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Harold Cross video interview on experiences in World War II

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HAROLD DWAYNE CROSS


HAROLD DWAYNE CROSS




WORLD WAR II ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW




        
This is Suzette McCord-Rogers and Peggy Stanton, and it is February 3, 2007. We are interviewing Dwayne Cross in his home in Lancaster, Kansas. [Typist's note: I believe Mr. Cross' son, Matt, was also present and contributed at times]

Suzette: Mr. Cross, where were you born?

Mr. Cross: Troy.

Suzette: Troy, Kansas?

Mr. Cross: Uh, huh.

Suzette: And when were you born? What was your date of birth?

Mr. Cross: 16 December '25.

Tape skips here

Mr. Cross: Navy and Army.

Suzette: Navy and Army?

Mr. Cross: National Guard.

Suzette: So did you start off in the National Guard?

Mr. Cross: I started off in the Navy on the 6th of June, 1944.

Tape skips again

Suzette: when did you enlist?

Mr. Cross: I enlisted in the Navy.

Suzette: OK

Tape skipping again

Mr. Cross: I had two years, one month, 8 days service in the Navy. And the National Guard 12 May '68 until 12 December '69 U.S. Army, Vietnam, and 13 December '69, til 15 December '85, the Guard. Total for pay purposes, 39 years, 10 months, 22 days.

Suzette: During World War II you were in the Navy?

Mr. Cross: Yeah.

Suzette: And you were in the Navy until when?

Mr. Cross: Until July '46.

Suzette: '46 was when you were discharged?

Mr. Cross: Yes.

Suzette: You came back to Kansas and then in 1948 you were in the National Guard?

Mr. Cross: 12 May '68.

Suzette: 12 May '68. Now…

Tape skipping again---

Mr. Cross: I was still in the Guard, and 13 May '68 until 12 December '69 I was in the Army; they drafted me.

Suzette: And did you say you were (tape skips again here)

Mr. Cross: ..diam..that was…I was in the First Division.

Matt Cross, Mr. Cross' son: You were in a soft raft.

Suzette: A soft raft? That's quite a career.

Mr. Cross: 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry

Matt: That's it. First battalion, 18th Infantry.

Mr. Cross: First Division.

(Tape squeaking here again!)

Suzette: What was your ship and all of your information for that?

Mr. Cross: USS Skylark.

Suzette: ----

Mr. Cross: We were sunk in Okinawa.

Suzette: You were sunk in Okinawa?

Mr. Cross: We were sweeping mines off Okinawa,….and we got…(tape skips) we couldn't put the fire out; we didn't have the ability to pump water to put the fire out; didn't work. So the ship sank---the ship-so we abandoned ship, and were picked up by----98

Suzette: So you were not alone

Mr. Cross: ---

Suzette: So there were several ships that were part of a unit? (Tape skips again here) And how many ships at a time would you see?

Mr. Cross: Oh, yea. We were…That was____!! Laughter

Mr. Cross: We were the flag ship, we were led in, we were going in first thing that morning, around 11 o'clock in the morning, and that's how ---, Japs come out at night and reloaded the mines we swept the day before(skips again) picks up about two feet

Peggy: How about the ____ you were in?

Suzette: You said those of you that could swim, I mean did you take life preservers or (skips) how'd you do that? Rafts?

Mr. Cross: When they give you a ___ship, you take the life jacket, well, see the water was on top of it, you take the life jacket off and the ___off, you'd be floatin' in the ___ so when you jump in, the ____take your head off too, so you stay warm along the way. --- Fire on the water, you'd have to spread the fire with your hand, then take a breath and hold it as long as you can. Swim as far as you can…swim a long ways under water when there's fire on top.

Suzette: Were you trained to do this?

Mr. Cross: Yeah,

Suzette: Did everybody know how to swim then?

Mr. Cross: Well, if they didn't, they were in bad shape.

Suzette: It surely sounds like it. But they trained you to swim..

