CB: Mr. Jordan, would you give
us your full name and your birthdate, please.
JT: I'm Thurman Odell Jordan.
I was born
CB: Where were you born, what
JT: I was born in Chigger
Valley, at Driggs, Logan County, Arkansas.
CB: Who were your parents?
JT: My parents were Bethel and
Mae Jordan. And in the country at that time, it was pronounced
CB: Oh, really. But it was
CB: Did you have brothers and
JT: I had one brother and four
CB: What were their names?
JT: My brother was Donald. My
oldest sister was Mable. Second oldest was Arwelia Rachael. The
next one was Dorothy, and my youngest sister was Aneita. Donald
and Aneita are dead. Isn't that strange because they are the
youngest, the youngest of the siblings. We lived about three
miles from Subiaco, and we lived below the top of Rich
Mountain. There are two Rich Mountains, one is down near Mena
and one's near Subiaco. Well, on Sundays, a group of
neighbors and friends and students from Subiaco Abbey would go
up to a fire tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. On
December 7th, 1941, our time, we came down off of Rich Mountain
and the fire tower; and at our home, we had a battery operated
radio. The announcement of the Pearl Harbor attack had been
going on. And so a lot of people in our community hadn't known a
thing about Pearl Harbor. But we had a neighbor boy, Riley
Hibbs, who was in the Navy and he'd been home on leave from
Pearl Harbor and had told us about Hawaii. So we at least knew
where Pearl Harbor was located. I was seventeen and I
wanted to join the Navy right then. My mother convinced me that
I shouldn't go, but to stay home and continue in school. That
was good advice because if I'd gone in the Navy then, a lot of
ships were being sunk in the Pacific, and I might have fed the
CB: Were you raised in Logan
JT: Yes, until the age of
nineteen. I was nineteen in April and went into the Navy in
CB: Oh, really. Now, what year
CB: What were you doing before
you went into the Navy?
JT: I had spent two previous
summers in the Civilian Conservation Corps.
CB: Oh, really. Where were you
JT: The first tour was on Mt.
Magazine, and the second tour was in the Rogue River National
Forest of Oregon.
CB: Rogue River?
CB: And how long were you in
each one of those? 2
JT: Just a couple of months
each. I considered it a summer job. The first tour was spent
on Mt. Magazine. In the Fall, I requested to go back to school,
which I did, and that was in 1941. And then in 1942, I enrolled
again and went to the Rogue River National Forest in Oregon.
CB: I bet that was
interesting. What did you do there?
JT: On Mt. Magazine, I was in a
carpentry crew. In Oregon, I just did general labor, like
laying water pipe to a resort that the United States Government
had purchased, then helped build a building down at the
headquarters in Medford. We also cleaned up what used to be a
youth camp which had been bought by the United States
Government. I had boney shoulders and was tall and lanky. We
carried steel water pipes on our shoulders without any padding
or anything. The tall men were on the ends, and the ones in the
middle could slack, if they wanted to -- some did.
CB: You carried the weight?
JT: And there was a tremendous
weight on my boney shoulders. LO: Did your shoulders stay
bruised all the time?
JT: Yeah, I felt bruised.
Well, my maturity commenced with the Civilian Conservation
Corps. I began to acquire some muscle.
CB: That was a really great
JT: It made an easy transition
for the CCC boys to go directly into the military service, and
many of them did. LO: More so than the ones that left home for
the first time?
JT: Who had not been away from
CB: Well, that was almost a
JT: We learned discipline, we
learned work ethic, that's all discipline.
CB: What were you paid in CCC?
JT: Thirty dollars a month, our
board and clothing. We only got to keep five dollars.
CB: Twenty-five went home?
JT: Yeah, twenty-five went
CB: That was a lot of money,
though, wasn't it?
CB: What'd you spend it on?
JT: We had a canteen where you
could get candy and Cokes and tobacco, but I didn't smoke. And
movies were a nickel or dime, I don't remember.
