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Holdorf, John A.

 

Shaun Illingworth:  This begins an interview with Mr. John A. Holdorf on June 22, 2007, in Mountainside, New Jersey, with Shaun Illingworth ...

Matthew Lawrence:  ... and Matt Lawrence. 

SI:  Mr. Holdorf, thank you very much for agreeing to this interview. 

John A. Holdorf:  Very glad to do it. 

SI:  You live in Florida, but you have come up to New Jersey for a high school graduation. 

JH:  Yes.  Well, I lived in Jersey all my life, and we just went to Florida about ten years ago. 

SI:  To begin, could you tell us where and when you were born?

JH:  Yes, Elizabeth, New Jersey, on February 15, 1927, and it was on First Street, ... Elizabeth, at that time.  That was one block off of the piers and I was born into an Italian immigrant family.  My grandfather, grandmother, two uncles and two aunts were all born in Italy and my mother was the first one born here, so, I'm the first generation, and, on my father's side, they were German and, again, first generation.  My parents were the first generations here.  I was raised by my Italian grandparents until I was about six, so, [I was] very influenced that way.  ... I appreciate it, because I can see, nowadays, the difference in America when the immigrants are not assimilated as much as they used to be.  There was no thought about them being Italian.  It was all, "How can they get into the flow of things?"  A little different today, but you fellows have to live with that, [laughter] I don't, and we moved, maybe, six or seven times in Elizabeth.  We never owned a house.  In fact, nobody in my family, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, four or five cousins, ever went to school, to college.  I was the first one in the group to go to college, and that was because of the GI Bill.  Otherwise, I wouldn't have been on the path I am on.  So, that's my growing up years and, eventually, [I] went to Thomas Jefferson High School, which was an all-boys school, and, of course, it was during wartime.  So, most of my friends took off for the war, even before they graduated, but I stuck it out to the bitter end, [laughter] and then, the Army took me.  ... My remembrance of that is the long, heavy overcoats, [laughter] and standing in big fields and waiting around, and it's interesting how little things you do in your life help you out and you never realize it.  I took up typing in high school, which was quite strange, because it was an all-boys school and typing was the thing you did, and, yet, when I went into the Army, that's the one thing that separated me from most of the other fellows, who didn't.  ... I became a company clerk and, at that time, when the officers were rotating in and out daily, it became ... a spot where I was my own company, so-to-speak, because we [were] just discharging people, in fact, so much so that I promoted myself.  [laughter] ... It was that kind of crazy time, when things were straightening out, and, after that, I was taking ... correspondence courses, because I was always interested in education.  For some strange reason, I'm not oriented to any one thing, but I like to study everything, "master of none," so-to-speak.  [laughter]

SI:  At Thomas Jefferson, had you been in a college course or a practical/business course?

JH:  I think, at that time, it was just a course.  I think everybody took just about the same thing.  This is long ago, you know.  It's not like today, where you major in something, and, it was wartime, when nothing mattered that much to people in their future life, you know.  They were looking [to] today only, you know, and, let's see, where else do we go from there? ...

SI:  Can we ask you a few questions about the Great Depression era ...

JH:  Oh, sure, sure. 

SI:  ... and what you remember about that?

JH:  Oh, yes.   

SI:  Was that why your family moved around a lot?

JH:  Yes and no.  We always rented, obviously, so, they just kept moving.  I was in the Depression area and, at the time, the things that happened to me, I thought, were normal.  It's hard to talk about them sometimes, but the one thing I remember is a Christmas when my dad went out and, somehow, got enough money to get one toy, a truck, and that's the one Christmas I always remember.  All the other Christmases, I got so many things, but it didn't mean anything.  That was the one big thing, and, yes, [the] Depression was tough, you know.  ... We had a celebration yesterday for my grandson graduating and the amount of food was amazing.  ... It's just hard to believe.  People my age; well, I'm quivering and shaking, because I never stopped to think about these things, you know, and, when I do, it really affects me.  So, you have to edit that out.  [laughter]

SI:  Okay.  Do you want to take a minute?

JH:  No, I'm okay, yes. 

SI:  What did your family think of FDR and his policies?

JH:  They weren't into; well, my mother was into politics.  My father wasn't.  He was a happy-go-lucky fellow, didn't care.  ... My grandparents, on both sides, were neutral, you know.  They had no big thoughts about FDR and getting off the gold standard or something like that.  None of that mattered, [only] getting a place to live and getting food on the table and his job.  I remember, my uncles used to go around in the streets, trying to get jobs, and they joined the CCC camps and all those things, you know.  [Editor's Note: CCC stood for Civilian Conservation Corps, an agency of Roosevelt's New Deal which employed people in outdoor conservation projects.] So, that was a part of our life, but, whether it was FDR or a Democrat or Republican, I was a youngster then, but I never heard of them being interested, except my mother, who was a staunch Republican.  She used to work for the voting areas and things of that nature. 

SI:  She was a poll watcher. 

JH:  Yes, poll watcher, and so, that's about [it].  Politics weren't a big thing in the '20s, '30s and early '40s, with the family.  I guess with somebody it must have been, but not with my immediate family. 

SI:  Did your uncles who were in the CCC ever tell you about their experiences?

JH:  Yes, yes, [laughter] they used to relate them.  Uncle Albert, he was born in Italy, the one job he had was, that I remember, was [working in] a CCC camp and he never married, went through his whole life unmarried, but he married his landlady.  [laughter] I think that was more efficient for him than anything else, and he used to talk about the CCC camp, where they would go out and work, and how he was glad, because they took care of him.  They clothed him and fed him.  They gave him a job and I guess that was all some people wanted at that time, you know.  I can't conceive of putting that era into the present time.  It just wouldn't work at all, you know.  There's no comparison, so, most of the things I've seen and felt and done have no relationship to today, none.  They're ... [from a] by-gone era that is really by and gone, you know. 

SI:  That is why we think it is important to record these memories in the interviews. 

JH:  Yes. 

SI:  You have seen things that we cannot really fathom, because it is so different today. 

JH:  Sure, no.  I can't now either, you know, looking back.  Clothes were no big deal.  We used to go to a special little shoe store, Ike somebody, on First Street, Elizabeth, and we used to bargain for our shoes, you know, "How much is this?" "Oh, that's too much." [laughter] You know, it's things like that, and I remember that as a child, but, nowadays, can you imagine going to a shoe store and saying, "Will you take ten dollars instead of twelve?" you know.  [laughter] ... So, when you ask me about things in the past, it just doesn't take root in today's concepts, how we approach people, how we think about them, how we feel about them, none of that.  Of course, at that time, we all lived very close together.  I was on the third floor of a tenement house; not a tenement house, it was a house, with, like ...

SI:  A three-family house. 

JH:  Yes.  "Tenements" gives you a connotation of something strange, but it wasn't, and all the families, no matter who they were, Polish, Italian, Irish, it doesn't matter, they were like one people in that house, in that block, you know.  Nowadays, ... my neighbors are far apart, you know, and I don't know them very well.  So, again, the times we went through were so different that it's hard to explain it. 

SI:  I have interviewed a couple of people who went to Thomas Jefferson. 

JH:  Yes. 

SI:  What was that like?

JH:  Oh, that was great, but it had to be.  [laughter] That was it.  It was the all-boys school and two of my very, best friends came out of that, and, today, they're still my best friends, Clem McKeon and Art Moritz, and they both joined the Marines right away.  ... We lost track a little bit after that, but, then, we keep going [to reunions].  Now, we have Thomas Jefferson reunions, fortieth, fiftieth, [laughter] gone up, you know, and we try to go to those.  ... I see Clem quite a bit, because he's in Colorado, but he comes into Tampa, Florida, a lot, because his one son is a big lawyer there, and, every once in a while, I go over and see him then.  ... Now, with the new things, like the Internet and email, [laughter] you can keep in touch, but it's not like saying, "Hello," and seeing the guy.  It's just on the page.  So, the guys were very close at that time, but it was a bunch of guys that, you know, [would] hustle and bustle and bump into each other and it wasn't a love relationship.  It was just a, "Hey, you're part of the gang," and move on.  Again, today, at the celebration for my grandson graduating high school, I couldn't even imagine it, you know.  There were some two hundred-and-fifty graduates and maybe five, six hundred parents.  When I graduated, there was nobody, because we all were into the service, were gone, and they gave us our certificates.  I don't know how they got them to us.  They mailed them to us, I guess. 

SI:  There was not a ceremony. 

JH:  No, no ceremonies, or anything like that, and, yet, today, [laughter] it's such a big difference.  So, again, I reiterate, the difference between our lives then and today, ... I can't even explain the differences, because there's no living them, you know.  It's just a vast, vast difference. 

SI:  When you were starting out in high school, or in the late 1930s and early 1940s, did you know about what was happening overseas?

JH:  Yes.  Oh, sure, we lived that coming war, yes, the rations and everything else. 

SI:  Before Pearl Harbor, before the United States became involved. 

JH:  Oh, yes, it was a quiet life, nothing special.  You had the gangs in the street, the boys and the girls, but they weren't gangs like there are gangs today.  You know, you used to play in the streets and play in the parks and lots, and you grew up with nice people, somehow, but, if you say, "Gang," today, [laughter] it has a different meaning, and I can't even think of any groups of kids going out to play like we used to.  Obviously, the big change, I'm sure everybody has told you, is that television keeps most of the kids in.  [We] never had it.  In fact, we didn't have television until it was pretty well established everywhere else.  [laughter] ... So, we used to play, you know, in the streets, baseball and stickball and Johnny-jump-the-white-horse, and that was years of youth growing up that way, and there was no gangs.  "We're going to fight your gang;" [laughter] there was none of that.  ...

SI:  Was the block a melting pot or was it all one group?

JH:  Yes, yes.  Of course, on the street, you would have twenty, thirty houses and one block over would be another twenty, thirty, and there'd be a gang, a bunch of kids, and we'd get together and we'd play one game, or somebody else would be playing another, or we'd go down to the park, and you were out in the street, all the time. In fact, very little [time] in the house. 