Mr. Cross: Yeah, in boot camp, in boot camp, but I didn't have to I could swim. I had to jump off the towers in boot camp. They tell ya. They told…

Matt: They told you to swim when you were in the mine-infested water.

Mr. Cross: Swim on your back, mine gets real close to you and it won't blow your fingers off. (Skips)

Suzette: Could you see the mines? Were they under the water?

Mr. Cross: They were under the water about three or four feet. They were contact mines what we were… There were different kinds of mines. The contact mines, ---- mines, contact mines with horns on `em, and shoot those horns and knock `em off, and go down, otherwise, we'd blow `em up.

Suzette: How did you get rid of them?

Mr. Cross: We took, see, mine sweepers sweep mines from the rear. We …til they overlap. We had buoys marked so we ---the day before, but they'd come in there and lay mines at night. There were cables strung, mine cables, big slope to hold them, --- knives --- knives would cut the cables. And the ship behind you ----in this sweeping operation, would sweep the mines.

Suzette: --behind you, they'd sweep the mines after you were out of range?

Mr. Cross: No, just the ship behind us.

Suzette: It didn't affect you at all?

Mr. Cross: No,

Suzette: It wouldn't affect you?

Matt: They're far enough away.

Mr. Cross: ---They were right there (skipping)

Suzette: ….You actually had to hit it

Matt: with the horns, like you see on TV when they show mines

Mr. Cross: ---vibration (skipping) there were depth chargers on this, going the fastest,

Suzette: Did they set by further away?

Mr. Cross: Yeah, I don't know how close they were, I wasn't that technical

Suzette: ----most of the mines were contact mines? I thought that was real interesting that your ship went down. Is that the only ship that sank that you served on?

Mr. Cross: Yes, that was Laughter and skipping here

Suzette: ---Was that a reward?

Mr. Cross: Yeah, it was.

Suzette: You said just prior to the invasion, you were based in Okinawa?

Mr. Cross: Yeah

Suzette: You just went out and ---sweep the mines up?

Mr. Cross: Partly cause we were bored.

Suzette: And then you were up there and saw they were actually doing the actual invasion, is that correct? …do while they actually invaded?

Mr. Cross: I don't remember what… I was asleep sometimes.

Suzette: You were asleep, you were sleeping..

Mr. Cross: …Until we got sunk. Then I got picked up and put on a big transport and knocked out; and did that for a week. On a transport…

(There's conversation here but all talking and hard to understand)

Matt: Tell her a little bit about being on the transport.

Peggy: What is a transport by the way?

Mr. Cross: …some mine, or something, it'd still float, but..no stores on it, they had food on it. They'd send `em over to the transport to pick up meat and stuff out of the freezers, supplies we needed,…

Matt: Tell `em about what you did while you were on the transport. You used to tell us some of the things that happened while you were out there.

Mr. Cross: Before I got in the Navy, I was talking to my dad about joining the army or the navy, marines, and he says, ``Don't join the army; that was in World War II and all it did was rain, muddy, he says the army is having a terrible time, you know, in Germany; and he says, join the navy, that way you've got a dry bed.''

Mr. Cross: My bed got wet. (All chuckling)

Suzette: Tell me your highest rank that you got when you were in the service.

Mr. Cross: In the Navy, it was Seaman First Class.

Suzette: Seaman First Class.

Mr. Cross: ..And I was Chief Warrant Officer.

Suzette: Where did you go for your training? Where was your first training?

(I think the tape skipped here again)

Mr. Cross: Troy.

Suzette: On the bus at Troy.

Mr. Cross: And to Kansas City, and then on a train to Chicago, Illinois, Great Lakes Center.

Suzette: Is that where you were trained?

Mr. Cross: Yeah.

Suzette: (Can't understand)

Mr. Cross: Two weeks. We learned enemy aircraft and identification, and just….then we learned boats. That's where we took our swimming camp, basic.

Suzette: And where did you get off the bus?

Mr. Cross: We went to San Diego, and then got on the SS Honeycut. .. 3rd of October (Tape skipping again)

Suzette: Trained in Hawaii?

