Interview of Richard L. Daughtry Transcript Number 425

HAYES: Today is May 27, 2004. This is Sherman Hayes, University Librarian. We're interviewing today Richard Daughtry. And is that what you go by, Richard?

DAUGHTRY: Dick is my name.

HAYES: Dick is your name, fine. And this is part of our military and veteran heritage series, and Dick is a World War II veteran. So if, before we start, if you could just give us your full name and when you were born.

DAUGHTRY: Alright. Richard L. Daughtry. I was born 11/14/20 in Wayne County, Goldsboro area.

HAYES: Here in North Carolina. North Carolina boy. And right, for those of you looking at the tape with this is an interesting background of books and so forth. We're at Daughtry Books, right?


HAYES: This is your business for the last 20 years. And before we get into your active duty, why don't you give us a little sense of background up to World War II. You know, what your folks did, where you were coming from and what town and a little set up here for us, ok?

DAUGHTRY: Well I was born in Goldsboro. Of course it's not like Wilmington, North Carolina. We didn't have a beach, so other things became dominating in our lives and mine was sports.

HAYES: Oh, really?

DAUGHTRY: So I was interested in track, baseball, and football. So that was the major thing on my mind coming up. And it happened so that I could run. And so we had a gentleman in town from the Wheel family that was very interested in track, and as a result of that, we became almost nationally known through track, believe it or not, back in the 1930's; 1935, 1936, and 1937. In fact, we were invited to run in the Penn relays in Philadelphia, Franklin Field which was a very prestigious track event, a mile relay in the scholastic division.

HAYES: What was your distance? What were you...

DAUGHTRY: Well I was a sprinter. I ran the 100 yards and the 220. The 100 meter and 200 meter, now. But then it was 100 yard and 220. But at that time, I ran a leg on the mile relay. I ran, I was the lead-off man on which we did hold a record in the state at that time of 3:35, which at that time was pretty good and it was one of the best times in the South.

HAYES: Excellent.

DAUGHTRY: We did that at the Duke Invitational Scholastic Meet. So that was why we got that invitation.

HAYES: So you were in high school what years then?

DAUGHTRY: I was in high school five years actually. It was through 1937. What is that, 1932 through 1937? Something like that.

HAYES: OK. Alright. So you get out of high school in '37.

DAUGHTRY: Actually, it was the class of '38. I played football. I always say '37. It was '38. Actually, I played football in the fall of 1937 and that's why I say that occasionally. Because we had an undefeated football team and I was the left half-back, which is the equivalent now to the running back, so I ran the ball maybe 20-25 times. But we did have a great football team as a result of a lot of training in track. So we went and won all the marbles in the state. So I thought I wanted to be a, now that's my experience there and mostly it was wrapped around sports in my hometown.

HAYES: Sure, that's great. But you come out. The Depression is still going strong when you graduate, so what was next?

DAUGHTRY: Well, I went to the University of North Carolina and I participated in sports a couple of years. Money ran out into my sophomore year, so I came back to... Well, I tell you what I did up there. I played freshman football at Carolina, made my ____. But I was small, I weighed 135 and at that time they had what you call a single-wing offense, which the left halfback is a blocker instead of a runner.

HAYES: Oh, no.

DAUGHTRY: It sort of put me behind the 8-ball. Nobody told me that in my home. Nobody knew about things like that in the period during the Depression. They were all trying to make a living. Money was tough. You traded, you know. You bartered. That's the way. But we got along fine. Really and truly, you know. People helping one another more than they do now. If you had people in the farming area, you were lucky. They'd bring you items which fed us.

HAYES: So you were a college guy.

DAUGHTRY: Well, two years, but actually after I was in service I went back to State. I transferred my credits over to State in textile design. But I couldn't use it after I got out because the textile business was on the downslide and my wife didn't want to leave Wilmington, where I came in '45 after the war. So I applied out here at TIMI. TIMI is located here and they manufactured velour, which is for automobile interiors. But when I applied and I showed them my degree, it scared the wax out of them. [Laughter] And this happens right today in business. If somebody comes in to a business and they're over-qualified, it really is tough on them.

HAYES: Alright, let's get back. So you're now about '39, '40, and you're not in school. So is that when you decided to do the military?

DAUGHTRY: No, no. I didn't do the military until after Pearl Harbor. I worked. The first job I got was in a theater up there in Goldsboro and that was the first one I picked up. Didn't pay anything but you could eat, you know? So then I obtained a job with what they called Export Tobacco Company and my pay tripled there. Then I had a little job down here at about 30 miles away at a little military camp down here down Highway 17 at Camp Davis.

HAYES: Oh, Camp Davis.

DAUGHTRY: And this was with a contractor and during that period of time, Pearl Harbor happened.

HAYES: What did you do at Camp Davis? That's kind of interesting. They were building that up for the start of military preparation.

DAUGHTRY: Yeah, it was. There were two places. I was more or less a materials man, a bookkeeper. Just holding it together, you know, for a local contractor. And I did many, many things, but what we worked on was what was called a Motor Repair Facility and a Red Cross building.

HAYES: So was the activity huge? I mean, were there thousands of people at that point?

DAUGHTRY: Yes. They were training and all of the sudden in '41, it got real heavy. But they were going through that. They were in the playing up there at that time. When they knew they were going to build that. So I got in on that. So that was the gist of my work.

HAYES: Where did you live when you were working up at Camp Davis? Up at the base itself?

DAUGHTRY: Yes, I did. I lived across the street in a new hotel and I was able to share a room there. There were about four of us shared a room. You had to. You didn't make that kind of money. And it was nice. I enjoyed it. Learned a lot of things, you know, about working with people. I always liked that in my life. I like people, you know? Some people don't ever enjoy other people like they should, but I've been very fortunate to do that. And this is why I'm here, this book business, I enjoy people coming in. Don't make enough money, but that's worth something.

HAYES: So, Pearl Harbor. Where were you in that? Do you remember that day?

DAUGHTRY: I remember that day. It was on a Sunday and my girlfriend was there for driving around and I heard it. And like all males at that time, I'd say 90 percent of them, there was a lot of nationalistic feeling, you know, as a result of that.

HAYES: Of course.

DAUGHTRY: And so immediately I was interested in going in and I wanted to be a pilot. So I got all my credentials. I'd had two years of college, which was the main thing you needed, and got people to write me letters of recommendation. And got up there to Pope Field and I couldn't pass the depth, you know that part of it, the depth perception. And it puts you down a little old, it looked like a ping pong table and you pulled strings.

HAYES: Is that right? That was a test, you mean?

DAUGHTRY: Test for depth perception.

HAYES: Interesting.

DAUGHTRY: Seven times. That is that one test. And they needed people in there, so they were giving me every chance in the world. But there were many people wanting to be fighter pilots. I will tell you, Pope Field was loaded.

HAYES: Where's Pope Field at?

DAUGHTRY: It's at Fort Bragg. It's the air base there.

HAYES: Oh, ok. So you went up to Fayetteville up in that area? Had you already enlisted at that point?

DAUGHTRY: No, I wanted to, I applied to go in as a fighter pilot. I wanted that badly because I'd read a lot of books about the old airplanes in World War I, and I was really fascinated with that part of it. I could just picture myself. In fact, I ran into, in Attaigne, France, I ran into a little monument on the side of a road. Eddie Rickenbacker downed a Fokker at this spot. He was one of my favorites, you know? That was very interesting and boy, it was cold out there. But that was the coldest winter in France in many, many years during that period of time, '44-'45.

HAYES: So you didn't make it in. What's next then?

DAUGHTRY: Alright. They asked, well I said, "Well I want to get in. What can I do?" and they told me to come... If I didn't want to enlist, just to come up with the next draft which was just a week away. The next busload coming out of Goldsboro.

HAYES: What do they mean by come up with the next draft? You mean just come and volunteer at that...

DAUGHTRY: Well, I just volunteered through the draft is what is was. See, they had a busload coming every month from Wayne County and so I did that. I didn't just... I wasn't... I was a draftee instead of being a permanent party type of a person. So we came up to Fort Bragg, which was an experience in itself riding in a bus with draftees. Some guy got his throat cut. It wasn't a disaster but we had to stop and they took him out some place. I believe it was Clinton they took him out of the bus.

HAYES: Because they had a fight?

DAUGHTRY: Yeah. There were a lot of them that had been drinking and war, wartime is uhh... I'm going to tell you some of, I'd love to tell you some of the rough side of it.

HAYES: Well that's alright.

DAUGHTRY: It's not all good. You got these characters. Just like now, you've got characters that you have to contend with in service you detest. I mean, when you've got thousands of men together, there's some of them going to be bad eggs because they're draftees. So we got into the Fort Bragg area and one guy threw his shoes out the window. I'll never forget that. This was in July. So they made that sucker stand there on that asphalt with no shoes on and it liked to kill him [laughter]. But it's a comedy almost whenever you're a part of something like going into the Army that way.