SI:  Did you work at all before the war, maybe in high school?

JH:  I worked, when I was about ten years old, down in Elizabeth.  I used to carry grocery bags to different places.  My grandfather knew somebody with a grocery store and he had me get a job carrying groceries. [laughter] So, I think I worked all my life, ... but I thought nothing of it.  That's what you do, you know, and I always worked, yes, and, when I grew up, [or was] a little older, I used to deliver beer on a bike, for a grocery store, and I don't know, I think we all thought of working not as work so much as part of what you do, part of life. It's fun, you know, enjoyable.  Of course, nowadays, I look at even my grandsons and they have to be pushed into getting something to do, you know, but, like I say, when you interview us, and we're the older, much older, generation, you just can't relate, you know.  I don't know what to say to you.  This is a different world. 

SI:  You are telling us about your experiences and that is what we want. 

JH:  Yes, yes, that's about all I could, yes. 

SI:  Do you remember where you were when you heard about Pearl Harbor being attacked?

JH:  Yes.  I was at my Aunt Dot's house, with my four cousins and the family, Father, Mother, and they heard about it and they had a TV then and we saw it on TV. 

SI:  Was it a TV or a radio?

JH:  I don't know.  The picture's faint, but I thought it was TV, but it ... must have been radio, or something.  I don't know what it was, but we heard about it as a family and my cousins were all older than I was, so, they immediately went into service.  One was a SeaBee [a member of a US Navy Construction Battalion (CB)], one was in the Army, one was in the Air Force, and the other was in the Army, too, yes.  So, it wasn't any thought about it.  ... The family said, "Okay, good-bye," you know, "good luck." ... Of course, I didn't have to go right away, so, I joined the Naval Reserve.  We shipped out of Elizabeth and I was the helmsman on a LST.  We used to go up to Maine and down again, and things like that.  [Editor's Note: LST stands for "landing ship, tank," an amphibious ship that carried vehicles, cargo and troops directly ashore.]

SI:  How did you get involved with the Naval Reserve?

JH:  I don't know.  I think some of the kids in school were doing it and, of course, the age, at that time, was [not a factor].  You know, there's a war going on, you know, fifteen is good enough, you know, to do these things.  So, we did, and I did that while I was in school.  So, by the time I graduated, I could go into service. 

SI:  It was more like ...

JH:  Marking time. 

SI:  ... an ROTC [Reserve Officer Training Corps] program. 

JH:  Yes, yes, something ... just like ROTC, and then, I went into service, nothing spectacular or unusual during that time, because the war was winding down, [had] winded down in Europe and was only [against] Japan, and instead of training us, to send us to Japan, they kept me around to discharge people coming over, or sending them somewhere else, things of that nature.  So, like I say, that was a great step in my life, because it gave me the ability to go to Rutgers, ...  while I was stationed at Fort Dix.  This is where it happened, I used to go to Rutgers and try to take correspondence courses, and I did it through the Army, too.  But, when I got out, I didn't go right into school.  I went to work again, General Adeline, Linden, New Jersey, and I was always interested in chemistry, so, I geared myself towards that.  Then, I did go to Rutgers, under the GI Bill, and, again, you have to remember that we weren't what you would call an affluent family.  Today, of course, everybody helps their kids go to college, there's no doubt about it, you know.  "Here's a car." ... [laughter] Of course, I had none of that, but my dad loaned me his car, an old Packard, and I'd go back and forth to Rutgers for the first year, or so, and then, I joined the ROTC, mainly because they paid me, too, and then, I could afford to stay down there.  So, I stayed off of Easton Street [Avenue], in a place with four other kids, and it was a very good time, because the veterans were a little different, you know.  [laughter] We were two or three years older than the ordinary college students and they actually formed into Rutgers groups, the veterans did, different than the freshmen, because of the age difference and everything else different.  ... I met a lot of good friends there and, unfortunately, I'm the type that never kept in touch with friends, you know, but I see their names now and then, because they're pretty important to Rutgers. They run the reunions and they're all pretty well-established lawyers and scientists.  I recognize the names.  I was always interested in general things, nothing specific.  I didn't want to be a lawyer or a scientist or an engineer.  So, eventually, actually, I've got ... two degrees in Rutgers, the library science master's degree, and I've got a general education masters out of Kean, and the general business degree in Rutgers.  So, I just kept taking courses and, even after that, I'd take courses, single courses.  I was just interested in a lot of different things, nothing special, and, well, then, I went into the Army.  Let's see, from Rutgers, the ROTC ...

SI:  Yes, you were in the ROTC. 

JH:  Yes.  Anything else about Rutgers?

ML:  What did you do for fun at Rutgers? Did you go to the sporting events?

JH:  Sort of, yes, of course, we all went to one or two, you know, a football game, a basketball game.  But, actually, fun was just with the guys, going around doing things, and my fun was [limited].  I had to concentrate on my courses, because I'm not that smart, [laughter] that I could just take a course and breeze it by.  I had to really, really study, because I just wasn't as astute or as smart as the average Rutgers student, so, most of my time was spent in buckling down, because I just had to.  I had no safety net, so, I did it.  But fun, I don't know, Rutgers was just fun, but I don't know why.  It wasn't particularly sports, just the people. 

ML:  Was there a favorite restaurant you went to?

JH:  Yes.  Oh, I forget the name of it, right on the corner of Easton.  It's probably still there, right on the corner.  In fact, I went out with the waitress there and, yes, there was one restaurant I went to.  

SI:  Was it Thode's?

JH:  I don't remember now.  I remember the place; I can see the place, but names escape me.  In fact, even her name escapes me.  [laughter] I was never good in retaining names of friends, but it didn't worry me.  I went on. Yes, Rutgers was a wonderful time, but I don't know specifically why.  It's just the people I interacted with.  I met a couple of good freshmen and their parents had a place down the shore.  So, that was a great thing, and I remember, yes, something happened there that may explain the difference between our generations.  I went down with them to their seashore [home], one time, and there were about, I don't know, ten kids in the house.  ... I got up first and went down [to] the store and got some buns and pastries for the breakfast and I brought them back.  ... The father was so shocked that somebody did that.  [laughter] He came over and shook my hand, and it seems strange, you know.  That was all I could think of, "Well, of course, you do that," you know, but none of the other kids would even think of it, you know.  They'd just sit down at the table and [say], "Where's my stuff?" and I think that explains [the difference between the] generations, which isn't bad or good, just explains it, yes. 

SI:  What do you remember about your ROTC training at Rutgers?

JH:  Not much.  It was pretty standard, you know, do this, do that, and read.  What did I learn? I guess I always had discipline and I picked it up.  The only thing I got out of it was being called up.  [laughter] But it was interesting, because, when they did call me up, they sent me to officers' training down in Georgia and I went through that, and that was pretty difficult.  ...

SI:  Fort Benning?

JH:  Fort Benning, yes.  Again, something happened there that I remember, these little things, you know, yes. 

SI:  Yes, please share. 

JH:  Some of the officers that were in training with me got me on the side one day and said, "We have to tell you, we don't agree with what you're doing." He says, "You're much too friendly with the cadre.  You're much too in with them.  You've got to be more aloof," and I told them, in very kind words, "to get lost," that I had been in the service as a PFC [private first class], I knew the way they felt, and they can lead their way and I'll lead my way.  I said, "I want the people that I'm with to like me for myself, not because I'm an officer, where I can scare them into doing something," and they didn't take too kindly to that, but I wasn't going to see them again anyway.  [laughter] ... Those are the little things that stand out and how different people approach ... the same thing, you know.  So, you can lead with an iron fist or a velvet glove; I chose the latter. 

SI:  Was that part of your motivation for going to officers' training, that you had been an enlisted man in 1945 and 1946?

JH:  No, I went to officers' training because they sent me. 

SI:  I meant at Rutgers. 

JH:  Oh, at Rutgers I went, actually, purely for the money.  I needed the money.  ... Like I say, my folks were great, but they weren't well-off, you know.  So, I went in for the money, never thinking about [the future].  I didn't think about the Korean War at that time, yes. 

SI:  You did not expect that you would be in the service again. 

JH:  No, no.  Well, I didn't think so, you know, I didn't know what was going to happen.  Like in most of my life, I don't know what happens until it happens, [laughter] you know, and then, you do what you want to do at that point.  So, I went into service and I went home, of course, for a while, and they called me in.  ... I got together with one fellow and we drove my mother's old car cross-country to DC; no, not DC, Los Angeles, I think it was. 

SI:  Really?

JH:  Yes, and, when we got there, we both checked in.  ... I had made a couple of stops with friends that I had met at Rutgers, because we went on boat trips to Europe and things like that and I met a lot of nice people.  Rutgers was a good time, you know, and we stopped along the way.  ... When we got there, then, we split up and, at that time, they needed officers badly, so, they flew me over to Korea, instead of boating me, and you want me to go on with what happened then, or do you have special questions?

SI:  You mentioned boat trips to Europe with Rutgers men.  What was that about?

JH:  ... During the summer, yes, they had cruises that go to Europe. 

SI:  While you were at college. 

JH:  While I was at college, yes, and I went on one of those and I met a lot of different people from different places.  It wasn't just Rutgers; it was a lot of college kids, went on the same boat, Volumdam

SI:  Where in Europe did you go?

JH:  Just about everywhere, with a bunch of kids, you know.  We drove around, you know, Germany, Belgium, Holland, France, Italy, Switzerland.  Yes, it was quite a trip.  It got me involved with liking to travel, which, in my later years, is about all I did.  So, yes, a lot of little things; well, they don't fall into place easily.  [laughter] You keep thinking about things that happened and where they came from.  ... When I landed in Korea, it was at night and, I remember, they issued us weapons and they put some of us on a train.  ... Overnight, we drove up to the front lines, and this is a kid from Elizabeth, New Jersey, the streets, you know? [laughter] I don't know what's going on and, here, I'm supposed to be an officer, in charge of men's lives.  So, like I say, you do what you have to do and, just lucky enough, I could do it. 

