DESA Oral History Project
Back to the Home Page
Back to the Interview Index
|Interview with Joseph
Date of Interview: November 28, 2002
This oral history interview of Joseph Villanella is taking place on November 28, 2002 at Mr. Villanella's home in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. This interview is for the Oral History Project for HS 298 01 at Monmouth University. I am William Yirce, a student at Monmouth University. I will be conducting the interview. Joseph Villanella served in World War II. He was discharged with the rank of radarman second class. He served in the Atlantic Ocean.
Question: Where and when were you
Answer: New York City, October 1st, 1913.
Q: What did your parents do for a living?
A: My parents? Well, my father came over from Italy when he was twenty-two years old and didn't speak a word of English. I'm so proud of what he accomplished. He raised a pretty large family. My mother died when my father was about forty-eight years old and she had gone through ten births, we had ten in the family, but not all survived at the time. Now there are only two of us (children) left.
Q: What was life like living in such a large family?
A: Oh it's great. It's wonderful; I remember a lot of things. My older brothers and sisters were much older than I was. My father finally found a home in New Jersey and he used to commute from New Jersey to New York everyday where he went to work. For a man that had no knowledge of English I think his accomplishments were great. I really respect my father.
Q: What was life like in New Jersey compared to what life is like today?
A: When I was young you could go and get a quart of milk at the little store around the corner for about a nickel, a loaf of bread was about a nickel, and you could go to a show for about a nickel or a dime. Things were so much better than they are today, although the advancements now are much greater.
Q: What do you remember most about school, is there one thing that sticks out in your mind?
A: I was always interested in the defense of this country. When I was a kid I used to save pictures of warships, soldiers, and all military things, because I was so proud of them.
Q: Did you have a favorite class? History maybe?
A: I was very good in history when I was in school.
Q: What did you do for fun and recreation? Did you have any favorite sports?
A: When I was a kid we used to play ball, football and baseball. We used to have little teams before the little league was started. We used to have our own teams and book games with other teams from different towns when I lived in West New York, New Jersey.
Q: Did you have a favorite baseball team, like the Yankees?
A: Oh yea the Yankees were always the top always.
Q: Did you have a favorite radio show? What did you do when you sat around, was there television yet?
A: No television, we listened to radio, to the music. This is all we did for entertainment.
Q: As you grew older and attended high school, what did you think of Germany and eventually the start of World War II?
A: We were afraid of Adolph Hitler; we did not know what he was going to do. Before I joined the Navy when I was a kid, seventeen or eighteen right out of high school I joined the CCC camps. That was the Civilian Construction Core. Roosevelt did that in order to get the country working again economically. So I was sent to Mississippi to plant forest and a lot of trees. We did a lot of good work for the land and we signed up for six months at a time. I signed up for two terms, I stayed there for a year and really enjoyed it, and I have a lot of good memories of the CCC camps.
Q: What other jobs did you have before you joined the service?
A: I had a lot of various little jobs I guess.
Q: Did you ever imagine that you would join the military when you were in high school?
A: No, not actually, but I figured if war had to be I'd be glad to be in it.
Q: Where were you when Pearl Harbor was bombed?
A: I was in Washington D.C on vacation.
Q: What was your first reaction to that?
A: I said we're going to go (to war). My friend and I, O'Brien his name was, I said we're going to be in because we are the right age. We saw President Roosevelt in his motorcade as they went to congress to make a declaration of war.
Q: So that is when you figured out that you would be joining the service?
A: Yes, eventually. Then after that I was working for Curtis Wright in Caldwell, New Jersey. We used to make the propeller blades for the airplanes.
Q: Now many people compare September 11th the attacks on the World Trade Center to Pearl Harbor, what is your take on that?
A: More people were killed that's a sure thing. We were afraid or Navy was wiped out and we were afraid the Japs were going to come over here because they had the naval power. Here there were no other attacks except that one with the World Trade Center and we just had to watch out from then on as we do now. We still have to watch out.
