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Interview on experiences in World War II

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Ellis County Historical Society


Ellis County Historical Society

Veterans of WWII Oral History Project


Interview with Warren C. Kraus*

April 7, 2006


Conducted by Judy Walker**

*Hereafter referred to KRAUS

**Hereafter referred to as WALKER

WALKER: I'm Judy Walker with the Ellis County Historical Society, this is April 5th, 2006 and I'm here with Mr. Warren Kraus. Mr. Kraus if you'd give us your full name?

KRAUS: Warren Carl Kraus.

WALKER: And your address?

KRAUS: 1506 Maple Ellis, Kansas 67637.

WALKER: Okay, and where were you born?

KRAUS: I was born here at the, I was the first one born in a hospital of our family at the old Hadley hospital, which was the Hays Protestant Hospital at that time.

WALKER: And what's your birthday?

KRAUS: February 19, 1927.

WALKER: And who were your parents?

KRAUS: Carl W. and I'm sorry, Carl W. and Sadie Kraus. She was born in a sod house over at McCracken, southwest of McCracken. Great Granddad, my Great-Granddad had a dug out south of hays about four miles. That's where he started in 1876.

WALKER: And what was his name?

KRAUS: John Henry Kraus. He helped build the old Kreuger building over here. Brought a team of horses to town as I understand, probably ran a lift or something to help hoist stuff up. But he homesteaded, came in here, walked in from off the Santa Fe Railroad. Started out for Ellinwood and all the homesteads, all the good ones were take out there and he heard that Ellis county still had some so he came up here. So that's how he came.

WALKER: One of our founding families?

KRAUS: Right, right.

WALKER: Where did you go to school?

KRAUS: I went to Hays High School, well originally Dad, we milked cows at home and supplied milk to the local dairy so we had to come to town everyday to bring the fresh milk in. As a result we didn't go to country school, we went to Washington School down here when it was first built and then Hays High School and then after the war I went in on the GI bill and went to Fort Hays State and got a degree in Botany under Doc Albertson. Any rate that's all history, but it was in '45 then when I enlisted in the Navy.

WALKER: You enlisted in the Navy?

KRAUS: Right across the street in the old Brunswick Hotel.

WALKER: Tell us what that was like.

KRAUS: Well it was, I had read articles in magazines about the Navy Electronic Radio Tech Program that they had and I was always fascinated by radio but I'd never had any formal training other than high school physics class. Harold Elder was our Physics teacher up there and he was one of my favorites. And Marie Brown was an algebra teacher and I credit those two people for me being able to get into that. I was, I'd learned just a couple of years ago that I tested out the highest score on that entrance test that this recruiter from Salina, anybody in his district had made, of all of Northwest Kansas, but the problem was he let me, he let me take all the time I wanted on the test and when you got in there you were limited on time. If you didn't have at least one or two years of college you were, you were two strikes against you to start with, but just like when I was in the second level of school in California, it was a, my roommate in this old Del Monte hotel, it was a resort hotel there out of Monterey along the bay, one fella had nine years of, he was older, had nine years of radio repair work in Los Angeles. Another member of the room, there were four of us in the room, he was a second year student at UCLA as I remember and another fella was a principal of a grade school out of Long Beach so you know he had a, probably had a master's degree. Now Vivian /Mekkle/, he had completed the program and he was a college graduate at the time, I'm sure he, he was old enough, he probably was. We were the only two from this area that I know of that got into that course. We went to pre-radio in Chicago, this was after Boot Camp. Out of Chicago I had to repeat that because my math score wasn't quite high enough but it was high enough that I was qualified to repeat. Actually they, about twenty, at least twenty percent of then never made it through pre-radio. That was the whole purpose of that was to screen them, and get those who could make it. And there were fellas, there was a fella who engineered the installation of a radio station in Spokane, Washington flunked out because he couldn't cut the math. But in like the second week of pre-radio we were up to quadratic equations and the second month we were into calculus and I hadn't had any calculus and all, all the tests were, were timed, you were timed and any rate when time was up you turned it in whether you were done or not. But any rate it was a great experience there in Chicago. We were in this old high school building out on the West side of Chicago and they had schools that pre-radio, at Michigan City, Indiana and I think they had one at Great Lakes, but at the time I went through, I think /Hugh Manly/ High School in Chicago was the main pre-radio school, it was a screening school. Then they had primary school, they had then, one at Gulfport, Mississippi, they had one at Great Lakes, they had one at Del Monte California, which was an old hotel out there. And then from there you went on to, that was a three month program, and that's where we were when the war ended and passed the word down that the school was going to close the first of September. I was ready to get out, I wanted to see some of the world while I still had a chance. So we just, there's practically all of us were high school kids that left there, and it was a, it was a two year college level electronic engineering course in eleven months is what it was and any rate you were supposed to be able to service and repair and rebuild any piece of electronic gear that the Navy had after taking that course and of course radar came on in 1939, '40 and they didn't have anybody to service it much less repair it. But that was why it was considered a crash program, get through, there were some companies, the normal boot camp period was around sixteen weeks, I heard of one company went through in three weeks because they had an opening for a class and when they had an opening they wanted the guys there now. They'd sent them home on boot leave and then they'd come back to outgoing units and then they'd go on to school. But there in Chicago we'd ride the elevator railway to our school and back and forth. It was a real learning experience. From there it was a five day trip on a troop train from Chicago to Monterey.

