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Interview on experiences in World War II

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Interview conducted by Ness City High School Audio-Video Technology Class students Megan Gerstner, Casey Pridey on November 13, 2006. Adult supervisor Lynette Stenzel.

MG: I'm here with Casey Pridey and Lynette Stenzel and I am Megan Gerstner as we record the oral history of World War II veteran Frank Jedlicka. Would you please state your name?

FJ: Frank W. Jedlicka

MG: OK and what is your date of birth?

FJ: 7/25/20

MG: OK and where were you born?

FJ: On the farm in Ness County out where I live.

MG: Who were your parents?

FJ: Joe and Edna Jedlicka.

MG: Did you have any siblings?

FJ: Yeah, yeah. I had twin sisters and a brother.

MG: OK. Did you attend high school? If so, where?

FJ: Ness City High School.

MG: What was your job prior to your military service?

FJ: Well I was working on Dad's farm.

MG: Do you remember the announcement of Pearl Harbor?

FJ: Oh yes. We just came home from Sunday school and was out in the yard, it was a sunny day and the radio…it came over the radio.

MG: Did you think it…when you heard that, did you think it would affect your life?

FJ: Well I didn't think much about it at the time, probably not.

MG: Did you enlist or were you drafted?

FJ: I was a draftee.

MG: What was the date of your enlistment or…?

FJ: Well let's see. It was in October of 1942 that I was inducted.

MG: Were there others from your area that joined?

FJ: Yes I think we had the largest group that went from Ness County down to Fort Leavenworth. I think there was thirty some of us that went down that time.

MG: Did any of your siblings go with you?

FJ: No.

MG: What about other relatives?

FJ: No there was none in the group. Harvey Sekavec was our storyteller the whole trip.

MG: When did you enter the service?

FJ: Well that was when I entered to the…I was inducted in October and that's when I entered.

MG: Where were you inducted to?

FJ: Fort Leavenworth

MG: Ok. Can you tell us anything about your basic training? What was that like?

FJ: Well at Fort Leavenworth, it was determined that I'd…we took some tests and that sort of thing and it was determined that I'd be in the Air Force. Well we were shipped to St. Petersburg, Florida and we got to stay in the Venoi Hotel for our quarters but that was the last group that…they put them in tents after that. So… but I didn't get to finish basic because they needed mechanics and they shipped us to Gulf Port, Mississippi to A & M school.

MG: Can you tell us about your other training that you had to have?

FJ: Well I went to A & M school at Gulf Port and let's see…then I got to go to Dearborn, Michigan to the Ford's plant and went to school there on the aircraft engines and we went into the factory and watched them make the engines. We had classes and that for. . .and we were supposed to be able to work and overhaul the engines.

MG: How long did you do that?

FJ: Well I never did get to work on the overhaul at [inaudible] but I worked for the…on the engine change crew for several years.

MG: Did you get to choose that job? Did you get to choose that job?

FJ: Well no I just kind of fell into it I guess.

MG: Did you serve stateside or overseas?

FJ: Stateside

MG: Where at?

FJ: Well I was at twelve bases, I was at while I was in the United States. I got like I mentioned I went up to Dearborn, Michigan to school then I had good scores on my tests at Fort Leavenworth so they sent me up to VMI, the west point of the south and I had a chance to get a degree in engineering there if I could have made the grades but, I didn't have a good enough background. I started out, I think, as a sophomore. I didn't have a good enough background in mathematics. I had problems. So they shipped me down to Florence, South Carolina.

MG: What were your first days of service like?

FJ: Well do you want me to go back to Fort Leavenworth?

MG: Sure, that's fine.

FJ: That was really a change because I got down there about midnight I guess and they threw you a blanket and a little bedding and of course I kind of had experience in that line but you saw guys there that didn't know what to do with it. And we didn't spend too long at Fort Leavenworth until we…well of course when you were around bases like that, you were always were fortunate you got KP and that kind of duty. If I had been able to type it'd have helped a lot because then you…they always seem to need office work but if you couldn't type why then you got to be a truck driver on a wheelbarrow or something like that.

