Interview: Elton R. Vice (ev)
Medium: Audio tape
Date: Monday, April 13, 1998
Place: Marion Public Library, 600 South Washington Street, Marion, IN 46953-1992
Collected by: Ramon Volz (rv)
rv: State your whole name and where we are.
ev: I'm Elton Richard Vice and the Marion Public Library.
rv: And the date?
ev: Uh, this would be, 4-13-98.
rv: Do I have permission to tape you with an audiotape?
ev: Yes you do.
rv: And do I have permission to submit this information to the Marion High School?
ev: Yes you do.
rv: And do I have permission to submit this information to the Marion, Indiana Public Library?
ev: Yes you do.
Oral History of Elton Vice
rv: Okay. Thank you. Now what I'd like to start off with is probably some family life, before the war. What was the family like?
ev: Oh, let's see, prior to the war, let's see, I was married, I had one son, when I went in the service I think he was three years old. His name was Douglas Anthony. And uh, my wife Margie. Uh, let's see, I worked at Farnsworth Radio and Television for uh, oh approximately ten total years but I took two years out of that because the draft board wanted to talk to me about something. And they agreed that they'd divert me now and then for about ten times and then finally they got tired of talking to me and drafted me, okay.
rv: Um, where did you say that you worked at?
ev: Farnsworth Radio and Television, where RCA is now.
rv: What did you do there?
ev: I worked in the service department.
rv: What kind of things did you do there?
ev: Oh, I started off in the service department just packing service parts for dealers and individuals who needed parts for their radios, phonographs, whatever, and uh, I went from there to repairing record changers and radios and things like this that came in for service. And from there I went up the office as a special representative for related customers such as Firestone and, oh, Maces and people like that that had their own name on the product that we built. And, well when I went into the service I went back there and I was there a couple years after that and RCA had bought the place, and I worked there for two years at RCA. And then I found a job at Dana, they just came to town and looked like a good opportunity so I joined them in the purchasing department. And I worked in purchasing for several years, then I went to work in personnel department, and I worked there for a total of about ten years. But in that interim I went from one department to another, I became the handy man, the whole filler, if somebody quit or got sick or had a few days off I took their place so I was pretty familiar with all those, every operation in the office, you know, and I was a foreman receiving for a while and I wound up back in personnel again before I retired.
Family, friends, and work
rv: Okay, uh, what did your wife do before the war, if she did anything.
ev: Nothing, she was just a housewife, raised our son. During the war she got along as best she could, I don't know, what few bucks you got, you know, you're working with food stamps and everything else. But, and after the war she had a scholarship to I.U., after she graduated from high school, but she didn't take advantage of it until after I got back from the service. And, uh, we had our second son Daniel , and uh, then she started going to college, she went to Ball State, and, Marion College out here, and she got her degrees and everything, and she finally got her masters in counseling. And she started off in math, let's see, uh, she was working at McCulloch for a little while as a student teacher, and uh, then she went to uh, Martin Boots, which was still there, and uh, as a math teacher, and then she got into counseling. She got a degree in that, so she, uh, when they built the new Jones Junior High, she stayed in there for some years, oh about a few years after I retired she did too cause we got tired staying home, our kids were gone, you know, get out of town.
rv: Your son, how did the war affect him, around the time of the war, how did that affect him?
ev: Oh, he was only three years old then, and uh, it didn't affect him a whole lot, I don't think he really knew what was going on, you know, except I wasn't home. I'm sure he uh, felt an absence of old man you know, I, I was a good dad I thought, but uh, they seem to survive, people do.
rv: Let's see, what would uh, social life would have been like in this period?
ev: Oh, we had movies, we had uh, three movie theaters in town, the Lunalight, and the Lyric, and the Paramount, oh, four! The Indiana! Yeah, the Lunalight was on East Fourth Street, and across the street was uh, let's see, that was the Lyric, it burned down, and the Paramount was uh, just a little bit north on up Third Street on Washington, and the Indiana was over on Adams street, at the corner of Fifth, uh, that's a parking lot now for police department, rather the uh, sheriff's department. That was the theaters, we had picnics, and uh, oh, go to band concerts, things like this, you know, there was always something to do. We enjoyed the simpler things in those, days you didn't need a lot of excitement, as a matter of fact, I had one of the first TVs in the neighborhood. It was real snowy. It came back in for credit when I was working at Farnsworth and uh, out of the Chicago area, we couldn't get TV here, they did have about two hours, or three hours of programming in Indianapolis, Kukla, Fran and Ollie and things like this, and we could get it real snowy in the afternoon, late you know, and people used to come over and marvel at that real snowy picture on TV We popped an awful lot of popcorn, I can tell you that!
rv: Okay, um, what kind of movies were shown at these theaters, like maybe who were some of the stars of the screen or big movies?
ev: Clark Gable, Franchot Tone, let's see, some of the gals, I don't know, wow! Joan Crawford, people you never heard of! I don't know, those were the good movie days, they had a lot of musicals. Yeah, yeah, let's see, some of the later ones, what was it? Oh, oh, uh, Fred Astaire, and Ginger Rogers, you know, all the good ones, you don't see good ones like that anywhere, you didn't see the movie Grease! Hello! What a title! Oh well.
rv: The music. What kind of music was going on during the time?
ev: Oh yeah, the music, oh yeah. We had the big bands in those days, let's see, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, oh and just a whole bunch of good guys like that. Uh, who was it, uh, oh the two brothers, one playing saxophone and the other clarinet, oh what were their names? I can't think of it now, anyway, they had a fuss, they weren't even speaking to each other for a long time, when I was recruiting in Cleveland they both came to town, the Cleveland Auditorium, and I got a free ticket down at the U.S.O., to go see this, and that place was so packed you couldn't even dance to the music, it was just cheek to cheek all over, you know. First one would play and then the other would play, and for the last set they got together and played together, and it was the first time they had spoken to each other in years, and that was the last time they played. A landmark in the music field!
rv: Let's see, in Marion, what other forms of entertainment was there, things to do?
ev: Oh, why you'd go to Matter Park for a picnics, they used to have little band concerts out there in the bandshell, things like this, uh Fourth of July they had a parade, the park had a pool then, a swimming pool, that was a nice place to go, a lot of picnic stuff out there, well they had different sorts of entertainment actually, they had boats on the river and what not, row boats of course, and uh finally they got motor boats came in the later day, and uh, a lot of people were running up and down the river, and uh, well, that dam, they finally put that in down there and that helped too, you know. It helped to flood the river above the dam for a while. Oh well, I don't know, there's a place out south of town, too, they had a lake over there that used to be a gravel pit or something, can't think of the name of that one either, it was off of State Road 9 and 37. But uh, a lot of people go over there to swim, have picnics and things, has sliding board and swing for the kiddies, just like the park you know, only you could get a whole family in there for what they charge one person to get in the pool at Matter Park. They paid to drive, you know even the gas was cheap then.