They're people in there crying in this beer about being drafted and out of business at home. And some of them, one of them said, "Well I got a wife and a baby and a farm up there in the mountains and I can't, I just can't stay here, Sir." [Laughter] The guy says, the Lieutenant says, "Well what I'm going to do to you I'm going to give you a card and I want you to take it to the chaplain and he'll punch it for you." This is a saying. It's a TS card. Tough Sledding. Almost it's called that. [Laughter] So I mean, these little stories that go on after you've been drafted, it's something else.

And the characters that were running around up there at Fort Bragg, some of the permanent party at that time, they were there because they were not mentally able to get out of there. They just kept a lot of them there, you know, as permanent parties. Things happened. Situations I can't even talk about. But that's a part of service, this lewdness. But that's all, like I say, that's part of the game. Getting back to what happened there. So they said, "Well we're going to send you to St Petersburg, Florida," so that's where I did my basic training.

HAYES: Are you in the Army at this point?

DAUGHTRY: Yes. Down there it was an area where they were picking people out. I guess they would look at their IQ's and pick them out for this and that the other.

HAYES: And you had a couple of years of college at this point, so...

DAUGHTRY: So I was interviewing a guy and I said, "Well I would love to be in the Air Force. I didn't fly but I want the closest thing to it." And so the boy, he said, "Alright, we're going to ship some of these soldiers to South Dakota. Sioux Falls, South Dakota. You can train to be a radio operator and a waist gunner and we're needing those badly."

HAYES: Oh, I see.

DAUGHTRY: So suits me fine. So we did that. So they took out a portion of them down there. But speaking of out of place to do basic training, that's the last place in the world. I'm sure politics got in it. In the close-order drills those guys were falling out like flies. In July. July!

HAYES: What was the temperature? I mean, I hate to think of it.

DAUGHTRY: The heat factor, that was way over 100. Really tough to train down there. But at night it was nice. About 3:30 or 4:00 we'd all go dive in the bay there, clothes and all. But this group of us went on to South Dakota. A four-day trip. They pulled these coaches out of mothballs the government had. It was a quarter inch. We were in suntans. Made that trip in four days. There was many of us on that train, though they picked other cars along the way. By the time we got Tennessee, the train was so long we got stuck on a mountainside. That diesel wouldn't pull it. So we stayed there for maybe an hour or two.

HAYES: Now what, what, let's get a perspective of what months was this. Now this is into '42?

DAUGHTRY: No... Yes, '42. This was in July of '42. But it took me that long to get in there after Pearl Harbor to get to this point.

HAYES: And basic training was what, eight weeks? Or...

DAUGHTRY: Well, it wasn't in that case because they needed us, it was only two weeks. They needed this personnel, type of personnel badly because they wanted to get these things going. They wanted to get the Air Force going. So they sent me to Sioux Falls and I learned code. That was about from July through December. And I learned to shoot twin 50-calibers. See, that was part of the duty of a radio operator of a B-17. Actually, I was in the 8th Air Force and they became the 8th Air Force, at least that's where we were going, so the B-17's were a part of the 8th Air Force. So that was the insignia we wore, the 8th Air Force patch at that point.

HAYES: And code. You're talking Morse code? Is that what they were using?

DAUGHTRY: Yes, dum ditty, you know? Learned the full thing and I'd write today. I'll see some sign and I'll say dot-de-dot in my mind. You never forget it [laughter].

HAYES: So that was classes, drill, drill, drill all day long?

DAUGHTRY: Yes, for four months. And there's a lot of them had to be taken out of there because they could not stand that type of teaching. And you went to class, you went to code class two hours, sometimes three depending on what... And then you went to basic electrician and then basic radio class. It was just like going to a university almost.

So I graduated from there in December, and I thought maybe I would be assigned to some part of the world. But they said, "We're going to take some of you and send you to Wisconsin. We've got an advanced radio school there pertaining to radar, homing devices, and the set that they use in fighter planes." And so they sent a group of us to Tomah, Wisconsin. Little Indian town T-o-m-a-h.

HAYES: Were you pretty much a North Carolina boy before this? I mean, you're starting to travel all over the country now.

DAUGHTRY: No I hadn't... Yeah, you're right.

HAYES: So now you're to Florida.


HAYES: And tell me about December in South Dakota. What was that like?

DAUGHTRY: Well it was cold, but it was not penetrating.

HAYES: Oh, good. Oh, good.

DAUGHTRY: And I enjoyed it.

CUSTOMER: It's a dry cold and it feels like... You know how here if it's 85 degrees and it feels like it's a hundred? There, if it's -20, it feels like it's about 30 degrees.

DAUGHTRY: Right, she's been there.

HAYES: Yeah.

DAUGHTRY: So I traveled to Tomah, Wisconsin, which was a very small village. It was an Indian school that they made into a government school. Winnebago tribe in that area. Camp McCoy ski troops trained about 10 miles from us.

HAYES: And so this was a base or just a village?

DAUGHTRY: It was just a village. But it was... Military was around. You know, it was guarded. So this was the high-tech stuff there. It was high-frequency 100-156 megacycles. And in airplanes they used about half a dozen frequencies and there own crystals. See, it was an intricately... It had to be tuned and it had to do meters. You had to be very careful in tuning that type because you could tune it on a harmonic. And the homing was tied in with the set in the plane. In other words, when I graduated from that school I didn't know if I was going to the South Pacific or the ETO.

HAYES: What's ETO?

DAUGHTRY: European Theater of Operations. So we were divided. They divided us. Half went to South Pacific, half went to... But not right then. But that was the outcome of it. If you were assigned to some of those homing stations, you were in trouble because you were out there by yourself. And later learned some of my buddies got their throat cut out in the South Pacific. You know, they're way out there on a mountainside. It took three fixes on those homing devices to get a lost plane back to its base.

HAYES: Oh, I see. So these are like remote stations.

DAUGHTRY: Yes. And really they fared tough in the South Pacific.

HAYES: But you didn't have any idea where you were going. You're just going to school every day. Eating well and...

DAUGHTRY: Everything was fine, and so there they transferred us to...transferred my group to Springfield, Massachusetts, which was a P-47 base, the Thunderbolt.


DAUGHTRY: And there's where all the on-the-job training that I did with these planes. But what I had learned at Tomah was the theory behind these sets, which was somebody needed to know that, you know, when we got to where we were going. But having had enough educational training, it wasn't too hard. Some of them didn't grasp it.

HAYES: So were you expected to fix them, too? Is that it?

DAUGHTRY: I did... In other words, we had people to do 1st and 2nd echelon work. I could get in there if it became more intricate. And if it didn't, I put a new set in there. But that had to be done sometimes in five or 10 minutes. That was the drawback to all of it. To know that there was a time. Because during the war, sometimes our missions were 10-15 minutes apart if we were close to the target or if the troops needed help or whatever--the situation which I will get into sometime if we have the time. So in Mass, that was colder than Sioux Falls and Tomah both. It was a wet cold.

HAYES: Interesting...

DAUGHTRY: I suffered there. I slept on... Those barracks were GI barracks. No insulation.

HAYES: What city was that in?

DAUGHTRY: That was Springfield, MA.

HAYES: Oh, Springfield. That's a big city, though.

DAUGHTRY: I got one of Ted Kennedy's jobs up there [laughter].

HAYES: And people were from everywhere.

DAUGHTRY: Everywhere in the United States.

HAYES: But it wasn't a Southern contingent, it was a mix?

DAUGHTRY: It was all over. We... People were transferred in there that they thought were good for that particular job, and they used more common sense than I gave them credit for from what I had seen so far [laughter]. But it was serious business at that time.

HAYES: Now you were a little bit older than many of these people. Did that make a difference or not? I mean...

DAUGHTRY: Not really. I wasn't because the draft started and I was one of the first in the draft, and most of the guys I was with were the same age as I was. I was young. I was 22 in November and was in at 21. In fact, there's a lot of the older guys were in there. Surprisingly, there were a lot of professional people...

HAYES: Interesting.

DAUGHTRY: ...picked up in that draft. You'd have thought they were not going to be drafted.

HAYES: So that first draft had some older folks in it.

DAUGHTRY: Yeah. And I would say really smarter. I don't say that because of me. I say that because most of them were educated.

HAYES: Right.

DAUGHTRY: Lawyers. People that were professional...other professional jobs.


DAUGHTRY: And they looked like they was...

HAYES: But you were still a private in the Army Air Force.

DAUGHTRY: Yes I was. $30 a month, I might add. A lot of us tried to go to OCS after being in there and that was your first impulse...

HAYES: Yeah.

DAUGHTRY: ..."I got to get out of here and go to OCS."

HAYES: Which is Officer Candidate School.

DAUGHTRY: Right. One guy out of our squadron got out, and that was through a congressman out of New York. Once they had started a cadre you couldn't get out.

HAYES: They didn't want to mess with it.

DAUGHTRY: They didn't want to foul it up. So I just lived with it.

HAYES: All right. So now you're trained, trained, trained, trained men. A lot of training here. That's amazing.

DAUGHTRY: It was. Went over to England. Went on the Queen Elizabeth. Just a one-ship deal. They said it would go 33 knots so they didn't have an escort. So we went to the...

HAYES: Now, when you say you went, how many people were on that ship?

DAUGHTRY: There were approximately 5,000, approximately.