SI:  Were you attached to a unit as you were headed up to the front?

JH:  No, no, I [was] just a replacement, ... but the replacement [assignment] was on the front lines, Easy Company, Third Platoon leader, and there weren't that many officers in the company.  ... They were in battle for a long time. ... There was another turning point there, that I always remember, and that's my Third Platoon sergeant, was a tall African-American, and I knew, from my past, that he's the guy I want to get on the good side [of], never mind the company commander or the other guys, you know.  [laughter] So, I kept pretty close to him.  ... I don't know [if] it was fortunate or unfortunate, but, immediately after, I went on patrol with him and we had a little firefight.  ... When we came back, he said, "I was never so proud of an officer," and shook my hand.  The poor guy died in Pork Chop Hill.  ... Then, normal events happened, fighting here, fighting there, not fighting, you know.  But I stayed on the front lines so long that, I didn't have much time in there, not like years, you know, I had my points so fast that I was pulled out after a year.  Well, a year, you know, a year of fighting, [laughter] ... I suppose it's a lot of fighting, and to explain battle is very difficult, because it depends on the person himself, you know.  You see pictures and movies and things, but there's no explaining it.  You can't imagine, the pitch black of night, with nothing, no lights, and you're in there and you know that somebody's trying to kill you and you're hoping that the guys with you are alert and ready, too.  As an officer, I just made sure that all their weapons were working, that they were alert, and at least one guy was awake, and went through it.  That's what happened.  I earned some ribbons because of it, but it was the men who did the work, did the fighting and dying.  ... The way I felt and the way I grew up stood me in good stead, because I could concentrate on what was happening and I could focus, and delete all the things that might happen or do happen, and realize that I had to do certain things, because the men were expecting it of me, as an officer, and it's not easy, you know.  You have to pick men to go on patrols and go out and endanger their lives a little more than they normally would, and I gained the approval of the men, so that when I asked them to do something, they knew it was in their best interest and they went and did it.  ... When I speak of them, a thousand-and-one things flash before your mind, you know, some of which are personal and quiet.  ... In the passing of time, I became company commander, because some of the officers didn't quite make it, or something like that, and went to the normal battles and received a commendation, but, like I say, they were earned by the men.  ... In due time, they said, "Okay, Holdorf, you've had too much time in the line.  Get in the back." "In the back" was about two football fields away.  [laughter] I was [then placed] in charge of the heavy mortar company, and that's when they had the major battle of Pork Chop Hill.  ... Thinking about it, that was one thing I regret, that they pulled me out as company commander at that particular time, because I think I could have helped a lot more than they did, than the one who took over did.  No disrespect, but there were a couple of things that should have been done that could have saved many lives.  [We] lost, let's see, we had 146 men; I think we come out with about forty.  That's a lot of boys, or men, whatever. 

SI:  Do you remember some of the things that you thought should have been done?

JH:  Yes.  Very specifically, they should have checked the weapons, because a lot of the men that were with us were (Catuses?), Korean fill-ins, and their weapons were always dirty and never fired.  Oh, they'd go out in the front, and they'd get attacked, and they can't fire their weapons.  They're dead, not only them, but the poor GI that's with them, and they take off and run and they get shot in the back, instead of standing and fighting, like you have to do.  So, I tried to instill that in them, that they're not going to live if they run.  It's a case of, "You're a soldier, you're fighting.  Nobody loves you there, you know.  You and your weapon are the one thing that can save you," and that was a big thing.  [If] the weapons don't fire, you're done for, not only you, but a lot of other people, and it shouldn't have [happened].  Well, I can think of a thousand things I wouldn't have done; yes, not send out patrols in twos and threes, when it's imminent that you're going to be attacked.  [When] they tell you they're going to attack in the next couple of days, you don't send out two or three guys in groups, ... ten to twelve guys in small groups, out in front, when you know they're going to be hit by hundreds and hundreds.  What you do is reinforce your line and wait, or you can send somebody out in the middle, just one, and tell him, "Bug out real quick when you see or hear something." They didn't do that and a lot of the men were lost in the initial attack, but that happened a lot of times, poor commanding.  ... Actually, if it must be known, I think there was a lot of poor commanding up and down the line, all the way back, but we're people, you know.  You can't expect demigods, you know.  We're just human, but, when you look back, you [think], "Oh, I wish this had happened; I wish that hadn't." Of course, it didn't, so, that's in the past, yes. 

SI:  Do you think these leadership problems were higher up than the junior officer level, or was it widespread?

JH:  Like today, it's from the top down, way top down, [laughter] you know, misjudging, not looking forward enough, but that happens.  Like I say, we're people, we're not machines, ... computer machines you plug in.  So, you fight and you die with people, and we did very well.  Those young boys were really good. 

SI:  Was there a reason why you were transferred from the infantry company to the mortar platoon?

JH:  Yes, I had too many ...

SI:  Oh, your points. 

JH:  They gave you points on [the] line.  Every time you're in combat or on line, you get points.  So, at that time, they said I had too much, to come back.  ... I don't know, you might as well know, I was company commander, but, then, some West Pointers would come up and I'd be removed to an XO [executive officer position] and they would take over, for a couple of days, and they would go back, just for their record, [laughter] and then, back and forth.  [When] that happens a couple of times, you wonder, "Well, the Army is really just a social institution for [some] people, but, by God, [if] you're dying, you bleed, it's a little different, you know.  Then, you take a different view of this." So, I wasn't all that happy.  I didn't ever stay ... in the Army.  I should have, but I didn't, because anybody who stayed in for twenty years had it made.  Actually, I've got seventeen years in the Army, and the Reserves and all the other things.  I just couldn't make the other three.  I didn't want to.  It didn't matter.  So, I get another fifty dollars a month; eh, you know, it didn't mean that much.  Suddenly, you decide what's important to you, and it's not money. 

SI:  Going back to when you first went up to the line, you were basically assigned to a unit that was already in the line. 

JH:  Yes. 

SI:  Okay.  How much time did you have with the unit before you were in your first combat engagement? Did you have any time to get to know them?

JH:  About three or four days. 

SI:  Okay. 

JH:  That's why I say, the first thing I did was get together with the sergeant.  In three or four days, I probably hit my biggest [award].  ... [Editor's Note: Mr. Holdorf goes through his papers to retrieve a citation.] That's when I got the biggest award, and that was a matter of days.  That's the Silver Star.  The Bronze Star is different and the Purple Heart was a different time.  ...

SI:  Can we read this on the record?

JH:  Well, no, not really. 

SI:  Okay. 

JH:  It doesn't mean anything, except we had a firefight. 

SI:  You got up to the line and ...

JH:  I'll give you this and, if you want to put it in, okay, but you've got to remember, it's the men that did the work. 

SI:  Can you describe that engagement?

JH:  Yes.  I was told to take a group of men, two squads, with my sergeant, and clear out the land between the main line of resistance and the outpost that we had stuck out there.  ... They had a half a company out there, and so, I was clearing it out, making sure nobody was in behind them and stuff like that.  All of a sudden, all hell broke loose, shelling and screaming and yelling.  ... This is all pitch black, mind you.  You can't see anything much, you know, except [in] the moonlight or whatever, and, suddenly, the entire group from the hill, from the outpost, came charging down, running back to the main line.  ... Obviously, I was right there and I told them [to halt].  I made them stop.  I introduced myself as an officer and [said], "We're going back up there," and the guys were all quaking and shivering, "No, no, you can't go back there." So, I told my sergeant, I said, "You watch my back.  Anybody decides they want to be leader and take me out, [laughter] you take care of me, but I'm taking these men back." So, I forced them all back up the hill and, lucky enough, the Chinese were just as disorganized and unhappy as we were, and so, after one firefight, we managed to push them back off and we kept the hill.  ... Then, I stayed there for two days, while everything got organized, and then, the battalion commander came up and relieved us and said, "Good job," you know, but, in-between, there's a lot of [incidents], but that's what I mean.  You have to get somebody that really will stick up for you and watch your back.  The front, you can take care of yourself, but your back; of course, those guys are crazy, coming off the hill, and I'm the only one stopping them, pushing them back. Who knows? In fact, I knew it was [dangerous], but, when they heard me tell the sergeant, [watch my back], of course, a lot of little things happened, like, I had to fire my rifle, to prove the point and stuff like that. 

SI:  Fire it in the air. 

JH:  In the ground, yes, yes.  I said, "You're next if you don't turn around."

SI:  Were you surprised by that situation?

JH:  I don't know.  It just happened.  That's what I mean; it depends on the person.  If it was another officer, I don't know what they would have done.  I have no idea.  It just occurred to me that, "We can't do this, because, tomorrow, we have to go up in the light, and that's worse.  [laughter] ... I don't want to do that," but, I mean, those [situations] are just like that, you know.  You don't think, or maybe I did think, I don't know; maybe it was Rutgers.  [laughter]

SI:  Was that the kind of combat you were facing for most of the time?

JH:  Yes, most of the time, yes, taking out patrols, manning the front line, fighting off attacks, yes, a lot of that stuff. Of course, a lot of strange things happened that you remember.  You feel sorry.  I made mistakes; well, not so much mistakes.  I remember one.  There was a young man, ... I called him in, I said, "They want you to go home now.  You've had enough time on line." He says, "I don't want to go.  I want to stay here." I said, "You're crazy. [laughter] ... Who wants to stay in battle? Nobody does." ... He says, "No, I want to stay.  I'm not going back.  I insist on staying." So, I called back to battalion.  I said, "He just doesn't want to go." I can't force him.  Well, I can, but they said, "Well, let him stay for another couple of weeks until he gets his fill." He didn't want to go back because, when he was in California, he got a girl pregnant, and he was just a young kid, you know, nineteen, and he didn't want to go back and face it.  So, okay, I made the wrong decision, told him to stay.  Of course, you know what happens after that; a sniper got him through the mouth, in about a week.  Now, I always lived with that.  ... Should I have insisted and dragged him down? ... I don't know, but I didn't, and ... those are a thousand little things like that [that] happened. 

