Interview with Roland Auble
Interview by Brittani Hensel
Marion High School
Interviewed on May 15, 2003
At Roland Auble’s house
BH: I am here today with Rol Auble at his home, 720 Jeffras Avenue. Mr. Auble’s birth date is December 12, 1929. His branch of service was the army, and he was an E4 specialist for the Engineering Depot in the areas in which he was located.
BH: Mr. Auble, were you drafted or did you enlist?
RA: I was drafted.
BH: Where were you living?
RA: I was living in Indianapolis.
BH: Were you still living with your parents? Were you married?
RA: I was married and I had one child.
BH: So obviously you didn’t have a choice to join, how did you feel when you were drafted?
RA: I was very, very disappointed.
BH: So have you made like discrete future plans?
RA: The year before that, I had thought I was going into the ministry; I didn’t have enough money to get into the ministry at that time… so I really was out of work for a year, so this was really not even a year it was more like 6 months later, that I was drafted. As long as I was studying to be a minister I had what was called 4B… classification which exempted me from the draft, as I said I didn’t have enough money so I had to drop out, so I wasn’t in school, so I lost that classification, and so they drafted me then. Yes, I had some plans and you didn’t want to leave your wife and your child, and so it was a very difficult decision… for me to just jump right on into it, I placed a serious decision on what they called a conscientious objector, which meant that I had conscientious objection to serving in the military. I probably will still had to serve in some kind of peace corps type of thing, but as I analyzed my beliefs and my interpretations in the Bible, I did have and obligation to serve my country, didn’t want to, hated it, but that’s what had to be done.
BH: You said you were in the army, why did you pick that?
RA: I didn’t pick that branch; they drafted me into the army.
BH: Do you recall your first days in the service?
RA: the first days it was my birthday, it wasn’t a very good birthday, the day I was drafted was the eleventh of December, and we rounded into the center of Indianapolis, and we got on a bus, and we went of to Ft. Leanordwood in Missouri. And then we started our processing of training there and we went to our barracks and got our uniforms, well we didn’t get all our uniforms, but we got most of the things we were supposed to have and then it seemed like the next day I was on KP.
BH: What is KP?
RA: Kitchen Police, you wash everything and peel the potatoes and take garbage off the plates and things like that.
BH: Tell me about your boot camp experiences.
RA: Well we didn’t call it boot camp we called it basic training, and we took that in Ft. Lauderdale, in December, it was that it was a very cold winter that year, we did a lot of marching, and I really didn’t think I would get drafted cause I had a bad knee, and I really didn’t think I would get drafted but I did. Well, my knee gave out on me when we were running an obstacle course and soon it subsided and I was able to join the ranks, and then I went on light duty, and I spent a great deal of time on light duty, which wasn’t a thing they didn’t like because I had already been appointed to be a squad leader for our squad, and they didn’t like that being a squad leader, so, I had to drive to some of the places they had to march to. but the basic training was over, and I remember the marching and the cold, and we had to lay on the ground, and that was about two hours, and I was just as cold as I could be. Basic training was really not a blast. It was something you had to endure, and it used to be a lot of hazing, and now it’s beginning to change, they don’t have that anymore, at least I don’t think they do, but here was still some hazing going on then. Usually Saturday afternoons we were released to go and have free time. So I decided it was time to clean up, I felt dirty I guess, so I started taking a shower, and the sergeant called rounds while I was in the shower. So I hardly get dressed and I’m late getting in and they made me do push ups. So they dismissed us, and I said “well I’m going to finish my shower,” and sure enough, they called us out again, it happened three times, so I got pretty upset.
BH: Do you remember any of your instructors?
RA: I can see their faces but I can’t remember their names.
BH: That’s fine. Do you remember what they were like?
RA: Most of them were really tough but they were nice….but they were nice. And as part of your training, the cavalry were not the ones that did the training they were the ones that wet back and forth and made sure you had your beds made and such, and made sure you cleaned up. Actually the sites there would officers and they would be in charge of actually training, using machine guns or whatever it was.
BH: Do you remember how you got through all of that?
RA: One day at a time
BH: You said you served in the Korean War correct?
RA: Yeah, it was a year or two before the Korean War was over, actually if I hadn’t been studying for the ministry, I would have been drafted earlier but uh, the fighting had really ended by the time I was drafted, but the war was still officially on, and they didn’t sign peace treaties until some time after that.
BH: Do you remember arriving where you were?
RA: It was just well you were overwhelmed, and you’re just so unhappy about leaving your family, that just, well everything was bad.
BH: After your basic training did you remember where you went?
RA: Yes, we were sent to eight weeks training, and I was a supply specialist and I was trained for that, and it was just right out side of DC and it was really a nice place to be, and we learned about a lot of the supply details and …after we finished that we could actually become a supply sergeant and work at a local level.
BH: You said you were a supply specialist, what exactly was your job or assignment?
