Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Mr. Arthur Jiannine on September 10, 2001, in Orlando, Florida, with Shaun Illingworth. Sandra Stewart Holyoak will join the interview shortly. Mr. Jiannine, I would like to begin by thanking you for coming to Orlando. We have been trying to interview you for quite some time.
Arthur Jiannine: Well, it's a pleasure to be here, because I had tried to get to the interview some years ago, wasn't able to make it, and so, when you came to Florida, I was determined to get out here and go through the interview.
SI: I would like to begin by asking you a few questions about your parents.
SI: Your father, Philip, was born in Italy. Can you tell me what you know about his family in Italy?
AJ: … Actually, it's quite interesting, because he was born in Roseto Valfotore in Italy. He came to this country as a babe-in-arms and his family went to Roseto, Pennsylvania, following a group of people who, a few years before, had come from this Roseto village in Italy and settled in Roseto, Pennsylvania. So, his parents went there and that's where he grew up. Then, his siblings were all born in this country. Roseto, … actually, there are some books about the fact that this was a clan of people that stuck together and came to this country, kind of stuck together, and there was … an investigation, some years ago, trying to determine why the people in this little town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, even though they ate a lot of pasta, olive oil, and all that, were not subject to heart attacks, and one of the things that came out was that these people were like a clan, and, if somebody were in trouble, everybody was there to help them, and, when they moved, and left, and went out on their own, in other parts of the country, they didn't have the benefit of that clan, and then, they start developing heart problems.
SI: The stress began to affect them.
AJ: [laughter] Right. They'd get stressed when they [would] leave. That's an interesting part of my father's heritage, so-to-speak.
SI: Do you know if there was a common trade among the people of Roseto, Italy?
AJ: No. … I don't know much about the town, except it's a hill town and they go outside of the town to have farms, things like that. I really don't know what my grandfather's occupation was. … My sister, one time, told me he was a doctor. I know he didn't get the education, but, he may have been a doctor in the sense of doing what he could to help people, or he may have been a shopkeeper. I really don't know.
SI: What did your father tell you about his childhood in Roseto?
AJ: Well, he grew up … there. One time, I went there with him, and we drove by this little, bitty house, which was now falling apart, but, he pointed out that [that] was his house when he was a child, and I came to find out, later, in reading about this, that he was like a lot of other families there. … They would have a small house. Everybody, no matter how many kids they had, lived in the house. He went to school to the fourth grade, and I don't know just how old he was then, but, at age twelve, which, I guess, was about the time that he finished the fourth grade, he went to Newark, left home, went to Newark, New Jersey, to apprentice as a tailor, and that was his line of work after that. He grew up … as a tailor, later, was involved in manufacturing, and, during World War I, … at some point there, he moved, from Newark, down to Red Bank, somewhere in the area of 1912, and the Sigmund Eisner Company was the largest uniform, military uniform, manufacturing company in the United States. He moved down there and he was the general manager of their production operations. They had the main plant in Red Bank, and then, they had several other plants in, I've forgotten where, … South Amboy, and Matawan, and some other places, and he was the general manager during World War I. After that, somewhere around 1922, he opened a clothing store, and he was in the clothing business … until about 1935, somewhere around there, and then, … at that time, he went back into manufacturing of clothing.
SI: In addition to being a tailor, your father must have been a good businessman, also.
AJ: He was a very good businessman, and, … if you want an idea of the kind of businessman he was, … when I was in the sixth grade, he told me that I had to start working, which meant, after school, I would go to the store and dust boxes and things like that. Now, … these are in Depression times, you know, and business was extremely bad. If he sold one shirt in a day, or one suit, that was about all you could expect. … I don't know where … his idea came from or how he developed this, but, he went to New York and bought tremendous quantities of things, like socks or ties, shirts. They came to the store in huge cases. I mean, … at that time, you'd look at that and you'd say, "Well, that's a twenty-five-year supply," but, these things … were very inexpensive. A lot of them were, in fact, seconds; … a lot of them were good, but, they were not good enough for first class, and this is how he made money during the Depression, because he had these kind of things, and people would come and buy a pair of socks for twenty-five cents, where they wouldn't buy them for a dollar, and he did have a very good head on him, as a businessman, … and, later in life, after he had retired from the clothing business, he actually went into the taxi business, at a time when he was able to get cars. This is right after the war, when cars were very hard to get, and, because of his loyalty to the Ford Motor Company, he was able to get cars, and he had enough cars that he went into the taxi business. … He was an entrepreneur, no question about it.
SI: What do you mean by, "His loyalty to the Ford Motor Company?"
AJ: Well, he had always bought, from somewhere around 1913, … a Ford from the agency there in Red Bank. So, at the end of the war, when the cars were just beginning to be manufactured again, they had a priority list, depending on how many cars you had bought from them in the previous years, and, at the time, when people were dying to get ahold of a car, he was entitled to buy three cars, which he said, "I'll buy and I will go into the taxi cab business."
SI: That sounds quite different from the way companies treat their customers today.
AJ: Yeah, it's different. [laughter] It was a different world back in those days.
SI: Since your father was somewhat involved with World War I through the uniform company, did he ever express his opinions on the war?
AJ: About World War I?
AJ: No, we never talked about World War I, no, not in any way.
SI: What was Red Bank like in the 1920s?
AJ: Well, Red Bank is a small town in area. I don't know what it is, but, it's not much more than a mile square, I guess. At the time, there were something like 12,000 people in the town. There was one high school, the high school I went to. I think we graduated 200 and some students when I graduated, which was 1936, and it was a commuter town, in the sense that there were a lot of people [who] took the train, from Red Bank up to New York, on a daily basis. … Back in those days, Eisner was still in business and there was some other manufacturing, small manufacturing, businesses around town. Is that the kind of thing you wanted to know?
SI: Were there any significant population changes during your youth?
AJ: The population was not a growing population, at 12,000 or 12,500. I think it stayed there for several years. I don't know what it is now. It has grown, but, … primarily, the area around Red Bank has grown tremendously. [Due to] the fact that Red Bank itself is a small area, it didn't really boom with a tremendous population.
SI: Could you describe the composition of the population?
AJ: The make up of the population, in my youth, there were a lot of Italian people. They'd lived, primarily, on the west side of town and they had their own church, St. Anthony of Padua. There were a lot of Irish people in one particular area. There were blacks, also, in the western part of town and in a couple of other places in town, and, when I went to school, as far as I was concerned, there was no discrimination. There were not a lot of blacks in school, but, there was no discrimination. I didn't … really know discrimination until I went to work in Virginia and [laughter] found out what it was all about.
SI: How did growing up in Red Bank's Italian community influence you? Did your father perpetuate the values and culture instilled in him in Roseto, Pennsylvania?
AJ: … Well, he never spoke Italian … at home. I wish he had, I wish he had, and I wish I had learned it. My mother was not Italian, and I think, back in those days, the idea was that, if you were from a foreign country, you wanted your children, you know, to become solid Americans. … So, in that respect, … he didn't speak Italian in the house, and, when he was with his friends and spoke Italian, at the time, I was able to understand a little bit. I have since forgotten it. … Some of the culture carried over, to the extent that I think we had pasta three times a week, and we had some other Italian foods, but, my mother, not being Italian, also cooked, sometimes, in her style, which was mainly to boil something in water, since she was kind of English. You know, boil it in water and throw it on the table without flavor.
SI: Can you tell me about your mother and her family?
AJ: Well, my mother was primarily English, although there was some German in there. She came from a farm family. … The homestead, at the time, was in Keansburg, New Jersey, and she, as a young woman, went to work at the Eisner factory, as many of them did back in those days, and she took a trolley from that area of Keansburg, I don't know where she had to walk [to] to get to it, but, she took the trolley [from] there into Red Bank and worked for Eisner, and that is where she met my father, or my father met her, however you want to put it, and I don't know what else you want to know about it? Is that what you want to know or … [do] you want to stretch this out into something? There's nothing much interesting about that. [laughter]
SI: Do you know how your mother's family came to settle in Keansburg?
AJ: I don't know. I don't know how they came to settle in Keansburg. … As near as I have been able to understand, their family settled there probably a hundred years before or something, and I don't know much about that, but, … my mother's father was a farmer in that area of Keansburg.
SI: Sandra Stewart Holyoak has now joined the interview. How did you settle on Rutgers for your college education?
AJ: Okay, I graduated from high school in 1936. My family did not have the money for me to go on and I worked for two years with my father. He was in the clothing business, and I worked for two years, and then, … in 1938, I went to Rutgers. … He gave me 500 dollars and that was to take care of everything. It was up to me to make it … last or earn the money and I worked every year that I went there. … I had one job or another and … did quite a bit of work while I was going through school. At the time, Bond Clothes had a factory in New Brunswick and I used to work out at the Bond place. … Other than that, there was nothing sensational about my going through school. You know, as a chemist, you're in class or in your lab most of the time. … I lived in Winants. The room in Winants served as a place where some of the friends that commuted preferred to come up to the room, rather than go down to the student union or things like that. You might be interested to know that, from the second half of the first year, for the next two years after that, my roommate was Bud MacNelly. Bud MacNelly was the father of … Jeff MacNelly, who was a political cartoonist and wrote the strip Shoe, and so, … it was quite an adventure being a roommate to Bud MacNelly, because he was quite an individualist. … He, later on, became publisher of the Saturday Evening Post, and, at some point, he was also into some of the big advertising firms, and he quit all that to become a portrait artist. Yeah, he was quite a fellow. … My third year, my last year at school, my roommate was Bill Quinn, and Bill Quinn was a devoted Rutgers fan, and he did a lot of work [for Rutgers]. Unfortunately, he died of cancer back in, let's see, I think it was 1982, anyhow, he was sixty-five years old when he died, and he was a real Rutgers fan.
Sandra Holyoak: Where did you work while you were going through Rutgers?
AJ: … My primary job, actually, was working out at the Bond Clothes place. That was a job which was two nights a week and Saturdays and I did that for three years. The first year, I didn't work a whole lot. I did, … during the football season, sell programs at the stadium. I tried to get a job in the cafeteria and some of those others, which I didn't do, … and then, there were some odd jobs, here and there. There was a hurricane there one year, in '38, and stores in town got flooded. You know, you could go down and you could get ten bucks for helping them shovel out the place, but, that was the kind of things I did.
SI: Before coming to Rutgers, you studied at Monmouth Junior College. What did you study there?
AJ: Junior colleges, at that time, you know, they were just beginning, and they were not really strong. I took some math which I didn't have in high school, like, I did not have trigonometry or some other … math courses, I don't remember, so, I took those. I took a German course and English. I don't remember what else, some sociology or something. The only thing I got credit for was the English course. I didn't take English in my freshman year at Rutgers. I got credit for that. The German that I learned at junior college helped me a lot in the German class at Rutgers, because I just started over as a freshman, because I really hadn't learned enough at the junior college, but, [at] the junior college, I used to work during the day with my father, in my father's factory, at the time, and I used to commute from Red Bank to Long Branch, which was about six miles, and go to school at night.
SH: Was your father supportive of your desire to go to college?