Q: What was your reaction to the World Trade Center bombings?
A: That was really a disaster. I can't imagine being up in the 50th or 40th floor with flames coming down on you and no way out, and people jumping out of windows. My God what an awful thing that was.
Q: What made you join the Naval branch of the military?
A: I didn't join, but when I was working for Curtis Wright I was drafted and then deferred because my job was pretty important. I got three deferments and I figured maybe by the last one they might end the war, but it didn't happen. I finally got drafted, went down to the draft board, and was inducted into the Navy. I didn't ask for it they just put me in it. I think they were looking for more high school graduates and college guys. I was a high school graduate so they put me in the Navy, they figured my age, I was not seventeen or eighteen I was twenty-nine and education would be more suitable in the Navy.
Q: You always hear stories of the women working in the factories, when you worked at Curtis Wright did you have any women working with you?
A: Yes there were women working, there were a lot of women working there. They had to replace the men who took off and went to war.
Q: What was the feeling like when you left for basic training?
A: There was a little fear that I might not come back.
Q: What was your family's reaction?
A: They felt the same way. When I left everybody was in tears and hoping for the best.
Q: Were you the only one from your family to go into the military?
A: Yes, I was the only one.
Q: Can you explain what a normal day of basic training was?
A: We got up early in the morning around 5 A.M. We'd put our running trunks on and run around the field, I'm not sure how long we spent out there. It was quite a large field and we used to run around in formation. There were guys in boot camp much older than me and some of them could not finish the run. I don't know what they did; maybe they let them go home again. It was a lot of fun; I met a lot of good kids. I remember all the nicknames we gave them.
Q: Did you receive any nicknames?
A: No I didn't receive a nickname.
Q: They didn't call you grandpa because you were the older guy?
A: I wasn't that much older. Like now you don't take me for my age, I always looked young.
Q: No you don't look ninety. When was the first time you saw a destroyer escort?
A: We got on a choo-choo train and we headed for Texas. When we got to Texas, the consolidated shipyards, we were brought to the ship. We had to load the ship with stores and ammunition, and that was the first time I saw or was on a ship outside of the ferries. It looked so good, it looked like a brand new ship, and it was beautiful.
Q: That was your reaction? You thought it was beautiful?
A: I loved it. I just hoped that we would make it through.
Q: Did you ever imagine that they would put so many guys on a little ship like that?
A: I couldn't believe it, over two hundred somewhat men. A little ship like that, it was smaller than a destroyer.
Q: What was the name of your ship?
A: The USS Chatelain.
Q: Now, what was the significance of the name?
A: The DE149. The significance of that name, the name was taken from a young man from New Orleans of French decent and he was killed in the Pearl Harbor attack. He was a gunner's mate. We were proud of that.
Q: So everyone knew that on the ship?
Q: What was the first few days at sea like for you? Since you were never been on a boat besides a ferry.
A: Well I'll tell you when we left Galveston, Texas into the Gulf of Mexico and the waters weren't too severe but they were rough enough to half the crew heaving up over the sides. I'll never forget that, that was something.
Q: Did you get seasick?
A: No, I did not. That's the funny thing, I just got sea legs, when we went out to sea I go sea legs.
Q: It must have been hard leaving your family, how did you communicate? How did the mail system work out at sea?
A: The mail system was all right. They got the mail and I got my mail. After, when we were at sea if anybody said anything that might be detrimental to the war effort, where we were heading or anything like that, where we were going to pick up the convoy the letters were cut out. The wording was cut out by these guys who would read your mail before it was sent out. They used to read the mail.
Q: Now, you said that your job was a radar man is that correct?
Q: Can you explain a day in a radar man's life? What did your day consist of at sea?
