Kansas MemoryKansas Memory

Kansas Historical SocietyKansas Historical Society

Interview on experiences in World War II

Item Description Bookbag Share




Wednesday Oct 4, 2006 at LCHS I will be interviewing TW Stone who was born on Aug


T.W. Stone Interview

Wednesday Oct 4, 2006 at LCHS

I will be interviewing T.W. Stone who was born on Aug. 3, 1925

TW Stone, Tiffany Farrow, Joey Hamilton, Mrs. ? are all attending the interview.

The organizations we are working with are LCHS, Greenbush, Pittsburg State University, and Kansas State Historical Society.

Interviewer: He was in World War II, the Navy from 1943-1946, the Army and the Korean War in 1950-1952. He was a Seaman First Class in the navy, a Corporal in the Army and he served in the Pacific in the Navy.

Ok now I am just going to start asking you questions. Can you explain how you came to be in the service?

TW Stone: Well yes in WWII I was … going to be a junior in high school and I was 17 years old, almost 18, and I did not want to go to the Army and I was like any other 17 year old boy like Joe here, I thought get that uniform on, all the girls would be after me and it didn't work out that way. But anyway I joined the Navy in Aug. or July, July just before my birthday I turned 18. On August 3 up in Camp Fair Idaho and we had seven weeks of basic training in Camp Fair Idaho and then we got a seven day leave of absence to come home and that's how I got into the navy so I … if you want me to go on from there I will. From there I was put aboard. I went to San Francisco to Treasure Island and I was assigned in…. boot camp in August and September and October. I went to Treasure Island out of San Francisco and was assigned to the USS ???? and we went aboard and commissioned it and I am what we call a plank owner. A plank owner is somebody that when the ship is first commissioned and you go aboard that ship at that time you are what they call a plank owner. So I am a plank owner to this ship and there was 225 people aboard that ship and it's 50 ft. wide and 411 ft. long and you take 225 people and put them on your football field out here, you're going to have quite a crowd especially if you put them in a 50 ft. wide area. So there's really not a whole lot of room on that ship that you can call your own. You know your very limited space on it so we left San Francisco and we hauled gasoline a hundred octane tank gasoline which was we had 32,000 drums on and then we hauled air crafts, airplanes, and lumber. We hauled fruits, we hauled anything. We was a very low profile ship but we was an important link to the… supply line to get supplies to our troops and stuff like this. You see back there in WWII everything that moved in the war effort was moved usually by rail in the United States and when it went overseas it had to be moved by ship because they didn't have planes like they do now that could fly from here to Japan and make it, you know. They just didn't have them, so we had to have ships for our supply line which had to be tremendous to get all food over there, get all the ammunition over there, all the clothing, all the troops that got over there, there had to be a lot of ships on that ocean to keep this supply line going and that's one reason we won the war was on the count of our supply line because the Japanese soldiers were good soldiers. They fought for their country … they was ... I know they was good soldiers just like our people were but our supply line is what and be able to produce the supplies is what really helped us in the war effort and like I say we was about every island out there in the Pacific. We was at the Marshalls, New Hiberties?, Pearl Harbor, Ellis Islands, Palau, Pearl Harbor… lets see there's another one down … Samoa, British Samoa the most beautiful place I ever seen in my life was the British Samoa and that time they were all islands, you know, the ladies were natives at that time.

I: Around what year is this, that you were down there in these islands?

Stone: Pardon

I: Around what year were you down around all these islands?

Stone: Well it had to been in 1944. We left San Francisco in 1943 so it had to be from 44 to 46 when I got out and we would go to one place and unload like the Marshall Islands and maybe unload our supplies that we had and then we'd go back to maybe Pearl Harbor or someplace get another load and maybe we'd take them to another island that we was invading and we always kind of got in our supply line. We was usually about a day or two late after the invasion, there would still be battles going on but we didn't have to worry too much about that. The only thing we had to worry about when we went into an island was mines that they had set in the island course some of the… minesweepers that we had already cleared the harbor out but the mines so to speak but once in a while you'd see one floating by. You know, somebody would shoot at it and blow it up in some way but mines and PT boats and submarines were something of our big problem really when we was out in the ocean where submarines and wed be in a convoy of a number of ships maybe 10 or 15 ships in a convoy and every once in awhile the escorts. We always had an escort of two or three with us and they'd be, they are kind of like an armed guard, an escort and every once in awhile they would have to drop duck charges because they would get something on their sonar/radar that showed there was a sub around somewhere there and they'd drop what you call a duck charge. They would go down so many feet and then blow up and that was our biggest concern was submarines and P.T. boats we had a problem with P.T. boats. I call them suicide boats. We had a couple of them. I can't say we had a battle with them. They attacked us but they were too close for us to shoot at and another thing there were too many ships around in the harbor to shoot at them or fire at them because of the other ships around us. They did have LCI's that were running patrol of the harbor like a guard here in school and they were running patrol in the harbor and when the PT boats got out there in the open area where they could fire at them why they would sink them and we went ahead with our duties. We would just go ahead. We had to do it and yeah you were scared at times but there wasn't much you could do, lay flat as a deck and that's about it. I had somebody ask me down in… well he's a friend of mine and he said ``TW, I bet you never had to dig a fox hole'', you know in the army they had to dig fox holes to get into so that when they start shooting at you can jump down in the fox hole. Said I doubt you have ever had to dig a fox hole and I said, ``Verl, I dug a fox hole in the steal deck of a ship one night when they started firing at us.'' (laughter) and that happened in the pally lu group out there. We were unloading some of our gasoline…. And at night, well they were working 24hrs a day unloading this gasoline for their trucks and airplanes that they had there and this PT boat came along side of us and laid a smoke screen and came back on the other side and started firing at us. And I was a baker aboard ship and I was out there. It's kind of bad to be on the bottom of about 200 guys you know when they all came running out, they hit the deck so I was pretty well mashed in on the bottom.

