Kansas MemoryKansas Memory

Kansas Historical SocietyKansas Historical Society

William Joslin video interview on experiences in World War II (transcript)

Item Description Bookbag Share

WILLIAM EDWARD JOSLIN

 

WORLD WAR II ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW

 

This is Suzette McCord-Rogers and Peggy Stanton, and we are interviewing Bill Joslin at his home in Hiawatha, Kansas.  His wife, Karen Joslin, is also present.

 

Mr. Joslin, can you tell me where you were born?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Brown County, Kansas, on a farm.

 

Suzette:  Were you born on the Iowa reservation?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yes.

 

Suzette:  What was your date of birth?

 

Mr. Joslin:  4-8-27.

 

Suzette:  You are a tribal member of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Um, hum.

 

Suzette:  Did you go to high school in Hiawatha?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Just part way.  Then I quit school and went to the Navy.

 

Suzette:  Quit school and went to the Navy?  Did you enlist or did you get drafted?

 

Mr. Joslin:  I enlisted.

 

Suzette:  Did you enlist so you could join the Navy?

 

Mr. Joslin:  I guess. I joined the Navy, yeah.  Not the Naval Reserves, but the Navy.

 

Suzette:  What was your ship?

 

Mr. Joslin:  USS MAGOFFIN.

 

Suzette:  And you have a picture of that.

And this was what kind of a ship?

 

Mr. Joslin:  An attack transport.

 

Suzette:  What was your highest rank that you achieved?

 

Mr. Joslin: Seaman first class.

 

Suzette:  When you enlisted, did you go with friends to enlist?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yes.

 

Suzette:  Who did you go with?

 

Mr. Joslin:  I can’t think of his name now.  Yeah, I went to school with him.

 

Suzette:  Do you remember when you enlisted, what your service date was?  What year did you begin in the Navy?

 

Mr. Joslin:  1944.

 

Suzette:  And when did you get released from the Navy?

 

Mr. Joslin:  February of 1970.  I got out of the Navy; I didn’t join the Reserves.

 

Suzette:  Did you get in the National Guard or anything?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No.

 

Suzette:  How is that you didn’t get out until 1970?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, I was wrong on that.  I went in in ’44 and I was released three years and nine months later. 

 

Suzette:  OK.  In ’47?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  Well, I was thinking there might be a story there.   When you went with your friend, where did you go down to enlist, at Leavenworth?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Farragut, Idaho.

 

Suzette:  Farragut, Idaho.  And did you get to stay with your friend?

 

Mr. Joslin: No, we had to separate.  We separated at Fort Riley, Kansas.

 

Suzette:  Oh, you did?  You started at Fort Riley, and then went to Farragut?

 

Mr. Joslin:  They counted off, 1, 2, 3, 4,… All the 1s go to so and so, and all the 2s go to so and so, and that’s the way they took you.

 

Suzette:  That was sneaky.  Did you keep up with your friends when you were in the service then?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, I lost track.

 

Suzette:  So you went to Farragut, Idaho, and that was basic training?

 

Mr. Joslin:  For basic training, yes.

 

Suzette:  And from there, where did you go?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Right to the ship.

 

Suzette:  You went directly to the ship.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yep.

 

Suzette:  What were your duties on the ship?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Mine was the helmsman.

 

Suzette:  The helmsman?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Um, hum.

 

Suzette:  Could you tell us a little bit about what a helmsman would do?

 

Mr. Joslin:  He steers the ship.

 

Suzette:  Had you been trained to steer the ship?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, I got some training aboard ship.  Very little. 

 

Suzette:  You just jumped on, and….

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, there was people there to tell you what you were doing.  They kept a close eye on you.

 

Suzette:  You had hands on training.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah. 

 

Suzette:  And did you ship out of San Francisco or San Diego?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Seattle, Washington.

 

Suzette:  And where did you go from Seattle?

