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"So long kids, and if I never see you again, goodbye"

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

Release Date: 05/26/2021

World War II Enemies Meet Again show art World War II Enemies Meet Again

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

In this episode, Aaron interviews Ed Hays, a B17 tail gunner who in 1998 traveled to Germany to meet the German fighter pilot who shot his plane down over Denmark and who, in turn, was shot down by Ed's crew.

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A 'Guest' of the Emperor: Karnig Thomasian Part 2 show art A 'Guest' of the Emperor: Karnig Thomasian Part 2

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

War has a way a producing iconic sayings, from "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" at Bunker Hill to "I've not yet begun to fight" in the War of 1812, to "Retreat Hell! We just got here" at Belleau WoodI, to "By the grace of god and a few Marines MacArthur returned to the Philippines" in World War II. Part 2 of my 2000 interview with Karnig Thomasian features another iconic phrase from World War II: Extract Digit, the meaning of which I'll let Karnig explain during the interview.

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A 'guest' of the emperor show art A 'guest' of the emperor

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

Where I used to live in New Jersey there was a remarkable group of ex-prisoners of war. There was Ed Hays, who traveled with his family to Berlin to meet the German fighter pilot who shot down his B-17. There was Tim Dyas, who parachuted into the middle of the Herman Goering Panzer Division. And Hal Mapes, the only survivor of the crew of his B-17. And there was Karnig Thomasian, who was a prisoner of the Japanese.

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Uphill Both Ways: The Great Depression show art Uphill Both Ways: The Great Depression

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

At the Naval Air Station Wildwood Wings & Things, a visitor to my display asked me if I'd done an episode about the Great Depression. I said no, but I'll do one next. So here it is.

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Don and Evelyn Knapp Part 2 show art Don and Evelyn Knapp Part 2

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

Part 2 of my 1994 interview with Don and Evelyn Knapp was quite a surprise, as it includes a discussion of my first book, Tanks for the Memories. Don passed away recently at 102 years of age. I found it interesting to hear me talking 27 years ago about my plans for the future. It would be three years before I launched my first web site. Audiobooks were on tape and not CD, and podcasting was not yet a thing. I'm Aaron Elson. Thank you for listening.

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R.I.P. Don Knapp, 102, Part 1 show art R.I.P. Don Knapp, 102, Part 1

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

Don Knapp passed away last week. He was 102 years old. "I was no hero," Don said when I interviewed him in 1994. More than a thousand people who posted reactions and comments in the Battle of the Bulge Facebook group on the notice of his passing would beg to differ.

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"So long kids, and if I never see you again, goodbye"

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

A death in combat reverberates among those left behind -- mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, buddies -- for the rest of their lives and into future generations. These are some stories of lasting grief.

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Episode 90: In the Hospital show art Episode 90: In the Hospital

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

Distinguished Service Cross recipient Jim Flowers lost parts of both legs in Normandy. Pfc. Bob Levine had a leg amputated by a German surgeon. Lieutenant Jim Gifford was struck by a bullet which protruded from his head near his right eye. Corporal Jim Rothschadl, Lieutenant Flowers' gunner, was badly burned after his tank burst into flames. These accounts portray a vivid picture of medical treatment during the war, and the often unsung heroism of the doctors and nurses who treated the injured.

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Omaha Beach Armageddon show art Omaha Beach Armageddon

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

Combat engineer Chuck Hurlbut landed on Omaha Beach in the early morning hours of D-Day. His compelling interview is included in my Oral History Audiobook "The D-Day Tapes," along with six other interviews, available in my eBay store and at oralhistoryaudiobooks.com.

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Exercise Tiger: Angelo Crapanzano Part 2 show art Exercise Tiger: Angelo Crapanzano Part 2

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

Faced with a choice of joining the Army, the Marines or the Navy, Angelo Crapanzano asked his father, who served aboard a submarine tender in World War I, for advice. Join the Navy, his dad said. You'll eat well, and have a place to sleep. So Angelo joined the Navy and became a motor machinist's mate first class aboard LST 507. His father didn't tell him about torpedoes, Angelo said when I interviewed him in 1994.

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More Episodes

Billy Wolfe   While crossing the Atlantic on his way to join my father's 712th Tank Battalion as a replacement, Billy Wolfe wrote in a letter to his mother and sisters, "The ocean is so blue it looks like I could dip my pen and write with it." Those words have always stuck with me. Billy burned to death in a tank just two weeks after joining the battalion. He was 18 years old.

   Karnig Thomasian, a gunner on a B29 in the China-Burma-India theater, became a prisoner of the Japanese after his plane exploded on his third mission. In this episode, he remembers a promise he and a buddy made to the friend's father that they would take care of each other.

   My father, Lieutenant Maurice Elson, always said he replaced the first lieutenant in the battalion to be killed. That lieutenant was George Tarr. His company commander, Cliff Merrill, reminisces about the train ride from Fort Jackson to Camp Myles Standish and an assignment he gave to Lieutenant Tarr to keep him from worrying about his wife and newborn son as they prepared to go into combat.

   Erlyn Jensen's brother, Major Don McCoy, perished on the ill-fated Kassel Mission of Sept. 27, 1944. In this episode, Erlyn talks about how she and her sister got her mother to join a group of Gold Star mothers, and about a trip her mother took to see her son's grave at St. Avold.

   Malcolm McGregor, a survivor of the Kassel Mission and former prisoner of war, talks about a young bombardier who was full of confidence.

   George Collar, a bombardier and co-founder of the Kassel Mission Memorial Association, now the Kassel Mission Historical Society, talks about meeting the parents of a flier whose remains George recovered after the battle.

   Tim Dyas talks about visiting the father of a soldier who died in prison camp.

   Russell Loop, a gunner in C Company of the 712th Tank Battalion, remembers Jack Mantell, a buddy who was killed in the battle at Pfaffenheck, in the same battle where Billy Wolfe lost his life.

   Lou Putnoky, a Coast Guard veteran of the USS Bayfield, the flagship of the Utah Beach invasion fleet, recalls a sailor from his hometown who was washed overboard from the battleship Nevada.

   A death in combat reverberates throughout the lives of the living, often for generations. Some of the stories are told at greater length in other episodes of War As My Father's Tank Battalion Knew It, a podcast about the 712th Tank Battalion in particular and World War II in general.

   Speaking of World War II, I'll be exhibiting the podcast, my books and audio CDs at the Mid Atlantic Air Museum's World War II Weekend in Reading, Pennsylvania June 4-6. If you're among the thousands in attendance, I hope you'll stop by the hangar and say hello!

The usual suspects:

aaronelson.com

War As My Father's Tank Battalion Knew It

WW2 Oral History Audiobooks

The Mathew Caruso Story