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Interview on experiences in World War II

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LP: This is a Flint Hills Veterans Project interview with Mr

This is a Flint Hills Veterans Project interview with Mr. Clarence Leo Hohne who resides at 33 South Sylvan Street, Emporia, Kansas. The interviewer is Loren Pennington, Emeritus Professor of History at Emporia State University. Today's date is March 24, 2006 and the interview is taking place at Mr. Hohne's home.

This is Tape 1, Side A.

Loren Pennington: Mr. Hohne, I should say at the beginning we had never met until we set up this interview, but we will never the less proceed in an informal fashion. And I'd like you to begin with a sketch of your life before you entered the armed forces: when and where you were born, who your parents were and what they did for a living, and where you went to school.

Clarence Hohne: I was born in Olpe, Kansas, June 18, 1924, about a mile and a half west of Olpe. I went to Neosho Rapids High School, graduated in 1942 and went into the service shortly afterwards.

LP: Tell me about your parents.

CH: My father was a German interpreter in World War I and he was in Germany at the time.

LP: In the American Army?

CH: In the American Army. And I always called him a ``buck'' sergeant; I guess I'm not familiar with the Army ratings.

LP: You would say that as a Navy man. What was your father's name?

CH: Theodore F.

LP: And your mother?

CH: Elizabeth Katherine; her maiden name was Lutz. They were lifetime farmers.

LP: Had they both been born in this country?

CH: Yes; their parents were immigrants but they were born here.

LP: I take it [they were] immigrants from Germany?

CH: Yes.

LP: And you said that they were in what occupation?

CH: Farmers.

LP: And you lived on a farm?

CH: Until I went into the service.

LP: You grew up as a farmhand.

CH: Yes, that's right.

LP: Now, obviously you grew up in the days of the depression; how did you and your family fare in that depression?

CH: Well, we had a lot of biscuits and gravy for breakfast and about the same thing every day. We had our own meat, own vegetables, did a lot of canning. We had it better than a lot of people.

LP: You never went hungry?

CH: No. We never went hungry. We might have to eat the same thing every day but we always had plenty of it.

LP: Obviously while you were growing up, and especially when you were in your teens, the world was kind of going to pot. Adolph Hitler was on the rise in Germany, Japan was on the rise in the Far East. Did you and your family give much attention to these international affairs?

CH: Yes. We had one of those battery radios with a thousand-hour battery and we listened to the news. There was a priest, Father John Coughlin, or something like that who was a very controversial manvery, very controversial.

LP: Father John Coughlin in Detroit, Michigan.

CH: And we had to listen to that, of course. So we were always up on the news.

LP: Newspapers and this sort of thing?

CH: Not so much newspapers as radio.

LP: Mostly radio?

CH: Seven o'clock in the morning to listen to the news. And at twelve o'clock and in the evenings.

LP: Now you mentioned Father Coughlin. He was a very controversial person.

CH: Very, very.

LP: Did you approve of him or disapprove of him?

CH: I kind of disapproved because I thought he made our religion look kind of controversial too.

LP: I take it that you yourself are a Catholic and he was too?

CH: Oh, definitely.

LP: This was the day of the New Deal, Franklin Roosevelt and that sort of thing. What was the opinion of your family of President Roosevelt and the New Deal?

CH: My dad simply despised Hoover and he thought Franklin D. was a godsend. I said he farmed all his life; during the war he was a carpenter. I think it was at Fort Riley building barracks. [That was] probably in 1941 or 1942. When I got out of service that was all ended and he was working for the Emporia Coffee Company here in Emporia.

LP: Now you said you went in service almost immediately after you got out of high school.

CH: July 23, 1942.

LP: I take it you were a volunteer?

CH: I was a volunteer. I didn't want the Army; I wanted the Navy.

LP: You were like so many of the volunteers of that day; you volunteered not to escape the draft but in order to get what you wanted.

CH: That's right, and I got a letter in the mail that said I was A-1 or something ready to be drafted so I just enlisted.

LP: Now by this time you enlisted in 1942America was already in the war. Can you think back to Pearl Harbor Day?

