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Interview on experiences in World War II

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CP: Hi I am Casey Pridey here with Megan Gerstner to record the oral history of World War II veteran Bob Gantz

Interview of Robert Gantz, World War II Veteran

Interview conducted by Ness City High School Audio-Video Technology Class students Casey Pridey and Megan Gerstner, on December 15, 2006. Adult supervisor Kay Wasinger.

CP: Hi I am Casey Pridey here with Megan Gerstner to record the oral history of World War II veteran Bob Gantz. Could you please state your name?

BG: Robert Gantz, Bob

CP: What was your date of birth?

BG: May 26, 1925

CP: And where were you born?

BG: Ness City.

CP: And your parents?

BG: Fayne Bonderant Gantz and Ernest Gantz.

CP: Did you have any siblings?

BG: I had a brother he passed away.

CP: Did you attend High School?

BG: Yes and I went here in Ness City.

CP: Alright. And what was your job prior to your military service?

BG: Well I just barely graduated from high school, but I had worked around a grain elevator most of my life.

CP: Do you remember the announcement of Pearl Harbor?

BG: Oh Yes, definitely.

CP: Do you remember where you were or…?

BG: I do. I was in our breakfast room putting my clothes on with the radio on and getting ready. They had pheasant hunting season in Trego County. We didn't have one in Ness County. It was just a three or four day thing. And my uncle had came out from Wichita and wanted to go pheasant hunting and we were gonna go that Sunday. And we went anyway after we heard the announcement. We fiddled around for several hours before we went, but I was putting my hunting clothes on and I had the little radio on when the announcements came over and it would be like, it was like six or seven o'clock in the morning that Sunday morning. I remember that distinctly. That's a pretty major thing.

CP: Oh yeah. Did you enlist or were you drafted?

BG: I enlisted.

CP: Did you get to choose your branch of service?

BG: Yes I did.

CP: What did you choose?

BG: Well you see I enlisted in the Cadet Program. Aviation Cadets. It was the Air Corps then not the Air Force.

CP: What was your date of enlistment?

BG: I think it was the 27th or 8th of May 1925.( means 1943) But I wasn't inducted then for two, three or four months after that.

CP: Were there others from the area that joined with you?

BG: Yeah they didn't make it. One guy. See they had a program for air crews. For, pilots and navigators and bombardiers. So the air base had been started over at Dodge City. And the truth of the matter was, I graduated May the 25th as I remember it. The very next day was the 26th and I was 18. It was the 26th of May, so I went over to Dodge and another fella went with me Blair Eibert. And we were gonna sign up for this cadet program. And they gave you tremendous, oh it was an all day deal. A tremendous physical to start with. Then if you passed that you had to take the mental test and that thing was something else. I passed it alright. Really for a couple reasons. There was tremendous lot of. . . the war had been on then. . . see I was a junior when that war hit. And the war had been on a little over a year by then, and they had really, they had really.. . . our high school here put in all kinds of programs that the government had recommended. Because they figured, they figured they would be needed in the war thing. And we had a lot of advanced mathematics really. They took us clear up through integrated equations past Algebra and I took most of those mainly not because I was particularly interested in war time type of thing but I thought I wanted to be an engineer, and an engineer needs all the math he can get. So I took all of those courses. And then they put in an aviation course and I did not take it, I edited that course because it was kind of simple and I had my hours full any way. That was my senior year so I didn't really have room for it so I edited that course. Between the math and the physics, I took physics when I was a senior. Between the math and the physics and this aviation course, and one other thing astronomy. And I'd had some education in astronomy through the boy scouts and a couple of courses I had taken. And that happened to be what was on that mental or on that test. So I passed it pretty easily truthfully. And easier than I wanted to because I found out later they were looking for navigators, because navigators, navigators were . . . .navigation was kind of primitive. An awful lot of the planes were lost because the navigator didn't do a good job, and they were trying to do better. And I wound up in a navigation course, and I really wanted to be a pilot. But that's what happened to me. They didn't call me up they sent me home then and I wasn't truly. . .I had signed up for the thing and so at that point they said I was in the service. They didn't call me and induct me, for sometime after that. I sat around twiddling my thumbs wanting to know why I wasn't going. And found out later that they put a whole class of navigation guys together, and so I wound up. . . .well that's kind of the story there.

