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Interview with Joseph C. Sanford [1/18/2000]

David Gregory:

Mr. Sanford, you do understand that this conversation is being recorded?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Of course.

David Gregory:

And that's acceptable to you?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Yes, it is.

David Gregory:

Very good, sir. Thank you. Mr. Sanford, could we begin please with some background information if you would tell me please where and when you were born and where you grew up.

Joseph C. Sanford:

Yeah. I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1923, the 11th of August. I attended school there through the third grade and we moved then to New Jersey to Absecon and I stayed there for about two or three years. Went to Pleasantville for another couple of years and then to Atlantic City. These cities are all close together here. I entered the service from Atlantic City in 1940.

David Gregory:

When did you graduate from high school?

Joseph C. Sanford:

I did not graduate from high school until after I came out of the service and that was ___[??] in Philadelphia, ___[??] High School, a private high school and that was in 1946.

David Gregory:

When you enlisted, were you seventeen?

Joseph C. Sanford:

I was sixteen.

David Gregory:

Sixteen. Okay. How did that come about?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Well, I went into the National Guard. This was in, I guess, July, June or July, of 1940 to go on a vacation up in Pine Camp, New York on maneuvers with the National Guard, which was 157th Field Artillery, 44th Division, National Guard division, which was New York and New Jersey. We went up there, spent a couple of weeks at Pine Camp, which later on became Fort _____[??], it was Pine Camp then. Came back to Atlantic City and there in, I guess it was ... the president in some way began declaring an emergency and they held us in the armory. Wouldn't let us in the armory. Of course, let me say this - the National Guard would take kids fourteen and fifteen years of age.

David Gregory:

They did?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Oh yes, that's true.

David Gregory:

Was that a special program of some kind?

Joseph C. Sanford:

No. They just wanted bodies. I suppose the federal government or the state provided so much funding for each person so they would accept all kinds of people. They had very little equipment. Our equipment at that time was a tank. We'd have a truck with the word 'tank' painted on it. We did have guns. We had 105 millimeter howitzers. They were French guns. They were ____[??] up in maneuvers. That's what we were. We were field artillery. But anyway, they took these kids because they needed bodies.

David Gregory:

What was the appeal to you of the National Guard when you're sixteen?

Joseph C. Sanford:

I was talked into it. [chuckles] You know, it sounded like an adventure to go up into New York. Of course, the feeling of war was beginning to stir. We knew that we were probably going to go to war against Germany. Germany's behavior was becoming intolerable. I always felt that it would be my duty to go into the service anyway, so if I went in a littl early I would be better prepared. Anyway, so I went into the service. We were inducted in the federal service the 16th of September, 1940. We were the first National Guard outfit to go into the federal service. As a matter of fact, there were three of us and that was the 28th, 29th, and the 44th. That was the New York, New Jersey, Pennyslvania, and Maryland and parts of Virginia. That was the 29th Division. So we had those three divisions that went into federal. That was the first actIOn that was taken. That was before any drafting occurred or any such thing. It was three divisions going into the federal service.

David Gregory:

So you did not go back to high school in 1940 when you came back from the summer of camp? [phone problems - calls back]

David Gregory:

I'm just a little curious to get the time line here - when you came back from summer camp and they federalized your National Guard unit. ..

Joseph C. Sanford:

That was in September. September 16th we were federalized.

David Gregory:

Did you not go back into high school at that point?

Joseph C. Sanford:

No, I did not. I had already quit high school truthfully. I was working as a civilian. You got to remember this was the Depression. My family needed some money and I was having trouble in school in that I was bored stiff. I was really bored. Let me say this, when I came back out of the service and went to high school, I made all straight A's in everything. I took twenty-something _____[??] units in one year and maxed out the whole course. Not only that, let me say this, when I came out of the service and took the test I made my percentage aptitude test was 99.9 or some such thing. They gave me unlimited G.I. training. In other words, the maximum normally was forty-eight months. After the war, they gave me unlimited ... my actual goal was a Ph.D. in physics. I'll tell you truthfully, I was very depressed after the war and I just couldn't do school. But anyway, back to the war again, we went into the service, federal service, September 16, 1940. Then in October, President Roosevelt initiated a volunteer army if you will, the Army of the United States, AUS, where people were to go in for one year and stay in and get out the following October, which, by the way, never happened. They stayed in.

David Gregory:

Yes sir. Did your parents have to sign for you at that point?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Absolutely not. Nobody ever signed for me.

David Gregory:

No kidding?

Joseph C. Sanford:

That's right.

David Gregory:

Wow. Okay, so you were effectively in the Army in October of '40 then?

Joseph C. Sanford:

I was in the Army in September. In October, this was a different group of people. They were great people. We can talk about that sometime if you like. Anytime I'll tell you abou1 those people.

David Gregory:

Now, did you go off to any kind of basic training at that point?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Yeah, I guess right away. In a week or so, we took off and went to Fort Dix, New Jersey, and we occupied the north rifle range, which had come CCC barracks. Are you familiar with the CCC?

David Gregory:

Yes sir.

Joseph C. Sanford:

Okay. They were abandoned. They were in terrible condition. That is a story in itself. We had no food, we had no clothing, we had nothing. I was stuck up there for months because I couldn't home. I didn't have any warm clothing. We had no food.

David Gregory:

What did you eat?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Well, just a lot of canned ... we called it SOS, the dried beef, dried beef on toast. We had no fresh meat, no fresh vegetables. It was really a mess. They were trying to provide food for us but they weren't set up for it. So finally what they did, they just gave each mess sergeant so much money to go out and buy food. When we first got meat, we got so much meat we had to take it out and bury it. The first oranges we got, they gave us six oranges for breakfast, twelve for lunch and eighteen for supper. I mean, that's an exaggeration but it was something like that. We had oranges running all over the place. They must have taken trainloads of oranges up there to Fort Dix. The first camps established was Fort Dix, Fort Mead, and Indiantown Gap, 28th Division. They were the three first bases activated. I guess you know that. We were at Fort Dix. That was the 44th New York, New Jersey National Guard.

David Gregory:

Yes sir. What happened when they finished your training then?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Oh, there's no such thing as finished training then when you're in an organization. There was no such thing as basic training at that time. You just trained with your organization. What we did was we maneuvered for training. We maneuvered against regular Army troops out of Fort Bragg. Fort Bragg, of course, had permanent military base there then as now. Anyway, we went against I think it was the 9th Division and we worked maneuvers down in the Carolinas, down in Virginia, back up again in Pennsylvania. We practiced our work, you know. Of course we had PT and that sort of thing to get in physical condition. Ultimately our food improved and ultimately we got clothing. Our weapons ... my first weapon was a ... our first uniform was a First World War uniform. I had a .45 revolver which was an old calvary revolver. Our first rifles that came in were _____[??] from England. Ultimately we got these things. It took years though. Nothing happened overnight. This was all very slow. You know, it was a terrible task. That's why we had to have Pearl Harbor. We had to have Pearl Harbor to get the people behind it. The people were not behind the military at that time until after Pearl Harbor.

David Gregory:

Yes sir. What kind of duty did you have then after ...

Joseph C. Sanford:

I was a radio operator. I went into the 44th Division radio school and became a radio operator. At that time, the grades, we were specialists. They didn't have corporals and sergeants and so on as technicians. The technicians then were T-4, T-2, T-3, but they were ... you wore your stripes the same except they were upside down. You had the same pay. As an example, I was equivalent to a staff sergeant. I had no authority over other people. All my work was with the radio equipment.

David Gregory:

Where were you stationed?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Still at Fort Dix. Here's a big story. When the first troops went overseas - I believe the first division was the 34th Division and I believe it came out of Michigan or some such place - from what I understand, the story I was told, they were supposed to go to Fort Dix, replace us, and we were supposed to be the first division overseas. In some way, some mysterious action that the military did perform then, and I still think they do, the 34th went overseas and we moved down to Camp Claiborne, Louisiana by motor march and this was the middle of the winter. It was cold and we had no heaters in our vehicles. People were freezing. 11 was a mess. A lot of the things we did was just very poor planning and lack of equipment.

David Gregory:

Now were you part of the Louisiana Maneuvers?

Joseph C. Sanford:

No. That was later. That didn't occur until Ijoined the service a year or so. They were for troops that were coming out of like Camp Claiborne, Camp Beauregard and those camps in Louisiana basically. There were other people coming in also. By that time the Army ... there were numerous other National Guard Divisions that had been federalized by the time Louisiana Maneuvers came along.

David Gregory:

Where would you have been on Pearl Harbor Day then?

Joseph C. Sanford:

I can remember quite well. I was lying out in a field just coming back from Virginia Maneuvers for returning to Fort Dix. I was lying under a 6 by 6 at Appomattox in Virginia where the Civil War was. Somebody woke me up and said, "Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor." Of course, I had a radio command car and I turned my radio on in the car and made sure _____[??] buzz around my truck, the big Dodge command car, and we listened to the various reports of it. The next morning, we were up at, believe it or not, Gettysburg and we were right there at Little Round Top, and they had all these cannons, these parrot guns. We were sitting and I had my radio on and that's where President Roosevelt came on and gave his famous speech and we listened to that speech around my Dodge truck and that's when he told us we were in a state of war with Japan. That was ... now, now we became a nation. We became unified. That unified us. Everybody said Japanese, we're going to get those guys. The nation has not been so unified since, believe me. The second world war days, this nation was in its peak, in spite of the fact that we were losing boys, fathers, brothers, and so on. Everybody was working, everybody was dedicated. Oh gosh, it was really something in this country.