A: When I got out of boot camp they assigned me to a radar school in Virginia. The radar was so new that we weren't allowed to look at radar set until the final days of our radar education. First they taught us all about it. It was such a new thing that you can see objects for miles and miles before they were near you, and pick up aircraft and ships right on the screen. The last few days that we were there they took us into this room and put out all the lights and we were in the dark for a few seconds. Then they showed us the sets and they explained how they worked, how it was taken from the animal, the bats. The bats don't see anything at night they just listen. They send out some kind of a signal and it bounces back and they know what is there. An animal can pick out a rat or a rabbit or anything like that by the sound that comes back. So when they told us about the radar set it was the same thing it sends out an electronic pulse and whatever it hits bounces back and they pick it up on the set what it is. We can pick them out for maybe thousands of yards and you can see the movement of the azimuth line moved around the screen and picked out that object and lit it up and then again. Every time it went around it picked it up and you could see if it was coming closer or moving further away from you. I'll never forget the first cruise we went on to take a convoy across to England. What a beautiful picture on that screen. The screen was about ten inches round, ten-inch diameter and the azimuth line rolled around, it picked up every ship in the convoy. You could see a whole map of hundreds of ships and where our DE's were all around protecting it. Beautiful.
Q: How did you get that job as radar man, did you ask for that or did they just place you?
A: They just select you by what education you had I guess.
Q: What about the food on the ship how was the food?
A: The food was great. I'll have to tell you, we had a convention last June in Missouri, Branson, Missouri. First I have to tell you about the incident. When I was in the Navy if anybody complained about the food I used to tell them your mother can't make stuffed pork chops like this cook from New Orleans can. We had a black cook he was very good. The food was great. Three hot meals a day not like canned rations and all that stuff. That incident, what I used to tell all those kids came back last June at the last night of this convention, the dinner dance. This gentleman named Hop from Texas he stopped the music and rolled out a tray on wheel and then he brought me out onto the dance floor. He brought me from my table up on to the dance floor and sat me down at this table, and he started raising hell how I used to kick these kids around for complaining. Then he took the cover off this table he rolled out and he said here's your stuffed pork chops, now eat it. I had to eat and half the people dancing around me helped me eat it.
Q: That's good. Was that your favorite meal there then? Stuffed pork chops?
A: That was very good stuffed pork chops. Great.
Q: I've heard stories of how the guys used to sneak off and try to get bread at night when they were cooking it. Did you ever do that?
A: We used to have a kid from Jersey City he used to make pizza. At that time pizza wasn't so popular.
Q: What was it like sleeping so close to the men in cramped quarters?
A: You get used to it. Now when I go back I say how the hell did I do it. But when you sleep three bunks, one, two, three close together you just learn to live with it.
Q: Where on the ship was your bunk located?
A: Wow, you know I was way back in the rear end of the ship. I always thought to myself, if we ever get by a torpedo or by anything with the depth charges above me and the ammunition below me I'd be blown to smithereens.
Q: Did you get a lot of sleep though?
A: We got enough sleep.
Q: How often did you worry about being attacked by a u-boat?
A: Everyday. Everyday. You never knew.
Q: What was the closest contact that you came with the enemy?
A: Oh, about fifteen hundred yards. We got four submarines. (Shows quilt of ship and submarines sunk or capture by ship) Those are the four submarines we got. That's my ship.
Q: You sunk all four submarines?
A: We sank one. Then the same night they were sunk by the aircraft but we were given credit for it. Then in June 6th, June the 4th was it, June the 4th we captured a German submarine. That's the first time that any war vessel was captured by the U.S. Navy since the War of 1812. This happened in the northeast, the Northwest coast of Africa. The U-505.
Q: Now what did you do? You took all the men off that ship and then brought them on to your ship?
