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Interview on experiences in World War II

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Virgel George   



NAME: Virgel George

DATE: October 17, 2005

PLACE: Cimarron, KS

INTERVIEWER: Joyce Suellentrop

Veterans Oral History Project for Gray County


Virgel George was born and raised in the Ingalls, Kansas, area and had never been out of the state of Kansas when he was drafted into the Army. He had just graduated from high school and was sent to Camp Maxie in Texas for basic training and on to Wyoming for further training as a truck driver. He spent one and a half years in the service. Much of his service time was served after the war in Japan as a truck driver moving troops. On returning home and discharge he worked on a farm, returning to the Ingalls and Cimarron area to raise his family.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Induction and training in the Army and his deployment in Japan and his discharge from service. Some discussion of his family background.


SOUND RECORDINGS: 2- 60 min tapes

LENGTH OF INTERVIEW: 1 hr, 20 min.


TRANSCRIPT: 26 pages


George, Virgel

Interview Date: 10/17/2002

Interviewer: Joyce Sullentrop (JS)

Interviewee: Virgel George (VG)

Tape 1 of 2

Side A

JS - How old were you when the war started in 1939? What do you remember about what your parents, friends or you thought about the starting of the war?

VG - I was twelve years old then.

JS - Did you listen to the news on the radio with your parents?

VG - Yes, we listened to the radio. On that one Sunday we were listening.

JS - Pearl Harbor. Were you at home and listening to it or did a neighbor come and tell you?

VG - No, we were at home.

JS - Do you remember what you thought or what your parents said?

VG I can't really remember what I thought, but I remember my parents getting shook up about it because my dad had come over from Russia. I think he had just got to be a citizen about a year before the war.

JS - So you never gave it much thought about how long it would last?

VG - I never gave it much thought. It didn't sound good to me.

JS - You were more interested in having fun?

VG - Or listening to Amos and Andy.

JS - So later you graduated from high school?

VG - I got out in May of '44.

JS - And did you have to register for the draft?

VG - Yes.

JS - What was that process like?

VG - We had to go up to the courthouse and register. They had a board that decided whether you went or stayed at home or whatever you did.

JS - Did you think at the time that you would be drafted?

VG - Yeah, I sure did.

JS - Were there other young men in the community that had gone off to war?

VG - Yes, and there was a boy that I graduated with that went the same time I did. I don't know where he went, but I went up to Kansas City and to Camp Maxie, Texas, for basic.

JS - So you went to Kansas City to be inducted?

VG - Inducted, and we got some of our clothing issued then. We were shipped by train down to Camp Maxie, Texas.

JS - When you were inducted did they tell you what training you would get?

VG - No.

JS - When you got to Texas?

VG - I was in the infantry near Paris, Texas. I can't remember how long we were in Fort Maxie, but they sent us to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Fort Warren to quartermaster corps. I was there till we went overseas. That's what we did, we hauled troops.

JS - That's what a quartermaster does?

VG - Well, we were in the trucking part of it. They help hospitals and everything else, but we were in the trucking part of it.

JS - What was your basic training like?

VG - Quite a bit of the arms, like your rifle, pistol and machine gun and they gave you shots. Those guys had been around long enough that they knew how to get you. It was kind of sandy down there in Camp Maxie so when it rained, it didn't bother you too much.

JS - What would be a typical day in basic training?

VG - They would take you to class for awhile and show a movie. Then, they would take you out in the field, and some days they would take you out in the field and we had markers and had to walk so many miles and everything. They varied. It wasn't the same thing or for a while it wasn't the same thing anyway, but walking on that blacktop your shins would get to hurting. They had your deal about sex and everything elseyou know, to stay away and everything. We had those kind of classes and they would show us films and stuff.

JS - How long were you in basic training?

VG - I don't know if it was six or eight weeks and then we got shipped up to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Then we went to Fort Carson, Colorado, and learned to drive with blackout lights and stuff like that.

JS - Could you describe blackout lights?

VG - They were little bitty lights and they had just a little slit in them on the front of the truck.

JS - Like the headlights, but only had a slit of light?

VG - There was a deal on the side that showed just a little light and they were called blackout lights.

JS - How did they train you for that?

VG -Well they kept you in school like they do up there in Wyoming. We were up there three or four weeks before they sent us down to Fort Carson.

JS - Did you have a choice about going to quartermaster school?

VG - No, they just called your name out and there were a whole bunch of us from Camp Maxie.