Mr. Cross: (Tape skipping again)…No, just waiting on an assignment. We learned ____and red dirt, so our uniforms turned pink.

Suzette: Did people laugh at you? Did you get ribbed?

Mr. Cross: I didn't want to get back in the uniforms again….

Suzette: No one else got to see your pink uniforms.

Mr. Cross: And then we went to the Marshall Islands.

Suzette: OK.

Mr. Cross: And got on a ship,

Suzette: the USS____ And what did you do in the Marshall Islands?

Mr. Cross: Got on a ship. Then we made a mail run to, we delivered mail to different ships. Then we came back to the States for overhaul. And came back to the States for 60 days, something like that. A general overhaul of the ship….

Suzette: When you enlisted, did you enlist with friends? Did other people go with you?

Mr. Cross: Other people went with me, and I did know a kid named Joe Benning(?), from Atchison. I knew him because I got in a fight with him, in the dressing room before a basketball game. We were playing against each other, and he was pushing me or I was pushing him, and in the dressing room, we all used the same dressing room, both teams, and ______got on the damn bus anyway.

Peggy: Did you keep contact with him when you got back?

Mr. Cross: No, oh, I did see him at a football game at Troy once.

Suzette: And did you form any friendships…(tape skips again)

Mr. Cross: There were four of us on there from Kansas, and two of us killed, got killed from the ship….(tape skips)

Peggy: How many men did you lose when your ship went down?

Mr. Cross: Six.

Peggy: How big was the crew?

Mr. Cross: 99.

Peggy: 99?

Mr. Cross: Um, hum.

Peggy: You didn't lose too many then. (tape skips)

Mr. Cross:….fortunate. Well, see, we was in battle stations. You know where you're less vulnerable. Not out in the open, all right,…

Suzette: What did you do when you were on ship? What was your duty?

Mr. Cross: My duty was haulin' ammo, 40-millimeter ammunition up the upper deck. I was on (tape skips) full (tape skips)

Peggy: How big is a 40 millimeter?

Mr. Cross: About that big around. About that long. This ship was ____to set bombs three times before I got on.

Suzette: Not while you were on it.

Mr. Cross: No.

Suzette: Did that..(tape skips)

Mr. Cross: …See we was in there before anybody else was. When (tape skips) …big guns on the ships go off, then you heard WHOOSH and (skips) something went off….

Peggy: Oh my goodness.

Suzette: ChucklingDo you have any particular memories that you remember from this time(clock chiming loudly in the background!!), besides being sunk!

Mr. Cross: Surviving!!

Suzette: Surviving!

Mr. Cross: Um, hum. There was no hero about me, just doing my thing.

Matt: Tell her what you did on the ship, besides when you were in battle station. What your normal duty was.

Mr. Cross: (Tape skips again) made water.

Peggy: Oh! We heard about that, but we didn't know how it worked!

Suzette: Mr. Rush told us the various things he did to get water when he was in the Navy, George, and we wondered about the process of making water. You made water from ocean water?

Mr. Cross: Yes.

Peggy: How did you do that?

Mr. Cross: Dehydrated it. We'd pump water into the ____thing, and then run through and pump into a tank, …

Matt: …turns it into a vapor, and cools it. As it cools, it doesn't have salt in it.

Peggy: Like distilling.

Matt: Yeah, that's what it is!

Suzette: A still! OK, now I've got it!

Matt: Yeah, that's what he did! All chuckling

Peggy: I wondered how he did it; I never quite understood; that makes perfect sense.

Peggy: Were you ever wounded or anything?

Mr. Cross: Well, when we got, I was sitting on one of those big….you have the picture there..

Suzette: You want to hold that up, maybe…

Peggy: We can go online and get…

Matt: Yeah, you can go online and get the…if you want a picture of it. You'll see some of it…actually, somebody sent this one to him..

Mr. Cross: Who did?

