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Interview on experiences in World War II

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This is a Flint Hills Oral History Project Interview Veterans Series with Mr


This is a Flint Hills Oral History Project World War II Veterans Series Interview with Mr. Joseph Markowitz who resides at 204 East Street in Olpe, Kansas. The interviewer is Loren Pennington Emeritus Professor of History at Emporia State University . Today's date is February 27, 2006 and the interview is taking place at Mr. Markowitz's home.

This is tape 1, side A.

Loren Pennington: Mr. Markowitz, I should say that we met for the first time only recently, but to be informal I will call you Joe and you can call me Loren. And let's begin with a sketch of your life before you entered the service, where you were born, who your parents were, where you went to school, and your occupation before you went into service.

Joseph Markowitz: I was born on July 27th in '21, just two blocks from where we are living right now. I started to school in '27 at St. Joseph's School here in Olpe, Catholic school. I went to school there for twelve years. My twin sisters and I did twelve years at St. Joe's School here in Olpe.

LP: That included high school I take it.

JM: That was grade school and high school.

LP: And your parents?

JM: My parents were Bernard and Elizabeth Markowitz. My mother was born in Parsons, Kansas; my dad was born at Junction City. They both came to Olpe prior to being married. They were married in 1919.

LP: You were among the oldest?

JM: No, my twin sisters are eighteen months older than I am. I am eighty-four now and both of my twin sisters have passed on, the one sister just about a month ago; they were both eighty-five when they died.

LP: These were the only brothers and sisters you had?

JM: No. I have two brothers, one brother who is dead. He spent time in the Navy in World War II and my other brother, John, lived here in Olpe with his wife and his family. My two brothers each have two boys and two girls, pretty much scattered across the country.

LP: What occupation were your parents engaged in?

JM: My dad was a carpenter and a builder; he and his brother, Leo Markowitz from Emporia, were contractors, building contractors. Originally it was strictly home building, and then they got into commercial construction. I started with them in 1932. I was eleven years old. My first job as a carpenter was at Cottonwood Falls.

LP: Did you work pretty steadily as a carpenter even while you were in school?

JM: While I was in school I was working all Saturdays and every day of vacation. I worked as a carpenter up until the day when I enlisted in the Marine Corps; that was in May of '41.

LP: Okay, but to go back a little bit before that, obviously you grew up in the days of the depression?

JM: I sure did.

LP: How did the depression affect your family?

JM: Well, it made us appreciate getting out of it. It was rough for everybody around here. Everyone was just as poor as the other, and having nothing we were no different than our neighbors or our friends.

LP: Did you ever go hungry.

JM: We never did go hungry.

LP: That's what everybody seems to tell me around here.

JM: We always had a garden and my mother always raised chickens, so we always ate well. During the depression time my Dad and his uncle were not fortunate to have any home building, [so] they resorted to making lawn furniture. That went on during `30-'32. After that things were looking up a little bit. [Later on] I was worried that I and some of our friends here in Olpe would be drafted into the Army, and that was the main reason that I became a Marinejust to keep from being [drafted into the Army].

LP: To keep from being in the Army [you] went into the Marine Corps; from my point of view as an Army veteran, I don't know if you made a wise choice. Obviously the draft started up in 1940, so that's what you are talking about. Before we go into that, let me ask this: this of course is the time when the world is falling apart, Hitler is on the rise, Japan is moving in the Far East. Did you and your family take much interest in these foreign goings on?

JM: We did in the trouble with the Germans. The main reason was because my ancestors were German. Now, we weren't concerned here in Olpe about what the Japanese were doing, or threatening to do.

LP: But the Germans, you were interested in. Your ancestors really had come over fairly recentlyfrom eastern Germany? Prussia?

JM: One from Prussia and one from Germany, yes. My father's folks came from Prussia and my mother's folks from Germany.

LP: Did you ever speak German at home?

JM: No, we never did. But I could understand my grandfather Markowitz. He would talk German to me almost exclusively. After a while I could make out because he would use enough English words in there, and we could have a conversation. I spent a lot of time with my Granddad when I wasn't working, after school and so on. I would go down and work in the garden with Grampa Markowitz.

LP: So we do come up to 1940 then, the draft has started. When did you go into the Marine Corps?