JS - Were there any other young men from Kansas in training with you?

VG - No, I didn't run across anybody from Kansas. I think I got overseas before I ran across a Kansas boy and he was from Pierceville, right west here, and I had played athletics against him when I was in high school. You got real regular to where you would wake up about the same time every morning.

JS - This was the first time you had been away from home?

VG - Right. I had never been out of the state. First, I went up to Kansas City and they gave me a physical and I came back home and you could take care of things until they called you up.

JS - So, you went to Kansas City by yourself?

VG - No, there was more than that right here, but there was just the one from my locality. The others were from Cimarron and other places.

JS - What did your parents think about you being drafted?

VG - They didn't say too much, but I guess they thought that's what I should do, anyway. I don't remember how long we were in Kansas City later, but we got our uniforms and that is when they shipped us to Camp Maxie. They asked you what you did in civilian life. Were you a store clerk or something like that in civilian life? Course, I had been around on the farm most of my life

JS - When you got to basic training, was it a shock?

VG - Everything was brand new to me.

JS - What were some of your reactions to it being brand new?

VG - It took a while to get used to it, but it didn't take long because those staff sergeants shook you in line.

JS - What was the food like?

VG - Real good. We had real good food there. When we were overseas we had real good food, too.

JS - When you were sent up to Wyoming, did you take a train?

VG - Yeah, a train.

JS - What kind of training was it you received up there?

VG - To be a truck driver, how to take care of your truck and drain the oil and everything to keep it up.

JS - Course, you already knew some of that?

VG - Some of it since I had worked on the farm. My dad lived out there on the farm and worked for somebody. A lot of that I had picked up myself before I got in the Army.

JS - Do you think that is why they selected you to go in the quartermasters?

VG - I think so--your background and stuff like that. Those guys checked you pretty close up there, too. Sometimes I thought they had the white gloves on because they could yell about something you hadn't noticed. Time at first passed as you made new friends and met new people.

JS - Did some people from Texas go with you to Wyoming?

VG - Yeah, anybody they wanted to send to quartermasters.

JS - Were there some who went to Wyoming, to Colorado, then overseas with you?

VG - When I went overseas, I didn't know too many of them. I made new friends after I got overseas. A lot of the guys were from different places then.

JS - When did you find out that you were going overseas?

VG - In April, I think it was. It says four of '46 somewhere on there.

JS - What was your reaction when you found that you were going to Japan?

VG - I got a little homesick after we got out on the water. I had always hoped I would go to Germany because I thought there would be more to see over there.

JS - By the time you went the war in Germany was ending?

VG - By the time I went over, Japan and everything was ended. I went in March of '45 and August of '45 Japan surrendered.

JS - When did you go to Japan?

VG - In April of '46.

JS - You spent about seven months in Japan?

VG -Yeah, six months and sixteen days.

JS - Did you understand what you were going to be doing when you got to Japan? Did they tell you?

VG - They told us we were going to be in a trucking company over there with the quartermaster corps. When we first got over there we stayed in tents for a while. They didn't have any buildings ready to go yet because they bombed them out. When we first got a barracks it was a horse stable they had fixed up.

JS - Where was that, near a town?

VG - Zama. Zama, Japan, and we hauled troops to Yokohama and Tokyo and everyplace. We hauled guys to the boats that came in. If they had enough time in, they got their orders to go home. Sometimes we drove all night long filling up a president boat that was pretty good size.

JS - What kind of boat?

VG - It was a president boat and had President Wilson or something like that for a name. They were pretty first class boats. They took home a lot of men to fill them up. Some of them were getting a chance to fly, but they started having trouble with the airplanes. They fell out of the skies and some of the guys that were going to go home on airplanes got cancelled out of it. Then again, if they landed someplace and there was somebody there who had more rank than you did, you set there on the island and he got to go.

JS - So, it was safer to take the ship?

VG - Yeah, right at the time when I left.

JS - Did you have to go places to gather these soldiers or did they come in to the base where you were?

VG - They came in to the base where we were. We would load them up and haul them to the ship.

JS - These would have been the soldiers that had been fighting there?

VG - Fighting the war and had enough time in over there and been in since the 40s or something and they were turning them loose.

JS - What did you think the first time you saw the ocean?

VG - Well, I got seasick over the rascal. I didn't vomit coming back, but going over, I had just as soon die. That's an awful feeling. Course, I wasn't the only one either. I think what got me was the smell of diesel fuel. I really hadn't smelled diesel fuel very much and boy, it was strong on the boat that we were on. We were on a maritime and it was a small one, then.