CB: Well, then you got to go in
town on weekends and go to the movie?
JT: Yeah, we were off every
CB: Well then, you went back to
school after that and graduated from high school?
JT: No, I went back to school.
And in December of 1942, I was a senior at Paris High School,
and I got a draft notice. Well, I was called in April and I went
to the recruiting station at Little Rock and I stayed in the
Marion Hotel. And I stayed there for three days, and I had
meals and lodging in the Marion Hotel. 3 On the
third day, I went up front in this large hall at the recruiting
station and asked why had I not been called. They made telephone
calls and came back and said, "You're not supposed to be here,"
and "you can go home or we'd be glad to take you and you can
have a choice of Army, Navy or Marines." And I said "Navy,"
right away. And they said, "Well, you can go home for a week
and come back and we'll send you to the Naval Receiving Station
at San Diego or you can leave right away and you can go to Great
Lakes, Illinois." Well, there was still snow in Great Lakes,
Illinois, and I was thinking about sunny California, so I chose
San Diego. And I graduated from boot camp and had a pretty wide
choice of schools. So I chose Hospital Corps School, because I
had, the previous year, been talking to two pharmacist mates who
were on a train in Salt Lake City and they said to choose the
medical department. You'll have air conditioning and clean
sheets. And so I remembered what they said and followed their
suggestion. In addition to that, I had enjoyed a First Aid
course in December, 1942, at Paris High School and that was
still fresh in my memory. So I was ordered to Hospital Corps
School in Balboa Park, San Diego, Camp Kidd, right across the
fence from the zoo. And in our chemical warfare class, we were
looking down into the zoo, where the big cats were. Lions
roared and we could hear the other animals making noises.
On graduation from Hospital Corps School, the top fifty percent
of the class had their choice of duty station, and I scored just
about in the middle. And the instructor nurse told me that she
knew a wonderful place known as the Corona Naval Hospital. So I
chose Corona, and found out it was the Narconian Country Club
that had been leased by the Navy and converted to a hospital.
It still had a golf course, riding stables, a lake with canoes
and it had exotic chickens and other fowl in a pen. The
Officers Club was down on the edge of the lake, and I got a job
in the Officers Club setting up the bar for the night
bartender. I chipped ice and squeezed lemons, and fed the ducks
and geese from the balcony. I had a girlfriend in San
Bernardino, California. And on the first Christmas that I spent
in the Navy, her family took us up to Lake Arrowhead and Big
Bear Lake. There was snow up there, and we made snow balls and
put them on the front bumper. That was a time when the
automobiles had an extended front bumper, and we placed up the
snow balls down in the front yard. I remember the address was
890 Vine Street, San Bernardino. Well, I'd been in the Navy
about ten months when I saw my name on a draft list to go to
sea. I had completed all requirements of a hospital corpsman
for general duty, I had completed the academic and practical
factors. I had been assigned to sick officers quarters to get
practical experience. So I shipped out on the heavy cruiser,
Birmingham. The Birmingham had just come from the European
Theater where they had seen quite a bit of action. And I was
fascinated by the sounds and the activity and the stories
of 4 the old salts. We zig-zagged, as soon as
we cleared the Golden Gate, out of San Francisco Bay. If you
haven't been on a vessel going outside the Golden Gate in
February, you can't imagine what you're missing. We were locked
in a compartment down below decks and we were given a bucket, or
buckets, just in case. And many of the sailors, their first time
to go to sea, used those buckets. The petty officer in charge
went down to the galley and got something for us to eat. He
brought back greasy pork chops and loaves of bread. I ate the
bread. All I got was dry heaves and I never felt seasickness
again, after being on many ships and even cruising around the
world, I never got seasickness. I began to think maybe I would
become a career man, even a lifer. I was assigned to Base
Hospital Number 8 at Pearl Harbor. They were receiving
casualties from Tarawa. I had passed through a receiving
station, which was a tent camp that was set up in what is now
Nimitz Bowl. There were not enough barracks for all of the
recruits going through the receiving station. One day, a
Hawaiian farmer came over to the tent camp and said, "I have a
warehouse, it's full of pineapples and some of 'em are getting
too ripe to market. You can come over and take all you want."
