Michael F. Sorge: This begins an interview with Arthur Victor Mann on October 15, 2004, in Somerset, New Jersey. I am Mike Sorge.
Jefferson Chae: Jefferson Chae.
Mark Segaloff: Mark Segaloff.
Sandra Stewart Holyoak: And Sandra Stewart Holyoak. Thank you very much, Mr. Mann, for coming all the way from South Carolina to talk with us today. Can you tell us where and when you were born?
Arthur V. Mann: I was born in Westwood, New Jersey, in the house that I lived in my whole life through high school, 480 Fourth Avenue, Westwood, New Jersey. [I] went to school in that school and graduated from there and didn't really leave home until it was time to go to Springfield College.
MFS: Can you tell us about your parents and what they did for a living?
AM: I can tell you what I can remember. My father was German, all the way. I can remember having a German grandmother who still spoke German and, apparently, was a tremendous businesswoman. … They owned a good portion of the prime territory in Westwood, New Jersey, at the time she was alive, but the sons were not the kind of business people that the grandparents had been. I never got to know my grandfather at all. He had pre-deceased my birth in 1923. In my lifetime, they were very successful guys, but they were not educated, not businessmen, and they lost most of it in my young growing up period. By 1929, my own father was disabled from bleeding ulcers that he had … that they had no cure for. They operated unsuccessfully and, although he lived, he lived on disability. So, actually, … in the '30s, we were a relief family, … accepting all kinds of help to get out of debt and get out of trouble. My mother did everything, from taking boarders to running a candy store, two of the things I can remember that she [did that] kept money coming in and kept helping. The same house that I was born in she managed to hold on to with second mortgages and all the things you do when you're not doing well. She was an uneducated gal herself who had a lot of drive for education, only went to the sixth grade or so. I don't know how much education my father had. He was not a great communicator and I had an older brother who should have gone to college. He was [a] state champion in track, 440, … but, in those days, to break fifty for 440, quarter mile, was incredible and he was one of those guys who was threatening it, as a high school runner, on those awful tracks. … I don't think the training at that time was anything like it is now. … I would say, if anything, about this coach, we just didn't know that much, but I can truthfully say that the kids that I coached in high school got better taught than I did at Rutgers when I was a player at Rutgers. … I just recently, last weekend, went to a reunion of some of my kids who went on and played in college and they came back from places like Dartmouth, Fordham,Miami. I'm trying to think of the places where some of my players on last week's [reunion] team, Caldwell, New Jersey, 1953, had gone on and played college football. They were very proud of themselves, but they all said that they felt that their coaching at the high school level was exemplary and compared favorably to what they had gotten at college at that time in the '50s. So, actually, this is the way they felt. Now, these guys are now, one of them is a successful ex-lawyer who is a retired millionaire, Steve Leary. He'll be going to the Rutgers game with me tomorrow and he's the one we salvaged those lost tickets for. [laughter] He's about sixty-eight, sixty-nine years old and [he is] starting to lose some of these faculties that we all lose. I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for my wife, Natalie, who made all the arrangements. She allowed me to do the talking, but she's the one who is driving the car and doing the things that this P-38 pilot used to do automatically. I don't drive in today's fast traffic.
SH: Can you tell us where your mom and dad met?
AM: I don't have the slightest idea. Neither one of them were great communicators on their past. I met my mother's father, who would have been my grandfather, on one occasion that I can remember. He came to visit us, a nice guy, and … I think I remember, fuzzily, that he was a railroad conductor of some sort and I remember his name as being Arthur and I was named after him. I was the second son, … but that's the only occasion I can ever recollect of seeing him. I had a younger brother and the older brother. The older brother was probably the reason I was such an athlete myself, because he was the athlete. He was far better than me in everything. As a thirty-year coach myself, in fact, the ability he had was incredible and it was just God given. He won the state championship in track and field with little or no training at all.
SH: Did you have little jobs after school growing up?
AM: Yes, I got [my] working papers as a twelve-year-old. I was a caddy; that was one of the ways I made a buck and that's what you made for eighteen holes, a dollar. If you were really, really good, a ten-cent tip; if you were really bad, they sent you back and the other guy carried your bag. Hackensack Country Club is where we spent a lot of time caddying and we used to take off from school on Monday morning and play caddy's privileges and I can still remember him [his brother] having a hole-in-one. He was a great, natural athlete. It's hard for me to speak about him. He got such poor medical attention that he died as a seventy-year-old, absolutely needlessly, where he just hadn't had any attention, to the point where they had to operate, and they just found that he was too far gone. They tried to reconnect him and [it] got infected, … but he was such a fighter. It took him over a year to die, but, again, with the proper medical attention, he'd still be alive, no question about it. We're so blessed; I've been so blessed, in that … I've had five different colonoscopies in my period of trying to stay alive. He never had one and the same thing with my first wife. The medical attention in my lifetime has improved so much in that period of time. She died at forty-five years old and never should have. … If it had been me, I would have been the one who was dead; it's as simple as that, but I was a conscientious believer in, in other words, if you were my doctor, I did what you told me to do and, if I didn't agree with you, I'd get a second opinion, even fifty years ago. A lot of people didn't do that.
MFS: Can you recall how your family was directly affected by the Depression?
AM: Yes, I can remember people bringing food to the house when things were really the toughest. I can remember the bread lines. We didn't stand in them, because, actually, my mother was active in the ladies' auxiliary, fire department, that kind of a thing; until my father got sick, he was very active, too. I had uncles who, with the fire chief, I can remember them walking in the parades that those people would parade their equipment in. So, actually, about the '30s, I can remember, I remember bread lines and I remember what they looked like. This country has been terrifically spoiled by, I'd say, fifty years of milk and honey, really, in comparison to what the early years, the '20s and the '30s and the '40s, were like. Guys like me volunteered for service out of loyalty to fight a war, give up four years of your life with the feeling that it was worthwhile. I saw guys get killed at the end of the runway on the take-off and that kind of stuff and … those pictures are still there and, when you think in terms of what's happening now, excuse the expression, but this idiot who is President now, he never put in the time. [Editor's Note: Mr. Mann is referring to President George W. Bush] He doesn't understand what these guys are going through that are over there now. My heart goes out to [those] guys, like, you don't have to be over there, because it's a hell hole and [there is a] fifty-fifty chance whether you're going to come back. The year I spent in Italy, they were disarmed. The Italians were broken completely. They were our slaves, if we wanted them, but we didn't treat them like that. We treated them like people and they had to wait on us, because, obviously, that was their job. When we went to a hotel, they were the waiters, but I have a daughter-in-law whose family came from Italy in the '50s and the son, her brother, is a millionaire, first generation-Italian, who has come over here and he's a commodities trader. You all know what that means and he's damn good at it and I've seen the million-and-a-half dollar house that he paid cash for outside of Chicago. So, I mean, that's the story of America. That's what we got here and [there are] people who don't appreciate it, people like our present … President, who was born to all of that wealth, and he's not treating people like us as really equals, really. I think that the guys who are in the Reserve now; … why do people go into the service? They go into the service because they can't go to college. They're looking to improve themselves and that's the way out for some of them, out of the poverty they're in. So, these are still the poor people; I can relate to that. I mean, the GI Bill was my way out. Rutgers didn't have a scholarship for me; I wasn't that good an athlete. Springfield College did have a scholarship for me and that was the difference. That's why I went to Springfield and they had what I wanted, coaching and training. So, it was the perfect fit. Actually, the war interrupted it, but nobody drafted me. I didn't want to be drafted. I wanted to do what I did. I had always wanted to fly. I had an uncle who was a self-taught flyer, a big inspiration to me, and he never took me up, let's say, but he helped me learn how to drive a car. I drove a car when I was thirteen years old. In those days, you had back roads and all that kind of stuff and my brother would take me out. He was four years older and he was already driving, had his license. So, he would check me out and taught me all the things that he knew. I don't know what we had, but we always managed to have a car and, once he had wheels, I had wheels, is really what it amounted to. … [With] coordination, I had second instinct; I mean, that was all there was to it. The things that I could do, I was the guy that would catch the punt, tough thing to do. Everybody agrees that's a tough thing to do. I did it on the high school level; I did it on the college level. I ran one back at NYU [New York University] in Yankee Stadium or [the] Polo Grounds, one of those places, when Rutgers played them, seventy-five yards. I was the guy who didn't want to be tackled and, although the coaches didn't believe in it, … I invented running out of bounds. I wanted to preserve myself.
MFS: Can you tell us a little bit about your college life at Springfield?
AM: I loved it, but, on the other hand, I was such a kid and so unsure of myself that I stood on the field and watched freshman practice for a week before I had the nerve to volunteer to go out. A week later, I was a starting halfback on the freshman team and it was just one of those things where I was blessed, a lot of natural ability, the ability to do things almost instinctively that was right and God only knows why. It saved me so many times, saved me in football, that's for sure. I played at Springfield that year. We were the cannon fodder for the varsity. The varsity wasn't very good, but the freshman team was really good. I think we lost one game, [I] don't really remember, but I know that there were a lot of people there that were good. … When I got to be a starter, I was very proud. We were a better freshman team and we would handle the varsity, but, in those days, freshmen aren't allowed to play up; even if you were good enough, you couldn't play up. … I just happened to meet the captain of the varsity team that year. He and I became athletic directors in the same conference, so, that's how, just coincidence, and he became a lifetime friend. I'm still in touch with him. I almost moved to where he moved inWilmington, North Carolina. Again, thank God I didn't. He's lost his roof, his car. We have missed all of that, but, wherever we lived, knock on wood, we would [be spared from hurricanes]. Actually, I'm charmed that I'm talking to you today, no question about it. It's been a gift. If you don't have faith, guys, you're looking at the reason for having it, get it.
Jefferson Chae: What is your religious background?