I: Could u describe what your first days were like in service?

Stone: Do what?

I: Can you describe what your first days were like in service?

Stone: First Days?

I: Yeah

Stone: Oh yeah I was the seaman on the top deck. This is your top deck up here and … the first days we had a lot of training and they'd give us fire drills, they'd give us general quarters and we did a lot of painting. You know the deck painting and chipping and anytime you had a free time they had you painting on the deck or painting somewhere beings you were a seaman and I was on the bow up here. This is what we call the bow and back here was the stern and this was umm…. Well what do I want to call them? They were number one and these were number two deck ends back here and I forget what they were called now, but anyway, we did a lot of painting. We did a lot of practicing running these booms that we unloaded. They were laying down here now but we'd butt them up and we would practice on them. They were steel… they were steam booms and we did a lot of practicing on running them so we could unload cargo when we had to or load boats. We kept... had boats on the deck there for when we were in port we could hall supplies like other ships and stuff like this and it was really training everyday until I got in to the bakery department and then after I got in to the bakery we worked at night and we made about 50 pies every night; maybe 36 loaves of bread and we made … lets see 90 dozen donuts would be 180 or something like that. We'd make donuts every night and after I got into the bakery I, why I got out of all that training but everybody everyday that's about all they did was have fire drills and general quarters. And I was assigned to this gun back here on the fan tail when we had general quarters. Let's see we had a one gun on the back over here. That was fantail that was a 5 inch 50 and we this one was a 3 inch antiaircraft gun and then we had… uh 40 twin 40s on each side there and twin 40s back here and twin 40s up here on the bridge and then we had another set of twin 40s back here that we could shoot at an aircraft with. Once in awhile a plane would come in flying in low and wouldn't give us any identity on what they were, like I'm an American plane and one time, maybe twice, we shot at them because we didn't know who they were and they were coming in and when we started shooting at them and they got up high in a hurry. They got away from it and finally they reported in who they were and uh it was calmed down then but you know, you don't… at that time you shot first and didn't take any chances. You shot first and asked questions later but now then they… its getting to where they ask questions first then they take it in hand but …..I said we were a very low profile ship and we were bc. We didn't see much action except like I say when somebody maybe dropped them duck charges and that time the PT boats attacked us we didn't have any problems. They did have general quarters that I had to go to morning and night even thought I was in the bakery everyday. No matter where you were at if you were in San Francisco you had general quarters that was just a matter of exercising the people. We didn't have anything to do aboard ship. Now days…. some the bigger ships have basketball quarts on them, they have exercise rooms on them just like a big city but the only exercise we had was going… back and forth to our beds. You know we really didn't have any… anything to do. When I became a baker working nights, we had one guy that played a guitar and it was quite entertaining to sit around and sing different songs… I remember two songs I remember we sang was Sentimental Joe when it came out. I doubt if you guys have ever heard of that.

I: I've never heard of that.

Stone: and Don't Fence Me In and them was two wonderful songs that in WWII that came out and… but we did a lot of… even though there was a war there was a lot of down time because we didn't… all we had to do was deliver supplies that were aboard the ship and the only place you had to call your own was your bunk really and your locker. You'd have a locker as big as them cabinets are, maybe not quite that big, as tall but… in the Navy we all…our clothes were such that we rolled them up and put them in a roll like my pants here and we rolled them up and put them in our locker and they had to be in the locker in a certain way and your socks all had to be rolled up into a ball and you had a certain place and a certain way to put them in that locker because inspectors would come and check them every once in a while and see if your clothes were right and… I don't know umm well there's a few things… we got a load of beer. I want to tell you about this. We got a load of beer aboard ship one time. We were suppose to move this beer to another island, this was I believe in the Marshall's. I'm not sure but we were suppose to take this beer to another island. Well they put it aboard ship and they put it on the top deck up here. This was beer and this was all beer back here. So we decided that all them… we knew it was going to the Army. We were moving it to another island for the Army so we decided and I guess all of them did, because the way the story is I remember we'd get a GI can. We had guards on the beer but we'd get a GI can and we'd go back to the fantail and the GI can is like your big, I don't know whether you have seen big aluminum trash cans I'm sure.

I: yeah

Stone: Like that and we'd take them back to the fantail and come back through there and throw a case of beer in that can and take it downstairs and pretty soon somebody would take another trip and there'd be another case of beer and I shouldn't tell you kids this but anyway when you don't have anything else to do, well you do it, but we all got drunk. Well at three o'clock in the morning they had muster top deck and it was up here, right up here in this area, right here and we had muster at two or three o'clock in the morning. Captain wanted... they had a little trouble with someone being drunk and they had a little trouble, so he wanted to find out who was drunk and who wasn't well. He got us all up there and we were all up there holding one another up and he finally just told us to go down and sleep it off and the next day we unloaded the beer and we never did move it but they unloaded the whole thing and we sat right there. I don't know how the beer… whether the beer ever got to where it was going or not. I do have a cousin in Edna that said that one day they unloaded it on these amphibious jeeps, you know these amphibious jeeps down at Branson, you have probably ridden on them down at Branson

I: yeah

Stone: Have you?

I: Yeah

Stone: Well that's what we unloaded stuff on… our cargo and stuff, we unloaded all this beer on these amphibious jeeps and my cousin down in Edna said that he didn't know where this beer came from but he said there was one of these amphibious jeeps pulled up into his company and it was loaded down with beer and I told him, I said, well it came off the deck of the USS Lasooth I'm sure.