AJ: Yeah, … he wanted to see me [go to college]. … He didn't understand when I said, "Well, I want to go take chemistry." His attitude was, "If that's what you want, okay, fine," and he was supportive, but, there wasn't a lot of money to send me.
SH: Did your father have a specific goal in mind for you?
AJ: No, he didn't have a goal. He just wanted me [to go to college]. If that was the way I wanted to go, get an education, he wanted me to do that.
SH: Did any of your siblings take the same route to college?
AJ: No. I had an older brother who went to Rutgers, back in something like 1932, but, he went to party and didn't finish, … didn't go back after the freshman year. … It was not in him to do a lot of studying. I had a sister, an older sister, she was three years older than I, and she went to Montclair, which, at the time, was a teacher's college. She did graduate from there, but, she was very ill, and she died approximately a year after she had graduated. She had tuberculosis, and then, I went to Rutgers, and I had a younger sister who did not go on to college.
SH: Your older sister and you were the only children to graduate from college.
AJ: Well, my younger sister went to college for two months, but, unfortunately contracted polio, had an unpleasant life, but, yeah, I was the only one who went to college, and lived through it, and did something. [laughter] … At the present time, all of my siblings have died. All of my cousins, save one, are gone. You know, I'm getting close to being the patriarch of the family. [laughter]
SI: Did you see the members of your extended family often? Did anyone live near Red Bank or did everyone still live in Roseto, Pennsylvania?
AJ: I had an aunt, one of my father's sisters, who lived in Red Bank. … Another of his sisters lived in Irvington. A third sister was in Baltimore. He had a brother who lived in Newark and a brother who lived in San Antonio. So, his family, with the exception of his older sister, kind of spread out. There were times, like Thanksgiving, when a lot of the family would get together, and we would get together at our house, because we had a bigger house, and … my father's sister from Irvington would always come down. Sometimes, his sister from Baltimore was there. You know, they weren't really close, but, … there was some communication there.
SH: At Rutgers, did you ever entertain the thought of joining a fraternity?
AJ: Well, for one thing, when my brother went, he joined a fraternity, and, because he actually did not study and did not succeed, my father felt that the fraternity was part of his downfall, so, he wasn't anxious for me to join a fraternity, and, frankly, we didn't have the money to join a fraternity. … I had a friend, I had graduated with Don Hembling, who was Class of '40, … we were schoolmates together, and he was living in Winants, and he said, you know, "That's the place to live. Come on up," … and so, I lived [for] four years in Winants Hall, enjoyed it thoroughly.
SH: We have heard many stories from former Winants residents about the shenanigans that went on there. Do you remember playing any practical jokes on anyone?
AJ: [laughter] Well, Winants was notorious for water bags, and I don't know how it is today, since they have redone the place, I don't know if they still have that, you know, … stairway that goes up and down with a well in the middle, and … I don't know what would spur the occasion, but, there were times when some people decided, "We've got to, you know, drop some water bags," and that's what they would do. They'd get the bags filled and, when somebody came walking in the door, you know, down would go the bag. Also, is that stairwell still there? Okay, now, I told you about my roommate, Bud MacNelly. Bud MacNelly was a diver on the swimming team. There was a guy by the name of Ormand McClave, [who] was the number one diver. Bud MacNelly was the number two diver. MacNelly was very dexterous, … had good balance and all that, and he, one time, walked up the hand railing, balancing himself, walking up the hand railing, all the way up the steps. I was more afraid than he was. [laughter] He was, I think, confident that he could do it and he had the balance. … He had sneakers on and he walked all the way up that thing. … There were a lot of bridge games there, and I don't recall any gambling of any kind in there, but, a lot of people played bridge, and I watched it, and then, I learned how to play it. I sat in and also got into the bridge games. I can't remember, at this point, any funny things happening. … I guess I was there no more than a couple of months and there was some kind of a, I don't know whether it was a protest or something, that went on outside of Winants Hall. I know, I took the camera I had, took some pictures, and somebody from the New Brunswick News took some of my pictures or something. I don't even remember what it was for, but, … I don't know whether it was a protest against wearing the dink caps or what, but, it was outside of Winants Hall. I don't remember a lot of any really funny things there and, my thoughts right now, I can't remember anything worthwhile that I can come up [with].
SH: Do you remember attending mandatory chapel services?
AJ: Mandatory chapel, there was a problem there with me, because I went home on a lot of weekends and hadn't gotten permission from it, and so, then, you know, all of a sudden, it is, "Hey, you haven't been going to chapel." I had my father write and say that I had to come home on the weekends. … Growing up, we had to go to church. As a child, we had to go to church every Sunday. So, it's not a case of that, you know, I wasn't brought up properly, but, when I got into there, I would have gone to chapel, if I had thought about it, except I was going home.
SH: Did you take the train home?
AJ: Hitch-hiked, which was all right back in those days. I mean, there were times that my father drove up, picked me up. There were times that I would get a ride from somebody else that was going down that way, but, most of the time, it was hitchhiking.
SI: Concerning your father's store, several interviewees whose parents owned stores during the Depression have told me about the tactics their parents used to stay afloat, such as turning off most of the lights when there were no customers in the store. Do you know if your father did anything like that to save money?
AJ: No, I don't. I don't remember that. When we opened in the morning, which was eight o'clock in the morning, back in those days, we'd open the store at eight and close at six, the lights were on. There were [some things], like, back in the store, some of the lights would be off. The way the store was set up, the shirts, ties, socks, that kind of stuff, was at the front of the store. The suits were in the back of the store, and then, further back was my father's tailor shop. So, that area where the suits were, frequently, the lights were turned off until somebody came in and wanted to see a suit, but, as I was telling you before, the Depression was tough, and you can't survive if all you're selling during the day is fifty dollars worth of merchandise. … I don't think you [Sandra Holyoak] were here when I was saying it; my father was an entrepreneur and he went up to New York and bought huge cases of things like socks and ties. These may have been seconds, or stuff that didn't sell in one of the big department stores, things like that, and, where, ordinarily, he may have sold a dozen pairs of socks a week, he had, I don't know what, 500 pairs of socks to sell, and they were low priced, and the people bought them. People would not pay a dollar for a pair of socks, they didn't have it, but, they'd pay twenty-five cents for a pair of socks, and he did that, and that's how he made money during the Depression.
SI: Was Red Bank hit hard by the Great Depression?
AJ: Yes, all of Red Bank was. The Eisner factory was hit hard, … there were smaller clothing factories around, there were a lot of people, as I said, who used to commute to New York. One of my good friends, … his father worked for Otis Elevator in New York. He just, one day, was out of a job. … Another guy who worked for an insurance company in New York was out of a job, and there were a lot of people … that lost their jobs at that time, and a lot of them had been commuting into the city.
SH: Do you remember if the families in the community rallied to help one another?
AJ: No, no. I think, at the time, every family had to do what [they had to do]. The family stuck together to try to do what they could to succeed and I don't recall various families all getting together to try to help one another, although some of that may have gone on. I know, at the time, the Jewish community … were the kind of people to help each other out. I don't know to what extent they did, but, … I know that they did.
SH: What were your parents' political leanings during your youth?
AJ: Oh, well, my parents were 180 degrees apart. Now, they both were Republicans. I might say, at this point, while my father was born in Italy and he was christened in the Catholic Church in Italy, we were a Protestant family, and the only thing I know about it was [from] when I had, one time, asked my father about coming to this country. He said that his father could not get along with the Church, and he wanted a new life, and so, I grew up being a Baptist, and all of my father's siblings were also Protestant. We were an Italian family, and, back in those days, if you were Italian, you were expected to be Catholic, but, we weren't. … My father was somewhat political, in the sense that he knew what was going on. He wanted to know what was going on in various places. He was not a politician in the sense of being in the politics in town. My mother was … a farm girl, and she, I must say, … I hate to say it, but, she was a bigot, from the standpoint that, if you weren't a white Protestant, you were no good, and my father was just the opposite. I never heard my father say anything derogatory, any time during his whole life, about blacks, Jews, Irish, Puerto Ricans, or anything else. So, it was an interesting thing to hear my mother, … "That so-and-so and so-and-so," and my father would say, … "You've got to keep an open mind."
SH: They were both Republicans.
AJ: … They were both Republicans, yeah. … My father's idol was Teddy Roosevelt. He thought Teddy Roosevelt was a great man.
SH: What did your father think of Franklin Delano Roosevelt?
AJ: He did not like Franklin Delano Roosevelt at all, and, back in those days, you know, … he still had … his clothing store when they had the NRA, the National Recovery Act, and the National Recovery Act, of course, brought in a lot of paperwork, and I remember that they said [that] a certain Van Huesen shirt, you had to sell for a dollar. Now, if you had a sale, it didn't make any difference. You had to sell that shirt for a dollar, because the government said you had to sell it for a dollar, and … they fixed prices on certain things like that. That was later rescinded, and I don't know if you remember this, there was a case in New York, a family, … Schechter, had sold chickens, and … they'd sell a chicken for ninety-five cents or eighty-eight cents or something like that, and the government says, "You've got to get a dollar for it," and they took this thing to court, and that was the demise of the NRA. The National Recovery Act fell apart at that point and my father, at one time, ran for school board. He didn't make it, but, that was as far as he got into politics.
SH: Did your parents ever discuss the events in Europe before Pearl Harbor?
AJ: No. There was not much discussion about what was going on in Europe.
SH: Do you remember any debates on campus about the war in Europe in 1939, 1940 or 1941?
AH: Yeah, there wasn't a lot of discussion there. Now, here, again, if I had taken a different course, I might have had discussions, but, being a chemist, you don't get into that. … As a chemist, you've got your classes and labs and so forth and you're not in discussion groups.
SH: What did you do for fun while you were at school?
AJ: Well, went to the movies, … you know, like I say, at football games, in my freshman year, I was selling programs. Then, after I took that job with Bond Clothing … and I would be working a couple of nights a week and Saturdays, I didn't get out to football games, but, we'd go to basketball games, and, since my roommate, Bud MacNelly, was on the swimming team, I always went to the swimming meets, that kind of thing. … I rarely dated anybody. I think, … in the time I was in there, I only had a few dates, as far as dating any girls at NJC, and, … when I came home on weekends, there was a girl I would date, but, I don't know what else. I did not frequent the Corner Tavern, where a lot of people went, and, of course, I was not in a fraternity, but, there were bull sessions and whatnot in Winants Hall.
SI: Can you tell us a little bit about the Scarlet Barbs?
AJ: … It was an organization. … I don't remember how organized it was. I don't know whether it was just that everybody that wasn't in a fraternity said, "Okay, we're in the Scarlet Barbs," but, I think there was an organization to it. I wasn't active in doing anything with it.
SI: Did you notice an on-campus split between fraternity men and the Scarlet Barbs?
AJ: No, I didn't … notice that there really was. I mean, we knew, if you're living in a dormitory, you're in the dormitory; … there were, you know, numerous other people living in houses around town and the fraternities, but, … there was no animosity or anything like that. I think there was more rivalry … between fraternities than there was, you know, with the Scarlet Barbs or anything like that.