Matt: I don't know. ….Ah, me. I probably got these online. If you'll leave me your email address, I'll send you all the information.

Suzette: …you have been injured.

Mr. Cross: where I was sittin'.

Matt: Up on the reels.

Mr. Cross: Up on the reels. Aw, damn it. Is it recording?

Matt: They'll have to beep you.

Suzette: We've been recording everything.

Matt: One more.

Mr. Cross: This bunch of small pictures..the big one..

Suzette: So you had a tender that you were assigned to or that you worked with?

Mr. Cross: See those reels there?

Suzette: Yes.

Mr. Cross: Where I was sitting when I get hit. I blew up in the air and came down, I lit on a bunch of levers, those wenches on those things, and broke teeth off, blacked my eye, that was all…

Suzette: You didn't get any medals for that?

Mr. Cross: Did what?

Suzette: Did you get a medal for that?

Mr. Cross: No.

(Tape skips)

Suzette: Did you receive any special service awards or medals?

Mr. Cross: I think…(tape skips)Bronze Star.

Suzette: From World War II?

Mr. Cross: No.

Suzette: Did you get a Bronze Star from Vietnam?

Mr. Cross: Yes, the whole crew did. (Tape skipping)..not any more.

Suzette: What were you doing before Pearl Harbor and the whole war scene?

Mr. Cross: Going to school.

Suzette: And you were in high school?

Mr. Cross: Yes.

Suzette: And you went to high school at Troy?

Mr. Cross: Yes.

Suzette: And what(tape skips)..

Mr. Cross: '46.

(Tape skips tremendously here)

Suzette: You thought you wanted to go before you actually graduated?

Mr. Cross: What?

Suzette: You actually enlisted before you graduated from high school? You were anxious to go?

Mr. Cross: I don't know….

Suzette: You don't remember being excited to go.

Mr. Cross: I wanted to know where I was goin'. I didn't want to…

Peggy: That was an incentive for losing weight, then.

Mr. Cross: Yes, yes.

Peggy: You wanted to have more say in what happened to you.

Mr. Cross: Yes, Yes.

Suzette: What did your father do?

Mr. Cross: When I …

Suzette: No, when you were growing up, what did your father do, when you were going to high school?

Mr. Cross: My father he was in the Army in World War I. That's why he told me to join the Navy, it was a lot better.

Suzette: Did you think that was good advice?

Mr. Cross: I did until we got sunk! Ha ha

Suzette: What was his occupation?

Mr. Cross: He ran a restaurant.

Suzette: He ran a restaurant?

Mr. Cross: Cross Café, and..

(Tape skipping again)

Peggy: Did you get back for the Sesquicentennial? Did you get uptown at all?

Mr. Cross: Yes.

Peggy: Did you see the L & V Café in the windows of all the places it was located?

Mr. Cross: No, No.

Matt: No, no.

Suzette: Did you help in the restaurant when you were in high school?

Mr. Cross: I washed dishes.

Suzette: Ah, ha!

Mr. Cross: When they could catch me. I ate there a lot.

Suzette: Well, one of the reasons I'm asking this is, you went off to the war, and then after your ship sank you went to San Diego, and how long did you serve in San Diego?

Mr. Cross: I don't know.

(Tape skips)

Suzette: Until you were discharged?

Mr. Cross: Yes, 13 July '46.

Suzette: At that point, were you going to come back to Troy, or help at your family restaurant again..?

Mr. Cross: (Tape skips) I had a propane gas can, delivered, we sold, we had a store that sold stoves, refrigerators, and that kind of thing..

Suzette: And..and so, you went to war, you came back and finished high school, and then did you start working with your (Tape skips)

Mr. Cross: Yeah. Sold____feed,..like I do now

Peggy: …My mother never let me go uptown during lunch. I was always pretty much kept at home.

Mr. Cross: I used to see you sometimes.

Suzette: As a result of having been in the war, and then you returned back to Troy, did you decide you wanted to do something different with your life?