I: Do u remember who any of your instructors were?

Stone: My instructors, officers? Yes I do. uh Captain Gikison was one of them… I'm going to tell u something about the ship before we go to this

I: ok

Stone: I don't know whether there is a log in here or not… maybe I got the wrong side of it… no I don't have a roster I believe… yeah I do back here in the back. This is the main deck. Our sleeping quarters were down here in this area but unless you were assigned like a signalman or a radioman or something like, that you did not go up in this part up here, that was the officers deck, and the only time they came down in ours was when they was maybe inspecting the deck, the sleeping quarters on the ship, but we were not allowed to go up in that part. That was all officer quarters up there and unless you were assigned up there you didn't have any business there…….. I don't know whether I've got… no I don't have the officer's names here… this was people that was transferred aboard but Gilkson uh…. Cyowet not Cyowet, what was his name… then there was Bushwa … Bushwa and… lets see you throwed me off. This is way back with these names you know how names will flip you.

I: yeah you don't have to remember them…

Stone: but Dosal was a guy in charge and Paul Decker was another guy one of our supervisors, in other words, that was in charge of the people. Yeah there was about 25 officers on board that were in charge of the whole ship from the captain on down. You had uh Brock, captain Brock he was in charge of the engine room down here. The engine room was down here in this part, also that kept the engines going and they called them the black gang and then the deck hands took care of all the boats and cargo. Then we had four cooks aboard ship and I need to tell you something about the mess hall. There was four cooks and four bakers and us bakers like myself, we would work like tonight and it take us about five hours to do all of our baking then we would be off the next night and then the next night we would come in at about … we'd start at about 7 o'clock. b/c had to give the cooks chance to clean up the galley the galley is what you would call the kitchen and we would let them clean up the galley and then we would go in and do our baking. Of course then after we got done, we had to clean it up again and then you had a place called the head and then the latrine or the restrooms, whatever you want to call them, but in the Navy you called them the head, and sometimes you would get to be captain of the head and when you wrote home your mother really thought you got a real promotion if you was captain of the head but you were just cleaning the restrooms, so you were captain of the restrooms. But anyhow and we… in the kitchen WWII we got, well we'd get flour in the kitchen for the baking part and it would be so weevily we'd try to take a sifter and… sift the weevil out of the four but we couldn't get them all. They would fall through the sifter I don't know if we got any of them but we would make bread and them guys would sit around during a meal and pick out all the weevil but when we made chocolate cake and donuts and they would eat them like they weren't even in there but uh… and lets see and chicken kind of funny in WWII. They just picked the chicken; they didn't clean it or anything. They just picked it. They did cut the heads off, if I remember. I'm not sure about that but I know they didn't cut the feet off but they didn't clean the intestines out. They quick froze them and sent them to us and then we would have to thaw them out or the cooks would they'd have to thaw them out and clean them. It's a wonder we didn't die of salmonella you know and the meat smelt just like that, you know after they cleaned them, so rotting, gosh its terrible, but after WWII and over in the Korean war they started taking the entrails out of them and sending them that-a-way and they were a lot better and there was something else that I was going to tell you about the kitchen part, but I don't remember. But we would get off … I m going to keep telling these stories and maybe I will think of it in a minute, but we would get off from baking and if we wasn't baking we were playing poker because we slept in the day time. We would be playing poker all night but we had a friend by the name of O'Conner and he worked in the Pharmacy department and he always worked at night and we had a key to the officers ice box and of course they had steaks and stuff like that in their freezer and we would go down and get us a steak and about once a week he would furnish the alcohol, 190 proof alcohol and we would furnish the grapefruit juice and we would go in there and play poker, coarse weren't suppose to be drinking aboard ship anyway, but have us a drink every once in a while in the Pharmacy. I don't know how he…. reported that there was probably 6 or 8 of us that had this and once in a while we would make raisin jack and you don't know what Raisin Jack is, I know.

I: No

Stone: but raisin jack is we'd put peaches in it and we'd put raisins in it and we'd take some bread yeast and put that in it and did I say raisins, we'd put raisins in it and maybe a little pineapple in it. We couldn't let it set very long, maybe 3 or 4 days because it would get to stinking and we would have to drink it but it wasn't too bad. It made a pretty nice drink. We'd make it about a gallon at a time and we would hide it somewhere so someone couldn't find it and we never got caught at it except one night we make one and we forgot to put holes in the lid and in the kitchen, the galley, at night when we were baking, we had to close up all the air vents and close up all the port holes so the light wouldn't shine out and it would get very hot in there it would get up to about 120-125 in there. Probably at night when we were baking and we forgot to put holes in the lid of this raisin jack and of coarse this yeast got to working pretty fast in there where it was so warm and it blew the jar up…

I: Oh mygosh!

Stone: So we had a heck of mess to clean up before the next morning before we could even serve breakfast but ….. you know I hate to say this but … I can say the Army and the Navy both, to me, in WWII they don't do it so much now but they kind of promoted drinking and smoking, quite a little bit really, because you didn't have anything else to do when you had time on your hands, that's what you did. You didn't have an exercising place to go to like they do now… I think they have changed a lot since WWII, of coarse we were all 17 and 18 year old kids, too, you know and we were vulnerable to that stuff really and I'm not proud of it, but it was something for us to do… and really being on a small ship like that we didn't do that much drinking really, like every night or anything, but it was pretty boring; had a lot of boring times. You just think about having to sit here in this room for three years and not hardly ever get out of it, its about basically about the time about like we were aboard that ship… pretty boring and pretty confining because there was maybe a foot was about all you were allowed to call your own, a square foot really where you were standing and that was about it.