David Gregory:

What did the declaration of war mean to you individually?

Joseph C. Sanford:

What did it mean to me? I thought that it was the beginning to the solution of a very serious problem. That was my feeling. I knew that we... of course we were all ... I guess in that speech President Roosevelt did say that we were at war with Germany. I think he did. Maybe it was later. But anyway, we knew there were problems with Japan and problems with Germany. The problem with Japan, I already suspected we had something to do with that ourselves. Germany was another story. But anyway, it didn't frighten us. I don't think anybody acted scared. I'm sure some individuals must have been, but most of us, I think, felt the unification, felt that we were now a single group, you know what I am saying?

David Gregory:

Did that change your assignment right away then?

Joseph C. Sanford:

No. Things didn't work quite that fast. We went back up to Fort Dix. We stayed around Fort Dix until, as I say, we made that motor march down to Louisiana. I guess the first thing that did happen was, I think, the 34th that went across to Ireland. It was a slow process. Besides, I don't think our immediate goal was to prepare our own military, but to help in Europe, at that time I guess to help England. That was our first. .. and of course, we had a hell of a job to build up the aircraft and the [71], and we had to hire all these people and train them. Wow, what a task.

David Gregory:

Sure. What was the Army Air Corps connection for you?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Let me say this, at that time, let me see, that was still the Army Air Corps. They changed over, you know, from the Army Air Corps to the United States Army Air Forces somewhere .. .I guess it must have been in '42. The only thing I had felt about aircraft, I used to watch the P-43s fly around. They were doing observation for us in the artillery. They were our observers sometimes and I wanted to fly. That's all I had in mind. I wanted to fly one of those things. It was a dream. It was just a dream. I never expected to go to the Air Force. I was still at that time, of course, in the 44th Division. Now, we got down to Louisiana, things are really messed up. The division ... nobody knew what was going on. It was really a mess. To give you an example, I wasn't down there. I guess it must have been in early '42. Late in '41 I decided I wanted to...somebody mentioned the...first of all, we had a radio section and in our radio section the average IQ was like 150. That's hard to believe. A lot of that was because a lot of these people who came in the AUS that one year. They were mostly college students and guys who were working on Ph.D.'s and so on, and here they were now coming into the service in order to get rid of that one year obligation you see. They didn't want to be drafted. They were smart enough to know that the war was going to be pretty drawn out. It was an ambitious project. Anyway, we had a very, very ... all these people practically started to leave the outfit and go into officer's training. A lot of them went into artillery school at Fort Sill. Some went to communication school up in New Jersey, Fort Monmouth. Some of us who could pass the test. .. we took a test to go into the cadet program, aviation cadet program. They wouldn't let us off the base. They were losing so many of these key people to communications they wouldn't let us off the base. We had to sneak out to go over to the Air Force base there in Louisiana to take the test, which we did. I only had one year of high school at the time. I made quite a good score on that test they gave us. I was accepted. Here's a sad story. Here we are, we're down in Louisiana, a number of us. We had passed the test for the Air Force--which at that time was still the Air Corps, I'm not sure--but anyway, our orders were sent out some place, supposedly, and they were supposed to come back to us to tell us where to report and when. Meanwhile we sat there and some of the guys who were waiting, their brothers who were civilians were already down at San Antonio at the Aviation Cadet Center and here we still sat there. They put us on station complement for about six months sorting mail. As a matter of fact, they gave us a sixty day leave, a thirty day, and I went back home again and went to work for a while. Finally, somebody went. .. the records all went down to New Orleans. We sent a couple of guys, or two fellows volunteered, to go down to New Orleans, and they found our orders pigeon-holed. If he hadn't gone down there, I guess we'd still be down in Louisiana. But anyway, as soon as they found those orders, we went into the service so I would have gone into cadets about six or eight months earlier than I did if those papers had gone through. But anyway, that's the kind of thing that was happening there. We didn't have any computers, of course. The thing was a mess. It was expanding so rapidly. The problems of expanding an army from what we had to what we finally had where we had ten million people in the service, you know, it was one hell of a task.

David Gregory:

Where did they send you for your flight training?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Oh, let me explain this now. Flight training is a series ofthings. The first thing you do, you go to a reception center and go into a ... you go to a reception center and you take tests. You take psycho-motor and psychological tests which evaluate your physical responses and so on and then, of course, your mental response. They try to qualify you in the Air Force as a pilot, a bombardier, or a navigator. Actually, they qualify you in all three and they give you a grade in each of those. That's the way it worked then. They give you a grade, the highest grade being a ten. I think like a six was acceptable at sometimes depending on how badly they needed people. So after they graded you that way, they would say, okay, I'm going to train you as a pilot. Then you went off to a pre-flight school. You spent so many weeks in pre-flight and if you completed that, then you went into a basic school normally. Not all classes. Some classes skipped the basic and went directly from primary to advanced. They advanced school then, you flew the type of aircraft more or less that they were training you for. They studied for miltiple flight engine aircraft. Of course you had multi-engine advanced trainers. After you came out of that, you went into a transition school where you learned to fly the airplane you were going to fly in combat.

David Gregory:

Where did they send you?

Joseph C. Sanford:

I went to .. .I was qualified as a pilot and I went up to Stanford, Texas, Stanford Flying School. We had a little short instructor, civilian instructor. He was about five feet five I guess. He was too short to get into the Air Force. He really wanted to fly combat. He would put on aerobatics for us. He didn't do much training of us. He was very angry with everything. He told us, we had five students, and he said, "I'm going to wash all of you out." Which he did. He washed us all out. After we washed out, I went back to San Antonio. I took over a training group training new guys coming in. I had about 160 cadets that I had to take care of, teach them how to march and walk and dress. So finally they said, "Okay. We want you to go to bombardier school." I had very good grades. So I went back up to Childers, Texas. You know, I say seventy-five percent of Air Force training occurred in Texas. I don't know if you know that.

David Gregory:

It seems like it, yeah.

Joseph C. Sanford:

Oh yeah. Texas ... every city, Texas had an Air Force station.

David Gregory:

Well, how did you feel about washing out? Was that a big disappointment?

Joseph C. Sanford:

That was the biggest disappointment in my life. I sat behind a hanger and I think that was the last time I actually cried over myself. I sat there and I was sobbing. I've cried since then, but not about anything that happened to me. My brother was killed in the war and all my best friends were killed. Guys I really liked, those guys. But anyway ... my brother. Loved him and he's gone. He was killed in a Kamikaze in Okinawa.

David Gregory:

Was bombardier an acceptable second choice for you?

Joseph C. Sanford:

No. I told them I wanted to be a gunner. I didn't care if! get commissioned or not. It meant nothing to me. I said, "What am I going to do? Sit in the nose of the airplane and wait to drop some bombs?" I said, "Get me a gun and let me be active." They said, "No, you can't do that. You made high grades in the bombardier area. You must go back as bombardier." I could have denied and said I wasn't going to do it and that would have been acceptable, but they could read that as _____[??] my duty. We felt duty. You see, that's something that people today don't seem to feel. We had a duty. We knew we were responsible. It was our county. We felt very strongly. Everybody I knew, just about, felt that way. Something's happened. I don't know what's happened, but I don't think it's like that anymore.

David Gregory:

What do you remember about bombardier school?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Oh everything. [chuckles] That's an exaggeration. What do I remember? Well, first you go through pre-flight again. We went for pre-flight again in Texas down in Houston at Lincoln Field. There you take all the schoolwork, learning the theory of bombing bomb sites and _____[??] bomb sites, all these details. Of course, also training. Our commandmg officer there was an ex-Hollywood comedian by the name of Russ _____[??] who played a stuttering cowboy. He was absolutely insane. I think they Section-8'd him out of the service. He would wake us up at 2:00 in the morning and make us march all over Lincoln Field singing "Around our waist she wore a purple girdle" and that sort of thing. It was terrible. He would measure our hair height with a little ruler and our hair could not be more than a half-inch long. Anyway, we finally got out of there and then I went up to Childers, Texas to bombardier school. I think we took primary ... we didn't have any basic, but it was primary and advanced as I recall. My memory is not perfect, even for long term. Anyway, I did quite well. I was not in the upper two or three percent, but I was certainly in the upper five percent on the bomb sites. After that, after you graduate from school they gave you leave, I think two weeks. I went back to New Jersey. [unable to hear]...Salt Lake City where you begin to form a crew. Normally I think the pilot and the bombardier get together first. The pilot and bombardier is a team. That is really the only team, unless you want to consider the gunners, who were vital.

