Interview: Jack Druckemiller (jd)
Medium: Video and Audio tape
Date: March 25, 1998
Place: Home of Jack Druckemiller, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Collected by: Jack Weagley (jw)
jw: Will you please state your name and where you are?
jd: My name is Jack Druckemiller, and I'm at my home in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
jw: What's the date?
jd: This is, uh, the 25th of March 1998.
jw: Do I have permission to tape you with a video tape?
jd: Yes, you certainly do.
jw: And an audio tape?
jw: Do I have permission to submit this information to Mr. Munn's AP US History class?
jd: Yes, no problem.
jw: And do I have permission to submit this information to the Marion, Indiana Public Library?
jd: You sure do.
Oral History of Jack Druckemiller
jw: O.k., I guess we'll begin then. Before the beginning of World War II, how was the family life? Like what did you and your friends do?
jd: Well, I came from a one child family, and uh, family life was closer than it is these days. Uh, my mother and father both worked, mother worked part time. We had a good family life, uh, because my parents were always home for me. And I had friends that I associated with, grew up in my neighborhood, and we just found things to do that, uh, that I guess in those days was normal for people.
jw: O.k., how about during the war, what kind of things did your family do then?
jd: Well, my parents, of course, both continued to work during the war, I was gone. And, uh, I did not get home to often. Uh, but they maintained a good home and, uh, helped with the war effort wherever they could.
jw: After the war, were things a lot different than before or during?
jd: Not a great deal, of course I came back to, uh, to my town and, uh, immediately went back to school, I was in, I was in, uh, college when, uh, I went in the service. So I had not completed the work for my degree, so I returned to school after, after the war.
jw: Before the war, um, what did you do for entertainment? Like, did you go to the movies, er...
jd: Well, we didn't go to too many movies, because I worked at the movie...
jd: I spent about five years working at the, fact the movie ushering and at the movie theater was one of my first dirty jobs, and, uh, I had worked at the Indiana Theater in Marion, and the Lyric Theater for five years, for the then Manager Billy Connors.
jw: Did you attend church before the war?
jd: Yes, I was as a matter of fact born in a, in a Quaker family, my Grandparents, Grandfather, was a member of the South Marion Friends Church which basically was a Quaker church, and I attended Church there until I, until I left for the service.
jw: Did, did, like going to church change before or during the war, er after the war?
jd: In my programs that I was involved with during the war, particularly mid-shipman's school, we were required to attend church as a group. And of course, missed a something you almost looked forward to. Because we did not get the chance to get out of the place for very many other things.
jw: How about after the war? Did you still go to church, or...
jd: I did, and we had moved several times since then and attended several churches but still I've continued to.
jw: You said that you worked at the theater before the war, right?
jw: Did you have any jobs during the war, before you were shipped out?
jd: No, like I said, I worked at the theater even while I was at Marion High School the last couple of years and then when I graduated, I graduated in the class of 1940, I worked a couple of years while I attended Marion College until I ultimately transferred to Purdue. So I have a total of about 5 years association with the theaters.
jw: After the war did you get a job then?
jd: Well, like I said, after the, after World War II, I returned home, and immediately back to school to obtain my degree, and when I got my degree, then I had my first real job, and that was the job I started at that time and kept for the next 40 years.
jw: What job was that?
jd: Well, I went to work for at that time, Indiana General Service Electric Company, serving the Marion area, and eventually retired 40 years later with American Electric Power.
jw: Do you know if there were more jobs, before during or after the war?
jd: I think there were enough jobs after the war, but they were a different kind. Of course since the work had fallen off greatly and many new industries had began to spring up. I think the kinds of jobs available were considerably different than those during the war.
jw: Do you know about some of the higher paying jobs, like what people would do?
jd: Well, I think, of course people who had the highest paying jobs were people who had college degrees many of them professional types like doctors, lawyers, dentists, and engineers and other people who were highly trained for specific work.
jw: During the war, would you bet that more women and children worked before or even after?
jd: Oh, most certainly. I know that during the war, my wife relates to me that her mother worked at an aircraft factory and her father also worked at an aircraft factory, so there were a lot of women who had not worked before taken defensive jobs.
jw: Was that mainly the kind of job that women took?
jd: I think so, I think since many of the industries had lost personnel, due to people going into the service women had a tendency to join those jobs.
jw: How about children, did you see them maybe taking more jobs?
jd: No, I did not notice that the children were working any more than before, but maybe they did some.