 

Mr. Joslin:  We ended up in Los Angeles, we loaded for the South Pacific.

 

Suzette:  You loaded troops, or tanks, or…?  What did you load for the South Pacific?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Soldiers and tanks, and all their equipment.

 

Suzette:  Your ship was fairly large then.

 

Mr. Joslin:  It was large.  I forget what the footage was right now.

 

Suzette:  How many people served on board the ship?

 

Mr. Joslin:  400.

 

Suzette:  That’s a big ship.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Pretty good sized ship.

 

Suzette:  How many helmsman were there?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Oh, there were a half a dozen.

 

Suzette:  And did you switch off duties?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.  Every two hours. 

 

Suzette:  OK.  You loaded everybody up, and where did you go?

 

Mr. Joslin:  We went to Okinawa, the invasion of Okinawa.

 

Suzette:  Did you unload troops there?  You’ve got a big ship, so did they have smaller ships that took the troops?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Smaller boats to take them ashore.

 

Suzette:  That you carried on your ship?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.  We carried the small boats.  They can land the tank in these small boats, or a truck, a good size truck.  It was a pretty good sized boat.

 

Suzette:  Wow!  It sounds like it.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, it was.

 

Peggy:  How did they get the tanks in the smaller boats?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Cranes.

 

Suzette:  That were on the ship?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Um, hum.  We had our own cranes right on the ship.

 

Suzette:  Now were you under fire when you were unloading the tanks from the ships?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, because the attack didn’t start until a couple days after we got there.

 

Suzette:  Did you unload the troops a couple of days after you got there?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, we took them ashore right away.  Yeah, that’s the first thing, except the operating crews.

 

Suzette:  So they actually participated in the invastion?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yes.

 

Suzette:  And then after the troops invade, you unload the tanks? Or you just waited a little bit to do that?

 

Mr. Joslin:  It took a couple of days to unload.

 

Suzette:  There were the Japanese.  Were there planes firing on you?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Constantly.

 

Suzette:  And were there kamikaze pilots around that were hitting ships around you?

 

Mr. Joslin: Yes, they was. 

 

Suzette:  Did your ship get hit by any fire?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, it didn’t.

 

Suzette:  How far out from the island did you stay?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Oh, probably, three or four miles. 

 

Suzette:  Do you remember how long it took to establish a beachhead?

 

Mr. Joslin:  See, we was automatically converted to a hospital ship after the invasion.  We brought the wounded back to our ship, the ones with no legs and no arms, we brought ‘em back to the ship.  We had converted our ship to a hospital ship, just overnight.  We had doctors aboard.

 

Suzette:  You had beds, and medical equipment also?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  The ship must have been massive to carry that.

 

Mr. Joslin:  It was.  It was a big one.

 

Suzette:  Were you involved at all in going out and picking up the wounded and bringing them back.  You were primarily….

 

Mr. Joslin:  I was a pilot in one of the smaller boats.  That was my job.

 

Suzette:  Were you piloting troops in during the invasion?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yes, and bringing wounded ones back.

 

Suzette:  You must have been under fire constantly.

 

Mr. Joslin:  We were, for eight days.  Eight days, yeah.

 

Suzette:  Were people being mowed down as soon as they got off the ship as they were trying to get up on the beach?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Some, some. 

 

Suzette:  How many troops?

 

Mr. Joslin:  1500 we could carry.

 

Suzette:  You could carry 1500?

 

Mr. Joslin:  1500, yeah.

 

Suzette:  On the big ship or the little boat?

 

Mr. Joslin:  The big ship.

 

Suzette:  Were these landing craft that could go right up on the beach?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  And then you brought the wounded back?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Um, hum.

 

Suzette:  How did you get the wounded off the boat and into your ship?

 

Mr. Joslin:  With a boom. 

 

Suzette:  That must have been difficult for you.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Oh, it was.  It wasn’t a pleasant thing.

