John Burrows was born in Saginaw, Michigan. An excellent student and athlete he graduated high school and received a full scholarship to go The Citadel. He entered in September of 1936 as a civil engineer major, and quickly became number one in his class academically. He also excelled in football, basketball and track, making all-state for basketball three years in a row, and remains in the Citadel Athletic Hall of Fame. Upon graduation from The Citadel in 1940 he received a regular army commission and joined the 61st Coast Artillery Regiment. From there he was eventually assigned to the air defense division of the Supreme Headquarters under General Eisenhower in London, and oversaw the then top-secret plan codenamed Operation Overlord. Burrows recalls his decision to enter The Citadel and his active duty in WWII. Although never in direct combat, his time on the Supreme Headquarters staff allowed him an insider's perspective on the planning for Operation Overlord and the European Theater. He discusses the US Army's ingenuity when it came to advances in weaponry, which were occurring in front of his eyes. He also discusses in detail the German surrender at Reims and how the US Army so effectively handled the multitude of issues surrounding the details of such an event. Upon returning from his service in the army, Burrows worked for a book publishing company before returning to Charleston take a job as Assistant Commandant at The Citadel. Audio with transcript.
Reamer Lorenzo Cockfield was born on December 2, 1924, in Johnsonville, SC and moved to Lake City shortly thereafter. He was a pre-med student in The Citadel class of 1945 and therefore was exempted from the draft. Nevertheless, Cockfield voluntarily enlisted in the Marine Corps in December of 1943. As a private first class, he served in combat operations in the Pacific Theater. After the war Cockfield led a highly successful life serving as a public school teacher, principal, superintendent and one term as mayor of Lake City. Cockfield reflects on his experience as a stretcher bearer for 30 days of continuous combat during The Battle of Iwo Jima. The stretcher bearers hauled ammunition, food, and medical supplies from battalion headquarters to company headquarters and often returned with a wounded marine on the stretcher. Cockfield was the only member of his original eight-man team to survive. "It was at that time that they replaced me and assigned me to the K Company of the Ninth Marines which was on the front lines and I was delighted to get on the front lines because it was a lot safer up there in a foxhole than where I had been moving around all of the time." Audio with transcript.
Robert S. Adden was born 1 January 1923 in Orangeburg, SC, and enrolled at The Citadel in 1940. He went on active duty with his class of 1944 classmates at the end of their 1943 spring semester, first to basic training at Fort McClellan, AL, and then to 18 weeks of Infantry Officer Candidates School at Fort Benning, GA. His regiment was shipped overseas to England for a month and then to Germany, where they were attached to the British Second Army and became engaged in combat in an attack on the Siegfried line a month before the Battle of the Bulge. After the war he earned an M.B.A. and Ph.D., and returned to The Citadel as a faculty member and administrator until he retired. He received an honorary degree in 2008 in a ceremony that honored the class of 1944, "the class that never was." Adden describes how his Citadel class (1944) was called to active duty at the end of their spring semester in 1943. He describes basic training in Fort McClellan, AL, and his stint in Officer Candidates School in Fort Benning, GA. Commissioned a second lieutenant in May 1944, he began training with the Eighty-fourth Infantry Division at Camp Claiborne in Louisiana where he became a mortar platoon leader. His regiment was shipped to Europe and was attached to the British Second Army during the Rhineland campaign. Adden discusses his first major combat experiences in November, 1944, when his battalion was assigned to secure the town of Prummern, Germany. Shot 5 times in the streets of Prummern, Adden describes how he played dead for hours as German troops and tanks passed beside him. He recalls stumbling to an American aid station after the streets cleared followed by hospital stays in Europe and the US. He returned to active duty in August 1945. Adden also touches briefly on his life and education after the war. Audio with transcript.
Wilson Thrower was born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1922. He worked as an electrician at the Charleston Navy Yard before being drafted in 1943 and entering the Navy as an Apprentice Seaman on the USS Jenks. After demonstrating his knowledge of the destroyer escort's communications system, Jenks became an Electrician, Third Class. In this interview, Thrower recounts the capture of the German U-505, which proved vital to Allied code breaking operations. For serving in the submarine task force that captured the German U-boat, Thrower received a Presidential Unit Citation. After the War, he served in law enforcement and ran a series of businesses.
Fleming was born in Charleston, South Carolina on 8 January 1922. To help support his family following the death of his father, Fleming joined the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939 through which he worked on Bull’s Island. He recalls the Charleston of his childhood: “We didn't have but one street, Spring Street, to go across the old Ashley River Bridge . . . . right back where the stadium is at, all that was the river.” Fleming married and was drafted in 1942. He attended basic training at Camp Sibert, Alabama, where he “learned how to take care of myself through that army life, I learned a lot because when you hit them beach head, there ain’t nobody there to help you, you got to help yourself.” In Hawaii, he received training that prepared him for work as a medic on ship hospitals and in field hospitals in the Pacific. He recalls many harrowing scenes of battle and details life in foxholes during Japanese air attacks. Returning to Charleston after the war, Fleming worked in carpentry and construction, and played baseball for the Avco Corporation team. He concludes by reflecting on the September 2011 death of his wife of 69 years, Dorothy Buckingham Fleming, whose grave he visits weekly: “I go up there and look at the grave, and I got a little clipper, you know, like the stone, and I cut around it and take the brush and brush it all off.”
