Kansas MemoryKansas Memory

Kansas Historical SocietyKansas Historical Society

Interview on experiences in World War II

Item Description Bookbag Share






RICE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY  


WORLD WAR II VETERANS ORAL HISTORY PROJECT

INTERVIEWEE: EARL WELCH INTERVIEWER: MARIAN POE DATE: MARCH 27, 2007 HUTCHINSON, KS

POE: Now I have the recorder on. This is interviewer Marian Poe here in the home today of Earl Welch of Hutchinson, Kansas. Today is March the 27th, 2007. With us also is his daughter, tell me your name again.

KAREN: Karen Wingfield.

POE: Hello Karen.

KAREN: Hi.

POE: And also is his wife who is remaining in the background. And your name is...

MRS. WELCH: Wilma.

POE: And Wilma Welch is also here. Earl, do you have a middle name or initial?

WELCH: Initial's L. I never use it.

POE: Right.

WELCH: But it's Lee. LEE.

POE: Okay. And your name is spelled WELC

WELCH: CH.

POE: CH, not SH. When were you born?

WELCH: September the 25th, 1920.

POE: 1920? And where were you born?

WELCH: Turon, Kansas.

POE: Were you born, were your parents farmers or they live in town?

WELCH: No they, my folks owned the grocery store.

POE: Okay so you were town folk.

WELCH: Town folk.

POE: Okay. Did you have brothers and sisters?

WELCH: I got four sisters and four brothers.

POE: And where did you fall in there?

WELCH: Well, I'm, inaudible was the oldest, then I had, then I would be next of the boys. And, the four boys of us were in service together.

POE: All of you.

WELCH: Yeah, the four of us. Now my oldest brother did not go. And...

KAREN: He was number six. You were number six in line of all the kids.

WELCH: Yeah.

POE: Six out of seven. Or six out of...

WELCH: Nine.

POE: Out of nine.

WELCH: Six out of nine.

POE: Okay. So you hard a large...

MRS. WELCH: He and three brothers were all in together.

WELCH: Four brothers. We was all overseas together. Two in the European and two in the Pacific.

POE: So you attended, you and your siblings attended school in Turon there.

WELCH: Yeah.

POE: Did you graduate from Turon high school?

WELCH: Yes, uh huh.

POE: And did you go immediately into service or did you stay out and work for awhile. WELCH: No. No. I stayed, I went in the service in '42. KAREN: Uh huh. You graduated in '39. WELCH: I graduated in '39 and went in in '42.

POE: Okay. And during that period of time from '39 to '42, were you married during that time?

WELCH: Uh huh.

POE: And did you have children when you went into service?

WELCH: No. No. She was the first one. She was born when I was overseas.

POE: Oh.

WELCH: That was, then after the war why we had a boy.

KAREN: You worked at the Turon Hatchery.

WELCH: Yeah, Turon Hatchery.

KAREN: From the time he graduated from school until you were drafted, right?

WELCH: Uh huh.

POE: Yes. So you were drafted rather then enlisted.

WELCH: Yes.

POE: And what branch of service were you in?

WELCH: Ended up in the Air Force. U.S. Army Air Force.

POE: Uh huh.

WELCH: I believe they say. That's the way...

KAREN: That they say it.

WELCH: There's another way they put it too but, U.S. Army Air Force.

KAREN: But when you went in you were in the Signal Core.

WELCH: Yes I was in... POE: Okay.

WELCH: When I went in I was in the Signal Core and then I spent two and a half years in the Signal Core almost and only about three, about five, six months after, down in Boca Raton, Florida. We were transferred to the Air Force.

POE: Having a little equipment problem here. Stay. So when you were drafted into the Air Force, into the Army, where did you go for your basic training?

WELCH: Be honest about it, didn't take it. POE: You didn't have basic training?

WELCH: We went down to Leavenworth. They sent us to some place and, okay, they sent us to, back over where Ron's at.

KAREN: Oh, Camp Crowder. WELCH: Camp Crowder. KAREN: In Missouri. POE: Okay.

WELCH: For two weeks. That's where they sent us from Leavenworth. And two weeks from that we went to Chicago, Illinois and we went to the coin electric company down there and we went into radio work and took all the, we operated transmitters to transmit signals out and receivers to bring signals in and they taught us all that stuff and actually it was not so much as operating it as it was repairing it.

POE: And so they trained you how to repair the signal equipment. KAREN: And they actually got into jamming. WELCH: Yeah.

KAREN: Wasn't it jamming that you worked with for the Japanese planes when they were in the Pacific.

POE: Oh, okay.

WELCH: Yeah. But we done quite a bit when we got overseas. We done a lot of jamming on Japanese. Used our transmitters and puts out false frequencies. Planes get ready to go over Japan, the B 29s get ready to go over to Japan on raid, we would turn

around and turn our jammer on. A trip or two before that they'd know where the frequency was of Japanese receivers picking up our planes coming in. So they turned around and we put out a false signal or send up one plane and make it look like 250 going or something and those 250 may be a thousand miles away and hit them someplace else

see.

KAREN: It's pouring.

POE: It's really raining out there.

WELCH: But, this is getting way ahead of it but, we jammed Japanese radar both gun ?? and air craft and air, not anti air craft but...

KAREN: Well, let's see. Let me read here. It says, yeah radar counter measure. WELCH: Yeah, radar counter measure. We jammed... KAREN: Jammed Japanese radar.

WELCH: Japanese radar. And that's what we done. But we, sometime they'd get ballgame in United States on the radio. Why, we had a receiver here, couple thousand miles away, three thousand miles away or something. We just turn 'em on cause that day we would pick it up. It's strong. And we would listen to it and eat. So we wasn't isolated so far.

POE: Right.

WELCH: We was that concerned but that was, that was highlights of part of it.

POE: So you went to Chicago and that's where you were going to school and learning how to...

WELCH: I went to Chicago to Coin Electric.

POE: Uh huh and learned. And that was a civilian company.

WELCH: Yes.

POE: That was doing your training.

WELCH: Yes. It was under the supervision, we were all under supervision of the army.

POE: Yeah.

WELCH: But the teachers were all civilians.

POE: Yeah. And while you were there did you like, were you on an army post, did you live like in the barracks or did you live in a motel, or how did...

WELCH: We lived in a hotel that was just about to fall down. POE: Oh really.

WELCH: And I don't know how many stories was in it and there was 252 of us in there going to that class. I can remember that much of it.

POE: And so then you...

WELCH: And it was, I can't remember that street.

KAREN: Yeah, I'll find, I can remember you guys talking about it. I can't either.

WELCH: Have to have Homer here.

POE: So whenever you said your brothers were in service, were any of them in the Signal Core with you?

WELCH: No. POE: Okay. Umm... WELCH: No, they were not.

POE: Okay. So you were, you were there and you were, and whenever you, did you walk to the coin company or take a city but or did the Army have...?

WELCH: We walked. We walked. It wasn't down that far.

POE: Yeah. Did you march or did you walk?

WELCH: We just...

POE: You walked.

WELCH: We walked.

POE: Okay. Cause you weren't under military training.

WELCH: Well no.

POE: You weren't...

WELCH: We had to fall out in the morning before we leave.

POE: Right.

WELCH: And then you went and ate breakfast then you, we went to school.

POE: And your breakfast, did you have it at a, like a cafe or did they have a...

WELCH: No we, they give us money.

POE: They give us money, you just go eat anywhere you want to.