 

Suzette:  Probably not.  And this went on for eight days?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Eight days.  I had my 18th birthday there.

 

Suzette:  You did?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  During the invasion?

 

Mr. Joslin:  April 8th.

 

Peggy:  You just had a birthday.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, I know I did.

 

Peggy:  You just had a big party.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, I did.

 

Suzette:  You had a different birthday for your 80th than for your 18th.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah!!

 

Suzette:  Did you ever worry about yourself as you were piloting the smaller boat in, picking up the wounded?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, you worry to a point, but then, there’s no point in worrying.  You either get there and back, or you don’t.  That was about the attitude most people had. 

 

Suzette:  Was there air support from our side as well as the ships shelling the island as well?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, they were.  But they had to be awful careful not to hit our own troops.  This has been a long time ago.

 

Suzette:  You’re doing really well, I think.  After you finished that and had taken the island, meanwhile, how many wounded did you have.  Do you remember?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, I don’t.

 

Suzette:  Where did you go from there?  What happened after you invaded Okinawa?

 

Mr. Joslin:  We come back to Pearl Harbor.

 

Suzette:  And you took the wounded back to Pearl Harbor?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  And they had facilities there?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, they did.

 

Suzette:  And from Pearl Harbor then, what did you do?

 

Mr. Joslin:  We went back to Wake Island.  Another little island.

 

Suzette:  And what did you do?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Just mopped up. Kinda mopped up things, as they called it.

 

Suzette:  And that means you landed troops to kind of clean up that island?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, cleaning up the mess everybody made.

 

Suzette:  Oh, so you were rebuilding the island there.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, like they put an airstrip on there.

 

Suzette: Did you pick up shells, armaments, and build houses and things?  To establish the base, is that what you were doing?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, not really.  We was there to, they just called it mop up.  That’s what they called it.

 

Suzette:  OK.  What else did you do at Wake Island?  How long did you stay?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Oh, I guess we were there a couple of weeks.  Some of this stuff is hard to remember.

 

Suzette:  After Wake Island, did you go back into action again?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, then the war ended, and we started hauling troops home.  See, we could convert that ship into hospital ship, or a troop ship, or whatever you wanted.  Just overnight it changed. 

 

Suzette:  I had no idea.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.  And then we acted as a hospital ship to bring all the wounded home.  Then we started carrying troops home too.  We made 12 trips.

 

Suzette:  You made 12 trips!

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, from Seattle and San Francisco and Los Angeles, all of ‘em, so we could take wounded.

 

Suzette:  You’re talking 12 trips of wounded.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.  Well, and troops.

 

Suzette:  Oh, a combination.  Were you picking up wounded from Pearl Harbor then, and taking them, or were you taking them from one facility?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, off the islands.

 

Suzette:  You were a helmsman, then, when you were transporting?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  Did you get to interact with the other people that you were transporting, the troops?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Oh, yeah.  I knew a few of ‘em.  But my saddest day was the day we headed out, the first trip, and that Golden Gate Bridge got smaller and smaller the farther we went.  Pretty soon you couldn’t see it.  That Golden Gate Bridge.  And I thought, what have I done?

 

Peggy:  How old were you then?

 

Mr. Joslin:  18 years old.  Well, I wasn’t 18, 17.  I was going to be 18 on my birthday.  April 8. 

 

Suzette:  What did your family think about you enlisting?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, I enlisted when I was 16, and tried to forge my mother’s signature, and it didn’t work! 

 

Suzette:  You got caught?

 

Mr. Joslin:  I got caught.

 

Suzette:  So they put you back to school?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No.  I had quit school.

 

Suzette:  So you came from a farming background.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yes.

 

Suzette:  Now did you help out on the farm?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Um, hum.

 

Suzette:  What kind of things were you raising?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Oh, cattle and mules.

 

Suzette:  Mules?!

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, we had mules and cattle.

