Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Donald B., also known as "Bud," Heilman in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, on January 31, 2013, with Shaun Illingworth. Thank you very much for having me here today.
Donald B. Heilman: Pleasure.
SI: To begin, can you tell me where and when you were born?
DH: I was born in York, Pennsylvania, in 1924. That makes me old. [laughter]
SI: What were your parents' names?
DH: My parents; my mother's name was Ruth Bott, B-O-T-T, and my dad's name was Vernon Heilman and they met in York and got married. My dad was a veteran of World War I--not combat, but he was in the service.
SI: He was in the [US Army] Air Service.
DH: Well, yes, a little chuckle there. My dad was a bugler, believe it or not. In those days, they still had buglers. So, somehow or other, he got into the so-called Air Force. He didn't fly, but that was an experience. He went to Buffalo, he went to San Antonio, Texas. In those days, that was quite a trip.
SI: However, he never went overseas.
DH: Never went overseas.
SI: Do you know anything about your father's family and how they came to settle in York, Pennsylvania?
DH: Well, my father's family basically came from Adams County, Pennsylvania. My mother basically came from York, Pennsylvania. My mother's maiden name was Bott. Interesting, my grandpa's name was Jacob Bott, B-O-T-T. He had a brother whose name was Charlie Butt, B-U-T-T.
SI: You were telling me a little bit about your mother's family.
DH: Yes, right. On my mother's side, Jacob Bott had a brother whose name was Charlie Butt. In the old days, they didn't always close the "O" and they were from--that side of the family had a great deal of property up in Adams County, Biglerville, right outside of Gettysburg. Today, it would be worth a lot of money. My dad's family, I'm not quite sure how they got to York, but, ultimately, they did. My mother, as far as I know, grew up in York and they both went to York High School. My mother spent one year at Lankenau Hospital [in Wynnewood, near Philadelphia], going to be a nurse, but, like other things, got sidetracked and my dad became a telegraph editor. In those days, the AP [Associated Press], he took care of that for The York Dispatch, among other things.
SI: Did he work for the paper before he went into the service or after?
DH: No, he worked at the paper after he came back. He actually worked for a time over here in Pottstown and, oh, we used to laugh--not laugh--but my dad was near the police department and the phone rang, said there was a robbery out at the local tavern. So, my dad gets in the car with the chief of police and goes out to the robbery and got shot in the stomach. [laughter] We used to say, "Was that a World War I wound, Dad?" but that was one of the things that happened on his side. Yes, Mom came home, I understand, and then, she and Dad got married.
SI: It was after World War I that they got married.
DH: Right, right.
SI: How many siblings do you have?
DH: How many do I have? seven. We have six daughters; that was one of them on the [phone].
SI: I meant your brothers and sisters.
DH: Oh, my brothers and sisters, excuse me. I just have two sisters, one older, one younger. Yes, my children, I have seven.
SI: Tell me a little bit about where you grew up in York, what your neighborhood was like, what the area was like.
DH: Well, some years ago, some of my friends' kids were talking about the Depression and they came to me and said, "You lived during the Depression. What was it like?" "What was it like? We didn't know it was the Depression, in the sense that you knew about it afterwards." You just grew up. You went to grade school. In those days, the grade school was about five minutes away from my house, like it was in York. All the grade schools were located in the community and that's where you went, to the grade schools, same way with the junior high schools. Interestingly enough, in one respect, York was a little segregated. We didn't realize it at the time, but we had a grade school called Crispus Attucks and Crispus Attucks was located in the section of York where most of the blacks lived. To us, that was just logical, because my school was located where I lived, guys out in the east end, was located where they lived, but it's an interesting part of our life growing up. We didn't really realize that we were segregated. We went to the YMCA--looking back on it, there weren't any blacks there. The blacks finally got into a building which they called Crispus Attucks. Crispus Attucks was the black man who was shot and killed in the Boston Massacre. I don't know--I'm shaking my shoulders, which you can't see on this thing [laughter]--but I'm trying to point out that we didn't realize that there was a segregation. I grew up, I went to the grade school, I went to the junior high school, I went to the high school, as most everybody else did. When I was eighteen, I was in the twelfth grade, I graduated in January of '43. So, when I graduated, I was on my way to the Navy by that time.
SI: Before we get into the World War II period, I wanted to ask a few more questions about growing up in York. Was there a large African-American population, since they had a whole school?
DH: I wouldn't say that it was large by comparison, no, but, again, I want to point out, the blacks lived in this section, the Italians lived over here, the Polish guys lived over here, the Irishmen lived in that area. It's just the way it was, without thinking about it.
SI: Were most of the people in your area of German ancestry?
DH: Yes, a great portion of them were German, Irish, that mixture, and you've got to remember, the German and Irish were the ones who came up with the Pennsylvania Dutch, and the Scotch, so that, yes, basically, York was considered to be a German type area, same as Lancaster, Redding, Allentown, all those kind of things. I don't remember that we had any problems race-wise. I don't [recall]. We had a couple black guys played football, a couple on the basketball team, but there wasn't an intermingling. I mean, I didn't go into the black district, they didn't come into mine, which I say "my district," where I lived. I mean, we just took that for granted.
SI: Would you have friends who were Italian or Polish?
DH: Oh, yes.
SI: There was no distinction.
DH: No, no. In high school, at that time, it was not uncommon for the black kids to drop out of school at the end of the grade school or at the end of their junior high. It was not uncommon, and not only in York, but across the United States. That's the way it was. I've never really paid much attention, I didn't study it and I can't tell you why, but, basically, there was no opportunity for blacks to go beyond that.
SI: However, your high school was integrated.
DH: Oh, yes, right. My sister Jean taught in Hannah Penn--that was William Penn's wife, called Hannah Penn--she taught in Hannah Penn for years. Basically, Hannah Penn was composed of probably ninety percent black and she was a white teacher. There weren't too many black teachers, but, then, that's a part of growing up in York which, during the Depression, you just took. Hey, that's the way it was.
SI: In the Depression, do you remember if your father's employment was ever affected?
DH: My dad was very fortunate. My dad was, I said, telegraph editor for The York Dispatch. So, Dad had a job. Now, my grandfather, who lived across the street, Jacob Bott, worked for the York Ice Machinery Corporation, which today is York Air Conditioning. Grandpa was a carpenter and they would work two or three days a week. We had a community house downtown where people could go if you needed something, shoes, clothes, things like that. My own growing up, my mother would can peaches and apples and things. She grew parsley in the back, which I sold. I sold ten bunches of parsley in the summer for ten cents, and then, I went to the movie. That's how much it cost, ten cents. Then, once a month, they would have a canned goods movie on Saturday, if you took a [canned goods donation]. I'd take a jar of my mother's peaches or something, go to the movie for nothing. So, that was part of the Depression type thing.
SI: Did you sell the parsley door-to-door or did you have a stand by the road?
DH: Oh, no, I had my neighbors. I'd go knock on the door, and then, they would give me the penny, a penny a bunch. Mom would make them up and put a little rubber band on them. Then, another thing during the Depression, we had the band concerts in the park, in the summer. We sold--you know what a snowball is?
SI: Can you explain it for me?
DH: We'd go down to the Penn Supreme and get a twenty-five-pound keg of ice, put it in a wagon. Then, we had a shaver and you'd shave that ice and put it in a glass and that's a snowball. Then, in the front of the wagon, you had a little stand like this, about three or four kind of flavors, but they came from my mom's [pantry]. Mom would put up peaches, so, I had peach juice. She put up cherries that had cherry juice. We'd go around the neighborhood. Is this all right; I mean, we're okay?
DH: We'd holler, "Snowballs, a penny a piece," go out in the neighborhood and the kids would run out with their cup. Now, you can't see this, but a regular cup ...
SI: Like an eight-ounce glass.
DH: Yes, that was a penny. If you came out with a big one, "That's a two-center." [laughter] Then, the kids would stand there and pick out their juice. So, I say we would go around and, at the concerts, we'd take our wagons--I'm saying "we" because I wasn't the only guy that did this--and we'd go to the concert and we'd park our wagon there. Then, the kids at the concerts, they always had chairs in the front, benches, for the kids, and then, when they had intermission, everybody'd run down and buy a snowball. So, yes, we made money. I carried newspapers from the time I was in the seventh grade, in the morning, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Record. The Inquirer exists, but The Record doesn't exist anymore. At four o'clock, boy, we were up every day at four o'clock, except Sunday. Sunday, the papers were too big and they had a car that delivered it; yes, interesting.
SI: Would you get to use the money that you raised or did you have to give it to your parents?
DH: No, my mom told us to--we saved some, so that we could go to the movies--the rest of it, we put in the bank. My son-in-law is a broker. When he and I talk, I laugh, I say, "I grew up, I knew nothing about things like that. The bank was where you put your money," and that's what we did, yes.
SI: Did you have any other jobs, particularly as you got older, became a teenager?
DH: Oh, yes. Besides carrying papers, on Saturdays, I worked with the iceman. The iceman actually drove a truck, had a stand on the back, you could stand on it. I don't know if you've ever seen the ice tongs--two of them hold [it]. Now, one hand--you had to have one hand, not two--one hand did it, if you could carry a twenty-five-pound keg of ice, okay. Then, people, in the window of their house, they would put how much ice they wanted, twenty-five or fifty, and, got a little older, you could lug a fifty-pounder up the second [flight]. We had weight training before it became ... [laughter]
SI: You must have been in pretty good shape to be able to do that.
DH: So, I rode around on the back of the ice wagon. I dug ditches. I drove a dump truck. I caddied.
SI: When you were digging the ditches and working on the dump truck, were you working for the city?
DH: No, I worked for a private company. They were building a new part of the Village of York and we would dig the ditches for the sewer lines and things like that. Yes, I hammered a jackhammer--you know what they are?
SI: The air hammer?
DH: Yes, I mean, that'll shake you up a little bit. I learned a little about dynamiting, because the rocks were so big that we'd drill a little hole, and then, the guy would stick a little cap in there and blow that up. I belonged to the fire company, like most kids, grew up, a volunteer fire company in York.
SI: How old were you when you joined the fire company?
DH: Oh, God, well, I guess I'd better think about that one. That was after the war, that was after the war, yes. I'm trying to think of what else--I sold magazines, that was another thing, Good Housekeeping, Saturday Evening Post, go around, knock on the door, ask them if they'd like to buy a magazine for a quarter. I didn't like that; I didn't do too well with that. [laughter] Yes, we tried a lot of things.
SI: Did they ever have the NYA here, National Youth Administration jobs, Roosevelt's program to get kids jobs?
DH: Well, they had the CCCs and I think, if I remember right, you had to be sixteen before you could join that. [Editor's Note: The Civilian Conservation Corps was an agency that was part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, which employed young unemployed males in outdoor conservation projects from 1933-1942.] Yes, I didn't need anything; I didn't have anything like that. We were so busy, I guess, being at the YMCA. The YMCA was big in my growing up. The YMCA was a big part of my life. I lived close to the Y and I would go to the Y.
SI: What would you do at the Y?
DH: Oh, God, we did everything. We played basketball, bombardment. You know what bombardment is? two sides and you had those little, round rubber balls and fling them at each other. Yes, it's interesting, too, when we were on the football team, you weren't allowed to pick up weights, that the term was, you'd become "muscle bound." Did you ever hear of that term?
DH: Right. I learned to swim at the Y and I learned to swim well at the Y. It bothered me a little bit, when I got to high school, they wouldn't allow you to be on the swimming team. Football season was over. In those days, we played seven games, I guess. Okay, it's over. The winter was swimming. I could swim with the best of the swimmers, but they wouldn't allow you to if you were a football player. That's just the way it was in those days. Now, I don't know if you know about York. York was the barbell capital of the world at one time and still is. York barbells are still some of the best barbells ever made.
SI: I did not know that.
DH: Yes, we used to go--they'd have a contest at the local Y. There's two different things. Weightlifting for weight and strength is one thing and body building, lifting for body building, is another. So, there's two different programs and they had them in York, but, again, we didn't participate in it, because we weren't allowed to.
SI: Did you play any organized sports before you got to high school? Did they have leagues or anything like that for kids?
DH: Well, in junior high school, I played basketball. It's kind of interesting, in those days, York, we played junior high schools in Lebanon and Lancaster. To travel that distance in those days was quite an undertaking, and then, in York, we had three junior high schools. So, when I got to high school, I wasn't good enough and didn't make the [team]. So, then, at the YMCA, one of the people at the YMCA formed the basketball group. We called ourselves Kroy, K-R-O-Y, York backwards, and we had our own basketball team and he arranged this. We played, for instance, we went up to Gettysburg and played the CCC guys up at Gettysburg, right on Confederate Avenue, not too far away from Robert E. Lee's statue at Gettysburg. If you go back that road, the CCC camp was back in there. So, we got a couple cars and we went up and we played them. Well, they were the same age we were, sixteen. We went down to Johns Hopkins once and played their JV team. That was big stuff--we're traveling. So, yes, we did that.
SI: Growing up, did you spend most of your recreation time playing pickup sports?
DH: Oh, yes. Oh, my, at the top of the hill, there was--I lived on a hill, Garfield Street was on a hill--on the top of the hill was this vacant field. Well, if you hit the ball into right field, you'd hit it into somebody's window and, if you hit it to left field, it went out in the street. So, if you're playing softball, those were restrictions, same way in the schoolyard. There were only so many places you can hit it without going through a window and we'd play softball up there. We played tackle football. Yes, we were busy, we were really busy. The soapbox came out in those days, soapbox derby; well, not like today. I mean, when they first came out, you got four wheels and a whatever and go down the hill. We had ropes that would turn the front wheels. Now, everything has to be custom-made, but there was always something to do, yes.
SI: Were the soapbox derbies organized or did you and your friends just do it?
DH: No, no. Chevrolet came out and the soapbox started as an organized group, and then, of course, it's sort of like Little League baseball. Going back a little bit to my dad, he was way ahead of his time. My dad got the idea of what he called "baseball for boys." He had a guy by the name of Harry (McGlocklin?) in York. They supplied the playgrounds with equipment, catcher's masks, catcher's gloves, bats and balls. The only uniform was a pair of dungarees and a T-shirt and each of the parks in the City of York had a baseball in the summer. Now, of course, it was boys. So, there was always something to do, right.
SI: Do you remember any other ways that your parents, or maybe just your father, were involved in the city or civic activities? Were they active in the community?
DH: Well, my dad was very active in the American Legion. That was something. He also wrote a pamphlet about York. He was quite a historian, my dad was. My mom had graduated from high school, which in itself was something in those days for a woman. So, the two of them were very cognizant and I'd say that Dad was probably more involved in things in the community than my mom was, but that was not anything different. The men were more involved than the women, yes. How we doing?