Mr. Cross: I worked at any job I could get, after the Army. Worked…I wasn't really…

Matt: milk grader.

Mr. Cross: Oh, yes.

Suzette: But you would have continued with that if you hadn't gone to the war. The war did not change what you wanted to do.

Mr. Cross: Oh, no. I worked at Paramount films?

Suzette: You did? You worked at Paramount films?

Mr. Cross: The shipping department. I wasn't in the movies. Ha ha ha I got to meet a lot of movie stars.

Suzette: Did you? Where did you do that?

Mr. Cross: (Tape skips)No, war.

Suzette: So did you stay in California for awhile? You didn't come right home?

Mr. Cross: No, came right home.

Suzette: How did you work for Paramount films then?

Mr. Cross: I worked in…well, I stayed down in Kansas City. I came home right after the war, but then I got a job with Paramount films. The LaBelle theater in Troy had a ….the big shot in the sales department in Kansas City come up then, and (tape skips) my dad got sick, had to go to the hospital, I came back and drove his gas truck. That's how I got into..(can't understand Mr. Cross here) I woke up one morning and I was riding on the shoulder, and that was enough for me. Propane gas truck run into a ditch and then explode and I didn't want that. I was young enough then, I was runnin' around tired …

Suzette: When you came back, did you receive any training during your time in the war that you used..(tape skips)

Did you take advantage of the GI Bill?

Mr. Cross: Yes, I got $20 for two months, that was all I got. I had to go to work. $20 wasn't much.

Suzette: Did you use it to, like go to college?

Mr. Cross: No.

Suzette: …Or build a house?

Mr. Cross: No.

Suzette: What about today, do you use any medical benefits?

Mr. Cross: I do.

Suzette: You do. What benefits do you take advantage of?

Matt: If the, basically the military retirees, well, it's the military's insurance plan. And the retirees were allowed to use Tri-Care. I'm applying, and he's on Tri-Care for life now, which is basically 99.9 per cent of his medical bills are paid for by that. ..As a result of his service and retiring from the military.

Suzette: (Tape skips)..you think it's important to you?

Mr. Cross: Yeah, the American Legion center. And the VFW. Yeah, I was commander of the American Legion.

Suzette: And what did the American Legion (tape skips)..

Peggy: That was a good one.

Mr. Cross: I was commander at the time we got into a fight..American Legion had a, what do you call it when you gamble and drink?

Matt: a club, kinda?

Mr. Cross: Yea, but, we had one special…

Matt: night? Casino night? Or something?

Mr. Cross: Kinda like that, and, they had a pot on the table…(tape skips)..guys win it…This ole guy got knocked down the stairs, and this other guy got his ear bit off. Bit his ear off,

Suzette: My goodness! (Laughing) This got pretty serious.

Peggy: This was in Troy?

Mr. Cross: In Troy, yeah.

Peggy: Up there on the corner?

Mr. Cross: No, it was upstairs down by the drugstore,..

Peggy: Above the bank?

Mr. Cross: Yeah..

Suzette: So you got in a big tussle; somebody got knocked down the stairs.

Mr. Cross: No, I was commander.

Matt: No, he didn't get in a fight.

Suzette: No, but someone did..so did you have to handle this as commander?

Mr. Cross: Well, no, they were out on the street; I was upstairs trying to find out what was going on.

Suzette: I guess they got pretty serious. Ha ha ha Did you have that casino night again?

Mr. Cross: No, I didn't. I was just commander for a year.

Suzette: Chuckling Do you believe that the American Legion and VFW were important for veterans to get together, to socialize?

Mr. Cross: Yeah.

Suzette: Did you ever see them as an advocate for veterans' rights?

Mr. Cross: No.

Suzette: It was primarily something that you had all experienced and then did you talk about your experiences there?

Mr. Cross: (tape skips) ..

Peggy: ….social club.

Matt: Yeah. (All chuckling)

(Having great trouble with the tape here)

Matt: It's going and it's keeping going when we are not talking.