JS - About how many soldiers were on it?

VG - There was two thousand and some that went over at the same time. They assigned you guard duty or something like that, but when I got sick, I didn't have to take any of that. (Both chuckle)

JS - Did you have times when you weren't sick and had guard duty or free time?

VG - We went on deck and played cards and stuff.

JS - What kind of cards did you play?

VG - Oh, pitch and a lot of guys played poker and stuff like that and there were dice games and everything going on.

JS - How many days was the voyage over?

VG - fourteen, and it was fourteen coming back, same deal.

JS - Did you run into any bad weather?

VG - Yeah, we ran into one typhoon. I think, it was pretty close down there by the equator line and waves got big enough it would raise one end of that ship up and shake everything loose. There was a big amount of water running and we had a leak by the time we hit Japan. When we pulled into Yokohama they made us stay all on one side because the hole on the other side was letting water in. I suppose putting the weight over there raised it up enough to keep the water out of it. We had a little river running down through where we slept. Every morning we would get up and check if it was higher or lower like people do a flood.

JS - Were you scared?

VG - No, not so much. After we made it through the storm, I wasn't worried any, you know. I don't know what I would have done. I couldn't swim a lick.

JS - Growing up in Kansas you didn't have enough water to learn to swim in. As you moved from basic training to Wyoming to get into trucks and to go over, the friends that you made, did you keep in contact with any of the men?

VG - No, I didn't know their addresses. Now, I heard, after I was in Japan, that Jim Kortz that I went to Kansas City with went to the Philippines or someplace out in there.

JS - You didn't really encounter anybody that you knew?

VG - Like I say, the first guy I met was from Pierceville and I think I was the first one he had seen. You know, that you knew. There might have been other Kansas boys, but you didn't know where they were from or anything. They might have been in the same company or something.

JS - Now, how would you find out that somebody was from Kansas? Would you recognize the name?

VG - Everybody told everybody where they were from if they were in your company. When I was over in Japan, I was with boys from Washington, from Nevada and they were scattered over everywhere.

JS - With the truck, there was a driver and were there other people?

VG - Just the driver.

JS - You were in a convoy?

VG - Yeah, when we hauled troops, we were in a convoy. Matter of fact, first time out I tore down their signal marks so I was going to get lost from the other trucks. After you are around it is just like living here. You know where to go. The streets were so narrow in Tokyo that if we took our trucks down we had to put our duals on the sidewalk.

JS - How many would the truck hold?

VG - We hauled 24 or more, depending on the size of your truck. Now, I had a cab-over and I think I could haul twenty-four if I remember right.

JS - You said a cab-over?

VG - Yes, COE is what they called it in the Army. It was like these cab-over trucks and everything is setting right up front there. When I first got over there, I had a forward engine like a regular truck. Later on we got some COEs and stuff.

JS - You were a driver, but in your company, there were mechanics and what have you?

VG - Yeah, they had mechanics to fix your trucks and cooks, etc.

JS - How many trucks would be in a convoy?

VG - Depended on how many troops you were hauling. Usually, pretty near everybody had to go, especially when we were loading the ships and taking troops up there. I can't remember how many trucks we had in there.

JS - So, you would just pick up the soldiers and take them to the ships?

VG - Turn around and come right back and go back again.

JS - That was day after day?

VG - Day after day and if we weren't hauling them to the ships, we were taking out replacements to replace the guys that were going home. They were sending new ones like me, recruits, over there. When we unloaded there at Zama at the depot they had a big deal going playing ``Baby Won't You Please Come Home?'' When we left, they played ``Sentimental Journey'' (chuckle) they had the songs going continually.

JS - When you were over there you were able to write home and tell your parents?

VG -Yeah.

JS - And did you receive mail on a regular basis?

VG - Not right away, but after a little time the mail was coming right over.

JS - What kind of things would you write home about?

VG - I tried to tell the folks what it looked like around over there. There wasn't much there, really. Of course, there were little towns around. Once in a while we would stop and watch those big old guys, you know.

JS - Sumo wrestlers?

VG -Yes, sometimes at night, they would have one of those around at one of those little towns and we would watch them.

JS - Were there Japanese people that worked on the base?

VG - Yeah, on our base, they did the cleaning up and everything. There were several.

JS - But as far as getting out and seeing much of Japan?

VG - Tokyo and Yokohama were about the only places. I was hoping to get to go down where they dropped the bomb, but I didn't. I didn't get to make it there.