JM: I went into the Marine Corps in May of '41. The time that I went in, my brother George, who later went into the Navy, poor guy, he came by the job that I was working on in Emporia. He said, ``Let's go tomorrow and see if we can get in the Marine Corps.'' I said, ``What do you know about the Marine Corps?'' He said, ``I don't know about you, but we don't want to go in the Army.'' So we both went to the recruiting office in Emporia, and I remember it was Sergeant Bottom that was recruiting at that time. He sent me for some reason to Kansas City to enlist. I went to Kansas City and came back and had to tell my folks that I didn't get in because I was slightly color blind in a light gray-green combination. So I went then the next day and told Sergeant Bottom in Emporia that, and he said, ``I should have checked a little closer before I sent you to Kansas City because their quota is filled there. But if you are intent on getting into the Marine Corps I will get you a pass to go to Oklahoma City.'' I went to Oklahoma City the next day and got in. I didn't come back to Olpe at allI went directly from there to San Diego, and I didn't get back home until after a year in the Pacific.

LP: Did you go to San Diego for. . . .

JM: To report for boot camp. And then after boot camp I went to six months of sea school.

LP: Let's talk about boot camp for a minute.

JM: All right.

LP: How did you get along there?

JM: I got along really well. I liked it. I was accustomed to work and I didn't look for any favors. I got along.

LP: How was the food?

JM: The food was good. It wasn't anything that I would write home and brag about, but it was good and there was enough of it. I was accustomed to eating too much of things like fat pork when I was still home as a kid, but I didn't mind the food we had in boot camp in San DiegoI got along with it really well.

LP: How did you feel about Marine Corps discipline?

JM: I didn't want to think about any other service. I was just glad that for some reason in my mind from what I had read or heard that it was the Marine Corps that I wanted to get into and I was glad.

LP: How about the discipline there?

JM: I really felt sorry for those who could not cope with discipline. I had absolutely no trouble with it being, from a German family; I always thought they were strict, but not too strict. So I had absolutely no trouble coping with the discipline in boot camp or sea school and later on when I was aboard ship.

LP: Do you think this had anything to do with your parochial upbringing?

JM: I know it did. I learned going to school here at St. Joe's that I definitely didn't talk back to authority, and I learned that at home to start with.

LP: So when you got to the Marine Corps that was nothing new. So you went on to advance camp, where was this?

JM: The only advance camp I went to was. . . .

LP: I mean after boot camp.

JM: Sea school. There we learned what was going to be expected of us aboard a ship. So it didn't come as a surprise when I found out. First of all [there was] the trip across from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, where I actually caught the ship that I spent quite a bit of time on. It was rough going on a troop ship, which was the Wharton. Then when we transferred to the Enterprise, which was not in port at the time we got there; I remember we went to Company B, which was a guard company in Pearl Harbor where we spent just about a day and a night before we were sent aboard the Enterprise.

LP: Do you remember just when you were sent aboard the carrier Enterprise?

JM: In July of '41.

LP: You got to Pearl Harbor when?

JM: In July of '41.

LP: You got to Pearl Harbor in July of '41?

JM: Yes.

LP: When did you originally enlist in the Marine Corps?

JM: In May of '41, May the 16th.

LP: By July you were in Pearl Harbor?

JM: I was in Pearl Harbor.

LP: You were assigned to the [carrier] Enterprise.

JM: Right, the carrier Enterprise.

LP: What job were you assigned to on the carrier?

JM: When we first got aboard, all of the Marines aboard the Enterprise, with the exception of probably eight or ten orderlies for the admiral, the exec[utive officer], and the gunnery officer, were assigned to five-inch gun batteries. We had two of the aft gun batteries; that's the port and starboard side aft on the ship.

LP: What did you expect to shoot at with five-inch guns?

JM: Sometimes we shot at sleeves that were towed by a plane. We were probably on the five-inch no more that four months before the 20mm anti-aircraft guns were introduced and then we were assigned to the 20s and there were probably four batteries that were ours. Eventually I was the corporal in charge of the starboard amidship battery.

LP: Now you are talking about the 20mm; are they on the carrier before Pearl Harbor?

JM: No, no. After.

LP: All right, you are in Pearl Harbor then. Were you able to go ashore on leave and so forth on weekends?

JM: When we first got on the ship, no. It was probably not before we had gone out to gunnery practice, and that was probably a month of cruising off to the west of Pearl Harbor and the Hawaiian Islands. Then when we came back that time we were given liberty time and that was only for a weekend.

