Kansas MemoryKansas Memory

Kansas Historical SocietyKansas Historical Society

Interview on experiences in World War II

Item Description Bookbag Share




Interview of Allen Muschbach on by Lynett Stenzel and and Loren Stenzel


Interview of Allen Musbach, World War II Veteran



Interview transcribed by Ness City High School Audio-Video Technology Class. Interview conducted by Lynette Stenzel and Loren Stenzel on July 18, 2006.

LS: My name is Lynette Stenzel, and with me today is Loren Stenzel and we are here to interview Allen Musbach, a World War II veteran from Ness County, as part of our oral history project recording history's of World War II veterans. Would you please state your name?

AM: Allen Musbach.

LS: Date of birth?

AM: February 1, 1920.

LS: And where were you born at?

AM: Born in Ness City, Kansas.

LS: Could you tell us what you parents' name were?

AM: Dad's name was Harvey Musbach and my mother's name was Catherine Nonnast Musbach.

LS: And your siblings? Could you tell me about your siblings. Who they are?

AM: I have three sisters. Irene Stenzel, Mrs. Ralph Stenzel. Arlene, Mrs. Frank Miller;. and Vi, Mrs. Earl Burditt.

LS: What were you doing before you entered the service?

AM: I was working at the Ness County News as a printer. Run the line of type once in awhile and the press, and threw together different ads and things like that. The weekend we had to do commercial printing, like letterheads, envelopes, and all that type of stuff. Commercial printing.

LS: Do you remember hearing that Pearl Harbor was bombed?

AM: Yes.

LS: Can you tell us anything about what you recall from that day?

AM: Well, it was on December 7, 1941. I and some of my friends went to Dodge City just to horse around that day. We went to Beeson Museum. While we were there at that museum that's when we heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. Course we thought oh yeah this isn't gonna last long you know. Japan isn't going to last very long you know.

LS: Do you recall when you guys were coming back discussing it, did any of you that was there feel like it might affect your life?

AM: I think we all did. Course I was out of high school. I had been out for probably two or three years. My friends were still in high school. Seniors in high school. So I think we all realized that before everything was over with we would be involved in it.

LS: Other than you, do you remember were any of the other ones drafted as well?

AM: You know I don't know. I was gone, had gone to service before they graduated from high school. So I don't know whether they were enlisted or if they were drafted. I don't know. But I know the friends that I did run around with, that all served in the Navy.

LS: Were you drafted or did you enlist?

AM: I was drafted.

LS: Do you remember being drafted?

AM: I, my birthday was February 1st and my sisters gave me a birthday party. So on the 1st of February I had my birthday party and my friends were there. Three days later, on February the 4th I raised my right hand and said I will do my best to defend the constitution and of the United States and all of its' enemies foreign and domestic. That was when I was inducted at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

LS: Since you were drafted did you get to choose which branch of service you'd be serving in or when they were drafted did they just go to the army.

AM: I just went wherever they said go.

LS: And which branch of service did you serve in?

AM: I was in the infantry.

LS: From Fort Leavenworth or while you were at Fort Leavenworth were you there for awhile for training and then do you remember kind of where you went from there?

AM: I wasn't there for any training other than just maybe the basic things of what we were suppose to know since we were going to be in the military. But I do know we had to learn our serial number before we could ever get a pass. So anyway, but I wasn't there more than a week if I was there that long. Then we were shipped to. . . I was. . . to and some others. Joe Leikem from Ness City was. . . he and I ended up in Little Rock, Arkansas. Camp Robinson and that's where we took our basic training.

LS: How long were you there?

AM: I was there from February until probably the middle of April in 1942.

LS: And after you were done?

AM: After I finished with my basic training at Camp Robinson, why we were loaded up with winter equipment. We said oh boy Alaska here we come. But we ended up in Camp Shelby, Mississippi.

LS: With winter equipment?

AM: With winter equipment. So after we got there we were just free transportation to get all that stuff there for somebody else to use and go someplace else. So we were at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. I was there then from the, I guess it was probably the middle of April until the last of September in 1942. Then we were shipped to Fort Ord, California. We spent probably a couple weeks at the most in Fort Ord. We got the equipment and had to clean it. The cosmoline from our baronets and stuff like that. Then we went to San Francisco. And from there we left for over seas October 3rd.

LS: Did you remember realizing that you would be going over seas or did they tell you, or did you just?

AM: We knew.We realized it, especially when headed for San Francisco. There was only one way to go.

LS: Could you share with us a little bit about what being in the infantry. . .maybe a little bit about your training or how you were trained for the infantry, if you were going to tell somebody about your infantry career?