rv: You mentioned, uh, parades, and things like that, how were these affected, such as during the war, after the war started, things, big city/ community gatherings like that, how would these have been affected during the war?
rv: If they were at all.
ev: Yeah, I don't know, before the war the Marion High School had a good band and orchestra, and Gas City had a band, too. Fred Rider was a director, Phil Polly was a director at Marion, and of course Louis DeCosta Jones had the uh, the uh, orchestra. I played in the orchestra an the band in Marion. But, uh, sometimes we got together with the Gas City band, and uh, have a lot of fun, you know. I used to call Polly Fred, call Fred Phil, ah well. They knew I was a joker.
rv: What about, um, during the war, how did you get into that, was it directly after high school or...
rv: ...after college?
ev: No, I was married and I was working at Farnsworth, uh, I finished high school, and, uh, it, well, like I say we were married, my little son was three years old when they finally got around to drafting me, we, uh, moved from place to place to place to place, we didn't like it, we didn't like this one, we didn't like that one, finally get a little better place, you know, and uh, the draft board, I think they just got sick and tired of sending me new cards with the new address. Well, we'll get my permanent address for a while. I don't know, that was about it. It, uh, it, and we, why we got along pretty good. Really. The rationing was quite a problem. It was quite a problem. Uh-huh.
Getting into the war
rv: Let's see, how did you start off getting into the war?
ev: Well, uh, they sent me directly from here to uh, Indianapolis, to Fort Benjamin Harrison and uh, they processed me and bang! I'm gone, just like that, you know. I was only there for two nights, and they sent me to Camp Hood, Texas. Uh, it's Fort Hood now. It was a tank destroyer camp originally, and that's all the ground is good for. Mr. Hood I think donated the ground or sold it to the government at a ridiculous price, because his sheep were starving to death on it. He might as well do something with it, make a little buck, you know. But, uh, it was great for tanks if you're riding around through those rocky hills in the tanks that's fine, but for walking, you know, for infantry training, it really made you mad enough to fight, they wanted to give you the will to kill, and the minute you looked at the place, you had it.
Ah well, from there they sent me home on furlow, I took eight weeks of message center training. Now that was nice. You learned Morse code and things like that. Encode, decode, and so forth, and uh, then they decided they didn't need message center training anymore, they had enough guys in that. So they says "You guys have an IQ enough you can go to O.C.S. and be officers." And we had heard about the officers, you know, they were the first ones toe get a shot, so we declined in mass. So they put us in an infantry training outfit, and uh, well we trained for rifle, stuff like this, bayonet stuff, which we never used, you sharpened your bayonet so you could slice the French bread.
But oh well, after the basic training I came home on furlow, and then back down to Shelby, Mississippi. Uh, that was, the 65th Division was forming there at that time, and they were just bringing in troops from all over, to fill up the division, and a little training and rifle fire, so forth, target shooting and so forth, running out in the woods at night, and sleeping in the rain with a shelter half wrapped around you, freezing to death, tactical problems and all the good stuff. But uh, that was a ----- day, we got to go home for a couple weeks of furlow.
And then uh, they sent me to uh, Camp Shelby with that outfit, and uh, they shipped out after a few months, and uh, sent us to Camp Shanks, New York, and uh, gave us an overnight pass in the New York City, whoopee! And then we tried to go to a movie but they alerted us three or four times, we never did find out how the movie ended, we couldn't find anybody that knew. But uh, excuse me, they shoved us on a little boat, and I was standing there on, I, our company got the distinction of being the guards on the boat, we worked with the marines who were in charge of security, and the captain of the transportation core was in charge of the marines, and uh, my watch was on the quarter deck, at ultimately at first they put me outside on the deck before we shipped or the boat moved and this was right after Christmas. And down on the dock down there was a little tavern, with a jukebox, and it kept playing "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and "I'll Be Seeing You" and all the good old songs, and I sat there with tears in my eyes thinking, would they miss me if I just went down the gangplank and went home, you know, I thought different, I thought, naw, that wouldn't be patriotic if I had any patriotism by this time, so I stayed. Then they gave me my post on the quarter deck for eight hours a day which wasn't too bad, because I aquatinted myself with the captain of the quartermaster, or transportation captain, and he had an office on the quarter deck and he says "Are you eating in the mess hall" and I says "I tried that, and I haven't stopped barfing since" and he says "Go in my office in there" he says "There's uh, sliced ham, and bread there's all kinds of stuff to put on it and there's coffee at all times just help yourself" and so we got to be pretty good friends, and I had the best duty of all going over on the boat.
Coming back, I mean D deck, right on the very front of the boat, where you got a lot of motion and you could hear water rushing in because the anchor would beat a hole in the front of the Liberty Ship, and I had an inspection one day, and we were always getting gigged for some reason or another because there's flour on the steps, they call it ladders, going upstairs you know, upstairs, whatever, guess who the inspector was? That same captain, who says "What are you doing down here!" and I says "Hey, they didn't give me my room I wanted, you know, I wanted the one next to yours!", but uh, I didn't get it. And uh, but I told him why we were always being gigged, because the navy came down there from the cooks and lifted up the floor boards and took flour out of the hole down there and took in up to the kitchen and they would string all this stuff, the sacks leaked and we always got gigged for it, I told him about that and he says, "Well, I understand that, I can see how it could happen, so you won't be bothered from now on" and I says "Thank you, these guys would appreciate it, you know, they get to go up on deck now and then and breathe the fresh air!" Well it's crazy, go on.
rv: What would happen after that, what happened after that, like after that ship ride?
ev: Oh, going over? Well we had all the guard duty for the trip going over. And we were the last ones off the ship at La Havre, and the marines came down and says "You really going into combat" and I says "Yeah" "You been in combat before" and I says "No, not yet", and we got to talking, you know what I mean, back and forth. First thing you know these guys were crying, marines, big tough guys you know. They were in charge of the drills and everything, and pushing people around, and I can't believe this. They says "We hate to see anybody have to go into something like this, you may not get back". "Thanks for all the encouragement you guys!", you know, I wanna cry with them. Oh well. It's a weird life, but they got us off the boat, took us down to Lucky Strike Camp, which is one an auxiliary airfield and uh, Lucky Strike was a tent camp, and they have twenty men hospital tents, and then they give you a camp cot, which you put together, and you put straw on top of that, and you uh, put your blanket on top of that, and they give you a shelter, not a shelter, but uh half of a sleeping bag, the, the ,the blanket part of it you know, you don't get the outside part, so you wrap up your overcoat and everything you can to keep you warm because there's snow all over the ground.
