WyomingPBS

Zeke Alexander
NAME: Zeke Alexander
 
BRANCH: Marine Corps (Iwo Jima Veteran)
 
TOWN: Powell, WY
 
MACHINE GUN
 

"You had your gunner, your tripod and your ammo man. Well, I lost one... on one invasion... you can't swim with it. But there'll be another one on the beach somebody will have one set there and don't need it anymore. It's already gone... just kick him out of the way and go. But on Iwo Jima you had a lot of trouble with that fine grit... you had to keep them out of it to keep them working. You would run them up there and back them off 9 clicks and if you don't you burn that barrel up when they get too hot and you got to pay attention to what you are doing and if you get that sand in there it's not going to work. You just well ought to have a club."

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NAME: Johnnie Baker
 
BRANCH: BRANCH: Army Air Corps (Pilot: 12th Air Force, 320th Bomb Group, 442nd Bomb Squadron)
 
TOWN: Scottsbluff, NE
 
ROUND FIRE
 

"The 'flak' got shot at us all the time. If they were down there, they were shootin'. If it was close, it rocked you. When you could feel it and not see it, you knew it was right under you."

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Henry Bury
NAME: Henry Bury
 
BRANCH: Army (Combat Engineer: 209th Combat Engineers, Company B)
 
TOWN: Thermopolis, WY
 
FISHING
 

"The rations-not too much to mention about. But over seas it wasn't bad at all... a lot of gravy and biscuits. When we were building bridges and that, if the crew saw a bunch of fish, we would go get some dynamite and blast them and we would get the little pontoons and go out and pick up the fish and then the kitchen crew would clean them up and then we would have fish. One day the Captain and two Lieutenants took the jeep and went out hunting wild boars. They got six of them but one of the officers just about got it from the boar. He shot it and thought it was dead, went to get it and it got up on him and charged him - he left his gun at the jeep and the other officers had to shoot it while it was chasing him. So then we built a big rack, the kitchen crew took care of the rest and we had pork... wild pork... and oh that was a treat... yes... and so was the fish."

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NAME: Ernest Casner
 
BRANCH: Army Air Corps
 
TOWN: Cheyenne, WY
 
I WAS A CAREER GUNNER (MOS)
 

"We did some aerial gunnery training. That was the MOS that they gave me. I always thought that was kind of a phony MOS. They called you 'career gunner' but there aren't any openings on the outside that I know of where you can use a 50 caliber machine gun. There are no civilian jobs that cover that... But I was a 'career gunner.'"

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Ed Deaton
NAME: Ed Deaton
 
BRANCH: Army (German POW; Battery F, 17th Field Artillery, Second Corp)
 
TOWN: Cody, WY
 
WE WERE HEADING STRAIGHT FOR THEM
 

"The tanks were coming at us and we were heading straight for them. So we went cross country, we turned cross country and started that way and we got under attack again by what we thought were the planes...we thought it was the machine guns and shells so the whole column stopped to take cover - like we had done before-and then we discovered that it was the German tanks. The fire was not planes, it was coming from the tanks and we never really got rolling again. They were there before we realized what was going on and they destroyed our entire battalion, we lost all our guns, our equipment, all the trucks and probably half the men either captured or killed."

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NAME: Jack Kelliher
 
BRANCH: Army (European Theatre)
 
TOWN: Riverton, WY
 
ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD
 

"I think we grew up from being boys to being men... and I think we appreciated life a lot more than we probably did before. You know we saw a lot of good friends, buddies killed or wounded. It changed your whole outlook on life. It was an experience that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world and I wouldn't do it again for all the money in the world."

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NAME: Earl "Scottie" Mackenzie
 
BRANCH: Marine Corps (Pacific Islands)
 
TOWN: Cheyenne, WY
 
NOBODY WANTED ME
 

"The funny thing is nobody wanted me. I was not quite 5'2", was about 118 pounds, very, very thin and I went to the Navy first and they told me to join the Sea Scouts. I went to the Marines... I think they are still laughing... then I finally got into the Army and I had to stand on my tip-toes to qualify and the guy kept saying, 'You don't want to go. You have a chance to stay out... stay out...' and I said 'no'. The whole school emptied out... you had to go with the guys... no question about it."

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NAME: Vernon Nix
 
BRANCH: Navy (USS Idaho/Pacific Theater)
 
TOWN: Casper, WY
 
UNDER FIRE
 

"They were firing at us - they were trying to stop him before he got there. They had the 20's going, the 40's going and the 5 inch going and I'll never forget when it hit. Pieces of the plane evidently must have [landed] on the deck - and that's what got 'em."

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Sinclair Orendorff
NAME: Sinclair Orendorff
 
BRANCH: Army (Battle of the Bulge)
 
TOWN: Powell, WY
 
I AM NO HERO
 

"Well I just turned 18 when I went into the service and so, yeah, it was quite a transition. But you know I didn't mind it, I just was there and did what I was told to do. I don't consider myself a hero. I just followed orders and you know I was in some pretty tough scrapes."

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Anna Rose
NAME: Anna Rose
 
BRANCH:
 
TOWN: Navy (Navy Nurse)
 
Cheyenne, WY
 

"I came back to Fort Hamilton for awhile and I wanted to go overseas and my friend, Cassidy and I used to go to Saint Patrick's Cathedral and pray for an assignment overseas and eventually we got it. I wanted to be where the action was."