CH: Definitely, I remember Pearl Harbor very well because we had just got back from church in Hartford, Kansas. We turned on the twelve o'clock news and it was all over. They had bombed Pearl Harbor.

LP: How did you personally feel about that?

CH: I really thought, being naïve and all that, I thought we'd probably whip them in about two or three months. Everything was just bamboo and they would burn whole cities down in a matter of weeks and the war would be over; but it didn't turn out that way.

LP: In fact the Japanese had a pretty big run of victories when the war started.

CH: Yes, I would say that the first eighteen months they went wilduntil they hit Guadalcanal and that's when we kind of went the other way.

LP: Let's go on to talk about your service time. Where did you go for boot camp?

CH: Farragut, Idaho.

LP: What type of training did you have there?

CH: It was just basic training, the marching and calisthenics; and they built you up and fed you good and made monkeys out of you for the first six weeks.

LP: How did you get along in basic?

CH: I got along very wellno problems.

LP: Did you enjoy basic training?

CH: I did. I enjoyed all the while I was in.

LP: How did you take the discipline?

CH: We had a little Italian, Astrachia, and he was a football coach at some high school in Chicago. They made him Chief Petty Officer and he was our instructor. [He was] very strict, but man, he would look you in the eye and really melt you down. But I got along well with him; I didn't have any problem with him.

LP: How was the food?

CH: The food was good.

LP: Do you think the training was adequate for what you were going to do?

CH: I really thought so. The food was good for what you were going to do. It wasn't steak and eggs, but it was well balanced.

LP: Where did you go after you left Farragut, Idaho?

CH: I want to talk a little bit about Farragut, Idaho. I was kind of an athlete when I went in. I was a mile runner and we would have other camps in and we would run a mile. And I took first in the whole camp. I could just run forever and never get tired. But I can't do it any more.

LP: Few of us can. Where did you go after you left Farragut, Idaho?

CH: Then I had a two week leave and I went back to Farragut and they shipped us to Solomons, Maryland. It's on Chesapeake Bay.

LP: For what purpose?

CH: Right there is where I got into underwater demolition. They had their own pool. It was a heated pool of about 70 degrees, rather cold when you got in there. I was in underwater demolition for aboutI don't remember, but it was until after we took Guam.

LP: [1944].

CH: Then we were just regular. We called ourselves amphibious. That's when I was assigned to a ship.

LP: You were in the Navy's amphibious forces?

CH: Yes.

LP: And in underwater demolition?

CH: We called it UDT then.

LP: Did you actually engage in combat and underwater demolition?

CH: On Guam only. The name of the town was Agaña, I believe. I was on that island probably seven days before the invasion.

LP: Now underwater demolition is kind of a dangerous job.

CH: I didn't think so but I guess it was.

LP: You actually went in before the troops landed.

CH: Yes, yes.

LP: You went in to clear the water?

CH: We went in to take care of any mines; we went in to see the depth of the water. That was my job to see to the depth of the water where we could put a ship in and have flags that showed that this water was ten feet deep or five feet deep. We had to know all these things because certain ships drew more water than that.

LP: Okay. You were really in the preliminaries of the invasion. It is not that you are actually landing marines or soldiers but you are the prep for doing that.

CH: We went in on a boat that had mufflers underwater and you couldn't run the motors fast; you went in slowit sounded like blub, blub, blub. It sounded like that so the Japanese couldn't hear it. They would dump us off and we would swim maybe a hundred or two hundred yards and do our work.

LP: When did you do your work, daytime or nighttime?

CH: Nighttime.

LP: Nighttime so as not to draw fire?

CH: That's right.

LP: Were you ever fired on?

CH: Some of them were, but I never was. I was out in the water maybe fifty feet to a hundred yards from shore.

LP: From shore?

CH: From shore. Some that were on the beach were fired on. They were looking for land mines.

LP: So you completed this training in Maryland. Then where did you go?

CH: We went to Mare Island, California.

LP: What did you do there?

CH: We just stayed there a couple of weeks and then went overseas. We were in a flotilla and it took us to Guadalcanal for a practice landing.

LP: Had the fighting ended at Guadalcanal?