I: Were you only involved in the Korean War and WWII or were you involved in others?

Stone: No, I was only involved in them two. I was in the National Guard after the Korean War. I will tell you how I got back into the Amy. I don't know… I might think of some more, oh I know a story I need to tell you, too. I went through my records here. This is the war diaries of the USS Lasooth from 1943-45. W sailed into Tokyo Bay in 1945… August 1945 we sailed into Japan. August 16, well they dropped the big bomb maybe August the 12 or something like that, but we sailed into Japan Aug the 16th and they signed a peace treaty. I believe December 5th I'm not right sure about that, but I believe they did and we pulled into Tokyo Bay on August 30. We moved from one bay to another and we was just very close to???? when the treaty was signed and the sky was black with airplanes. I never seen so many airplanes in my life… you know, we was kind of showing our power, in other words, with our ships in there and expressing our power that we had and the air was black with airplanes that day, a lot of B17s and there was a lot of ships. We were probably as far as maybe, as far from here to the post office, down town from Missouri when the peace treaty was signed but they don't even mention it in there, nothing about the peace treaty being signed. I guess they just took it maybe as a normal day nothing to record for it,but they don't say anything about it in there

I: Were you going to explain how you got into the army?

Stone: Yes, I got out of the Navy in 1846 and I was living in Parsons, Kansas my wife and I had a child and a guy next door to me his name was Benny Doyal and every Monday night they had a meeting out the ammunition plant… KOP out east of Parsons and he was going out to that and he said, ``T.W., why don't you go out to this meeting with me at this Kansas army plant out here?''. He said we just go out there and sit around and drink coffee and we really don't have any equipment and we don't do anything and I told him, I said, well, I'm already in the Navy Reserves and he said well, that doesn't make any difference. He said we get paid for hours. We get a dollar an hour and we would be out there for two hours and we would have $2, which is pretty good money there in 1950 June or July… June of 1950 and I said, ``Well, I will go out with you.'' So I went out and I joined up. I thought, well, if I'm going to the in the reserves I might as well get paid for it and I didn't realize it at the time, I guess, but I was in the inactive reserves in the Navy which I wouldn't have been called back in, but I joined up in this Army unit and I think I made it to five meetings. First of August, they said that we need you guys over in Korea, so I had to go to the Army over in Korea with this gentleman that they interviewed last night over at Hazel and he was my mess sergeant and we went to Fort Seal Oklahoma and had some training down at Fort Seal and then we were shipped to Seattle and I think around shortly after Christmas or something in 1950 we went to… I don't recall what ship we got on, it was to transport,but we got on this ship and were sent to Korea and as I recall we got to Japan and we were slated to go to ??? in Korea which is about … I don't know whether ?? is on that map up there or not but it's on the east. It would be on this coast line where is the 38th parallel there.

I: This it?

Stone: Yeah that's where we were suppose to go to, but the Koreans had overrun that and so they didn't know what they were going to do with us, so they sent down to ??? and uh I believe ….yes can you slide that map over here a little bit Joe so I can see? That's good. I think I can see it now… I was trying to read… what does that say around that?

I: Pusan perimeter farthest advance of Communist forces

Stone: Yeah and that's about as much area as we had left on Korea that we could call our own. When we landed in Pusan and with our supply line, another reason we pushed them back was on account of our supplies and they couldn't produce their supplies that they needed with their men and so we were able to push them back. I say we, we only had one instance of being fired on in Pusan but it was friendly fire by some people that thought they saw some North Koreans and started firing but we stayed there in Pusan probably 4 or 5 months, something like that, and slept in tents. It was pretty cold if I recall in them kind of like a pup tent. Joe, do you know what a pup tent is? Little two man tent that comes down and we slept in them. I it was very cold and then we… they finally got us a place in Pusang or something like that, somewhere up in that area and we went up there. There was a rail head up there and they put this ammunition up there, so we could ship ammunition. Tthat's what we was a 9 30th ammo company and we could ship ammo up to the… up to the front lines by truck and by rail and Boit Hazel happened to be my mess sergeant and I was a cook and we had probably 200 men counting officers in our company and we slept in tents there until they finally built us … I think we was in tents probably about a year, and then they built us quanset huts there for us, so we would have a permanent camp there. One funny thing that happened, we used Coleman stoves, cook stoves and you would fill them with gas and pump them up with air kind of like a liner, you know. Something like that but they had a big burner to them. You'd put gasoline in it and pump it full of air and we'd put these burners in the stove and once in a while they would flood with gasoline, gasoline would come flooding out and catch on fire. We burnt the kitchen tent down one time but anyhow it was wet, muddy, very cold. We was in a bunch of rice paddies when it got wet over there the mud was about knee deep probably, in some of them rice paddies until we got situated and got it all rocked and every thing like that. We were over there from 1950 to 1952 and then we came home that's about all I can say about Korea. Again we was very low profile. We wasn't amidst… the only danger we had was when we was down around Pusan and they was so close I think there was only a 10 mile area there that we could really call our own square are there that we could really call our own area but how come they didn't push us on off there I don't know. Their supply line but we were able to push them back or the people were.

I: Can you describe some of your most memorable memories?

Stone: Most memorable….

I: Probably your drinking?

Stone: No, no uh one of my most memorable moments I remember a lot and I really tell you kids to learn to how to play music because this guy that played the guitar and we sat down there at a table or sat down there in a hallway they didn't call them hallways, they called them passageways in the Navy, and we'd get down there and sing and he would play this guitar and that was the most memorable moment of my life in the Navy really.