So those pineapples became footballs for us sailors, we played
football with them. And of course, we got them splattered all
over our dungarees and the whole camp smelled like
pineapple. And one day at Base 8, I saw a notice on the
bulletin board stating that a battleship was coming in to port
and they needed replacement hospital corpsmen. I immediately
signed on the list and found out that this battleship, the
beautiful U.S.S. Indiana, had been rammed by another battleship,
the U.S.S. Washington, in night exercises in the Marshall
Islands. Both ships had to come in for repair, and it was
decided that the Indiana could be repaired at Pearl Harbor
without coming back to the United States. So I went aboard
the Indiana. The Chief Pharmacist Mate, Mason Adolph Nelson,
was at the gangway and he stuck out his hand and said, "Happy
Birthday, Jordan." He had reviewed my record and knew that,
indeed, it was my birthday, April 5th, 1944. I stayed on the
Indiana for twenty-two months and participated in six major
CB: Which campaigns were those?
JT: These were campaigns for
which we were awarded a battle star: Truk, Ponape, is called
Pohnpei now, the Marianas Operations, Southern Palau Islands.
CB: What was that?
JT: Southern Palau, P-a-l-a-u,
Islands, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Kamaishi and Hamamatsu, home
CB: You were on-board ship
during all of these, is that --
JT: I was on-board ship. And
now, I'm gonna tell you about the Occupation of Japan. On 20,
August, 1945, I left the U.S.S. Indiana and joined, after being
transported on three 5 other ships, the 4th
Reinforced Combat Regiment of the 6th Marine Division. LO: 1st
JT: The 4th Reinforced Combat
Regiment of the 6th Marine Division, to occupy and take over the
Yokosuka Navy Yard, and that was on 30, August, 1945. We landed
on Green Beach near the gunnery department building. We
received blanket orders. And we noted that all the streets in
the Yokosuka Naval Yard had been renamed and numbered. And we
had streets like Halsey Boulevard, Nimitz Boulevard, Spruance
Avenue; these were the leading Admirals of the Pacific Fleet.
Halsey was commander of the famous 3rd Fleet and Task Force 58.
At the Yokosuka Naval Base, we lowered the meatball flag and
raised Old Glory.
CB: What's a meatball flag?
The Japanese flag?
JT: That's the red fireball on
a white background. And this was when the signing ceremony was
going on out on the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay. We saw wave
after wave of aircraft going over. It was a spine-tingling
CB: How did you all feel about
the surrender of Japan, the dropping of the atom bomb?
JT: Well, having been at sea,
we got very little information about the bombing at that time,
so I had no feelings except we won. We wanted to win, whatever
JT: It was much later that I
heard all the pros and cons about whether we should have dropped
the atomic bombs. To this day, I would have us do it again.
CB: I think most people feel
JT: I would do it again based
on the information I have of the atrocities that were
committed. The reason we got no resistance on landing is
because of the kind treatment of the Emperor and he did not lose
face with the Japanese people. And if I had time for a long
story I'd tell you that two of my favorite books on anthropology
are Ruth Benedict's Patterns of Culture, and The Chrysanthemum
and the Sword, which I have in my bookcase, there. And she
explains Japanese culture and why they acted as they did. And
the Japanese people completely separate themselves from the
military high command in their feelings about the war. And they
were, for the most part, unaware of the atrocities that had been
committed in China Korea, Manchuria and some of the islands
throughout the Pacific. Now, for example, I doubt if they knew
that Naval aviators who were shot down and recovered, became
stir fry for Japanese officers. The liver stir fry was a
CB: Oh, the American aviators?
CB: Oh, I hadn't heard that.
