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Neubauer, William

 

SI: This begins an interview with Retired Colonel William Neubauer on May 12th, 2001 in New Brunswick, New Jersey in the Clifford Case Room of the Alexander Library with Shaun Illingworth and …

BS: Bojan Stefanovic.

SI: First, I would like to thank you for agreeing to this interview on such short notice after such a long day and I would like to first ask you about your father. Where was he from, what did he do for a living?

WN: My parents came from Hungary and they immigrated to the United States … my mother lived in Bridgeport, Connecticut. My father was a master machinist for Krupp in Essen, Germany. His specialty was installing gyroscopes in ocean going vessels. And he left Europe, came to the United States, went to Cleveland, Ohio and he went to work for a company called Winton Motors. They customized vehicles. After a period of time, he moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut, and he worked for Bullard Machine Tool Company and Max Ams. After he married my mother and then he felt that he didn't want to work for anybody else, so he became a meat jobber, and established a meat business. He delivered meats to stores in Bridgeport. That was his profession until he died in 1939. My mother, God love her, kept working in the same office in Bridgeport, Connecticut. At that time, [it] was first called the Hungarian Aid Association and later … became the American Sick Benefit Life Insurance Company. She worked there for forty-eight years and it was she who sent me to Bordentown Military Institute from 1933 to 1937. She encouraged me to go on to University, Rutgers University, '37 to '41, and while I was in Bordentown, I ended up as one of the Cadet Officers, and I was offered a chance for commission in the Reserves, which I accepted. I was only seventeen at that time. So, I received a Certificate of Eligibility, which meant that when I was twenty-one, I would go to the Organized Reserve Office, take the oath and become a second lieutenant in the Infantry reserve, which I did in 1940, because I was born July 6, 1919. I worked for General Electric Corporation upon graduation. In December of 1941, after Pearl Harbor, I received an alert that I was to be called to duty. Then I went on to active duty, January 26th, 1942 and that was the slight detour that lasted twenty-seven years in the Army. I retired June the 30th, 1967. Now as far as military career, what I did. I was an Infantry Officer and I guess, because I worked for General Electric, somebody in their divine judgment said, "We'll put him to duty with the Signal Corps." Well, I could get a shock using electric razor. I knew nothing about communications, but I learned and when I was called to duty, my first assignment was to report to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey and I was to go for a thirteen week course. The first six weeks were familiarization with military customs and the niceties, but three weeks later, I was notified, I was on my way to the Pacific. I said, "What about?" They said, "You'll learn that when you get there." Well, I left Fort Monmouth. I went to the West Coast, and was to be part of the group that probably would be a task force to go to the Philippines. We never got started, because the Philippines, especially Corregidor was surrounded. We couldn't get through to them. So, instead of that, … we boarded a ship, the President Monroe, which was a cruise ship from the South America cruise lines. When the ship came back to the United States, after war was declared in December, the Navy, in its good judgment, decided to paint the ship gray, they did. They painted everything gray including the life preservers. Well, somebody threw a life preserver overboard and they never came up, because by the heavy painting of the life preservers, it lost its buoyancy. If you have ever seen over a thousand life preservers get thrown over the side, it happened to us. They scrounged up enough life preservers so that we could leave the harbor. On our ship, the cargo was deep sea mines for the Navy, high octane gasoline, and we had a regiment on board, called the 93rd Mule Mountain Field Artillery Regiment, commanded by a Colonel DeMoot from Corvalis, Oregon. You would have laughed at our ship. They had lashed four seventy-five milimeter cannons, two on each side, and it was almost like a picture of a galley of the old days. And we were pretty comfortable. There were fourteen other officers. As we left the harbor and we asked, "Where's our escort?" "Oh, it will join us." Well, the next morning, when we woke up and went outside, there was no escort. We were alone and this President Monroe was not a very fast ship. I swear to this day that we were a decoy, but nonetheless, we made it. The first place we stopped about the fourteenth day out was a place called Bora Bora. Today [it is] very romantic and it will cost you an arm and a leg to live there or visit. But, in that harbor, there was the remnants of the US Navy that escaped from Java, which is today Indonesia, and it was sad to see what those ships looked like. They were seriously damaged. We were in Bora Bora for about twenty minutes. The senior officers on our ship went ashore and they were told to leave, "Get out. Forget what you ever saw here. Notify all the crew people, 'forget what you saw and don't talk about it'." Those ships were eventually sent back to Hawaii where they were refurbished and restored. Next, we went on to a place called, Noemea, New Caledonia and we let the Mountain Field Artillery regiment off at that point. That was were they were staging. The new commander was General Hatch and his headquarters was the Hotel Du Pacific in Noemea. After those people got off, we sailed for Australia. Well, we didn't quite go directly to Australia, because there was a Jap marine, submarine pack between us and Australia, so we went around New Zealand. We knew we were in colder climes, because we saw some icebergs. We landed in Melbourne, Australia. Ironically, I live in Melbourne, Florida. When we landed, it was amazing. There were no Australian troops in Australia, because the Australian forces were all in the Middle East, defending Mother England and her interests. All that was left in Australia was the Home Guard and there weren't many of them. And they took our battalion and divided them up. Upon arrival, we were assigned to do things like Military Police duty, and whatever else put people in Perth, Broome, Australia, on the West Coast. Perth's on the West Coast, Adelaide, the southern part, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville, Charters Towers, Darwin, and that's how we began to plan the defense of Australia.

