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Interview on experiences in World War II

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Clint Bain, Ben Hennings, and Megan Gerstner interviewing Basil Marhofer on September 6, 2006

Interview of Basil C. Marhofer, World War II Veteran

Interview conducted by Ness City High School Audio-Video Technology Class students Clint Bain, Ben Henning, and Megan Gerstner, on September 6, 2006. Adult supervisor Lynette Stenzel

CB: My name is Clint Bain, and I'm here with Megan Gerstner and Ben Henning and we will be interviewing Basil Marhofer as we record the oral history of his World War II experience. Could you please state your whole name.

BM: Basil C. Marhofer

CB: What is you date of birth?

BM: 2/2/25

CB: Where were your born?

BM: In rural Ness County near Arnold.

CB: Who were your parents?

BM: Olin and Mamie Marhofer.

CB: Did you have any siblings?

BM: I have a sister, Betty Clark who lives in Denver.

CB: Did you attend high school?

BM: Yes I did.

CB: Where was that at?

BM: Ness City High School.

CB: What was you job prior to your military service?

BM: I had just gotten out of school.

CB: Do you remember the announcement of Pearl Harbor?

BM: Very Well.

CB: What did you think how that would affect your life?

BM: Well, it was on a Sunday afternoon and we were having junior play practice. The teacher lived with her parents down here on the corner of Main and School Street. So we were practicing in her parent's home for the school play. Her dad was a lawyer. He opened the library doors and he said, ``Students I would like to have your attention as I have something to tell you''. And so he said, I want to tell you that we are in war.''

You know that just sent shivers up your back. Because he said that President Roosevelt has announced that America is at war. So I'll never forget that.

CB: Were you enlisted or were you drafted?

BM: Drafted.

CB: Were you able to choose your branch of service?

BM: No.

CB: What was the date of your enlistment?

BM: September of `44.

CB: Were there others from your area that joined with you?

BM: That went down, yes. Cleavy Rothe went down. Oh my gosh, I can't say his name from Ransom. We went to Fort Leavenworth. Neither one of those had to stay. Cleavy Rothe had flat feet.

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

BM: Well my sister's husband, Charles Clark. He was from Ness City. He was a B-29 pilot in World War II.

CB: Were you inducted in Leavenworth?

BM: Yes in Leavenworth.

CB: Please tell us about your basic training.

BM: After about a week or so in Fort Leavenworth then they shipped a whole bunch of us to Fort Hood, Texas on the train. Do you want more about the basic training?

CB: Sure. Did you have any specialized training?

BM: Yes. I think that lasted probably three months as I remember.

CB: How long was your training?

BM: Down in Fort Hood I'm going to say it was three months. Then they sent us home for a week furlough and then they shipped us off to Europe.

CB: Did you choose your job or were you assigned one?

BM: Do you mean in Europe?

CB: Yes. As a service man.

BM: Well, we were infantry men. So when we got to the East Coast why we were in a camp in Rhode Island until the ship was ready to go, and we boarded from Boston. And the sea was extremely rough when we left and it got rougher as we sailed and everybody on the ship was sick. I had a friend from Liberal, Kansas that was my buddy and we had to go down into the dining room, which was on the lower level, to eat and the smell would just gag you. So people were vomiting all over the place. The floor was wet because of the ship rolling. And we fell over against the wall both of us, and the trash cans dumped over on us. We just vomited so often that we got the dry heaves. Most of the guys on the ship just stand around and heave. Nothing would come out just the dry heaves. After about three days the sea calmed down and it took seven days to get to France.

When we got off the boat in France then we got on a train. And it was a, this was back you know in 1944 and they had what they called forty and eights. They were a kind of boxcars that would man forty men or eight horses. And there were slits in the boards you know, and it was bitter, bitter cold. So we all were lying down with army blankets over us and we were on that train for a day and a night and then they finally got us to Germany. And we got off at a big city call Worms. So then when we got to Worms why I was parted from my Liberal friend and assigned to a unit. How much do you want to know?

CB: This is great.

