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Francis Austin       Thomas B. Hall, Jr.       Carolyn Rice
John B. Buschmann       Thomas S. Jeffrey, Jr.       Harold T. Scott
Houston Crews       Charles Lewis       Charles N. Smith
Charles M. Hall       Lauren L. 'Dick' Miles       Earl L. Thomas

Name: Francis Austin
Rank: E-8 (Fireman First Class)
Branch of Service: United States Navy

[tape starts abruptly]

I was in the Pacific Theater. That was near Japan, and it was late in the war; in fact, the war ended on the battle of Okinawa. I was in on the invasion of Okinawa, and that was the last battle of the war.

So you were providing support for the invasion?

Well, at that time I was in what they called a ìlogistics support company,î which provided support and backup for the Marines that invaded. I was land based at the time; we went in behind the Marines. I was transported to Okinawa, and then we were transferred to land, and thatís where the fighting was until it ended. After that, in December, I was shipped to Seattle, Washington, and from there to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and thatís where I was transferred to Shelton, Virginia, where I was discharged, and that was the end of that stay.

What was the nature of the ship you were on?

It was a repair ship, the type of ship that goes to other ships that has been damaged in the war, and get it to a so-called ìneutral spot,î or as near neutral as you could get it, and do whatever repairs we could do to the ship to get it back in service. We had a fully-equipped ship of machine shops and guns and almost anything you would need, spare parts. Just do whatever was necessary to put the ship back in action and out at sea.

When did you first see action?

Okinawa was my first experience with real live action. But on the way out there several times we had an alert for some reason, stuff like that. And they fired at somethingÖ

Were there any planes?

No, we didnít have any planes until we got to Okinawa, and on the first day there we were disembarked and landed on the beaches; and that night we had an attack, and the ship I was on, it got hit that same night, but I donít know the extent of the damage because I wasnít on it at the time. We had already landed and was in a potato field, taking cover.

Were you wounded during the course of the war?


So you were luckyÖ What was your impression of what we were fighting for?

WellÖ we was fighting for the freedom and safety of the United States, because we had been attacked by Japan and then Europe was drawn into it. Everybody was fighting; it was a World War. At that time, you were just fighting for self-survival.

What was your most memorable experience of the war?

What do you mean ó in action, orÖ ?

Just during the war.

Well, I donít knowÖ I have some pleasant memories and some unpleasant ones. I guess say the most frightening part was when we invaded Okinawa, and to see all those planes coming over the mountaintop, and you were in a bare field, a potato field for cover, so you had nowhere to run, and there was no place to run. I guess that was my most frightening moment. Then, after that, we moved in; first thing that we were doing was set up a hospital area, where they would put up tents for an emergency hospital for the wounded that had gone on ahead; you know, invading the island. So, in that time, we did several different things; we were on guard duty; we were on work detail ó that lasted twelve hours a day. We worked from six in the morning until six at night, or from six at night until six in the morning. You was either on one shift or the other; it was divided into two shifts. Two people used the same bunk; one guy slept at night, one slept at night. This was also intense. It had been set up after we sort of regrouped and got together. Later on, around that same time, I was assigned to haul coral reef ó similar to gravel ó out of the hills to put into a spot. They were eventually going to build a hospital, so they were leveling the spot to make it suitable to build on. In the meantime, we were being shot at sometimes by snipers; almost every night there was an air raid, so you had to take cover. We couldnít do much because we had rifles and they was no good against the planes, but they had Marines that were stationed in strategic locations; we had ships in the harbor that would fire at the planes; but, while we still had rifles and ammunition, you still had to take cover.

I have kind of a sensitive question; what was you experience regarding race and racial discrimination during the war?

WellÖ there was enough of that to go around, too. We were separated from the white units, although we did the same things and worked together in a lot of areas. But it was always like a separate thing. There were times that you felt that you didnít get a fair share ó like in the promotions ó although I feel like I made out all right with the promotions because I was one of the first blacks assigned to a Navy Service school ó which was at Hampton, Virginia ó right after my boot camp. I was training to be a motor machinist, so when I came out of that school, I came out as a Fireman, Second Class. But then, after that, I rose quickly through the ranks, due to my ability and to good cooperation from the officers and whatnot, so I didnít have much of a personal gripe there. However, itís a different story my second time. So, while I had it good, I could see things going on that was not so good. But that was the times, so you accepted it and you went on. Thatís the way it was.

Well, I thank you very much for letting me interview you, Mr. Austin.

Youíre welcome.

[Korean War transcription starts here]

I have another round in the war too; you know, in the Korean War.

What did you do in the Korean War?

Well, after the first war was over, I got a job in New York City, because thatís where I was going to stay. I worked there until 1950; the war broke out, I think, in June 1950. In July 1950, I was recalled to duty. Not active duty, because I wasnít in the reserves and if I had been, my time would have already expired. I was recalled; I took down my discharge from World War II. I thought maybe it was going to help me avoid it. It didn't. I was recalled from Whitehall Street in New York to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. They gave me an equivalent of my old rating, except this time it was Engineer, First Class. So I was sent to Norfolk, Virginia, where I caught a ship around to San Francisco, California, where we loaded up with ammunition and supplies and headed out to Sasebo, Japan. When we got to Sasebo, I was transferred to a yard oiler ó thatís a ship that takes gasoline, fuel oil, and whatever others in the line of oils to ships that were shelling Pusan, Korea. So weíd go from Sasebo to Pusan ó which was usually about an 8-hour run each way ó and deliver oil and gas for aviation and whatnot to those spots. Well, when you get up there, you were under fire a lot, because they were shelling and shooting and whatnot, so it was a hazardous adventure. So that went on from March, I guess it was, all through the summerÖ no, from July, because IÖ wait a minute, Iím getting mixed up. I was recalled in July, and within a month I was out there. So for the rest of the winter we were carrying fuel oil from Sasebo to Pusan. But in March, I got sick. I got a stomach infection, and I was brought back to the States. But before I was brought back, the ship I was on had a rating coming up for Chief Motor Machinist. I was eligible to take the test. And on the morning I was to take the test, I got an order to transfer to YO-179, which made me miss my exam. When I got to YO-179, they didnít know I was coming; they had no need of a man of my title. That ship had a complement of about twenty-five men; it was an oil liner, and we usually didnít have much service with those. So, with my rating, it was a Chief in charge, and an Engineer, First Class, was his assistant. But they had an Engineer, First Class, so they had one extra man. So for the first week or two I just assisted, and they finally transferred the other guy. But what got my goat was I missed the exam for Chief, and I think it was deliberate. I will always feel that way, because no one else was transferred but me from that ship, and I was transferred to a ship that did not know I was coming and had no use for a man of my title. I think that was a ploy to keep me from getting the title. To that point, I had decided on making the Navy my career. But that was the turning point; after that I decided I wasnít going to stay, so I got out as soon as I could. But in the meantime I got sick, so I was sent back to the States, and I was medically discharged from the Navy in Saint Albans, New York, in 1952. I think I was. So that was that; I didnít go back to the Navy. So I made a career with the city of New York, which was successful for me, and all in all, I can say that I have had a reasonably good life, regardless of the war or whatever else came my way.

Name: John B. Buschmann
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Branch of Service: U. S. Army Air Corps

Just for the record, could you tell me your name, the branch of service you were in, and your rank at the end of the war?

My name is John B. Buschmann, spelled B-U-S-C-H-M-A-N-N, and the B stands for Bernharde, not Bernard like they print all over. Itís spelled B-E-R-N-H-A-R-D-E. Itís about as Hein eke platze as you can get, if you know what that means.

No, but I canÖ


Which service were you in?

I was in Air Force. I signed up in í42, but I became active in í43, and I stayed in for twenty years.

What was your rank at the end of the war?

At the end of the warÖ ? I was still a second lieutenant.

And how old were you when you joined?

Between eighteen and nineteen.

In í42?

No, thatíd be í43. They didnít call me until í43. I started out as a pilot, and it was unusual that I was also a Master Sergeant.

Why was that unusual?

Well, it was unusual in that there was a period of time that they released the people, and I enlisted as a master sergeant. I applied to go to school, and I took all the tests, and they gave me back my rank as a second lieutenant. I came back on active duty as a pilot again and went to school.

Where did you see action?

No, I never was in combat. I was in training for special missions, and then I was an instructor.

So what did you do in these special missions?

Well, we were training for specific missions (which they didnít tell us), but it had to do with ground support in the European theater. They could see the end of the war coming, so they called that off, and then we trained for high-altitude air protection in the Pacific. When we got to Seattle to get on the boat, they dropped the bomb, and that was it. In other words, I got ready for both sides, and the war ended before I got sent.

What was your impression of what we were fighting for during the war?

Well, at the time, when youíre young, you donít think too much [about it]; the country called on you because they had a reason that they had to help the world at that particular time, so you went. There wasnít any big political reason as to why I should go or why I shouldnít go. I didnít have any qualms about it. I enlisted; they didnít call me; I didnít get drafted. You thought it was the right thing to do, so thatís what you did.

What was your most memorable experience of the war?