WALKER: What was that like?

KRAUS: That was tiresome but I could tell you what I could sleep on that train. I've loved trains always before and ever since, but when we left Chicago I slept like a baby and woke up in Iowa, coming across the river into Iowa, and then the next night we were coming across into Kansas on the Rock Island, I slept all the way till Goodland and then it took all day to get to Denver where we picked up a big draft of army personnel in Denver and so we waited all afternoon at Limon, Colorado on the siding in the middle of July and we got into Denver then when they let us get in there and I was hoping we'd get through the mountains in daylight `cause there were a lot of the guys from the east had never been, Chicago was a far west as far as they were concerned back in those days. And any rate we came into Denver about four of five o'clock in the afternoon and there was this big draft of Army personnel that they hooked on, I don't know how many carloads they had. See when we were on there we weren't permitted to even get out of the car. We could open the windows or a door if they had, it was just like a box car, a small boxcar with sliding doors and had a bar across there and they said, ''You don't sit down with your feet hanging out that door.'' That was just too comfortable to be able to do that. I learned out why coming through Iowa. You know these bridges they had railing about this high on either side of the rails, this guy's knees were about that far from that rail as we crossed on of those bridges and if he had caught his leg on there he'd've been gone. But any rate we didn't need to be warned after that. But we got in to Oakland in the evening. The next morning went down to Del Monte, which is just outside of Monterey, right along Monterey Bay. It was a beautiful place. That's where I learned to swim. I couldn't swim worth shucks until then and I had seen training films where you had to abandon ship in flaming fuel oil out on the water and they showed these training films of what you had to do to survive it and I couldn't even swim much less under water which you had to. But there we had to be able to swim about I think it was about four or five different strokes and swim around this big pool. It was a beautiful pool, heated saltwater pool. Bob Hope and Ginger Rodgers had been guests of that hotel, and that's the stature of that hotel, but any rate, I could, I got about a third of the way to halfway around and the Petty Officer in Charge, they were called Spec A, Specialists Athletic. He says, ``You go on down to the kiddy pool.'' And so there was about a dozen of us were down there and this fellow he was a Specialist Athletic but we saw these training films where you had to, these guys has to swim through culverts underwater, go up this way, be a dead end, had to come back, you had to find the one that was open and that scared the daylights out of me and any rate we went down the first thing this fellow taught us was how to float and the reason for that was, he said ``You'll need that if you ever have to abandon ship and there are depth charges going off because then you've got your rib cage is protecting your lungs so if depth charges go off you don't knock the wind out of you.'' And it was just good advice. Well any rate I learned to swim underwater. I could swim pools about the size of this one here in Hays, the old one. I'd swim over and back and start a third time under water and that's I practiced until I could do that, and then when we did get aboard ship, of course never needed it but we, from there we went down to San Diego and I went aboard the USS Tulagi and…

WALKER: And what kind of ship was that?