BM: Well anyway, when we were at Worms then they put us in companies to send us off to the war. They sent us down to this particular place in Germany. Why there was a tent there and they said ``Well Marhofer, that's where you are going to be with your guys. That's your unit.'' There were very few people you ever associated with from Kansas. They were always from New York or somewhere. So when I went into this tent a guy said ``where are you from?'' and I said ``I'm from Kansas'', and a fellow spoke up and said ``Where in Kansas?'' and I said ``Ness City'' and he said ``I'm from Bazine!''

And it was Elton Margheim. And Elton Margheim is still alive down at Bazine. You may or may not know him, but he is all bent over you know Elton can't straighten up anymore. But anyway, we were buddies and so we were transported by trucks and trucks. We were finally, oh weeks went by, and so we went through all these towns now I didn't know where we were. I could care less you know, I was just a kid. Now I know that we were in historic places. But anyway, we ended up in a City called Ulm, Germany on the Danube River. And so the forces I was with were to take the bridge across the Danube River into Ulm. So we had all these plans and everything on what everybody was to do and they came down with the message that the war had ended. That was I believe, May 8. So that was the end of the war in Europe.

So then we became occupation troops. They sent us all over different parts of Germany but mainly I was in an area called the Black Forest, which is near the city Baden-Baden. We had to search all through the forest for any Germans. So then they had a compound where the German soldiers were kept and we had to go out and stand guard duty for probably a month and then because we had seen no actual battle why our numbers weren't very big. So the small numbered soldiers were assigned to go to the war in Japan. They sent us up to the English Channel and they had cigarette camps. All the camps along the Channel were called cigarette camps. I was assigned to camp Lucky Strike. We were there over a month waiting to be shipped out. So, eventually they shipped us out on a boat to go home for a two-week vacation and then report back to Fort Leavenworth to be shipped to Japan.

We were on a troop ship and we were the small numbered guys. We didn't have battle fatigue and all that. So when we were about a day out of New York, why the word came that they had dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Then later they dropped another bomb and that ended the war in Japan. So when our shipped arrived in New York harbor we were the first ship of soldiers to arrive in New York. They sent lots of little boats out to meet us, and they're spraying their water and it was a glorious day in New York. And so they unloaded us and there we were in New York City and we got the heroes welcome, but we weren't the heroes. Then they put us on a train to a camp in New Jersey and processed us. They sent us to Fort Leavenworth on the train, and I will never forget that train ride, because in those days the train windows were open and they were coal fed locomotives and the coal dust would just come in you know and so when we would go through a town why eventually we were just as black as black people. All the people in the towns that we would go through like Allentown or Pittsburg or any of those towns we would go through. The people wanted to see something of soldiers. They wanted to do something for soldiers because the war had ended. Every town where the train stopped why there were dozens of people in train stations just to see soldiers.

We got to Leavenworth and they processed us again and sent us on a two-week furlough.

Now I have to back up to Ness City High School. I was in the Ness City High School band and I played a French horn and I had won all sorts of state contests with that and that was on my military record. No I left something out here. Back there in Europe when the war ended why it was on my record that I had played a French horn. So there was a Colonel that was trying to work up a little band and we had taken German instruments and so we had about a 12- piece band. So that went on my record. When we got to Leavenworth and the war was ended and we came back from the furlough they really didn't know what to do, so they saw that on there they wanted to know would I be interested in trying out for the army band. I said yea, and they sent me to camp Gruber near Tulsa where I tried out for the army band and made it and they shipped me down to Camp Swift, which is at the edge of Austin, Texas and joined the army band. I just brought this picture along because I had first chair of the French horns in this big band and it was the army band. We gave concerts in San Antonio, and Wako. They shipped us everywhere because the war was over and they wanted band music. Eventually it came time to have the United Nations charter signed in San Francisco. This band was sent from Austin on the train to San Francisco. This was our band that I was in, and we led this parade down Market Street in San Francisco and they said there were 14,000 soldiers in the parade with all the generals and everything. That was the day the United Nations charter was signed in the Opera House in San Francisco. We played continuously until all the troops marched by.