BS: So, you took on the role of the Australians.

WN: Whatever had to be. If the Japanese had good intelligence, hell, they could have sent a division down and taken all of Australia.

SI: Were you preparing for an invasion? Did you expect that?

WN: We were hoping there wouldn't be any, but there was a plan that if the Japanese attack up in the Darwin area, there would be fall back, back, back, back down towards the Sidney and Melbourne area, but even that would have been very, very hopeless. We didn't have the troops. There was only one division in the whole theater and that came in shortly after and that was the 32nd Division from Wisconsin, which later went up and captured (Buna?) and that was the start of our invasion on the north side of New Guinea. At the start the 52nd Signal Battalion was in Melbourne and we were providing communications and other duties. I had a job that was unique. There were ships in Melbourne, also in Sidney, and other place that we called "Dutch Distress Cargo." These were ships that were up in Hong Kong, Singapore, Java, Surabaya, Palembang, you name it. When the Japanese were coming down. Now these ships had cargo on board and they fled to where they were safe, they thought. And then, since we were so short of supplies, I was told, "Go out to these ships and look at the manifest and if there is any signal equipment on board, notify us and you can direct that ship to go to be unloaded on a priority basis." Well, the captains of those ships were glad to see me, because they wanted to get the cargo out of their holds, and go back and start making money, because they weren't making money in port. I used to go out and I remember my first question, "What is signal equipment?" because I was an infantry officer and they said, "Anything electrical." … Well, I went to one ship and there were electric ranges, stoves, electric refrigerators, that's good enough for me. Also, there were vehicles, so I ordered a ship in and it had ten Packard Clippers, vehicles, which later became the staff cars of the general officers of GHQ. Our battalion was to proceed and go North. In Australia, each State, starting with Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, each had a different railroad gauge and that goes back to the old trade days. By having different gauges, they could protect their trade. So, when you get to a border, you had a choice: you stopped and didn't go any farther, or you off loaded and put it on another train that was going on the new gauge to where you wanted it to go. Our orders were to proceed to Brisbane. We were to go to Brisbane from Melbourne, but we had to go through New South Wales and Queensland where Brisbane had a different rail gauge. Now, I remember we went from Melbourne to a town called Tucumwal and we off loaded our trains and that's ironic to see us pull in to a station take all that equipment, move it to the other side of the station, load it on the trains, proceed to Brisbane. I was on the first element and I had to help plan the movement of this unit. We got to Brisbane and we off loaded and we were told that the first night we were to sleep in the stables, Doomben Stables. The next morning, we went to a place called Camp Red Bank, outside of Brisbane. That was an old Australian Army camp that had been abandoned when troops moved to the Middle East. We rehabilitated that. Today it is an Industrial Park. I've been there a few times. We set up communications and we were were there when McArthur moved his headquarters to Brisbane. The headquarters were in what was the A&P Building and he lived in the Lennon Hotel in Brisbane on Queen Street. I was assigned to his headquarters as a communications center officer. Since I would not have to commute the twenty miles to camp, I was given a room in Lennon Hotel on the second floor. McArthur and his family and staff, senior staff, lived on the top floor. It was a very interesting world. The 9th Division, Australian 9th Division was coming back from the Middle East and they were entering Brisbane and they had been subjected to an awful lot of propaganda by the Germans that, "While you're here, the Americans are back home going to bed with your daughters and your wives." So, these guys were gonna beat the hell out of any Yank they come across. Well, I still have a lip here with a scar, where I got kicked in the mouth by an Aussie. I was on my way to my office to work and I passed between two Aussies and one of them flung me around and whapped me a good one. I went down and when I went down he kicked at my face and I turned my face, but he tore my lip. And then, all of a sudden, I heard the nice sound, sort of clank of a .45 caliber pistol and here were two young US airmen, with leather jackets, and one said, "Okay, help him up, Aussie." So, this guy helped me up and then this young American turned to me and hands me the pistol and he says, "Whip him." So, I did and that Aussie will never forget me, because he went down fast. I'll go back to Melbourne for a minute. I loved Melbourne. It was very, very, comfortable. It was like … an old English town, that city. A beautiful park and so forth and while there we established headquarters in McRobertsons School for Girls, right off the Saint Kilda road. The girls weren't there by the way. [laughter] I had an apartment and being twenty-two and a bachelor, I was much in demand when the Aussies were entertaining. I met a family called Norman Brooks and Mabel