SI: Great. I want to know about what life was like in this time period.
DH: Well, right, you try to explain it, that if you read about it in history--let's put it this way--I didn't realize I was growing up in a depression. I mean, I just thought this was the way things were and that's the way they were, when we look back on it. Some of the people during the Depression suffered, truly suffered a great deal, and I'm fortunate. My dad had a job on the newspaper. While it didn't pay a lot of money, nonetheless, he had a job. He went to work five days a week.
SI: Did your mother ever work outside of the home?
DH: Yes, much later. I think Mom went to work after I went into the service and she worked for a friend of hers that ran a photography studio, taking pictures and things like that. So, yes, in fact, a couple of pictures I have of me in the service I got taken in there. Mom, the girls that graduated from high school had a little group that gathered every week or two weeks or whatever and Dad's group did the same thing. Actually, the two groups got together and they met pretty well during the Depression, that type of thing, yes.
SI: What did you think of your schooling in York? What were your favorite subjects?
DH: Well, I probably was typical of most boys. There were a lot of guys that I traveled with were a hell of a lot smarter than I was, but I felt the teachers I had, when I look back on it, they were excellent. I suppose my favorite subject was American history. I would have made the honor roll a couple times except my handwriting was so bad that I didn't get a passing grade in handwriting. So, I didn't make the honor roll. The school system in York generally was very good and I felt that the education I got, had I been a little smarter and paid more attention, I would've done better, but I wouldn't go back and say I should've done this or shouldn't have done that. I got through.
SI: What activities were you involved in in school? It sounds like you played some sports.
DH: Yes. We played football and, as I said, in junior high, I played basketball, and then, the football coach had us go out for track. In the spring, you couldn't have spring football, like they do now, so, we went out for track. I wasn't very good at it, but I went out for track.
SI: What position did you play on that team?
DH: On football? I was a fullback, believe it or not, and, of course, we played two ways. If you were a fullback, you were a linebacker. If you were a center, you weren't going to be a linebacker, no matter--that's the way it was. Can I take a little aside there?
DH: I was down trying to recruit a young man in South Jersey for Rutgers who was a pretty good football player, but he was black. I came into his house and his father and I greeted each other and I say, "You know, we're about the same [age]. Where'd you go to high school?" He said, "I went to Steelton." I said, "For goodness sake, I went to York." Well, York and Steelton were ...
DH: Well, it turns out he and I played against each other, right. He played in the line and I played in the backfield and like you and I are talking, in those days, it was almost impossible for a black man to be in the backfield. That's the way it was. Well, he and I got to laughing about our experiences and the kid, he got upset. He said to his dad, "I can't understand how you can sit here and talk to this man, who was responsible for you being subjugated," and then, he said to the boy, "No, no, he wasn't. He and I were in the same thing." The kid got up and walked out. Well, I don't know whether I'd lost him because of that, but it was interesting that the black man and I had very similar experiences and had very similar remembrances of the period, and neither one of us had any real animosity towards each other. It's just the way it was.
SI: Was this in the 1960s?
DH: You mean when I played against him?
SI: No, when you went to recruit his son.
DH: Oh, yes, in the '60s.
DH: Yes, it was in the '60s. Yes, that's the way it was in, pretty much so, throughout our part of the country, but, anyway, I brought that up just as I was thinking about it.
SI: Yes, any time you want to jump forward, go ahead.
DH: That was interesting.
SI: What do you remember about some of your most memorable games? Does anything stand out about playing back then that you would not necessarily find today?
DH: Well, I'll tell you, we were in Hawaii, in '44, and, every day, the Hawaiian kids would come aboard ship, sell you newspapers. I'm opening up the newspapers, I'm reading Strange As It Seems. [Editor's Note: Strange As It Seems was a syndicated comic strip featured in daily newspapers starting in 1928.] You ever--that was in the newspapers.
SI: It was a column.
DH: Right, a column, right, Strange As It Seems. In 1942, William Penn [High School] of Harrisburg played William Penn [High School] of York. The score was nothing-nothing. The football coach at William Penn of Harrisburg's name was Emanuel, Vick Emanuel and the coach at York was Snaps Emanuel. They were brothers. The left defensive end for William Penn of Harrisburg was Jack Emanuel and, for us, at York, was Eddie Emanuel. The score was nothing-nothing. Eddie Emanuel was killed in the Battle of the Bulge and Jack Emanuel was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge. As it turned out, that was something, I never really thought much about it. That was a game. We had a very good football team. We had good basketball teams at York. I just happened to remember that one. York High played John Harris [High School] and the coach at John Harris, [his] name was Rote and, years later, one of the quarterback's name was Rote--it was his son, Rote. His son Rote ended up as a quarterback at West Chester in 19--what the hell was it, '49?--George Rote, and the center for the team was Bud Heilman. [laughter] So, there, that was kind of interesting. We played Williamsport [High School]. Now, that's quite a trip, from York to Williamsport, and we couldn't travel by bus because of the gas shortage. So, there were people from [town], the York people, [who] used their gas coupons in those days and we traveled by car. On the day that we played Williamsport, we left York, we arrived in Williamsport about, as I remember, twelve-thirty. The game started at one and we won six-nothing and came home the same day, interesting, yes.
SI: Were there other ways war rationing affected the school?
DH: I don't remember that much about it, that gasoline rationing was definitely a problem. Of course, after Pearl Harbor, we had all those blackouts and practice and all that kind of stuff, which, in retrospect, looks kind of foolish, but, at the time, [seemed reasonable]. Then, the rationing that really took place took place after I went into the service. So, I didn't have the same relationship to what was happening at home as to what we had in the service, yes.
SI: Going back to before Pearl Harbor, your father worked for a newspaper. Obviously, he was getting news from all over through his job.
SI: Were world events and national events discussed in your home?
DH: My dad brought home--this might have been '38 or '39--a radio. Now, it's something you can't imagine, but this radio hung up on the wall and we dug a hole in the back of the yard and put about a sixty-foot piece of pipe up in the air and ran a string into the house. We could actually pick up a couple radio stations. As I remember, KDKA out of Pittsburgh was one of the big ones and WOR out of Newark--New York, WOR in New York--and the shortwave. I actually remember hearing this, the march of the stormtroopers, and you'd hear that, "Wahh, Wahhhh," with the waves. You'd think--I thought--that was the waves from the ocean. No, my dad kept us pretty much aware of what was happening, but, again, I'm not sure, as a young teenager and doing all the things that I did, that I really understood. To tell you the truth, when I heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the announcement interrupted the football game, which made me mad, and said that the Island of Oahu was bombed. I'm looking around, saying, excuse me, "Where the hell is Oahu? What is that?" I didn't understand that it was Hawaii. I worked in a gas station. I forgot to mention that. I worked for Esso [Standard Oil] in a gas station for years and two of the guys that worked as mechanics were both German. Right after Pearl Harbor, I'm in the office by myself, at the gas station, and the other two guys are down in the pits. This gentleman came in and I don't remember him introducing himself as an FBI man, but, now, I look back on it and he wanted to know about the two guys that worked for us. The year before, one of them, his brother came over for a visit. We had heard about the educational system of Germany from my dad. When he said he was going back to Germany, we couldn't understand why he would want to go back, but this was important to the people from the FBI, to know what their feeling was on that. Both guys were great, though--they were American, yes.
SI: Do you know of anyone in your community that expressed any opinions that were either pro-Allies or pro-Axis?
DH: Oh, yes. The people up the street were of German descent and they actually moved back to Germany. They actually moved back to Germany. The rest of it--what the hell?--oh, we had the Italian-American clubs, the German-American clubs, all that in York. When the war came, then, they changed it to the Dutch club, instead of the German-American club. [laughter] I never remember in my hometown that there was a great deal of that. I don't remember that, yes.
SI: Do you remember people saying that America should stay out of the war or America should get more involved in helping the Allies?
DH: Well, yes, all that was flying around, but, again, as a teenager, that was not going to [make an impression]. I can remember my dad, we would sit by the radio and listen to Roosevelt's Fireside Chats, with his dog Fala. [laughter] To be honest with you, yes, I could understand what he was saying and I could understand about him saying, "We're not getting [in]to this war," that it's someone else's war. When I was growing up, my dad was a big Legionnaire [a member of the American Legion] and I'd spent time in the Legion around men who had fought in Europe. I had a pretty good idea what had happened in World War I. So, yes, I don't recall, in York, having any demonstrations, or anything like that, of keeping out of the war.
SI: Tell me about the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.
DH: Well, it was a Sunday and, as I say, we had the radio [on] and I actually was listening to a football game when the guy interrupted and said the Island of Oahu was bombed. The game came back on, and then, there were occasionally bits on the radio. Well, obviously, the people in Washington didn't know what the hell happened and weren't going to tell us what happened. So, when I say it didn't affect us, I don't think we were affected by the news of Pearl Harbor. It was beyond our scope of reasoning, I think, to understand what had happened, but the year before, the draft, they passed the draft. [Editor's Note: The Selective Service Act of 1940 required all twenty-one to thirty-five-year-old males to register for the draft. These age parameters were expanded to eighteen to forty-five years of age after the United States entered the war.] Now, that had an effect upon our life. Christmastime, at Christmastime for years, the post office would hire all kinds of extra people to carry the mail. Mail was huge in those days, huge, and most of the guys who carried the mail were college students who came home from college over the Christmas [break]. They're carrying [mail]. Now, those guys were gone, right. The draft had picked up a whole lot of those people. So, all of a sudden, us high school kids who had a driver's license, I carried parcel post in those days, with an Army truck, I mean a six-by-six. We'd tool around town a little bit on those things, but that had an effect upon us. The Army had a big review and games up in New York State, and then, they went from New York State to Louisiana and they came, a lot of them came, through York. Oh, yes, we made a point--and I say "we," my friends and I--we'd go down, sit on the curb and, all day long, these Army units would come through. Sometimes, it was nothing but Greyhound busses, because the Army didn't have enough [trucks], or a truck would come through with a sign on it [labeled], "Tank," right, things like that. Still, I wouldn't say that it affected you, in a sense that, God, a year down the road, all of a sudden, I'm gone. I didn't think about it that way, no.
SI: How soon did you realize that the war was going to play a role in your life?
DH: In 1943, the government passed a resolution that you couldn't volunteer anymore. Up until that time, you could volunteer for the service. What they found was that everybody that volunteered went into the Air Force, the Marines or the Navy. Nobody volunteered for the Army. So, the Army, naturally, having the most need of most people, went to the government, obviously, and said, "Hey, we're losing out." So, when I turned eighteen and registered for the draft, I was really fortunate, in my mind, I got into the Navy. That didn't happen to all my friends--not all of my friends were that [lucky]. Even at that point, okay, the war's on. Again, it's sort of like being in a depression. That's what it is--what are you going to do about it?
SI: As you were going through high school, was it assumed that you would just being going into the service? Did you think about college or a career or did you just figure the war was going to interfere?
DH: Well, you just knew that you were going to go into the service. I mean, whatever would have happened, whatever happened was going to happen, but you knew, at eighteen, [you were of draft age]. Of course, I'm going to say, at that time, to be rejected by the draft, what an embarrassment. I mean, that, you didn't even want that to happen to you. Of course, you didn't realize what was going to happen when you got into the combat, but that's another story.
SI: Do you remember people in town who were classified as 4-F having a tough time?
DH: Yes. [laughter] One of our football players, (John Borthem?), didn't pass when he went for his exam and we're all going, "What?" because he had urine [blood?] in his specimen. Well, you know how you handled that? You got somebody else to wee into your jar and turn it in. So, he passed the next time. Actually, one of my friends, [Seaman Second Class] Laverhn Hershey, enlisted in the Navy early and was on the Atlanta when it was sunk down off Guadalcanal and he perished there. [Editor's Note: The USS Atlanta (CL-51), an American antiaircraft ship, was sunk on November 13, 1942, during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.] I believe he was the first that I remember of that kind of thing, yes.
SI: Was there any kind of community response when somebody would lose a son in the service?
DH: If there was, I don't remember it. I do remember, one time, going to a close friend of mine, (Dick Hollinger?)--he was a meathead. [laughter] (Dick Hollinger?) volunteered for the Marines before he graduated and, the next thing you know, he's in the Marines and we're going to school. This would have been in, let me see, January [of] '42 , right after Guadalcanal. There's a picture in the paper of a group of Marines that were caught behind Japanese lines and one of the guys was (Dick Hollinger?). I didn't recognize him, didn't even recognize him. Everybody said, "Hey, Dick's in the paper," but, no, I don't remember that. It's not something that occurred that I can remember, yes.
SI: Do you remember, before you went into the service, being involved in anything like scrap drives or any type of war effort activity?
DH: No, not really. My dad became the chief [air raid] warden for the Fifth Ward, where we lived, and my friend's father, he became the warden for our district. Yes, we used to go up on the park, when York had its blackouts, to see how we were doing. Mr. (Deacon?) was the warden. No, I don't remember doing much about that one way or another.
SI: Was there a lot of industry in the area? Do you recall that picking up?
DH: Oh, yes. York, like the Dutch communities, Lancaster, Allentown, they had a diversity of industry, huge. One other thing was the York Safe and Lock Company, which was really big. They began to produce guns, Bofors and antitank guns. I worked for a contractor and we built the firing ranges at the York Safe and Lock. I remember doing that. Yes, I was sixteen at the time, so that I guess that was my contribution to the war effort; the American Chain and Cable [Company], the York Dental Hygiene, producer--and still is--producer of the world's greatest amount of false teeth. You think, "Well, what the hell is that?" Well, yes, people lost their teeth during the war. Yes, S. Morgan Smith produced propellers for ships that were built in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. They were so huge that the bridge over the railroad on Penn Avenue, they had to jack the bridge up. They did that, they jacked the whole damn bridge up, so [that] these propellers could get underneath and go down to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Yes, York was involved. The York Ice Machinery, obviously, still produced the great storage sheds and things like that. Yes, York was involved heavily in the war industry.
SI: You said you were working at a gas station at the time that you went into the service.
DH: Oh, I worked at a gas station part-time. No, I was still in school.
SI: Do you remember having to deal with the gas rationing as an employee? Did you have to check customers' cards?
DH: No, I was there before the war, and then, I wasn't there when [that started]. I was gone by the time the rationing came in, yes. No, I didn't deal with that, although gas was only eighteen cents a gallon. [laughter]
SI: You went down to register for the draft and you wound up in the Navy. Tell me a little about the process of going through the board, the physical, all of that.