LP: So you didn't get off much into Honolulu or any other places?

JM: We didn't get off much in Honolulu, no.

LP: Well, you were on a very famous cruise right before Pearl Harbor because in November they sent the carrier Enterprise out to Wake Island and you were on that cruise. What can you tell me about that cruise?

JM: That was a shock. Admiral Halsey was on, and we went out to take the Marine squadron of planes to Wake Island. Later on when Wake Island was attacked by the Japs a number of those planes were destroyed. Then we came back into Pearl Harbor, and on the way in from Wake Island into Pearl Harbor our planes were launched because the Japs were already attacking the island, and a number of our planes were shot down by the American gunners on shore.

LP: Who took them for Japanese. I think that was when they came in at night. Some of them had landed and had taken off again, and [when they came back] everybody was still expecting the Japanese and they were firing at anything.

JM: It was right after that, after we got back out to sea, that we were on a two-man sub mission. That is the planes were out searching for these two-man subs that came in at the same time the Japanese planes from the carrier were making the attack on Pearl Harbor.

LP: Where did you hear about the attack?

JM: We were still out at sea when we heard that the island was being attacked. It was a shock to us because we actually were getting our dress blues ready to go on liberty in the United States; that's where we were going to go after we took the planes out to Wake until the Japs screwed us up and started attacking Pearl Harbor.

LP: Was Saratoga in Pearl there or was it already back at the West Coast? [Saratoga had been sent back to the West Coasted.]

JM: Saratoga, to the guys off the Enterprise, was having a lot of trouble out there [before the attack]. It was running into the submarine nets and didn't seem to get along real well with operations [at Pearl].

LP: And I suppose this gave you guys a laugh.

JM: It sure gave us a laugh. We thought it was funny, and now I've got a neighbor over here that was aboard the Saratog he wasn't at the time, it was after thatbut I don't say anything much about laughing at the trouble the Saratoga was having. But the other carriers that we had any knowledge of were the Lexington, the Yorktown, the Wasp, and the Hornet. [Wasp and Hornet, the two newest American carriers, were not stationed at Pearl at the time of the attacked.]

LP: That's all of the carriers [we had]?

JM: That's all of the carriers; there was a small carrier on the east coast, the Langley, which did come out there but as far we ever found out she never got into any action whatever. [The Langley was sunk in the East Indies February 17, 1942ed.]

LP: Okay. You came into Pearl Harbor [aboard Enterprise]. What did you see and what did you think?

JM: We could see the fires and the smoke from the planes and the buildings that had been set on fire by the attack of the Japanese planes. It was a mess. Naturally we were all worried and that's where we picked up the name ``The Galloping Ghost,'' because we came in the night of December the 7th to rearm and refuel and we went back out to sea before light the next morning. That's where we picked up the name ``The Galloping Ghost,'' because they didn't see us come in and they didn't see us go out.

LP: You were gone when they got up the next day. What was the general feeling among the crew at this time?

JM: We saw a number of the ships, the major ships, that had been hit. Like the big one that I remember that had been hit was the West Virginia, and the reason I mention that at all is because there was a very good friend of mine who came from this little town of Olpe that was aboard the West Virginia. Later on we learned that the lucky cuss happened to be off at the time because he went with what they call an ammunition lighter; they went out to pick up more ammunition from the base there at Pearl Harbor and bring it aboard the West Virginia. She was attacked by Jap planes when they were on the way back in with the ammunition. That same man, Herbert Brown, who had been assigned to the West Virginia was reassigned to the Salt Lake City; that was a cruiser. The Salt Lake City operated with the Enterprise when we went down to the New Hebrides.

LP: The war is going to go on; something has to be done. One of the things done early in the war, in January and February, and I believe the Enterprise was in on this, is a raid down into the Marshall Islands. Did you go on this voyage?

JM: Yes.

LP: What commentary would you have to that?

JM: We heard at the time that there was a young Roosevelt that was out there leading. The Americans were going to try to take part of those Marshall Islands at that time, and young Roosevelt was down there leading a troop and we were pretty proud of him.

LP: This was the President's son?

JM: President's son, yes.

LP: Admiral Halsey was in command; he had been in command of the trip to Wake. Did you conceive an opinion of Admiral Halsey?