CP: Were any of your siblings or relatives also involved in the war?

BG: My brother was too young he wound up in the Korean war. My other family were in wars ahead of that. But that's just us two were in that one. Jack was not in the war he was too young.

CP: When did you enter the service then?

BG: Well truly, I guess you would say in May because they paid. . . I didn't get any pay. . .but they give me that on my. . .actually it was in the fall then before I wound up being inducted. So I am not sure myself, but I know they gave me credit from when I signed the papers at Dodge City. See they had an airbase in Dodge City they just put it in too, it had just been there for about three fourths of a year.

I'll tell you it was a very interesting thing. The war preparation had been done way ahead of time, because the minute, the minute Japan declared war on us, I mean things changed immensely. But to give you an idea of the preparation ahead of time. I had a second cousin Thane Bonderant, that worked for my Granddad and he was several years older than me. When he graduated from high school he wanted to go down to Manhattan to college and this was in the late thirties and everybody was hard up. Money was a problem so he joined the National Guard and they paid seven dollars a month. And that doesn't sound like much, but seven dollars made a. . . helped a heck of a lot going to college. And he only had to take one, I think one Saturday afternoon or something of National Guard. Well they called them up way before Japan attacked us. So they knew we were going to be in war. Isn't any question about it. The interesting thing, Thane told me they pulled our National Guard unit from. . . I am not sure which one he was in in Kansas. I think it had been one out of Manhattan, because that is where he was going to school. Anyway they sent him to Minnesota and they didn't even have guns for them, they gave them broomsticks, for their training. And that would have been about 1940. About a year before the. . . so they knew we were. . . and the minute they started building those airbases everywhere. They built one in Great Bend, and then they built one not in Hays, but over at Walker, and Pratt, Dodge City, Garden City. And by the time the war was a year long those things were fully operating bases. That's an interesting thing. They must have known that we were about in it. But I don't think that air base had been there much over a year when I went over and joined that program.

CP: When and where were you inducted?

BG: Well, the reception center was Leavenworth. The way that worked and that's an interesting thing too. The way that worked, they paid your transportation down there, and if possible they tried to send you with the group. Well they had a. . . when they called me to go be recepted then they had a group of 10 or 15 guys. They put my second cousin Chy Barrows in charge of it. He had had a couple years of college, and some ROTC in college so they put him in charge of the group. And in those days, Ness City had two trains. One going East and one going West, and they met here at noon everyday. And we were going of course to Leavenworth, and we got on that train. We waited around quite a while before we left. Got down the track about a mile and Chy came up to me and he said ``Bob we are in real trouble.'' I said ``Why is that?'' He said, (he knew that I knew the train crew because I had worked in that elevator.) ``Well,'' he says, ``I left my papers with Madeline on the dock.'' Madeline was his wife. So he said, ``What'll I do?'' Well I got a hold of Bill Clark, who was the conductor. I've laughed about this all my life. And Bill said, ``Well we can take care that.'' And there was rip cord he pulled. In those days there were two passenger cars on each train that went through here, and a little vestibule on the back. We stood on that vestibule from about two miles out and they backed us in to. . . . and there was Madeline standing on the track waving those papers. I'm telling you it was a funny deal. I kidded him the rest of his life about that. But anyway we went to Great Bend. We got in there a flat 4:00 o'clock or so, and then the next train picked us up and took us in to Kansas City got in there at about 10:00 o'clock and they had a place for us to stay. I am not sure exactly what it was. It was a USO type of thing. And the next morning then they took us on up to Leavenworth. That's about the last I ever saw of them because they run me through another bunch of physicals. I don't know what they did with the rest of the guys, and then they sent me on the way with this group of people. And our first day they issued us a bunch of uniforms and stuff. Our first base was Biloxi, Mississippi, which was Keesler field. There is an air base there and that's where we took our basic. And then all the rest of the tests for the cadet thing, and after we got our basic done why they shipped us on.