SH: Did you work in your father's store during the summers?
AJ: Yes. … I don't remember the years now, but, I worked [for him] while he had a … clothing factory, and then, when he got out of that business, the last two years that I was in school, I worked at the A&P Grocery store, during the summer. …
SH: You mentioned, earlier, having to wear a dink as a freshman. Do you recall any other forms of freshman hazing, anything else that the sophomore class meted out for you?
AJ: … As far as the official thing, the only official thing I remember was the dink, and there was something [else], I don't remember, … I can't think [of it] now, whether it was you had to wear white socks, or something like that, and you couldn't … walk on the grass. You couldn't take any shortcuts, you couldn't walk on the grass, and that's all I remember about the thing … officially. Now, in Winants Hall, they did have an initiation, and, [in] Winants Hall, at the time, you went up into the attic, and, there, you were initiated by the upperclassmen, which meant you got paddled, and they blindfolded you and had such things, you know, … "Come on now, eat these worms," which, of course, were spaghetti, and things like that. It was … not a rough initiation, but, there was an initiation, so that I guess the whole thing was an important part of campus life, although not as intense as the fraternities.
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AJ: … On the first floor of Winants, and the mail station was there, and we were right above that, so [that] it was very convenient, for the bookstore and the mail station [to be right there], and, you know, Winants … got a lot of activity back in those days, and we were then living there.
SH: Did you ever have any interaction with Dean Metzger?
AJ: I think the only interaction that I can remember was that, when I had applied and thought that I had credit for my English course from junior college, … they gave me a schedule which says, "I go to English class." Well, I went to the English class, but, then, I went to Dean Metzger to get that thing straightened out, of whether I was getting credit or not, and, yeah, I got credit for the English, so, I didn't [go back to the class], but, that was the only interaction, I think, that I ever had with Dean Metzger.
SH: Did you ever meet President Demarest?
SH: Did you hear about his nickname?
AJ: No. I've heard the name Demarest, but, I never knew Demarest.
SI: Do you recall any events where prominent speakers, such as Rev. Norman Thomas or Eleanor Roosevelt, visited the campus?
AJ: No. I don't remember anybody coming to campus. I do remember Wendell Willkie coming to New Brunswick when he was campaigning. I honestly don't remember the speakers. Now, I know … that there were some, I remember going to, you know, the gym and all that, I can't remember who they were.
SH: Did you ever attend any musical programs at Rutgers?
AJ: … I did not go to the college series that they had, so, I know that there were musical programs going on, but, I didn't get in on them.
SH: Who was your favorite professor?
AJ: My favorite professor, I think it was Dean Reed, the dean of the chemistry class. … I don't know that I had a bad professor. Some of them were better than others in how they could get it across, but, Dean Reed was from Texas, and he always let you know that he was from Texas, and he was the dean of the school, and I liked him. … I don't know what it was, "Industrial Chemistry" or something like that, where he was the teacher, I liked the way he taught, I liked the way he talked and everything else, and, when we were graduating, the class chipped in and we got a record, … what is it? … "Stars at night are bright," and so forth, "in Texas," whatever that song is, "Oh, the stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas." So, in the last week, when everybody's in the class, and then, he comes in, and somebody starts the record, and he really got a kick out of it. We presented him with this record.
SH: You did a nice job of singing that. Did you ever think of joining the Glee Club?
AJ: [laughter] No, I don't have a voice. I don't have a voice.
SI: How did you become interested in chemistry?
AJ: Well, I was interested when I was in high school. I was interested in chemistry and I don't know that I thought anything about, you know, if I was gonna go on. I had in my mind [that] that's the kind of thing I wanted to do, … 'cause there was another thing about it at that time. Jobs were hard to get and, if you go and took a business administration course, when you got out, you were lucky if you could get a job pumping gas or things like that, and … another one of the things that I knew, at the time when I enrolled, was that all of the graduates from Rutgers who had graduated in chemistry had been able to get jobs. Now, they may not have gotten a job of their liking, but, they had jobs, and, to me, that was very important, back in those times, to know that, when I got out, in all likelihood, I'd be able to get a job. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't do it. [laughter] I'd take business administration or something like that.
SH: Since you were a few years older than the average freshman, did you have to register for the draft before most of your classmates?
SH: Did you register in Red Bank?
AJ: Yes. I think I registered in Red Bank. … Yeah, I registered in Red Bank.
SH: Were you ever concerned about being pulled out of college early or did you know that you would be deferred until graduation?
AJ: No, I wasn't concerned that they would … pull me out, because, going to school, … you know, if you're studying chemistry or engineering, ceramics, that kind of thing, they wanted you in school. I wasn't afraid of being pulled out.
SH: Can you tell us about your involvement in the ROTC?
AJ: I took the first two years of ROTC and I applied to try to get Advanced ROTC. I was not chosen, and I don't know whether this is a fair comment, but, I had the idea that if your name was Schmidt, or Kopf, or something like that, if you were of German descent, they wanted you in the ROTC. If you're of Italian descent, unless you were an athlete or something, they didn't want you. That was my feeling. That may have been, maybe, unfair in saying that, but, that's what I thought.
SH: Did your exposure to the Army through the ROTC lead you to believe that you would prefer the Navy to the infantry?
AJ: No. I guess … I went towards the Navy because, in my senior year, my previous roommate, Bud MacNelly, who had graduated and taken a job, I've forgotten with who, I think it was somebody like Vicks or something, as salesman on the road. He showed up at Winants one day, knocked on the door, I opened the door and there he was, in a Naval uniform, and he had gotten a commission. Then, when I got out of Rutgers and I went to work, when I decided I was not really doing anything useful in my job, which was at Hercules Powder Company, and I was considering trying to get a commission, one of my co-workers there had said, you know, "Go to the Navy. It's easier to get a commission with the Navy," and so, that's what I did.
SH: It was an informed decision, since you had already been exposed to the infantry.
AJ: Yeah. [laughter] … I don't know. I didn't look at it from the standpoint of, "I don't want to be in the infantry," you know. At the time, I might have asked if I could have gotten a commission in the Chemical Corps or something like that, and maybe [I would] have succeeded, but, I didn't even think about that. I just thought, you know, … "The Navy is a good [service], and, when you're in the Navy, you know where you're gonna sleep at night, … and, generally, you're going to have food in the day." [laughter]
SH: Do you remember where you were when Pearl Harbor was attacked?
AJ: Yes. I had gone home for the weekend, and I was at home, and the radio was on, and they made the announcement, and I remember my mother and father listening to this, … when they had announced this thing, and my mother came over, and held on to me, and said something about war, and, yes, I remember that part of it.
SH: Did you discuss the implications of this event with your family that day?
AJ: No. It was kind of a shock. …
SH: Do you remember how your community reacted to the news?
AJ: No. I don't remember anything in the community. All I remember is, then, my father drove me back up to college. … I don't remember what the discussion was, except that I know we were saying, you know, … "It's a bad situation," and … I think it was that Monday, if not Monday, it was Tuesday, that there was a, what do you call it? all the students [came] together, you know, and who was it, was it Clothier or somebody? at the time, saying, telling us, you know, … not to act in a drastic manner. "Don't pick up your books and go out and join in this." He says, "You have a duty to finish. You've got a half a year to go. You have a duty to finish. The country needs you," and we heard that, too, … from Dean Reed, "People who are engineers, chemists, and things are sorely needed and you shouldn't just decide you're gonna go join the service."
SH: Do you remember if anyone did not heed his advice?
AJ: Well, of course, those guys who had taken [Advanced] ROTC automatically went in and, … after I graduated, I don't remember any of my other classmates [joining up]; I don't know what they did. From my standpoint, I went to work with Hercules Powder Company and I worked there, I guess it was, I started somewhere around June, because we had graduated in May that year.
SH: Did you have a regular graduation ceremony?
AJ: It was a regular graduation, but, it was advanced about four weeks, yes, but, it was a regular graduation, and so, when I went to work with Hercules Powder, I worked from June, I guess, until, maybe, it was probably about the following June that I thought, you know, … the work that I was doing could have been done by somebody with a high school education. At the time that they hired me, they were on cost plus, so, the more people that they had on their payroll, the more … money the company made, and so, I went in, and I went through the training period, and I was a shift supervisor in the production of nitrous cellulose, but, like I say, that could have been done by any kind of a smart high school graduate, and then, when one of my friends said he was gonna get a commission, I decided that was the way to go, and I applied for a commission, somewhere around July. I don't remember just when. Then, after I did that, I had appendicitis. I had to go to the hospital for an appendectomy. I got my commission, but, … I couldn't report, and then, I got new orders in December, so that I went to Cornell University for four months training. That's where I did my indoctrination in the Navy.
SI: Where was the Hercules factory located?
AJ: It was in Radford, Virginia.
SI: What was it like to live in Virginia, having grown up in New Jersey?
AJ: … [laughter] Like I said, in living in New Jersey, I was not aware of the bias against blacks, you know. At the time, they were "colored." They were either "colored" or "Negroes," and I went to work down at this plant, and everybody was white, except for the janitors. The janitors were black and you soon learned that you didn't associate with the black people. These black people were "down there." … It was an experience, in the sense that you get down into the southwestern part of Virginia, and a lot of these people that were working in this plant … were farmers or things like that, and they still ran their farms, but, they worked for Hercules. There were a lot of … good people down there, but, there was also, I learned, a lot of uneducated people. We had people that could not read or write. We had to teach jobs and, to me, that was strange, because I had never run into this before.
SH: Where did you live when you worked for Hercules?
AJ: When I went to work there, I lived in a barracks, but, when I was there, I met a girl who was working in the lab, and I started to date her, and we got married in January, and that was my first wife. We were married for over fifty years, actually, and, when I got married, well, I had moved out of the barracks. We lived in a small apartment there, in a neighboring town. I used to commute, back and forth.
SH: Did you have a hard time finding housing at that time?
AJ: … It wasn't tough to find housing; at least I was able to find it. Transportation was tough. I didn't have a car and I had to ride busses back and forth or else … get into a carpool with somebody that had a car.
SH: What did your wife think of your decision to enter the service?
AJ: She was in favor of it.
SH: Where was her family from?
AJ: … She was an only child. Her family was from West Virginia and I had discussed it with her. You know, I said, "You know, this job is going nowhere. When the war is over, and they don't need this plant anymore, and they shut it down, I'm out the door and there's no future with the company," and, you know, as the war goes on, you know, you get more and more, "Well, I ought to be a part of this." …
SH: Several men who were essential war workers have told us that they faced severe criticism because they appeared to be able-bodied, yet, they were not in the service. Did that feeling influence your decision to join the Navy?
AJ: Yeah, well, down where we were, there were a lot of people who worked in this plant, and I was not in an area where people looked at me and said, "Why aren't you in service?" but, … as time went on there, and, you know, … the war was not going well in the first months and things like this, and you read about it, being down there, you know, it was kind of isolated, in a way, and the reason the plant was [isolated was], … they built these plants behind the mountains, … and you got down in there with a lot of people that didn't read the papers and so forth, but, you know, when you read the paper and talked to friends, you think about the war and wondered what was going on and all this kind of stuff.
