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|Interview with Mr.
December 7, 2002
This oral history interview of Ellwood Hendricks is taking place December 7, 2002 at the Student Center of Monmouth University in West Long Branch New Jersey. The interview is for the Veterans History Project for Hs 298 01 at Monmouth University. I am Joe Sicignano I'm a student at Monmouth University and I will be conducting this interview.
Q: Were you drafted or did you enlist?
Q: Why did you enlist?
A: Well I thought it was my job to go.
Q: Why did you choose the Navy?
A: I always liked the water. I used to have a sailboat when I was young and I figured that's what I should do. I wasn't too interested in carrying a gun and marching. That's why I joined the Navy.
Q: did they send you to boot camp?
A: I went to Great Lakes down near Chicago. Walkigan or what ever the name of that little town is.
Q: Tell me about your experience there.
A: Well it was learning different things for seamanship. Knot tying and it was a lot of good things. And ship board things you would run into there. We did marching and so forth. Actually it was very interesting really I learned a lot.
Q: Tell me about what you were feeling right before you shipped off from Great Lakes.
A: well they gave us a slight leave, five or six days. and than you reported back to Great Lakes to get assignment. The assignment I got was to go to the Philadelphia Navy yard and pick up a ship. We were there for a month or two in the barracks waiting for the ship to get ready. I was assigned to like armed guard we'd ride in a Coca-cola truck with the guy delivering what ever they were delivering. That was interesting.
Q: Lets back track. Where did you
A: I grew up in Red Bank, Middletown really. At that time it was pretty nice. I went to a little school there, River Plaza School. I graduated to go to Middletown high school and we had five kids in the graduating class three boys and two girls.
Q: What extra-circular activities were you involved with in high school?
A: I played a little football, mostly intramural, I wasn't the athletic type really . I enjoyed high school it was very interesting.
Q: What did you do for fun outside of school?
A: Well, I had a sailboat that I used in the summer and an iceboat for the winter. I did a lot of fishing, I love fishing, and hunting too at that time. I was an age when I could. It was out in the country there and it was real interesting. I had a good time, we really enjoyed things, you know, camping different things.
Q: Describe your home life. Do you have any brothers or sisters?
A: I have one brother, he's out in Arizona now. He's a little younger than me. And my mother and father they passed away oh maybe about fifteen twenty years ago. I had a pretty good life we weren't rich. My mother, when the war broke out, she took a job in the Eisner Plant making military uniforms. My father was a plumber he had a plumbing business. We did ok we enjoyed it.
Q: How was growing up during the Depression?
A: I tell you, you could learn to eat liver, and I love liver. My wife doesn't want to touch it, in fact I told her this morning I said "you know I'm going to cook some liver tonight liver and onions". There's a lot of other things that you ate in those days that people wouldn't think about today.
Q: Do you have any vivid memories you want to share?
A: Well, you know, my brother and I lived in the country the fella down the street owned a barn. He said to my father "Do you think your boys would like an old Model T Ford?" He said sure. My father was pretty smart on cars you know. We go down and get this Model T Ford it had a brass radiator, I think it was a 1918 or something like that. It had white wall tires on it and its been laying there for about ten years so we pumped them up. We got it home and got it running. We ran it around and we'd have half a dozen kids on this thing. There was a couple of fields around. Ah, we had more darn fun with that. So finally the tires were so dry rot that we got ride of them. We used to run around on the rims. I remember one time we finally took the body off and my father built the big wooden platform so we could get a lot of kids on there. So I'm riding on the back one time and I fell off and the wheel, you know the Model T was light, ran right over me didn't even bother me. So I get up and go back on there (says laughing). We had a lot of fun with that darn thing.
Q: What do you remember about the war prior to your involvement, prior to Pearl Harbor even?
A: Well, I really didn't, when I first heard it was unbelievable really, but than as things progressed I thought it did look tough. Things looked bad because the army still had the old type helmets and the WWI riffles, but its surprising how fast the United States recovered and started to build this stuff. They were building ships one a day you know.