DH: Everybody had to register for--every male had to register for--the draft, and then, you were given a rating, 1-A or 4-F. Then, you were told to report. We reported to the American Legion and were taken to the Pennsylvania Railroad Station in York and [were] transported to New Cumberland, which is outside of Harrisburg. New Cumberland had one of the biggest receiving depots for the East Coast. We all went up there and went through a series of physicals and all that kind of stuff. When you came out of that, you were classified according to [your ability] and it turned out I was 1-A and 1-A meant that you were available for immediate call up to the service. So, that happened while I was in my senior year, and then, in York, we had what they called the York YCI-YC[A], York Collegiate Institute-[York County Academy], which, today, actually today, is York College. I graduated--we had what they called a January graduation--graduated in January and went right up there and played basketball and took a couple courses and received my notice to report to New Cumberland for transport to Sampson, New York. The Navy assigned me to Sampson, New York, for a naval training station. So, when the time came, I think it was April the 7th, 1943, I said good-bye to my mother, who was ironing clothes, and that was a typical German good-bye, and off I went, with a guy up the street who also was going into the Navy. We went to the Pennsylvania Railroad Station. We're transported to Harrisburg. [In] Harrisburg, we shifted to the Redding Railroad, took us to Allentown, Pennsylvania. From Allentown, Pennsylvania, they took us up to what they called Sampson, which is near Geneva, on Lake Seneca. A little aside, last year, my daughter and I were up riding our bikes, up at Jim Thorpe, [Pennsylvania], and these two railroads go through there. At the railroad station, the guy said, "You've got to go up and see their little train display." Well, Jane and I walked up there and the guy--there's only one--and it's Jane and I, so, we had this great display by ourselves, just great. I said to him, I said, "Can I ask you a question?" "Yes, sure." I said, "If you were going from Allentown up to New York State, how would you get there?" He said, "By this railroad." My daughter and I had just finished riding our bikes alongside that railroad, which is the railroad that I took from Allentown to [Sampson]. It was pretty neat. So, then, we came into this camp, [which] had been constructed from nothing. It was a political move, that's all, but, all of a sudden, this is going to have about 450,000 men go through Sampson. [Editor's Note: US Naval Training Station Sampson was built in 1942.] We arrived there in the morning and, boy, that was an eye-opener, I'll tell you. We get off the train--it seemed to me that there were fifty thousand guys, all in dungarees. I figured they all must have been veterans of the war. They're hollering, "Stand up. Put that bag down. Pick it up," all this, oh, Jesus. Finally, they got us all lined up and they put us in the back of these trucks and closed the door. We're stuffed in there. We rode around. I thought, "My God, they're taking us right out to the Pacific." [laughter] You know what they did? They just rode around a little bit. [laughter] So, that was my introduction to Sampson, named after an admiral of the Spanish-American War [Rear Admiral William Thomas Sampson], and that was the beginning of my naval career.
SI: You said the base had just been built. Did you have barracks to live in?
DH: Oh, yes, we were lucky. I got there in April of '43 and the damn thing opened in December of '42. From the ground up, they built the barracks, they built the dining halls, they built the drill hall, they built everything. They have pictures, which I saw much later, of some of these people who came up from the South and they actually lived in their cars. They actually lived in their cars while they worked. Yes, when I got there, basically, everything was up and running, yes.
SI: You had this memorable arrival. Was it easy or difficult for you to transition into military life from civilian life?
DH: Can I cross my fingers and tell you? [laughter]
DH: I didn't really have a problem, but I consider that as [the result of] some of the things that happened to me growing up, so that when I came there, I wasn't really scared or nothing like that. I mean, [if] they said, "Pick it up," you picked it up. The old chief down at the post office, he said, "Now, listen, one thing you remember, don't volunteer for anything." Now, we're talking about hundreds and hundreds of guys my age. So, they take us to the drill hall and into a room where you strip down. Well, I didn't have a problem with that. When we belonged to the YMCA and we swam at the Y, we swam naked. We all took a shower together. We all swam in the pool together, so that I didn't have a problem with that. I mean, I didn't find that to be strange, let's put it that way. So, we got out, and then, we went to the drill hall and, after you put all your stuff in the little bag that you toted, they told you to bring, put all your clothes in there. Now, there must have been a thousand or two thousand guys ahead of me, in this line of naked guys, right. As you go down, there's two pharmacist's mates on either side of you, right, "Boom," they hit it, "Boom," with the shots and all. A friend of mine was right behind me. He got shot--he fainted. [laughter] So, then, we go down and you go through the clothing [line] and the guy looks you over, "Okay, this is your size." "Okay, that's fine," they say that's your size. "What size shoe?" "Okay," and we went through all that. Then, we went through--now, today, I understand--we went through a couple shrinks [psychologists]. I didn't realize that they were testing me; I didn't have a clue. They asked me a couple of questions. "Okay, you like girls?" I remember saying, "Yes, they're okay." [laughter] I mean, at the time, my relationship to the girls in high school, "They're okay," and then, the one guy said to me, "You like music?" "Yes, yes." "You ever sing?" "Yes, I was in the play a couple times." "Really?" "Yes," I said, "I was in the play two or three times." "Well, that's good," and he put an "X" on my [file]. I thought, "Oh, what the hell did I do now wrong?" So, we go through, and then, a guy says, "Okay, now, everybody get dressed," and we had, they gave us, the stencils with your name on it and [we] get outside, we got our little clothing bag that we're going to ship home. Again, we get into the trucks and away we go. Next thing you know, we get out and here are all these barracks lined up, with about five hundred guys hanging out the windows, hollering, "You'll be sorry, you'll be sorry." I'm sorry already, [laughter] but we get up and we get our sea bag--everything we own is in this sea bag--and I'm on the second deck. We're walking through and these people are hollering at you, "You'll be sorry." "Wait a minute," I look at this guy I mentioned, (Stackhouse?), I said, "you and I were in the same movie on Saturday night." "Yes," he said, "hurry up, get a bunk." So, he said, "And don't get a lower bunk, get an upper one, because, if the guy upstairs wets his pants, you're below." [laughter] So, we threw our stuff in the [bunk], right, and we're out there hollering, "You'll be sorry," at the next group coming up. Then, the chief come in, "Okay, everybody with an 'X,' stand over here." So, half the guys in there, we all stood over. He said, "You're now in the choir company." [laughter] So, I'm in the choir company, but, yes, basically, the Navy has everything under control. We'll all go get our haircuts at the same time, we'll all go to the gun range at the same time, we'll all go through the gas chamber at the same time, we'll all go to the class at the same time, we'll all wake up at the same time. That didn't bother me. Having been in the Boy Scouts and at the Y and things like that, I didn't really have any trouble with that. I don't remember too many guys in our barracks having trouble like that. They had a unit, L Unit, in Sampson, where they would put young people who were having difficulty. So, no, I [was] kind of fortunate with my boot camp, I thought, right.
SI: How long were you at Sampson for?
DH: Oh, gosh, we came there in April and we didn't leave there until sometime in early September and we drilled--like everything else, we drilled. One of the funniest things is, we all went down to Lake Seneca with these big boats and big oars and, God, a chief petty officer--I mean, a chief petty officer, you don't want to fool with. We actually had to take these boats out and row them together. Now, way back in 1812, that's how they went ashore. The guys would row along. I don't know what the hell we're doing with the boats. [laughter] I mean, it was funny; it really was kind of funny. We went to swimming class. We had to jump off a fifteen-foot tower into the water and swim to the end of the pool. Well, I mean, that was nothing. We had done that at the Y for years. So, we drilled.
SI: Does anything stand out about your drill instructors? Were they tough guys?
DH: Well, the Navy came up with a rating, a chief--they really were physical education guys from college, that's about what they were--and we had a chief. No, he wasn't tough, because--not because--but he had not been a Navy man. He was a chief because he had been a phys. ed. graduate from some school, and then, of course, guys like me, all of us, that's what we wanted to be. We said, "Hey, that's for me," but that didn't turn out. [laughter]
SI: What was it like meeting people from all over the country?
DH: That, I think one of the most interesting points, when we were growing up, York had a baseball team in the New York-Pennsylvania League. One summer, the House of David, it was called, they would come and play an exhibition game. These guys all had beards. Well, we figured, "These are old guys," the House of David. [Editor's Note: The Israelite House of David started playing competitive baseball in 1913, eventually becoming famous as a barnstorming baseball team which visited many American towns from the 1920s through the 1950s, playing local amateur and semi-pro teams in exhibition games.] So, this one kid, we're talking about baseball one day and he said that he played for the House of David. We're going, "Get out of here." He's no older than I was. "No," he said, "I'm sure. I can prove it." So, he wrote home to his mother. His mother sent a picture of him. Sure enough, he had a beard. He was one of those guys that grew a beard and we couldn't get over that. That was incredible, but, yes, most of the people from Sampson were from the East Coast. What they had done, they had built this naval base up at Sampson, New York, they built another down in Bainbridge, which is right outside of Baltimore. One month, everybody went to Bainbridge and, one month, everybody went to Sampson. In the month that I happened to go there, the New England guys all came over. So, our company was basically Eastern, those people, yes.
SI: Were there any other aspects of adjusting to life in the Navy that were difficult for you? Did the all-male atmosphere, with the swearing, and so forth, make it harder to adjust?
DH: Well, you see, in boot camp, you don't have that. I mean, I don't remember a lot of swearing in boot camp. You were so dag-gone busy that--you were up at five-thirty [AM] and your day is pretty much [booked]. Everything is done. When we drilled, and Navy guys drilling is something else, but we had to get out and march. They found a couple--I was one--and they said, "You can march." I said, "Yes, sure." So, they made you a petty officer. You had a little thing on there, and then, we'd go out and drill. Yes, I don't remember too much of the swearing in boot camp.
SI: What did being in the choir company entail?
DH: [laughter] Oh, you talk about lucking out. We didn't have guard duty, we didn't have KP [kitchen patrol]. We would go and sing these songs, and then, go to the church on Sunday. We were the choir and, actually, at Eastertime, we were in Sampson at Easter and it snowed on Easter. We were in pea coats. I remember, we went to the drill hall and all the choir companies from all of Sampson were there. We had this chorus and we sang Easter songs over CBS, from New York. Then, our choir company, they took us down to Elmira, one time, to a Reformed church in Elmira, and we sang. Yes, we didn't have any of those guard duties and things like that. So, it turned out all right. Otherwise, we were the same as everybody else, were the same, yes.
SI: You became a radioman later. Was radio training part of your time at Sampson?
DH: What happened, during your period at Sampson, you went through the whole thing--learned the airplanes, you learned the silhouettes of ships, you learned how to tie knots, you did all those things--and then, when your time was up, you were given a week's leave. Everybody went home. Then, we came back, they called it outgoing unit. You were now in this unit and you went in to have an interview, like yourself, and they're asking you, "What would you like to be in the Navy?" a gunner or a signalman or a radioman or whatever it was. "What's your background?" Believe it or not, I had had typing. I had a class in typing in high school. He said, "You can type?" "Yes, I can handle it." He said, "You're good for radio. You'd be a good radioman." "If you say so," I mean, I thought I'd like to be a torpedoman or a gunner. So, I was assigned to radio school and, at that time, radio school group was sent to Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania. So, that's where I ended up, in Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania, for radio school, and I was there. Among other things, while we were there, we had six-man football, tackle. I don't know where they got the equipment, but we had tackle, and the team that I played with, we won the championship. So, a little aside again, we were invited to the Fort Bedford Inn for an evening meal with the Captain. Now, I don't know, Shaun, if you can imagine the Captain of the base sitting at the same table that you are--here's all these forks and knives. We laugh about it now. I said, I swear to you, we all went this way--if the Captain picked up a fork to eat, then, we all picked up a fork. It was that kind of thing, [laughter] but I had a very good experience at Bedford Springs and they taught me to handle the radio traffic well. Then, I'm not sure why, I graduated from Bedford Springs and you had to take twenty-five words a minute and it's all code. I don't know if you knew that.
SI: It was the five-letter groups.
DH: Right, and what happens is, it comes at the same speed. So, even when I type today, I type like this, but I was assigned to what they call the Armed Guard School, up in Noroton Heights, Connecticut. It was an old veterans' barracks type thing. So, I went up there. I learned with the radio I had, then, I had to learn signalman, which I can still do occasionally.
SI: Semaphore? [Editor's Note: Semaphore is a telegraphy system to convey information by using visual signals, typically done with hand-held flags or paddles, but which can also be done with just hands.]
DH: Yes. At that time, the United States Navy had assigned naval crews to merchant ships. It was known as the Armed Guard. I don't know if you ever heard of that or not. So, the gist of it was, while we were at Noroton Heights, they wanted the signalmen and the radiomen to handle [it] in case you were under attack or whatever. I graduated from there in January of '44. I'd been in the damn Navy almost a year without seeing any combat or anything.
SI: Does any part of your training stand out as being especially good or useful?
DH: Oh, well, from graduating from Bedford radio school, I could've gone right to the fleet and copied without any trouble, yes. The instructors and everything else was excellent and I enjoyed being at Bedford. It was a pretty tight ship and it's not every day you see five thousand kids lined up in whites in the Cumberland Valley, on a Saturday. So, we left Noroton Heights and I was assigned to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which was so full with sailors, okay, that they gave us [off-base housing]--they sent us to live in an apartment house, in the so-called Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn. So, every morning, lunch and dinner, we had to walk down to the Navy Yard to get our meals and we lived in these brand-new apartments. That's where I learned what a sub was, a hero [submarine sandwich]. Okay, when we were walking back, I'd see all these guys jump into these delis. Well, they were New York guys--they knew what they were doing. They'd go in and they'd get a hero to take back to the apartment to eat at night, right. So, I learned what a sub or a hero or whatever [was] and we stayed in those apartments, had liberty in New York every other night. If you wanted to go every night, you paid them fifty cents and you got a liberty. We traveled by--nothing, it cost you nothing. So, we'd go into New York. In Times Square, there was a USO [United Service Organizations] thing and you'd go in there, you could get tickets for anything. A couple of us, one time, went in and we got tickets for a New York Giants football game. From that point, they sent us to Brooklyn Armed Guard Center and we were assigned to a ship. What they did was, they posted your name on the list. When your name came up, you were assigned to that ship, regardless of what ship it was. So, one day, my name comes up and I'm off to the SS Hindu--I mean, what a tub. [laughter] If that was my war record, I'd be embarrassed, but it was interesting.
SI: The SS Hindu was a merchant ship.
