Utah World War 2 Stories
Part 3: "The Pacific " Transcript
(Elwin Petersen )We were all ready to fight the Japanese until we were killed off.
(Keith Renstrom) We hated them because they did what they did on Wake Island and what they did to Pearl Harbor. We hated them because they were the enemy.
(Doug Howard )Their life was to die for the emperor, if you will. It didn’t matter what the danger was, they had an objective to accomplish.
(“Cyclone Davis”) Our patriotism was just as strong and just as valiant, but we weren’t suicidal in the way we fought a war.
(Keith Renstrom) And I had no sympathy for any of the Japanese that I killed. I felt there was one less that I had to fight, one less to kill one of my men.
(Bill Wassmer) This country was worth fighting for. If it took my life, it was going to take my life, and I didn’t think I was ever going to come back anyway when I went over.
(Rick Randle) There’s not just one story of World War II, there are as many stories as there were men and women to fight. More than 3,600 never returned to Utah to tell their stories. These are some of the 67,000 that did.
(Rick Randle) America and her allies had done the impossible in Europe. In three and a half long years of severe casualties and bloody fighting, they had defeated Europe’s first modern superpower, Nazi Germany. But the nightmare of World War II was still not over. On the other side of the globe America was locked in a death grip on a battlefield of such immense proportions, it nearly defies human comprehension. This battlefield was 64 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean. An arena of combat so large, that all the earth’s continents could easily fit within its boundaries. And in the skies above, the depths below, on worthless volcanic outcroppings and in steaming island jungles, Utahns along with hundreds of thousands of other Americans would offer themselves up with bravery and courage. I’m Rick Randle. KUED is proud to present the third in a four-part series, Utah WWII Stories: The Pacific, as told by Utahns who were there.
(LaVell Bigelow) We knew that the Japanese were a ruthless, relentless military people. They had already gotten a reputation for atrocities and our feeling was that the U.S. Navy and us dive bombers had a great mission to perform to keep those Japanese from their goals of occupying the Pacific.
(Rick Randle) The world’s first use of air-craft carriers in a naval battle occurred at the Coral Sea in May of 1942. Dive bombers from both sides terrorized and crippled each other’s ships. From that point in time, naval battles would never again be the same.
(LaVell Bigelow) As I peeled off to enter my dive I became away that a Japanese zero was circling around to get on my tail. And he did get on my tail. As I pushed over in my vertical dive I had my dive flaps open, and I was in a vertical dive and he settled down and right behind me in my dive—my first inclination was to jink, as we say, to evade being shot down. But I was given a very strong inspiration to stay in a steady dive because a steady dive was required to get a hit on the ship which was my target. Stay in a steady dive. Don’t worry about that zero. He’s not going to shoot you down. You’ll be o.k. So I settled down in a steady dive, got a hit on the ship. The Japanese zero followed me all the way down in the dive, and pulled up along side of me—I’m not sure if he waved at me or not—but that’s my imagination. I think he waved at me. I was afraid. But this admonition from the Holy Ghost stuck with me, so it gave me a confidence and it comforted me all the way through the war and I never was hit by any anti-aircraft or never did have any bullet-holes in my plane all the rest of the war.
( Glenn Parkin) Well we got about a day out of Pearl and we picked up speed again realizing that something else is coming on, but where? Well that was Midway.
(Robert Shaffer) There was a Japanese invasion fleet headed to Midway, and we were going to do something about it.
Click here to read the rest of the transcript