1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

World War II movies

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by lantaur, Jul 24, 2006.

  1. pressboxer

    pressboxer Active Member

    Not a movie, but a book written by a fellow my family has known for years: Okinawa Odyssey by Bob Green. (And it would make one hell of a good flick.)

    Mr. Green is a rancher from Albany, Texas, who served as a tank commander on Okinawa. He was 20 years old at the time.

    His military experience began in 1939 when was sent to high school at New mexico Military Institute (he was preceeded there by two older brothers, one of whom served as a master sergeant in Europe).  He was playing touch football when news of Pearl Harbor was announced.

    Green's entire graduating class was drafted in the fall of 1942, but allowed to finish the school year. The day after graduation, the whole class was put on a train and sent to Fort Bliss for induction.

    At the time, NMMI's ROTC program included mounted cavalry patrols. Green and most of his classmates joined the cavalry, but they found out during basic training that the Army was doing away with the horse service and everything was going mechanized.

    After completing OCS at Fort Knox, Lt. Green was sent to the Phillipines, where the Army was preparing for the invasion of Okinawa. He was assigned to the 763rd Tank Battalion, 20th Armored Group.

    U.S. forces landed on April 1, 1945 with virtually no opposition. It wound up taking 82 days before that battle was officially declared over.

    For the first few weeks, Green was assigned as a liason officer to the 96th Infantry Division, helping coordinate tank movement to cover infantry forces. One day about a month into the battle while at an observation post atop the Maeda Escarpment, his radio operator handed him a little news sheet the Army printed out to keep soldiers updated on events around the world and at home. Green sat down in the bottom of the trench to read when two artillery rounds struck the OP. Men he had just been standing next to were sheared off at the waist.

    On his first day as a tank platoon leader, Green's tank was knocked out by a hidden Japanese antitank gun. One round pierced the hull and took off one leg of the tank's loader, who was standing right next to Green.

    "The gunner, a genuine Missouri hillbilly named Scoggins, was still tending to business, and he was cool as a cucmber," Green wrote. "He kept on lacing the hill with machine gunfire. 'Keep firing on that hill where we are firing,' I radioed the other tanks and then quickly reached up over the radio set for a morphine styrette. I went to the loader who was now down on the floor making horrible noises. I quickly removed the morphine styrette's needle cover and emptied it into his thigh. I then put my hand over the severed stump of his leg and squeezing tight, tried to stop the squirting blood. I remember being startled at seeing the round hole in the steel side of the tank where the Jap AP round had come through."

    Green and his crew were able to get out through the escape hatch and into another tank before the entire tank platoon withdrew.

    "When we got back over the crest of the hill and safely behind friendly lines again, we got out one at a time through all the hatches," he wrote. "Medics quickly took the unconscious loader and after quickly inserting and IV in his arm and starting blood plasma, loaded him on a stretcher, which they placed on a jeep. One medic got on board with him to hold the IV bottle up, then they sped away. I learned much later that he survived.

    "Medics also worked on the injured driver. Small pieces of steel were picked out of his shoulder then he was bandaged up, given a tetanus shot and declared still to be fit for service. As for me, I now began to get the shakes and had to sit down. The heavy, water-cooled Browning machine gun emplacements on either side of the road cut were surrounded by sandbags, and I just sat down and leaned back against the sandbags while the guns intermittently fired down the hill. For quite a little while, I shook uncontrollably as if I had a bad chill or malaria.

    "General Easley walked over to me, looked down and said, 'Son, I need to talk to you and find out what you saw behind that hill, but I'll wait until you calm down and quit shaking.' I meekly nodded, and then another medic saw the loader's blood all over me. He asked if I were hit. I shook my head and said no, I was OK, and that was true, but only up to a point."

    Green was awarded a Bronze Star for the action. He also earned a Silver Star later in the campaign.

  2. pressboxer

    pressboxer Active Member


    Green wound up having to abandon four disabled tanks during the battle. One was taken out by Japanese suicide troops who strapped explosives to their bodies, then jumped onto or under tanks and detonated the charges.