 

Suzette:  At that time, were you using mules for plowing and farming.  Were you selling mules for that?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.  We opened a keg of powdered eggs that was processed right here in Hiawatha. 

 

Suzette:  So you were on the ship?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  That must have been fun.

 

Mr. Joslin:  A barrel of powdered eggs.

 

Suzette:  How interesting.  Did you feel homesick?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, I did, when I seen that name Hiawatha on it.

 

Suzette:  Did you meet other people from Brown County when you were in the Pacific?

 

Mr. Joslin:  I met one guy.  He’s Ted Simpson.  And he got killed.

 

Suzette:  Oh, he did?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  What was the food like?  I understand that the Navy ate rather well compared to the Army.  Is that true?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.  We always had good food.  Plenty of it. That was the main staple to take aboard ship when we hit port was food.  Cause that was a lot of people to feed.  We had walk-in coolers and they was filled.

 

Peggy:  They had 2000 men to feed.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  How many cooks did you have?  Probably 10 cooks?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Oh, probably more than that.  I don’t know how many there were.

 

Suzette:  Did you form any friendships that you maintained after the war?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Not really.  Everybody went their own direction, you know, when they got out, in a hurry to get home.

 

Suzette:  But going right into the invasion, coming from a farm environment and going straight into an invasion, must have been quite a shock to you.

 

Mr. Joslin:  It was.  It was quite a shock.  It was just about all you could handle. 

 

Suzette:  Do you have any particular memories or stories of your military experience that you’d like to share?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, this one guy, I got to know him pretty well.  And he didn’t have no feet left when we brought him back.  That was the one, but I can’t remember his name right now.  But that was the experience I had.  He didn’t have no feet.

 

Suzette:   How did he feel about that?  Did he talk to you about it?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Oh, yeah, he talked about it.    Then I was waiting to get discharged, and we had liberty, you know where you can go out.  And I came in about midnight, and here was all these arms and legs hanging on the foot of the bed, artificial ones!  Arms and legs…

 

Suzette:  On your bed?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, they was fitting them with artificial arms and artificial legs.  That was my worst experience, I guess. 

 

Peggy:  That would be a shock.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, it was.

 

Peggy:  And this was on board the ship?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yes.  Well, no, this was when I was about ready to get out of the Navy.

 

Peggy:  This is like in a barracks?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, it was.  In the barracks.

 

Suzette:  My question is, that people that were wounded like that, did they talk about that?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, really,  the active ones didn’t have time.  We was busy all the time.  If it wasn’t something, it was scraping the side of the ship, repainting it.

 

Suzette:  And you had to do that pretty often?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, we did, the salt water.

 

Suzette:  Caused rust, and…

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  So you were a helmsman for two hours, and then you went and painted and scraped?  And then you came back and were a helmsman again?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, we had it pretty easy, though, really.  You got to sleep in and it was a pretty good job.

 

Suzette:  And did you keep that job?  Were you able to have any say in what you did?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, I volunteered for it.  I did.

 

Suzette:  Now when you were in port, did you tell me that your captain had not had any prior sea experience?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Very little, yeah, very little.  He didn’t have all that much.

 

Suzette:  Was their un-docking at San Francisco because he had never done that?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, it was.

 

Suzette:  Do you remember exactly?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, not really.  It’s been too long.

 

Suzette:  Did you indicate to me also that not only was the captain inexperienced in commanding a ship to dock.  Did he actually get seasick?

 

Mr. Joslin:  I got seasick. 

 

Suzette:  Oh, you got seasick.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, I did.  I was really sick.  It lasted for two or three days.  Then I got over it and went on about your business.

 

Suzette:  Did you cross the equator when you were out in the Pacific?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, yeah I did.

 

Suzette:  Did you get initiated?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yep.

 

Suzette:  What did they do to you?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Oh, it’s un-tellable really!

 

Suzette:  I thought they sprayed you with water, somebody told me.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Oh, they pulled all kinds of tricks on you. 