We had to put this camp together at night, and we had to redo the whole thing the next morning, because it was so crooked you couldn't tell where you were going. And then you had down, way down about a quarter of a mile away and dig latrines you know, and , and a sump for the to put all the grease and stuff from the kitchen tents in there, and you had to be careful at night you didn't fall into the sump. It would have been a mess. But uh, the guys that were supposed to put this up were called up to the Battle of the Bulge, which happened about the time we got there. So they were not there to build the camp up for us. But we did a pretty good job in the daylight. Had to. That way our feet wouldn't start to freeze, your toes started turning black you know, from being in the cold and wet so much change your socks. Really, we'd change them so much we couldn't dry them fast enough. Get to wear wet socks and combat boots, and go sick call and the medic say "Keep your feet dry and warm". Come on, those guys weren't real. I don't know. Pneumonia, nothing they could do for it, you know. You just got well or you died. C'est la vie!
rv: What would, what happened after Camp Lucky Strike, what went on there?
ev: Oh, we got uh, they put us on trucks and took us to a rail head. Put us on little forty and eight cars, and took us down to a little town Hayes between Nancy and Metz. And uh, they gave us a billet which was an old castle, wasn't used anymore, and uh, we were there for a couple, three days. And uh, while we were there, see this castle kind of goes up a hill and then it drops off, there's a, there's a, a deer watch from up there, we were down below in the forest you know, in the, in the oh what do you call it? The little cleared patch for the graze. And uh, General Patton to pay us a little visit, and he stood up on the, on this deer watch, and we all formed below, in ranks of course. And he gave us a pep talk. He uh, politely told us he says "I can replace blasted one of you S.O.B.'s before I can replace one tank, so now you know what you're jobs going to be!" And it was very encouraging, we all cheered. We could have been court marshaled if we booed, so we had to cheer. Look enthusiastic, oh well.
Crossing the Saar
At uh, from there we moved up to this little place called Furweiller, just off the Saar River. And uh, we stayed in that little billet for I think three or four days. They had uh, apple cider and potatoes in the basement. And uh, that's about all we had to drink apple cider and some of it was pretty potent I can tell you! It stand alone! The potatoes weren't bad we had a lot of, lot of, uh baked, uh er, fried potatoes, french fried and stuff like this. We'd go over to the artillery outfit who used lard to grease the, the big guns with, you know, we'd go over there and borrow lard to cook our potatoes in. It's about all we had to eat for a while, potatoes and that oh horrible, horrible cider. Mmmm.
Then they moved us up on the Saar River to a little place called uh, Mondorf. Yes, that's the name of the place. And, uh, a little billet there, it was uh, well the little town was laid out in such a fashion that the pill boxes across the street had everything completely covered with crossfire, every street in town. And if they couldn't cover a little place by crossfire, with machine guns and things like this, they'd throw mortars at you! It uh, wasn't very pleasant. Uh, they had bombed this thing for months and months and months, the whole thing was the heaviest portion of the Sigfried Line, couldn't budge 'em, couldn't crack 'em, until we finally (inaudible bwomp noise). We'd patrol every night, we'd try to get in our little rubber boat I don't know how many rubber boats went through, we'd blow it up in the daytime and carry it through the woods and lay it down there by the river, and gonna get ready to go across at night, and gonna get ready to, you know, to go across at night, and with our flamethrowers and stuff and blow ‘em out of there. Well, everytime we go back to get the boat it’d be full of holes and flat.
We took our first lieutenant who was executive officer, he wasn’t a, he really wasn’t, he used to work with Orson Wells when he had his magic act. He was a big guy, about six foot eight, and uh, always read us the articles of war about desertion in the face of the enemy and all this stuff. And we finally talked him on going into patrol one night down by the river, and he did. And uh, uh, we were ambushed by a patrol from the other side that came over and uh, it was a pretty heavy firefight for a while, and, and the fire lifted, and they went back across the river and we went back to headquarters. And we walked in to report on our progress to the captain, and our good lieutenant reached back and got his canteen out of a holder to take a good swig of it, and guess what? It was empty, there was a bullet hole through it, and he fainted promptly. Never read us the articles of war after that. I don’t he’d a blamed us if we’d all ran away, including him.
Oh well, but uh, when we did finally get across the river they had left the night before, we ,we got a big barrage going in there, and went over in boats and put ropes across to pull them in and so forth. And uh, they had taken off during the night, and so we crossed the river in masses, started chasing them from town to town. And uh, it was a crazy, crazy deal, just, I don’t know, chasing people all the time. You wondered how far they could go and how fast, but they went a lot faster than we could, never did caught up, catch up with ‘em. Except this another little town ran through here, where was it, oh yes, a little town called Badsooten, Allendorf. Uh, they gave us our billet which was in a tavern. And it was real nice, there was rooms upstairs with beds and everything, it looked like they hadn’t been made quite that day. And they even had on tap in the bar down below. And we had just got settled down and decided where we were going to sleep and everything, and headed back for the bar and guess what? They call us out to chase the enemy, who was in the other end of town, and they were crossing the river bridge down here, running like crazy, and uh, they ran across the bridge and then blew the bridge. And they didn’t know I guess just what our force consisted of, we were only one company, and they had at least a regiment. They coulda blown the bridge after we got across and just annihilated the whole group, you know! Their intelligence wasn’t working that day, ah; it’s a crazy world.
Oh well, we uh, on up the river went to a little town called Menningen, yeah and uh, that uh, we, we uh, well I say there was thirteen of us, we were the bad guys, we always got to, got to do the, the bad stuff, you know, I guess we just weren’t suited for army life really, and they didn’t realize that, cause, well, they gave us things to do to keep us busy. Like probing for mines with bayonets for mile after mile on our hands and knees! But we did such a good job, when we got to this little town that was right at the end of the day, the sun was going down pretty quick, and uh, our captain says “You guys did a great job, I’m gonna give you the first billet right here at the edge of town.” So, we moved in, and there was an old couple there and we told them “You’re gonna have to leave, just go down in the basement, we’ll be gone in the morning.” Well, uh, we started lookin’ for food, lighting candles and things like this, you know. And the first thing you know, somebody’s tearin’ the roof off the place, it had a slate roof. It was BAM! BAM! BAM! Like this, and uh, what’s wrong? You know, we all rush out in the hallway they had brick walls inside and out and terrazzo floors and what not. It was a safe place you know. But uh, well, we, we stayed there in the dark until the fire lifted finally and we lit candles again and looked around.
