Who Is The Old Man In All Jspanese Hirrir Films WWII Veterans – 3 Stories From This Vanishing Breed

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WWII Veterans – 3 Stories From This Vanishing Breed

Many of our veterans have now told their stories. And some have written about the natives. These three people from Orange County, California decided to film their life stories in veterans videos in 2008. Now, in 2010, only two of the three are still with us.

Jim Peirano: Shooting at Pearl Harbor

Jim Peirano shot Japanese bombers from the deck of the USS Dolphin during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. He recalled in horror when the Arizona detonated fuel on the water – setting hundreds ablaze. Jim remembered the look on the faces of the young Japanese pilots when they went in to drop the bombs. “They had mascara on and everything. You could see them because they were flying so low. It was like you see in the movies!”

Jim was entertained throughout the interview. Happy to be a witness to so much history and somehow able to contain his grief over such a horrible death. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, Jim’s submarine left to carry the war on Japan:

“We didn’t know anything about fighting,” he said. “We knew how to dive and practice. But the rest we had to learn as the war progressed.”

Jim was in the Midway and Tarawa battles and saw service in the Solomon Islands where he helped save a group of 29 missionary nuns and children. He was at the center of the “Japanese War” as he called it, his submarine sinking many enemy ships. He claimed that American soldiers dropped leaflets on civilians before detonating bombs, warning them to evacuate – a claim that was often ignored.

Jim left the service highly decorated and with the rank of Lieutenant Commander and later visited Australia, where he introduced ten pin bowling to that country. As he shared these stories on his veteran’s video, Jim’s eyes lit up. He was back in a moment.

Jim died last year at his home in Laguna Woods.

Julian Ertz: His Friend Begged to Be Shot

Another football player Julian Ertz, still alive and now 90 years old and living in Laguna Woods, California, was eager to fight in Europe and trained as a pilot and sailor. In December 1943, Julian and his crew took the “south” route to England, via Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Natal Brazil and then across the Atlantic to Dakar, Marrakech and finally Great Britain. The plane contained sweets for needy British children who the crew hoped to meet.

Tragedy struck Julian and his crew when a B-24 J Liberator – nicknamed the “Bachelors’ Baby” for one of the crew’s roles – crashed during a flight in Wales. As he says in the video of his veteran, the plane was filled with 50 rounds of ammunition. Julian broke his back, and still walks with difficulty to this day, but he still considers himself lucky. He was able to hide from the exploding shells behind the plane’s engine, which was separated. Five of his 10 crew members, and a sixth man – a wheelchair user – were killed. Booster, the mascot dog, was also killed in the crash.

He still remembers to this day the cry of Sammy Offutt as he burned alive in the wreckage, begging Julian to end his grief with his gun. Julian could not obey – he had no gun to hand. He doesn’t know what he would do if he had it. Julian returned to the US with a full body – he later studied law and became a lawyer.

Sandy Ross: “It wasn’t intense. It was fun”

Sandy Ross, who turned 88 in December and lives in Lake Forest, California, has wanted to be a pilot since his days as a reporter for Lockheed, riding in the cockpit of an airplane on the assembly line. Before America joined the war, he begged his father to let him go north to Canada to join them. His father refused. He did not wait long. Sandy and his brother joined the Army Air Corps and soon both were piloting P-47 Thunders against German forces in Europe.

Proudly wearing his still-fitting brown bomber jacket and police cap during a video interview, WWII veteran Sandy Ross recalled some of his 51 missions in Europe. Asked about the dogfight that earned him the Air Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross and promotion to Second Lieutenant, he said: “It wasn’t tough. It was fun. It was fun.”

Our veterans of the world lived through the most difficult times of the 20th century. It is important that their stories be recorded for their families and future generations. Many of our WWII veterans are in their 80s and 90s and there is a real urgency to write their stories.

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