Of the war? I already said I wasnít in the war. You mean during [the war]? I had two of them, both of them very unusual. I was training and flying in P-40ís, thatís the famous ìFlying Tigersî [airplane], and I was all lined up to fly, and all of a sudden I heard over the radio that someone had an emergency. He called in and had an emergency, so we shut off our engines and everything else to wait. And, sure enough, he came in on a flying pattern; he was losing power. He came in on what we called a downward leg, or base leg, and he was turning on final, and you could see that he was losing airspeed and might not make it to the runway. He made a serious mistake, and that was that he stretched his glide; an airplane can glide only so far, and you donít stretch it. You want to keep the airplane flying so you have control. Well, he didnít do that. He came in, and got the airplane slower and slower, until it stalled. Smashed into the ground, and the landing gear hit at the same time, just before he got to the runway. And we just groan; you donít want to see that kind of stuff, but youíre just staring at it. It was in the summertime, and there was this tremendous cloud of dust. You couldnít see anything, couldnít see the airplane, couldnít see anything. And all of a sudden this figure came running out; it was the pilot, so you knew everything was all right. And then you started to smile, and then you started laughing, because the shock was over. Then, you started paying attention to what else was going on around you. And here, thereís a wheel, a landing wheel, rolling down alongside the runway, coming towards the runway, kept rolling, and pretty soon itís rolling towards us, came over. It was kind of a parking lot, a ramp, you know, and rolled like a coin does, around and around and around, and stopped right where the airplane was supposed to park.

The next one was later, when I was flying jets, the F-94, it was an all weather fighterÖ anyways, the F-94, I had a radar operator, and we took off one morning, this was real early in the morning, and there was some cloud cover coming up. We went up over the clouds, practicing, instruments and navigation; he was working with the radar. And when we went in to land, the tower said, ìOkay, but the field is on instruments,î I said, ìOkay, no problem.î So we came in on GCA, thatís ground control approach, and we got down to 200 feet and still couldnít see anything. Looking around, said, ìAsk them whatís the weather,î so he read me the report, and I said, ìThat doesnít sound right to me, turn that sheet over and tell me what you see,î and he said, ìI canít see a thing.î So, by George, I took her down, and we tried to come in again and couldnít come in, and the General came in on the radio: ìThe fieldís closed; if you care to, Iím authorizing you and your RO to take the plane out over the wilderness and bail out,î and I said, ìNo sir, weíre all weather fighters, and we bringing the airplane in.î We decided to come in on a different runway that didnít have the GCA and that have a radio navigation link. We couldnít see anything. We got our position from GCI, about five miles out from the field in the direction that we wanted. So weíre turning in on the runway, and my radar operator picked up the field. I told him, Iíll set up the rate of descent, and you give me the distance and keep me lined up with the runway; he could pick up what would be the runway. And I said, the only thing you got to watch is every now and then, look out the left side and make sure youíre not locked on a hangar instead of the runway. So I set up the rate of descent, he kept me lined up with the run, we came in and touched down; it was nothing-nothing, in other words 0-0, couldnít see anything. I shut the power off, and they had to come look for us, of course I told them what runway we were on, but they had to come look for us. That was the most memorable flying experience that I had. It showed me, and it should show people, that you have to have trust in each other to make a team. I absolutely trusted him, and he had no qualms, he said, ìLetís take her in.î And we did.

So you have to have faith in people.

Oh yes. I feel that same way with flying. I believed in the designers, I believed in the mechanic, and in twenty years of flying, I never lost an airplane due to someone elseís error. So it speaks well of the capability of the men that worked on the airplane, their training, their aptitude, their dependability, and their willingness work and do the job right and not do it partway. Itís absolutely necessary, and most people donít really realizeÖ that if you want the results, thatís the way you got to do it.

Thank you for your contribution, Mr. Buschmann.

OK, sure. Youíre welcome.

Name: Houston Crews
Rank: Private, First Class
Branch of Service: United States Army Air Corps

Just for the record, Mr. Crews, could you tell me your name, rank and branch of service?

My name is Houston Crews; I was a Private First Class in the United States Army Air Corps. (USAAC)

How old were you when you joined?

Twenty. I finished school in June of í42, enlisted in October of í42. Went to Camp Lee for four or five days, then went up to Pennsylvania, to [name unclear] Field, at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Only there about five or six days. Then I went to Kellogg Field, at Battle Creek, Michigan. I got there on the 13th day of November 1942, and left there sometime in July [1943]. I went to Camp Shanks on my overseas, and went to England. I landed at Greenock, Scotland, on August 11th of 43, and went to a B-17 airbase at Notterdam Heath, near Eccles Road, which is nothing but a train station. Right between Cambridge and Norwich, in England. Stayed there for the whole two years. Just about two years; I left there sometime in July of ë45. I got a thirty-day leave to go back to the States and was en route to the Pacific. But the group had already left for Drew Field, Florida. So I got thirty-day leave to go home, and then went back to Fort Lee, Maryland, and they sent me on to Drew Field, Florida. But I never did join up with the outfit because the war had ended two days before I landed in the states. They didnít know what to do with us; they had come out with the point system, and I had less points than the people was actually in combat; I wasnít in any combat; didnít fly; just worked for the ground forces, control tower, for the two years I was in EnglandÖ then they sent us down to Shreveport, Louisiana, to Boxdale Field. Stayed there about a month, and got a discharge from there.

You told me where you saw actionÖ were you ever in a plane when it took off, or did you just do ground crew work?

I did just for the rides sometimes, when the pilots was flying locally. They would take us up, fly us aroundÖ I went on one mission that flew over to Holland. They had a truce with the Germans. There had been a lot of rain. I donít know just what battle it was, but all the people in Holland hat been cut off, and they didnít have food, and the Americans and the British worked out a truce with the Germans for three days to fly food in to them. They [the airplanes carrying food] had to cross the channel with their wheels down at 600 feet. The Germans said if they didnít fly that pattern that theyíd shoot them down. There was ten men on the plane: pilot, copilot, navigator, bombardier and six gunners. But none of the gunners went on those trips. So they let any of us on the ground force, we could sign up and go. I went on one of those trips. And you could see the anti-aircraft guns following you right along. But thatís the only time I flew over the war zone at allÖ We had a pilot who had finished his tour of duty ó after 25 missions they usually sent them back home or gave them another assignment ó he had a single-engine plane that heíd take us up in, fly us around locally.

What was your impression of what we were fighting for?

Freedom. I personally feel like we should have gotten into it before we did. I just saw something on TV the other day, about Dunkirk, something that really hit the British. I donít know if youíve heard of it or not, reckon you have, they were somewhere across the channel, I donít know which country it was, but the Germans mowed them down, just murdered them. They couldnít get out, had ships and everything in the world they could to try to get out of there, but millions of them just slaughtered. That was before we went into the war. Churchill, he tried his best to get Roosevelt to help them out, but he wouldnít do it. Didnít do it until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and then, of course, he declared war against the Japanese and the Germans. I guess if we hadnít of went in there, who knows what weíd be doing today? The Germans, if theyíd gotten Britain, all these other countries, I donít think they wouldíve stopped. We might have been able to stop them, I donít know, I guess we could have, would have, something like that. I guess we couldíve, but it wouldíve been a lot longer drawn out thing than it was. I feel like we done the right thing; I know the British people was very supportive. I was on a three-day pass on my way to Scotland when the war ended. An unofficial report came through over there that it ended. They froze all passes; but I got out, hitchhiked to Cambridge. Stayed there, the next day they let us know what was going onÖ you couldnít imagine the kind of celebration the British people had ó all the civilians in the streets. There was no such as an automobile driving down the streets of Cambridge, England; the whole street was just full of people, just celebrating the end of the war. Of course, theyíd been in it a lot longer than we had, had to do without a lot and all that, had gone through a lot. I think they were very appreciativeÖ I kind of enjoyed in a lot of ways, being in the Air Force. I wasnít actually in combat; of course, they sent bombers over, dropped bombs around, but they never did bomb the base that I was at. I was in London on a pass several times when they had those ëbuzz bombsí [V-1/V-2 rockets] ó unmanned planes that just sort of bombed, with fuel to go to a certain target, just bombed London; I donít know how many fell. Of course, London was a big placeÖ you could see the sky all lit up with blue lights and those things flying over.

What was your most memorable experience of the war?

Well, I guess D-Day probably was. The day before D-Day ó of course, they didnít tell us; we knew nothing about it until after it was all over. I was on KP that day, and just came off of 12 hours of KP, and the guys I was working with told the guys in the control tower to come down, and Captain Keller said he wanted everybody at work at 7:00 that night. Didnít matter what shift you were on; he wanted everybody assigned to the control tower to be at work. He talked to us, just said we had something big coming up. He knew what was going on, heíd been to a meeting and knew the invasion was coming; but we didnít knew; they didnít tell us until the next day, and by then everybody knew. Normally a group was 21 planes that fly in a V-shaped patternÖ we put off sixty-some planes that morning, starting at 2:00. We stayed at the control tower all night. They went out and about 9:00 they were coming back. And every plane they could get available to fly again they would reload them with bombs and send them out again. They came backÖ the third mission went out about 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon, but we didnít have enough to make up a full group, because a lot had gotten shot up and damaged, all kind of engine problems, one way or another. But that was three different flights that we put out that day. Of course, England in the summertime ó that was June ó gets daylight about 3:00 in the morning and wouldnít dark until around 9:00 at night. Had a lot of daylight. I guess that was one of the biggest events I experiencedÖ England was a very foggy country, and a lot times when theyíd take off, weíd have what was called a caravan, heíd sit there and give them the green light when it was time to go, if they couldnít see the control tower, couldnít see the end of the runway a lot of times. Theyíd take off, and some of us would go down to the other end of the field and let them know if the plane got off the ground, because the control tower couldnít see if it was off or what happened. And one morning I was out there, had a field phone, kept the control tower on the line, talking to them all the time. And one plane didnít make it off. Crossed right on over and went down through an ammunition dump. But nothing exploded, no bombs or anything that was detonated. The landing gear collapsed, tore the plane in two. Nobody was hurt. Just lucky.