JM: Yes, the whole ship's crew, the sailors and marines aboard the Enterprise, were a proud outfit because we were lucky we didn't get hit December the 7th. But the Enterprise exploits [under Halsey] were more or less built up by the newspapers and we were a proud bunch. If ever we got liberty on land we were proud we could tell people we were off the Enterprise.

LP: How successful was that raid down into the Marshalls?

JM: It wasn't. It really wasn't

LP: Why not?

JM: All it showed was that we could go down there and attack. It didn't accomplish a lot, I don't believe.

LP: You did go on another raid in April of '42 I believe. The one with Jimmy Doolittle that bombed Tokyo. Comment on that.

JM: Yes, Jimmy Doolittle's planes were aboard the Hornet and the Enterprise was assigned to do escort duty. The planes that were being sent over to make the attack on Tokyo and Japan did not allow any launchings or landings of their own planes on the Hornet, and the Enterprise was escorting out there in order to do what they called an ``umbrella protection'' over the task force.

LP: Combat air patrol. In other words you were not carrying any of the planes that were going to bomb Tokyo; your job was to protect the carrier that was carrying the [attack] planes. They were carrying B-25s, and these planes could not make it back to the carrier; they had to go on to China.

JM: To China to land.

LP: This of course was a very famous raid. How important was it?

JM: There was a lot of propaganda that was gained there, by the way of showing the American people that the ships out there were doing their duty by going out there. But it was a scary thing. Everybody that I was associated with was worried about being that darn close to the enemy.

LP: Why especially?

JM: We weren't equipped to fight off any attack from the Japs, although we knew there weren't any planes that were able to reach us. We stayed out far enough from the mainland of Japan that we shouldn't have felt that way, but it always seemed that some time or other they still could get to us. In fact, early in the war, we had Japanese planes over us and they would bomb us. But really they would stay so high that their aim wasn't so good. We did get some very near misses from the bombs that were dropped by the Japs.

LP: But this is later, not on the Doolittle raid?

JM: Yes.

LP: Did you run into any Japanese picket boats?

JM: There were picket boats that were spotted by the Americans, but no, there was no trouble.

LP: They didn't cause you any trouble, did you cause them trouble?

JM: No; just to let them know we were there.

LP: That's what they were out there forto find out whether you were there. This was a very famous raid, but of course the most important thing that happened in 1942 was the Battle of Midway, and I take it that you were on that?

JM: Yes, we were.

LP: By this time you don't have Admiral Halsey any more; he was sick. Who's in

command now?

JM: It must have been. . . .

LP: It was Admiral [Frank Jack] Fletcher. Did you know of him at all?

JM: No.

LP: Okay. What can you tell me about the Battle of Midway from the point of view of a crewman?

JM: All the time that the Enterprise task force was out in the area we didn't know just what the Jap's aim was; whether they were coming back to Pearl Harbor, or to Midway. There was some conversation about them going up to Alaska.

Tape 1, side B.

LP: We started to talk about the Battle of Midway. In retrospect this was one of the decisive battles of the war.

JM: It very definitely was.

LP: Were you and your fellow crewmen knowledgeable enough to know the importance of this battle at the time it happened?

JM: No, no, we sure weren't. The big concern of ours at the Battle of Midway was what was happening to the Yorktown that was sitting away off on the horizon. It was taking a lot of the attack away from the Enterprise and its task force and [the attack] was going over to the Yorktown. [We] actually watched the Yorktown being hit by bombs. It was an aggravating thing for us; if there is one carrier you will have the fighter planes above protecting you. There should have been fighter planes on the Yorktown that should have been [up there], along with our planes, but the way it was it was split. There were planes that were above the Enterprise and there were very few that were above the Yorktown, and it was really an aggravation to watch them sitting over there by themselves and being attacked. Enterprise wasn't singled out by the Japanese planes.

LP: You were not significantly attacked in that battle?

JM: That's right, very little.

LP: Of course the Yorktown eventually went down while under tow.

JM: It was sunk.

LP: Well, after the Battle of Midway you were moving into the Southwest Pacific; the Americans later in that year, in the late fall, were invading the Solomon Islands and particularly Guadalcanal and several sea battles were fought. Was the Enterprise in on the invasion itself?