CP: Can you tell us about your basic training?

BG: Oh yeah. It was a little different, because we were going to be air crew guys. In the basic of course you get a lot of physical training, and the irritating thing to me about it was that it started out at four o'clock in the morning. I didn't mind the four o'clock, but I wanted my breakfast first. Well you got your breakfast after you did about an hour of physical training. And it was all exercise type of stuff. And then after breakfast well then they took us to the various classes. We had a lot of marching training there too, you had to learn . . . you carried a pebble in your right or your left hand so you knew which way to turn. They would say right face and if you had a. . . .a lot of guys would forget that so you would carry a rock in one hand. Kind of interesting. And they did a lot of marching training and that sort of thing and close order drill. And then our training was. . .the weapons we used were the weapons that we were trained on that we were going to be needing in the air corps Forty-five automatic was the pistol, and we had a little training with the Anfield bolt-action rifle. But mostly it was a carbine. M1 carbine and we did some, we did some target practice with it. And I was pretty good at that, because I grew up. . . everybody hunted up here. I grew up with guns anyway so I didn't have any trouble with the shooting thing. And it wasn't, it wasn't a make or break thing anyway. You just learned how to use the weapons. And then we had a hand held machine gun they taught us with. It was not the Tommy gun, it was. . . . we called it the Grease gun''. But they were kind of a fun thing to shoot, and that was fun in the training. And then they had us crawl under machine guns once. They said you guys don't do that in the Air Corps but the infantry does and you need to learn it. So we crawled under these wires and stuff. Theoretically they shot machine gun shells over us. I don't think they honestly did. They had some explosives they blew up to try to scare you a little bit. A lot of marching. We actually went on bivouac for a day or two or three. But mostly it was. . . mostly it was stuff you would find out in the Air Corps truly.

Our basic then was really over after 5 or 6 weeks. Except they gave us another battery of tests before they sent us on, and they had all kinds to make sure you were . . . you were handy. Kind of almost like pinball's. Make sure you were. . . . make sure your nervous system was like it ought to be and that sort of thing. And they shot you with more shots than you shake a stick at. They would have footprints you would follow those foot prints down and then somebody would hit you with a needle. Which I didn't mind but some guys it scared the dickens out of them. There was a guy. . . I can't think of his name exactly. But my name started with a G so I was right behind him and his name started with an F. He was a big husky guy and every time he would see one of those needles he would faint. We razzed him quite a little bit about it. But every time we changed bases then they would go through your medical records, and you would get another shot or two or three. But after basic. . . and that pretty much was it. You did a lot of, you did a lot of physical training. A lot of close order drill and then the weapon thing. That was pretty much basic. Other than a bivouac or two to get you used to in case you had to camp out. Well I'd grown up camping out anyway so that wasn't any problem particularly. One thing interesting. It snowed in Mississippi when we were camping out, and that is very unusual and everybody was cold too let me tell you. We had one blanket a piece. From there they shipped us to first air base by train, about everything was by train.

CP: Did you have any training after your basic training?