AM: [When] I was brought up, Mother insisted upon going to [the] Baptist Church, because it was a walkable distance, but she was not a born-again Christian, but she was a believer. [You] didn't have to go to church religiously in order to be a believer, really is what it amounted to. My father was one of those people who went to the men's Bible class and didn't act as if he did. So, actually, if he got drunk, he would beat up my mom and it was something I'll never forget. My brother was the guy who would break them up, but it was a sad thing to remember and it was one of the things, … wife abuse or anybody who treated a woman [poorly], I was an equal rights advocate from the day I became a teacher. I fought for Title IX as high as Albany, during my twenty-years of fighting for Title IX. There were women that were almost as strongly opposed to it as the men were. That was the part that was hard to understand. They wanted them to be treated differently and … I had girls in school who could make my varsity team. You name it, they could have made it. … I could see that, as being a rational, damn good evaluator, if I do say so, of personnel myself and my coach, Harman, I would rate him hall of fame. That was my feeling about Harvey Harman. The guy who coached that team while I was there was a guy by the name of Art Matsu and he was All-American himself at William and Mary College. He was not much bigger than me, but a great natural athlete and a great coach. His failing as a coach was that it had to be his way and I learned, early on, that all of those guys had brains who were playing for me and the guy who is going to the game with me tomorrow was probably the smartest one I ever coached. He was a tackle. So, we used to do tackle calls, line calls, decision making by the guy doing the blocking, when I was coaching in high school, because of him. Rutgers never did it. Rutgers, you had to take the steps that they told you to take to get into the hole. If you couldn't take those steps, you weren't the right size halfback. How ridiculous can you be? But that's the way they ran it and, actually, there were five guys who played my position and I can still remember that, good God, what talent. They only use one, but every one of us had a gift that was a little bit different. They didn't have to use one. They hadn't gotten to the point of playing offense, defense, two teams, … specialists, but you were allowed to, even that early in the game. … God, with all the talent they had, … one time, Harman wanted to substitute me in the fourth quarter and Art had been up there in the first quarter, trying to get me in the game. I could remember them arguing about it and I'm standing there, embarrassed by the whole damn thing, but here's the two coaches, deciding whether or not I'm going to go in the game, then, "Go sit down again." In those days, you sat down. … Finally, in the fourth quarter, we were winning fifty-four to nothing against Bucknell and he calls me over and I said, "Put one of those freshmen in, beginners in." By that time, I was a senior and I was fed up with his treatment and I said, "I'm not about to go out there now. The game is already decided. As far as I'm concerned, you could play somebody else." As far as he was concerned, that's what I did, but I just really felt that way about it. He was [giving] preferential treatment to people he had recruited. They got the first crack and the other guys, the walk-ons [did not]. That's what impresses me so much about Schiano. The guy by the name of [Gary] Brackett, I don't know whether you remember, he was a walk-on and this coach found him. Schiano gave him a chance to bloom and he's now playing in the pros. [Editor's Note: Gary Brackett has played for the Indianapolis Colts as a linebacker since 2003.] … If you ever watched him, he's good and he became even better at Rutgers under this coach. I've never met the man, but I'm very impressed with what I've seen on television and what I've read in the paper and I've always followed the Star-Ledger. When a guy like [Jerry] Izenberg and those people start complementing [someone], you've got to believe that this guy must be doing some things right. I'm a big fan.
JC: When you were in high school, what kind of things were you hearing about what was taking place in Europe?
AM: Well, actually, you couldn't be alive and not be aware of what Hitler was doing, what was happening inJapan. You could just almost see what was going to happen. So, we were all scared, really. Even people in high school were aware that, probably, in our lifetime, there was going to be a war. I had already decided, … my whole background was German and the family came from Germany and there was no way in the world that I wanted to be known as [being of] German extraction. I was born here, I was American. My father was born in this country, so, actually, we were not German, but the background in that family was German. I wasn't too proud of it. I mean, what was happening, I felt that, sooner or later, they were going to have to be stopped. Same thing with the Japanese; I felt that they were people who, what they gained, they gained through beating down at other people. So, when Pearl Harbor happened, I was not watching, but you listened to football games then and I was at Springfield College listening to the Washington Redskins-Giants game that Sunday when Pearl Harborhappened. It was some time in December of my freshman year at Springfield. I was all finished with football by then and I was going to go home for Christmas vacation and I said to the guy that I was rooming with that I was going to volunteer. I knew that I was going to be a pilot, even though I had never flown, and I said, "I don't like to walk and I'm going to volunteer for the Air Corps. If they'll take me, I'll volunteer and get going."
JC: Were your friends as eager as you were to volunteer?
AM: Yes. … I don't even remember who I was talking to that morning, but the feeling was very anti-German, … anti-Japanese, resentful of what happened at Pearl Harbor and … the people I was surrounded by were people who were going to be not drafted, the, all [of them], mentality of, "This is what I want to do, go into the Navy, go into the Army." I had already made up my mind. I was going to be a pilot and I don't even know, … I didn't have any alternate plan. I mean, I just felt that I could do it. They turned me down. That was … the interesting part. I failed my first Air Corps physical and my team doctor, who was our family doctor, David Goldberg, who was a great guy and probably one of the best friends I ever had, he interceded with a state senator, got a letter from him that got me a waiver. … I signed a waiver to the Air Corps that anything that happened to me, physically, they would not be responsible for.
MS: Why did they turn you down?
AM: I had had a high school back injury, that they questioned whether or not I'd be able to take the training and, later on, I questioned myself, it was so tough. To this day, it's a toss up between Sea Girt football training and the Air Corps preflight training, which one [was tougher]. The Air Corps' feeling was, "Don't spend a nickel on these people until we give them preflight and wash out the ones who can't take it." They would give you seven-mile runs just around the airfield in the heat of the day and the guys who couldn't do it, they sent them to Biloxi, Mississippi, made mechanics out of them. That's pretty much … the classification system, the Air Corps classification. The training was brutal, no question about it. A guy would be assigned to you, this is off the top of my head, because I wasn't prepared for this question, but what I remember about preflight, first of all, what I remember about classification, to find out whether you're going to be a pilot, a bombardier or a navigator. Those were the three classifications and the thing that qualified me for being a pilot, God only knows, I don't know, but that's what I wanted and that's what they qualified me for. To get to that point, I spent at least two months, maybe three months, at Nashville Classification Center while this waiver was coming through. They didn't want to spend a nickel on me unless I could pass all their tests. So, actually, I stayed there and the way they decided whether or not I would qualify [was], sixteen hours a day of KP, guard duty or, what was the other favorite thing that they made [us do]? KP was one; oh, latrine duty, sixteen hours a day, to keep you busy. … Imagine cleaning johns, a guy, you know, fresh out of college, but, on the other hand, that was the Air Corps' way of separating the men from the boys, "Can he take it?" They didn't have a thing for you to do You'd go out and you'd police the area for a whole morning, trying to find something to pick up to bring back. I mean, you just walk down, all the way through camp, let's say, lines of guys doing nothing but keeping busy. I mean, … a lot of times, it would be in the heat of the day that these idiotic things [took place]. They would have a cabin, I call it a cabin, but it was where you were barracked and they don't have an inspection and some jerk would come in with a half-a-dollar and bounce it off your bed. If that thing didn't bounce, why, [he would] tear your bed apart. … Everybody in that area would be quarantined until you guys made good beds, idiotic stuff like that.
MFS: Was it difficult to get used to the military style of living, as compared to civilian life?
AM: For this civilian, yes. [laughter] I brag about the fact that I never got what they called a demerit and never walked a tour in that whole trip through and I was in the training command for, well, I graduated '44-A and, because of these waivers and the other things that they held me up on, I did get … what they called ptomaine poisoning, really food poisoning is what it was. That happened at Maxwell Field, so, actually, I fell behind two classes while I got healthy enough to go back out there and do those runs and stuff. Actually, if you screwed up in any way, you walk tours, instead of getting open post, and the tour was just walking in a brace for one hour or two hours, three hours, whatever they prescribe as a cure for that, whatever you did that was wrong. Some of it was so idiotic that, I mean, it did break some guys down. Some guys just couldn't take it, in terms of, "I'm not going to take this shit any longer and pack it in," and that's really how they separated you out, I mean, no question about it. You had to be able to take whatever they gave you and I could, it's as simple as that. I mean, I had the ability to put up with a guy like Harman as my coach, because I wanted to be a coach and I didn't want him against me when I had to get a recommendation. So, no matter what he [did], the only time I almost blew up was that fourth quarter, after not playing for a whole game, fifty-four to nothing, and I had been the starting halfback before I got hurt, but his system put the starting halfback down at the bottom, and then, you worked your way back up to the top and there were five other very good people at that position. I mean, they had a wealth of guys like myself who came back from the service who, a lot of them, wouldn't put up with his nonsense. So, they walked away from what would have been playing for Rutgers. The traveling squad was forty-four guys and, to make that traveling squad, I always made the traveling squad, but, a lot of times, I wouldn't make the ballgame and it would really tick me off, of course, … a very old, proud, first lieutenant who didn't want to put up with his shit. I mean, I had taken it right up to there in the service and, now, I've got a coach who didn't do a goddamned thing in the war, except coach football at Iowa preflight, and he got to be a commander and he got all kinds of medals and things … for doing what he was supposed to do anyhow … and he wasn't a very good coach, in my opinion, to begin with. I've always said that right along. I said it then, I'm saying it now. The talent he had should have never lost a game and the guy who was really the genius of coaching that team was Art Matsu, who, again, was a great coach, but, on the other hand, not a great politician. He didn't even get his retirement from Rutgers, even though he put in twenty-five years, one of the shameful things that happened, in my opinion, that Rutgers people should have been ashamed of, but, on the other hand, I had no control of it then, I have no control of it now, but he was the coach of that team. He was the brains and he was the one who ran the offense and [all of] the coaching that I ever got. He was the main coach, teaching me. Now, keep in mind, I was coaching. I coached the team in high school. I put in a lot of the offensive plays. I was going to be a coach from seventh grade on and every intramural team I ever played on, I coached. Every fraternity team I ever played on, I coached, basketball, baseball, football. In those days, there was no Little League. I organized neighborhood teams and we would play games and I would get guys to do the scheduling and stuff like that. So, I was always involved in it and that piloting was always just an aspiration. I was never going to be, I called them chauffeurs, and, to this day, I call those guys nothing more than flying bus drivers and you feel sorry for them.
MS: Can you tell us exactly what a photo recon squadron does?