JS - What was your impression of the Japanese culture?

VG - You know they looked kind of crude, but they were getting things done. Seemed like they didn't waste anythingeven human stuff, they put on their fields.

JS - To fertilize?

VG - Yeah, to fertilize. They didn't waste anything. I never saw any tractors running much. Mostly, people were just out there and when they plant rice, they plant it in the water.

JS - Now, the food that you had was Army food, not Japanese food?

VG - Yes, matter of fact, when we went in to Tokyo sometimes we'd get a pass and we would go to a hotel that had American food. Now, I like Chinese food.

JS - , but you didn't want anything to do with it then?

VG - No.

JS - Would you work seven days a week, driving the truck?

VG - No, usually we had a weekend off, but once in a while, when we were loading those troops, we had to work all week.

JS - What did you do on weekends?

VG - We stayed around the base unless we could get a pass and they would give you a truck to go to town in or a jeep or something. We would go in to Yokohama or Tokyo. Tokyo and Yokohama were about the most places that we went.

JS - And you would just go in and stay and walk around the streets?

VG - Yeah, and see the buildings and stuff. Like I say, they had those wrestlers around in Tokyo.

JS - Were there certain things they told you not to dolike go into bars and drink?

VG - Yes, we were not to go into certain places. I guess that is why we kind of headed toward the hotels that had American stuff. You never knew what was going to happen if you started walking down some of those streets out there.

JS - So, you were always together in a group?

VG - There was four orfive of us that were going off together all the time.

JS - Did you keep in touch with those men when you got home?

VG - Little while after I got home, but not now.

JS - Was religion a part of being in the Army?

VG - When we got overseas, I don't remember any of us guys going to church.

JS - Was there a chaplain?

VG - I don't know. I can't remember one because guys around me, we didn't ever ask for a chaplain. I suppose there was. There surely was one around. I can't remember a church or anything over there.

JS - When you joined the Army were you able to take any personal items along with you to basic training, like a camera, for instance?

VG - Well, I don't remember. I didn't own a camera. I took my shaving stuff and things for personal hygiene.

JS - So, you didn't have a camera when you were in Japan?

VG - I bought one after I got over there. I have got several pictures from over in Japan and stuff.

JS - Do you still have some?

VG - After so many years, I can't remember what they are.

JS - Did you take pictures of the city streets and the people?

VG - Yeah, and the ships and people out walking and stuff like that; otherwise, there wasn't too much to take, really, but they had some good cameras over there. I don't know what I did with mine.

JS - Was it hard to get film?

VG - No, it wasn't hard to get them developed or anything.

JS - What did you spend your money on?

VG - Mostly beer and cigarettes. You could trade cigarettes to people who would make you a picture of that mountain over there, Mt. Fuji, and they would print you a picture of a good looking gal on top and put it on the back of your field jacket.

JS - The Army permitted that?

VG - Yeah.

JS - Did you do that?

VG -Yeah.

JS - You still have the jacket?

VG - Nope, I think about the only thing I have left from the Army is an Eisenhower jacket. One of them little short ones, but it's too little for me now.

JS - What else do you remember about your experience in Japan?

VG - Most of the same things, take care of your truck and haul the troops. We had some USO shows come over.

JS - Did it seem like time went slowly?

VG - No, because when you got with a bunch of guys, time goes pretty fast. I just about learned to swim over there, too, about the time they got ready to send me home. We had a swimming pool there on the base.

JS - What was the base? Was it one that the Americans built?

VG - No, it was Japanese. I think it was a Cavalry deal. Like I say, our first deal was a horse stable. They had lead on top instead of shingles and they had holes blown in it, you know. We slept in tents for quite a while and you had to exchange your American money for yen and it took a fist full to buy something. You could get more with a carton of cigarettes.

JS - Is that what they called the black market?

VG - Well, we usually would just trade them for stuff.

Interviewer: Joyce Sullentrop (JS)

Interviewee: Virgil George (VG)

Tape 1 of 2

Side B

VG - One boy and I were pretty close and he worked in the Post Office before he got in there and I couldn't understand what he was doing there. A guy from Rifle, Colorado, was in there and a fellow from Washington. I can't remember the town. We had one out of New York. They were scattered all over.

JS - What did you learn from meeting all the different kinds of young men?

VG - That people lived different in different places than we did where I was from. In Cheyenne there was a fellow that was a Jew. I don't know if he had problems or what, but all he did was take care of our barracks. He had it cleaner than heck. You could eat off the floor. They finally let him go home, but I never did find out what was the matter with him.