KRAUS: It was an Escort Aircraft Carrier. It was a, they had about thirty-four planes onboard, torpedo bombers, and they, a crew of about six or eight hundred, a total of about twelve hundred people onboard there were about, just under six hundred feet long on the flight deck and this ship had had quite a, quite a cruise. It had been in the Atlantic to start with early in the war. To show you how fast they built them, the keel was laid in June, they commissioned it in November and they had, they had big five cylinder steam engines in them because they couldn't build the turbines fast enough to keep up with them. They weren't a fast ship but they, a friend of mine in Ellis who was a gunner on a merchant marine ship during the early part of the war said ``When we had an escort carrier we felt safe because we had air cover.'' This ship had sunk a submarine, a German submarine and it was the flagship apparently of the, when they invaded southern France. In August of '45, '44. and any rate….

WALKER: So when did you get assigned to that ship?

KRAUS: It was right after the war in September of '45. They'd come back, they'd picked up a first bunch of returnees from the Philippines and brought them back. I went aboard in San Diego and our first trip was to Pearl Harbor and back we picked up, hauled about twelve hundred men, troops. They had bunks welded five high on the hanger deck by the time I went onboard and they, we picked them up there and brought them back. And the next tour was to Tokyo and we picked up oh six or eight men who had been terribly burned on the USS Franklin. Now that was the one with the Kamikazes, had just about sunk it. It drifted for several days before they got the engines started again, but these boys had been apparently on a hospital ship. Their faces were scarred real bad and their arms were burned but boy they were a happy bunch coming home, but any rate that was probably the highlight of my tour was the trip to Tokyo. Then…

WALKER: Now when you came into Tokyo what did you see?

KRAUS: Well that was, on the way over, we went in through a skirted at least a typhoon, and there were guys that had never been sick in their lives got terribly seasick. The ship would roll over on its side. I was, I was on watch. I had the watch from midnight till four in the morning down, down in the machine shop which was where we stood watch and there was one of the ship's drive shafts went through, the shaft of it went right through the side there and, but there are bilges, the bilges were about this high above the deck plate was about that high and the bilges would fill with water. Water would seep in around the drive shaft and they'd gradually, there were leaks I suppose other places too but primarily, they would fill up as the ship would roll over the water would run to one side of the ship and hit the bulkhead and shoot about six, eight feet in the air and then it go the other way and you would hear all night long. That was the closest I came to getting seasick.

WALKER: You didn't get seasick?

