Military Vet Interview, Dale Dyer’s World War II Story: If you have been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories here on WallBuilders Live. Today, we are interviewing Dale Dyer.

Air Date: 06/06/2019

Guest: Dale Dyer

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Faith And The Culture

RICK:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture; this is WallBuilders Live where we’re talking about today’s hottest topics. We’re talking about policy, faith, all these things and how they impact the culture. Of course, we’re always looking at these hot topics from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.

We’re with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder of WallBuilders. Tim Barton is with us; he’s a national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. And, my name is Rick Green I’m a former Texas legislator.

Well, typically we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture; but, we get to do something else on WallBuilders Live today, a really, really cool thing that we’re honored to do. And, that is, we get to interview military veterans, many times World War II military veterans. Even today, we get to interview these guys in their mid to late 90s.

It’s just incredible we love having these interviews. We’re trying to get as many of these in as we possibly can, then share them with you, our audience. Tim, you got to interview a military veteran of World War II veteran–what–he’s 99 years old?

Like a John Wayne World War II Movie

TIM:

Yes, he’s 99; his name is Dale Dyer. He was a pilot during World War II; and so, some of the things he gets into are just phenomenal. It is crazy to hear about how God protected him and kept him safe during flights where his plane was the only one to not be shot.

I mean, really remarkable stuff. And, it’s such an honor to be able to talk to these guys, hear their stories and things that at times, you almost feel like you’re watching some John Wayne World War II movies as they’re telling the story,  going, “Oh my gosh; this is crazy.” Yet, this is the life they lived.

So, it is absolutely an honor to be able to get to interview him and hear part of his story.

RICK:

All right, guys, quick break. We’ll be right back. Tim Barton interviewing Dale Dyer.

Stay with us. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live!

Share a veteran’s story

We Want To Hear Your Vet Story

Rick:

Hey friends! If you have been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories here on WallBuilders Live.  Once in awhile, we get an opportunity to interview veterans that have served on those front lines that have made incredible sacrifices have amazing stories that we want to share with the American people.

One of the very special things we get to do is interview World War II veterans. You’ve heard those interviews here on WallBuilders Live, from folks that were in the Band of Brothers, to folks like Edgar Harrell that survived the Indianapolis to so many other great stories you heard on WallBuilders Live.

You have friends and family that also served.  If you have World War II veterans in your family that you would like to have their story shared here on WallBuilders Live, please e-mail us at [email protected]  Give us a brief summary of the story and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live!

RICK:

Welcome back to WallBuilders Live! This is Tim Barton; and, I’m joined by a very special guest who is a World War II veteran, Dale Dyer. And, first of all, thank you for being on the program. Thank you for doing this interview with us today; we sure appreciate it.

DALE DYER:

You’re more than welcome.

A Very Special Guest

TIM:

Well, Mr. Dyer, we would love to hear how you got involved in World War II and your thoughts leading up to it. Then, what you did in the war.

DALE DYER:

I could go on, of course, quite a while on this; but, I was born in 1919, December 8, in Clearwater, Kansas, just north of the Texas area. Then, finished high school in ’38. After that, I went to college at Kansas State at Manhattan, Kansas.

But, the last year in college, I took to civilian pilot training, which the government was sponsoring, and you got credit for it. I got into flying and got my private pilot’s license and got my degree in engineering. And, the school was a land-grant school where you had to take ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Course); it was in the infantry.

We went there in ’38 to 42. Of course, in ’41, Pearl Harbor happened in December of 41. And, I was a senior; they let us finish out the year.

A Commission in One hand, Orders in the Other

Then, in ’42, June, we got a commission in the ROTC. If you took it four years, you could get a commission in the army. They handed this commission with one hand and orders to report in the other hand.

TIM:

Wow.

DALE DYER:

So, I reported to Fort Riley, Kansas, a Calvary school there, but only just long enough to get assigned to Anniston, Alabama, Fort McClellan, where I started my first duty. Well, I tried to transfer it to the Air Force when I got in; and, we had a West Pointer, {Carol Teloon}, who was an old West Pointer. And, he said there was a shortage of infantry officers, and he wouldn’t–

Three times I tried to transfer the Air Corps; and, he wouldn’t let me. Well, I finally wrote a letter to Washington, telling them that I had a private pilot’s license. Three days later they sent me to Montgomery, Alabama to get a physical.

Then, three days later, they transferred me to the Air Corps. But, I also got a call from General Philoon at the headquarters, who wanted to see me; and, I went to him. When I walked in, I could tell he was not happy with me.

{laughter}

“I Will Not Forget You”

And, he said, “Son, you want to remember that if you flunk out, you automatically come back to this outfit. I will not forget you.”

TIM:

Oh no.