JS - Were there African-Americans that were serving with you or did they segregate them?

VG - Yes, they had a trucking company, too. It wasn't intermingled yet. They worked and hauled troops just like we did.

JS - When you were drafted were you in for a certain amount of time? Did you know how long you would be in?

VG - What is it they say? For the duration is what I took it as, until the war was over with or they didn't need you anymore and that is just about what it was.

JS - You were in about a year and a half. Is that right?

VG - Yes, a year and a half. A lot of those guys came out with hash marks clear up to their elbows.

.JS - Hash marks?

VG - They had a mark for every three years or something and a lot of them had been in since way back in the `30s.

JS - So, there were some veterans?

VG - Like I say, the marks started about their cuff and went right up past their elbows.

JS - Now, did you have to take care of your own uniforms, as far as laundry, etc?

VG - No.

JS - There were people on the base?

VG - When we first got in the Army, you just put your serial number on it and they would pick it up and bring it back to us.

JS - Were you known by your serial number rather than your name?

VG - No, by your name, and they could yell your name out pretty loud.

JS - Did you ever get in trouble?

VG - Oh yeah, that is why I was still a private when I got out.

JS - What kind of trouble did you get in?

VG - Just odd things, you know, and it depended on if the sergeant liked you. It was a pretty good life for some guys.

JS - Was it hard to follow orders all the time?

VG - Not so bad until we got down there to Camp Maxie. We had to get out and start crawling under the barbed wire and stuff. Then it was pretty tough. Those guys that were teaching us were those guys that had been over there for quite a while. Sometimes they were late coming in, too. They had probably seen all they wanted to see, too.

JS - Was the training you received sufficient when you got over there to do your job?

VG -Yeah, as far as our trucks went. We knew all about those things. As far as basics, well, a lot of us liked the machine gun, but a lot of guys didn't make marksmanship like I did with the machine gun. A rifle was different. Those guys from Missouri could shoot those things.

JS - Had you hunted at all, before you went?

VG - Hardly at all. I hadn't handled a gun very much.

JS - When you were in Japan, were you armed?

VG No, we didn't carry arms. When we were at Camp Carson they had trucks that had machine guns on them. They had these radio controlled airplanes and we were supposed to see if we could knock them down. Well, it would get hot and the bullets would fall out and a lot of guys couldn't do that. I hardly saw any of those kinds of trucks over in Japan, but of course, the war was over so they might have done away with them. They weren't using them anymore. I think at one time they probably had a driver and a gunner on them.

JS - Those things you learned in the Army, you never used again?

VG - No. Oh, the truck driving and I hunted quite a bit after I got home. Mainly after I got married, I started hunting.

JS - Any other incident in your basic or going to Japan that you remember?

VG - Same old sixes and sevens; there wasn't anything special.

JS - Were you bored some of the time?

VG - There was always something to do. They kept you busy from eight to five; you were their men. Same way up there learning trucking, you were kept pretty busy all the time.

JS - That would keep you out of trouble?

VG - I guess.

JS - How did you find out that you were going to come home?

VG - They sent out a list of guys that were going to leave.

JS - You knew then, that you were going to be discharged?

VG -That you were coming home. We came into California and we were out there about a week before we got discharged.

JS - When you are discharged, you are on your own to get on home?

VG - You could take whatever they gave you for mileage and use it anyway you wanted.

JS - Could you keep your clothes?

VG - They gave us one pair of suntans, but by the time they turned us loose, they were standing up by themselves. The suntans were for the summer, you know. We got some ODs and a pair of suntans.

JS - What is an OD?

VG - Olive drabs, like the Eisenhower coat. Yeah, those clothes got pretty dirty before we left there.

JS - Where were you, at a base in California?

VG - Yeah, Camp Beale.

JS - And it just took them that long to process?

VG - I guess so, there were so many coming in there. They had closed some of the places down and were just using some of them.

JS - How much money a month did you make when you were in the Army?

VG - I think it was $50 a month and they took a war bond out and for your laundry and stuff. I think I had about $28 or $30 when they were done and that didn't last long.

JS - You had to buy your cigarettes and things?

VG - Yeah, of course you'd go to the PX and things were cheaper there.

JS - Did most of the soldiers smoke?

VG - Most everybody I knew, did. There were a few who were exceptions. Then when we got on the boat they really got cheap after we got three miles out there, just fifty cents a carton.