AM: Yes. Actually, we had the easiest job in the Air Corps, I think, because we flew the best airplane, we flew it the highest and you did it all by yourself and that was the beauty of it. You were the guy and, [if] things didn't go right, it was up to you to solve the problem and, actually, if you brought the plane back, you'd better have a damn good reason for bringing it back, particularly with that line mechanic whose plane it really was. See, we rotated missions, but the mechanics owned the plane and [there was] a staff sergeant or master sergeant who was in charge of the airplane. I never brought one back. I mean, I was scared to bring one back. I mean, if it was running, I ran it, never had a problem. I thought the guys were absolutely superb and I got to the point [where] I was so careless about it, I'd just go down and get in the plane and go. Now, when I was instructing, I never, never, ever took that plane off without inspecting every inch of it myself on the ground and the guy who I was instructing, I would do the same thing with. … "You want to check those tires. You want to check everything about this, to make sure that when you get up there," but you didn't do that in combat. … I made the mistake of looking it over one time and, boy, he chewed me out like he was a king, and he was the king of that plane, and he said, "When I ground test this airplane," he says, "I'm flying it on the ground, Lieutenant," and he emphasized the lieutenant, because that's what I was, and he said, "You're the lucky guy that gets to fly it up there. I should be, it's my plane," and that's the way they felt about it and [there were] little games, like tackle football, without pads, they used to challenge guys like me and we used to play. To hell with it, there was nothing else to do. They didn't have anything to amuse you or anything like that, no basketball hoops or anything like that in those days, softballs, what was called flag football. We played those kinds of games, but it was really the enlisted men against the officers and God help the officers, but, actually, it was very close knit. 32nd Photo Squadron, the commanding officer was only a year older than me. He was a major already, but he had flown fifty missions and that's what it went by, if you lived through it. My roommate got shot down on his first mission. In my opinion, [it] resounds to stupidity, because we had been told, "[If] something happens, you bring the plane back." He lost an engine; he tried to fly the mission. What the hell? The P-38, on one engine, was almost like a Piper Cub. I mean, it was a sitting duck and he got knocked down. The Germans captured him, or would have captured him, if it wasn't for the Partisans. … So, actually, it's only [by] the grace of God, thanks to the Partisans and thanks to some fearless helicopter pilot flying in one time, bringing him back from Yugoslavia, where he was with the Partisans, back to, … we were down around the heel [of] Italy, a place called San Severo. I say the heel because most people don't know where Bari is, but … we were stationed three hundred miles behind the lines. So, we would fly all the way up to the Alps to get to where our targets were. Now, you were doing a lot of sitting. All of us came out of it, pretty much, with hemorrhoids. … In those days, you are lucky to come out of it and you didn't bitch about it. You were just glad that you made it out, but I had a hemorrhoid operation by the time I was twenty-four years old. … As far as I was concerned, get them fixed, no service disability that I claim; I just got it fixed and went on with my life. I never had a VA [Veteran's Affairs] claim until I was at Sun City, South Carolina, when I found out I was paying for medication that other guys were getting for nothing and I said, by this time, I'm watching the almighty dollar very closely, because you had to enter a zero for everything you paid for. My mentality was a dollar; it costs ten dollars now. School teachers never did make any money and still don't make enough money. Actually, to move to Sun City was a perfect situation for us, because I finally met, I meant to tell Sandra, Jack Young. Have you gotten his story? He's a Rutgers man. No? I'm surprised that you haven't. He's a prisoner of war, too. He doesn't have too much longer left. So, I don't know why he hasn't; he was our Vets commander down there at Sun City. I'll put you in touch with him, if you are not in touch with him, because he should be interviewed. You should have gotten him down. I can't believe that. Well, I'm just rambling on.
JC: Can you tell us about your flight training in the States?
AM: Again, I was lucky. I had a guy by the name of Delbert Mann as my first instructor and he never once acknowledged that we had the same name, never once. He was one tough customer, but one great instructor. … At first ride, I've never been in a plane before, and he said, "Son, you make sure that you strap yourself in and don't you ever take that seatbelt off." He said, "Don't take it off today and don't ever take it off, period," and so, he took me up and proceeded to fly that airplane upside down, inside out. The whole ride was nothing but ringing out this beginner and, if he could get me sick, I would have been out of there the next day. He didn't get me sick. I never got air sick in my life. It's just one of those things, a lucky aspect of my tender tummy, because I've had a tender tummy, all my life. Coming out of the locker room, I'll always be the last guy off the john, because that's where I would spend my last Hail Mary. I never played a football game that I didn't say my blessing, because, once you got out there, I didn't know what the hell I was doing. I just did it automatically. If I got my hands on the ball, I just went where there's nobody else. When Matsu found me as a broken field runner, he handed me the ball, I hadn't played football in four years, while I was in the service, and … he lined up ten guys the length of the football field and he said, "You think you're a back? Here let's see you run through those guys." I say, "You're kidding." I said, "Gee, I haven't even played [in four years]. I haven't worked out a day to come here." He said, "Well, we might as well find out whether or not you can do it. If you could do it, you stay and, if you can't do it, why, thanks for coming." That's the way I got treated the first day at Rutgers and my instincts were, "Boy, oh, boy, you're a big guy. I'm not going to go anywhere near you. I'll go around you." I mean, I didn't run over anybody, I mean, and, to that day, that was my natural ability. I guess I got by in high school that way. I got by at Springfield the same way and I got by at Rutgers that day. I went down the lane to the field. I was dead by the time I got down there. I hadn't worked out or anything and the most strenuous thing I had done was fly from Coffeeville, Kansas, toNewark Airport with a P-38 to show it off, while I was out there and we were waiting to go to Japan. I mean, that's what I was assigned to do and, all of a sudden, thankfully, they ended that war and they said, "Who wants out?" My hand went up immediately, because … I was a first lieutenant, scheduled to be, probably, a B-29 pilot.
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SH: Please continue. You spoke about having to put up with a lot of things at Nashville and, now, you were transferred to Maxwell Field, Alabama.
AM: In retrospect, I feel that, from day one, it was a classification of trying to screen people out of being pilots and I think everybody wanted to be a pilot and the really talented guys, the really brainy ones, probably went to become navigators, because that's really where they needed them. I don't know what a bombardier really needed, but they all wanted to be pilots, initially. I was one of the lucky ones and I don't know what separated me out, except for the fact that I had great reflexes from day one. I had them and I just seemed to have a natural aptitude, because I never had to recheck. I never had a flight check, I never had a difficulty with it, I never scratched a plane, all the things came almost instinctively to me that the instructor taught. He offered to solo me a lot sooner than I felt I was comfortable, ready to solo. You could solo as early as six, seven hours flight or you could take the whole ten hours, and so, one day, I can remember, [I] went over to the field [to] shooting landings in this PT Stearman and he said, "You're ready to go," and I said, "I don't know about that one." I said, "Let's go around a couple more times and show me that you have your hands off, so that I know that I'm doing it all," and so, he had his hands off, but I'm sure he would damn soon [be] ready. These things ground looped very easily and you could ground loop badly enough and kill yourself and I think I was smart enough to realize that, but he was one great instructor. He was a really great instructor. I don't even remember the others' names.
SH: Was he a civilian?
AM: Civilian, yes, and had been a lifetime pilot. He was what they call a bush pilot and I never was in touch with him again. He didn't want to have anything, but he was almost anonymous. It was almost incidental that I found out that his name was Delbert Mann. It wasn't because he said, "You got the same name as I do," I mean, [he] never even acknowledged that and he would just talk to me through that tube, that's what you communicated by, and he'd say what he was going to do and would do it, and then, he would say, "Try that, Mann," and I would try to copy it and I was always a great copier, not so good in the classroom. I did my own work. I don't mean it that way, but, actually, it was a question of paying good attention and I was definitely committed to keeping my nose clean, that's really what it amounted to, which I did. Demerits were a bad thing and I tried hard not to get any. You walked what they called tours if you got any demerits and there was always somebody, an upperclassman, who was trying to find something wrong and, if they found something wrong with your room, everybody in the barracks got kept quarantined for the weekend. So, you never got open post if anybody screwed up, so, everybody tried really hard, but, even then, it happened occasionally and you would never know. I've never been in any situation where guys were more honorable or more believed in the honor system. We used to leave paychecks right on our desks, money, billfolds, very open, never had a nickel stolen, very sharing guys and, yet, I can't even name the ones that [I] trained with, but … I would say it was a breed above normalcy that we all knew. … I would just say you had to be proud to be one of them and the guys who survived that, I mean, God, the parades on Saturday, they would drop like flies. When we were in preflight at Maxwell Field, Alabama, they'd take you out at twelve o'clock noon, this is July now, and it must have been 110 degrees in the shade. The meat wagon would be going up and down, taking them away, and that's really what they wanted, "Who could survive? Who could take it?" … fourteen mile runs around what seemed like forever. … That's what I remember, to get to primary, you had to survive that and a lot of guys didn't. I mean, that was really, "Let's get rid of them." That was my feeling as well [on] what was going on. I got ptomaine poisoning while I was there and I missed [something]. Really, I always had a tender tummy, I call it, but it's now called IBS and it's an intestinal bowel problem, the reason I couldn't see you. [Editor's Note: Ms. Holyoak had attempted to set up an interview in South Carolina in February 2004.] I got an infection in December of this year and I didn't get rid of that infection, I guess, until August of this year. Six different antibiotics and God only knows what to cure it, but it's better, that's for sure, than it ever was, otherwise, I wouldn't be traveling, but I got it then and I think I had a very sensitive gut. The food they gave you was enough to try anybody and I just couldn't handle it. I mean, so, a lot of meals I just didn't eat. … I went in a little heavier than I [normally was]; … at my maximum weight in the service with about 180, where this was overseas, where all you did was fly, stay in shape yourself and eat whatever you wanted to eat. Now, you're an officer and they treated you really royally, believe me, now that you've made it, but it wasn't that way going through. Those square meals were really square; you never saw what the hell you were eating, actually, and the guy in charge of you was right there at that table with you, to make sure that you kept it square and missed your mouth more often than you hit it. … Well, as I said, Sea Girt, … Harman or preflight at Maxwell Field, Alabama, it was a question, in my lifetime, of which was the dumbest and the worst, … the separation of a lot of good people, really. [laughter] A lot of people left Sea Girt because they wouldn't take his shit is really what it amounted to.
SH: Where did you go from Maxwell?
AM: [After] Maxwell Field, a place called Americus, Georgia, President Carter's [hometown]. Well, we were there for training, didn't know about the peanuts or Carter then, but, actually, that was where I did two months of learning how to fly. That's where Delbert Mann was my instructor. I spent all my flight time with him, and then, all my waking hours taking the courses that they just throw … at you. That's all there is to it. They gave you navigation. They gave you everything so rapidly that you would be actually going to class at ten o'clock at night and back up at five o'clock in the morning the next day. That's the kind of day it was and, again, it was, "Try to get rid of," I don't know how many left there, but I would say fifty percent, anyhow. I mean, … it was criminal how good the people were who got sent out for almost the least reason. I mean, you didn't even understand it. … I never could figure [out], the best pilot, I ever felt, was the only one I can remember getting killed and he got killed in night flying. … Night flying was a crapshoot. First of all, the planes were terrible that they taught you that fly nighttime at with a PT-13, worst airplane I ever flew. That's the one I instructed in and the thing couldn't get out of its own way, had no power, was a little bit bigger than the Stearman. The Stearman was a good little airplane, but Vultee Vibrators is what we called it and you did everything, or you try to do everything, that had to be done with an airplane with the PT-13A, [which] is what they called the Vultee, but the instructors were not much better than me and I thought myself as unqualified to be an instructor and, yet, here, I had just graduated and, now, I go to Randolph Field, take a two-month course in instructing and, the next thing I know, I'm taking somebody like yourself and trying to solo him. My feeling about it was, "Holy crum." When I had any doubt whatsoever, I would have a check ride for [you]. I would get the guy above me, because I didn't want to turn anybody loose. Later on in my life, I was a driver education trainer, teacher, never taught it, thankfully, but it was one of those things where you get as many things by your name as you could to get a job and, when I was growing up, the wealthiest people I knew [who] were working during the WPA and those times, they were teachers and my coach in high school, God, he drove a new car every year and wore one of these Polo coats. The wealthiest men I know was he and my doctor. I knew I didn't want to be a doctor, because I saw what that guy had to do, and I wasn't going to be qualified with that, but I could certainly do the job that that coach was doing. That was … my evaluation system, because I had nothing to go by and I was the first one in my family who ever went past high school. So, actually, it was a question of my mother's motivation, my mother's cooperation and a lot of the people I rubbed off on in high school, their silent recommendations, never verbally, never written, other than when I asked for a recommendation, but sending Springfield good recommendations for me, sending Rutgers good recommendations, but, Rutgers, I just wasn't big enough or capable of, they thought, playing their kind of football and that's what I wanted to do.