Herman Stramm was born 8 June 1927, in Charleston, South Carolina. In this interview, Stramm discusses his experiences in the Navy during WWII. He attended signalman school in Bainbridge, Maryland before being assigned to the USS Dale, DD353, at Pearl Harbor. On board, the sailor had limited access to information, according to Stramm. “We didn't have an up-to-date news service like they got now--no television. I read Tokyo Rose a time or two, but all of a sudden, we heard, you know, Japanese surrendered.” He expresses deep pride in having been part of the flotilla that escorted the USS Missouri into Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender. Stramm’s last station was at Fort Pierce, Florida, where he helped the underwater demolition team before he was discharged to the Charleston Navy Yard. He returned home and attended The Citadel for a brief period. After his military service, he worked at the United States Post Office and at an airport in Atlanta, Georgia for fifteen years before retiring in 1990, a few months after Hurricane Hugo.
Charles Stockell was born in Washington, DC. Following a family tradition of service, he joined the military when he was twenty years old, attending basic training at Ft. Bragg and Officer Candidate School in Oklahoma. He was assigned to a division that was very aggressive on the battlefield. ÒI liked the way that they acted. I got better targets that way. He also frequently served as an observer on a Piper Cub aircraft flying combat missions over German territory. Stockell recalls the confusion of the Omaha Beach landing during the Normandy Invasion. He and the men in his battery were forced to swim ashore after disembarking from the landing craft prematurely. The chaos continued on the shore. We hadn't left the beach before I found my first two American casualties. They were lying on the beach, and all four feet of these two men had been [blown] off. And they knew that they were bleeding to death, so in their death, their last thing on earth, they wrapped their arms companionly around each other and died that way. It was a very touching sort of thing. Stockell received four Purple Hearts for wounds he received while serving in the artillery, and rose to the rank of colonel. He also served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars and taught at the National War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. In 2012, Stockell was inducted into France's National Order of the Legion of Honor.
Colonel John Allison was born September 19, 1921 in Albany, Georgia. He entered the Citadel in September of 1939 and left at the end of his Junior year in 1942 to enter the Army Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet. During World War II he received three Distinguished Flying Crosses as a bomber pilot. He flew 59 combat missions as a B-24 pilot and five as a B-25 pilot during almost two years in the Pacific, including the bombing of Japan. After returning to the Citadel after the war, he graduated in 1947 and then rejoined what was then the Air Force, becoming a squadron commander in Vietnam. He currently lives in Charleston and is an avid golfer. Allison reflects on his decision to attend The Citadel and his combat experiences in both WWII and Vietnam. He discusses his training as an Army Air Corps pilot and subsequent World War II military experience as a bomber pilot in the Pacific theater. He also alludes to his post-WWII career during the Cold War, including flights to gather intelligence over Russia and Cuba. Audio with transcript.
Henry Berlin was born August 19, 1924, in Charleston and enrolled at The Citadel in 1941. After enlistment and training, Berlin eventually served as a radar operator on an LST during the early Normandy landings. After the war he studied law at the University of South Carolina for two years and returned to work at Berlin's clothing store on the corner of King and Broad Streets in Charleston, SC. Berlin details his brief but rebellious tenure at the Citadel before going on active duty in May 1942. He describes how this rebellious streak ended his naval officer training in Columbia, SC, and how he was shipped to Maryland for boot camp. He discusses how he eventually became a radar operator on an LST ferrying troops and material across the English Channel in the days and months after D-Day. He relates harrowing trips across the channel, being targeted by German artillery during the early landings on Normandy, and the loss of troops as they disembarked from the LST in rough seas. After V-E day he describes his return to the US, his trip through the Panama Canal and his arrival at Pearl Harbor just before V-J day. He also touches upon his immediate post-war life including law school, a brief stint playing semi-pro baseball and return to his father's clothing shop in Charleston. Audio with transcript.
James Young was born in Winnsboro, South Carolina in 1921. Young volunteered for the Army Reserves in 1942. After completing basic training in Miami Beach, Florida, he went to Shepherd Field, Texas for munitions training. He was sent to Las Vegas, Nevada, for gunnery school, then Dalhart, Texas, for combat crew training. At gunnery school, Young recalled firing at a target pulled by an airplane: “Each person had a different color of shells, and he could count his hits by whether they were yellow, black, green.” Stationed in Polebrook, England, Young served as a Technical Sergeant, tail gunner in the 8th Air Force, 351st Bomb Group Heavy, 509th Bomb Squadron from the March 6, 1944 to May 2, 1945. He flew 28 missions, the first of which was into Poland on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1944. He later flew missions over Poland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium. In this interview, he recalls details of several of his missions and discusses the annual reunions he attends with the men with whom he served.