 

Suzette:  And I think in the old days they used to steel haul you underneath the stairs.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, they had to quit that.  They were losing too many men.

 

Suzette:  When you got out of the service, did you know what you were going to do?  Did you decide to come home then?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, I took up a trade in the Navy, metalsmith.

 

Suzette:  A metalsmith?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  What does that involve?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, anything out of metal, working with metal.  I followed that after I got out.

 

Suzette:  So your training that you received in the Navy helped you to get employment in the business afterwards.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Oh, yeah, yeah, it did.

 

Suzette:  And did you ever use any of the GI Bill?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Just to buy a house.

 

Suzette:  You used the GI loan to buy a house.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  You already had your trade.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  Do you take advantage of any of the medical benefits today?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, I don’t.  But I’m about ready to get started.

 

Suzette:  To get some medicine from the Veterans’ Administration?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, because I’ve been in pretty bad health the last five years.  I had open heart surgery, carotid artery, and I had a rupture.

 

Peggy:  My goodness, you look well for all of that!

 

Suzette:  Yeah!

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, it’s just been the last five years.

 

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

 

Mr. Joslin:  Just the one that’s in the picture here.  One star.  One star was for one invasion.

I’ve got a shell out of this one back here, and it’s five inches in diameter.  I made an ashtray out of it.

 

Suzette:  Do you have any specific, we ask some people on there way back, you made 12 trips bringing people back.  What are some of your memories for people, happy to come back?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, might near everybody you talked to was happy.  Not the ship’s crew, but….the troops, yeah.  Jolly bunch of people. 

 

Suzette:  When they dropped the bomb for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, prior to that, had you been prepared to go to invade Japan?  Had the troops been massing to do that?

 

Mr. Joslin:  1700 ships was out there!

 

Suzette:  Getting ready to invade.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Peggy:  1700 ships, were they all lined up?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, no, you couldn’t see that many.

 

Suzette:  Were you thankful that Japan finally surrendered?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, yeah.  We were 600 miles north of Honolulu when they dropped it. 

 

Suzette:  Of course, nobody knew that they were going to do that.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Nobody.  Nobody knew that they were going to do that.  They just warned them to lay down their arms or suffer the consequences.  That was the orders they had.

 

Suzette:  Now did you see other ships that were hit or anything like that?

 

Mr. Joslin:  I seen one that went down.  We were about a quarter mile from it.

 

Suzette:  Now were there survivors?  Did you help pick them up?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Oh, yeah.  We picked a whole bunch of ‘em out of the water. 

 

Suzette:  That was really something.  Do you have any other stories that you care to share with us?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Oh, that’s about it, I believe.

 

Suzette:  You think that’s about it.  When you came back, did you get treated like a war hero?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, no, not really.  Because people put up signs in San Diego that said, “Sailors and dogs, keep off the grass!”

 

Suzette:  They did?!!

 

Mr. Joslin:  That was a sign I seen in San Diego.

 

Peggy:  That wasn’t a very warm welcome.

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, it wasn’t.

 

Suzette:  Where did you get out?  Did you get out in San Diego?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yes, no, Mare Island, San Francisco.  That’s where I got discharged from.

 

Suzette:  So you decided to come back to Brown County.

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, I stayed in California for 14 years.

 

Suzette:  I knew it!! You’d seen that larger world and you wanted to experience it?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, that’s what happened.

 

Suzette:  So what did you do in California?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Sheet metal work.

 

Suzette:  From the metalwork you learned in the Navy.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Where were you living when you were in California?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Bakersfield.  That was my granddaughter and grandson that were here Sunday.

 

Suzette:  From Bakersfield?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  They came a long way for your birthday, didn’t they?

 

Mr. Joslin:  They sure did.  And my daughter from Florida came.

 

Suzette:  Wow!  You’re a pretty important guy!

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, I guess they think so.