MG: What unit did you serve with?

FJ: Let's see…either the First or Third Air Force. I spent some time up at Selfridge Field and that was a…sorry it was either the third or first Air Force base.

MG: Ok that's fine. Can you tell us anything else about your living conditions? Like what kind of food did they serve you? Was that good?

FJ: Well the best food we ever got was while we were up at . . .in Michigan going to school. They had civilians preparing the meals there and we had good food. Of course at…while I was at VMI going, you were assigned a table and you sat there and they had colored men waiting on the tables and that. Of course everything you…we didn't have the strict rules like the cadets did that were there. But they kind of made you toe the mark and while I was in VMI, I got to stay or live in the room where General George C. Marshall lived when he went to school. He was the only General in World War II that came from Virginia Military Institute; everybody else came from the Academy…where the Army trains their men. One time on shipping orders, I went to Salt Lake City and I was stationed there a little while. Then down at Dalhart, Texas. I thought Kansas didn't have any trees but when I got down there why that was really…you could see for miles.

MG: How was your relationship with your commanding officer?

FJ: Well I never had any problems any time. I always kind of tried to cooperate and get along.

MG: Were you able to stay in contact with home when you were gone?

FJ: Oh yes I tried to write to my mom about twice a week and of course they were very. . . between my mom and my sisters they were very faithful in writing. And then I had one aunt who I communicated to.

MG: Was this the first time you were away from home?

FJ: Basically yeah. I'd went to K-State for three semesters before. But that didn't seem like it was so far away or so much of a separation.

MG: Did you ever get homesick?

FJ: Well yeah, I remember especially the first Christmas I was away from home. I was in Gulf Port, Mississippi and I know we went down to the PX to…one of my buddies smoked cigars and we went down and got him a cigar and Bing Crosby was singing ``White Christmas'' and they had the PX decorated and it kind of made you think of home.

MG: Did you have any time for recreation?

FJ: Yes, it varied with the bases you were on. Now like when we worked in South Carolina, we worked twelve-hour shifts. We worked from midnight to…well that isn't right…but anyhow we worked twelve-hour shifts. We didn't have so much time there but when we were going to school at places like that we had more time. We used to play volleyball and horseshoes, and that such thing.

MG: Do you remember what your service pay was?

FJ: My service pay?

MG: Um huh [yes].

FJ: Well I started when I went in it was $50 a month and then they took your laundry out and life insurance and they said, ``Do you want to take out a savings bond?'' And I didn't know any better and I said, ``Yeah take out one.'' They had a…for service men they had one that…a ten dollar bond that sold for seven and a half dollars so I took one of those and the guy looked at me and said, ``Well what are you going to do for spending?'' But I got along all right.

MG: So then how much did you end up having for spending money?

FJ: Oh about half of that I suppose. Between twenty, twenty-five dollars. But of course you didn't need much if you wanted to live just with the basics.

MG: Do you remember where you were when the announcement came for the end of the war?

FJ: Florence, South Carolina and people just went crazy. The airplanes were parked back in there and they had a bucket brigade carrying out gasoline to the cars so they could go to town. The base was just about vacated.

MG: What was the date of your discharge?

FJ: The last part of February sometime I think about the 23rd or the 30th of February…well it wouldn't be the 30th of February but the 23rd of February of 1946 in Fort Leavenworth.

MG: How did you get home?

FJ: I guess I took a bus.

MG: You don't remember for sure?

FJ: No. I may have stopped at my. . . to visit my aunt in Kansas City. I can't remember that sure before I came on home.

MG: What did you do after the service?

FJ: Well I kind of wanted to go to school but I came to the farm and that was a mistake. If you wanted to do something you should have did it right when you got out. I thought I would have liked to became a licensed aircraft mechanic and had a chance to work in airlines and that but I fizzled on that.

MG: So then did your wartime experience contribute to your career?

FJ: Oh yes it was helpful. We learned discipline and I never had brushed my teeth, but when I got home that was one thing it taught me.

MG: Did you form any close friendships while you were there?

