Interview with R. C. Goodman    (back to WWII Project)

CB:  Dr. Goodman, would you give us your name and birthdate, your parents and your place of birth, please.

RG:  Yes. I was born (DELETED CONTENT), in Ogden, Ogden, Arkansas. Ogden is between Texarkana and Ashdown. I went first eight years of school at Ogden, and then the last four years Ashdown, I went to Ashdown and graduated from Ashdown High School in 1938.

CB:  Did you have brothers and sisters?

RG:  I have one sister, four years younger than me.

CB:  What did you do after you got out of high school?

RG:  Got out of the service?

CB:  No, before you went into the service.

RG:  When I got out of high school, 1938, we had a terrible flood on the Red River, tore up all the levees. And they needed what they call an oiler, grease the levee machine, and they needed one right then. It was in our last week of high school and my grades were such I didn't have to take any final exams and so I applied for the job and I got the job. I missed my whatever, the picture taking with my class and everything because I worked at night from six o'clock in the evening until six in the morning, twelve hours for thirty-five cents an hour. Anyway, I saved my money because I wanted to be in the Post Office Department, I just thought being a rural mail carrier was utopia. So I applied for Draughan Business College in Little Rock and I went up there, seventeen year old kid. And they promised me that they'd get me a job for my room and board and I'd saved enough money working on that levee machine to pay my tuition for a two year business course so I could take a civil service exam and go to the Post Office Department. But the job they gave me required about six hours a day, two hours of a morning, early, and two hours during the noon and two hours in the evening and it was working in the cafeteria. And the room they gave me was the very top room on an old hotel on Main Street in Little Rock, and all I had up there was a cot. And there was two other cots and they were by construction workers, and they didn't want me studying at night because they were trying to sleep. So I'd go down in the lobby of the hotel and do my studying. I got to thinking, you know, I was only taking about half the courses I should be taking because of the hours I was working, and I decided I needed to do something else, so I withdrew from Draughan Business College in Little Rock. And then I worked at farm labor until the following February, it would be February of 1939. And then I got a job working on a bridge construction gang for the Kansas City Southern Railroad, rebuilding some of the work along the riverbanks that had washed out and on the trussels between Ogden and Texarkana, and that's the hottest, hardest job I've ever had in my life. And I worked with them until August and I made 39 cents an hour, and I decided that I wanted to do something different from that. So that's when I took my money I'd saved and enrolled at Magnolia A&M College in September of 1939. Magnolia A&M is now Southern State in Magnolia. And on the 2nd of October of that year, I joined the National Guard, which paid us a dollar a drill and we had 2 four drills a month. That four dollars paid, believe it or not, my dorm room. Then I got a job as a night watchman working three hours and fifteen minutes at night, and that was for 15 dollars a month and that paid my meals. I never saw any money, but I got a meal ticket every month. But then on December the 24th, 1940, they mobilized our unit into the regular Army, and they sent us to Little Rock for our basic training. And then in June, sent us to Tennessee on Tennessee maneuvers as sort of our advanced training. And we were the enemy for three divisions from up north, three infantry divisions, we were the enemy, and we were down there for a month. And while we were there, they told us we were going to the Philippines when we got back to Little Rock. Well, being a bunch of old country boys, that just thrilled us to no end, get to go to the Philippines. Thank goodness that was changed and we were sent to Alaska. And we went to Alaska in September of 1940. I had my 21st birthday on board ship going to Alaska. And they took, that was the 153rd Infantry from Arkansas that had three batallions, I was in D Company of the 1st Batallion and I was the machinegun squad leader at that time, a corporal. And they scattered us all over Alaska. They sent the platoon that I was in to Nome, Alaska, with a rifle company made up of mostly men from Hope, Arkansas, and Prescott, in that area. I stayed up there for a year and a half, and I came home, got home about April the 5th or 6th, 1943, and Dorothy and I decided to get married, which we did on April 10th, 1943. And come Monday, it will be sixty-three years.

CB:  Wonder if you could go back and tell us a little bit about what you did when you were in Alaska. Were you there--

RG:  See some of these pictures.

CB:  Yeah. The Japanese troops were--

RG:  Are you ready?

CB:  Yes.

RG:  We were in Nome and Nome sits on the Bering Sea and it's surrounded by the King Mountains, kind of in a horseshoe. And wintertime, the only way you can get into Nome is by snow sled or by airplane. In the summertime, you can get in by boat and by air. So here we are, two hundred of us, an infantry company and a machine gun platoon and we were responsible for about, oh, I don't know, ten or twelve miles of beach. Well, the first part that we were there, we had to finish our barracks. The engineers, they took us in on a boat, we were the last boat in the Bering Sea because it started freezing over after that. We got up there first part of October of 1941. And so the first time we were there, first part of our stay there was finishing our barracks and we'd do some training and we dug some foxholes and machine gun emplacements on all four corners of the airport. And then we did some snow training, we had to ski and walk on snowshoes and they'd make us sleep in a foxhole of snow, dug out in the snow. And so we had it real good the first winter because we had our barracks that was steam heated and all that, it was nice; but then along come Dutch Harbor.

CB:  When was that, what date?