The V-12 Program and World War II
jw: You were in World War II, correct?
jd: World War II and Korea.
jw: What area of the military were you in?
jd: Well, when I was in Purdue, I saw the necessity to become involved in some program, because the draft was breathing down our back so most of us in school at that time, picked one of the many college training programs that would lead to commission in one or one of the other services. I picked a program called V-12, which was the navy training program, that said after I had acquired so many semesters of college the I would be automatically transferred to midshipman's school for officer training. And that’s the course that I picked, the route that I chose. So I was transferred from Purdue after 2 more semesters over there, to the naval reserve mid shipman's school Columbia University.
jw: During the war, you were stationed at Columbia....?
jd: No, when I left when I graduated from Columbia I was commissioned and ensign I was immediately sent to small craft training stations in Miami, Florida, Key West and I became an anti submarine warfare officer, or trained to be an anti-submarine warfare officer, and from that training I was sent directly to a brand new destroyer that had just been built and was ready to move out to the Pacific.
jw: And what was the name of the destroyer?
jd: That destroyer was the USS Frank E. Evans, and strangely enough, the Evans served in three wars, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. And during Vietnam, it unfortunately had a collision with an Australian Aircraft carrier, which cut it in half and the forward half sank, with a loss of eighty-six lives.
jw: When you were on the ship, where was it?
jd: The ship after it was commissioned, put into commission, commissioned, in Staten Island, New York was sent on shake down operations in the Bermuda area, and this is done to make sure things work properly. And if they didn't work properly, then were were given the assignment and sent through the canal and out to the Okinawa Campaign. Which was the final campaign of World War II.
jw: And, you were in that campaign?
jd: Yes. Our activity in that campaign was one of doing radar picket duty around the island of Okinawa where all the, where the island was, tried to be, tried to take the island, complete, complete take over of the island and the navy surrounded it with the radar picket installations, ships of course to identify the enemy. Which of course were trying to hold onto the island.
jw: Do you have any stories about when you were in the war?
jd: While we were on radar picket duty, in Okinawa, I'll tell you a story. We were on radar picket station number 9, and radar picket stations consisted of 3 destroyers, and 4 little ships called LCS ships, these were small, small rocket firing ships. We were some 50 or 60 miles southwest of Okinawa one night and picked up by what we thought was an enemy plane headed for Okinawa. And we tried to get identification on the target, could not get any response by radio or form IFF, identification at that time, and the plane continued on like it was going to fly over our heads. The captain ordered, or ordered us to open fire on the plane and the plane was shot down. The next morning at daylight, we discovered a second Lieutenant in the Air Force in a rubber raft, he had been the pilot of that plane. And, managed to survive and get out of the plane. We never did understand why he never identified himself either the equipment didn't work right, or he so scared he did not know how to do it. And I remember distinctly when we brought him aboard the ship, the captain said, "what would you like to have to eat?" The first thing he said was "Ice-cream".
jw: Do you have any other stories about things that happened to you, even before the war?
jd: I had a good friend that was in the service at the same time I was in the service, by the name of Bob Benton, he was from Fairmount. Bob and I had been members of the Naval reserve for a while, this is a Korean war story. Bob was sent out on the carrier Rendova and I went out on the Pacific on another destroyer. Bob became a radio operator and I was a communications officer on the destroyer. So we were able to keep in touch with each other through the naval communications system while we were in the western pacific, while he was operating the radio and I was involved in the radio.
jw: When you came back from World War II, did you find it difficult to get back to your normal habits?
jd: Yeah, it was quite different, because we were used to military ways of doing things, and then we had to get back into civilian life. And it was a little bit of a change to acclimate, but we all managed to do it. Of course I was called back in a matter of 4 years until I was called back for Korea, so back I went for another 2 years.
jw: What was the hardest thing to get used to after you got back?
jd: Probably that we weren't regimented, in other words we did not have to do everything by the clock like you do usually in the military.