A: Yes they jumped overboard when they came after we fired at it. We wounded the captain, his name was Captain Lange and he was also on my ship. We gave them all dry clothes and the captain was wounded so we took him down below to the sick bay, the sick bay. The two pharmacist mates Doc Vitale and Doc Barberi they were wiping his mouth every time he threw up, it must have been a collection of seawater and vomit he was throwing up. He had a full red beard; they were out at sea for eighty days. Most of the guys had beards and when they got up in the firing they ceased firing after about eleven minutes. It stayed afloat with their aft end down in the water and the kids from the USS Pillsbury, that's a sister ship got over there first with their motor whaleboat. They mounted the sub and they went down into the sub. It was half in the water already it was half sunken. They took such a gamble, but they found out where the water was coming in and this guy Luthosious he put the cap on it and stopped the water from coming in. That saved the sub. Then they found a way to pump the water out and we towed it, the carrier towed it. We were traveling at about five or six knots an hour, it took so long from the Northwest coast of Africa. We were going to bring it to Casablanca, but they were afraid that the Germans might be there to see it and we would give the secret away. So, they decided to bring it to Bermuda. An ocean going tug met us half way out and picked up the sub and brought it to Bermuda. This was the best-kept secret of the war. We had to keep it secret because at that time we found an enigma machine on the submarine, plus all their files and all their daily logs, where they were and where they're going. That gave us an edge on them. Now, the headquarters in Germany didn't know this sub was captured, they thought it was captured if they didn't hear from it. We had to keep that a secret. Captain Gallery, he was a tough old guy from the carrier, he sent out a message to all the ships, we had five ships and one carrier. I was on the DE 149. I got the message, everybody got the message, and he said this must not be told to anyone, not even in your family you have to keep this a secret. At the end of the letter he wrote down keep bowels open and your mouth shut. That's the story.
Q: When you captured the Germans did any of them speak English at all?
A: I spoke to one. He spoke English pretty well. He told me when our depth charges exploded when we depth charged it; he said they had just fired a torpedo at the carrier we were with. I told him you know if that submarine, that torpedo hit the carrier with over a thousand men on it and you guys were on this ship now you ought to be very lucky, because if that torpedo sank that carrier you wouldn't be on this ship I'd shoot everyone of you in the water. They wouldn't get on the ship.
Q: And what did he say?
Q: What was the feeling when you sunk a submarine and also getting one captured? Did it make you feel proud?
A: Well, the first one we hit was the U-515. On that ship we just sank it outright. They all jumped off and there was only one man killed in that ship, one German. Captain Hanke on that one, he was a decorated commander, decorated by Hitler. He was a very good submarine commander. He spoke very good English, so we had him aboard our ship then we transferred them over to the carrier. You ought to see this operation, transferring people between ships with the boats, ships rocking and the pretty rough water. We used to get them over there; I don't know how they did it. It was a terrific operation. All his men were saved, except the one and then it just went down it sank from the airplanes hitting it and our guns shooting at it and hitting it. Most of the submarines go down this is the first one like I told this is the first one since the War of 1812 to be captured on the high seas by the U.S. Navy.
Q: You guys must have been really proud about that.
A: We did. I got a Presidential Unit Citation for that.
Q: Did the President give it to you himself?
A: No, we just got it through the mail. It was signed by the Secretary of the Navy, Forestall.
Q: Can you explain to me how the convoy system worked that you guys were in?
A: There were probably a couple hundred ships all bringing supplies over to some went to Romansk, Russia, others went to England, and some went to Africa through the Southern parts of the Strait of Gibraltar. We took a second convoy through the Straits of Gibraltar and we escorted through the straits and let it go because the English ships were inside the Mediterranean. The English ships took over and we patrolled the area from Gibraltar to North Africa. We did that for a couple of days, sounding out for submarines. We never got any there. The convoys were all set up; we had to meet them at a certain location, maybe off New York or off Maine. Then we convoyed them and anytime, lots of time it happens some of these transports breakdown and one of the ships would have to circle around it to prevent the submarines from hitting it. We did that a couple of times. Then we escorted them to the end of the convoy, where the destination was.