I’ll take you back a ways. When I left home from Indianapolis, I got on a train to go to Camp Shelby, and there’s a GI, he’s the only seat beside him. I sat down beside him; he says “Get off the train.” I said “What for?” He says “You’re goin’ to Shelby aren’t you?” And I says “Yes”. He says “Get off the train.” I says “Why?” He says “They’re alerted, they’re moving out, they’re shipping overseas, you might as well get off the train.” I say “Where’re you goin’?” He says “I’m goin’ to Shelby, too.” I says “Why don’t you get off the train?” He says “I have responsibilities. I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m a sergeant you know.” I says “Well, they can hang you as high as they can hang me, you know!” (German phrases) Uh, okay, the fire lifted, and uh, we light candles again to start look around, you know what I mean, and I looked at the guy sitting next to me, and this guy I saw on a train, the sergeant. And I says “What are you doin’ here?” And he says “Well, I’m with heavy weapons, and uh, I’m supporting you guys with a mortar back here, and they attached me to you know, just temporarily.” And I says “Well, I didn’t even see you come in.” He says “Well, it was the last minute, the, you know, carrying all the heavy stuff here, your captain decided he’d let me take the first billet with you.” And you know, it’s weird. But the first thing he said to me when we met was “I told you to get off the train!” Uh, he’s a weird guy.
But uh, we found out that the reason they were trying to tear the house down was because the old couple had gone out the uh, cellar door up to a pillbox on a hill behind the house and told we were there, and so they started tearing their house down. They were wanting them to come down and just move us out, but they decided to do it the hard way. But uh, nobody was hurt, and uh, we stayed overnight. The next morning we got up and looked around and we didn’t see any GIs around anywhere. And two girls came by on bicycles and so we asked them in English uh, “Are there American troops here?” and they said “No, uh, they left last night.” Uh-huh, they spoke good English, you know. Most German kids did. They took , it was Oxford English actually, but uh. Found out our troops had just turn-tailed and ran like heck because they were attacked, and they weren’t prepared, they thought we’d just take a town like we had before where there’s no opposition, and uh. And the girls told us that the local garrison and battalion of the uh, regular army had been there the night before and repelled the attack. They started shooting our guys and they ran. So we uh, started lookin’ for ‘em in the next town. All along the route to the next town you wouldn’t believe all the instruments, or the uh, the guns, ammunition, everything under the sun you would have to carry they threw in the ditches and ran, for their lives you know, leaving us in this house, and we went back and found the captain asleep in the barn and read him the riot act. “You left us for slaughter, don’t, don’t ever get in front of us (inaudible) fire fight goin’ on.” He says “I put you all in for the combat infantry badge”, you know. Well that might appease us a little bit, that’s ten bucks more a month, you know the family could use it, so we didn’t shoot him. He was an old football player, he loved to run, and he would run us poor skinny little kids for miles and miles, it was torture, sheer torture. Uh, he’s dead now. I don’t why, I didn’t do it! I just heard at a convention! Anyway, we, we after that we just chased retreating forces all over the place and occasionally we’d catch up with ‘em we’d fight. And uh, oh it was weird.
The one picture there I show you, on Easter morning, uh, we had a terrific firefight the night before, and uh, there was flat country there was no place to hide, and we were approaching this town in our, in our trucks, and uh, they, (looking in portfolio) uh no, I guess I didn't put it in there, anyway. Naw, it's not, there. Uh...
rv: It's in here some where I know I looked at it, I looked at it.
ev: There it is, there it is, yeah. Was Easter morning, and the first thing you do when you, when you, you know, go into a town, and, and there's no more fighting, you start looking around for something to eat because they always had these, these meats hanging in the, in the, up in the attic you know, and stuff like this, and fruit and things that had been dried, and so we'd always raid the attics for the good stuff. And so we found oh, weinerschnitzel, and all the good stuff, took it out and built a fire in the, in the side ditch. And there's this dead German lying there with an eyeball hanging out, on his cheek, watching us eat, our Easter breakfast! And some poor old lady, old people run to relatives' houses, or friends' houses this minute the firefight starts and they generally get caught in the fire, and they get killed.
And this old lady was lying there in the street, and we put a blanket over her. Bless her heart, she, they don't understand war, and you gotta hide. That's the only way to live is hide. Stay outta the road, you know. But uh, that was our Easter breakfast, it uh, it wasn't too pleasant. Here we go. Uh, after this we, we were detached with a uh, a batallion of armor, or a spearhead drive in the 6th Armored Division. And uh, you go as far as you can go, hit the light stuff, and bypass the heavy stuff, and wait for the main force to pick up the heavy stuff as they come along. And we uh, we did a good fifty miles or so with them. Just moving forward, and taking little towns, and waiting on the big ones for the, for the other guys. And uh, it, it worked out pretty good, we uh, we made about fifty miles. Which is a pretty good advance, but, uh it, we finally got this little town called Struth.
And we, we, we settled in there and pretty complacent, nothing's gonna happen, you know. We're safe, I mean they're on the run, sure they are. So, it uh, what you do, you have door guards for night, you know. So Savaravich, the "raving (inaudible) from New Orleans", Louisiana, you know, he's a newspaper man in real life for the Times (inaudible) in New Orleans and the Miami Herald. But uh, he was, he was raised registration, had no business being in the infantry. On the way over on the boat we showed him how to break down a rifle and clean it, you know. Man, he had a terrific accent, had a wife, little girl, he was always talking about them. But uh, he was, he and I were in the first squad. And the guys in the second squad needed someone for door guards, and he was a big awkward kid, they didn't trust him with a gun, they don't think he could ever shoot anybody, and I had strapped on both knees from (inaudible) and an explosion, and uh, I dug it out myself because our medic wanted to be a rifleman. And, he, he still wore the helmet with the red crosses on it, and he carried a rifle! This is not right, you know, it's contrary to international law, really! But, uh, it, it uh, he uh, he was sleeping with us, he stayed for that night, and uh, his head was on the back door, I was on the front door, and all of the sudden, just before dawn we hear this clanking coming down the street. And my God, Patton's boys got here pretty quick, you know, what're they doin' here? And you look outside and there's this German tank out there. That's, that's not uh, ours at all. So we wake the group, Padilla rushes over to the door with his rifle, he'd picked up a rifle some dead guy had. And starts shootin' at the guy in the top, hangin' out the turret, you know. And he killed him, he went down. And another guy come up, and he shot him. Third guy didn't come up. He brought the 88mm around pointed at the house. And everybody figured it was time to evacuate, but quick you know. And I could barely walk (cough), excuse me, let alone run. So I pulled an oak dining room table up against the wall and crawled underneath of it. I figure I'll do the best I can to survive. And then nothing. I, I didn't know anything for a while. It was all black. And when I came to it was still black because I had plaster all over me, you know, I was just covered with this stuff, my eyes, my ears, my mouth, everything that, that I would, I was just numb. I was just stunned temporarily, and uh, I finally got the stuff cleared out of my eyes, finally got my ears opened up a little bit, and spit a lot, but uh, and uh, I saw what happened.
There wasn't an ounce of plaster left on the walls, or anywhere else, the explosion. And I was very fortunate to be alive I guess, but it shook me out like a rug. It uh, that was it, and then everything went black. But I got out and stood up the best I could, and made my way out the back door, and uh, very slowly limped out to the barn behind where everybody else was. And uh, Padilla had run our the back door, he was the first one out, he went through the back door of the barn and out through a gate which closed behind him into the middle of a big field.