JM: The main objective of the Enterprise planeswhen we're talking about being in on the attack, it is our planes that were in on the attack. They were down there in and around Guadalcanal helping protect the men that were being landed on the Solomon Islands and trying to keep the Japanese from bringing more Japanese in on the island.

LP: I believe the big thing that the Enterprise was involved in was the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands which took place on October 26th and 27th in 1942. By this time Halsey had replaced Admiral Ghormley as commander in the South Pacific. This battle was the prelude to the Japanese attempts to capture Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. There wasn't much around at that time because Lexington is gone, Yorktown is gone, Wasp is gone, Saratoga is undergoing repairs and all you have left is the Big E and Hornet. They were the only two that were in this Battle of Santa Cruz. Admiral [Thomas] Kincaid [commanded the Enterprise group]. Do you remember him? He was in charge. How did you do in this battle?

JM: That is the one where I got hit. Our planes had gone out and met the Japanese planes that were coming toward our group of ships. We didn't really know anything about it until we saw the planes coming down, the dive bombers, and there were a few torpedo planes that I remember coming towards the ship, and some of them would come so close to the ship that we could see our tracers going into the sides of the torpedo planes. As soon as you could see the tracers going into either the dive bombers, or a few times into the fighters, they would blow; they'd be set on fire. You could see a line of tracers going into the torpedo planes, but it wouldn't knock them down. There were a few of them that we saw down in the water after being hit. Probably the pilots were hit, but it wasn't doing enough damage to the planes to knock them out of commission to where they couldn't come in and drop their torpedoes. We did get word after the attack that there were torpedoes that came toward the Enterprise and either they went to the side or under the ship. Although we saw a number of them, we weren't hit by any torpedoes. Always the dive bombers, when they were coming down, just prior to releasing the bomb, would let go a burst of their 7.7 guns that were fixed, one on each of the wings. There was one bomb that had an instantaneous fuse on it, and when it went off it made quite a show that was used as a propaganda thing later on. But it exploded right in back of my gun battery, no more than twenty or thirty feet away; most of the shrapnel went up and above us. Unluckily one of the pieces of shrapnel hit my helmet, dead center in the front of my helmet, and came out between the liner on the helmet and my scalp. It split my scalp, and to this day I have a number of pieces of steel that came out of my helmet where it was turned down, and those pieces of steel are still in my scalp. Later, after I got out of the service, I had a wreck with my pickup truck at Lawrence, Kansas. I went out through the windshield and lay on the hood. Luckily there was a nurse driving a car right behind me and she patched me up. I spent the night in the hospital at Lawrence, and then I asked to be transferred to St. Mary's Hospital in Emporia. When the doctor took x-rays of my head he said, ``Joe, they didn't do a very good job of cleaning that wound before they patched you up.'' I said, ``That isn't from that.'' He thought it was gravel, and I explained my war story to him.

        
That night, it wasn't from that hit but from another near miss, our steering gear was knocked out of commission, and I remember we were very worried that night. The ship was going in circles and we knew there were submarines in the area and we just knew that we were going to be hit. Luckily we weren't. There were two hits on the Enterprise, one that was on the inboard side of the ship from my gun battery and then

there was one that went through the aft end of the ship and exploded down on about 4th deck. I remember the next day I had a big wrapping around my head and I wasn't sent down to help get the guys out of down below or the ones that were on the gun deck where some of the powder cases had blown on the five-inch gun battery. You had to break their arms or legs to get them off of their positions on the gun deck. That was my only advantage in getting hit.

LP: Okay. The Hornet went down in that battle.

JM: It sure did.

LP: And you were damaged.

JM: Yes, we were damaged.

LP: You are at that point the last carrier left out there?

JM: Yes, when the ship went back to Pearl Harbor for temporary repairs.

LP: Oh, you went clear back to Pearl?

JM: Yes, back to Pearl. Well, I'm getting ahead of my story. Actually the ship went back to Pearl, [but] I didn't. I got off down in the New Hebrides and got off with the flag down there and the ship eventually went to Pearl for temporary [repair] and then went on to Bremerton, Washington for repairs.

LP: This is after this particular matter?

JM: After the Battle of Santa Cruz.

LP: Did it first go back to Nomia [?] in New Caledonia?

JM: Yes, in fact we weren't in New Caledonia for the damage, we were in New Caledonia just before the battle.

LP: So Enterprise went back to Pearl and you are off. And where are you?