Suzette: Did you feel that traveling abroad, to California, to Okinawa, did this make you want to do something or move somewhere else? Or have a different view of the world?

Mr. Cross: No.

Suzette: No. OK!! Chuckling

Mr. Cross: I don't know what I would have seen. I've been all over the world, and seen all that. See, Tom, my oldest son is in Alaska living. He retired from the Air Force.

Suzette: Your son followed your footsteps?

Mr. Cross: He retired from the Air Force.

Matt: He retired from the Air Force; my oldest brother is retired from the Air Force, my youngest brother served in the National Guard. Gary's the only one who didn't serve in the military, but he's been a police officer most of his life.

Mr. Cross: Yeah, Gary's an Atchison policeman.

Suzette: Did you meet your wife..

Mr. Cross: No, I met my wife walking the street coming from catechism. I didn't meet her,..I was working at Winzer's Hardware Store.

Peggy: She was walking home on Saturday afternoon.

Mr. Cross: Yeah, walking past; her dad was coming to get her. I didn't meet her; I don't know, I just saw her there. I wasn't lookin' for…just happened to see her.

Suzette: And you had four sons?

Matt: And he decided that's who he was goin' to marry!

Peggy: How long did it take once you met her?

Mr. Cross: It took about…about four years `fore we was married.

Matt: Is that right? I didn't know.

Peggy: You weren't there, were you?

Matt: I wasn't there.

Suzette: So it sounds to me like, after you went to high school, that you immediately got involved again; that you got involved with the National Guard.

Mr. Cross: Oh, yeah.

Suzette: ..and why did you decide to do that? What was important to you?

Mr. Cross: Well…which time?

Suzette: Right after World War II; you come home and then you got involved in the National Guard.

Mr. Cross: Yeah, well, ..my buddies was joinin' the Guard.

Suzette: So you enlisted each time.

Mr. Cross: Yeah. A lot of time I just automatically came back from ….in New York..

Suzette: In Vietnam?

Mr. Cross: Yes. I worked in…National Guard..

Suzette: What did you ….for the Army?

Mr. Cross: ….

Matt: When you first started working there full time..

Suzette: Yes, working full time after '48..

Matt: Sometime between '48 and '68; I know in the `50s he was a full-time Guard guy. When they built the National Guard Armory he was working up there, the new that sat up on the highway. He was already working there then when…were you there when Tom was born? In '50?

Mr. Cross: Yeah, I think I was.

Matt: Then you lived across the street from it when they built..

Mr. Cross: That's when I had a broken back.

Matt: Um, when was it when you broke your back? '58 when you had your broken back, wasn't it?

Suzette: That's pretty interesting.

Mr. Cross: I turned an Army truck over. Rolled it. A car came through a stop sign, hit me in the rear dual..

Suzette: And this was in '58? And you had a lot of medical expense then? What did they do for you?

Mr. Cross: Dr. Yoder put me in a stretcher, I was fairly lucid enough I could loose the canvas top, and cut it away, and then lift me out of there,….put me in the hospital, and put me on a bed and with kinda a hole in it, then did that for 30 days, then they sent me home. Put a brace on. I wore that thing for a year.

Suzette: Let your back heal?

Mr. Cross: Yeah, but I had something…Dr. Yoder said I had rheumatism..

Matt: Remember the night you pulled your feeding tube out?

Mr. Cross: Oh, that was delirious. Feeding tube…See there, I proved that was rotten, Matt!

Matt: They called Dr. Yoder,

Mr. Cross: They looked at me and said, he was losing…

Matt: Isn't that when he said you were going to be OK?

Mr. Cross: Yeah.

Matt: He didn't think he would make it…Well, it was a pretty bad wreck, he rolled that thing over,

Mr. Cross: I think I had pneumonia.

Matt:…and he had a broken arm,…or something in his shoulder; he was in pretty bad shape.

Mr. Cross: They operated on my humerous(?). On my leg…

Suzette: Let me ask you about Vietnam. Did you expect to go to Vietnam?

