William and Donna Wampner

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World War II Service Badge

Interview: William Wampner (WW) and Donna Wampner (DW)
Medium: Video tape
Date: Monday, April 13, 1998
Place: Home of Will and Donna Wampner
Collected By: Leslie Bradford (LB)

LB: State your name and where we are at.

WW: Willis Wampner, at my residence in Van Buren.

LB: OK. Do I have your consent to video tape?

WW: Yes.

LB: Do I have your permission to submit this to Mr. Munn’s AP US History class at Marion High School?

WW: Yes.

LB: And to the Marion Public Library?

WW: Yes.

Oral History of Will and Donna Wampner

LB: How old were you when the war began?

WW: Eighteen

LB: How old were you when it ended?

WW: Twenty-three

LB: What do you remember feeling when the war was announced?

WW: I really didn’t pay much attention to it then. Not really, until they got a draft.

LB: What feelings did you have when you were called into the draft?

WW: I really didn’t mind it too much. I knew I would have to go in anyway, so it really didn’t bother me too much.

LB: Describe how was your life different after the war than before?

WW: Oh, more mature, more independent.

LB: How did it change during the war, over the course of the War?

WW: Oh, that’s hard to say. We changed a lot. We aged a lot. We really did mature a lot. I went in when I was nineteen and got out when I was twenty-three. I was almost twenty when I went in.

LB: What were some of your duties while you were overseas?

WW: I was an anti-aircraft crewman. Gunner on an anti-aircraft gun.

LB: OK. What exactly did you do?

WW: Well we had, I don’t know exactly how you would describe them. We had forty millimeter palm-palms that they would shoot and that would keep them in the air and a ninety millimeter anti-aircraft gun. We surrounded airstrips. We protected airstrips. That’s mostly what we done. Such as that. We traveled a lot. We used them mostly for field artillery.

DW: You were a sighter.

WW: Huh?

DW: Your job was a sighter. You sighted them in.

WW: No I didn’t. I was a gunner!

LB: OK. Um...Describe how conditions were during the war, like ration cards and ...

WW: You mean over there.

LB: Yeah, over there or I don’t know maybe you could describe how it was over here.

Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Badge

WW: I don’t know what it was over here, but I Know over there.... It was pretty rough. I went right into the middle of it over there. I went to New Guinea and started around New Guinea , through the Philippines and right up through that area. I was ready to go Japan, loaded and ready to go when the war was over. We hit several V-Days over there. One right after the other and we moved pretty fast. I was over there twenty-eight months all together.

The War at Home

LB: OK. Now can you describe the conditions, what were they like over here in the US during the War?

DW: We had food rationing, gas rationing, shoe rationing. You could only get them with ration stamps. You was allowed so meat a month, um, like maybe two pair of shoes a year. You was allowed like maybe five to ten gallons of gas at a time. I have forgotten how long of a period of rime that it was needed. Paper products were very scarce. Cigarettes were almost non-existent for those who used them, but you got by.

LB: What role did you play in the War?

DW: I was still in high school and worked in a drugstore.

LB: Can you describe the school system? How it was different now then back then?

DW: It’s a lot more social now, a lot more athletic activities and basically we just went to school. They did still have the basketball games and the football games. I think the tennis team and that was the extent of school activities then.

LB: OK. Describe you family life before, during, and after the War. How it had changed progressively or deprogressively after the War was over.

DW: Before the war it was a depression period. Everybody was poor. Everybody done without, skimped, lived off the land. There was basically less of everything. You made a lot of substitutions. Then after the war things loosened up a bit. Jobs were scarce. During the war it wasn’t much a difference. Like I said things were rationed and there was less of everything. You made a lot substitutions for things and after the war things began to loosen up a bit . Jobs were very scarce, products became more available , but there was no work available. It was still very rough money wise. It took several years before it turned around and get ti to be plentiful.

LB: In what ways did you keep informed about the war? Like word of mouth, letters, TV, radio, newspapers. How did you...?

DW: That was yout main source of information was the radio. We did not have TV. T The movie screens always had news segments on the screen before and after each film was showed. That was the only visible sight of the war that we had, but letters and word of mouth and radio.

LB: OK. Can you describe how you personally changed because of the war? How you changed your aspect or outlook on life?

DW: You grew up real quick. You learned to adjust to a different lifestyle to figure there was just for today and not plan for tomorrow. Well you didn’t really know if there was a tomorrow. When he came from the war there was no cars. If you had a car you were lucky uh there were no cars to be had. You walked where ever you went or rode a Marion streetcar. Well when we married, he worked seven mile out int he country trekked out in the morning and hitchhiked back in a night. We’d been married five months and we got the oppurtunity to buy an old car, an old Model A car. it had a rumble seat, on black door, aone tan door, and the rest of it was brown and it leaked so pop bad that we rode with an umbrella to keep dry when it rained. But it had four wheels and got us where we wanted to go.

LB: Would you like to add on to that?

WW: Thats true. You couldn’t even find a car. I don’t care how much money you had, there jsut wasn’t any available. But a oh my brother worked for a Dodge in Marion and he had this old Model A car and he told me he had a new Dodge ordered and as soon as ti came in I could have it. So thats how we got it. Well I don’t know , I think we had it a couple years.

LB: Can either one of you describe how life before, during, and after the war in Grant County changed?

WW: Oh, it has changed a lot.