WELCH: Yeah.

POE: About how long were you there?

WELCH: I was there a little over three months.

POE: And where'd you go after that?

WELCH: I went to Florida.

KAREN: Camp Murphy.

WELCH: Camp Murphy, Florida. Don't ask me where it's at.

POE: I was going say, is that north or south?

WELCH: It's along the coast but I can't tell you where it is. It's over there someplace around...

POE: Well, okay.

WELCH: At least North of Boca Raton.

POE: Okay. It's going be, yeah.

WELCH: Then I went to, from there I went to Tampa, Florida. I taught school there for operation of machine, air craft warnings and things like that to a bunch of New Yorker kids.

KAREN: Now be careful dad. You're on tape. POE: That sounds like an interesting story.

WELCH: We had a, we had a case, equipment up there you know and we would put different things on there, airplanes, and they was, learn how to send that signal out to the military Air Forces and things.

POE: Okay.

WELCH: To intercept 'em. And a lot of times you turned 'em on in the back room where they was setting to learning this. They had eat, things like, wasn't only about 30 or 40 feet back. They'd be singing. And some of 'em were pretty doggone good singers. But they was, oh they was an ornery bunch. They was awful up around, well in the east coast.

POE: And about how long were you there?

WELCH: I was there, oh...

KAREN: Is this Camp Murphy you're talking about? You were there sixteen weeks.

WELCH: No. Not Camp Murphy.

KAREN: Boca Raton you were there seven weeks and then Boca Rotan you were there ten weeks. Two different things.

WELCH: Yeah. I went to a different school. Now what was the question?

POE: Oh I was just wondering how long you were in Tampa.

WELCH: Oh I was in Tampa almost two years. Not quite. Someplace around two years.

POE: So you spent a lot of your military time there.

WELCH: I spend two and a half years in Florida.

POE: And while you were there teaching and going to school, I mean when you were teaching there in Tampa, did you live on the military post or did you live on the economy again?

WELCH: No. My wife was down there. POE: Oh, okay.

WELCH: And at night, if we didn't have guard duty, why I could go home. And usually most of the classes were not held at night.

POE: So that was good.

WELCH: Yeah. But, I've always said, I don't know how we ever won the war. MRS. WELCH: I think most outfits can say the same.

WELCH: I think most of 'em do. But, but after we left there we went back up to Grand Island, Nebraska and that was preparing to go overseas. When I got there, they'd all, there was five of us. No there was fifteen of us in jamming Japanese radar. And we were, went there to go overseas. And everybody left the camp one Sunday afternoon. Went to Miami by bus and watched professional football game except the twenty seven of us because we had orders to ship out.

POE: Ohh.

WELCH: And that is when I actually got with the outfit that we went overseas with.

POE: And what division or regiment or battalion was that?

KAREN: It was the 6th bomb group.

WELCH: Yeah, the 6th bomb group. 6th bomb group. That's B 2, uh...

KAREN: B 29s

WELCH: B 29s.

KAREN: Uh huh. And they eventually ended up on Tinia. And the thing that's so cool about Tinia, and dad's told me about it was, that was the island that...

WELCH: with...

KAREN: Yeah.

WELCH: That the two atomic bombs were on.

POE: Oh.

WELCH: And there's where they air lift from.

KAREN: That they took off from.

WELCH: And they dug holes in the ground, put the bomb down in there and then got the airplanes over 'em so if they go off accidentally it wouldn't kill as many people. If one of them had went off on that island of Tinian, there would be over 3,000. I think there's thirty five thousand, actually three thousand men would've been killed. It would have wiped the island off the map. But they didn't have any bad luck like that or anything.

POE: Good. Glad it worked out so well.

WELCH: But the planes that carried the atomic bombs was not with our, see I was with the 6th bomb group and they was the 9th, the 24th, let's see 9th, 24th, and the 39th I think. Five men from each one of 'em. And these all in one, that boat, made our camp was that many.

POE: And so while you were there on Tinian you were jamming radar? Is that what your primary job was?

WELCH: It was jamming nearing radar, search lights, and air craft guns and anything else you could pick up you know. They'd send the B 29 out on a raid and they'd put an officer in there. They would not allow, I guess I'll get to that story too but an officer would fly over in a B 29 on a certain raid say, capital of Japan. And he'd get the frequency of all those equipments, jammings that was jamming us and they'd come back, maybe three weeks, month later or something. When we did hit 'em real hard, why, they would set those jammers and we would have to go into the airplane, take those jammers, which we had to remove every time they get, they landed when they came back and every time we had to load 'em when they, just before they took off.

POE: So you were in... WELCH: It was very top secret. POE: Yeah.

WELCH: And they fly them over and we'd have frequencies already set, which they had picked up on those earlier raids when they didn't do nothing see. And they, those officers tried to get us into have to go in there because they said that we knew more about those equipments then we did. And they, we knew so much more. We could tear 'em apart and put 'em together and we can set the frequencies and everything else. But all they had to do was just, well we had to set the frequencies that they wanted before they left and all they had to do was just turn it on and operate it. But they tried to get us in that. They went clear back to Washington D.C. to big, where all Navy and Army and everybody, headquarters were you know, that's worked at, more or less where they worked out at.

MRS. WELCH: Weren't you screened before they did this? Did someone come to Turon or someplace to check you out?

WELCH: Oh yeah, I'll get to that. But... KAREN: I think radar was so new, you know.

WELCH: Oh it was so new. I didn't tell Virginia, my wife for two, over two years. She never knew what I was doing. I just said radio work. That's all I ever told her for two years. And I never did tell her where I was at but she, I mean I set up a little code and

she'd throw in something and I'd write back the answer, it was wrong. I think she sent me thir-, someplace around fifteen letters, or, yeah fifteen letters if I was there. I said no. There. No. She says, I finally about the seventeenth letter I think it was, I wrote back and I says, she says, I think I got it. You was on Tinian. And I said, I wrote back and said, yeah. I didn't say what or anything I just said yeah. Cause they, our mail was censored. It was censored.

POE: Were you sending V-mail, what they called V-mail? WELCH: Yeah, I tried to, when she was born. POE: Oh, okay.

KAREN: When I was born they sent him a V-mail, my aunt sent a letter and mom wrote a letter.

WELCH: No, they had V-mail. They had another one.

KAREN: It was slower then that.

WELCH: Slower, yeah and then...

KAREN: Then the regular mail.

WELCH: Mail.

KAREN: And he got the regular mail first about me.

WELCH: First. And the one that supposedly get over there with twenty four hours, she got it last. But, but back, go back to Turon, my sister worked at the bank and one day, she come in, this is when I was down in Florida and she was working that day and couple men come in said they was well dressed men, ties and shirts and everything. Went up and said we'd like to get some information. They said well what? And they reached in and pulled out their badges.

KAREN: They were FBI.

WELCH: They said we want to know if he is, can keep his mouth shut. Well not exactly, they didn't use those words.

POE: Right.

WELCH: But he said, he was gonna be doing something you're, he can't talk about. Don't want mail to get lost or anything else and somebody find it or something you know. And she, they said well you just go down the street and she said they left about three minutes and come back. He said, well we talked to five people ant different times

and he says you, he says, we're not gonna worry about him. He's alright. But they was wanting to know if I could keep a secret.

POE: Right.