Mr. Cross: Yeah. Probably go to Korea, but we didn't. I was in the Guard, they activated us up to go to Vietnam.

Suzette: Now, the National Guard, does it have more…

(Garbled here)

Mr. Cross: Service battery, 2nd Battalion, 130th Field Artillery.

Suzette: You're so fast!

Matt: Service battery, 2nd Battalion, 130th Field Artillery.

Matt: I grew up with it.

Suzette: Yeah, and you've had military service.

Matt: Well, I was in the 2nd, 130th Field Artillery too.

Suzette: Or you were?

Mr. Cross: No, no. 160th

Matt: 168th..

Mr. Cross: 168th…

Matt: I saw it on a picture the other night; I can't remember what it was.

Suzette: So when you went to Vietnam, what did you do when you were in Vietnam?

Mr. Cross: I was maintenance technician.

Suzette: You maintained buildings…?

Mr. Cross: Yeah, automotive vehicles. I didn't do anything; I supervised..

Suzette: …Sounds good to me. What was the land like?

Mr. Cross: What was it like? Hot as hell, wet, rainy, ..

Matt: And people that wanted to kill you.

Mr. Cross: We were out in the country more than the cities. On campaign. Two miles north, in the swamp(garbled here), threw gas on the ground,…fuel, ….regular big barrels, ….blow it out. We had a couple of `em go off one night,…we thought we was getting attacked. But they never did attack us. We was pretty well protected there.

(Can't understand Mr. Cross here)

Matt: He was assigned to the 1st Infantry.

Suzette: Did you stay out in the field the whole time that you were serving there?

Mr. Cross: No.

Matt: He was in a compound on base.

Suzette: But I mean, yeah, but did you go back into the town, at all, say Saigon, or to any of those other towns?

Mr. Cross: Yeah, Saigon, we'd go down there. Take a truck or something, big one.

Suzette: How was that different from, a different war than World War II?

Mr. Cross: Yeah, it was to me.

Suzette: What was the difference?

Peggy: He was on the water!

Mr. Cross: On the land.

Suzette: Did you feel differently, did people bond more,…?

Mr. Cross: No, we didn't. …..that's how I won my Bronze star…..meritorious Bronze star.

Suzette: I'm not sure what that means.

Matt: How you do stuff every day. How you do your work. This is the standard way to do it.

Mr. Cross:….better than the best.

Suzette: Were you looking forward to coming home?

Mr. Cross: from Vietnam?

Suzette: Yes.

Mr. Cross: Yeah. I came to Hawaii for R & R, met my wife for a week.

Suzette: Um, hum. You got to go R & R,…Vietnam at all?

Mr. Cross: Vietnamese?

Suzette: Uh, huh.

Mr. Cross: I did. One of the girls took care of the laundry, separately paid. ….tent, and washing machine, dry outside.

Suzette: Wow, sounds kind of rustic..

Mr. Cross: Yeah, it was.

Peggy: Did you ask him how the local community welcomed him when he came back from Vietnam?

Suzette: No, I didn't. When you came back, how did the local community react to you from World War II? Were you a hero?

Mr. Cross: No.

Suzette: No?

Mr. Cross: Just did my duty.

Suzette: But did people say, ``Hey, you are back, Dwayne, and shake your hand,…''

Mr. Cross: Oh, yeah.

Suzette: Did they have a parade for you?

Mr. Cross: No.

Suzette: Some people came back, put their uniforms on, that's how they caught their wives. Did you do that? Put on your Navy uniform?

Mr. Cross: No.

Peggy: It went down with the ship!!

Suzette: Do you have any other memories you'd like to share with us from World War II?

Mr. Cross: World War II. That just about covers it.

Suzette: OK. Thank you very much for your time. Do you have anything you can think of that we've talked about as your family?