RG:  Dutch Harbor was in June of 1942. When the Japanese attacked Dutch Harbor, word came over the radio down where the radio tower, that the Japanese had attacked Dutch Harbor and they had a troopship 3 and its escorts headed north. Well, the only place north would be Nome from down there at that time, and they lost it. So they thought they were coming to-- why they would Nome, I don't know what they'd do with it; but anyway, they didn't show up. But then we went on high alert and we had a then forward, we had to move out of our nice barracks which was right on the airport and we had to let the Air Force have it because they started-- combat aircraft would refuel up there. And we had to move out into the tundra, and then we had to build Quonset huts, tin huts, there were seven or eight of us to each hut in that winter of '42. And we still, in December, you only have three, four hours of daylight. I have a picture of the sun coming up at 10:40 one morning, a little arch over the Bering Sea, and setting at 1:40 in the afternoon, long days. Summertime, you could read a newspaper outside twenty-four hours a day. So being a bunch of old country boys, we had to put roofing paper over our windows in summertime to sleep because we couldn't sleep in the daytime. So that second winter up there, we trained. We did, again, we did snow skiing, we did maneuvers, camped out and all this stuff, and dug foxholes in the snow. By this time, I had gone from being a squad leader to a section sergeant where I was in charge of two squads, then to platoon sergeant where I was in charge of all four squads. And then I had an opportunity to go to OCS, which is Officer Candidate School, in Fort Benning, Georgia. So I left up there middle or latter part of March because I arrived in Texarkana, I think, on April 5th or 6th of 1943, me and another boy out of my platoon. And all we had was our winter clothes, old Army wools, we didn't have anything else. And time we got to Fort Benning, Georgia, it was three, four days before we got issued lightweight clothing and we were miserable. But on the way to Fort Benning, Dorothy and I were married on April 10th. I graduated from Officer Candidate School and they shipped me to Macon, Georgia, to Camp Wheeler, and I trained troops for a year, and then they sent me to Germany. But there's an interesting thing that I need to bring out about Tennessee maneuvers. As I said, our 153rd Infantry, we were defensive people. And one night, we had spent, my platoon and Dr. Chanman, one of the other squad leaders, and my squad and his squad, at that time we were both corporals, my squad and his squad had charge of a crossroads down in the mountains of Tennessee. And we had been fighting mosquitoes all night, and was tired and sweaty. And we heard this terrible noise, and we looked down the road at a big cloud of dust. We didn't know what in the world it was, none of us had ever seen a tank. And the next thing we know, these tanks come into view. And leading these tanks was an open vehicle with a guy standing up in it with two pearl handled pistols, twirling them, and you know who I'm talking about, don't you, Colonel George Patton. Well, as they had entered the intersection, we fired our machine guns, which was made of blanks. There was an umpire there, he was a major, and he stopped the whole column. And he said, "Colonel, you're out of action." And I'm not going to use the word that Colonel Patton used because they were pretty naughty, but that fellow got a good cussing. And the major finally said, "Now, Colonel, now, wait a minute. I'm not saying that your--" Patton told him, he said, "You mean to tell me these two 4 little old", and I won't use the term he said about our machine guns, "these two little old machine guns going to knock out my tanks?" He said, "No, sir; I didn't say that. But I tell you this, they would have shot your rear end out of that vehicle. It's you that I'm ruling out of action." So that was the very first in the history of U.S. Military of combined infantry and armor, was the very first. See, they had an armored division with them and that was their first, that's what they were experimenting with down there is integrating armor. And this was Patton's 2nd Armored Division that had come up from Fort Benning, Georgia, I believe.  And the headlines in the Chattanooga News the next day was "Colonel Patton Captured". And so we thought, man, would we like to see him, bet his face was red because he was a very proud man. So as we were talking about going over on the ship, if you have claims to fame, one is I captured Colonel Patton in 1941 on Tennessee maneuvers; and the other is I took care of Winston Churchill for a day going to Europe.

CB:  Well, tell us about going to Europe.

RG:  Well, after we spent the year training troops in Macon, Georgia, at Camp Wheeler, I started out as a 2nd Lieutenant and before the year was over, I was promoted to a 1st Lieutenant and I was sent to Europe as a replacement officer. And they sent me to, I think, Fort Meade, Maryland, or somewhere. And then we went on up to Camp Shades, New York on our way, and that's when we boarded the QUEEN MARY, all fifteen thousand of us was replacement officers and enlisted men. And they assigned me two hundred of them as MP's, I knew nothing about being an MP. But anyway, we got on Pier 90, they made us all go below deck, would not let us look out or anything because for security reason they said. Well, we took off from New York and then after we got out of the harbor, off the coast of New Foundland, I believe, kind of slowed down. This launch came alongside and the boat, our boat, never stopped, never stopped, the launch came alongside and that was Sir Winston Churchill and his whole general staff. They had been to the Ottawa Conference in Canada, with Roosevelt and I think Stalin.

CB:  This was '43, wasn't it?

RG:  This was 1944.

CB:  '44?

RG:  No. 1943, after I finished OCS in Fort Benning, I was sent to Camp Wheeler, Georgia, trained troops. Now, this was in September of 1944. Well, they occupied one whole deck and there was fifteen thousand of us and we could only feed two meals a day. And they had two men assigned to every bunk on the ship. And we, as MP's, had a terrible job of managing-- they fed twenty-four hours a day, but trying to make sure people didn't cut in the food line and they'd get to beating each other over the head with mess kits and everything, it was a mess; but anyway, we made it. And we had a destroyer escort for one day out of New York, and then then we had a cruiser for a day and then we had two days with no escort at all. And then the fifth day, we had an aircraft carrier, a British aircraft carrier, and they ran a zigzag course. The QUEEN MARY was a fast ship, we went over in five days. They would change course every eight or nine minutes, zigzag, and they'd say the reason they did that, it took a submarine about 5 ten minutes or so to zero in on a ship, so they'd change. And a destroyer could only keep up with that speed for one day, and a cruiser we had for one day. And then it was that last day out that I was told to meet the Prime Minister, we're up I guess in the Captain's part of the ship, I don't know where it was, and escort him around to different parts of the ship so he could talk to the troops. And they'd get them all assembled and he'd tell everybody what a horrible time Britain had had, and that we needed to be on our good behavior when we went. And I thought you old coot, I'm fixing to go over there and get shot at, too. So anyway, what was real interesting, we docked in the Firth of Clyde River off of Scotland, at Gourock.  And at that time, the buzz bombs were still being fired from Antwerp into England. And the ship had, the QUEEN MARY had to dock out in the middle of Firth of Clyde River and they unloaded you on barges. And I remember we got off of that boat, got on that barge and there was a bow of a ship sitting right beside us that had been sunk by a buzz bomb. But the interesting thing was we got all ready to go after we got there. So Sir Winston, Mrs. Churchill and their staff, we were down in whatever the level of the deck was that the barge was going to come on and the barge was waiting. It was raining. He had his overcoat and his top hat and his cigar in his mouth. And Mrs. Churchill and I were holding his coat, trying to get him to put on his coat, and he was of course politicking. And the old barge guy come on board and grabbed him by the arm, and I'm not going to use the word, but anyway he said, "You get your rear end on this ship out here or I'm leaving." I thought my goodness alive, this guy's talking to the Prime Minister. Found out later that those people didn't like each other, you know, between Scotland and England, they have a bad history. Anyway, he didn't care who he was. He says I'm leaving. Well, the last time I saw Sir Winston Churchill, he still only had one arm in his overcoat because we never got the other one in because the old dock captain drug him on board the ship, but it was funny.