Q: Did you know anything about Hitler and Mussolini?
A: I heard about them but I really didn't pay to much attention. I had a friend, he enlisted in the Coast Guard. This is kind of interesting. They sent him out to Pittsburgh, and he thought at the time "What the heck going to Pittsburgh for". They built LST's in Pittsburgh and he said they in the Montahela River down to Ohio. He said we got the ship, we took it down to Ohio, down to Mississippi, down through the Panama Canal to the Pacific. He said that was the nicest trip you took. The whole Mississippi that was really nice. He just past away a couple weeks ago.
Q: Did you know anything about Japan's actions in the Pacific before the war?
A: Oh yea, Manchuria and all that. I do remember that and it was bad. Of course they sunk the Panni or what ever it was. I had a friend who was in the Navy Frank Webb, he lived in Philadelphia, and he and been in the Navy back in 1936-37 he was on the Panni. He was telling me, this was great, at that time we got I don't know it wasn't too much money maybe 17 or 18 dollars a month. He said nobody on that ship did anything. We paid those guys three bucks a month. They did all our ironing, stood all our watches on the ship. He said that was really, really great.
Q: Do you remember what you were doing when you first heard about Pearl Harbor?
A: Yea, I was sitting on they porch with my wife at that time. We were just sitting out there and somebody came along in a car, a friend of mine, he said "They just bombed Pearl Harbor". You get thinking where's Pearl Harbor (says laughing)? Then you realize. After that you found out what the story is. They didn't have TV then but when you went to the movies they had the Movie Town News I think it was, and you saw pictures and in the newspapers.
Q: How did you feel when heard the news?
A: As I said before, I couldn't hardly believe it but than you figure these Japanese what they were doing in China and Manchuria that it could happen.
Q: Do you know if you r friends felt similar to you?
A: Well most of them started to join up right away. Either join up or they were already drafted. You know they were drafting in either 1940, yea had to be 40. I had two or three friends who were in the National Guard in Red Bank. At that time they had horses, these guys were field artillery, the 112th field artillery. They had horses and these caseins. I remember that every Monday night was their drill down in the armory, which was big in Red Bank. I'd go down there once in a while when I was a kid, and they'd have all the horses in there you know. And they'd be riding around. I don't know what they were doing of course all those guys got called to service early you know 1940's. A lot of them hung around to 45 when the war was over. At that time they decided right away, forget the horses I think it became the 45th armored division they got tanks and so forth.
Q: Did your brother have any involvement in the war?
A: Yea, he got drafted. And I forget they sent him first somewhere in North Carolina, Goldsbourgh I think it was. And he was down there for training. And the next thing you knew his friend says to him "They want volunteers, lets volunteer to be cooks" (says laughing). They sent him to Atlantic City to one of the Hotels. He went to cooking and baking school down there. Soon as he got out of there, the war was going on, and they shipped him to England. He was in the officers' mess as a cook. He stayed over there for about three years. This was the Air Force. He was telling me that it wasn't too bad. He said that he had a bike and that he used to have a bike. He would ride his bike to the pub and drink their warm beer, cause they drank it warm over there. Now that's all changed cause I've been over to England a number of times and it's all cool now. I guess they smartened up somehow. Then he said once they had D-Day the officers would have him take a well DC3, but a C47 at that time. Fly to France and get a plane full of wine and bring it back for the officers club (says laughing). Then he said he had friends, English friends. What he would do, being that he was a cook and it was pretty tough to get food, what he would do like if he had a piece of roast beef or something, he would tape it to his leg. He would tape it to his leg and go there and the people that they knew there would cook it. He said they always said that they cook a nice roast beef they always put a pan underneath and what they called "drippins", the juice from the meat, he said that was great. That one of their main meals over there roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Every time I went over there I always get that at least one meal.