Mr. Cross: Tiffany would probably remember better. She's the one who talked to him. I know he had talked about while they were on the ship after the Skylark went down, watching, they basically were sitting off shore watching the battle. They saw the planes going in…the planes getting shot down as they went in. He'd said something about a ship that tied up to you that had got hit by a kamikaze. Guys went over and swiped the boot straps of a kamikaze and stuff like that.

Mr. Cross: Yeah, the Jap had on red boots. They pulled him out of the engine, his body was in the engine, and they took his boots off of him. He was dead long before.

Suzette: Were there a lot of hard feelings, a lot of hard anti-Japanese feelings?

Mr. Cross: Yeah.

Suzette: I should also note that we are here speaking with Matt Cross, who is Dwayne's son. Is that your proper name, Matt?

Matt: Matthew.

Suzette: Matthew. OK. We want to thank both of you for interviewing with us this afternoon. And I think that's about it. Peggy, have you anything else you want to add?

Peggy: I can't think of anything.

Suzette: Of course, if you think of something after we've been here, you can always call us, or write it down, and we'd be glad add that.

Matt: Oh, there are no known pictures of the Skylark. I have searched through the mine sweepers' association, all kinds, and nobody seems to know of a picture.

Suzette: Oh, look at how cute you were. Look at that!

Peggy: Dwayne was always very good looking!

Suzette: He still is a cutie.

Peggy: He was always one of the better looking men in town!

Matt: Here's his first sergeant picture when he was in the Guard.

Peggy: Matt, do you have a family?

Matt: Yeah,..

Mr. Cross: Do we have one of the unit?

Matt: What? The National Guard unit?

Mr. Cross: Yeah..

(Discussion among all about Mr. Cross' pictures)

Suzette: My dad was in the Air Force, career officer.

Mr. Cross: Oh, was he?

Suzette: Yes. And a uniform always catches my eye!

Suzette: My dad served in the Philippines.

Mr. Cross: World War II?

Suzette: Yes, he was in photographic reconnaissance. He told stories about one time the foregunner got killed and he had to go back, abandon his camera, and go back, and take over. It was harrowing.

(More picture discussion)

Suzette: Is this you making water down here? Are you making water in this picture?

Mr. Cross: No, no, but that could be done. We're running a generator. They were all diesel and electric….These pictures were taken after we sunk.

Suzette: These were taken after you were sunk?

Mr. Cross: Yeah.

Suzette: Is that your wife?

Mr. Cross: Yeah it is.

Suzette: You know, a lot of the guys have got albums of their girlfriends, and then there wife's pictures are real tiny ones in the back. (Chuckling) These are interesting, interesting pictures.

Peggy: I don't have on my good glasses. I can't see that very well.

Suzette: Oh, these are of the San Diego Zoo.

(More picture discussion)

Matt: Here's #46, high school football.

Suzette: Oh, wonderful!! Look at that uniform!! Did you use just regular belt in football?

Mr. Cross: I don't know.

Suzette: It looks like a regular belt to me. I could be wrong.

Mr. Cross: I can't remember.

Suzette: Wow, that is really something.

(More picture discussion)

Suzette: Looks like you guys spent a lot of time clowning around!

Mr. Cross: We did!

(More picture discussion)

Mr. Cross: …that was two days after climbing up to the action….that's what they did. They went out, you couldn't bring a boat or something in here, so they swam out there and crawl up to the action, and throw hand grenades…

Suzette: So you were on watch….at night, when they were laying mines out.

Matt: Didn't you say that Tokyo Rose mentioned the Skylark?

Mr. Cross: Yeah. When we were going in to start sweeping, …she came on the radio and said, USS Skylark, you are going to get in, but you're not going to get out.

Suzette: She said that right when you were doing it.

Mr. Cross: Yeah, when we were going in. See those bells?

Suzette: Yes.

Mr. Cross: They are filled with lava rock, which is a rock…

Suzette: This is from Vietnam.

Mr. Cross: Um, hum.

Suzette: Did you ever expect you would be in this other war?

Mr. Cross: I didn't know.

(More discussion)

(Discussing with Matt about scanning some of the pictures and sending them to Suzette)



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