Here came half the German army toward him, you know. They were coming through town! Right out behind us there and he, he got down and started shootin' at 'em. Well they didn't shoot back at for a little bit seein' the red cross on his helmet, but then they did, and uh, he ran like heck and got back through the gate and back in the barn. And a few minutes later, there was a machine gun set outside and they started firing at the barn, and, and yelling for us to come out our hands up, you know. And when we all did, thirteeen of us, they looked so surprised, they thought it was just him in there, I think. And they searched us, and, right there on the spot. And my buddy and I, when we were in New York, we bought scout knives, with all the little instruments on them, you know, all kinds of tools and things. And, uh, we had those in our pockets.
Well, they took our wallets, they took our pens and pencils, and everything of value, looked at the knives and handed them back to us. Why? I'll never know. But they did. And when they took us down to the next little town, and uh, for interrogation. And this is another weird thing. Our own planes were bombing and strafing. It wasn't too pleasant for a while. And uh, they were bombing and strafing this town, our own planes were, and uh, it happened that the tank unit that attack us were to be reinforced at this point, at that little town where they took us to. And they had a train there with about fifty tanks on it, still sitting on the siding, waiting to be unloaded. And the little air force just tore them to ribbons. They bombed and strafed and everything, there was these things flying all over the place, you know, they weren't too happy about that.
But uh, it uh, they, they, they brought us in one at a time for interrogation and, they had our mail and, uh, all our belongings and things with them, and uh, the guy interrogating me was uh, a civilian. With a dark gray suit, black shoes, white shirt, blue tie, iron gray hair, spoke perfect English. And he says "You're from Marion, Indiana" and I says "Yeah". He says "Halfway between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, isn't it?" and I says "Yeah", he says "State Road 9, 37 goes right past the square, past the courthouse, bank on the corner, clothing store next to the bank called Richard's, I bought a tie there once." Well, I'm kinda stunned, you know. "May I ask you a question?" "Sure, sure", I says "What are you doin' in my hometown?" He says "That's part of my territory." I says "What's you're territory?" He says "I was a traveling salesman." I says "Could I ask you one more question?" He says "Sure." I says "What're you doin' here?" He says "I came over to get my folks and take them home with me, but they wouldn't let me leave, and since I spoke English and German, they made an interpreter/ interrogator out of me, you know, so that's what I'm doin' here." He says "I think it's almost over, don't you?" and I said "Yeah." We stood up and shook hands he says "I hope we both make it home alive", and said "I hope so" and that was the end of my interrogation.
But then they put us all back in cells and here come our air force again bombing and strafing with 50mm shells and, and uh, little rockets bouncing around inside the jail cells. We uh, didn't have much hopes for getting out of there alive, but we did. And uh, so they started us on our journey to a place called Rhinehausen to a prison camp there. And uh, we marched for two days, the first night we stopped at a schoolhouse and slept on the terrazzo floors, which wasn't too healthy, but uh, we never had anything to eat, or drink, for two days, neither did our guards. They had one piece of bread between them, no, we had one piece of bread, that's what they gave us, that black German bread. That's for thirteen people, it didn't go very far, but our guards didn't have anything neither, so uh, they, they uh, they, they carried us on at a pretty good gate and I was in misery the whole time, but, I was afraid not to go. For fear if they shoot me, you know they don't mess with 'em, that's it, you're expendable.
But uh, on the second day we got, oh, while we were going along here, here come the German army toward us, they're retreating like crazy. They don't have any gas or oil, so they're pulling vehicles, wagons and things, and pulling trucks with horses, and what not, you know, and uh, it's not moving too quickly but they're trying to get out of the road and our planes are strafing them all the while, and throwing rockets at them. And we're in the vicinity, so we dive into culverts and ditches, and everything we can to keep from getting hit, I don't know how we did, but we did somehow. But my buddy and I had these scout knives left. And all these wires for communication in the side ditches we sat there when we would dive in the ditch and hack wires you know. Our guards were up in front of us, they didn't know what we were doin'. But uh, we couldn't have escaped, if we had escaped we wouldn't know where to go, because we were surrounded all the time by German troops. From one sector or another.
And uh, at the end of the second day, uh, we were past a Y in the road where two German forces were coming together, converging on this central point to go into one road leading away from us you know. And uh, there was two superior officers standing there arguing as to who had priority. And they argued and argued and argued while everybody just sat and waited, you know. But us we went on through there, on through the Yand up into a woods, just outside of town, because there was a firefight, cannon fight going on in town. And we waited with our two guards until the fire lifted and here come our first lieutenant walking down toward this woods. And we started talking to our guards telling them how nice it was you know, to be in the States, how all the Italian prisoners got passes to go to New York City and stuff like this, and they, they believed it! Bless their hearts I'm so glad they did, uh-huh. We were constantly in fear of being shot.
The leader was sort of a sergeant and he had been an officer in the German Luftwaffe, and uh, he had lost a finger in a firefight in some plane, and the plane crashed. But uh, since he was pretty shot up there with that finger gone what not, his trigger finger, they put him in the infantry, and broke him down to a sergeant And, and the little guy behind was the equivalent to a private first class, because he was an officer trainee. And they both had rifles, which you didn't notice any other appearance of ammunition that they were carrying. And after they gave us our rifles to surrender we found that between them, the little kid in the back only had one shell and that was all that the two of them had. We coulda gotten away anytime! But we couldn't have gone far, we probably been hit by our own fire, we had, you know.
But uh, we finally got to the prison camp which contained British soldiers were working across in an 88mm factory, making shells contrary to international law. But they did it, it was staying alive, that's why you do it, you know. But uh, we went from there to uh, a little town on the Rhine, they took us up there in uh, trucks, and uh, there was a collection depot for German prisoners. There were thousands and thousands and thousands of German prisoners there, just as far as the eye can see all over this valley and up on the hillside there were German prisoners. And uh, they had guard dogs guardin' them, and this night fellow, we were, oh, billeted in a little house nearby there. And the most, the eeriest sound I've ever heard in my life. You know, people talk about hearing the angels sing? These guys were singing "Lily Marlene" in four part harmony, thousands of guys singing this and it swept across us like a wave across this field. I never heard anything like it in my life, the hair stands up on the back of your neck, you get goosebumps, it's a weird feeling, you know! They talk about the tabernacle choir, hey these guys were a quartet! I don't know, it uh, was very, very exciting, it was beautiful.