SH: How long did you teach and instruct at Randolph?
AM: I graduated in the Class of '44A. They trained me to teach at Randolph for a month or two, I forget which, and then, they sent me to Newport, Arkansas, where I did my basic teaching and they checked me out as an instructor at Newport, Arkansas. That's the next time I flew this awful PT-13A, because we went from AT-6s back to something [lesser]. That's where guys like myself became pilot instructors. The people instructing, doing the real instructing, were the primary, this is my opinion, again, primary instructors, Delbert Mann, a lifetime pilot who was magnificent in every way. He had been probably flying most of his life, probably died flying. He was that kind of a pilot, but the instructors on the basic level were people like myself, who, somehow or other, the Air Corps had their way of deciding that you qualified and, to this day, I don't know what I qualified to do, other than learn how to do it, and I did it, but I always did it with a feeling that, if I was instructing you, if there was the slightest doubt in my mind about you, I'd have you get a check ride. … I know I spent about a year of that period of time. I can't remember when I went from that to being a photo pilot. There was a transition there. It happened some time during that year. I was '44A, I instructed in that same year, but that was the year that they stopped training pilots. So, at some time, I'm trying to think, in my memory bank, but we went overseas from being taught to be photo replacement pilots towards the end of '44, because I got over into the Italian scene by Liberty ship, by the way, that's how badly they needed us, but the guys who were going over as the replacement pilots preceding us, their Liberty ship got sunk by a German U-boat and the whole replacement group was wiped out. So, they needed, quickly, a whole new replacement group. See, they required [of] guys like myself twenty-five missions. So, the guys that had been over there initially flew their missions. Now, they wanted replacements for them and the replacements, which were on the way, never arrived. So, now, they had to hurry up training a new bunch. They did that. We were trained at Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma City, and they didn't hurry our training. I felt we were well trained. P-38, that was the first time I got anywhere near a P-38. I had flown nothing bigger than the AT-6. I was a single-engine pilot all the way and why they picked me, I'll never know, except that I volunteered. … All of my teammates, all my fellow instructors, laughed at me for being a volunteer. You didn't volunteer for anything in the service. That was really a truism, but I just felt that this colonel was sincerely saying to guys like myself; by now, I had flown my training. I had, … let's say, … a straight "A" record, because, obviously, you didn't survive unless you kept your nose clean and you did well, because they were washing them out by that time, right and left. We were told nobody is borderline. Either they're absolutely perfect or flight check them and I had one guy, I'll never forget, the miracles you don't ever forget, and I had taken up a guy about your size, in comparison to me, and we were going to practice the spins. Now, I always took them up an extra couple of thousand feet, thank God, and this guy locked on to the stick and we did a sixteen-turn spin. I couldn't get the stick away from him and he's frozen, he's petrified and we're heading down and, finally, I wrested it away from him and we got out of the spin and I gave him a check ride the next day. He was gone and I said to the guy, the check pilot, [who] was just somebody who had survived what I had been doing, who had stayed around because he loved doing that and, now, he's probably going to do it for the rest of the war. A lot of guys were happy doing that. I wasn't. I mean, I didn't like being an instructor. I didn't like night flying in those funeral coffins, is what I called them. The best pilot I ever saw got killed our first time doing night flying. This guy, who I admired, he's already a first lieutenant came back to take the flight training with us, and in my opinion he was the best pilot we had, that I had been exposed to. He was also a gentleman and a scholar and all things that a first lieutenant, you would expect to be. He takes off in that thing, … flying tomb, at the end of the runway. Nobody knew why he killed himself, but something went wrong with that airplane, I'm convinced, to this day, and I'm the next guy to take one off. It didn't do my morale any good, that's for sure. So, I triple checked everything before we went that night. Of course, I'm flying alone in that thing and I keep calling it a thing, but it couldn't get out of its own way, didn't have enough power for the weight and it was awful to fly. That's what you had to instruct in and you had to sit in the wrong seat instructing it. So, I didn't like any of that. … I would have volunteered for co-piloting a B-24 to get out of it. So, when I saw this thing for '38s, which was my dream plane, I said, "Boy, I'm going to [apply]." I got that letter out that day and the other guys, the other instructors, gave me the razz and, two weeks later, I was on my way to Will Rogers Field and I was saying good-bye to those guys, who ended up being B-29 pilots. So, actually, it was just one of those things where volunteering did a lot of good. To this day, I don't know why, … very frequently, in my lifetime, and, if this interview lasts long enough, you'll hear them, because, the miracles, you never forget. My last landing, … we were at Coffeeville, Kansas, training [in] P-38s and we luckily get to fly once or twice during the week. Once I got comfortable with the airplane, you could take it anyplace in the United States on the weekend, if there was one available and the weather was good. They didn't let you have it in bad weather. So, I had signed up for [the West Coast], never been to the West Coast. I had a brother who had gone out there and I wanted to see what it was like. He moved there, eventually, but, you know, you're an East Coast kid, that would be the thing I wanted to do first. So, I volunteered to take an airplane to the West Coast at least half a dozen times, got rained out all the time. So, finally, I said, "I'll change my luck. I'll volunteer for Newark, New Jersey, fly it back to the hometown, show it off a little bit, break a couple of rules," which is what I did when I was there, flew down the main street, flew down my future wife's street, I say flew down, maybe fifty, hundred feet off the ground. … It was just one of those things where a non-chance taker, I never broke the rules, but I broke them on that flight and, actually, I flew it into Newark and left the plane there and I told them to take good care of it, it's a great airplane, [to] the crew chief, I guess. It was a great airplane. … The one I was flying was okay, boy, no trouble at all going into Newark. Now, I'm taking off on the return trip, got to go back on Monday morning, get it back there and I couldn't get that thing off the ground, almost scrapped the take-off, but, finally, I pulled it off the ground and just missed the high tension wires at the end and … I took the whole runway. Normally, a '38 would be off the ground. I mean, I always was the guy that took off from the edge of the runway at the beginning. That's the way I flew. I did everything that way, double careful, and, normally, I'd have the gear up and be a hundred feet over the runway by the end of the runway. Today, I just about made the high tension wires. I'd say [by] twenty feet, maybe. I had to [Mr. Mann grunts to show how hard he was working the controls] and that was not [responding]. So, I was convinced the brakes were frozen and somebody had screwed around pre-flighting the plane on the ground and didn't know what he was doing. So, anyhow, I called ahead to Coffeeville and I said that, "I had a terrible time getting it off the ground. I'm sure I'm going to have a terrible time landing it when I come in," and this is a non-stop from Newark… and it was a nice and easy non-stop. "Please be ready to give me every assistance when I land. It might work out okay, it might be my imagination, but it might not be, too." So, when I landed, they were all standing by, thank God, and I made the only perfect landing of [my] entire flight career, over twelve hundred hours. That thing, the tricycle landing gear, I touched down both rear wheels simultaneously, blew them out and the wheels went right down to the hubcaps. So, in other words, … the plane wasn't touched a bit, just the wheels and the brakes had been fouled up, somehow or other, and, you know, when you taxi that thing, boy, you walk those breaks. The plane just wanted to take-off. It was so powerful on the ground, and then, when you pre-flighted it to take it off, you ran fifty inches. I did all those things; I was not one of those guys who forgot to do something that you had to do, and so, I had done that on the ground and, geez, I couldn't get that plane off the ground; the plane was actually going down into the ground. I was trying to break it off the ground, because there was plenty of power. You could feel the engines wanted to go, but the wheels were not turning and I was burning those; really, that's what happened. If I had been a smarter pilot, I probably would have never taken it off, but, on the other hand, the good Lord was my co-pilot, that's for sure. Got it off, got it out there, landed it and that was my last flight. I walked away from that one feeling that maybe the Lord is trying to explain to me that I've had enough time there was nothing really left to do. We were just sitting there, wasting time. So, when they said, "Volunteers for wanting out?" my hand was one of the first ones up. So, I was out. I guess I was one of the first ones out. One week after I got out, I was at Rutgers and, two weeks after that, I started in the football game. So, actually, that's how quickly things happened. I was in terrible shape, because we had been doing a lot of laying around, not preflight for football, that's for sure.
SH: Did the Coffeeville landing take place after you came back from Italy?
AM: Oh, yes.
SH: You went over to Italy on a Liberty ship. Were you in a convoy?
