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Interview on experiences in World War II

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Robert Ecklund: This is Bob Ecklund


[This is a Flint Hills Oral History Project, World War II Veterans Series interview with Mr. George Crocker, 828 West 18th Avenue, Emporia, Kansas. The interviewer is Robert Ecklund, World War II veteran and retired Emporia State University staff member. The interview took place at Mr. Crocker's home in December, 2005.]

[This is tape 1, side A.]

Robert Ecklund: I'll just let you go ahead George; a little bit of your background please.

George Crocker: All right, Bob. I was born in Spearville, Kansas, which is about eighteen miles east of Dodge City, a town of about seven hundred, probably a few more. I was born in 1922, on October 24th. I was the last of four children. I had a brother and two sisters. I graduated from Spearville High. In a small town like that I was able to participate in nearly all activities: football, men's quartet, men's chorus, mixed chorus, band, baseball and basketball, and I was also in dramatic productions. Following my graduation in 1941 I came to Emporia to attend the College of Emporia. I had one and a half years of college before I went in the service. It was very strange. I had an opportunity to go into cadet training right after the war with Japan started. An Army recruiter came on campus and signing students to go into service. I knew my mother would be opposed to my going into the military so soon. My brother had just gone overseas with the Army, and we had no idea where he had been sent. We suspected maybe to New Guinea. My father had died in January, and so I called my mother and talked with her and told her I was planning on entering the service hoping to become a cadet and flying in the Navy. She became very upset about my intentions, and she wanted to know why I couldn't wait. So I talked with the dean and he advised me to put it off and wait.

A good friend of mine by the name of Jim Warren, whom I had flown with in Piper Cubs from a field north of Emporia, was thinking about trying to get into the U.S. Navy for flight training. Jim went on ahead. Unfortunately, he had been in only a few months and was practicing landings on a dummy carrier up in the Great Lakes and he missed the carrier and was killed. Of the people that went in at that time, I don't know how many of them survived. But this was right at the very very beginning of the war. So anyhow I delayed my entrance.

Finally I decided that I still wanted to fly and I went to Kansas City. Unfortunately, at that time, they had too many pilots and not enough planes and so enlistments were closed temporarily. I waited around and finally I had just went ahead into the Navy. The recruiter said that you could go in the Navy and spend eight weeks and then apply for your cadet again through your commander. Unfortunately it wasn't eight weeks. It was eight months. When I was in boot camp in Farragut, Idaho, we had a chief, Chief Rich, who was from North Carolina, and who played football at North Carolina. He had put me in charge of the athletic department. I think probably I was the only guy in the whole company that had any education beyond high school. We had a lot of kids from Philadelphia and New York who were quite unusual and had never participated in sports or anything like that in their lives. It was very interestingthey tried to cheat on all the activities. But Chief Rich came to me and said, ``Well George you can apply for anything you want.'' I said, ``I think I want to fly.'' He said, ``I can recommend you to go back to King's Point, New York. In thirteen weeks you can come out a Navy chief, a specialist.'' I had no idea what a specialist was until years later I had discovered that I had missed a great opportunity which people in the Navy would have given their right arm to have been able to have. [Instead of Chief Rich's officer] I decided I would take radio, and that if I did get into cadet training and was fortunate enough to start piloting and flying that I would have to learn code and radio and all that. I wasn't concerned about being a mechanic or an ordinanceman. They shipped us to Memphis, Tennessee, where we took our radio training. It was at that time in my company that I met three or four guys who had been in cadet training. Three of them had washed out and one guy had deliberately washed himself out. He had landed one of the biplanes, which we called the Steerman Yellow Peril, in a cornfield and that was it. He still wanted to fly but he didn't want the responsibility of holding the stick. So anyhow, I made good friends with them and then finally when the eight months were up everybody was saying, ``oh, stay with us'' and all that, ``don't try this.'' So that was part of it.