HAYES: Of all kinds. Every type.

DAUGHTRY: Those personnel on there scared me. Those sailors used to scare us. They said, "Well now you're below the water line. If a torpedo hits they're going to close off this." Immediately, a half a dozen of us went and slept on deck. That was bad sleeping on that iron, but it was better than down there below the water level.

HAYES: And how long did that trip take?

DAUGHTRY: Five days.

HAYES: Five days of just steaming like crazy.

DAUGHTRY: Right. It was zig-zagging. Went toward the Azores then came up the coast, you know, France and on up to Scotland, landed first supply in Scotland. And would you believe it, we're coming down the gang plank and looked up there and there was a disabled 17 coming down. I don't know what it was doing up there in Scotland. And seven parachutes jumped out.

HAYES: Oh my gosh...

DAUGHTRY: That was our first taste of waiting in this little town in Scotland. We came on down the railroad into England and right on to our base, which was in Colchester, England.

HAYES: And you were in a P... What'd you say?


HAYES: Unit. And how many was in that group? How many fighters were you...

DAUGHTRY: Well, there were 35 airplanes in a fighter squadron.


DAUGHTRY: Fighter Group was three squadrons. So that was 105 aircraft.

HAYES: Alright.

DAUGHTRY: And they had the regular mechanics for the engines, bombers, and the radio people.

HAYES: And so your job was not to be flying in the airplane, but to keep the radio...

DAUGHTRY: Yes, but it was sensitive. It was subject to man-made obstacles and it required, like I said, a little bit of theory really. Because you could tune them on harmonics coming from these crystals, and if you didn't know what you were doing, you could tune it on a lesser harmonic. You had to get the greatest harmonic coming out of the crystal.



HAYES: And the radio was used by the pilots, who to talk to whom?

DAUGHTRY: They would talk to one another mostly, because you would lose the base in 100 miles and that's all the length... And then if the radios weren't tuned, you'd lose it when you got off the base. It was a very intricate situation. So I took it seriously and I became the line chief in that squadron.

HAYES: Which meant what?

DAUGHTRY: Which meant that I had a Jeep. And there were men assigned to the fighters, regular radio men, and I would come by and find out what the situation after they talked with the pilot after a mission.

HAYES: Oh, good.

DAUGHTRY: And so if it was intricate, I would jump out and get involved in it. And that's what my job was was to keep...

HAYES: Now, when you arrived for that unit, was that the first time that unit had been together or were you able to train in the States at all?

DAUGHTRY: Well we trained here in the States.

HAYES: In Massachusetts.

DAUGHTRY: Yes, but not with these pilots. Not with the same pilots. They were training. They were sent everywhere. They were sent all over the place. I don't know where they...

HAYES: But your support unit stayed together.


HAYES: So you had several months together with those guys in Springfield.

DAUGHTRY: Yeah, pretty smart wasn't it?

HAYES: Yeah, but they stayed together.

DAUGHTRY: We became the 377th Fighter Squadron. 378th, 379th there at Springfield, Mass.

HAYES: Now, these were all new machines, new fighters?

DAUGHTRY: Not that we trained in. They were ones... They had beaucoup of them. They manufactured those things right there on Long Island right close to us. Beautiful airplane, though. It was the heaviest fighter plane around. It weighed 17,000 pounds.

HAYES: Wow. And what was the brand of the radio? Was it a particular radio brand?

DAUGHTRY: Well, all I knew was the nomenclature SCR-522. That's the only thing I knew.

HAYES: But it wasn't a particular...wasn't RCA or...

DAUGHTRY: No. It was specially made. But it was a fine radio and so I enjoyed it a whole lot even though it got, you know, intricate at times. I enjoyed my job. But I didn't enjoy some of the gold bricks in there. Like I was telling you at the beginning, you had people that just would not be conscientious. That's were a lot of soldiers learn how to cuss.

They could understand cursing but just being polite didn't get it. I mean, you see these depictions in movies, these guys getting in somebody's face. Now that's needful. I hate to say that and it looks silly, looks comical, but it got the job done. We're in England now aren't we?


HAYES: So your unit is together, the planes come together. They flew separately over and now you have...

DAUGHTRY: They didn't fly over. They were shipped over.

HAYES: But now those pilots are assigned to you.

DAUGHTRY: We're all together there in this city I told you. Can't think of the name again. One of the problems being 83. Anyhow, our first assignments there was escort, you know, escorting bombers. And because the Liberator, the B-17's, had already been there and they were already doing their thing over there in England.

HAYES: So what time are we now?

DAUGHTRY: We're in '43

HAYES: Late '43?

DAUGHTRY: Middle of '43. Let's see.

HAYES: August or...

DAUGHTRY: Could have been somewhere in there, August or September, somewhere in that time period. So we only did escort work, and to begin with it was just short range into France. But then later it became long range because they put the wing tanks on and they could go all the way to Berlin with that wing tank.

HAYES: You mean the bombers?

DAUGHTRY: No, the fighter planes, the escorts.

HAYES: But for a time period there, some of those bombers flew even without escorts didn't they?

DAUGHTRY: They did and they fared tough. That's why they were getting those P-47's in there. You remember, on two raids they lost 60-some planes one day and 60-some the next day. But what would happen, those German fighters would come through that formation at 350 miles per hour. Just dive through them and they couldn't get a bead on them.

HAYES: Yeah.

DAUGHTRY: So that's what a radio man does, too. He tries to... Probably shot one another down if the truth was known.

HAYES: So let's go through... You're a troop, your planes are ready to head out. At that point you're very intensely involved, making sure your radios are working. What's going on? They're talking back and forth testing it?


HAYES: Then they leave for I don't how long. What would be a typical... How long would they be gone?

DAUGHTRY: The mission wouldn't be long in the beginning. Like I say, in France, that was short lived and we would just mostly maintain our stations. Then later on when they would leave and go as far as Berlin, we would play softball [laughter] or football, you know, tag football or whatever.

HAYES: 'Cause how long would they be gone then?

DAUGHTRY: They would be gone several hours with the wing tanks. Wing tank was seven feet long almost.

HAYES: And so what about that first hundred miles? Were you then as a radio operator listening to check and see?

DAUGHTRY: Not necessarily. I would on some occasions, but I wouldn't do it. I didn't really do much of anything. One of my duties was to get the radios maintained. We could do the first and second echelon work on them. So we could put tubes in them, it had tubes in it.

HAYES: Now did you have a whole set of backup radios that you were working on at that time?

DAUGHTRY: Yes, sure did. And we had to keep them coming in because as we went along, they were damaged and some shot down. Some in accidents, you know, we lost. But we did have a backup on them. And like I say, in my Jeep I had four of them that I had mounted in the back seat. But you had to re-tune them once you put them in a plane because the, like I say, man-made situations caused it to tune differently.

HAYES: Alright. So now, they're gone. You're relaxing or working on radios. Then they come back. What happens then? What's the activity?

DAUGHTRY: Our men on the lines... We're on the lines. I was a line chief. We would be ready for them and each one of my people, after we would jump on there, usually we would jump on there first because all we were interested in was the radio and he would give us the degree of ability the radio had. It was R-5 or S-5. That was tops.


DAUGHTRY: If it was say...if his reception was low, he'd say R-2.

HAYES: This is the pilot that you're interviewing?

DAUGHTRY: Yes. Now that was done quickly. And they knew to do that. They would give a quick indication and I would come by and they would tell me and we'd go from there. If it was just a tune job, if it was erratic, I would hang in there with it. There were other guys that could do just as well as I could but somehow or another I just got that job.

HAYES: Now had you been promoted at this point?

DAUGHTRY: Yeah, I was promoted at that time right on up to Tech Sergeant.

HAYES: Oh, Tech Sergeant.

DAUGHTRY: Yeah, I was a private but they'd give these ratings right on up, you know, because it called for that. The book called for ratings for such and such a job in there.

HAYES: There was a technical line of sergeants?

DAUGHTRY: Right. Right.

HAYES: You weren't like a fighter sergeant. That was another line?


HAYES: Was there a Tech Sergeant 1, 2, 3, 4, 5?

DAUGHTRY: No. just a Tech Sergeant in the Air Force.

HAYES: Was that the highest you could go?

DAUGHTRY: No, actually I could go to Master Sergeant. Head of the section. But there was a permanent party. He'd been in the service many, many years. But he still didn't know the set. I knew the set. So that was my job. It was me out on the line. The lieutenant and the master sergeant were in the office. They didn't see if anything came up.

HAYES: Now tell me, were you in a hurry to fix these because the planes were going to turn around quickly?

DAUGHTRY: If I knew there was a mission. I'm glad you brought that point up because...but when we got in France, the missions were quick.

HAYES: Yeah.

DAUGHTRY: In England, they were not.

HAYES: So in England you could be more deliberate about it.

DAUGHTRY: Right. Exactly right.

HAYES: Sometimes you'd have to pull that whole thing right out of there?

DAUGHTRY: Pull it out... Gosh, you could pull it out in 20 seconds.


DAUGHTRY: All of it was built well and I like that. I thought we had some smart people there.

