Capt Warren H. Berg

2017-10-19 Berg

In 1941, Warren graduated from Mankato State Teachers’ College (now Minnesota State University-Mankato) with a bachelor’s degree in education, intending to become a college professor. He completed a year of graduate work at the University of Minnesota, but World War II then dramatically altered his career plans. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps (now U.S. Air Force) and was called to active duty in November 1942. Warren graduated at the top of his Navigator Training School class at Mather Field in Sacramento, CA, in 1943 and was assigned to the Eighth Air Force, 96th Bomb Group, at Snetterton Heath, England. After 30 bombing missions over Europe, the crew of his B-17, The Reluctant Dragon, developed a reputation for being lucky. The 11 other crews that had reported for combat duty at the same time had been shot down. Warren and his crewmates signed up for a second tour, eventually leading as many as 1,000 B-17s and B-24s to German targets. But their luck ran out on mission No. 36 on Jan. 13, 1945. They were shot down over Bischofsheim, Germany. Six of 10 crew members bailed out at 24,000 feet and survived, but they were taken prisoner. On April 29, 1945, Gen. George Patton and his Third Army liberated Stalag 7A near Moosburg, and soon 1st Lieutenant Berg was headed home. He was promoted to Captain and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with six Oak-Leaf Clusters. The experiences of his B-17 crew are among those recounted in the book ‘D-Day Bombers: The Veterans’ Story’ by Stephen Darlow.

Later that year, Warren began a 38- year career with Trans World Airlines in Kansas City when he was hired as a navigation instructor. He and Genevieve, who he had known since high school, married on April 27, 1946, and spent almost all their married life in Kansas City, North. Warren retired in 1983 as Director of Flight Operations Ground Training for all TWA pilots and flight engineers. He also had supervised the safety training of flight attendants. His various administrative positions over the years necessitated considerable world travel. He served on the training committee of the International Air Transport Association, wrote numerous training manuals used in the airline industry and audited training procedures for Ethiopian and Saudi Arabian airlines. Upon his retirement, he was honored as a leader in airline training by the Boeing Aircraft Flight Crew Training Center and Delta, American and United Airlines.

We honor you, Warren Berg.

(#Repost @Together We Served)

Maj Corbin B. Willis Jr.

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Corbin grew up in Colorado and with his best friend and sister Betty they had many fun adventures. He graduated from high school and enlisted in the Army Air Corp. He was trained as a fighter pilot and then transferred to the Air Force as a B-17 pilot when the need arose. During WWII while on his 22nd bombing mission over Germany they were shot down and he became a POW. He was liberated at the end of the war, served in the Korean war and in the military until he retired as a Major after 20 years.

He married the love of his life Margaret (Peggy) Taylor in 1949. They traveled all over the world while he served in the military. They are the parents of four children. After military retirement they settled in Alameda, California to raise their family. Corbin worked as the purchasing agent for Alameda Hospital until he retired from that position and they moved to Sandy, Oregon. Together they enjoyed traveling, playing bridge, and reading. Corbin had an continuous thirst for knowledge. He could not go within 200 miles of a museum or a point of interest without taking a detour to see it. He was an accomplished painter and spent many years teaching in schools about the war and his POW experience.

We honor you, Corbin Willis, Jr.

(#Repost @Myers Mortuary)

LT Gene J. Takahashi

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Gene Takahashi’s experiences in Korea began shortly after the end of the Second World War. He had enlisted in the Army late in that war, after spending most of it with his family in an Arizona internment camp for Japanese Americans. After the Japanese surrendered, Takahashi was sent to Korea for occupation duty for 18 months. Called up from the reserves to serve in Korea, Takahashi found that his language skills with both Japanese and Korean were highly prized. He was named platoon leader of an all-black unit, and he was captured by the Chinese in November 1950 when they entered the war. He escaped, made it back to Seoul, and rejoined the fighting. Wounded by enemy machine-gun fire in March 1951, Takahashi saw his wartime service come to an end while recuperating.

We honor you Gene Takahashi.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)

CPL Norman Philip Swaney

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Drafted just prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Corporal Norman Swaney entered the Army Air Corps in January 1942, and volunteered for “the glory outfit”—the paratroopers. As a member of F Company of the 101st Airborne, although he lost a lot of buddies, he terms his experience in Normandy a “piece of cake” compared to what was to come. Wounded by shrapnel during Operation Market Garden, he recuperated in England before rejoining his unit in France, only to be taken prisoner by the Germans on January 3rd, 1945, during the Battle of Bastogne. Put through a series of work camps and eventually transferred to Stalag IX-B, he was liberated in early April 1945, and arrived stateside before his family had even been notified that he was a POW.