We went then from Memphis to Hollywood, Florida, to gunnery school. At that time Hollywood, Florida, had only two hotels. When we first got there, got off the train, or coming down, crates of oranges were being thrown onto the trains by guys who were working along the railroad with the warehouses and they would just heap crates of oranges onto the trains, so we were all just eating oranges like mad and we were about half sick from them. But the next morning we arrived in Hollywood, Florida, at about two o'clock in the morning. We had just gotten to sleep and here they're blowing a bugle to get us up and they put us on a bus and took us down to the beach and here was a swimming pool next to the hotel. I had passed my swimming tests in Memphis and I was a double A swimmer at that time. They threw us into this pool. I got in the pool and it turned out it was salt water. I got a big gulp of salt water. Just from the oranges and the salt water I just became deathly ill, throwing up. Another kid did the same thing. Many of these people were non-swimmers. So the instructor didn't quite know what to do with us [two] and he said, ``cut back and go into the training for swimming.'' We said, ``Well, we're swimmers.'' We showed him our cards and he said, ``Well, you didn't pass the test.'' I said, ``Well, we were sick.'' So the next morning we got back down and again we got in the pool and he told us to get in and we did. We swam across, back and forth, and he said, ``You're doing well.'' We said, ``We were ill yesterday.'' He said, ``I don't know what to do with you. You just roll around on the beach while I work with these non-swimmers.'' So we did. There were a lot of Jewish dowagers down there, elderly ladies with a real deep sun-tan, almost a purple tan. They took us under their wing, so we would sit in front of the hotel while these [other] guys were over there working on their swimming and we had about two and half hours just to kill. We had nothing to do other than walk up and down the beach. A number of these women would get a hold of us and take us up to the table and they were all drinking sloe gin fizzes. We'd never experienced anything like that. [The Navy] would take us back to the Riverside Academy, which was a private military academy before the war. Then after we finished our training there I was to be sent to Opa Locka, Florida, to probably go into the TBFs, a type of plane that former President George Bush flew. The gunner's position was really a death threat. You could hardly get out of the plane. When I crawled into one of them it just gave me claustrophobia immediately because it was right down in the aft part of the plane right above the tail. I was on the list to go there and one afternoon, late afternoon, a kid by the name of Harold Chileswe'd become good friendshe came rushing in and said that he was on his way Jacksonville to get into PBYs, training in PBYs. I said, ``Well, I'm on the Opa Locka list.'' He said, ``We'll get you on the PBY list.'' I said, ``Aw, there's no way.'' He said, ``Get your things packed. I'm going to take off and I'll be back in a little bit. Have everything packed because the bus is going to be leaving for Jacksonville shortly.'' I didn't do anything. I just remained in our room. About a half hour he came flying back in and said, ``Why aren't you packed? You're going to Jacksonville?'' Turned out what he had donehe had a friend who was a yeoman from his hometown in Lancaster, Pennsylvaniathe yeoman took somebody's name off of the list or added my name to the list, one or the other, so I ended up in Jacksonville training with PBYs rather than going to Opa Locka. The fear at that time in the Hollywood military base was that you'd say, ``You remember so and so who graduated in the class, two classes before us or something like that.'' And they'd say, ``Yes.'' ``Well, he was killed in one of the TBMs.'' It was a great fear. It was absolutely a very frightful thing. Then this story of course, I think it maybe came later, I'm not sure, of the six TBM's that were lost in the Bermuda triangle and that sort of thing. It was kind of a death sentence everybody thought. So we ended up in Jacksonville and went through the training there and practiced day and night landings, mostly night landings, with the very green pilots on the St. John's River. I remember the cadets there were ensigns. They'd just graduated from Pensacola. They'd been flying PBYs but with a very limited load. They'd made light landings on this river. Sometimes the altimeter was not exactly set and it would hit rather hard and water would come in over the hatches and the little openings. We survived all of that.