WELCH: Well I kept it from my wife for two years. And I was working in that then when I went overseas why that's the only way she could find out where I was at was. They couldn't read her mail coming in but they could read mine going out so I never did mention where I was but she knew. That's the code we set up.

POE: So while you were on Tinian, were you there, were you living in a barrack situation there or did you have, were you in tents?

WELCH: Most of 'em, see the CBs was there building their air, uh airports. POE: Okay.

WELCH: Air strips. And them guys can work, and fast. Took about three, four weeks and they had three runways, Quonset huts built for all the air crew and everything. And we were out there working where the bombs were, not bombs were not waiting where the bombs were at. Ready to take off on raids.

KAREN: He said there were still Japanese on the island too. They'd hear 'em shooting every now and then.

(dialogue and drinks)

WELCH: But anyway, but most of the time, why, one time they had, they went to some oil fields over there that they was getting, Japan was getting fuel from and stuff. And we wanted to knock 'em out so they started up and every two hours we had to put up two planes, no every, every two hours our squadron had to put up two plane. Two hours later they'd put up two more. Two hours later they'd put up two more. Two hours later they'd put up two more. Two hours later they'd put up two more. By that time the planes got over there and it was over there hitting, not in Japan or China but it was in Australia or someplace down in there. They got, was dropping the bombs and then they come back. When that thing got back we'd refuel it, fuel it again and put, the ones that loaded the bombs and things put them in there and get it all ready to go. And when it come their next turn, when it come two time, when they got all the planes over there, they started right over. And they done and we never went to sleep for seventy two hours.

POE: Wow.

WELCH: And I don't think I ever set down. Oh I, it was terrible. Thirty six hours and then they said well, that's the last ones raids going over on, under this program and said you can go home; go back to your barracks. And that was at twelve o'clock midnight. We went back and at five o'clock the next morning, they woke us up. We only had five

hours of sleep and we missed out on all that. And I'm telling you they just as well shot us. We could not have even woke up and we had to get moving. They got us on the trucks to get, haul us to the airports. We just couldn't, couldn't man...

POE: Yeah.

WELCH: Couldn't think or anything else. We was just blank. If we'd stayed there another thirty six hours, we'd have made it. But, in all we'd eat sandwiches and cup of, and coffee. They'd bring out a couple canned sandwiches for us, a meal, and that was the worst part of the whole thing. But, seventy two hours is a long time. I was in charge of the ninth, uh, there was three groups of planes, the B 29s, thirteen of them in our area. And I was on one of 'em and I had little bit of extra duty to do and things like that so sometimes I didn't get, you know, quite that much sleep but it, it was nothing but bologna sandwiches.

POE: When you got out of the service then you didn't want anymore bologna sandwiches did you?

WELCH: No. I still don't but maybe when it's fried.

MRS. WELCH: He'll like it fried.

WELCH: But, the first, first three days we was there we didn't eat nothing but potatoes.

POE: Just potatoes?

WELCH: Yup. Oh, little ole squares and...

KAREN: Was there no more food? Did they not have any other kind of food?

WELCH: No.

KAREN: Just potatoes, huh?

WELCH: Yeah. Well that ain't the worst part of it. When we got to, there and they wanted to fix them uh, planes to fly over and drop bombs on certain places. And they was different type of antennas. Well we found out we didn't have any antennas. They built the airplane, they build the place for it to put 'em on but they didn't have 'em. So I had to go over and get all the material, cut it, thread it, and do all that kind of stuff and put it together. And the other guys were gonna go out and put it on the planes cause they fit. I think they just, four or five of them go on each airplanes. They're not very big. You know, you, I just made it out of iron rod and things. And the other guys all in the squadron went, in our branch, went out and installed 'em and they did small, installed 'em after I got 'em started making 'em why, it didn't take too long you know. We finally got 'em on there in time. But, and they did not have a one of them, went to hook it up and you know with your plug ins like you put in there. You got two prongs, sometimes

you got three. The ones we used had 52 wires going to it. So you had 52 plug, wires going to that plug. And that plug was about that big around. And think how in the world you ever get the right wire to the right one that would match up with the one on the bomber. I don't know how it happened but everything went pretty well with the hook ups. Just things like that. They just, they had to think, bomb, the B 29s had the pieces on the thing cause, parts of a B29 was like passenger planes. They were, you could breathe in 'em. Had air in there. But some parts of it, from the center fire guns on that B29 back to the tail gunner was not...

KAREN: No oxygen.

WELCH: No oxygen. It's just plain old air up there. And the tail gunner had one, had his own back there but everybody else in the plane took everything else up to the front. And, and some of them air bombers come back and you wouldn't believe they could be flying.

POE: Lot of damage?

WELCH: A lot of damage.

KAREN: He said one of the end of the Tinian was just kind of straight up and down.

WELCH: Oh yes. Oh it was a runways and they, CBs had built it up with coral. They go- we was five miles from the airport and you could hear dynamite going off all night for a couple three weeks and it was the CBs down there blowing up that coral and making runways and things on it. And...

KAREN: And then sometimes when planes would come in, they come in too low and hit the end of that.

WELCH: They built that up. KAREN: Oh I'm sorry. POE: No it... KAREN: I did that. POE: Did you do that? KAREN: I think I touched it.

POE: Okay. No I, like I say I'm having technical difficulties here. It doesn't want to stay, it doesn't want to stay in place.

MRS. WELCH: Can we put it on something else?

POE: No it, it's, it's the mechanism right in there. It's just not quite, something's wrong with it.

KAREN: Something else dad told me, he was on Tinian for four months. He had a brother in law who was on Cypan.

WELCH: Cypan, no, yeah... KAREN: Which was the island... WELCH: No not Cypan. He was on Guam.

KAREN: Guam, okay. Well in the same are which they didn't even know they were with each other at the time. But anyway, when he was on Tinian he said they had a special group of B29s come in and they were on the other side of the island and they were treated differently.

POE: Oh.

KAREN: Nobody got anywhere close to 'em. They got good food. And that was the Annola Gay

WELCH: That's the Annola Gay.

POE: Oh, okay, right.

WELCH: That's the plane that dropped the atomic bomb, the first one.

KAREN: And then the second one was there too.

WELCH: Yeah.

KAREN: I can't remember the name of it.

WELCH: Uh...

KAREN: Well anyway, they told...

WELCH: It was...

KAREN: They told 'em after it went up, right?

WELCH: Well after it got back

KAREN: Oh, after it got back.

WELCH: People in the United States, we had our receiver on in our outfit wing. We was only one that had the receivers to reach back to the United States. And they said, I have an announcement here in about thirty minutes on the radio in the States. So they give everybody in the United States the chance to hear it. And, we didn't even know it, that they was doing that. And so we heard it on the radio and they, the planes hadn't got back from dropping 'em yet. They had dropped the bombs but they hadn't got back. And we had to wait for another hour or more before they got all back down on the ground back here, back on Tinian before they put it out over the loudspeaker. And then they said what they had done. They had dropped an atomic bomb. And Japan thought it, they got one, that's all we got. Maybe they was just trying it out. And about three or four days later, we dropped another one. And two days after that they surrendered. And that saved, they saved over 40,000 lives.

POE: Of American lives.

WELCH: American lives.

POE: Right.

WELCH: If they had to go in.

KAREN: Well anyway, he said they were treated pretty special back there.

POE: Yeah.

KAREN: And they kinda resented it, didn't you?

WELCH: Yeah.

KAREN: And I can understand that.