We honor you, Norman Swaney.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)

Col Nathaniel G. Raley

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Raley, 84, was “hooked” on becoming a pilot at age 7 after he and his father flew in a barnstorming World War I biplane in their home town of Demopolis. A flight with an instructor at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, at age 13 further fed Raley’s appetite to become a pilot. He wanted to be a fighter pilot after the P-38, the largest single-seat fighter in the Army, came out in 1939.

Raley would get his chance at 19 when he left the University of Alabama, where he was studying mechanical engineering, and passed the aviation cadet exam in February 1942. After classroom and flight training in California and Arizona, he was shipped to Casablanca, Morocco, in June 1943. After flying missions to Tunisia from Morocco, Raley was assigned to a fighter squadron of the 12th Air Force in Tunis, Tunisia. At 20, Raley was the youngest pilot in the squadron. He worked his way up from wing man, element leader and flight leader to squad leader, where he led a group of 12 planes.

Raley began flying combat missions on Aug. 19, 1943, escorting B-17 bombers from Tunisia to Foggia, Italy. He saw five B-17s shot down on his first mission. “I thought, ‘Good grief, this is mission No. 1. I’ve got 50 missions,’ ” Raley said. Soon, Raley’s group moved to Sicily, where they continued flying missions – some times twice a day – against the German Army in Salerno, Italy. “I was getting concerned about living to be 21 years old,” Raley said. “I was getting to be weary of war.”

Raley’s squadron “did a little bit of everything” from escorting bombers to dive bombing and strafing. During his 48 missions, Raley shot down two German Messerschmitt 109 fighters and destroyed two others parked at an airfield.

On his 48th mission in late January 1944, one engine in Raley’s P-38 was hit by enemy fire. Flames were shooting 25 feet behind the engine and Raley wanted to head to the coast to ditch the plane. But enemy fire started hitting the remaining operating engine and a 20 mm shell landed in the cockpit floorboard. The shell didn’t explode, but it went through the plane’s fuel tank. “Flames were just boiling up,” Raley said. It was time to bail out, but Raley was flying about 100 feet off the ground, way below the minimum 500 feet. But with his plane stalling, Raley was able to get to 300 feet and somersaulted out of the plane.

He landed about 50 feet from several dozen German soldiers. He took a step in the other direction, but turned his head to see the soldiers with their guns pointed at his chest. He stopped. The soldiers stood him against a wall and were arguing among themselves when the non-commissioned officer walked up and saved him. The fire had erased Raley’s eyelashes and most of his eyebrows. His eyes were stinging. “I was a bloody mess,” he said.

Raley was held in Laterina in the Tuscany region of Italy for about a month. “It was just a hellhole,” he said. “We didn’t even get water to drink. It was cold.” He was then shipped by rail box car to Munich, where he spent two months in Stalag 7-A. He spent some time there in solitary confinement because he refused to talk during interrogation. Raley was transferred to Stalag Luft 1 in Barth, Germany, near the Baltic Sea. He spent a year and two days there. It was cold and the prisoners ate barley soup, which they had to pick grub worms out of before eating it, he said.

The camp was “unpleasant,” Raley said. “But I was never beaten. I was never put in handcuffs or leg irons.” The Russian Army liberated the camp on April 30, 1945, a day after the Germans abandoned the camp, Raley said. “The Russians were very good to us,” Raley said. “They were very rough on the Germans.”

Raley left active duty after arriving home, but joined the Air Force Reserve. He retired from the reserves in 1974 as a full colonel.

We honor you, Nathaniel Raley.

(#Repost @Alabama Media)

Brig Gen Norman C Gaddis

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On 12 May 1967 while on a mission near Hanoi I was hit by anti-aircraft
guns. As I attempted to leave the target area, a MIG-17 pilot spotted my
disabled aircraft and had little difficulty shooting it down. My pilot, Lt.
James Jefferson, a fine young officer and a graduate of the Air Force
Academy, ejected from the aircraft and I followed a few seconds later.
Unfortunately, Jim Jefferson apparently did not survive the ejection. Later
I saw a name tag which had been cut from his flight suit and a couple of
other articles of his flying equipment.