On the way from Texas out there to San Francisco we went through Amarillo. They would stop the train for all the troops to get off and stretch and our bandmaster said ``I think Amarillo needs a parade.'' So we got this big band off the train and we assemble and we marched down the main street of Amarillo Texas and people came out of their shops and there were thousands just yelling and screaming just because there was an army band coming down the streets of Amarillo Texas. Then we played concerts around the San Francisco area. They shipped us up to that major fort at Washington. Gosh it's a second division is up there. That big permanent fort near Seattle I wish I could say that. So we played concerts and then they started having American Legion conventions and they would send us all over Oregon and Washington to play. One of the most thrilling parts for me was when the international boundary between the United States and Canada was a hundred years old. They shipped us up to the border at a place called Blaine Washington and the Canadian National army band came out from Toronto. They put us in the same area and we were paying here and they were playing here and it was on NBC and the Canadian National television. We played this concert, both bands, to celebrate the peaceful border between the United States and Canada for one hundred years.

Then the generals began coming home one at a time. They would only come home separately so they would each get big celebrations and then they would put us on a train and send us whenever a general came home and we would go to his hometown and play this big concert for him. Then in August I believe it was, this is in 1945 when they sent us back to the center at Seattle and we were discharged. I took a train back and in those days we had a train in Ness City.

When I was in high school when I was in the Ness City High School Band, we had a big band then you know probably 70 pieces and it was World War. Everybody was at war. Our Commerce teacher got drafted, so the Ness City High School Band would have a parade and take him down to the depot here at Ness City and put them on the train and off he'd go. Probably three weeks later why the football coach got drafted and we would give him a parade down put him on a train and he would go off to Great Bend and off to war. It was wartime then. Everybody was involved. Its not like we have these wars today. Although these are horrible, but here we are living the life of luxury while this war is going on. Well in World War II there was no luxury. Everybody was involved. We didn't have gasoline, we didn't have tires. You know everybody sacrificed in World War II. Its not like here we are living this wonderful life while our soldiers are off on two fronts giving their lives. But I think in a nutshell that's what I did so I ended up having a good time.

CB: Going back to when you were in Europe could you tell us about your living conditions? Do you have plenty of food and supplies, and sleeping arrangements?

BM: Well we had rations they were in little paraffin boxes. I can't think of what we called them.

LS: C rations?

BM: Whats that?

LS: The C rations?

BM: C rations, yes. We lived on C rations for all that time. They were in little olive green boxes with paraffin around them. They had cheese and crackers and chocolate bars. Of course they always had cigarettes in them. I traded my cigarettes for chocolate you know. We lived on that as we were on foot all the time. On foot going through Germany. We would come to this village or small town, and the commander would say ``we are going to settle down for the night here,'' so we would pick out a house 3 or 4 of us, and we would go and knock on the door and tell them we will give you three hours and then we need your house, and that was pitiful because if you can imagine some soldier knocking on your door and telling your folks, ``You be out in three hours we're going to take over the house.'' We'd be there for a day or two and move on. Sometimes we didn't have anyplace to sleep so you would just pick out a place to sleep and go into a cellar and sleep on the potatoes. I wasn't on the front lines, but it was war and it was in Germany. You did what your commander told you to do. We had these rations and that's what we lived on. Occasionally if we were at a place where a farmer had potatoes we would take the potatoes. Does that answer your question?

CB: Yes. How was your relationship with your commanding officer?

BM: Well of course we had higher ups and middles and lower down and so we had a Lieutenant. They had what they called field commissions, because so many were being killed that they would commission somebody right out of the field to be a Lieutenant. Toward the end why we had a Sergeant who had been field commissioned as a Lieutenant. It went to his head and none of us liked him, but when I was in basic training in Texas my commanding officer was a former superintendent of schools from Ashland, Kansas so he thought oh there's my boy from Ness City. So you run into deals like that, that are in your favor. But over in Europe in the war, why usually if you say a superior that would be a Sergeant, he would tell you, you go over here now or get over there. But we never ever had any contact with the higher ups. But I might say back in basic training this commanding officer that was a former superintendent of schools from Ashland, he recommended me to go to officers training school to be an officer. So I had to go to a battalion board and they interviewed me. Then I went up before another big time board. I think those were all Colonels or higher up and I didn't shave. I just weighed a hundred and ten pounds and I never will forget this. This Colonel said, ``You don't shave do you Marhofer?'' And I said, `` No I don't.'' And he said, ``Do you think you could give orders and anybody respect your orders?'' I said, ``Well I'd try. He said, ``I don't think I'd take an order from you. You're just a kid.'' So I never made it to officer's training school.