RA: Well, it could have been many things. My first assignment after was back at Ft Beldore and I worked for a training aid sub center, and what we did was manufacture the mockups that were in the trains and mockups of guns and I should not call them guns that’s a bad thing. They were mockups of anything that you would be using in the fields where they were training, and I kept track of the supplies as we used them. I kept records, and that’s what I did while I was there.
BH: Did you happen to ever see combat?
RA: No I never did.
BH: So they’re probably weren’t very many casualties in your unit correct?
RA: No um course this just was the first year, and the second year I was in Japan.
BH: Tell me about some of your most memorable experiences??
RA: As a soldier?
BH: As anything.
RA:Oh, umm, I guess my job, I had two jobs in Japan, one was for the Yokohama Engineering Depot, when I was first assigned I was put into what they call research and something.. I forget what they called it. Actually the depot was actually manned by Japanese nationals. There were soldiers, but uh, we oversaw what the Japanese were doing. We had contractors that would repair the big earthmovers and the caterpillar tractors and all those other things. Course during the war the things would have been shipped to Japan and Korea too. There were still pieces of equipment that had to be repaired while I was there so, uh were so we were soldiers still over in Korea, you know, we were there ready to fight if we needed to. We had a lot of spare parts that had to on supply all the time, and as contractors would do the repair work, if there were something really lost or parts were damaged, they had to make a report to.. As to why is happened, and if the army that they were liable for it, then they would be charged for it. My first assignment was to view their reports and to actually make a recommendation to see if they should pay for the part or not. And I did that for two months and then I was transferred to another section, where it was just me and a department of army superior and we oversaw the records.. And order so to speak of all the parts that were in the depot, so two of were actually the only ones in a very large section. There were only two others that were keeping records in other parts of the country. My job would be to check out a part and make sure that we did have because if it was something that we needed then, and I would have to go out to the girls and tell them what we had or needed. It’s funny because I didn’t speak Japanese and I had a guidebook but that didn’t help me much. So some of the Japanese that were closer to me, I had them write and go out with my paper and go up to the girl and show her the paper that would say “please show me this”, in Japanese, and I was prepared in that way. There were a lot of good things about being in Japan, I hated every second of it, don’t get me wrong, but there were a lot of good things about being in Japan. And getting to know the Japanese people. I was extremely disappointed when I was assigned to Japan, and I certainly didn’t want to be any place I didn’t have to be. I would have pulled a trigger if I had had to, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t have to do that. I did want to go to Europe My ancestors were all from Europe and I thought it would be a good time to go check things out over there, but uh, that wasn’t the case. It was probably a good thing I got sent to Japan, for my sake, the reason I say that is that I grew up as a teenager during the Second World War. I still remember what I was doing on December 7, 1941. Uh, and so I know those dirty, sneaky mistrusted Japes, is what I had in my mind about the Japanese, so that was really not where I wanted to be. These were people that Christianity taught me to love, but that I certainly had a lot of hate so being sent there, really got me to open up my eyes, and I really started to see the Japanese were much like you and I are. They want to live a life and have a family and raise their children and they want their children to have a better life than they had, and that’s exactly what I wanted in my own life. So it was a really good experience for me, if not for anything else than definitely for that.
BH: Why exactly were you sent to Japan?
RA: I never could figure that out…
BH: They just Hey you’re going to Japan?
RA: My number was up I guess.. as long as you still had a rollover year to serve, you still could be sent overseas, and so, I assume that the orders came to people from Ft. Leanordwood to assign us, that I was in the category, and so my number came up. There’s nothing personal about that. I certainly didn’t volunteer to go there. That’s how it happened I guess.
BH: Did you make any Japanese friends?
RA: Oh, I knew quite a number of Japanese friends, the people that worked with me. One of them was ex and at the Japanese air force, and we got to be fairly decent friends, although it was a business relationship with him, but uh my background of anticipating of the ministry, I became very close friends with the chaplain’s assistant. The assistant traditionally taught both English classes, which were actually bible study classes. So I started to be active with the people in that depot, and had previously collected many from a church outside the depot, and supported them, and we went to this church, with the chaplain’s assistant and we would just teach the Bible. So I got to be very close friends with those people, and they are some of the best friends I’ve ever had. Now there were some who were still exploring Christianity, and um, there were very curious about it, and it was kind of a dangerous think for them, because of their family relationships, because if they found out their families could ostracize them. None of them ever became Christians while I was there, but I have heard some had since I left. I really think I did some missionary work while I was there too. As a result, of doing that, I was asked on several occasions to teach another class, and above all that and the relationship I had with the chaplain, I don’t even think this shows on my record, but he gave me somewhat of a personal citation for building those relationships. I have always cherished that. I used to keep in touch with those friends, but the letters grew farther and farther apart.
BH: Specking of medals and citations, you said you were awarded some and how did you get them?
RA: Well the Good Conduct Medal, technically you have to be in the service for up to four years, and I only served just a little fewer than two. I was talking about that one; the other I got was just because I was there. If you go overseas you get the national defense merit award.