JM: I was off, and then I went from Pearl on a ship back to the United States. I went to San Francisco and from there we went back to Pearl and then from Pearl we got on the Essex, and I served on the Essex for nearly a year.

LP: This is one of the new carriers. The Essex is a large carrier; it's not one of the escort carriers?

JM: Oh, no. It's a first line carrier.

LP: It's one of the new carriers.

JM: If I remember correctly, the Enterprise was nine hundred and ninety feet long and the Essex was no more than thirty or forty feet less, but it was a major carrier.

LP: And you served on the Essex until the end of the war?

JM: No, I did not. I served my last time in the service at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina.

LP: Now let see if I have everything straight here. After the Battle of Santa Crux Island the carrier Enterprise goes back to Hawaii. You didn't go back right away.

JM: I didn't go back right away.

LP: But you eventually did go back to Hawaii?

JM: I went back to Hawaii just to catch the Essex.

LP: You didn't go home.

JM: I didn't go home until I got off of the Essex for ten days to go home, and then went to Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. While I was at Camp LeJeune we went down to Puerto Rico and Cuba. They were having trouble down there in Cuba, so we went down and we were there just as kind of a guard source.

LP: Let's back up and make sure we've got every straight here. After the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, the carrier goes back to Hawaii, you go to. . . .

JM: Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides.

LP: What did you do there?

JM: I was in charge of what they called the flag Marines; they were orderlies that were directed to be orderlies to the flag, the flag being the admiral and his staff.

LP: How long were you there?

JM: Less than six months, I was there four or five months.

LP: Then you go back to the United States?

JM: No, from the New Hebrides I went back to Pearl Harbor and we caught a ship that took us to San Francisco. From San Francisco we came back to Hawaii and that's when I got on the Essex.

LP: You didn't get home at all while you were back in the United States?

JM: No.

LP: You're back on the Essex, now where do you go?

JM: Pearl Harbor, and I was on the Essex about a year before I was sent back for assignment; actually we went back to San Francisco again. From there we were reassigned to either the East Coast or the West Coast. I was assigned to the East Coast and there I got with . . . this was eighty years ago.

LP: Well, not quite eighty.

JM: Seventy some years ago and a lot of it gets really fuzzy.

LP: Let's back up just a minute. Where did you go the year you were on the Essex?

JM: I was in charge of a 20mm gun battery.

LP: Were you involved in any battles during that time?

JM: No. Our ship made the first and second Marcus raids, I seem to remember, on the Essex. We were threatening to make that Truk raid. Everyone was worried about that because Truk was supposed to be a major Japanese base, and we could imagine all kinds of hell coming our way.

LP: So you didn't actually go on the last Truk raid?

JM: No, no.

LP: Then you came back to the United States, you went down to Camp LeJeune?

JM: I went to Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. While there we went to Puerto Rico and Cuba.

LP: For what purpose?

JM: It was a show for force to break up what we heard was a fight between two different factions there on Puerto Rice.

LP: How long did you stay in Puerto Rico?

JM: Probably no longer more four months.

LP: When did you get out?

JM: I got out in '47.

LP: `47 would be way over a year after the war was over.

JM: Six years after I got in.

LP: Oh, you made a six year enlistment?

JM: I actually enlisted for four years, but they dropped that bomb and I extended my enlistment two years. At the time I was being discharged going through the medical inspections, they found out that I had TB spots on my lungs, so I was sent up to Great Lakes because that was a closer location to Olpe than being anywhere in North Carolina; so it was from there that I was discharged in '47.

LP: I see. Now, let's kind of look at this thing in retrospect. You just mentioned the bomb for instance. Do you remember that day when it was dropped? What was your view of that when it was dropped? What were your thoughts?

JM: The first thought was that I had extended my enlistment for two years, what in heck is going to happen now. But they didn't keep me any longer. I did my six years and got out.

LP: Where you relieved when the bomb ended the war?

JM: Very much relieved, and we did not have the compassion that probably the people here in the United States had about what a terrible thing that was. But to us it was something that ended the war, and that was what we wanted. That's what we were out there for.

LP: You thought that dropping the bomb at that time was perfectly justified?

JM: I think so, yes.

LP: Do you still think that way today?

JM: Yes. Something big had to be done to stop them.

