, but he was also -- remember, he was a medal of honor winner in world war i. mike: i think colonel mcgee may be also has a personal story. col. riffe: but he was a four-star general, so i have great respect for mcarthur. and remember north korea -- the americans were surprised and south koreans were surprised when the japanese attacked on
the 30th day of june 1950. we had quite a few troops there, and they got pushed all the way to the southern end of korea. macarthur was behind the japanese forces that were south, of seoul, and it was a complete success, and from that, of course, we went on to drive the koreans north of the 38th parallel, i guess it was. col. mcgee: when you talk about like and dislike, it is what happened. i flew around the pyongyang airport several missions. i also served with the army. macarthur wanted to keep the chinese out of the war. washington said no.
that is why he was sent away. so like and dislike sometimes depend what is your outlook on where we are going and what we are going to accomplish. we could have won that war. we did not. we still have a divided korea, and look at that now. we're concerned about intercontinental missiles that can be rained on our country. likes and dislikes come from different sources. i think we have to understand that. but you understand washington moved macarthur out because he wanted to do something they did not want, and the only way to do it was moving farther away from the action at the time. >> [inaudible] mike: he was not in physical danger because his office was in tokyo.
>> speaking of the korean war, can i indicate the casualties we suffered there? the korean war started june 1950 and ended in july 1953. during that period in korea, killed 33,629. wounded, 103,284. missing -- missing -- korea, 5178. total casualties in korea, 142,091. it did not come cheap. mr. miller, you had something to say? mr. miller: no, i was just wondering if this had just answered that lady's question? [laughter] mike: do we have another question? upaw a bunch of hands before. >> i teach in richmond, virginia. one of the units that we teach for eight graders civics is duties and responsibilities. one of the things our conference has been talking about -- in
fact, this morning, talked about plants up in michigan and how the entire nation pitched into this war effort, which is something that today seems kind of foreign to us, the citizen army you had back then and the home front. today, we have a very professionalized army. certainly no draft. we have contractors who do a lot of our work, and i was just wondering how we could square -- and we are in the longest war we have ever been in, and sometimes it doesn't even seem like it. when we have our students and we teach them duties and responsibilities, i was wondering if you guys had any advice for our students or any thoughts on how we should frame this for our students, that we are in a major war continually
right now. we have people everywhere. how should they think about that? what should they do? how should they pitch in? mike: mr. cohn has not spoken in a wild. go ahead. mr. cohn: i would think that it has to stay -- it has to start at a different level. it has to start right in the beginning with what we used to call civics. you have to build up the identity of the student to coalesce his thoughts with the country, so there's that term of patriotism that you are going to have to develop. if you do not develop that right in the beginning, it is not going to come later on. it has got to come right from the start in the elementary schools, and we do not even have the elementary school teachers here.
mike: we can email them. [laughter] mr. cohn: the other point is that politically, it is a completely different situation because the army was drafted. everybody had the ability or the threat to go into the army, and that is not true here. we have a volunteer army, which is something completely different because everybody here probably does not have anybody in that army, and you are divorced from it. if you are reminded there's a war on, you suddenly say -- oh yeah, that is right. this is not something you are thinking of from one day to the next.
world war ii, it hit everybody. everybody did not have to be reminded any day because they knew there was a war on. first of all, one of their loved ones was involved personally. secondly, there was rationing, for example. the household was impacted by it. so everybody was impacted. it did not happen in the korean war. it did not happen in the vietnamese war. in the korean war, we still had the draft. in the beginning of the vietnamese war, we still had the draft. this is completely different now. as i indicated, if you want the kids to identify with usa, it's got to be done right from the beginning. mike: patriotism -- elementary school. other questions? >> i just want to thank you for your service. we appreciate you. thank you for protecting our freedom.