CB: During your time away were you able to stay in contact with your home?

BM: Oh sure, we had VE letters I believe they called them and we could write and we would get VE mail and I think my mother wrote me daily. The truck might not catch up with us for four or five days but we'd have mail call and maybe I `d get four or five letters from my mother at once. But then they always told us, and I don't know how that would be possible, but they always told us that all our mail would be scrutinized so that we would not say we are now in this area or something. We couldn't talk about that and I don't know if our mail was really read by higher ups or not but they told us that they were so we couldn't repeat anything secret. But I was just a nobody. I didn't know what we were doing any way. Because when you are a PFC, well you know you just take orders you don't know anything.

Then I finally got to be a Corporal and the letters for Corporal are CPL. I don't if you recall but we had a principal here in Ness City by the name of Harry Lynn. Harry Lynn was highly educated and he too was just a lowly Corporal and we always used to kid each other that we should leave the P out and put an O in there and we would be Colonel or something. But anyway we were just lowly Corporals and as far as we were concerned anyone who was a Sergeant they were the big dogs and we had very little contact with officers.

CB: Was this the first time that you were away from home during the war?

BM: Yes it was.

CB: Do you remember how you spent your holidays while you were in the service?

BM: Well, they were painful. We would get to go, this Fort Hood was near Temple, Texas and that was a city with about 35,000 and so that's when you got a weekend pass you went to Temple. On Christmas we went to Temple. Then by the next Christmas I was in the band and I got to take the train from Fort Worth to Newton and then Newton to Dodge and then caught a ride to Ness City. It was wartime you know, nobody had cars or gas, and then the same way I took a train from Dodge to Newton. Newton was a big train center I mean there were dozens of trains daily in and out of Newton. Then I'd go south to Texas. Then of course my grandparents died while I was in the army but you couldn't be released to go home for that so there were a lot of sorrowful times.

CB: Did you have any time for recreation?

BM: Well after the war was over and we were out there at Fort Hood why we'd get weekend passes and go. Seattle was a beautiful city, but down here in Texas we were in this camp was right on the edge of Austin and Austin is the home of the University of Texas. Most males were in the service and so their University of Texas band was just a small group of gals. And so they said `` Would you come and join us and play at football games?'' So it was great. We'd go in to Austin and play with their little University of Texas band and now when you see Texas on television they have a band of three hundred members. But we threw in a hundred or so and got to go to their football and basketball games because we'd help out and play the Eyes of Texas Are Upon You. We played that about a jillion times, and then you know we got to date girls at the University of Texas. I had a serious romance going there and then I got shipped off. I corresponded with her for about a year though, but any way that was wartime. Wartime romances.

CB: Do you remember what your service pay was?

BM: Yeah we got twenty-one dollars a month and then ten dollars of that was taken out for a bond. So you had about eleven dollars but that was no problem. I mean what would you spend eleven dollars on? You were in the army and so in Europe you know why it was just a matter of bookkeeping. We didn't have money. But a Private got twenty-one dollars. Of course when I got to be a big time Corporal why I got about thirty-seven dollars you know. But they always took out a ten-dollar bond every month. So it wasn't. When I was up to be discharged out there in Seattle why they tried desperately. They put the big pressure on you to stay in the army. I was first chair French horn and they said if you stay why we will make you a Master Sergeant and you will get x number of dollars. Well that didn't appeal to me at all cause I wanted to get home and get down to KU. So when I got discharged in August why I came down to Denver where my sister and her husband were in the University and then I came home and here were five or six Ness City kids ready to go to KU. So I was home probably a week and then off and enrolled in KU. What was your question I got off the beat?

CB: Oh just what your service pay was.

BM: Basically twenty-one dollars a month.

CB: What was the date of your discharge?

BM: I don't remember the date but it was August. Why don't you ask me my service number? I know that.

CB: What was your service number?

BM: 37756636. You had to say that every morning and you had to go down the line and 37756636 alright next one and that was also your laundry number so when you went to pick up your laundry why you had to go by that serial number.