Brooks. Norman Brooks was head of the Australian Tennis Association. He and Dame Mabel later became Sir Norman and Dame Mabel Brooks, after being knighted by the Queen. While I was in Melbourne, one evening, I was invited to dinner and when I got there, there was an admiral and his aide. The admiral's name was Admiral Kincaid, he was a Vice Admiral and his aide's name was Lieutenant Commander Lyndon B. Johnson, later President Johnson. He was sent out there by Roosevelt to find out what was left of the Navy, and Lyndon was his aide. I was not impressed. Who was this Lyndon Johnson, the Admiral's aide? And so many times, I was at these entertainments and I met people and Dame Mabel Brooks liked me very much. She wanted me to come back to Australia and live there, stay there and I said, "I don't know." She said, "Norman and I have some businesses, we can fix you up and you." I'm in Korea, in Seoul, in 1966, I'm reading the Army Times and I read where, "Sir Norman and Dame Mabel Brooks coming back from an investiture, … being knighted in Buckingham Palace," were invited to the White House as guests of President and Mrs. Johnson. So, I wrote a letter to Dame Mabel and told her how pleased I was that they were being recognized for their wonderful kindness to so many Americans. And later I went back to Australia. I've been back about fourteen times in my lifetime, since the war, and in a way you can see that I have rather warm spot in my heart for Australia. Back to 1942, In Brisbane, we had communications, we had communications facilities as well as offices, and one of the things we had were radio stations. In radio stations you need maintenance, cut the grass and all of that. Now, whose gonna do that? You're not gonna get American soldiers to go out and run lawnmowers during the war, but when the Japanese were advancing into Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, all those places, somebody had the advance brilliance to rescue Chinese of talent, such as carpenters, electricians, boat builders, mechanics. We had a thousand of them in Australia and we used them to support our facilities. In fact, there was a ship called the Apache, that used to be an ice-crusher up in Alaska and later, at McArthur's direction, the Apache became his broadcast command ship that he used when he was invading the Philippines, to tell the Filipinos that "I have returned!" Well, it was those laborers also that redid the inside of that ship with broadcast facilities and so forth. They were very talented and they did a yeoman's work. And a friend of mine, James P. McNair, from San Francisco, worked for a real estate company and Jimmy's job was to collect rents in San Francisco, in Chinatown. Now to collect rents in Chinatown you either had to be heavy handed or be able to speak Chinese. Jimmy learned Chinese. Imagine [a man] named James B. McNair and to learn Chinese! Well, they were looking for somebody to control these Chinese and he was it. And they needed a doctor and there was a doctor named Bernie Neuschiller who still lives in Woodstock, Illinois. He became the doctor for these Chinese. Now you had to have somebody to interpret, because the Chinese didn't speak English and the Americans didn't speak Chinese, except Jimmy. We had a Chinese, who was multi-talented, who later turned out he was, he became a very strong supporter of the communists in China. I was at his wedding and sat at the table with family, which is quite an honor for a 'round eye' like me to sit among family. But, those were the kind of worlds we lived in. Then one day, I was told, "You're gonna be transferred." I said, "Where?" "New Guinea." I said, "Do what?" "You're to go up there and establish an advance signal depot." Now the advance signal depot, when I got there was in a place called Oro Bay, it was near Buna and Dobadura. When I got there, there were ten men, a couple of tents, and a couple of poor buildings and that was the signal depot. Well, being a scrounger from way back, I knew I had to think fast. I needed some vehicles and I went to the ordnance and I said, "I need some vehicles." "You don't have any authorization for it, Lieutenant." Well, being tricky, I felt it was my turn. I said, "Major, you got a lot of telephone equipment in this Ordnance Depot and you're not authorized to have any switchboards, so I'm gonna pull them out." He says, "You can't do that." I said, "Oh, If I had some vehicles, I could ride away and you'd never have to bother with it." So, I ended up with vehicles. Now to build buildings in New Guinea, we had raw material, trees, but who was going to do the building? Well, they had a group called ANGAU, Australia, New Guinea Administrative Unit and these were Australians, who had lived up there and were living there, before the war. The New Guinea natives were under Australian control and they had Police Boys, which were New Guineas, natives, and they were good. They were well disciplined. And so, I requested some labor and they would send me every day a group of natives who would cut back the jungle, cut down trees, clear brush and so forth. And we started to build buildings, and then we built roads and one day, I got a call and the caller said, "Hey, Lieutenant, we got some signal equipment here, just came in." I said, "Send it out." He said, "Want it right now?" I said, "Right now." How was I to know that he was talking of ten thousand tons of signal equipment? A Liberty ship had just come in.