But uh, the next day they put us in trucks again, took us down to the Manes, uh, River, and uh, they had a large collection depot down there for prisoners. And uh, they loaded all them in uh, open boxcars, open cars, you know, standing up. They crowded so many of them, you couldn't, you couldn't do anything. You couldn't lie down if you wanted to, you know. And uh, they gave us a box of ten to one rations, which have to be cooked, and they put us in this forty and eight boxcar right in the middle of all this, and uh, you stick your foot out to hang, swing your feet you know, and out in the, in the nothingness out there, uh, sitting on the doorway of the boxcar, and, you can bet your sweet bippy that there's goin' to be a guard dog come up and try to grab your legs because they had 'em in the boxcar behind us, you know.
But they had several thousands of guys in this, this whole trainload. But that's what they had to keep'em in there was the guard dogs, and they patrolled this thing, and the train didn't move too fast. They took us to a little town called Namour in Belgium, and it was a, more or less a depot for uh, repatriating prisoners, and uh, those GIs, and uh, they gave us a bath, and deloused us, and all the good stuff, gave us uh, uh, two issues of uniform. Unfortunately, they didn't have any neckties or caps, all they had was British uniforms. Ah well, we wore 'em, you know. And uh, then they uh, took us, they put us in a nice hotel, it was a new AEF club. AEF club's for all GIs that are coming back you know, and want to spend the night someplace, and they, they charge you I think thirty cents a night. And with that you get your dinner and your breakfast, and a nice bed which was wonderful. But uh, this was a Liberty hotel in Namour, Belgium. And uh, the next day they put us on a train and sent us to Brussels, Belgium, and the Metropole Hotel, now that was a grand hotel. That was another AEF club so we spent the night there.
And uh, this is, this forwarding us you know, and uh, the old couple of officers took us into town and showed us around the place and wanted to know if we wanted to buy any lace, and what not. With what! We don't got any money! You know, so they got us on a train the next morning and sent us on to Paris. And we got off the train in Paris, and uh, we went to an AEF club in Paris, it's the Liberty Ho-, no, I forget, no it wasn't Liberty, can't think what the name of it was now, anyhow. It was a big hotel, it was an AEF club, and uh, we checked in there and since we had two issues of clothing apiece, we decided we need money. And the MPs were stopping us everywhere, "Where's your necktie? Where's your hat?" "We don't have a hat, we don't have a necktie. They didn't give it to us, you know." All we had was a little piece of paper that says ex-patriot and POW. And we explained to 'em, you know, I don't know, they took our word for it, which was very fortunate. But uh, we uh, since we had the extra issue of clothing, we uh, found out where we could hawk it. Sell it, extra shoes, and pants, and shirts, and jackets. So we got money and we stayed a couple of extra days in Paris, just lookin' around, you know.
And uh, and then we got back on the train and went on up to La Havre, back to Lucky Strike. In our little tent there that we had stayed there for so long. We had chalked on the outside our, our platoon sergeant was a guy named Paul Lafferty, he's from Newcumbersville, Ohio. And uh, big tall guy, blonde hair, hook nose, and feet a foot and a half long. Called him paddle foot for some reason. And uh, he uh, he's one of those nice guys, anyhow. But uh, he uh, we, we, we, saw our old tent that still had "Lafferty's Jokers" chalked over the doorway you know, it's like coming home again. And uh, they, they had that a processing station for POWs they send'em home or back to units or wherever transfers. But they weren't going to send us home since we hadn't been POWs for too long, or long enough. And since Savaravich was our spokesman, he went in to see our camp commander. And uh, explained to him that he was a reporter for the Times, (inaudible), and the "Miami Herald", and the, that we'd been told all along that we'd be going home, and uh, we'd be really disappointed, a real blow to our moral, you know, that probably never would recover, we'd be too careless to, you know, to be real effective, probably get shot the first day in action again.
So they finally decided they'd let us come home. And we're standing outside the tent listening to all this, snickering. Oh, what a spokesman. They, they, uh, put us on a truck and took us into the port at La Havre, and put us on a boat. And uh, of course we had D deck way down in the bottom, as far down as you can go in the boat, right up in the front. And we get to the English Channel and they tell us that we're going to England. I said "Oh, why?" and they said "Well, we have to pick up some air force troops there. "Oh okay, so they did but they get top deck, these guys are all brass you know, they're not the average GI. So uh, we were in South Hampton picked those guys up and then we headed out ot sea.
And uh, it was a two week trip coming home, we still stay in convoy, because uh, about seven days at sea a German submarine surfaced, they, they, radar picked it up, sonar, whatever, and they started throwing ash cans out and he came up and surrendered. He didn't even know the war was over, nobody had told him. But it uh, six or seven more days we landed in Boston. And uh, of course our little compartment was the last ones to leave the ship, being as far down as we were. I'm glad they didn't forget we were there. But uh, oh! The seas were kind of rough on occasion, I mean everybody was sick as dogs and uh, we could hear the anchor banging against the front of the ship, you know, and it finally beat a hole in it, its one of these old Liberty ships. And we could hear water pouring in that compartment up there against the bunkhead where we were. And it wasn't long they had guys down there with big armor plate and everything welding up, reinforcing it and so forth.
I'm so glad to see them, you know. But uh, we landed in Boston, and uh, we're coming down the gangplank. And uh, I don't know why, but I looked to right a little bit and there stood a guy, Louie Fear. He used to live here in town I uh, used to work with him at Farnsworth. And uh, I lived at the corner of Eighth and Washington Street. When we were first married, after our baby was born, and uh, no, before the baby was born, you know. And Louie would stop by and pick me up everyday and take me to work, and bring me home everynight. And he says "Where's all your fruit salad", and I says, "We're not in the air force Louie, we're infantry, we don't get that stuff, we have to buy it! They don't give it to us in the P-X rations, you know!" He was a funny guy, but uh, they, they uh, kept us there for I think one night, and uh, from there we, they put us on trains and sent us back home. And we were home for I think two weeks.
And then we had to go back in the service, they uh, sent us to Miami Beach, ah that was good duty. They give you classes on why we fight, and by the time we got there the war was over. I'll never understand this, but they gave us a bunch of tests and things like this, you know. And they gave us a four hour IQ test that covered about everything in the book. And I looked at the test for a half an hour, uh, checked off true, false, true, false, false, true, true, true, false, false, false, you know. Handed the paper in. And he says " You can't do this in that short length of time. Get back there and answer those questions to the best of you ability." And I says "What's it gonna prove?" He said "Well, it's gonna prove you know, about you future in the service." And I say "I don't have any future, I'm just waiting on points to get out!" I says " That's it", so I left. They posted the grades the next day, and guess who was number one? Moi. Never read the first question I was lucky, so lucky all the way through I guess...that some of my officers didn't shoot me! Oh well, it's a crazy story, I know, but we went from there to uh, oh, I got interviewed by a psychiatrist who asked me "How do you think your chances are in the service?" And I says "Not worth a damn." He says "You want me to put that in your record?" and I says "Would you please?" (coughs) Excuse me. But uh, I got home, oh got to Camp Atterbury, and uh, the wife and my son, and another couple we knew were there and we run out to catch the bus. gonna go home at last.