David Gregory:

Now you're commissioned at this point?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Yes. You're commissioned when you graduate from bombardier school or navigation school or pilot training. The three, pilot, navigator, and bombardier, graduate as second lieutenants. Occasionally they would graduate as flight officers. A flight officer was not really a commission. But anyway, they converted practically all flight officers to second lieutenants later on. Yeah, we were ... oh yeah, we went to Salt Lake City and formed a team with Bob Scanlon_____[??], who was a great pilot. Personally I. . .it's a long story, but the greatest pilot I've ever known. Fortunately, we became a team, he and I. Later on we picked ... see a navigator is not vital in the airplane. A navigator is not in a sense a part of the crew, at least none in _____[??]. First of all, we fly formation. When you fly formation, only the lead navigator does the navigating unless you lose formation and fall behind or something and the navigator supposedly gets you home. Our pilot could always navigate better than the navigator anyway. He always knew where he was. I'd say, "Hey, Bob, where are we right now?" He'd say, "We're twenty-three miles northwest of Vienna," or whatever, you know. He always knew where we were. He could always get home. I'd say, "Bob, where are you going to land? You just lost four exits." "Right in that field over there." He always knew. He was great. Anyway, okay. What did we do?

David Gregory:

You got your B-24?

Joseph C. Sanford:

There are two types of training that was done for the Air Force personnel. One was called RTU, which is replacement training unit, and the other was OTU or organizational training unit. Are you familiar with this?

David Gregory:

No sir.

Joseph C. Sanford:

Okay. This is the two ways that the personnel were trained. You formed...the first thing you do is to form a crew. After you form a crew you go into training for one of two purposes. One is to be sent overseas as a replacement for some aircraft crew that has been lost or you go into an organization to form a new organization, so the first thing we did, we went into a RTU, a replacement training unit at _____[??] Field. At _____[??] Field, this was a top- secret program. Here's where you get the classified stuff. When we got there the commanding officer, a lieutenant colonel, _____[??] lieutenant colonel, called all the officers and called us out onto the ... at least a half-mile from the hangers or anything else. _____[??] Field, that whole valley in there is just a huge sheet of salt. At one time, the Gulf of Mexico extended to Canada. All that water's evaporated. The only thing that's left now, of course, is the salt lake in Utah. That salt extends for miles all over the place and the remnants of the lake. Anyway, they used that hard salt as runways. It's so hard, you can't drive a spike into it. It's hard as concrete. But anyway, when we flew into _____[??], we saw all the big black spots of salt. I looked at Bob, my pilot, "Bob," I said. "Do you think that's what I think it is?" He said, "Yep." There were like fourteen or fifteen big black smudges. That's where the airplanes go in. That's what the airplane looks like when it hits the salt and they haul away the wreckage. What's left is a big black smudge. So anyway, we landed the aircraft and later on I walked around the perimeter of the field and I found a big pile ofB-24s burned up and broken up and everything else. The next day the colonel called us out onto the salt and told them, "Gentlemen, you are now members," and these are his exact words, "Gentlemen you are now members of Colonel _____[??] provisional group. I am Colonel _____[??]." I remember that. The rest of it he was saying that this was top-secret organization. Divulging of any of this information is subject to execution. You will be summarily shot if you talk about this and all that kind of stuff. Then he called us and we went back to our jobs. We began running bombing missions from all altitudes, day and night, usually single, or occasionally two or three together. Now that's contrary to all types of training. So, remember this is a provisional group. There was some provision in there. He told us the provision we don't know. You don't know what the provision is. You mayor may not do what you are being trained to do.

David Gregory:

What made it top secret?

Joseph C. Sanford:

That was a wonderful experience in itself, that training there. _____[??] After the completion of the training, he says, "Gentlemen," pulled us back out in the salt again, he said, "the provision is something that people now will go ahead and form an organization. You'll join the organization training unit, OTU." We thought we'd go up to Nebraska and we helped the 465th _____[??]. Now where should I go from there?

David Gregory:

What made it top ... [phone problems - calls back]

David Gregory:

We seem to be having some technical problems, don't we?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Do you know what the last thing is you heard? Did you hear about going into _____[??], Nebraska to form the 465th?

David Gregory:

I can hear you fine.

Joseph C. Sanford:

So I can't hear you. I can barely hear your voice in the background. I don't know if you can hear me or not. You must occasionally verify that and I could not hear you verify it. Do you want me to continue in the 465th?

David Gregory:

Yes sir. You went to Nebraska and formed your unit?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Yes. The 465th Bomb Group consisted of the 780th, 81st, 82nd, 83rd squadrons. We trained there as a group. Let me say this that during all this training we only had one serious incident where a major or squadron commander could not lower one of his forward landing ...one of his nose wheels on his main landing gear was up and locked and couldn't drop it. He bailed his crew out, brought the airplane down on one wheel, made a beautiful landing. The airplane was in the air the next day. No body was hurt. That's the only incident we had. Compare that when we were at Wendover where our outfit, we lost thirteen men, thirteen aircraft there.

David Gregory:

What do you think the difference was?

Joseph C. Sanford:

[chuckles] That's what you can't talk about. Sabotage. Can't say that. I think it's no question. I verified this. I verified this more or less in Albuquerque at the National Nuclear Museum there. I talked to an old-timer who knows all about it. He would not talk about it, but I could tell by the expressions on his face that say, "You can't talk about that. That's still toppsecret." That type of thing. If you find out, if possible, if you could research this and find out if this is still really top secret and why it's still secret, I would love to know. I think it should be common knowledge that we were sabotaged during the war. That's not the only incident, but apparently you're not allowed to talk about that. I called the FBI with freedom of information. I said, "How do you decide whether or not you can give me that?" He said, "If you give me the document number, maybe I'll give it to you." I said, "What do you mean 'maybe'?" I said, "Who makes the decision? This is freedom of information." He said, "No, we make the decision." What is that? So anyway, I don't want to do anything that's going to hurt this country, believe me. I served my country. But I believe the people should know. As an example, if we get in another war, I think everybody should watch out for saboteurs. If you don't tell there is such a thing, you know, how are .... We just can't. . .I don't know. But anyway, I don't like the attitude of not reporting the truth. I don't like that.

David Gregory:

So you pulled your crew together in Nebraska. What did you guys do when you weren't flying?

Joseph C. Sanford:

We were having ... David, let me tell you this. It was great being an Air Force officer during the war. [chuckles] Oh boy, our uniforms were beautiful. I lucked out. I bought all the uniforms that were made for some millionaire kid. They were made by E.D. Price of Chicago by shirts. _____[??] wool shirts at that time cost like $30 each. Now that would be like $200 today. The uniforms were beautiful. I bought them for what he owed on it, which was like $300. They were well over $3000. They were made by this...what happened, when you went through cadets, they had representatives of these various uniform houses, tailor people, who would come in before you graduated and measure you for uniforms. You could buy uniforms and they would start making your uniforms for you so that when you graduated you'd have them. Then when you graduated, they'd be in one of the rooms there in the barracks and they call you in and give you your uniforms and so on. After everybody had left and I had no uniforms .. .I had just got into a poker game, believe it or not, and I think I started with $.36 and I built it up to $300. I got into a penny-anti game and a _____[??] and I had really a streak of luck. I just happened to have this money and I was walking down the hall there in the barracks and this civilian said, "Hi lieutenant. I have uniforms that I think would fit you perfectly. You look just like the guy who washed out. He has all these uniforms. He only owes $300. If you give me $300, you can have his uniforms. That's just what I had in my pocket, so I said, "Try them on." They fit beautifully. They looked like they had been tailored for me. So I gave my $300 and he gave me a stack of clothing.I had the best damn uniforms in the outfit. Anyway ...

David Gregory:

And the ladies liked the uniform?

Joseph C. Sanford:

It was more than that. It was a lot of things. They loved the uniforms, they loved the wings, they loved the fact that you were soldiers going offto save their lives. You know, that type of thing. Women were very ... many women, especially educated intelligent women, were very grateful for us going on and helping. They showed this gratitude by being very kind to us frequently. The relationship was wonderful. We had wonderful days. As I say, these were the best days this country has ever been through in many ways, in many ways. In some ways possibly ... there was profiteering going on in the United States. People just gouging whatever they could, but that happens all the time. So anyway, we were having fun going to great restaurants and having good food and drinking to excess, especially if we lost the crew or something. As an example, when we were back in Salt Lake City out there at [71], we drank too much. We were losing our friends. But anyway, we didn't have any problems. We didn't drink that much. We had a lot of fun and finally we were sent overseas. We were going to go to Italy to the 15th Air Force. We were sent the southern route. We flew out. .. of course, we had to go through Lincoln, Nebraska. From Lincoln we flew ... we had some great fun in Omaha. Omaha was a great town. We were stationed out there at [17], Nebraska and that's where we used to go into Omaha. I remember I used to go into Hotel _____[??]. At Salt Lake City, we used to go into Hotel Utah and Newhouse, big hotels. Really had good times. Then we started our way overseas and we flew out of Lincoln. From Lincoln down to West Palm Beach at Morrison Field. From there over to Puerto Rico and from there down to British Guiana. From there down to South America and across to Africa. We finally wound up in Tunis waiting for our airfield in Italy to be finished. The weather was bad and ... not as often as it is in England but still pretty bad sometimes in the winter time.

