“I grew up in Indiana. We lived on a farm during the Depression. We grew potatoes, field corn, and tomatoes and never went hungry. I had a slingshot when I was a kid and got pretty good shooting rocks. When I was 14 or 15 I shot a robin and killed him. That was not my intention and I have always regretted it. I came home from World War ll, met my wife, and got a job in Kentucky. We will be married for 73 years in December. That’s a lifetime. She and her friends walked by my work station every day and they seemed stuck up to me. A mutual friend introduced us and one of our first dates was to Ohio caverns. We started dating in May, were engaged in September, and married in December. We married on Christmas Day because it was the only day we had off from work. If you took off from work back then you were gone. There were so many people looking for work, they had a long list of names to replace you. Many GIs home from war. They paid well and we were fortunate to work there.
I was drafted my senior year of high school. The tips of my fingers were chopped off in a joiner before I went into the service, but they took me anyway. I didn’t like going to war, but I don’t regret my time. I was stationed in Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines. I was in the combat engineers and we built roads and bridges. They were all temporary structures. I went to explosives school and learned how to blow things up. We blew up ships that were sunk in the harbor and in the way. Then they would tow them into deeper water. Most of the ships were Japanese. My ship was the USS Quick. There were 1200 guys on that ship and we were packed in. I slept on the deck, even when it was colder than billy blue hell, but it was better than sleeping below.
Our food was served in G.I. cans and it was pretty decent. The biggest problem was the monkeys that stole our food. But everyone stole something. I stole food too. Put some bread in your pocket and take it back to your tent, then the monkeys would break in and steal it out of your tent. They were pretty tame, just hungry just like everyone else. There were five garbage cans outside the mess hall. The first three were heated to soak them, then the last two were for rinsing and that is how we washed our dishes. The monkeys hung around there waiting for scraps. We had USO shows that brought us Jerry Colonna from Bob Hope’s show, Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney. We also entertained ourselves. The Jap planes had removable wings. Some guys removed the wings and raced them down the runways on Sundays. The Philippines were hot and the mosquitos were bad. I got malaria and they called me a disabled veteran.
I was in the Philippines for 14 months. We just tried to stay alive. Almost 200,000 Japanese were killed in the Philippines. We were happy to hear the bomb was dropped because that meant it was time to go home. If it hadn’t been for the atomic bomb, I don’t know what would have happened. Japan was in control until the bomb was dropped. They also sent me to Korea when the Communists invaded S. Korea. I had it pretty easy in Korea. I was in charge of the PX warehouses. It doesn’t get better than that. A ship would come in with 12,500 cases of beer or 250 cases of cigarettes and cigars. We loaded them into the warehouse and notified the units how much they could have. We were very popular. Everything came from Japan, and there was never enough to go around. We raffled off the beer, cigarettes and cigars. We also sold watches and rings.
The first thing I did when I got home was to buy a used ’40 Chevy. It was a business coup but there was no back seat. We put a cushion back there and the kids thought it was great. In 1950, we bought a new ’50 Chevy. It didn’t get any better than that. Then I bought a ’52 Packard. It was a luxury car.”
“He will be 94 in December and I turned 91 yesterday. I am the lone survivor of 10 kids. I had four brothers in the service, three at the same time. All came home. I also had three brothers-in-law who served, an uncle in the Navy, and another uncle in the Army who marched with Patton. My daddy was in the Army Air Corp. We listened to the radio every day to get the news. It took days to weeks to get news of what was going on. Battles were over before you knew about Them. We had a sign in the window to show we had family in the war.
We retired and built our home at The Villages in Florida. We were there for 25 years and were one of the first ones there. We saw a lot of changes. There were pools, golf courses, bowling alleys, restaurants. You could take a golf cart anywhere. It was hard to leave. Coronavirus has also been hard because we are isolated from the other residents at Homestead Village and it gets lonely. They deliver our meals to our apartment instead of eating in the dining room, and they stopped the shuttle service to take us around town. We are ready to get out and see people again.”