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Robert Idol video interview on experiences in World War II (transcript)

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ROBERT MILWARD IDOL


ROBERT MILWARD IDOL





WORLD WAR II ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW




This is Suzette McCord-Rogers and Peggy Stanton, and we are interviewing Robert Idol at the Native American Heritage Museum in Highland, Kansas.

Mr. Idol, can you tell me where you were born? What city you were born in?

Mr. Idol: St. Joseph, Missouri.

Suzette: How come?

Mr. Idol: How come? Because we had a doctor there in Robinson but my mother didn't like him, and she went to this specialist in St. Joe to have me.

Suzette: Oh, but your parents lived in Robinson, Kansas?

Mr. Idol: Yes, my dad was in the bank, too, see, along with my grandfather.

Suzette: Ok, and what is your date of birth?

Mr. Idol: October 25, 1926.

Suzette: So your family is from, lived in Robinson area..

Mr. Idol: Ever since they've had the bank, which was founded in 1890.

Suzette: By your grandfather.

Mr. Idol: Um, hum. My grandfather and his brother, two of them.

Suzette: What was your grandfather's name?

Mr. Idol: Frank.

Suzette: Frank.

Mr. Idol: Um, hum. And his brother was Will. Frank and Will.

Suzette: And then your father went into banking also?

Mr. Idol: Uh, huh. He did. After he got out, he was in World War I, my father was. He wasn't in combat; he was a naval air aviator, and the war ended before he got to learn to fly. So anyway, he got out fairly quick after the war was over, and then he came into the bank. And my grandfather and my great-uncle were learning the bank, and my grandfather had three boys. And the oldest one was named, this is kind of ____, but grandmother named every one of her boys a first name that they never used. The oldest boy's name was Myron Quineck, and they called him Hawk, and my father's name was James Milward, and he went by Mil, and the youngest one was Frank Madison. And there again, he used the second name. I don't know how come, but that's what my grandmother did. She had one daughter, and she has Louise Jane. Ha ha Why she did that to the boys' names I have no idea.

Suzette: Well, those are certainly interesting names. So your family is in the banking business in Robinson…

Mr. Idol: All of my life and ever since 1890. We closed the bank about 12 years ago.

Suzette: Did you live in the town then, you lived in the town of Robinson?

Mr. Idol: Um, hum. Yeah.

Suzette: Did you live with your grandfather, or did you have a separate house?

Mr. Idol: When my dad was still alive, we lived across the street from dad's house. And then, after my grandfather died, my aunt Louise, she came back to Robinson because she got a divorce from her husband, and lived with the grandfather. And then when he died, she remarried her husband and they went to Kansas City. He was in the newspaper business. So it was kind of interesting. She lived there where my grandparents did, and then I moved back there after I'd gotten out of the service and got out of college at K.U., I went to K.U., and came back and lived in that house. We still live there. It's a big house.

Suzette: Is it?

Mr. Idol: Yep. It's got four bedrooms, one and half baths, that's unfortunate.

Suzette: It's an old house, isn't it?

Mr. Idol: Yeah. Everything was very much the same until we built that addition on. That made a big change, a lot in the way we live. Because we built that room. We got two stairways. The one that goes up to the original one and we built the second one back in the back where we built on. We have a spiral staircase that goes up there.

Suzette: Did your grandfather build the house?

Mr. Idol: No, they lived in another house, the way I understand it, when they first started the bank. And then I think this house was built about that time and then he bought it then. And his brother, Will, built this house. It was really nice and new, up on the hill, right by the church and the schools.

Suzette: I was thinking maybe it had one and half baths because it was built in 1890.

Mr. Idol: The house wasn't that old. I think it was about 1900 something. Early 1900s.

Suzette: Did you attend Robinson High School then?

Mr. Idol: Yes I did.

Suzette: And did you graduate?

Mr. Idol: Yes.

Suzette: How old were you when you graduated from high school?

Mr. Idol: 17.

Suzette: 17. Did you enlist or did you get drafted?

Mr. Idol: No, I went one semester to K.U. The thought that I would be drafted right away. Then I wasn't drafted for another six months.

Suzette: I see.

Mr. Idol: So I was around doing nothing, working in the bank a little bit. But I thought I would go right away and I didn't. So I didn't go in until, let's see. I went to summer school. I went to summer school and the first semester, and then the second semester started, in October in the fall, and so I didn't go the second semester because I decided, well, we didn't know when I'm going to get drafted. I might as well wait. So then I waited until March, of 1945, to go.