I: So he entertained you guys with…

Stone: Yes, he was a baker and he entertained us and his name was James, David Lou James and he played the guitar and knew how to play it well enough that we could sing and just have kind of have a good fellowship together and yeah that was the most important thing, most memorable minute aboard ship that I can recall. The drinking maybe I shouldn't have brought that up, but that was just a part of life we went through you know and that's the reason I brought it up its not very…. Isn't a very good thing to do but we did it in time of war. I know you're going to have a lot of guys who are going to have a lot more to tell you than I have because we didn't see a lot of action and there was a lot of guys like my cousin Verl from Edna, he was on an island over there and a lot of them won't talk about it.

I: Really?

Stone: They just….

I: Does it get to them too much?

Stone: Pardon?

I: Does it get to them too much? Brings back bad memories?

Stone: They don't want to remember. They don't want to remember, they just want that part of their life wiped out like the drinking did. There is probably a lot of them that won't mention that because they don't want to admit they done that but that's the way it was. So unfortunately, we never did get caught except for that one time we got that load of beer aboard and uh…

I: Were you a prisoner of war?

Stone: No

I: I didn't think so..

Stone: One thing I am proud of not everybody got one. I have a lot of ribbons. Course we have the Asiatic Pacific, the Good Conduct, not the good conduct I will get to that later, the Asiatic Pacific, gosh I forget. There is about 7 of them but the one that I'm really proud of is a good conduct metal and if you ever had any… got into any kind of trouble, had a court marshal or any kind of trouble, you couldn't get a good conduct metal.

I: How did you get this metal?

Stone: From good conduct. Not being reported, being reported on for being AWOL, late coming off of leave or anything like that. That qualified you for the metal if you wasn't in any trouble you were awarded this metal. Well I got the Korean metal and all that but I.. I like … I'm more proud of the good conduct metal and not being any trouble, not getting caught anyway because if you would have got caught like that beer party we had, uh if they'd court marshaled us for that, I would not have received a good conduct metal and I…. now days, now at my age I'm very proud of that good conduct metal because of the fact that I didn't get in trouble.

I: You want to take a break or anything?

Stone: Yeah, I want to get a drink of water I forgot about this water.

Because one reason I brought this picture along is because look at this kind of picture back when you know certain things we did and uh you know we… in our travels aboard ship we hauled a lot… not a lot, we had Japanese prisoners of war on there that we brought back to Pearl Harbor from Saipan and then some from Pallyloo. When we went over there then we hauled, I was reading some of this material the other night and we hauled 150million yen. I don't know how much one yen was for a dollar but we hauled back 150million yen. I believe it was from the…. That had to be from… I think it was from Japan or the Philippians but we took all that money back to Pearl Harbor and turned it over to the officials over in Pearl Harbor because their money changed when we took over you know. When we took over an island their money changed and their money wasn't any good. The prisoners were glad… the prisoners where glad that we hauled, were glad that the war was over for that I'm real sure…. We had… they stayed back there on the fantail. There was nice quarters back there on the fantail for some reason on this ship and they had on it, I don't know it might have been 8 or 9 rooms back there. Pretty nice rooms and that's where the prisoners stayed and we had a guard on duty back there and I think he had a submachine gun back there and they had a problem with the restroom. I think maybe a stool wouldn't flush or something like that and they called him… well they told him about it and I don't know, boy I thank God for this a lot of times, he handed one of these Japanese prisoners his gun and he went in and fixed this stool.

I: Oh my gosh

Stone: He was court marshaled.

I: Oh my goodness

Stone: I forget what his name was, but he was court marshaled for that deal. All they had to of done is whip that gun around and they could've blowed that whole ship up if they wanted to, but nothing like that happened so... we was alright. Where was, oh I was going to tell you about the eggs in the mess hall we….

I: I heard about something about this. I heard you were supposed to tell us something.

Stone: Oh about the eggs. We had eggs. I don't know whether you know how they handle eggs. They candle eggs before you buy them in a grocery store. They run them through a process or used to and looked at them in a light to make sure they were ok, you know, and I imagine they still do that. I don't know but these eggs were candled in the 1930s. I'm going to say they where stamped in 1931 or '32 on the case. We would break them on the grill. The cook would break them on the grill or we'd fry eggs at night while we was working and you know how a yoke stands up when you break it and these yokes would just flatten out right on the grill and stunk terrible. You had to scramble them. You couldn't fry one over easy because the yokes was just flat you know, but I've checked since then. Kind of doubt that a little bit in my own mind but I've done some checking in later on in years here and eggs will supposedly keep under proper refrigeration for 20 years.

I: Jeez

Stone: And I just can't feature them being that uh, staying that good that long. But uh that's what people have told me. That they will keep for 20 years. But you know I have thought about why they have had to do this, but you know living on the farm when you went out and gathered eggs everyday but when you've got billions of people over there on the islands, soldiers over there in the and you can't gather eggs today and take them over there, you had to used some eggs that were a year or two older you know, they was pretty bad

I: Besides writing letters how else did you stay in touch with your family? Is that the only way?