KRAUS: No, that was, I got a little queasy that night, we had these refrigerated drinking fountains, I went and washed my face with cold water and I, I recovered but any rate that was the whole idea, but that was the closest I came. Them two they, the biggest hazard we had was they hadn't swept all of the minefields yet, they were in the process and some of the mines were breaking loose. We stopped out there before we got to that typhoon, we stopped and sank a floating mine that was in the shipping channel, they had, they had swept just pathways through the mine fields and any rate, they it was close enough they used high powered rifles, the regular /Durand/ rifle and .30-06s and they sank it with rifle fire, any rate, luckily they didn't hit any of the detonating prongs on the, on the mine, to skip ahead twelve months, or no eight months, on the General Mitchell we found one floating on the way to Guam it was further out, I was on watch down in the compressor compartment there that day but it was probably, oh, at least as far from here say to maybe eleventh or twelfth street. We called out the anti-aircraft gunnery crews, a couple of them and they were firing thirty-millimeter cannon at that thing and they detonated. And it felt like that ship jumped sideways it was just that big of an explosion so you can imagine if the ship touched one of those in the middle of the night. It didn't take long to blow a hole in the side of it, you'd drive a truck through it, but it was, any rate, after we'd come back from Tokyo we brought back thirteen Japanese planes and for, I suppose there's some of them in museums or what have you study purposes and then there were, they made one more trip before we went to Seattle then. We went out to Pearl Harbor and then back to San Diego then and up to Seattle to decommission. We were all set to go into the mothball fleet when at the last minute they, they sold the ship to Standard Oil Company, they were going to cut the flight deck off of it and make an oil tanker out of it. So that's what happened to my first ship and, any rate, they, after we'd been there we were sent home on, I was sent to Olathe Naval Air Station, delaying route for two weeks to get to come home, or ten days I guess it was, then we went back to, sent back to Treasure Island California and I was sent to Hunter's Point Naval Shipyards to, as a work detail on this ship in dry dock. The General Mitchell, temporary, well they were short a crewmen and the Captain pulled some strings and we were permanent crewmen before we knew it. Went to Guam on that one. That was a long hot trip but it was an easy ship to ride, because there was no air conditioning, it was so hot and miserable on there and that's. At night there was a bulkhead between the crew compartment and part of the engine room and it sounded like a jackhammer was on the other side of that bulkhead. About the first four or five nights it was just impossible to sleep, you couldn't sleep and the, whatever it was they got it fixed and it quieted down, but it was a long trip out and a long trip, we picked up five thousand six hundred men on Guam to bring home. These were guys that had been sent over there to be ready to invade Japan and they, they were some of the last ones and we brought them back to San Francisco. Another point of interest there where we picked up this ship in San Francisco was Hunter's Point. That was the shipyard where the USS Indianapolis, where they loaded the atomic bombs aboard it to go over to Tinian. I read the account of that and I could just visualize what that looked like. That was the ship when they pulled out into San Francisco Bay they stopped and waited and pretty soon a motor launch pulled alongside it and three or four Army officers, they weren't officers they were dressed in Army uniforms, came onboard, ``It's a go.'' The test in New Mexico was a success and they weren't leaving until that was verified and when they came onboard why they set records, speed record was going to Pearl Harbor on the way over.

WALKER: I didn't ask, what was you rank?

KRAUS: Machinist mate third class refrigeration.

WALKER: Refrigeration, so what did you do to pass the time when you weren't on duty?

KRAUS: Oh had a lot of bull sessions for one thing. We were kept pretty busy. You were, we were on four hours, let's see, wait, well we had to work we had a regular work schedule from after the morning quarters at eight o'clock aboard ship, this was on the aircraft carrier. Eight o'clock was morning quarters up on the flight deck and after briefings it was the work for the day. We went through calisthenics, usually ended up with a couple of laps around the flight deck and then we'd go back to our duty stations unless you were already on watch, now when you were on watch it was four hours on and eight hours off I guess it was. So if you had from, and they dogged the watch about every week they dogged the watch, you'd start you eight to twelve today, It'd be eight to twelve midnight too. Eight to twelve morning, eight to twelve midnight, Saturday night or whatever it was Sunday night, they dogged the watch. The next week you'd have twelve to four and twelve to four, midnight to four in the morning and then four in the morning to eight and so on and so forth and then you had those watches in addition to your regular work day of about eight hours.

WALKER: So there really wasn't any…

KRAUS: There wasn't that much spare time. You wrote letters, you go down to the /gee-dunk/ stand. Now I don't know if you ever heard this term before this is, we had ice cream maker like they have up at Dairy Queen only a little cruder than that but hey had a dehydrated mix that they'd mix with water and it was a pretty fair delicacy. It cost a dime go down, the had what they called the ship's canteen and we'd go down and get a /gee-dunk/or a candy bar and with the, we spent a lot of time, oh, they would wash our clothes and stuff on off hours you know after we were off duty. Another thing I did which was fascinating to me, I when I went aboard one of the machinist mates trained me on what it was firing up a five hundred KVA generator plant, steam turbine. And before it was over with I was training the guys coming aboard after me. That was a fascinating experience to fire that thing up and it was big and it was hot but it was an auxiliary. They had one in each engine room and if one of those would conk out well they'd get an emergency call down to us and we'd pick up steam from either engine room and it was a kind of a meticulous process because you don't just turn on the steam and let her go, you had to warm it up and gradually so you wouldn't warp the thing and then an electrician would sit there with headphones on twenty-four hours a day monitoring the, but we had to monitor the RPM and everything all this, and the steam pressure and the condensate temperature. Oh it was, it was a busy time. That was in addition to others, we took readings on all the refrigerated boxes every hour on the hour up in the galley and down in the storage areas, it was always something to do it seemed like, but in addition to that I tried to learn some of the machine work from some of these fellas who could run those lathes and milling machines, they could make a gear that could fit just about any piece of equipment aboard ship if you needed it. Bronze, cast iron, steel, whatever have you, but it was... There was a Nick /Koffman/, before we went into the, into the Navy he was a, helped build South Bend Lathes in South Bend, Indiana. So that was the background he had the machine shop was the logical place for him. Great guy.

