Loren Wilshire

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Interviewed with Loren G. Wilshire
Interviewed by Jason Marler
Marion High School

Interviewed on May 13, 2003
at Loren Wilshire’s house
Van Buren, Indiana

JM – Jason Marler
LW- Loren Wilshire

JM: This is Jason T. Marler interviewing a Loren G. Wilshire. This interview is taking place at the residence of Loren G. Wilshire.

JM: Where were you born and raised?

LW: I was born in Jinx, OK. And I spent nine years of my life in Oklahoma. And after nine years we moved to Indiana, and I’ve been here since.

JM: Were you drafted into the service or did you enlist?

LW: I was drafted.

JM: When were sent off for you initial training?

LW: September of 1944.

JM: What war were you involved in?

LW: World War II.

JM: Where was the location of your training?

LW: Camp Walters, Texas. I spent 13 weeks there.

JM: Do you remember anything particular about the drill instructors?

LW: I don’t remember any of their names, they was a bunch of hard nosed. They could care less what you thought. They were it and they wanted you to understand that.

JM: How long was your training?

LW: 13 weeks.

JM: Was that the standard for everyone?

LW: Yes it was standard for everyone.

JM: What military where you in, the army?

LW: Yes, I was in the 25th division.

JM: What was the first location that you were sent off to?

LW: overseas?

JM: Yes.

LW: Philippine Islands. Went over in the old Liberty boats, had several Liberty boats at that time, all enlistees, at least most of them went over in those Liberty boats. They were real cheap ships that the Army had built. They were for nothing but transporting troops.

JM: What was your initial reaction when you first arrived there in the Philippines?

LW: I thought sometimes, this surely can not be. It was very dirty. Most of those Filipinos were dirty.

JM: Was it a very poor country?

LW: Oh yes, very poor, very poor.

JM: What was your job over there?

LW: Well, we had a little more training in the Philippines. We went to different camps. Then we went to more of the islands over in there. But the Philippines were the first one. I made three beach head landings, in the second assault. I wasn’t on the first wave. But I made three of them, Leyte, Luzon, and New Caladonay

JM: About how big was your platoon?

LW: I forget how big it was I forget how many was in the platoon, then we had battalions, really I forget the figures for each of them.

JM: When was it you originally saw combat?

LW: I saw combat within three months after I got over there in the Philippines. Yeah after about three months I saw combat.

JM: Tell me about a few of your most memorable moments.

LW: Well, my most memorable moment was when we were on Banzai Ridge, the Japs were all dug in up there this assault had been made on them, we were sent in to clean them up. The original assault platoon never got half of them, so we were up there. That’s when I got my purple heart, because I got a big hunk taken out of my back. They threw a hand grenade in a fox hole we were dug in up there on that hill. That was the first combat I saw.

JM: So the first combat you saw you received the Purple Heart?

LW: Yes

JM: Did you have any friends that you met, if so are there any stories you would like to share?

LW: I had three friends that got killed, the first thing to learn in war time and they will tell you is old mother earth is your best protection. Stay down stay down two words. And I had three friends that got killed. One of them was celebrating his birthday party; his mother had sent him a big birthday cake. We were sitting up there on that hill off of Banzai Ridge, and a sniper got him and two of my other friends. I can’t recall either of their names though. They were good buddies.

JM: What all medals and recognitions did you receive?

LW: I got two bronze stars

JM: How do you receive the bronze stars?

LW: It is [unclear] action on the front line. I was designated with a VAR, automatic rifle. The magazine held 20 rounds and it was automatic or single shot. If you held that finger for just a second it would put out twenty shells. Always had a bandolier man go with me he carried 48 magazines they were real heavy, I always carried 6 or 7 usually, but that was my prime target in the infantry and that VAR was my baby the whole time during service. We made several cave entrances, while the Japs were dug in there. And they would have a stranglehold on those caves you know because we never seen the place. I was always going on patrol. I was always head of patrol. I really truthfully never got shot at at the entrances of those caves. Some of them did, but I didn’t.

JM: Wow, that’s good

LW: Yes, yes it is.

JM: Were you married at the time?

LW: No, I was not married.

JM: How did you keep in touch with your family?

LW: It took some time; it took 6 weeks for letters to get back and forth.

JM: Did you have a base that you stayed for most of your time? LW: Yeah, but I don’t remember what it was called?

JM: What were the living conditions like there?

LW: Living conditions were not too good. I once went 27 days and never shaved. And when I did shave, I shaved with cold water and a steel helmet. That was real interesting

JM: What kind of food did you eat?