WELCH: But then, but they, they kept everything, well there's a lot of things they done that I don't ever know what happened. Our equipment was, nobody could touch it.

POE: Right. Lot of people didn't know what you were doing.

WELCH: Nobody knew what, back in the States, really knew what I was doing.

POE: Because I had no idea that radar was so highly developed during the war because we didn't hear about it much until the late 50s early 60s.

WELCH: You didn't have any TVs yet. POE: No.

WELCH: And then according Electric in Chicago, they had one of the first TVs. KAREN: They had a TV there?

WELCH: In their work, yeah. It was a case about, oh about this wide and about this thick and about oh, five and a half feet tall and up at the top of it, front of it they was a few knobs and up a couple was a six inch tube that showed the picture. But they hadn't got it, figured out. They had quit doing it and went to making these other machines.

POE: Yeah, for the war.

WELCH: For the war and course, what they stopped making was what we ended up with out over there.

KAREN: That's interesting. POE: Yeah.

KAREN: I didn't know that. There's some articles about him. There's his other, his three brothers that were in the service too, at the same time.

POE: These notes about Turon men and women in the Armed Service, Forces. So we had Earl, Chester, Keith and Dale. Two in Germany and two in Southwest Pacific. And in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Will Welch of Turon who have four sons in service.


WELCH: The one other family there had five, five of 'em. But they had lost one boy in the town in training in the United States. And, but I don't think there was anybody else unless it was the, oh boy, I can't think of the girl's name.



KAREN: He was the first married one drafted in Turon. WELCH: Yeah.



KAREN: He was drafted right after Pearl Harbor, right? WELCH: Pearl Harbor's the seventh and February the... KAREN: 29th, you were gone.


WELCH: I was gone. But I did spend a lot of time in the States. Most of it. A lot of it. I was overseas nine months.

POE: And when did you get out of service then? KAREN: November, no no no. Yes, November...

WELCH: November the fifteen, November the uh...

KAREN: Twenty sixth.

WELCH: Twenty sixth.

KAREN: 1945.

WELCH: 1945, yeah.

KAREN: My copy, that's your copy. There's that and there's...

WELCH: These aren't official ones. They're copies that they give me.

POE: And whenever you got out of service, you were a Sergeant?

WELCH: Uh huh.

POE: Radar mechanic it says here.

WELCH: That's what it is, radar mechanic.

POE: Served as a Radar mechanic for 11 months in a radar counter measure unit, I.E. jamming, of heavy equipment, heavy bombardment squadron in the Asiatic Pacific theatre of operations. Tested, cleaned and adjusted radar equipment. That makes it sound so, so, oh tested, cleaned, adjusted, compared to what you were actually doing, taking the things in and out and doing all that stuff.

WELCH: All that extra stuff. You don't...

POE: Yeah, it...

WELCH: It's, a lot of it just went along with it.

POE: It, five words here, you know.

KAREN: I suppose that's part of what they couldn't tell.

POE: Right.

WELCH: Yeah. Yeah. They didn't, they never did put it in the paper where they had 72. I mean they never worked for 72 hours never ate, sleep or anything.

POE: No, that probably didn't go in. WELCH: But the officer's did.

POE: Yeah. Oh they got to sleep? WELCH: Yeah they got to sleep. POE: Ohh.

WELCH: We never saw 'em down there. My, there's a lieutenant that was over us. We never saw him in 72 hours.

KAREN: Well they trusted you.

WELCH: They were down in the, where you went back to sleep and eat when you weren't out on the line and they done all their work back, back there at that time. They said that, the funny part of it is, our mess hall we had, it was oh, I'd say, fifty feet wide probably a hundred and some feet what long. Nothing but table, benches and tables all the way across it. Then over on the other side of it, they had another building. Same part, part of the building and it went on over that way. And they'd be over at both at the same time and the officers, was their mess. And we never saw a piece of beef steak or anything like that. And everybody was saying, the officers eat just like you do. But where do they get the people that served it? We had to go and get ours to eat it. But the officers got served. And where'd they get their guys from it. It was us guys that was, didn't have any bars or anything on. But no officers in it.

POE: And so did they eat the same as you, your mess hall?

WELCH: They said no. Said they had chicken. They had steak. Said here we sat here eating goat. And we did eat goat.

POE: You ate goat?

WELCH: Ate goat. And some sheep I guess.

POE: Well...

WELCH: It all come from, see we was way over there far enough, it come from I presume China or someplace.

POE: Yeah.

WELCH: Australia.

POE: Australia, yeah.

WELCH: Australia. And I think where most of our meat come from.

POE: Well what kind of island was, what was it called, Tini?

KAREN: Tinian.

POE: Tinian.

MRS. WELCH: How do you spell that?

POE: Yeah. How do you spell?

KAREN: TINIAN.

POE: TI

KAREN: N

POE: Uh huh.

KAREN: IAN. It's part of the Mariannas.

WELCH: Marshall Islands.

POE: Okay, TINIAN.

WELCH: And it's part of the Marshall Islands. Marshall Islands takes in Tinian...

KAREN: Saipan is one of 'em.

WELCH: Siapan and Guam. And Guam was the longest way from us. It was the furthest one. And Saipan was only about five miles out from us.

POE: Now the, the topography of the island was such that you had was it like jungle or was it wooded, was it flat, was it rocky?

WELCH: Uh, Saipan was rocky. POE: Okay.

WELCH: And they had caves. Course in Japan, that's where they had most of the people.

KAREN: What about Tinian, was it rock too? WELCH :Uh... KAREN: It had trees.

WELCH: It has coral but it wasn't, there was only one little part of the island that's right up next to the ocean that had some hills,

POE: Okay.

WELCH: But they weren't...

KAREN: Pretty flat, huh.

WELCH: Pretty flat.

POE: Pretty flat island, okay.

WELCH: I think that's why they put the hydrogen bomb on there, I mean the...

KAREN: Atomic bomb.

WELCH: Atomic bomb on there.

POE: And then, so when you say people were, were there Japanese on Tinian then were they in caves like the other islands?

WELCH: Oh yeah.

POE: So they had caves back there.

WELCH: They was caves even on Tinian but you couldn't see 'em from where we were at.

POE: Oh, okay.

WELCH: And uh, and they had troops there, had army troop there. Didn't pay any attention to what troop it was or anything but they had army troops there to protect us.

POE: Ah. And then I was just wondering if there was any like natives or if there was any agri, if there was any agricultural, anything that you could get.

WELCH: Oh yeah. They, they, see the Navy, the islands are Navy. The man, the top man on the island is a Navy man on each of 'em.

POE: Hmm.

WELCH: The islands are that way.

KAREN: So did they grow any fruits or vegetables or anything?

WELCH: Yes, they had, they had cane. KAREN: Okay. Sugar cane? WELCH: Sugar cane. KAREN/POE: Okay.

WELCH: And I saw some pictures, I didn't get any of 'em but where they had, the cane had been cut down and took a picture of it and it showed all kinds of men scattered out there dead. And the CBs went through there and they got, the Japanese got into the cane so they couldn't find 'em. So, CBs got in their tanks and everything else and got men behind 'em and went down through there and reason you could see the dead Japanese cause it cut the green, the cane off that far by the ground with the gun, machine guns. And it was just, it was just blank. And you could see 'em. They had a picture over there and you could just look out there and see 'em. They were hiding in there fighting us and finally sent the tanks in. They got some tanks on the island and sent them in and they sent the CBs go right behind 'em.