CH: There were still a few of them back in the bushes.

LP: The Americans had essentially taken the island.

CH: The Army was there and the Marines had already pulled out. The 1st Marine Division had pulled out and the Army had gone on. Essentially [the Japanese] were gone and the ones that were there probably were starved out.

LP: Were you at Ironbottom Sound?

CH: Yes I was. Right across Ironbottom Sound on Savo Island. I forgot to tell you that we went from Mare Island to Hawaii.

LP: Did you spend any time in Hawaii?

CH: About a month I suppose.

LP: How did you like it there?

CH: I liked it there. The Arizona had guns sticking out of the water, the Nevada was under, and I believe the other one was the Maryland, all battleships.

LP: You went from the [Hawaii] to Guadalcanal?

CH: That's right.

LP: That was further training?

CH: Yes, we had a practice landing there.

LP: So how long were you on Guadalcanal?

CH: Oh, just a day or so. Everyone just ran up on the beach and when they got on the beach they went back to our ships. We just had a practice landing.

LP: From Guadalcanal?

CH: Then we went up and we were standby for the invasion of Saipan and they didn't need us. That's why we just stayed around there and then when they invaded Guam we were number one in the line there. We were assigned to the 3rd Marine Division.

LP: So you were in the Marianas Campaign which resulted in the major Battle of the Philippine Sea. You've already described this type of demolition work. Your idea was to clear the waters [off the landing beaches].

CH: That's right and then from there we went to the Palau Islands.

LP: And to the Island of Peleliu.

CH: That's Peleliu, and there was another little island that was about half a mile to a mile away from that, Angaur, and we took it also.

LP: Let's talk about that a moment because it was at Peleliu that the Japanese changed tactics and went into a [defense in depth] type of operation.

CH: We didn't have to worry on the beach; they let us come inthere were no banzai charges there.

LP: Did you get any impression of the Peleliu Campaign?

CH: The only thing I know is we went in there to take the wounded off and take them out to the hospital ship. It was a bloody mess.

LP: Later on I think Admiral Halsey himself said it was probably a mistake to ever go in there.

CH: It was a mistake that we took that.

LP: It was too costly for what it accomplished.

CH: We thought [it was for aiding] General MacArthur's landing on Leyte Island. We lost a lot of Marines [on Peleliu]; the 1st Marine Division took that. We were assigned to the 1st Marine Division.

LP: Where did you go after this?

CH: This Angaur Island, that's where we took a shell in the engine room, a five inch shell, and it happened to be a dud. And it went into an oil cooler and I was probably about six feet from there and I got burned in the backthe least amount of burn, just blisters. So I didn't get any Purple Heart or anything, but I was just lucky it was just a dud because a lot of the [Japanese] ammunition was stored in caves and probably it deteriorated over time and it just didn't go off.

LP: I should have asked earlier; what sort of ship were you on?

CH: At that time I was on a LCT, landing craft tank.

LP: That's a pretty big landing craft.

CH: Oh yes, we could hold a couple hundred men or five Sherman tanks.

LP: Were you armed?

CH: Yes. We had two .20 millimeters and I think two .50 caliber machine guns. I think there was a crew of fifteen, two officers and fifteen men.

LP: Were you assigned to that kind of a ship often?

CH: I was there quite a while, quite a while.

LP: And you did your underwater demolition from that?

CH: No. [I was out of underwater demolition.] The reason was I could not do my job sufficiently because you had a time element to do your job and be back to the ship. I couldn't get all my work done and I went to my officer and he said, ``Maybe we better get you out of the underwater demolition and get you into something else.'' That's the way we went.

LP: Now at Guam you were in underwater demolition?

CH: That's right.

LP: How about Peleliu?

CH: Peleliu? I was on a 1290 Landing Craft Tank.

LP: You had gotten out of demolition by that time?

CH: Yes. I was a Motor Machinist Mate 3rd Class. That's the same as a buck sergeant in the Army.

LP: After Peleliu Islands where did you go?