Well, thank you very much, Mr. Crews.

All right. Anything else?

Not that I can think of. Thanks again.

All right. Take care now.

Name: Charles M. Hall
Rank: Sergeant
Branch of Service: U. S. Army Air Force

Could you tell me your name, your rank at the end of the war, and the branch of service you were in?

Charles M. Hall; I was a sergeant in the Air Force.

How old were you when you joined?

Well, when the war started, I was in school, but I didnít go in until I was 21 years old. I would have been 22; [it was] in May of 1943.

Did you volunteer or were you drafted?

I was drafted.

How long were you in the service?

Ö About three years and six weeks.

Where did you see action?

I didnít see action. I went into the Air Force and applied for a cadetís training and went into a cadet training program in what was called a college training detachment; we went to school for six months. I was washed out of that because I had sinus trouble; they told me I couldnít fly at high altitudes. So then I went to Armament School, which is where they show you how to work on guns and all the guns that are on planes; you know, several different caliber guns. But anyway, I went to school there for about six weeks in Denver, and then I went to Gunnery School in Panama City, Florida. After Gunnery School, I was in a pool waiting to be assigned to a crew of a B-24 going overseas. They called out nineteen names one day at mess [and I was one of them]. I couldnít figure out what Iíd done; I thought Iíd done something wrong. They called us in and told us weíd been selected because of our I.Q. to go to Instructor School. So rather than be assigned to a pool, I went to Instructor School in Fort Myers, Florida, and then I was an instructor on a gunnery range until the war was over.

What was your impression of what we were fighting for?

Well, back then, you did what you were told. Nobody wanted to go into the service, and when you did go in, you didnít have any idea of what the situation would be, where you would go, or what youíd have to do. But, if the Federal Government said go, you went. I mean, we knew we were fighting for a good cause, fighting for democracy; when we went in were told weíd be in for the duration plus six months. Of course, that was kind of a vague expectation; you didnít have any idea when that was going to be.

What was your most memorable experience of the war?

My most memorable experience? Well, I remember one time, when I was in Gunnery School, we had to do a lot of flying, and we got ready to land ó of course we all had on parachutes ó and they told us they couldnít get the landing gear down. So we went back up to 20,000 feet; we were circling the field the whole time. Finally, when it was almost time to bail out, they got the landing gear down. Which I was glad of.

What kind of planes did you fly?

Well, we trained in B-17ís and B-24ís. I was going to be the ball turret gunner on a B-24; thatís down there on the belly. Thatís what I trained for. I wouldíve been assigned to that if I hadn't gone to Instructor School.

Well, thank you very much, Mr. Hall.

Youíre welcome.

Name: Thomas B. Hall, Jr.
Rank: Sergeant
Branch of Service: U. S. Army

Just for the record, Mr. Hall, could you tell me your name, branch of service, and rank at the end of the war?

My name is Thomas B. Hall, Jr.; I was a sergeant in a HQ Company in an armored infantry battalion in the 20th Army Division, and I was the squad leader of a water-cooled machine gun.

How old were you when you joined?

I was twenty-one about a month after I was inducted. I went to Camp Lee when I was twenty-one.

So you were drafted?


What year did you join?

I joined in 1942, I was inducted on June 23rd, 1942 in Charlottesville, Virginia, and was sent to Camp Lee, and then went from there to Infantry Basic [basic training] in Camp [name unclear], Georgia. But I wound up in an armored infantry battalion later on, after infantry basic training.

How long were you in the service? Did you continue after the war?

I was in three years, seven months. I was inducted into the battalion in June 1942 and was discharged in February 1946. I signed on forÖthe reserves [for three years] and got out just before the war in Korea started, luckily.

Where did you see action?

I actually never saw hand-to-hand combat. I was in the European theater of operations. We were one of the last divisions to go over, and we were attached to just about every army over there, and then in the Battle of Munich, part of our division was committed to action in the Battle of Munich, but I was in the section that stayed in reserve and didnít actually get involved in combat. I was close enough to hear the small-arms fire and the artillery fire going back and forth over our heads, but I didnít actually have any hand-to-hand combat. Thank goodness.

What year did you go to Europe?

We went to Europe in January í45, three months before the war was over. We stayed in France for about six weeks, crossed into Germany, went through Bonn, and then southeast from Bonn to Munich ó that was where part of our division saw action ó and then pulled out of [word unclear] duty in southern Germany and into Austria after that.

What was your impression of what we were fighting for?

Well, I think everybody was committed to the fact that we were fighting for our very existence, because of what Hitler had done in Europe and then Japan attacked us at the same time. But there wasnít any doubt that everybody felt they had to take a part in it, and the only ones that stayed at home were the ones that didnít pass the physical to get into the Army unless you had dependents like you parents, if you had to stay home and farm or take care of them. But if you didnít go into the service, you were looked down on unless you had a good reason.

What was your most memorable experience of the war?

I think my most memorable experience was being in southern Germany about the time the war was over and seeing the way the Germans had just given up by the thousands, and there was actually an opportunity to see Precious Garden and Eagleís Nest, which was Hitlerís home, they had been bombedÖ also when we went through Dachau, which was one of the chief concentration camps where hundreds of Jews were killed. The smell went for miles because of the rotting human flesh. And yet there were people living within a mile or two of that place that claimed they didnít know what was going on there. And of course, there were a lot of them that had been freed by the Allied troops, they were walking the roads, walking away just to get away and get as far away from it as they could. And they were just like walking skeletons because of there wasnít a way to get by.

Well, thank you very much, Mr. Hall. I appreciate your letting me come by.

Youíre very welcome.

Name: Thomas S. Jeffrey, Jr.
Rank: Colonel (end of war); Major General (upon retirement)
Branch of Service: United States Army Air Corps

Ö Just for the camera, could you tell me your name, rank and branch of service?

My name is Thomas Stanley Jeffrey, Junior, and I was in the United States Air Force. It was called the Army Air Corps during World War Two, but it later became the Air Force. I spent my life in the Air Force. I traveled all over; flew bombers, mostly. I was involved in the bombing of Germany from England, and traveled a lot over there in Europe. Went to Russia a couple times, dropped supplies on Warsaw, Poland; there was refugees there. I was over there in Europe from July of 1943 to June of 1946. I was stationed in England; I moved from there to France ó to Paris ó before the war was over.

Where were you stationed in England?

InitiallyÖ well, let me back up just a second here. I'll give you a little bit of history, if I may. I was born and raised here in Arvonia, and went to Virginia Military Institute for school. I became an electrical engineer, and went from VMI to the flying school down in San Antonio, Texas. When I graduated from there, I was sent back to Virginia to Langley Field, for a short time, and then to Puerto Rico, down there in the Caribbean. I was down there for three years, flying a bomber called a B-18. We were doing submarine patrols and reconnaissance squadron patrol; we were photographing different mine sites and so forth in South America and Central America. I moved from there, after the war had started, to Panama. I lived in Panama for a bit, and then moved to GuatemalaÖ you know where Guatemala is? I flew from Guatemala up to the Galapagos Islands. They're in the Pacific, west of Panama about a thousand [miles]. We'd fly submarine patrol out there to protect the Panama Canal, then back the Guatemala; we did this each day. Well, I didn't fly every day, I flew every other day, but somebody from my squadron flew every day. And then, I came back from there and went to bombardier school in Midland, Texas, and then to Spokane, Washington, and then to California, where we formed a new bomber group, and we took it back to Spokane and Great Falls, Montana, and then we formed and trained; we were the 390th Bomber Group. And I led it to England in July 1943, by way of Maine and Newfoundland and so on and so forth over to Scotland and down to a place called Framlingham, which is on the English Channel, pretty close to the coast. We flew bombing raids from there throughout the war. I was transferred while there to a place called [unintelligible], England, as the commanding officer of the 100th Bomb Group. I continued flying over Europe until the war was over. At that time, I transferred over to the Air Force's headquarters in Paris, and stayed there until the war was pretty much signed, and then I moved to Germany, in Wiesbaden, where the headquarters of the Air Force in Europe was located, and I was a part of that. Then I came back to the United States, and went to Shreveport, Louisiana, to the Air Training Command, which had just been formed, and from there to Snowfield, Illinois, to set up a training aids, where they made training equipment, that sort of thing. Thence we went to Roswell, New Mexico, to the 509th Bomb Wing, which is the outfit that dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the atomic bomb. I went back to England with that group, in 1949 or 1950, during the Korean War, in preparation for dropping bombs on Moscow in case that was necessary. And then, from there, I came back and went into the research and development part of the Air Force, headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. Thence, to the Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama, and then back up to Washington where I was in charge of the development of atomic weapons for the country, and Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project. We had the military piece of the business of developing nuclear weapons, working with the scientific community in Los AlamosÖand from there I got into the Atomic Test Program; you know, at Enewetak and Bikini [atolls] and I was the director of the last big test operation we had out there, and witnessed or participated in some thirty-five nuclear explosions at Enewetak, Bikini, Darcen IslandÖ I spent a lot of time in Hawaii, and then back to the United States where I spent the rest of my time in the Pentagon, testifying before the president and Congress and so forth. I went to Dayton Ohio, to Wright Field, and was there for a couple of years, involved in the procurement of new airplanes and missiles and that sort of thing. Then I retired and moved back here. I was a major general when I retired.

What was your rank when the war ended?

Ö I was a colonel; that was in 1945. The war was overÖ I participated in the D-Day invasion, at Normandy.

Providing air support?

I suppose you could call it that; we were bombing the GermansÖ this is all just sort of a summary.