AM: They gave us some escort and, thankfully, … if there were U-boats out there, they didn't tell us about it. Yes, with sixteen days on that Liberty ship, maybe ten or fifteen nets up in the air was where I spent my sleeping hours and you didn't dare have prostate problems on that trip, that's for sure. This old man would not make it, that's for sure. So, anyhow, saltwater showers, and so, I went a long time between showers, I'll tell you that. The food was absolutely rank. Everything about that trip was. We all wondered why we didn't get flown over. Well, it was just one of those things that was not a top priority, but they had tried to fly P-38s over and it was an unsuccessful opportunity to get planes over. They took them up, too many things could go wrong, and so, they get the pilots over there is what they decided to do and this group of guys, replacement pilots, made it and we went to a place called Oran, Africa, and changed to a different kind of a boat. It was not much better, and then, from there to Naples, is where they brought us in and we got on the back of a six-by-six truck … with benches and threw our duffle bags and stuff like that in there and they took us from there over to a place called San Severo, Italy, which was where we were going to be. … We flew out of that place. It was nothing more than a patch of macadam that the Air Corps had instituted and, eventually, that became home base for the 32nd Photo Squadron, a Mosquito squadron from England, a Spitfire squadron from England and I guess, maybe, '51s, too. A lot of fighters were on that boat, but we were the only photo pilots and the 32nd was on there and we spent the whole of our time, he rest of the war, right there based. Our support was to take our turns going up and taking targets like Munich, Brux,Prague, Czechoslovakia, Ploesti, the oil fields in Romania. Either the Eighth or the 15th would target [them] and they would try to knock it out and our job was to see whether or not they did. So, a lot of places we went back to time and time again, because those oil fields had to be really obliterated. They never did really wipe them out, but, on the other hand, they did a good job of stifling [them]. The German Air Force, towards the end, they did not have the pilots, they did not have control of the air near the way we did. When they came up, you could see that their beginning pilots were the guys flying those planes. A lot of the good ones had been killed. … It sounds simple, but, where the plane would be, the average plane would be a joystick. The P-38 was more like driving a car, half of a wheel, kind of, and, normally, the plane had four .50-caliber machine guns in the nose and a .20-mm cannon. That's what the fighter version would have. Okay, all of that was taken out for our photo recons and they put all these cameras in there. … The trigger would start the cameras, something called an intervolometer decided that the cameras were working, all automated. All I did was just steer the plane and my big job was to have enough courage to fly over the target down and back, straight and level, same air speed for the necessary time to get those pictures. Now, after a couple of guys are knocked down making that run, it takes courage to make that run, and so, I got to be faster and faster in making that run. So, in the beginning, I would fly at about 150 miles-an-hour, making sure that I'm taking plenty of pictures. Well, I guess by the time I was flying my sixteenth mission, I was going 250 miles-an-hour and I was making a run down, run like hell for home. So, actually, saving my tail was the big mission to me. I mean, I wasn't over there and not caring. I mean, this guy, Tillman, that kind of a combat person, I was not. [Editor's Note: Mr. Mann is referring to Pat Tillman, the Arizona Cardinals safety who left the NFL after 9/11 to become an Army Ranger. He was killed in action in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004.] I wanted to do my fair share, but I thought I was doing my fair share and preserving my hide was part of my fair share. I did everything logical to save my tail. Now, shoot questions, now.
MFS: How many men were in the crew?
AM: The thing I loved about it was that … I wasn't going to be a bomber pilot. "Wash me out before I'm the bomber [pilot]. Don't give [me] all those guys to be responsible for." I'm an eighteen-year-old who realized I was an eighteen year old who realized that I only wanted to be in charge of me. So, I wanted to be a single-engine fighter pilot, initially, and, somewhere along the line, they decided that this guy would make a better instructor. To this day, they didn't explain it. They made an instructor out of me and, I guess, the guys, like [as a] coach later on, I've seen enough of them who became successful doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs, whatever, businessmen, who said that you're kind of coaching was the kind that really helped us. This reunion last week, for me, it came at a very poor time, because it reaffirmed a lot of memories. Guys were coming up to me who I couldn't even remember and that's embarrassing to me, because, actually, if you played for me, normally, I would come up with your name instantly. All you had to do is identify … yourself and, now, these guys are stepping out of the past of 1953. They played on that championship team and, boy, were they proud of the fact that they were the first State Championship team that Caldwell had ever had, the first conference championship. [The] Suburban Conference was a big conference in those days, schools like Verona, Madison, Millburn, Summit were in it and, to win that thing, as their coach, I didn't understand anything other than the fact that I was the Bergen County guy and I didn't know [what] any of these towns were all about, but these kids, really, now, fifty years later, that was the focus of that fiftieth year reunion. I mean they honored the team at halftime. The team is playing somebody called Delbarton, who I never even heard about, turns out it's a private Catholic school that's probably one of the five best in the state and, well, don't get me started on Catholic schools and Protestant schools. I mean, I'm a public school person all from the word go. I don't believe in financing private education, which is a person's right to have, but, boy, I don't want scholarships to be given to my kids to go to that school.
MS: Can you talk about when you were not flying missions, what you did in your downtime?
AM: You'd fly three missions and they would give you what they called R&R and it would be a trip to Rome, with or without a plane. If they had a plane, you could fly over. … It's about a half-hour flight to Rome. Most of the time, you went over on a weapons carrier or whatever land transportation they could spare. Most of the time, you didn't get to drive, because most of us were a little too wild to be [on] those Italian roads, but, on the other hand, sometimes, you actually did get a vehicle. Anything could happen, really, is what I'm saying. It was about a full one-day's trip over the mountains to Rome. That was the favorite place to go to, because that's where the girls were. Almost all the bad things I ever did in my life I learned to do in the service. Sandra, you can't believe this, but I was a virgin going in and I was not a virgin coming out, but it wasn't the Army's fault. The first thing they did on an open post was give you prophylactics. They would give you every kind of instruction about protecting yourself and they would show you every film that was known by that time about gonorrhea, syphilis and all the other things that, obviously, … what we're suffering from now is because a lot of these people didn't believe them and, now, they've got this terrible disease that is incurable so far. Anyhow, I believed them and I was one of those guys who thought enough of himself that he wasn't going to have anybody who would be available easily, and so, I stayed that way until I got to Italy and it looked like, after my roommate didn't come back the next day, I might go out on this thing and never experience a woman. I mean, by now, I was about eighteen, a nineteen-year-old guy and I had gotten through the service with that feeling, with that happening. I went to the USOs and things like that. The decent women, I tried to get to know, but there wasn't any time to know them and they were just there, really, because that was their contribution. I mean, that's really what it amounted to, and so, actually, it was a pleasant experience, but, most of the time, there wasn't even a second encounter. When I was taking my photo training in Oklahoma City was the longest that I had stayed [in one place] and I think it's the only time I ever dated the same girl twice in that whole Army experience, but, actually, it was just one of those things, that you got overseas and, now, good God, I don't know how old I was when I got over there, but I had gone through the training. I'm now at least twenty, twenty-one years old and I still hadn't experienced a woman and I still was pretty [careful]. I would take a drink, but I was still going to be an athlete and still taking care of myself in that way. Basketball-wise, I hadn't given [up] on that dream, because … I liked that better than football and, if they had had the three-point play, I would have been very much in demand. … In fact, the coach used to say, "Let's work the ball in, laddie," and I say, "Why work it in when I can put it in from out here?" I could never see the sense of that, why there wasn't some extra credit for the guy who could [shoot the ball]. They did it, but they did it too late for me, but I'm glad that they did it and, when this kid, [Quincy] Douby [came in], I went crazy for him. Hope that he makes it defensively, so that he can play pro ball. He's going to make a bundle of money, that's for sure, but he's good. Get me back to the point now; where was I?
SH: We wanted to know what it was like when you went on liberty, what you did.
AM: I'm a great digresser, my wife would tell you that. Give me a direct question and I'll try to answer it.
MS: Can you elaborate on the relationship between the officers and the enlisted men?
AM: There was none. Overseas, there was a rivalry, really. You didn't get to know them as buddies. By that time, there was such a [gulf]. We had an officers' mess, God only knows where they ate. This was even overseas. I slept in sheets overseas. We got treated like, I mean, actually, spoiled brats is really what we were. When they sent you on R&R, they sent you to the Isle of Capri, they sent you to Shepherds Hotel in Cairo, Egypt. Women would come in and rub your back while you were bathing and all kinds of exotic stuff that took you out of yourself and took you out of your troubles. There were all kinds of whatever you wanted to drink to take your mind off it. In fact, you built up a log of mission money, money in terms of beverages for the guys who needed that. I didn't need it, but, on the other hand, I was a scotch and water drinker at that time of my life and I accrued it, let's say. I wasn't a smoker, because I was still a hundred percent believer in that was going to [be an athlete], I didn't even smoke when I went to college. I didn't smoke in the service, because I was capable of making twenty dollars a carton. I'd accumulated mine. Every one of those cartons of cigarettes that was literally given to me, I'd take it to Rome and I'd unload them immediately, black market, twenty bucks. So, actually, a trip to Rome for me could mean a five hundred dollar profit, so, I looked forward to that aspect of it. We went through the money other ways. Actually, I can't tell you how. I didn't come out of the war a very wealthy person, I don't mean that, but … I'm proud of the fact, this [is] bragging a little bit, but I sent my mother whatever I was allowed to send and that helped her. I saved about, I guess, off the top of my head, four or five thousand dollars while I was in there, because I didn't waste it all, because I knew I was going to go to college and need money and I didn't know when I was going to get married, but I knew that none of those people who I got to meet in the service, none of those people qualified for me. I mean, … even in high school, I was damn choosy and I stayed that way the rest of my life and my first wife gave me an ultimatum. She said, "You're either going to marry me or we don't see each other." I was back at college now, playing halfback for Rutgers and going to school and trying to catch up and date her on my weekends. … I wasn't around. [She was] [pointing towards his wife] instrumental in my contacting you. I probably never would have, because, actually …
SH: Are we talking about Natalie? [Editor's Note: Here, yes, but, then, Mr. Mann went on to describe his first wife, Lucille Mann.]
AM: My first wife. The two of them never met. They were about four years in-between and it was one of those things where, when I did meet her, I knew that I wanted to marry her, but I didn't want to marry her until after I graduated from Rutgers and had myself established, because that's what kind of a guy I was. She said, by that time, she had waited for somebody like me for most of the war and she was about my age and she didn't want to wait any longer and she said that either we stopped dating or [we got married].
-----------------------------------END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO----------------------------------------
SH: This begins tape two of an interview with Arthur V. Mann with Sandra Stewart Holyoak, Mike Sorge, Jefferson Chae, Mark Segaloff.
MS: Was there any interaction with other Allied troops?
AM: Actually, to my recollection, there was none, only occasionally, when you would meet them up in what they would call a pub and you would be competing for the same damsel, the Italian beauties that were around, that frequently happened, but there was no fellowship, not that I experienced in my free time. A lot of competition between the enlisted men and the officers who were athletes. We played softball against them and tackle football, [which] was sometimes called flag football, but it was really tackle football and they would try to put you out of action and most of us that were good enough would try to put them out of action. They were very competitive with us and, I would think, a little bit resentful. We were spoiled brats, in terms of we had the officers' club. It was not … unusual at all for steak to be on our menu, eggs to be on the menu, you name it. We all slept in barracks that had been built by the, we call them the "I-ties." We slept in tents until they built the barracks, which would be, well, actually, I called it a brick tent. It was a sixteen-by-sixteen tent and four of us would be in there, with a gasoline stove to heat it, and you needed that gasoline stove to heat it. One day, it exploded while we were in there and we all have just about got out before the whole thing went. The fire people got there and put it out, but it was one of those things, with high-octane gas on the outside and the fire on the inside. It was another one of those miracles, really. I mean, actually, how that happened, … guys would get up, they were too lazy to go to the john and they would just make it outside the door of the, actually, it was a tent, but, actually, the only part of it that was a tent was the roof and the opening. I'd be under about eight of those Army blankets to keep warm.