Q: What was mostly being shipped on those convoy ships?
A: Everything for war, food, ammunition, planes, tanks, everything for the war effort.
Q: Did you ever have anyone injured on your ship, besides having the injured Germans?
A: No, we never got anybody hit.
Q: The Atlantic Ocean is not the smoothest of oceans, how did the rough seas effect you and is there one time you remember that stands out?
A: Oh boy. We hit a northeaster. The ships, they say the DE sailors deserve submarine pay and airplane pay because sometimes they be up out of the water like that and then they come down and their under the water and you don't see them. First they're up here and then their down then their up. The water was so rough we used to have thirty-foot waves coming over the bow of the ship and then we go plunging down into the water. It was an awful feeling. That was a real rough ocean.
Q: I've heard stories of how sailors used to go ashore and have good times on their days off; do you have any stories that you want to share?
A: There's a lot of good stories. In Norfolk, Virginia, it's a real Navy base; a lot of people have signs on their lawns no dogs or sailors allowed. They worried that there was a lot of stuff going on. Well, wherever there is a ship the sailors they come ashore and there's always women waiting for them. When you are young and frivolous and maybe won't come back you're going to give it one last shot.
Q: Is there one time that sticks out in your mind that you had an extra fun time?
A: Oh yea. I met a girl down there she was so beautiful, but she was married and her husband was overseas. She was willing to divorce him. I said no you don't just let it stay as it is. Yea that was great.
Q: When you were on the ship at sea what did you do for fun in your free time?
A: We used to have boxing matches and some of the guys would play cards. I used to make these doilies. I'd make them and sell them. When those German sailors came aboard and their officers they used to have the vests that they would blow them up so they wouldn't sink just like life preservers. They were made of a rubberized canvas. We used to take them cut them up and make insignias out of them. I'll show you one in the book over here. (Shows an insignia from a Nazi life vest)
Q: Now what was your favorite thing to do? The art stuff?
A: Yea, yea, and I was always active in painting signs on the depth charges, how to set them. I had to paint the rack that held the depth charges. We used draw submarines on the decks to show how many we shot down, keep score like that.
Q: What was available at the store on the ship?
A: Everything. Cigarettes, rings.
Q: It wasn't as much as it is now though?
A: No not as much as now. Nothing like today.
Q: I know on larger ships like aircraft carriers the relationship between the officers and the enlisted men there really was none. What was the relationship between enlisted men on the destroyer escorts?
A: That was great. We used to call them by always respectful and some of the officers came aboard and they were even younger than me. We just showed them respect and did our days work and did whatever we had to do. The deck floors had to take care of the decks and everybody had their own job to do.
Q: Was there a lot of interaction with the porters, the black men on the ship?
A: Yes, we had all mess cooks they called them. It changed during the war, but at that time they had active duty. Otherwise they were waiters, or mess cooks they called them. I'm glad that's over now.
Q: Were you aware of the DE Mason, the all black ship? What did you think of that?
A: Yes, with all white officers. That was great. They did a good job.
Q: What did you and your men think of Roosevelt? President Roosevelt.
A: When he died I thought the world came to an end. We had funeral services on the ship. We had a small organ and Chief radioman Shoop played the organ and we all sang hymns. I thought the bottom came out I really did. I was really worried about that.
Q: You were worried the war was going to go the other way?
A: That's right.
Q: He was the only president that you really knew right?
A: Yea, just about.
Q: Were you aware of all the things going on in the Pacific while you were in the Atlantic?
A: Oh yea. They kept us up with the radio and we discussed the things on the ship, how the Marines were doing at Guadalcanal, and all the other islands they were taking.
Q: Did they also give you sports scores and news flashes over the radio?
A: Oh yea they knew when the Yanks were winning and losing.
Q: Did men gamble on that?
A: Yea, you can gamble on anything. We used to gamble on what time we would drop anchor. A buck a man and guess the time.