LP: Let me ask you some other questions. Now, you were in the Marine Corps. We ordinarily think of Marines as very tough characters. So I don't know how to ask you this question. Did you feel much stress while you were in the Marine Corps?

JM: In what respect?

LP: So that you were stressed out.

JM: I didn't after I got off the Enterprise. When I was on the Enterprise, I along with a lot more of us, were really stressed because anything could or generally did happen.

LP: As one fellow put it, death was only that far away. At least at times. What did you think of Americas war-time leaderswhat did you think of President Roosevelt?

JM: We didn't criticize them; the only leader that the Marines didn't think highly of

was. . . .

LP: Don't tell me!

JM: [laugh]

LP: Was who?

JM: MacArthur.

LP: Why was that?

JM: Well, all of this ballyhoo that we heard down there at the time was, ``And I will return.'' Well, he wouldn't have had to return if he hadn't ducked out of there when things got hot. He should have stayed there [was] the way we felt. He should have stayed there and helped the guys that couldn't get away.

LP: You're talking about Bataan.

JM: Right.

LP: He was ordered off.

JM: I know he was ordered off.

LP: You seemed to indicate earlier that you had a strong feeling of admiration for Admiral Halsey; is that correct?

JM: Oh, definitely, very definitely.

LP: How about Admiral Nimitz?

JM: Admiral Nimitz was good for looking out after the whole theater out there.

LP: What did you think of President Truman?

JM: He signed something I've got here commending all of us that were out there during the war; but he wasn't a leader like Roosevelt was, I didn't think.

LP: Were you awarded any medals or citations?

JM: I've got the letter saying that I continued firing until I was wounded, and I have been trying for over a year to get my Purple Heart that is due me because of having been hit. But other than getting the Pacific Medal and the American, the Purple Heart was the only thing, and I didn't get it.

LP: What was your opinion of your immediate officerswere you well commanded?

JM: I'll tell you my real opinion. There was one of the Marine captains that was aboard the Enterprise that eventually got out to camp LeJeune, and I used to golf with him. So that ought to tell you something.

LP: Did you conceive any opinion of the enemy, the Japanese?

JM: I had a mixed feeling. Aboard the Enterprise we used to have some of the Jap prisoners that would be brought aboard to be put into the brig on the ship and I used to feel sorry for them, they looked very pitiful. But I had an altogether different opinion then than I did when we were being attacked. The same Battle of Santa Cruz where I got hit, there were seventy-some planes that hit us in just a matter of minutes. I wouldn't have felt sorry for any one of those guys who ended up alive on the ship. I knew from stories about some of the things that the American service men pulled when they were on Guadalcanal and so on and some of the things that they [the Japanese] pulled, that the Japanese would be every bit as bad as the treatment that the Japanese were given. I never did really feel sorry for the Japs, truthfully.

LP: Let's go on to after the war. What did you do? Did you go to school, did you take some time off? What did you do when you got out of service?

JM: I didn't take any time off. I got home from Camp LeJeune one Friday night. I came back on a bus to Emporia. And I went down to Haynes Hardware on the Friday night and I picked up some carpenter tools that I thought I might need to add to my tool box to go back to work on Monday morning. And I did. I got home on a Friday night and I went back to carpentering on Monday morning. I worked for Markowitz Builders, who at that time was my dad and my uncle Leo. Since that time I have been in construction. One day that same brother that got me into the Marine Corpstalked me into going out and enlisting``Joe,'' he said, ``There's going to be a flooring job let up at Emporia State.'' That was the women's dormitory that was just being built, and so then for a period of eight or ten years, during which time I got married, my brother George and myself and the crew that we had went over the country laying floors. For the biggest part of the time it was working at Army bases. We had some of the flooring, wallcovering, and even some glazing at the Air Academy at Colorado Springs. From there we went down to Albuquerque after we did a couple of big jobs at Fort Carson and at an air force base prior to going to Albuquerque and working at flooring, wallcovering, and even ceilings. We did a lot of acoustic ceilings. My wife and I were married in '48, the year after I got out of the Marine Corps in '47.

LP: Your wife's name is what?

JM: My wife's name is Marie. She was Marie Hohne, and in the time that we were married we moved wherever the biggest job was or biggest accumulation of work that I had bid. We would build or buy a home there.

This is tape 2, side A.

LP: And Joe, you were talking about your carpentering experience and Markowitz Builders and meeting your wife.