SH: Was your wife working in the plant also?
AJ: She had gone to work; I don't even remember why she had gone to work there, but, she was there, and that's where I met her.
SH: Did she continue to work after you were married?
AJ: … After we married, she took a job in another lab in town, where she could walk to work. It was a different company and she worked there while I continued to work … in Radford.
SH: Did she follow you to Cornell?
AJ: She came to Cornell. After I moved up there, she came to Cornell, and housing there was tight, but, she got into one of these big, old houses … where there were, I think, three other Navy wives, and, yeah, she was there all the time that I was in Cornell. … I could see her from something like five-thirty at night until seven o'clock at night, on campus. [laughter] You could not leave the campus. … I've forgotten the name of the place, but, there was a beer hall there where you could go and sit down, and this is what all the guys did, and their wives came down, some of them had kids, and they'd come around, and you'd sit and drink beer for an hour-and-a-half or something. Then, you'd go back to your dormitory and [your] wife goes home, until the weekend, and then, … after inspection, which was like about noon on Saturday, then, you're free until Sunday night, and that was the time to go out and party. [laughter]
SH: Did she continue to work at that point?
AJ: No, no. … [She] fraternized with the other Navy wives.
SH: What did you study at Cornell? Did the Navy capitalize on your previous education?
AJ: No. They didn't. It didn't make any difference. … All of these people at Cornell had gone to college and it didn't make any difference whether you were a mechanical engineer or a chemist, business administration or whatever; this was the Navy program and you followed it.
SH: When your four months of training was complete, did you have an assignment "wish list?"
AJ: Yeah, yeah. There was a wish list and, at the time, I was anxious to get … into the war. I was not anxious to try to go to some other school or something like that. I might … have been able to, let's say, … having had chemistry, … go and take a dental course somewhere, but, I didn't want that. I wanted to get into activity. [I] talked to the commanding officer of the unit and he said, "If you want activity, then, join the Amphibious Forces." He said, you know, "If you apply for some of the capital ships," like the battleships or things like that, … "you may find yourself being assigned to one, but, waiting several months before that ship is outfitted and you go." He says, "If you want action, you join the Amphibious Force," so, that's what I did, and we went from Cornell to Camp Bradford, I think it was called at the time. It was near Norfolk, there was Little Creek and Camp Bradford, and … we were in training there, I guess, [for] a couple of months. That's where we were formed into a ship's company, … in training, and then, assigned to a ship and off to the war.
SI: You were assigned to the LST 709.
SI: Were you a member of that ship's original company?
AJ: Yes, yeah. … The ship's company was formed at the training site in Camp Bradford. In other words, you went down there and you knew you were assigned to a ship, I don't remember whether we knew the number of it at the time, but, you knew who your captain was, and the executive officer, and all the seamen, and so forth. … Of course, that was varied training. I was assigned as a communications officer, so, I had extensive training in communications while I was there. Of course, guys like [the] gunnery officer had their training and so forth, but, yes, we had formed as the ship's company in Bradford, and we traveled from Bradford out to … Jeffersonville, Indiana, across from Louisville, and that's where the ship was built, and we rode the ship down the Mississippi River and to New Orleans. There, they outfitted it, we went on a shakedown cruise, and then, overseas.
SI: Can you tell us about your shakedown cruise?
AJ: Well, the shakedown cruise, for me, was very unusual, because I didn't make it. … Going down the Mississippi, I developed a swelling of my salivary glands, here. It was way out here. So, we got down to New Orleans, and I went to the base hospital, and they put me in the hospital, and they operated on the next day, and they took out a stone, and then, I said, "Well, okay, when do I go back to the ship?" Well, … while I'm in the hospital, the ship left on [the] shakedown cruise and they said, "You can't get out to your ship. You have to wait until the ship comes back to New Orleans." So, I had two weeks in New Orleans, and all I had to do was be at the hospital every morning, and I called my wife, and she came down. So, we had two weeks together in New Orleans, had a fine time. Then, when the ship came back, I went back onto the ship, and the fellow that took … over my job, my assignment, during the shakedown cruise, [laughter] I don't think he will ever forgive me. He says he was in over his head, trying to get all of these things that he had to know.
SH: Did he stay on as a member of the crew?
AJ: Yeah, well, he was … the assistant communications officer. When I … went back on, I was the communications officer, he was the assistant communications officer, and he filled in for me, … well, I don't know that there wasn't a time, when you're at sea, and you're on the ship, and you go to general quarters or something, you have a job to do, and he would have another job, but, … nevertheless, he was an assistant.
SH: How many officers and men served on your ship?
AJ: … Our LST had six boats. A lot of the LSTs only had two boats, but, our LST had six boats. Therefore, we had an additional crew of seamen to man these boats and an additional two officers, and we had the Captain, and the Executive Officer, the Gunnery Officer, … our first lieutenant, and a stores officer, myself, I think one more, I can't remember, … and then, there were other officers that did not have assignments as such, but, were assisting somebody else. I would guess, looking back on it, we probably had, at any given time, probably about twelve officers and up to about 130 men.
SH: Was there a specific region of the country that most of your officers and/or men hailed from?
AJ: All over, they came from all over. We had a fellow, a very handsome young man, from California. He looked like California. We had a Mormon from Utah. [We] had a very studious type fellow, who was married and had children, from Minnesota. My assistant came from Texas. The Stores Officer came from Georgia. The First Lieutenant was a Navy veteran; I don't know that he had a home. … He said his home was West Virginia. …
SH: You served with regular Navy officers.
AJ: Well, he was the only regular Navy officer. There were some regular Navy among the seamen, not many.
SH: Were any of the ship's personnel Reservists?
AJ: There were some from [the] Reserves that had been called to action. There were some that had started into, … I can't remember, when they put guns on the ships, … it started early back there. They were losing a lot of ships in the Atlantic, and they put guns on them, and they had Navy people, Armed Guard or something like that, Armed Guard, … so, we had some of those guys [who] were on our ship. … Most of the people on our ship were just like me, you know; they hadn't been in the Navy at all.
SH: Had you ever been on a ship before joining the Navy?
AJ: … No. I had never been on a ship before.
SH: Had you done much traveling before the war, aside from your relocation to Virginia?
AJ: Not much. … One summer, … this fellow, Don Hembling, who was Rutgers [Class of] '40, he and I had taken a motor trip up into New England, and I guess … that's as far north as I had ever been, was up to Maine, as far west as I had been was Niagara Falls, and I don't know how far south I had been, maybe Delaware or something like that, so, I had not traveled before this.
SH: After the shakedown cruise was completed, where were you ordered to next?
AJ: Well, we got orders to proceed to, you know, going out into the Pacific, so, we went from New Orleans down to the Panama Canal, through the Canal, and out to Espiritu Santo, and we got out there, I don't remember just [when], I could go through this thing here, [the LST 709 history]. We carried a lot of baggage going out, in a sense, you know. We were loaded to carry stores, things that were needed overseas. The ship was loaded.
SH: Did you travel alone or in convoy?
AJ: No, we were in convoy. … There were four ships and we also had, … on our deck, … an LCT, which is a smaller amphibious vehicle, so, we carried that across. … It was an uneventful crossing, except for crossing the Equator, at which time you have an initiation into the ...
SH: Please, tell us about that.
AJ: [laughter] I don't remember much about it. I don't really remember [much], except there was an initiation. … The usual thing was to get your hair cut off or something. Well, we all had buzz cuts at that time anyhow, [laughter] and there was some stuff going on on the deck, I really don't remember what it was, but, there was an initiation for, … there's a term for it. I can't remember what they called you after that. You got a certificate for having …
SI: King Neptune?
AJ: It was something like that.
AJ: Yeah, Shellbacks.
SH: I could see the insignia, but, I could not remember the name.
AJ: Yeah, you became a Shellback.
SH: What were your duties as a communications officer on board an LST?
AJ: That job was, … I was in charge of all of the signalmen, radio operators, radar, and I think that was it. … Once you left protected waters, even though we did have radios that we could communicate [with], we did not, you know. We were not supposed to use them; we didn't use them. So, communication was by signal flag, or blinker light, or semaphore, and my guys, these were the guys. So, … while we're in convoy, if the ship ahead starts a signal, then, my signalman gets what this message is. … Whatever the message may have been, about changing course or something like this, and then, coming up in the next two hours or whatever, that was my duty then, to make sure that the Captain got the message. There were messages every day. For instance, … each ship navigated, and, every day, they would report latitude and longitude on where we say we are, to check that with the lead ship. The lead ship had a guy on there who had been [in the] Navy, he was old-time Navy, and he was the captain on that ship, so, he was in charge of the convoy, but, you had things like that. Then, … in proceeding, maybe one ship would drop out, had lost an engine, and there would be messages back and forth, or, if it was our ship that lost the engine, you know, "We are dropping out because the starboard engine has failed," or something like that, and then, the communications of, "What's wrong? What speed can you maintain?" and things like this, because you just didn't want to sit idle there. You kept going. If you didn't make the full ten knots, you know, you made five, but, those were the kind of messages. Then, there were … some messages, but, not a lot of radio messages, which came to the ship, one of which, … one of the officers, a guy by the name of Jerry Butler, we were out somewhere, I think we were underway, going towards Espiritu Santo, when we got the message that his father had died, and there was a message, too, I think Mitchell got a message that his wife had a baby. … Some of those messages, they went to, I guess, the Red Cross or something, it went to something else, and then, the Navy sent out messages like that, and, when you are in convoy, there's … not much in the way of messages going back and forth. There was a lot of signal work between ships and the use of the signal flags, because, … [when] whoever's in charge of the convoy says, "We're going to alter course," from whatever it was at the time, "from 270 to 300," or whatever, at such-and-such a time, now, you got these signal flags, and you're watching, and when those signal flags on that ship come down, then, depending on the maneuver, either you maneuver, turn, at the same time, or you go up in column and turn, things like that. … They used to have, you know, code books, and … the messages that had to concern, well, anything, even, like, promotions or anything like that, came in code, and so, you'd get these messages, and then, you'd have to decode them. So, I had all of those books. I had the responsibility of all the signal books, the codes, and all that kind of thing on the ship.
SH: What kind of security clearance did you have for your duties?
AJ: Well, … I was just like everybody else. You know, being in charge of this didn't make me any more … secure, or less secure, or anything else. The only thing I had to do was, if the ship were hit and were … in danger of being captured or anything like that, I had to dispose of all of this stuff, … all of the codes and all that, and, fortunately, that never happened.
SH: Were you busy all the time or did you have to contend with long periods of boredom? LSTs are famous for moving slowly.
AJ: I don't know that I ever felt bored, because there were routines that we had to do, and then, if we didn't have anything to do, we played cards, played bridge, wrote letters, that kind of thing. I never, … ever, remember sitting down in the wardroom, thinking about, "What am I gonna do?" We were always doing something.
SH: Did you ever have to find busy work for the sailors serving under you?
AJ: … No, they pretty much had their jobs. Yeah, there were some things that I'd tell them that, you know, "You've got to do this, got to do that," but, it was pretty much a routine. They knew what they had to do.