KAREN: They said at the time dad told us that airstrip was the longest one in the world at that time.

WELCH: Yeah.

POE: Oh.

KAREN: And that was probably to take care of those B29s.

WELCH: Well see Saipan had some and also Guam had some. Guam had, Guam had airstrips on years before the war ever started there. But, they uh, I don't know what I was gonna say there.

KAREN: They had to have to those airstrips to take care of those B29s.

WELCH: Yeah.

KAREN: Course they had to get 'em close enough to Japan they could make it.


WELCH: Yeah. See and they, they started taking island. They had a little one out there I can't remember the name of it. It only had three initials in it of four words or letters or something and they bombed that for practice when they first got over there.


KAREN: Turk. Turk or Truck. WELCH: Turk.

KAREN: Truck?

WELCH: Something along that order.

KAREN: Anything you can find cause I saw that. TRUK. It was their practice bombing.

WELCH: Practicing bombing.

POE: Oh, okay.

WELCH: There's some pictures of it in here, practice bombing. And, but...

KAREN: TRUK, truk.

WELCH: Yeah, Truk. But there was an island off of there about, I don't know how far out, oh about fifty miles or so. But they'd practice bombing when they, every time a plane come over from the United States, they'd bring the crew with it. And then they would land on Tinian and then get settled and get organized. And they would take so many days of practice bombing and they hit that island over there. And Japanese was on it. And they said the reason they done it, it wasn't a big enough island to take for the men they would lose. And they said it just turned out to be ideal target practice. And so they just send 'em out. Course they'd go out and maybe four or five hours they're back, going to Japan. Twelve hours out and twelve hours back probably.

POE: Now the area you were at there at Tinian then, you weren't under any, did they have enemy fire coming in on you?

WELCH: Two week before, I went over there for air crew. Now I say air crew. Those Americans had these bomber. They weren't bombers, they were four engine planes just like your early planes that they, here in the United States. See they took in all those planes. They went to the military. And they made flew supplies out into the military, fuselage of the airplane. Then they have boards along each side they build, just a bench along each side. And then that's where we set, and when we went over, now three, about three thousand of the troops in this outfit was, went over in ship. They got there two weeks before we did and we left five weeks after, before they'd been over there, they, they got there and we got there and we was just two weeks behind 'em and they had been going for six to eight weeks to get the other bunch over. They went by ship.

KAREN: So when you got there were there ever Japanese ever flew over there? WELCH: Nope. They did two week before. Two weeks before. KAREN: Okay.

WELCH: And they showed the Japanese planes they had shot down. They just pulled 'em out in this junkyourd.

KAREN: So it was still Japanese territory two weeks ago.

WELCH: Yeah, and they had one of the tank things that the men in Japan, soldiers would ride in on. Oh there was American tanks out there. And you'd walk out in there and just look at those big old shells just about that long, those guns they had on the tanks and things but you wasn't allowed to pick up any. One guy did and blew three, four, three fingers.

KAREN: Oh my.

POE: Yeah, it's too your advantage not to pick 'em up. WELCH: He got, he got probably causesed out by the officers. POE: Probably.

WELCH: Boy, that was the first thing they say. Don't pick up anything on the ground. And then he did. He was trying to tear that shell apart, get the casing.

POE: Were you injured at all while you were in service or have an accident of any sort?

WELCH: Nope.

POE: Return unscathed.

WELCH: Yeah.

POE: Okay.

WELCH: Well most all of us were that on the, what they call rock troops.

POE: Uh huh.


WELCH: Yeah. The closest I got to it, I had to carry a parachute out to, had a copilot of a B29 that he had been killed in and I had to go in, get his parachute. That's the closest I come to see blood.


POE: Well that's good.


WELCH: Well I saw one B 29 come back, we was talking about it and, you know what a jeep is. You could've drove that jeep, if you had a ramp on this side, you could've drove that jeep right up into that plane. And if you played around on the other side, you


could've just went right on out too. Oh, that was a big hole in that plane and it didn't fall apart.

KAREN: Gee whiz. POE: Yeah.

WELCH: Some of 'em broke up on, after they got to, after the marines got to those other islands between us and, between us and...

KAREN: Japan.

WELCH: Japan why, then those planes could come back in and land. But this one here come back. Now I think it actually landed on one of those islands and then they come back on in but they didn't, they didn't have any stuff down there to, they had fixed maybe some of the little things but you could've drove a jeep right through that thing and it never buckled that thing one way.

POE: Well, that's comforting.

KAREN: Well it said somewhere I read at one time when dad was talking to us about this stuff that the B29s they made in Wichita was what the pilots wanted over there because they knew they were that, that good.

POE: Yeah, there he is.

WELCH: You know Wich, the had a thing that, every ship and that's ever needed, I don't know how many hours there were but then there's always a sergeant, master sergeant in charge of 'em. And they, would get the information on a B29 cause you know we was losing 'em at the same time. They was building 'em down here and flying in over there you know and things. They had a little contest and the, the group in my, or, I was with the 6th bomb group and if our 6th bomb group was better then we had three units in each of 'em, why they would pick out there plane.

POE: Hmmm.

WELCH: And uh, they would be notified and they'd say, you're gonna have a plane coming in. They probably flew some supplies over when they brought 'em out of the unit, they got 'em built. And maybe hauled in, some of 'em dead. And they, well you got a contest to see who got that plane. And if they, if you didn't want it, why you'd pass it up.

POE: Oh, okay.

WELCH: Cause they all wanted Wichita built planes. They made 'em in Georgia and I don't know where else. Someplace down, another place too they make those B29s.

There's three air manufacture plants. Wichita was the biggest. And they would, those guys just, and they would skip this plane and this plane. They'd wait until a B cause they was best see.

POE: Uh huh.


-WELCH: So they waited til they, they stayed the best til they could get a plane coming. If it was a Wichita plane well that is the one they took it.


POE: Great.

WELCH: And that was, that was you went there and looked on the board and every one of the, they had three ships see, and every one of those ships top plane was a Wichita plane.

POE: How bout that. We need to stop, pause here for just a moment. CAMERA OFF/ON


POE: Okay, we're back on the air again. Make sure we're going okay here. It seems to be recording okay. It just won't sit still. It wiggles around a lot. And I did aim on that picture there for awhile. The young man. You were wearing glasses back in those days.


WELCH: Yes, I was.

POE: And they, and that didn't hinder you in your radar work then.

WELCH: Huh uh.

POE: Okay. Did you receive any medals or special service awards?

WELCH :Uh huh.

POE: Well, you got lots of 'em. What am I talking about? Of course you did.

WELCH: One, two, three, four.

POE: Yeah.

WELCH: No, one, two, three, four. Yeah, four of 'em in there.

POE: Yeah, and there's your dog tags and...

WELCH: That's one dog tag. I don't know where the other one went.

POE: Always liked that patch. I have a...

KAREN: That was the signal core.

POE: Yeah, I...

KAREN: No? That's the Air Core?

WELCH: That's the Air Core Patch.

KAREN: Okay.

POE: Yeah., yeah.

WELCH: See we went back...

POE: I had an uncle that had that.

KAREN: Okay.

WELCH: Yeah, that's the Air Core's patch. Now before we had the tower. But when we went to the Boca Raton...

KAREN: They took that one away?

WELCH: No not Boca Raton. Another camp down there. We was only there about six weeks. Getting organized to go overseas someplace and they had, we had it there. And we fall out first thing in the morning and they say, okay, you are not in the Signal Core anymore, you're in the Air Force.