 

Suzette:  So tell me, how did you meet your wife?

 

Mr. Joslin:  My first or second?

 

Suzette:  The one right after World War II.  Did you meet her during the war?

 

Mr. Joslin: Yes.  And when it was over, we lived in California.  We just stayed there.

 

Suzette:  You just stayed there in California.

 

Mr. Joslin:  And she’s number two!!  And I met her in a bar!

 

Suzette:  In California?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, in Iowa.

 

Suzette:  What were you doing in Iowa?

 

Mr. Joslin:  I was _____.

 

Suzette:  OK.  So you were in California, and then what did you do?

 

Mr. Joslin:  I came here for a couple of years, and then I went to Iowa.

 

Suzette:  What made you decide to come back to the Midwest?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Oh, I don’t know, it was home, I guess.

 

Suzette:  Had you ever intended to come back and live here and raise cattle?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No.

 

Suzette:  You were wanting to do something else?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  When you came back, how important was the Veterans’ organizations?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, it was all right at the time.  But I used it. 

 

Suzette:  So you joined the American Legion?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, I belong to the American Legion now.

 

Suzette:  And you belong now?

 

Mr. Joslin:  And the VFW.

 

Suzette:  And is it important to you to be with other people that had experienced the war?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, it’s not talked about much anymore.

 

Suzette:  Did you use to talk about it earlier?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Earlier, yeah.  You’d try to tell some stories about it, but anymore, people don’t talk about it.  Because there aren’t that many left.  All the World War II veterans are about gone.

 

Suzette:  Did you see “Flags of our Fathers”?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, I haven’t seen it.

 

Suzette:  That one’s not as bad as “Saving Private Ryan.”  I can understand that.

 

So did you have bonding as part of the American Legion and the VFW in terms of like a social gathering as well as having a common experience?

 

Mr. Joslin:  To be honest with you, I’m not active.  I picked up very little.  I know they’re good books, good magazines, and I read them cover to cover, but…but I don’t participate in them.

 

Suzette:  Do you take part in the tribal Honor Guard…when a veteran dies, do you have any graveside honors for them?

 

Mr. Joslin:  I did when we first moved back down here.  I used to go out and set up the flags on Memorial Day.

 

Suzette:  At Hiawatha?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.  Out at the cemeteries.

 

Suzette:  Did you belong to the Iowa Tribal Honor Guard?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No.  No I didn’t.

 

Suzette:  But that’s an important thing the Legion does, is to help with the flags.

 

Mr. Joslin:  I know I should have been more active, I was busy raising a family.

 

Suzette:  Well, that’s right you are.  I want to thank you very much for speaking with us today.  Do you have anything else you’d like to add, please do so.

 

Mr. Joslin:  That about covers it all.

 

Suzette:  That covers it?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yes.

 

Suzette:  OK.  Thank you very much.

 

Mr. Joslin:  OK. You’re welcome.

 

(Tape stops, then starts again)

 

Mrs. Joslin:  He has three or four brothers that were already in the service, and you felt left out.  So you wanted to join.

 

Suzette:  That’s why you forged your mother’s name when you were 16!!

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah!

 

Suzette:  So your four brothers were in the Navy?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, one other one in the Navy and three in the Army.  There was five of us in there all at one time.

 

Suzette:  That’s quite a sacrifice your mom made.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Mrs. Joslin:  …your mother’s stars.

 

Suzette:  OK tell us about this.

 

Mrs. Joslin:  She had all those little flags with little stars. 

 

Suzette:  Oh, you got different colored stars, didn’t you?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Mrs. Joslin:  I think the flags were different for different branches of the service.  Two Navy and three Army.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Three Army, uh, huh.

 

Suzette:  And did all your brothers come back?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yes.  We all come back.

 

Suzette:  Did you get to write to them while you on board ship?

 

Mr. Joslin:  I was too busy.  I met my one brother, that was in the Navy, in Honolulu.