AM: Well, of course we did a lot of walking all the time. Everywhere we went we walked. And of course. we always had at the end of our training, we had a forest march. Full field equipment. I don't remember, I think it was close to probably twenty-five miles. It was at night time. We did a lot of what we called worked out technical problems out in the woods. More or less like it might be in combat you know. That's about the way I remember it.

LS: Did you get to go home before you were shipped over seas ever, once you entered the service?

AM: I had a ten-day furlough right after we finished up some of our training in Mississippi. I got to come home for ten days. I rode the bus all the way from Hattiesburg, Mississippi to Dodge City. Then I took the bus up from Dodge City to Ness City. That's when they had buses going back and forth.

LS: Did your family know you were coming home?

AM: Yes. I told them I was coming home.

LS: Did you stay in contact once you went back then, and you were going to go over seas did you stay in contact with people back here. Did you get letters and write letters?

AM: I did to a certain extent. I kind of lost contact with a lot of the kids I knew. But every once in awhile I would get a letter form one of them. Then maybe when I had the time I would write to them. I always had contact with my mother, dad, and my sisters. Uncle Joe would write to me once in awhile. But I have a few letters. My sisters and written, Mom had written. I have one or two from dad that he wrote to me He became ill after I left for over seas. He was ill for probably three or four months with a heart problem. He passed away when I was over seas. But I still have a letter. I have one letter what they used to call V-Mail. It was just a little ole thing you wrote out. The took a picture of it. Suppose to save space and so I had a couple of those.

LS: You said that your father passed away while you were over seas. Were you able to be contacted?

AM: They never did contact me. The Red Cross at that time told Mom they wouldn't be able to be contact me. They didn't know where I was at that time. That's what we were told anyway, what they were told. So I didn't know that dad had passed away until March I guess of 1943. We were on a little island called the Russell Islands and I got mail that day. A letter was from mom. She said in there, said well my cousin Harold and my Uncle Jewell had come home for dad's funeral. That's the first I'd known dad had passed away. Kind of a bomb shell you know. Of course I knew he wasn't well but. . .

LOS: You mentioned when you were on the Russell Islands so you were in the Pacific Theater then?

AM: Yes. When we first went over it took us about twenty-one days to go. On the ship one day, one of my buddies came over to me and said'' Hey smiley.'' They called me Smiley. I don't know why, but they called me smiley. So he said, ``We got somebody over here that's from Ness City.'' ``Aw get out,'' I said, ``isn't anybody on here from Ness City.''

``Yes there is too. Come on along and we we'll take you over to him.'' So I went with them to another part of the ship and lo and behold it was Elmer Fairbank from Ransom. So we become buddies. I knew Elmer when he was in high school. He played football and basketball and those things you know. We kind of budied together you know especially over seas. He was in the medical corp but later on was attached to our company so I got to see him quite a little bit.

LS: What was your company Uncle Al?

AM: The Company that I served in was Company E the 103rd infantry regiment and the Forty-third division.

LOS: Was that your first boat trip?

AM: That was the first time I was ever out on the ocean.

LOS: How did you handle that?

AM: I handled it pretty well. However, the first night I was pretty sick. I wasn't gonna go feed the fish. No sirree not me. Some guys were on the boat, I heard one fellow hollering ``I wish the Japanese would find this ship and sink it.'' He had to be real sick to say that. But anyway, the next morning I said boy I can't take this all the way over there. so I went up on deck and fed the fish. Just that one time and I never had anymore problems. Enjoyed the trip real good all the way across. It took us about twenty-one days and we disembark at New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand. We were there probably three weeks maybe and lived in tents. Later on we packed up again and got on the ship and went to New Caledonia. You were talking about mosquitoes awhile ago, that was mosquito country. That's probably where all the mosquitoes came from. But anyway.

LOS: Did very many experience malaria then over there or did, I think most everyone was inoculated before you went.

AM: Well, we took a pill called Atabrine. It was a little yellow pill about the size of an aspirin tablet. It was supposed to keep us from getting malaria. I think it did a pretty good job. I never had any problem over there. I don't think most guys did. Once in awhile somebody would come down with malaria and have to go to the hospital. I never had malaria until I came back to the states. That's when my malaria attack started. I become ill as a pumpkin and I was just as yellow as I could be. From that Atabrine tablet. Other than that I faired pretty well.

LS: You kind of told us that some of the places you were, do you remember all the places that you did serve at or all the countries that you've seen or places that you were?