JT: Nine aviators were shot
down over the Bonin Islands. One of 'em was George Bush, who
later became President of the United States. Well, he was
recovered by a United States submarine that happened to be in
the area. The others were captured and they were tied up to
trees or stakes. One of 'em 6 was taken down into a
bomb crater and butchered. The Japanese officer in command
ordered the medical officer to butcher the aviator and save the
liver, and the liver became stir fry for the officers. And
there were other cases of that nature that happened on Iwo
Jima. The Japanese public probably was unaware that the Chinese
and other nationalities of captives became guinea pigs for
biological and chemical experiments to see what their reaction
would be and how long they could endure or survive. The
experimental procedures were labeled Project 731 and a report on
it has been declassified. Prior to the Project being
declassified, you couldn't get our World War II scientists to
talk about it. LO: Why is that?
JT: Well, I've talked to a
chemist who was at Pine Bluff Arsenal, where poison gases were
made for the United States. And I asked him about this and he
said he never heard of it. So I suppose they have ultra-secret
clearances; and if they know, they will never talk. It's the
same way with U-2 pilots. You will not get a U-2 pilot to
explain in detail what they did. I know two of 'em, I know two
of 'em real well, they're friends of mine. You get no details
from 'em. Or course, now the U-2 Program has been declassified.
Back on the topic of occupation: This was the first occupation
of Japan by a foreign power, first occupation in all history.
Then after a few days of occupation, I returned to my ship.
CB: What did you see while you
were on land?
JT: What I saw was I was
assigned to a sanitation crew and there were mosquitoes, there
were mosquitoes and there were rats as big as cats running
through the open sewers. And they had monkeys in a cage. It
seemed as if all the Japanese people were attracted to monkeys.
We fed them vegetables and fruit from our field kitchen. And so
the sanitation crew was allowed access to all the buildings and
all of the tunnels, while being on the lookout for booby traps.
We saw locomotives intact in tunnels undercover, where they had
been protected from bombs and shelling. Before the
occupation, we sailors in the fleet were asked if we could
operate a locomotive. We wanted to keep what was left of the
railways intact, which they did. I had a shipmate friend, Floyd
Thomas Brisco, who was from Booneville, Arkansas. He was a
pharmacist and his family operated the Rexall Drug Store at
Booneville, Arkansas. His dad was a locomotive engineer on the
Rock Island Line, from Arkansas to end of the line at Tucumcari,
New Mexico. He used to ride in the cab with his dad, so when he
got a questionnaire asking if he could operate a locomotive, he
said, "Sure, sure, I can operate one." But the occupation force
didn't have to use any operators from the Fleet. The Japanese
engineers kept their jobs and the railroads were put back in
CB: Well, I'm surprised they
had railroad track. I would have thought it had been bombed out
of existence. 7
JT: Well, some locomotives
survived in the tunnels. They had heavy cranes and the
locomotives and other heavy equipment. I've compared notes with
others who occupied Japan, and they found aircraft in tunnels
under mountains by the thousands. I'm just trying to answer
questions about what I personally saw and experienced at that
CB: How did you manage to clean
up and sanitize with vermin like that running around, the rats?
How did you get rid of those?
JT: Well, really, I don't
know. I think we just pointed it out to sailors and they
brought in an assassination crew.
CB: Just shot 'em? LO: Target
JT: We sprayed, we sprayed for
mosquitoes and other vectors. And somebody else, the non-medical
work crew, I guess, disposed of the rats.
CB: I can imagine. LO: Were
the people hungry when you got there?
JT: Well, there was food in the
kitchen. I didn't have contact with civilians. There were
large vats of food. They had left vegetables and rice in those
cook vats and there were utensils on the tables, as if the cooks
had just walked out in mid-preparation.
CB: Were you involved in the
Medical Corps there while you were on land, or you went back to
the ship then?
JT: I was with the 4th
Reinforced Combat Regiment, 6th Marine Division, as a pharacist
mate corpsman. You say "medic".
CB: I'm sorry.