CB:  Did you talk with him very much while you were?

RG:  I got to talk to him. It all started the night before. The officers were allowed to go to the theater on this ship, they'd have a show. And this Lieutenant and I, he was from Texas, so we kindly buddied up, and we went in, and we saw this one whole row. At that point in time, we did not know that Sir Winston Churchill was on board that ship. So we saw this whole row lined out and we went in and sat down kindly in the middle in the second row, and there's no smoking in there. And we waited and the door opened, and lo and behold, who comes out, Sir Winston Churchill and Mrs. Churchill and all the Admirals and Generals of the general staff people came in. He sat down directly in front of me. She sat down directly in front of the boy from Texas. They turned around, they introduced themselves, and so that's all he did. But she chatted with us a little while and she said, "Where are y'all from?" The other Lieutenant, he said, "I'm from Texas." And I said, "I'm from Arkansas." She looked at me and said, "Well, where is Arkansas?" Said, "Well, we're right next-door neighbors to Texas." And then we visited, she was a very gracious lady. How she put up with him, I don't know; but he could be an ornery old cuss. It was tough to escort him around, you know, almost 6 had to sort of lead him; but anyway, it was fun. So I went from there, took us on a train, went down short of London, put us in an old artillery base, in mud and pup tents. And we flirted around in the mud there a few days, and then they put us on another train and took us through London at night and we ended up in Southampton, England, right at daylight, and we had to walk from the railyards to the shipyards and I've never seen so many bicycles in my life. People were going to work and they were on their bicycles, there was thousands of them. So we sat there on the dock all day because they didn't want to cross the Channel in the day, we'd cross the Channel at night. But at that time, they were still off-loading troops onto Omaha Beach, which was one of the D-Day beaches. And so they off-loaded us, took us across at night, I had to crawl down that rope ladder with all my equipment on and that barge floating around out there. If you missed the barge, you get caught between the barge and the ship, but I made it, and then they took us into the beach. And we had to climb up off the beach, up a steep hill with all our stuff. And I thought at the time, how in the world did these guys get up this place alive? And then I thought, well, you know what, if somebody is shooting at me, I'd probably be moving a lot faster than I'm moving right now.

CB:  What day was this?

RG:  Golly, I don't know. I had my 24th birthday on board the ship going over there, so that had to be in October some time. We were already moving across France at that time, they were already through Paris and the hedgerows. But they took us in what they call a Red Ball Express, it was driven by black drivers and they drove at night with no headlights and they drove fast. I think I was about as scared riding in that truck as I was anywhere else; but anyway, they took us somewhere and put us off out in a field. And we camped out again for a day or so, and then they put us on a train and we went through Paris, went through Paris at night. It was cold. And you've heard the World War I guys talk about forty and eight, well, that's what we were in. They put about forty of us in each one of those cars, and we didn't have any mules, but we had all our equipment. And if you moved one inch, you lost it, that's how crowded it was. And the cars had holes in them and cracks in the boards. So the train stopped in Paris, and the American GI is a very industrious individual. Somebody saw an old beat up coal stove and they put that thing in the door of ours, and they left a little stove pipe, and they got some, I don't know what, they got some coal or what, but we had a nice fire going, and we was just doing great. And somehow, they changed the direction of the train and it was blowing the smoke back at us and we had to kick it out the window, but it did well for awhile. From there, I went over into Holland, to Herlen, Holland.

CB:  How do you spell that?

RG:  H-e-r-l-e-n, Herlen, Holland. And there, I stayed in an old tobacco warehouse. The Germans were still firing. It was still in artillery change of the German people, Germans. Our units were just, they'd just liberated Herlen, they were just over into the edge of Germany. There would be an airplane come over every night and we called him Bed Check Charlie. He'd come over every night and drop a 7 bomb, never knew where he was going to drop the bomb. And the buzz bombs were still firing. So we knew that those of us that were together at that point in time, knew we'd be assigned to either 29th Division, the 30th, the 84th or 102nd, those were the four divisions in the 9th Army at that time and we were in the 9th Army sector. So we'd heard a lot of bad stories about the 29th and 30th, they were on D-Day, you know, D-Day. And so luckily, I got assigned to the 102nd. And the officer whose place I took, was killed the very first battle and he had, this platoon that he had, they'd been all two years together from training. He must have been a remarkable officer because those guys were very loyal to him. But when I joined them, we didn't have enough men left to form a whole platoon. We just had enough for two squads, rather than four, two guns. And the senior leader of the platoon was one of the section sergeants or corporal squad leader, I forgot, I remember his name was Deck. And they had lost their platoon leader, and they'd lost their platoon sergeant, they'd lost both section sergeants, and Deck then was a corporal and they lost two of their corporals. They were down to just, instead of having thirty-six men, they were down to seventeen, eighteen. They had really, that was their first battle and they had really took a lot of casualties. As I said, the Lieutenant in charge was killed the very first day, that sort of made me feel a little funny. Well, from there, my baptism of fire was at Linoc, L-i-n-o-c, Linoc, Germany. We were trying to push to the Rhor River, R-h-o-r, Rhor River, and through that part of the Siegfried line so we could head on towards the Rhine and on towards Berlin. Well, while we were, after we took Linoc, we were kind of digging in and getting settled and they were mobilizing a whole bunch of troops. I never seen so many guns and tanks and stuff in my life that was lined up ready to cross the river. This was about the middle of December, and that's when the Battle of the Bulge started. And just within twenty-four hours, all those troops were shifted down to the Battle of the Bulge and they left two divisions up there, they left ours, the 102nd, and the 84th. And the 102nd, we were responsible for thirteen miles of that river; that's a big long area for one division.

CB:  Is that the Rhine?

RG:  No, that was the Ruhr.

CB:  Ruhr.