I was captured immediately and taken directly to Hanoi-a prize catch for the
North Vietnamese, since I was the first Colonel captured. My reception at
the Hilton could not even by the most general terms be described as amicable
and my captors often called me “stupid” since I didn’t seem to know the
answers to their questions. After three weeks of very brutal treatment I was
placed in solitary confinement. At the end of 1000 days of solitary I was
allowed to live with another senior officer.

At the time, I didn’t understand why the North Vietnamese made a drastic
policy change which improved our treatment. But I do now. It was the efforts
of the American people and organizations such as the National League of
Families, VIVA and the efforts of H. Ross Perot and other private citizens
that brought about the change. This of course, is a value judgement on my
part. Perhaps this will be assessed by the historians as an event that was
caused by world opinion when the application of military force could not
bring about the desired change. In any event, our treatment improved, as did
our living conditions and our morale. Torture became less frequent and so
did harassment. The Vietnamese seemed to pursue a “live and let live” policy
toward us.

As things improved we began to see the “light at the end of the tunnel”,
albeit very dim. Our faith and confidence in our leaders was enhanced.
Someday in the not too distant future we knew that America would secure our
release with honor. Our job was simple-do always what was best for our
country. We should never allow our desires to transcend the interests of our
country.

I feel that we were fortunate to have a man such as Colonel John P. Flynn as
our leader. His perceptions and persistency caused us to constantly
re-evaluate our goals and our policies. And it is my belief that our image
at the time of the release could be attributed to John Peter Flynn.

To all of you who have made our return possible, to all who helped our
families, to all who prayed for our safe return, to all who waited
faithfully and patiently, to all who shared our woes, to all who supported
our nation, to all whose loved ones have not returned-I trust that the
Divine Providence will bless you and give you strength. God Bless you!

We honor you, Norman Gaddis.

(#Repost @POW Network)

MSgt Ted Kampf (Ret.)

Ted Kampf enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1940 at the age of 19. After completing his training he was sent to the Philippine Islands and served on watch duty. In January of 1942 he was captured by the Japanese Army  and thrown aboard an old freighter ship with about 1600 other soldiers to an unknown destination. The ship bounced from island to island stopping in Hong Kong, then on to Taiwan, or Formosa as it was then known.

Kampf was then taken from the ship and detained as a prisoner of war for six months. The Japanese then took Kampf, along with about 300 other prisoners, to mainland Yokohama, Japan, then to a city just outside of Tokyo, Japan where he was forced to work in the steel mills from early morning until late in the night, for about six months. Then he was taken to a seaport city in Northern Japan where he was forced to work on the docks, loading and unloading ships from China, and being sustained on the bowl of rice and a little soy as a daily rotation.

Kampf was also taken to another island to build an air strip with about 300 other prisoners. He was one of the 150 who were sent back tot he camps in the first group while the remaining 150 prisoners stayed to finish the project and were then executed; though 11 did miraculously escape the execution, but not unharmed.

On August 15, 1945, one day after the surrender of the Japanese that these prisoners, including Kamps, found out that the war was over. Kampf recalled that they awoke one morning and found that there were no guards, rifles laid about on the ground, the gates were kept open, and at last they were free from their daily toil.

“U.S. Airplanes flew overhead dropping 55 gallon drums containing food, candy, clothes, cigarettes, and toilet supplies,” Kampf said. “We stayed out of the way of the drop zone as the barrels didn’t even have parachutes attached to them.”

These men then commandeered a train heading to Tokyo where they were then barged out to hospital ships in Tokyo Harbor to heal from their captivity, wounds and illnesses. Once they were treated they were flown back to the Philippine Islands.

Kampf finally boarded a U.S. troop ship and was headed state-side after three and a half years as a prisoner of war and weighing only 78 pounds. After about 6 months of in hospital treatment in San Francisco, Ca., and Spokane, Wa., Kampf was permitted three months leave to return home for some rest and relaxation.

Upon returning to service Kampf reenlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas and retired from the U.S. Air Force after 20 years of service.

Kampf continued his service to his country after retirement by serving on the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank Police Force for 18 and a half years before retiring from this service.

Kampf now resides in the Rose Park area of Salt Lake City where he has lived for the past 47 years. He celebrated his 96th birthday in July and is one of the few surviving World War II veterans still with us.

It is our privilege to honor Master Sgt. Ted Kampf and recognize him for his exemplary service and sacrifice to America, and to each of us. Thank you Master Sgt. Ted Kampf for your incredible example to us all!

We honor you, Ted Kampf.

(Submission written by: Dan Short)