Q: Describe your feelings as you were awaiting assignment after boot camp.
A: Well, I was really anxious. I wanted to get on a ship. Lets get to war, let's see what we can do. Finally I got into the war. I was down in Philadelphia, I got on this ship and they said well, we were going to go down on a shack down cruise, well at least that was the rumors, for four or five days. I call my wife and I tell "We're going for four five days we'll be back". I didn't come back for two and one half years (says laughing). We went down to Delaware Bay, and the anchor, they didn't fasten the chain, the anchor was down in there. Finally, we were over in Tunisia, or somewhere maybe Sicily, they brought the anchor to us they finally realized it was there. They pulled it up and brought it back to the ship. That was strange, anyway, we left there and we went up the coast to New York. We got into a convoy and when we got part way out there I figure we were going to England or something. Well, when we got half way out there a lot of ships went that way and we went that (motioning left and right). I said, "I wonder where in the heck we're going?" We went to North Africa.
Q: What kind of ship were you on?
A: Well at that time I was on a salt repair ship. All the way over the German submarines they had alerts and they were dropping the "ash cans." They never got any body in our convoy, but the other way I think that they lost some people going towards England.
Q: What was the name of you r ship?
A: I was on the USS Delta it was real interesting. We had good food there, when you figure I have to make a thousand your not going to get like you can if you go to a restaurant. It worked out pretty good. You got all you wanted, well once in a while, when you were getting ready for an invasion, they'd bring over ammunition instead of food so you were eating C-ration and stuff like that. There was one C-ration I always loved it. It was corned beef hash, it was in a big can, and corned beef hash was great I loved that. But we never got to a point where we didn't have any food. We always had oranges and stuff like that.
Q: How many ships were you on total?
A: I was on a destroyer there for a while. One good thing about a destroyer is you don't want to get seasick, cause that thing would dip down. I was what they call top watch it was like first class or something in one of the engine rooms. What you got to do when there taking off they have pumps, to keep the water from pulling up. Once you get to five knots you shut that off and open up the scoffers. They don't use pumps after that cause they have a little thing underneath there it sticks out like a funnel, and once you get five speeds the water will push up and you get all your water. When I got on this other ship I worked on evaporators and ice machines. You know what they used refrigeration, they'd take the saltwater take the brine out and use bring. They used brine instead of the what do they call that, I can't remember. The brine is what they used for refrigeration on the ships. They'd take the brine out and that's fresh water and you'd have fresh water for the ship.
Q: Were you on any other ships?
Q: What was the name of the destroyer?
A: Carney, but I wasn't on there to long. But you know something about them old destroyers? The ship would be sitting there the guy would say full speed ahead, that'd snap your neck. They could take off (Interviewer laughing). You could go from nothing to forty knots.
Q: What was the top speed?
A: about forty knots. The best seamanship I'd ever seen was after the Italians gave up they had some ships and they still had some Italian crews that were kind of friendly. This captain came in, I was Naples, this guy came tearing in there on this destroyer and backed in there like you were parking a car in a lot. That guy you talk about seamanship, this guy it was surprising, it was a big ship a cruiser. I can still remember here this guy came in there then he backed right in there like you were parking a car.
Q: do you have any experiences with any officers?
A: No, not really. It was a little different segregation at that time, I think it's probably changed a little bit know. You know they had, in the ship, they had what they call "officers country". You didn't go up there unless you were called up there they had there own mess.
Q: Describe some of your shipmates for me.