What was your impression of what we were fighting for?

Well, looking upon it from the viewpoint of that time, I guess we were so close to itÖ I have often thought my objective there, as the commanding officer of the 100th Bomb Group, was to do as much damage to the enemy, to Germany, as possible, with the minimum loss of life and equipment. And so, when I said were close to it, as far as trying to hang out national efforts and what we were trying to do in the world, that sort of thingÖ when you get down to flying airplanes, we donít think that much about whoís working on the strategy, and the point of the exercise, and all this sort of thing. We knew that we fighting for the country, but we were not completely aware, I would say, of the part we were playing in the thing, when you take into consideration what was going on in the Pacific with the Japanese, and the part that we were playing over in Europe. You could say, I guess, that we supported the ground forces, but thatís not the way we looked at it. Out job was to gain air superiority over Europe. That meant to destroy, to the maximum extent that we could, the Luftwaffe [German Air Force], whether we had to shoot them down from the air or destroy their manufacturing base, that sort of thing, by bombing. I would evaluate our success in that regard in making this observation; no land invasion by the Army and Navy ó surface forces ó can be successful without air superiority. Our job ó the 8th Air Forceís, along with other Air Forces ó was to secure this air superiority, so that when the ground forces landed, they would not have to put up with the German Air Force. I would evaluate our success in that by saying that upon D-Day, when the ground troops landed at Normandy, the Luftwaffe was not present. So, I would say that we were highly successful in having accomplished that mission prior to the time that the Normandy invasion occurred. So you could say that our basic mission was, to a large extent, finished at the time of the Normandy invasion. All our people cheered because we had done our job. You know, we continued bombing throughout the whole ground campaign.

Didnít Eisenhower say, ìIf you see any planes in the air, they will be oursî?

I think I heard that he said that, yesÖ so thatís about the summary of the flying in overall appearances; our little piece of World War Two. I was in Paris was the war was ended, on a sort of humorous note; I wanted to see what happened to the Frenchmen, what the Frenchmen did, when the treaty was signed. So I took an automobile ó on loan ó a U. S. military automobile and drove it on into Paris, because I was privy to the time that the announcement was going to be made, at 11:00 A.M., that the Germans had surrendered. I wanted to see what the Frenchmen were going to do. So I drove there, and got in the middle of the main street in Paris, which is called the Champs-ElysÈes. Needless to say, I was inundated by Frenchmen pouring champagne over my head and all the sort of thing, and so many people got on top of the car that they blew out all four tires. I left it there, got on a train and went back to where I was stationed, and thatís how I saw the end of the war.

What was your most memorable experience of the war?

Ö I hesitate a moment in attempting to answer that because I guess the whole scenario was a memorable experience. I canít think of any specific part of my participation that was any more outstanding than the other. I guess things like dropping food supplies in Warsaw, Poland and then landing in Russia and loading up with bombs and flying to Italy and dropping bombs on Hungary or some place on the way back, and then loading up with bombs and going back to England is probably the sort of thing youíd remember.

Well, thank you very much for letting me interview you, General Jeffrey.

Well, youíre welcome. Good luck with your project.

Name: Charles Lewis
Rank: Sergeant
Branch of Service: United States Marine Corps (Air Forces)

[The original interview tape was damaged; this is a re-interview.]

Mr. Lewis, just for the camera, could you tell me your name, rank, and branch of service?

My name is Charles Lewis; I was in the U. S. Marine Corps; I was a sergeant. I was in from [1942-1945]. Three and a half years.

How old were you when you joined?


Eighteen? So you were fairly young.


Were you drafted or did you volunteer?

I volunteered.

Were you in reserves, or did you join when the war broke out?

I was volunteer, but you do call it the reserves, because I was in for the duration of the war and after. You do what they tell you to.

Where did you see action?

In the Pacific, I saw action in the Marshall Islands, and in the Marianas.

Did you see action in New Guinea?

No, I didnít get that far.

Were you wounded during the course of the war?

I was not. I feel like I was lucky.

Werenít you in a plane crash?

Well, we had that after I had seen action overseas. I had 48 missions, and we came home, and the third time we went up for operational training, we crashed the plane.

How badly were you hurt?

I broke both legs and I injured my back.

How long did it take you to recover?

That took about five months.

Thatís a long time to spend in the hospital.

It was.

Do you have those things that you showed me before?

I have some things. Let me seeÖ thatís the survival guide instructions for the islands in the PacificÖ thatís me in the planeÖ

You were the gunner?

Thatís right. Thatís the SBD Dauntless dive-bomber.

One of the best dive-bombers of the war.

Yes, very goodÖ this is a bracelet that I made; thatís made from aluminum from a Japanese plane.

How long did it take you to make it?

I donít think it took all that long. Just to something to keep you occupied. And this is our bible. This was issued to us when we went through boot camp. And this is a piece of cat-eye from a shell that grows in the Pacific. And actually, I think the backing is a quarter or a fifty-cent piece. And this my flight log.

Did you have any encounters with Japanese planes?

Just one. We were pretty well secured in the area pretty shortly after we got there. We were doing bombing of the Japanese islands. We got most of our action from ground fire.

Didnít you say you went fishing with a coconut for a bobber?

We sure did. We used cables from the airplanes ó this was the old cable ó as a leader; we had a long piece of rope; we used a coconut about so big [a foot in diameter]; we got our Seabees [Marine engineers/construction battalions] to make us a hook, and weíd throw it in the ocean with bait on it. We caught several sharks that way. That was fun.

What was your impression of what we were fighting for during the course of the war?

I was fully supportive because the Japanese, that was their purpose, it was to defeat this country completely and invade this country. So it wasnít like Korea or Vietnam, that type of thing. This was survival of the country. I was very supportive.

What was your most memorable experience of the war?

Overseas, we differ from the ground troops in that they went in, they had maybe a few days or weeks; our experience was that you go into combat, so to speak ó we were getting ground fire ó and you come back, then you have to go again, and again. I thought that was pretty stressful.

It was harder in the Marines than it was in the Army, I can imagine.

Yes, well, boot camp was a memorable experience. We had thirteen weeks [of basic training]. I saw a thing on TV last week, week before last, about women going through boot camp in the Army; some of that was pretty tough, but they only had eight weeks; we had thirteen.

Definitely, the training in World War Two was harder because you had to be a good soldier.

And of course, the plane crash itself was a very memorable experience too. But we had been through all of our flight training; they had told us what to do in case of emergency; I had thrown the machine-guns over the side, and we had radar equipment up in front of us, we threw that over; everything. We were ready. They train you exactly what to do and how to do it; you hope you just remember it.

Do you mind if I take a look at some of your things?

Sure, go right ahead.

So you flew in a lot of different planes.

Yes, well, the first part of it is operational training down in Jacksonville, Florida. We were flying TBFís, torpedo-bombers. When we got to Pearl Harbor, they changed our planes from TBFís to an SBD dive-bomber. Do you like to go on the roller coaster?


Well, the dive-bomber is just like a roller coaster, except you probably multiply it by a hundred.

Really? I guess the G-forces were really powerful.

Sometimes you blacked out. But you can feel your eyes, your face, your skin, actually drawing [back], and you canít lift your arms, and your butt kind of spreads out on the seat.

My dad was telling me about a video from World War Two where a cameraman was in the gunnerís position. The pilot dived towards the target and the cameraman made him dive down further. What ended up happening was that the plane crashed but the camera was still running, and you could see the wing getting torn away. Nobody was hurt.

Well, that was another one of our jobs. We used to call it the camera flight. The whole squadron would go in on a dive-bombing mission, and then one plane would go across the island, and it was our job to take the pictures. We had a camera with kind of a pistol looking grip, and weíd crank it and take pictures of what weíd done.

Oh yes, the aerial pictures of the target. Did you bomb airbases at all?

Yes. Most of the time we did airbases. Of course, in the Pacific, those islands that we were attacking probably had an area of about 10 acres, some of them smaller. It was an atoll, a group of islands. We would bomb the radio stations, the airfields, the gun emplacements, that type of thing. But you could see the tracer bullets coming up at you.

Did you ever bomb on the front where the Japanese were emplaced?


The [log] book says strafing, dive-bombing, escortÖ I saw sub escort a few minutes ago.

Yes, we escorted submarines. Fact of the matter is, practically every mission we were on, we would have submarine support, in case a plane was shot down, they would come in and get it. That type of thing.

So you escorted each other.

YesÖ when we went overseas, first we went to Pearl Harbor, then we went to Midway and we had escort duty and observation there, just checking out, making sure no Japanese planes or ships were around. Then we went back to Pearl Harbor and then to the Marshall Islands, and then to the Marianas.

I bet you were glad you never had to use this [survival] book.

Well, I am. It was something nice to have, but it was like insurance. Itís nice to have it but you donít want to use it.

I read an account of a man who had to parachute out of his plane because he got lost from his group. So he parachuted out and it turned out the book he had was how to survive in the Antarctic. He had to just guess what was good to eat and how to avoid malaria. All he had to keep off the mosquitoes was a net, and he had to rub mud on his body to keep them off without the net. He really had to be careful. But I bet the men who got these books when they crashed were grateful. And itís amazing how many didnít get caught by the Japanese after they parachuted.

It is, it really is. We went in most of the time before the ground troops did so the ground troops wouldnít have such a hard time.

This [survival] book is like a Boy Scout Handbook on natural life.

Here, I have some other pictures. This is the damage done to a Japanese airfield. You can see where they repaired itÖ I think we done this one a lot of damage, on this one here.

The airfield covers the whole island.

Yes. Which means the island wasnít very big.