DALE DYER:

That was my introduction to the Air Corps.

TIM:

So, you had extra motivation not to flunk out, then.

DALE DYER:

That was a pretty good thing {for me to remember}. Then, they assigned me to the Southeast Training Command in the Air Force, where I got my wings in Louisiana in ’43. And, I was sent to Smyrna Field near Nashville, flying B-24 four-engine bombers, which was the biggest bomber at that time.

Then, I went through the transition there. And, when the class moved out, 43-F, they kept me there as an instructor. I stayed there for almost a year instructing new students in flying the B-24.

Two Germans, One Italian, a Mexican, a Polish Man, And a Finn

Then, I was sent to Boise, Idaho, where I picked up a 10-man crew on each plane, four-engine airplane. My crew included two Germans, one Italian, a Mexican, a Polish, and a Finnish who could all speak their native languages. And, I told them I couldn’t even speak good English.

{laughter} But, we just did melt together, just like a family.

TIM:

Wow.

DALE DYER:

And, all the rest of the years after the war, we kept in touch with one another as a family normally does. We’d gone through so much that we just appreciated each other, because everybody did their duty while we were there. Anyway, then I was sent to a New York City, and we were sent overseas on a SS Brazil.

There were 5000 onboard; it had been a cruise ship that normally had about 650 passengers. So, we were just a bit crowded; but, it was the second-largest convoy of the war, {they told us}. We landed at Liverpool about midnight.

And, then, we went to a place in England called “Stone,” where we rode the train, getting in there about 2:00 in the morning. Well, we were all tired; they did feed us. Then, about 8:30 the next morning, we were asleep because they let us sleep a little late.

Well, there were two airplanes that came down and buzzed the field right by our barracks. And, they went up; then, there was a third airplane that followed them who came down too low. There was a telephone pole right beside our barracks that he hit his tail fin, right tail fin, clipped that telephone pole; and, it took the pin off.

And, he went out about a half a mile or less and crashed. Of course, he was killed. We found out that he had just finished his tour of duty over there in England.

TIM:

Oh man.

DALE DYER:

He’d come by to say “goodbye” to two of his friends at this airbase. And, they’d all decided to go up and have one last flight together. But, he didn’t get a chance to go home.

TIM:

Wow.

An Introduction to Combat

DALE DYER:

He got killed right there. That was our introduction to combat when we got in England. That was the next morning after we got there. So, just different things like that happened.

But, anyway, we got assigned to the 2nd Air division at Norwich, England, about 75 miles northeast of London. And, there were 14 airbases in a 15-mile radius of our field. And, on each airbase, there were about 60 airplanes.

They were always working on so many, repairing them, changing engines, and doing things. So, on a regular mission, it was normally we would be able to get about 30 or 35 airplanes in our one squadron in the air. Well, we flew a few missions there.

Then, they pulled us off of duty there. The Normandy invasion had taken place in France down there on in ’44. And, they had broken out of Normandy and started chasing the Germans across France.

They outran their gas supplies; so, they pulled this off of combat. And, for two weeks, we hauled nothing but gas down to France. And incidentally, I  was the second plane to take off from our airfield.

The first plane, he went full length to the field, finally got it in the air, went out about a half a mile, and went into the ground. It was one big explosion, five houses, because it was right over Norwich.

TIM:

Wow.

“You’re next.”

DALE DYER:

And, of course, the whole crew–and, the tower says, “You’re next.”

TIM:

So, what are you thinking at that moment? If you saw the plane in front of you didn’t make it, did you question if your aircraft could handle that load?

DALE DYER:

Well, we were completely overloaded; but, it still would fly. But, I think he didn’t realize we had to take off with flaps down to get enough lift. And, I think he got up in the air and, brought his flaps up, and the plane would not fly with the flaps all the way up because we were so overloaded.

I think that’s what took him into the ground, because we didn’t get over 400 feet above the English Channel going down the France. Then, we unload the gas.

TIM:

Wow.

DALE DYER:

And, when we took off, I had to start turning as soon as I got in the air to keep from going over the big fire that it had caused. But, anyway, I tried to pull my flaps up when I was flying across the channel. And, as soon as I did, it just started sinking; so, I think that’s what maybe he did on takeoff.

He just didn’t have–too many of these boys didn’t have the time that they needed in the plane before they were in combat flight like that.

Perfectly Prepared

TIM:

This is where you had the benefit of having been an instructor and tested so much of the capabilities of the plane. That must have surely benefited you in these moments.

DALE DYER:

That’s what I’ve said all the time. It was the greatest thing that happened to me, having all that experience of instructing. And, they had me doing maximum performance of all types with the airplane.

I was so accustomed to that plane. I could tell it if there’s anything wrong with it and could detect just about and it. That was very beneficial to me.