A: I had a lot of good friends. One guy I lost him after the war. He lived out in Tulsa Oklahoma. We were corresponding back and forth, the first thing you know I couldn't find him. Back in about 1990 I joined the ship association and his name was on there. I figure I'm going to write a letter to him. I get a letter from his wife saying he died in 1988 couple years before that real nice guy. I had another guy Frenchmen he lived up in Mass. I correspond with the guy JG a division officer, he's probably dead by now he was probably about ninety. He lived down around Philadelphia we would correspond I called him on the phone a couple times. Another guy a good friend of mine, Bill Whall he was on the Vestal. The Arizona was here and the Vestal was along side of it. They sank the Arizona but the Vestal was able to get away. He was there during Pearl Harbor. What happened was, I didn't know that the fleet tug, you know one of these big tugs that if something breaks down they tow it in. He comes inside and asks for a transfer because the Vestal was an old repair ship he was kind of smart on that stuff. So finally he got a guy from our ship to transfer from him so he came on our ship. Last time I heard he was living out on the south side of Phoenix Arizona, he's probably dead by now. Everybody but me is dead (he says laughing). Not many of them left. I couldn't find that guy I was telling you about, the one that crawled under the jeep Junior Miles. Well we had a thirty-day leave when we came back from the Mediterranean. Of course he and I went together. My wife and I came together down to somewhere down outside of Washington DC, and met him and stayed over night with him. I've been trying to find him his name wasn't on the list. I tried to look him up through the phone books down that way, never could find him, nice guy. He's the guy that got the Purple Heart (he says laughing), in kind of a crazy way to get it.
Q: You should tell that story.
A: Yea, this was just before the Sicilian invasion, and a lot of German planes were coming over and they were dropping bombs. I have a picture home it must have been a million, I say exaggerating, tracers going up there, and that's only every third bullet. They would drop star shells it would light everything up just like day. Right beside us was this little tanker, I don't know how they even got it over from the United States it was little only one hundred fifty footer. They hit that thing and the next time I looked out, smooth water nothing. And than we had an LCI along side us they sunk that too. Some of our guys we had a couple of LCV's in the water and went over and rescued some of the guys from the ship. But from that tanker nobody got off of that, cause that must have been filled with gasoline or something. Getting back to this guy Junior Miles, Norman Miles. He was observer and he was topside and like I say the shrapnel was coming down cause all these guns and that stuffs all falling back. He decides there's a jeep on topside. He decides to slide underneath it, but he didn't quite make it. he only got half way and he got three pieces of shrapnel right in his behind. He got a Purple Heart for that it was really funny.
Q: How long was he on board after that?
A: Oh he stayed there. he just go the shrapnel like I said that was Sicily and he stayed in the ship until we came back in 45, when we had a thirty-day leave. Of course we went back to the ship. Norfolk is where we landed and we went on a thirty-day leave. And then I meet him back there. Then we went down through the Panama Canal and then to Honolulu or Pearl Harbor. We stayed there for a while. Then they decided they were going to invade Japan. We go down to Marshal Islands and the whole task force is there and that's when they dropped the atom bomb. Then they decided ok all the ships were going up to Tokyo Bay. I never saw I've been going on the computer to see how many ships were there. you could probably walk from ship to ship if they were close, but there were thousands of ships there as far as you could see any way you looked. We were lucky enough to be, well I'd say, probably 300 yards form the Missouri. I was able to see with binoculars, of course we had to pass them around so I didn't get to see everything, I did see Macarthur and the Japanese in there long swallow tailcoats and high hats. They came aboard the Missouri and they were there and they had tables long tables out on the deck there, as I say I didn't see everything because we passed them around. But I did see them of course was some British Admirals and Russians it was quite interesting. It looked like a thousand, two thousand people topside there watching the ceremonies. I did see that that was in September, as I got on that hat over there (points to a black hat sitting on the table next to him which reads Tokyo Bay September 2, 1945). We were up there, nothing was going on then, I was in Yokusuka, the day before we came back to the United States, you see the way at that time for every month that you were at sea you got so many points, than you got so many points for how old you are, than you got so many points for I don't know. Well it worked out that the ship had a thousand people on it there were forty guys who were off, I was one of the first ones off. I was lucky I had a lot of points because I was overseas for so darn long. Every month you were overseas you points. The day before we came back we got to go up to Tokyo, and Tokyo was devastated. See this table? You could look at parts of Tokyo smooth as this. You know the only thing you could see, like down in the main part, evidently they used a lot of wood in their buildings and of course this was wiped out with incendiaries. What you could see there would be a house here or store and the only thing you could see was safe. The safes are to heavy to move, you'd see a safe here and a safe there you know they weren't open yet but I don't know whether they could open them that was the only thing you could see. Then there were other areas that wasn't hurt to bad.