We then were sent to Hutchison, Kansas. This was in August of 1944. Then we were working there with what the Navy called PB-4-Y-1s. They were really modified B-24s is what it was. We spent the summer there. Then, I think it was in September, early September or late August, we were shipped to San Diego, California, to Camp Kearney which was just above San Diego. There was an old World War I cavalry training ground named after the famous General Kearney who participated in the wars in California with Lieutenant Fremont and some of the others. We got our squadron planes. We got our new planes which were called a PB-4-Y-2. It was like a B-24 only it had seven more feet on the flight deck. It had the same wing, 110 foot Davis wing. It was just like the B-24. Rather then having the double stabilizer it was the huge huge single stabilizer just the tail, high tails. In fact the tail was higher. When you had us parked next to a B-29, it was much higher than the B-29. The plane became known as the Flying Tail. But it was an easy plane to fly according to the pilots, so much easier than the B-24. In fact some of the pilots tried to fly it like a fighter plane. We were stationed there until November and then the squadron started making its trip to Hawaii to Kaneohe Bay. By the end of December, or even before the end of December in 1944, the entire squadron was in Kaneohe. Then from there we were sent to Tinian. We made a landing from Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii to Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands and from there up to Tinian in the Mariana Islands. We started immediately making patrol and bombing runs from Tinian into the Pacific to Truk and later up toward Iwo Jima and on toward Japan. We were attacking picket boats that the Japanese had put up to spot the B-29s as they were taking off from Saipan and Tinian. Our job was to sink these boats. Quite often, if they were not sunk or damaged, we would report to submarines that were in the area and they come in and finish them off if we gave them their positions.

Then we went on the invasion of Iwo Jima. We were sent up to intercept a squadron of Japanese bombers and fighters at a point called the Lot's Wife. There was a black pillar of rock just coming out of the ocean looking like a whale standing on its tail., going up probably a couple hundred feet. I don't know the technical name on the chart except that it was referred to always as Lot's Wife. We flew up to that point and the weather turned extremely bad. There were no Japanese bombers coming down and we couldn't pick anything up on radar. We returned to Iwo Jima and we flew the parameter and coverage for the rest of that day. Then later we [moved] from Tinian, as soon as the first strip on Iwo Jima was taken, a very short strip. We had lost an engine or one engine was throwing oil, and we were flying with the skip[per] of the squadron, William S. Sampson, who was an Annapolis graduate. He had real political pull. In fact he was in charge of all the naval aircraft operations on Iwo Jima. We made this emergency landing. The strip was very short as I said. The Japanese were still at the end of the strip firing mortars and what not. So we turned around and started [taxiing] backthe only way you could get off the strip was to taxi right back from where you came. Planes all over the place were crawling in for emergency landings. As we were going about halfway down the strip getting ready, taxiing back, all of a sudden the pilot shoved the throttle forward to the point where I thought we were taking off; that strip had been taken over by the Japanese. It turned out that a TBF torpedo bomber had come right down on top of us practically and missed our tail by about fifteen feet. In the meantime, they had burned the brakes out on the landing without realizing it. As we started on the strip and when we got to the point we wanted to turn off, there were no brakes. So we headed it off and we ended up hitting a forklift. Just beyond the forklift was a tent that had about thirty marines inside in some kind of a briefing. If it hadn't been for that forklift we'd have cut right through them. I think we stayed there that night; I can't remember exactly. Then after Iwo was partially taken we were stationed there; we were flying out of Iwo. There were a lot of experiences that took place there.