RG:  And had the Germans known that, they could have easily gone through us because our line was real thin, and they had a straight shot into Belgium. They could have gone really fast, but thank goodness, we were spared that. But we stayed there in that area in foxholes during the winter of 1944, up until February, and it was coldest winter in history. And snow all over everywhere, the ground was frozen. And we had to take a little bit of TNT and blow a hole in the ground, then we'd dig our foxhole out of that. And we'd go into one of these little villages and we'd get us a door and put over the top of that in case of artillery bursts, wouldn't get hit. So they made us, we dug defensive positions around every one of those little towns in that area because if they'd attacked, it would have just been a matter of withdrawal for us. We didn't have enough of us to stop a major attack. Well, the Germans, we were all ready to cross 8 the Ruhr River, and the Germans blew the dam. It went from little river about as wide as this house, to I think it was a quarter of a mile wide. And in February when they decided to go ahead, that's when we crossed the river, and that's the picture I showed you in this book here of Brody joining us as this unit, Company K, was the rifle company that I was attached to that day with my machine gun platoon, we were not in the assault group that crossed the river. We were in reserve, but we crossed it right after daylight on a foot bridge. And that's when we had a pretty rough time for a few days after we crossed that river because the Germans were in top notch strength up there at that point in time. But the picture I showed you about Brody and the mine field and all that, we crossed the river, secured our position and we had some counterattacks.

CB:  Where were you when you crossed the river?

RG:  We were right across the river from Rurdoff and Linoc, I can't remember the name. There's as many little villages over there. If I had my book here I can't find. I think Cole had that when he took me back over there this past July and we went the route we went and there's all kinds of little-- it's pretty well farming community up there and they had these little villages around, and we drove over to that one village. But anyway, that's where we really caught it there for a few days. And we were told later, in fact, that when we got, when we took off, we got all kinds of incoming German artillery fire and there was no place to hide, it was just beet fields, and we were trying to get to a village. And so that's where I lost half my platoon and rifle company suffered about the same amount casualty as I did. But anyway, we were told the 29th Division was supposed to been on our right. We were the right flank of that section, the 29th and 30th was supposed to be to the right of us. 29th Division was supposed to cross the river down from us and then supposed to swing, we was supposed to swing north towards a city named Monchengladbach was the big city, first big city that we were going to encounter. Well, the 29th Division didn't get across, they didn't get all their people across and didn't get their tanks across. We didn't get our tanks across initially. Didn't know until later that when we swang north, my platoon was the extreme right flank of the whole 102nd Division, there was nothing between me, I had no protection on the flank, I had no protection in the front. And I came home with a guy from the 29th Division, and I've forgotten how many, when they finally came up later, I've forgotten how many 188 artillery pieces that they knocked out of shooting at us, not just me, but the whole division, we had two regiments. At that time we had all three regiments committed, I think. But anyway, we went from there on to the Rhine River and we were there a few days. And we stayed in a beautiful city called Krefeld, K-r-e-f-e-l-d I believe. And then when we got ready to cross, we crossed at Essen. I don't know whether it was up the river or down the river, whatever; but we crossed-- at this time they had a pontoon bridge and we were able to drive our vehicles across. And we were headed out and we saw this German airplane and we all unloaded real quick and hit the ditches and it came right over us, didn't have an engine. And I thought wait a minute, I said what the world is that? It was a jet, first jets the 9 Germans had committed, and they had not had their jets before then, it was a jet. But we were able to escape that, but what he did, he knocked out the bridge right behind us and that's what he was after, he was after that bridge. And he wasn't interested in us, I guess, because he didn't shoot at us, he came right over us, you could almost see his eyeballs. But anyway, we went pretty fast after that, and ended up on the Elbe River, about fifty miles from Berlin. And we were up there a few few nights and a few days. And we were in foxholes on one side of the river, and we had to be careful because the Germans were shooting at us from across the river, and we were shooting at them of course. So one night, one of my corporals called me, we were in foxholes, he said, Lieutenant, said you got to come up here and see this. We're not talking about a long distance maybe from here to the house or something. So I ran up there, I thought one of my men was hurt or something. And he said look at this, and we could see this flash of a gun, no incoming shell. And the Germans had stopped shooting at us and they were shooting at the Russians. We had a fifty yard line seat, we watched that battle back and forth. And our Division, we had I don't know how many hundred thousand prisoners we got.

CB:  Oh, really, German prisoners?

RG:  German prisoners, and there was some Polish, too. And another interesting thing happened. We had orders to cross the Elbe and we already had our attack orders, all the platoon leaders and company commanders knew exactly what we was supposed to do, we'd already sent a patrol across the river. And I guess it was about ten, eleven o'clock at night. They sent word to all the platoon leaders to report back to battalion headquarters, and we couldn't figure out what was going on. Got back and the colonel said, "Well, the war's over for us." The shave said that we're forty miles into Russian territory and the Russians don't want us going any further, so we're going to be withdrawing into occupation duty. So then they started shifting us around in occupation duty, headed toward Czechoslovakia. And I had a lot of points because you got so many points for each month of service, and you got so many points for each medal, you had so many points from overseas. And so by that time, I had two and a half years overseas, and you get a point and a half for each month that you're overseas, plus all the stateside and other side duties, and you get so much for each medal, as to each theater you got five points, you got five points for a Purple Heart, you got five points for this, that and the other. I had enough points to come home.

JW:  That is May of '45, April, May?