David Gregory:

Now when would this have been?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Okay I'm bad on dates.

David Gregory:

Sometime in '43?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Yeah this was ... when we went overseas ...I was overseas my ...it was late in '43. It was real late in '43. Either that or very early in '44. We stayed in Africa for a couple of months. Here's a story. I got to look into this. Temporarily we had as commanding officer a colonel named [17]. You know, the guy who flew one ofthe early Ploesti raids or at least was in it was a colonel named _____[??]. They called him 'Killer _____[??].' He was very famous. So I think this was the same man but I've never verified that. But anyway, we were over in Africa and we were waiting for the air base to be finished. While we were there in Africa, we did have a fatal collision. We had...good friends of mine, as a matter of fact, on one crew. We had a guy named Murphy and he was pilot. He was not a good pilot. He could not fly formation worth a damn. They demanded very close flying of formation to prevent the fighters from into the formation.

David Gregory:

How close would you fly?

Joseph C. Sanford:

... [unable to hear] the wingtips very tight.

David Gregory:

Mr. Sanford?

Joseph C. Sanford:

... flying close formation except for Murphy. [unable to hear] ... over the Atlas Mountains there. Murphy ... everybody was chiding him telling him, you know, we see an airplane ten miles away and a group of formation and we say, "Here comes Murphy." What he did, he went up and he clipped the tail part of the _____[??] of the aircrafts _____[??] and chopped off some elevators or at least parts of them. The guy in front of him, his name was Favor, and he was a great pilot also. He was fine. Then when he hit the other airplane, he chopped back is frontals and he fell back in the fellow behind him whose name was Melody and they had this terrible mid-air collision and down they went, down into the mountains. Anyway, I had to go ... we got back to the ground, you know. Now, this Favor, he landed that airplane. He bailed his crew out and landed that airplane just with his engines. I mean, I don't think he had much control. He still had L-runs. He had L-runs and his engines to fly the airplane. He flew with that and got it back on the ground, which was fabulous. He did a lot of wonderful things. We got back to the base and they wanted somebody to go out and search for bodies. I said that, well, I didn't want to go because they were my friends. They said, "Well, that's the reason you've got to go. They're your friends. If it were you out there, they'd have to go out and get you." I said, "Okay. I'll volunteer." So I got the tailgunner, whose name was _____[??], and he _____[??], about five feet six or seven and weighs about maybe 110 or 115, I don't know. So we went out and got on two trucks. We went in the mountainside as high as we could and then we marched to the top of the mountain, which was not that steep of a hike, and we found the wreckage. Well, it was a mess. There was one airplane ... now this is B-24 that went in. This is Murphy's airplane. There was no airplane. There were no engines. _____[??]. This is the honest truth. Sitting on the ground was Murphy and beside him sitting erect was his copilot. Murphy had about half a head and most of his right side was gone. In front of them sitting on the ground was their navigator, a good friend of mine. He was sitting there and he was shrunken to the size of a doll. Honest to god I don't think he was any more than a foot and a half high or something like that and he had his hands, you know, clutched in front of his face. It looked like a black leather doll. But there was no airplane. The only piece of an airplane that we found intact was one of the bomb bay doors. Something ... what happened to that airplane? There was nothing. Just blank ground. The engines must have been done in the ground someplace. But anyway, then we found Melody's aircraft and Melody's airplane had hit at an angle and it had gone partially down the mountain and the thing is apparently all the crew, including the pilot and copilot, they were all piled back in the waist of the airplane stacked like cordwood all burned up. All together piled up in the back of the airplane. Anyway, I saw something shining up in the mountam and I told _____[??], "Look, there's part of the aIrplane. Maybe that's part of Murphy's airplane up there." You couldn't tell what it was. I had a pair of binoculars. It was shimmering in the sunlight. So he and I went to the mountaintop about maybe a mile and a half or two miles up there. We got there and all it was was a propeller. Now it started to rain. Started to rain and we looked down the mountainside and our two trucks took off. Here we are on top of the damn Atlas Mountains and it's raining. It's getting cold. It's gets very cold in the nighttime. But anyway, we went down back to the site again. Of course, the stench of burned flesh ... unless you've encountered it, you don't know what it smells like. We stayed there around that wreck. Finally later on that night, some light comes up the mountainside and some troops ... you see we're hiding in the brush. We didn't know who it is and we were hiding in the brush looking at what was going on and some people, we couldn't tell who, put up a big American ______[??] tent and they began throwing wet brush in the tent and then like a jerry can, probably gasoline, they threw a match into the tent and the flames shot out of that thing and then I could see their faces. Their faces are black. Their faces were _____[??]. They were Senegalese, but these were warrior types. They were black warriors of the French Army. Later on, they got the fire going and everything and I saw this shorter and lighter complected little fellow and he was carrying a case of American rations. I asked him if he spoke English and he says no, just French. I speak a little French, so I spoke to him in what French we could and he told me, he says, "Watch these people. They're savages." Okay, so we're exhausted. He gave us some of his food though. These other guys had this fire going and they had a big chunk of meat lying on the ground and vegetables lying on the ground. They take the damn knives, slice a piece of meat, put it on the end of a bayonet, stick it in the fire for about thirty seconds, yank it out and eat it. It was kind of ferocious looking. The kid was exhausted and I said, "Look kid, empty all your pockets out, take your ring off, take your wallet out, give me all your money. Count it first, but give me your money. Empty your pockets. _____[??]. I did the same. I took all the money we had and I divided it among the Senegalese troops. Probably more money than they had ever seen in their lives at one time. We turned all our pockets inside out, took our wristwatches off, and felt fairly secure. We got up in the morning and we were still intact. But anyway, then in the morning the black troops left and in came the grave registration. Is it grave registration? Anyway, the graves registration came in and it was a medical officer, a M.D., with three or four of his men. They dug a big pit. They had the mattress covers with them and we began to try to identify. A lot of the dog tags were missing. We didn't find some bodies. We just did what we could and put pieces of this in one sack. He had a list of names, so we had enough bags. You don't know what you get when you get a return body. At least not from an aircraft incident. So what do I do now?

David Gregory:

Mr. Sanford?

Joseph C. Sanford:

I can't hear you again. Can you talk louder?

David Gregory:

I'm going to call you back.

Joseph C. Sanford:

Shall I hang up again? I'm going to hang up. [End Side A; call placed again]

David Gregory:

... mission. What do you remember about that?

Joseph C. Sanford:

They usually gave you what they called a milk run on the first mission. Our first mission ... and a short mission. So our first one or two, maybe three, missions ... and you got to understand this that missions either counted as one mission or two missions. In the 15th Air Force, we required fifty missions to go home, unlike the Germans or the Russians who just flew until you died. We had so many missions. I think one was twenty-five missions and you went back home. Now some people ... that's considered a tour. After the tour you went home or you did something else. Some guys would reapply right away and fly another twenty-five missions or whatever. In Italy, the missions required were fifty. Some ofthe missions were only valued at one mission and some were valued at two. The tough targets like _____[??] and Vienna and Munich and 'ploesti, these were all two missions. You get two counts for those. So our first missions were all one, single missions. They were all short and relatively safe. I mean, because there were not many German fighter aircraft nor anti-aircraft even in Italy, although they did have some anti-aircraft, but not too many fighters. They had some fighters but not a lot. So anyway, of course ones that I don't even recall because they were totally uneventful. They were just some place, some target, usually a railroad junction or possibly a munitions plant and we would drop our bombs. Let me say this, in bombing, in formation, only one aircraft per element, at least in our organization, one in five aircraft, used a bomb site. He was, the man using that, was called the lead bombardier. He used his bomb site. The others were called ,_____[??] even though they were commissioned officers and bombardiers, they did not use their bomb sites. What they had was a hand-held switch and they just hit that switch and they would watch my bombs go and as soon as my bombs left the aircraft, they would hit their switch and their bombs would go and follow mine down. I was always the lead bombardier except for one mission. Anyway, let me say this, my bombing actually improved after I came out of school because I was on a trainer every chance I got. We had bombing trainers. The trainer was a big three-wheel, the tri-cycle standing about seven or eight feet high with a bomb site in it and a little bug, which was a target, on a little box that ran across the floor and we would synchronize our bomb sites on it and it had a _____[??] driven plunger that came down and left a mark on the target. You did this until you became very good at it. It took a lot of practice. A bomb site was a sensitive beast. You had to know how to use it. I can go into details on that _____[??] bomb site. Anyway, so I lit it and I hit my target. I don't think I ever missed a target.

David Gregory:

Italy? Why do you suppose there was the difference in missions out of England verses

Joseph C. Sanford:

That's hard to say being I never flew out of England, but I've read a lot of reports and one of the big things, of course, is forming. When you're trying to form somewheres between 500 and a 1,000 aircraft into the air, I don't care how big the area is you're coming out of, it's hard. When the weather is bad, when it's cloudy, it's scary. It's very scary. It's amazing we did not lose that many aircraft due to collision, air collisions.