i know it is really hard to talk about, your experiences and stuff. have any of you written a book or memoir that we could read to our classes? >> i am sorry for my did not quite -- mike: have any of you written a book? >> i did. mike: there's a few books here. >> i wrote one, but it's not for anybody to read. [laughter] the reason i did this is because i found out my kids -- i have two sons, and i realized they did not know anything about what i had done, and they seemed not to even care for the longest time. i guess one of them still doesn't, but the other one -- they both went into the navy, of all things, which i could not excuse, but they turned out pretty good, i guess. but i wrote a book, and i sat both of them down, and they read it, and i noticed their faces got red a couple of times, but i
don't think i did them any harm. but that is as far as it went. at least it's on record. mr. miller: folks keep telling me to write my story. i'm not a writer. but my daughter has written my story. it is a book called "tuskegee airmen: the bio of colonel charles mcgee." when i got out of military flying -- i love flying. notercial airlines were so ig black men or women, stayed in the service, but i could not have written a script for better opportunities and getting to actively fly 27 of my 30 years. that does not happen often. but i would like, if i may, for the teachers, i will give you 4 p's to pass on because it is important to motivate the young people to face whatever their
future is. some of them do not even know yet. i give them four p's. proceed, prepare, perform, persevere. proceed -- dream your dreams. but find your talents. i hope to help you find what you like to do. but prepare. get a good education. learn to read, write, and speak well, and develop those talents that you discover that are important. perform. always doing your best, but let excellence be your goal in everything that you do. finally, persevere. we could have hung our heads and gone on and written bad things about general macarthur. "i don't want to serve this country." no. don't let circumstances be an excuse for not achieving. i think those principles would
be a good guide for the students. some of the future of the country we don't know, but i tell kids plan to go to mars. it is a one-way trip. when they get it plan, the planners are going to be too old. when they get old, it is going to be one of those middle or high school or to make the trip. how are we preparing? then i am often asked, and that i will shut up, how did you get through what you did? i learned as a little kid you treat other people like you want to be treated. i think probably all of you have heard the saying sticks and stones may break my bones, but words won't hurt me any -- fighting never really accomplishes anything. you get bruised up, but you have not solved the issue, and you're still mad at each other. then a little bit later, being a scout. if everybody lived by the scout oath, we would have a very
different country if you think about it and what it means. i joined a fraternity, but one thing i learned if you are going to be first of all, you first must become a servant of all. if you are one of the men that needs it had on the back and a direction to keep them going, thanks. mike: colonel cohn. mr. cohn: i wrote down things because there were so many facets that you can't remember. memory is like a sieve, some of that nasty stuff gets discarded. that is the danger of going and telling about world war ii, because what you can't put across is the emotional aspects, the fear that was involved.
the horror that was involved. the physical discomfort that was involved, like the battle of the bulge, the worst whether you can imagine. it was around freezing, but if you were in an open jeep and you were driving 25 miles per hour and that wind hits you, how can you describe that? you really can't. i want to give a plug-in on a program that the rocky run middle school does every year, they have world war ii day. what they do is they solicit in the community anyone who was a in world war ii and invite them to come to world war ii day. they get the bio in advance. they give the bio -- they divide students into -- let's say they have 50 world war ii veterans.
they divide the students into that 50 so maybe four or five students will get that particular world war ii veteran for one hour, and there are five hours involved. they do get a mix of other people. because they have the bios, they can formulate the questions in advance. as they come in, we get into these groups, and they know what they are talking about. they knew who they are facing. they know what questions they want answered. it is a wonderful thing. mike: very, very smart. do we have other questions? we want to try to get it on audio. >> i am gladly humbled to be standing here. germany you left nazi
in 1938, when you were 15, can you talk about what that was like and how you got to the united states when that was a difficult thing to do? >> first of all, there was a difference with the german and austrian jews. we had time, really, to prepare to get out. when it hits the polish and russian jews, they had no time. that is where the great casualties were inflicted on the jews, in the polish and the russian and baltic regions. on the german side, the problem was nobody wanted you. you wanted to get out, who was going to take you? the united states had a great obstacle put in for refugees.
they did not want refugees. they were willing to take people who were on an affidavit and somebody had guaranteed that they would not become a burden to the state. but, that was a trickle. so many more wanted to go and they could not. you might have heard about the st. louis -- the ship that was going to cuba and they thought they were going to be received in cuba, but cuba would not let them off. and it sailed past the united states and nobody would let them in. they finally had to go back to europe. anyway, with us, every misfortune that happened to us ended up being a good thing in the end. for example, in 1933 when
hitler came to power, my father lost his store because they were parading in front, do not buy from jews. these were all what you might call salami tactics. it was not a big thing immediately, it was little things that happened to you and it got worse and worse. you always said, well, ok, it but it did.y worse, so, it took my parents until 1938 to figure out that they could not persist anymore in germany. my father went the states to find distant relatives to get an affidavit. this thing was ridiculous because it would take about five years after you got an affidavit before you could go on. 1938 plus five, you can see where you end up.
of course, he did not know. the future was not visible. a lucky thing happened to him where he thought it was dumb luck, he could not find any relatives who had the capacity to give us an affidavit. the country was under the depression, and people do not have the money. he had to stay longer. when he stayed longer, i think -- the gestapo came to our door looking for him. my mother tried to think what we should do? he was on a visa, there were no computers. she was able to go to the consulate and get a visitors visa for herself. had they known my father was there, she never would have gotten a visa. the real miracle, we ended up, my mother and i, i was the only child, we ended up in new york the 30th of october 1938 with a
visitor's visa. when we saw my father, we met him on the dock. he said, we have a problem. we are at the mercy of the jewish relief organizations, and they said you only have a finite time to do something here because we can't support you for ever. you're going to have to go back. well, november 9, less than two weeks afterwards, was crystal night. crystal night was what the germans thrust upon the jews because it was a preplanned action. they were waiting for the incident. the incident was the assassination of somebody in the paris-german embassy by a jewish student. that initiated that program. another catastrophe.