We lost more planes on those gas hauls than we were losing in combat.

TIM:

Wow.

DALE DYER:

Our group was over there 15 months. In that time, we lost 99 airplanes from our base. Several bases lost considerably more than we did.

So, we had one chance out of three of completing our missions. While we were landing and bringing gas, those fighter boys were taking off and bombing two towns: Dunkirk and another town there on the coast that but the Germans had holed up in. And, they were trying to dislodge them.

But, they would only be gone about 15 minutes on a mission from where they were there. And, our regular missions run from six to eight hours, generally speaking. After six missions, they made us a lead crew.

Well, my co-pilot was not able to fly with us then because they would sign a major or colonel to fly, because he’d be in charge of the whole wing or division. Since we would lead crew, why, he’d sit in that seat; but, he didn’t have any real time; just about 50 hours is all he ever had, like most of them in the B-24.

So, I had to fly the six or eight hours full time and never get out of the seat in all that time.

Flak Guns

TIM:

That’s a long time in the captain’s chair.

DALE DYER:

Yes. And, on another mission, we went out and they told us that our target that day was to find 700 Flak guns that had been moved, and we were to fly over a certain area to try to find where they had moved them to. We didn’t have to stay on course to bomb; but,  as soon as they fired at us and we knew that that’s where it was, we could divert off.

But, whenever you’re on a mission to bomb a certain thing, they had what was called an “IP,” an initial point. So, for 40 miles before you got to the target, you had to fly straight and level because the bombardier navigator needed time to locate targets and put the crosshairs of the bomb site on the target. And, during that 40 miles, they could get you in their sights, from the ground, the 88 millimeter Flak guns and could throw up a major amount of flak all around you.

Even on the first mission, just as our bombs went away, the plane that was flying on our right, about 100 yards out on our right, got to direct hit. And, my co-pilot with me at that time. He happened to be looking at the plane when it blew up.

Of course, we had our oxygen masks on with our helmets, so the only part of the face you could see was just his eyes, more or less. And, when he turned around to me, he  was just white as a sheet around his face that I could see. And, he claimed that he doesn’t remember coming back to that mission, it scared him so bad.

Barely Making it Back

Almost the same time, we lost an engine on our very first mission. So, we had to come back on three engines, and we couldn’t stay up with the formation. We had to drop down and lose altitude; but, I tried to stay underneath them.

But, that’s usually when the German fighters would pick you off, anybody that would get out of formation like that. Thank goodness there wasn’t a German fighter in the area, or we would have probably had a pretty rough time making it; if we would have made it. But, we got back in formation when they started letting down over Holland, going back towards England.

When the boys got on the ground on that first mission, they jumped out of the plane and kissed the old earth. They were so happy to have made it.

TIM:

I’m sure so. Mr. Dyer, it sounds like you had a lot of experiences at this point, since you survived, some might even say “adventure or action,” all the missions that you flew. How did you finally get back home? Or, were you there for the conclusion of the war.

DALE DYER:

Yes. We flew 26 missions over Germany. We hit Berlin and Nuremberg; those were long missions, way on out. But, we were the only plane that we could find out that didn’t have a flak hole in it, on any of our missions.

“The Good Lord Was With Us the Whole Way.”

The good Lord was with us the whole way. And, we could understand or believe how lucky we were. He evidently  was taking care of us.

Anyway, when the war was over, they assigned us to take ground crews. And, we flew them down through France and back into lower Germany, then flew back up the Rhine River. We saw the bridges that had been bombed and destroyed, plus all the barges sunk.

The towns, when we went round Cologne, all that was left in the center of Cologne was a big cathedral. And, for 13 blocks in all directions it was nothing but rubble. So, I circled it, got down and stayed down around 500-600 feet where the boys could see as much as possible on the ground.

And, going across France, they had already started to corral in the German soldiers, taking their weapons away from them and processing them to turn them loose. We flew over one group that looked like it was half-a-mile square or long or more than that. And, it was just solid with German soldiers that had been captured at the close of the war.

And, we were assigned to fly our airplanes back to the states. They assigned me an old, war-weary plane that had been, evidently, shot up several times, had different problems, been on a number of missions, and made it. But, we lost an engine.

TIM:

Oh no.

DALE DYER:

We had to turnaround; and, it took us two hours to get back where they had to work on it for about two or three hours. So, we were really late taking off, flying across the ocean. That was June the 14th that we left over England and got back to the states on the 18th of June.

Gas and Fire

Then, after we go on in the air again, we had an electrical fire that took place. They’d taken the radio out and just pushed the wiring back in behind some sound deadening felt, and it caught fire. We had to put that out.