JT: Marines don't go anywhere
without their corpsmen, and they're either called by their name
or corpsman or Doc. And when U.S. Navy Corpsmen are serving
with the Marines, they become Fleet Marines. They become Fleet
CB: Now, you were aboard ship
at that time?
JT: No, I was ashore. As I
said, I was ashore serving as a medical corpsman for the
Marines. LO: So is that normal? I noticed in the Afghanistan,
not Afghanistan, but the Iraq War, that I see naval corpsmen
with the Marines and Army. So the Navy --
JT: Same thing. LO: --
provides it. They don't have their own corpsmen?
JT: The Navy provides corpsmen
for the Marines. I have a whole seventeen page article
explaining what a Fleet Marine Corpsman is. You may look at it
when you have time. LO: So you know, you grow up or I grew up
as a child thinking, Navy, you're on ships, you know. I didn't
think about -- This has been a real learning experience for me
to realize that the Navy furnishes that service for the other
JT: See, I don't fit into the
mold of your standard questionnaire. There's not enough room
anyway. LO: Yeah, 'cause you could go anywhere then. You could
have been sent with any regiment, anyplace. 8
JT: Right. That was special
duty for me.
CB: How long were you with this
Fleet Marine Division, this 6th Marine Division?
JT: After six days, I went back
to my regular ship, which had come in and anchored in Tokyo
Bay. At the Yokosuka Naval Base, we were allowed access to a
warehouse that was full of rifles and Browning automatic
shotguns. We had our choice. We could have a rifle or a
Browning automatic shotgun, and I chose a rifle. It's a
Japanese .25 caliber Arisaka. And I brought it back to the
United States and it's in my gun cabinet in the living room.
CB: We have to get a picture of
JT: This is the nomenclature on
it (indicating). LO: What was the other gun besides the
Browning rifle that you had a choice of?
JT: Japanese .25 caliber
rifle. It's an Arisaka. LO: So they were just stacked in that
JT: Well, it was like an
armory, it was like an armory and the Japanese just turned it
over to us. Now, they did say and later told us, I never did
get the word, to obliterate this chrysanthemum which is the
Emperor's symbol. You can see on my rifle, it's still got that
chrysanthemum, and I'm not gonna obliterate it. I made no
commitment to remove it.
CB: How interesting. LO: My
grandfather came back with a rifle, but from the South Pacific,
and I'm wondering if that was the same deal. You were offered a
JT: Yes, officers got the
swords and the daggers. And enlisted men were searched, shook
down and searched several times in case we had one up our pant
leg or something. When we got back to the ship, the ship's
armory took our souvenir weapon and put 'em in a lock box. When
we got to the United States, they gave them back, or when we
were detached from the ship. I only found out about
obliterating the chrysanthemum from friends at the American
Legion Post 31 not very long ago. I took my rifle down there
and let them play with it. An ex-Marine, Joe Bob King, pointed
out to me that that chrysanthemum is supposed to have been wiped
out. LO: That makes your rifle more valuable, though, because
it's got it, I would think, as an antique.
JT: Yeah. In my mind, as a
souvenir, it's more valuable. JW: Original condition is always
better. What happened after that, going in chronological order,
if that's the way you would like to tell.
JT: Well, that was the end of
the war, and I reenlisted in the regular Navy and stayed in to
serve in Korea and Vietnam.
CB: So the occupation of those
islands was the last act that you were involved in in World War
JT: Yes. When the surrender
was declared, technically, the war was over. And we won that
one; unlike Korea, where we ended in a stalemate, armistice.
LO: Or Vietnam? 9
JT: I was also in those wars.
Korea, two years. You may not want to record this. I was in
Korea two years, and actually, that was more interesting to me
than World War II. The occupation of Japan, that was a
highlight, that was a highlight of that war for me and the fact
-- I am using the free version of SPAMfighter. We are a
community of 5.5 million users fighting spam. SPAMfighter has
removed 1417 of my spam emails to date. Get the free SPAMfighter
here: http://www.spamfighter.com/len The Professional version
does not have this message