Q: As far as you r shipboard life, describe what you did recreationally.
A: Well they had boxing matches. We had this guy we called him Skie he was a Polish guy a big guy, nice guy, and he hated this great big guy that was seamen or something. Boy you talk about a fight they were fighting. These two guys didn't like each other and boy that was some fight (says laughing). They had that and they had movies just about every night. You'd go up topside and once in a while you'd have a group come aboard. We had people that you wouldn't know. There was a guy by the name of Bruce something he was a movie star. He was a lieutenant or something in the army. He came over and they had Francis Langford. I think she sang with Tommy Dorse and she came aboard. Once in a while they'd have a USO group come over and entertain. Then when we did get to Honolulu they brought over a lot of Hawaiian girls hula dancers you know they did their little dance.
Q: What was that like?
A: That was pretty good you know (says with a laugh). They got these girls and they had the grass skirts on it was pretty interesting.
Q: What about leave what did you do on leave?
A: We'd go a shore and get drunk or something like that you know (says laughing). I saw a lot of things you know, I went to Pompeii, I went to the catacombs. Did you ever here of the catacombs (interviewer: absolutely)? This one catacomb where was I. I guess Palermo Sicily its all down in the under ground in this one room all these priests are hung up there, the skeletons, and they had the hat on or the miter and robes on but it's the skeleton. And they had different things they had a little baby that was born in 1910, that was in a glass case, and they evidently embalmed her and that kid looked like it was still alive. Who ever embalmed this person worked out pretty good but others that didn't work out to well, you know they were half gone. That was interesting. Monreal I think its outside Palermo had the most beautiful church they had the painted ceilings, I don't know how he got up there but he laid there and painted it. this guy said lets go up to Monreal. We found a guy that had a horse and carriage and he took us up there. This is a little old town, but it's a beautiful church. So here's this guy who's got a board out in front of this barrel. It was a wooden barrel about as high as that (says pointing to the door), and it had a big spicket on it. He draws out white wine about this big (making his hands represent a glass about a foot and a half tall) big thing like that and said ten lyre, which is about ten cents. That's all this guy did. If any body came and wanted wine he opened up spicket. To me the glass was about that big for ten cents. We would go swimming. One time this guy was with me in the Mediterranean and he says something is feeling around my leg what's going on and he pulls it up and there's a small octopus had around the leg. It didn't hurt him he just pushed it off. That was kind of strange too, but the water was clear over there very clear. Of course when you get around Naples and all they through all that crap in there. You know what you find a lot, oranges half oranges they'd be floating around and junk like that. Most of the places were pretty nice. At that time they take and have, I don't remember what they called it, some kind of a party. And we'd go on the beach some of the guys they'd give us two bottles of beer each, and we go over there and have our beer and play softball and what ever. Then we found an old airboat. Did you ever here of an air boat? Its like pontoons and a big propeller up there. What it was, was an old Volks Wagon motor on it and we used to ride that thing around with the big blades up there, you had to be careful stay away from those blades because it didn't even have a cover on it. But it was full of things like that just kidding around. It wasn't to bad, not considering what some other guys had to go through you know.
Q: Tell me about your first experience.
A: Well the first time that was on landing crafts, bringing the soldiers ashore. That was pretty good you know hitting the beach was pretty good but than the Germans open up. That's when you see guys dropping. That's when I say you see your first guy that's blown apart, that's too much, that's where you through up.
Q: How did combat go after that?