POE: Oh.

WELCH: Maybe a couple days later they say, no that isn't, that's not right. We got notice that ain't, that ain't, that's not right. And so we went back...

KAREN: Tried it again.

WELCH: Signal Core again then back to the Air Force and I think it made three moves before they finally said, well this is it. You are notified that you are in the Air Force. And that was getting the B29s ready to go over.

POE: And you don't have a sharp shooter medal because you actually never learned how to, you never had arms training?

WELCH: No, yeah, I used, 'bout everybody shot the Carbon. POE: Okay.

WELCH: But, Ml6. But...

KAREN: I think it was that they just kind of, that group that he was going to when he went to Coin Electric, that group just kind of passed over the basic training.

POE: They must have.

WELCH: We missed it.

MRS. WELCH: They wanted to get 'em out and start training 'em.

WELCH: The only thing, I did go to the gas chamber.

POE: Oh yeah.

WELCH: They got us in the gas chamber and the next day we got out shipping orders. But you pretty, but the first week it just going to things, meetings and, and, what you're supposed to be and where you're supposed to go and what you're supposed to do, one thing and another. So we really didn't have anything. The only thing I, we never went through, went the firing squad. We got ready to go to the firing squad. That's a good story. We went, well we hadn't gone to the fire, getting ready to go overseas and my name come up that I hadn't been on the firing squad line. So they said you gotta go down and get, be ready tomorrow morning at a certain time. We're going down. Take the M16s and you're gonna have to shoot. We got down there and they said, well sorry we don't have it. There's a whole company down here and they was only sixteen or seventeen of us guys that hadn't had it on our record. Now I had shot it before but someplace along some clerk didn't get it transferred. Anyway, I don't know how many there was of us, but got down there and said well, we can't do that. He said I, the officer said I got World War II, World War I rifles.

POE: Oh.

WELCH: And we're gonna shoot them. They set a little card out about, oh, from here to the garage door from us. They were big rifles. And everybody had to shoot so many times and you had to recheck it and things, you know. And the started down one end and they come up this way and I said, they'd say well you're next. They'd shoot you know. And then they go on down. They didn't have 'em all shooting at once. Come to me and of course they'd always say right when you're getting ready to shoot, now remember, you get that butt of that rifle right up there in tight. And then you just reach down there and pull that trigger, reach up, don't move your arm up here at all, flip it up, younk the shell out, put it back in. It was the old army World War I guns. Cause they didn't have any others. And the other, the whole company probably seven, eight hundred men probably down at some other range doing it. They had the guns. And so they come to me, and every time they come to you they'd say now you do this. And he come to me and he said now, you heard me. Now you shoot. See if you can hit the target and you just pull that

thing out and eject that shell, put your next shell in. So I went up, done like that. He stood me right behind these, he was a tiny man that was doing it to and he says now there. Now he says, shoot. And I, no he didn't say shoot. He said, we weren't shooting at that time. We, we'll go back, come back to me and shoot all at once. But anyway, he said now take that finger and flip that bowl back there. Don't move that shoulder from that. And I went like that and my finger didn't even get to the pull. It was too far out on that gun. He laughed so, he got to laughing he couldn't... And then I went in to get clothes and everything had to be ordered.

POE: Oh yeah.

WELCH: Two foot tall. Five foot tall. But, but that tickled him. I tell you, I never seen.. .One time we'd been in Camp Murphy. I don't know where Camp Murphy is but it was in Florida. I was married so I didn't go to town like most of 'em did. But anyway, we fell out for inspection one Saturday and I'd been in the service over two year. And my khaki pockets had been frayed. And we had an inspection. And he said you go down to the, to the warehouse and get you some clothes. So I went down and come back. Next week he come by and had inspection again. And he says, you didn't get any pants. And I said no. Shirt, you know. Well I told you to go down there. He was lieutenant. And I said I went down there. And he said well why didn't you get any? I said they didn't have any for me. And he says what? I said they said they didn't have any for me. And that was in Fort Leavenworth. And, so he said well come to the office after we get through here. So we got off there and got dismissed and everything. I went to the office and he says now what's about this you can't get that uniform? And I says, they don't, said they can't not fit me. And he said oh, he says hey this is Leavenworth. This is where you're coming into. They got all sizes. And so he said, I'll just call down there. So he called down there and he got, finally got a hold of the lieutenant who was more or less in charge of it down there. And he asked him and he says, no we don't have anything like that down here. Well, can't you come close? He says no. He says, everything, everything he's got will drag the ground if we put any pants on him. And sleeves come out like that. He says, well, you don't have a thing. He says, the only thing they make that small is officer pants. He says well, by George, he says, I'm gonna send him down there and you give him two sets of shirts and pants. And the only difference was the back hip pockets on enlisted men had no flap or anything and you could put stuff in it but that's all. That's the officer pants but the enlisted men pants had flaps and you had to button your pants, pockets all of you. That was the only difference. But they had them in officer pants but I never saw an officer all the time I was in there service who was near as small as I was. Had a captain who was, wasn't more then about two or three inches taller then I was.

POE: I just, how small are you? You're five foot two. Okay.

WELCH: They like to never found me any shoes. They finally set me down, says you just set here and went through the rest of 'em. And he said, well, he said, he's got to have shoes. And an officer said, well he's got to have shoes or he don't, you're going in the army. Well I was going into the Air Force...

POE: Yeah.

WELCH: .. .Really what it amounted to. Course they didn't know that and I didn't either. But anyway, but he said you go in the army you got to have army shoes.

POE: Yeah.

WELCH: And you gotta fit your fit cause you're gonna do some marching. Well I'd done a lot of marching anyway. But they started looking around and about half an hour later that evening, I was still setting there and let most of all the rest of 'em through for that day. And they said I think we found a set, one pair of shoes that five foot, five and a half size. And says, they're bringing'em up here now. And that's what I got. Only had one pair of 'em in there. But that's the way it went mostly for me. It just, one thing and another. Size, mostly. There was always, always caused me, and it still does, I mean, I can't go down here and buy men's clothes.

POE: Yeah, must be, must be hard, particularly with pants because shirts, boys shirt, you could, you know like a boys size shirt a man size shirt are pretty, shirts are pretty much alike but the pants aren't.

WELCH: No.

MRS. WELCH: We went to ?? Shoe Factory in Texas and I bought him three pair of shoes before we came home.

WELCH: We went down there this year we went down there to Texas. She said well, we'll buy you some shoes. You need some shoes. I said, yeah I do need a pair of shoes. So she says, try this and they put it on me and things. She said, I, yeah we'll take them. Now he needs some other color. I ended up with three hundred and twenty four dollars worth of shoes. But I got three good pair.

POE: Right. And you probably have a hard time finding 'em around here.

WELCH: Yeah, oh you can't find 'em around here. Pair of 'em right here.

POE: You got 'em on huh. Oh, those look comfortable too.

WELCH: They are comfortable.

POE: Yeah.

WELCH: And I got two more just like 'em only in a different color.

POE: Cool. When you got out of service did you use the G.I. Bill in anyway?

WELCH: No.

POE: And did, while, did you join the American Legion or the uh...?

WELCH: I belonged the American Legion.

MRS. WELCH: And the VFW.

POE: And the VFW?

MRS. WELCH: Yeah.

WELCH: Yeah, I ended up going with the VFW also.