HAYES: Now, besides the radio itself, okay, were there other parts tied to that, antennas and things like that you had to keep working on?

DAUGHTRY: Well, anything connected. At that time there was the antenna situation was was easy. It wasn't intricate at all.

HAYES: Good.

DAUGHTRY: Later on, they changed the antenna system when the new planes... Halfway through the war, they sent another type P-47. One that had a blister on it instead was not a... The early ones had a canopy that you...a headrest in the back of it. So you couldn't see but 180 degrees. But the later ones came in had a blister. Clear. They called it a "blister." You could see 360 degrees around, which helped a lot because most of the attacks came from high up and back. The Germans, they could get pretty high and they're trying to save planes in the latter part of the war and they were doing everything they could. They didn't really want to mix it up because they had a...which we can get into later...why they didn't.

HAYES: Alright. So now for several months you're doing close support?


DAUGHTRY: I hope I'm not forgetting because I wanted to talk a little about the Battle of Britain.

HAYES: Oh, OK. Well that's a good point. You mean in other words, while you're doing these short things, the Luftwaffe was bombing at that point?

DAUGHTRY: Not especially in the daytime in England. This is the point I was going to make. They did not make daytime raids when I was there. I was there eight months before invasion. And they didn't do daytime raids in England. They'd start about, if it was in the wintertime, about 5:30 or 6:00 when darkness. Usually they would come in and whatever type airplane, bomber or whatever... I'm sure it was a bomber type, they would drop canisters of foil over their target areas, approaching their target areas.

This foil would foul up the English radar. We did the same thing. We did the same situation. But it would look like, at night it would look like snow coming down. But it would foul up radar.

HAYES: But your P-47's were not going up fighting these?

DAUGHTRY: No. And that's another point. We only did our missions in the daytime, and the British flew at night and the Germans flew at night. So anything we heard were either German or British planes.

HAYES: And had they targeted your base at all?

DAUGHTRY: They did several times and they, actually they were targeting cities at that time more industrial. In fact, I saw them firebomb Colchester one night, which is about three miles from us. Their firebombs were, well they did different kind of ways. They had the napalm stuff, I'm, sure but they didn't call it that but they had it.

And what was so interesting, that type of material would be on fire when it left the bomber and it was like a stream, like a hot molten, like you would pour hot molten out of a... But they also had incendiaries, and that was what mostly hit our base were incendiaries and anti-personnel. They didn't drop any huge bombs.

HAYES: Now how would you know, you have an air raid warning?


HAYES: Where'd you go then? What did you do?

DAUGHTRY: Well we, in the beginning, we all, they had bomb shelters on that base and they had so many men were assigned to a bomb shelter. So I would run into a bomb shelter to start with. But what happens to you in war, you get tough. And I would tell you that during that eight months, sometimes we were out three times a night because they were bombing heavily right on up until the invasion.


DAUGHTRY: How those people in England stood it I'll never know. They were tough and they were bombed since 1939. So I give them a lot of credit. Those people are due... I wonder if we could stand that in this country. Questionable, isn't it?

HAYES: Well, if we had to.

DAUGHTRY: Well, it was tough on them and those, you know, miles and miles of burned-out area in London there.

HAYES: Now what about your planes during that? Were they protected?

DAUGHTRY: Well they were in revetments. The sandbags up around them.

HAYES: Oh, good. So you didn't lose any planes?

DAUGHTRY: Not unless it was something hit right in the revetment. But we didn't lose. I don't remember ever being hit while we were in England. But I wanted to say something about the war there. Actually, that particular part of the war helped win the war. The British action against German planes that bombed at night. You may have heard that, about their loss of fighters.

Now I watched that at night. I got to where I'd stand outside my little old Nissen hut and watch it. I wouldn't even go to the bomb shelter. And it was so interesting, it was like a movie. Like a sports thing. And those search lights would be wiggling up in the air. And they'd catch one in the beam, a fighter or bomber or anything they would catch. The rest of the searchlights would focus in on that one. And then there would be a hundred or so from the ground that was not on. It would suddenly come on. And they had that sky lit up like day.

I never saw a plane get out of that type of a situation. Either the ground crew knocked them down or an English fighter knocked them down. And you got this ovation out in the countryside like you could hear somebody had scored a touchdown. This huge roar would come.

HAYES: People just...

DAUGHTRY: Yeah, standing out watching. And so the point I was going to make. When we got into France, there were no enemy planes around and it was because of what the British did to those fighters. I would love for people to know that. That that really helped. And another thing in association with that, Churchill insisted on manufacturing fighter planes, English fighter planes. And he and another, I've forgotten his name, it was some fellow high up in the military, against a hoard of people that wanted to just manufacture bombers. But that was a great decision because the English had their fighters. We had our fighters and when we got into France, we had domination.

HAYES: Air domination.

DAUGHTRY: Right. And that's what won the war, but it started from in England their fighters.

HAYES: Now, could you listen to their radio chatter?

DAUGHTRY: I could, but I didn't. I closed shop. The only time I was working at night was when we were changing frequencies. We changed crystals because you may want to go on a mission and you'd been using some frequency, and you changed them accordingly.

HAYES: You don't want the enemy to get on that frequency.

DAUGHTRY: That's right. So you had to change 35 aircraft, and of course the other squadron did the same thing. That's when we'd work at night. But we'd get all our people out there and do that.

HAYES: Now for this first escort then, short escort, you didn't lose any planes?

DAUGHTRY: Never to my knowledge. The only time we started losing planes was when we got some bad oil [laughter]. We were losing them over the Channel. We didn't lose pilots especially, but the oil and why it was bad, we never found out.

HAYES: Interesting.

DAUGHTRY: We lost maybe seven or eight planes because of bad oil in the Channel. That was, you never know why things like that...but we did lose some due to accidents. And this was the way we lost most of our pilots during the war was by accidents, not by enemy gunfire. Pilot error was high.

When they would come into land, I recall the first two planes we lost was in landing. You know, you got four planes in formation, one wing man and three straight across. This guy here would come up behind the other four in the landing pattern. Twice this pilot coming up behind and coming up into the landing formation, prop chewed off the tail assembly of the...and of course knocked his engine out. So you lost four pilots, four airplanes quickly.

HAYES: These were two pilot planes?

DAUGHTRY: They were one pilot, but you lost both pilots involved in the accident. But there were two accidents, I recall. We actually lost four pilots.

HAYES: And they couldn't bail out in time?

DAUGHTRY: No, no, that 17,000 pounds was a coffin and one of its synonyms was a coffin. In other words, sometime in a playful act I recall two coming in and doing barrel rolls one day, come in like that. They were apart when they started the barrel roll, but when they came back together they hit. So they were playing. We lost two that way. I remember one day a trim tab was put on badly.

HAYES: What's that?

DAUGHTRY: A trim tab is on the wing. It has to be there. If you trim the plane up with it and it's not on there properly [interrupted by customers in the bookstore]...

HAYES: For those listening and reading this, Mr. Daughtry continues to do work and he has to keep selling books! So let's continue the story on the trim tab. This was something that they had to have and somebody made a mistake, is that what happened?

DAUGHTRY: Yes they did. It's just a small object on the wing of... It's trim, it keeps the plane level and so forth and so on, and if it's not there right or if it's loose or something. They never knew what the problem was, but they blamed it on the trim tab. But the point I was getting at is the accidents in wartime and peacetime that kill pilots. You know, you don't make but one mistake up there.

HAYES: Alright, so now the invasion has happened. When did you go to France? Why don't we get started in that.

DAUGHTRY: We were in Southampton, that's where we left from in England. Now they divided our squadron into two factions. We had 150 men in a squadron, alright. The first group, I was in the initial landing, not D-Day, D-6. So the other group was left in England. We didn't know what the situation would be in France because we knew that they prepared an airfield for us there in Normandy close to Cannes, the city of Cannes. See, we went in on a British sector Sword, the name of the invasion, Sword, Monty's crowd...

HAYES: Montgomery.

DAUGHTRY: Yes, so it was a strange situation there. We went in just like an infantryman would. We were on a small ship and then we boarded a landing craft and we landed. Because what had happened there in Normandy, the British were repulsed when they first tried to take Cannes. In fact, they were repulsed three different times and the reason for that--this is where the Germans kept their best infantry there, their elite group was there. So they pushed the British back. The shells were popping around when we landed because they had come forward toward the Channel to a certain degree.

Now they weren't up there on the rim shooting at us like they were initially. And how those fellows ever got up to that rim, I'll never know. I swear, my hats off to the foot soldiers. I'll tell you, there's nothing, no hell anywhere worse than that for a human being to go through. And the one faction of the infantry that I discovered, talking to the people that had those things on their back, the flamethrowers. Those were the guys that had to get up there and quell those pillboxes that were sitting on the ridge of those sand dunes up there.

HAYES: So what was the beach that you just landed on? It was secure, but what was the name of it?

DAUGHTRY: Sword Beach. I'll show you this quickly. This is Cannes, alright here is the beachhead we went on, all these are numbered here. That is Juno and that is Go, you know Go of course, Omaha and Utah.

HAYES: So this would be north of Utah Beach then?