This is one of the sharks you caught? How big was it, about seven, eight feet long?

I think that one was about six feet. We did have some larger than that.

Is this your airfield?

No, that was a Japanese. You can see how low we were, with the radio tower.

Oh, now I see, you were in the plane!

Yes, we got so low sometimes we had to look up to see the palm trees.

This just shows you how the planes were stored on the island. There were big piles of sand around it [the airfield].

And the ground was all smoothed out for landing. Is this your squadron?

Yes. We were known as the Ace of Spades squadron. This gives you an idea; you can see the [Japanese] gun emplacements on the island.

So that was where you would have focused.

How about Mrs. Sue Miles? Do you know her?

Yes, actually, she gave me your nameÖ she gave me a whole list of veterans.

I think, Iím not sure, but I think Iím the only Marine Corps veteran in the county.

I havenít found anybody. I do actually know somebodyÖ Do you know Mr. Alan Gooden?

Iíve heard of him, never met him.

He was in the Seabees.

Well, the Seabees were our buddies. Theoretically, they went in with us. They were construction. They went in and built our runways and stuff like that. The thing about it is if there was something good to eat, they had it. They would share it with us. We were just kids, really. And most of them were experienced construction people, they were already construction people before they went in; they knew how to do the bulldozers and cranes, that kind of stuff. They treated us like sons, really. We loved the Seabees. They made the hook for us for our fishing party. Really nice guys.

Well, I thank you for letting me interview.

All right. Youíre welcome. Good luck on your project.

Thank you.

Name: Lauren L. ìDickî Miles
Rank: Staff Sergeant
Branch of Service: U. S. Army, Engineers

How old were you when you joined the service?

23 years old.

Did you volunteer or were you drafted?

I volunteered.

What year?

I really canít rememberÖ probably 1943, somewhere around there.

How long were you in? Did you continue after the war?

I went to Fort Belvoir Virginia ó -I was in 5th Engineers ó ó and pulled three years. I was discharged, and I joined the reserves. They hadnít bombed Pearl Harbor yet. I got me a real good job ó -I never made any money ó -got me a job paying good money, and one day, they called me back. And I went to Camp Lee and stayed there two weeks. Then I was sent to Camp Gordon, Georgia.

What was training like?

WellÖ training, it was tough. You had to train to be a good soldier to protect yourself and protect others if there was a possible chance of doing it.

And engineering was difficult because you had to know how to build bridges in the middle of combat and so forth.

Right. We built bridges, we done all kinds of things. I was right in the thick of it.

You were in the Battle of the Bulge, right?

I was in five battles. There were only five battles in the whole war. I was in the Battle of the Bulge ó -that was the last battle. We were in a little village called Abbel-Fontaine, Belgium for rest. Weíd been out in the snow, freezing weatherÖ and we moved into this little town of Abbel-Fontaine, Belgium for a rest, on the 17th of December. We were going to be there for Christmas Day, and have a big Christmas dinner. Well, the Germans broke through about five miles from where we were. They broke through where a brand new division was in the line, all brand-new, young boys, 18, 19 years oldÖ oldest people there were the noncoms, sergeants and so on. They broke through, and we had to get the hell out of there right quick, and we did. And we didnít get our Christmas dinner. We were out there in the snow, in foxholes, dodging bullets, 88ís [88mm AA-guns], the whole daggone works. But I remember that village real wellÖ when we moved in there, we unloaded the equipment from the vehicles and put camouflage netting over them so the Germans couldnít see them from the airÖ and our all tractor-trailers were camouflaged so the Germans couldnít see themÖ We had to move out right quick, move out on the line. I was a demolitions man, and I had to TNT, nitro-glycerin to blow trees, blow holes, all that stuff. We had to get this line all shut up, in case the Germans tried to come our way. So we tried to slow them down with trees crisscrossing the road, and with holes, so when a tank came along heíd hit one of the holes and down heíd go. They attacked us, but it wasnít so bad.

What was your rank at the end of the war?

Staff Sergeant.

So you were a platoon leader?

I was a platoon leader, anywhere from 50 to 55 men. At that time, I must have been around 26, 27 years old.

Where did you see action? I know you were in the European theater, but which campaigns did you take part in?

I was in all the battles. Sometimes, certain outfits would be right in the thick of it. We were bridge builders, blow holes, check for mines with mine detectors, all that stuff.

Where did you first see action?

Well, I was in England. We didnít come across at D-Day; we came over on D+3[June 9th]. They shelled us and there was bullets coming at us but it wasnít as bad as when the fellows came across on D-Day, D+1[June 7th]. Because they [the Germans] was all up on the line then, trying to kill every last one of those men.

Were you wounded at all?

No, no, I never was wounded. I had a lot of close calls, but they never got me.

What was your impression of what we were fighting for?

Well, Nazi Germany was actually hoping to win the world. They werenít just aiming to take the United States, but the world. If they could have taken England, they would haveÖ you see, to cross the English Channel, you had to have the very best of equipment to do it with. Thatís about 23 miles from England to France, and you had to have the best equipment and men to continue from the beaches of Normandy on up into Germany. Thatís the whole situationÖ when we came in on D+3, they were shelling, everything to try to stop us. There were mines, machine-gun nestsÖ and we was engineers. If they ordered us to take a machine gun nest and we couldnít get close to it, we had a long pipe, TNT or whatever, that we tried to slide down into it to blow it up with.

What was your most memorable experience of the war?

I think it was landing on the beaches of Normandy. You know, it was something excitingÖ we were in England, training for this, about 6 to 8 months. We moved to Winchester, England, and they just told us to be ready. Didnít give a time or date or anything, just told us to be ready. There was a cathedral nearby, and we could go in and say a prayer if we wanted to. I canít remember if I did or not to tell you the truth. Didnít worry me, I wasnít scared; what did I have to be scared of? If I got hurt or killed, it was just another thing that happened. We had fine young men, Italians, Polacks, the whole daggone works.

Thank you, Mr. Miles. I appreciate you letting me interview you.

All right. Youíre welcome.

Name: Carolyn Rice
Rank: Major
Branch of Service: Womenís Army Corps (WAC), Womenís Air Force (WAF)

ÖI went into the Army, and after World War Two the Air Force became a separate branch. Before, they were part of the Army. I was transferred to that, and was made a regular officer in the Air Force. So I spent the rest of my time in the Air Force. Thatís where I met my husband; he was a pilot in the Air Force. I did thirteen years.

So you were in for a while.

Yes, I was in for a while. I went in í42, and got out, I think it was in í56, or it could be í55.

How old were you when you joined?

23, I think it was at the beginning of the war, and everybody was doing what they could doÖI wasnít particularly interested, but my mother thought I should go in. She said, ìIf I wasnít so old and didnít have children, Iíd go in.î And my brother, my younger brother, was already in. He already had a pilotís license and had been teaching at the Lynchburg airport. And then they came out with this glider pilot program, and he went into that. Right after he graduated from that, he was called to Randolph Air Base, in Texas, where he got his training. We didnít run into each other much; he was in Europe and I was in the Pacific, but when the Korean War started, he was sent over there, and we did meet in Tokyo.

So where did you see action in the Pacific?

Well, it was all a war zone. Of course, I didnít see any combat, though we were bombed a lot. Let me seeÖwe went to Australia, then we went to New Guinea, then we went toÖI canít remember the name of the island. Anyway, I ended up in the Philippines. First I went to Leyte, and that was pretty bad. That was where we got bombed every night. For some reason, our camp was next to an airfield. Of course, they dropped a lot of bombs anyplace. Then I went to Luzon, and my commanding officer told meówe were about to invade Japanóthat he was taking me to Japan as his assistant. But then we dropped the atom bomb and we didnít have to invade Japan. But I was sent up to Japan anyway, for some temporary work, but I came back to Manila and went home from Manila. I kept waiting for a replacement, and they kept sayingÖletís see, first it was any man who was married and had children; they could get out first. Well, my first replacement had children, so he left. My second replacementóthey said next it was any man who was married got to go homeówell, my second replacement was married. So he went back to the States. Well, I finally got a replacement who wasnít married and didnít have children, and I came back to the States. Then after being in the States in various places, I was sent back in an intelligence unit to Japan.

How long did you stay in Japan?

Four years. I wasnít supposed to stay but two years. My husband and I were engaged, and we were going to get married when I got back to the States. But, the night before I was supposed to leave, North Korea invaded South Korea and that was the end of that. They cut off everybody going home. And so, the war dragged on and on and on. I donít know why they finally decided to let some of us come home, but they did. My husband and I were very fortunate; we both went to Kelly Air Force Base in Texas. They were going to send him overseas again; we hadnít been back a year and they were going to send him overseas again. He resigned; I had a permanent commission. So he went back to California; he was an engineer, a civil engineer, and he went back to the company he had been with before the war, though he was already in the Army when the war started. Anyways, after my husband went back to California, I was stationed at Langley Air Force Base. Finally, I gave up and put in letters of resignation, and finally got them accepted, but I had to join the reserves. Then I went back to California to join my husband; when my son was born, I had to get out, because at that time you couldnít be in [the service] if you had a child. Now, you can have all the children you wantÖabout a year after Jim was born the they finally let me separate [from the service]. I would have stayed in, stayed in the reserves, and gone in for training every summer for training, like the men did. But, somebody got a bug in their bonnetÖdo you have any more questions?

Just two more. What was your impression of what we were fighting for?