RG:  I skipped an important, where I got hurt worse, got shrapnel wound in my jaw. By this time, as I said, this was in April that we arrived up there and we were withdrawing. And on May the 8th, they called me and said you're going to Liege, Belgium, with a load of displaced people. By this time, we had all these displaced people from Holland, Belgium and France. And we managed to get some of the railroads going, had one bridge crossing the Rhine that was functional. And they'd assign one officer and a non-commissioned officer to each train, and I chose a corporal of mine who could speak a little bit of their language. And we headed out for Liege, Belgium, 10 and we had thirty minutes to get ready to go. We had no orders, nothing. We were able to carry weapons, and we were able to stuff a couple of rations in a musette bag and that's about it. And during the trip, I rode up in the engine a little while.  Engineer was a fireman on the Kansas City Southern Railroad and lived over here at Sallisaw, Oklahoma. He was madder than a hornet because he had just come in from the river, he had had about-- they always had big delays crossing the Rhine, had one bridge, and he was mad because he only had about four hours sleep. And I stayed up there in the engine with them awhile, and I'd ride back in the caboose awhile. Well, this particular day, I was back and they had a car at the back, they had a brakeman and a fireman on each engine and they had four bunks back there for the engineer, fireman, brakeman and a conductor. When they had a chance to sleep, that's where they'd sleep. I was just sitting there by the door watching, big wide open door, watching things go by. And I stood up for some reason, they had a mirror on the wall and I stood up and I started combing my hair a little bit because I was in the wind. And all of a sudden, there was this terrible bang, my head went into the mirror and we ran into the rear of another train. And the other train in front of us was just buckled like this and it was horrible. And it was loaded with French prisoners-of-war. These guys had survived the war, they survived captivity and a bunch of them were killed. Happened, and right across in an open field was a little hospital and I had no-- well, all I had was a first aid kit and that was it. I think that's one of the things propelled me into medicine after seeing I felt so helpless. On our train, wasn't too many got hurt; but those trains, only brakes they had on those trains was on the engines, and these cars had no brakes. He rounded this curve and that other train was stopped to get water and he didn't have time to stop. And he and the fireman both bailed out of the engine before it hit, so they-- Well, I don't know how long it took to get things straightened out because it was a mess for several hours and finally went on to Liege, Belgium. Well, here we were. No orders, no way to get back to our unit. And I ran into a guy, a military vehicle, and I told him what my story was. He said, well, they got a place downtown here, let me take you down there and maybe they can put you up and at least give you a meal and something. It was a place where they used for R & R recreation and stuff during the war, and it was sort of a canteen like thing and they had some barracks with bunks in them and. I went into the 1st Sergeant in there, identified myself, I told him what'd happened. Said we have no orders, we don't even know how we're going to get back to our unit. He said, "Tell you what I'll do. You leave your guns here with me and I'll let you have three days and three nights here and we'll feed you in the kitchen." So I got to spend those three days in Liege, Belgium. And on May the 8th, when the war was over, is when I was in the wreck. But a few days before that was real interesting. At this time, things were rather quiet for us and some of us were staying in this beautiful little house and an elderly man and woman. And we did not want to occupy their whole house, so they had couple of beds or so down in the basement and we stayed so they could stay in the main part of their house. And they were very, very anti-Hitler. Their 11 daughter, and they showed us a picture of a beautiful daughter, they had confiscated her to help propogate the super-race in Germany and they had never heard from her since they took her. They didn't know whether she was still alive or what, and so they didn't like Hitler. So early one morning, we heard this "Hitler kaputt, Hitler kaputt" and this old man running up and down the street. He'd just heard that Hitler was dead, so we felt good. Anyway, it was interesting.

CB:  When you were taking the trainload of displaced people to Belgium, who were these people, where were they from?

RG:  Where were they from?

CB:  Uh-huh.

RG:  Most of the ones we had were from Holland and Belgium on that train, they were families. There was men, women, children, had been in slave labor.

CB:  Oh, really, in Germany?

RG:  Yes. The Germans had used them to repair the roads and all that because they were displaced people.  The people, the Germans had-- if I had my book, I'd show you a horrible picture.  We heard about this, but we were chasing some Germans and they had a thousand displaced people and they got scared, they didn't want us to catch them with these people. They herded them all into a big barn and set it on fire. And I went over, I have a picture of that somewhere. And they were trying their best to get them buried before we got there, but they didn't. And my Division, my General went into this little town and we visited that place this past July and it's a big memorial, all the graves, thousand graves out there with no names. They were displaced laborers. And that city, can't think of the name of it, but that city is mandated to keep that cemetery, and they do keep it pretty well. And the foundation for the barn is still there where they set it on fire and killed these people, over a thousand graves there, Gardelagen, no, not Gardelagen. Anyway, we had a hard time finding it when we were back over there and we had rented a car. And we couldn't get, we knew it was the town, I knew it was a town, didn't know where in the town. And went two or three different places where all of a sudden nobody could speak English. They knew what we were looking for, but this one lady came up and she could speak English, and I told her that we were trying to find this graveyard. And there was another guy, she talked to him in German, she said, "Follow him, he's going home and he goes right by there."  We would have never found it. We got to see it. It was a horrible thing. But I think Cole must have my album, but it's a horrible thing to see.

CB:  Did you have any experience with concentration camps?

RG:  We liberated one.

CB:  Which one?

RG:  I don't know the name of it, but most of them were Belgian prisoners-of-war where we liberated. We went by Dachau, we went by some of the others; but I guess some part of our Division may have liberated some, but me, my part of the Division, we didn't. Our regiment was not, some of the other regiments probably did, but that one I remember, because I remember the Belgians kept coming up to us and they'd say "Belgi, Belgi, Belgi". They didn't want us to think that they were Germans because I guess they thought we were going to 12 hurt them, we wasn't going to hurt them. So when they told me I was coming home, they sent me-- it was still, this must have been in July, it was still September before I ever got to go to Marseille, France, and get on board another navy ship home. And I had my 25th birthday on board that ship, I had three birthdays out of five on board a troopship. I thought that was kind of unique.

CB:  It is.

RG:  My 25th birthday, 24th going over, my 25th coming back, 21st going to Alaska.

CB:  Where did you come in when you came into the U.S.?

RG:  Came into somewhere in Newport News, Virginia. And then they sent me from there to St. Louis, Dorothy met me in St. Louis. She's not too much of a sports fan, but we heard about Bob Feller, the famous pitcher. He'd just gotten out and he was going to pitch that day for the St. Louis Browns. And I said, "Dorothy, we need to go to the ballpark and see Bob Feller pitch." So we went out to the ballpark. I said, "Dorothy, you saw Bob Feller supposed to be throwing the hardest ball of any guy in history pitch." She said, "I don't know anything about Bob Feller." Then I got out November the-- my leave time and everything, I got out November the 15th. But I stayed in Reserve, and that was the reason I was back in the Korean thing after medical school. In Alaska, there's Joey Brown, we had Bob Hope and Francis Langford came up there.

CB:  Oh, really?

RG:  And Joey Brown here and we had--

CB:  Now, this was the U.S.O.?

RG:  That was when I was in Alaska, winter of '42, that's when we still had our barracks. And we had Jerry Colona, but by the time Jerry Colona came up there, we were already out in the tundra in the Quonset huts. And also an interesting thing was Mickey Rooney. This is before we crossed the Ruhr River, during the boss(?) time and we were still in artillery range and the Germans would shoot at these crossroads and everything periodically we. Never knew when they was going to shoot. This Jeep pulled up and this guy got out with a guitar and a driver. Fifteen of us, we were huddled in the cellars around town because we had been pulled out of the line, we were back supposed to be resting and relaxation. And there was only fifteen or twenty of us went out there. He played a song or two, and he said, "Well, where is everybody?" I said, "Mr. Rooney, let me tell you something. The rest of them got more sense than the rest of us here, but the Germans shoot at that intersection there all the time. We never know when they're going to shoot." He got in his Jeep and took off and haven't seen him since. Somehow, I don't know how he got that far, but he was in an artillery range and didn't know it. These uniforms we had in Alaska, we were sort of their Guinea pigs.