David Gregory:

What would be a typical mission for you? What time would you start out and so forth?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Okay. All our missions started very early. The first thing you do, you go to a briefing. Our briefing was half underground, half above ground depending on the storage facility there in Italy there. I think we had roofed it up. You go down there, of course, and you sit in there and they tell you what. .. they don't tell you what you're target is at first. They had a big map on the wall and they have different lead bombardiers and lead navigators and so on and lead pilot, squadron commander. These people would be up at the front ready to talk to you. Then, of course, we'd be sitting there saying, "God, I hope it's not Ploesti again," or "I hope it's not Munich" or whatever. Vienna was tough. But anyway, then they'd pull the curtain back and you could see the big red tape going your route. Of course, sometimes you're jigged off to the left or the right and you went into the ._____[??] ofthe target. Of course, you saw the name Budapest or whatever it happened to be. It be either a sigh of relief or you would say, "Oh God, not another one." But anyway, that started off ... that could occur very early in the morning, anywhere between 2:00 and 4:00 in the morning, 5:00 possibly. Maybe most frequently 4:00. That was your first step in the mission.

David Gregory:

So what time would you have rolled out of bed?

Joseph C. Sanford:

2:00 in the morning, something like that, depending on what time the briefing was.

David Gregory:

Yes sir. Then after your briefing?

Joseph C. Sanford:

After the briefing then we .. .I think we ate breakfast first before the briefing. See that was insignificant. You don't remember those things too well. At least I don't. But anyway, we ate breakfast of course. We got our flying clothing together. I had a bag with all my flying things in it. We had electrically heated suits, boots, and so on. We got our flight equipment together and then either by private vehicle -- some of us owned jeeps which we had secured illegally one way or another -- or trucks that would take us down to the flight line. The flight line, of course was where we had all our aircraft there. Then, of course, we'd board the aircraft and pre-flight and wait for the flare to shoot up for the aircraft. Of course, we took off and increased that sequence and we formed into our wing and to the effort, whatever it was, we formed first of all a squadron and formed the groups and then formed the wing and we'd circle around. Usually we'd go to the Adriatic. Usually. Sometimes, of course, we'd go north into Italy or wherever. Most of our missions were off across the Adriatic.

David Gregory:

You're flying out of where now?

Joseph C. Sanford:

We're flying out of Italy. What's the name of that field? It's close to Bari. I can give you the name some other time.

David Gregory:

That's fine. Did you folks name your plane?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Oh yes. Here's a strange thing, real strange. Our aircraft, believe it or not, we couldn't think of any decent name so somebody said, "Barfly is good." So we named it Barfly and we had this ugly picture of this seminude female on one side of the aircraft and nothing on the other side. We flew a couple of missions in it. Then one of the crews that actually replaced one of those crews that we lost in Africa -- I know the navigator is still alive because I talk to him occasionally, in that aircraft -- they came over with a brand new airplane. For some reason, theirs was being serviced so they borrowed our airplane, our Barfly, they say ...it's a long story as to why they lost that airplane but why they lost it God only knows. It was a short mission up into either southern France or Italy. Coming back they went down to the swamps outside of Rome where some battles were fought and they lost the aircraft. They said that ... it was crazy. We heard they ran out of fuel. That is impossible. They had enough fuel to go twice that far. So anyway, we lost our airplane. Later on over Ploesti, our airplane - we got a new airplane, a brand new one - our airplane was being serviced so we had to borrow. Low and behold, we got the airplane that this other crew had gotten to replace ours. We flew it over Ploesti and we got so shot up - that is a terrible mission, sometime I'll tell you about that mission - we had to fly practically on the ground to come back again. We lost. .. one engine was totally gone. The other one we had very little power. We had no indications. We didn't know how much fuel we had. We threw away all our guns. We threw away the ammunition. Threw away the radio equipment. Staggered back across the ground and got the airplane back in again. I counted 2,000 holes and I gave up.

David Gregory:

2,000?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Yes. It was like a sieve. Anyway, they junked it. These people lost our plane and we turned around and lost theirs. [chuckles] A bunch of coincidence. But anyway, yes. Another question?

David Gregory:

What about the flight. .. what would be your last flight, I guess?

Joseph C. Sanford:

The one that I was shot down on?

David Gregory:

Yes sir.

Joseph C. Sanford:

Okay. That was August 3. I remember that date. '44. We were ... here's the thing, that was the only time I had a nightmare preceding a flight. I dreamed that we were going .. .I had just been learning to play chess and of course, red and black, right? Dark and light. I had a dream that we were flying over the target which was Friedrichshafen. Are you familiar with Friedrichshafen?

David Gregory:

No sir.

Joseph C. Sanford:

Okay. That was a very big industrial city. It's on the Lake of Constance, or the Boden See as the Germans call it. That's where all the big zeppelins were all built. They did more than that. They were building parts for the B-2 rockets. They had synthetic fuel plant there. There were big targets around there. But anyway, I forget now exactly what our target was but we were bombing Friedrichshafen. I dreamed that we were flying over it and the flak came in two colors as it normally does depending on .. .I think they had guns that produced sort of a blad looking smudge in the air and it was a much later one. We flew over the target and the flak formed a checkerboard. So anyway, here we go over the target and I look out in front at a black sky that looks like a checkerboard. Of course, that's largely my imagination. It did sort oflook like ... we went over the target and we dropped our bombs. Here's where something strange happened. While we're flying along, I look at the strange airplane - now I was the official observer on the airplane. The bombardier ... the crew was sort ofindependent. What they did inside of that airplane was their business. I declared myself the observer and I was supposed to be the observer, so I had a big pair of binoculars which were issued only to me because I was the observer. I'm looking around and I see this strange looking aircraft flying. I put my glasses on it and, by god, it's only the rear end of a B-17 and it's flying. The tail section is flying along, gliding. I said, "Oh boy, that's hard to believe." I called the crews attention to it and they saw it. So we went back and we started to head back home and we got. .. we were flying down the Inn Valley, which is a gorgeous place, one of the most gorgeous places on earth. The Inn River comes down out of Switzerland and flows down through Innsbruck, down through Austria. Anyway, we were flying down that valley and everything gets very quiet. Suddenly I realize it's too quiet. There's no chatter, there's no talk on the intercom. So I look out the window and, I don't know, I was probably doing some writing, recording some information, and I look out the window and, by god, there's a couple ... no, the first thing I saw was the airplane beside us is on fire. It's burning. So I looked around and, by god, I can see shells hitting and little bursts of sunshine. These little .20 millimeter shells when they break look like little bursts of sunshine. I don't know what was causing them to break in the air but they were breaking in the air before they hit anything. Anyway, I stood up and put my head out in the _____[??] hatch, the ______[??], the navigator's hatch which is right in front of the windscreen, and looked up at the pilot and co-pilot and they were frozen. They looked like they were stiffs. I waved at them and they didn't even recognize me. They were sitting there, you know, just looking straight ahead staring and I thought we're in trouble here. I pounded on the nose gunner's door and he's just sitting there waiting for an airplane. Apparently he had already lost hydraulic power and he couldn't turn the guns and he's just sitting there waiting for an airplane to fly in front of him. But anyway, I crawled back through the tunnel. I went back through the tunnel which goes back up in the flight deck, the command deck of the flight deck, and I look at the pilot and the co-pilot is gone. The navigator is sitting in the seat beside him. I tapped the pilot on the shoulder and he hardly even responds to me. The navigator was a little more animated. I asked, "What's going on?" you know. He's trying to fly this airplane and looked like he was having trouble. I looked back in the waist and everybody in the waist is gone. Nobody back there. So I climbed up in the top hatch, which is the top turret, and looked up through the top turret and we were on fire. My god, the whole outside of the airplane was on fire. I'll say this, when i came through the bomb bays, the bomb bays were full of gasoline so thick you could hardly see. So I said, "Get the hell out man! We're burning!" I'm pounding him on his back, you know. So I got them out of the airplane. I raced back down through the tunnel, got back up into the nose of the aircraft and the nose gunner is still sitting there. Suddenly I got an inspiration to back up. This is god's honest truth. I looked and I saw a .20 millimeter shell slowly push its way through the skin ofthe airplane and cut into the nose of the aircraft. I had time to think. This German ammunition is certainly inferior to ours. Look how slowly it's moving. I watched it get in front of my face and it blossomed. With that, time came back into its natural sequence and the nose gunner threw his hands up into the air and I looked at his turret and a great big slot cut into it. I didn't even know I was hit but I was hit in the face a little. It's amazing this damn thing didn't break but maybe two feet in front of my face. Maybe three feet at the most. Anyway, I opened the damn nosewheel, nose turret door, and pulled him out on top of me and he's hanging on to his rear end screaming his head off. I stuck my hand down his pants and felt his rear end and I pulled my hand out and showed him no blood, you're not hit. He said, "I'm hit." I said, "Well, you're not bleeding." With that, I released the nose wheel door, which is the escape hatch, and he and I sort of went out together. I wanted to hold on to my D-ring, which is the release ring of the parachute. It's free. Once you pull it out. . .it's a steel cable with two pins. The pins go into a locking mechanism on the pack and you pull those pins out and the thing opens up and the little parachute shoots out and .. .I was going to hang onto that D-ring. But after my .. .I was going to wait until I got down quite far before I opened my parachute, though I didn't. I guess I saw the tail ofthe airplane go by and I said, "Well, it's safe to open." I opened my parachute and I looked at my hand, which was outstretched, my right hand, and my fist was closed but there was no D-ring in it. I probably threw it ten miles down the Inn Valley. So now I'm in my parachute. Of course, we weren't out of that airplane, I'd say, maybe ten seconds when it blew up. It broke in half and down it went in two pieces just tumbling down. We just got out of there. Anyway ...