SI:  What were the living conditions like, at that point?

JH:  [laughter] You live in the ground, in hutches, you know, sandbag, little castles, and that's it, live in the ground. You have a kitchen in the back slope, usually, ... but, a lot of times, [with] the shelling, you know, you don't [know] where a shell's going to hit.  It could hit there, it could hit anywhere, so, you're living [with constant danger].  You don't think about it after a while, because it's what happens, but any time a shell comes in, who knows? There's just no [telling].  You just go through it, day-by-day, yes. 

SI:  Were you shelled often?

JH:  Yes, constantly, because why should they not? and we'd shell them back again.  In fact, the one thing that really helped us was artillery, and the forward observer officer was always with you, as commander, to bring in ... your artillery.  I remember, the one time, I told him, "Shoot everything you got and bring more up.  You're not going to take it home." [laughter] ...  But that really stopped them a lot, because you can't imagine hordes of men coming at you, hordes of them, you know.  They just had no respect for their individual lives, none.  They pile up the dead Chinese like the proverbial cordwood, you know, and you wonder, "What the heck are they thinking?" you know. We would have a lot of attacks where they wouldn't even have weapons.  They'd wait until somebody got killed and pick up their weapon and run forward.  It's unimaginable that [they would do that], ... but the good relationship is to today, in Iraq.  Can you imagine these people strapping themselves with bombs and killing themselves and others? You can't.  It's a whole society that's so different.  These people [Communist forces in Korea] just charge a gun and get killed; people in Iraq just blow themselves and everybody else, up.  It's not...  How can you relate to that? You can't, you just can't.  It doesn't make sense to your physique, your mind.  You can't get around it. You're living with that today.  Okay, I lived with it in the past.  Well, I'm living with it today, too, [laughter] but not as bad, because what are you fellows going to do? I mean, you're sitting here, talking to me, but suppose these people over there, these crazy radicals, start really taking us out?  What are you going to do? I don't know.  You might have to pick up a gun and do the same thing I did. 

SI:  In any briefings before you went up to the line, did anybody prepare you for the fact that that was the Chinese tactic, these mass assaults?

JH:  My briefing was, "Here's your gun.  Here's the train.  Go on up." Oh, in school, we learned, you know, "They attack in waves." What does that mean, you know? [laughter] Suppose they told you, "Twenty Muslims are going to attack you." [laughter] "Oh, all right, we'll see what happens," and that's what we did. 

ML:  Was there a similar cultural barrier between you and the [South] Korean soldiers that you fought with?

JH:  Yes and no.  They were there because they had to be.  Their government made them, and we took them because we needed them, but they weren't the best of fighters, you know.  They were scared, young kids.  They had no training, probably.  They could carry stuff, but fight? Gave them a gun and, ... like I mentioned, [when] they don't keep their weapons clean, they hurt you and themselves, yes.  So, it wasn't like they were a fighting force you could depend on.  Now, the Turks were different, the Columbians were different; they were a fighting force.  They always tell you a lot of stories about the Turks, who used to cut the barbed wire so [that] they [the enemy] can come in, [laughter] but they were professional soldiers, you know.  Of course, we were kids.  From the streets of Elizabeth, you know, what do I know? but I got through it. 

SI:  How much movement was there? Did you pretty much stay in the same area or were you moved around?

JH:  We moved around a bit.  We'd stay in a place for a week, maybe two, and then, we moved to [a rear area]. We'd rotate, but, like I say, when you rotated, you're talking about a couple of football fields and we're ready to go up again and we'd move to another place, entirely different, after a while, yes.  I moved three or four times, five times.  Then, they'd take you out for special training, if they were going to make a special attack.  That's where our senior officers weren't; well, nothing.  What can you say?  

SI:  You did not think much of the special training. 

JH:  No.  Of course, it wasn't ... anything special.  They say, "This is a similar hill [to the hill] that you're going to take and this is what you do," but [it would be] nothing like the hill.  [laughter] The Chinese were really tough fighters, the way we fought them, because they really dug in.  They had tunnels.  You could shell them all day long and nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing, happens.  Then, if you start after them, they pop up and there's nothing you could do.  It's the way they lived.  They lived in the ground, we lived on the ground, but the war went well for us, eventually. 

SI:  Was it very slow going when you would make these attacks? Would you have to take one position at a time?

JH:  Yes, yes.  None of them were that successful, but we had our [artillery].  Like I say, the artillery just wiped them out. 

SI:  When the human wave assaults would come in, would they ever get into your lines?

JH:  Oh, sure.  There's a lot of hand-to-hand fighting, but, by that time, we'd had what we called VT; the shells would explode above air and shower everything with shrapnel.  [Editor's Note: VT (variable time) were proximity fuses used in artillery shells.] So, if the commanding officer felt that, "Now is the time," that they had broken our lines and were crawling all over us, we'd shoot a flare up, so [that] all our men would be in, inside the hootches, and we'd call down for that, and then, shrapnel would cover everything, you know.  Anybody above ground would just be decimated.  So, we managed our own [sector], but, like I say, it's so foreign from [civilian] living.  [laughter] Living in New Jersey is nothing like that, but it passes and it goes by, ... for most of us. 

SI:  Did you feel that you were adequately supplied with ammunition and food?

JH:  Yes, it was, if they can get it to us, and that was difficult, but we had enough of everything, yes, flak jackets and so on.  The only thing we didn't have was hundreds and thousands of men.  [laughter] So, yes, we were adequately supplied; well, after a while.  I heard, you know, before I came, we didn't have the winter clothing we needed.  We weren't used to it, ready for it, and I heard that some of our men used to go and take the Chinese clothing, that were as adequate, and ... wear that, especially the boots, but no complaints about supplies.  ... They gave you the best that they could, but, like I say, that generation, we accepted what we had and worked with it, yes.  Nowadays, I guess, "I don't have ... the best flak jacket," you know.  [laughter] "Where is my best one?" and then, somebody would complain and say, "We'll supply it," and then, for thousands of dollars, they'll give it to you. It's a whole different world.  So, there are a couple of other things, but nothing exciting or new and different that you don't see in books and stories. 

SI:  We want to hear about your experiences. 

JH:  Yes, well, that was mainly [it].  Those are my main ones. 

ML:  Did you ever have downtime?

JH:  Yes.  I had an R&R in Japan.  They sent me for, I think it was a week.  They'd pull you off the line, send you back to Japan to rest.  ...

ML:  Did you get to travel a lot in Japan and see the sights?

JH:  In a week, a guy off the line? [laughter] No, we didn't.  We did what guys would do if you had a week off the line.  I'll leave it to your own imagination.  [laughter] I didn't visit the museums, or any other [sites], no.  I didn't know anybody who did.  ... Then, when I was ready to come home, they asked me if I would stay in Hawaii for two weeks, because they had some other people they wanted to send.  So, I spent two weeks in Hawaii before I came home and, when I came home, it wasn't any parades or anything like that.  It was very everyday.  In fact, when I landed in, I guess it was New York, my mother and my uncle came, got me, and that was it.  ... Another thing I'll always remember is, we used to get "52/20," twenty dollars a week for fifty-two weeks, to get acclimated and work, you know, and most of the guys would take the whole thing, because that was a lot of money then.  You could live on that.  You can buy a lot of gas, you know, thirty cents a gallon.  [laughter] You could run around. Beers were so cheap, so, most of the guys really took advantage of it.  I was home a little less than a week and my mother said, "Did you get hurt bad in Korea?" I said, "No, not too bad." [She] said, "Well, why aren't you working?" [laughter] ... That's our family, you know, "You've got to be hurt if you're not working." [laughter] So, I went out and got a job the first week.  Yes, again, that's different, you know.  A soldier comes home today, you leave him alone, you know, for as long as he wants to be, so, you see, the differences are so hard, you can't even explain them. 

SI:  Do you think that helped you, to go to work right away?

JH:  Oh, yes, oh, sure, yes.  I'm so used to it, you know, and that's what you did, get on with your life, yes. 

SI:  Did you have trouble after you came back, thinking about what you had been through?

JH:  Well, a little bit, but not so anybody had to notice or take care [of me], you know, and it drifted away, finally. Yes, of course, going through experiences like that, you're bound to have some leftover emotions.  ...

SI:  Nightmares, something like that?

JH:  Yes, some, once in a while, but they weren't bad, you know.  Again, maybe it's upbringing.  "Just get on with yourself.  Stop feeling so bad for yourself.  Others have it worse." ...

SI:  How long were you in the mortar unit?

JH:  Maybe a month or less.  It was just a position to put me in until they sent me home for good. 

ML:  Do you remember hearing about the ceasefire?

JH:  ... Oh, the ceasefire.  Yes, that came while I was in the mortar unit.  Yes, yes, they had the ceasefire, yes. 

ML:  Did you have any reaction to it? How did you feel?

JH:  No, we knew it was coming.  Yes, so, it's a case of time. 

SI:  Was the mortar unit involved in combat support actions?

JH:  Yes, they were, but they didn't need me, you know, because they were used to running themselves and the officers, at that time, would come and go, and come and go, sort of like it was nothing much, you know.  [laughter] It was a sitting position, but they worked.  They did their firefights. 

SI:  Were they providing support for the Pork Chop Hill operation?

JH:  Yes, yes. 

SI:  How far back were you during that operation? Could you see what was happening?

JH:  No, I was back, like I say, about ...

SI:  A couple of football fields. 

JH:  Three football fields, yes, approximately.  Well, you could hear it and see it, you know, and an occasional shell would come by, but nothing, and that was all.  I made a mistake as an officer.  We had the company off-line, resting and getting more replacements and things, and the guys didn't have socks.  They're all wet, and so, I got in my jeep with my clerk and we went around looking for socks and clothing and they found some.  ... I came back, but, when I came back, the battalion officer was there and he was mad, because I left my company.  I said, "But, there's an officer in charge." He says, "No, you're the commanding officer.  You should be here with your men." I said, "Yes, sir," [laughter] and gave out the socks.  ... I thought, "If I was a PFC and my feet were wet, I'd really be happy that somebody went and got socks," because nobody else would.  Who would have the ability to go out and get socks, except maybe the commanding officer? I mean, what am I going to do, call up and say, "Send me some socks?" [laughter] ... So, you do bad things, you do good things.  They thought it was bad, I thought it was good. But I always used my own intuition, as an officer, that it wouldn't hurt anybody, that I can think of. 