BG: Oh my yes it was all training. Cadet Corps was strictly training. I did nothing but train all the way through. The minute we got out we were . . . the minute we got out of basic we were called Aviation students. And they sent us first to. . . oh it was down by San . . . San Angelo, Texas was that air base. Goodfellow Field. And it was a primary air base, and we did not have very . . . it was kind of a fun place to be. We didn't have very good supervision. They had . . . and there was. . . there was a hundred of us in this squadron thing for navigation. And they appointed a bunch of us for student officers, and they didn't really do anything but yell at us a little bit every once and a while. But we were on our own honor to do an hour of physical training every morning and then another hour every afternoon. No, no supervision from any officers particularly. So . . . and they gave us our choice and San Angelo, Texas, is in that length of time was pretty desolate and kind of desert country and the wind blew, and blew sand in your face all the time. Well they gave us two or three choices. One of them is you could go out to the track, run track or do I am not sure what you call it. . . .it was stuff on the hand horses and stuff. Or we could go practice basketball. Well they had a really good gym and it was warm enough down there. I am the only guy that went to. . . my basketball was my thing, so I went to play basketball. And really I was kind of by myself. But I would spend two hours there everyday and then shooting baskets mostly, because that is about all . . . then the. . .the field had a basket ball team and they were practicing there and I got to . . . they only had 8 or 9 guys, and sometimes ten or somebody got hurt. So they come asked me to practice with them. So I got a lot of basketball right there with the field team. It was a lot of enjoyment thing I liked it. And there were two or three pretty good . . . they had an all South East Conference basketball player on that team and a second All American player on that team. And it was fun playing with them. They were kids that got drafted before they . . . they were older of course than I was, because I just got out of high school. But they'd played some college ball and were good ball players and it was fun playing with them.

While we were there then we . . . that was a primary. They gave each of us ten hours of flight training on these. . . they were little Orion low wing plane. We are not supposed to solo, we were just getting ten hours of training, I got to solo and it was because of that basketball deal. The fellow that was running the basketball program was also one of the flight instructors on the flight line. And he said . . . So he got to instructing me on this 10 hours. He said ``Heck Gantz, you're good enough, you can solo this thing, just go ahead and do it.'' So I did. It isn't hard after 10 hours and those were primary planes. And that was just luck. Just because I loafed around that gymnasium, and got to play a little basketball, I got to solo.

CP: So did you serve state side or over seas?

BG: I was always in training here. Never got out of training. From here, from that field they took us to a twin engine field in Arkansas. And it was a training field there and we got 10 hours of flight training there. And from there they sent us to the University of Florida for a semester. And that was part of the navigation program thing. We also got to do a little flying at the University of Florida. And there again it was a ten-hour thing. And at that point's when we became aviation cadets when they sent us to college. That's an interesting thing in itself. Aviation Cadet really is appointed by Congress. Just like they are now really, only it was a. . . .it was an informal thing. They needed so many air crews if you passed . . . went through all this stuff you were automatically appointed by Congress. But on the other hand they couldn't get rid of you unless you really screwed up. And one way or another if you flunked their program why they'd get rid of you. Or if you did something illegally they would get rid of you. But other than that they couldn't get rid of you. And that is the same way today. The Aviation Cadets that go to the Air Force Academy. Its more formal now cause they only take two or three. Man they wanted us, they were trying to man 50,000 planes you know, and they wanted everybody they could get that was passing their tests. I tried when I was a junior in high school they had. . .they had a program for. . . they wanted for one cadet, one to go to West Point. That was just after the war had started three or four months, in the spring of '43, no spring of '42 because I was a junior I guess. Anyway I thought that would be neat. I wouldn't mind going to West Point. So I took the test and just one out of the whole state. I did pretty well on the test. I think I was seventh or eighth. But I forgot about it because I thought well shoot number one will get it. Well they took number thirteen and I was mad, mad. I thought well it ought to have been number one you know. And I never did hear . . . I knew who the guy was at the time. I never did hear what happened to him, but he got to go to West Point and I thought that would have been a fine thing.

KW: Probably Political?

BG: Oh I learned at that point there's politics. See I've got a granddaughter that went through the Air Force Academy and it was the same kind of a deal. Only they only take four or five a year, and you had to be interviewed by a committee and then. . . then you . . . I think Jerry Moran appointed her, and then . . . you have to be appointed by a congressman. But all of us really were appointed by Congressman, but it was a nothing because it was a given. If you got through the tests then they . . . there was a hundred navigators and they didn't all make it, there were a hundred in our class.

CP: What were your living conditions like?