Q: Where were you when the D-Day invasion occurred and were you part of that all?
A: No I was not in the invasion. On June the 4th we got that U-505. On June 6th the troops went over across the channel.
Q: Where you aware of the invasion?
A: Yes and we were told to keep our mouths shut. The reason for that was the enigma machines, we had the German code. Of course we were still at sea but they didn't know that we still had the code. If they had known about it they might have made some changes. That's why we had to keep quiet, but we were still at sea when it happened.
Q: Were you aware of the Battle of Midway at all?
Q: The Navy must have been proud of that battle.
A: Oh that was great. Those poor guys that went down though, jeez.
Q: Did you ever think that you were going to end up in the Pacific? Were they planning to send you?
A: Yea I think so. I think we were getting ready to go. A lot of DE's were transferred over to APD's , troop ships, so they'd make some changes on the ships and send them on over to be picket ships, to watch when those suicide bombers come over.
Q: Did you know a lot about the Kamikaze pilots?
A: Yea we heard about them. That's what I was worried about. They'd gamble one man and one plane against a whole ship. That was their gamble.
Q: What was your reaction to the droppings of the atom bombs by President Truman?
A: I said thank god for the President. I was very glad that happened or else we would have really gone over and maybe half of us get killed trying to make a landing. They told all their citizens; men, women, and children shoot the Americans when they come. I think that saved a lot of lives although it took a lot. I feel sorry for the lives that are took that were civilians. That was something that couldn't be helped.
Q: Overall you think all the men were happy that he dropped them, saved a lot of American lives?
Q: You traveled all over the world while you were in the Navy, is there one spot that you are more happy you visited then other spots?
A: When we were in Cardiff, Wales I enjoyed that it was very nice. In Cardiff, Wales.
Q: What kind of reaction did you get from the people in other countries?
A: I think that they were glad when we came. I think most of the people were glad to see us because that meant liberty, and that's what it's all about.
Q: When you were finally discharged where were you discharged and when was it?
A: In September 45 in Lido Beach, Long Island.
Q: What was your reaction to that? How did you feel on that day?
A: Very good.
Q: Did your family meet you there?
A: No, No I came home.
Q: What was their reaction?
A: They were so glad I was home.
Q: What did you do right after the war? Did you go right for a job or did you go get an education?
A: I was trying to get my job back at Curtis Wright but my brother-in-law was in the laundry business and he set me up in the laundry business with another brother-in-law. That didn't work out too well after a couple of years. So I sold out my share to my other brother-in-law and then I went to work for VD Electric. I became an electrical supply salesman.
Q: How'd that work out for you?
A: Very well. I stayed with them for twenty-seven years.
Q: At what point did you start a family?
A: I must have been thirty-four, yea must have been thirty-four when I had my first son.
Q: How did you meet your wife?
A: I think I've known her most of my life. She was my little sister's girlfriend. She used to come over the house and my sister used to go over their house. I finally met her when I came home on leave. I think I met her in the diner. She was another girl and two fellows. I decided maybe I'll ask to take her home or take them home. So I took them home. I left the guy off first and I took my wife home, she wasn't my wife at the time, and I took her home last, and we started petting a little bit and that started it.
Q: Did you keep in touch with her when you were out at sea?
A: Once in a while I used to drop her a line, but not serious. Not till I saw her again when I came home. Now she passed away.
Q: I'm sorry.
A: Yea, about four years next February.
Q: Was it hard to share your war experiences with your loved one? Tell stories?
A: No, they were all proud of it. They all knew how I felt about it and my wife and I used to go to every convention since 1984.
Q: Do you still keep in touch with the other men from your ship still?
A: Oh yea. Phone calls, we have one guy his name is Rudy Ruzich, he's from Virginia and used to live in Cleveland. After the Navy he joined the Army and came out a Lieutenant Colonel. He looks forward to these conventions and seeing me. He used to love seeing my wife and his wife is a German war bride. We all keep in touch with each other very close.