A: Oh, you get used to it. We'd say we're going to make another invasion great you think its going to be fun, and it is kind of fun because your anticipating this is going to help kill some body or something you know. At that time you didn't think to much of it. you had to have fun with it if you thought about it, you know what the hell am I doing here. You get used to after a while. Once they made an invasion some of these guys would have half a dozen pistols around their waists. Oh man, they thought nothing of killing anybody, once you kill a person I guess it doesn't bother you after that because these guys are going to kill you so you kill them first and that's what happens I guess. I meet a guy from Long Branch I was in I guess Algeria or Oran. I'm going up the street and all these new soldiers from the United States are all marching down there and I holler "Any one from Jersey in that bunch there?" And this one guy says "Long Branch" who are you he said "My name is John Caliando". So we got talking there and here about a couple months later they sent me the Red Bank paper and damned his name isn't in there killed. He was killed I can always remember his name John Caliando.
Q: He was in the Army?
A: He was in the Army. Form Long Branch, yea.
Q: Where was some of your combat?
A: Oh, over in Sicily, Salerno, went up to Angio a couple of times that was the biggest mistake ever. I blame it all on the, to me I'm not a guy who knows what's going on but I blame it on the general. He landed on Angio it wasn't to bad you know we put soldiers it wasn't too rough. So they go in 200 or 300 yards and the general says hold off. They could have went up ten miles but they didn't do it. So they got stuck there, because that time gave the Germans time to retaliate. That's where they got stuck. They were stuck there until the Army went around and went to Casino and knocked that place off and these guys could move up. They were stuck there. in fact there was a friend of mine who was in Angio and he stayed there, he just had a heart attack and died right down in Rumson. He was a heck of a nice guy, but he was there for a long time. Any time you brought soldiers up there, there was always some body bombing you. These guys were always getting shoot at and this went on for I don't know how many months. They only had a little beachhead. The mistake was, as far as I'm concerned, told them to stop. Evidently he was saying lets wait for reinforcements, that was a mistake go in there first.
Q: Have any experience with German U-Boats?
A: No, well, there was a lot of U-Boats there in Northern Africa when they made the first invasion, but I never ran into any.
Q: Describe some of the horrors. What would you want to tell people to discourage war?
A: Once you see somebody get blown to pieces you don't want to see that again.
Q: Were any of the ships you were on, on any convoys?
A: Convoy's, yea we were on convoys.
Q: Did you have any interesting experiences on the convoys?
A: Well, there was always subs around there. They were always dropping those "ash cans", they'd shoot them out the back there. But we never ran into any, we never made any come up. Weather they ever sank any who knows. You know what I saw? When the war first started somebody told me to go down to Long Branch and look out into the ocean and you'll see ships smoking, you know they're being sunk. I know one Sunday we went out there and there were three of four ships out there all that the subs had got them. They sank a lot of ships along the coast there.
Q: Did you have any combat in the Pacific theatre?
A: No, by the time I got to the Pacific it was pretty well quite there.
Q: How did you feel about the death of President Roosevelt?
A: Well, where was I. I think I was back in the United States when he died, I think I was on my thirty day leave and Truman took over. I think that Harry S Truman was the best President that we ever had. He's a regular guy and I think that they are going to sooner or later figure that he was one of the best we ever had. I think he was, I think that he did a good job.
Q: What kind of contact did you have with home?
A: I would write letters, and v-mail, did you ever hear of V-mail? Well V-mail was a little piece of paper and you wrote on there what you wanted to send, and they would take them somewhere and put them on micro-film. When it comes to your wife she gets a little envelope about that big (makes a 2x2 inch square with his hand) with the message in there. I got some of those home.
Q: Where you when you heard about the dropping of the A-bomb?
A: I was in the Marshall Islands they were deciding than that they were going to make the invasion. Than they dropped the atom bomb.
Q: What did you know about it at the time?