JC: Going back to your photo recon missions, could you describe some of the bomb sites that you saw or some of the things that you took pictures of?
AM: Some of the targets, we called them, the main road from [the north], this is the Germans trying to provision northern Italy, which they still held when we were over there. So, that was enemy territory. We called it the Po Valley as our target and, to break you in, they would call it an easy mission and that's where you flew and you would go up and you'd get these targets, … but it was actually just below the Alps, and Milan might be one of them, their railroad depot, what kind of shape was it in. Any airfields that were still in northern Italy that the Germans had and, very quickly, when we were over there, this is now [the] very tail end of '44 is when I got over there and beginning of … '45, which was really the end of the war in Germany. So, I was only over there for, well, I had time to fly sixteen missions. So, we were flying what was left, pretty much had control of the air, but, on the other hand, the Germans had the better airplanes in the air. The jet had started, the German 163 and the German 262. They were definitely up there, but in the beginning, we were accused of saying that they were really flying saucers is what we were told we were seeing, optical illusions, and our guys would come back and swear that they had been shot at, but you couldn't prove it. Nobody got a picture of them, but, eventually, one of our guys left the cameras on, took the picture of the factory that was built right into the side of a mountain and the Germans were so incredibly talented at camouflage that, unless you could see these planes going in and out [you would not know], and we actually caught them on film. The film was so good, taken from twenty-five, thirty thousand feet above. … It was cloud covered; you were told, anytime you could take the picture of the ground, leave the cameras on, fly straight and level, leave them on, whatever altitude you're at, twenty, twenty-five, thirty thousand feet, stay stationary and fly over it, make a pass is really what it amounts to. The photo interpretation was so good that they could tell you what part of Germany, what part of Europe you had. Sometimes, you didn't even know where you were and you'd be blown off east to west. The winds would blow you off target. Sometimes, you're over and [it is] overcast for the whole mission and you always sweated out the instruments. None of us were really qualified instrument pilots. Thankfully, you never had to come back [and] the place would be socked in; you'd always be able to find an airfield that was open. The one time, the closest call I ever had overseas was when I dropped the drop tanks too early. Now, I had to make it back and I didn't have enough gas to get back to where we flew from and I had to find a field to get some gas and they had a homing system built in [that] that guy got me to. He found a field for me, he got me there. They towed me in and refueled my plane, so [that] I could fly home. I mean, that's a miracle, let's not kid ourselves. That was just one that I can tell you about. I can remember, the times that something went wrong were innumerable, but, actually, a lot of them right now, that one comes up. I told you about the last landing, another miracle.
SH: When you would take-off to do the photo recon, were you flying by yourself?
AM: Oh, yes.
SH: How many would go?
AM: You … would be the early man or the late man. Either you preceded the bombers …
SH: … Just one of you.
AM: Just one. That's the way we wanted it. On what they considered the really difficult missions, they would send [someone else]; Tuskegee guys flew with me one time. They sent six P-47s, three on each wing, and, for this guy, all that did was increase the pressure, because, one day, I actually had a Tuskegee colonel on my wing and he pointed it out to me, that he was the black guy, he was the CO of the whole [unit], and I got him. I'm stuck with him for the whole mission. Everything I did wrong, in his opinion, I heard about it, you know. "You're making too steep a turn." Just think about it, if you were the guy trying to keep up with this now, you know. So, you flatten out the turn a little bit more and, oh, God, when is this going to be over? So, I said, "When are you guys going to leave?" He says, "As soon as we can. We don't want to be with you any longer than we are," and so, we had mutual disrespect for one another, in terms of I admired the hell out of them for being [there]. I mean, actually, … I grew up with black guys. I lived in a neighborhood that was integrated, in Westwood, New Jersey. I had teammates on my football team who played with my respect. Some of them, I thought, were better than I was and they weren't getting the respect they deserved. They were human beings, too. That's the way I felt about it. I couldn't believe it when I went South and people would walk in the gutter, so that I could walk on the sidewalk. This is America. This is not why we're going to war, I hope. So, I was proud of Tuskegee and what it stood for, because those guys were getting the chance they deserved. One of my teammates, Henry Pryor, if you haven't interviewed him, you should, because, actually, he has a story to tell. He's a black man who became an officer and he played the same position as I did and he played behind me when I was there, and he ended up when he got a chance, leading the nation in punt returns and things like that. So, I mean, it was just a question of talent all over the place and, here I go, digressing again, but that's the way it comes out.
SH: One of the photo recons would be at the head of the bomber group.
AM: Oh, yes, yes. We would go in, get in, take the pictures, get out of there as quickly as you could. That was your job.
SH: Which way would you go to get out of the bombers' way?
AM: Oh, there was no problem at all. We were so much higher than them. They were sitting ducks. They would [be] flying their missions sometimes as low as fifteen thousand feet and, here they are, sitting sometimes twenty-five, thirty, fifty, God, it looked like a squadron of sitting ducks and, sometimes, we'd be up there a little bit too soon and they were still making a run. … I actually saw it happen, shot down right in front of your eyes. Guys are sitting there like this and one of them gets knocked off and here he goes. There, they're bailing out. Now, they're being shot at, there but for the grace of God goes one or me. I mean, let's face it. I would have rather been washed out than be a bomber pilot and I had a teammate, Gene McManus, [RC '47], who was one and never verbalized about it at all. He was on the same work crew as me. You know those of us that were married guys worked for a guy called John McCormick, who, in those days, at Rutgers, I don't know whether you've ever heard of John McCormick or not, but he was in charge of the police, he was in charge of the garbage; … he kept Rutgers moving. He was in charge of the football field. He had a crew and, somehow or other, he heard about me, I think from Art Matsu, and we got to be on his work crew. Guys like … [John] Garrabrant, [RC '48], that's how I met Garrabrant, but Garrabrant was on it, McManus was on it, (Taigia?), another guy. The guy ended up coaching with Frank Burns, … one of his, not volunteers, but he was a high school teacher coaching with Frank Burns whenRutgers was going through the poverty years, when they didn't have enough brains that you can't have your cake and eat it, too, you know. You've got to have people who are full-time. I never did think that Frank got the cooperation [he needed]; there I go, digressing again, but, actually, it was amazing that he could beat a team likeTennessee with what he had to offer, absolutely incredible. He did an incredible job, never got the credit he deserved, got treated terribly by getting rid of him, when they got rid of him, because he deserved, actually, to get some of that cooperation that never happened while he was head coach. I'm happy that it's happening now. Get me back on the point.
SH: You talked about flying with the Tuskegee Airmen. What was special about that mission? Why?
AM: We were going to a place called Brux, which was like Ploesti, but it was farther away. It was the longest mission I ever flew, outside of Prague, Czechoslovakia, and, if you look [at] it … on the map, you could see that it was a max mission, but [I] flew all the way out on the drop tanks, dropped the drop tanks. … As soon as I have done the mission, I'm rid of the escort. Going into the mission, in other words, all they want to do is make sure I got there. They leave, I drop the drop tanks, take the pictures and home I go and that was the longest one, toughest one, I ever flew, because I was escorted and I guess that's one of the reasons I remember it, because that made it so tough, a lot of instruments to be contended with while they were around. … You didn't have to fly so much straight and level when it was just you. You could find it. I wanted to be out of the clouds. I could get above them. With those guys, you had limitations on what you [could do], and, a lot of times, you have to stay on instruments. It was your instruments; very heavy stuff, sometimes take a week to recover from that kind of a mission. I mean, I can remember coming down and needing a couple of drinks just to get my bearings and they'd interrogate you as soon as possible. So, you had to stay sober, but that would be a time to get drunk and forget about it. It was really [bad].
SH: How long would the debriefings last?
AM: Actually, you were at their mercy and they wanted to know everything you knew and, just what you're doing now, that was the debriefing. They taped it, so [that] everything that you said could be held against you, really. I was always an outspoken guy.
SH: Did the debriefing help with the photo recon?
AM: Oh, yes. What happened to you, you would remember and, a lot of times, you wouldn't know where you were or what you took, but by telling them what happened and … meteorologists would tell them what happened to you and where you … likely drifted to. Sometimes, you were targeted to go to Munich Airfield. … That's where the 262s were based and I don't even remember, (Klagenfurt?) is the name that comes out, that I ended up taking that day. You wouldn't even know it. You took the Brenner Pass just because you would recognize it. Every time you flew over, the way from north of the Alps to Italy was the Brenner Pass and the railroad and the highway, what the Germans did was incredible. I mean, to this guy, when I see our road people and how long it takes them to do a job and I think back to World War II, we would knock that thing out one week and that road would be open [the next] and, now, it's all slave labor, no question about it. Night and day, they would be working. We didn't fly any night missions, but there were Mosquitoes there that did and we knew that they were working twenty-four hours a day with slave labor and that's where a lot of the Jewish people spent their war.
SH: Was your plane armed?
AM: No, no, and I left my .45 at home. My hands were going up if I ever did [bail out], but I intended to parachute as soon as I could. I wasn't going to ride it down, but, on the other hand, if it was whole, I would have ditched it. That was my battle plan. [I] always came back over the water just simply because it was a great [thrill]. You could fly right over the water and I used to love to fly over the Italians, the fishermen, make them jump overboard. It was a way of getting even. The men didn't like us at all and, whenever you got to meet them, it was a confrontation, and so, I took it all out on them. Now, I've got … a son who is married to an Italian gal and I've met one of those poor guys. He came over here in the '50s because he recognized that it was going to be a lot better in America for his family and it's incredible what he's accomplished.
SH: What kind of training were you given in case you had to bail out? What kind of instructions were you given as to what you should do?
AM: Well, actually, we knew about them and, actually, we had our parachute, we had our survival kit and we were briefed and trained with all of that and, as I said, my roommate; one of my roommates, I had three roommates, all younger than me, because I had been an instructor, they had gone through the Class of '44B, that's what they were in. I was in the class ahead of them and, here we are, meeting up overseas and they had all taken fighter plane training and ended up in this. This is where they were sent. I had taken instructor training, so that they, in a lot of ways, … were more qualified to fly the '38 than I was, because they had flown faster stuff.
SH: What were you told to do if you had to bail out?
AM: Well, actually, not an awful lot of information. I mean, actually, you were told about the Partisans, "Get back to friendly territory. This was where we think it is now," and they kept us abreast of that. You just hoped that it never happened to you.
SH: Did you have any maps or survival training?
AM: No, didn't take anything like that along at all, nothing to identify you. All you had was your dog tags, just like this thing now. My heart surgeon has me wearing this thing [a Medical Alert pendant] and that reminded me greatly of my dog tags, which I can still remember, 0820289. I mean, it just never leaves you. That's part of you. This thing here, I'm on coumadin and I'll never forget it, because, if you prick me with a needle, I bleed like a pig now.