Suzette: So, did you get drafted then?

Mr. Idol: Yes.

Suzette: OK. March of 1945, and you were in the Army?

Mr. Idol: Um, hum.

Suzette: Do you remember your battalion, and your regiment?

Mr. Idol: We didn't have a battalion or a regiment.

Suzette: What did you have?

Mr. Idol: We went overseas as replacements for troops in combat. But we weren't in combat. The war ended on our way over. And we were put in the quartermaster battalion, and I got into troop movement. Howard ____, he and I both got in it, and we were in charge of sending the battle unit home. We saw that they got home and organized it all.

Suzette: And you discharged them?

Mr. Idol: Yeah. No, we didn't discharge them. We just got them ready. They didn't get discharged until they went to the States. So we lined them up on the ships to send them home.

Suzette: And you were stationed in the Pacific then?

Mr. Idol: I spent the whole time right there in Manila, in the Philippines. Never left the city of Manila.

Suzette: You didn't get to have any leave, to travel around or anything?

Mr. Idol: I got to go to Baggio, which was a place, sort of a rest place and they had a golf course. And I loved that!!

Suzette: That must have been tough duty!

Mr. Idol: Yeah, that was pretty tough!

Suzette: Where were you trained?

Mr. Idol: Camp Maxey, Texas.

Suzette: And that was your boot camp?

Mr. Idol: Yeah, that was my boot camp.

Suzette: And where did you go from there?

Mr. Idol: Home for leave, and then they loaded us back up and we thought we were going back to Camp Maxey. We went clear back to Texas and come to find out we were moved clear out to California, Ford Ord, California. And they didn't leave us there very long. They took us to another little, dingy place where they ship guys overseas. I can't remember the name of it, the camp. Whatever the hell it was I don't know. Ha Ha But they sent us to Fort Ord first, kind of organized us into what group we were going, and what ship we were going on, and all that.

(An interruption here, then Suzette and Mr. Idol are chatting about a person they know in common)

Suzette: So you were stationed in California, and shipped out. You had been trained to what, shoot a rifle..

Mr. Idol: I was going in as cannon fodder. Ha ha

Suzette: Did you feel you were adequately trained?

Mr. Idol: Oh, I think I was adequately trained, but I wasn't looking forward to it too much. I didn't want to get shot up, you know.

Suzette: Did you know where you were headed? Were you headed toward Japan, or…?

Mr. Idol: We were headed for the Philippines, but we thought the war was still gonna go on. Then they dropped the atomic bomb that ended it, or we would have probably gone to Japan.

Suzette: To the Japanese invasion?

Mr. Idol: Yes.

Suzette: Where were you when they dropped the bomb?

Mr. Idol: I think I was out in Fort Ord, California. So that gave us a pretty good idea that we weren't going to be in combat. So were happy.

Suzette: So you celebrated. But they still shipped you out because the Japanese had not surrendered yet.

Mr. Idol: Yeah, yeah, that's right. They didn't surrender for awhile. It took til about the time we got there…Some of were shooting themselves, or throwing themselves up, or something like that.

Suzette: They really had a view of honor was what drove them.

Mr. Idol: I learned something. I was watching something on tv. They were talking about the World War and Japan…We didn't want to have that surprise attack, but the Japanese general wanted to blow us up and do this Pearl Harbor thing.

Suzette: I wonder if maybe the prince was not just a figurehead at that time.

Mr. Idol: Well, they were for years, and then in the last few years they finally became a figurehead. The government finally took over and did what they wanted to do.

Suzette: It seems like it was a military government.

Mr. Idol: Yeah, it definitely was.

Suzette: What was the highest rank that you achieved?

Mr. Idol: Technician fourth grade, I think it is. That's buck sergeant. You've got three stripes with a T emblem.

Suzette: I didn't know that. Technician fourth grade is a buck sergeant.

Mr. Idol: It isn't a buck sergeant, but it's the equivalent to that. Technician fourth grade. Started out, I was a corporal, then I became a technician fifth grade, then I became technician fourth grade.

Suzette: I didn't know they had all these technician grades. I thought they had more and more like sergeants…

Mr. Idol: Well, they had a bunch more sergeants, but I never got to go any higher than that. They were getting rid of me then. Ha ha They weren't going to give me anything unless I signed up to go to Korea, and they offered me a commission if I signed up.