CH: After that we took a little island named Ulithi. There were no Japanese on the island, and we killed the chief's daughter by bombarding it. I think that's the only casualty we had. [Ulithi] was a whole group of islands in a horseshoe shape. There was only one entrance and that's all so we could bring the whole Third Fleet in there and they were in one location and no submarines. We just had one place for a submarine and they couldn't come in. I was at Ulithi until the war was over.

LP: Then this small island of Ulithi becomes a main American naval base.

CH: They called it Squadron 10 and no one knew what it was, but the Japanese knew we were there. They had sent two bombers in there and one of them hit the Carrier Randolph and killed about thirty-some men and another hit the island of Mogmog; it had Hamilton propellers on it and Goodyear tires.

LP: For Japanese planes?

CH: Yes.

LP: What was the island again?

CH: Mogmog was the island, and we used it for recreation. That was the beer island. You go there and they give you three beers. They opened all three. It was canned beer and the temperature was about 110 degrees so you couldn't carry them home with you.

LP: All this is connected with the Leyte landing is it not?

CH: Well, it's before the Leyte landing.

LP: It's a preliminary to the Leyte landing?

CH: Yes. They would go and bomb Leyte and all of those islands and then come back to Ulithi for refueling and ammunition supply and provisions.

LP: I believe some of the ships involved in the naval battle of Leyte were based on Ulithi. One of the carriers was back there for repair.

CH: I wouldn't be a bit surprised. I've got pictures with about four or five in there. I do know that the whole Third Fleet was in there. That was the Navy.

LP: You were connected with the Third Fleet as opposed to the Fifth Fleet at this time?

CH: Well, they changed.

LP: They twisted around later.

CH: It depended; if they were Third Fleet, [Adm. William] Halsey had it. If it was Fifth, I think [Adm. Thomas] Kincaid had it. They would switch those two around. Sometimes they called it Task Force 38.

LP: Or Task Force 58.

CH: 58.2 and 58.4, so you didn't know who was in command.

LP: Did you have an opinion of America's naval commanders like Admiral Halsey?

CH: We always admired him; in fact we liked them all.

LP: In general the men supported the leaders?

CH: That's right; I've seen Halsey come aboard the island of Mogmog and he'd go to the officers club. I saw him a number of times. One time he was on his motor launch; he was on the New Jersey. That was his home state until Truman got in to be President and then they had to put him on the Missouri.

LP: Usually Halsey is known for his command of aircraft carriers.

CH: That's right. He was also a pilot. Then after the war was over we went to Yap and disarmed them.

LP: Did what?

CH: Disarmed the Japanese on Yap. We put them on barges and took them out to sea and dumped them over the side.

LP: The arms I presume, not the Japanese.

CH: Not the Japanese, just the arms.

LP: Let me back up just a minute. What were you doing along in July and August of '45 when the atomic bomb went down?

CH: Before that we would be in the Ulithi harbor. We would go to a ship, it would be a food ship, and we would go to the ship and take off mutton, beef, everything. Say the Essex needed itwe would pull along side the Essex and they would take all that stuff off our ship and put it in their stores.

LP: The Essex was an aircraft carrier.

CH: And then the next day we might be on the Yorktown and the next day on a different ship, a battleship or a cruiser.

LP: That's the new Yorktown. The old Yorktown went down at the Battle of Midway.

CH: Every time one of them went down they made a new one.

LP: It's the new Yorktown you are talking about.

CH: I know it was the second for sure.

LP: So you are basically working in supplies.

CH: That's right.

LP: Do you remember hearing about the dropping of the atomic bomb?

CH: Sure. I sure do.

LP: What did you think at the time?

CH: We were sure glad; because we knew it was the end, and we were slated for the first go on Japan.

LP: You were ready for the invasion of Kyushu in November?

CH: We knew that we were going to be in the initial invasion of it, probably Honshu or one of them.

LP: Actually Kyushu was going to be the target.

CH: Yes.

LP: But you were in the Navy! You weren't going to land.

CH: We were going to take Marines in.

LP: You were going to take Marines in and you were part of the Navy.

CH: Oh, sure.

LP: I thought that maybe you had in the back of your mind what happened to the fleet off Okinawa. You were not in the Okinawa Campaign?

CH: No, I wasn't in that. Do you mean suicide or kamakazi?