AM: We got of the ship in New Caledonia, at a place called Noumea. I think it was probably the capital of New Caledonia. It was a French island. We stayed there for probably from November until the middle of February, I think. We boarded ship than and went to the Russell Islands. We spent several months there I don't know. I suppose four months we stayed there. The work that we did there was more or less, oh I guess they call it stevedore work. You know unloading ships. Gasoline barrels with gasoline in them and food stuffs and all that type of thing you know. There was a little airfield at the end of the island. Seabees had come in and built that airstrip. Of course we had anti-aircraft guns on the island too. So that's what we did until we went into combat the first time.

LOS: Where was, if you don't mind, where did your experience there lead from that point? Where was the first, did you go like an assault or did they have airborne? Were you airborne? Was your unit airborne?

AM: Oh no we traveled by ship all the time. Ship and landing boats, Higgins, you've heard of Higgins boats. We traveled in those you know. I mean making beach heads and things like that. But we traveled in the larger ships to get from place to the other.

LOS: Your first assault would have been where?

AM: Well after we left Russell Islands we went to a place called New Georgia Group. There was an airfield there. We had to take that from the Japanese and that was where our combat, first combat.

That first night on the main island, after dark the Japanese were real good at infiltrating our lines and we couldn't hear them and we were told never to fire. No matter if they were throwing hand grenades or what, don't fire. They may not know where you are and if you do fire they'll know where you're at. They were just back there to harass us. So our Platoon Sergeant, he got a coughing jag. His foxhole was right next to mine. As soon as he coughed why I could hear a hand grenade detonate and hit the ground and it was between his fox hole and my fox hole. That kept it up all night. All night long it went on. Till it began to get daylight and then what happened to the Japanese, I don't know where they went to. We never did see any of them. There weren't any dead ones lying around. Cause we opened up with machine guns and everything else that next morning before we ever go out of our fox holes or anything you know.

Anyway then the offensive started on a Sunday morning. I think it was probably July 23rd maybe. Somewhere in there. We were quite a little ways from the airfield yet but we were making pretty good progress we thought. But finally we discovered that the Japanese let us go through. And then after we got through then they opened up on us. Of course then we were in a trap there. We stayed there; I don't know how many hours. We had a good captain. He was twenty-three years old. Sanford Main. He'd come around, walk around. I don't know how he ever kept from being shot. Cause he was up walking around you know. ``Well men,'' he said, `` are we gonna go home tonight?'' He meant back to Battalion Headquarters , ``or are we gonna stay here all night.'' Well everybody said we're going home. He said let's go. So we all followed him then. He took us back to Battalion Headquarters. I wouldn't of known which way it was but he evidently had a good sense of direction. Any way we got back there. While we were in that area that's where I was hit by shrapnel. Either from a hand grenade or a mortar shell. I don't know which it was. But I was standing up, we were walking forward, and it lit just a little ways in front of me. The piece of shrapnel hit me in the face just below my left eye. Of course, I reached right away to see once what happened. You know I could feel it, man is it just, it almost knocked me down, it was so powerful you know that piece of shrapnel. I reached up there and felt like I could feel the blood. So it wasn't long till one of the medics came over and patched me up. I was ok then and made it back. I made it back home that night. When I got back home there was Elmer Fairbank you know, the guy I met on the ship going across. He was there and he had a great big, one of those great big five-gallon, sometimes they carried water in them. This was a water can, but they'd made hot chocolate. I'll tell you what; he fed me some of that. I'll tell you that was the best tasting stuff I've ever had. Oh boy that tasted good. Course we didn't have anything to eat all day you know, breakfast or anything. But he filled me full of hot chocolate. Then the Doctor came and looked at me, the medic and said, well he said we gonna have to get you out of here we gotta get that shrapnel out. So he took me back to another island in that night, I stayed there that night. The next morning some more guys and I loaded on a ship and they took us back to Guadalcanal, to the Twentieth Station hospital and that's where I had that shrapnel removed.

Anyway, I was there for several weeks. Didn't have any way to get back to my company. But I did return to my company for. . . probably in September or October of `43. We stayed there then for a couple months I guess. And right after Christmas then in '43, why we loaded on a ship and they took us back to New Zealand. Auckland,, New Zealand. We stayed there for three or four months as a kind of a break and also got some new recruits and things like that.

LOS: So after your combat injury then that you sustained, you did go back to recover but then you went back into combat for a few weeks after I mean for a few more weeks after you recovered?

AM: Yeah, right.

LOS: You didn't get that ticket home then from your, from your injury?

AM: Not back to the U.S. The Captain had referenced to home as going back to battalion headquarters. That's what he called home. I guess that was home. Least you weren't out there wandering around in the jungle someplace wondering what was gonna happen to you. But we were all together, our company was all together. Some guys who were hit and had to put them on stretchers. Home made stretchers and carried them out.