FJ: Well I did but there were…of course I had a friend up at…close to Phillipsburg that I kind of kept in touch with. Then I had three or four that were from up in the New York City vicinity. But the one, he always thought he was going home to get married and his mother wrote me a letter and he died just a few months after he got out of the service so his plans didn't come up. But I had a couple other guys and I used to at Christmas time send a card and that but I guess I got careless and…

MG: Have you attended any military reunions ever?

FJ: Well none of my organizations have ever had one that I know of.

MG: Are you or were you ever a member of Veterans' Service Organization?

FJ: Well I think a year or two I belonged to the American Legion here in Ness but…

MG: Did you bring any photographs or souvenirs home with you? Did you bring your uniform home?

FJ: Yeah I have a uniform. Well that was one thing when we went in, they discouraged you taking a…don't take a camera and I believed them and I didn't. Of course I guess I could have picked one up somewhere or something but that's one thing I regret that I didn't get very many pictures from when I was in the service.

LS: When you were saying that you purchased this savings bond, Frank. Did you cash them in then when the service was over or did you hang onto them?

FJ: I hung onto them. I forget where I used them but sometime, it hasn't been very long ago that I wanted to do something and I cashed them.

LS: And when you got to do the entertainment? Did you ever get to go see a USO show?

FJ: Yeah sometimes we…in Florence, Carolina. . .South Carolina, a number of times they would bring in USO units and we would get to…and while I was up in Detroit at the Ford Rotunda, they used to bring people in there and they had…I can't remember now who they were several of the movie stars and that would come in but I can't remember now who they were. But we would get to go there and watch programs.

LS: You said you had to take a test…did like all people that get inducted or drafted…you had to take a test but you scored high enough?

FJ: Yes.

LS: And that's why you qualified for the Air Force?

FJ: Yeah and then also for some of the schooling I got that…yeah I don't know they give you a series of tests. I know the one guy told me, ``Well you'll be an officer the next time I see you.'' But that never made it either.

LS: You said that you served stateside then so did you work on airplanes and things here?

FJ: Oh yes.

LS: To get them ready to go over?

FJ: We trained pilots, we kept the…we changed the engines on the plane and some…and they trained pilots there in the base.

LS: Did you ever feel like at some point you'd get sent overseas?

FJ: Well at the time of the Battle of the Bulge. Of course if you attended the business, they didn't want to get rid of you much because they kept their things going but they took a number of our truck drivers and people in this category and they went right over to Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania and were in Europe in just no time at all. But when I…the thing that kind of bothered me you know, you stayed here all the…when they first started discharging people, they had a point system. Of course not being overseas why I didn't have very many and I figured sure they'd get to send me over for a time for duty after the war was over. But if I spent…now how was it? Up in Suffrage, Michigan at the air base there at the time I got discharged.

LS: So you farmed all your life then?

FJ: Yes.

LS: Once you came back here?

FJ: Yeah yeah.

LS: Once you got to the farm, you never got to leave? Had the farm changed when you got home?

FJ: Well…

LS: Because of rationing and things or…?

FJ: Well after I left, we didn't have very…just an old Ford tractor when I left. My brother was going to farm so Dad bought a…of course he had to go through the rationing board and he got a new farm-all tractor. So they had that when I came home because we never farmed very big.

LS: So do you still have the farm-all?

FJ: Yeah I still got it and I'm going to give it to my nephews. They kind of want to restore it. It still runs. They kind of wanted to paint it up and fix it up.

LS: Is there anything else that you can think of that you'd like to tell us about your military career?

FJ: Well I kind of…I liked working on the planes and I liked aircraft and worked on them. But what bothered me was when you were off…off duty…off the line, if you didn't want to go out or get away from the base they come through, they'd pick you for charge of quarters or KP or whatever. It was the chicken that I didn't like so otherwise I think I might have reenlisted. I just didn't care for that.

LS: We really appreciate that you came in Frank and shared your story.

FJ: Well I...like I said I didn't have anything really to be news worthy or outstanding.

LS: Well we've decided that every veteran has his own story and everyone is just as important as the next.

FJ: Well thank you.

LS: And we thank you for your service!

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