DH: That was a merchant ship. On the fantail, it had a six-pound gun, which one guy aimed, like that, and two fifty-caliber machine-guns. That was it. It was a coastal freighter and we went up the coast to the Long Island Sound, through the locks up there at Cape Cod, to Searsport, Maine, and we got potatoes. This is my war record. [laughter] We loaded potatoes, came back the same way, went down to Charleston, South Carolina. First, I'd never been anywhere--I mean, I'd never been to the ocean, never been to a thing like this--so, this was all new to me. We go to Charleston and unloaded half of the potatoes and I got a chance to walk around Charleston. Well, I realized then the history part, but, then, the next thing you know, we went to Jacksonville, [Florida], and unloaded the potatoes in Jacksonville, and then, off we go to Cuba. Well, now--not then, but now--I understand we're out there with the dag-gone German submarines and we're sailing by ourselves. With one six-pounder, are they kidding? [laughter] I mean, we're like a rowboat. Anyway, we went to Cardenas, Cuba, and we picked up sugar and it was interesting. The captain was a Dane, the first lieutenant was a Swede and, now, we've got Spanish guys trying to dock the ship. It was pretty interesting. So, we came back to Key West, Florida, and got a convoy, my first convoy, and that took us as far as Philadelphia. Then, we went inland waterways to Boston, where they took off all the sugar, and a chief showed up. He said, "I have to take one guy by the name of Heilman off this ship." I said, "That's me." I was so glad to get off. I mean, it wasn't what I really thought the Navy would be. Then, they took me into the Fargo Building in Boston and, from the Fargo Building, they sent me back to the apartment houses. We were there for a while. From the apartment houses, there were five of us that had been there when all this buying and selling of liberties [occurred]. We think they brought us back because of the court-martial and we didn't get back in time. So, they sent us, this five, we were sent down to Pier 90 in Brooklyn, which was the amphibious group. There, everybody was going to go to Little Creek, Virginia ...
SI: Little Creek?
DH: Little Creek, Virginia, [Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek]. Well, so, we got in there and, one morning, everybody's packing their bag and going, but not us five. Geez, we panicked. We ran into the chief and [we] said, "Hey, hey, what?" "You guys aren't even going. You're going back to the Brooklyn Navy Yard." I don't know why, because our five names were not in alphabetical order. We were five on the bottom. So, I went back there and we were there for a couple days, assigned to escort visitors around, did that. One day, I was supposed to get liberty and my friend comes up and says, "Your name, you're transferred, to Boston, to the USS Walke [(DD-723)], a destroyer," yes.
SI: Could you go into more depth about the buying and selling of liberties? Was it illegal?
DH: Yes, it was illegal.
SI: You were paying off the guy who wrote the passes.
DH: Right, you pay him fifty cents, [laughter] but, if you have four or five hundred guys paying fifty cents, it amounted to lots of money.
SI: They must have tried to get a lot of those guys court-martialed. [laughter]
DH: Right, but it's just one of those things. A couple times, like, when I came down from Boston, from the Fargo Building, my sea bag didn't arrive. For about four days, I would go into Grand Central Station, in the basement, look for my sea bag. Five days went, I finally found it. Another time, when they shipped me back up to Boston, my dag-gone sea bag didn't arrive and the ship that I was supposed to go on left. "Whew," I panicked. The chief said, "Don't [panic], not your fault," but I didn't leave my sea bag go after that. When I traveled, I kept the thing with me. So, they shipped me back down from Boston to Norfolk Receiving Station and I picked up the Walke there, at Norfolk, and I went aboard her. It must've been around April of '44, yes. Now, I was on a ship that I always wanted to be on, a destroyer.
SI: How big was the Armed Guard unit on the SS Hindu?
DH: Four gunners, one signalman and me. That was it. She was only a tub; she was a tub.
SI: What were your daily activities like?
DH: I was supposed to be the radio operator for the Navy. I was supposed to go in there and copy--and whatever I copied, obviously, to give to the Captain--but the regular radio operator, the merchant guy, he was on there most of the time. So, I didn't really get a chance to do much. When he wasn't on, I'd go in and copy stuff and hand it in, but what it was or what they did with it, I didn't have anything to do with it. I just kept my skill at copying.
SI: How did the Navy men and the Merchant Marines get along?
DH: Oh, on our ship, it wasn't any problem. I think on the bigger ships, it might've been different, but we were so small, right. No, we were okay. I don't remember having any problem at all and, actually, the food wasn't too bad, either. Food wasn't too bad. No, it was an experience that I look at it and it was something different--not everybody served in the Armed Guard and not everybody served in the Armed Guard and the regular Navy. So, I'm kind of lucky in that respect; I had a little sampling of both.
SI: I know you never actually saw any German submarines, but was there ever a time when you thought you might be attacked?
DH: On the Hindu?
SI: On the Hindu, yes.
DH: No, no, nothing. Coming back from Key West, geez, I thought that was incredible, with all these ships. I'm not sure what we had for a patrol, but, in those days, there weren't that many destroyers around. We went north and some ships would get off at Norfolk or Charleston and some got off at Norfolk, as we went, Baltimore. By the time we got to Philadelphia, there were very few left and the rest went to New York and we went up to Boston. Yes, it wasn't anything exciting and it's not something you come home and tell your children, "What did you do during the war, Dad?" "Well, I sailed on a potato boat." [laughter]
SI: At this point, it sounds like you were eager to get into combat.
DH: Well, I wouldn't say that we were eager to get into combat, because I didn't realize what combat was, but I was eager to get on a destroyer. Somehow or other, I just thought that was the ship that I wanted to be on. When they told me I was to get off of this one, I was hoping for a destroyer. Who knows who picked your name out of the till down there in Washington? but they assigned me to the Walke and, for me, it turned out to be great.
SI: You joined the crew in Norfolk.
SI: What was it like adjusting to the new ship?
DH: That was different, that was different. First of all, I went aboard and they didn't put me with the radio crew at all. They put me in Division 1. I was a "deck ape" for quite a while and the lowest jobs available, they gave to you, because I was the newest. One of the interesting things, the battle plan, where you are at GQ [general quarters], I was assigned to the lower handling room of [the] number two mount. That is as far down as you can get before the water comes in. [laughter] I thought, "Jesus, this is not for me." What it is, you're putting the shells in there, it goes up. I said, "What the hell? If a torpedo hits here, you don't have a chance." So, I enjoyed the deck crew, actually. I learned a great deal. The boatswain first class, for whatever [reason], he liked me and I got jobs cleaning and learned a great deal. One day at lunchtime, I'm sitting across from a guy and we're talking about our battle stations and he said, "Geez, I wish I could change mine." I went, "Woo-hoo, hello, where are you [stationed]?" [laughter] He said, "I'm in the number two gun mount," and he said, "I don't want to be up there." I said, "Well, I'll tell you what--I'm in the lower handling room. You want to switch?" He said, "Yes, I'll switch with you." So, we had to go to the First Lieutenant, who's responsible for that, and we made our pitch. Usually, they don't do that. Usually, once you're [assigned, that is it], and we're sitting there with our fingers crossed and he finally said, "All right." So, they switched me from the lower handling room to the number two gun mount. I became what they call a fuse setter. In the gun mount, you have a pointer and a shooter and you have a couple guys who load the shells and handling that. My job, it was really like two little computers, my job was to make sure that the two things came together. If they came together like that, that meant that the fuses were set properly. Actually, what happened, you had two little things here to crank. The gun mount controlled everything and what today would pass for computers, when the director finder got on target, these dag-gone things would spin around and, hell, they would come together almost before I could touch them, but my job, during all the shooting, was to make sure that the fuses were set properly, which was determined by the gunners in the gun mount for their distance, and so forth. Yes, I was happy up there. I thought that was a good place to be. [laughter]
SI: What were your living quarters like on the ship?
DH: Well, now, there's an interesting [thing]. Just in passing, let me point this way, the electricians, mechanics, guys, they all lived together. The signalmen and the radiomen, the yeomen, we all lived together. The gunner's mates, they all lived together. The steward's mates, they all lived together. Now, the steward's mates were all black. They were all black and they all lived in the same compartment. Now, I never thought much about that. I never thought whether--and there weren't any white steward's mates. They were either black or Puerto Rican--no, no, not Puerto Rican, Filipino--and that's what they did. Now, interestingly enough, on our ship, on the destroyer, some of the black steward's mates actually fired, took care of a twenty-millimeter on the starboard side, were gunners. I guess, in a way now, when I read my history again, you know how segregated the Navy was and the Armed Forces were. I never gave it a thought that they were segregated by that, because they lived there, we lived in our compartment, so forth. We didn't have air-conditioning, all right. Especially in the Pacific, what you wanted to do was get yourself up on the top bunk, where the blower came out. That's where the air [was coolest]. [laughter] So, if you had the four o'clock watch, you'd put the air on yourself. This son of a gun, the next guy, came up, he took it off of you and put it on himself, but we lived in compartments. Right, that was the way it was.
SI: What was the first operation you went out on after you joined the crew? Were you going on patrols in the Atlantic?
DH: What happened to me was, the ship was in Norfolk and we were conducting drills with a tanker on refueling, refueling at sea, one ship's alongside the other. They were experimenting to see whether the tanker could be in front of you and trail it, and then, you pick it up. It didn't work out too well, but it was a weekend--actually, it was a Saturday, as I remember--in April. We got this call to prepare to get underway. All hands were called back from wherever they were and some were in York at the gunnery school and some were in Philadelphia at the machinist's school. They never made it back. We took off for New York and arrived there on a Saturday night and were told--we were given a little bit of liberty, believe it or not--and the next morning, Sunday, we pulled out of New York. Some of the guys that had been a little distance, they made it back and we pulled out of New York Harbor and there's about seven destroyers, including us, and about fourteen ships and we're assigned. Now, we're on a convoy off to England and that was it, away we went. We took this convoy over to Liverpool and, now, that was considered a fast convoy, ten days. Going over, our sonarman picked up a contact and we threw a couple depth charges, but, basically, nobody thought it really was a sub. We took that group over to Liverpool, in England, and then, we were sent up to Glasgow in Scotland. I didn't get liberty. [laughter] The next two days later, we're on our way back down to Liverpool again, with a lot of empty transports. That's kind of an interesting one. One morning, somebody was saying, "Hey, we're getting stuck in a minefield here." So, somebody didn't do their job, but we got out of it all right. We dropped off the empty transports at Liverpool and went around and came into Plymouth, England, and that was an eye-opener. That was something else again. From a distance, it looked fine. When you get up close, it wasn't fine--all the buildings were smashed and stuff like that. That was the first air raid that I experienced. We weren't allowed to shoot back. The ships in the harbor did not shoot back, and so, we sat up on the bridge and watched it and the harbor defenses, the British antiaircraft, took care of it. So, that was my first real experience.
SI: Was anything hit during that raid?
DH: Oh, yes. Some bombs dropped in Plymouth, but nothing huge, not like [the Blitz]. These were a couple guys that came over, a lot of flak, a lot of shooting and all, but nothing in the harbor. No, we were fine.
SI: When you went overseas, was there any change in operations now that you were in a combat zone, any change in the way you did things?
DH: Well, not for me. I was still with the deck unit. When we went over, they decided they're going to put a twenty-four-hour watch on (HD?), if you could pick up signals. So, they brought me back in then, four hours on and four hours off, to listen if you picked up any code. Sometimes, we did. Sometimes, we picked up, real close, and not ours. It would've been a submarine, but nothing came of it, no, and I remained there until after we came back.
SI: You went to Plymouth. What was your ship's assignment there?
DH: Well, we went to Plymouth and we exercised with groups, in landing and things like that, and I did get liberty into Plymouth. It was an eye-opener, to see all that damage. Then, one day, they just said, "D-Day is tomorrow." This was June the 4th and we were going to be with the group that left on June the 5th and we actually left with them. We were part of the group that, if you remember, they were recalled. So, we came back and left on the 5th and escorted the first group into Utah Beach and found out where the Pointe du Hoc was. Then, we went back into what they called the transport area. Then, the second day, we were back in for shore bombardment, which we did both on Utah and Omaha. Then, we were assigned to go as an escort, with the destroyer Forrest, with a group of Canadian minesweepers to sweep the mines into Cherbourg, where the Army and the Navy were going to attack Cherbourg. So, we're sweeping these mines and they are sweeping the mines. All of a sudden, a couple of our own guys who had been in the Pacific, they were watching the shore and they hollered--they hollered before even the radar picked it up. They had caught the flashes of a German battery that was firing, going to fire on us, and did fire on us. Luckily, we got enough steam and got out of their way. We took some shrapnel, but nobody got hurt and, yes, we fired off quite a few shells at that battery. We don't know what happened, but we did clear the mines. As a result, we were so low on ammunition that they decided to send us back to England with the Battleship Idaho [(BB-42)].
DH: No, Idaho.
DH: Idaho, the old one, and so, we were actually back in England when the Battle of Cherbourg took place. So, we missed that.
SI: How would you clear the mines? Were you just firing at them?
DH: No, the sweepers, the minesweepers, it's just what it is--they have a tow that drags behind them and snares. Most of the mines are on a cable, and then, these things cut the cable and the mine comes to the surface. Well, the minesweeper then, if they don't shoot the mine, then, one of us would shoot the mine. Of course, the Germans were all kind of ingenuity, with their minds, but they did get the mines swept and they did go into Cherbourg. They didn't accomplish too much with the Navy. After that, we were ordered back to the beach area, and then, when they got so far inland that we couldn't be of any help, we went back to Plymouth. From Plymouth, we went to Glasgow--wait, that's, no, no, Ireland, what do I want to say? Belfast. I didn't get liberty there, either, but we went to Belfast and, from there, they sent us home. The seven of us came back to Boston. From Boston, they sent us back to Norfolk, where we trained with the Ticonderoga and the Ticonderoga and us took off for the Pacific and went through the Panama Canal. That was something else.
SI: Let me ask you a few more questions about your time on the Walke before we go to the Ticonderoga. You said that, before D-Day, you were involved in a lot of practice landings.
SI: What would your role be in that kind of practice operation?
DH: Well, what you want to do is make sure that you and the people on the amphibs are on the same radio, that you're in communication. [When] we took the first group into Utah, we wanted to make sure that you did what you were supposed to do and make sure that they did. Up in the northern part of England, they had that exercise with a couple LSTs [landing ships, tank] that turned out to be a disaster, because the German E-Boats got in there and they lost over seven hundred men in that, but, no, it was just to make sure that we're all on the same page, doing all the same thing. Yes, that's about it. [Editor's Note: On April 28, 1944, during Operation: TIGER, a training exercise off the coast of Slapton Sands, England, in preparation for the amphibious assault at Normandy, German E-boats sunk several LSTs, resulting in over 750 Army and Navy deaths.]