During World War Two? Oh, we were very patriotic; we were fighting for democracy for the people who had been [defeated] by the Germans and the Japanese. The Italians didnít count much; you know, they switched sides before the end of the war. People were very patriotic; there wasnít any question like there was during the Vietnam War. People just wanted to do their duty. As a matter of fact, you know, American territory was attacked. I was in a station in For Stevens, Oregon, at the mouth of [a river], and a Japanese submarine surfaced and shelled us. We had some guns left over from World War One, coastal artillery guns, but they were set in cement, and they wouldnít go up or down. Well, we didnít do them any harm. We fired at them, but it didnít do any good. They didnít do us much harm; I think they were warning us more than anything.

What was your most memorable experience of the war?

I donít know. Several people have asked me that and I really donít know. I didnít like when we were being bombed, and Iíll tell you, I wasnít afraid of getting bombed. They had dug trenches that we had to get into. There had been a lot of fighting where we were. Our men had killed a lot of Japanese, and every now and then youíd see a rotten foot or legÖand there we so many rats. At nightóthis bombing was all at nightóweíd go down into those things, and the rats would run over our feet. So I decided Iíd rather be bombed then have a rat run over my feet. So I stayed in my cot. The guard would come around to my tent and say, ìCome out! I can hear you breathing!î But they never found meÖthere was a lot of mud, and I guess they [the rats] got in it. But there was always everywhere around you'd see a bone sticking out, or a foot. The Japanese had these funny little shoes; the big toe was separated from the rest of the foot on their boots, and they were green, rubber on the bottom and canvas on top. And you knew that under that as a leg or somethingórotten, of course. Iím trying to thinkÖwhat was memorable? You know, something about being in the service; itís all so much alike, everywhere you go. Nothing really stands outÖI remember a paleontologist wanted to visit this tribe in New Guinea. They lived in a lake on stilts, houses up on stilts. I donít know why; maybe they had enemies. They were horrible-looking people; very short, and they all had skin diseases and scales, like crocodiles. Pretty awful-looking. Anyway, this officer was just dying to meet these people, but they had shooed him away every time he tried. So he thought, if he had a woman along, maybe they would talk to him. I forget how he was going to talk to them, because he didnít speak their language. He rated this tribe in New Guinea by the number of words in their vocabulary, and he said this was the most primitive one he had seen because they only had forty-something words in their vocabulary. Iím just telling you what he told meóI donít know. We stood around on the shore of this lake until a native came up. They had these funny canoesóIíd call them catamarans. Well, those canoes werenít meant for people our size. I wasnít as big as I am nowómaybe twenty pounds lessóbut [the officer] was a big man. And we got out about halfway across the lake and the blankety-blank [sic] canoe sank! So, we had to wade in. I felt real sorry for the native; he was just real distressed. We were afraid it was going to be deep, but it wasnít; it was shallow. This was a huge lake; you couldnít see across it. But when we got to shore finally, and I looked down, I was covered with leeches. I pulled up my pants and they were all over me. That was a pretty bad experience. I donít like leeches. Of course, I completely forgot what they tell you; donít pull them off, light a cigarette or something and stick it on [the leeches]. I pulled them all off, and of course had to go on sick call the next day. They all looked like soresÖthere were many things in New Guinea. I got a number of things; one of the things that was bad is that I had been in the hospital twice after I got back to the States. They called it ìrot,î but it was a thing that got in your bloodstream, and fungus-type thing if you had been in a hot, humid, climate. You broke out in sores all over. I was more fortunate than most people; a lot of men and women both got it in their heads and lost their hair; there was a lot of ringworm. Of course we all got amoebic dysentery; no way out of it. Everybody got amoebic dysentery. We got back to the States and they worked on all of us. I donít have it anymore, naturally., but that was very uncomfortable. Everything you ate or drank went right through you. A lot of people got a lot of things; I lost my fingernails and toenailsólike most peopleófrom fungus. I guess the food was the worst. I remember when I got off the ship in New GuineaóIíd gotten off at Noumea, at the French Islands, and in Australiaóand when we finally got to Dutch New Guinea, for the first three days, every meal I ate, I didnít feel sick but it just came up as soon as I walked out. We were on a ship for thirty days, and I was seasick the whole time. But I had a company, so I couldnít take to my bedóI had a company of WACís I was taking to New Guinea. In the Korean Warólike I said I was with the Air Force by that timeómost of the fighter and bomber bases were based in Japan, and they flew over, so a lot of friends, we still saw themóthe ones that didnít get shot down or something. The Chinese planes were so much better than oursóthey were using Russian planes, MiGís. But we caught up. My husbandóIíll never forget thisóhe was coming [in a plane] to pick up a group of people who were about to be overrun, and he said he came in and saw soldiers [at the airfield]. He said they were the weirdest looking soldiers he ever saw. He was barreling down the runway and he saw that they were Korean soldiers, so he just took off again. The people [that he was going to pick up] had gotten out, very fortunately, but they hadnít been able to get a message throughÖeverybody lost friends and family; again, I was very fortunate. My brother was one of the first pilots that went to England and did daylight bombingóyou know, the English were doing nighttime bombing. He was shot down over enemy territory in Europe, but he managed to get his entire crew out. They had names of the underground, and the partisans had repaired a downed B-17, and he was to fly it back to England. He said it was real hairy, because they didnít believe that he was an American. They asked him about baseball teams, and he said it all just went out of his head; he couldnít think of a thing. He said [when he flew back to England], he had fighters on both sides of him, above him, and below him! But he landed all right. He was gone six weeks, and itís funny; they never notified my family that he was missing. We didnít hear from him, but mail was very peculiar. I didnít get a letter for six months once. Didnít get any Christmas presents.

Did it back up? I mean, did you get a them all at once?

No. MacArthur was real funny. He said he didnít think much of wasting ships on letters and packages. He was a teetotaler, by the way. The Air Forceóthe Air Corps back thenócould fly down to Australia and get what they wanted. MacArthur didnít want to waste any ships or planes on beer or anything like that. When we got one, we had a ration of one beer a week. Well, of course, it was hot; you can imagine, New Guinea, right on the equator, and all we had to open the cansówe didnít have any pop-top cans like they do nowówas these entrenching tools (spades), you turned the can up like that, and then you had to put it to your mouth very quickly because it all cam pouring out. We didnít get any candy rations, and we didnít have a PX or anything like that in New Guinea. I had a funny experience; we had been on the ship thirty days, and all we had was salt wateróexcept you could go to a Lister bag and hold your cup to it, but there was a guard there and you had to drink every bit of it. So, it was hard to wash anything in salt water. Soap didnít do anything, and there was nowhere to hang it after you washed. We were all jammed up, twelve of us in a little cabinÖthey were zig-zagging back and forth the equator. I washed all my clothes, all my underwear and socks. First day we landed in New Guinea, I hung them on my tent-ropes. Went to mess and came back; they were all gone. Somebody stole all my underwear and socks. I had to wear menís green underwear and socks the rest of the war. Very miserableÖyou see, I donít remember anything but little things. The big things, you had to let them kind of wash over you.

Name: Harold T. Scott
Rank: Master Chief Sonar Technician (E-9)
Branch of Service: U. S. Navy

Could you tell me your name, your rank and your branch of service?

My name is Harold T. Scott; I was in the Navy from 1942-5 and then from 1947-68. The usual thingsÖ

What was your rank?

Well, when I retired, I was E-9 master chief sonar technicianÖ Enlisted are in the Eís, and then the officers are O-1 through O-7, 8 or whatever it is. I was E-9; the highest enlisted [rank].

How old were you when you joined?


Were you drafted or did youÖ

No, I enlisted.

What year did you join?


Sounds you were in the service after the war for a long time. Twenty-one years?

Something like that. After the war was over, in 1945, I had gotten married during the war, I was going to come home, so [wording unclear] to California and worked for the post office for a while, and then we moved to Albuquerque. Things just didnít work out very well. There were too many veterans on the road and on the market trying to find jobs, and I just couldnít find one. So I reenlisted in the navy, went into the submarine, and spent the rest of my twenty-odd years in various aspects of the submarine navy.

Where did you see action?

In the Atlantic, on a destroyer ó [the U.S.S. Turner ó we did convoy duty between the U. S. and Africa and Europe. We were called an ìoutline picketî, looking for U-boats. We sunk one U-boat, and one U-boat or something sunk us, so we ended up even, so to speak. Then they put another ship into commission, the Areda, went to the West Coast, the Pacific, and spent the rest of it in the Pacific. The invasion of Okinawa, we were there, and it just so happened to be Easter Sunday, 1945 and [my] sonís birthdayóthe day he was born. For usófor this familyóit was kind of unique.

Were you wounded during the course of the war?

No, no. Very lucky.

What was your impression of what we were fighting for during the course of the war?

Impression? For freedomÖ we were a nation that had fought against England for freedom, to do as we please, go to church when we want to, whatever. And this was part of that. Something had to be done. The Germans and the rest of them were taking over Europe; they were getting ready to annihilate England; they were in the process of trying to kill all the people there. We did what we could in the beginning with supplies and so forth, but then it reached the point that that wasnít enough. And then when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor ó that was it. Something had to be done. We could not remain a free nation with other nations [unfree]. It was just one of those things. And the greatest man that ever lived, I believe, was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And when he declared war on Germany and Japan; I was 19 years old, hot-blooded, I went to join. On the 8th of December 1941, my buddy and I hitchhiked to Wichita Falls, Texas, to join the Marine Corps. But they wouldnít let me because I wasnít old enough; I had to get my motherís signature. But later on, in July, I did get to join the Navy. It was for patriotic reasons. I knew what patriotism was, but I didnít know all the ifs and ands and international so forthÖ I didnít like Hitler and I didnít like all that stuff. I thought I did my part. Thatís what I did.