David Gregory:

What's going through your mind?

Joseph C. Sanford:

When I'm in the parachute?

David Gregory:

Yes sir.

Joseph C. Sanford:

You won't believe this -- how beautiful it is. That valley was gorgeous and the quiet. I could hear the nylon in my parachute wrinkling, it's so quiet. Then I could hear on the ground some ammunition going off from the burning aircraft. I could see where some ofthe 190s had gone in. They were burning. We shot down a number of 190s. They shot down eight of our airplanes. But anyway, it was gorgeous. Believe it or not, I started to sing. I was singing cowboy songs and yodeling. That was a beautiful place to yodel. I felt okay. As a matter of fact, I was really impressed by the beauty ofthis valley. So, then I remembered that I had some letters in my pocket which you're not supposed to carry on flights. So I took one and tore it up and put the other one in my teeth and it got away from me. It fluttered down to the ground or someplace. It fluttered off in the distance. Then I'm hanging in the damn parachute and I realize that my legs are going to sleep. They're getting paralyzed and the ground doesn't seem to be getting any closer. So I unbuckled my harness and took my legs out and just hung by my arms until my arms nearly got paralyzed, and I rebuckled my legs and took the top of tbe harness loose so I was just hanging by my legs but hanging onto the leaders so I wouldn't tumble out of it. I did this four or five times. At this point, somewhere along the way, I looked at my watch. I timed myself for an hour, over an hour, in that parachute. I went thirty miles down this long valley. I was .. .I must mention this. In this area, many of the world sailplane records have been broken. The mountains are very high on both sides and the air comes funneling down through there and it creates updrafts and waves and all sorts of things, air disturbances which provide lift. So I was drifting down that valley. Okay, so finally, I did see that the ground was coming closer, so I rebuckled my harness. I had dropped my boots off, meanwhile, because I didn't want to land in the boots because they are kind of clumsy. I had good shoes underneath. I'm coming down and I'm facing the wrong way. Of course, you want to be facing downwind when you hit so you can run forward when you hit or tumble. Anyway, I was facing upwind so I spilled there out of one side of the chute, turned the chute around and now I could see .. .I must have watched for maybe a second or two and I realized I was going right into these high tensions lines that were running down this valley. I mean, I was heading right toward them. So I must have been maybe 300 feet or something like that at the time, I dan't know how high. Maybe 100 feet. I don't know. I spilled the air out af the chute completely. I just plopped dawn to the ground. I remember sailing aver a farmhouse roof and that was all I remembered. I don't know how long I was unconscious, but I dug a hole in the ground. When I woke up ... these farms are scattered all over the place. There must have been thirty peaple around me. I must have been unconsciaus for at least a half hour. But anyway, one of these little guys ... they had these little bands an their arms called _____[??]. Hitler had taken much of the Austrian peaple in that area and indoctrinated them with these Nazi concepts and made them members af a little military force to defend Austria against the intruder. They were wearing little arm bands with _____[??] symbols on it.

David Gregory:

Did they have weapons?

Joseph C. Sanford:

They had weapons. They had pistols. This one little fellow came up to me and he had a little gun. I guess it was either a .22 or possibly a .32. He wanted to kill me. He was going to shoot me. Somebody prevented him from shooting me.

David Gregory:

Now you're wounded at this point right?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Well, I had damaged my right leg a bit. Then I realized I was bleeding in my mouth, but it wasn't seriaus. A piece af steel had gone through my lip and broken the teeth. It was a small splinter. I spit it out. I had spit it out, I guess, earlier, the piece af steel. Anyway, I wasn't hurt that bad. After they captured me, I had this big bombardier ring and my graduation ring, and I took it off and threw it away in the weeds. I didn't want them to identify me as a bombardier. Anyway, they took all my flying gear and put them in a wheelbarrow. Part of the way they put me in a wheelbarrow and I staggered part of the way. They took me to _____[??] house. At that time ... let me say this. Austria was beautiful. It was beautiful. Looked like a picture book. The women, the men. Everyone was healthy looking. Most of them wore their native costumes, their dirndls and Leiderhosen and so on. Immaculate Everything was immaculate. Innsbruck iitself is an immaculate city. Much better than It was. Probably much better than it is today. Anyway, took me to the _____[??] hause. Then same troops came in and took me off to. Innsbruck and then we went to the gestapo and all that kind of stuff at Innsbruck.

David Gregory:

Were you interrogated?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Yes, by the ... yes. But not seriously. They brought us into this building in Innsbruck and there were about, I guess, maybe eight ar ten of us in there including a guy named Pace. Now Pace, believe it ar not, became CEO of Thompson, _____[??], was a big outfit. They built consolidate _____[??]. The biggest defense industry in the United States. He became the CEO of that outfit. I have met him just last year. I mean, he flies the jet and everything else today. He's a West Pointer by the name af Stanley Pace. Came fram a very wealthy, well-known family. I think his father was a general. But anyway, Stan Pace, he was there and he was burned up. He was wrapped in paper bandages. I said, "Boy the Germans are so cheap they can't even afford cloth." Actually, the paper bandages are superior to anything else. They were impregnated with some medication that they wouldn't stick. They did a lot of good things so they could breath. Anyway, he was all wrapped up in this paper. He put us in this little room and I got him to lie down. Here's a nice thing. We stayed in there. Somebody threw a loaf of bread in the room. I caught it. Damn near knocked me down. That was my introduction to German wartime brute, right. _____[??]. It was made ...it was the heaviest bread I've ever seen. It was like solid rock and tastes terrible. After I got used to it, it was wonderful. Anyway, I caught the bread and I tried to feed Stan, Stan Pace, and he couldn't eat. He was just moaning. So I took a little bit of bread and soaked it in water and put it between his lips, you know, and pushed it down to get some water. I didn't want him to get water because I was afraid he would choke on it. He sucked on the bread. I guess he swallowed some. Later on, they called us all out and lined us up. Then these three or four gestapo officers - I think there was three of them - came out with their black uniforms on and stomping. Actually I felt like clapping. [chuckles] They are really ridiculous. It looked like something out of, you know, this stalag movie on ... it was a big act. These guys, half of them...let's say this, I believe most of them were homosexual, honest to god. That's beside the point. I mean, if a person is homosexual, that's something else. But these guys were super macho, do you know what I'm saying? Were super macho. They got to the point where they loved themselves. They thought that they were the greatest thing on earth. They really did. They thought of us as inferior. That's why they were that way. They were in love with men. They were in love with themselves. Anyway, they marched in front of us. Now, here's poor taste. I'm on the side of Pace holding him up and one of our gunners by the name of Jack Bernstein, had him on the other side and Stan passed out. We were trying to hold Stan up and we can't hold him. He says, "Joe, hold on to him. There's a chair across the hall there." Remember, these are gestapo guys and he's a Jew, right? Okay. Now, he started cursing these ... "you sons of bitches, you inhuman beasts" and all those kinds of things. He was saying terrible things to them. I don't think they understood English fortunately. This was brave but also stupid. So Jack went across the room and picked up this damn chair, stuck it under Stan's rear end. We sat him down on it. I talked to Stan about that and he refuses to remember it. Doesn't remember. He says, "When was that the first day or the second day?" I mean, here's one of the greatest industrial guys in the world today. He's retired of course. Why doesn't he remember what Jack Bernstein did for him? I mean, Jack is one of my great heros now, you know. He was foolish, but he was that dog tag that proclaimed he was a Jew around his neck.

