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War stories: Long Islanders recall WWII

A Farmingdale veteran remains haunted by the death of his teenage friend on Iwo Jima. A captured GI from Freeport recalls his days in a German prison camp. Seventy years ago, the Allies ended years of conflict with victories over Germany and Japan. Throughout 1945, servicemen and women from all over Long Island were involved in the final push to reach Victory in Europe and Victory in the Pacific.

Here are some of their stories, and check back throughout the year as we add to our growing collection:

Omaha Beach

Jacob Cutler

Omaha Beach

"We literally had to zigzag around the bodies, there were so many of them," the 91-year-old from Valley Stream recalled of his arrival at Omaha Beach, the scene of the most intense fighting during the D-Day invasion.

Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Dawn on D-Day

Walter Blum

Dawn on D-Day

"We had trained and trained for D-Day, but combat is totally different," said Blum, of Great Neck, who worked as an architect after the war. "You try to just do your job and not think about what might happen. Fear motivates you."

Newsday /John Paraskevas.

The Replacement

Irving Greger

The Replacement

"We passed an empty field with about 30 burned-out American tanks," Greger, of Plainview, recalled. "And this guy pointed to them and said to me, 'See what you are here to replace?'"

Courtesy of Irving Greger

Surviving a kamikaze attack

Edward Coyne

Surviving a kamikaze attack

". . . you were so busy you didn't have a chance to think you were going to die," Coyne, of Plainview, said. "You'd only think of that after you had time to settle down."

Newsday / John Paraskevas

A military wife

Edna Watson

A military wife

"They had fought, had given their time and training, had given their all," Watson, of Westbury, said of her husband and his fellow black pilots. "Why should they be segregated and denied the privileges they were due?"

Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Moments before Surrender

Nicholas Loren

Moments before Surrender

"We had been told there would be children and grandmothers fighting us and that they would commit suicide rather than surrender," Loren, of Farmingdale continued. "And that was a frightening feeling."

Courtesy of Nicholas Loren

The Manhattan Project

Meyer Steinberg

The Manhattan Project

"They asked, but I said we couldn't talk about it, because it was highly secret. They didn't know what I was doing," Steinberg, of Melville, said. "But after the bomb, everybody knew."

Courtesy of Meyer Steinberg

Death Came Calling

Bill Mueller

Death Came Calling

"Tell you the truth, I was scared," Mueller, of Levittown, said. "But after Maurice got killed, I don't know. I have to say I might have even had the thoughts of 'better him than me.'"

Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Silver Star

Charles Nicolas

Silver Star

"Any one of the other sailors on board that submarine could have deserved that Silver Star," Nicolas, of Farmingdale , said. "I just happened to be in the right position."

Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Suicide Mission

Jerry Weingart

Suicide Mission

"We were told it was a suicide mission because the Japanese would track us down by our signals and bomb us out," Weingart, of Melville, said. "I wanted to go home, sure I did. I was married, I wanted to get on with my life."

Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Avenging Japan's 'sneak attack'

Pete Fabregas

Avenging Japan's 'sneak attack'

"There were guys in my neighborhood who packed their lunch and left their houses within minutes of the announcement,;" Fabregas, of Massapequa Park, said. "I was envious of them, although I never saw some of them ever again."

Newsday / John Paraskevas

The College Grad

Jack Hayne

The College Grad

"Had I not been drafted, I never would have gone to college," said Hayne, of Old Bethpage. "I had no math, no chemistry, no algebra, no physics in high school. I had typing, shorthand, bookkeeping. I had no academic training."

Courtesy of Jack Hayne

Imprisoned Civilian

Tamara Fielding

Imprisoned Civilian

"I think it was the lowest point in my life," said Fielding, 81, a performing artist living in Huntington. " I was broken.I don't think at that point I cared if I lived or died. My whole body was shaking."

Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Darby's Rangers

Joseph LaBarbera

Darby's Rangers

"These men were shell shocked," Darby, of Smithtown, recalled of the aftermath. "At first they would tell their story only to their own cooks and truck drivers who had remained behind. We had all lost too many comrades and friends in the ill-fated assault to want to discuss the experiences with outsiders."

Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Stress of killing the enemy

Lou Dworkin

Stress of killing the enemy

"I had never shot anyone before. People think they can walk around with a gun and shoot somebody, that it's easy;" Dworkin, of North Valley Stream, said, "it's not."

Newsday / J. Conrad Williams

Submarine chase

Clarence “Mike” Carmody

Submarine chase

"It's hot, and everyone is in their underwear with a towel around their neck because they're sweating so much," the Lindenhurst native recalled of when his submarine, USS Pampanito, stalked a Japanese convoy. "The tension is really high."

AP/U.S. Navy

Underage soldier

Louis Cianca

Underage soldier

"I saw things you shouldn't see at 16," Cianca, of Carle Place, continued. "I cried a lot in the dark. But you had to grow up quick. I did everything that guys who were 30, 40, 50 were doing."

Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The Atom Bomb

Joe Librizzi

The Atom Bomb

"We all asked the same question," Librizzi, of Oceanside, said of his fellow crew members. "What is an A-Bomb?"

Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Battle of the Bulge

David Marshall

Battle of the Bulge

"We ran through towns very quickly but careful not to get sniped at or booby trapped," Marshall, of Baldwin Harbor, said. "You had to be careful about that."

Courtesy of David Marshall

Prisoner of War

Pfc. Bernard Rader

Prisoner of War

"I was dazed and on the ground," said Rader, 91, now a retired accountant living in Freeport. "But I realized I had to get rid of my dog tags."

Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Tying Up Loose Ends

Walter Oelerich

Tying Up Loose Ends

"Every day, there was another face or two missing," Oelerich, of Farmingdale, recalled. "As the battle wore on, I got more anxious. I thought, 'My number is coming up, it has to be.'"

Courtesy of Walter Oelerich

Women in the War

Tess Garber

Women in the War

"They would ask us to do jobs they would never ask the men to do, but you had been given an order so you couldn't question it," said Garber, of Jericho, one of about 350,000 women who served.

Courtesy of Tess Garber

The Fuhrer's House

Harold O'Neill

The Fuhrer's House

"I was just curious about where the Fuhrer lived because I'd seen it in the movies,"said O'Neill, of Patchogue. "I'd remembered this huge window overlooking the alps where he would be photographed during meetings with world leaders."

Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Airstrikes over Tokyo

Lt. Col. Howard Liebman

Airstrikes over Tokyo

"There had never been fires like the ones we started," said Liebman, of Hicksville, a radar operator with the Army's 20th Air Force.

Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

44,000 American Indians

Lubin Hunter

44,000 American Indians

"I said that could have been my people who were being killed," said Hunter, who was born on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation. "I had no great idealism about being in the service."

Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

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