LOS: Were you pretty well supplied as far as ah, ammunition and that type of thing when you were out on your missions?

AM: Oh yeah. Yep. Yep. And that's about it then we. . . . like I said we went back to New Zealand and stayed there about four months I guess it was. Left there again about the end of June and headed for New Guinea. We were in New Guinea for, I don't know, quite a spell. Another guy came to me, one of our buddies came to me and said ``Hey you are going home.'' He meant state side. I said, ``Get out,'' I said ``you're telling me all that stuff you know.'' He was one of those guys that hung around the First Sergeant's tent a lot you know. And he'd get a little information every once in awhile you know. Well I knew he was just pulling my leg you know. ``No,'' he said, ``You'll be going home.'' Just kind of kidding me you know. So one day the First Sergeant sent word down through the company that. . . .there were named off some names to come to the First Sergeant's tent. He wanted to talk to us. My name was in the bunch. I went down to First Sergeant's tent and sure enough I was on the list to come home.

LS: So did you get to come home before the war was over?

AM: (Nods his head yes.)

Well this foxhole that I had, that we had along with that ground was hard like, well it was like rock. I can't think of what they called it now. And you couldn't dig in the stuff real good like you wanted to. You had to find pieces of logs and rock and things pile up. You could go down a little ways by digging, but we had to pile up around where I . . . . at least this area where I was piled logs and stuff around. That was your foxhole you know. But we had trained how to dig a foxhole and dig it deep and everything you know. We didn't usually have time to dig foxholes. One night we had. . . it rained real hard. Of course we'd had a foxhole dug in this one place and pretty deep you know. Well, there was an airplane came over. We called him Washboard Charlie. He came over bout every every night. One night the whistle blew for an air raid attack. Course everybody jumped out of their bunks and headed for the foxholes. We had one guy, he got pretty excited all the time. His name was Ivanhoff . He was Bulgarian, I think it was. He had his rain coat on, he ran to his foxhole and jumped in the foxhole and hit water up to here.

LS: I guess you guys got rained on.

AM: Yes. So he got soaking wet. His foxhole was full of water. But you know we always had to dig another. I mean get a bucket out and clean em out the next day you know you might need em again the next night. But anyway, this same Washboard Charlie came over just about every night.

LOS: How did you give him that name?

AM: That was the name we gave him just cause he, just cause he would come over. He was flying real high. He wasn't you know low. But he'd fly real. . .it was a bomber. He'd fly real high. Anti aircraft guns on this island, we'd fire at him and you could see the shells bursting. But it seemed like they were always behind him. We never did hit that guy one time. He'd be back again the next night. So that went on several nights. We'd be out there standing outside there. This is when we out in. . .wasn't in combat then you know. And we would be jumping up and down you know. Get him! That's the way! Get him you know. Hit him! Knock him down! It would carry on all night. Crazy guys you know.

This one night this. . . bunch of us were standing out there you know. Hooting and hollowing you know for the anti aircraft. We had a guy, Sergeant Coo, they called him Coo. I think his name was a French name C A U X. But everybody called him Coo. So he was leading the pack you know out there. So one of the guys slipped back to his tent. We was getting powdered potatoes and onions and things like that in a tin can maybe about that high and maybe about that square. We would always use those for, oh wash our clothes in or do something with them you know after they were empty. So he slipped back in his tent and he got one of those tin cans. Old Coo was out there a hootin and a hollering with the rest of them. This kid took that tin can and threw it up in the air and it came down, Ker wham. Right behind Coo. I mean zoom. He forgot about the aircraft Washboard Charlie. He was heading for his foxhole. Finally, he didn't see anybody that was following him. He turned around and looked and everybody was laughing about him. But he sure thought he had it when that tin can hit the ground. Anyway, crazy things like that once in awhile happened.

We had another kid, a couple of them. I was telling you about this one that jumped in the foxhole with the raincoat on. There was another fellow there. A little Mexican. These two guys couldn't get along for nothing. They just absolutely could not get along. And they slept in the same tent. And course when we'd come back from chow, why we would have to wash our mess kits, you know and then come back and we had little racks that we had to build out in front where we could hang our mess kit, canteen cup and all those things and let it out there and dry you know in the sun. So it came time for dinner one day, for chow. And of course when the whistle blew everybody jumped up and grabbed their mess kit and away they headed for mess hall. Which the mess hall there was you just set out underneath the palm trees and ate your lunch. Anyway, everybody jumped up and got their mess kit. Hernandes and Ivanhoff jumped out of their boats and went out to grab their mess kit. Some crazy guy had taken and tied those two guys mess kits together. They couldn't get along for nothing. They were out there fussing at one another. At the same time they were trying to get their mess kits untied so they could get to chow. Crazy guys. Anyway. I don't know whatever finally happened to those. . . lost track of a lot of the guys you know . I don't know whatever became of a lot of them. But anyways.