CB: What did you do after the service? After your discharge

BM: I took the train to Denver and visited my sister and her husband because he was already out. Then I came to Ness City and probably was here ten days then I went to Lawrence and enrolled in KU and then I was there for six years. Is that your answer?

CB: Did your wartime experience contribute to your career choice?

BM: No, not at all. My career choice was made by my dad. He had a lawyer the minute I was born. He wanted me to be a lawyer and that was that. It was all right by me I don't know what else I'd do.

CB: When you were a serviceman did you form any close friendships?

BM: Oh you know when you are over there in war, why Elton Margheim and I were just, you know. He said ``If I live I am never going to leave that farm in Bazine,'' and he kept his word.

In the band we would rehearse for an hour and a half in the morning and then we would practice marching in the afternoon and we were perfection. I mean if it wasn't perfection we were in trouble. Everbody says how come you never played in the KU band? I'm sorry I didn't but we were always the first ones up on the base. We were up dressed and out on the field to walk around this circle at Fort Louis to awaken the dear generals to their music. We played music while all of the officers were getting up. So we always had to be up probably by 5:00 in the morning. So when I got to KU why they said that the band rehearses every morning at 7:00. So that meant getting up earlier and I thought I don't want to do that. So I didn't and I regret that because I could have had a good time in the KU band, but I chose sleep instead.

CB: Have you attended any military reunions?

BM: Never. That was enough for me

BH: When you were playing, like I asked you before, how long did you play when you were playing and they were signing the sheet and the soldiers were marching across?

BM: On this particular occasion? Ben, I don't remember exactly how long, but without a doubt we played two solid hours and I don't mean without taking a break because the Warrant Officer, his last name was Frank. It was always Warrant Officer Frank, and Warrant Officer Frank would stop and he'd say okay. We would carry our music in a bag here. He'd say get out book nine we are going to play in book nine now. So we would get the music out and take a little break you know, and then we would start playing again. But we were used to this because we would rehearse for an hour and a half or two hours and then the afternoon march and then always, always go somewhere and play. Always the small cities around Austin always wanted a band concert or something. In this big band were a lot of wonderful musicians who played in big name bands. Dance bands like Glenn Miller and big name dance bands. Well a lot of these guys were in those dance bands. So every night they had a fabulous dance band. They played at the officers clubs nightly and so a lot of us would go along and sit there and listen to them cause it was fabulous. They were some of America's most fabulous musicians. Then they had another smaller band because there were so many wonderful musicians in here. A lot of these had graduate degrees in music and were high school music teachers and everything. So they had a second band and so they were playing, not at an officers clubs, but like at the town of Bastrop or something, send this little band down. And one night the piano player was sick and couldn't go and so they said ``Marhofer you got to go and play in that band.'' I said'' I've never done this,'' and they said ``Play in the key of C when we tell you, play in the key of F when we tell you, so I played the piano one night in a dance band.

BH: Do you still play the French horn today?

BM: Well you know when the Old Settlers, my wife was band teacher up here for eight or nine years and she's always in the alumni band. She said, ``Come on be in the alumni band.'' and I said, `When I was in Ness City the school owned the horn I never owned a horn. When I was in the army band I didn't owne the horn. I've never owned a French horn. So they said we had a Methodist preacher here that lives in Goodland now.

LS: Oh Chet Ross?

BM: Chet Ross. Well, they had son John, who played the French horn. So Cecilia went and got John Ross's french horn just before Old Settlers six years ago and she said, ``Now brush up and join this Ness City alumni band'', and I would have loved to. I couldn't. I had no lip, no embouchure and so John got his French horn back because that was like a hundred years ago. So I didn't do that.

LS: Did you guys have to play in good weather and bad weather, the bands?

BM: Oh yea, Oh yea you got those officers up rain or no rain.

LS: Because the cold on your lips.

BM: Oh yea

LS: When the kids play taps for us at the cemetery I always worry about the bitter cold on their lips when you're playing those brass instruments.

BM: Or we would be in San Antonio doing a big American Legion parade or something and while we are going down the street it began to rain but that didn't mean anything to an army band. We kept marching. But anyway, it was always a lot of fun. I saw quite a bit of America by being in that army band. To be around and listen to these fabulous musicians who were in dance bands. I can't even say names of those famous bands now. Arty Shaw and all of them

LS: Tommy Dorsey.