Suzette: So they were already gearing up for the Korean…

Mr. Idol: They knew it was going to happen. Yea. I think they did.

Suzette: They were trying to recruit some of the soldiers…

Mr. Idol: They were trying to talk some of those guys that were already in the service. They figured they'd be good cannon fodder.

Suzette: Did they offer you extra money, or did they offer you a package deal, or…

Mr. Idol: No extra money. They just offered me the possibility of becoming an officer, instead of a non-commissioned officer.

Suzette: Did you find that tempting?

Mr. Idol: No! I was ready to go home! Ha ha ha

Suzette: So how long were you in the military?

Mr. Idol: Almost two years.

Suzette: It took that long to get everybody…

Mr. Idol: to get everybody shipped out and everything. They were still shipping them out when I left. They'd sent most of them home by then, but they were still getting a few.

Suzette: There's a picture of you here standing in front of a tent. You said that was your home for two years.

Mr. Idol: Yeah. That's my tent. Those are squad tents; they slept about six.

Suzette: How many of you were stationed there as part of the quartermaster battalion?

Mr. Idol: Ah, I don't think very many because we weren't any more quartermaster battalion. We were in this deal to send them home.

Suzette: So how many people were living in these tents?

Mr. Idol: Probably four, most of them. And this is Howard Moy, who is from Paris, Texas. He and I were doing the same job. He did the day job and I did the night job. We were running troops day and night.

Suzette: Oh, you were?!

Mr. Idol: Getting them ready to go home.

Suzette: How many troops did you process, say, during a day?

Mr. Idol: I have no idea how many.

Suzette: Was he your buddy?

Mr. Idol: Yeah. He was my buddy and we were good friends. And we still write. He lives clear back in Virginia someplace and I've never seen him since then.

Suzette: Since the war?

Mr. Idol: Since the war.

Suzette: But you maintain contact?

Mr. Idol: But we maintain contact, yeah.

Suzette: It sounds like you bonded pretty well.

Mr. Idol: Yeah, we did.

Suzette: The Philippines are pretty tropical, a lot of rain.

Mr. Idol: We had lots of typhoons. And those were a mess, I tell you.

Suzette: Did your tent stay up during a typhoon?

Mr. Idol: Oh, yeah, yeah. Most of them would fasten them down pretty good, so they stayed up. In fact, we were bivouacked in, on the wall city, which was the protected the Filipinos from foreigners in the years past. It went all around this one area. That was sort of interesting.

Suzette: Yes. It sounds like a very old country.

Mr. Idol: Oh, it was, it was. Very old. But I can't tell you how old.

Suzette: That's sounds wonderful.

Mr. Idol: That picture might even have been taken someplace up here where….

Suzette: It looks like you are sitting on a wall.

Mr. Idol: Yeah, I think we were in one of the places on the wall.

Suzette: Did you have a chance to interact with the natives?

Mr. Idol: Oh, yes. The Native Order Command was the name of our operation and they hired Filipinos to work for us. They were sort of secretaries and things. They gave us girls that would work, they had one or two women that oversaw the girls, and then it was very well done. We had typewriters and everything, you know.

Suzette: You had a typing pool, then.

Mr. Idol: Yeah.

Suzette: And these women already knew how to type?

Mr. Idol: Yes. Most of those Filipinos were pretty well versed, except the one thing they wanted to do. They wanted to marry an American, so they could come to America. Ha ha

Suzette: Oh they did?!

Mr. Idol: Oh, yeah!!

Suzette: Did they try to catch you?

Mr. Idol: Some of them did! I wasn't about to get hooked up with somebody like that!

Suzette: Did they speak English?

Mr. Idol: Oh, yes. Very fluent. We went out Christmas Day, Howard and I went out to one of the girls' family farms out on the economy and her father was one of the ones that kinda led the group of people. And they had us out there for dinner that day. We had roast pig. And it was roast pig!! I mean it was.

Suzette: The pig was there?

Mr. Idol: Yea, the pig was there! They cut the meat off of him.

Suzette: What did they grow on their farm?

Mr. Idol: Oh, rice and they grew everything. I can't really tell you that much about what they grew. I knew they grew a lot of rice. And I was so young I didn't care.

Suzette: Was Manila heavily bombed?