SI:  When you were on the line, did you think of yourself as being alone? Could you talk to other officers? Could you talk to the men?

JH:  Oh, you're living with them.  Yes, there were about four or five of us in the bunker.  [laughter] You're not alone, but you have certain jobs to do, that have to be done, that the men don't have to do.  They have to fight and die, and you have to fight and die and other things, yes, but that's why you became an officer.  That's why some officers were good and some weren't. 

SI:  You went out on that first patrol.  Would you usually go out on patrol or would you send out other soldiers?

JH:  No, ... I think that was about the second one I had out, yes, but, like I say, the thing that impressed me the most, in the whole war, was the darkness, no lights, which nobody can imagine, no electricity, no lights, ... none of that.  You walk out in the pitch black of night.  [laughter] What's going to happen? what you make happen. 

SI:  How was the weather when you were there?

JH:  Well, the first night I came up, the very first night, when the jeep took me up to the company, they said, "There's the Third Platoon.  Go over there," and the Third Platoon was busy with their own [thing].  I said, "Yes, sir." "And get a foxhole." I slept in the open, in the foxhole, in a sleeping bag.  It was the coldest night in my life.  If everybody back from Korea will say one thing, they'll remember the cold.  Wow, you just can't imagine, sleeping outside, in the cold of the black of a night, you know, plus worrying a little bit.  [laughter] But the cold is one thing that all the guys from Korea will tell you about, up in the hills, in the mountains, and, again, how can you relate that to anybody? You can't.  You lived through it, and the guys that are hearing me now that served over there will know what I'm talking about, but nobody else can even imagine.  I can just say the word "cold." [laughter]

SI:  Did you have to deal with problems like frostbite or trench foot?

JH:  Not too much at that time, because we were in a pretty stationary fight.  We'd go up there, and then, you'd come back, and then, up and back, but we weren't in a moving type of war, where, if your feet get cold and wet, you can't do anything about it, like at Chosin [Reservoir], when they made the retreat.  ... That was bad.  ... I belong to a Korean [Veterans'] unit down in Florida and I've been with it for ten years and I've been up and down, as commander, vice-commander, treasurer, everything, but I've always been involved with it.  ... I know one or two of them suffered from frostbite, but not too many.  ... [At] the beginning of the war, that was a big thing, but, [at] the end of the war, what I was at, it wasn't.  Dying was.   

SI:  How was the unit's morale during that period?

JH:  It's good if ... everybody likes each other.  There's no morale except what you feel for your fellow soldiers, and the morale has nothing to do with battalion or the division or ... anything like that.  It's the guys next to you and around you and with you, and it was always pretty good.  In our outfit, it was great.  In fact, I don't remember it being bad at all.  Though they didn't want to be there, if they had to be there the guy next to them was the guy they wanted to be with. 

SI:  There were never any personnel problems, any misfits. 

JH:  No.  I had a couple of personnel problems, but they were the kind that you had because they're guys.  They run away and go to some town close to them, just for companionship, you know.  [laughter] I had to go chase them, bring them back, but it's things you expect of a guy in a war.  No drinking, because we didn't have any stuff, you know, but they would run away after [women] and it would be some female sneaking up into the lines you'd have to chase away and things like that, but that's ... not a morale problem. 

SI:  Did anybody talk about the purpose of the war? Did anyone say if they thought the war was purposeful or pointless?

JH:  Yes.  Well, I didn't, but the guys never talked about it.  They were there.  They were there, yes, it wasn't a case of, "Am I doing right? I'd better leave for Canada."  [laughter] No, I knew it was necessary, because this was the place you had to make a stand, ... if you believe in democracy.  If you don't, then, it's a different story.  You know, what are you fighting for?  Yes, like the guys today, in Iraq, why are they there?  [Do] they think the war is good or bad?  They're there.  National Guard, especially, has a hard time with it.  The Marines are a little different, because they're what we think of as professional, in comparison to other units, and the reason we went to war is because, you know, I always thought, "America, may she always be right, but America right or wrong."  ... Like so many say, our leaders make a lot of mistakes, ... but we go along with them, because they're our leaders.  Who are we going to fight for, Chiang Kai-shek or somebody in Germany? No, we fight for our leaders, whether they're wrong or right, and because we have to.  It's the way we got stuck.  Diplomacy doesn't always work.  In fact, diplomacy is just another way for your enemies to get a toehold on you.  Sometimes, you just have to take a stand. I'm worried about the war in the [Middle] East now, because ... I just can't conceive of those people.  I can't conceive we're fighting them.  How do you fight them? So, my war was easy.  World War II was easy, in comparison.  We lost a lot more men in Korea than we ever did in here, [Iraq].  We're talking, [over] three, four years, fifty-eight thousand.  Now, we're talking thirty-five hundred and we're putting the names and pictures in the paper.  [laughter] Imagine putting fifty-eight thousand names and pictures in the paper.  Nobody thought of it or would consider it, ... and, yet, those are thirty-five hundred important Americans, you know, but the media is so different today than it ever was.  Oh, the media fights the wars, and they lose them for us, but that's a semi-conservative opinion, you know.  I'm sure most of the faculty members in all the colleges will have a much different opinion.  [laughter]

SI:  When you were on the line, did you ever have any press people with you?

JH:  No. 

SI:  Nobody came up. 

JH:  No.  [laughter] Nobody wants to go on [the line].  No, we didn't have anybody. 

SI:  Were you able to get news or any kind of information?

JH:  Oh, sure.  The battalion would give us all the news we wanted and we'd know what was going on along the lines around us, and that was the important thing, you know.  We didn't care about the weather in New York, just, "What's on the left? What's on the right? What are they doing? Are they going to attack?" [laughter]

SI:  Do you think you had good intelligence, usually?

JH:  Better than we have today, yes, better than we have today, but did we use it? That's another story.  That's a historian's job, and maybe they're not even interested.  For instance, if we knew an attack was coming within a couple of days, did we do anything about it?  No, the word didn't get around.  Most of the people on Pork Chop Hill didn't know an attack was coming and, yet, we, you know, the officers knew, or they had word that it was coming in a few days.  ... They sent the information up and down the line, but it didn't get up and down the line, and that's when you get a lot of surprises.  ... So, the information was okay, but spreading it, communications wasn't, because as soon as an attack comes in, your hand radios are out.  The wires break, you know, just can't keep them [working].  A radio's the only way you can do it, and there's very few of them. 

SI:  Do you remember any situations where you were ordered to take a hill or an outpost and they would say, "There is this kind of resistance," then, you got there and it was very different from what you had been told?

JH:  No, they didn't tell us that.  They told us [that] it'd be tough on the right side and okay on the left side, so, go in-between, and, yet, that didn't happen.  You go in-between and it's "all hell breaks loose."  [laughter] So, you go around.  Well, you just make your decisions on the ground, as you move, and what they tell you may or may not be what you meet.  In fact, it usually isn't, because the Chinese wouldn't sit still and say, "If they come up this way, we're okay." You know, if they see you coming, they'll move themselves.  No, war's a very fluid thing, yes, and information is only as good as [long as] the enemy abides by it, [laughter] and they don't, of course, but a lot of guys went through it.  In fact, ... I was trying to find anybody left in the company that served during this time and I only found three, in the United States, that are still alive, and they're from Kansas, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and, see, the make-up of the company was everything. 

SI:  You mentioned that your sergeant was African-American. 

JH:  Yes. 

SI:  Were there a lot of African-Americans in the unit?

JH:  When you say "a lot," no. 

SI:  Relatively a lot. 

JH:  ... Maybe ten percent, yes. 

SI:  Okay.  Korea was the first war where the Army was integrated. 

JH:  Yes. 

SI:  Were there any kind of problems along racial lines?

JH:  No.  "Come join me." [laughter] "Welcome." Like I say, he was the best soldier I ever knew. 

SI:  Was he a regular or was he drafted?

JH:  ... To tell you the truth, I don't know.  No, yes, I don't know.  No, we didn't have very many regulars.  I don't know [of] any regulars we had.  ... All the ones I knew, I treated and acted like they were kids from the street, like me.  I was "the old man," at twenty-two or twenty-three.  They used to call me "the old man." [laughter] In fact, back off line, when we were relaxing, they wanted me to have a little boxing match with one of the guys their size, you know, because most of the guys were bigger than I [am], and we did, and we played games together and just were one, and that's what you have to be. 

SI:  Did you serve with the same guys for most of the period or did the rotation change it?

JH:  All the time, yes.  I was always Easy Company, platoon leader, XO, and then, commander. 

SI:  Do you think the point system and the rotation of men in and out hurt the effectiveness of your unit?

JH:  No.  ... I didn't pay any attention to it, until they surprised me with it, but most of the guys liked it, because they could look forward to something.  In fact, they wanted to go on the frontlines to get more points.  "Let's get it over with."

SI:  Do you remember how that point system worked?

JH:  No, I have no idea. 

SI:  Was it a point a day?

JH:  I have no idea, but you got more on the frontline, less as you went back.  ...

SI:  How many days in a row would you be on the frontline?