JS - When you were driving the truck, did the trucks run on gas or diesel?

VG - Gas.

JS - So, the base had tanks to fill up the trucks?

VG -They had gas pumps. Of course, the trucks had pretty good sized gas tanks; I think they were fifty gallon or something like that. We could always make it on a tank full of gas and come back and fuel up.

JS - Were you responsible for filling them up?

VG - No, they had a fellow for that and changing the oil and things to keep your motor clean.

JS - So you had to clean it?

VG - Yes, we had to keep the back end clean. Like I said, we were busy when we weren't driving, too. When they came for inspection and said there was dirt here and there, now and then, I always thought they had a pair of white gloves on.

JS - When you had to take men to the ships, how many miles was that?

VG - Yokohama was twelve or thirteen miles from where we were.

JS - So you could make two trips a day?

VG - Oh yes, we could make several trips at night. It didn't take long to get up there and back.

JS - Did you ever wonder where all those soldiers were coming from?

VG - I was beginning to wonder how that island held that many. There were quite a few over there and there were some left over there when I left over there.

JS - Did you form any opinions about the Japanese or their culture? They had been our enemy and now we were occupying the country.

VG - No, the Japanese were real polite. They really never did anything you could get mad at them about, you know. They cleaned the camp and things.

JS - On here it says that you had a Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, WW2 Victory Medal and Army of Occupation Medal.

VG - That is probably right.

JS - Did you receive those in a ceremony?

VG - No, the company commander just handed them out. You'd just fall out in the morning and they'd call out your name and give them. There was no big ceremony about it.

JS - When you came on home what were you thinking and feeling?

VG - It was a big relief to be headed home, especially since that was the first time I had ever been away from home and to wind up in Japan. I had never been out of the state of Kansas.

JS - Did you ever think of enlisting instead of being drafted?

VG - No, I wanted to finish school if I could. I think Jim (Kortz) was drafted, too. Of course he and his wife got married before he went in.

JS - So, did most young men wait for the draft rather than enlisting?

VG - Everybody that I talked to did. It was getting close to the end of it so there weren't too many that enlisted first. I would have gone anyway.

JS - When you came home what were you able to do that you couldn't do in the Army?

VG - Well, I didn't work for a while.

JS - Your parents let you not work?

VG - Yes, then I bought me a car and I had to go to work.

JS - What kind of car?

VG - '42 Chevy. I bought it from relation of mine at Garden City, a cousin of mine so I had to go to work then.

JS - What kind of work?

VG - I worked on the farm. I worked pretty steady on that farm. Must have been '47 to '51, I worked at that same place.

JS - The Korean War came along in '52 and there was no calling soldiers back up or anything?

VG - There were some that were in the reserves. They had signed up for reserves like the Navy Reserves and stuff. I think some of them got called up to Korea. After they got out of the service they stayed in the reserves.

JS - But you didn't do that?

VG - No.

JS - You had had enough of the Army?

VG - Yeah. Matter of fact, another fellow and I from Ingalls joined the Naval Reserve, but thank goodness, we never got called up.

JS - Why did you join the Navy Reserve if you were in the Army?

VG - Because we were plumb out of the Army and we were starting new. I think we had to sign up for two years or something like that.

JS - What did you do in those two years?

VG - Nothing, I don't remember even going to a meeting.

JS - You decided it was the thing to do?

VG - Yeah, we thought it would be a lot of fun and when the Korean War started, we both started sweating. We thought we were going to have to go back in again.

JS - How do you think that experience of basic training and then going to Japan changed you?

VG - I don't think it changed me much, but after a year and a half in there you kind of got to where you could think for yourself because we had come in right out of high school. We had no experience otherwise, maybe just working on the farm or something and working in grocery stores and stuff. It taught you to respect guys that were in command. That helped.

JS - Did it increase your feeling of patriotism?

VG - Yeah, it felt good that you were able to do your part.

JS - What about reflections on the Army or war since then?

VG - Well, those guys that are over in Iraq taking that stuff make you feel good that you still have people that will do that for you. I don't understand these people having parades against the Army or president.

JS - Did you know anybody who wasn't in favor of the war?

VG - Then they could be medic or something or a CO and they didn't have to carry a gun.

JS Conscientious Objector. During the war you were in high school. Do you remember things to help the war effort on the home front?

VG - We were buying war bonds. We would bring some money every week and put it toward a war bond. That was the main thing because we were setting out here in the middle of no place.