BG: Well mostly pretty good. The cadets were treated pretty well. I never had to . . . the only time I had to pull a KP was the first . . . the third day I was in Biloxi, Mississippi, well they shot us all to KP, and other than that we never had to pull a KP. But the living conditions were mostly good. There was a real distinction between a Cadet and an enlisted man and an Officer. You're kind of right in the middle. We had to eat in our own mess halls, and some of them are really nice, and some of `em, we even were served family style with people that brought the food to us. So there was some nice things and there was some bad things too of course. But all in all living conditions . . . sometimes some bases everybody lived in barracks and just barracks. Nothing wrong with the barracks.

There again is an interesting thing. In one years' time they had all of these living quarters set up in these air bases and army bases for people. How they did it so quick its amazing. But we . . . sometimes we lived in really nice quarters. Be brick quarters and six men to a room some of them four men to a room. Nice places. Some of them there'd be bath facilities that would be one-room bath facilities, another room on the other side. Four of us to a room. So we were treated quite well, but there was bad sides too. I don't know how many exactly but an awful lot of these guys were killed in training, a lot of my friends were. Training was pretty tough. And airplanes were still a little primitive. Now and then there was a crack up.

CP: How was your relationship with your commanding officer?

BG: Well sometimes good and sometimes poor. For example in the Air Crews in that time the navigator was the weather officer on a plane and the bombardier was the. . . was the gunnery officer. So bombardiers and navigators both had to take. . . go through a gunnery school. And the gunnery school was in Tyndall Field, Florida. I think there was another one or two out on the west part, we wound up in the Eastern fine training command. Which I thought was funny from here, because the training command here was a central and we should have been in the San Antonio training command. But I think it was because of this special navigator program we all wound up in the Eastern training command. That's how they happened to send us to the University of Florida to take those extra courses I think. However they sent every . . . every cadet wound up in college somewhere or another. Unless he . . . some of the fellows had been in college before they were in the service. We had two or three guys. We had one cadet was a. . . had two years at Texas A & M. And at that point it was an all male college. And incidentally the University of Florida at that time was not all that big, it was 7 or 8 thousand students, and it was a male college there, there was no . . . it was all male. The girls school was at Tallahassee which is now Florida State which I think was an interesting thing. And they would have dances for us. They would bus the girls down from Tallahassee. And a time or two we bussed up to. . . up there and go to a dance. Got acquainted with some of those girls. So some of that stuff was kind of neat. The other thing Florida is hot as the dickens about all year long. And an interesting thing, the first dance we had they advertised being in the gym. College gym, but we would be cooled by sea breezes and we wondered how they were going to cool it with sea breezes. We were . . . Gainsville, Florida was right in the middle of the state there is no sea breezes there. Well all they had was wash tubs full of ice with fans blowing over them. Had about 15 or 20 of them spread around. And it helped a little bit. A lot of fun things went on and a lot of bad things now and then.

CP: Were you able to stay in contact with home?

BG: Well things were different in those days. You wrote. Incidentally, things are different than they are in the war now. About everything was censored. If you wrote home it was censored. If . . . even the newspapers were censored. They did . . . they weren't allowed to print anything. For instance I didn't know there was a B-29 being made, at that point. The first B-29 I ever saw was when we were taking gunnery school at Tyndall Field, Florida. It's on kind of a peninsula there. And the pilot of that 29 . . . to get in and out you flew over the ocean. It was the Gulf and so he was able to light the plane alright, but the runways was so short the 29's couldn't take back off and it was there when we left. What they ever did with it I don't know. But that's . . . the knowledge thing there they really censored everything. We could write home. They would censor the letters to make sure that . . . I don't really know what we would have told. However they told us that, actually that the Germans had people that over here, that did nothing but read the newspapers, to pick up stuff that might help them in the war efforts. So every newspaper was censored. There wasn't such a thing as television right on the battle field like we see today. I mean this was total war effort. Calling home sometimes, you could call home. I tried a time or two or three it would take hours and hours and hours. Well a cadet or any one enlisted didn't have the time. You don't have those hours. You go through a whole bunch of different lines in those days and we were clear down in the Southeast. So calling home, I think I called home one time. I was able to make the call and I think it was to wish my mother happy birthday or something. I forget what it was now. But the communication. . . we were far enough away. And the letter writing was always censored. And I got lots of letters from home and I got a cake once from home it was all squashed up, but. Communication was a little hard. And I got one furlough from Florida. It took two days traveling coming and two days traveling going back. I just got a week so I got three days at home. I decided after that it wasn't worth it.