JH:  It seemed like, to me, like forever, but I don't know, you know.  I really couldn't even guess.  I would say three weeks, and then, they'd rotate you to the reserve unit, and then, up again, but we're never far away, you know.  You were always within calling distance, yes.  [laughter] Like I say, it went fast and, as an officer, you can use a little discretion.  The one patrol they sent me out on, I got a Bronze Star for, and I hate to admit it, but it's so many years now they can't do anything; I disregarded their direct orders, because I could see, on the ground, that it wasn't what was happening, took a patrol out, and, again, at night.  ... After you take a patrol out so many times, in the same place, the Chinese know that, and so, if you're halfway decent, you know that yourself and you [compensate].  They wanted to patrol out to a particular point, because they thought the Chinese were collecting there, and I knew, if we went there, we'd catch all kinds of hell, because we do it every night.  [laughter] You know, after you do it three nights in a row, they get smart.  They're smart, and they're not dumb.  We do the same thing.  So, I took them around a much different route and, consequently, ... we were behind them, rather than running into them, and I didn't do what they wanted me to do, but we got back alive and did something.  So, even though [I was ordered to do it that way], an officer has to use a little discretion and it's what's happening at the moment, on the ground, that you can assess.  ... There's only two things, as an officer, you must do: do your duty, or your goal and your job, and bring your men back alive, yes.  If you could do them both, that's good.  If you've got to ... take one or the other, you have to do your appointed mission, but, if you're lucky enough, you can do them both, and that's what a good officer should do, your mission first and your men first, also, [laughter] and once the men get to know that, you can do almost anything, yes. 

SI:  What was the conflict, that they wanted you to go this way and you went the other way?

JH:  Yes.  They wanted me to go to a spot that I thought was much too dangerous. 

SI:  Okay.  You just went to a different spot. 

JH:  Yes, just went to a different spot. 

SI:  You accomplished the same thing. 

JH:  Do the same thing, yes, but, if they knew that, maybe they wouldn't be happy, because they wanted to make sure that the route to it was clear, or something like that, but, hey, [laughter] it's my life and their life, you know.  ... Well, that's the war, and not much more, except a lot of little things that really doesn't affect anybody.  ... Yes, the war was necessary, I thought, after I stopped to think about it.  I didn't when I first went, I just went, but, if you analyzed the Korean War, particularly, it's the place you stopped losing democracy.  Now, we're losing it again, but a different situation.  We're talking a long time ago. 

SI:  Do you remember anything about propaganda during the war?

JH:  Yes.  They used to throw leaflets at us, and, I guess, we did the same, but that didn't matter to anybody. [laughter] Who cares, you know? The Chinese, maybe it affected some of them a lot, because we took a lot of prisoners, not in the frontlines, but I [would] see a lot of prisoners, and then, they didn't want to go back.  So, you can see the kind of regime that was throwing poor farmers, I guess they were, just throwing them at you, crazy. 

SI:  Did you get to interact with Korean civilians much?

JH:  Some, but not all that much, but some; not until after the war did you interact a lot with them.  Down in Florida, there's the Seoul Restaurant.  They throw a shindig for us every once in a while, the Korean veterans, and the Koreans that are in America are very appreciative, everywhere, and we've gone as a [group to Korea].  We go back, we can go back once a year, on a trip to Korea and revisit, and they're very appreciative, but that's so long ago, now.  Now, the younger people, I'm sure, couldn't care less, you know.  "This is our country now and this is what we do.  What are you guys doing around here?" [laughter] So, the soldiers over there now, watching the DMZ, I don't know how well they're respected.  Life changes, you know, fifty, fifty-five years.  You guys aren't even half that age, or you're just about, you know, [laughter] so, how can you even imagine? It's like me trying to imagine what went on in the 1800s.  I can read about it, think about it.  It would be nice to have somebody here that could talk about it and answer a couple of questions about people, how they felt and what they did.  So, that's pretty good, what you're doing, because you're talking about a generation that doesn't exist in America.  You know, we exist, but not really.  You've got your own problems and things, and so, you have to live through them, yes. 

SI:  When you were in Korea, did you run into any men that you had served with in the Rutgers ROTC unit?

JH:  No, no.  Even now, I don't know any. 

SI:  I was just curious, because a lot of men from your class wound up in the Seventh Division. 

JH:  I have no idea.  Oh, I don't even know where they went.  I don't even know if they went; they might have.  I have no idea, nobody in my unit, yes.  [laughter]

SI:  One thing I was trying to get at is, how isolated was your unit? Did you have interaction with other groups of soldiers or was it mostly just your unit and your surroundings?

JH:  In Korea?

SI:  Yes. 

JH:  It's usually your unit only, because what are you going to do? go three or four hills over to another unit? For what? Yes, I spoke to the Columbian commander, because we linked up together, and the Turks on one side.  I'd speak to them, but I'd have nothing to do with them particularly.  The patrols do get "interactive" once in a while, but there's no real [interaction], or with the British unit or anything like that, no.  It's your unit, your people; your life is with them. 

SI:  Did you have air support?

JH:  Yes, we always had air support, when they could find them.  Like I say, if these guys are dug into a mountain, dug in, I mean, you can't blast them out or anything.  You can shell them and air support them all day long.  No, the wars are fought on the ground, by the guys, the soldiers.  You had the Navy and the Air Force.  They help a lot, but you've got to do it on the ground, got to take the high ground.  There's only one way to do that.  That's what makes war hell.  If we'd sit back and shell each other, [laughter] we wouldn't have any problem at all. 

SI:  Did you have any men in your unit who could not take the stress of combat and had to be sent back?

JH:  No, I didn't.  I had a lot of guys that were fearful.  We'd just calm them down, because, like I say, once you're a group, you know, you're buddies, ... you're less afraid of yourself than you are of them, yes, and you just bind as a group.  ...

SI:  You do not want to let the group down. 

JH:  Yes.  No, you couldn't do that.  What's the sense of living? That's why they say, "A band of brothers." Yes, that was all.  Yes, then, I came home, and my mother got me to go to work.  [laughter] ... Now, in Rutgers, I got a business degree.  I went to Newark, graduate school, too, for a couple of courses, but I got a job as an industrial engineer, first time, and, here, again, your interaction with people always pays off.  The older men took a liking to me, you know, young kid, and they watched over me and they guided me.  ... Then, it was pleasant, you know. Like, you don't know as much as the people who have been there, and some of the guys who start to athink they are much better than they are, you know, [laughter] and they'd tick off the older guys, and I got along very well.  In fact, so well, one guy gave me a lead to a better job and I went over to Kearny, to the steel mills there, and I did the same thing and, again, I took the lead from the people who'd been there before.  I'm not the big shot, and they were putting in time study units.  You know, you work so much and you get paid so much and, if you do more, you get paid more, and I actually used to tell these big, husky guys [laughter] how much they had to do to make their living, you know, and that's where you learned to dance [laughter] and that's where Rutgers came in good.  I'd learned to dance at Rutgers, timing and watching, and, sometimes, I used to walk by and watch them work and time it in my head, and then, when I'd come down to take the actual study, they could try to fool me all they wanted, which they'd do, you know, ... but I did a good job.  I liked it.  That's when I first got married and I had my first son there.  We lived in Springfield and the fellows who were putting in the time study there were going to put in a time study unit in Jamestown, New York, where Lucy came from, and they asked me to go, at a much higher [salary].  ... I was just starting out and the pay was exceptionally good.  My wife said, "Sure, you go where your pay is."  So, we went up.  I went up there and I bought a house, just being built, and I stayed there and I became important enough to have a good job there.  ... Then, a colonel came to me one night and said, "Will you take our Army unit up here and command it?" So, I said, "[Yes]," and that paid.  It's always money.  [laughter] All my life, I needed it, a little bit, anyway, for the family.  So, I took over the unit there and it was a very exciting time, because, again, you get to know the guys and you never mind the bosses.  But I got to know the guys and some of the kids would work in a bakery and they'd bring pastry at the end of the day for the meeting.  Some of the guys were cooks and they would have coffee and stuff, and so, our unit, that I was in charge of, set up a kitchen, where we had coffee and pastry ... during the meetings.  ... All the other units that met there used to come and get our coffee and pastry, but, here, again, you have to learn how to dance, because the men in charge of the building said, "You can't do that.  You can't do that inside a building.  We can't have this cooking," after a while, you know, maybe after six, seven, eight months.  ... So, I moved them outside [laughter] and the guys cooked and everything outside, and they couldn't find anything wrong with that.  I said, "The guys are training.  They're cooks, you know, that's what their training is." So, all the other units really [liked us] and we went ... out for two weeks, during the summer, and that was pretty good, and I had my son here [whom we are visiting], this son was born up there, but that's when the tragedy hit.  When I was up at Reserve training, my wife and my mother and the two kids were coming back down to Jersey and a drunken driver hit them and only my son survived, yes, and he went to live with his grandmother and I went down to New Jersey, back to New Jersey, and I joined the military intelligence unit in Kearny, to get some [money], and then, I started work in libraries.  I got interested in it because my aunt had the Elizabeth Library and she said, "I don't have anybody for the summer, for the science library.  Would you come part-time?" I said, "Sure." I fell in love with it.  So, I went to Rutgers for the communications library degree and I've been in the libraries ever since and I worked in the Newark Business Library ... during one summer and the guy, George Marx, worked there, too, and ... we hated it, you know.  [laughter] If you can't get along with your boss, the job is just too difficult, especially since you don't have to do it.  You [can] go somewhere else, but he wanted me to come to Union County College Library and I said, "Okay, I'll try it."  So, I came there for a bit and I stayed for twenty-seven years.  It was great.  Can you imagine somebody who likes to learn in charge of a library? [laughter] What could be better? but, there, again, it's the people that are important and I got so close with the clerks that ran the place that, even today, they call me "Mr.  H" and they write me and talk to me.  They say, "It's not the same." Well, nothing ever is, you know, but we had good times there, too, and there, again, you danced. You know, they wanted this done, you say, "Yes, sir," and then, you do something like it [laughter] and they're on to the next thing anyway.  So, for twenty-seven years, I taught business courses.  In fact, one semester, I taught four business courses and ran the library and, eventually, I got into the union and that was difficult, because they didn't want librarians in the union.  So, I was the only one there and, today, they're not, because, after I left, they closed that feature out, [laughter] but, in the union, I became important.  I was the treasurer in the union.  ...

SI:  Was that the AAUP [American Association of University Professors]?