SI: In the days before the invasion, what was the mindset and what were your activities to get ready for the invasion?
DH: Well, I guess you knew there was an invasion, but it wasn't part of our thinking, wasn't part of my thinking. I had work to do and we had liberty and, basically, that was all new, being in England. As far as thinking about going across into D-Day, I'm just saying, this is me, I'm not one of those guys in those amphib boats. I think their attitude is going to be a whole lot different than mine. I'm not one of those guys that's going in on the beach. I think if you were stuck in one of those the day before and knowing that this is what you had practiced for, for years, and, now, you're actually going across, I would assume that my attitude would've been different. The Saving of Private Ryan, did you see that? Okay, that opening of [the film], that was pretty real and I can't picture myself having that experience. My D-Day experience was not like that. My D-Day experience was, "Get them in on the beach and shell the Germans someplace else." Outside of those couple batteries that fired on us, okay, we didn't have that kind of experience. Ships behind me were blown up by a mine and we could see them bringing the wounded off of Omaha, but it's different when you're there.
SI: How close were you and what could you see from where you were that day or those days?
DH: Well, we were close enough, that second day, I guess, we were shelling the beach. Then, the beach would tell us where to shoot, how to shoot, and so forth, and then, when they say, "Hold up a little," we'd look through the big gun telescope and I saw all these ships that were sunk. I said, "Holy Jesus, look at that." Well, after the war, I'm reading it, they were sunk purposely, those Mulberries. Well, we didn't know that. [Editor's Note: Two artificial harbors, codenamed Mulberry A (off Omaha Beach) and Mulberry B (off Gold Beach), were used to offload supplies at Normandy shortly after the June 6, 1944 invasion.] Then, we heard that the tanks were supposed to have float devices in on Omaha and they all went to the bottom. Now, if you were there, right, on one of those tanks, that's going to be a hell of a sight different than where I am on the destroyer and, yes, like the Corry, she was sunk early, settled right down, flags flying, the upper structure is still there. [Editor's Note: On June 6, 1944, the destroyer USS Corry (DD-463) was sunk by the Germans during the initial stages of the Normandy invasion.] You're kind of detached in a way from it. It's not until we get to the Pacific, where we actually got hit, that, "Holy, wait now, that's different, that's different."
SI: I assume there were no casualties on your ship in Europe.
DH: No, no. Now, some of the other ships of our squadron did sustain casualties and were hit at Cherbourg, but, no, we're fine. We come out of it all right.
SI: When these ships got hit, like the ship that got hit with the mine, did your ship have to engage in any rescue activities?
DH: No, no. There were so many small craft in the water. No, we didn't.
SI: Were there any other times when the Luftwaffe attacked your area, your ship?
DH: It was just that one night in Plymouth. We could watch the planes flying over. Holy crow, I mean, it was just incredible. So, no, we didn't fire [at] any aircraft at all. I didn't even see a German plane [later].
SI: When you were firing on the beaches at Normandy and, also, at Cherbourg, were you able to get a sense of how effective your fire was?
DH: Well, the only thing we get from where I am, down in the gun mount, is that the chief gunnery officer is saying, "We're doing all right," that the people on the beach said our fire was effective, that we stopped the German counterattack of tanks, but it's you and I are sitting here and we're throwing shells over that way. It's different when the shells come at you, which we experienced a little bit later, yes.
SI: Before talking about the Pacific, I wanted to ask about your relationship with your officers on the Walke. Did you have any interactions, or much interaction, with your officers? What did you think of them?
DH: No, not much. The communications officer, who was in charge of radio and things like that, he's about the only one that we ever totally had any dealings with. Later, much later, when I was in the radio shack then and taking messages up to the Captain, then, I had a talking relationship with the Captain, but that's only, "Here, sir, here's your [message]," right. I knew who several of the officers were, but I didn't have any real connection with them.
SI: When you joined the Ticonderoga, again, what was it like acclimating yourself with that crew?
DH: Oh, no, no, I said we were training with the Ticonderoga. No, no, I'm still on the Walke.
SI: I am sorry, I misunderstood.
DH: Put it on. We're off and running.
SI: You had done some training with the Ticonderoga and you were headed to the Pacific.
DH: Right. We went through the Canal and, again, we get liberty, because they had to take the radio antennas off of the carrier to get through the Canal. So, we all got a half a day's liberty and mine was in Panama City, which was great. Then, we take her into San Diego, and then, from San Diego, we took the North Carolina [(BB-55)] and the Alabama [(BB-60)] and we were going to go down to Manus Island. We had gone through some training in San Diego, was different. Back that off a minute--in, yes, San Diego, we had to go through a whole different type of training, because the Japanese were different in their relationship in the ocean. So, we did that.
SI: Do you remember specifically what was different, what you were learning that was new?
DH: Well, the Japanese submarine service, for instance, was much different than the German. The German was aggressive attack. The Japanese, in many cases, were used as scouting and the airplanes, the Japanese aircraft, were obviously different. We had to learn all what they were. Already, the Japanese were beginning to use what they called the kamikaze. So, yes, we went--it was the Alabama. We took the Alabama and we started west. Again, we had training with the destroyers and the battleship and all. We came to Hawaii and, there, we really went through a training period, really tough. As an example, we're going to have an exercise with our PT boats [torpedo armed, fast attack boats] and [they were imitating] the Japanese suicide boats, right. So, this day, we're all hepped up. We're going to do a good job with this. Jesus, we didn't hardly get up to steam, then, we were sunk, I mean, basically sunk. Our PT boats had hidden in a cove. "Whoosh," I mean, they came out of there just like the Japanese would. The lesson was, you'd better be prepared all the time for this kind of thing. So, we spent time in Hawaii. That's great for us. That was fine. Then, we went to a place called Eniwetok, which is about as flat as that table there, and then, we went from there to a place called Ulithi, which is flatter than that table. The one island in Ulithi, which Ulithi is one of the greatest natural harbors in the world, there's a little island called Mogmog, which the Navy took over and that was where they had recreation. If you could stand with nine hundred other guys, two cans of beer, that was your recreation. [laughter] From Ulithi, we sailed with the Third Fleet, with Halsey, and we did some--the fleet did some--bombardment of Manila at the time. We were engaged in our protection of the combat group. [Editor's Note: Fleet Admiral William Frederick Halsey, Jr., commanded Third Fleet and Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid commanded Seventh Fleet.]
SI: Was this part of the Lingayen Gulf operation? [Editor's Note: The USS Walke departed Hawaii on October 23, 1945, with the USS North Carolina, arriving in Ulithi on November 5th. The Walke then participated in strikes on the Philippines with Task Group 38.4 throughout November before returning to Ulithi. As part of Destroyer Squadron 60, she reached San Pedro Bay, Leyte, on November 29, 1944, for operations in Leyte Gulf. The Walke joined Task Group 78.3 on December 6th to support landings at Ormoc Bay in western Leyte. On December 7th, as Army troops went ashore, kamikazes attacked the Allied naval armada, resulting in the loss of the USS Mahan (DD-364), which was sunk by the Walke after she was hit by three kamikazes. On December 15th, the Walke, as part of Task Group 77.3, participated in the invasion of Mindoro, including destroying the grounded Japanese destroyer Wakaba. On January 6, 1945, the Walke arrived at Lingayen Gulf for the invasion of Luzon, covering American minesweepers and providing antiaircraft support. Nakajima Ki-43s (codenamed Oscars) attacked the destroyer using suicidal kamikaze tactics; three attackers were shot down, but one cause extensive damage to the Walke. The ship's captain, Commander George F. Davis, suffered fatal wounds and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. From January 9th to February 6th, the Walke traveled back to Mare Island Navy Yard for repairs. On May 10th, the Walke returned to duty for the Okinawa Campaign.]
DH: No, no, this is early. This is around September of '44, and then, we were detached from there and sent to the Philippines and became part of the Seventh Fleet. Then, our combat with the Seventh Fleet, we were involved in the invasion of Mindoro, the invasion of Lingayen and Ormoc Bay, not in that order. It would've been Mindoro, Ormoc Bay and Lingayen. We were in combat there against the Japanese surface forces and the air. In the Battle of Ormoc Bay, which is hardly even talked about in history, it was one of the great air and destroyer battles of the war. It was great. In the Battle of Ormoc Bay, as we were going, we're actually going in the night before, we lost one of our destroyers. When we were going in, there was a fisherman, believe it or not, there was a fisherman fishing in the channel with his light. We actually went past him and I don't know what he thought about all these ships going by, but, in Ormoc Bay, we actually had, "we" the Walke, sank the Mahan, which had been hit by a kamikaze and lost all power. So, we sank it. We couldn't leave it there, because the Japanese would've taken it. The USS Ward was a part of that group and the Ward was the original Ward that fired on the Japanese submarine before Pearl Harbor, right. [Editor's Note: The USS Ward (DD-139) was also sunk by a kamikaze on December 7, 1944.] I was in the radio shack by this time, but my general quarters was still at the gun mount. So, I got a chance to see a little bit of both, yes, and we got out of Ormoc Bay. We went to Mindoro, too, and Lingayen. On the way to Lingayen, the New Mexico, the battleship, was hit by a kamikaze, a couple kamikazes, and the general and the admiral who was in charge of this thing were killed, hit part of that. [Editor's Note: On January 6, 1945, off Lingayen Gulf, the USS New Mexico (BB-40) suffered a kamikaze strike to her bridge that killed Captain Robert W. Fleming, the commanding officer, British Lieutenant General Herbert Lumsden, and twenty-nine other crew members. Despite this loss, the New Mexico continued to support the landings at Lingayen Gulf.] So, our assignment into Lingayen was to escort the mine[sweepers]--we're back minesweeping again. We had to escort the minesweepers in, but where we were the point, if you can think of this, the minesweepers out like this, we're the point, we're up front. Next thing you know, here comes four Japanese planes, zeroed in on us. Actually, like everything else, we opened up with everything we had. We got three of them, but the fourth one circled around and hit us on the portside and wiped out the forty-millimeter, the twenty-millimeter. Actually, what happened is, it knocked off the fire control director, which is on a ring, so that it turns--just knocked it right off, so [that] we couldn't fire anymore. We were done. We could only fire by hand.
SI: When you say hit, for the record, he crashed into you. He was a kamikaze.
DH: Crashed into the center, right, and, well, we're out of action for a while. I'm in the gun mount at this time and the only thing we knew was, a couple bullets actually came through. This guy was firing his cannon and he let go of his bomb, right, and the bomb actually passed through our ship and out the other side. In the CIC [Combat Information Center] room, the CIC director, he's the tallest of the officials, believe it or not, the damn fin of this bomb actually cut the top of his head and it went right out the other side, plopped in. If it had exploded, we wouldn't have this interview. Of course, the Captain was--I don't know what he was doing over there, but, when he came around the corner, he was just burnt to a crisp, really.
Jayne Dieruff: Did you see him?
DH: Oh, yes. What happened--is that all right?
SI: No, it is fine for them to ask questions. You saw the Captain.
DH: What happened was, the gunner's mate in charge of our gun was hollering, "Everybody get out, because the ship's on fire. Get out of the mount." A couple guys in our mount had been actually hurt by these [shots]. If it would've hit one of those bags of powder, we wouldn't have this interview, and I got out of there without a scratch. I got out on the deck and one of the coxswains was hollering, "Give us a hand here." He was spraying a hose on the twenty-millimeter ammunition box to keep it from exploding. I don't know what happened. We're standing there, somebody else says, "Get this hose up on top of the bridge." What do you do when somebody [says that]? You took the hose and we go up the front of the bridge. Sure enough, we could see the plane. I even saw the pilot, but he's burned. The whole bag, the signalmen, are practically wiped out. It just smashed in there and, while we were spraying the hose, the Captain came around the corner and he was just burnt and shot. He was saying, "Turn the ship around." He actually said that, "Turn the ship around." So, I let go of the hose to the guys behind me and, having been on the bridge many times, I went into the tube and, on a destroyer, you have what they call after steering. If the steering up front goes bad, you steer from the back. I hollered in the pipe, "The Captain," this is what happened, "the Captain says turn the ship around." He stayed up there for the longest time and the ship began to turn around. Years later, I met a guy, I met a sailor from my ship, and we were talking about it. He said, "Bud, I often wondered who that was, because I was on the speaker at the other end of that." Can you imagine that? After steering, they began to turn around. So, we're hollering. By that time, we're hollering down below, "Get the doctor up here, for heaven's sake," for the Captain.
SI: How many corpsmen or pharmacist's mates did you have on the ship?
DH: Well, we had a doctor.
SI: You had an actual doctor.
DH: Believe it or not, we had a doctor and we used to kind of laugh behind his back, because he had been a baby doctor, what? a pediatrician. We'd say, "What the hell does he know?" Well, you should have seen what he did. I mean, he took--kids came back after they had been burnt bad and he had treated them and they came back to the ship before we were finished. Anyway, the Lieutenant Commander, who's the exec, he finally came to the bridge and a radio tech came to the bridge. I said, "It's time for me to get out of here." So, I get out, went back down to my gun mount and we turned around. Then, they took us over to [where] we hid behind the California [(BB-44)], big, ole California, but the Australian cruiser, the HMAS Australia, she was hit about four times by [the enemy]. So, they ordered us out of Lingayen after the invasion. We went back to Subic Bay in the Philippines, "Can't help you," sent us back down to Manus Island, which was a big naval base. They looked at us, said, "We can't help you." Now, the question was, are we going to go to Australia or back to Hawaii? While we were there, we had liberty and the doctor said, "Everybody going on liberty gets two cans of beer." I didn't drink beer anyway, but I took my two cans and I go ashore. There's a big SeaBee [US Navy Construction Battalion personnel] on a big, old tractor. He said, "Hey, what are you going to do with those beers?" I said, "Nothing--why?" He said, "You want to trade?" "Yes," I said, "what do you got?" I said, "How about those shoes you got on?" They were boondockers. His feet [and] my feet were the same; I traded a pair of boondockers for two beers. I wore them the rest of the time I was in the Navy. They were so great. So, Manus says, "You're off to Hawaii." So, with the Columbia [(CL-56)], who had been hit before and still had about sixteen dead in the hold, we went back to Hawaii. They all came aboard and [said], "We can't help you," back to the States. We had to come the whole way back to the States, because the gun director was knocked off its [base], and so, we came back to the States.
SI: How many men did you lose?