LP: Kamakazi.

CH: Only two planes hit Ulithi and they're the only kamakazis we saw.

LP: So they hadn't bothered you that much yet?

CH: Too far away.

LP: Of course all the Allied navies took punishment at Okinawa.

CH: They sure did.

LP: And so it was probably considerable punishmentyou didn't have to be on land to get killed.

CH: No, you didn't.

LP: Much of the naval personnel that died in the war died at Okinawa.

CH: They surely did. And that was the Army at Okinawa; there were no Marines in that campaign.

LP: I take it that you approved of Truman's use of the bomb?

CH: I surely did. It probably saved a lot of necks and a lot of American blood.

LP: Do you still feel the same way today?

CH: Yes. I know my father-in-law thought that was wrong but I think that it was right. It would have been a bloody mess and we would have been fighting the women and children. They were dedicated people.

LP: While you were serving in the Navy what was the highest rating you received?

CH: Motor Machinist Mate 3rd Class. It's a little different than the seamens' classes. I had four advancements. I was Fireman 3rd, Fireman 2nd, Fireman 1st and then Motor Machinist Mate 3/C. I don't know what it was compared to other places.

LP: Well I suspect you were the equivalent of a sergeant in the Army.

CH: Yes, or maybe one step above because there are five grades.

LP: When I was in the Army seven was the limit, but I think we had one that you didn't have at that time. Did you receive any rewards or citations while you were in the service?

CH: Our whole flotilla got recognition, probably the lowest recognition you'd get for a flotilla, and that was for Peleliu. I think we went in on the third wave with five Sherman tanks and maybe one hundred fifty or two hundred Marines. We didn't take any shell fire there at all.

LP: I presume you did get some campaign ribbons.

CH: Oh yes, for the Marianas and the Palaus.

LP: Okay. Had you accumulated by the time the war ended enough points to get out?

CH: More than enough points to get out, but since I was single they kind of left me to go over to the island of Yap and clean that up.

LP: How was that job? What did you think of it? That's interesting because you were actually taking Japanese prisoners and disarming them and that kind of thing.

CH: At the time I thought it was all right. I've got a sword down in the basement and the man's pictures and his family and even some money, Japanese money. I don't know if you'd call it stealing or not but I've got it. He didn't have anything to say about it.

LP: What sort of attitude did the Japanese prisoners have towards the Americans?

CH: They were very polite after the war was over.

LP: It was not the attitude that you would have expected had they actually been fighting?

CH: They bowed all the time. Every time you'd say something they would bow.

LP: There was no resistance on their part? Did you have any difficulties?

CH: No, not at all. In fact they helped us.

LP: Helped you in what way?

CH: By bringing their rifles and their shells and even some old trucks, everything they had caused trouble with. We put it on those barges and took it out to sea.

LP: Were there any holdouts from the surrender?

CH: Not that I know of.

LP: Not as they did on some of the islands like Guam; a few of them held out until after the war was over.

CH: Quite a while after the war was over.

LP: So you found them easy to get along with after the war was over?

CH: Very easy to get along with.

LP: Did you like them?

CH: Not particularly. And I know there were a lot of people who wouldn't buy anything Japanese like automobiles, but I've changed my mind now. Ten or fifteen years ago I wouldn't buy a Honda or a Suzuki, or athere's another one that made airplanes.

LP: Mitsubishi.

CH: We shot those suckers down and we don't need them around here.

LP: When do you come home?

CH: I came home on February 7, 1946.

LP: And how did you get home?

CH: We flew. I was again at Ulithi; we flew in a seaplane to Guam. From Guam we flew to San Francisco, and from San Francisco we got on a train, and I was discharged in St. Louis, Missouri

This is Tape 1, Side B.

LP: You were talking about coming home and I asked you, ``What did you do when you got home?'' By the way where was home at that time?

CH: 502 Carter Street here in Emporia. I got in about three o'clock in the morning from St. Louis and the cab let me off at the wrong house and of course I didn't know what house it was.

LP: This was the house your parents had moved to?