Q: What's a German war bride?
A: He went to Germany and married a German girl.
Q: In the years after the war leading up to now are there any movies that accurately depict what you experienced?
A: Yes, the picture The Enemy Below, with Robert, I can't think of his name. Anyway he was a commander on a DE and it showed a duel between him and the German submarine commander, what each was thinking and maneuvers. It was very close to what we did. Very good.
Q: When did that come out do you remember?
A: No, I guess about ten years ago, something like that ten or twelve years ago.
Q: Now, when you go to these conventions what do you do?
A: Well, first we go to the courtesy desk and get our lapel pins and hatpins.
Q: Do you wear a uniform?
A: No, one time I did. I got my uniform patched up a little bit to make it a little larger. I wore it and we had a hell of a time. These last few I didn't wear it.
Q: You have a good time though when you go?
A: Oh we always have a good time. You know every place we go one of our guys goes up to the, like if we go to a theater in Branson, Missouri this guy goes up Bobby Vinton and tells them who we are. He announces it; we all have to stand up and we all have our uniform caps on though. We all stand up and people they really go for it; they make it well known how they respect us.
Q: Now in modern times President Bush keeps talking about a war with Iraq, what's your opinion on that situation?
A: I say if we wait till he gets the things in operation, we know he's got him, we know he's got them. I think the only way to do it if these guys that are checking the land and wont be allowed here or wont be allowed there, we have to go in and take him. I agree with the President on this.
Q: So you think we should go to war and just try to get rid of him, overthrow him?
A: Yea unless they find something and get rid of him that's the only way. We have to get rid of him. Look what they're doing now they are killing anybody. They don't care they destroy themselves. They want everybody to become Muslims, what the hell are they crazy?
Q: You think the same thing with the war on terrorism in Afghanistan too? What do you think of Osama Bin Laden?
A: He's got to go. They need to find him too. They'll find him eventually.
Q: It's a different kind of war then you fought.
A: Oh my god, there's no enemy in sight, no one to shoot at.
Q: There are no rules anymore.
A: No more rules. They come into your house and blow it up. Look what they did to that hotel in Kenya; killed all those people and three of the terrorists went with it. They want to die.
Q: Do you think it's similar to the Japanese Kamikaze's at all? Do you see a little similarity; they'd rather kill themselves then surrender?
A: Yea it's the same thing. That's a shame really it's terrible.
Q: Now if you had to tell the world one thing that you learned from you war experience what would it be?
A: What I learned? I think I learned that this is the greatest country in the world because of its liberty, its pursuit of happiness, and that's why everyone is coming to this country. If it's such a rotten country why would they come here and why are people from here going there. There's no such thing. They're all coming here. This is the land of liberty and land of opportunity and everyone wants to take advantage of it, because they can't do it in their own country.
Q: All right, thank you for the interview.
Q: I'm looking at three magazines; one's the story of the U-505, which is the submarine that was captured by Mr. Villanella's DE. He also as a magazine called Your Navy, which has a whole article on the capturing of the U-505, the first submarine captured since the War of 1812. He also has U-Boats at War, which has on the front cover a picture of the Americans capturing the submarine. I'm now looking at Mr. Villanella's medals he has six of them. He is going to explain what they are.
A: These are all medals from the war. They were given to me after the war, a couple of years later. This one I received from New Jersey and that's the distinguished service medal of New Jersey. I got that one about a year ago. These other medals are medals for submarine warfare and good conduct medal and invasion medal and all the things that go with it.
Q: I'm looking at the letters that were sent to Mr. Villanella from James Forestall the secretary of the Navy. It's a citation for his extraordinary heroism in locating the German U-505 and capturing it. The U-505 is now located in Chicago in the Museum of Science and History.
Conclusion of Interview
Back to the Interview Index
Back to the Home Page