SH: You did not stop from …
AJ: … From the Panama Canal. From the Panama Canal out to Espiritu Santo was a thirty-day trip. … You know, it was just going out. We saw nothing. Somewhere out there, we were close enough that a Navy plane flew over us, that had come from one of the islands. I don't remember just where.
SH: What did you see on the ocean?
AJ: Well, I remember, you know, … you'd see dolphins, which I hadn't seen before; dolphin in the sense of, you know, porpoises. Whales, most of time, you didn't; all you saw was the whale's spout. [You] rarely saw the whale, but, most of the time, it was just open ocean, and … we're traveling, you know, through there. At one point, we came across a life raft, or some kind of a thing like that, and the lead ship stopped and picked it up. I … never knew what it was from or anything else. … You know, you see the sun come up in the morning and go down at night. You're standing watches. There was nothing special that I recall about this. Now, I can throw in something that happened later, when we were in convoy, before I forget it; it's an amusing story, because I was on the deck. We were in convoy. This convoy was probably a couple of miles wide and, when you're out there in the Pacific and you're going through, you come into these rainstorms. Frequently, you could see the rain when it was two columns over. You see the guys on the ship, a couple or three columns over, and they're all running for cover, and you're in the sunshine, and then, of course, other times, it worked the other way. Well, one day, we went through one of these showers and, after the shower, there's a beautiful, beautiful rainbow. It was real bright, and that rainbow came down and came right down onto a ship which was two columns over, and … I had the duty, and I said to the signalman, "Well, you see, there's the end of the rainbow and there's no pot of gold," and … he looked, had the binoculars, and … he says, "Beg your pardon, sir, there is a pot of gold," and I said, "How so?" He says, "That's the group commander and the paymaster is on that ship." [laughter]
SI: I was just about to ask you about rough weather.
AJ: Rough weather? … When we had rough weather, I never got seasick. I guess I was fortunate, but, when we were in rough weather, and some of the guys … were too sick to stand their watch, … you know, I was standing double watches, but, I never got seasick, and I was not on the ship when it went through [a typhoon]. The ship went through a typhoon; I was not on it at the time. …
-------------------------------------END OF SIDE TWO, TAPE ONE--------------------------------------
SI: This continues an interview with Mr. Arthur Jiannine on September 10, 2001, with Shaun Illingworth and …
SH: Sandra Stewart Holyoak …
SI: … In Orlando, Florida. Please, continue.
AJ: Well, like I said, I never got seasick. … I was never in really rough weather, like the ship went through, in a typhoon, but, I wasn't on it. … I think the worst experience was when I was officer of the deck; when we were leaving one of the islands in the Philippines, we were in convoy with something like three or four ships, and we had a terrific downpour, and you couldn't see. … Normally, at night, you can see the ship ahead, and even in bad weather, you can see the ship ahead, but, on this particular night, it was absolutely impossible to see the ship, and we were going ten knots, [laughter] which was fast for us, and I had to rely on the … guys up in the bow, who were the lookouts in the bow, and we did have radar. It wasn't very good. We didn't have very good radar, but, we did have radar. … With the use of the radar and the bow lookouts, we were able to get through that. That was one time when I was extremely glad to get relieved. That watch, if I remember, was from midnight to four AM, and I was very glad to get relieved of that watch, because … you just could not see anything. You know, … literally, you couldn't see your hand in front of your face with the downpour that we were going through.
SH: How did you secure your cargo in bad weather? Was it secured in port or did you have to secure it en route?
AJ: Yeah. … On the ship, things were secured. If you are carrying a load, when they loaded that ship, they're secured, everything is secured, and, with the exceptions of ashtrays in the wardroom or something like that, things in general, on the ship, are secured all the time.
SH: How was it that you were not on board the ship when it passed through the typhoon?
AJ: Yeah. The situation there was, … I don't remember just what it was, but, I had received orders to leave the LST 709 and report to Guam, and I did that. I think I was in the Philippines and left the ship, went … to Guam. When I got to Guam, they didn't know why I was there. They said they didn't need anybody, so, then, I was in transit, so to speak, or in limbo, awaiting assignment, and, from Guam, … I received an assignment to go to an LSM. By now, the war had ended. … The war ended while I was on Guam and I was to go to an LSM up in Tokyo Bay. So, I was flown up there. I got up to that LSM, and they were due to go back to the States, and they didn't want me on board, because, if I got on board, one of the original crew would have to leave. So, there I was, in Tokyo Bay, and I had no orders. I bunked in with a Coast Guard group and, eventually, I got a ride; … I got on a ship and went to Okinawa. At Okinawa, I was, … again, in transit, waiting for some orders. That's when the typhoon hit. I was on land, in a tent, when the typhoon hit. … It's an interesting story, in a way, in the sense that we shored up the tent. We got out and got lumber and so forth, and we were sitting in the tent when, all of a sudden, there was this big crack and one of the boards went. So, we evacuated the tent, and I went over to a Quonset hut, which was … serving as a hospital. I couldn't get in, but, I got relief by staying under roof near the door, where there was some shelter. … That was October and … I was cold. It was the coldest I had ever been in my life, because it was raining so hard, and I was wet, and I didn't have any heavy clothing on or anything like that, but, anyhow, … after that typhoon, I was over on the beach one day, and somebody yelled my name, and it was one of my old shipmates in the old ship. The LST 709 was there at Okinawa. So, I went back aboard the ship and asked the Captain, … they were going back to the Philippines, I asked him if he'd take me back to the Philippines. So, I got a ride back on my old ship. I had to stand watches and everything, but, it was fun, going back there with my old shipmates, went back to, I believe it was Leyte, and then, from Leyte, I was shipped to, … what do you call it? it was like a destroyer escort which was top heavy. … It was carrying troops. It was built to carry troops, … and it had a lot of motion, and we got into the South China Sea, that's the roughest weather that I ever went through, because this destroyer really rocked back and forth. I still didn't get seasick. The chow line was nonexistent. [laughter] Nobody wanted to eat, except me and a handful of other guys, but, I got back to, Shanghai, we went to. At Shanghai, I was given orders to report to a new light aircraft carrier, Siboney, and so, I reported to the Siboney. We went to Hong Kong. Well, when I reported there, the Captain asked me if I was shipping over and I said, "No." He says, "Why are you here?" I said, "Because of my orders, sir." So, … the ship went to Hong Kong, back to Pearl Harbor, back to San Diego, … but, most of my time was on the LST 709, but, I did get a short time on a carrier.
SH: What were your duties while the ship was stationed at Espiritu Santo?
AJ: Well, there, of course, this was a tropical island, which was new to me. We offloaded the ship and we had orders, then, that we had to load up and carry supplies … up to Leyte. The invasion of the Philippines had … started, and so, we were carrying … supplies up there. …
Well, we left Espiritu Santo, went up to Hollandia, we loaded up supplies and headed up for Leyte. The Leyte invasion had begun and we went up there. … There was no action on the trip up. While we were in the harbor, we'd made the landing at Tacloban, and off-loaded all the troops that we had, and so forth, and, while we were in the harbor, there … was action in the sense of there were Japanese airplanes flying over. They usually didn't bother with us, if there were bigger merchant ships around. I don't recall that there were actually any attacks while we were there, but, … we always had the Japanese planes flying around. Now, we left there and, going back to where we were going at the time, we were attacked by a Japanese bomber. The plane had flown around, I don't remember whether it had made a pass or not, but, anyhow, the convoy, at the time, I think, probably had about six columns, and this Japanese bomber flew around and started down, and he was coming right down our column. He picked our column to zero in on and he came in. You could see the machine guns, the strafing, and the … Gunnery Officer, … during this time, he was on the ship, and … he's in communication with all of these gunners, and he's telling them to, "Track the plane, track the plane, track the plane," and he's waiting for the Captain to give the order to open fire, and the Captain never did give the order, [laughter] and he gave the order to open fire, and they had been tracking this thing. Normally, [they] probably would have started a lot sooner, but, they had tracked, and they tracked, and we had quad .40s on the front, and they opened that thing up, and the plane went down in a hurry. It just went down off the portside of the ship and we got credit for having shot down the Japanese bomber, which, … you know, among LSTs, you don't [laughter] get much of a chance to shoot down a bomber. Going back and forth on all of these trips, I don't remember just what the sequence is, but, we saw a little action of all kinds. On the trip to Lingayen Gulf, we experienced a suicide [attack], the kamikaze planes, and that's a frightening sight. Like I say, fortunately, … since we were in a convoy with bigger ships, they didn't come after us. They went after the bigger ships, and … you look at these things on videos, and movies, and so forth, and you see the flames and all that, but, it's really nothing like being there, when you see a plane come flying out of there and hit into a ship, and there's nothing the ship can do about it. They can't get out of the way, this plane is coming down, and then, you have the explosion and the fire. It is a frightening kind of a thing. We also had submarine alerts. … It was a question in the minds of [the crew], … the crew still talks about it, as to whether or not a torpedo had been fired at us. The LST, of course, has a shallow draft, and I don't think the Japanese wanted to try to waste a torpedo on such a shallow draft ship, but, some of the guys insisted that they did see the torpedo, and so, we had [been] attacked by aircraft, thekamikaze, the submarine, and then, when we were in Cebu, we were docked in Cebu, … at the regular city dock, so to speak, was where we had been moored, and the Japanese were up in the mountains. In Cebu City, from the harbor, you go a short distance and it goes up into a very steep mountain. Well, the Japanese were up there with some kind of a gun that was dropping shells down into the harbor, and, you know, you're like a fish out of water when you're moored there, you can't move, and you've got these guys shooting at you. Fortunately, they didn't hit us or any other ship, but, there was, also, … rifle fire at night, and so forth. … You know, everybody in the military, the guy … feels comfortable in his own element. You take the guy who's in the foxhole and he feels that he's safe there. … Sailors feel like they're safe at sea, not when they're tied up at a dock somewhere and having the guns fire at them.
SH: You transported troops during the landing operations. Where did you pick them up? What condition were the men in? What was it like to participate in the landings?