jw: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
jd: No, except that I a, after having a stretch of service in World War II and Korea, I decided to maintain my activity in the Naval Reserve. And for a number of years I represented the Naval Academy in Northeastern Indiana, I represented any that I could council so the young men who were graduating from High School, who wanted to go to one of the service academies, but did not know how to do it, most young men thought that they had to have a direct political contact in order to get into these service academies, and that isn't true. Many times the service academies go unfilled because the young men don't know that. So I enjoyed that piece of my reserve activities helping council with young men in this part of the state, and teaching them how, helping them to get into the academy.
jw: Is there anything you think would be of interest to the viewing people, people viewing the video?
jd: Well, they might be interested in the fact that during World War II I served on one destroyer, and during Korea I served on two more. And as strange as it may seem, now, some 50 years after service on those ships, these people who served at that time are starting to have reunions. And my wife and I have been to several of these reunions which have helped become reacquainted with the people that I served with 50 years ago, and indeed the real treat is to be able to reminisce with those people that you knew then and be able to listen to their stories about what's happened to them since they got out of the service, it's a lot of fun, and I'd be glad to attend more of them.
jw: Do you know when the next one is?
jd: Yes, the next one I have is coming up in September, it'll be in the Washington, DC area and we have one scheduled for October and they'll be down in an area in Missouri, I can't think of the name of the resort area, it's south of the famous Branson, where all of the entertainers now have entered.
jw: Before, during, and after the war you lived in Marion, correct?
jd: Yes, I was born and raised in Marion, and went back to Marion and maintained my residence until, well, as a matter of fact after I went to work for the electric company I lived in Marion, and continued to live there until 1970. 1970 I was transferred away in (?) and have not lived there since.
jw: You said that you had shot down a plane, that was spotted, were you in any other, like, fights?
jd: Well the destroyer type Naval vessel is equipped to do several things, it has it carries 5 inch guns, of course, which can be used for bombardment purposes or they are also dual purpose and can be used for anti-aircraft fire, so we were exposed to this in both of these indecencies. (coughs). Pardon me. We did both shore bombardment in the North Korean area and a considerable amount of anti-aircraft work during Korea and World War II.
jw: Did this boat, like, were submarines kind of new then, weren’t they?
jd: Well, submarines, the submarine scare of course active submarine work phased out toward the end of the war because German Axis powers were defeated soundly and their submarines, for all practical purposes were defeated. We did have to be concerned about Japanese submarines, during the Pacific actions of World War II, but then again, once the United States got the upper hand, submarine warfare diminished considerably. The destroyer might be, you might be interested in knowing is a rather compact ship, the ship is about 360 feet long, and we had about twenty officers on the ship and 350 others, and that’s a lot of people for a small area, and of course, it takes that many people to run a ship like that, because remember, a ship like that runs 24 hours a day, night and day. Andy you have to have people there to cook the meals, bake the bread, and make all of those kinds of life sustaining duties, as well as people who operate the military equipment.
jw: Was ensign your highest office, while in World War II?
jd: No, no, I managed to make Lieutenant Commander during my service during Korea and after I came out of the service became active in the Naval reserve program representing the Naval Academy, as I mentioned earlier. I was finally promoted to commander, so I do hold, that was my highest rank and I retired as a commander.
MHS Class of 1940
jw: You said that you graduated from the class of 1940, what kind of stories do you have about that class?
jd: Well the class of 1940 has been very successful in staying together. And we attribute this to the fact that most of the members of the class were born in families that had experienced the depression, most of us came from 2 parent families at that time, and I think, then that parents were more interested in their children getting a decent education, more so than we are today. Our class has been successful in staying together for all of these years, and we have had our 57th reunion, and we also have to attribute some of the success of this class to one of our class members whose very studious in putting out a newsletter called “the Survey”, and that classmate is Bill Fouler, and Bill has just issued the 101st copy of “the Survey” which is many more than the newsletter, but a things that have happened to various members of the class. We’re looking forward to having our 60th reunion here in a couple of years.
jw: Well, I’d like to thank you for your time, and if there’s anything else you’d like to say. I know that I’ve really appreciated your help on this project for Mr. Munn’s AP US History class and for the Marion, Indiana Public Library.
jd: Well, thanks it’s been a lot of fun. Trying to recall over all these years is a little difficult to remember all of these things in the proper sequence. But, this has been fun, and I’d be glad to do it anytime for you.
jw: Thank you again.
This interview and transcript was collected by Jack Weagley for Mr.Bill Munn's AP US History class at Marion High School