CH: Yes. They bought way out east of town. I got out at the wrong house and I knocked on the door and somebody hollered, ``Who is it?'' I said, ``It's your son.'' She said. ``I don't have a son.'' So I asked where Theodore Hohne lived and she didn't know, but she let me use the telephone and I called my parents. I told them where I was and they said to come to 502 Carter Street. Then I was home for good.

LP: They knew you were coming?

CH: No. They knew I was enroute but they didn't know what time. And then I drew 52-20is that correct?

LP: Yes, that's correct, twenty dollars a week for fifty-two weeks.

CH: And then on April 16th I went to work for Panhandle Eastern.

LP: Everybody went to work for Panhandle Eastern when they got back.

CH: I spent thirty-nine years there.

LP: You were one of only two or three who stayed there; a lot of them went to work there kind of temporarily. Seems like Panhandle Eastern must have been hiring at this time.

CH: Yes. Everybody there was old because all the young ones had gone into the service. The old ones retired and we went from forty-eight hours to forty hours a week and therefore they needed more men. You worked around the clock. You worked so many four to midnight, so many midnight to eight, and so many eight to four o'clock in the afternoon.

LP: Rotating shifts?

CH: Rotating shifts and I did that for a number of years. Then I got on maintenance for a number of years and then I got in the office for the last ten or fifteen years of my time there.

LP: Somewhere along the way you must have accumulated a family. Tell me about it.

CH: I met my wife shortly after I got out of the service. She was very, very young; in fact she was fifteen. And I don't know why her mother let her go out with a twenty-two year old ex-Navy man, but she did and we went together pretty steadily. Her father developed cancer and then her mother developed cancer, so she was the only breadwinner. I ended up being twenty-eight when I got married to her and she was twenty-two. We raised three children. The oldest boy is probably fifty-two now and he's in Santa Fe [New Mexico]. I have a daughter in Kansas City and she is representative forI can't think of the company's name right nowand my youngest son is a foreman for Missouri Public Service. They all have children; I have seven grandchildren and three great-grand children.

LP: One of the things we certainly like to ask here is this: You were in the service for a considerable period of time. . . .

CH: Three years and seven months, something like that.

LP: And so you were in there during the war, you had that war experience. How do you think that war experience affects the way you think about the world? Let me put it this way. Obviously America, as a result of World War II, became increasingly involved in the world.

CH: That's right.

LP: How do you think your service and your living through that time affects the way you think about America's role in the world?

CH: Well, I think America is trying to police too many other countries. Trying to police them, I'll admit we had to get rid of Saddam, but I don't know we are doing any good over there. It seems like we have Marines or somebody in about every country that might cause an uprising and I don't know if we are supposed to be doing that or not.

LP: You think America is overly involved in the world?

CH: I think that sometimes we are too involved. I don't know if it's the people that make the ammunition, or the people, or the money situation, or what causes it. But I think we get too involved in other people's business.

LP: How do you feel about the Iraq War, the one going on at this moment?

CH: Those Iraqis, they just change their opinion about every time the sun comes up. And I don't think you can trust them with anything. I think we ought to be out of there. We have lost what, 2,000-some dead?

LP: About twenty-four hundred men plus another 12,000 wounded.

CH: And I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel.

LP: Do you think it was mistake to go in there in the first place?

CH: I think we should have gotten rid of Saddam and I think after that we should have pulled out. Then if they got another one in there we could have gone in and gotten him. But I don't think it's going to work over therethe elections and all that. They've been fighting since way before Christ was born.

LP: You mentioned the 52-20, which of course is part of a very famous piece of legislation, the GI Bill of Rights.

CH: Oh yes.

LP: Did you take advantage of any of the other things in the GI Bill?

CH: No, I didn't. I stayed in the reserve in the Navy.

LP: Aahh!

CH: I stayed in the reserve and [there was] a guy by the name of LeRoy [Deloy Heath], an insurance man here in town. He was the commanding officer. And I got my orders to go, and this was in the Korean War, to report to San Diego on a certain date and I don't recall when. I told my supervisor that I got called and I had to go to San Diego in the Navy. He said, ``We'll just get another man in your job in your place and when you come back you'll have your job.'' I said, ``Fine.'' In about two weeks I got another letter and it said, ``This supersedes all other orders; stay home.''