David Gregory:

Now, did Bernstein stay with you?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Bernstein, no. He was not an officer. He was a sergeant so he goes off to a different camp. None of these ... we all broke up as a matter of fact. We got. .. we went up to Stalag Luft 3. Stalag Luft 3 is up in upper Silesia. That's the camp from which the 'great escape' was made. It was ... the camp, Stalag Luft 3, was divided into a number of compounds. Apparently, the original compounds were for flying officers, British. It was probably for the British. It was the north compound. But all flying officers were going into there, all nationalities were going in at that time the north compound. But mainly there were British. They had come down from some other places, other camps that had been pre-established. Now, when I got there, the 'great escape' had already occurred. It was a couple months after that. Maybe longer than that. I was in the same barracks from which the escape was made. They said, the people there, the Englishmen who survived, told me the story. The story they told me was entirely different than you read in the books or in history books or any place else. Here's the story now. As a historian, or whatever your aspirations are, you might be interested in this. The story they told me was that only a handful of people, not the entire barracks, had planned this. Maybe twenty men or some such thing had planned this escape. They all had identification and papers and everything else. They built this tunnel which was like 300 feet long which went outside. I can tell you how they built the tunnel. I know how they did it. Anyway, the tunnel went out past the barbed wire. Apparently they had one that came up a little shorter that came up in the middle of the field rather than the woods. Probably ran into some roots and found the going tough. But anyway, during the escape attempt there, as the people started going out through the tunnel, the rest of the barracks woke up and everybody went out and that's what alerted the Germans. The fact that all these people were not planned, had not trained. They were running around the countryside making a lot of noise and dogs were barking and everything else. They were found. They were captured. Most of them were captured quite quickly. I think four or five of them managed to get back to England. But the big majority...there were about 100 men wwho got out. These men were...the ones who were captured quite quickly were taken to a satellite camp and put there for some period of time, maybe a few days. Possibly a week or so. After some period of time, some of the authority, Germans, came in and counted up half of them and took half out. They waved goodbye to each other and they left. Of course, everybody assumed, the ones remaining, assumed that these men were going back to Stalag Luft 3 north compound. Finally, after another few days or a week, whatever, the second half was taken out. They were brought back to the north compound. They said, "Where are the fellows who came in first?" Well, nobody came in first. So the senior British officer asked to see the commandant. Now, the commandant was a very fine person, a German major, a good person. Believe me, I've spoken to him. Very sensitive. They went in to see him and he said, "Where are our friends who were released earlier?" He said, "Well, they tried to escape and they were shot." He said, "Well, where are the survivors. Certainly they weren't all killed?" He said, "Yes, they were all killed." He said he looked at him and said, "You and I both know that didn't happen." And he started to cry, the major is crying. He said, "Don't talk to me about it. You must talk to the gestapo. You must talk to gestapo." But they won't talk to you. [chuckles]

David Gregory:

Right.

Joseph C. Sanford:

So we knew what had happened at that point. They just took them out and shot them practically. So anyway, that's the story that was told to me by the senior British officer who was there. I don't care what the history books say.

David Gregory:

How did you spend your time in Luft 3?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Okay, it was a great place. When we first got there, of course, it was all British. I was assigned to a room with these guys ... one guy was shot down the first day of the war, believe it or not. A British pilot. A lot of these British pilots were just exemplary people. I think I mentioned this to you yesterday - they were actually professors at Cambridge and Oxford and this sort of thing. They knew that ... the psychologist was flying and he knew Alder or Jung and was disciples out of Austria. The best English Lit course I ever had, I had by one of these British officers who was a professor at Oxford. It was Milton, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained. He knew everything about Milton.

David Gregory:

While you were in Stalag?

Joseph C. Sanford:

While we were in the prison camp. Yeah, these British, they did everything. They made radio receivers and transmitters. Some of this may still be classified. It was classified, I know, not too long back, but they were making radio receivers, radio transmitters, clocks. They even had a store called Food Echo where the medium of exchange was only about three or four brands of cigarettes. I'll say this, when I walked into the barracks, they had cases of cigarettes along the center hallway going from floor to ceiling. They were cigarettes nobody wanted. They were British cigarettes and Canadian cigarettes, Sweet Capitols and so on. Players. Nobody liked them. They were _____[??] Everybody wanted mostly American tobaccos. Lucky Strikes, Chesterfields, and Camels.

David Gregory:

Where were they coming from?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Through the Red Cross. Let me say this, all prisoners of war supposedly were to receive ten pounds of food per week in a package. These packages were prepared by various countries, United States, France, England, Canada, New Zealand, Australia. The American packages were best from the viewpoint of the container. We had the best damn boxes in the world but the worst damn food. [chuckles] This is no joke. They gave us the D-ration chocolate. It may have been the most nourishing, but it was the worst taste. The English and the French and everybody else had real beautiful good chocolate in it. The Canadians like for their meat they had Canadian bacon. We had Spam. Spam was the best thing we had in there. We also had sugar. We had a can of klim which is milk spelled backwards. I guess a pound or so can of that milk. They were real nice. I got to Stalag Luft 3 and they were receiving it. One parcel per week per man, which was fine. And the Germans were providing us with barley soup and a little bit of meat in it and some of their bread and some of their ... here's something, their synthetic butter, their margarine. Their margarine they made it from coal. It was nourishing. You could take it and you could freeze it and it would still spread. You could put it in the sunshine and it wouldn't melt. You could take it and beat it with a little bit ofthat klim, that powdered milk, and a little bit of sugar and to us it tasted just like whipped cream. Of course, I don't know if it would taste like that today. But at that time, honest to god, it was the most delicious stuff. We used to take all this food and we made escape rations. We baked it. We did different things with it. We had little victory gardens outside, the British did. They had little victory gardens. The reason for the victory gardens were two-fold. First of all, they wanted the vegetables and second, it gave them a place to get rid of the dirt that they were taking out of the ground from their tunnels.

David Gregory:

So were they still tunneling when you got there?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Absolutely. They were always tunneling and they were always escaping. They were always escaping and always ... they were great. [chuckles] They were great. I really loved those guys. They were something else. Not all of them, of course, but so many of them. I loved their stiff upper lip. I guess I'm really an Anglophile. I can't help it. Because ofthem. I admired them greatly. They were still digging. They were still doing everything. They even had strikers. Can you imagine this? And orderlies. But they were all ... they had stopped that before I had gotten there. Early on, they had strikers. They guys would make tea for them. They had to have their tea. They were getting tea through the Red Cross. They had their tea like two or three times a day. The orderlies would come in and boil the water and make the tea for them. Their enlisted men loved these guys. They used to tell me, I mean absolutely, they'd tell me how they used to fly in the Battle of Britain. These were Battle of Britain people mostly. They said they had to carry them. They had to pull the guy out of the cockpit and practically carry them back to their barracks and their cot and they'd lie down for an hour and up they'd go again and carry them back out to the airplane practically and put them back in the airplane to go against the Germans. I mean, nobody really...the British just tore the Liftwaffe apart there. They really damaged it. Not only that, they damaged Herman Goring. His pride was terribly wounded over what the British did to him.

David Gregory:

When did ... after a while, the Germans would intercept those Red Cross packages, wouldn't they?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Oh, they were always intercepting and taking a few for themselves, but only the high-ranking officers. Ultimately that wasn't the problem. The problem was getting them to us. It was our aircraft that was doing it. We were shooting up everything that moved, including the Red Cross parcel trucks. Not only that, they were coming in by train. We had destroyed - I'm not exaggerating - hundreds of locomotives. Hundreds. They had the rolling stock of all of Europe in Germany trying to move stuff. I have passed ... of course everybody was attacking marshalling yards. We were bombing marshalling yards. The P-47s, the P-38s. The P-51 was not much because they're not good at that, but 47s and 38 are great strafers. A lot of weapons, cannons, and that sort of thing. They were tearing up... you could go any place in Germany on a railroad track and look out and the trees would be chopped down on both sides periodically. You'd go another couple of miles and there's another swath cut through the woods where these aircraft just strafed the trains and blown up the trees along the side and everything. There were marshalling yards that you could hardly see the end of it with rusting locomotives or rusting freight cars just tom to pieces. That was one of the big things that really contributed much to. the war. Let me say this, in general, bombing was not effective. Most ofthe missions going out of England, in my opinion, most of them were not effective at all. They did very little to shorten the war, very little to harm the industry because they didn't keep hitting the same targets or they were hitting the wrong targets. Of course, some were effective, but the great majority of the missions just killed a lot of people. Bombing the cities was largely ineffective. It made the Germans very angry. Say the bombing of London - these are my opinions - but I can tell you truthfully. I'm a bomber, I was, and bombing of a city does very little to damage the morale of the people. It makes them angry. Most all ofthe bombing of our Air Force was precision daylight bombing aimed against military industrial targets. I'll say all but one mission I flew I had an aiming point that was an industrial military target. Every case. Once I didn't like it. We had a whole industrial area of Munich which we just could ... we had a line and any place beyond that line we could release our bombs because the whole area was industrial.

David Gregory:

What were the guards like in the POW camp?

Joseph C. Sanford:

[chuckles] We called them ferrets.