DH: We lost thirteen, were killed, and twenty-six were wounded. When you see what happened to us, compared to what's going to happen down the road, you can't say you're lucky, but we were in a way, with the number of causalities, compared to what's going to happen a little bit later. So, back we come to the States, Mare Island. Like everybody else at Mare Island, they had a ship's store and we just all ate as much ice cream as you could possibly do. If you know anything about San Francisco Harbor, it is the worst tides in the country. That's why nobody escapes from Alcatraz. [laughter] So, for a speed run, here we go, and all of us are sitting there with a bucket, all got seasick, from eating all that stuff. So, out we go again; now, this time, we had the North Carolina and we were going down to Manus Island when the Battle of the Philippine Sea took place. We weren't there, but I was on the machine when that plain message, plain language message, came on, "Where are you?" when--what's his name?--[Admiral Jesse B.] Ohlendorf thought that Halsey had left him another task force, which he didn't. So, we never crossed the Equator there. We turned around and headed back towards the Philippines, but we didn't get there in time to do anything. Then, from there, they sent us back up to Okinawa. Don't let anybody kid you but Okinawa was one of the toughest places to be, either on a ship or [land]. It was brutal. It's hard for--although today, if you want to use a parallel today, those people over there in Eastern Europe who commit suicide are no different than the kamikazes were at the end of the war.
SI: You mean the Middle East.
DH: Middle East. Yes, I'm sorry, what did I say? Middle East.
SI: Was your ship put on picket duty or was it in closer?
DH: No, no, three days on picket duty, and then, three days back at Kerama Retto. Kerama Retto was worse than anything else, because that's where all the damaged ships were. One day, we're in there and everybody's watching--the tide's going this way and this thing's coming this way. What is it? a Japanese swimmer. Guys on the fantail just, "Boom," knocked him off, but, yes, we'd go out. A couple times, I think it was the Porter--the Porter relieved us about eight-thirty in the morning. At nine-thirty, we were back there, trying to pick up their survivors. [Editor's Note: At 0815 on June 10, 1945, the USS William D. Porter (DD-579) was attacked by an Aichi D3A dive-bomber. The William D. Porter evaded the kamikaze, but the wreck floated under her and exploded, leading to the ship's sinking. However, the ship's crew suffered no fatalities.] So, yes, I was part of the Desron Sixty[Destroyer Squadron Sixty]and Desdiv 119 [Destroyer Division 119] and every one of us, every one of our ships, had been either hit by the Japanese or by the Germans, at one time or another. So, after Okinawa, they sent us back to the Philippines and, on the way back, we're not at GQ, but we're all sitting up and we could see smoke on the horizon. "What? Now, that's not where smoke should be," and we go to general quarters and we came across bodies in the water. The USS Underwood was a destroyer escort, I believe the last ship that was sunk in World War II by a Japanese submarine. [Editor's Note: On July 24, 1945, the USS Underhill (DE-682), a destroyer escort, was sunk by a Japanese Kaiten manned torpedo.] So, while a couple of the other destroyers circled around, we stopped, actually, and lowered our whale boat and went out and brought the bodies back. Then, we buried them from the Walke. So, then, back we went to the Philippines. The next thing you know, somebody said, "The Japanese surrendered;" geez, these crazy people, the flak that went up in the air and coming back down and all that. So, well, off we go; we're off to Iwo Jima. We went to Iwo Jima. I actually got to see Iwo Jima and Suribachi and all that. We picked up a British air marshal and an American vice admiral and transported them to a troop transport and that's what we did. We ran between various [places], transporting Marines to these transports who are going into Japan. When we finished that, we were out with the Third Fleet. We didn't go in, we didn't go in--they kept half of us out, with full batteries. Everything was loaded, because who knows what the Japanese were going to do? MacArthur, he landed in the airport and nothing happened and, a couple days later, we went into Tokyo Bay, Yokohama, and saw the Japanese ships there. Bad, we were bad. We went aboard a couple of those ships and I got two of the greatest lanterns, brass lanterns, you ever saw. I had them hidden in my locker and, on the way home, when we got back, they came through, "If you have anything like that, you'd better get rid of it, because you're going to be held [accountable]." "Whoosh," I threw them over the side. [laughter] So, we came back to Seattle.
JD: Somewhere in Seattle, those lanterns are, right?
DH: What's that?
JD: Somewhere in Seattle, you dumped them?
DH: Oh, off the harbor, and then, from Seattle, they ordered us down to Grays Harbor, Washington, for Navy Day. After that, we went back down to, ultimately, San Diego. Then, I had enough points-- you accumulated points--and I had enough points. Then, they flew me into Bainbridge and I was discharged from Bainbridge and hitchhiked home. That was it.
SI: Can we go back and ask some questions about serving in the Pacific?
SI: You were basically in combat from September of 1944 on.
DH: September of 1944 through January of '45, when we were hit, and then, the Okinawa Campaign, and then, that was it, yes.
SI: In those earlier campaigns, before you were hit by the kamikaze, how close would you get to the enemy? Did anyone get hit on your ship from aircraft fire?
DH: Well, actually, at Mindoro and Mindanao, I could sit here and look at the shore right there. We actually fired on a Japanese destroyer. Somebody said, "You'd better go shoot at that." So, we did it. It'd already been sunk, but we shot at it anyway. We were close enough [to] the LST that got hit--it was burning--we are from here to the fireplace away from them, to see if we could help, that sort of thing. In Ormoc Bay, we're in the bay, we're under attack from these aircraft and we could see all around the bay. Out a little further, I think it was four Japanese destroyers were making a run in to attack us, but were destroyed by the aircraft before they could. We fired on shore emplacements. Yes, we're close enough.
SI: Before Lingayen, had you actually seen other ships get hit by kamikazes?
DH: Oh, yes, oh, yes. For instance, after Lingayen, when we couldn't fire back, except for forty-millimeters--twenty-millimeters could fire and they did, but my gun couldn't do anything--yes, we watched them come down. You watched them come down. One thing about the destroyer, there wasn't any place to go; I mean, there wasn't any place to hide.
SI: Did you see it earlier though, before Lingayen?
DH: Oh, we saw them in Ormoc, we saw them in Ormoc. I didn't--no, Ormoc is probably where we were that close that we could see both the shore and the aircraft, yes.
SI: What went through your head the first time you saw this happen?
DH: [laughter] I'm not sure--honest, I'm serious. I'm not sure. What my reaction was, I knew that when I stood there and watched them come down, I'm saying, "There's no place to go. There's no place to hide." In Lingayen, a little incident there, we're going along and, all of a sudden, the loudspeaker, "Clear the bridge, clear the bridge. Everybody, clear the bridge, immediately." Well, everybody's running, "Get to the rear." "What the hell's happening?" Here, right in front of us, up popped this whatever it was, came right up. I thought, "If it was a mine, we're finished." It turned out it was a float, it was a float.
JD: It was what?
DH: Just a float. So, like you're standing right there, I'm standing here, okay, we're at the end, there's no place to go. Here's the end of the ship and here comes this thing down along the side. You and I are looking at each other and you had run back from the bridge. You were a talker, you had your headphones on, right, and the wire that was supposed to be plugged in on the bridge was behind you and you're [saying], "Hello, hello." [laughter] I said, "I don't think we're going make this thing, right," but, no, it wasn't any [thing], all of a sudden or anything like that. No, it just was something that happened. Yes, I think my experience would be entirely different from somebody who's at the Bulge or somebody who's gone ashore in ...
JD: Like Uncle Walt?
DH: Yes, example, right. In a way, when I say ours was easy, in a way, because we knew who we were fighting. If you interviewed somebody from Afghanistan or the Gulf Wars, I can't imagine how those guys [feel], or even Vietnam. I mean, who the hell are they fighting and what are they fighting for? My heart goes out to them, really. Now, of course, if you're aboard, like, one of the big aircraft carriers that gets nailed--and, in the beginning of the war, we didn't realize that, but the gasoline fumes in the pipes, as soon as they got heated, "Boom," they exploded. Okay, so, it wasn't long before they figured a way to end that. That must have been devastating. Those battles down there in the early [days], Guadalcanal, those night battles, oh, Charlie, there was nothing, nothing--I don't think even D-Day would compare to that kind of thing. So, I didn't experience that. That was all done for me before I got there.
SI: You saw a lot of combat. You are kind of unique in that you fought the Germans and the Japanese.
DH: Yes, yes.
SI: How did you view both enemies? Was there a difference in the way you viewed them? What did you think of the enemy?
DH: I don't think we thought about it. I didn't have any [opinion]. Of course, remember now, we didn't know about the camps. We didn't know anything about that in our situation here.
SI: You mean the Nazi death camps.
DH: Right, we didn't know anything about that. So, yes, when you're a teenager or just before that, yes, I marvel, I do marvel, at all those guys who stepped in that Higgins boat [landing craft vehicle, personnel (LCVP)] knowing full well what they're up against and still [doing it]. At the same time, I studied my Civil War and, I tell you, I can't imagine Bud Heilman being one of those guys who stood in line and marched up to the enemy. That just boggles my mind how they get people to do that.
SI: I wanted to ask a few more questions about when you were hit by the kamikaze, if that is all right.
SI: You said you were not hurt physically, but, because of the noise, were you disoriented at all or have any trouble hearing?
DH: No, not at all. I just--Bud Heilman just did what Bud Heilman would usually do. Somebody says, "Take the hose," I took the hose. The Captain came around, it was obvious he needed a doctor, so, you hollered for the doctor.
JD: Did he die that day?
DH: No, he didn't die [immediately]. As a matter-of-fact, he wouldn't leave the bridge until the Commander actually came up and we forced him to go off the bridge. He went back to where the doctor was treating all the wounded and he would not let the doctor touch him until he finished with all of the wounded. As you saw, he got the Medal of Honor, one of the few Navy people that got the Naval Medal of Honor. Yes, he'd only been aboard [a short time], relatively new, just a tremendous person and what a captain, was a great captain, no question.
SI: When he was finally treated, was he taken off or did he remain with the ship?
DH: He died. He died on the fantail, yes, and then, we had the burial at sea, wasn't anything you could do about it.
SI: When something like this happens, how do you deal with it? Does it have an effect on you or do you just sort of put it out of your mind?
DH: No, I never even gave it any thought. You asked me that question--I never gave it any thought. We just went ahead and did what we were supposed to do. I don't remember anybody in the radio shack--one of the technicians had been killed, I don't remember. The signalmen, they were practically all gone. Obviously, the forty-millimeter guys were wiped out to a man, but we just kept doing what you're supposed to do and I think that's probably true of all the ships, really. I really believe that the training that you got prepared you for that possibility. Yes, I think some of it [was], if you could say frightening, but, certainly, some of the most frightening things were the typhoons that we went through. I mean, that's an eye-opener, that's an eye-opener, in that so-called "Halsley's typhoon," where those three destroyers turned over. I don't know if you ever heard of that.
SI: Yes, it was off Okinawa in October.
DH: Well, it was off the Philippines and they had tried to refurbish their oil, but they couldn't do it. So, they were riding too high and they turned over, but we were good enough that we survived--not that hurricane, but we survived a couple more. That's interesting, that's interesting. My feeling is that most people in the world don't appreciate the tremendous power of a storm, of water, "Woosh," once it gets moving. Well, that's another story; go ahead.
SI: A number of sailors I have interviewed say they felt helpless in large storms because they could not do anything. They just had to ride it out.
DH: Yes, there's nothing you can do. Coming out of Guam, on the way home, we picked up about 125 Marines that had been in the Pacific longer than I had been in the Navy. We're out about two days and we run into this typhoon and we were with the Pennsylvania. These poor guys, they strapped themselves in on the bunk and they were saying, "How in God's name do you guys do it? Not for me," and all that stuff, and the cooks, you know what the cooks [served]? pork chops. [laughter] Not too many Marines ate. No, you're helpless, but I never quite got the feeling that we were doomed, let's put it that way. No matter what happened to us, I never had that feeling that we wouldn't come out of it.
SI: Did they have a chaplain on the ship?
DH: No, no. I would think that you'd have to get to the cruisers before you would find [one], if you found a [chaplain]. We were lucky to have a doctor, we were lucky to have a doctor. Not all destroyers had doctors. They had chief pharmacist's mates or, as we called them, "shanker mechanics," but, no, we were very fortunate, our ship, yes.
SI: Did you ever have the opportunity to go to services? Did religion play any part in your time in the service?
DH: Are you really putting me to the test here? [laughter]
SI: No, that is fine.
DH: Now, I think we were in the Philippines and there was a destroyer tender, was called the Prairie [(AD-15)]. A friend of mine from York was on the Prairie and they said, "If anybody wants to go to religious services, get to the liberty boat at such-and-such a time." So, I went up and got the signalman and I got a hold of the Prairie. He asked if (Rat Reinhart?), Russell, Russell (Reinhart?) was aboard ship. So, about ten minutes later, "Yes, he's aboard." So, I went down and signed up to go to church services. So, I took the liberty boat over to the Prairie and Rat and I spent the time [together]--hardly what you would call religious--but, no, and the same, we didn't have a dentist, no. I don't even recall ever thinking I should go. Except after boot camp, when I went to all the services, I don't remember going.
SI: Did you ever do any more singing after boot camp?
DH: No, no, that was enough. [laughter]
SI: Okay. Sometimes, I hear about sailors or soldiers putting on shows and stuff like that.
DH: Oh, yes. No, my wife could sing, so, I left it up to Mommy.
SI: Was there any time when you did not have enough supplies or were there any issues with logistical support?
DH: I think the only time that we ran a little short was, as I understand it, one of the freighters was sunk that had some of our supplies on. So, we ate rice for quite a period of time. The cooks were magnificent. They tried to make it look like mashed potatoes and stuff like that, but rice got a little long, you might say.
JD: Old fast.
DH: Right, but, other than that, we had to load our own supplies and our own supplies would go into the hold. If you accidentally dropped a box of canned goods, peaches, "Oh, my, this broke," and everybody would grab a can. [laughter] I think we did very well. Actually, the steward's mates--isn't that funny? I remember his name to this day--his name was (Jeter?), a black man, and he was one of the chief cooks in a hotel in Atlanta. Isn't that funny how you remember things like that? He made the greatest soup you ever ate. We used to go down after the officers ate and (Jeter?) would save us a little cup of the soup. Another thing, the bakers, at four o'clock in the morning, boy, the smells coming out of the bakery, that bread. [Editor's Note: Mr. Heilman makes a noise to illustrate the delicious smell of the bread.] Anyway, we're down there one day--when I say "we," because usually a couple guys always were together--and one of the cooks says, "I know you guys are up there listening to the radio." When we were in Europe, we would listen to Axis Sally and, when we were in the Pacific, we listened to Tokyo Rose. We got so good at listening, I could copy in one ear and listen to Tokyo Rose in the other one. [laughter] Yes, that's pretty good. He said, "I know you guys are up there listening to music." He said, "I wish we had something down here that we could listen to." So, we went back up, talked to the radio techs, and those guys could do anything. They could fix anything. So, I'm not sure how they did it, whatever they did, they drilled a hole and ran a wire in that hole and put a little speaker in for the cooks in the morning--let me tell you, did we eat well, did we eat well. [laughter] Oh, my, sticky buns and all and we would play music all the time. We actually played music to the ship, every once in a while.