JH:  ... Yes, yes, AAUP, yes, and we had an audit one year and the guy said to me, "You've got too much money." He says, "You've got to spend this." He goes, "You've got more money than any community college I know of," and he said, "They're going to start looking at you, that you're a money-making machine," because, ... again, I used to dance around the AAUP, [laughter] because, when somebody went on vacation or sabbatical there, our payments to the AAUP would stop, until they came back, but, when they came back, I didn't think it was my duty to remind them they're back.  They knew they were going for two weeks or a month or a year, they should put them back on the rolls.  They didn't, so, we kept the money.  So, eventually, we had too much money.  We started having parties and things of that nature, and even today, they [say], "Oh, I remember those parties." [laughter] Of course, they don't do it today.  Some of the women got upset over that and they wanted to run it "correctly," [laughter] their correct, you know.  My correct is different than their correct, and they do, but they don't have the money now.  So, in fact, I visited a friend of mine.  ...  There's a lot of friends around here.  I went to the college just the other day, and my proudest moment at the college was, when I went back, today, after all these years, the one guy that recognized me was the guard.  [laughter] You know, that's important, not the faculty members or the students or anybody, but the guard, because I always made sure that the lowest level person, if there's low level, was one I took care of, yes, always, because all the rest falls in place.  The maintenance man who changed the lights is important to me.  [laughter] The president of the college, he just gives me orders, but this guy takes care of me.  Well, that's the way it's been.  So, in that respect, Rutgers taught me a lot, because I had to work with kids, like my age, and everybody is important to themselves, yes.  ... Like I say, one kid has a place down the Shore, somebody else has a car, you know, if you're nice to them, they're nice to you.  I didn't have a car or a place in the Shore, ... and a waitress at the [restaurant].  [laughter] I have to eat, you know, but you learn that yourself, as you go through life, you know, that, "Don't forget the guy that's not taken care of."

SI:  What year did you retire from Union County College?

JH:  From Union? Ten years ago, in '97, I think it was. 

SI:  The library must have grown considerably in your twenty-seven years there. 

JH:  Yes, it's grown, but things can grow sideways or up or down; no comment.  [laughter]

ML:  Did you keep in touch with members of your unit from Korea afterwards?

JH:  No, because most of them were lost.  Like I say, I can only find four, and I don't quite remember them.  I'm very bad in remembering names of people.  I get their picture, the visual picture, but I don't have their physical name.  I don't know, maybe it's not important to me, but I get the visual image of all of them, you know, and that's the way it is even today.  Well, what else did I do that you might be interested in?

SI:  You received the Purple Heart. 

JH:  Yes. 

SI:  Can you talk about that action?

JH:  Yes, that was a small patrol action and got a little too close, [laughter] in the foot.  I got shot in the foot.  It wasn't that bad. 

SI:  Did you have to go back to the hospital?

JH:  Well, I went to the aid station, which was maybe four football fields back, [laughter] got it wrapped up and went ... back up, yes, ... but the advantages of the Purple Heart are great.  I go to the VA [Veterans Affairs] clinic. They help me with my prescriptions.  They helped diagnose me in a couple of things that my regular doctors didn't catch and it's a good back-up to my regular doctors, excellent.  ... The VA clinic takes care of the disabled first and the Purple Heart recipients next, and then, just the ordinary soldier.  So, I got lucky to get in there. 

SI:  Has your wound, your foot, given you any trouble since?

JH:  No, I don't pay attention to it, too much living to do, yes. 

ML:  You said you made it a priority to travel after ...

JH:  Oh, yes.  After I came back and was in the Union County College, I met my wife, Sally, the one you met today.  She was in one of my business classes and she was cute and I'd been single for twenty years, since the accident, and I thought it was about time I stopped running around, [laughter] like most of you guys are doing.  ... We got married and I had a very good friend, his name was Gus, he was in Florida.  ... He was running a type of restaurant business and he said, "Come on down.  I'll give you a part-time job," and I said, "We'll go down, take a look." So, Sally and I went down.  We looked around and we thought we'd come up to Port St.  Lucie to see a friend of my sister's, and she wasn't home.  So, we're looking at houses and I said, "Gee, ... I'm going to retire one of these days, why don't we get this place?"  It had a fireplace and was on the water and it was cheap, you know, ninety thousand [dollars], and so, I sold this place up here, ... not until I bought that, and then, we went back and forth for a year or so, and then, I sold this place up here and went down to live, and Gus died.  So, I hammered out another new life down there and my sister moved down into the city.  She lost her husband and she's there now. She's watching our house and the cat.  ... Her daughter is up here in Brick, and so, after this, tomorrow, I'm going down to Brick, to see ... her and some friends, who live down in Port St.  Lucie, that we never knew about and they used to be teachers up here at the college.  ... So, we're going down to his place.  He's in Manahawkin.  He comes up here for the summer and down there for the winter and we go to all kinds of plays and theaters together. So, they turned out to be very good friends.  ... John Zopi used to teach English, moved down there, too.  So, we've got a little contingent down there, and Tom Coppa teaches history here, at the college, came down, oh, last month for a couple of weeks and he likes it so much, he's going to keep it in mind, [laughter] but he's too young, yet, and you have a couple of people around there from the college who come down.  So, we get together, once in a while, and nobody from Rutgers.  There's a guy down the street from me, two houses away, that's a Rutgers graduate, but a different time, you know, yes. 

SI:  Have you been in touch with Rutgers at all as an alumnus?

JH:  Oh, sure.  ... I'm an alumnus of the library and whatever, and I get all the information, but I'm not going to run up here for reunions.  [laughter] Now, they have a group down [in], I think it's Miami or Fort Lauderdale, but that's too far away from me.  We're talking two hours.  Florida's a big place.  You don't realize.  It's at least three New Jerseys in length.  ... They have groups, Rutgers groups. 

SI:  Rutgers Clubs. 

JH:  But, they're not really close to me.  So, it's not like I can make a trip over there or anything.  They had a big meeting just last month.  I think the President [Richard L. McCormick] was down and all kinds of stuff.  Yes, I keep in touch, and on the Internet, especially. 

SI:  Do you ever come up for any reunions or anything like that?

JH:  No.  It's a twenty-hour trip by car.  In fact, my wife won't drive anymore, says, "We fly up or we don't go." [laughter]

SI:  Do any of your professors from either time at Rutgers stand out in your memory?

JH:  From Rutgers? no.  Like you say, Gross was the only one I can vaguely [remember].  I have a very poor memory for people.  I do have for faces, but I don't know who they were.  No, ... it wasn't an easy, fun time. Rutgers wasn't supposed to be.  Oh, it was fun, it was enjoyable, but ... I didn't go for partying or anything like that.  I guess I'm a little too serious, because I could just about make it.  Everybody else I know was smart enough [laughter] to get some free time, but not me.  I had to really buckle down to even get by.  In fact, I took German three times and couldn't pass it, so, I gave it up.  [laughter] Now, I remember that professor's face; I don't remember his name, but try, try again, then, give up.  [laughter] I was actually first interested in physics, of all things.  ... Calculus took a toll on me.  I couldn't really get around it.  Maybe I was too impatient, but, so, that's my Rutgers experience.  It was great, but it wasn't like somebody else's, it was mine. 

SI:  I wanted to ask you about the Naval Reserve experience when you were in high school. 

JH:  Yes. 

SI:  Did that take up a lot of your time?

JH:  No. 

SI:  It was like an after-school activity. 

JH:  Yes.  It was just something I thought I should do and I could do.  The war was on and it was after school, it didn't interfere with my school, and I met a lot of guys there. 

SI:  Was it just Thomas Jefferson guys there or was it for guys from all over?

JH:  No, it was from the city.  Yes, it was all around. 

SI:  About how many guys, do you think?

JH:  Well, gee, '41, we're talking almost seventy years ago, [laughter] yes, twenty guys, something like that, yes. 

SI:  Relatively small. 

JH:  Yes, relatively small, yes. 

SI:  Did you have regular Navy guys training you or were they civilians?

JH:  Yes.  No, we had a couple of Navy guys in charge of us, because it was a boat, a ship.  We took it out and went up to Maine.  [laughter] That was my first experience, actually, with the darkness, out in the ocean at night and to steer the craft.  Wow, that was fun, but it's my first experience with darkness there, looking for lights, yes. 

SI:  What was the longest time you were at sea? Was it when you went up to Maine, maybe a couple of weeks there?

JH:  Maybe two weeks, yes. 

SI:  Two weeks.  I have never heard of this before.  It just seems remarkable to me that kids in the Naval Reserve in high school would take an LST out during the war, when there were still U-boats out there. 

JH:  Oh, sure, sure, yes, but nobody's going to bother an LST, yes. 

SI:  Were you worried about the U-boats?

JH:  No, I didn't think about it. 

SI:  How many regular Navy guys were on the ship? Was it a full crew plus the Reserves?

JH:  Yes, there was, about, that I could remember, ... five.  You didn't need too many.  A landing ship, craft, was not too big, big enough, though, yes, but that was just a side thing for me.  It wasn't anything important. 

SI:  You went through that program.  Why did you decide to go in the Army, rather than try to go into the Navy?

JH:  The US Government decided I'd go in the Army.  [laughter] When I got my notice to go to the Army, I didn't think about anything else, just went to the Army. 

SI:  What was it like to go from your home, that first time, into the service? Was it jarring?

JH:  No, no.  I've always been rather independent.  Like I say, I worked at the age [of] ten, all little jobs, and my mother expected of me, my dad expected of me, "You take care of yourself," and it just never [bothered me].  I mean, it was jarring.  It was just another place, another thing.  I didn't want my mommy with me.  [laughter] So, I just went and took it as another good experience.  It was great, really helpful.  As I say, it got me into Rutgers. 

SI:  Did you have any basic training during that time in the service?

JH:  Some, but they needed me as a typist more than anything, so, they usually let me alone a lot.  [laughter] Again, I'm alone, you know, so, it was good. 

SI:  You were discharging people at Fort Dix. 

JH:  Yes, with just minimal training, but it gave me the experience of being a PFC, which is a lot different than ...