CP: Was this the first time you were away from home?

BG: Oh not really no. No I wasn't particularly home sick or scared of the thing really.

CP: Do you remember how you spent your holidays?

BG: I remember Christmas. One time we. . . it was. . .we were. . . it was one of those times we were in those six-man rooms. There were only six . . . no that was a four-man room. There was four of us, and we had. . .one of the. . .oh I think it was a fellow by the name of Daniel Boone. Little bitty kid, but really full of character. And the cadet program's pretty stiff. You. . .you stand a lot of inspections and they are pretty tough on you. Anyway he got that it was Christmas and he got a punch bowl and he put a punch bowl on our table. And we decorated a little bit for Christmas, and we didn't get in too much trouble. I expected some trouble though that sort of thing, but I remember that Christmas. And most . . . most holidays they did a good job. For instance, Thanksgiving we would get roast turkey and that was pretty common. They fed us kind of the traditional meals, didn't uh. . . That particular Christmas they wouldn't allow too many people off to go anywhere much. There were some kids there that were only a couple hundred of miles away from their homes and they didn't get off and go either. But holidays they always fed . . . I remember the Thanksgiving's and the Christmas's more than anything, because they always had a good dinner. Turkey dinner.

CP: Did you have any time for recreation?

BG: Very little, very little. Now if we weren't in training. . . if we were in training I mean it was from daylight till dark. And then. . . then even in the evenings we had classrooms we had to go to for various things. For instance . . . back in those days radio was pretty primitive. Every bomber had a radio operator on the thing and he had all kinds of dials and stuff and there was tubes that would go in and out. But you had to also learn Morse code. And so we had. . . we had to learn that in the evenings, and I would go down to a classroom. And it's a funny thing, you think that you never will learn this, and all of a sudden it just hits ya. And from then on it's no problem. But every air crew . . . every officer on the air crew had to know Morse code. My particular job really was weather. Navigator is really the . . . the weather is so important and the navigation because of the winds that the navigator really is the weather officer. It it looks like. . . in those days not like now, in those days if you had bad weather you didn't fly. Well it was a navigator's responsibility to scratch the flight if the weather was too bad.

CP: Do you remember what your service pay was?

BG: Yeah my service pay was pretty good. That first couple of months we got 50 dollars a month, until we became . . . and then they moved us up from the . . . to aviation student, and then it was seventy-five bucks a month and then once we started flying some I think we got about oh $140 or $150 a month. Which was a lot of money in those days. About the same as a Second Lieutenant got. You see there is a definite difference between a cadet and an officer and an enlisted man. You've all got your . . . and the pay scale was considerably different.

CP: Do you remember where you were when the announcement came for the end of the war?

BG: Yeah I was taking that special advanced navigation courses at Selman Field in Louisiana. I don't remember too much about it, didn't read . . . didn't make . . . that's where they dropped the bomb too. And that we were more interested in the bomb thing than the . . . I tell ya where we were in . . . we were in. . . the most interesting one was when President Roosevelt died. We were . . . and I don't remember the time anymore, but boy they had. . . . we had parades and all kinds of stuff at the death of President Roosevelt. In honor of him, and man we would stood at attention at the parade grounds for hours, and you would wiggle your feet and some of the guys said I wish that guy had lived a while longer.

CP: What was the date of your discharge?