BS: It was getting serious.

WN: Well … Well, we scrambled very quickly and, but, we got it done and that was also part of the stuff that went up to the Philippines when we invaded. You had to make your way up there on your own. We were bombed regularly. We had … one Japanese, we called Dr. Pepper, he used to bomb us at night, ten, two, and four, ten o'clock at night, at two o'clock in the morning, and four A.M., just so you couldn't sleep. You'd hear him up there, and we called him, Washing machine Charlie. And when you lived up there, we had no fresh food, so to speak, and I incurred malaria, dengue and jungle rot. Boy, that's devastating. We did have Atabrine, but we didn't have Quinine. Now, ironically, Atabrine was a dye that had been invented by the Germans. It was a dye that you swallowed and soon you began to look like a yellow, Chinese laundry ticket. It was so strong that your urine was yellow. Your skin became yellow and it was a good thing we were wearing khaki shorts, because when you put white on, it became yellow through the pores of your body. I took part in movements of equipment from Oro Bay, on up the coast to Salamoa and from Salamoa to Hollandia, which then became the area and on to the Philippines. My men found an old Army truck, a two and a half ton truck and we figured it had been captured by the Japanese in the Philippines and you could see which way the truck was heading, because of all the bullet holes that were in the tailgate. We resurrected the "Chief," as we called it, and it became a good means of transportation. We're notified that the 1st Cavalry Division was landing on to the Admiralties. The idea was to load vehicles with supplies and load them on the LSTs and then they would take them on the LSTs then run the trucks out of the LSTs onto the shore and leave them there and the troops could live out of those. Well, we had to provide a vehicle so, we gave them the "Chief" and one of my drivers went with the "Chief." After the invasion took place the men suddenly heard this engine sound and somebody said, "That's the Chief." This driver had bought this two and a half ton back. He didn't want to leave it there. We overran … a Japanese supply dumps. They didn't have much, but what they had, they used. … There was a ship, had been ran aground in Salamoa and it was called Kota Maru and in the hold there were civilian vehicles and this ship had been bombed by the Americans and finally ran aground there. It had some severe damage inside the hold and the ship was on fire and one of my men said, "Hey, Lieutenant, there's a safe in that thing," and I said, "Well, blow it." So, they did. But, there was nothing, really, in there, because everything was charred, because of the heat from the burning of the cabin panels and all. Back in Oro Bay, we had a special service officer, his name was Lanny Ross. Captain Lanny Ross, and he was a singer, a very good singer, a very nice man and he used to be on the Maxwell House program, called Maxwell House Hour. Well, … that load that came in on that ship, ten thousand tons of equipment, including eight radar sets, big ones, and each radar set had its own mobile power plant, mobile. Talking with Lanny one day and he said, "Boy, we've got a big USO troop coming in from the States and it's gonna be held here in Oro Bay. I have a problem, I don't know how the hell I can supply them with power." I said, "I'll help you." So, we wheeled two or three of these big power supplies up and had the engineers hook up some lights and we gave them power. But, we have one caveat that we had to be careful of. If the Japanese came, we had to be able to turn that power off instantly, because all these troops were massed in like this amphitheater there. But, they didn't come and we had a wonderful, wonderful evening. It was a nice part of the thirteen months in New Guinea.

BS: Did you receive treatment for malaria in New Guinea?

WN: … We just took Atabrine. You see, there's a situation that you had to consider. If you went to a hospital, many times, somebody came in and took your job and then you became what we called a "casual." That meant that where there was something that was needed, you went, and so you didn't want to give up what you had, because I had a terrific job. I was commanding, I had a depot. So, I lived through it, and when my orders came, I was ordered to Brisbane, but go back a little bit. While I was in New Guinea, I was out at Dobadura and there was the 90th Bomber Squadron up there, called the "Jolly Rogers" and the symbol on the side of their aircraft was skull and cross bones. These are B24s, big ones. I heard this classical music and this person singing, and asked, "Charlie Whitlock, is that you?" He said, "Yeah, who's that?" I said, "Neuby." It was Charlie Whitlock, classmate of mine from here at Rutgers. He was engaged to President Clothier's daughter. He's either engaged or married by that time. And now, I'm a First Lieutenant, he's a Lieutenant Colonel and the reason was the mortality was very high in the Air Corps then. The last I heard Charlie was Dean of Men at Harvard University in Massachusetts. Anyway, I go back to Brisbane. I arrived in Brisbane and they took one look at me and said, "Oh, my God." I weighed a hundred and five pounds. They said, "You can't stay up here. It's too tropical." So, I was assigned to Sydney. Oh, well, that's going first class. I got down to Sydney, I'm a First Lieutenant and the Signal Officer was a Lieutenant Colonel, Dick Dyson, he just got promoted to full Colonel. He's going up to Headquarters in Hollandia. He tells me, "You're now the Signal Officer," and I'm a 1st Lieutenant. There were a couple of captains and a major there and other lieutenants. After taking over, I started to do some things. This major says, "I'm not taking any orders from some damn lieutenant." I said: "No problem." I picked up the phone, called Brisbane and I said, "Major says he's not taking any orders from me." The man in Brisbane [said], "Put him on the line." The man in Brisbane said to the major, "Pack your gear , you're going North tomorrow. Your orders will be there on wire." After that, I never had any trouble with the other two captains, believe me. And while I was in Sydney, that's when I met my wife. She was the widow of an Australian pilot, who was killed in training in Canada, and they were married in '43. Allan was killed in late '43 and my wife, Grace Blakely Vivian Hunt, went to Australia as a widow dependent, on board an English manned aircraft carrier called the HMS Ranee. Its cargo was aircraft and K9 dogs were scheduled to go to India. They were en route to Sydney, but again, because of the submarine pack, so, they went to Perth. As I said, it is as if you were to go of Baltimore, but you end up in San Diego. I followed this young lady down the hall, and suddenly she turned right, "That's the freight elevator." So, I asked, "Excuse me, you appear lost." She says, "I am." I said, "Follow me," and I said "Would you like a coke?" and she said, "Love one." So, I took her to a little PX, and we had a couple of cokes and then I asked her if I could see her sometime. Could I have her phone number? She said, "Okay" and gave me her phone number. I called, "Sorry, I'm busy." [I] called again, "busy." Four times she was busy, but finally, I got a date. I had a nice apartment and I was in this apartment by myself. So, I stopped off at the grocery store, a deli, prepared a lovely dinner, brought it home, set it up. We started to talk, believe me, there was no hanky panky, was just talking and suddenly she said to me, "Oh, my Lord, do you know what time it is?" I said, "No." She said, "It's 4:30 in the morning." Now, we were overlooking Sydney Harbor, it's a beautiful sight. I said, "Oh, my God." She says, "Don't worry, I'll take care of it." So, we had something to eat and then early in the morning I put her on the train and she went out to Chatswood where she lived with her in-laws. Well, six weeks after I met her, we were married by a justice of the peace. We were born [on the] same day, same month, same year and our mothers confirmed that I was born twenty minutes before she was. The result of that was we have two beautiful sons and my wife made a very wonderful army wife. She put up with all the discomforts.