CB:  What kind of uniforms were they?

RG:  Well, they were made out-- the parkas were made out of muskrat, long parkas, very expensive. Funny thing was they told us if you lose one of these, it's going to cost you a hundred and eighteen dollars. Well, Lord have mercy, at that time, I was a fifty-four dollar corporal a month; so boy, that's gonna take a long time to pay for that thing. In Nome, that first winter, on a Saturday night they'd go 13 to town, they had a Tom Conniger's Bar. Well, they'd get to drinking a little bit and they'd hang their coats on the wall. But I tell you this, when they came back out to base, everybody had one on, they'd spend all day Sunday trying to find right one. We had one guy six foot six, and some little old guy about my height got his and was dragging the ground. And they'd spend all day Sunday trying to find it because they were going to get the right parka because they didn't want that hundred and eighteen dollars charged to them. And we had good equipment up there, we were warm, because it got fifty below zero. One night, they made us dig a hole in the snow like a foxhole and sleep in that thing, fifty below zero weather. But we had sleeping bags that had three layers that they were experimenting with, supposed to protect you up to seventy-five degrees below zero.

CB:  Did you stay warm in Europe?

RG:  Nearly froze the first night. And Dr. Chaman, who was my partner here for a while, he was in anesthesia, too, you might remember him. And he said, "Well, did you take your clothes off?" I said, "How you going to get your clothes off in that sleeping bag?" He said, "Well, if you took your clothes off and slept naked, you'd have slept warm because the heat of your body go all parts of the bag. And with your clothes on, everytime you move, you're in a cold place." So I squirmed around the next night and got my clothes off and I slept warm, but boy, that was tough trying to get them back on in that sleeping bag, put your clothes down at the foot. But it was interesting, I had an interesting military career. It covered a lot of different angles. I guess I'm lucky, I had some close calls; but I told Dorothy before I left, I said, "I'm not going to be a hero, I'm coming home. I'm not going to be a coward, but I'm not going to be a hero. I'm not volunteering. I'm not an medal seeker." So anyway, I wasn't a coward. I was scared, everybody was scared.

CB:  Oh, everyone was scared.

RG:  Everybody in a foxhole. There was a lot of prayer went on in foxholes, I'll tell you for sure. There wasn't any atheists in a foxhole. I got covered up in one, and that's the reason I got these hearing aids. The shell hit the edge of the foxhole and buried one of my sergeants and me up to our waist. We were using German foxholes at that time. We dug straight foxholes, they dug an angle foxhole. And it hit over here, and I was just out there in that field checking on my men. And I guess this guy, these people, guy saw me from across the river, saw me go in that hole, and the machine gun out in front of it. And this one shell landed short of us and one shell landed behind us. And in artillery, that's what you try to do, you try to fire a short round and a long round and you split the difference. I told Ogle, I said, "Ogle, he's got us zeroed in." Next thing we know, we're covered up with dirt, machine gun is scattered, broke. I said, "You don't move and I don't move until dark because he's got his bubble level. And if he sees one of us move, he's going to shoot again." We stayed in there in the dirt up to our waist until after dark. We was afraid to move.

CB:  I bet. Now, what do you think about this situation?

RG:  I think that we didn't learn a lesson. We learned going across Europe, we didn't leave military behind us, we didn't by-pass towns 14 and let this very few. You can't leave an enemy behind with his weapons and everything. Plus the fact, we had a military government ready to take over. And fact, while we were in occupation duty for awhile, I was called Mayor of four towns, four little villages. I had to visit every day and sign their passes, if they wanted to visit a family here because they were restricted to their town. But the main thing that I think is wrong, we should have had three times as many troops over there as we had so we could have stopped all that looting and stuff. We didn't send enough people to begin with. Plus the fact, I had two sons in Gulf War I. One of them, Joel, middle guy over here, helicopter, he had twelve helicopters, he was medivac helicopter pilot. And he was with the 1st Armored Cavalry outfit out of Germany that was first troops across the border. He has been adamantly against it. He told me when he came home, "Dad", he said, "ten years, we'll be back." Well, he missed it two, it was twelve. And he had been adamantly against it. He said it's a mistake to go over there with just a hundred and fifteen, twenty thousand troops. They just don't understand those people. You got to have more more folks. But I think we have to support our troops. And I I think what they ought to do is get enough people over there to try to control that. How are you going to control these different, these Moolahs out here, they're on your side one day. And somebody else comes along, give them enough money, they're your enemy the next and all that kind of stuff. I think we misjudged what we were getting into. As far as the military part of it's concerned, they did their job. But what the government didn't do was have a backup bunch of folks in there to keep control of these towns as they went through them. There's an old saying, "You cannot win a war with air power. You got to have troops on the ground." We would bombard towns and you'd wonder how could anybody be alive. They're still there fighting. In other words, the air power is very important, but you got to have troops on the ground to occupy the territory.

CB:  You're dealing with people, you've got to be--

RG:  You can't do it with artillery and air power alone. You got to have infantry in there to-- Well, this unit that I was in here, in the Reserves here, this artillery unit that's over there, 1st Battalion was just fixing to go over there now. And up north, our local guys here, the unit I was in, they were already been over there. Here they've got guns that can shoot multiple rockets. They made MP's out of them, mostly. There was no use for their artillery. And it's just strange. I just feel sorry for these kids. But if you stop to think about it, the casualties we've had in the three years, we had more on Omaha Beach in one day. But just one casualty, if it happened to be your son or your daughter, is one too many.

CB:  That's too much.

JW:  My question is, I don't know, Carol may have had this happen to her doing audio interviews. But you're the first person since I got involved that was in the service when Pearl Harbor occurred.

RG:  I was, we'd already been in Nome, Alaska. We got up there latter part of September; and course, Pearl Harbor was December the 7th. As I tell folks, I say you know, if they'd attacked Nome, Alaska, that day, been me and two other guys in my bunk when my-- only ones they'd 15 have got been me and two other guys in my barracks, all the rest of them were in town. I was on guard duty and I couldn't go. We heard about it, we had one of these, what, short wave things. We could pick up, on some old radio we could pick up some ballroom in Los Angeles or San Francisco or somewhere down there. On Saturday night, we could pick it up, and somebody picked it up on that. I don't know what time it would have been in Nome when all that happened. I don't remember the time zone up there. Nome is only about twenty miles from Siberia. In the wintertime, you could walk to Siberia from up there, across the ice. Bering Sea is completely frozen over in the wintertime. And last ships that go up there, well, we were the last ones. And we went up latter part of September, we were the last ones that they were going to let up there because of ice.