LW: We had C and D rations. That is mostly what we lived on. A D ration that was more or less just a chocolate bar. Then the C ration was Spam or other canned food. Not too nutritious

JM: What did you do on your spare time?

LW: You rested mostly, because you didn’t rest too much. They would always have you on the patrol.

JM: Do you remember any times you had to get up in the night for any reason?

LW: I remember one time we were camped in a big creek we knew the Japs were down the way about a mile of course we were dug in along the shore. And one night we were sitting there and we heard the most awful noise and we were jabbering among themselves as they were coming at us. The water in the creek wasn’t too deep. So one of them started up there by my fox hole and the moon was about a half a moon you could see the outline of him. So I shot and I put 17 holes out of 20 so I hit him well. As far as I know that was the only time I really tackled…really killed a fellow.

JM: Was the Philippines the only place you saw?

LW: Well I made those three beach head landings but we didn’t stay long. Philippines was pretty much headquarters. We stayed there pretty much.

JM: What is the most interesting place you remember seeing?

LW: After the war I saw where the Atomic Bomb hit, well that was a sad affair. One thing with the Filipinos and the Japs either one they had no mercy for their own people. I saw one old lady this one time. We were patrolling this city, she was on this particular corner for about three weeks, finally one day I didn’t see her. So I asked my superior officer what happened to her. He said that someone came along one morning and they kicked her in the street and ran her over. Then they took her body away. That’s the way they were though. They had no feelings for anybody. They were very mean.

JM: It was probably hard to fight someone like that.

LW: Oh yes, it was very hard.

JM: Do you ever remember seeing any kids or women fighting?

LW: No but at that time we weren’t allowed to go into their coffee shops or taverns or anything. Well they got so they would let us in but they never really accepted us. The whole time I was over there at least.

JM: Did you ever come face to face with an enemy?

LW: Oh yeah, we took some prisoners before.

JM: Did you ever get taken captive?

LW: Nope, never got taken captive.

JM: Were there ever any humorous moments while you were enlisted?

LW: I never really had any humorous moments, maybe the most humorous moment to me was when the War was declared over. Three months after they declared war over I pulled MP in Osaka, Japan and even then some of the Japs didn’t think too good of us. Not the army because there were very few of them left. But more like the civilians disliked us. The Japanese live in very primitive conditions. We are millionaires in our own rights.

JM: Do you remember where you were at once the War was declared over?

LW: I was back in the Philippines when it was declared over. Then they sent me to Osaka, Japan for three months while I was an MP. We had it made there though, we ate good.

JM: What was some of the things you had to do as an MP?

LW: We had to keep the Japanese straight. Also we had to prevent our own boys from getting out of hand. They got out of hand sometimes. But we weren’t too rough on them. We got along pretty well.

JM: What did you do when you got done with your service all together?

LW: When I came back to Oakland, California. I had a job at Bell Fiber within 6 weeks of coming back.

JM: Did people welcome you back quite a bit?

LW: Yeah they welcomed us all back.

JM: Was it easy getting back into society?

LW: Yeah, I didn’t have any trouble. I think the longer you stay in the service, as some of the people I talked to, have trouble with other people. They were so stuck on that strict G.I. discipline. I have talked to guys that have been in 20 years and they just don’t know what to do with themselves. But I never had a problem.

JM: Is there any comments or advice you would like to give to someone going into the military?

LW: I think they should consider real close and weigh the options. Between Air Force, Navy, Marines…Marines are a good outfit, tough training though. The Air Force is a good outfit. They eat good and they usually got a good bed to sleep in. But the old infantry I don’t know how to put it, they were low on the totem poles. When it comes to living ways, the old dough boys really had it tough. And no matter how many bombs get dropped, how many planes fly over and protect you, the old dough boys always had to mop them up. He was the ground boy. Yeah and it is a dangerous game just like we have lost 160 in the Iraqi War, who were mostly infantry. While they were cleaning up Baghdad and all those other little cities out there.

JM: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

LW: Well, I never thought the service would be for me. The drill sergeants always told you the first day you went in we can’t make you do anything but we can sure as the devil make you wish you had’ve done it. They meant what they said.

JM: Well is there anything else?

LW: Well I will tell you this one thing, I remember this in the barracks where we stayed if you messed up the first thing they wanted to do was dig a hole six foot deep, six foot wide, and six foot high. They tell you after you smoke your cigarette to strip all cigarettes tear it apart and wad up the paper so nobody was the wiser. One day I saw this colonel from across the street. They had already started to six star someone and that old colonel saw that kid and I heard once that six weeks after everybody had left he was still digging a hole for grinding a cigarette in the ground. Oh they can get nasty.

JM: Is that everything?

LW: Oh I think that covers just about everything.