BS: You were married in Australia?

WN: We married by a justice of the peace in Australia, in Chatswood, New South Wales. And I had to go and get permission from the US military to get married. I went and I talked to the Exec Officer and I said, "I'd like permission to get married to an Australian." And he said, "Oh, my Lord, you'll have to speak to the Commander." So, the Commander's name was Colonel Frank Burns. He was an infantry officer and strict. I was his signal officer. I said, "I requesteded permission to marry." I had the information, who the young lady was and so forth. He says, "I've got to think about this." Well, a day or two later, I come to go to work and as I go into the Grace Building where our office was, Colonel Burns is in the elevator with other people and I go to enter and I said, "Good morning, sir." And I then turned around, I'm facing with my back to him and he says, "What's this business of you wanting to marry a girlfriend of mine? I'll see you in my office." "His girl friend? What have I done? What am I into?" I got up to his office and he said, "I approved your request for marriage," he said, "Now, let me explain something to you. I have to write a report on relations in Australia …" 
  
 

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WN: … To type to send to headquarters. My wife, before I married her, was going with a fellow who was an Atomic Energy Commission type, out there looking for things. And she dated him for a while, and when they realized that Grace could type and take dictation, so she did typing as a favor to the Base Commander. No charge, I think he really appreciated it. So, when we got married, Pinky sent us a check, which was very thoughtful of him, because he didn't like Americans marrying Australians. Many times the Americans were marrying some rather questionable females. One day I got my orders to proceed to Brisbane. So, my wife went with me. I got there and I was director of operations for the Signal Corps for all of Australia and I did that for about six months. By this time, I've been there for four years. I was told, "You're gonna go back to the States, it's time." I said, "Okay." So, my wife went back to Sydney and I had my orders to proceed to the Philippines. I made arrangements to go on a ship, a Dutch freighter. I had a cabin and knowing my friends, I was buying all the liquor I could buy and putting it there, because the guys would enjoy it. It was a good sized load in the cabin. I'm supposed to sail two days later and my Sergeant Major came down and he says, "Hey, Captain, I got your orders." I said, "Wait a minute, I've got orders." He says, "No, you've got a priority." "What?" Somebody had gotten me an priority to proceed to the Philippines via air immediately. So, I made arrangements with the captain of the ship. I locked the cabin and told him that somebody I would open it when I got to the Philippines. My wife thought I was going by ship to the Philippines. She was in Sydney. I got on the plane and I flew from Brisbane to Biak that's an island off the New Guinea coast and then to Manila. Next morning, I get there, I report in to the headquarters. Somebody said, "What are you doing here?" I said, "Whoa, come on, what am I doing here?" So, they called the personnel officer and then said, "How come you got Willie here with a priority?" He said, "Well, the other night while you all were having dinner at Colonel Green's home, somebody said, 'Damn it, I wish Neubauer were here right now'." So, he said, "I thought I'd be efficient and get him for you, why?" They said, "We didn't want him, we wanted the liquor that he had." They got the liquor. Now I'm sitting in Manila and, they don't even have an assignment for me. And so, they said, "Well, just stick around for a day or two and we'll find something for you." And the first one was, "How about going up to Korea and Commanding a Signal Battalion?" I said, "Where's Korea?" We hadn't thought that far ahead … And then they said, "Well, let's think about this." I was walking out of headquarters and the Sergeant Major called out, "Hey, Captain" I looked around, looked at him and he says, "I'm Castiglio, remember me?" Well, earlier when he was a Sergeant and had been overseas for about two and a half years and he'd done his share. He had enough points, so, I sent him back to the States. "What are you doing here?" And he had Sergeant Major stripes, three up, three under with a star with a diamond and he said, "Thanks to you. This is it." He says, "What are you going to do?" I said, "I haven't even got an assignment." He says, "What do you want to do?" I said, "Well, what I want to do is impossible." "What's that?" I said, "Well, there's a class starting in Fort Leavenworth, the 26thclass, the first intermediate at Command General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth." And I said, "Well, I haven't applied and they're gonna make the announcement in a day or two." He asked, "You want to go?" I said, "Of course." "Just a minute." He picked up the phone, he calls the Sergeant Major in Personnel, he says, "You owe me one. I got a buddy here who took care of me, I want you to take care of him." He says, "I know, he hasn't applied, put his name out there, his name, rank and serial number." Next day the orders came out assigned to Command General Staff College and my name's on there. Now the Signal people are asking, "Who put him on the list?" Well, I went to Command General Staff College, the 26th class at Fort Leavenworth. Meanwhile, my wife thinks I'm on a ship, going slowly to Manila. She gets a telegram from me from San Francisco saying, "Arrived safely." And I went to Command General Staff College, then I was assigned to Philadelphia, to the Signal Corps Storage and Issue Agency, then to the Advanced Officer's Course at Fort Monmouth and from there they sent me Texas Technological College in Lubbock, Texas to be the ROTC Signal Instructor. I was there from '48 to '51. I got pleurisy. I was