SI: What do you remember about listening to Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose?
DH: Oh, in both cases, they would play the very latest, very latest. We could listen to Glenn Miller or Harry James or Les Brown, on either side, yes. It was great. Also, in Europe--now, what the hell did they call it?--the Armed Forces Radio had a disc jockey who played music, the latest, but, when he wasn't on the air, you could go to Axis Sally without any trouble.
SI: Do you remember any of the propaganda that was broadcast?
DH: Not really, no.
SI: Does anything stand out?
DH: I was too dumb to [remember]. [laughter] I don't remember any of that, no.
SI: You were at sea for quite a while. How was your morale?
DH: Never a problem.
DH: Never a problem, never.
SI: Were you able to get mail from home and have good communications?
DH: Oh, yes. Of course, destroyers, destroyers do everything. We did everything, including deliver mail. When we would go into the rear area, to what they called the service fleet, those guys carried everything. We exchanged movies, sent mail one way or another. One time, we were refueling off, I think it was the [HMS] King George [V], a British battleship, and they sent over--now, I was going to say scotch, but can I back off that? It was either scotch or bourbon. They sent it over to the Captain, right, and the Captain goes, "My God, what could we send back to them?" Somebody said, "Send them back a case of Coke." Wow, boy, you should've heard them on the other end. They thought that was incredible. Of course, we didn't get any of the bourbon, but, yes, that was an exchange that we made with them, yes. The aircraft carriers, when we would [refuel], particularly the aircraft carriers, when we would refuel from them, they're up here and we're down here.
JD: Oh, yes.
DH: Right. We'd holler, "Why don't you guys go to sea?" [laughter] Of course, they wouldn't even compared to what we have today, but they were big then. They were big then. We used to think you need a three-day pass to go to the end. Oh, yes, destroyer life was the best. If you had to be in the Navy, destroyers were the best, yes.
SI: When you were on duty off of Okinawa, you mentioned other ships getting hit, but was your ship ever attacked? Did enemy planes make runs on your ship?
DH: Well, if they made runs on our ship, I don't recall.
DH: Because we fired--we would fire long before they [would] reach a point, right. Whether we ever hit any, [I do not know]. The combat air patrol over Okinawa got to be very good. Somehow or other, at Okinawa, one of the admirals thought that they'd send a destroyer twenty-five or thirty miles out with their radar and pick up [the enemy]. Well, that, Jesus crimminy, one little destroyer and twenty airplanes, you're not going to [be able to defend the fleet]. So, then, they sent two. Then, finally, they sent three. You'd have two guys out here and one like that, so that you could fire at a lot of them, right. Then, they had these little sweepers that were with you. They were there to pick up the bodies. [laughter] When you were on the picket lines and when those got through, everybody fired. Everybody fired. If you knocked the plane down before it got to you, I wouldn't have known it. I was in the radio shack.
SI: How far off was the next ship in the line? How close together were you?
DH: Well, whoever figured it out, you're far enough away that you could fire, all three ships could fire their main batteries, at one time or another. In other words, if you're like this, your main battery out there and the guy in the rear, he could fire back the same, or in front. That was figured out by somebody far beyond me. I don't know how they did it. Maybe if I say you're fifteen hundred or two thousand yards apart, I'm not sure. Somebody could tell you better than I could on that one.
SI: After the war, when you were in Yokohama, Japan, how long were you in that area and in the vicinity of Japan?
DH: Just maybe two or three weeks at the most.
SI: Did you ever get to go ashore?
DH: Oh, yes.
SI: Did you meet any Japanese?
DH: I went ashore in Yokohama. Then, they announced, "If you want to go to Tokyo, there's a group going to Tokyo, but you have to have your whites [service dress white uniform]. You have to be in whites." Are they kidding? I haven't been in whites for [years]. [laughter] My whites are down at the bottom. So, instead of going to Tokyo, we went into Yokohama, but we had to go as a group. The two naval officers went with us. They carried a gun and we walked around Yokohama. I have some pictures of our group sitting in front of a church, and that came as a surprise, "A Christian church in [Japan]?" but we had to stay as a group. We walked around Yokohama and it was okay. It was something different.
SI: Did you see any Japanese?
DH: Yes. The first thing--we're all okay, we're all together--here comes about ten sailors, right, with about six or seven white girls. Oh, you should have heard us, [laughter] "Hey, where did this come from?" They were White Russians who had lived in Japan for years.
DH: There were many sailors, soldiers, Marines that were running around there, I say loose, but we were told we had to stay together. So, my time in the Yokosuka-Yokohama area was with the group. I'll tell you, we got off on those Japanese ships. Every day, we'd go over and look at them. One day, we went ashore. They'd told us that there was caves, and there were, where all these suicide boats [were held]. They looked like a Chris-Craft with a torpedo. Yes, that was pretty interesting. After the war, I think it was like everybody else, in a way--time to go home.
SI: Did you have an idea of what you wanted to do with your life at that point?
SI: Did you have any kind of plans?
DH: I had received a scholarship to go to Gettysburg [College] to play football. I guess, in a way, I thought I might do that, but, many years later, like today, when I look back over my coming home, I wasn't as swift as I thought I was. [laughter] I just thought that was coming home. I didn't go to Gettysburg, because the class schedule they gave me was beyond my capacity to know. So, I went to West Chester [University]. [laughter] I finally got straightened out, yes. It took awhile, but I got straightened out.
SI: You also joined the Reserves. Is that right?
DH: That was a mistake.
DH: [laughter] (Bill Dowm?) and I got this thing--we looked into it. If you could take a summer cruise, we'd get paid for it. So, we'd take the summer cruise, get paid and have money to come back to school. So, we joined what they called the Inactive Reserve and the idea was that we were going to go take these cruises in the summertime. Well, it didn't turn out that way, because the next thing you know, in 19--when the hell did that happen, 1950?
SI: The Korean War? [Editor's Note: The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, and ended with the signing of the armistice on July 27, 1953.]
DH: The next thing you know, Mommy and I were engaged. We get engaged and I gave Mommy a ring there at the house. [Editor's Note: Mr. Heilman makes a whistling sound.] Knock on the door and (Allsing?) was the mailman, he said, "Bud, I don't think you want this thing." I said, "What is it?" He said, "You're being recalled to active duty." I said, "What the? Are you kidding me? I'm in the Inactive Reserve." Anyway, there it was, my whole packet, to go to Baltimore to get the physical, to go to Washington to be assigned. Well, long story short, I was able to hold that off until January and, in January, my superintendent had written a letter saying that, "We just hired this young man for a job and he's the coach. Could you postpone it until January?" They said okay. In January--no, it was in December--I got a letter saying, "We filled your billet. We don't need you right now." So, [for] the next three-and-a-half years, I sat like that and didn't get called back.
SI: With your fingers crossed.
DH: Right. I got out of the Inactive Reserve in a hurry.
JD: How soon after you gave Mommy the ring did you get that letter?
DH: Same day, almost the same day.
JD: Oh, my God.
DH: Almost the same day.
JD: [laughter] Isn't that crazy?
DH: [laughter] Oh, my god, it was great.
SI: You wound up going to West Chester University. How much time was in-between your getting discharged and going back to school?
DH: I got discharged in February. I went back to YCI-YCA. I took a couple courses. I worked at the Meadow and I was thinking of--my friend, (Luther Sowers?), had gone down to West Chester. He said, "Bud, get down here." He said, "This is made for us. You don't have to take a language and you don't have to take math." Of course, we're all on the GI Bill, so, there was a lot of things. So, I packed my little bag and off I went to West Chester. It was one of the real fine moves, good move for me, it turned out to be, just couldn't ask for better. Glenn Killinger was the coach, the Dean of Men, had been a lieutenant commander in the Navy, so, we all towed the mark pretty well, right.
SI: What did you study while you were at West Chester?
DH: Well, what did I study? no. [laughter] Phys. ed. and music were the two major curriculums at West Chester. I wanted to be a phys. ed. major and, when I got there, the phys. ed. program had been filled. As I remember, the admissions said, "What else do you [like]?" I said, "I did pretty good in American history." "That's it. You're a history major, secondary history major." That's what I went through West Chester as, a major in American history. It turned out all right for me, because, when I went for my [graduate degree] at Temple, I went for an education Master's in American history. It worked out all right for me, yes. West Chester was good for me. It was the right time to be there. It was a great time to be at college. All the veterans were back. All the young girls were there. It's hard for the young people today to understand, but, as an example, the women had to be in the dorm at eight o'clock at night. The only way they could get out at eight o'clock at night was to go to the library. You could go to the library [until] nine. Well, it didn't take us long to figure out, if you want your girlfriend to be with you, you both went to the library. [laughter] I had a great experience at West Chester. I had excellent teachers. I had three very, very fine football coaches. I met some people who are still part of our family, really. My friend Walter Blair, he was an end and a linebacker. Walter and I still correspond. Walter was my best man at my wedding. What else? Anyway, I lived in his house for a week or two before I went, got a room down at the Y in Philadelphia. Yes, I got a job at Downingtown because the tackle on my football team at West Chester was a coach there and there was an opening for a JV football coach. I got the job and that started it. That's where I began.
SI: What stands out about playing football at West Chester? What position did you play?
DH: Actually, I started as a fullback on the JV team and, the following year, I knew I wasn't going to do it. So, I changed--I'd be a center. I became a center for two years on the football team. We went to two bowl games in those days. They had bowl games for little schools and all that.
DH: We were undefeated, except when we played [the University of] Delaware. They beat us. The instruction that I got from the history department and from the football department was outstanding. It was excellent. It was excellent
SI: In rough numbers, did you get a sense of how many veterans were there versus traditional students?
DH: At the time I was there?
DH: How about ninety-nine percent?
SI: Okay. It was mostly veterans.
DH: Right. Well, geez, I never thought much about that one, but I'm trying to think, in our barracks, who [was a non-veteran]? (Jack Saul?), I think that's one. I think (Jack Saul?) was the only non-veteran in our barracks. Well, anyway, it was ninety percent, whatever. At West Chester, they had to bring in some of the old Army officers' barracks to house the veterans who were married and all. When I say it was a great time to be at school, it really was.
SI: In what ways did the veterans affect life on campus?
DH: I would like to say that maybe seventy-five percent of the veterans had a great deal of respect for the girls, knowing that they were young. I never heard of one incident [in] the four years that I was there between a male and female, not one. Of course, they weren't out either. Anyway, that's the way I saw it. Yes, it was great.
SI: Was it after you graduated that you got married or was it while you were still in school?
DH: No, after I graduated, I got married.
SI: You met your wife while you were at college.
DH: Yes, it's good I met her. I saved her life. [laughter] Nancy came to West Chester from West Catholic High School and a whole bunch of us all ran around together. Her roommates and a couple of the football players and I all kind of just got together as a group, I guess, you might say, Walter and George Rote, right, yes. That's pretty much it.
SI: Did you ever have any difficulty readjusting to civilian life?
DH: [laughter] Well, I didn't think I did. I look back on it, I might have. I didn't think of it as an adjustment, let's put it that way. I didn't think I was doing anything different than anybody else did, but, if I look back over again, I'd say yes. It's nothing bad or anything--I just couldn't settle down. That's a good way to put it. I worked at the Meadow and, one time, (Earl Schwartz?) and I decided we're going to go hitchhike across the country. So, we tried that. We got as far and took a bus, came back home.
JD: As far as where?
DH: Erie--I mean Cleveland.
DH: Cleveland, we got as far as Cleveland.
JD: That's pretty far.
DH: And came back home. Yes, hey, I want to tell you something--you do a heck of a job, you know that. You do a great job.
SI: Thank you.
DH: I haven't even asked you fifty questions.
SI: It is my job to ask questions.
DH: I know.
SI: Nobody wants to hear my story. [laughter] You got your first job at ...
DH: My first job was teaching at the Downingtown High School, and then, junior high. I went from Downingtown High School to Alexis I. du Pont [High School] in Wilmington, Delaware, where I was the head coach of football. From Alexis I. du Pont, I went to Bloomsburg [University]. I got to Bloomsburg because my friend Walt Blair became the Dean of Men and the head football coach. In the meantime, I had to go to Temple to get my Master's, so, I did that. I went to Bloomsburg. I stayed there two years. Then, I heard about this job at Kutztown [University] and I went to Kutztown and I was there for six years. Right now, the first Thursday of every month, a group of football players that I coached, we have breakfast together. They call it "the Heilman Herd." It is great; it's absolutely great. So, we were here for six years, and then, John Bateman called me. I had applied to a couple places for a job and John Bateman was the head coach at Rutgers. He said, "Hey, I just had a call from a guy up at Dartmouth and he said, 'If you want to hire a line coach, call Bud Heilman.'" [Editor's Note: John F. Bateman served as head football coach at Rutgers from 1960 to 1972.] So, I went down for the interview and was hired. My progress there at Rutgers, I went from offensive line coach, and then, as the staff expanded, I became the defensive line coach. Then, I became the chief recruiter for football, which I really didn't want, but I got it anyway. From there, I became Assistant Athletic Director and, from Assistant Athletic Director, I became Associate Athletic Director and retired. That's what I did. How's that? What'd I miss?
SI: You got everything. I just want to go over each piece. When you were coaching in high school, did you have to teach as well or did you just coach?
DH: Oh, yes. I taught American history, every place that I coached except Rutgers
SI: Even at Kutztown?
DH: Oh, yes. In Kutztown and Bloomsburg, we were hired as faculty, not as football coaches, and our pay was that way. We were paid the same as the faculty. At Rutgers, we were hired as academic people until there was a little falderal in the Athletic Department and we were fired after one year. Then, that was rescinded and, instead of being academicians then, we became football coaches, period. So, it didn't make much difference in the pay, but that was the brand.
SI: Just to stick with that for a second, when you were first at Rutgers for that year, could you get tenure and things like that, before they changed the system?