CB:  Well, did it cause some kind of panic up there when you heard the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor? Did you expect them to hit you in Alaska?

RG:  Well, we were so far away, we really couldn't-- see, our news was very scarce, we didn't have daily news. We would get a little daily teletype message, teletype message of what was going on with things. So we really didn't know the extent of it for several days, best I recall. And fact, sometimes we'd be three weeks before we'd get our mail. I'd get a whole stack of letters from Dorothy all at one time. You never when the mail plane was going to get up there in the wintertime because he'd get stuck down in Alaska, get froze in some other town down there and couldn't leave. And sometimes it was, in the wintertime, it was sometimes three weeks, we wouldn't even get a letter. One interesting thing after Pearl Harbor and everything, after we were trying to help the Russians against the Germans, they ferried an A-20 aircraft and-- I saw one of those P-51's or 39's out here at the air show the other day. They ferried them from Fairbanks and they'd stop in Nome and refuel and then on over to Siberia. And that helped Russian turn the tide in that war because we sent a lot of airplanes and they stopped at Nome. But Germans had a detachment across the airport, and we never saw them. We just heard they had a lady colonel over there running it and there wasn't any other women up there, had a few Eskimos. Anyway, we heard they had a Russian colonel over there, a woman, running and handling the refueling and all that stuff. They crashed a few of them because in the wintertime in the snow, it was kind of hard to tell where the runway, even though the snow plows kept it. When I left up there, my hut, snow was so deep, you could just see the ridge line of our huts and that was it, it was that deep. You say, well, how'd you get the door open. What we did, we just stole a little armor and built us a little storm porch at each end, and then we'd tunnel us a hole out, we'd go through that way. You just have to make do with what you got. But it was not bad up there at all, I kind of enjoyed my service up there.

JW:  Did you tell us, on the camera, about the day that you got the shrapnel in your cheek?

RG:  Got what?

JW:  Did you tell us--

RG:  That was the day we were talking about that Brody was with us.

JW:  Yeah. But you didn't tell us on the camera about that day. 16

RG:  Well, yeah. What I was saying, we jumped off, we had an objective, we had three objectives. The first objective was, over there, the Germans be multiple families, and they'd have a big courtyard. And their buildings were two story, they'd live upstairs and the animals stayed downstairs. And then they would go out from their kind of pods and do their farming. And that was our first objective. And we didn't get very far until we started drawing artillery fire. And then there was no place to hide, and we'd just all been annihilated if we'd have just laid down.  So we took off as fast as we could, and that's when we got in the mine field. We didn't know anything about the mine field because it was a little bit back from the river and we had not been told about a mine field out there.  We got in it and we lost some people in it, and I lost some people in it. And you think you didn't step lightly? Golly, you afraid to take another step, but we were so scared because there was no cover for us from the artillery. And we finally got in this enclave and got into this shed with the animals in there. As I said, there's a big old hog I got under, and the Germans were shooting. Well, we got caught in a bad spot. The Germans were shooting at us from one direction, and by this time, some of our tanks had got across the river, and they were shooting at the building from the other direction, we were drawing fire from our own people. And finally, they got a hole in the roof and somebody had a flare, we had different color flares to send up for friendly or what, you know, somebody had a flare that we got shot through the roof after we got a hole big enough knocked out of it. And course, that took care of our tanks, they quit shooting at us. And by this time, I don't know when the others did, I was so scared that day, I don't know when they stopped.

CB:  Well, let me clear something up. The hog you got under, was he dead or alive?

RG:  He was alive, he's this big old hog. And there was some cattle in there. We'd get under the hogs and cattle, we figured shrapnel would have to go through a whole lot of meat before it got to us. You'd get under anything you could when the roof of your building--

CB:  I'm just surprised the hog cooperated.

RG:  Well, he didn't have much choice. There was more than me in there with him, wasn't much room for him to maneuver. But I don't know how he did it, but there was cattle. And I'm sure that saved a lot of our lives, too, because they were blasting. And the roofs, those roofs are made out of shale type stuff, shale shingles, it wasn't shingles like these. And boy, that stuff would rattle down on you just like rocks. And the Germans was getting us one way and our own tanks was getting us the other, it was a bad situation.

CB:  And that's when you got the shrapnel in your cheek?

RG:  Just before we got there.

CB:  Outside?

RG:  It wasn't bad. It was just a little puncture wound, piece of metal stuck in my jaw bone. And the corpsman pulled it out and put a little sulfur in it and that was it. But when he describes in his article here about the Lieutenant with the bloody face, that was me. And I got that article, it was in Yank Magazine. Fact of business, 17 Dorothy sent me a copy of it, but she didn't know her husband was the Lieutenant that had the bloody face until I got home, I said that was me. Brody was with M Company and I was with M Company. Okay, we were on the extreme right flank. But the Americans soldiers, interesting, now, he talks about PFC in here that was following. The battle, you know, two, three weeks or maybe eight weeks prior to that, when we were moving up to the Ruhr River or somewhere along in there, the German's counterattack was their Panther tanks and they were sitting off and firing directly into the foxholes. And this Private First Class, if you can get, see, he can only depress his muzzle so far and he has a blind spot. You can get around him, he can't shoot you. And the commander of that tank made the mistake of not latching his hatch. And this kid ran out there, and it's nighttime, in the dark, climbed up on that tank, opened that hatch, threw a white phosphorus grenade down in there and closed the lid and sat on it until it went off. No telling how many people he saved. Well, we knew about this and he had gotten the Silver Star. And so I saw him and I thought I think I want to stay close to him. And next thing I knew, he pop, pop, pop. I said, "What are you shooting at?" He said, "There's a German over there." And I haven't seen anybody. And next thing we know, up go some hands, it's Germans surrendering. And about that time, the artillery comes in; but he was something else. And I believe he was a Mexican boy from Texas, PFC. And he just kind of smelled the mouse, but he kept them pinned down until we got close enough. But this was before the artillery started in on us, and right after that, when they saw the Germans, you know, they'd shoot their own people as start surrendering. And I think they was trying to shoot as many of their own as us. Interesting thing about the German artillery, they went by coordinates on the map. They would fire in a coordinate, they didn't have observed fire like we did. We had an observer. Some of them had little Piper Cubs that would direct artillery fire, we had a forward observer. And we happened to go through that particular coordinate, that that group of 88's was zeroed in on. Because there was a guy to the left, I came home with a fellow was in the regiment on the left. He said you guys could have gone around that barrage because they could see it over there and it was right on us, but we didn't have time to go around it, we were already in the middle of it. Well, the German prisoners told us that that we don't fear you, what we fear is your artillery. The infantry, we don't fear you; but we fear your artillery, it's vicious. And I know because our artillery, they got on us. And the first guy they hit in the first barrage, they got our radio operator and our forward observer. And they were shooting, they missed their target and we were on the receiving end. And I'm telling you, I can understand what the Germans felt. That was vicious. We liked to never, never got that stopped; but anyway, I don't know how we did it. It's been so long ago, all I know I could sympathize with that German when he said we didn't fear you, what we feared was your artillery. German 88's the best artillery weapons ever been produced, and why NATO didn't adopt that weapon is beyond me. They could shoot anti-aircraft. They could shoot like a Howitzer over a hill. They can fire it like a rifle. And it was one vicious weapon. And NATO, they adopted some other weapon. 18 Why they didn't adopt the German 88's beyond me. But I wouldn't want to be looking down the barrel of another one anyway.