Mr. Idol: Yes. It was destroyed but there was one area that wasn't damaged too badly. And I got to go out to Corregidor to see where they lived before they surrendered. The Americans finally surrendered there to the Japanese. I got to go out there. The only time in my life I ever got seasick was going out there. And I don't know why I did then. But I did!

Suzette: Was it a day trip to go out to Corregidor?

Mr. Idol: Yeah. It was interesting. Those things were built into the ground…places where you wouldn't believe people lived. They lived there in dugouts and had places to stay in there.

Suzette: That was a pretty tough battle with them.

Mr. Idol: Yes, it was very tough. And that was about the time they had the Bataan Death march, pretty rough. That was before my time, but that was when the United States was still losing the war.

Suzette: I didn't know we were losing the war.

Mr. Idol: We were losing there.

Suzette: One of my friend's father was in the Bataan Death march.

Mr. Idol: I got something to show you here.

Suzette: What do you have?

Mr. Idol: This is General McArthur saying, ``I will return.''

Suzette: Oh, how cool!

Mr. Idol: I think it was 1947, after I was already home. But I ordered it. It says something, I don't know.

Suzette: It says, ``Defender and Liberator of the Philippines'' and the date on it is actually October 20, 1944.

Mr. Idol: I guess it was '44 when they published, but they didn't offer them in the United States until later.

Suzette: Yes, that's when they were liberated. And then on the back it says ``50 centavos'' but it says 1947 on the back.

Mr. Idol: I guess that's right. I hadn't looked at that,

Suzette: These are nice coins.

Mr. Idol: Yeah, they are. I collected some more, not as nice, but they are the peso.

Suzette: They look almost similar to our Statue of Liberty except that they….

Mr. Idol: Well, see, the United States owned the Philippines at that time.

Suzette: The difference is there is a volcano in the back. It looks like she has a ____with a hammer. Very interesting. And it does say United States of America 1909.

Mr. Idol: Yes, now here's some more. Here's the 50 centavos.

Suzette: It's that same image as the _____, you know, with that eagle, and the old union seal they used to use in the 1900s. These are wonderful! You got these when you were in the Philippines?

Mr. Idol: Yeah, I picked them up when I was over there. And here's a 20 centavos. They had the 50 centavos, that's like a quarter, I suppose. Here's a 5 centavos. I got some other stuff written on some of these.

Suzette: The 5 centavo has a young man.

Mr. Idol: This one we can't really see too well, but that's a 1 centavo. I don't know if you noticed in this. It said in here, ``These are the same size and metal contents and value as the 1944 issue. These were also subjected to rampant smuggling and likewise about 70% had been melted for silver other Communist countries.'' And it says, ``No one cents was struck for that year.''

Suzette: I thought that was interesting that the Communists had taken the coins from the Philippines.

Peggy: (can't hear)

Mr. Idol: That one centavo probably won't. But the others would. I'm glad I brought these; I didn't know if you'd want them or not.

Peggy: Those are really nice.

Suzette: That's because, as we said earlier, because as a banker, he had this interest in old coins.

Mr. Idol: I ordered these coins when I was in the bank. The others I collected over there. I picked this up over there. I don't know where.

Suzette: You know, the paper money that the Japanese government ___, in English,

Mr. Idol: That's why, because the Filipinos all spoke English. There wasn't hardly, they did have their own speech, called Tagalog, spelled T-a-g-a-l-o-g, will probably get it, but that's about as close as I can get!

Suzette: And this is kind of a mixture of Spanish and…

Mr. Idol: Yes, Spanish, because the Filipinos were originally controlled by the Spanish, and then the United States moved in and took them away from Spain.

Suzette: I just remembered you mentioned Japanese prisoners. They had prison camps on islands…

Mr. Idol: Yes, there were. And some of them were found after months of hiding, and they would bring them in. And I saw a couple of those that came in one day. They'd caught out in the province. They'd been out there hiding for a couple of months.

Suzette: They were probably starved.

Mr. Idol: I imagine they were, but they could get pineapple and stuff like that. But they didn't want to be captured. They would have probably killed themselves rather than be captured if they could. They were a rare lot, I'll tell you.

Suzette: Did you have interaction with them, other than just seeing them?

Mr. Idol: No, no. I had no authorization to talk to them.

Suzette: So there was more than one camp, and then I talked to…

Mr. Idol: Most of them couldn't speak, but there were some that could. There was surprisingly some of the officers could speak English.