LOS: Did your unit have some reunions then, kinda to stay in touch when you got back?

AM: No they had reunions. They used to put them in the American Legion Magazine you know like they still do. And my outfit was in there but It's so far away, clear back east you know. Our outfit came from the New England states. So it was so far to go you know and I never did go back. However, I did see a couple of them. Talk to one on the phone one time and then visited with another one face to face. I'd gone back east to the state of Maine. We were back there when we were in the ministry to a kid camp back in Maine. The place where these guys lived wasn't too far away from the campground. So we drove over there one afternoon to visit with them. And I found one of them and got to visit with him and then I talked to the other one on the telephone. So I did get to see a couple of them. One of them that had come back to the states with me when I got to come home, he was in Arkansas. Both of us. But I didn't know he was there. It was after I came back from overseas I was sent to Hot Springs, Arkansas, for awhile and then down to Camp Robinson again where I started out. I was put on a training cadre there. I was in the washroom one day and heard a voice that said that guy sounds familiar. So I got to looking and walking around through there and lo and behold there was ole Marcel Wyon standing over there. He had just got through washing his face. I recognized his voice you know, and he didn't know I was there and I didn't know he was there. So we buddied around then together until later on. I was there on that cadre for several weeks. One day when I was taking the. . . I was more or less kind of a Field First Sergeant I guess. I had to follow the guys in for all their formations and take them out to firing range and this place and that place. So one day we were on the way to the firing range, the captain came up to me and says, ``Hey Allen would you like to go on a bond drive?'' I said, ``I don't know.'' I said, ``It might be alright.'' He said, ``Well, I think you'd like it and if you'd like to go,'' he said, ``I'll put your name in.'' He said ``You'll have to go Fort Benning, Georgia.'' But anyway, I thought that sounds OK. So one day he came back to me and he said well he said, ``I put your name in and you have been accepted.'' And he said ``You will be leaving us and going to Fort Benning.'' So I went to Fort Benning, Georgia. They trained us then on this bond drive. We put on the mock battles on football fields at night and different towns. We used explosives rather than shells. We had a guy with an instrument board and he'd know just when to explode this charge for maybe a bomb or grenade or something like that you know. We worked the whole length of the football field and the width of the football field. Built pillboxes out of branches and stuff so they'd burned real good. Me and one guy, we was in the pillbox, but we were Japanese at that time. We had the pillbox, I was in there and was suppose to be shooting a machine gun. They were coming up on us with a flame thrower. So we had a bunch a firecrackers, and just before we left that pillbox and ran out of it, before the guy came with the flame thrower we set those firecrackers off. Well that sounded like a machine gun, you know a whole batch of firecrackers you know. So of course we were out of it, and the flame thrower came up and burned that pill box out you know. For a little while people think well man their still in there you know burning up. Buy anyway that was the bomb drive. To sell bonds you know. It was about the end of the war but we didn't know it. I was on that bond drive from oh about the middle of May maybe till about the last, about the 4th of July I guess it was. We worked the state of Oklahoma and also eastern Kansas. So after that we went back to Fort Benning. Waited for a discharge.

LOS: Then you were discharged out of Fort Benning?

AM: No. I had to go back to Fort Leavenworth?

AM: We were in Fort Benning, training for this bomb drive. So we are going to chow one morining and we're standing in line there waiting to go into mess hall and all of a sudden some guy came around the corner in the mess hall. I mean he was in high gear. And he was a big guy, he was just running for all he was worth. Right behind him came another guy. He was chasing him. I suppose that one guy done something to the other one and he wasn't gonna let him get by with it. He ran after him. Well the guy came up and run right where we were standing. I happened to be in his road. And man he hit me and I went flying forty ways from Sunday. I hit the ground. Knocked me kind of silly for a little bit. Guys in my outfit picked me up off the ground. Man I had gravel in my mouth. I hurt all over. So I went back to barracks. I cleaned my mouth out to get all that gravel out of my mouth so I could go back and eat breakfast. That's how, that's how I got my name buzz bomb. They thought that ought to be a pretty good name for him so they called me buzz bomb. Most of them did. When I was on the bomb drive that's the only way they know me was buzz bomb you know. Course you know the Germans had those bombs you know they called them buzz bombs


LOS: Is that where you were when they announced the end of war then, was?