David Gregory:

Called them what?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Ferret. They were little blue uniforms. They had little iron pokers, little steel rods and they probed. Little probing rods about, oh, maybe a foot and a half, two feet long. They'd go around probing walls or probing the ground looking for the British who were doing wonderfu things. They had RDF, Radio Direction Finders, and they'd be driving around trying to find the British transmitters and even the receivers because the little receivers all have a little transmitter in them, you know. At least the majority had. So anyway they could never find the radios. The British were making whiskey. They got the guards drunk, these little ferrets. The ferrets, they even intimidated them. They would give them money and then threaten to expose them if they wouldn't get them a camera or get them ammunition. The British had, believe it or not, had weapons. They would take all the _____[??]. We had a lot of Argentine beef cans. They'd take it and they'd open the solder up some way and they'd solder all these cans together and make a long tube and put a rifle in it and seal it and bury it. They had all kinds of stuff like this. You can't believe what the British did. I can't begin to tell you. I mean, they had rooms. They built a theater out of the Canadian and English packing boxes. They wrote their own music. They produced their own plays and others like George Bernard Shaw and a lot of other people. Oscar Wilde's plays. They'd put them on there in that little theater. In the theater, there was one of the seats. You could turn it around and pull it out and there was a shaft going straight down to a big room where they had provisions and that had a tunnel going out under the barbed wire but it never quite reached it. They had sensors under the barbed wire to pick up vibrations to tell they were digging tunnels. In some way...I don't think they had that in the early days. But anyway, they had that thing. They had all sorts of things. But they had a lot of these little ferrets intimidated. As people, as human beings, they weren't bad. The British had at the gate, the entrance to our compound, they had what they called the duty pilot. He sat on the ground on a box or something beside the gate and as soon as anybody entered the compound or left the compound, he had some signals and he would signal a signal man who was up in the attic some place or some crawl space looking out a ventilator. He would tell them what was going on. He would relay the information to the officer of the day or the duty office or the duty pilot. They'd relay it to whoever was in charge of the compound at that time. They would know exactly who was in the compound and where he is at all times. Everybody that came in or out. They'd know when you came in. They'd time them in and time them out.

David Gregory:

Well, how did you finally get free?

Joseph C. Sanford:

Well, we really didn't get free. The Russians were coming. We could hear them You could hear the cannons of the tanks, they were so close. The aircraft were flying day and night evacuating troops. The Russians were beating the hell out ofthe Germans. They were tearing them to pieces. The Russians did more to win the war than anybody else. The British did a lot. At the end of it we did a lot but in those days we weren't doing much, the earlier days. The British .. .I think the Russians killed over two million German soldiers and of course, they lost twenty million oftheir own people. They had this burned earth policy. But anyway, that's another story. But when they were evacuated they had .. .the Germans had ... here's an effective bombing the fuel. Bombing fuel refineries, Ploesti, _____[??], Friedrichshafen, bombing these targets was effective. When the Germans were evacuating from Russia, they came back with one truck pulling two or three. I talked to those German soldiers. I talked to the Tiger Tank commander, sergeant, you know. God, they were just so depleted. They were empty of everything. To them the war was over. The Russians had crushed them. But anyway, the Russians were coming. Here's something else. We just got back from the theater watching one of these English productions and over the intercom, the big loud speakers that were outside, "Gentlemen, you are to evacuate the camp in twenty minutes. I thought, oh my god, twenty minutes. What am I going to do? So I stayed around the British officers and they said, "Joe, don't pay attention to that. The Germans are never on time except they got their train schedules." He said, "There's no way in the world they can get less than twenty minutes." So they started to build a sled. They built a sled. I said, "Why are you building a sled?" "Well, it's all frozen." The temperature had been twenty below zero. That was one ofthe coldest. .. god, it was cold. They were building a sled. The ground was frozen solid. They were going to put their belongings including their radio. They had this radio they were putting in building it into that sled. Oh they were working. They had teamwork. They were working together so beautifully. They were taking their mattresses. They were ripping it in strips and weaving it into rope and that sort of thing. So I watched them for maybe about five minutes and I run back to my place and I said, "What am I going to make a sled out of?" So I saw a chair. The chair was made out of oak and it had curved back. The curved back looked just like the rudders of a sled. So I knocked the seat off of It. I took my mattress ticking, ripped it up, made myself a harness, and tied it to the back of that chair and it was built like a lot of things the Germans build, it was sturdy, and I put my belongings on it, which was not much. I had some escape rations. I don't know. Some spare pair of socks. That sort of thing. Not much. Pretty soon, of course, they evacuated us. The Russians were coming. We marched down this road and it was the pitchhblackest night I've ever seen and there was grumbling all over. The guards were all upset and people were trying ... they were falling down. I don't think they were trying to escape, but they were falling. They shook the guards up. They'd show you the little burp guns, the little machine pistols, you know. It was a mess. So finally I said, "Oh gee, I can't take this." It was around Christmas time. I guess it was January. I started to sing. I like to sing. I started to sing "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" and everybody around me started screaming at me "You dumb son of a bitch. Shut your damn mouth." Really bad language I think. I kept on singing. Pretty soon, the next guy is singing. Pretty soon, the next guy. Pretty soon we had a chorus going. The marching, believe me, got much easier. Even the guards were much relaxed. It relaxed everybody. We marched on through the night. We marched and we marched. Oh god, that was a miserable march. That's something else, that march and the evacuation ofStalag Luft 3. I'm not comparing it with Bataan or anything, but it was a bad march. So we evacuated. From there we went by foot. We had nothing to eat hardly. Very little to eat. We went from there and we went down to Nuremberg and from there we went down to _____[??] ultimately and of course after Patton really came in there. In fact, chased the Germans away. Stalag Luft 3 was really an experience. There's a story up there. In the prison camp, in the north compound at least, you were either an Indian or you were a Commie. If you're an Indian, you're independent. You did everything for yourself. You depended on no one. If you were a commie, you were a member of a commune and you and a leader and the commune would straighten out all matters of any kind of pressures that would arise between of the group, feeding, whatever. I was independent. I would rather be independent and I've always been that way. But anyway, I'm sleeping in there and I have a bunk and next to me they were all pilots mostly. B-17 pilots, this group. They used to argue all the time. There was one guy there named Harry. I'll tell you his last name. His name was Harry Crouse from New York. He was always bitching. When they disburse the food ... the food even up there at that time was pretty scarce at this time because the food started to diminish very rapidly even up there at Stalag Luft 3 towards the end. The group leader of the commune would take...he'd have a deck of cards. The first thing he'd do, each man had a bowl and he'd take the goop -- we called it the go op whatever it was -- he'd mix it in a great big pot and put it in each little bowl until they appeared to be even and everybody had the right to look up and say, no this one has a little too much and take a little piece or spoonful and put it in there until everybody was satisfied that they all looked the same. Then they had a deck of cards and each man ... everybody knew everybody's age and the oldest man got the highest card. So everybody would shuffle the cards and shuffle the cards and then somebody would put a card in front of each dish and the dish that had the highest card would go to the oldest man and so on so it was absolutely pure chance. Harry would get his bowl and he'd look into it and he'd march around saying, "I always get the end of the stick," and bitch and bitch and bitch. They threatened to kill him. I heard a conversation and they were serious. They were going to kill this guy. I didn't know him real well, I said, "Look Harry, you seem to be a nice person but you bitch all the time. You got to cut it out. These guys don't like yo anymore. They used to like you. But they are fed up and they are really plotting to kill you." He said, "I suspect that. What can I do?" I said You can become a hero." He said, "How do I become a hero?" Well, this time we had been bombed very bad in our camp. We had no firewood. It was bitter cold. I said, "You can get some wood for these guys." We had these little stoves. We called them _____[??]. Now, the _____[??] in German is _____[??] and the ______[??] is what we called ourselves for _____[??]. We'd build these little stoves with little blowers in little cans and we could burn damn near anything in it with the little fan. But anyway, we took big pieces of wood in the big pot and it's amazing how well they worked. So we needed some wood. He said, "Where the hell am I going to get any wood?" They had threatened to shoot us if we took any more wood out of the ... well, the building was going to collapse if we took any more wood out. I said, "I know where there's a fence post in the barbed wire fence." Now to get that post, you have to cross the warning wire, then you have to cross the trip wires, and then you got to the first fence. That's where this post was that I had spotted. It was rotted at the base. I said, "You got to steal that post." "Oh, I can't go across the warning wire." I said, "Of course you can." I said, "I'll even help you." Then I told how I'd do it. We had these machine gun towers every so often. I said, "I'll organize a fight on that side of that tower and a big altercation on this side of that tower. We'll get the guards attention and you'll go across there and I'll give you a tool to break the wire loose from the post and I'll give you a rope. You tie the rope around the top of the post and you come out of the gate and you disappear. That's all you got to do." He didn't want to do it. Finally, I talked him into it. So I organized the group. What we did, he went across there and he tied it on to the top of the post and four of us yanked this rope and sure enough, the post broke. We got the post and our barracks was right next to the fence about ten feet away. The window was open and we passed this post into the window and I had four or five guys in there with little tools and they broke this thing up with the splinters and I had already emptied my mattress tick and they put all these splinters inside my mattress tick and on top of my bed. Of course, the fence near fell down. The guards saw it and went crazy. They sent out all these search ... they were looking for their post. Well, I'm on top of my mattress. They come through the barracks and they're looking under the bed and they're looking all over and they couldn't find the post. Let me say this, Harry did become a hero. Not just to everybody else but to himself. He was a much better person after that and he and I became very good friends. During big air raids, we used to have these terrible air raids, and we used to lie on the floor. Everybody went outside in the _____[??], but Harry and I would stay there and smoke our pipes. We had a special air raid mixture which is some Rhodesian tobacco come through the Red Cross. We'd lie on the floor tellling stories. I'd be dreaming...believe it or not, my dreams were of malted milk and his were of potato pancakes. [chuckles] But anyway, there were great days in the prison camp.

David Gregory:

Mr. Sanford, I've got another interview scheduled so we're going to want to break this off now.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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