 

Mrs. Joslin:  He was in the same port at the same time as Bill.

 

Suzette:  And how did they know they were in the same port at the same time?  That’s what I don’t…

 

Mr. Joslin:  We had a list of ships that’s in every port.

 

Suzette:  Oh, so you just looked at the list of ships, and then got together with your brother.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, then, I knew his ship too.  It was a hospital ship.  It was a permanent hospital ship; ours was a temporary one.

 

Suzette:  This is incredible to me that you could carry that kind of equipment, for one function and then another.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  And did you help tear down things and then build again, or was that somebody else’s job?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Oh, that was the other people’s jobs.  Mine was steering the ship.

 

Suzette:  That sounds more interesting to me! Now, steering the ship, did you work with the navigators to do that?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, we had a compass.

 

Suzette:  You had a compass?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.  You had to watch it, a gyrocompass.  You know, stay on a certain course, or a zigzag course.

 

Suzette:  So you were given like 20 degrees, or like that?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Um, hum.

 

Suzette:  And did you have sea charts, navigation charts at all?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, you didn’t have to look at ‘em.  You was told what to follow.  What course you wanted to follow.

 

Suzette:  This is so interesting!  We learn something new every single minute.

 

Mr. Joslin: One other thing I didn’t tell you about was, I told you about these big walk-in coolers.  Well, we brought men back in them.

 

Suzette:  Oh, you did?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yes. Dead soldiers and sailors, we brought ‘em back.  Kept ‘em cold.

 

Suzette:  They were in body bags or coffins?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  That would be hard to do that in the tropic parts.

 

Mr. Joslin:  It was.  But you had to do something.

 

Suzette:  Did they bury any American servicemen?  On the islands?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, in Hawaii.  We brought most of ‘em back to Hawaii.

 

Suzette:  Oh, they were buried in Hawaii?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, the ones that didn’t get to come home; some of ‘em got home.

 

Suzette:  Some of them you just brought back to the States?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, we didn’t.  Somebody else did.

 

Suzette:  So how many of those big coolers did you have?

 

Mr. Joslin:  There was about four the size of this room.  Walk-in coolers, we called ‘em.  We had to…

 

Suzette:  You saw Pearl Harbor then.  You were going in and out of Pearl Harbor.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, lots of times.

 

Suzette:  So you got see where the ships had sunk and there was probably more debris than there is now.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

Suzette:  Was that sobering to you, when you went into Pearl Harbor or not?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, it was.  Because you know all them sailors were down at the bottom of the sea.  You know, all of them that didn’t make it.  Yeah, it was kind of nerve wracking. 

 

Suzette:  Anything else?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, I think that about covers it.

 

(Tape stops, then starts again)

 

Mr. Joslin:  …lookouts, up in these here towers.

 

Suzette:  In the towers, you had lookouts?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Um, hum.  All the time, this was a lonely one up here.

 

Suzette:  He was by himself; the others had more than one?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, there was about seven lookouts all the time.

 

Suzette:  It looks like you had guns in the front, and in the back.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, that was an attack transport.  In these boats, see here.  These are the ones we put in the water.

 

Peggy:  Those are big enough to carry passengers.

(Discussion by all there of the pictures they are looking at)

 

Mrs. Joslin:  Oh, I know what you didn’t tell her about. About how close your bunk was above you, the hammock.

 

Mr. Joslin:  About 18 inches.

 

Mrs. Joslin:  Between the hammocks that they slept in.

 

Suzette:  You slept in a hammock?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, no we had stationary beds aboard ship.  That hammock was in boot camp only.  18 inches is not very much.

 

Suzette:  Did you get claustrophobic?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No!

 

Peggy:  My brother was in the Navy and he said they would wash the uniforms and then fold them up and put them under their bunks.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, to kind of press them out.