WALKER: Any memorable experiences you want share with us?

KRAUS: Oh, I suppose some, one, there were three different times that I drew shore patrol at San Francisco, midnight to four in the morning, now that's memorable. The first one was, the first hitch was at the shore patrol headquarters and that's where they brought all the happy ones in and the ones wanting to fight anybody and everybody, but when I got there it was pathetic. There was one fellow, he was clear out of his head. Just hang on the cell bars and scream and holler he was gonna kill everybody when he got out of there. And another fellow was passed out on the floor in the next cell and he had vomited and he had all of his, everything he'd eaten all day long was all over his face and on the floor but something, but he was just passed out dead drunk. And then they had what they call the bullpen. There were probably ten or fifteen guys in there, just happy as can be sitting around maybe singing. But then another time I was, the hitch or the, my location was the bus depot and we had to check guys coming and going. And then the, another fun time well we had a beat. We walked about four of five blocks through the night club area of San Francisco and we'd stop in and check in on, with the club owners making sure everybody was behaving themselves, but that was about the size of it. Of course there one tour there when we went over to Pearl Harbor, we, the Navy had organized, we usually were there just over night, we'd go in one day and pick up troops the next morning and leave. But this time we were there two or three days and we, they organized a tour of the island for us and we got to go up over the Pali Pass which was a, is a beautiful trip, over to Kialua Beach which a they had a USO facility there. We went over there and had some lunch and stuff but it was just a bus tour around the island. And it, for an old boy from Kansas it looked really beautiful, but I think there at the Pali Point, these, see there was what they call an upside down waterfall up above us. You could look the water would come off the cliff, the updraft was so strong it would pick that water would go right back up. We got to this place where you could view, my gosh, it was the updraft coming up there and we could look out over the Pacific Ocean, and you could see all the different gradations of color from, from the yellow sand to the yellow green to the deep blues as it got deeper and deeper out into the ocean. It is hard to imagine of course today the, when we tied there at Pearl Harbor, the Arizona hull was still laying over there and there were several other ships still laying there but it was hard to imagine that all that took place just not too long before we were there. Especially like we were in Tokyo, just four months earlier or three months earlier, they were bombing the daylights out of the place.

WALKER: And then for things to go back to normal it seems pretty strange doesn't it?

KRAUS: Yeah.

WALKER: Were you awarded any medals or citations?

KRAUS: Oh nothing more than just group, the Pacific Theater, Victory Medal. I guess I wasn't in long enough to qualify for Good Conduct Medal yet. I didn't get in any trouble so I guess I would've qualified if I'd've stayed in long enough.

WALKE R: There you go. How long were you in the service?

KRAUS: Well I was only on active duty for eighteen months and then I stayed in the reserve for another eighteen months and I wanted to go on, they had these summer cruises set up but they were always so loaded that I never, I never got to go on one.

WALKER: That would've been nice. How did you stay in touch with your family?

KRAUS: Well it was all by letter. We, all we had to do was write free where the stamp went. We had free franchise and when you were officially in the service, any service, you could just write free where the stamp was and as long as you had your return address there to show that you were military, well, it went right through. I did call home from San Francisco to let the folks know that I would be coming home when we got back from Guam and it was pretty hard to talk, it was just so good to hear my folks' voice.

WALKER: It'd been awhile. Well you mentioned you had a lot of cousins.

KRAUS: Well let's go back, yeah I had, to start with in '44, though I was a Senior in high school. The, Clyde /Rothgrab/ was principal, a girl from Courtesy Committee came through my class and said I was to stop by the office. So I went home.

WALKER: What was the Courtesy Committee?