JS - What about rationing?

VG - Tires, sugar and gasoline, too.

JS - Coffee, but you probably weren't drinking coffee?

VG - Coffee too, but they gave us gas stamps and I guess if you ruined a tire and needed it real bad you could get one.

JS - I think there were scrap metal drives where people would give their scrap metal to the effort?

VG - I guess you are right there, too.

JS - There was a base at Garden City?

VG - That was an Air Corp base and one at Dodge that was an Air Corp.

JS - The one north of Ingalls, what was that?

VG - That was just a practice landing field for the one out of Garden City.

JS - Were you aware of those bases?

VG -Yes, and the airplane wrecks there for a while, but that one at Ingalls was just a practice field for the guys to land on and take off and stuff like that. I think they mainly used it for that because they didn't have that much room up there at Garden City. They went out there in the middle of a section and laid down some blacktop. They had mostly `25s from Dodge and they had one crash out here that went across the road and cut quite a gully across the road.

JS - Where was the airbase in Dodge?

VG - You know where the Santa Fe deals are now; that road right on the east side of them. You go north right there. I think there's a feed lot out there now, Stanley Feed Lot or something like that.

JS - Where was it in Garden City?

VG - It was out east of Garden there where you come around the curve. I don't know how far, but it was nine or ten miles out there.

JS - Did you get to Garden or Dodge much when you were growing up?

VG - No.

JS - You went to school at Ingalls?

VG - Grade school and high school both.

JS - Did you have Ms Temple as a teacher?

VG - I sure did.

JS - What year did you graduate?

VG - '44, she was a good old gal, Ms Temple was. She was our typing teacher, anyway for me, she was.

JS - Who were some of your other teachers?

VG - Professor Cleary was one. P. D.Trenkle was one. He kept discipline, anyway. In his later years he taught over here at Cimarron. Later, when I was a junior and senior, they were taking the young ones to the Army.

JS - Did you know any veterans from World War One in the community?

VG - It just wasn't talked about or something. I don't remember if there was even a veteran left over around there at Ingalls from World War One.

JS - Any of your family, because your father came from Russia? There wouldn't have been that tradition here in the United States, maybe there would have been.

VG - Yeah.

JS - Before you were drafted had you thought about becoming a soldier?

VG - Before I graduated from school, I thought about it a lot because I knew they were going to draft me so I went up there and took the physical and I think it was about six weeks when they called me up.

JS - Did you go with a group of people from here to take the physical?

VG - Yes, we got on the train about six o'clock in the evening and went to Kansas City.

JS - You just went as a group; there wasn't somebody from the Army that came out and got you?

VG - No, they put somebody in the group in charge. He had the papers and everything.

JS - Was that your first train ride?

VG - Yeah.

JS - And what did you think of Kansas City?

VG - That was a big town, to me.

JS - Did they put you up in a hotel?

VG - No, they had barracks there.

JS - What did the physical consist of?

VG - They took X-rays of you. They checked for hemorrhoids and your heart. It was a real good physical when I was up there.

JS - Do you know of anyone who was denied because they had something wrong with them?

VG - No, that was 4-F. If you couldn't pass the physical it was 4-F. A lot of things are coming back now that I had forgot about.

JS - I hope some more things come back because that is the purpose of these tapes.

Do you think every young person, I guess we have to include women now, should have a stint in the Army or should it be like it is now, volunteer?

VG - Well, I think if young people go to college, now, my boy went to college and he stayed in the National Guard for twenty years. He joined ROTC when he was in college and when he got out he was in the National Guard. He was in charge of Larned and Pratt's. He worked for a bank and then he went down to Pratt. He was in charge of Pratt's and then he moved up to Larned to a bank and he was in charge of that Guard and they flew him places. He flew to Kentucky once. He was usually in artillery and they were taking him places to show him new things that they had in artillery.

JS - Is he still in it?

VG - No, he got his twenty years in so he got out about two years ago.

JS - Good thing. Do you think young women should be part of the combat Army?

VG - I don't know. I hadn't thought about that.

JS - Did you have any contact with the women that served in World War Two, like the WACS or the WAVES or any of those?

VG - I never ran across any of them, no.

JS - Were you sick at all, when you were in the Army?

VG - I had bad tonsils and I got tonsillitis, once, and I thought they were going to send me over there where the bomb went off and put me back in the infantry or something. They left me there at those quarters in the truck deal. That was the only time I was sick.