very ill and then I was assigned back to Washington to career management. There was a note in my record that said, I was not to be assigned to any area that was severe colds, because I could develop into pneumonia and die, and I also had to be near a general hospital. So, they assigned me to Washington and I was there for two years. I was selected to go to Harvard Graduate School of Business at Harvard University. When I came here to Rutgers University, I had been in Bordentown Military Institute for four years. They did everything for me. They told me when I went to bed, when I would wake up, when I ate, when I showered and when I came to Rutgers University, nobody told me anything. And I had a record, I went to every beer party I could attend, house parties I was in. I was very busy and I ended up on scholastic probation and it was only the death of my father in my sophomore year that made me realize this, that I had to grow up. Time passes. I'm now in Career Management Branch in Washington, in the Pentagon and the services that had been soliciting their officers and apply for graduate school, because we're looking for applicants. The Army would send two, the Navy would send two Officers, Coast Guard, Air Force and all would send two officers. I didn't have the guts to apply, because I had previously applied and they wrote me back, "Don't call us, we'll call you." So, I took a transcript of my records from Rutgers University and I sent it to Harvard Business School and I said, "This is my transcript, I've grown up since then. I have a family, I've had combat, I've had Logistics, I've had finance and I have grown up. If I applied, would this be acceptable or would I be wasting your time?" They never answered. Well, I was getting ready to send a letter to Harvard, saying, "Look, that transcript cost me a dollar, would you send it back? I know it was bad, but please." And it was July, 1953. My wife was with the two boys in Minnesota visiting her family. I got a call from the head of the Army Educational Department, Dr. Butts, whose office was down the hall from mine and he called and he said, "Could I see you for a few minutes?" I said, "Of course, Dr. Butts." So, I went down and he said, "Did you apply to go to Harvard?" I said, "No." Then I explained to him what I just told you. He sort of chuckled. He said, "Well, look at this." And he handed me a letter from Harvard and it said, "the following people had been accepted for attendance starting enrollment in September" and my name is on it. I said, "Oh, my God." He said, "Would you like to go?" I said, "Of course, I'd love to," He said, "I have the money in my budget, you can go, but you're gonna have to convince your superiors to release you to go." So, I went up to my boss, because I was in Personnel and Training Division. The boss, General Pulsifer is very strict and I said, "I'd like to talk to you." I went through the thing, explained it to him. He looked at me and he said, "Would you like to go?" I said, "With all my heart." He says, "Good you have my approval. Now go tell the Chief Signal Officer that I approved it. I agree." Well, I went to the Chief Signal Officer. I explained to him and the General says, "Would you like to go?" I said, "With all my heart." He says, "You're going." I called my wife in Minnesota and say, "You better come back." She says, "Why?" and I said, "We're going to Boston," "Why?" and I said, "Graduate school." I went through Harvard and I was graduated in '55 with a Master's Degree in Business Administration. Then I was assigned to Heidelberg, Germany and the Storage and Procurement Operations. I did that for a year and I was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Well, fortunately there was a position that was just becoming vacant as Signal Officer of Berlin. That's a hundred miles behind the border in the Russian zone, so, I requested that assignment and being a Junior Officer, I was lucky, because Senior Officers would have given their you know what to get the assignment and the General said, "Okay, go." I went to Berlin and the man who recommended my assignment acceptance in Berlin was a gentleman named, Colonel Orlenti Barsanti. He was one of the most highly decorated infantry officers in the Army. And he liked the things I've been in and done. So, I went up there and when I got there, did the usual, I was very military, saluted, did all the good things and he said, "I don't want technicians. I want you to take those Signal troops and make soldiers out of them, as well as communicators," and I said, "Yes, sir." Well, long story short, after four months, one day when they made the soldier of the month was a Signal Man. Now this really shook the 6th Infantry Regiment. What's a Signal Man winning this? My men won it four months in a row. The commanding Officer was Colonel Glenn Walker, a West Pointer, a very fabulous type and I got to know him very well. He later became a Lieutenant General in the Army. My immediate Boss was a Brigadier called George T. Duncan and he was a fine man. The US Commander of Berlin, USCOB was like a political type, his name was Barskdale Hamlett. He later became the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. My troops became troops as well as technicians. Now, Berlin was divided into British, French, Russian and US sectors and I was the Senior Signal Officer of those four. When I first got up there, there were tense moments, so, I blasted protocol and I called on the subordinates which is not the way you normally do it. But, this surprised them and it went well and I had them, then come to my office and I had the first meeting in my office and I provided the coffee and the croissants and so forth and from then on, it became more and more friendly. But, there was a unique problem. The British Signal Officers spoke French, the French Signal Officers spoke French but he didn't speak English. I didn't speak French, but I spoke Spanish and it just happened that Monsieur Le Commandante