Following that, in May, we'd lost so many planes and personnel that we were sent down to Palawan in the Philippines, which was supposed to be the easier duty. The Okinawa invasion was underway at that time. So we started flying out of Palawan, flying down across Borneo to Singapore, the Malay coast, and as far as Saigon. On May 30, 1945 we spotted a convoy laying anchored off the Malay coast. Three planes came up. The first one that came up and attacked us was what we called a Jake. It was a float plane. The Japanese would either catapult it off of the cruiser or would let it down in the water. He had the first shot at us. He came in on our portside at about nine o'clock. He missed. We were not flying with our regular pilot at that time; we were flying with our Lt. JG. He spun the plane around and we made a complete turn and rather then Jake getting on our tail, we were on his tail. So we were firing from the forward top turret, and I could see that we had already killed the tail gunner; his body was kind of hanging over the side. Our bow turret [gunner], a guy by the name of Chief Mhoon, was our plane captain, he got so excited he was holding his triggers down to the point where he burned out the barrels. So the tracers are just flying and circling out in the air. I wasn't in a position to do anymore firing from the angle. So then they were debating as to whether, because we were gaining on them, we could chop off his tail with one of our props. About that time he took, not a steep dive, but he started to really go way down. We were flying around about a thousand feet, and he went down. We thought we'd lost him. He got down on the water about a hundred, less than a hundred feet, and started to make a landing and then he blew up. About that time we realized this cruiser over there had been firing ack-ack at us and it was a pretty heavy but not terribly close. We went over the Malay coast, over the convoy. We salvoed all the bombs we had. Whether we hit any other ships, I don't know. But then we took off and at about that time a tail gunner called out that there was a bogey at seven o'clock and here came a brand-new silver what we called an Oscar. It was like a Zeke fighter. It was brand-new and it came up on our side and paralleled us as we were leaving the area. We thought, well, he's just escorting us away from the convoy. He was in range and we decided that we wouldn't shoot unless he made a run or something. So for the longest time he just stared at us. I thought he was within less than hundred yards of us. Official reports from the spotter said it was five thousand feet but that would have been about a mile away and I certainly wouldn't have been able to see this guy looking at us. We had a nude painted on the side of the plane. The plane was called the Super Chief. She had a white hat on, a chiefs hat, and slippers, and she was holding a little glass of wine. It was a side view, a very charming little painting. He had apparently been staring at that, couldn't figure out what it was. But then he decided that, to save face or something, he was too close to start his run, and he started to turn into us and the pilot, Lt. JG Vernon Smith, who had taken over and started flying with us when our skipper of the squadron left us, turned away from him which would have put him pretty much on our tail, and the plane captain Chief Mhoon in the bough hollered, ``Turn into him Smitty.'' So he turned back into him. We turned and went under him, and he came over the top and the two top turrets gunners were able to just blast him and he rolled over and hit the water. Didn't explode at all. Then the third plane came up, but flew back into the clouds and disappeared. So that was one of the most interesting things on that particular month.

We flew into a little island at one time called Tawi Tawi, which was right over, just above Borneo. We had thrown a piston in one engine and so decided to make a landing on this [island's] emergency strip. It had been built by the Japanese and then the Australians came over and took it away from them. The Moros down there, who were Islamic Muslims, were pro-Japanese, and they started putting sugar in the gas tanks of the Australian light bombers. So the Australians abandoned the strip. The Americans took it over and used it just as an emergency strip. They had probably a platoon or more of black soldiers that controlled and were responsible for the strip. We made this emergency landing and there were palm trees that were probably a hundred feet, maybe not quite that much, at one end of the strip, but by the time we landed we were halfway down this very short strip. The pilot hit the brakes and again the brakes were burned out slightly. They were debating as to what they were going to do when they got to the end of the strip, whether they were going to throttle back on two engines and throw the throttles forward in the other two and try to spin it. But it didn't spin. It went off and we went down on a beach almost into the water, but just as we hit the lower part of the beach we came to an abrupt halt. The starboard landing gear went completely out of sight and the starboard wing was sticking in the sand. We all crawled out and we couldn't figure outand yet the port landing gear was still up. We couldn't figure out what had happened. It turned out that we had hit a slit trench. The Japanese had a slit trench down there and we fell into it. There was nothing on the island. We had only just a small amount of food with us and we were there for two days. We traded away most of our gear. I traded away my flight suit and my shoes and everything to these little natives. All they had to eat was sugar cane stocks, pineapple, and dried fishthe dried fish was covered with so many flies you could hardly see the fishand bananas which were the type that would give us dysentery. Part of the crew was flown back to Palawan and the Philippines. Eventually the plane was pulled out and we were able to fly back with a partial load of fuel.