DAUGHTRY: Yes, it was actually east/northeast, but this is the English landing here. Here's Cannes here. So we had an airfield somewhere in here. I've got the name of the town somewhere, but anyhow...

HAYES: Not all the way up to Cannes?

DAUGHTRY: No, no, that was about 7 or 8 miles from...

HAYES: Ok, great, that's good.

DAUGHTRY: So we landed under duress to some extent, not like the infantry guys, I'm not claiming that at all. But those 88's were coming in there and they could put one in your back pocket if you weren't careful. So we went in. The engineers, like I say, had prepared a landing field there.

HAYES: A dirt field?

DAUGHTRY: No, I'm going to get into that. I never knew if it was American engineers or English engineers, but I know they lost 100% of their personnel and 10% of the next crew that went in there.


DAUGHTRY: It's ridiculous, but that's what happened. But they made it, the landing strip. They unfolded tar paper. Would you believe it? It was roofing. It was thick roofing paper. Actually a roof made of that, they were when I came to Wilmington in the rural areas especially, made out of this thick tar paper, rolled it down and overlapped it. That is how they made roofs. So that is what they made that runway with. Of course, they were on fire all the time they were doing that.

So what happened when we got on it, about two weeks into it, the prop blast blew the tar paper [laughter] off of the runway. Those P-47's have got a powerful motor in them. Anything that can carry 1,000-pound bomb under each wing that weighs 17,000 pounds is heavy.


HAYES: We're on tape two, veterans' heritage, with Richard "Dick" Daughtry. I think he's in France, finally got the base functioning.

DAUGHTRY: Believe it or not, we were operating on terra firma, which is impossible, but as we came to find out shale was three feet down and that's why they were able...but we did not know that in the beginning. We thought we were kaput, thought we were out of business. But the ground was so packed and that shale was down there three feet, it stood up. But it didn't take them long to get in there with those metal, you know those pieces that interlock.

HAYES: Oh, that was your runway then?

DAUGHTRY: Yeah, but on that base there was lots of artillery coming in there at all times while we were flying.

HAYES: But you said now the flights are going out real fast?

DAUGHTRY: Yeah, over there.

HAYES: Was this bombers or more infantry support?

DAUGHTRY: This is the part I needed to bring out. We became a tactical group. In other words, supported infantry and tanks as soon as we got over into France. That's why they shortened up. And of course the English used some too, they needed help sometimes.

Let me tell you about the first night I was in France. Golly, it scared the devil out of me. Whoever said they weren't scared is lying [laughter]. We in the Air Force had no training as the infantry did. First night we went into France, we dug out foxholes in those apple orchards. In that area, everybody had their apple orchards surrounded by hedgerows. People hear about the hedgerows in France, but what they are is the boundary around their little apple orchard [laughter].

So we built our foxholes under the apple trees. And that was a big mistake, because that first night these big machines moved in from Cannes and they knew we were there and they shelled the hell out of us. You know, 88's and the big boys too. Some of those shells went woo, wooo, woooo [laughter]. 88's were pretty accurate. So anyhow, getting back to that first night, the shells were hitting the trees and they were exploding in the trees and the shrapnel was going downwards. We did not know to put a top on our foxhole. Nobody told us. So we had one guy killed and we lost about 19, went to the infantry with shrapnel, and you could hear guys scream. It was something just from being a civilian to that, you know, was something horrendous.

So the next night we all had covers for our foxholes. I chopped trees down about four inches thick and aligned on top of my foxhole, then put durum, maybe a foot or so of durum, on that. And I also made me an extra room in there. I worked all day the next day. I didn't even work on the line. I built me a healthy foxhole and most of us did.

See those big guns, they were motorized things and they would bring them up at night. They'd take them back before morning, and that first night we were between an artillery duel between the English and the Germans. They were going by us like that and we under here. So I'm telling you, Sherman, I shook so hard that the next day I was so sore that I could hardly move. And I still had to do all that work of improving my headquarters there [laughter].

HAYES: You had incentive though.

DAUGHTRY: I did, but I was not the only one. I mean, have you ever shook? It's like a convulsion. I shook like that, I couldn't do anything about it. People that say something like that they didn't pay any attention to, they're lying. You knew good and well you weren't going to last until morning.

HAYES: How long did this France field go, for quite some time? This temporary field, how long did you operate out?

DAUGHTRY: I'm going to tell you about it. I told you three times the Germans pushed Montgomery back, and most of this warfare was going on right beside us and we were stationary. You could hear it as it went back those times. We missed the first, the second two we were involved in. But you could hear the Germans coming in.

Then when the English got started, you could feel it move that way. I mean, there was some real hard fighting, those Panza troops are tough, German troops. Sherman, if they hadn't moved out of there before we got there... Most of them, you know, they fell for that thing that they were going to land in another area and so they had those Panza's spread out across France there. I don't know how many divisions, but they had enough there left and they were fighting defensively. They weren't really fighting to push the English into the ocean because they knew all these other places were being attacked too. But they held the English off for 30 days.

One evening down the pike after we'd been there about 30 odd days, one evening between daylight and dark about 100 or so Landcasters came across the...that's the largest English bomber. It would hold the largest bomb load. Alright, it came in low under the radar, German radar. Gosh you could see those big English circles, you know, how they have under the fuselage. Looked like they were 400 feet high, and I watched them pound the German installations on this side of Cannes. And that was the end of the Germans, those British bombers.

Okay, now the Germans were put out there. That was the end really, that ended abruptly just like that, our stay in that field. I mean, we went on some other missions, but we were assigned quickly to an assignment at the tip of Brest. That's where the submarine yards were, and there were a lot of Germans and they still had vessels there at the end of Brest. So our assignment was to clear Brest. So we went through Avignon, Saint-Lo, onto Rennes in the province of Brittany. We had an airstrip there, no action at all. No Germans were in that area at all. Germans had been there, they had blown up the bridges...

HAYES: But there was already a strip in place?

DAUGHTRY: Yes, the Germans had built one and they hadn't done a thing to it. They had blown the bridges in the city, but we did run into some sniping there. You can't guess who it was: French women.

HAYES: What?

DAUGHTRY: French women married to Germans, and they were the ones that were doing the sniping. So the infantry there ahead of us, the Air Force didn't go in there alone. Of course, we had infantry pave the way. Of course, they treated those snipers like they do all of them, but you know the end result.

So we established a base there. And what we did was we used napalm for about three weeks, and we bombed Brest with that because of the way it was. People were holed up in places, the high ground they built, they built tunnels, they built places in the rocks. They thought that was the best way to work it, but they didn't come out in the daytime for sure [laughter]. 'Cause ours was set from about 7:00 in the morning to about 7:00 at night continuously for three weeks.

HAYES: Your planes were just bombing the heck out of them.

DAUGHTRY: That was 105 airplanes that were bombing.

HAYES: And they're dropping these big chemical...

DAUGHTRY: They were canisters, they called it jelly gasoline. Actually, they were doing some big bombing there too, but if there were any holes anywhere, this napalm would seep through and that's what we were doing. But we did knock out some ships there. There were more ships that were hidden, the Germans were good at that. They were good at camouflage. These ships were hidden, but we knocked several of them out, ships that would be effective for the Germans.

HAYES: And your routine is the same one, keeping that plane going, keeping the radio operating?


HAYES: What about spare parts and things like that, though? Were they still coming in?

DAUGHTRY: Coming in all the time. One more thing, we got a Presidential Citation for that, Sherm, which was a unit thing so it was important. But anyhow, we pulled out of Brittany, went to a staging area in Ardennes, France, visited the cathedral in Ardennes, went to the third floor and who was it rebuilt by? Rockefeller [laughter] from 1918.

HAYES: You visited?

DAUGHTRY: Sure did during that period while we were getting relocated at the staging area. Okay, by that time Patton had gotten to Europe. So our assignment from then was his left flank all the way through France and into Germany, the different places.

HAYES: And your job for that unit was to find close air support?

DAUGHTRY: Air support, his advances, and not many retreats because in my opinion he was the greatest general over there. He had some bad vibes but I can understand why. It's like I'm going back to somebody's gold bricks that are around and I understand. Of course, when you do little things sometimes you get a lot of beef about it. Of course, he supposedly--and I think he did--slap a soldier. The soldier said he had a headache or backache and that teed him off to where he couldn't hold back. But that's where I told you the cussing comes in.

HAYES: Well how would your pilots even know what to do? Who told them what to do?

DAUGHTRY: There was a briefing every morning.

HAYES: Did you have to go to that too?

DAUGHTRY: No, never went because I knew where they were going. Because these were my buddies, they were my age, and I could have been one of them if my thing had gone through. They were all maybe 23-24, something like that.

HAYES: And somebody would say, "Go after these tanks" or "Go after this town."

DAUGHTRY: Yeah, word would come in and tell us where they needed us. If a platoon or a tank outfit would, say they'd bring in some roadblocks behind them. This happened a whole lot. The Germans, for instance, Patton would go 50 miles sometimes and they'd close in behind him. He had to fight his way back. So that was the part that the Germans hated. They respected him because of his offensive nature.