Suzette: I imagine they did. I was just going to say I talked to Don earlier, and he was responsible for taking Japanese prisoners from the Philippines back to Pearl Harbor.

Mr. Idol: Oh, was he? Well, he was going in some of the same places I was but I didn't realize that. I didn't know that was what he did.

Suzette: That was one of his jobs. So I found it interesting that they had these camps set up.

Mr. Idol: I think one of the most unusual things happened to us. You know, going over we zig-zagged so that we wouldn't be hit by torpedoes from the submarines. And so it took us over 30 days from San Diego to Manila. Going home, we broke down and drifted for two weeks out in the middle of the ocean until the got the damned thing fixed! We were sitting there doing nothing.

Suzette: I am sure you were anxious to go home!

Mr. Idol: Yeah, all ready to go home, and there we were in the middle of the Pacific Ocean doing nothing!

Suzette: And you had to repair your own ship; nobody came and helped.

Mr. Idol: No, no, no one came and helped!

Suzette: Good thing it wasn't during war!

Mr. Idol: Oh, yeah! It would have been hell!

Suzette: So, having been out in the Philippines, and interacting with people from all over, were you ready to come back to Kansas, or stay in California?

Mr. Idol: Yes, very much so. Because I wanted to get back and go to school at K.U. And then I didn't finish! I went three years and quit! My dad wanted me to come home to the bank, and so I did.

Suzette: Even though you only had one year left?

Mr. Idol: I might have had a little more than that, I think I goofed up a little bit on the way!

Suzette: You wanted to come home and become a Jayhawk.

Mr. Idol: Yeah. I wanted to become a banker like my dad.

Suzette: So there was never any thought of doing anything else except…

Mr. Idol: My dad kept telling me I really should become a lawyer. He thought that would be a good place for me to be. He had an ad from a Maryville lawyer that was in Hiawatha, so I probably, so anyway, he had planned to become a lawyer himself until his father told him he needed help in the bank. So he gave up being a lawyer. So he wanted me to be one, and then I started goofing off!

Suzette: You were playing?

Mr. Idol: I was playing. I was pretty good at playing!! Ha ha ha

Suzette: Did you use the GI Bill to go to college?

Mr. Idol: Yes, I did. I did. I got it all paid for nothing so I could have gone and got my degree and gone on to law school.

Suzette: That's right.

Mr. Idol: I wasn't thinking very good then!

Suzette: Yeah, but your dad wanted you to come back too.

Mr. Idol: Yeah, that's it.

Suzette: You were still pretty young.

Mr. Idol: Yeah, I was 18.

Suzette: You know, and flighty.

Mr. Idol: Yeah, and I didn't know what the world was going to be. And I hadn't really cared too much. I was home and that was fun. And girls were important! Ha ha ha

Suzette: So you were dating when you came home?

Mr. Idol: Oh, yeah! But not married. I dated a little girl that lived here in Highland when I was first in the Army.

Suzette: Oh, you did? Did she write letters to you?

Mr. Idol: Yeah, yeah, but I don't know whatever happened to her. I think she was living down in Holton, but I'm not sure. I lost track of her.

Now I've got my wife of 48 years and 8 years younger than I am. She's quite a bit younger. She was a registered nurse working at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City.

Suzette: How did you meet her?

Mr. Idol: She was invited home one weekend by one of her best friends, and they were having a party. And her best friend's step-dad was my best friend. The guy was my best friend. So we met at the party. And she went to the party with somebody else, but I took her home! Ha ha ha

Suzette: Whoaaa!! You were a playboy!

Mr. Idol: But anyway, it wasn't too long, well, we didn't get married for about two years. One of my cousins that lived in Kansas City, she was the daughter of my dad's older brother. Her name was Kathleen, and she had bright red hair. And she met Margie…..

Suzette: And she approved.

Mr. Idol: Uh, huh! She approved!

Suzette: Did you get married after you returned here to the bank? Or while you were in school?

Mr. Idol: It was after I was home in the bank. My dad had died in the meantime…husband, was married to a fellow named McCauley, and he took over the business end because my grandpa was already dead. And he ran it until he died, and then I took over.

Suzette: Did you miss, you kinda missed your youth to come back and be very responsible at the bank, did you miss that?

Mr. Idol: No. I was glad to be back. I thought an awful lot of my dad.

Suzette: What did you do at the bank?