KRAUS: Well these were girls and guys that they had stationed around by the entryways of the school and if they needed to send a message to a class or somebody, or call somebody out of class, or if a stranger wandered in and wanted directions they were there. It was just for courtesy. Well any rate, they wanted to know, they said Western Union had called they wanted to know if there was a Kraus there that could come by the office and that was when Western Union was on East tenth street, eleventh street. And I went down there and a fellow pushed the telegram. It was notifying my sister that her husband was killed.

WALKER: Just three months?

KRAUS: Or less. I think he went over in November and this was in March I think it was, it might've been December when he went over. He was on his fourth mission and he had, a new crew had come over and a new plane and they needed somebody that'd been on a bombing run to go with them that had experience and I'd heard he'd volunteered, I don't know whether he did or not, but any rate he went along as pilot. And my sister had all the details later through the chaplain that one of the engines had blown up as they were taking off. Those planes took off thirty seconds apart loaded with fuel and bombs, and any rate.

WALKER: What was his name?

KRAUS: Ralph Bemis Jr. and the plane came down in a field and bounced and when it came down the second time the bomb bay blew up and he was buried in a common with four other guys, three or four others together, the remains in a common grave.

WALKER: In England?

KRAUS: Well in England, they was at Cambridge, England and then they brought them back to Louisville, Kentucky, a military cemetery there and that's where he still is. But that was one of the hardest things I had to do as a kid, `cause that brought the war pretty close to home when that happens. But I had two cousins that were in the Marine Corp. One of them was seventeen years old and they both went through the Battle of Guadalcanal. And another cousin in the Marine Corp, he was an officer. He had graduated from college out in Denver, and he stayed in the Corp for twenty-five, thirty years. And then there was a couple other cousins in the Navy. My brother was in the Army Air Corp. He had had Rheumatic fever and wasn't able to complete. He was grounded from flying after having Rheumatic fever. And he was, when I was at Del Monte, California, he was nine miles away at Salinas. So the day we were, we got in there off the troop train and were waiting for our room assignments out front the fella called him that was calling the muster to see if we everybody was there, he called my name and said front and center and I walked up there and there was my brother. He.

WALKER: Was this an older brother?

KRAUS: Yeah, he died three, two years ago last January. But he'd, he'd been in his third year at Kansas State University I guess it was. He was in the Army Air Corp and he was training as a bombardier and navigator aboard a B-26 bomber when he developed Rheumatic fever. But he was, there he'd become a, well he had bacteriology here at Fort Hays when he was a student here first, and he was a lab technician at the hospital at Salinas and I'd hitchhike a ride over there every weekend, yet we had weekends, Saturday noon to Sunday night. So I'd hitch over there and we'd get together and spent the weekend. That lasted about a month when I was there so three or four different times. But it was, it was made you feel pretty good to see someone, I got so homesick as a cadet, it was, it was my Mother saved all my letters, most all of them at least and I couldn't believe how homesick I must've been. It, `course when I went in the only way I was able to get in was that I was in this electronics program. I had a, they found a hernia on me and I wouldn't have been able to enlist with that unless it had been repaired but, since I'd passed that test, they said, ``Well you give the Navy permission to correct it and we'll let you enlist.'' So when I was in Boot Camp I had to lay out and go to the Naval hospital at Great Lakes and they fixed that hernia. And but, any rate it was, I spent about three weeks there in the hospital. That was back when they wouldn't let you sit up for the first five days and then wouldn't let me stand up for the first, the thirteenth day I got to stand up. That's just how and within a month they were getting up within a day of the surgery. That's how quick they changed the whole technology.

WALKER: They discovered it was different. Did you ever use the GI bill?

KRAUS: Yes. I majored in botany here at Fort Hays State, got my degree.

WALKER: Did you keep a personal diary?

KRAUS: Oh I had this photo album, I had some stuff, but nothing very extensive.

WALKER: The letters your Mom saved from home?

KRAUS: Well I had those yes, I had that.

WALKER: Do you recall the day your service ended?