Stone: That's the only way you stayed in touch with your family and that's the only way they stayed in touch with you was writing letters. The letters you wrote were always… well the officers always read your letters. There was always someone aboard ship what's the word I'm… censored, they censored them. They read everyone of them. Everything had to be censored and it doesn't seem possible but you didn't when you mailed it, you never sealed the letter until they censored it and made sure there wasn't anything in it and if there was something there they marked it out. That wasn't supposed to be told and that was the only way at that time that you could keep in contact with people. It took about a month for a letter to get to you from Edna, down here and my folks would write to me and how just myself how they kept up with me…where I was going to be you know. We were all over the Pacific but when we got to where we were going there was mail waiting for us and that's just something that… I really never thought about it when I was young but as I got older how somebody really had to know what they were doing and to keep all this going and we had to have food that would last us at least 60days. Well somebody had to determine how much roast beef, how many eggs and how much butter 225 people would eat in 60days you know, that we would never run out of food. It just amazes me how somebody done that and you take a big aircraft carrier now that may have 10,000 people aboard it you know. It's quite a…. somebody has to know what they are doing too with the supply line, with the supplies aboard ship, to have enough food on there to run them and not only food but I was reading on the log here, that we'd stop here somewhere at some island and we'd get maybe 150,000 gallons of crude oil for our ship to burn. Then we'd get 100,000 or 125,000 gallons of water. Well you would think this whole ship would be filled up with oil and water you know but we still had a… had places to haul cargo because it wasn't all that big of a ship but you wonder where did they put all that stuff?

I: What was the pressure or stress like on you?

Stone: The what?

I: What was the pressure like on you being out there?

Stone: Well the pressure…. Really didn't… I can't say we had a lot of pressure on us other than it was in a war zone and you knew that… you just… but yet it didn't bother you though either, you know… we really didn't have a lot of pressure on us other than... the worst problem about it was the boredom; the time that you had on your hands and nothing to do.

I: Did you have anything special for good luck? Did you have anything you used for good luck?

Stone: For what?

I: Good luck. Like people have you know, quarters or special quarters for good luck. Did you have anything like that?

Stone: No, no I can tell you that cigarettes cost 50cents a carton aboard ship after you went out three miles. Course you couldn't hardly buy cigarettes in the United States at that time but we could buy them aboard ship for 50cents a carton which would be 5 cents a package I believe that would be right.

I: I don't know.

Stone: Well, we all smoked at that time. Everybody did really and these vents right here are the only thing you had blowers on them. We had vents all along there and they were just like big fans and that is the only way we got air into our sleeping quarters day or night. It wasn't air conditioning or air conditioned, it was very, very hot. If we was in the South Pacific or even in up in there in the part of the Northern pacific it was in the summer time near the equator, it was very hot. If you were down in the South Pacific in the winter time, its cold down there too, just like it is up here. In our end and up there I, one of thing that comes to mind, well there is a couple more things that's coming to my mind.

I: That's fine

Stone: In the Navy, I'm going to make this a long story, in the Navy we always had beans for breakfast and they were baked beans, and the reason we had them was way back in the I don't know, I want to say may be back in the 15th century or somewhere over in England, over there the queen told her armed forces England was having a had time of it and the queen told her armed forces that they had to have a meatless meal every week because of the finances and her navy chose to have beans one day a week. It didn't make any difference what day it was but her navy chose to have beans one day a week. Well it carried over into our Navy and I don't know whether they have that yet or not, but on Thursday morning we always had baked beans to eat for breakfast. Baked beans and scrambled eggs; no meat just like they did in England over there. There was something else and the other thing slipped my mind but maybe it will come back to me in a little bit but I always thought that was kind of interesting and I done some research on that… after I got a little older, kind of interested on how come we had them beans. I figured there had to be some sort of reason and that's what it was.

I: Describe what you did on leave.

Stone: On leave?

I: Yes.

Stone: Oh boy, I don't know whether you ought to hear that or not.

I: Fine with me

Stone: Wel,l course coming home we had to take a troop train, you know. You didn't fly really they didn't. Maybe they did have airplanes that flew out of Kansas City. It seems like I flew out of Kansas City one time though, but most of the time we traveled by train coming home or I did, and it would take 3 or 4 days to get there and 3 or 4 days to get back. If you had enough leave, why then you could make it. I think that one time I came home on leave from Kansas City and flew back to California. I remember one time I took a trip to… but on leave uh… again it was a drinking party most of the time. I am sorry to say that Tiffany, but yeah that's what it was. In San Francisco and Seattle we would hit the bars and find the girls or at least try to find them… and that's about it really. I don't recall ever going…I do recall, I started to say, I don't recall ever going to any historical places or libraries or any place like that but I do recall Christmas and Thanksgiving or Christmas when we were in California out there, and then up to Seattle, people would come down to the ship and if you were on leave, a lot of people would show up and invite you to their house for Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner, you know. They felt sorry for us sailors and soldiers, I guess. Probably just as bad and they would invite… I remember one in California for Thanksgiving dinner invited four of us out to their house for dinner for Thanksgiving and I know some of them up at Seattle were invited to Christmas dinner when we was up there the same year and that was nice people to do that.

I: Did you ever get to see your family on holidays?

Stone: Now?

I: No, then.

Stone: No, no, no there was only twice that we were in the United States to really stay very long in California. Then we were in Seattle, Washington for quite a while picking up cargo but not coming holidays. We didn't get to come home on holidays or anything like that, uh, we usually get… I think I had a seven-day leave when I flew into Kansas City and flew back out there in October, I believe. When I got home, I got a funny story to tell you, my wife Hazel………………….(takes a deep breath)…

I: You want to take a break for a minute?

Stone: No, I am alright.