    "I once lost a tank to a satchel-charge team, and I found it to be a completely unnerving experience," he wrote. "I was leading my platoon slowly down a narrow road. My tank had just come around a bluff and was temporarily out of sight of the other following tanks. Through my periscope, I just caught a fleeting glimpse of lunging bodies before there were several loud explosions and the tank suddenly stopped. They had been successful in breaking a tread, blowing themselves to smithereens while doing so, of course. After the attack had blown all the participating team members all over the landscape, another lively group emerged from hiding. They began energetically attempting to hoist a huge package of the yellow piric-acid explosive that was wrapped in fiber matting up on to the back deck of the tank. That fiber-matting package must have weighed at least 300 pounds.

    "Luckily, the tread that had been blown off the tank was on the opposite side from where they were struggling to lift their heavy burden up on to the back deck, causing the deck to slope much higher on their side.

    "Now, one smart-ass got the telephone that our infantry occasionally used out of its box on the back of the tank and in perfect English kept repeating, 'Cease fire, please, cease fire, please!' Fortunately, before they got the tremendous charge up on the back deck of my tank and detonated it, the other tanks in my platoon responded to my frantic radio cries of 'Mayday!' They turned the corner around the bluff and came roaring up behind us just like the U.S. Cavalry in a John Wayne movie. They quickly shot the Japanese attackers down, using machine gun fire. Why the big bundle of explosives wasn't set off is a mystery, but the Japs had a lot of trouble with duds, so maybe it was faulty or wet."

    After the war, Mr. Green went back to the ranch and has been there pretty much ever since. In 1978, he and his wife visited Okinawa.

    "We returned from our odyssey at dusk to the city of Naha and our modern hotel," he wrote in th epilogue. "I dreamed wildly all night. Over 200,000 people lost their lives in this obscure little facet of World War II. That's a lot of ghosts for a little island with less land area than Shackelford County and lots of lives to lose in just three months of fighting. Today I wandered what for? It sure seemed important at the time -- important enough for 200,000 to die, but I guess that's timing again and we don't have much to do with that.

    "I've now filled that vague, persuasive urge to return, and I know this time that I'll never see Okinawa Island again. That's okay. It's just another out of the way place where for a brief moment of history something happened, and by chance, I happened to be there when it did. Again, timing was involved. Not much is going on there now. It probably won't ever again."
  3. alleyallen

    alleyallen Guest

    Very emotional movie with a bloody ending. Good title and good catch.
  4. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Love WW II movies - specialy the B/W's of the late 40's and 50's

    3 more obscure that have not been mentioned yet.

    - Frogman - the original Navy Seals.

    Run Silent Run Deep ( clark gable as sub commander - pretty much true story where commander becomes Catholic priest and works at well known college for rest of his life)

    Donavan's Reef - really post WWII about a couple of army buddies - Lee Marvin and John Wayne open a bar on tropical island.
  5. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    This is a WW1 movie based on the book by the same name: "All Quiet on the Western Front", released in 1930 about the life of a German infantryman at the front.

    Still one of the best war movies ever made.

    Surprised no one's brought up "Catch 22" or "Slaughterhouse Five".
  6. JR --
    At least for me, neither Catch-22 nor S5 matched up to the books. The movie version of the former, particularly, was pretty lame.
  7. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    ABC did Winds of War when I was in high school. I liked it so much read both War and Remembrance and Winds of War after it aired. Really good books.

    Another movie, and book, I like is The Eagle Has Landed.
  8. Arrr... somethin tells me that one of t' best WWII movies will be Flags of Our Fathers to be released in October. Tis be based upon t' book of t' same name and be directed by Clint Eastwood.


    Arrrr... tis a shame that Clint never played a pirate
  9. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    I agree but then again, very few movies are as good as the books they're based on.
  10. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    Screenplay by Canuck Paul Haggis, of Crash and Million Dollar Baby fame.
  11. I like a lot of Higgins's stuff, and the movie of Eagle is pretty good, all except for Donald Sutherland's bizarre Irish accent, which comes and goes at odd intervals. Duvall as Lax Radl is good, though, as is Donald Pleasance, who looks so much like Himmler, it's scary.
    Have you read the sequel -- The Eagle Has Flown? Turns out Steiner survives the shooting at Meltham House and they hide him in a Catholic hospital. Devlin breaks him loose, and winds up getting an Iron Cross from Hitler himself in the bunker. Then, he and Steiner both escape to Ireland. Liam Devlin is a terrific character all through the books.
  12. EStreetJoe

    EStreetJoe Well-Known Member

    But who could duplicate the performances of John Banner and Werner Klemperer? ;D
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page