SI:  Being an officer. 

JH:  Being an officer, a lot different, yes. 

SI:  Can you describe that difference that you saw between how an enlisted man lives and how an officer lives?

JH:  Yes, except I went through it, so, it didn't [have the same effect].  You know, I'm very adaptable.  I adapted to that, so, when I became an officer, I was just an officer and whatever it was was.  Yes, of course, there's a lot of difference.  Like I say, the one experience I had is when the other officers were telling me not to be so much different.  [laughter] I just couldn't.  That's just the way it was and, yes, as an officer, you could take a lot of things easier than as an enlisted man, you know.  They treat you differently.  Basic training was a lot different.  As an enlisted man, "Do it;" as an officer, "Is this the way we do it?" [laughter] Oh, yes, it was a world of difference, the way they treated you.  "Rank has its privilege," they say, and it really does, but that doesn't make them better, not if they don't see where they're from, not if they try to take advantage of their advantage.  [laughter]

SI:  Did you see other officers on your level that would do that?

JH:  Well, in training, they probably did.  When overseas, of course, it's a whole different story.  You're one of the guys, whether you want to or not, and, [if] you start acting like an officer, you're going to pay for it.  They really make you pay.  Well, just put yourself in the place, you know; you get somebody in charge and pushing you around that you know doesn't know any more than you do and is in the same spot and why should they [act that way], you know? So, whenever you do anything, you do it for yourself and ... don't listen to that guy so much, but that's human nature.  Like I say, I never had any trouble with the men, because I treated them like myself, except when I had to, but ... the difference in generations is a major difference, yes. 

SI:  When you were in the Reserve unit in the 1950s and 1960s, was there ever a time when you were called to active duty or thought you might be called to active duty?

JH:  No.  I never thought about it.  The Vietnam War was on when I was in the Reserve unit, but I never thought I'd be called back.  I never felt I would.  I would have gone. 

SI:  Were you in during the Cuban Missile Crisis or the Berlin Crisis?

JH:  Well, I was always in the Reserve, except for; ... I can't remember when I got out.  It was in the high '60s, I think, I stopped being in the Reserves.  ... Here's a picture of Korea and those dots are; I'm going to leave this with you, because they're all copies from me, and those dots [are] where I moved.  You say, "Moved around." That's where I moved around.  [laughter]

SI:  Very, very small area. 

JH:  Yes, very, very small movements, yes. 

SI:  Between the Iron Triangle and Ch'orwon. 

JH:  Yes, and the 38th Parallel comes across here somewhere.  Now, most of my commendations or medals came from the Second World War and I, like I say, was a clerk-typist, you know, but ... you get [the] Victory Medal, World War II, National Defense Service.  So, here's a list of them, and only one or two are important.  You see, just [for being] in the service, you get a lot of medals, or ribbons. 

SI:  In Korea, did you know a lot of World War II vets who were recalled, or were you a rarity?

JH:  No, I guess I must have been a rarity.  Most of them [were] just young kids, yes.  Like I say, at twenty-three, I was "the old man." Maybe some of the officers must have been.  Yes, I'm sure they were, because they were older, so, they had to be, yes; well, should have been.  [laughter]

SI:  You mentioned that there was no drinking.  Were there other ways that people coped with combat? Did people smoke a lot?

JH:  No, my unit, I don't know, the men just seemed to go along each day and they weren't that nervous or something, because, I don't know, I guess they had a weapon in their hands.  What are you going to be nervous about? If somebody comes after you, fight, not nervous; the shelling was the worst part about it, yes.  One way they handled it, and that was bad, was, they slept a lot.  During the day, it's not too bad, but they get in the habit and, [when] you sleep at night, that's bad.  So, they did a lot of that.  They didn't move around a lot, outside.  Well, they did, but not exceptionally.  I guess they were all afraid. 

SI:  You mentioned that you were in the bunkers with them, talking with them. 

JH:  Yes. 

SI:  What kind of things would you talk about when you were not involved in combat?

JH:  "Can you reach the battalion? [laughter] Can you get them? Can you raise them? How's the squad? Call the squad, see if they're awake.  Somebody want to go out and check the lines? ... This line's out again.  Let's run some wire," you know.  Gee, I don't know. 

SI:  It was all pretty practical stuff. 

JH:  Yes, pretty practical.  Maybe somebody would talk about back home, maybe, but I don't know.  The time went by when you're busy.   You've got a job, a deadly job, but you've got a job and you're just doing it, so, I don't know, what do you talk about? Well, if you go to work, if you have a job and there's people around you, what do you talk about? Well, sometimes, you talk about your house, but, most of the time, it's about the job, same thing.  "What are you going do in R&R? [laughter] How many points do you have?" Talk about a couple of the guys, "Are they okay?"  Time just goes and I don't know.  ... To particularly think back about it, I don't know what we talked about or did, ... time just went by. 

SI:  You were in Korea for a month after the armistice. 

JH:  Yes, I think so, yes. 

SI:  Do you remember what you did during that time?

JH:  The month, or after the armistice?

SI:  After the armistice, between the end of the fighting and when you went home. 

JH:  I was just getting ready to go home.  Well, I'd try to get to the battalion, see how the company made out, but ... they couldn't take care of me.  They were too busy with their own stuff.  So, I was just getting ready to leave, and packed up my stuff and left.  That's when I said they asked me if I would spend two weeks in Hawaii, instead of going straight home, because they needed the room.  So, I did.  I went there and that's all.  ... Time just goes by, not anything specific happens, just like last month, you know.  What did you do last month? Yes, it just went by, [laughter] you know, did the usual things, yes, and that's all.  I went down there.  I guess that's about it, but I think the difference in generations is difficult to pinpoint, because the time periods have so many different aspects to it, you know.  World War II, obviously, that took everything, you know.  Everybody was in it.  Today, [laughter] you're lucky to have half the people in it.  So, how do you compare it? You don't.  The Korean War was a very quiet war.  Like I say, we lost more men, fifty-eight thousand, and did you see the pictures in the paper or the names in the paper, ever? no.  Was the media around? no.  Did we have parades of groups coming back? no. Today, it's different.  Every day, in the paper, you have something, which you should be [seeing], which is right, because it's the most important thing going on.  The Korean War was called "The Forgotten War," because it was forgotten, but that's okay; we're moving on.  We're in our eighties now.  Well, actually, I'm the oldest down there. They're in the high seventies, and they look at things much differently than everybody else.  They vote differently because of that and they take things to heart because of that.  The immigration problem, [in the] Second World War, you wouldn't even think about somebody being an immigrant and not a total American, speaking English.  ... Like I say, my background, ... everybody came from Italy directly, right from Italy.  They all speak English, all spoke English in due time, real, real quick, but, today.  [laughter] I'm glad I'm this age, because you guys got problems that I never had and never will and you've got to solve them yourself.  I don't know the answers.  I never knew the answers, I just knew what I was doing, ... but the biggest difference is the difference in time.  What happens today is so irrelevant to what happened in the past.  I mean, the whole parameter that surrounds your life is entirely different.  Like I say, I was the first one in my entire family, cousins and uncles and aunts or anything, that went to college.  So, we look at things a lot differently than everybody that expects to go to college.  ... "Of course you go to college; what else do you do?"  We never did, you know, and then, Korea was great, because ... everybody used the GI Bill.  That was a big thing.  That changed the complexity of the American population entirely.  It's like going to college or not going to college.  Can you imagine the difference? ... My experience at Rutgers was great.  I really liked it, but it was a lot different than yours will be or anybody else's will be, because of where it came from, you know, and I don't remember any names.  ... I remember the faces, I remember what happened, but I don't know, I can't remember the street.  Easton Street's the only street I remember.  [laughter]

SI:  Did you live in the same house with those four guys the whole time?

JH:  Yes, two years, yes.  Before that, I had to travel back and forth.  Yes, my family helped me.  They gave me, loaned me, the car and a few bucks, if they had it, but what does your family do for you?  Well, I know my grandsons, they put them through college.  So, how does he look at things and how do I look at things? good luck. You got something?

SI:  I think you have answered most of our questions.  Do you have anything you want to ask?

ML:  No.  Is there anything you would like to add?

JH:  No, except good luck to everybody and we're all Americans, in spite of all the things going on and the hollering, screaming and yelling.  We'll get through it, yes, and this is for Rutgers, good old Rutgers.  [laughter] I only have one question about Rutgers.  Your song, "Resolve that I should be a man," do you have women in there now? [Editor's Note: Mr.  Holdorf is referring to a line from the song On the Banks, the Rutgers University alma mater.]

SI:  Yes.  They say, "And women."

JH:  Oh, do they, an extra beat? [laughter]

SI:  Whenever you sing in a group, after that part, all the women shout, "And women."

JH:  I was always curious about that.  [laughter]

ML:  They throw it in. 

JH:  Okay, good.  So, see how things change? [laughter]

SI:  I think they have changed the first line for each campus now, too. 

JH:  Oh, yes?

SI:  For the Camden Campus, it is "On the Banks of the Old Delaware," or something.  I think I saw that somewhere. 

JH:  Oh, yes, yes.  So, it's not Rutgers as a name no matter where you are? Now, it's Rutgers where you are. 

SI:  Well, it is all Rutgers. 

JH:  Yes, well, I know it's all Rutgers, but they think of themselves as Rutgers, not the main [university], like, instead of American, it's African-American or Hispanic-American. 

SI:  They now have programs where you can be in one college, but study at another. 

JH:  Yes, sure. 

SI:  That kind of breaks it up a little bit. 

JH:  Yes, but, when you talk about differences, look to yourself, ... look at the differences, you know. 

SI:  Thank you very much for your time. 

JH:  Oh, no, thank you.  ...

SI:  Thank you for sharing all that you shared with us. 

JH:  Okay, just living over the things again, it was pleasant.  I just realized it was a good life. 

SI:  Good.  Thank you. 

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

Reviewed by Sabeenah Arshad 10/16/07

Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth

Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 3/3/08

Reviewed by John Holdorf 4/14/08

 

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