Mr. Idol: I sold it about 12 years ago to the Morrill and Janes bank at Hiwatha, Kansas, and they took it over.

Suzette: What was your job when you first came back?

Mr. Idol: Oh, I waited on the window, and things like that. And then I eventually worked into where I was making some of the loans, and then eventually, I got to make all the loans! Ha ha That was fun! I liked that! But I ran into a few people that weren't so much fun, over the years. There were some people that were something else.

Suzette: Because you turned them down.

Mr. Idol: Well I did! And I'm glad I did!

Suzette: Did you take advantage of any of the other GI Bill other than to go to college?

Mr. Idol: No, nothing but that. That's the only one I took advantage. If I had gone ahead and gone into law school maybe I would have been able to use some more, but I didn't.

Suzette: It's hard when you have a wife.

Mr. Idol: Yeah. It's a little difficult. I didn't get married til, I think I was 23 when I got married.

Suzette: Do you think you received training or any kind of life experiences in the war that helped you after the war?

Mr. Idol: Not basically. There was nothing you could do if you were combat. You had one purpose, and if you didn't get into combat, you were very fortunate. Some of the guys weren't that fortunate and didn't have any choice. But I felt like I was pretty fortunate to live like I did.

Suzette: Do you receive veterans' medical benefits?

Mr. Idol: I guess. I go to the VA once a year, and they examine me but they don't do a very good job of examining me, and they don't really talk to me. But I do get medicine and I get it free, most of it, there's some of it that isn't.

Suzette: And then you have private doctors in addition to that?

Mr. Idol: Yes. Yes I do. I've had quite a bit of surgery.

Suzette: Oh, have you?

Mr. Idol: The first surgery I had was, I had both of my hips replaced.

Suzette: Did you have benefits from the military helping you with that?

Mr. Idol: No, they didn't help me with that surgery. I wasn't in the Army long enough, if I'd stayed in, they would have. After that, I had more surgery. I had both of my ankles. One of them was frozen and the other one, later on, was, they've got a new way they replace the ankle with another ankle. Then, I had a heart attack. I went and had surgery for my heart, and I got out of that, and I'm doing fine now.

Suzette: Good! Glad to hear that!

Mr. Idol: I feel like I'm very fortunate to get out without anything serious. When I had the heart attack, it was pretty serious. They flew me from Hiawatha to St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City. That's where my wife worked for years, so she wanted me to go there so that's where I went.

Suzette: Yes! I am glad you recovered from this. And this was all paid for privately. This was without any GI Bill benefits.

Mr. Idol: Yes.

Suzette: OK. When you came back home, was there a veterans organization? I know that you are a member of the Robinson American Legion.

Mr. Idol: Yeah, and I think really at that time there weren't too many American Legions. I guess there were some Veterans of Foreign Wars and there was in Hiawatha, but I did not belong. I just belonged in Robinson.

Suzette: And did you join that because you could be with other men who had gone to war?

Mr. Idol: Yes, uh, huh. And because a lot of my good friends, and this one friend, who just died year ago, Wilbur Winters, he fought battles over in Germany and all up and down in Holland and every place, and he was a tank commander.

Suzette: And did he talk about his experiences?

Mr. Idol: Not too much. But as I got to know him better, he explained more the topics of what had happened, and all that. He didn't want to talk about it too much. He was in pretty serious combat, and he felt very lucky that he got out alive.

Suzette: Definitely.

Mr. Idol: He was a, I think a staff sergeant, when he retired.

Suzette: The American Legion, it seems to me, served as a social function.

Mr. Idol: That's true.

Suzette: To meet other people.

Mr. Idol: Yeah. But we also meet once a month and each year we have a big feed on Memorial Day weekend. And then we go to the cemetery and have the firing squad fire over the place of the, not the unknown soldier, but one of the fellas that was in World War I. You know, I played taps ever since I was in seventh grade, and I still do it.

Suzette: You're still playing taps?

Mr. Idol: Still playing taps!

Suzette: Wow! I didn't know you were a musician too. So the Legion also serves as a kind of community….

Mr. Idol: Oh, yes, it did. And many of the people in the Legion ran around together. I think it was typical. When I first went in, there were still a lot of them still alive from World War I. So we got to know a lot of the older fellas and things like that. By the time we got here now, there's only four of us left that are World War II veterans. It's kind of sad, isn't it? But they are dying off.