Then in August the war was over. Our squadron had lost, out of the original fifteen planeswe had I think three of the original still present. We had plenty of points in order to be discharged, but we still lost planes even after the war was over to the weather. We were flying thousand mile flights. We'd lost a couple of planes over Singapore. So we headed back then from Palawan to Tinian on our way back to the United States. We flew to Tinian, and from Tinian to Johnston Island and then to Hawaii. We had a choice of flying our plane back from Hawaii or waiting for a carrier. None of us had ever been on a ship although we had been in the Navy all this time. So we opted to come back on the carrier Ticonderoga. When we approached the Golden Gate Bridge there were people all along the bridge as the carrier was coming in. There were hundreds of sailors and marines on the flight deck and pilots and what-not. The thing I recall is seeing girls up on the Golden Gate Bridge sending their phone numbers in semaphore. One guy in our crew happened to have a pencil and wrote down one of the numbers and I didn't see him after we got into town. Then we were stationed there. We went home on leave. Then we went back to Alameda until about March.

I was discharged in March in Shoemaker, California. Being near San Francisco, I started to work doing freelance artwork at the Emporium, which was the largest department store on Market Street. I worked there restructuring mannequins and doing them completely over because they were in styles before the war and styles had changed. So that paid very well and following that I returned to Kansas and attended the graduation of a class at the College of Emporia. When I arrived, professors during the ceremonies passed the word that I was in the audience and everybody came running up after the ceremony throwing their arms around me and this sort of thing because on the plaque that they had for the students that had been killed during the war, here was my name on the dummy plaque. It was going to be done in bronze. There was a guy by the name of George Crawford who had graduated maybe eight or nine years before I was there, and they had mistaken my name for his and so my name was on there.

[This is tape 1, side B.]

GC: The war was over and we were extremely thankful because we had been told that we were going to be sent to Vladivostok up in Russia, and that if Russia declared war on Japan that we would be flying out of Vladivostok on the east coast of Russia and into the Japanese islands proper. We had done that before when we were at Iwo Jima. We had flown into Tokyo Bay. We'd flown along the island of Kyushu and bombed ships. If the atomic bomb hadn't been dropped we wouldn't be having this interview, because I'm just certain that, the way we were losing aircraft and this sort of thing, we just probably would not have come back. I have estimated and I have heard other people estimate that if the atomic bomb hadn't been dropped that millions of people would have died, not only American troops but Japanesefar more than whatever died in the bombing of Hiroshima and the others. So it was the thing to do. Truman had made a decision and it was the right decision. Those who object to it are people who were not living at that time and had no concept of what the conditions were, what with the atrocities that were going to be committed and were committed on our troops and sailors and others.

RE: You mention the atomic bomb. The D-Day invasion of Europe, where were you? Did you get word of that?

GC: Yes we did. That was June 6, [1944]. We had a pretty good idea of that. We were stationed on Tinian when President Roosevelt died. That was April 6th [12th] or something like that of 1945. [Dropping the atomic bomb] was the right thing to do.

Following the war I went back to the College of Emporia and finished up my undergraduate degree. I taught for a while in the little town of Olpe south of Emporia at a Catholic school. I was the first male teacher that these young people had ever seen. I was non-Catholic and I discovered the reason I got the job was because I had a minor at that time in drama and speech and therefore they wanted [someone] who could direct the school plays, so I was hired over some other Catholic boys who didn't have that qualification. Anyhow, one day the sisters came up to me, a couple of them, and wanted to know if I had a good sense of humor. They just wanted to tell me something but they were afraid I might be offended. I said, ``Well, no, not at all.'' They said, ``Well, you know what the kids are calling you now?'' I said, ``I have no idea.'' They said, ``Well they are calling you Sister George.'' So that became a wonderful kind of little title that we laughed about. Following that I went to the University of Denver and finished up. I got a master's degree in dramatic artstheatre arts. Following that I got my first job. I was married at that time, been married just before we went out there. I got my first job in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as director of the community theatre, and I established the first theatre in the round program in Grand Rapids and it was very successful. From there I went to Sarasota, Florida, and worked with the Ringling family. They had a professional theatre there. Actors and actresses came down from New York for a sixteen week program. The theatre was called the Palm Tree Theatre, Palm Tree Playhouse. It no longer exists. Sarasota from the time we were there to what it is now, you wouldn't recognize it at all. It was a small town when we were there with mostly people who were there for the winter and run by the Ringlings. But from there I went to the University of Miami and taught in the drama department there for four years. Then we came back to Emporia and I taught at the College of Emporia for about three years heading up the Art and Drama Department. From there we went to California and we were out there for twenty years. [I] spent about eight years back and forth working in Hollywood. [I] did some writing, my first writing. Then following our retirement we got into some real estate and that sort of thing. Following retirement we came back to my wife's hometown of Emporia. So that just about takes care of the journey. So you may have some questions, Bob, that you want me to answer.