BG: Oh it was the very last of 1945. That was an interesting thing in itself. They flew us all from Louisiana to Lincoln, Nebraska. The air field there and the interesting. . . we didn't travel by plane very often when we changed bases. Usually it was by train, but that time they flew us up there. And the interesting thing was that was the head quarters where they were forming the squadrons for the B-29's and that field was full of B-29's. And that was most interesting to me. Now we had trained on B-29's in Alabama for a while so I was well aware of it at that point. But that's the most I ever saw. There was hundreds of B-29's as I remember. I am sure that there wasn't that many but boy there was a lot. And that is where they gave us our discharge. There again you run through a whole formula of stuff. They go through your medical records and they go through this and that, and they draw your blood a time or two and they give you some more shots and then eventually turn you loose. And at that time . . . and then they gave you transportation home. And at that time there was an inner urban from Lincoln, Nebraska over to Omaha so you rode that inner urban and Omaha is where the train service . . . the main train service was . . . we got on the train there. Yeah I remember that very distinctly. I can't tell you the exact date but it was in December of 1945.

CP: How did you get home after that?

BG: I rode a train to Great Bend. Caught a ride with Dewey Dugan.

KW: Really?

BG: Yeah, Yeah. He said Bob I'm not going straight to Ness I'm going to McCracken first. I said, ``Well I could care less we'll go to McCracken first.'' That's another thing you see, during the war we had. . . . it was total war. We had rationing right off the bat. One of the toughest things you could get was tires and gasoline. Gasoline. . . there was times when we got four gallons a week and some times seven gallons in two or three weeks. Most people anyway out in this country didn't drive too much anyway; they all walked to town if they had a car. Now the country people had a little better gas deal, and they about had all the gas, because we had switched pretty much to tractors with gas and they had to come to town. So the country people had a little extra gas to do these things that the town people didn't have. Nobody complained about that. That was alright. In fact it was interesting. One furlough I got, Lynches were friends of ours and Nathan was a farmer north of town. And he said, `` Bob I got some extra gas if you want to go somewhere I will let you have a few gallons.'' Now I shouldn't tell that, but I think a lot of farmers helped some of the soldiers when they'd come home on furlough. I didn't need the gas because I wasn't going anywhere anyway, but it was an interesting thing. But they put ration into effect . . . and we had a ration board here. Sugar and flour were the two big things, but tires you just couldn't hardly get tires. Tires weren't as good in those days anyway. A really top tire maybe it would be 18-20 thousand miles is the best you could get out of it if you were careful. Most of them were 10-12 thousand mile tires. Tires were real tough and gasoline was the other thing, because they just needed all the fuel we had.

The other interesting thing, if you went to the restaurant and I. . . this really got me. Meat was rationed, so you had a real problem with meat and sometimes what the restaurant would serve would be whatever they could get. And I remember that one furlough I was home we went. . . . my mother and I went to eat at the restaurant and there was guys coming in. Town people, carrying a bottle of ketchup or something, you couldn't get it so they would bring there own ketchup to the restaurant for maybe a hamburger or whatever it was. But rationing was, it was . . . .they was very toughly rationed. Butter was very tough. Now in the service they gave us everything we wanted to eat and then some. But we never went hungry, sometimes we didn't like the food so well, but there was always plenty to eat and it was always pretty good. Fridays was the day I didn't like, sometimes they would have boiled fish and I had a real problem with boiled fish. I loved fried fish but boiled fish is awful.

CP: What did you do after the service?

BG: Well I came home and went to college. The truth of the matter wasn't supposed to be left out. See they were really training us for sack I found out, and I hadn't been home two weeks and here come a Captain and Lieutenant and a Major or a Sergeant and they tried . . . they said we left . . . you guys were not supposed to be left out, because they were gonna use us in this sack thing. Very heavy bombardments is what they called it then. And they said we would like you to come back in, and I said no I am going to college. Actually I was working at the elevator office and my mother was sitting there, I could see the tears running down her cheek or I might of gone back. They said Mr. Gantz we will send you to college. That will be part of it if you'll come back. Well by then you were sick of the whole deal and the war was over and I was glad to be home, so I went. . . I turned around and went . . . and the Service paid for my sophomore year. I think we got our books, and our rooms, and our tuitions and 75 bucks a month to live on. Seventy-five dollars a month then at the end of the war was a good thing. I had no problem going to school. They paid for the whole works. So I got that anyway but I've thought many times it have been kind of nice to take another four or five . . . You'd have had to sign up for five or ten years, but it would have been kind of nice. I wouldn't have minded it. They gave us a lot of training in very heavy bombardment stuff there at the tail end of the war. They had come up with the B-36 and they sent us down. . . they were built at Fort Worth. They sent us all down to Fort Worth to kind of orientate ourselves to the B-36 and that was before the bomb was dropped. That's an interesting plane they never, it never turned out to be successful, but it was a six engine plane and a big thing you can't believe how big it was.