JM: Yes, we were married in '48, and in our almost sixty years of marriage we have moved twenty-six times. As I said the reason for that is we would either build or buy a home in a places such as Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, Topeka, Kansas, and Omaha, Nebraska. We spent approximately four years in each of those places, and the reason is I bid and got jobs in those places.

LP: Let me ask you this question. You were working for Markowitz Builders and now you are working because you travel around for a different company, the MB Company. The M stands for Markowitz and the B for Builders.

JM: Out of Wichita.

LP: Tell me a little bit about your family.

JM: I believe I said this before on this tape that I have two brothers and each one of us have two boys and two girls.

LP: So you have a total of twelve.

JM: We planned it that way!

LP: Oh, come on! How long have you been retired?

JM: I don't think I ever will retire. Actually I quit carpentering and I quit the company in Wichita, but since that time my wife and I together have a furniture repair and restoration [business] that we have had. We bought a piece of property that had a barn on it that was built by my granddad on my mother's side. It was built in 1908, and we have rebuilt that barn to be a retirement thing, if there is ever such a thing for me; a place for our children, our grandchildren and now our great-grandchildren. We have two great-grandchildren. There is a shop in this barn where I do restoration work, and I've got stuff scattered in eight or nine central statesstuff that I have rebuilt for someone. In fact just right now I'm incapacitated in that I just had two cataracts removed and I have had heart trouble, and because of the combination of that the doctor tells me that I can't go down and be in that dust in my shop. Maybe that is my retirement, sitting here in a rocking chair reading. In spite of the fact that my eyes haven't completely healed up, I can still see enough to read. All the time I was in the service, either my mother or my dad would write a letter every week and my mother always ended her letter with, ``Joe, keep busy.'' I think that is one reason that I haven't spent more time in the rocking chair here. I like to work. I never once woke up in the morning not wanting to go to work; I have always wanted and made a special effort to go to work. What other people call work to me is enjoyment. And I'm not bragging. It's just the way I was brought up. Maybe the nuns here think St. Joseph's school had something to do with it.

LP: Have you made use of the GI Bill for any purpose?

JM: Never at all.

LP: You never used it for education? I thought that maybe in the building business you would have had a GI loan.

JM: Yes, in my business we worked at a lot of military bases over the country. In fact the Air Academy was one of our big jobs. One that we really enjoyed.

LP: Have you been active in veterans organizations?

JM: I have been a lifetime member of the VFW from the time, I guess, maybe either '48 or '49 when I joined the VFW.

LP: Was this in Emporia?

JM: Here in Emporia, also the American Legion. I belong to the Legion in Emporia although I'm living in Olpe, have since '72 or `73.

LP: As you think back, how do you think your wartime service and America in the war affected your later life?

JM: Probably the big thing is, it made me appreciate having a job and doing something that I think is an accomplishment. President Truman, when he made his big speech about service men and what they've done for their country, I think I can get the most done by either going down to my shop or in some of the construction around the country that I have been in.

LP: The United States really became involved in the world through the war and has continued to be involved in the world to a very great extent. We're not the way it was when you and I were back in the Thirties and it was over there and we were over here.

How do you think your wartime service affects the way you think about America's role in the world today?

JM: I do think about it. I believe that when, Loren, you and I, were in the service we knew what we were there for. I actually feel for the guys who are in the service now, who seem to be floating around not knowing just why they are there or what they are supposed to be doing there. At the time we were in we knew who the enemy was and we knew what we were supposed to be doing, what we were out there for.

LP: Well, Joe, we've kind of come to the end of this interview. Before we close, is there anything you want to say or talk about that we haven't talked about?

JM: My wife says I talk too much always. But, no I'm not sorry about any of the time I spent in the service; in fact I'm really proud of it and I think it has made me a better man now that I'm out.

LP: Would you do it again under the same circumstancesnot at your age, but at the same age?

JM: I would hate to think that there would be a time when we would have to go through the things we had to go through then.

LP: But you don't regret doing it?

JM: I don't regret a bit of it. I'm glad to reflect back on the problems I thought I had back then. My problems now are in some respectsI guess maybe they're biggerbut I don't feel badly about any of that time that I put in.

LP: Joe, I want to thank you very much for this interview today, and we'll get it out to you.

[Interview ends tape 2, side A, count 108.]



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