Interviewer: Joyce Sullentrop (JS)

Interviewee: Virgil George (VG)

Tape 2 of 2

Side A

VG - Now, I get my prescriptions through the VA.

JS - Is that at Fort Dodge?

VG - Yeah, and sometimes the VA doesn't have the prescription, but I get everything except one from the VA.

JS - Is there anything else that you can think of that future generations would want to know about your experience? When you were drafted, did you have a choice of Army, Navy or Air Force or did they just tell you?

VG - They just put us there. They did me, anyway. Most of the guys that got in the Air Force kind of volunteered for that.

JS - But, you just were told what to do?

VG - Unless you enlisted before you were drafted. Then you could take the Navy or something.

JS - Was there any pressure on you to enlist?

VG - No, I never heard from them till they sent me a letter to go up and take the physical and then when they wanted me to go back to Kansas City again.

JS - When the war was on, did you go to the movies and watch the news that they had?

VG - Yes.

JS - You said you didn't know a lot about the war and that you had rather have gone to Europe?

VG - I just thought you could see more and the war was over with. I thought it would be nice country to see and then I got sent to Japan.

JS - Do you remember where you were when the war was over in Europe?

VG - Yeah, I was out there in Camp Carson.

JS - How did you find out?

VG - Somebody was shouting it around that it was all over with.

JS - Where were you when the bomb was dropped in Japan in August, `45?

VG - We were still up at Fort Warren.

JS - Do you remember somebody telling you about that?

VG - Yeah, somebody told us about that one. Tim, my boy, got to go to Germany and fill in for an outfit over there to give them R&R.

JS - When you got home, did you have a desire to travel to see other places?

VG - No, I'd had enough traveling for a while.

JS - Definitely, not on a ship?

VG - I thought maybe I was going to get sick again when I was coming home, but I didn't.

JS - How long did it take you to get back home?

VG - Fourteen days.

JS - That was pretty fast.

VG - Yeah.

JS - What kind of ship was that?

VG - It was a maritime. It was small.

JS - About the same as going over there?

VG - The weather was pretty good. We got a certificate when we crossed the equator down there.

JS - When you landed in California was there celebration that you were home?

VG - No, because we loaded off the boat and went right to the base. We sat around there a week and didn't get a pass or anything because they were going to turn you loose. We just sat around the base there.

JS - Looking back, was there something that you liked best about your Army experience or something that you didn't like?

VG - I liked seeing the country because I had never been out of the state and there wasn't anything in the Army that was real bad to me. I enjoyed my stay in there, especially after the war was over. When I went in March of '45, I got to thinking if I would be able to keep my head down enough.

JS - Would you have been in a situation where you would have heard war stories from other soldiers?

VG - Oh yeah, like one of our staff sergeants. He had a metal plate in his head from being over there. He was a tough one and they usually had to go to jail and get him out so he could come and tell us just what to do. They had stories, but those guys are all gone. That one guy they shot was a tail gunner on a B29 or something.

JS - What do you think someone learns from being in war?

VG - It teaches you that you can take orders and stuff like that.

JS - Can you think of anything else?

VG - No. I told Wiley that nothing big happened to me.

JS - That's what needs to be captured. The big stories are always written down somewhere. We want to get the common ordinary experience. OK, you say your father came over from Russia?

VG - It was after World War One, anyway. Must have been in the `20s when he and his brother came over.

JS - Did they come to the Ingalls area?

VG - No, they came to east of Great Bend. Dad's brother came out here and then dad and mom got married and moved out here.

JS - Was she also from Russia?

VG - No. Her folks are from right here in the US.

JS - Do you have relatives in Russia or do you know?

VG - I wouldn't know because all my family are gone now, but the reason they left over there was to get away from the Army over there.

JS - What did your dad think when you were drafted?

VG - Like I said, I think he was thinking it was the thing for me to do. I was glad to do it.

JS - Do you think it was just expected that every young guy would go into the Army?

VG - At the time the war was on, yes.

JS - They served their country. Did the training you received in the Army help you after you came home?

VG - I got along real well with my employer because after being in the Army you knew who was in charge. (Both laugh.)

JS - That's a good thing to know in life.

VG - You didn't talk back to them very much.

JS - Did you ever talk back to anyone in the Army?

VG - No. Oh, with a sergeant if he was just fooling around.

JS - So you learned that fairly quickly.

VG - Yeah.

Interviewer: Joyce Sullentrop (JS)

Interviewee: Virgel George (VG)

Tape 2 of 2


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