AM: I was in Kansas City on my way to Leavenworth when the word came.

LS: How did you feel when you heard that the war was over?

AM: Well I was pretty happy. Course I was getting out anyway you know but then I was sure glad that that whole mess was over you know. But anyway I got back to Fort Benning, I mean back toLeavenworth. There for a few days. They didn't waste anytime getting us out of there.

So I got on the train and headed for WaKeeny, Kansas. At WaKeeny I took the bus. Bickle bus line down to Ness City. Sistesr had come down there everyday to the post office. That is where the bus stopped, down there at the old bank building. They would come to meet that bus everyday and I wouldn't be on it. They knew I was coming but they didn't know exactly when and I didn't either. But they'd come everyday. Well the day that I arrived they didn't come. So I surprised em all. Sis had her shop over there right where the fellow that used to have a computer shop in there. Just across the alley east of the American Legion building. That's where her shop was at that, she was. . . and so I went over there then and it was about time to come home for dinner. So we walked home then together. On the way home for dinner or lunch why I met another old high school buddy. Charlie Clark, Betty Clark's husband. Basil's brother-in-law. He was sitting there north or south of Pember Locker Plant. Sitting there in his car. So I stopped and talked to him a minute. He'd already been discharged. But anyway I went on home then. Glad to get out of my OD's. Get back into an old t-shirt again.

LOS: Did you utilize any of the GI Bill after you got back then?

AM: Yeah, we built a house. Didn't live in it very long. We went into ministry then.

LS: When did you meet Mina? Did you know her before you went to the service?

AM: No. She and a co-worker came to the church to hold some meetings and that's where I met her. But, I don't remember just when that was. That was in November of probably what, probably '47, or somewhere in there. But anyway that's where I met her.

LS: Do you feel like any of your experiences from the service guided you into what you did after the service or had any impact on your?

AM: No. I don't think they did. No I don't think they did.

LS: You said you went into the ministry.

AM: I knew I was going to have to go into ministry. I knew that. It was, I just knew it but I have to. But my war experiences didn't have any effect on that at all.

LS: How long were you in the ministry then?

AM: Oh we were in the ministry probably 23 years. Pastor of three churches. One church we were there eighteen years. Two different times. Hitches. Sterling and Greensburg and Morland. We was at Morland. A little town about three hundred population. We were there eighteen years.

LS: Earlier Loren had asked you how much you weighed when you were in the service? Would you want be able to tell us how much?

AM: Well as far as I can remember I probably weighed around 120. Probably less than that I'm not real sure.

LS: And then he asked you how much your pack weighed?

AM : Well, I don't know. That M-1 rifle was what nine pounds I think. It weighed nine pounds. When I pick one up now, it seems a lot heavier. Buy anyway, I don't know how, I really don't know. We had a blanket, shelter half, of course we had to carry our rations with us. Had the bayonet, had our sidearm with ammunition in it. Sometimes a gas mask. I have no idea what it would weigh. But I know it go awful heavy. In Mississippi we were out on a forest march, I think I mentioned one of those marches before. When I started out one night after chow, walked all night long. Fifty minutes walking, ten minutes of rest. Sometimes we were walking on gravel roads, sometimes black top, away from Camp Shelby, Mississippi. We were getting pretty close to Camp Gates. Boy I had blisters on my feet that wouldn't quit. Oh my feet were sore.

I had to, of course I had my pack. Had to that in. If we didn't make it we had to do it again later. And I wasn't about to have to do that again. I kept on plugging along. Finally, one of my buddies, the same one I was telling you about that I met in Arkansas after we got home, he stepped out of ranks and come up and says, ``Let me have your pack.'' He said, ``I'll carry that for you for awhile. Of course, he had his own. But he was gonna do that for me. ``No, I'm gonna do it myself.'' Several times he'd step out. And I wouldn't let him do it you know. But he came out one more time, that's when I let him have something. I don't remember if it was my rifle or what it was I gave him you know. Something to lighten up the load a little bit. So I made it into camp. I didn't have to go another twenty-five miles any more.

LS: You was talking about your rations and then earlier in your. . . you talk about chow line. Did you have KP duty? Did you have to. . .what kind of food did you have?

AM: In the Camp Shelby and in Arkansas, Camp Robinson, I did KP duties. We had to take our turns at KP duty. Washing dishes sometimes or maybe cleaning off the tables after everybody was through, things like that you know. We had to take it for. . . I don't remember if we had to do that for a week or just a day. I don't remember. But everybody took their turn at it you know. It might have been for a week. For every meal for a week.

LS: Do you remember holidays? Did you celebrate holidays any differently than any other day?