What was your most memorable experience of the war?

OhÖ I donít know, but this is one of them. I was on a destroyer that was sunk off Newark [England] ó where we lost 150 of our sailors; I was fortunate [not to have been among them] ó and I was fortunate enough to help pull 24 of them out of the burning and so forth, to save their lives. That was one of themÖ the invasion of Okinawa, of course; that was oneÖ we fought a submarine on the Atlantic for most of one night, dropping depth charges, [shooting] guns, and things. Finally got himÖ air attacks at Okinawa. We had 93 three of those over a period of 14 daysÖ even so, we didnít get hit. I can recall one instance where there was a Japanese suicide bomber. He came in from way up and he was in a dive coming down to hit a ship. There were a lot of ships anchored in Buckner Bay in Okinawa. He was headed for a ship, and there was thousands of explosions. Every one of them was right behind. He hit a ship, killed a lot of people. It was all kind of things of that nature that happened. Of course, I got married during the war, 56 years ago. Met a lot of good people, lost a lot of good people. [Those are some] of the things that happened while I was in the Navy.

Thank you very much, Mr. Scott.

Is that all you wanted?

Thatís all I wanted. I appreciate your letting me interview you.

Well, youíre welcome.

Name: Charles N. Smith
Rank: T3 Technician
Branch of Service: U. S. Army

Just for the camera, I need to know your name, rank, and branch of service you were in.

Here you go, you can read.

You were in the artillery.

No, it says artillery and fire control. I was in ordinance. You can read, canít you? Well then, read what it says.

G Company, Camp Forrest, Tennessee, June 1943.

The question you asked me; I enlistedÖ as a corporal in September 1942. I wasnít called to active duty until November 16th, 1942. Went to Fort Meade, then we went to North Carolina, rode the train two trains. I donít mean a passenger train; it was a troop train. We had orientation there for six weeks. And they sent our unit to Flora, Mississippi. The man who was the company clerk, I insisted he enlist when I did, and he did. He came around, and said we had to send two men to Bell Laboratories, New York, to school. And I said, ìIím going to talk to the Colonel right now.î So I went to the Colonel, and talked to the Colonel, and after some questions, he said, ìYou really want to go, donít you?î And I said, ìYes sir, I want to go!î ìWell, Iím going to send you.î I had a friend, from Columbus, Ohio. Al and I were very good friends, and I figured he was a little more wise, street-wise, than I. And so I said, ìYou go up and see the Colonel,î and in three hours, we were already off the train, at Bell Laboratories in New York. And we studied the first electronic computers. It was to direct anti-aircraft fire control. Letís seeÖ hereís my certificate. Stayed there three monthsÖ the M-9 directing is 90 millimeter. And the M-10; we never did have an M-10. The M-9 and the M-10 were nearly identical. But I never did see oneÖ went back to my unit summer of í43 and went to Texarkana, Texas, for advanced basic training. We were down there at Texarkana, right along the Arkansas line. Stayed there a month, then our whole battalion onto the train and they sent us all through southern Canada, southern part of Ontario, and on over to Niagara Falls, and then on down, because we were about to jump off of it, to where we going to wait for the ship to take us somewhere.

This shows where you landed; right near Le Havre.

Yeah, but we stayed in England those six months, the six months after D-Day, before we went in. We had to stay in England, while they got some more guns up to send.

So you came in the winter of '44-'45?

We got to England in 1943, September, and spent the winter out there on the hillside [at Cheltenham]Ö six months after D-Day, they thought our unit ought to move on to Western Europe, to the continent. So we got on LST's [amphibious landing craft], each two men had to drive a big vehicle or a tank or something of that nature, and we loaded up on LST's and went across the [English] Channel on December 3rd, 1944. D-Day was six months [before] that, you see; D-Day, Omaha Beach, we had nothing to do with that. We took our little boats, LST's, with all the tanks at the bottom of it, you know, to unload, they let the thing down, and we went up to Rouen, up the Seine River to Rouen. And one thing about Rouen ó -you've heard of Joan of Arc? Had the circle there where she was burned at the stakeÖ Then we unloaded our big trucks and everything and had to stay there nine days; we weren't needed in Paris. Then we went on to Paris, stayed in Paris three months. Then the Battle of the Bulge came and they wanted volunteers to take vehicles and personnel carriers to get our soldiers out. I went on that trip. I liked living in Paris.

Three months in Paris.

I stayed in a cavalry stable firstÖ they were as clean as anything, hadn't been any horses in them for no telling how longÖ we were only staying there for about two weeks. Then they put us in civilian houses. As I said, we stayed three months in Paris. Then they called us up front; we went on up through Belgium, and then on into Germany, as we worked along. We were in Liege, Belgium, for about two weeks. Then they kept us on going. Then we finally got to Bonn; that was on the Rhine River. Some of our people stayed there; I was one of them. We were right behind the Fifth Army. Fifth Army had a sergeant there, he had enemy captured materiel, [unintelligible wording]. And I did some things I was never trained to do; I was representing the advanced section of our outfit. They had a first sergeant there from the First Army to look after it: we were supposed to be sure everything went to this first sergeant; and he and I had an office about this size [three feet wide]. I enjoyed being at Bonn. I saw one guy from here in Dillwyn that walked in, Sergeant Robby Claver. And I said, "Boy, you're from Dillwyn!" Yep. Then we moved on to a place called Butzbach. We didn't move a whole lot after that. And then, about August of '45, the Germans had surrendered. Some of us had enough points to go home. I was married, and had one child, and then I had five battle stars from when I'd been in the area of a battle. I never did fire a gun. No, I didn't. But I was in that territoryÖ they had blown everything of these small towns in Germany, just piles of brick. We had a collection point after the warÖ see, right here, this is our stuff, where we turned it in after the war was over. All this stuff. Look at this, "Happy Birthday, Computers;" that [the invention of computers] was fifty years ago. It tells you that the American Army had computers first. This was the fiftieth anniversary, about three or four years ago. I don't have as much on computers as I ought to.

What was your impression of what we were fighting for during the war?

Fighting to free the Jews. Hitler was killing them all. That was the main thingÖ There were thirty-some Virginians in my companyÖ thirty-three Virginians. When the war was over, they came around [to see] how many of us had enough points to come home. [They] rounded us up, and I was one the men to leave my company, one of the first ones to come home, and we came back on the Queen Elizabeth. This is all about our trip home, see? That was in September 1945, I believe. That was after the war was over, you understand. [We got to travel on] the two biggest ships in the world going over and coming back.

The Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth. Yep. The Queen Elizabeth burned in Hong Kong harbor. The Queen Mary is right on the West Coast of the United States right now. In California, one of those little ports out there. You know our daughter Martha? These are the prints her feet made [on this letter]. This is V-Mail.

What was your most memorable experience of the war?

It was no surprise to meÖ you see, Hitler was a pretty bad boy. I knew we were going to have a war when I enlisted, I can tell you that; we were already at war. You see, the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, and they had a war going on in the South Pacific, the whole Pacific, and then they [the Allies] had this one in Europe, to help do away with Hitler. No telling how many Jews he killed. Not only them, but he took Poland, made them slaves, and brought them in Germany, and when we got there they worked for us. [We] paid them American money, though. They could speak broken German and Polish, but we had several Polish boys in our company, so we didn't have any troubleÖ When I was in Paris, my roommate was a Special Service Orders for the whole battalion, so he got to go get all the tickets for all the big things going on in Paris. And you know [what goes on] in Paris! And we got to ride to subway for free, so he and I would go to something about two or three nights a week. Because we had tickets. All the generals were way in the back, and we go to sit right up frontÖ I have a ticket stub for the Folies-BergËre, and that was a big show back then.

[Interviewerís note: Tech. Smithís wife, Sallie, joined the conversation at this point]

Sallie: Charlie?

Charlie: Yes

Sallie: Will you tell him the story about poulet (French: "chicken")?

Poulet? Manger le pouletÖ I told you we got off at Rouen, and we had to wait there because they couldn't afford our unit on the road for nine days. We were in a little village there ó one thing I haven't told you, I took two years of high-school French, and it helped me greatly ó there was a Frenchman who walked by every morning going to work, and where his foot hit the mud ó they were bleeding. And this boy from Richmond had carried a pair of dress shoes, civilian shoes, carried them all that time, and I said, "Eppes, why don't you give those shoes you have?" and after a minute he [the Frenchman] came by, and I told him we had shoes for him, and gave them to him. Oh, he nearly cried. But the next morning, he came back up to [us] and told me to bring deux amis ó two friends ó and come to his house that night to manger le poulet. Manger is "eat," poulet is "chicken." I told him we would come down to the minute he said. Went down, and of course he had anisette, a good alcoholic drink. He started giving us little shots of that, and his wife came in ó they had a little porch on the back ó she came in with the chicken all dressed, had a little old cook stove right, not as big as that, put it inÖ It hadn't been in hardly long enough to get it warm; they kept pouring us Anisette, she came in and spoke to him, and oui ["yes"], he told her and she took it outÖ I'm telling you the truth, that thing was raw. And we had do our best to try to eat a little of it, and I always talk about manger le poulet.

Charlie: You know, the word manger, we get manger from that; and poulet, we get pulletÖ

And poultry.

Poulet is chicken.

Sallie: Have you told him about the bicycle?

Charlie: NoÖ

Sallie: Because I have pictures of it.