POE: Okay.

WELCH: I was going, I had a life time membership with both of 'em.

MRS. WELCH: Both of'em.

POE: Okay.

WELCH: Both of'em.

KAREN: At Turon, right?

WELCH: One of 'em was, VFW was at Turon and then I come to Hutchinson and, took, went down and got me a VF, joined the VF, American Legion. Yeah, because that way we eat hamburgers.

POE: Yeah.

WELCH: And chicken. Every Thursday night.


POE: Yeah. And whenever you got out service, now you were married by that time and you had a child.


WELCH: UhHmm..


POE: Okay. By the time you got out in 1945. And so did you come back to Turon then at that time?


WELCH: Umm Hmm..

POE: And what kind of work did you do?

WELCH: I went back to the Hatchery.

POE: You went back to the Hatchery and did you stay working at the Hatchery?

WELCH: Oh I stayed there probably four, five years.

POE: And then what did you do?

WELCH: I went to the John Deer Agency and went up there to be a book keeper and got up there and they... (phone)

KAREN: That ain't mine. Yeah, don't worry about that. MRS. WELCH: That's your phone. That's your phone. WELCH: Went up there and, I don't know how to say this. KAREN: Ended up being a parts man.

WELCH: I went up there, had a lady, they hired after they asked, asked, hired me to be a book keeper. And the lady, went up there then, when I told 'em I could get off. I wanted to work two more weeks. Got up there and found out they had hired her. And she worked eleven months and quit. And they said, now you're not willing to be just a parts man in charge of parts. You're going to be book keeper. And I'm talking about a business that come close to a million dollar every year.

POE: So you were the book keeper and the parts man?

WELCH: Parts manager.

POE: It sounds like the book keeper should be a full time job.

WELCH: No, book keeping wasn't. We had double book entries and everything but I didn't have any trouble with the books. Didn't have really any trouble, really. Parts either. Cause our, our parts department went sky high. When I left there I went to, boss went to Turon and sold out. And the guy that bought it didn't care for me at all anyway because I was, he was jealous because he was part owner, he had no say into it. And so he took over on the book keeping and I went, went back to parts and course I was, being parts I was standing round the town or selling stuff all the time. And then about, I don't know, about two, three months later Harold ?? come by says Earl, come in my office after work tonight. I said alright. He said, we want to check the books and just see how much we done last month. So I said, alright. So everybody left and locked up and I went to his office. He says, well let's go through this here. And he went through this month's business. And he said, well he said, he said, sold so many combines, how many tractors, parts business has really picked up since you've been here and things like that you know. And I, he said, I tell you what I wanted you to come in here for. I got a letter from John

Deere in Kansas City. And that was our division round the Colored, Missouri and Nebraska and Colorado, Oklahoma, and then I don't know how far around on some of the others, on the other, Illinois, no-Illinois had some of it. But anyway, he said, we had a better year then any of 'em on it. But he said, I got a letter from 'em, Kansas City and they were in charge of, they had I think six, seven states right around Kansas. I want you to read it. And I started reading it. I didn't have to read more then about that far down on the page and I knew what the whole story was. Although the boss owned the, half business, everything else, John Deere says you get rid of so and so and you get Earl back in there. He says, you're parts falling down. You're not getting the parts our there. You don't order'em when you're supposed to. You don't do this. You don't do that. He is not doing it. He says, you get rid of him, as far as being in there and you put Earl back in there. And they didn't say Mr. Welch or anything he says, you put Earl back there cause I was pretty well known cause I had more, won quite a bit of awards for ordering parts and things. And...

KAREN: During harvest I can remember people would come in Turon to get 'em rather then Pratt or Hutchinson because dad would have 'em.

POE: Yeah.

KAREN: And I can remember harvest, but he wasn't home much. Didn't see him for several weeks. But they always, that's why was because they had the parts there.

WELCH: I've been called out, one o'clock in the morning. In the morning now, to get parts. One old guy always order his parts one o'clock in the morning. He'd go down to town and dominoes on Saturday night and then he'd get ready to go home. I finally told Herb about it. He says, Earl, next time he does that just tell him you lost your keys. Cause he said, there ain't no sense in that. Cause he said you're, then he, bout a month later after that he turn around he says Earl, I'm gonna give you a thousand dollars raise for the year, because he says you're the only one here after six o'clock. Everybody, when the doors lock at six o'clock, the doors are all locked. And they're all gonna go home. And he says, I've been here and I haven't been here, but he says I know you've been there. And he says, you're the only one that locks up the doors at night cause everybody else has gone home.

KAREN: And when it'd get really bad, we'd come pick him up. Mom would have sandwiches packed and she'd take him out fishing so nobody could get ahold of him. So he got a break every now and then.

WELCH: That's right. I done that. And sometimes I'd go home and she'd step out and hand me the sack of goods wit some fishing lines and worms and I'd go out and fish. But it...but anyway, it's, led an interesting life as far as that's concerned.

POE: Did any, did you retire from John Deere then? Did you continue working?

WELCH: No, we did not, they did not, at that time, I had no social security, I mean, or anything that would go on. See that was before lot of this stuff got it in. Now if you work for John Deere agencies like in Hutchinson or any place like that, you have a retirement plan. But when I quit John Deere, I was still taking just a flat rate. And, but, the mechanics and the salesmen all got a percentage increase.

KAREN: So he ended up in Hutchinson at uh...

WELCH: Potera.

KAREN: Yeah, then you went from there to Big A Auto Parts.

WELCH: Yeah went to...

KAREN: Scheifler's Big A

WELCH: Big A Auto Parts.

KAREN: And that's where he retired from.

WELCH: And Scheifler was owned by..,

KAREN: I don't know.

WELCH:... That movie company in California.

KAREN: Yeah. I'm not...

WELCH: I can't tell you.

KAREN: Century or...

MRS. WELCH: Paramount, wasn't it?

KAREN: Paramount.

POE: Okay.

KAREN: Was it Paramount?

WELCH: Paramount.

KAREN: I think that's right.

WELCH: I think that might've been.

MRS. WELCH: That's why inaudiable


WELCH: But that was, that was owned by, no Scheifler's or Big A but by, but they owned us along with the movie companies. And every movie after making 250,000 dollars say a month, here I was making fifty dollars a month.


POE: Doesn't seem fair does it?

WELCH: It wasn't fair. And all the time I worked, until I retired, I never did get...

KAREN: Do what?

POE: Hand me that camera piece.

WELCH: I never did get a raise, every year.

POE: Oh really.

WELCH: But all the rest of 'em did. But that's, that's, that's the way it was back then there.

POE: Yeah.

WELCH: Course nobody got a raise every year for four, five, six years after that I guess. But I,

KAREN: One other thing was when my brother was born, and I don't remember how old he was, you'll have to remember, he had a rash of some kind and dad and mom tried to find out what was wrong with him for years, or months or whatever. And they finally found out was something dad had either been exposed to overseas or the vaccinations that he had to take or something. And that's what showed up in Greg.

POE: You're kidding.

KAREN: No. And there were other children that had been born after the servicemen came back that was a rash of some kind.

POE: Did they ever identify what it was. KAREN: Huh uh. WELCH: Huh uh.

KAREN: They just knew it was something there. I suppose now in Vietnam you'd say it was Agent Orange.

WELCH: Well, they...

KAREN: Yeah.

WELCH: It would've been now, but they got rid of that too.