And uh, it was five o'clock, time for retreat, where they fire the cannon and play taps. They fired the cannon and I uh, crawled out from under the bus very sheepishly. I thought somebody was shootin' at me. But uh, we got home, had a little furlow, and uh, oh, oh, this was when I first got home, and uh, and from Miami Beach they sent...Okay. We got to Camp Livingston and the camp commander called each of us in individually and talked to us you know. And he was a colonel and he said "You're in here for one purpose and this is to train trainees. And regardless of what that training book says, I want to tell them what you know to be true about combat and how to stay alive you know." So I said "Fine, I'll do that." and he said "Now, if you have any problems, come and see me." And I says "Thank you, I will." He said "By the way, those ribbons, they're not real are they?" And I says "They're all just ribbon and felt and they got just about an inch around 'm and, you know and folded 'em over this felt you know and sewed 'em on the back I put snaps including the combat infantry badge and I put the other half on the snap of my jacket and on my shirts. And they just snap on there and when you send the clothes to the cleaner you just snap 'em off, you know." He goes look at my chest, he unbuttoned his shirt, to show me his chest and it's all scraped there from all the little bayonet things on the back of most of the ribbons you know, the hard ones. He says, "I'm gonna have my wife do that." So I left.
Well they assigned me to a company there that uh, well they all was a bunch of misfits. One poor kid we'd train him in all the different infantry weapons, you know what I mean, and uh, you crawl into a little pit with him to throw grenades, and uh, you've heard horror stories about guys getting scared and dropping the grenade after the pin is out, it happened! Yes! And I threw the grenade, and picked it up and heaved it outside the thing and we both ducked and in midair the thing went off. It was too close for me. And another crazy incident crawling infiltration courses at night with platoon after platoon after platoon you just go through a whole batallion you know one squad at a time. And about every third squad that went by it seemed that I had to be in it, I don't know why. But I carried a rifle with me, for the simplest reason that I 'd use it to hold up the barbed wire when I crawled underneath of it. And tracer bullets don't go straight. They have a little fire in the back, you know, the tracer element, knocks off the trajectory so they sort of go different directions sometimes spirals, sometimes way off to the right or the left to wherever you know, on the ground or up, and one of them went through my rifle and I said that's too close. I'd rather get home alive than have something happen crawling around on an infiltration course.
So the next morning, I was a mess. I went on sick call and I said I gotta bad case of nerves so they gave me this green stuff in a bottle and I took it back to the dispensary. And I said I've been to a lot of dental clinics in my time and I've used a lot of mouthwash. I know what Lavoris is. And this is Lavoris, this is not some thing for my nerves. Have you got anything for my nerves? He said "Well, I can't give you anything." And I said "Why didn't you tell me that to begin with?" So I left there and I went down to camp headquarters. And I said I want to speak to the commander. "Well, you can't see him now, he's busy." And I says "I want to see the commander, now." I was mad. And he says he can't be seen. But I was him. I took a first sergeant with me. And a lieutenant was starting my way and I says don't move. I'll kill you. And I went through the door and he looked up and he wasn't busy at all. I just didn't have an appointment I guess. And he says "What are you doing here?" And I says "I came to see you." And he says "Well, come on in." And he says "Well come on in, pull up a chair, what can I do for you?" And this guys looking at me like is he a relative? I told him my problem that I had a bad case of nerves, I couldn't take but too much more of this. And he's away from us, Indiana and he says fifth core, and I says yeah, fifth core. He said "Would you care to recruit?" I said it sounds as good as anything, it's sure better than getting shot at. And he says okay, can you be on a train at six in the morning? And I says yeah, and he says okay, so he sent me to Columbus, Ohio which is fifth core headquarters. And they sent me to Cleveland, Ohio to recruit. And there was a train out of Cleveland that went to Muncie in just a few hours and the express got there before the other one did so I always took the express. And it was real nice, I could come home for the weekend, I had a pass. And if I had enough money I could come home. Not too much, but once in a while.
Well, I recruited there for about nine months. And we recruited more individuals for the army than any other recruiting station in the United States. They did a good job I guess. Finally I told them, I'm just working for points. All I want to do is get out. Have you got another job besides recruiting, I can't really sell something I don't like. So they said the first sergeant needs an assistant, can you type? I said yeah, I can type. They said fine, you fill out all the enlistee forms and send them across the street to the induction station, they're gone. The didn't have a chance to change their minds. If they were too skinny, too light weight, take them down to the corner and buy them a pound of bananas or something. It was a crazy life. I'm glad to be out of it. It was an experience though, it uh, I hope you enjoyed it.
rv: This is nice
ev: It wasn't a lot of fun, but looking back, in retrospect, things take a much different appearance than they did at the time I guess. I'm lucky, very lucky. Lucky to have a good wife, good kids, and I guess I had pretty good jobs. Well that's about it I guess.
rv: If you don't mind, I'd like to ask you a couple more questions.
Reflections on the Army and wartime experiences
ev: Sure, you bet.
rv: How did you prepare to go into the war? Like, before you actually went over there, what kind of stuff did you train for what you were about to get into?
ev: Oh, basic training. You do a lot of hiking. These are speed marches and long hikes of fifteen miles and ten miles and twenty five miles. The last one with full field pack before you graduate. And that's another crazy thing. I didn't finish my twenty five mile hike which you had to have before graduating from training. So basic training, I dropped out. I figured, so, if I don't finish this hike, I'll get to stay in the States? Well, anyway, I didn't, I got on the track and they took me back to camp and I was waiting there when the other guys get back and they're looking at me in full contempt. But, we get to Camp Shelby and the go "Anyone who didn't finish the twenty five mile hike has to do it before you can go overseas, we'll put your names on the bulletin board. Guess what, my name wasn't on there. But all of my buddies who finished the hike, their names were on there. They didn't count it for them. They gave you a lot of target practices and infiltration courses. We had in Texas what they called a "Killer College" where they put you through everything, the hiking, the waiting, the creeks, and all of the good stuff . It's a physical strain. PT in the morning and you're wallering around out there, sweaty, in the sand and you're lying on your back in the sand. Crawling around doing the duckwalk and all that stuff. And after that you put your shirt back on and go to breakfast with all that gritty sand. The basic tenant here is to give you the "will to kill". And I had a few sergeants and officers that, well, if I had the proper weapons, and wasn't afraid of Leavenworth, that's a deterrent. Looking back on it, they should have court marshaled me. They're tolerant I guess in their own way.
rv: Approximately how far did you travel from town to town in Germany and France, and how did you travel the distance?