Suzette: But compared to other Legions, the Robinson Legion seems to be still having meetings and still going out…

Mr. Idol: Yeah, we do. But we have about seven or eight that show up. That's about all. Then,______, he's one of our regulars, he never shows up. But we have a good time. And Don is in this coffee group that we drink coffee down at the senior citizens' center every morning.

Suzette: What time do you go over to the senior citizens' center to drink coffee?

Mr. Idol: You're supposed to get there at 7:15 to 7:30, and I usually get there about 10 minutes to 8! Ha ha Then we play the liars' poker game. Do you know that?

Suzette: No.

Mr. Idol: Well, whoever loses, ___he takes a bill out of his billfold and we go around the table. He starts it, and the first one has to guess a date, '78, and he'll say that's too high, and the next guy will say I got '35, that's too low, I've got '42, that's it. That guy has to buy everybody's coffee that morning.

Suzette: Oh, I see! You guys are pretty clever.

Mr. Idol: Oh, yeah. We have a good time. Ha ha

Suzette: I know he told me he gets up at six to go down and make the coffee.

Mr. Idol: Yeah, he comes pretty early. A lot earlier than I do.

Suzette: He said he'd be home by 6:30 to be interviewed. I told him I'd have to interview him later!!

Mr. Idol: Ha ha

Suzette: Do you have anything else you'd like to share about your war experience?

Mr. Idol: I don't think I have that much to share about war experience.

Suzette: Any changes that you saw happen as a result of the war?

Mr. Idol: Yeah, I think so. I was upset the way we handled the…..(end of side 1 of the tape) we were trying to run the country, but I'm not sure they're doing the right thing. I think the Republicans are out now, and the Democrats in and I don't know how that's going to end up.

Suzette: Well, I want to thank you very much for your interview, and for taking your time to come and talk with us today.

Mr. Idol: Oh, you're welcome. I enjoyed it. (end of tape) (oops, there is more!) I was in the Philippines on July 4, 1946, and that's when the Philippines got their independence from the United States. And General McArthur was there, and General Eisenhower was there. I got to see both of them.

Suzette: How wonderful!

Mr. Idol: Yeah, wasn't it though?!! That was really an experience just to see both of them.

Suzette: I didn't know that General Eisenhower had gone to the Philippines.

Mr. Idol: Yeah, he was there too. I thought that was unusual that both generals were there, and they were very popular with the men.

Suzette: Did you get to hear them speak?

Mr. Idol: I think I did, but I don't remember much about what it was. There was so much going on, and they were having all sorts of dinners for the officers and generals, in particular. So it was a rare experience. They had a parade, and the two generals were in cars with no tops, and they would stand up and wave to the crowd. And the Filipinos thought McArthur was wonderful!! And he was!! He saved them!

Suzette: He was there liberator. Well, thank you for that memory.

Mr. Idol: Yeah, that just kind of came on. I almost forgot it. I thought that was something that was pretty interesting that happened while I was there. And I wanted to get into a band, and I tried to, but they wouldn't let me. They were going to make me cannon fodder!! Ha ha

Suzette: Oh! That's why you play taps, because you were a musician before.

Mr. Idol: I did that even before I was old enough to be, because they didn't have anyone.

(tape skips) ..the United States to have, the Filipinos to go to work and give their all to the United States. It made them get their independence quicker.

Suzette: I'm sure it did. And it was really nice to get your memories and have you interact with the Filipinos.

Mr. Idol: Well, I probably have a lot of different views of the things than a lot of people. And I'm sure many of them that were over in combat don't like to talk about it, because, like I said, my friend Will didn't like to very long. But he kind of broke down and told us some of the things in later years.

Suzette: I wonder if that was healing for him.

Mr. Idol: Probably was. He had a brother that was in too. His brother was in the Air Force. He wasn't in combat. The brother was younger than me. So anyway, all of the people that used to be in our American Legion and it's hard to believe that only about four or five of us left.

Suzette: Especially when you started off with…(tape skips)

You just said that your dad was always a Legionnaire, and he wanted you to be a part of that as well. And then, you were kind of remembering your experiences with the Filipino people. And you had a comment to tell us.

Mr. Idol: About their getting their independence in 1946 on the 4th of July. And when we had both General McArthur and General Eisenhower there. I never thought I'd ever see either one of them!

Suzette: Ok, will thank you so much.



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