That's good, that's good really. If you're in a war, you want to be with a general that can do offensive work more than defensive like we're doing over there now, defensive crap. It bothers me. When politics get into it, you're in trouble.

HAYES: Did you ever see him at all?

DAUGHTRY: No, he was in his car accident about 25 miles from where I was when it happened. I remember, sad day for us. Like I say, the Germans respected him because he was tough. I need to tell you about the Bulge.

HAYES: Ok, but give me a sense of... If he's moving fast like that, how did you keep changing airfields?

DAUGHTRY: I missed that. Actually we still operated, we still hedge-hopped, the personnel. In other words, half of us like this, wherever we were needed to set up, the auxiliary thing, we hedge-hopped.

HAYES: Well where was the airfield?

DAUGHTRY: Sometimes on the highway [laughter].

HAYES: Really?

DAUGHTRY: Yes, and it was the nearest one they had captured too.

HAYES: So you were moving just with the troops fast.

DAUGHTRY: Yes, see I'm forgetting these things. I'm glad you reminded me 'cause that was important.

HAYES: So you're moving right with that...

DAUGHTRY: Wherever the war zone was, we were in there. Campaigns, American theater, Normandy, northern France, Ardennes, Central Europe, so we were all over the place. I can't remember all those towns.

HAYES: So now you want to talk about the Bulge.

DAUGHTRY: Yeah, yeah. We had close support to him all the way to Luxembourg. So we were there in the winter of '44 when in December, you know, the offensive started, came towards out of Belgium. I think we were there for a purpose and I can't remember how we got there that quickly, but we did. So to tell you a little bit about it, everybody's got a different thing about the Bulge. You know, they came through Belgium there, a quarter-million Germans came through there. A quarter of a million, 150 super tiger tanks.

On that front, now this doesn't have anything to do with me, but I have to tell this story. The 106th division was there guarding, 16,000 men were there guarding that area. It was called Sneed Eiffel is whatever that language is.

HAYES: Belgium.

DAUGHTRY: Ok, it was a snowy incline and those Germans were at the top coming down. But before they started, they put one of the heaviest artillery fires ever known in history in that area to soften it up. There was no intelligence. It had been a quiet front for months, no action. They could pull the old crew out giving them a rest, put the 106th in there, a new crew trained in Georgia. Some of the units had been stolen from there and put in other outfits. At least 20%, 30%, 40% of them were taken out, the ones they trained with. And they put these guys that they got out pools which were misfits to replace these guys.

They weren't a full division and that's what was guarding this area. I wanted to make that point. They weren't all trained, ok. When they come over that hill, you know those fellows took flight. There wasn't any way they could stay there. Those tanks and artillery and mortars killed anywhere from 8 to 12,000 American soldiers. They never found out. Those vehicles were actually running the American soldiers down, running over them.

So they fell back to St. Vith, which was in France there near Rennes, but they completely obliterated the 106th division and you never see that in print hardly. But they captured upwards to 3,000 to 4,000 of those American prisoners. The said they were going to use them to trade off for German prisoners, they were trying to cut the allies in two--English on one side, Americans on the other.

But this fellow from Burgaw wrote a good... He was captured by them in that onslaught, put in these boxcars. I saw that article in the Star-News one day, escaped a couple of times. They said he wouldn't eat the soup because it had maggots in it. He said about the third day out, he started liking that maggot soup [laughter].

There's another story associated with that that I've got to tell you. They took 350, you know may know that, I don't know, 350 of those men they captured from the 106 and they took them by boxcar through Germany to concentration camp Buchenwald. This was in Weimer, this was 60 miles beyond Weimer to an area that they were mining, I don't know whether it was uranium or what, but it was something associated with the atomic manufacturer. They took 350 of these men and put them in this concentration camp.

Now you've probably never heard of Americans being put in a concentration camp. Alright, 350 of them were a place called Berga and that's closer to the Russian border, 60 miles beyond Weimer. So these soldiers when they would march through this town in the morning, they weren't fed properly. They would make these motions, food motions like they wanted something to eat. The town was composed mostly of women. Men were either killed in the Army or something. But they had compassion for these soldiers and so they would throw out stuff in the streets like potato peelings and stuff they fed to the animals or poultry. These soldiers would pick them up and eat it and it helped them survive.

HAYES: Oh God.

DAUGHTRY: But imagine the German women feeling compassion. If they'd have been caught, they'd have been shot on the spot.

HAYES: Well tell me about, was the Bulge happening, you were not in the middle of it, but did you feel the impact of it or...

DAUGHTRY: Yes, I'm going to tell you about it, but I wanted to tell this story about these people of the 106th before I forget about it. Seventy of those guys were Jews. They were killed immediately. So these little stories are big, but you never hear about it. The only way you hear about it sometimes is from somebody that knew about it.

But getting back to the Bulge, alright. For three days prior to that, they were beating the hell out of us, the Germans were. Snow and fog, the fog was really 25 to 50 feet at the most you could see. It was Americans killing Americans a lot of times. You heard something, you shot. We didn't but the infantry guys did. I knew a lot of them and talked to them and so this was going along for several days, you know, after they came through and swing over, after they had surrounded the 82nd and the 101st. See, all that came in short order.

HAYES: Well were your guys getting called in to bomb?

DAUGHTRY: Well they couldn't because of the snow and fog. No air support for the 101st and 82nd. So I'm getting to the good part. The third night, well it went to 0, froze over all that snow and ice, bottled up. The Germans had sent a spearhead from the Bulge towards the city. We were in there, and so we could hear the artillery coming. It got louder and louder those three days, boom, boom. That third day, they were within five miles of Luxembourg.

Alright, the night after the third day, you could see 100 miles straight up [laughter]. I mean it felt like that, it felt so good. Our group was on the left flank, they had a P-47 outfit on the right flank. Alright, we went in there, caught those guys bumper to bumper, they couldn't bulge. They were frozen in the ice, their head vehicles.

HAYES: Really.

DAUGHTRY: They had these cannon fodder, the young guys out in front. They were stationary, all of them there stuck. It took all day long and we completely obliterated that spearhead, the 200 P-47's. Alright, that gave General Patton clearance. I went to that battlefield. I cannot explain it. I had to see what it was, but horse-drawn, bumper to bumper a lot of them. You know they hauled their food supplies.

HAYES: You mean afterward you went in to see...

DAUGHTRY: Yes, yes.

HAYES: It was burned-out tanks.

DAUGHTRY: Yes, it was strong. You know, you heard about the thing that happened over there in Desert Storm about that?

HAYES: Yes, yes.

DAUGHTRY: Alright, well, this was just like that only more so. It was 500 vehicles and like I say most of them were horse-drawn. Those that where the 50-calibers hit those horses, they would explode you know. It was a ferocious thing. Those kids they had out, you know they put their 14, 15-year-old kids out in front. They look like ducks from the air. I didn't see it, but the pilots were telling me about it and they looked like grown men out there, but some of them were just like cannon fodder. They did that a lot, young people out in front.

So that, as I saw it, broke it wide open and we also got a presidential citation for that act of clearing away from Mr. Patton. So it took him a while to get, I don't know how long it took him. It was 70-80 miles worth with tanks and so forth, it took him a pretty long time to get there, 8 or 12 hours, I don't know. But when they got there, it went right through that wall of Germans, right on through the other side, split the Germans. So I don't know whether you ever heard it explained just how it was.

But from then on it was katy bar the door for the Germans. You know what I mean. They were in full retreat after that maneuver of Patton through that pocket. The Germans, though, were good for that kind of warfare and we lost a lot of men in that Battle of the Bulge. I cannot say it was over 75,000 men easily, American soldiers killed, and pursuant to Germany because they were good at retreating. You know they were professional soldiers and following retreat, you were on the offense. You were in trouble.

HAYES: So now Patton's breaking through and how often are you moving that field now?

DAUGHTRY: Not too often at this point because we were close, you know, our last stopping point I believe was at Strawbene.

HAYES: So if you're in Germany now.

DAUGHTRY: Yeah, we're in Germany.

HAYES: And they had what kind of a mileage could those planes go?

DAUGHTRY: They could handle that mileage easily. They could stay up three to four hours.

HAYES: So you didn't have to be right next to them and still support them.

DAUGHTRY: No, right. Now we were in on going over the Rhine River, Remagen. They called it the Bridge at Remagen, Germany. This was the first trip across the Rhine. Our assignment there was to protect the bridge because they pulled out. The Germans pulled out and they had explosives under the bridge, but somebody goofed and...

HAYES: Didn't pull the plug.

DAUGHTRY: That's right, and they got beyond it far enough that they couldn't get back, the people that were entrusted in doing that. I heard that Hitler recalled them and let them hold it [laughter]. So what happened, our assignment was to protect that bridge so we could build a pontoon bridge, but they had to get across in order to build a pontoon bridge going across, you know. So the 205, I'm still talking about both sides of this with support, our assignment was to protect that bridge.

So beginning at dawn, we were over there when we heard that they had pulled out. Our people had heard and circled that bridge all day long, the whole day from daybreak til sunset.

HAYES: Really, the planes just...