I: ok

Stone: My wife Hazel, I had been married before and we were divorced, and I was living up in Topeka Kansas. I…. I had the first Navy ship reunion in Parsons, Kansas in 1987. First one we ever had and we've had them every year since up till this year. We quit having them because everyone is older and they cant make it to reunions but we have had them all over the United States but I was going to Branson, Missouri to a Navy reunion and I stopped into Edna to see a cousin of mine by the name of Verl Shoefelt and I stayed all night there and they called Hazel's [relative] out of Edna there to come out and see me. Well she came out and… see that was in '91, I'm getting a head of my story a little bit but we were married in '92. Well she has also married. We was kind of sweethearts. Well I took her out on a date or two in 1944 when I came home and we went to a show. Well she was engaged to another guy, a friend of mine at that time, to be married and I had taken her out and she wrote him a letter and he was over in ??? Canal over seas in the Navy and he was a medic, like a hospital person, very nice, very nice guy but he wrote me a letter and I received it in the Philippians to stay away from his girl because he didn't want me messing around with her. For 49 years from 1944 to 1992 would have been 49 years or 48 years something like that, but that was… has always been a big joke of mine but I stayed away from her for 49 years but we was finally married and I'm not going to tell you what he said when she told him or when he got word that we were getting married.

I: Something Bad?

Stone: Yeah, he said the hell she is and he remembered that letter and I've told the girls Billy and Sharlene. I wish I'd had that letter, you know it.

I: yeah

Stone: uh I can't say anything good about him but it would be interesting to have that letter because that was a part of life you know and but yeah I married her after 49 years and she was a wonderful lady….. the best part of my life that I ever had in my life and she died of cancer in 2003 and I really appreciated her. She was very good to me. One of them that she had a lot of influence in my life. After we was married, I was already Christian but not the Christian I am today ,on account of her, and she did a lot for me and I hopefully, hopefully, I filled her full of love so… I know I kept her in high regards and we had a wonderful life together, so I thought that was kind of neat to tell you guys.

I: While you were on the ship did you keep a personal diary?

Stone: No I did not, no, we were not allowed to keep a diary. We were not allowed to keep a camera. Somebody had a camera because there were a few pictures taken but I think that was officers that had the cameras but uh….

I: Explain how your day ended when service ended. Explain how your day was.

Stone: Ok our ship went into… oh I was trying to think of the name of the island there…Okinawa. Our ship went into Okinawa and I was… I got off of there in January. It was in 1946 and I stayed in Okinawa for about a month and caught a troop carrier and I don't think which one, what the name of it was but we sailed onto California. Then we caught a train and we were sent to St. Louis and it took us about another month to get to St. Louis. That would have been March, we got to St. Louis from Okinawa…. From Okinawa to St. Louis it took us about January, February, March about three months and uh I was discharged. About my feelings, I didn't have any happy feelings. I guess I was happy that I got out of the service alive and was coming back home.

I: Yeah

Stone: Another gentleman and I decided to hitch-hike home from St. Louis and he lived out in Pratt Kansas. Pratt is out by Hutchinson. You know where Hutchinson is at?

I: Yeah

Stone: and he lived out in that area. So we hitch-hiked home from St. Louis to Topeka and when we got to Topeka, why we split up and he went west to Pratt and I caught a bus and came on back home to the farm and I basically went back to the farm when I first got out of the service but as far as really being joyful, nobody had any parades for us or nobody said: we're glad your home from the service; we're glad you done this and served. I never had anyone buy me a drink or anything because I was in the service, that I recall. You know, we were just home, you know. The war was over. Everybody had already celebrated, you know, if they did celebrate. I suppose some people did and were glad but we didn't see it and even the Korean War when we came home, we just came home. We were glad to see our families and our families were glad to see us but kind of like today, you know, after the war was over, you forget about it. I'm glad that they are putting some of this on tape so that people can remember the wars, you know. Well, like you guys, you don't know anything about WWII I don't know [that] isn't in the history books. I don't know.

I: Yeah

Stone: It is?

I: yeah there is a lot of it

Stone: Yeah ok, but people forget about them you know. I'm glad this is coming on.

I: Did you continue any of your close friendships from the people you were with?

Stone: Oh yes we had a… didn't for years but in 1987 I just had went to an army outfit and they had a reunion in 1987 and I went to that. No that had to be in '86 because I had the Navy reunion in '87 but I told them that night up here at Parsons. I told the restaurant owner wherever we had our get-togethers I said, I'm going to have a Navy reunion here next year and this is what I want. I don't know how many people I'm going to have, but we ate at where the Serloin Stockade is now. That was called the Railroad Station, I believe years ago, and that's where we ate at. We stayed at the Canterbury Inn out east, there on the north side or on the south side at the motel and then the Elks Lodge downtown. That was where we had our main function. I did not know where any of these gentlemen lived. I advertised in the American Legion magazine and the VFW magazine and told them I was having this reunion in 1987, please contact me. Bill Pabain called me as quick as the magazine came out and he said, ``I'll be there.'' and we had 17 sailors show up at that reunion. Most of them had been looking at the magazines wondering when we were going to have a reunion but it took someone to step forward to say we are going to do this and that's what I did, and we have had one every year since 1987 and I am the only one that was able to make everyone of them. I think the biggest turn out we had was maybe 25 sailors and their wives and the rest of the time we have had 17, 18, 20 sailors but at the last one that we had over at Springfield last year, I believe this week last year, we had 10 or 11 sailors plus their wives and one guy had a stroke while he was there. They all, I think one guy, is younger than I and the rest of them are older. They are all to the point where they can't drive that far anymore and come to the reunions. My Army outfit however, we are slated and we go every month anymore. We used to have a reunion but we got away from the reunion and we go someplace every month to have a dinner in the evening or a breakfast in the morning … through the summertime we usually go somewhere like Pittsburg or Parsons or Chicken Mary's over by Pittsburg to have dinner. Then in the winter times they go to Erie or someplace like that and have a breakfast on a Saturday morning of every month, the first Saturday of every month for breakfast, the first Friday of every month for dinner if we have dinner or breakfast either one, but we are going to Celebraties in Girard this Friday night for dinner and there will probably be 17 of us Army guys there at that, which is very nice. We really enjoyed and I wanted to tell you, there is a guy by the name of Gerald Bowman in Parsons. He was a Pearl Harbor survivor and he would be interesting for you to get in touch with him. Maybe I need to tell Mr……….