CP: Did your war time experience contribute to your career choice?

BG: In what way?

CP: Anyway. I mean did . . .?

BG: Well I can tell you this. It did contribute to. . . in that. . .the study thing. See we were expected, we were expected to do . . . we were in training almost the whole time. We'd maybe get a weekend off now and then or something, but we were about always in training, unless we were moving from one base to another. Then we might get three or four days. But the schooling there was so much tougher than college it was unbelievable. You had to learn it, and you had to learn it right now, and you trained your self to do it, and that was the best thing. When I went to school I laughed . . . shoot, college was so simple after that it was no comparison. Now my first example of college was the University of Florida and at that point we hadn't gone through all that much schooling yet. So I had . . . it was more tough there I think than any time after that. But you had to learn this stuff or you would get washed out. Well nobody wanted to get washed out, a few guys did. But the training was really strict and good for you truly. And you learned to be, you learned to be really conscientious and learn what you gotta learn and learn it fast. So I would say yeah that did me a lot of good when I went on to college. In fact college was a joke in my mind after that. It was not near as tough as that Air Corps training. And I think it's still so. I used to go out when my granddaughter was out at the Air Force academy and it was . . . they're really tough on them there too it was tough stuff.

KW: Did those hours that you had in training in the service did any of those apply to when you went to college?

BG: Yeah, Oh yeah I got credit for almost all of it.

KW: That's what I was thinking.

BG: Yeah. We got about a semester of. . . a semester of college. Yeah that all transferred. They had . . . we had astronomy and geography because of course navigators needed that sort of thing. The only thing I don't really know that we needed that we. . . we had college physics and it was good to take it there but I don't know what we needed it for in navigation particularly. But we had a number of courses that were all college courses that were pertaining to what we were gonna be doing.

CP: Did you form any close friendships that you still stay in contact with?

BG: Yeah one or two.

CP: Have you attended any military reunions?

BG: No. Really not. We had two or three of them. The last one was at Selman Field, Louisiana but I didn't go. That was just a few years back, and I thought shoot I wouldn't know anyone there anyway.

CP: Are you or were you a member of the veterans service organization?

BG: Yeah I am a Veterans of Foreign Wars, and American Legion, both.

CP: Do you still have any photographs, items, or souvenirs you brought home?

BG: Oh I still got a few, not many. The interesting thing my dad was in World War I, and he was in the Air Corps and he was being trained to be an observer. And back in those days the planes really. . . the major thing was to get em up there and see what the enemy was doing. So he had . . . I have got all of his insignia and stuff yet, and I had mine somewhere I don't know where it is anymore.

CP: Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

BG: Not really. I think the total war thing was an interesting thing. I tell you what. We are in war in Iraq right now, but this is not total war. I mean everybody, everybody was involved one way or another and awful lot of people from here went to. . .went to Wichita or somewhere to work in a factory. And it just was flat total war really everybody had. . . didn't necessarily weren't in the service but you were doing a job somewhere. Even the farm thing. They watched that pretty close to make sure we had the food raised that we needed. The other things that was interesting they had scrap drives in those days. Well they needed all kinds of scrap iron and this part of the country had changed from the horse economy to the tractor thing during the late 20's and the 30's. So there was all kinds of farm machinery laying around. And they would gather all of that stuff up and get everybody to give whatever they had in the scrap iron thing and then they shipped it off to. . . most of it from here went to Kansas City I think, because there was a smelter deal down there. But that sort of thing was going on all of the time. People don't realize today what that war was then.

CP: Well thank you. It was good.

BG: Oh you're welcome.

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