AM: Well, holidays didn't, you know mean a whole lot. . . make a whole lot of difference you know. I mean they. . . .I don't mean that like it sounded. Christmas and all those things the meant something you know. But as far as celebrating or anything like that you know, we were away from home and nobody thought too much about it.

LS: Did you get like, did you get a special meal that day or did they not?

AM: I think so yeah. We got a Thanksgiving and Christmas. We got turkey dinner and stuff like that you know.

LS: And it wasn't in a can?

AM: No, it wasn't, it was fresh turkey. We got pretty good meals. A lot of guys fussed about spam. They hated spam. I always thought it was pretty good. I didn't mind eating spam. There's some few different ways maybe they could be fixed you know. I didn't mind it. Now I can't eat it because it is so fatty. I can't eat a lot of things anymore.

LS: Were there other medals or awards that you received? Or could you tell us a little bit about your Purple Heart?

AM: I got a. . .I was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge. And also a Asiatic-Pacific Ribbon with three bronze stars on each one of them. They represented a campaign. And those were the main things, of course, everybody got the Good Conduct Medal, you know.

LS: Did you receive your Purple Heart after you were home or?

AM: I received it in New Zealand. I had no idea there was such a thing as a Purple Heart. I had no idea. One day they started calling names. Had us all fall out in formation they started telling us why we were out there. Started reading off some names. That's the first time I ever knew there was anything called the Purple Heart. I had no idea I was going to get any kind of a medal for you know getting hit you know or anything like that. I had no idea. That's what I got in New Zealand yeah. And then after I got it, I mailed it home.

LS: And do you still have it?

AM: I still have it. It's hanging in there on the wall.

LS: Your R and R now. . . Did you get to have any?

AM: Yeah. We had, we played volleyball. We played a lot of volleyball at one time up there in one of the islands where we were at. That's where Elmer Fairbank, he was a pretty good volleyball player. Of course, you always expected him to kill the ball, you know, jump up and kill that ball you know and knock it down your throat. Sometimes he would just come along and take his fist and shove the ball just high enough over your head to where nobody could hit it see and fall down behind you. They were all expecting to get to kill that ball, you know, but then he'd just stand there and laugh.

A lot of guys played cards and cribbage and all those types of games you know. I use to watch em come in my. . . some the guys would come in my tent after dinner or after lunch and chow and they would shove a raft on the ground you know and shoot craps. Nickel and dime, you know. So one day I thought man I want to try that. I'm gonna get into that. So I got to shooting craps with them and man I was just getting hotter than a fire cracker. I was winning money hand over fist you know, just like I said nickel and dimes you know. So I stayed with it for awhile, I won I suppose ten dollars. Not very much money but you know. But man I'm winning. Finally one day the tables turned and I lost that money plus about ten dollars of my own and I said it was time to quit.

LS: When you talking about money, do you remember approximately how much your service pay was?

AM: Oh service pay. Well when I went in I was getting twenty-one dollars a day once a month. I was getting twenty-one dollars a month.

LS: That's what I figured you were getting. And what did you do with your money?

AM: Well tell you what, with the twenty-one dollars, I had a laundry bill every month and I sent a little money home. And then I kept a little money for myself. And insurance, I had life insurance I had to pay. I don't remember what that was anymore. I didn't have very much left by the time I got done, but.

LOS: What did your pay finally get up to you'd mentioned you when you were back and doing the bomb drive you were a Sergeant?

AM: Yeah. I was a Tech Sergeant. I got to be PFC. So that raised my pay. I don't know it seems to me like around fifty dollars maybe. I'm not for sure. I don't remember just the exact amount. But then when you went over seas you got an ten extra dollars I think it was.

LOS: Combat pay?

AM: Combat pay yeah. There's something else I was gonna mention about the pay but I don't remember. But anyways. I sent most of my money home I didn't keep it.

LS: Can you tell us a little about like what your job duties were? You were pretty much infantry so you were pretty much combat soldier?

AM: Yeah. Learned how to use a bayonet and gas mask. I never did. . . all I had was a rifle. Some guys had machine guns and some had. . . of course, we were all trained to use those weapons, automatic rifles and machine guns, mortars. We were trained to use all of those.

LS: Did you get to bring anything home with you?

AM: I didn't bring anything home with me. I brought a small Japanese billfold. It was made out of canvas. And I had a little Japanese, I don't remember it was a Japanese combat helmet. Kind of stamped on it printed on it . I did bring a flag home but it was beat up so much I just finally threw it away I didn't keep it. I brought a few coins home, and a little paper money, of Japanese and also New Zealand money

LS:. Do you remember a little bit about that, kind of how the war affected you know the economy and then do you have feelings of, you know like the country pulling together and do you remember people talking about rationing and?

