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They just did not know what to do with us
They just didn’t know what to do with us. They sent me here to New York City to a Port of Embarkation, where they ship soldiers out, it’s over there in Brooklyn, the place is still there but it’s not a P.O.E. now. Anyway I had just come from overseas. I came in one Monday morning this same guy Canfield he was with me, he ended up being my copilot when we got overseas and when I got over here we got pulled out to make sure they had five thousand men to go on a Liberty ship to Liverpool, England, but they don’t tell us that, but they’re two men short. And we came in the wrong time to check the board and see if our names were there. We got stuck on that boat and I went to England. I kept telling this colonel that I had I just gotten back. And I didn’t have to tell him because I could just pull my shirt up on my jacket and I’d tell him, “You see what’s on here? I got a slew of medals,” plus I have command pilot wings I don’t have regular wings. That didn’t cut any ice. We went to Liverpool; we got off the Liberty ship with everybody else, part of the Rainbow Division. The Rainbow Division got on trucks and stuff and left. And Canfield and I are standing on the docks; they left us. And the port sergeant came down there and he sent us up to a place called Hapashire, above London until he could find out what to do with us and how to get us back to the States. They sent me to Italy. I went to North Africa. As I got to North Africa the 99th was being moved to Italy and they were forming the 332nd. I ended up in the 332nd with the Tuskegee Airmen and when I first arrived in Italy they had been up in North Africa for I don’t know how long, they didn’t even know what combat was all about. The only thing they were doing was shooting up trains, lost one man over there in North Africa because he tried to attack a German flight. And the individuals in the 99th didn’t fly down to help him. I ended up with them; I out ranked the majority of them. It took almost a year before they actually talked with me or anything. Every one of them, outside of me, had college degrees from all the Black colleges around this country. All of them were up to five to ten years older than me. Within the 332nd I was put in the 301st squadron, and I made 87 missions over there and I got shot down in North Italy outside of Florence, at a railroad roundhouse in the mountains that had been attacked by three or four different squadrons. They hadn’t blown it up and they sent us up there. We blew it up. In the process of us blowing it up I came around too low, when I released my bombs and as I peeled to go up an enemy hit my plane and I got hit in the leg. I was in the hospital over there in the Italy, then I came over here to the States, I was in Atlantic City. From Atlantic City they sent me to Chicago Gardener General Hospital. From Gardener General, when I got out, I went down to Guismen Field, which is part of Fort Knox. And I got a leave and I came out and when I went back after three months of leave time, I went to Indiana and I was sent right back to the 332nd at the Lockland Air force Base in Columbus, Ohio. Racism was highly prevalent during World War II. I didn’t have much trouble because of my high rank. Most of the white people were scared of me, because most of them knew. I wear emblems, especially if I get mad with someone. I’ve worn those ever since I was a kid. I shot up some Megs while I was over there and came back to the States. I got married and had kids.

--Interview By: Jennifer Augustine

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Ein Interview mit Dr. James Thornton, einem Veteranen aus dem 2. Weltkrieg

In diesem Interview geht es um den afroamerikanischen Piloten James Thornton, der um Geld zu verdienen zum Militär ging und durch Zufall durch einen Vorgesetzten zu einer Flugausbildung kam. An einem seiner freien Tage, die er mit seiner Freundin verbrachte, wurde er von einem Soldaten über die Situation in Pearl Harbor aufgeklärt und nach Fort Dix einberufen. Viele Soldaten hatten Angst vor den Einsätzen, da diese Flüge reiner Selbstmord waren und nur wenige zurückkamen. 1942 wurde er nach Australien geschickt und hatte von dort aus Einsätze in den verschiedensten Ländern. In den Philippinen kam es zu einem Absturz, als er Medikamente abwerfen wollte, woraufhin er drei Monate dort verbringen musste, in der Angst von den Japanischen Patrouillen entdeckt zu werden. Als er dies überlebte, wurde ihm dafür der Silver Star verliehen. Zurück zu Hause wurde er Trainer für Nachfolgepiloten, aber kurz darauf wurde er zu einem weiteren Einsatz nach Italien berufen. Dabei wurde er schwer von einer Bombe am Bein verletzt und wurde durch Zufall in ein Krankenhaus in seine Heimat geschickt. Schließlich konnte er sich auch seinen eigenen Wunsch erfüllen und wurde Ehemann und Vater. Happy End ^___^

Zusammenfassung von Jasmin Terglavcnik, Paulina Stipic und Xixi Zhang

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