BM: Tommy Dorsey. These guys were in those orchestras and those guys were fabulous. So that's the part of my service that I really enjoyed, but I was divinely protected in Europe. I had really scary things happen but I was protected and I came home, but I wasn't a hero. I wasn't in the battles. But I was back here where there were lots of bad things happening. And when we became occupation troops when the war ended, and we were. That could get scary when you would have to. Here was a German compound of German soldiers and you had to guard them and Marhofer all of a 109 pounds had to go out there in the middle of the night and walk guard. It was scary. Occasionally a German would try to break out and not that I had anything to do with it but that would happen. So those were scary deals for me. Then they had these, I can't remember names, but they had these cans you would take off the thing and throw them and this acid would come down. That hit a tree and came back and acid came all around me but it never touched me. So things like that happened. What else would you ask me?

LS: I have some questions. Basil, because I know you, and I know that you have traveled extensively throughout the United States and our country through your Rotarian efforts. Did you ever go back to any of the places like you mentioned at the time you didn't think about them being historical places but now that you go back and see the history of World War II. Have you ever been back to any of the places that you served at?

BM: Oh yea. Rotary sent me to Nigeria and so when I got through giving my speeches in Nigeria, why then they sent me to Wiesbaden, Germany to speak at a Rotary convention. I had walked through Wiesbaden on foot. Then they sent me to Heidelberg to speak and I had been in Heidelberg walking all the way from Worms down to the southern part of Germany to Ulm, and Heidenhain and all those cities. I said to myself, `` I walked down through there you know.'' So I remember when the war was over and we got through with occupation and they were going to send us to Japan why we went through Paris and it was unreal to me that I was in Paris you know. I couldn't understand how that could be. So through the Rotary I have traveled, I think it was 47 countries. So in Europe I had the experience of speaking in places where I walked through as a teenager.

LS: Had they changed a lot? Were any of those ruined by the war you know you said you occupied the peoples homes and things?

BM: Well I don't know about homes but I am sure a lot of things had been destroyed. When I was a Rotarian back at some of those cities why there were bullet holes in the buildings you know, and then I was made Vice President of Rotary International in Munich. So they wrote a convention it was in this gorgeous beautiful park. The grass was like this you know on the hills. They said that Munich had been totally destroyed and you're on top of all the bricks of Munich. They dumped all the bricks and mortar and everything and then they covered it up with mountains of dirt and then planted grass and this rotary convention is on top of the ruins of Munich and that gives you an odd feeling. Because I was a vice president when we got there why they have a factory there in Munich of the Bavarian Motor BMW's. So they gave the president and me each a BMW and a driver while we were those three weeks in Munich. So I thought that I was big stuff over there.

LS: There you got to be better than a Corporal right?

BM: Oh yea, I was just a lowly nobody in the army.

LS: Did you go to any U.S.O shows? I mean with your involvement in the band did you?

BM: No, but over there in Germany why there would be Hollywood personalities with their U.S.O shows come to a certain city and they'd let us get in trucks and go hear it.

LS: Did you ever get to see Bob Hope?

BM: No, but I don't know that I got to see anybody famous but they had good U.S.O shows. Good talent. They'd come to those places away from the lines and put on a show and then they would say up in Heidenhain their having a U.S.O show tonight who wants to go? They would put us in a truck and take us up there. It was just war time everything was just totally different. I often think of these dear soldiers who are fighting on two fronts here being killed. And here we are just living the life of luxury. I am getting a new car you know, and somebody else is over there sacrificing their life. It wasn't that way in World War II. Everybody was involved. In fact there was not a new car to be had. You couldn't get anything. They had rations. You carried these ration cards. You could get so much sugar. There were no tires unless you had a ration card for a tire and people would have blowouts and they were just done in you know. So it was a country that was united in World War II, and I think that's why they call it the war of wars, because it was the greatest war. Cause everybody was involved and I know when my parents took me to the train in Dodge City to go to Europe to the war, why my buddy that was from Liberal, he had gone up to Garden City to get on the train at Garden City and then the train came to Dodge. So he saw my parents and me in the train station at Dodge and he jumped off the train and he was a older man. I was probably 19 and he might have been 22 or 23. Anyway I didn't shave and he did. He was an older man so he told my parents I'll take care of this kid and he did for a long time. Very touching, and now he is dead. I take the American Legion I guess you call it the newsletter. There is always about 50 people that died and it says World War II, World War II. So it is getting down to where World War II veterans are getting scarce.