SH: How much time passed, until you would have to go back up?
AM: Well, you waited your turn and you did your best not to miss a turn, because it was very cherished. The only one I ever missed, I had an impacted wisdom tooth and they pulled it out like Tuesday and I flew Wednesday and I didn't want to miss that. I mean, I was still sore, but I didn't want to miss my turn and I got sixteen missions in, because I never missed one, other than that one. … I was complimented that they picked me to fly the next mission. The guy didn't come back. I was awful scared, but I didn't cry so easy, you know. It was a horrible memory, because I mean, actually, when I found the real story of it, it was nobody's fault but his own. I mean, actually, he got the DFC and he never flew another mission in World War II. They made him the assistant operations officer, promoted him immediately to first lieutenant; he was the first one of us to make captain, only one to make captain in our group. The rest of us, all of these things were almost automatic. If you live through it and you lasted you got the Air Medal; five missions, you got one Air Medal, five more, you got a cluster for it. "Keep that garbage, get me out of here," is really what I felt about it and most of the other guys did, too.
SH: Where were the guys in your tent from?
AM: One from Montana, Eckert, never saw him again, never came to any reunions, Doherty, from Atlantic City,New Jersey, just right out of high school, just a natural pilot. He's the one who stayed in and became a squadron commander for Vietnam. … He's the guy that got shot down. Only flew one mission in World War II, shot down, came home a Captain, stayed in, the best thing he ever could have done, because he is a natural pilot and, apparently, loved combat, because he flew all the way through Korea, the whole thing, all the way through Vietnamand became a colonel. So, when I met him, we had one reunion that I could stand going to and I was as healthy as you are when I went to the reunion in '95 at Oklahoma City and I walked into that room and I see these guys for the first time. They were all West Coasters, I was probably the only guy, and Doherty was; I don't think there was anybody else from New Jersey but Doherty and myself. He was from Atlantic City; I was from Bergen County, Westwood. We never met each other again, never had anything to do with each other again, until that reunion, and he had become a charter pilot in his after life and had his own flight [school]. This is the guy who only went to high school, but he had business ability and flying ability and he put it all together. He could buy and sell me in money.
SH: Where was the fourth guy from?
AM: I'm trying to think. I think he was from California, but I'm even trying, at this point, to think of his name [Chuck Cooper].
SH: What kind of mail did you get? What kind of news did you hear about? Your brother was in the Pacific, right?
AM: Never wrote a letter, never talked about it at all. He was in Guadalcanal and … he went through Parris Island, took all the training there, one tough cookie, but he came back and didn't take advantage of the GI Bill, could have, but he didn't. He was married already and he went to the West Coast and we completely were out of touch. Actually, it took me years to save enough money to be able to go out and see him, I mean, actually, and that's the way we lived. Even when I was at Caldwell, my first job out of Rutgers was Adelphi College, I was going to be a college coach and we got all the recruits from Columbia and Rutgers who couldn't make it academically and we had better players than they did, no question about it. I had a halfback, when I was coaching at Adelphi, who would have been a great pro player. Why they didn't get him, I don't know, Buddy Young type. [Do you] remember Buddy Young or not? Well, actually, he was an early, good pro. They're all that way now, I mean, but he was one of those guys, as (scatback?), a punt returner, kick-off returner, catch a pass and go for a touchdown. He could do it all, played for the old New York Yankees. So, actually, that was what I remember from the early days Adelphi; we beat a lot of teams. … Actually, one of the teams I'll never forget beating was team that had a guy that, later on, went and became an all star lineman with the New York Giants, a guy by the name of [Andy] Robustelli and he was on a team called Arnold College in those days. It has since become another [school], Connecticut College. It might be Connecticut State now, it might be anything, but it was a teacher/trainer kind of college that brought in good players and they were tough and that guy, Robustelli, was one good [guy]. We played against him, really good, good people, Kings Point, Hofstra, that kind of talent. Everybody always recruited and … Harman wasn't the only guy recruiting, believe me. It happened. Bear Bryant was not the great coach that he's reputed to be. He recruited those players, too, and, I mean, that's the way it was. I mean, Frank Sinkwich, I had guys on the Rutgers team who were teammates with Charlie Trippi and Frank, all the Georgia stars, they all knew him and all those guys were driving convertibles when they were in college.
SH: When you got to Italy in 1944, did you know what was going on in Northern Europe? Did you understand what was going on with the Bulge?
AM: Vaguely. I was always a history student and always loved that part of what was going on. I knew the geography, obviously, my navigation training. You had to be your own navigator and I learned a lot about geography. They gave us a map about that big [pointing towards a piece of paper] that you carried right on your lap and that was Europe in your lap and it had zones drawn on it, where this is a hundred miles, this is two hundred miles, this is three hundred miles, four hundred miles, five hundred miles. [If] you're getting out here, you're not going to make it back, so that it had the danger area where you're at the borderline of what you could do, all aids to help you and, of course, they didn't let you fly that thing unless you could pass their blindfold test, and I didn't pass their blindfold test, until I could pass their blindfold test. In other words, they offered to let me fly a lot sooner; just like my primary flight instructor, he said, "You're ready." I said, "I don't think I'm ready yet." There was a thunderstorm the day I soloed and, I mean, let's face it, I'm in an open cockpit and I'm not too good at what I'm doing. I'm up there for the first time and I got it back down in one piece without ground looping it, which was the big thing with the Stearman. The Stearman was very tippy. I digress easily, but that map question; that really saved our tail. I mean, that was right on my lap and I never lost that thing, because that map question really saved my tail, right on my lap, and I never lost that thing, because you didn't know where you were half the time. You'd be flying over an overcast. You take-off, some days flew in overcast and they say, "Don't worry about it, you're going to break out of it at five thousand feet. Just stay in it and stay straight and level and fly out and, if you're going to meet an escort group, circle until you find each other," and that's how you found your escort, by the grace of God, and not running into them. I mean, all of these things could have happened, you know. Actually, it was [that] a lot of miracles happen, no question about it.
SH: You completed your sixteenth mission. How soon afterwards did the war over in Europe end?
AM: We must have sat around maybe a month, something like that, I don't know. It just seemed like the first thing they did, that was June, everybody celebrated like crazy. We went to Rome. That was our celebration, because everybody could get there either by flying, one of our airplanes, if you could get it, or you travel by buddying together on whatever transportation, ground transportation. So, everybody took time off and celebrated, and then, we hung around, trying to get a determination, until they decided what they were going to do with us. They decided, very rapidly, it wasn't a long [time], June; I was in Rutgers by October. …
SH: Did you fly back from Italy or did you take a boat back?
AM: They flew us back and we each had an air mattress that was on a B-24. I guess the fuselage is what we ended up sleeping on and I can still remember, we flew back on three engines of the four from over the Atlantic. We flew from Italy to Dakar, landed in the Sahara Desert, found out how lucky we were that we didn't have to serve there. It was about a hundred and twenty-five degrees that day. This is now [the] beginning of July and not a pleasant place to be, didn't stay there any longer than to refuel, and then, the trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the southern route, and that was non-stop, but an engine went out on the way over and they repaired it in Brazil, whatever it was. We flew up to somewhere around Atlanta and that's where we got out and we didn't go the rest of the way by plane. I guess they threw us on a train and we went and got discharged at Fort Dix.
SH: When did you serve in Coffeeville?
AM: Well, actually, we were placed on hold, and then, [I] got papers to report to Coffeeville, Kansas. So, then, I went on leave until they issued those commands, and then, went from New York City out to Kansas, by train, and then, reported to Coffeeville. We're in training to go to Japan. There's no question about it, that was going to be our next stop. They hadn't decided what we're going to do. We all thought we're going to do photo interpretation, but that's not what they had planned. Those guys who stayed in ended up flying B-29s, because I met them at the reunion.
SH: When did you make the decision to apply to Rutgers?
AM: Came back, tried to go to Springfield, found out it was a Naval hospital, got on the phone, called Rutgers, told them what I wanted to do. "Come right down." They welcomed GIs with open arms.
SH: This was in 1945.
AM: '45, yes. I remember so well, because simply I went down and, that same day, I was in college and I hadn't prepared for that quick [transition]. So, I had to go home, pack quickly, get what few belongings I had, not too many, anyhow, and provision myself for going to school. [I was] in classes immediately, because school had already started, and, when I went up and watched the football team, again, I wondered whether or not this is going to be for me or not and they said, "Go down, get a uniform," that same day. Here I am just, a spectator and I can still remember Art Matsu saying, "So, you think you can handle the ball? Here you are, go down to the other end of this field," and just when I went down and didn't get touched, he couldn't believe it and neither could I, but it was a natural gift that I had always had. I was fast, I was about a ten-three hundred man, but I didn't like track. My brother was a trackman. I was a baseball player. I was a pitcher, third baseman, batted .450 in high school and I got a one-day tryout at Rutgers. That coach had his own players, too, I mean, and, here I am, a guy, a walk-on, you'd think that he would have kept me around, … hadn't played baseball in four years, give me a chance to. Same thing with the basketball coach. I said, "Jeez, I can shoot like crazy. Give me a chance, hadn't touched a basketball in four years, but let me just be a ball boy for a while." "No, we got plenty of guys," and so, actually, the only guy who ever gave me a chance was, Harry Rockefeller was the head coach, but the real coach was Art Matsu and I don't know whether you've ever heard that name or not, but, boy, it's shameful the way he was treated, that man.
SH: Was Harman the head coach or Rockefeller?
AM: Harman, as soon as he came back. Harry didn't want to coach. Art was the coach. Harry was a name-only coach. Harry was the athletic director and a great guy, prince of a man, no question about that.
SH: Where were you housed on campus?
AM: In the beginning, I just boarded out. I couldn't stand the dormitory. I mean, I tried it one night and that was enough. Then, I tried the fraternity and I tried that for maybe a week and they were kids just partying all the time and that was not for me. I had a mission. I boarded down the street, right from the gym, which was convenient for me, didn't have wheels. So, actually, by that time, I had met my first wife. So, I just commuted between Westwood and Rutgers for that whole period of time and that summer, we got married. I mean, that was my first year at Rutgers. So, actually, she lived through the junior and senior year and the graduate year, and then, actually, Natalie has heard all of this, because, actually, she [Lucille Mann, his first wife] put me through college, really, because she continued to work, and so, between the two of us we did a lot of scrimping.
SH: You commuted from Westwood even after you were married.