CB:  You think having been in war and seeing the death and destruction and whole cities knocked down, you think that would probably make you try everything before you resorted to war again?

RG:  Yes. But you know, the old saying is if our presidents and our prime ministers and everything had to fight the war, we'd never have a war. Have you noticed over there right now, we're having forty-five and forty-eight year old guys fighting that war. War's usually fought with eighteen, nineteen, twenty year old kids. This war, you got all these guys that were in the Guard and Reserve been mobilized and sent over there. It's a different, different story. But to see that country right now, and to see it like it was in 1945, you don't even recognize it. We went the route that I took and there's very modern cities. When you get closer over into the eastern side towards Berlin, you can see a lot of buildings still with shell marks around them. But the side that the British and Americans and the French had, those people all rebuilt modern buildings and everything, and those towns were just flattened. When I went through St. Lo, St. Lo, a little down in the hedgerows in France. When I went through there two three months later, there's one thing standing, it was a smoke stack, in that whole city. And back in the '70s or '80s, I guess, we had two sons that were in the military and were stationed in Germany for awhile, and Dorothy and I visited them. And we went on a tour down to the beaches and went through St. Lo. And I couldn't believe it when I saw that sign, St. Lo, beautiful, modern city. The last time I saw it in 1945, there wasn't anything but a smoke stack standing and that was it. It's beautiful country. But it's sure destructive. Why do we want to destroy things like that is beyond me. I could never understand it. I got to excuse myself a minute. (Took a short break at this time.)

RG:  Attack some pill boxes, and they decided they'd take each platoon leader up in one of these little Piper Cubs and let you see the area which was your zone or responsibility. And I went up with this guy and we were flying around and I kind of glanced around, here's tracers here and tracers here and Germans was shooting at us with rifles. And I told this pilot, I said I've seen all I want to see, let's go back, but I was on my way to take my plane ride.

CB:  That was it, huh?

RG:  I didn't want anymore. An interesting thing that you never hear unless you've been with one of these units that had them, one of our spotters, when we were in foxholes in a defensive position and our little Piper Cubs are up flying around, you could get out of that hole and never get shot at. Because they wouldn't shoot at you because that guy would spot them and he'd call in our artillery on them. Well, one of the German Messerschmitt 109s, supposed to be at that time the fastest and best airplane flying, got after one of 'em one time. And I think they were down in the hedgerows and this little old Piper Cub, he'd go right along the ground and he'd hop over a hedgerow and this Messerschmitt got after him and he crashed into the hedgerow. He got credit for shooting down a German airplane, little old Piper Cub. They got after him, German pilot misjudged his 19 distance and he crashed and this guy got credit for shooting at them. We had another guy that was interesting. As I said, I told Dorothy, I said I'm not volunteering for anything. I'll do what I'm ordered to do, but I'm not volunteering. They wanted volunteers, take one of the crew members on an airplane. The bombers come over us every day from daylight to dark, while we were on the Ruhr River, that period of time in the latter part of November until February, and they were bombing Berlin and all those others. And every now and then, the German anti-aircraft fire would pick them up right as they crossed the river. And every now and then, you'd see one get to smoking and he'd turn around and come back. And some of them, you'd see them bail out. And those boys, the Germans would shoot at them from the ground with those rifles. And they'd be fighting that parachute trying to get back across the river for us, and it was a sight to see. Course, we thought we were kind of smug. Anyway, they wanted volunteers, take a crewman from one of the bombers and put him down with us, take one of us foxhole guys and put him up in the bomber. And one of our guys volunteered. And wouldn't you know, they got shot down. They had to bail out, he'd never had a parachute on before in his life. They had to bail out and he managed to get some shelter. And before civilians would get to them, you know, they wasn't too kind to them, but he managed to get back. But the hardest time he had was getting back through our lines, he didn't know the password. So he tried to get back and we had Germans who had captured our people wearing our uniforms, German soldiers. And our guys, you know, if you didn't know the password, you were going to get shot. He said I thought I was going to get killed by my own people. He was proud of the wings he had, the badge he had put on. And I said you can have it, I don't want one, I'm not fixing to volunteer to go up there. And the guy that was down with our people, he was glad to get back in the Air Force. And I said, "Well, I tell you what, when you're up there, you can't dig a foxhole. I can just dig mine deeper. You're just up there." I admired those guys. But those were young kids, I saw a bunch of them when I went back to Leige, I guess. There was a lot of them back there on R & R, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two year old kids flying those bombers. Now, the fighters, fighter pilots, were mid-twenties, they were a little older; but they had a lot of those kids were just twenty, twenty-one years old and some of them were already promoted to colonels and majors. You never seen so many twenty-one, twenty-two colonels and majors in all your life. Anyway, they deserved it. That's what I say, this is the first war that's been fought by old folks and there's a lot of older soldiers over there right now.

CB:  Lot of family men. I want to ask you if you would sign this release form. If you'll just sign right here on this where it says sign because that gives us permission to use your story. 1