Foucard, who was the Frenchman, was born in Spanish Morocco, so he spoke Spanish. The Russians really didn't attend, because Stalin had said, "Don't go to the meetings." Okay, and since I was the Senior, I made a ruling, "If you're not here, we'll make that assumption that you agree with what we're doing and we will do it." The Russian says, "You can't do that." I said, "I'm in charge. If you don't like it, attend the meeting." "But, we can't," I said, "You're problem." And one day, Barksdale Hamlett walked in, and we're having a signal meeting. He's standing there and he becomes incredulous, because I'm talking to Foucard in Spanish. John Collins, who later became the British Signal Officer of the British Forces in England is talking to Foucard in French and Foucard [is] talking to him in French and I'm talking to Collins in English. The General says, "Well, I've seen it all. You talk about multi-lingual group, this is it." It worked out very, very well. When I first got there, it was a problem of. There was a problem of communications between the French and the British and the US. I made an arrangement. I sent ten US signal troops to the French and they gave me ten French troops. I took ten troops and sent them to the British and they gave me ten troops. These British and French lived with my troops in the barracks and they ate with them and everything else. We rotate all troops and in four to five months, the communication exercises were absolutely fabulous. Instead of saying, "Oh, that stupid idiot is off frequency." My men would say, "Hey, who's this, Jacques?" in French, you know, and this guy would say, "Oui" You're off frequency … Things were humming beautifully and that's the way we got it going. I was there during the Hungarian Revolution and it was interesting, because nowhere in my record did it show that I spoke Hungarian, but I spoke Hungarian before I spoke English. The unique trait is that you would find in many of these so-called European groups. The children were sent to the church to learn Hungarian from the nuns. That had a very good, because the children could communicate with their parents and they were doing it with Hungarian. Then when I went to public school, I'm learning English and I could teach my parents and help them. Later, I wanted to be on the Attaché staff in Budapest, Hungary and I went up to take the qualification test in the Pentagon. The fellow that's giving it to me started to talk to me in Hungarian. I said, "What did you say?" I couldn't understand him. I said, "Where did you learn your Hungarian?" "Well, I went to the language school in the Presidio." I said, "Well, all you know is book Hungarian. You don't know common Hungarian." And I said, "I'm wasting my time." So, I left. It was never on my record. So, when the Hungarian Revolution came, it was interesting. We had a cocktail party at Templehoff, it was the Air Base, the main base in Berlin and Colonel Rex Beach was the Commander and he hosted a cocktail party. One of his officers' wife was there and walking around and I was wearing the Signal Corps formal, which was the jacket with the blue Cavalry pants with the gold stripe on the side. I looked like a grounded Admiral. This young lady came over to me and said, "Excuse me, are you in the American Army?" I said, "Yes, why?" She said, "See those two Russians over there? They want to know what Army you're with." I guess my dress uniform wasn't in that little handy-book they carried. I said, "I'm your friendly Signal Officer." She said, "Oh, God." And I said, "Who are they?" She said, "Well, the one on the left is the guy, a Colonel who I think the Hungarians would like to kill, because he ordered the execution of about twenty Hungarian students, that were caught during the occupation there." And I said, "The other?" She said, "I think is his bodyguard. He's a Colonel also." So, I leisurely made my way around the cocktail party and I finally got to him and I looked at him for a moment, in Hungarian I said, "How were things in Budapest?" … The guy that I thought was the bodyguard, stepped right in front of him and I just said, "Goodbye." and I walked away and had a drink. They were gone in minutes. Let's see, I left Berlin in 1958, went to Fort Knox. I was there for two years as Chief of the Signal Division of the Senior Officers' Preventive Maintenance Department. It's a very unique group. We taught preventive maintenance and our students were Full Colonels and above. We didn't teach the mechanics of it, instead how to observe that your troops are or are not doing preventive maintenance. And I got to meet some very interesting officers. I did that for two years and one day, the fellow that had relieved me on ROTC duty in Lubbock, Texas in 1951 came in from Washington and he said, "A friend of ours, both of us, was dying of cancer" and he said, "He's in DCSPER, Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel's Office and the question is, "One, would you like to come up and take his place?" I said, "Of course." I was assigned to the General Staff in DCSPER and I was there for three years. I came in one morning and my name plate was off the door. I asked, "What?" "You have been transferred to the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff." Now remember I said Orlenti Barsanti was the Chief of Staff in Berlin. When I got to DCSPER, guess who was my boss? Orlenti Barsanti. He became a Brigadier General in the Joint Chiefs of Staff and he suggested that I transfer to the Joint Chiefs. I was transferred to J6, which is Communications and I was responsible for planning the communications for Vietnam. And I did that for two and a half years. They asked if I would like to extend my tour. To do that you have to get the Officer's agreement and it has to go to the top echelon. So, they said, "You will have to take a hardship tour." So, I went to Korea as a Deputy Director of Communications and Electronics in Seoul, Korea, under a friend of mine, Hugh Foster, retired Major