AM: No, no. We lived right there, right off Easton Avenue. … I would call it a railroad flat. She could commute to New York to her job. She was a private secretary and had a really great job, and so, she commuted to work. I never missed a class. I was a conscientious student, but, actually, she typed all my papers, so [that] I would get the "A" that the paper deserved, rather than the "B" that my longhand got and stuff like that, good cooperation. My second wife is the same mold. I wouldn't be here today … if she didn't drive me and actually want me to do it, you know. She said, "Well, I guess you'll also say that I have a story to tell; tell it while you're around."
SH: We thank Natalie for her encouragement. When you came to Rutgers, you talked about not wanting to participate in dorm life or the fraternity life. Did you see any other interaction between the eighteen and nineteen-year-olds coming out of high school and the veterans? You were chronologically much older. Was there a real difference?
AM: I was four years older than some of these guys. I had teammates who had just come from, Seewanka High School is the name that comes immediately [to mind], played the same position as me, Dick Cramer, eventually worked for Rutgers as assistant coach, nice guy and a great guy, was one of my closest friends. It wasn't that big a difference. He came from a wealthy Long Island family and drove a convertible and he was my transportation most of the time. I never had a car. Even after I got married, he was the wheels out to the stadium and all the other things or a guy by the name of Steve Senko, [RC '49]. … I think Steve is one that you should have interviewed. If you didn't, why, don't remember the name? South River guy, … I would be guessing, I thought he was Navy, I don't remember. He and [Andrew] Sivess, [RC '49], were from South River and they were both football players, both basketball players, and buddies.
SH: Did you and your wife participate in any of the social activities on campus?
AM: Only in the beginning, when I was still a fraternity member and that was just for social reasons. Actually, more and more, my social club became the crew that worked for John McCormick. We spent our non-playing hours, non-studying hours, working. His crew would pick up the stadium Sunday, after the game on Saturday, and so, guys like myself and starters on the team were out there working for him and he taught me a lot about managing men. He was a natural and he was a big football fan. He wasn't a fan of Harman's either, I mean, because, actually, there weren't too many people who were. I mean, it was politics that kept that guy where he was for as long
SH: Did you play with Frank Burns?
AM: Yes, Frank was "the man," as they call him nowadays, the best all around football player I ever knew, offensively, defensively, but, actually, all the years that he was here, he was the offensive quarterback and he never got somebody good enough to spell him even. I mean, a drop off from him and the next guy was like night and day, but he was also the best backer up on the team. So, he played the key games, he played both ways, which was ridiculous, because he didn't have to and they would have him in there, I mean, he might have been injured.
SH: Do you remember names of any other players from your team? Were there any other people that you interacted with in your other classes or any of your professors?
AM: The guys that were on this crew were the ones that were closest, but there were an awful lot of great football players and I do mean great, in my humble opinion, who quit the team because they got not the fair treatment that they deserved. A guy by the name of Eddie (Shezker?) should have been the quarterback for us and would have been a great number two quarterback. It just didn't work out that there was any real parity between Harman's men and the other guys who were walk-ons, no comparison.
JC: Which medals did you receive?
AM: What I call the automatic medals. My Air Medal was [for] nothing more than surviving sixteen missions, in my opinion. You got one for five missions, you got a cluster for five more missions and you got another cluster for five more missions and something exciting had to happen to you that was proven. You got shot down; if you got back from that, you got an immediate promotion and probably [did] not have to fly any more missions. That's what happened to the only guy I know [of]. Some guys got shot down and [were] interned in Switzerland for the whole war. That turned out not to be such a bad deal. I don't know what happened to them, because we never saw them again. Some guys got sent home, because they couldn't make it, couldn't stay sober enough to fly, and they got Section 8s, dishonorable discharge.
-----------------------------------END OF TAPE TWO, SIDE ONE----------------------------------------
SH: This is side two of tape two of the interview with Arthur V. Mann. Please, continue. You were talking about pilots who were Section 8s.
AM: Well, again, this is [the] kind of thing that was strictly what we called the latrine rumors. In the present day vernacular, that would be a "shithouse rumor," but, on the other hand, a guy would disappear and he was a known drunk, … a good pilot and everything, but actually couldn't stay sober and would show up not ready to fly the mission, unforgivable, and the first thing you know, he's gone. What's the rumor? "Section 8, dishonorable discharge, that's why he's going home." He got home safe, but, boy, who wanted that? So, actually, there were a lot of times when you're on R&R at Rome, Cairo, wherever you went or [were] lucky enough to be, you're treated like you're royalty, but, also, I mean, you got into all kinds of trouble. I mean, gee, when I was in Cairo, I had the Egyptians chasing me down an alley. I mean, I was always an outspoken guy and, sometimes, they could understand English, I mean, unfortunately, and so, actually, you did a lot of stupid things.
SH: Would you finish telling that story, please?
AM: Actually, when we were there, there were places where, "This is off limits. Now, guys, don't go there," so that you didn't go off limits, but, obviously, after you had too many drinks, you were a lot braver than you should have been and you're a lot stupider than you should have been and you went places where [you were not supposed to be]. "Let's see, what's supposed to be going on there?" and, sometimes, they would actually brandish those things [knives]. I mean, we got chased; I can actually remember that. It's a sobering effect and it taught this guy to not have it happen again. I mean, actually, you listen to what they said. When I went on open post, we used to call it open post, but it was R&R, really, they wanted you to go and do what we were doing, fantasize, really. I was always going to meet that wonderful woman. I never did, but there were some battle scenes in all of those places, that's for sure, that I'm not too proud of now, fifty years later, but, actually, you did things to escape, really, is what it amounts to, more drinking than you should have done, but, actually, that did help and they understood that. I didn't understand the chemistry of it, but I was not a real big drinker. I couldn't hold my drinking, but I'd still drink.
SH: Were chaplains available?
AM: They were available, but I was always a believer and I was always faithful and I said my prayers. The chaplain was there, but he was not the kind of minister that I go to now. Chuck is my kind of guy; that man was doing his war service is … really what it amounted to and he meant well, but I don't think he got through to many of the fly guys. Everybody had their own way of going, really, is what it amounted to. My religion, at that time, was Baptist. I had graduated through the fourteen years it took to get there. I had qualified for the YMCA college because of that and because of [my] athleticism and my high school coach, who I didn't think very much of as a high school coach, later on, but he was a Springfield man and his recommendation helped to open up that door and I wasn't stupid enough to understand it, when I was a high school kid, who thought he was the hottest thing in the world and I was just another fly in the ointment, really, is what it amounted to. I guess when I was in high school, because I was the four-letter big deal, they used to call me "superman" and I wasn't any superman. I found that out when I got to college, but, in my high school, I was the pitcher, the basketball player and I made all those teams as a sophomore, some of them as a freshman, natural ability, an older brother who was captain of all those teams helping to open up the door, teaching me how to do a lot of things he could do naturally.
SH: Was your younger brother in the military by the time you got back?
AM: He served during the war in Korea and [took the] GI Bill and got [into] college because of that and his success in life, I think, was because of the GI Bill and, that big difference, we now know them as change of life babies. He was eleven or twelve years younger than me. So, actually, … I never gave him the kind of brothering [I had]. I was bringing up my own kids by then and he had his. Our mother had remarried and my stepfather was even worse than my original father. Actually, she never had anything but a bad scene, I don't think, or a fair shake.
SH: Would you like to tell us about your children?
AM: Well, first of all, the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. All of my faults, I can see in one or both of them. The oldest one was a very bright guy and he's an engineer, went to University of Vermont, he was a great high school player, … in both football and baseball, married with three girls, all lovely and outstanding students. I am very proud of the fathers and husbands my sons have been. The guy who hired me and persuaded me to go, he gave me a two thousand dollar raise to go, which was a big reason to, said, "Art, we're going to make this the best high school in the country. Scarsdale is now, but we're going to be better," and here we are, … in 2003,Newsweek chose us. She was the chair of the guidance department and is equally as proud. The guy who hired me and persuaded me to go had worked at the neighboring Essex Falls Elementary School. He was chosen as the first principal and he gave me the pep talk that convinced me that's the place I'm going to go to and that's why I leftCaldwell and I had pretty much my pick and choice. I chose between Vineland, New Jersey, which offered me the same everything, but had fired their losing coach the year before, so, I knew what I was up against. Whereas at Edgemont, I was starting from scratch. I didn't know what I was up against, because there were some people who didn't believe in athletics the way I did, and so, it was a long haul, the twenty-five years of building what we now have over there. The present supervising principal and the athletic director was my first ball boy, so, actually, he just retired and I'm proud of what they did, three-time New York State football champions in their division. So, he created the program. He went to college and couldn't make his Ithaca College football team. He had been my first four-year quarterback. He started as a freshman on a JV team. He played for me as a senior. He was captain of the team already when he was a junior and he couldn't make it at Ithaca's football team, so, figure it out, but he learned a lot along the way and what he learned, he put into place. I hired him as an elementary teacher, hoping that he would be my replacement. The best move I ever made for them and for us, really, because I was right up to here with having done enough. I guess I spent myself; … actually, I did coach football for twenty years and, between Rutgers, Caldwell, and Edgemont, I was married to that job and my first wife told me [so] many a time.
SH: What about your second son?
AM: My second son, he was in love with cars and still is. He's still in love with them. He's married with two girls who are also excellent students and lovely girls.
SH: We have talked a lot about how World War II impacted you and made you the man that you are today. Is there one last thing that you would like to leave on the record or are we finished for today?
AM: Well, I think I've poured out my heart and soul. I can't think of anything I left out or that I regret saying, although it is bad mouthing sometimes, but I hate to see these Hall of Famers who are nothing more than good politicians and I hate to see someone as our President who is nothing more than hereditary entitlement. I mean, he wouldn't have gotten into Yale or Exeter if he hadn't been entitled, because of generations. That's not the kind of country we are. My kind of guy is what's his name, Natalie has to prompt me, Edwards, the vice-president [candidate]. I mean, he would have been my nominee for President, not Kerry. Kerry is a divorced man. He stands for a lot of things that I don't believe in, but on the other hand, … God Almighty, he was good enough to go to Vietnam and the guys I met from Vietnam said we never should have been over there and I advised both of them, my kids, "Go to college, get your education and you don't want to volunteer for anything." I mean, that's not the way to solve these problems and war isn't. I still believe that. I mean, [the] problems between the Arabs and the Jews are not ours. I mean, I'm neither; I'm not against either one. One of the best men I ever knew in high school was my little Jewish family doctor. He got me into the Air Corps and he was a great man. I respect him for everything he is, including his religion. He believed in God in that way and that's the way I believe I have always felt that way. …
SH: Thank you very much, both of you.
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Reviewed by Jefferson Chae & Michael Sorge 11/22/04
Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 11/30/04
Reviewed by Arthur Victor Mann 1/3/05