AJ: … We picked up various kinds of troops. Back in those days, you know, there was segregation, so, at one point, we picked up a battalion of black troops, a … construction battalion. I don't remember just where we were. We would pick them up in a place, depending on where we were going from and to, like, we would pick up a battalion of people from Leyte, this is as the war was going on, and then, we'd go down through the Mindanao Straits, or I don't know if it was Mindanao, or Surigao, or what, we would go down around in the Philippines and … going up to Luzon or Mindanao, and carrying a battalion from one place to another. See, the battalion would have landed at Leyte, they've done their work, did whatever they had to do. Now, they get ready for the next place, … if they load on to our ship, and we take them somewhere. … I've got another interesting thing here; at one time, we carried a bunch of Australian troops, I don't remember, either Australian or New Zealand. We had picked them up, I believe it was in Morotai. Well, the stores that we got, when we would go in for stores, we would get boxes of pork, or beef, or … things like that, and the people on the capital ships would get better food than we did, and, of course, … we didn't have any contact with submariners, but, they were the top of the line, but, … you'd go in and the Quartermaster would want so many hundred pounds of beef. Well, you'd get half of that and what you'd get in place of it is, you know, a hundred cases of canned mutton from Australia, something like that. Well, we had a load of canned mutton in stores, and the cooks, one day, served some of this canned mutton, and, God, the whole ship, nobody wanted it. It was terrible. We didn't want it. Well, that's when we carried … these Australian troops. … They had the mutton. They ate the mutton and they loved it. They loved it. They just thought it was grand, but, we didn't. Another time, and I don't remember just where this was, but, we ran very low on stores, so, all the meat that we had to eat were beef hearts and, God, something else, I can't remember, … it may have been liver, but, I don't know, but, that was all, and, you know, you got pretty tired of that in a hurry, from beef hearts or liver. … Of course, when the troops were on the ship, they were … out of their element. They wanted to get where they wanted to go and, by and large, you know, I did not have contact with these troops. They … pretty much kept to themselves. There was no interaction with the troops. When the Australians left, we didn't know, until they had gone off the ship, that they had pretty much taken a lot of souvenirs. I mean, they had taken a lot of the stuff off of [the ship], you know, things like fire extinguishers and so forth. … They just disappeared when the Aussies left the ship. One of the interesting cargoes, … when we came back, I think it may have been from Palawan or somewhere, I don't remember, but, there were a couple of Japanese prisoners. I don't remember just how we got these [prisoners], but, they were put on our ship, and we had to take them back, and a woman who was suspected of being a Japanese sympathizer. So, we had this crew and, … of course, the Captain put a twenty-four hour guard on them on the way back.
SH: What nationality was the woman?
AJ: She was, obviously, an islander, probably a Philippines islander.
SH: Where did you deliver them to?
AJ: I don't remember just where we took them to. At that time, … I think that … was in an area where we had picked them up and we took them back to Hollandia, I think it was Hollandia, and, also, at the same time, … we carried a bunch of Japanese torpedoes, which … somebody had come across, and we had taken those back to Hollandia.
SH: Did you ever evacuate any wounded men from the beaches?
AJ: No, we never carried any wounded and nobody on the ship was ever wounded.
SH: What was it like to be part of an invasion force of that size?
AJ: Well, you had … your job to do, and I know that when you're making the landing, we only made one, as I can recall, … landing when we were on the initial wave going in, and so, you're right behind all the Navy ships that have bombarded the island, and then, they have these rocket ships. The Navy, … by this time, had outfitted some LSIs to be rocket ships, and they just send a mass of rockets that go in and hit the beach, and … you're given an assignment on … what beach to go at, and we went in there. … You could hear the firing going on, but, … we weren't in danger, in the sense of aircraft or anything like that. There was small arms fire and that kind of thing, but, you get in there, and you want to get those people [off], get your load off, … whatever group you got there, … get them off, so [that] you can get out of there.
SH: You had several different types of craft attached to your ship. What tasks did each type of craft perform?
AJ: … Well, the job of the craft, … these were LCVPs, which were to carry troops, and I think there was only one time, and it may have been at Palawan, I don't remember, where we had to carry some of the troops in those LCVPs … on to the beach. Other than that, the LCVPs, since we had six boats, when we are in harbor, the group commander, or whoever the official is, always needs boats, and it was always our duty, since we had six boats, … to supply boats to [the] group commander or whoever it was that was needing boats. … As I recall, … [only] that one time did we use four boats as an actual invasion force.
SH: How did the troops exit the LST?
AJ: … When they're gonna get into these small boats, they go down a cargo net, down into the boat, and go. Other than that, you offload when the ship goes up and beaches. You have the doors that open, a ramp comes down, and, now, all the vehicles come out, and, of course, when you load, you load everything knowing that you want them all going out as fast as they can. …
SH: Who was in charge of loading the landing craft?
AJ: The First Lieutenant was in charge of seeing how it's loaded on, but, the First Lieutenant is the guy who sees how these things are put on, how they're secured, and in what fashion and everything else, … and the Army also knows how they want certain things, so that when they've … got the big truckloads of some supplies, [they] go on to the ship first, and they're in the back, towards the stern, and … you end up with the tanks, or armored personnel carriers, or that kind of a thing, [that] are the ones right close to the door, so that when you go into the beach and you drop your ramp, … they go out. … If you've seen some pictures, in some cases, where you … would see, like, an LST comes out, and the ramp comes down, and the tank goes off and gets almost submerged in water, we never had that. We always were close enough to the beach that they didn't have more than a couple of feet of water to get through and get up on the beach.
SH: Did you carry all Army personnel or Marines?
AJ: No, we carried all Army. It was either … US Army or the Aussies, but, it was always Army. … No, I think, at one time, we carried Seabees. We had a group of … Seabees that, wherever we were going, and I think that was Lingayen Gulf, their job, once they got on shore, was to construct an airfield.
SH: Did you ever operate in conjunction with the Air Force?
AJ: … No, we never had any … interaction with them … and we did interact with … PT boats. … There were times that we were in harbor or something like that, and I'll tell you another interesting story, … I don't remember where we were, I think it was Hollandia, we did not have eggs, whole eggs. We had egg powder, and … I think it was Hollandia, we got there, and the Stores Officer was able to get four crates of whole eggs. Well, I don't know how it came about, but, the Captain traded two crates of eggs for two carbines, and I thought this was ridiculous. You know, here is our ship's crew, dying for these eggs, and he traded two crates for two carbines, … nevertheless, and then, … when the cooks went to serve the eggs, of course, you had to break each egg, individually, into a cup or something, because you never knew when it was gonna be a bad one, but, the crew enjoyed the eggs, and we were at sea one day, and I got this message, it's the Radio Operator [who] brought the message to me, and it said that, "A certain PT group had lost two carbines with these serial numbers." They have reason to believe that they are on the ship [LST] 709. "They are to be handed in at the next port." So, the Captain had given away two crates of eggs, thinking he had two carbines, and he didn't. [laughter]
SH: Did he get to eat any of the eggs?
AJ: Yeah, oh, yeah, … he had the eggs.
SI: Was trading like that common?
AJ: No, no. Of course, … when you see some of these natives, you tried to trade some things. Well, by the time we were there, … they had gotten used to trading with the Navy and so forth. We didn't get into doing a lot of trading with … natives or anything like that.
SH: You mentioned that you were critically short of supplies at one time. When was that? Why were you so low on supplies?
AJ: It was because we had not had the opportunity to go … back to the rear area and get stores. … You know, we're loaded up, we'd take a group of people somewhere, and then, we're given another assignment to go somewhere else, and, pretty soon, you find out [that] you're at sea for a month, or something like this, without having gone back to get supplies, and, you know, it's like everything else; you use up the good stuff first, and then, you leave all this other stuff, and then, eventually, you have to eat it.
SH: You stated that no member of your crew was wounded or injured. Did your crew have to deal with any medical emergencies?
AJ: There was a medical emergency, in the sense that the Captain had a heart attack.
SH: Before or after the carbines incident? [laughter]
AJ: This is after, but, he was … a small-time version of Captain Queeg and an individual that the crew, including myself, did not like, the Captain, and, at one time, we had a doctor assigned to the ship. … Having a doctor on an LST was unusual, but, anyhow, we sat in the wardroom one time and we were saying that, you know, "[We] wish something would happen to the Captain, so [that] we'd get a new captain," and the Doctor said, "He's not long for this ship. He's got a bad heart," and it wasn't, I don't think, more than a couple of weeks after that that he had a heart attack. He was gone and we got a new captain. … I think that's the only medical emergency that I can remember.
SH: Was the doctor on board when he suffered this heart attack?
AJ: The doctor on board … was on board at that time.
SH: When he did have the heart attack?
AJ: When he did have the heart attack.
SH: How fortuitous.
AJ: Yeah, it was, and then, … the Captain was taken off, and the Doctor was taken off shortly thereafter.
SH: Who was your new captain? Where did he come from?
AJ: … He was the executive officer on another ship in that group, so, they promoted him to captain and he came over. He was … a good captain. He knew what he was doing. He … was not long time Navy, but, he knew what he was doing, and he was a good and fair captain.
SH: Given that most of the officers on your ship, including yourself, were ninety-day wonders, how well-trained do you think the officers on your LST were?
AJ: I think we were trained very well. I feel that I knew my job, but, of course, … I had a four-month training, as opposed to some of those that had two months, plus, additional training in camp. I felt that I knew my job very well. The Gunnery Officer, I knew, was good. I think … we all were trained well enough to do the job that we had to do when we went … into war.
SH: Did you have confidence in the training and ability of the officers of the ships you came in contact with?
AJ: I think so, I think so, because, you know, they all had the same kind of training that we did.
SH: The Navy remained the most hierarchical of all the branches of the service during the war. There was, generally, very little interaction between the officers and the enlisted men. Was this the case on your LST or was the atmosphere more relaxed on a smaller ship?
AJ: It was … more relaxed on the LST. When you are … standing watch on the deck, you are the only officer up there. You have a signalman who's there, you have, down in the wheelhouse, … the guy on the helm, and you're talking to these people. They're enlisted people. They address you as, "Mister," and you address them by their last names, but, you, nevertheless, … get to talking about, "Where did you come from?" you know, and what kind of a family you have, and you do that. Later on, when I was on that Siboney, the light aircraft carrier, I found there that this is what you're talking about, the officers were the officers and the crew is the crew.
SH: What about the Naval Academy men?
AJ: The Naval Academy men, … I don't remember, but, I only ran into a couple of them, and I didn't care for it, 'cause they had the attitude, … "Look, I am from the Naval Academy," you know, and that didn't mean anything as far as I was concerned. My attitude is, "Okay, you've got all these professional guys, you're in the Navy, and then, when you get into trouble, you call for us civilians to come bail you out." [laughter]
SH: Did you spend any time in the Philippines?
AJ: Well, we did spend a lot of time in the Philippines.
SH: What would you do there while on liberty?
AJ: … The ship, when we went into, like, we would go into the Philippines, into Tacloban, which was a secure area, so to speak, there was no liberty. Liberty consisted of the ship going to certain designated spots and everybody gets three or four beers, go ashore, and drink the beer. That was the liberty. … There was no liberty to go into town, so to speak. Now, as the communications officer, one of my jobs was to go in and get the mail. So, I would go through some of the island, I had the opportunity to go into some of these towns, and, you know, you can't speak to [anyone]. The people speak a different language and so forth. They don't care about you. They've seen thousands of military people. They're not interested in you. There was no reason to go try to buy anything. If we wanted to drink, we went to the officers' club or something like that, and I think the only interaction [was], you were able, in some cases, you would have some natives that may approach the ship, or be out where the … guys come ashore, and one of the things [was], they used to make little sandals out of some kind of reeds and so forth, or they would make, you know, little straw baskets or something like that, and sell those, but, I bought a pair of sandals for my wife's aunt, a dear lady I loved, and I sent them to her, and she was thrilled. My wife was not thrilled, because I didn't send her [a pair], but, … we didn't have a lot of interaction with the people.