I: Isn't he one of them… isn't he Scott's name or something? I think you can mention something but I think he might be talking to him or something

Stone: Already scheduled?

I: Might [be] but you might say something anyway.

Stone: He was. I was in the Army with him and he was also in Pearl Harbor when it was attacked and he was a Pearl Harbor survivor and I know he would be interested in doing this. I'm pretty sure he would so you might… I will talk to Mr. ?? about that.

I: I have just one more question for you. How has the service and the experiences affected your life?

Stone: How has it affected my life?........ well it has given me more meaning to life, I think, uh but I think.. I need to say this, I really think… because my problem was after I got out, I drank a lot too. A lot of us did and it makes me, Tiffany, it makes me sad to hear on the TV and I heard this just the other day that 25% of our people that are homeless are veterans and I was almost there at one time. Almost homeless. I say almost, I uh not that I was homeless, but I had a good job but I drank my money all up in beer really and at one time I didn't have enough money to pay my rent but I'd still go down and pay… I'd still go down and drink beer. So there, I say if I was almost to a point where I was homeless if I'd have been any worse, I probably would have been or if I'd have lost my job I probably would have been, but 25% of our veterans are homeless and again this is due to drinking and drugs and I don't know what people can do about it, but what really influenced me more than anything is uh I'm going to tell you this story and I was still drinking but I had good jobs but I was still tipping the bottle a lot. I was running a video store up in Topeka, Topeka Kansas, little town by the name of Pauline, out by Forbs Airbase and I close.. I opened the video store at 10 o'clock every morning and I closed at about 9:30 or 10 o'clock every night. Well I went to a beer joint one evening, Saturday evening to be exact, and I walked into that beer joint and there were two friends of mine sitting in there at the bar and they were drunk and there was a stool in between them I am not going to tell you their names because it's not important.

I: Ok

Stone: But the girl came up and asked me what I wanted and I looked at them guys and I thought, Lord there has got to be something better than this, got to be something better than this and she said what do you want and I said I'd like to have a coke and the Holy Spirit got a hold of me that night and took me out of that bar and the next day I was in [?] in a little Presbyterian church and I gave my soul to the lord that day and that… you see I hadn't really had a life up until then, until I accepted the Lord really, you know what I am talking about… and I wouldn't have been married to Hazel either if I hadn't have been turning my life around because she wouldn't have me that way, the way I was and I am so glad I got my life straightened out before it was too late…….

I: Is there anything else you would like to add… about it?

Stone: No…. I am just thankful to be here today. I hope this program and I hope you have a good turn out on this program and I know you are going to have a lot more interesting stories….

I: Yours are interesting…. Ok we can turn this off now

Stone: lets see today is the 10th month isn't it?

I: Yep

Stone: and what day?

I: the 4th

Stone: the 4th?

I: yes

I: So you can go ahead and talk about your name real quick if you like.

Stone: Yeah when I first went into the Navy you noticed my name is T.W. and I don't have a name I just have initials and if you notice on my name I put parentheses around it.

I: Yeah I noticed that

Stone: I went into the navy and I got… we was getting paid on day and I filled… we had to fill out a pay slip and we came to a table like this and salute the pay master and request our pay. We walked up in front of him and stood at attention to request pay We only got $22.00 a month and he took my pay slip and he tore it up and he said go fill out another one and I came back and I requested pay and he looked at it and said go fill out another one. I filled out 5 of them pay slips just a little kind of like a check book you know, a check, a check that you would write out and I filled out five and finally he said sailor put your full name on there. You have to have your full name on there and I said sir that is my full name. Well they finally got some records out from somewhere and found out that was my name but then he told me at that time and he give me a demonstration wrote it out and told me how I was supposed to do it. You write a T with parentheses around it and then a W with parentheses around it and then Stone and he said then write ``initials only'' and on it and which I did, but since then on most all important papers I just write it and put parentheses around it but I dropped the ``initials only'' but it…. I had a lot of trouble with that all the way through the service because you was supposed to have a name and a lot of people especially in the Army. I know a gentleman down at Edna that was in the Army and they gave him a name. A lot of people there, wasn't many of them that had initials only, but the ones that did they normally give a name to them like somebody that had an F or something like that they'd say well your Frank from now on and they completely changed their name on account of that but they did not tack Thomas William on me. I know my mother, bless her heart, I was supposed to be Thomas William Stone but she didn't want to name me Thomas William so she named me T.W. and that's it and I had a lot of trouble with that all through service because you were suppose to have a name and I noticed you printed all that stuff

I: Yeah

Stone: When we went to school, that stuff you was writing, when I went to school we was not suppose to print you were supposed to write and you've… you've… yeah you print

I: Yeah

Stone: Yeah but you were supposed to write well then. When we went into the service all the government papers you had to print and we didn't know how to print you know. We didn't know how to print, gosh we didn't know how to make an A. The only thing and I can't do it today, the only way I printed was the big capital letters, in other words like making an A or an M we always used capital letters but most of us didn't know how to print period, you know, but that was interesting. All the government papers you had to fill out you had to sit there and print and it took you a whole day to do it.

I: So you don't have a middle name its just T.W. Stone?

Stone: I don't have a middle name or a first name just T.W. I want to thank you kids for a wonderful morning.

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.