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NAME: Frank Schultz
 
BRANCH: Marine Corps (Pacific Theatre/Nagasaki Witness)
 
TOWN: Sheridan, WY
 
IT WAS ABOUT AS BAD AS IT G0T
 

"How ruthless can you get? We would be sitting around the tent camp there and somebody would suggest 'well why don't we go up to the rocks and see if we can find anybody... just for something to do... go kill somebody.' It was gruesome... how your mind worked. It was a different world for a young guy - and I wonder if my grandkids could do that - I sure wouldn't want them to - to even think that... it was about as bad as it got."

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NAME: Lowell Slayton
 
BRANCH: Army Air Corps (B17 Tail Gunner/POW)
 
TOWN: Buffalo, WY
 
WHEN YOU ARE GOING TO DIE
 

Lowell's thoughts on escaping from a POW camp: "When you know that you are going to die... and you're going to try and prevent it, you don't even think about it that way. You aren't as scared as you are possessed with the idea that you want to live... you really want to live pretty bad."

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NAME: Joel Teeters
 
BRANCH: Army (Battle of the Bulge / European Theater)
 
TOWN: Lingle, WY
 
IT WAS COLD
 

"I froze my feet in the Battle of the Bulge. We were out in the weather like cattle for days. No hot food, no place to get in out of the cold. Just out there like livestock in the weather - and it was cold."

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Emma Tomes
NAME: Emma Tomes
 
BRANCH: Navy (Navy Nurse)
 
TOWN: Thermopolis, WY
 
JOIN THE NAVY
 

"I graduated in '43 and then worked a little after that until the end of '44. While I was working, a Navy man came to me and said, "Would you care to go in to the Navy?" I said, "Yes, I would be more than happy to join the Navy and see the world." But I didn't get to see all the world. I signed all the papers and I took my physical and at the end of December in '44 I was told to go to Omaha and then fly to Chicago. I ended up at Great Lakes Naval Base and that was the only place I got to go. I didn't get to go around and see the world."

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Bill White
NAME: Bill White
 
BRANCH: Army (Bataan Death March Survivor)
 
TOWN: Powell, WY
 
POW RIGHTS
 

"You say a POW has certain rights but you know, we had no rights at all. Once you gave up your arms and ammunition they could do anything they wanted to you and you had nothing to say about it. For a young man to be a POW - in a case like that (Bataan Death March) - is the most humiliating, degrading thing that could happen to a young man. It was a terrible, terrible thing and I just wonder how any of us got through it, really. We were nothing but skeletons with skin stretched over our bodies."

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NAME: Howard Woody
 
BRANCH: Army (Normandy/European Theater)
 
TOWN: Mountain View, WY
 
LANDING ON OMAHA BEACH
 

"We landed on Omaha and Utah Beach...It was actually quiet other than the wind was blowing quite hard. There was no shooting on our side - or on theirs. We moved up the beach a long ways before it really started - and once it started, it was a constant roar."

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NAME: Hewitt Youtz
 
BRANCH: Army Air Corps (P38 Pilot)
 
TOWN: Riverton, WY
 
HEADED FOR ITALY ON ONE ENGINE
 

"A couple three months before the war was over we were sent on a dive-bombing mission to Munich, Germany and the rail yards there. My bombs wouldn't come off. It took me three passes before I could get the darn things to release. And during the last pass they shot out the right engine -so I was headed for Italy on one engine with the throttle bent about 2/3's forward and the second engine over the coast of Yugoslavia cratered - and I was in a very quiet airplane."

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Wyoming World War II veterans highlighted in a series of videotaped interviews that aired on Wyoming PBS.

Bill White
Henry Bury
Earl "Scottie" Mackenzie
Anna Rose
Emma Tomes
Jack Kelliher
Ernest Casner
Lowell Slayton
Sinclair Orendorff
Johnnie Baker
Hewitt Youtz
Zeke Alexander
Frank Schultz
Howard Woody
Ed Deaton
Joel Teeters
Vernon Nix

Remembering Wyoming World War II Veterans

Wyoming World War II veterans are being highlighted in a series of videotaped interviews that are airing on Wyoming PBS. These short interstitial pieces have been collected from veterans in Riverton, Thermopolis, Powell/Cody, Casper, Cheyenne, Lingle, Sheridan and Buffalo.

The vignettes are part of Wyoming PBS's statewide World War II story collection project which is part of a national community engagement initiative sponsored by WETA Public Television, PBS and Florentine Films designed to accompany the airing of the PBS/Ken Burns' film THE WAR.

"Our goal during this Wyoming PBS outreach project is first, to preserve these important stories from Wyoming's World War II veterans," said General Manager Ruby Calvert, "and secondly, through broadcast of the stories, to bring new awareness to the contributions of our veterans for the freedoms that we all enjoy in this country. Producing these stories and sharing them with our viewers has been an incredibly rewarding experience and WPTV looks forward to airing them and also showcasing them on our website."

Wyoming PBS's promotions manager Jennifer Amend directed the project and WPTV's promotion producer Dean King did all the shooting and editing of the 35 spots, which were funded by an outreach grant from WETA and the Corporation of Public Broadcasting.

"World War II consumed the entire country, but in very different ways," said PBS documentary filmmaker Ken Burns. "We're hopeful that through local story telling many of the stories of the war that go above and beyond what could be included in any one film are documented and that people throughout the country have an opportunity to share their experiences."

THE WAR, a co-production of Florentine Films and WETA Washington, DC, is a seven-part, 14-hour film directed and produced by Burns and his longtime co-producer, Lynn Novick. The film premiered in September, 2007.