A: Everybody was saying what is this atom bomb. A couple guys were pretty smart I guess and they said well they combine a couple things and when they come together bomb, I forget how that was worded. We were all talking about it but nobody seemed to know what in the heck was going on.
Q: Do you think it was the right decision to make?
A: I think so. You would of lost a lot of people.
Q: Did you play any part in the occupation of Japan?
A: Well we were there you know the occupation had started when we wentup to Tokyo Bay and they signed the treaty. We didn't go on the beach too much, in fact I got an occupation metal. Its black and white is what the ribbon is.
Q: Did you have any combat or any other service stories you wanted to share?
A: No all of them are about the same. A lot of things you put soldiers on the beach and it was nothing. You would pull them up to a dock and they would get off. The first invasion is where the problem is, you r second and third trip is not going to be as bad, because they are moving in, as a rule. I didn't get into the Pacific but there was a lot of bad stuff going down there.
Q: Did you hear about any of it?
A: Yea we got the news all the time. They put out a paper it was a type written paper just about everyday. They would have all the information about getting on this island.
Q: What did you know about the kamikaze pilots?
A: I didn't know too much about it until a friend of mine, in fact he's still alive he lives down in South Jersey I talk to him every once in a while, Joe Toranto. He was on the Suffick he was on the kamikaze ting. What happened was a ship was along side him, the Henriko, he said the ship got shot up so bad that they took it in tow to Ulyssie, an Island down there it was really shoot up bad they took it in tow. He said those planes were coming in there they'd keep shooting them dawn and as fast as they'd shoot them down more planes. They must have taken all the old planes they could find. They trained a guy to get in the plane and take off they didn't care if he could land anymore because they knew he wasn't going to come back.
Q: Were any of your crew mates discharged before you were?
A: Not from my ship. I think Army was discharging and the guys in the Air Force over on the other side. The war was over in Europe so they were getting out. I think there were allowing forty off and I was one of them. I was the first bunch off our ship.
Q: After you were discharged, how did you feel?
A: Great, what happened was we got off the ship and got on another ship the USS Precidio. I can remember that name. It brought us back to San Francisco. We were there for a week or two. We got a train, it took us five days to get from San Francisco to New York. When we got there they sent us out to Long Beach they had us sit up there until they discharged you. They get you in a big movie theatre and ask you "who wants to sign up to stay?" let me out of here you know. I was there four or five days you know not long.
Q: How were you received?
A: Oh, great. That worked out pretty good. I had to back by the next morning. I was getting a train to Red Bank, lets see I guess a truck took us to the subway, in Jamaica and took the subway into New York, and than get a train that took you t Red Bank. The last train out of Red Bank was ten o'clock, so I was only home two or three hours or so. I only did that a couple of times. Then finally they discharged me. So I came down the street, I saw this guy that lived up the street. I said "How you doing? When did you get out?" He said "I got out in July". This was in November or what ever it was. "He said I was driving a gasoline truck over in England for three years" in the air force of course. So he said he had a lot of time so he got out early.
Q: Did you take advantage of the GI Bill?
A: no not really. I went to work for the telephone company and wasn't making to much money, they did give me a year I think they subsidized me or something I don't know how much it was. It wasn't too much though. I did get that though. The reason I didn't go to college I thought I was too dumb than after I thought more it was too late than you know. I didn't go it was maybe seven or eight years later that I thought about going and it was to late then. A lot of my friends went and did ok. In fact a guy by the name of Nick Girochio, he had a sister who lived out in Arizona. Somehow he went out there, and it was a good deal, he was living with her and was waiting on tables and stuff and became a dentist. He stayed out there and went to school at the University of Indiana. I think he lives down in, well weather he's alive or not, he was out in down around Rumson. He had a dental office over in Little Silver for years. He was a nice guy. Before he went into the service, his family was barbers, I'd go in and say give me a har cut you know I was getting a tooth fixed. Don't make it to short in the back, you're a barber what do you know about dental work?
Q: You said you worked for the phone company. What did you do?