General Foster. I was asked, "Where do you want to be assigned when you come back?" I said, "I'd like to be assigned as Commander of Strategic Communications Command, CONWS, Continental US." So, when I came back from Korea, that's where I was assigned and I did that for a year and then on June 1967, I figured, that's enough Willie, so I retired on 30 June 1967. When I was assigned to Berlin, I lived in a house on Pacceli Alle, named after a Pope. One day I went to the attic and could see daylight. The engineer came and told me the holes were caused by flak. They fixed the roof and shortly I was moved into a new home built around a small lake, about a five minute walk from the headquarters. I had a maid in Heidelberg Erna Tetzlof. So, when I was going to Berlin, I said, "Erna, would you like to go?" She said: "Yes, Oberst yes." I said: "I'll tell you what we'll do. Frau Neubauer and I and the children will go up and I will give you money and you fly. I want to know when you're coming to Berlin, so you call this number in Frankfurt and they will call me and tell me you're coming and when you arrive." Well, she wasn't a maid. She was a family member and later she married an American in Ohio. Now, you know when you have those family relationships they're different. I went back to Berlin, … about five to six years ago. That was when we were getting out of Berlin and I wanted to go back just to see it for last time. My lady friend from Switzerland, went with me and I had called ahead and said, "This is Colonel Neubauer, would you have any accommodations for me while I'm there?" "Yes, please come." So, we arrived at the airport and a taxi we took to headquarters and I said, "Now about a …" Oh, yeah, "Colonel, there's a Staff car, it will take you there." Staff car, I thought I was going to a villa across the street. They took us out to the Wanzee Guest House in Berlin, a very interesting house. It was owned by the Bauer family of Germany who invented the zipper. When Berlin was falling and the Russians were coming across the Wanzee, the Swedish Ambassador took the Swedish Flag and went out and planted it right on the water's edge. The Russians troops respected that and they went around that and left that building alone. Here we are in the Vice Presidential Suite and, you know, whatever else, fabulous thing. I went back to the Headquarters the next day, one of the three days we were there. I was convinced to visit the headquarters. No problem entering with an ID card. And as I entered, there was a tall black Major standing there and I said, "Excuse me, Major, could you tell me where the Signal Office is?" He looked at me for a moment and he says, "Yes, Colonel Neubauer, exactly where you left it." Well, you know, … I left there in … '58 and he's telling me my name and he explained, "Colonel, you set up a rogues gallery of every Signal Officer," and he said, "all Officers entering this Command had to learn who they were," and he said, "You're well known." And so he said it was no problem and he said, "I assume you'd like to look around." He says, "Well, I can't take you, but I'll make arrangements. I have a Staff meeting in three minutes." I said, "You still have the eleven o'clock?" He went into an office and brought this fellow out and he says, "This isOberst Neubauer, you take him wherever he wants to go." "Yes, sir." Well, it was wonderful to go back and see where I used to have twenty-three switchboard operators, there were now four. We had huge rooms with wet cell batteries. Now they had electronics switchboard, fewer operators. At one point he opened a door and starts to go in and I said, "Neinnein, there's a meeting in there. A voice calls, "Oberst Neubauer es du?" I said, "Jawohl" He said, "Ein moment bitte." This fellow came out. He introduced himself to me and he said, "I've looked forward to meeting you. I want to thank you." He said, "You hired me in1956. You gave me the opportunity to have a good life. You allowed me to recover my self worth, "You must have done well." He said, "Yes, thanks." And I asked, "How about the old crowd?" He said: "Nein, alles tot or … either dead or retired?" I asked, "And you?" He said, "I'm retiring at the end of this month" and he says, "I'm so pleased to have met you." That's a story and I'll leave one more story. I had a civilian named Ed Boniecki, who was one of my key civilians. He lived in this house in he was up in the attic of this house and there was a piece of metal there … and he had need for that piece of metal, so, he went down, got a hammer and he started to drive that piece of metal. Finally, it went through a link of chain, and he heard this god awful crash and his wife said, "What are you doing?" Well, he got downstairs and what it was, was the chandelier, a huge crystal chandelier that was fastened to a chain that went all the way to the attic and this piece of metal was one of the links and holding it and he had driven it out, then down it came. So, he said, "Oh boy, I'm in a mess." I said, "Well, you're going on a holiday to Vienna, while you're there, look up an opportunity shop," where people would take things to sell and get money. So, he went and he picked up a crystal chandelier of sorts and then he had it installed. Now when Ed Boniecki was getting ready to go back to the States, the engineers came to inspect the house and this time, the owner of the house came and he was walking around the house, noting it was very well maintained. He looked at the chandelier, he says, "Das ist nein original," it's not the original. And Ed says, "Yes, yes," So, Ed had to pay him the difference of that. The owner's name was Max Schmelling, the boxer. 
  
 

---------------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW-------------------------------------------

Reviewed by Bojan Stefanovic 9/16/01

Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 9/24/01

Corrections entered by Bojan Stefanovic 4/11/02

 

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