 

Mrs. Joslin:  Somewhere in all of this, you went in a submarine.  And he said, “Naw, that ain’t for me.”

 

Mr. Joslin: Yeah, they were pickin’ little people, and I was little!!

 

Peggy:  He hadn’t grown up yet!

 

Mr. Joslin:  And they was wantin’ a small crew cause them subs aren’t very big.  And I couldn’t handle it.

 

Suzette:  Well, I’ll bet that bunk was tough for you.  So did you have to go in a submarine and spend like a day and a night or something?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, we did.  We took a dive, and all that, and a lot of sick people come off of there.

 

Suzette:  Were you sick?

 

Mr. Joslin:  No, I was worse than sick; I was scared to death!!  All that water over the top of you!  It wasn’t a very good experience.

 

Mrs. Joslin:  I wouldn’t even get on.  They’d just have to lock me up or whatever! 

 

Mr. Joslin:  They picked all the little guys.

 

Suzette:  Were there other jobs they picked little guys for?

 

Mr. Joslin:  There was one, the helmsman.

 

Suzette:  You were a little guy for the helmsman?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Oh, I was about the size I am now.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Are you out of juice there?  I didn’t tell you about the guns.  A 20 millimeter is the one I fired.

 

Suzette:  Oh you shot a 20 millimeter gun?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, at airplanes.

 

Suzette:  Oh, you did?

 

Mr. Joslin:  I forgot to tell you that.

 

Suzette:  Was this located on the side of the ship or on the front, or in the back?

 

Mr. Joslin:  All over the ship.  Guns all over.

 

Suzette:  And was everybody trained to be able to shoot anti-aircraft guns?

 

Mr. Joslin:  You had certain ones to go to.  In General Quarters.

 

Suzette:  You just went to one.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah, you just automatically showed up there.

 

Suzette:  And you go to General Quarters when you are under attack?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah. Or are going to be under attack.

 

Suzette:  So it sounds to me like people were chasing and running all over, did that happen frequently?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yes.

 

Suzette:  Were you aware of shooting any planes down?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Well, personally I can’t say that I actually shot one down.  But I know we shot at a lot of ‘em.

 

Suzette:  Scared ‘em off.  Ok.  Thank you very much.

 

(Tape stops, then starts again)

 

Suzette:  One thing I did forget to ask you, Bill, do you take advantage, does the Iowa tribe help you with your medical?  Do they help you with your medical?  What kind of benefits?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yes, indeed.  They furnish all the medicine.

 

Suzette:  And you go there for your doctor?

 

Mr. Joslin:  Practitioner. 

 

Suzette:  You haven’t used the VA and the benefits available there because you are an Iowa Tribal member and the tribe is assisting you.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yes.

 

Suzette:  What kind of benefits do you get from being an Iowa tribal person?

 

Mr. Joslin:  money wise, you mean?

 

Suzette:  No, they take care of your medicine.

 

Mr. Joslin:  Yeah.

 

(Discussion of a neurologist in St. Joe, but I can’t hear it very clearly)

 

Mr. Joslin:  She’s good on the right medicine.

 

Mrs. Joslin:  But the tribal pharmacy provides his medicine…

 

Suzette:  And they have been of assistance to you?

 

Mrs. Joslin:  Oh, yes.

 

Suzette:  Are you going to miss that when you move to Iowa?

 

Mrs. Joslin:  Oh, yes.

 

Suzette:  you’ll have to go to the VA then!

 

Mrs. Joslin:  That has been suggested to him.  I think there is a hospital 30 miles from where we are going.

 

Suzette:  So you’ll be shifting over to a veterans’ benefits then, because you will be out of reach of your tribe.

 

Mrs. Joslin:  They said that he could continue…but we don’t know if they have health benefits.  If they have health benefits, they will provide his medication.

 

(More discussion by Mrs. Joslin, but she’s too far away from the mike to be heard clearly.  They are discussing health benefits.)

 



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.