Charlie: We were in England, and we had a big repair shop ó not our company, but another company in our battalion ó and so we were stationed there part of the time. It was near Warminster. So we were fairly stationary, and we could buy English bicycles. We were encouraged to, you know, to joyride around ó officers could go wherever they wanted to. Well, one day, the unit over next to us had to move, and they couldnít take their bikes. I bought several of them, five or six. One of my best friends in the Army was Erwin Siegel; heís a Jew. He came to Pennsylvania ó let me find his picture ó Sally, look for Erwin. Before we left the States, I took him fishing. He was a schoolteacher. There were Jewish people living just south of Pittsburgh. He was a graduate of Washington College, just south of Pittsburgh. And down in Tennessee, when we were down there, I took him fishing. He had a camera: ìBe sure and take a picture,î he said, ìyou never saw a Jew fish.î Well, that wasnít so. I mean, it wasnít so later on. But he and I, we just liked each otherís company; I liked to [meet] Hebrew people and all. But the bicycle deal, I rounded them up. And Erwin said, ìWell, Charlie, what are we going to do this afternoon?î And I said, ìIíve got four or five bicycles to sell.î A new unit had come, you know, just fresh off the boat. So anyhow, we took [the bicycles] over, him two and me two, and it wasnít ten minutes that we had sold them all. And as we were walking back, he put his arm around my shoulder and said, ìCharlie, I need to tell you that thereís a little bit of Jew in you somewhere.î I said, ìThatís the highest compliment you can pay me, Erwin.î

Sallie: He died, didnít he?

Charlie: About 95% of these people are dead.

Sallie: While he was over there, I began collecting stuff. Now I know this is not in order and I know itís piled up and everything, but I have everything ó registration certificate, and here are my little letters. Did he tell you about these?

Charlie: I told him about those. V-Mail.

[tape breaks off momentarily]

Charlie: Now, this is my neighbor in Paris; he was a medical student at Sorbonne. He lived two doors down from us, in civilian housing. He helped me a lot; he took me to the Arc de Triomphe and all the places you see in what little time we had offÖ you couldnít use lights on a vehicle at night; all around they were dark in England, their trucks and stuff.

Sallie: Is this the lady you met at the Folies-BergËre?

Charlie: Probably wasÖ see if you can find the ticket stub to the Folies-BergËre.

Sallie: Iím trying; the thing of it is, I have everything but itís not in order.

Charlie: I had a little red book I got from Bell Laboratories.

Sallie: All right, Iíll look for thatÖ did Charlie tell you how he traveled over there and back?

Yes, on the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth.

Sallie: Thatís right, and tell him about the poker game, heíd like that.

Charlie: Well, there was a craps game; they were shooting dice on the fantail, and $45,000 was a lot of money in 1945. And I got up on the promenade deck ó itís ìprom-a-NAID,î but the English say ìprom-a-nahd;î you know, broad aís ó and I was looking down on the fantail at the crapshooters. One old boy had been through North Africa, you know, and had some buddies with him. They had been through the devil coming through North Africa; they had been away so long. But theyíre down there shooting craps, and he picked up $45,000 off the deck. And he whirled around, said to his buddies, ìHereís $200 for you, and $200 for you; you get that every 24 hours until we get off of here.î You know, he was afraid somebody would kill him and take his money; didnít mind someone taking his money as bad as them killing him.

[tape ends]

Name: Earl L. Thomas
Rank: Staff Sergeant
Branch of Service: U.S Army, Signal Corps

Just for the record, Mr. Thomas, I need to know your rank and branch of service.

Iím Earl L. Thomas, and the branch of service is 102nd Signal Company, in the 9th Army. The 102nd is an Ozark Division. I went to school at Camp [name unclear] in Missouri for three months to learn to be a mechanic for Teletype installation and repair. That was the next thing to computers. We set up Teletype for communication. I was also in the telephone section, where I could repair, do anything with the telephone.

So you were a communications repairman.

I was in the field. Overseas, communications were changing so fast I had to take a refresher course to keep up with things.

How old were you when you joined the service?


Were you drafted or did you join up?

I was drafted. I was deferred seven, eight times because I was a state policeman. I was called up on December 15th, 1941 and went into service on December 17th. I took the basic school, and then I went to school in Missouri, and then I went on maneuvers, and after maneuvers they sent me to school again, and then several months later I went to school another three weeks, because like I said, things were changing so quickly, we had to keep up with it. I went overseas in 1944. We got there right after Normandy.

So the way was fairly clear.

(Laughs) No. It wasnít very clear.

I hope you were preceded by troops.

Yes, we were preceded by troops to get in, but shortly thereafter we spearheaded the ninth army.

I see.

You see, they moved us on up through France and Luxembourg and on up into Holland. Our jumping-off place was up in Holland, between the English, who was to the north of us, and the other armies to the south of us. We were in the Ninth Army, and we were in Holland. We went into Lilich first.

How long were you in the service? Did you continue after the war?

I was in the service from December 17th, 1941 until February 20th, 1946.

So you continued after the war.

Well, after the war was over there, when I came home I asked for a dischargementÖ this is the route that we traveled. In other words, I started here, at Camp Swift, in Texas. And then, of course, they sent me to school. And then, when I came back, I joined here, in New Orleans. After that, we were sent to Camp Maxey, just outside of Austin, Texas. From there, they shipped us by train to another camp where we stayed for two, three more weeks, before they shipped us overseas.

So you left from New York City.

I left from a boat from New York. This is the way we went. We landed at Cherbourg. We went through France, and went near Paris. Then we got up through Belgium and to the edge of Holland. This is where we stayed for several monthsÖ this is the Siegfried Line, right here. We were just north of itÖ when the war was over, we followed this line, down to the edge of Germany and Austria. I stayed there about three or four weeks. Then we left there, and went to [name unclear], Germany, in the Bavarian mountains. Very, very, very cold. The snow, it was just like there wasnít any water in it. You had to watch out for the cold because it got a whole lot colder than you realized. When I stayed there, I was in charge of a hundred square miles of communications. What we were doing, we were taking the old lines, and we screened three outstanding communications personnel. Germans. They werenít Nazis or anything, just regular Germans. So we hired these three men ó they refreshed me in German ó and they helped my men put those wires that was strung overhead to put it underground. They already had cable underground, but we had to search every part of it to make sure it wasnít tapped, which was really a tremendous job. My interpreter could speak seven different languages. [Interview breaks off] Raymond T. Faulkner, he was my jeep driver and teletype operator, when he wasnít driving me. Of course, I couldnít let him drive at night because he couldnít see. He had really thick glasses. He was just a wonderful guy.

Tell me about that man in your company, I think his first name was Albert?

Albert Subrino. He was from New York, in the Bronx. He was an Italian. And every ten days, his family sent him a box of goodies, of some kind. And it was really just out of this world. He was one of the few who got a box every ten days. If they couldnít find us, when we were busy on the front and they couldnít get it to us, sometimes he get two, and one more than one occasion he had three on the same day. His family would send him Italian sausages, things like that. It was out of this world. He was just an outstanding guy.

What was your impression of what we were fighting for during the war?

To keep Hitler from conquering the world. He didnít care how many people he killed, as long as he had control of the world. You see, he was gobbling up these countries like nobodyís business. And in fact, Russia and Great Britain was the only ones he hadnít swallowed up in that part of the world. He was just about to swallow up South Africa. And the Americans troops landed down there. And you never saw so many American troops on there, and so many airplanes, that there werenít no place for them to hide, the Germans. And of course, the army knew exactly where the Germans were at all times. And at the same time, the [planes] could just parachute an army [wording not clear]. Thatís why it didnít take long to win the [country] back. But if anyone got in his [Hitlerís] way, he would knock out. And if [he had won], we wouldnít have a free world at all.

What was your most memorable experience of the war?

The most memorable experienceÖ itís when the first camp we came to that had [American] prisoners of warÖ the boys that were operating the tanks said, ìHey Sergeant, step aside, Iíll take care of that gate.î So I got the guys on the other side to get back far enough, and the tank just went right on through. And they were so glad to see us, they were just crying, a lot of them were real ill, and some of them just as skinny as they could be, some of them had dysentery. Just imagine what kind of conditions they were in. And the ones that were in bad conditions are the ones that we got on the ambulanceÖ The ones that could eat, those were the ones that we gave C-rations to. I called down to the kitchen to send s truck on down with as many rations as they could spare. And the captain said, ìSure! Send the stuff ahead.î And he called two, three other companies, and of course they had enough for a short time, up until the got medical help. But that was the most impressive thing in the world, all those soldiers crying, crying because they were so gladÖ [becomes unclear] but that was wonderful.

But the next most memorable, is getting to these buildings, these barns, and they [the Germans] had these civilians that they were moving from place to place. And we were getting so close to them that they shut them up in this barn and set fire to it. Terrible. There wasnít anything too bad for them. Nothing. That was one of the most important memories. But Iím sorry. Nobody in this whole wide worldÖyou cannot read a book, you cannot watch a film, or anything, anything, and realize how many airplanes the United States built that could be in the airÖ [unintelligible] that was the time that they were over us all the timeÖ youíd just look up and it was just one group after another. Very close together. But if you took your binoculars and look up there, all up above them were all these fighters. And I have never seen to this day how in this world that they built so many planes in such a short timeÖ [unintelligible] just absolutely unbelievable, the help that the airplanes gave us.

Tell me about the men in your company.

I wasnít disappointed at all in the men in my company. Two had a nervous breakdown ó three, we had three that had a nervous breakdown and had to be sent home. But other than that, everything worked out nice.

Thank you very much, Mr. Thomas.

All right. Youíre welcome. If you have any other questions, come back and ask me.

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"Right in the Thick of It"
Last Updated December 24th, 2002
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