Monday, November 2, 2009

Corps of Cadets to Show "Texas Aggies Go to War"

A lesser-known fact about Texas A&M: the university has produced more officers than any other school outside of the military service academies.

On Wednesday, the Corps of Cadets will do an on-campus screening of the DVD "Texas Aggies Go to War", a documentary film based on the 2005 Texas A&M University Press book of the same name.

The screening, which is free and open to the public, will be held 7:30 p.m. at the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Presidential Conference Center at the George Bush School of Government and Public Service.

In the 2005 book, Texas Aggies Go to War: In Service of Their Country, Texas A&M emeritus history professor Henry C. Dethloff and alum John A. Adams, Jr. recount the stories of individual Aggie soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines.

An excerpt from the book:

"The legend of the '42 Corregidor Aggies 'drinking a toast in water to the heroes of 1836' came to symbolize the nation's resolve to wrest victory from the jaws of defeats suffered during the first six months of American combat in World War II. That legend came alive with a movie, 'We've Never Been Licked', which was filmed on the Texas A&M campus in 1943. . .

On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, 366 Japanese fighters and bombers, supported by a fleet of midget submarines, struck the Pacific fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor and other bases on Oahu. In less than two hours, most of the American naval force in the Pacific lay in ruins, including four battleships: the West Virginia, California, Oklahoma, and Zrizona, the latter carrying 1,177 American seamen with it to the bottom. The surprise attack eliminated a total of nineteen American warships and 188 aircraft while almost 2,200 men were killed and another thousand wounded. Floyd Buchel ('36) was at Pearl Harbor that day 'and has not been heard from since other than he was missing in action. His mother died . . . still thinking that her boy would come home one day.' He never did.

Lt. Col. James Earl Rudder ('32) and his 2nd Ranger Battalion were assigned the task of neutralizing the six 155-mm guns located on the cliffs of a small peninsula at Point du Hoc. These emplacements were identified by prelanding intelligence as "the most dangerous battery in France."

Seaman 1st Class Buck E. Jordan ('51) whose ship, the USS Argonne, a repair vessel, was itself at dock for repairs, had temporary duty at the ammunition depot on Magazine Island, a few hundred yards southeast of 'Battleship Row,' when the attack began. He and others on duty ran to the tip of the island in time to watch the 'first Jap plane drop his torpedo into the water toward the battleship Oklahoma. . . . The Japanese planes that flew by us were so low, we could see the eyes and teeth of the pilots as they dropped their torpedoes. . . . Soon we were pulling injured sailors from the water all around the island.' Jordan survived Pearl Harbor, the first day of war, and five years of battle in the Pacific. In 1945, he was present on the last day of the war at the signing of the peace treaty aboard the battleship Missouri.

When the attack came at 7:55 A.M. on Sunday morning the men of Battery K, 64th Coast Artillery, who manned the only operational antiaircraft battery on Hickam Field, rushed to the ammunition shed only to discover that it was locked. Because it was Sunday, the officers who had the keys had not yet arrived for the day's duties, but the delay was short lived. Within minutes, Lt. Roy W. Gillette ('40) turned up with the key and took command, and the battery commenced firing at the enemy, providing one of the few points of resistance at Pearl Harbor. Gillette acted like a 'true officer' during that infamous attack, one of his gunners declared years later.

The 4th Armored Division, III Corps, moves toward besieged Bastogne, Belgium.

Almost simultaneously, Japanese forces struck the American islands of Midway, Wake, and Guam and were followed within days by invading troops. Japanese aircraft attacked Hong Kong, bombed Singapore, and invaded Malaya and the Philippines. Japanese troops occupied Bangkok, Thailand, on December 9, and that same day attacked Tarawa and Makin in the Gilbert Islands. On December 20, Japanese forces seized Mindanao in the Philippines. Among those captured were Capt. Sydney R. Greer ('35), a former Texas Highway Department engineer who was in charge of construction at the Del Monte airfield on Mindanao. Hong Kong surrendered on Christmas day. On December 30, Japanese forces began an attack on the Bataan Peninsula and the island fortress of Corregidor in Manila Bay. Texas Aggies were there in considerable numbers."