KRAUS: Yes we, we'd been sent from, from the ship we were sent back over to Treasure Island there in San Francisco Bay and from there we were put aboard a troop, had just a had a troop, troop kitchen and a troop car. A group of us were sent back to Norman, Oklahoma, the old Naval Air Station there was converted to a Separation center and we came in, come all the way from San Francisco. It was different, totally different than when we went out because we were attached to a regular passenger train and for the life of me I know we had left Salt Lake City and as far as I knew we were headed south, which would've been on the Denver-Rio Grande railroad. And the next morning at six o'clock when I woke up the car was stopped and I looked out and we were sitting on the siding by the Newton railroad station in Newton, Kansas. Now they really moved that thing somehow or another. We went all the way across the Rockies and all the way across the Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas to Newton and from there we were attached to a another passenger train and went south to Norman, Oklahoma. And it was, met some of the, met a boy that I was in boot camp with, he had, he had been, his different way and I had made my different way and we came back. He was from Belle Plain Kansas.

WALKER: Well, what did they do at the Separation center?

KRAUS: Oh they briefed us on what our responsibilities were as veterans and talked a lot about the GI Bill and encouraged us to keep our GI life insurance intact. I know one of the local insurance agents told me, says, ``Now why don't you convert that to a civilian policy?'' And what that meant would be to drop it. And I've kept that intact and for the first few years from, we were, I was married, I used to take my dividend out each year because I needed it when I was going to school. And, but after I got out and got to farming actively, well we left the, we had the option to leave the dividend in to by paid-up additional insurance. Well I originally started out with a ten thousand dollar policy, term policy and now it's worth about thirty-three thousand dollars. Most of it, I still got the ten thousand dollar term but I still got twenty three thousand dollars of paid up life. Any rate I just sent a check in for seven hundred seventeen dollars and I'll get a statement back and it'll probably be worth another thousand dollars more.

WALKER: So what did they say your duties were as a GI?

KRAUS: Well they, they stressed a lot about the dignity of the military personnel, they didn't want they thought if you were Navy personnel you had to respect their, show respect both to the flag and the country and be a credit to your, your…

WALKER: So you were always going to be respecting the Navy?

KRAUS: Yeah, right. And any rate it was, I joined the, well after a number of years then, in the 1980s I finally got around to joining the American Legion and since then I've joined the VFW as well.

WALKER: Have you attended any reunions?

KRAUS: Well last summer this or last September I attended the first reunion ever of my ship, the Tulagi. It was in St. Louis and there are so few of the personnel left that the Escort Carriers have all gone together and formed an association and they, they met in St. Louis and there were like six from my ship, whom I didn't know any of them of course. But there were three boys from Chicago whose father had been a pilot aboard ship and they were there, but it was a great time. They were some, of the hundred and twenty some Escort Carriers left there are none of them left and there were about three hundred of us at this reunion, but it was a great time. And I might point out it was an Escort Carrier that was captured the only wartime well Man-Of-War and that was the, this German Submarine that's on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, that was captured intact by an Escort Carrier. Now the Tulagi, they, they, destroyed a German submarine and it was tied alongside the ship and I never heard what happened to that, but it was a case where they, if they could've prevented it from being sunk and maybe they toyed it to scuttle the thing, but they took the crew, the submarine crew was taken aboard ship and put under guard there, down in the elevator pit where they take the planes up to flight deck, there's a pit about four foot deep, five foot deep and they put them down in there and of course they fed them and took care of them but they, until they could turn them over to some other authority.

WALKER: Well they didn't really have facilities for prisoners did they?

KRAUS: No this was off the coast of France during the invasion there I would assume.

WALKER: How long have you lived in Ellis, Kans… County, I'm sorry?

KRAUS: Well I'm seventy-nine years old going on eighty and this was home except for the time that I was in the military.

WALKER: Okay, how did your military experience influence your thinking about war or the military in general?