RE: One of the questions we were interested in, did you take advantage of any of the G.I. Bill?

GC: Yes I did. The G.I. Bill allowed me to return to the College of Emporia and finish up my degree there. Also, after I had my first undergraduate degree, I took a few courses at Emporia State University and that was good.

RE: As you look back, did your time in the service change your outlook on life?

GC: Yes. Yes greatly. It was a time of maturing. You couldn't go [through] what we went through and seeing the death and loss of some of your closest friends without [it] having an emotional and definitely an effect upon your personality or your way of thinking; particularly what we encountered at Iwo Jima while we were based there. The battles were still going on in the northern half of the island. Seeing the dead being buried almost daily, seeing the numbers that were killed there; actually there were more marines killed on the invasion of Iwo Jima than were killed from the Army on D-Day. Most people don't realize also that the largest amphibious landing was not D-Day; it was Okinawa. There were more troops, more ships, and that sort of thing in Okinawa that had been on D-Day, which is kind of surprising.

RE: What about your training? When you look back, when you think about training, was it adequate?

GC: Yes. I think the reason I am here today is that our training was superior to what the Japanese training was near the end of the war. The planes we shot down, had these been at the beginning of the war, with their highly trained pilots that they had when they bombed Pearl Harbor, if they'd have had that same quality of pilots near the end of the war, I don't think we would have survived. I think they probably would have shot us down. But their pilots were not that well trained, and for some reason they were trying to protect what planes they had. They were not as aggressive as they might have been if they had been trained well.

RE: I think the same thing happened to the Germans. They had magnificent pilots at the beginning of the war and you can only go so long and they ran short of great pilots. What about the present situation of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan?

GC: I think most people don't realize that we have been fighting fanatical Muslims since the Christian crusades. This has been going on for years and years. Nothing to the degree that is happening now, but I know from what I've read in history that this has been an ongoing problem. But I do have a friend who was sponsoringhe had his degree in archaeology, graduated from Southern California, and became a very wealthy mangot a group together to make a mission to Saudi Arabia or in that area right after World War II. The objective of the journey was to discover Biblical cities and what-not. They were constantly harassed by Muslims simply because they were outsiders. The Muslims were attacking them and their convoys. They had to be protected with more friendly Muslims. The British had their horrible problems with the fanatical Muslims. Then the Jewish people and the Muslimsnow that conflict has been going on from the very beginning. I think it's just kind of come to a head. Communication has been one of the things that has brought it to a head. Years ago you'd have a skirmish maybe thirty Muslims would be killed, ten Christians or something like that, you would hardly ever hear about it. It wouldn't [appear] in the local paper. But now it's on the internet, it's on worldwide television if one person gets killed. Other people pick up on this and so the thing just kind of snowballs. I feel that we have to stay in Iraq. We have to finish it because the prestige of the United States would just be destroyed if we didn't. I know that in many parts of the world, and perhaps the Muslim world, that strength is respected and honored, and even if they are defeated they still respect strength and not weakness. If you give into them they will take two steps for our one.

RE: Our country was pretty isolationist before World War II. Can you sense the feeling that we are almost creeping back that way again?

