An Excerpt From Veterans Chronicles

The World War II Veterans Committee began with the production of the award-winning radio documentary series, World War II Chronicles, commemorating the 50th anniversary of World War II. This program, hosted by the late, great “Voice of World War II,” Edward J. Herlihy, aired on over 500 stations nationwide between 1991 and 1995. In the years since, the World War II Veterans Committee has produced dozens of radio documentaries and series, in an effort to bring the history of the Second World War to the American public.

The Committee’s tradition of quality radio programming continues with the new series, Veterans Chronicles, hosted by Gene Pell, former NBC Pentagon Correspondent and head of Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. With Veterans Chronicles, listeners are taken back in history, and told the story of World War II by the men and women who fought, and won, the war. In this issue, we print the partial transcripts of a recent episode.

Only a letter from home was more welcome to a battle-weary GI than an issue of Yank Magazine, The World War II Army weekly. It was a unique publication in that it was produced entirely by enlisted men with officers limited to purely administrative functions. Yank was printed in simultaneous editions in every theater of war and it boasted a readership in all armed services estimated at 10,000,000. Similar in appearance to Look magazine, Yank contained pictures, cartoons, poems, pin-ups, news and first-hand eyewitness stories from all battlefronts.

Perhaps no Yank correspondent in the south Pacific was better known or respected than Dave Richardson. Determined to write his stories from first-hand experiences, sergeant Richardson joined dozens of combat missions conducted by various allied armies in the air, at sea and on the ground – including a three-month, 1,200 mile march with the famed Merrill’s Marauders in Burma. Richardson is believed to be the most highly decorated correspondent in uniform during World War II, having received the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars, two Presidential Unit Citations, and a Purple Heart.

After the war, Mr. Richardson continued to travel the world for Time magazine and US News & World Report. Prior to his passing in 2005, Richardson sat down for an interview and told of his experiences in some of the toughest combat conditions of the Second World War.

When the war started shortly thereafter, I was drafted almost immediately. I was sent to the Coast Guard auxiliary in Virginia Beach and showed them the need to start a camp newspaper there, which I became editor of. Then I heard that Yank magazine was going to be formed as a global weekly for enlisted men of all services in all theaters the of war. I wrangled my way into that and jumped from Corporal to Tech Sergeant, five stripes immediately because they needed rank for what they were going to do with me. I was sent with the first group to go to the Pacific, to Brisbane, Australia, where I was to set up the “Down Under” edition of Yank magazine. We had to go in to see General MacArthur when we got there, and I carried orders from General Marshall, Chief of the United States Army, giving us incredible freedom. We sergeants had freedom to write our own travel orders anywhere in the theater of war, to recruit men for the Yank staff, to have priorities on newspaper and print facilities, even to live between assignments in hotels along with the top officers – as long as we didn’t wear our stripes. So MacArthur, we had to go in and stand at attention before him, and we were scared as hell facing him in this big office of his, and he was sitting there regally at a bare table. We saluted, gave him our orders, and he put on his glasses and started reading the orders. I could see his face. Finally he said, “Well men, all I can say is you’re going to have more freedom than anybody in this theater except me.”