LS: Well Basil when we started our project we tried to come up with a list of those that were still in this area that these students would be able to contact. When you go back and look how many in the archives of the Kansas State historical that were actually drafted out of Ness City. We probably have about 55.

BM: That are still alive?

LS: In our county. Or that has a direct tie back to our county that we have an address or something for.

BM: World War II?

LS: World War II veterans.

BM: I am surprised we even have that many.

LS: Yea but not all of them are able to be interviewed but we did have that many when we started.

BM: Like my buddy Elton in such a terrible condition.

LS: But he is on our list we want the students to try to ask him if he will let us. Maybe if he knows that we interviewed you he might be more willing to have the students do this.

BM: Yea well he said if I live I am never going to leave that farm, and he hasn't.

LS: A couple more questions I thought of as you talked. You said that you played for a lot of generals as they came back. Do you remember some of those general's names?

BM: No

LS: Okay they were just generals

BM: They were the generals and Washington took care of them to see that they came one at a time. They would never come back home two at a time so that they would get these big hometown parades and then we would go to big cities where they were from like San Antonio. There were many generals out of San Antonio because it was an army town. We would play a lot of parades in San Antonio or Seattle. Wherever there had been military bases.

LS: Then you also said they automatically took ten dollars out every month for a bond. Do you keep those bonds or did you cash them all in?

BM: No I…

LS: And you don't have to answer that if you don't want to.

BM: I don't mind telling you but I kept those until I built this house out here and everything I had I threw into that house. So they had increased in value.

LS: That's what I was wondering had they matured to a.

BM: Yea but those were those little ten dollar bonds every month, but of course that didn't amount to much. I saw no reason to keep them.

LS: And the other thing. Earlier you had mentioned Fort Lewis, Washington, and then when we took our break you would started to describe Fort Lewis to the kids do you mind describing all the buildings like you were, had started?

BM: It was a permanent base and had been a permanent base before the war so all the buildings were brick and it was beautiful. It was south of Seattle down closer to Tacoma. So it was a beautiful base when the parade rounds they and bleachers and they really did things up right. And the barracks were two-story. I said all the barracks were brick that's not a true statement. Some of the barracks were not brick and we were in a barracks that was not brick. Because at that time I was a big time Corporal why I had my own little room. In the second story of barracks and I was right above the boiler and the furnace. They always told me that if ever you hear that whizzing going off why get out of there because the boiler is going to blow. I was always nervous about hearing that. Well one Sunday morning, and we didn't have to get the generals up on Sunday, because they could sleep in, so we slept in. And so on that Sunday morning why here came this gosh awful racket and noise and I leaped out of bed and ran out doors. All the soldiers were running out of the barracks emptying everything and we experienced a big time earth quake. Seattle in that day had about forty story tour, Smith Tower. They said it swayed that those barracks that we were in they just danced we were out there and they had a shock and then an after shock and those wooden barracks just danced you know. So that was an experience there at Fort Lewis but it was a beautiful base. It was just outside of Seattle so our band would go in and they would ask us to parade and we would march at football games at the University of Washington. I had a good time and I loved riding on troop trains. That was a thrill to ride on a troop train because you had a Pullman bed. For somebody from Ness City, Kansas that was big time.

LS: That's what I was going to say. Probably a lot of the people that we have interviewed have said that these are experiences, not that they were all good ones, you would have never. . .

BM: The biggest town that I had ever been in until 19 years old was Dodge City. And to me Dodge City was a big town. That was the biggest I'd ever been in. And then when I had to get on the train and the three of us went to Leavenworth and we got off the train in Kansas City. Then had to take another train up to Leavenworth and I when I saw those skyscrapers in Kansas City. I was just overwhelmed. I had no idea what the world was like because Kansas City had sky scrapers in those days. I am sure you are getting tired of hearing me, but uh so.

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