SH: How did you spend the holidays? Did the crew acknowledge the holidays?
AJ: … We acknowledged the holidays in the sense that, you know, you … generally got a meal. We did have some turkey for something like Thanksgiving or Christmas, and you know it's Christmas, because you wake up and they're playing, on the loud speaker, you've got some Christmas songs going, and it's Christmas, but, other than that, it's just another day. You're either at sea or in port, it's just another day.
SH: Did you receive mail fairly regularly?
AJ: No, … you can't say it was regular, but, then, it wasn't bad. … They had, what was it, what did they call it? it wasn't e-mail, V-mail. We used a lot of V-mail, and, … let's say, when we're going back to a rear area, we would go in and pick up the mail, and we might not get mail for another couple of months, and, when we are going into port, all of the ship's crew, … where we have been going around for a month or more, have never bothered to write letters. Now that we are six hours from port, everybody's sitting down, writing a letter, and, of course, we had censor programs. I would get the help of the other officers, and we'd have to censor the mail, and, … in general, they were pretty good about not saying too much, but, every once in a while, you'd see somebody underline certain letters which, you know, read, "Tacloban," or something like that, and there was one guy, who was married, and he used to write very, very nice letters to his wife, with a lot of love in them, but, he also wrote a lot of stuff which he shouldn't have, you know, … he's talking about things that he shouldn't be talking about. So, his letters would get all cut up. He showed up at one of the reunions a couple of years ago and his wife said that the letters looked like lace doilies when she got them. [laughter] Everything was cut out of them.
SH: Did you ever receive any gifts?
AJ: I don't recall. The only thing I can remember [is], my mother sent me some cigarettes. You know, she thought she was doing me a favor. … I smoked at the time and I guess she thought she was doing me a favor. Well, by the time I got the cigarettes, they were not very good. They weren't worth smoking then. You know, we had plenty of cigarettes overseas anyhow. I don't recall ever getting any cake, or candy, or anything like that. Some of the other guys got a few things. I know some of the guys got some things that were sent to them. I don't remember exactly what they were.
SH: When you arrived in Japan, what did you see, in terms of the devastation wrought by the Allied bombardment?
AJ: When I went to Japan, … the areas that I was able to see were like the pictures that you see, … everything has been destroyed. You just see heaps of concrete blocks and bricks and all of that kind of thing. Everything was destroyed, … but, the other amazing part about it, to me, was that, when I got there, and I was at this Tokyo airfield, I've forgotten the name of it, it was north of Tokyo, … I had to go to Yokohama. … I was pretty much on my own. … There was no Navy service to get me there or something else, and so, I found my way to the railroad station. The trains were running. You know, I was surprised that … they were running so well, and, you know, I didn't know … how I was gonna make out, but, this little Japanese guy came up to me, and he started talking to me in English, so, he got me to get on the right train. He had a shirt on, he opened up the shirt, he had an American flag tattooed on his chest. … He had lived in Seattle for a while, and he happened to be in Japan when the war broke out, so, he was stuck there, but, he was able [to help me], and, while I'm there, and I'm waiting for this train that I'm supposed to take, I hear all this Japanese [being spoken], … so, I said to him, "What are they saying?" He said, "This is just like America, 'Seattle,' 'Tacoma,' [announcing the stops]." Okay, so, I had to make that trip and I had a sea bag and a big suitcase. Now, here I am, and they were heavy but I did not want to show any weakness to the Japanese, so I grit my teeth
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AJ: and do my job. … So, anyhow, I got the right train, I got down to Yokohama, I don't remember where, I got onto some base down there, but, that was another one of the interesting little experiences I had. … In Japan, when I flew in there, it was at that base north of Tokyo … where that was, … there's a scent of incense, and, to me, there was a feeling like, "Okay, here I am, in Japan, and, now, it smells like you think Japan would smell," like it has an incense to it, … and I didn't have much interaction with the people, but, I didn't see any animosity. I did find, when I got lost a couple of times, [that] I was able to find somebody that spoke English who'd help me out. … I was a little bit astounded at the honey wagons, which they used at the time. … I was not aware of this, that they used buckets for their waste, their human waste, and then, there would be a wagon that came through town and would pick up all these buckets, and you would see them. That was a revelation to me. I did not know that that existed.
SH: Were the people dressed in traditional Japanese garb?
AJ: Some were, some were not. Yeah, a lot of them had western things, … but, occasionally, you saw the traditional [garb], and I don't remember where I was, … I remember a small area where there were a lot of little shops, and those people … had, more or less, the traditional Japanese clothing, but, in the cities, there were a lot of them with western clothes. Men more than women wore western clothing.
SH: Where were you when you learned that the atomic bomb had been dropped?
AJ: Yeah. … At the time, I was on Guam, and I found out that my old college roommate, MacNelly, on the ship that he was on, a destroyer escort, and I can't remember the name of it, [it] began with an "H," … was in the harbor at Guam, so, I went to visit him on his ship. … I remember him talking, at the time, about the news, because … that was the first I'd heard of it. I hadn't heard of it when I was on the base. I heard of it when I was on the ship, and … they were describing that, "We had dropped a bomb on Hiroshima," and, at the time, they were describing this thing as a bomb, like, the size of a tomato can that would blow up … the whole city. Well, you know, they weren't exactly right, but, it wasn't far from it, in the sense that it was a tremendous bomb, but, yeah, I was there, at Guam, and I was visiting him. … That was the first news I heard of the bomb. I was back in the barracks at Guam when we got the news that the Japanese had surrendered.
SH: Was there a celebration following the surrender?
AJ: Well, … being in transit, you know, we didn't belong to anything, … a lot of people, like, my ship, at the time, they'll tell you there was a lot of fireworks in the harbor, with ships firing their guns and all that. Where I was, we didn't have that. … It was just, "Glad it's over."
SH: Do you remember any celebrations following V-E Day?
AJ: No. I don't remember that. We were on a ship, but, I don't remember … when that was. … So, I can't remember that. I do remember, on the ship, the invasion of Iwo Jima. Now, we were not there, but, we had somebody [who] was, in plain English, … broadcasting the description of the battle from Iwo Jima, and we were in the radio room, listening to what he was describing.
SH: Was that done for each invasion?
AJ: No. That's the only one I can remember. I will tell you, though, … well, it's an odd kind of a situation; when you go from Leyte, Leyte … is in the eastern part of the Philippines. You have all these islands, Leyte is in the eastern part. … You have to go south, I don't remember whether it's the Surigao Straits or something, anyhow, you go down around these, I can't remember the islands, now, but, you go through the straits thru the Bohul Sea and go up on the west side. Now, every time that we got through there, we could hear, on our radio, now, our radio was only line-of-sight, but, when we got down there, we could get the transmissions of the battles going on up off the coast of Japan, because their radios were going up, hitting something in the atmosphere, coming down, and we would pick it up, and, one time, we're going through there, and we could hear all of this action of the planes, from the talk from the aircraft carriers and everything else. … You hear what's going on way up there.
AJ: Yeah, it was.
SH: Within your small group of ships, were you aware of how the war was progressing overall?
AJ: Well, you know, we got daily news reports, you know, and you could see what was going on. Like I said, when we made our first landing, there in Leyte, there was no action on the shore. The shore was established. Yes, there were planes flying around. Yeah, at various times, we had planes fly over us while we were in the harbor. They would drop a bomb or two, but, we knew, because, every assignment we got, we're going to another island, … that we were making progress, … especially when we got up to, I can't remember the name of the island, it was Luzon Lingayen Gulf, which is up on the northern part of the Philippines, you know. You know, now, where you landed, initially, in the Philippines, and, now, you're around and … up on the north side; you know … how the war is going.
SH: After the war in Europe ended, did you notice an influx of equipment and personnel?
AJ: No, no. I don't recall that … I ever met anybody, while I was out there, that had been in the war in Europe. I don't recall … if there were any ships that had come over from Europe and had joined up with us. I don't remember that. … We wouldn't have known it. We had all the supplies [we needed]. We had supplies.
SH: Did you receive adequate supplies of fuel?
AJ: The fuel was always there. … There was always a tanker. When we needed fuel, there was a tanker.
SH: Did you ever interact with any Merchant Marine vessels?
AJ: … We didn't have any interaction with them. They were there. … Sometimes, they were in convoy with us, and they had their assignment, we had ours. We would go on to the beach and they would anchor off [shore] and start unloading their stuff, out in the harbor somewhere.
SH: How soon after V-J Day did you return to the United States?
AJ: … I think it was February that I got back, because, what I had done, I had been assigned to this CVE, which came back to Pearl, and then, from Pearl, we came back to San Diego, and then, I got off at San Diego, and I went back to New Jersey, which was my home. I'm not sure, now, whether it was, like, in the February-March time frame.
SH: Did you go on liberty in Hawaii?
AJ: Yeah, … we had, I don't know, three or four days, I guess, in Hawaii.
SH: Did you visit Pearl Harbor?
AJ: Well, at the time, yeah, … you know, there was no memorial, you know. You saw the remains of the Arizona and some other ships that were there.
SH: Have you ever seen a movie that accurately depicted what you went through?
AJ: Yes, I have seen, you know, not Tom Hanks movies or that kind of thing, but, movies, yeah, … you know, that were made by the Navy and so forth, yes, and they were … accurate. They were accurate, with the exception of the landing for General MacArthur, if you remember his walking through the surf in the Philippines, and, "I have returned," and I understand that that was done in three takes before they got it right, but, no, in general, … the kind of stuff that you see on the History Channel and so forth, you know, they're pictures, they are accurate pictures.
SH: I think that oral histories, such as this, go a long way towards exploding myths created by inaccurate Hollywood movies.
AJ: Well, … some of these stories, you know, you laugh about them or think about them at the time; … I don't remember where we were, at some island, we thought everything was pretty much secure, there were about four of us LSTs on the beach, and we sit there, fat, dumb, and happy, and then, all of a sudden, here comes a Japanese plane, drops a couple bombs. [laughter] Didn't hit any of the ships, it landed in the water, but, … we were not expecting it. We were not at general quarters or anything. We were just sitting there, off loading things. … Another one of the funny things was, one time, we went back to Hollandia. Now, this is really way in the back, very safe. We were in the harbor, ships in the harbor had … lights on, … they're not all lit up, but, the anchor lights and so forth, and, doggone it, the Japanese managed to find a plane somewhere, came over, and dropped a bomb in the harbor. … Everything went back into general quarters again, because … we never would have expected anything. We thought [that] that's long since gone. "The war is over here," but, it wasn't. They managed to find something to come out there.
SH: As the ship's communications officer, were you privy to any messages that came over the radio that detailed what was going on in other areas of the Pacific?