KRAUS: Well I'll tell you I've often thought about important the draft was to people of our time. It took everybody from, see the, just like here in Hays, president of the old first National Bank ended up as a Navy seaman and he was right alongside somebody that may have been making moonshine in the, and we had guys like that from the hill country. They were as backward as they could be, but there in boot camp, give you an idea there in Chicago or Great Lakes, they had what they called a happy hour. About once a month there would have like a talent show and they had these big drill halls where, they were bigger than a lot of your aircraft carriers but they were big enough that two or three companies could get in there and drill, but this happy hour, this talent show they had a fella who sang, he'd come off of Broadway. He had the lead of Oklahoma and it was Gordon McRae. He was just another boot in Boot Camp with the rest of them and he filled that drill hall with songs from Oklahoma and I'll tell you when he sang that he brought the house down. And they had another fella I can remember distinctly, they had a lot of talent but this other fella was a, had been a clown and an acrobat in a circus somewhere but he put on quite a routine, but it was just the way it was. Happy hour was a good description to it. We had movies, we'd get first run movies before they were ever released to the theaters.

WALKER: Oh really?

KRAUS: Yeah. They would bring them in. I know I saw one with Danny Kay and Vera Allen, it was one of their, I forget what the title of it was, but we saw it in May, and it was six months later guys say, ``Know that new movie at the theater with Danny Kay and Vera Allen? Boy that was something else.'' ``Well, `` I said, ``I saw that last summer.'' ``No you didn't it was just released.'' I said ``Well,'' I described and he said, ``Well I guess you have seen it.'' And we saw old movies too. That was every night on the hangar deck aboard ship they had, they had the movies and we'd see stuff from the thirties. Another interesting thing, these guys might, they, Saturday afternoon on that Escort Carrier we had a marine contingent onboard, not on the, this was on the General Mitchell, the troop ship, they would do skeet shooting off the fantail then and this one Marine, we called them /Gyreens/ in those days, he'd kick three skeets out at once and he'd get every one of them before they hit the water. And I'll tell you what he was, he wasn't one to fool around with. Talk about, and this was another thing about the military, the discipline, when we see the undisciplined behavior today. There was a boy, we were at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in dry dock off that aircraft carrier. A boy, he was married, we had a week off, each half of the ship had a week off during the holiday of '45 into '46, he didn't get back in time and he missed the ship. He was AWOL and he met the ship when I got back to San Diego from making our last trip. He was court-martialed and put in the brig and well he was, went to Captain Mast and then he was court-martialed, of course military wartime, it still considered wartime. He was kept in the brig till they got up to Seattle. He was going to go to the naval prison at Bremerton and they got ready to take him over there and the account came back was that the MA, he was probably a chief, Master of Alarms, he was like the Chief of Police aboard ship is what it amounted to, Chief of Security. He had him handcuffed to him and they went over to Bremerton on the ferry. He was a cocky sort of a kid anyway and the guy's Chief, said ``Would you like to put your pea coat over that handcuff so it isn't so obvious that you're?'' ``Oh no'' He didn't give a hoot, and they went over there to the turn him over to that Marine guard in the cell block, he said, the marine called the detail to attention, ``Come right, forward march.'' And the guy looked at him, well what in the world was going on here anyway. The marine took two steps back pulled out his pistol and he gave the order again and that time he did just exactly what he was told to do. That was discipline. `Course that's just like in our training I know they said, ``You don't go to sleep on watch, that's a court-martial offense and if a disaster is a result, then it's the firing squad.'' And any rate they showed us what a cigarette looked like aboard ship. When the smoking lamp was out, nobody smoked. Especially if they were refueling or had anything like that, nobody and if you were on watch they had surface watch guys up on the corners of the flight deck and if they could see a cigarette lit the Captain, the commanding officer gave the order to shoot. They'd shoot first and ask questions later. But they showed what a cigarette looked like a half a mile away. That was the thing it could be seen a half a mile away, a lit, lighted cigarette. A submarine could see it.

WALKER: Lives depended on that.

KRAUS: Yeah, well I'm happy to do what little I can. Like I say there was, I served with a lot of the guys who had seen a lot of action, well not a lot of action, most of them had already been sent home on discharge `cause they had a number high enough numbers that they were qualified for earlier discharge. There was one boy I can remember he had been on a landing craft going in on Normandy and he said that the landing craft next to them the coxswain on there, said he turned yellow and made a U-turn and went back out into the English channel rather than hit the beach so there was a court martial right there.

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