A: I did everything when I first started I was a lineman, an installer, the last 17 years I worked in the Red Bank office.
Q: Describe your family life after you came home.
A: When I came home on my thirty-day leave I got my wife pregnant. When I got out of service, well I got out in November of 45 and my oldest daughter was born in February. So I had a family all started, that I had another daughter seven years later. I had two daughters.
Q: How do you feel about Vietnam veterans were treated when they returned home?
A: Well, bad really, because people don't realize that that was a war really. It was a poor mans war. but there is a lot of Vietnam War veterans still thinking that they are being treated bad. They had the GI Bill. There's a lot of them that I think are still on drugs, that's one of the bad things. I think so there's a lot of bad things going on. I can't really blame it on the veterans because they were over there and it was a bad war. What are you going to do? Get some dope or something, that way you don't feel like being left out. That was just bad.
Q: What is your opinion of how Hollywood portrays WWII and other wars?
A: Well you know something? I would not go see Saving Private Ryan, because some body was telling me about it and I said, I saw the real thing. I saw it for real but I didn't want to see that. They tell me that it was pretty realistic, that one particular film, but there's a lot of them that John Wayne was in there and it didn't work out that way.
Q: Do you think it's a good or a bad thing that we are making more realistic films?
A: Well, truthfully I don't have any opinion on that because I don't watch too much TV and very seldom movie unless its an exceptional movie that my wife will want to see. I don't care for that. I used to, I haven't done it lately because I use the computer, I used to do a lot of reading, maybe a book a week. I'd rather read than look at TV.
Q: Are you currently active in any veterans organizations?
A: No, I belong to my shipmates association, but I haven't been to any of the reunions, they have reunions you know. The last one was in New Orleans. I might go to the next year they think its going to be in Annapolis, I might do that we'll see.
Q: How do you feel the events of September 11th compare to Pearl Harbor?
A: I don't think they compare. I see this all the time they're making a real big case out of this September 11th. I don't see any comparison. I cant see that at all. One thing I got to complain about, these widows now I got to feel sorry for them, but they're complaining that they're not getting enough money. New Jersey and Oregon are the only states that didn't give bonuses to veterans. Every other state gave bonuses you know why they didn't? Back in 1946 they were going to give a bonus these senators down in Trenton said we are going to put a tax on cigarettes and they said "Oh, we better not give a bonus because the veterans will paying that one cent so we better not do it":
Q: Why do you feel that the two don't compare?
A: I can't see where. These people weren't fighting. I feel sorry for these people that got killed. Now see these women when their husbands got killed they're going to get over a million. Anybody got killed in WWII got ten thousand dollars, that's it no big deal. I mean you can't compare. I was reading not to long ago that if a guy gets killed in the service he gets fifty thousand, now here's a guy that's going to kill somebody or be killed and gets fifty thousand and here's somebody that gets killed working and they get a million. Something is screwed up there somewhere.
Q: How do you feel about the escalating situation in Iraq?
A: Bad. I can't quite figure it out. Most of the time I'm saying forget about them leave them over there, but Bush and these guys say lets go over there and they're going to go over there there's no question. Let these guys that are going to start any trouble over there, let them use one of these mustard gas or what ever, then wipe them out I don't care. Until they do that leave that leave them alone forget them. That's my opinion. I don't see sending soldiers over there and getting killed, we don't even know if they have it you know. Of course I'm not too found of how these inspectors are going about there business, I don't think they know what they are doing. I think the Iraqis are covering up a lot of stuff I don't question that.
Q: How do you feel your experience can help future generations and what advice would you offer?
A: Well, it would be hard to say. I don't know. I had a grandson who got out, and he was over in Bosnia and Korea too he spent four years there. When he got out of high school he decided to go into the Army and he said that he doesn't regret it. He was lucky enough to enough not to run into any combat.
Interviewer: Thank you for your time.
Conclusion of the interview.
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