World War II veteran remembers

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011, is the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, a U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Carroll Waddell, Manila

The attack by the Japanese was an effort to cripple the Pacific Fleet and it came as a shock to the American people. The attack led to America entering World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Dec. 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy."

The military suffered 2,402 casualties and 1,247 wounded along with 57 civilian losses. Men did not wait to be drafted. Men, along with many women joined the military.

Most people over the age of 70 can tell you where they were when on Dec. 7, 1941, when they heard the news of Pearl Harbor.

Men and women from across Buffalo Island joined the armed forces to serve their country. Many of the names are listed on the monuments at the new Buffalo Island Veterans Park in Leachville.

Carroll Waddell of Manila is among the World War II veterans. He was not in the military the day Pearl Harbor was attacked but he can tell you where he was when he heard the news. Mr. Waddell said he was at the home of his future wife, Delphia Crouse, his bride of almost 67 years.

He, like most Americans, knew war was inevitable.

(Editor's note: The following information was taken from an essay written by Mr. Waddell's granddaughter, Ashley Cochran.)

Carroll Waddell was raised near Manila graduating from Blackwater High School in 1941. He and his wife, Delphia, still live in the Blackwater community.

Carroll's father, Lawrence Waddell, was in the Navy in 1918. Carroll was in the United States Army Air Corp.

Shortly after the United States entered into World War II, Mr. Waddell enlisted in the United States Army Air Corp at the age of 19 instead of waiting to be drafted. He enlisted in November of 1942 and became part of the Eighth Air Force, 44th bomb group, 68th squadron.

His first training was at the airplane mechanic school in Kessler Field, Miss. He studied the basic components and operational functions of aircraft. From Mississippi he went to Michigan where he learned about the specifics of the B-24 Bomber. He then went to Harlingen, Texas, for gunnery school.

Each bomber consisted of a 10 man crew: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier, and gunners. Additional training took place at advanced gunnery school with flying practice in Clovis, N.M. He was not learning to fly a plane, but was practicing how to do his job as a tail gunner while the plane was in the air.

Pueblo, Colo., provided the ideal place for practice flying in the mountainous terrain. The new crew picked up their new bomber in Topeka, Kan. After the training, Waddell's next assignment was the bomber base in Ipswich, England.

Like most Americans, Waddell believed the war was necessary but it did not make it any easier on those who were fighting.

Waddell and his crew flew many missions successfully bombing military targets. Their B-24 Bomber was shot down during their last mission.

Their plane was hit somewhere over the town of Friedrichshafen in southeast Germany. He recalled the crew saw what looked like a flock of birds surrounding the plane, but in reality, it was the German Flack hitting the bomber.

A bell rang, signaling the command to jump. They knew if they jumped over Germany, the Nazis would kill them. If they landed in Switzerland, a neutral country, they would be put in an internment camp until the end of the war.

At only 19 years of age, Waddell was the highest-ranking offer on the plane. He was a sergeant. He could not jump until all of the others were out. The ninth man froze as the plane spiraled down. Waddell ordered him to jump but he continued to sit without moving.

"I then raised my leg and gave him a boot," he said.

Sergeant Waddell was the last one to jump.

They landed in Switzerland and were interned in a hotel in Geneva.

He said the radio operator was put in confinement for trying to escape. He secured a Boy Scout uniform by paying a town citizen for help. By crawling across enemy territory, taking a bus, a train, a coal burning taxi, and wearing out a pair of slippers, he arrived home in nine days.

He was honorably discharged from the service in October 1945.

The Waddells are the parents of four children. Their oldest son, Larry Waddell, a pilot in the Navy, was killed while landing on an aircraft carrier; Garry Waddell, Ricky Waddell and Genna Waddell Cochran.

(Mr. Waddell and his son, Larry, along with other Manila veterans, will be featured in a book honoring area veterans. Donna Jackson of Manila is gathering information from veterans and family members to be featured in a book. For more information on the upcoming book, or to submit a veteran's biography, forms are available at Delta Drug in Manila.)

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