LP: So you came close to being called up for the Korean War?

CH: After that when my time ran out I didn't reenlist.

LP: You were in the reserves six or seven years?

CH: I think it was probably six years, either four or six.

LP: It was probably six going up to the Korean War in 1950.

CH: Yes.

LP: Then you stayed out of the reserves after that? You say you didn't take any other advantages of the GI Bill. You didn't use it to go to school? Did you buy a house?

CH: Yes, I did. I bought a house; my first house I bought for seven thousand dollars.

LP: On a GI loan?

CH: Yes, on a GI loan. I had an uncle who was president of Citizens National Bank and they would allow them twelve a year. One of the friends of yours, Fred Markowitz, got one of them and I got another one, so there were ten people that got them besides us. I think the payments were $52.50 a month, and that took care of the insurance and the taxes.

LP: Do you think the GI Bill was a good thing for the country?

CH: I really think that for what we put out we got our money's worth out of it. I think it was a good thing. And the schooling.

LP: Even though you didn't take advantage of it?

CH: My mother was kind of perturbed with me; she wanted me to go. And I had some other relation who was a college graduate from Emporia State University. They thought I ought to go, but I didn't want to sit down and study any more.

LP: The train seems to be giving us a little bother today but we'll go ahead anyway. Have you taken any active role in veterans organizations?

CH: I have been active in both of them. I'm an over sixty-one year member of the American Legion, and when the VFW got their house in order, I was in the colorguard since about 1960. I just turned my uniform in Monday or Tuesday of this week because I have a little health problem. But I was in the colorguard for a number of years. I went to a lot of funerals and I marched in Manhattan, Topeka, and Salina in the sixties and seventiesVeterans Day Parades and stuff like that.

LP: When you say the VFW got things in order do you mean the local VFW got things in order or the whole VFW got things in order?

CH: The Emporia VFW; it was kind of a bad situation here for a while.

LP: Are you involved in any other veterans organizations?

CH: No, just those two.

LP: Let's see if there is anything else we need to talk about. We've covered things in a pretty succinct fashion. I guess there is one other question, and you hinted at it earlier. How do you feel about your period of military service?

CH: I'm rather proud of it. If somebody wants to know if I was in the service, yes, I was in the


LP: I guess the question I would ask is would you do it again under the same circumstances?

CH: If I was eighteen or nineteen years old, I would probably do the same thing again.

LP: Did you have any good times in the service?

CH: I had a lot of waiting. Good times? I don't know what you'd call good times. At Christmas 1942 I was in Times Square and I had a date and it was such a mess that we got separated and I ended up with another woman, I don't know what all. I never did like New York City anyway. It was so crowded and the people not friendly.

LP: Was this while you were down in Maryland?

CH: Yes, Solomons, Maryland. Solomons is on Chesapeake Bay. I'm not a New Yorker by any means.

LP: We think of the war as a continual bang, bang, and this sort of thing. As a matter of fact a large part of it involves sitting around.

CH: That's right.

LP: It's not only dangerous and occasionally fun, but it's also a big bore.

CH: That's right. You hurry up and wait. Get you up at 6:00 because something is going to happen at 6:30 and it's 9:00 before anything gets off the ground.

LP: Well we have covered quite a bit of stuff in a short time. Is there anything else you would like to see on this tape that I haven't asked you about that you would like to talk about?

CH: No. Most of the crew that I was with, and I have pictures of them, are dead now; they died of natural causes. None of them were wounded in service aboard the ship although we did take one hit. We shot down two airplanes at Guam.

LP: Any other incidents of your military career that bear mentioning here?

CH: No; when we went across the International Date Line you're a pollywog until you get there and then you are a shellback. In wartime we couldn't stop and have all those preliminaries, I guess you call it sporting. They did give us a slip of paper showing that we were shellbacks and I still have my driver's license that I can drive a jeep.

LP: If there's nothing else I'll close this off and I thank you very much for your interview.

CH: You are more than welcome.

[Interview ends Side B, count 143.]

Item Description

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