AJ: The Navy had news programs, which they sent out over radio. These were in plain language. … They wouldn't tell you anything, for instance, like, "The Third Fleet is now moving up into," something, but, they would tell you, in plain English, what had gone on, what certain things had gone on, and I don't know … if you've discussed the Third Fleet and the Fifth Fleet. Now, we were a part of the Seventh Fleet, which was commanded by Admiral Spruance, in the South Pacific. Now, up in the north, up off Japan, you had in operation either the Third Fleet or the Fifth Fleet. Now, it was either one; it was the same bunch of ships and the same men. It all depended on whether it was Halsey … in command or, I've forgotten who the other guy was. If Halsey was in, I think it was Fifth Fleet and the other guy, if he was there in command, it was Third Fleet, and I think that was, you know, a ruse to try to confuse the Japanese about, you know, "How many fleets do they have out here?"
SH: Did you ever hear any of Tokyo Rose's broadcasts?
AJ: Yeah, I don't remember them. I do remember that we were able to pick it up. We could hear some of the stuff, the usual kind of thing. … I think it was when we were on our way to Lingayen Gulf that we picked up Tokyo Rose, and … she had the information, that the convoys are proceeding up [the] western side of the Philippines, and, "Fellows, you might as well turn around and not go, because you're not gonna make it. You're gonna be wiped out," and all this kind of stuff.
SH: What was the most frightening experience of the war for you?
AJ: I think the most frightening was when we were attacked by the Japanese bomber and I think, to me, the most frightening was the strafing. When you see … the strafing, you don't think about, "Well, are you going to drop a bomb or not?" [If] you drop a bomb and hit, you don't have to worry about [it], but, to see the strafing, I think, was most scary, but, see, that was over in a matter of seconds. The other scary thing was, like I told you, when we were in port, and you sit there, and the Japanese are lobbing shells down into the harbor. I think that was probably the most scary, over a longer period of time.
SH: Having participated in several massive invasion armadas, how noisy was the pre-invasion bombardment?
AJ: Well, it's like you see in these war films. There is a lot of noise and, when you are in the first wave, where they have these rockets, a tremendous amount of noise, tremendous amount of noise with these rockets, first of all, when they are … leaving their ships, or barges, or whatever, and, secondly, when they're landing on the island, and you're close enough to hear all of this. Yeah, that's a lot of noise.
SH: How tempted were you to ship over …
AJ: Ship over after the end of the war? No, I wasn't tempted at all. [laughter] No, I wanted to get back.
SH: You returned to the United States on board a carrier.
AJ: I came in … on the carrier into San Diego and I got transportation by air. At that time, … officers could get air transportation, or I could have taken a train back, but, I took air. This was on a … DC-4, DC-6, something, yeah, one of the old two-motor planes, and … I flew out of San Diego and landed in Douglas, Arizona, and we had a problem, the plane had a problem. So, while we're in Douglas, Arizona, I was in company with another officer. He was actually in charge of me, but, while we're in Douglas, Arizona, we took a side trip … down into Mexico, because we had to be there overnight or something and wait for another plane, and then, I flew from there. I was up into the Mid-West somewhere, I think, we landed. By now, you know, you're beginning to get disheveled and so forth, and I went into the barber shop there, and got a shave, and got cleaned up, and flew back into Newark, and then, went on home … to my home.
SH: Was your family aware that you were coming back?
AJ: … They were aware. I don't remember just when I was able to let them know, but, I think I'd called them from Newark or something like that. I don't remember the details. I do remember riding the train from Newark down, and looking, and noticing the changes in the time that I had been away, yeah.
SH: What did you notice?
AJ: Well, I noticed that … they had built an ammunition station there, I think it was Earle [Naval Base], New Jersey. … When you're riding on the train, you look out and, all of a sudden, you see [it], you know this is military, which I didn't know had ever existed, but, yeah, there was not a lot of other changes, but, that one surprised me.
SH: You told us that your wife was with you in New Orleans. What happened to her after that?
AJ: … My wife was with me in New Orleans, and that's where I left her, and she went back, and she lived with her grandmother during all the war. She lived with her grandmother in West Virginia, Beckley, West Virginia, so, when I got to New Jersey, … I called her, and, in a matter of a couple of days or so, I had left New Jersey, went down to West Virginia, to where she was.
SH: Did she continue to work during the war?
AJ: … Yes, she had worked … with her grandmother. … This was down in the coal fields of West Virginia and her grandmother operated, … I've forgotten what they call it, but, the company, the coal company, has a big house, to put up some workers, and she managed that. It was like a boarding house and she managed that, so that she … took care of their rooms and fed them, made their lunches, and all this kind of stuff, during the war, and my wife was helping her do that.
SH: Did you have any idea of where you would work once you were discharged?
AJ: No. … At the time, when I was in New Jersey, when I got back, … I went to Rutgers. I borrowed my father's car and went up to Rutgers, about job placement, and I was very disappointed, because, actually, in a sense, what they said is, "We can't help you. … We don't have a list of jobs. We don't have anybody to send you to. We can't set you up with an interview. We don't know anything," and so, at that time, I don't remember who I saw, but, I had some interviews with some companies. I can't remember their names now.
SH: You said that you went on several job interviews.
AJ: Well, I don't remember who I saw at the time. Vinnie, is it? I can't remember his name. He's been active, but, … he was there, but, really, … I got no help from the University, and I don't remember, now, how I did get to get a couple of interviews. One of them was with a plant. I could have had a job; I didn't like it, because it was insecticides and that kind of stuff, and my roommate from my last year of school, Bill Quinn, had gone to work for Merck. He didn't go into the service, he went to work for Merck, and I was in contact with him, and the way it ended up, he had me come up to Merck for an interview, and I got placement at Merck, and then, I went to work there.
SH: You brought your wife …
AJ: … And brought my wife, from West Virginia, up to New Jersey.
SH: Where was the Merck facility located?
AJ: Merck was in Rahway. The main plant was in Rahway. That's where I went to work. They had a lot up there, I don't know what it is now, but, a lot of manufacturing operations, which I would imagine they've closed by now, but, I went to work there, and that was the start of my industrial career.
SH: Did you ever go back to school for a more advanced degree?
AJ: No, no.
SH: Did you take advantage of your GI Bill benefits at all?
AJ: I used the GI Bill, … the GI Loan, for a home. I used it … when I built a home in Pennsylvania. … When I went to New Jersey, … I bought a house that had an apartment attached to it, so that I was using the income from the apartment to pay for the house, but, I built, some years later, … a house in Pennsylvania, and I used the GI Loan at that time.
SH: Where did you live in Pennsylvania?
AJ: In Danville, Pennsylvania.
SH: I just wondered if you lived near me.
AJ: Well, no, Danville is about 175 miles, I guess, from [the] Delaware Water Gap, something like that.
SH: How long did you stay with Merck?
AJ: I stayed with Merck until 1964. I was working in, … the initial place was making Phenobarbital, and I worked in their narcotics department for a couple of years, and I worked in the Vitamin A plant, when they started that up, and then, I went to Pennsylvania when they were expanding their operation to make Cortizone, and went to Pennsylvania to start up this plant, making Cortizone, and I worked there from … [the] later part of '51 thru 1964. Well, … in 1959, Merck was getting into electronic chemicals, the high purity silicon. This is the beginning of the … famous age of integrated circuits and so forth. So, I got into that and I was there until … the time of Kennedy being shot in '63. At the same time, Merck decided they were gonna get out of the electronic chemicals business, and I had eighteen years with the company, but, they said, "We are just closing this andadios." So, I then went with ITT, following up on working in silicon materials, and I stayed working with silicon materials with ITT, or Texas Instruments for a couple of years, and then, Harris Semiconductor in Melbourne, Florida. … That's why I ended up in Florida. I retired in 1985, from Harris, after having worked in the silicon materials and things.
SH: Silicon materials were quite different from what you were studying at the beginning of your career.
AJ: Yes and no. I was never really involved into the electronics of things. … I frankly didn't understand all this electronic circuitry and everything else, but, my job was more chemical, or chemistry, or chemical engineering related, in the sense of making the base material, making the silicon that then went on for fabrication.
SH: Can you tell us about your family?
AJ: Well, my family, … I had gone back and we were living in Red Bank. At the time, I was commuting to Rahway, and my daughter Kyleen was born in February of 1947, and, … incidentally, now, … after having been separated, she went on to college, and we were not close together for many years, but, now, we live about three miles apart, so, it's been good. She and Trudy get along famously, but, my daughter was born in '47. I had, then, a son Lou [who] was born [in] January of '49. He subsequently went to Vietnam, then, on to school at Florida Atlantic and University of Florida, got his degree, law degree, at the University of Florida. He now teaches law at Brevard Community College, and then, my younger son, Victor, was born in 1953, in June of '53. He lives in North Carolina and he's in the business of equipment rentals for construction. … I'm very pleased with my children. They have all done their share of smoking, drinking, or whatever, but, they are all fine children now. I'm proud of everyone of them.
SH: How do you feel World War II has impacted the man you are today?
AJ: Well, you know, when they talk about "the Greatest Generation," and I'm part of it, … I think that that is a true description, … and a lot of it was not so much the war as the preceding the war, the Depression, because the Depression was hard, and going through the Depression, and then, going through the war, I feel like I … am a good citizen. I did my job, and I contributed, and I think that those other people, who did the same thing, all contributed and were good citizens, and a lot of them, in fact, … a good many of them, these troops that were on the ground and who suffered tremendously, … you can't say enough about what they did. I'm proud of our generation, I really am, and … I feel that the kids in school now do not know what we went through, have no appreciation for what we went through or what had happened. I don't think they realize. I don't know what they teach, but, I doubt that children going to school today know about the war and the Depression.
SH: Your son served in Vietnam. What did you think of the Vietnam War at the time and what is your opinion now?
AJ: Initially, I thought … it was gonna be … an action like Korea. You don't want the Communist taking over here, and I thought, "Okay, you know, that's valid," but, as the war went on, I felt that it was a losing proposition, and … I think that they should have gotten out before they did. They should have, somehow or other, said, "Look, you know, we will call this thing off."
SH: Your son went to Vietnam.
AJ: Yeah, my son was in the Air Force and he was a Vietnamese linguist. He had gone to school, … learned the Vietnamese language, and he was in the Air Force, and they flew up and down the coast, and he would be intercepting all of the Vietnamese transmissions.
SH: Is there anything that we forgot to ask?
AJ: Well, I don't know of anything that you've forgotten to ask. I think that it was extremely important to cover this point of, you know, "How do I feel about this?" and I do, like I say, I think that I am a member of the Greatest Generation, and I hope that the young children understand that, but, I don't think they do. I am glad I went to Rutgers. I am not one like Kindre and some of these others, who are really tightly associated with it and tend to give big amounts and so forth. I felt like I earned my way through, I worked my way through, … nobody gave me anything when I went through there. Yeah, I have contributed to Rutgers, but, not by any huge amounts. I'm glad I went there, I'm proud of it, and I don't know what else to say about it. I think they ought to put the football team back in the New England League, in something where they can play Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut.
SH: Especially after yesterday's score.
AJ: … I think they're out of their league.
SH: Did your brother serve in the military?
AJ: No, my brother did not serve. … At the time of Pearl Harbor, my brother was a police officer, married, and had two children, so, … he didn't want to go. He didn't go.
SH: Thank you very much.
SI: Thank you.
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Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 3/11/02
Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 3/16/02
Reviewed by Arthur Jiannine 8/02