GC: We have a lot of our population, and this may sound sexist, but so much of that are women who, for the most part, have never experienced a war, actually being in a war or being bombed like the women of Europe and England were during World War II. They have a tendency to view things from a very personal point of view, and that suggests if we just leave everybody else alone we will be okay. The world is very very small. I think it was Alexander Hamilton who made the statement that the minute we were able to navigate and to find out our longitude as well as our latitude on the sea, the world was one. We just weren't separated anymore. It brought us together.

RE: There's another thing. During World War II while we weren't subject to bombing and such here, people did make sacrifices and that doesn't seem to be happening yet. We want to burn all the gas and oil and we don't want any shortages of anything.

GC: No. I think we've become a very selfish nation and verywell the generation following our generation became sort of referred to as the ``me'' generation. Me first, and you second. Prior to that we went through a depression and we went through World War I and there was more giving, more closeness, more willingness to sacrifice and to give in our time. But something's happened with us. Whether it's all the gadgets, whether it's the wealth that was materialized after World War II, I don't know. But I have a feeling that the people that have access now to mass communication, many of them are very ill informed. The press seems to go to anyone that can give them a story, a dramatic story, or a conflict of some sort and that's what we want. If they can't find it they'll stage it somehow. This woman, what's her name in Arizona down near President Bush's Crawford Ranch, I'm sure she was suffering for the loss of her son, but at the same time he volunteered and wanted to go and he was a real hero. In my estimation we just don't have enough people with that kind of courage anymore. So many people are so satisfied, so smug; they want to sit in front of their television and let the rest of the world just go by, and it isn't that way. Cindy Sheehannow she's got the publicity. She's found the power of the press. So many of them are like that. Bring them home, bring them home, and let's not do anything, we'll all just get along. Can't we all get along?'' It doesn't work that way, Bob.

RE: No. But do you think we can establishit seems to me the problem has been trying to establish our form of democracy in a country that simply doesn't understand such things.

GC: Our democracy was a huge experiment. George Washington knew this and he really never expected it to last more than twenty years. There were others that followed him, presidents, that didn't think it would hold and seemed to think that the only thing was there was the Constitution, but they felt it was so loosely written that they just felt like it could be taken advantage of, and it was at times, I guess. I don't know. I don't think we should force ourselves on any part of the world, but certainly I think we've done that. [Commodore] Parry forced himself on the Japanese. They, in turn, found out how the world worked, and so they did the same thing, forcing themselves on China and Manchuria, and away they went. It was a model they took from us actually and a model that we had taken from the Europeans. I was just watching a thing a moment ago on Catherine the Great. She wanted the Black Sea and she got her army to go down there and fight the Turks until they got it. But this has been the way of the world from the beginning; it is territorial and we see that in the lower animals as well. I don't know that we should go and try to force ourselves on other people, but it does seem so terribly odd that here we are in a twenty-first century with the advances we've made, putting a man on the moon, and shortly maybe to Mars. Then you have a vast portion of the world in a culture that is still locked in the fourteenth century. At one time they had been the leaders in the world and the culture, in the Persian Empire. I don't believe that we should force ourselves on other people in that extent, but I think the problem is that the governments and the educated people in those countries realize there has to be change. For example in Iran, the mullahs who have had power all their lives, they want to maintain this. They see that their young people are wanting to watch television and they're wanting to emulate some of the modern world in dress and music and videos. There's more out there than just what the Muslim religion has offered them and the mullahs are scared to the death that that's one of their problems. They're going to lose power and they may lose a lot of their control over their people. They're going to fight to the death to defend it. That's why some of these radical Muslim leaders are so desperate in backing these antagonists. Of course, the Israeli-Palestinian problem is an eternal problem and the Israelis are not backing down. They've realized their only survival is to build a strong army and defend themselves. On the other hand, the Muslims feel like they want to wipe them completely off the earth. So there has to be a whole change in attitude by both parties. Maybe it'll happen. But not in our lifetime, I don't think.

RE: Well, thanks, George. It's been really interesting.

[Interview ends side B, count 251.]


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