BH: How did you stay in touch with your family?
RA: Letters, letters, letters, letters, pictures, pictures, pictures
BH: Kind of a funny question. What was the food like that you ate?
RA: The food was pretty decent. I grew up in a small town where we had lots of chickens. When we were in Japan, the cook I assume thought he was doing us a favor by serving us chicken every Sunday, and he would cook it so greasy, and it was terrible, it finally got to the point I couldn’t eat any more. I don’t like chicken anymore.
BH: Did you ever run out of supplies since you were the supply clerk>?
RA: Not that I remember.
BH: I’m sure that you felt stressed at some point?
RA: Well, yeah, you’re stressed being a soldier, I would assume that it’s still that way, but I don’t think as much when I was there. Most of it is because you are away from your family. I enjoy what I did, it was an okay job, we only played soldiers on Saturday. But other than that, I guess not too much.
BH: What did you do on Saturday?
RA: [chuckles] Especially Japan, we had to be able to defend the depot if it became necessary. It was all Japanese and all the guards were Japs, and we were supposed to be able to handle a riot, so on Saturday morning we would train to handle the riot, most of us were very poor in that regard. I recall we had an exercise where this thing was set up and there would two groups and one would be the riot, and if I had been o the other side, I wouldn’t not have moved. I guess it was a couple of weeks later, and they an asked a Jap force to demonstrate what we were supposed to be able to do. I tell ya what, I would have moved for them they were good, we were lousy. You have to understand, this was ten years after… communists were still strong, and May Day was the traditional holiday for communists, and all of our soldiers were confined to the post on May Day. There were still some dangers, not just one but also something could have happened, it was appropriate to be prepared it really could have been.
BH: How did people entertain themselves?
RA: well we read books; I used mine to teach the bible school and Sunday school for the army bases children. Part of my time was taken up in that. There would be, we had a Japanese garden, and sometimes I would just sit there in the garden. It was my first 35 mm camera, and it was on the best pictures I’ve ever taken.
BH: Do you remember any entertainers or speakers?
RA: the Indiana Singing Hoosiers came over and sang for us.
BH: What did you do when on leave?
RA: Well I didn’t take too many leaves. I took a leave once with my wife and child to Niagara Falls. But in Japan, I didn’t take a whole lots of leaves. I went to a national park one on my break, but the only leave I took was with one of my good buddies and we went to Niko.. it’s a holy city for that religion. There was a lake and it was really beautiful. A good place to go as a tourist.
BH: Do you recall any particularly humorous or unusual events?
RA: [pause] I have to laugh about the showers. But uh, I don’t remember any. The opportunity was there but I really got to spend some time to appreciate. When I was in Japan one other weekend, the US soldiers sent up to Mt. Fugi. And that was pretty memorable.
BH: What were some of the pranks that you or another soldier pulled on another?
RA: No I don’t recall anything like that. The only prank I can recall is the buddy I told you about… he met this Japanese student who was practicing English with him and invited him over to dinner. We ate fish and we were sitting around and cooking the fish, and we could never figure out what we were eating until after we’d eaten it. It was like a prank.
BH: Did you keep any personal diaries?
RA: My diaries are basically my letters to my wife.
BH: Do you recall the day your service ended? Like how you felt?
RA: Oh, yes, I was very very happy, I hated every second of it. I was happy to see her (my wife) and my daughter. I was tickled because my daughter held my wife back so she could hug me first.
BH: Did you go back to work?
RA: I graduated from college before I left. I had been corresponding through the company I worked for, and I worked for them, and I went into personnel work. I did go back to work.
BH You said you made close friendships. About how long did you stay in touch with them?
RA: Oh, I would say about one to two years.
BH: Did you join any veteran’s organizations or anything like that?
RA: I joined the American Legion in Van Buren for a couple years and that was so I could eat in their restaurant. [Chuckles]
BH: What did you say you went on to do as a career?
RA: I went into personnel work, which is now called human resource, and that was my career.
BH: Did your experience influence your thoughts about war?
RA: I suppose, I look at it as something to abhorred, sometimes deemed necessary. I certainly think about where would we be if we had not gotten into the second world war, or the first world war. Korea was hardly a war yet it was a war, and yet we fought. There were so many against the war in Vietnam, and I didn’t like those people. If you notice theres a flag outside, I’m very serious about my patriotism.
BH: So I’m guessing that your experiences affected your life then?
RA: I hated every second of it, but when I was out I was glad I had had that experience.
BH: Is there anything you’d like to add that we have not covered in this interview?
RA: Oh, I don’t know there is just so much. It was a good experience. I’m really happy that I got to go to Japan, while unhappy to be away from my family. But I had to be away. The discipline of the military helped me in a great way. If there was a conscription law, I l think it would really help our society. With my G.I. Bill I was able to go back to school and get my masters. It’s a lot of good things that happened to me for being in the military.
BH: Thank you Mr. Auble.