ev: Well, in France, we traveled on trucks and in trains. In Germany, we traveled on trucks. Big GI trucks. You can put a lot of guys in there, you know. And we're working on a spearhead unit. We sing as we go along you know, try to keep our morale up and all that stuff. Following the tanks and they stop and we get in front of the tanks and knock out all the opposition we could find. As Patton says, he can replace all of us before he can replace a tank. You bear this in mind and you know what you've got to do. But we did, we traveled in trucks. Sometimes, looking back on it, it wasn't very pleasant because, the camaraderie in the trucks the singing and stuff, brings everybody together and sort of forgetting their problems for a little while, and all of a sudden fire starts. And you jump off the truck and you got no place to hide and it's flat country and you've thrown your shovel away cause you thought you'd never need it to dig a hole and you're trying to claw the earth with a chow spoon. And the guys, some of them you've been singing with, they don't get back on the truck. They're gone. And it's not pleasant in respect. They're good friends you know. You don't really comprehend how it affects you until it happens to you. This is it, you know but you've got to be realistic, you know that it's got to happen sometime to somebody. You hope it isn't you and you hope it isn't any of your friends. And you wish it couldn't be anybody. But it is, it is.
rv: How far did you guys travel? What was the distance that you guys traveled overseas?
ev: Oh you mean on the boats or on trucks and things?
rv: Just over in France and Germany.
ev: Oh, I don't know, I suppose four hundred, five hundred miles. A lot of it is in trains, a lot of it's in trucks. And in combat, a lot of walking too. Some terrain you just can't get over in trucks. It's just impossible. You go up mountainsides and things like this and you hike up. I had a crazy experience. We'd got up a mountain it'd rained, it was muddy. And we'd gone up the side of this thing and just a little narrow road and we got up the side of this thing and of course, we're all just dead tired with the full field pack and the equipment that you had to carry like the rifle and all the ammunition and grenades and stuff. And I took off my helmet, I turned it upside down and sat on it. I was dead tiered. You could look out around you for miles and miles and miles of flat country below this hill and here comes this jeep up this little narrow road and it stopped and it was our colonel. Colonel waved and he looked at me and he said soldier get of your big fat ass and put that helmet and put that helmet on your head. And I says yes sir, I saluted, I stood up and I put the helmet on my head. Well, the jeep moved on. Then there was a motorcycle. "Vice, you heard what that man said, get off your you know what and get that helmet on your head!" I said "Bailey, where in the hell did you come from?" It was a guy from here in town I knew. He was a courier. I didn't know he was in the army. Ad guess what, I haven't seen him since. It's a weird world. Weird things happen. I can't explain 'em. I know his sister but I just never think to ask her about him. I don't know, it's weird. Just glad to get home.
rv: You spoke of the thirteen of you guys were pretty mischievous. What kind of things did you get into?
ev: When we first got to Camp Lucky Strike, like I say, this Savaravich was a graves registration, and picking up bodies and things, kind of dangerous. You work with mines and booby traps, of course they always wire them, you know, when you pick it up it'll blow you up. If you touch the wrong wire. They got loads of dynamite in them. But you learned how to dewire things. And there was a bunker out in the middle of this abandoned airfield where the camp was. We made our way out to the center there to this bunker, and went down inside and Savaravich unwired the stove. Little round stove about a foot around you know and a little bit of stovepipe. WE didn't have stoves in these twenty man hospital tents. So we got the stove out and we brought it back to camp. We hooked the whole thing up and didn't have enough pipe and went over to the mess tent and got tin cans and punched holes in them, and wired them together, and got them through the ceiling of the tent. And we needed some fuel. What they gave us was a helmet full of what looked like nothing but klinker, you know, it looked like nothing but a burnt out mine. So we went into the woods one night and each guys is issued something besides a shovel, you know, an ax or something like this. So we went out into the woods and chopped down this tree. We chopped off the limbs off of it and left it intact and were towing it back to camp, and the MP stopped us. And that tree belonged to some farmer over there, it wasn't ours, it belonged to some French farmer. So he took us to the Police Marshall together with our tree. We had to carry it over to the police captain and see that we got two weeks of camp punishment in lieu of court marshal. So we went back to camp, and a few days later one of us happened by the Police Marshall's office and saw that all of our wood had been stacked in front of his tent. So we went to the Chaplain, and the next morning all that wood was in front of our tent. But we did the two weeks company punishment. I read the book on rules and regulation, on what you can and can't do, Articles of War, and, we dug ditches along the walkway, piled water would run off. Well the mud ran down too, so it was an endless job. There was also snow and all that with it. The end of the two weeks, here comes the sergeant, and "All right you guys, on your feet. Let's go, get out of bed. Time to dig." I said "Fritz, we're not digging anymore." He says "What do you mean?" And I says Article so and so of the Articles of War says that any punishment in excess of two weeks shall be accompanied by a court marshal. We'll be sitting high and dry in Leavenworth while you're under the sod somewhere. I was called several not so flattering names. He says you've read the book haven't you? And I said yes I have. And I intend to live by the letter of it. So do you or don't you? We didn't get along very well. I was well, they called me a smart whatchamacallit. The regimental commander, the colonel, gets you up at 4:00 in the morning and you're standing in line in the snow to get breakfast. Guys are passing out from the hunger and the cold. Drag 'em back to their tent and put them in a freezing bed. My buddy and I were standing in line and they put the chain in front of us, we were supposed to be next in line. We'd been there for about an hour and a half. Cold, and miserable. Just daylight. I says the creep who invented this should have his head examined. I've never seen a bigger screw up in all my life that this chow situation. And there was this voice behind me. "Do you know what you just said?" I turned around and it was the colonel and I said yes sir. And I meant every word of it. He says who's your company commander? I says Captain Doleman. He says I'll speak to him about you. I said I wish you would sir. It'd do me a great deal of good. Well, he spoke to him about me, and Doleman told him I guess that I was the ne'er do well of the outfit or something. He says I'm supposed to reprimand you severely. What sort of punishment would you like the best? Well, none to tell you the truth. You could just, you know, send me home. He called me some nasty name again and told me to get out of his office. I look back on it now and I'm just lucky they didn't shoot me for it. They'd make any excuse. It was a lot of fun but you can laugh at it now, but it was a serious business, really serious. I lost a lot of good friends. You don't see good friends butchered like they were. You wonder, is it worth it, what's the cause? What's the result? You see families torn apart and they'll have hurt and grief that will last them a lifetime. And it's not pleasant to think about, that's all. I was very fortunate, I'm a survivor. I've survived a lot since then. Anymore?
rv: One more question. How had Marion changed after you came back from the war?
ev: Not really, the same old place, they hadn't progressed any, they hadn't degressed any. It was just the same old Marion, but it sure looked good to me. Nothing had changed. The theaters were still there, the same old people, the same old cars with all those bald tires. It's a weird world. But I'm glad to still be a part of it.
rv: Well, that should be everything.
rv: Thank you very much...
ev: It's my pleasure.
rv: for this interview.
ev: It's my pleasure, I hope it helps.
rv: I'm sure it does.
ev: Good show.