our luck because president roosevelt issued an executive order that anyone in country would not be forced to return. we could stay. that is how we stayed. mike: now that is a story. we would like to hear from garnet hannum, 95 years old. >> ok. i have been there. i have seen a lot. i have heard a lot and i have experienced a lot. of course, i started off as a boy scout. i took it seriously. i still take it seriously. i am a christian gentleman. i am a christian. harden usy had to up. my first visit as a candidate
and my first training in washington, d.c., then i went to virginia for my basic training. eight weeks. training. kind of [indiscernible] it was part of my training. it was background. they had a university, which was [indiscernible] and we got education at the same time. it was pretty tough because most people stayed at home.
put his tanks up from italy to stem the german tide. the name of the general who was trying to split the english forces and the american forces at the battle of the bulge was the supreme general at the time. that is the information i got. i do not know how accurate it was. i knew for two weeks, those germans were raising fans. i give credit to general eisenhower because after that two weeks when the sun came out, i ordered every available airplane, and what george s. patton said i was assigned to the third army. he brought his tanks up. they stopped the germans of the battle of the bulge. it was the air force but was
accompanied -- not accompanied but if the grade. -- brigade. they were the ones that stopped the battle of the bulge. i want to diverse from my conversation on that to get to general mcgee, a famous general. -- a famous airman. i also want to tell you that i happen to be a dunbar high score washington, d.c., and in 1939, when i entered dunbar high school, my captain was captain roscoe brown. he was a war hero. i want to tell you about roscoe brown. roscoe brown has a stamp in his honor, and harry truman gave roscoe brown two clusters.
roscoe brown had 100 and some chips from england, as far as hungary. of course, roscoe brown did not win the confederate -- he was in -- his sister was in my class. she was in the honor society. but i want to honor roscoe brown today. helped harry who truman to integrate the army. i'm here to testify that. and all the other tuskegee hat off to i take my mcgee, who was one of the tuskegee airmen.
i want to complement church hill .or standing up they were trying to surrender, churchill would not have that. i want to complement another who leapfrogged in these japanese territories. i want to thank him for the battle of midway, where they sank three aircraft carriers of the japanese. that is what turned the tide in the war. i want to thank those guys on iwo jima, the slaughter. a lot of those people killed. they had to take that and the land in a place prior to the invasion of japan. these are strategic things. i want to thank macarthur. macarthur was number one in his class. he was the chief of staff prior to the war.
he never got the bonus. but he was a great general. i want to thank another general who was in the italian camp. i want to thank george s. patton. without patton, they may not have stemmed that tide, but i was in france at the time patton went 90 miles in one day in france. i was present at the time when patton went too far one day and two german divisions closed in on us. they thought they were trapped. they did not. we got out of that. all i had was a carbine and it was only good for 250 yards.
when i was at dunbar as a 19-year-old, and it would travel three miles, and the point is, i want to thank bradley who was outstanding. of course, the point is that we have to thank montgomery who was a british high military officer, because he and i were colonels together. i am up on my history. but i have been there. mike: yes, you are. [laughter] hammond: the point is, they did a remarkable job. i want you to remember roscoe brown.
i want you to remember mcgee. mcgee, you were supposed to be at the veterans day memorial day celebration this november. mike: he is calling you out. [laughter] col. hammond: i was looking forward because the bulletin i got it in the mail saying that you would be the one speaking. why didn't you show up? [laughter] col. mcgee: i take the fifth amendment. [laughter] mike: ladies and gentlemen, we are running out of time. we have to get time for lunch and the next session. let's have a round of applause for our panel. [applause] [indiscernible] thank you, gentlemen.
>> labor day on american history tv on c-span 3 at 8:00 p.m. eastern, fears about overpopulation. pesticide was a big one, pollution, nonrenewable resources, like oil and gasoline, but the super big one, the thing that overshadowed the first day, was the prospect of global famine due to overpopulation of the earth. >> sunday on the presidency, the
friendship between hoover and truman. >> it is easy to overlook the fact that they both had groups and farming communities, they had known economic hardship and self-reliance, there are transformed by the confederation of world war i, and they lived in the shadow franklin d. roosevelt. >> monday, the 1967 detroit riots. >> we prefer to think about it like rebellion because all of the energy and anger and activism that went into that moment had long been predicted. people had been baking for some remedy -- begging for some remedy for the economic discrimination, housing inequality, so that frustration cannot be understood as just chaotic and incoherent. it was a rebellion. >> three-day labor day weekend on american history tv on c-span 3. rear on the campus of gonzaga
university, we will visit the archives and special collections to look at documents from the tokyo war crimes tribunal's in 1946. stephanie: today, we are at a gone to university, looking at the tribunal for the far east or the tokyo war crimes, and these papers relate to the trial that went on against the 20 military people and the civilians who were responsible for the federal war, too. at this military tribunal, it was established i have in 12 different countries and nine prosecuting attorneys from putous countries that would these individuals on trial. one of the key people on defense was a
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