DAUGHTRY: Our planes kept circling it trying to protect, but they would break through. The Germans, mostly medium bombers and a few fighter planes with a 500-pound bomb or 100-pound bomb or something. In spite of our circling, they were able to penetrate and drop these explosives, but they never hit that bridge directly [laughter]. All around it, up and down and around it, but it enabled us, the allies, to build this pontoon bridge and get our troops across during that period of time.

The next day that bridge fell on its own [laughter] because of the explosive nature, you know, concussion [laughter]. So we got another citation for that so that was important. I mean, you felt good about yourself because you're making progress, you're seeing it made.

HAYES: Yeah, yeah.

DAUGHTRY: And of course, as we got deeper into Germany, there was still lots of work for fighter support because the defense that the Germans threw up it was expertise stuff. I mean, they were really good at it.

HAYES: Now you've been over in Europe at this point for months and months and months, right, and you've been in England.

DAUGHTRY: This was almost a year.

HAYES: Do you ever get a break, do you ever have to go back to the line?

DAUGHTRY: Never got a break at all in that time. I did get a chance to go when I was up around Verdun, you remember the French city of Verdun. And I slipped away because I could drive it in about 45 minutes from our field. I heard they had a sanitation unit. You could take a bath [laughter], and at that time most of us hadn't had a bath in four to six weeks.

It was wintertime. You didn't really do a whole lot, I hate to say this, I mean you washed your face and you dibbled dabbled here and there and around out of your helmet. But I heard there was a sanitation unit in Verdun. Of course, this was where the first World War around Argonne Forest out in that area. So boy, I took three of my buddies and we went in there and while we were in the shower a guy walks up to me. Of course we're all in our birthday suits, and he says "Hello Daughtry," a guy from hometown up in Goldsboro.

HAYES: You're kidding.

DAUGHTRY: Icky Peacock, he was the lieutenant in charge of the sanitation unit [laughter].

HAYES: [Laughter] That's great.

DAUGHTRY: He says, "Dick, can you come back into town and well, build 200 bars or whatever you want to do?" and I said, "It's a hot bed up where we are now and I slipped off to get here to get a bath." [Laughter] It was like going to heaven, getting in that shower. Hadn't had a shower in many months since the war started. I mean not the war starting, since we were in France. I really enjoyed that.

But I did get a chance to go out and around Verdun. My dad fought in the area around there, and I saw the evidence of those areas where they would get into these trenches. Most of them were covered up with sand, but there were immense areas of rusted material. You couldn't tell what they were or about, but I enjoyed seeing where my dad was in World War II.

Then again it was one assignment after the other as we left.

HAYES: So how many different fields did you end up in Germany?

DAUGHTRY: Of the ones I knew, getting into France, well there were two in England--Werming and Headcorn. Actually this is Mason which was the largest city in Kent in England. That's where the buzz bombs started coming across from Calais, Dover three abreast.

HAYES: You'd see these things?

DAUGHTRY: Yes, 300-400 feet high. The first one came over our field headed for London. And of course, the English called them "doodlebugs" and we called them "buzz bombs." We had no idea what they were when the first ones came in. They were coming over fast and then that was the V-1 and then the V-2, or vice versa. V-2 is the one that went up 60 miles and came down. You didn't hear the whistle until after the explosion. It was the larger one.

They tried to dump it on London, all of that stuff, and they did. Heck, those people went through it there, I swear they did. Like I say, my hats off to them.

HAYES: So what was Patton, was he fighting pockets of resistance or...

DAUGHTRY: Yes, that's the way it was. It was a defensive fight all the way from then on. They would throw up so the others could back off. You know, I always heard that Hitler was going to have his little place back in there, further back eventually, you know back from Berlin back between there and Russia. I've never seen that in print, but I had heard it in conversations.

So in my mind I didn't know whether we would just go so far and let him have the rest of it. Of course, the Russians started coming in and that's a story in itself because when the Russians got close, those Germans were giving up on our field there where the planes were. The prop planes would shoot their flares up at 10 or 12,000, circle, come in and land.

HAYES: On your field?

DAUGHTRY: Yes, yes, they were German fields, they knew just where they were, see? The Germans had flown on those fields before.

HAYES: So you actually took planes...

DAUGHTRY: Yeah and right at the last when the German jets were coming in landing and they would usually come in two at a time, they wouldn't come in circling, they would come over the treetops on the other side of the runways, belly flop, skid way out there.

HAYES: You saw these...

DAUGHTRY: Yes, yes and that's the first time I'd ever seen one except at night during that period of time before they got beaten pretty severely. You could see them like at night. When the moon was out you could see those jets. But they never did get the field mixture to where they could stay up over an hour.

HAYES: Oh, is that right?

DAUGHTRY: So that was the problem, but they didn't want any part of the Russians.

HAYES: So you mean the war wasn't even officially over and they were surrendering?

DAUGHTRY: Yes, absolutely, but they knew. They saw the handwriting on the wall. The Russians were making big progress and we were, but they didn't want to be captured by the Russians because those that did, most of them, I don't know what the percentage, but I'd say 78 to 80% of them died in Russia. Not many got out of there once they were captured.

In the process of this, we overran Buchenwald, which was in Weimer, and that was as far as we got. The government wouldn't let us go any further. Berlin was 100 km and we could have gone in there easy.

HAYES: But your airport wasn't Buchenwald, you just went to visit one day?

DAUGHTRY: That's right.

HAYES: Tell people what Buchenwald is for those who don't know.

DAUGHTRY: Well it's a concentration camp set up by the Nazis, and in this particular camp most of the inmates were political prisoners. A lot of them were German citizens that had voiced negative remarks against the Nazis. This was a camp where there was a lot of intelligence. A lot of like I say political prisoners. There were about 56,000 murdered in that camp, not as much, this was probably the least of the ones. But they used that camp, the medical people did, to experiment on prisoners -- all kinds of... I may have shown you the other day the table at Buchenwald where they experimented.

HAYES: Now what was your particular situation? What happened that day?

DAUGHTRY: Well actually we had to drive there, it took us maybe two hours to get there from where our strip was, and it was a small airfield so we knew about the mission. We'd heard from the grapevine that this concentration camp, we didn't know what it was like. Nobody knew what it was like. So this guy came in there by there. He was a courier of some kind. He came by and told our headquarters. He said they were burning people. I mean, he was going as fast as he could up the line and his was done by mouth. He had driven that far.

I was interested in seeing that. And so a lot of us were able to get a two-and-a-half-ton truck, and not everybody got this opportunity, just some of us. And so I guess there were maybe 25-30 of us on that and we drove quickly to that area. In fact, that night we stayed there, we were in town in a hotel and there was sort of a counter-attack. A lot of small arms fire going on in the streets below.

HAYES: And what city was that in?

DAUGHTRY: This was in Weimer.


HAYES: So you guys were going to see, the camp had been captured at this point.

DAUGHTRY: Right, the infantry had gone in there.

HAYES: And what did it look like? I mean, did they let you in?

DAUGHTRY: Yes, yes, they let us in. They wanted everybody to see it and they saw who we were and of course we saw the crematorium, you know.

HAYES: Were the bodies still there?

DAUGHTRY: Yes, the bodies were still there. They were in that crematorium. They were still in those steel stretchers. They could put two bodies at a time, stick them in there. Outside the crematorium were two stacks of people that had been murdered. I guess 200 people out there in that area. They were new. The other inmates had taken their clothes off them to put on themselves if they could. In those things they were in, there was no heat and at that time it was cold as hell.

So we were told by the inmates not to go by certain areas there. I think it was something like barracks 49, it was a medical thing and they were giving prisoners there typhus fever and trying to cure. Now that was just one of the experiments. They use experiments in this country for good that they did in that camp for good, but they did all kinds of way as I understand it even without being put to sleep or anything like that. They did it to people who were still, you know, had feeling so the inmates said.

The inmates talked a lot about things that happened. For instance, if you would get too close to one of those SS troopers, the rule was not even to get close to them accidentally, but they didn't want anybody within six feet of them. If they were walking, you had to move quickly and get out of the way.

But I'll tell you a little story that you probably wouldn't ever hear. This happened prior to my getting there. They caught two of those SS troopers in uniform and put them in a room with 10 prisoners and gave those prisoners billy sticks, they're wooden billy sticks with a strap. Of course they mauled them to death, kept beating them because the few American GI's were telling me about it, that they did that. I mean, they were mad themselves, the infantry guys were.

HAYES: Did you feel mad?

DAUGHTRY: Yes, I was. Anybody that wasn't... I was picturing that, sorry, that got to me.

HAYES: Yeah, and I am sorry to bring that up... Well you had talked earlier when I was in before, you might want to comment about how in a war setting you get hard. I mean, you just see stuff and people die and you must have had pilots that crashed and friends.

DAUGHTRY: You're quite right. I can recall a softball game we had and the pilots were involved, enlisted men and if the ballgame wasn't over, whenever they'd come back from a mission we would resume. I recall one day the third baseman was killed in a mission, come back and how in the world can you do that unless you are hardened to that. Of course at that time you are different, you're hardened, you're mad, you got a job to do and you feel good about doing it.

HAYES: How about when these Germans would surrender to you though, then they're just normal people.