AM: Well yeah, well I, course we were just. . . .most people were just barely getting along you know. There were a few people that had money but, most people were just barely making it you know. I used to work at the schoolhouse. Helped the janitor some. Some of us boys did. They had what they called an NYA Program. We got on that. We'd helped the janitors do dusting and sweep the floors and stuff like that. So we got a little pay for that. I would through the summer time, mowed lawns if I could and swept out basements for people. You talk about having fun, when people used to put their coal in the basement and then after they got the coal unloaded, then I had to come and sweep that basement. You can imagine what that was like. I didn't have too many of those. But after all you got paid for it so you did it. You needed the money so you did it. So then I got the job at Bondurant's Barber Shop, shining shoes. I shined shoes there through my senior year in high school then I think I was there one year afterwards. One day W.F. Turrentine who owned the Ness County News came and asked if me if I'd like to come and work for him. So well I thought that would be pretty good, so I left the barber shop and went over to the Ness County News. August of '39. I stayed there then till Uncle Sam said ``I want you.'' So I left there and was obedient to Uncle Sam then. But after the war was over I came back and got my job back.

LS: At the news office?

AM: Yeah. He said ``whenever,'' he said, ``When you come back your job is here.'' So I went back and got my job then. I didn't work there but maybe, oh from probably 1945 till '54 maybe something like that. Then we went in the ministry. But yeah it was. . .

LS: Did your family tell you that about, or did you ever visit when you got back about how the war affected them as far as….of course, you were. . . .I'm sure that they were worried about you being over seas but did they themselves have to ration and? Did they talk about that?

AM: Oh yeah they never did talk about it you know rationing. I know they had to. I remember when I came home on my twenty-one day furlough after I got back from overseas We went to the grocery store. I did with my sisters one evening and I thought well I'll get a can of peaches. You know a quart can of peaches. So I got those and set them on the counter you know and the clerk said, ``uh uh. You don't get those peaches unless you have a coupon.'' You needed a coupon to get those peaches. So I left the can of peaches sitting on the counter. I didn't put them back.

LS: Did you join a Veterans Service organization then after you returned:

AM:Yeah, like the Legion? Yeah. I don' remember just when I did join. I have no idea. I don't remember.

LS: At the time like during World War II, you made the comment that you when you were drafted you just knew that you were gonna go do what you were gonna do. Was that pretty much the general feeling? After the bombing of Pearl Harbor did you feel like that there was a big influx of people that was willing go serve?

AM: Oh, I think there were. I think most people were willing to do it. It was a different, there was a different attitude during World War II then there is now.

LS: The whole country supported the?

AM: The whole country was behind it and they just wanted to do what they could to get it over with and to win. There was only one thing to do it and lets get in there and get the job done and everybody, seemed like everybody pitched in and did what they could.

LS: Do you remember while you were in the service….did you ever have occasion to meet any of the higher ranking officers or?

AM: No. Only just our Generals that was over our outfit. Those are the only ones I knew. Some of them I didn't know, you know. Just knew their names but that was it. But I never knew any of the big dignitaries or anything.

LOS: We read some about the USO shows now were you able to participate or see some of those I guess? Did they have some on the islands?

AM: Well yeah we use to attend those in Mississippi. Yeah we attended those USO's. They had them, I forget how often they had them, but they had them quite often.

LOS: Did they have any overseas that you were able to?

AM: There were some that had USO shows. I never did get to, they had, Bob Hope came over one time when we were in New Guinea but he was so far away from our outfit. I said I'm not going clear down there. I had a notion to. But some of the guys did. They walked and thumbed rides and everything to get down there to see Bob Hope. It was alright, but I just decided I didn't want. . . I get enough walking without having to walk down there and see him. But anyway. And we had other small units. Different maybe a couple of people would come and put on shows of different kinds. I don't remember we had one guy came. I don't even know who he was anymore but he was real good. He played the snare drum will billiard balls. Man he could roll that, make that drum roll you know just with those billiard balls you know. Bouncing those balls. Of course he was comical too you know that made a lot of difference you know. But he had you know a lot of stories and jokes and things like that. Yeah it was, we had several.

I've always been proud of my service. I was just one of the guys but I was glad that I never shirked my duty. And never did try to get out of it. I was always glad that. . .and I'm proud that I served in the war. I've never regretted it. No I was always proud I was a veteran.

Item Description

Copyright © 2007-2020 - Kansas Historical Society - Contact Us
This website was developed in part with funding provided by the Information Network of Kansas.