And, when we landed in Newfoundland, the boys came up; there were 20 boys aboard the plane. They had all the sacks of mail that they could pile in there, which were what the boys laid on all the trip. Anyway, when I landed, they came up to me and said, “Captain, we didn’t want to tell you; but, we had a gas leak in the bomb bay and had a helmet to catch it and kept throwing it out the window.”

They were afraid that had they told me that, I would have turned around and gone back. Those men didn’t want to turn back.

TIM:

They just wanted to go home.

DALE DYER:

They wanted to come home.

TIM:

Wow. You mentioned earlier God’s protection over you; and, it sure sounds like the good Lord, once again, was looking out for you and your crew, to help you guys overcome so many difficulties in that plane just to get back home.

DALE DYER:

Well, there are so many incidents so that I could still tell you about where it could not have been anything but the Lord was with us, or we just wouldn’t have made it.

Freedom Isn’t Free

TIM:

We probably could sit here for hours and listen to more of your story; we just don’t have any more time. But, I want to thank you so much for sharing your story with us and for your service. We are so grateful as Americans to still be a free nation.

And, we recognize that freedom is not inherent and doesn’t come free. There is a heavy price that is paid for freedom. So, we recognize how many of former generations and how much of our military has paid that price for our freedom.

Mr. Dyer, we are so grateful for your work, your sacrifice, the part you played in helping us be free.

DALE DYER:

Well, thank you very much. And, appreciate your knowing that freedom is not free. Another year, if make it to another year, it will be my 100th birthday.

And, I went skydiving at 80; then, I went again at 90 to jump out at 14,500 feet. We free-fell down to 6,000 feet before we opened our shoots. They keep kidding me about going up again for my 100th birthday; so, we’ll wait and see.

TIM:

I love it. I love it. Well, Mr. Dyer if you do, we would love to hear the details of that.

We will celebrate with you. But, we are so grateful that you took time to be with us today.

DALE DYER:

Yes sir. Thank you for allowing me.

The Greatest Generation

TIM:

We are back now with Rick Green and David Barton. Guys, first of all, I love the adventure, that may be on his 100th birthday–which actually is just a few months away, so we’re not that far for his 100th birthday–that he might go skydiving again. It’s almost crazy to think about.

During World War II, he has all these crazy plane malfunctions, but presumably, never jumped out of a plane. And, now that he’s survived World War II, maybe fun is jumping out of planes. That’s just awesome.

His attitude, tone, and spirit–man, what a fun interview.

DAVID:

Well, a fun interview. But, even today, we commemorate D-Day; the 6th of June is when D-Day happened. And, we think of the 3,000 guys that were lost on D-Day.

And, you wouldn’t think about flying gasoline to those guys would be that dangerous. He points out they lost more planes flying gasoline to supply the D-Day troops after their invasion than they did with all the enemy fire.

Then, he said what? Was it 99 planes in 15 months? And, it was more dangerous to fly gasoline than to–

TIM:

Well, and hearing he’s only at 400 feet flying above the Channel. And, when he tries to a better altitude, it actually makes his plane drop, because he’s so heavily overloaded that the weight of what he has. It really is crazy to think about what these guys had to do to try to keep the fight going, to try to get fuel going so we can keep advancing, driving back, and pushing.

What we had to do to win this war, is one of the things that thinking back, this idea of them being the greatest generation, they were amazing problem solvers. And, whatever the challenge was they met it. Like, how do we fix this or resolve this?

More World War II Stories and Veteran Interviews Available

And, just–man, the reason we want to honor our military veterans, and the reason it’s so cool to talk to guys who were part of World War II and hear their stories, is because it is what they went through that allows us to live in the freedom we live in. So, even as we commemorate D-Day, looking back on the price that was paid, the lives that were lost, in order to try to stop tyranny and oppression and bring freedom to people. Ultimately, it kept Hitler, Japan, and Italy from trying to take over the rest of the world, which would have significantly affected America.

It’s because of military heroes; we look back and say “thank you” to these guys. And, man, how cool to talk to Dale Dyer and his story. It’s one of the things I love about doing WallBuilders Live!

RICK:

And, folks that are listening, if you enjoyed that today, there are more interviews like this on our website; go to WallBuildersLive.com, click on the archive section. Then, you can scroll through there and find some others of our veteran interviews.

Or, you go to the website WallBuilders.com. And, we have a CD where we’ve compiled some of these called Warrior Heroes: By Land, By Air, By Sea; and, that’s available as well. It’s a great way to teach your kids about the sacrifice of previous generations and the price that was paid so that they could be free, so that we could be free and even speak freely on the radio today.

So, special thanks to all of our veterans out there on this very important memorial today of D-Day from June 6, 1944. Thanks for listening today to WallBuilders Live!