KAREN: Yeah.

WELCH: But I mean...

KAREN: There was something like that anyway. There were a lot of affects of war.

WELCH: Uh huh.

POE: Yeah.

KAREN: On other people.

POE: And now, when they identified what it was, since he had the same, did the problem continue?

KAREN: Huh uh.

POE: Did he outgrow it or...?

KAREN: They gave him some medicine of some kind.

POE: Oh, okay.

WELCH: Yeah, he took some medicine.

KAREN: And that seemed to, after they figured out what it was. But the doctor said there were sev, he'd had several cases like that.

POE: Well you were taking medicine for malaria, to prevent malaria weren't you? WELCH: Yeah, they, everybody got that when they go overseas. POE: Yeah. Uhhuh.


WELCH: Everybody. One man, Francis Middleton from Turon, he went in and course he went down south and he had his malaria shot and stuff and he got down there and he got it.


KAREN: He was in terrible shape.

WELCH: He, he was, he just...

KAREN: Just like this.

WELCH: Just like this.

KAREN: And could hardly walk.

WELCH: Could hardly walk or anything. And, course they had to put him on pension.

POE: Yeah. Well, when you got out of service, did your 6th bombardment group ever have any reunions or anything?

WELCH: Yes they did but just once or twice.

POE: Did you, were you able to attend?

WELCH: No.

POE: Oh.

WELCH: They was up in Washington.

POE: Oh.

WELCH: California, Florida or someplace and I never did go to 'em.

POE: Do they have a newsletter?

WELCH: Now they, course now, what is it we go to Wilma?

MRS. WELCH: Well we go to my husband's, my other husband's.

WELCH: Yeah. They have a battalion.

MRS. WELCH: 843rd.


WELCH: 843rd battalion has a thing every year, or every other year or something. And, I go to them because see the wives go because most of the husbands are dead. No kidding a lot of 'em was women that went.



POE: Yeah I've heard that a lot of the, that the wives continue, the families, even the kids are continuing the reunions.


WELCH: Yeah, yeah.

POE: So they're still serving their purpose.

WELCH: Yeah, but, but boy I tell you that battalion down there, that reunion they treated me as just one of 'em.

MRS. WELCH: Well I think that's true of any man been in the service and as you retire and you're older like this, you have a camaraderie. It don't make any difference what outfit you were in or what you did when you were doing your job.

WELCH: But, biggest kick I got out of it was the FBI. And my sister just about went ape. Scared her to death. Cause she wasn't gonna give'em information. She was a teller.

POE: Uh huh.

WELCH: And they went to this other lady that was sort of the head of the tellers, went to her and course she was right there, next station. She says, oh I wonder what in the hell he done wrong. He finally told me, he said well, but, we're just checking him out because he's in something that nobody's supposed to know anything about and just keep, we want him to keep, can he keep a secret? That's what you said back then. She said, that's, first time they ever had one of them come in there and do that. And that was right, great Rs was right, fact is, I had never heard of it.

POE: Well, no. KAREN: It was so new.

POE: Most people wouldn't have. And they would probably keep trying to keep it a secret from the enemy. Whenever you retired, I'm saying when you retired, but now, you were telling me how when you were working that you had this hobby of fishing. Did you continue that hobby after your retirement?

WELCH: Not really.

POE: Oh really. When you had plenty of time to fish, you did something else, right.

WELCH: No I had to...

MRS. WELCH: Well his wife was sick.

POE: Oh, okay.

MRS. WELCH: Tell 'em about your mother Karen. She was sick.

POE: Okay. So you took care of her.

WELCH: Well, yeah, helped a lot but she...

KAREN: Well when dad ret, well he was forced to retire cause he has seven cardiac arrests.

WELCH: I did.

POE: You had ill health.

KAREN: Yeah, he was ill health and so he got retired. And then as he came back, let's see, mom started doing funny things.

WELCH: Yeah, dad had...

KAREN: Some of 'em were funny, yeah.

WELCH: Dad had passed away and then mom, she got...

KAREN: Yeah, mom got Alzheimer's.

POE: Oh.

KAREN: And so dad took care of her, yeah.

POE: Okay.

KAREN: Four or five years, so, and then they were up here in Hutch which was good. We were here too, so.

WELCH: Yup, I had seven cardiac arrests in, and less then a heart time.

POE: Are you doing okay now?

WELCH: Oh I never missed lick, leap, beat since.

KAREN: He's outlived all his brothers and sisters but one so I think he's done well.

WELCH: Yeah, I lost...

KAREN: He's done well.

WELCH: I lost all my sisters, four sisters and I've lost...

KAREN: Three brothers.

WELCH: Three brothers. And that was, since that happened.

POE: Your brothers that were in the service and I know two, two were in each place but then you didn't run across...

WELCH: Huh uh.

POE:.. .your other brother while you were in the same, I mean it's a big ocean, okay. But there had been incidents of people running into each other walking down the street you know, but.

WELCH: Keith went in with the Philippines.

KAREN: Yeah, Keith was in the Philippines.

WELCH: He, he went in the Philippines but that, he went in after it was pretty well taken.

POE: Okay.

WELCH: And then...

KAREN: Chester was with the 5' armored division in German. That was Donald.

WELCH: Yeah, he, that was Donald and he should've never been drafted. He just wasn't...

KAREN: Mentally stable.

WELCH: Mentally stable. But otherwise...

KAREN: And Dale was in radio work in the signal core of the 3ld army. In fact, he was with, he was a truck driver in Patton's army.

POE: Oh, okay.

KAREN: At one time. Yeah, we were talking at one of the funerals or something to him about that.

WELCH: He... KAREN: They were all...

WELCH: Was a radio operator and they set about a mile behind the lines and the lines would radio information back to them and then they would turn around and send out a message from there clear back to maybe France or even, even in England or some place like that. And he was in that last stage to be sending information back. Maybe they

needed ammunition or maybe they needed, tell 'em how much ground they'd got covered or anything there in Germany. So Donald went in Germany. Dale went in Germany.

KAREN: Keith was in the Philippines.

WELCH: Keith was in the Philippines and he wasn't in there very long. He was taken before he went in, but he was,. .And, but I was the first one of the boys to go in.

POE: Well is there anything else you'd like to add.

WELCH: No I didn't know I'd done all that stuff. I just forget it.

POE: Yeah.

KAREN: I think she picked your brain pretty good.

MRS. WELCH: I think she did a good job.

POE: Well, I just, didn't have to do very much. Well it's nice to have prompters too, that...

WELCH: Well, I told Karen I wanted her cause she, she knew more about it cause she put the book together.

POE: Right. You've got a whole scrapbook there of his whole life.

KAREN: Yeah and I made a scrapbook for my brother too of some of the things so, we both have, we both have those things of him.

POE: I think that's important that, that we are able to do that. That's what I said I was gonna do when I retired was get all three of my kids, I was gonna divide the pictures up and do scrapbooks. Instead this project came along.

KAREN: This is an interesting project. POE: Yeah. I enjoyed it. I'll retire later. KAREN: There you go.

POE: Well, I want to thank you very much for allowing me to come here today and talk with you and thank you Karen and Wilma. I appreciate your being here and so, any final words at all? Okay. Well this will conclude the interview here today with Earl Welch in his home in Hutchinson, Kansas today, March 27th, 2007. This is interviewer Marian Poe.

TRANSCRIBER: JULIE SCHUSSLER/MITZISUHLER

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.