HAYES: See, isn't that funny. You weren't...

DAUGHTRY: That was normal and we could understand that. They were treated very nicely, they really were. We were pretty well educated to human beings you know. Those Germans were doing their job. There wasn't anything they could do about it.

HAYES: Except at the concentration camp when you felt the same anger that we talked about.

DAUGHTRY: It's similar to this. How can people do that, but they can do it. Even your own buddies can do it. You got a degree of people in service and the way they were raised in the environment, they're mean as hell some of them and we had a lot of trouble in the service with that sort of thing. On occasion, say I'm going to take an armament group of people, I remember this vividly. I was a CQ in charge of quarters one night.

HAYES: What is CQ?

DAUGHTRY: Charge of quarters. You were the one that was listening out for everybody. You had your radio, your telephone, everything in the headquarters tent. These guys went out together. There were about six of them and they're armored. They came back at about 4:00 in the morning and one of them had been beaten to a pulp. I mean, his face was flat. He was under the influence of alcohol, he didn't even know it. So that's about 4:00. About 6:30 or 7:00, he woke up hurting and kept flying over to headquarters where I was and he was in his drawers and wanted to know who he'd gone out with [laughter].

I knew who he went out with, but I told him he'd have to find out himself because I didn't pay any attention who people go out with. He says they'd know how he got whipped and I know one or two of those did it cause I knew, but that's something, that's as far as it goes. You don't stick your neck...

HAYES: But there's a lot of stress, there's a lot of tension. Come one, somebody's shooting at you.

DAUGHTRY: If you went in town by yourself, you were in jeopardy.

HAYES: Really?

DAUGHTRY: Yeah, you were. If you went to use the latrine anywhere in town, these AWOL's, these guys like that didn't care about anything were there. They would attack you, take your money and your credentials so you tried to go in town at 3, 4, 5:00 if you could 'cause it was tough.

HAYES: That's your own people, that's not the Germans.

DAUGHTRY: Yes, yes and that was from the beginning in France right on.

HAYES: Rough times.


HAYES: Now after you saw the concentration camps, was that kind of the end of the campaign? You said they made them stop at that point?

DAUGHTRY: Well that's as far as they would let us go.

HAYES: Now were you still flying missions like crazy?

DAUGHTRY: No, no, they weren't at that time. They stopped. That was probably the last, I can't remember, but leading to Buchenwald was possibly the last one of its nature like that. But I would tell you, they were going into town making those people look at it. The infantry was going in there with these two-and-a-half-ton trucks and they would surround the house. These people would have to get in the truck at gunpoint.

HAYES: Oh, you mean the citizens.

DAUGHTRY: Yes, they were making the citizens and I witnessed that the next day. I was there 24 hours. In rounding up these citizens, they rounded up a lot of the SS troopers because they had dressed as civilians. They were hiding in these houses in town. Nothing the people could do about it. They went in there, so they would search these houses at gunpoint and bring them out.

Alright, most of the townspeople were skinny. They hadn't had anything to eat either. So the robust ones, when they came out, a lot of them their clothes were too tight and all this kind of stuff, put those aside, and sure enough they were SS men, big guys. Usually those troopers were over 6 feet. They didn't have any puny ones in there and most of them weighed over 200 lbs. Those two dead ones were 6'7". By the way, they threw those two dead SS men on top of the one pile of those dead prisoners, twice the size of those prisoners. They were just lying up there on top. Of course, our thought is go by there before the pictures were taken. I looked at those same pictures many times and never saw those two dead men.

HAYES: Were there Jews as well there too?

DAUGHTRY: There were a lot of Jews still there.

HAYES: Yeah, and were people trying to take care of them?

DAUGHTRY: There were not enough personnel in there at that time. Our medics that I talked to took care as what they could, but the ones that were starving to death, they were in buildings. I suppose they would call them hospitals, but they were buildings 12 x 14 feet in diameter. Those people were sitting next to one another in these rooms. The center part was clear and their weight was holding each other up. Our medics said they were beyond kept even though they could not eat at that particular time. But we did give them cigarettes and they enjoyed probably the last good thing that ever happened to them.

I had a lot of cigarettes. I didn't smoke and I used them to trade for eggs or whatever I could find.

HAYES: So what happened at the end? Did they just say the war is over? I mean, how did you know it was done?

DAUGHTRY: Well they did, news got to us that the war was over and I remember well that particular day, you know, V-E Day. I remember it and it was a tremendous feeling. You were felt exalted. You felt like the thing had lifted, but now we still stayed there. We went to southern France, the base of the Bavarian Alps and we trained. We were going to the invasion of Japan.

HAYES: Oh, so you weren't free yet.

DAUGHTRY: I'd been there a year and eight months so far. And we trained there and they sent us down to Marseilles, France, and we were getting ready to ship out. We had sprayed all of our equipment for jungle warfare. We were going on a 45-day trip through the Panama Canal to Manila in preparation, our whole unit was. So while we were on that ship the atomic bombs hit.

HAYES: So you were going across the Atlantic at that point.

DAUGHTRY: Yes, we were going across the Atlantic and they weren't going to let us come home. We were there for the duration. Like I say, that was a 45-day boat trip from Marseilles to Manila through the Panama Canal.

HAYES: So you were somewhere in the Atlantic and did they tell you...

DAUGHTRY: No, no, I hadn't set sail yet. We were a week ahead of sailing that Mr. Truman dropped the atomic bomb, you know, in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

HAYES: Then did you have a quick trip home?

DAUGHTRY: Yes, quick trip, back to New York.

HAYES: In other words, since you were ready to go, they put you...

DAUGHTRY: They took off all the spuds on the deck, gave them to the French people. You know what a spud is, right?


DAUGHTRY: It's an Irish potato [laughter].

HAYES: Were your planes on those same ships?

DAUGHTRY: No, no, absolutely not, just personnel.

HAYES: So you really got out fairly early.

DAUGHTRY: I was one of the first ones home.

HAYES: That's what I'm saying, just because you were scheduled to go.

DAUGHTRY: But we had trained to go, you know, the war was over. I didn't get to come home on V-E Day. It was several months. I came to Goldsboro right in my hometown and was discharged there. But I have to tell you about this ace that used to fly with us, Gebreski. He was the leading ace, American ace in World War II, and he flew a lot of missions with us because he could get more chance at the enemy planes. His outfit, the 56th, was doing a lot of escort work.

So he came over and he would actually lead our group. In fact, in January at the same time, right after the Battle of the Bulge, he was leading our group on a mission. After the Bulge, our mission was to destroy Luftwaffe fields. So he was leading our mission one day and came down. He'd spotted some Fock-Wulfs and Messerschmitts. They thought they had them hidden. He made the initial pass and his prop hit the runway, the German runway, knocked his engine out of course.

Instantly, he thought about going 5,000 or 2,000 up and parachuting, but he knew the perimeter fire would kill him coming down the parachute. So he just picked it up and went as far as he could to find some kind of a space to land. But he still had the ground that's coming in and hitting the wing and the tail surface at the same time spinning. If he didn't have two to three acres to land in, no runway, that's the way you did it.

HAYES: He survived.

DAUGHTRY: Survived, went in the woods, couldn't find anything to eat, came out. The German civilians caught him. He said that was the first time he was afraid in his life 'cause there was a lot of pitchforking going on by civilians. German outfit caught up with him.

You know they knew he was in the vicinity because of his plane, it had 30 swastikas on the side. It just sent the hair up on your neck just to look at his plane. And we helped him polish it. It was polished with oxblood, he would get oxblood shoe polish and we helped him polish it. It was that color with those black and white swastikas on it.

HAYES: Did the Germans finally let him go?

DAUGHTRY: Yeah, he was put in a stalag. A fellow from down here in Southport was in the same stalag. I was talking to him one day about it.

HAYES: Well, we're not going to get to that because we're about done. Let me end this with having you just tell our listeners a sense of, you know this was work, this was duty, but how do you look back at World War II? I mean, how do you feel about World War II now? What would you say to someone about your service there?

DAUGHTRY: Well I felt really, I still do, honored at being able to do that. I was a conscientious person and I appreciated my colleagues who were conscientious. And you felt like you were doing something, especially the further information you picked up about their treatment to those countries they had settled down in like France and Poland. You heard these things from these people. And running into these displaced people in Europe. See, they were really out of these woods. You'd come by a place and these people, if you stopped for any reason at all to eat or whatever, they would come out of the woods and we would feed them.

And this was part of this feeling you asked me felt good to do this. The Army was selling orange marmalade, and we got the most of it, our outfit, and we would make sandwiches for these displaced people, three or four tiers high. And you'd see them trying to eat a four-layer orange marmalade sandwich [laughter]. What a sight that was, but you felt good about being, having done what you did. That was pay enough for me, regardless of anything else veterans get you know, the satisfaction of doing for mankind. There's no telling what he would have done had he controlled Europe because they were fast developing the atomic bomb. You and I know it. Everything was falling in place for him.

But the Americans going over there did a fine thing for the European nations, they really did, for France, England, for all of them. We did a tremendous job and again I feel good about being a part of it, even though I played a small part.

HAYES: Thank you.