DH: No. What happened, we were hired as academic people, and then, they had this kind of blow up between the Athletic Department and the football staff. They just decided, "That's it." So, Bateman went to a guy by the name of Sonny Werblin. Have you ever heard of Sonny Werblin? Right, anyway, whatever happened was, they retained John as the head football coach and retained us as his staff. For that year, it was a little shaky, but, when we understood what was happening, we became, as I say, just strictly a football coach, no teaching or anything. In the first year, I taught volleyball and swimming, I think, and you knew what that was like, right.
SI: You were in the Physical Education Department.
DH: Right, right.
SI: All right.
DH: Then, Rutgers, you remember, got rid of their Education Department. As a result, the Phys. Ed. Department went by the board.
SI: Let me pause for a second.
SI: Do you want to get started?
JD: Keep talking, Dad.
SI: Does anything stand out about your time coaching and teaching in high school? What was it like coaching at that level at that time?
DH: I've always said the hardest teaching, the hardest teaching, is in what they call now the middle school. The young kids, they're in there, they're right, whatever you want to do. The middle school there, they've already decided that they know everything. The easiest, to me, the easiest teaching I had was on the college level. I enjoyed that. I enjoyed the classroom, but, then, I had the two best jobs. I had the teaching job, so, I'd go in the classroom and raise Cain in the classroom, [laughter] and then, go out on the football field, take out all my frustrations, right, but it worked out well. I enjoyed both.
SI: In which conferences were Bloomsburg and Kutztown?
DH: Well, it was called the Pennsylvania State Colleges [Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC)]. I'm not sure what they call it today, but it's all the fourteen state colleges. Plus, there's about two or three private schools are in the league now, right. They would be classified as Division II under the way it's done today.
SI: Who were the big rivals when you were coaching there?
DH: On the East Coast, West Chester, Bloomsburg and East Stroudsburg were the best. On the west part, Shippensburg, Indiana and California--those are Pennsylvania colleges, Indiana and California--and "Greasy Pebble," better known as Slippery Rock. [laughter]
SI: Okay. [laughter]
DH: They would be the biggest.
SI: You were assistant coach at Bloomsburg and you were head coach at Kutztown. Did you get a sense of what it was like to work with other constituencies in the school, like the administration and alumni, and how that factored into your work?
DH: Well, the alumni and administration at Bloomsburg and Kutztown, and I think all the fourteen colleges, were about the same. They're governed by the state. There's [only] so many things you can do. The alumni could love the colleges, but most of them would go into the fields of teaching and they weren't big contributors. The money had to come from money that was allocated. We didn't even consider about going out and raising money, because it just wasn't there. I found the administration at both places, at Bloomsburg and Kutztown, I thought they handled their jobs real well. I didn't have any problems. Some of them were more athletically-oriented [than] others, but, no, I didn't see anything really, that much of a difference. Does that answer your question?
SI: Yes. What would you say were your most interesting moments in coaching at those schools, particularly Kutztown, where you were the head coach?
DH: Well, one of the most interesting, and one of which we still talk about today, we were playing Bloomsburg at Bloomsburg and it was raining. It was raining before we started. My manager came in at halftime. He said, "Coach, you won't believe what's happening outside," and we both [said], "Come on, what can be happening?" We go outside. There must have been an inch-and-a-half of snow on the ground already, and so, the whole field was [covered with snow]. You couldn't see the lines and all. We played the second half and we scored. So, we won 12-6. We won the game. The kids today--kids, they're [in their] seventies--they still talk about that. The amount of snow on the ground has grown from an inch-and-a-half to six feet, [laughter] one of those kind of things. On top of that, we were playing Walt Blair. My best friend was the head coach. So, we were fortunate enough to beat them that day. Another time at Kutztown, years and years ago, up at Army, they came up with this thing called "the Lonesome End" and they sent--isn't that terrible? I can't think of his name at the moment. Anyway, he never came into the huddle and the press called him "the Lonesome End." He's out there. So, Walt adopted that. They came down and they played us at Kutztown. We were fortunate enough to win again. So, we shut down the Lonesome End. At breakfast, a couple months ago, two guys showed up at the breakfast from Bloomsburg. I coached Don Denick, who came from Bridgeport, where Nancy came from, from Bridgeport, up at Bloomsburg and I coached his brother, Dave Denick, down at Kutztown. So, Davey brought Don Denick down with him. Well, one thing led to another. The next time, the next month, Don Denick shows up with a clipping talking about the snow game. It was a lot of fun. [laughter] About a month or two ago, Dom shows up with a fellow by the name of Moses Scott and Moses Scott was the Lonesome End. He was the Lonesome End and he came to the breakfast. Oh, did we have fun with that one--everybody had a great time, yes. Up at West Chester, Glenn Killinger was a master of football tactics. He was also a master of knowing what the other guy is going to do, which made him a great coach. He also came up with wrinkles that would cause the other team to be a little out of sorts. What he did was, the guards at the gate, [he told them], "Nobody's to come through this gate." He said, "Nobody," right. Here we come running out of the locker room to run on the field after the big talk. We can't get in the damn football [stadium]. They won't open the gate for us. "C'mon." So, after a while, they did. So, we get this idea. We told (Russ Hock?), who was the athletic director, and he told the cop at the gate, "Don't let anybody through the gates until Bloomsburg gets on the field." So, we come out of the locker room and we're chugging up there. West Chester's on the field already and we can't get through on the field. The cop said, "I was told not to let anybody in." [laughter] So, that was another one. We happened to win that game, 7-0.
SI: When you came to Rutgers in 1966, what was its reputation at that point as a football team?
DH: I like to say I coached at two places in the dark eras. One was at Kutztown and one was at Rutgers. The facilities--I didn't realize this [until] I took the job--the facilities were horrible, absolutely horrible. Mason Gross was the [president] at the time and Mason Gross had it in the back of his mind that Rutgers should become part of the Ivy League. Rutgers had a great reputation, still does, as an academic school on equal to a Princeton or Harvard or Yale, in that area, and this is what he wanted to happen, that Rutgers would be admitted to the Ivy League. [Editor's Note: Dr. Mason W. Gross served as Rutgers University President from 1959 to 1971.] It wasn't going to happen. They're not going to take a state school, even though Cornell, right, is a state school. They had made no improvements in anything, in anything. It would be hard for you to understand how pathetic the Rutgers athletic programs [were]. We didn't have a weight room. The equipment room wasn't much bigger than that fireplace there. The stands--you don't go back far enough--but the old stadium, on the south side, they had this red building up that was supposed to be a food service place. It didn't even have electricity then.
DH: I mean, start from that one. The admissions booths looked like little one-room outhouses. It was just awful. The best thing that had happened was, the field had been made and built, and the stadium, during the Depression. The WPA [Works Progress Administration] had built it [Rutgers Stadium] and the field was magnificent. The field was magnificent. We played the great football powers in the country, like Lehigh, Lafayette, Bucknell. That was their schedule; that was their schedule. The Middle Three [Conference], we were part of the Middle Three. That was Lehigh and Lafayette and Rutgers. John had it in his mind that he wanted to play a little bigger schedule. I don't know if you're familiar with [this], they had what they called a Barr Scholarship. Have you ever heard of that?
DH: Old Man Barr [Thomas T. Barr] was a manager of the Rutgers Football team and his brother was the manager of the Princeton [team]. Princeton kicked the you-know out of Rutgers sixty-two times to one. So, he left his money providing that Rutgers use it for football scholarships and, if they didn't use it within seven years, it was to go to the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Well, after six years had gone by and Rutgers hadn't touched it, John really was beginning to worry about it. He finally went to Al Twitchell and they went to Sonny Werblin. Sonny Werblin got a judge up in Bayonne, I think, and he certified the fact that this money should go to Rutgers. Finally, the year before it was to go to Columbia, we gave out our first Barr Scholarship and, of course, theoretically, you give out scholarships, you can't join the Ivy League. Those son of a guns, they give out scholarships all the time. They just call them academic scholarships, same thing. So, from that point on, things progressively either got worse or better, all depending on how you felt about it. Mason Gross retired. Ed Lawrence became the president.
SI: Ed Bloustein.
DH: Bloustein. What did I say, Lawrence?
DH: Excuse me, Bloustein. [Editor's Note: Dr. Edward J. Bloustein served as Rutgers University President from 1971 until his death in 1989. Dr. Francis L. Lawrence served as Rutgers University President from 1990 to 2002.]
DH: Eddie made the statement, he said, "We're going to get bigger and better." What that meant, nobody really knew, because they didn't do anything to the stadium. [In] '76, they had the undefeated [men's basketball] season. The people that tried to crowd into what they called the Barn now [College Avenue Gymnasium], you should've been there for those days. That was something else. They finally built what is now the RAC [Louis Brown Athletic Center], which is one-third the size of what the original concept was. That was typical Rutgers--cut back, cut back, cut back. So, it took a long time for the football program to get where it is today. It took a long time. What else can I answer for you?
SI: You described before how you were first offensive line coach and defensive line coach.
SI: Then, you were a recruiter. Was that all in the period before 1971, when you became Assistant Athletic Director?
DH: Assistant Athletic Director.
SI: How many seasons were you a coach on the sidelines?
DH: From '66 to '72.
SI: All right.
DH: I actually coached. In my final year, I coached the defensive line, but Fred Gruninger, who was the Assistant Athletic Director and became Athletic Director, had been what they called a recruiter. He was supposed to recruit for all the teams and it didn't work out. So, when he became Assistant Athletic Director, John Bateman went to Twitchell and said, "I'd like to have a guy of my own as a recruiter." Twitchell says, "Okay, we'll do that. We'll pay him a thousand dollars." So, we have this meeting and John says, "I've been given permission to hire a recruiter. Who wants the job?" nobody. "Who wants this job?" nobody. "Well, then," John says, "I have to have somebody from my staff." He said, "I have an idea." He said, "This'll solve the problem. It pays a thousand dollars a year extra. We'll give it to the guy who has the most children." I said, "I quit." It wasn't even close. [laughter] You know me. So, I said, "There's two things. I want to make sure that I could still coach," they said fine, "and that I still can go to Maine." I worked in Maine every summer as a counselor, a head counselor, took my kids to Maine. We had it made. They said, "Okay, we can do that." Well, a year went by. Bob Naso was the defensive coordinator and he also was the head lacrosse coach. Frank Burns, after they had fired Bateman, Frank Burns became the head coach, and he said to Bob, "I need you as a defensive specialist here, not halfway to lacrosse." [Editor's Note: Frank Burns served as head coach from 1973 to 1983.] So, Bobby Naso gave up lacrosse coaching. Then, they told me, because, now, you could have spring practice, which we couldn't have when I was coaching that way--the University voted we could have spring practice after classes were over. [laughter] Well, that's okay. Some coach up at Williams College got the idea, he said it at a clinic, he said, "I have somebody manning the phones all summer just in case anybody calls." Oh, gee, come on; so, now, we're going to have to have somebody in the office all summer. So, of course, I had to serve my time, same as everybody else. Twitchell told us, "Well, you could leave late on Thursday and go up to camp for a couple days while your kids are there." So, ultimately, I couldn't do that anymore. I couldn't have my kids in camp and be working down here. So, that ended that. As a recruiter, then, I couldn't really coach anymore. Finally, I got out of that. Twitchell and John Bateman were both let go.
SI: From what I understand, that happened simultaneously.
DH: Yes, oh, yes. Eddie got tired of the squabble between the two and the idea that they both thought they had Sonny Werblin in their pocket, which they didn't have. When push came to shove, Sonny just said, "I don't want any part of it." So, Eddie fired both John and Twitchell. John went into the Scarlet R and Twitchell, they gave some kind of a job to. Eddie made Burns the head football coach and Gruninger as the Interim Athletic Director. So, when Gruninger came to me and to Hill, who was the business manager, Otto Hill, he said, "I want you two guys to stay on and Bud," he said, "you'll become the Assistant Athletic Director and you won't have to do that recruiting anymore." So, that's the way it stood all that period of time up until Gruninger was fired. I had gone since then. I was out of there in '92, yes. So, they finally got around, piecemeal, they put windows in the old press box, "Whoopee." We didn't even have telephones in the press box. Imagine now, going from there up to the Meadowlands, what it was like--people like you, coming in for an interview, we'd give you a sandwich. You go up there, you get a whole, full meal. That took a long time for that to transpire at Rutgers.
SI: Tell me a little bit more about the role, as you saw it, Sonny Werblin played in the program, athletics in general, but football specifically.
DH: Sonny was a graduate of Rutgers and was an entrepreneur on Broadway. He became more noted when he hired Joe Namath to [play quarterback for] the Jets at the unheard of sum of four hundred thousand dollars. He bought the Jets and brought them to New York. So, being a Rutgers graduate, the athletic people were looking at Sonny as their savior. "He's got money. If anybody can help the program, Sonny has money." Well, Sonny got tired of that. Ultimately, he got tired of that. He contributed nothing to the football or the basketball program. He gave it to Rutgers basically as the intramural, up where the Rutgers center [Sonny Werblin Recreation Center] is out there on [the Busch Campus]. That's where Sonny's money went, to that sort of thing, but he was a force. He was a force. He was the President of the Athletic Council. Absolutely, it was Sonny who pushed to have that Barr Scholarship money become football scholarship money. There's no question that when he spoke there, people paid attention, especially on the Athletic Board.
SI: Do you think he played a role in Ed Bloustein's decision to go bigger in sports?
DH: Well, no, I don't think so. I think that when Ed Bloustein talked to Sonny, he thought that was the best way to go, but Eddie himself did not have a concept that when he said, "We're going to get bigger," you have to have the facilities to go with it. Of course, when they built the RAC, as it's called, Gruninger's concept of the original [building] was perfect. He was right on when he wanted to build this thirteen-thousand-seat rounder. What the hell happened between his concept and the RAC? As you know today, the RAC is archaic. It's not good enough anymore. I don't think that Sonny had any real input into that one or, if he did, he didn't exercise it. I don't think anybody at Rutgers really understood what Fred was trying to promote. He said, in those days, those days, "If we had a 13,500-seat arena, we could host NCAA basketball tournaments," which was done in those days. Now, it's something else, but Fred was correct when he tried to get people to do that, and Lord knows what happened until it was cut down to this thing.
SI: Going back to your time coaching football, how big was the staff then and did it grow at all when you were there?
DH: It grew. At Rutgers, it grew by two, two more. Under Bateman, they had John, let me see, Frank, (Dewey?), myself, (Sam Brown?), six. Then, after John was fired, then, the staff began to grow. The coaches coming in wanted to bring their own people with them. So, I would say after Dick Anderson came, the staffs began to grow. [Editor's Note: Richard E. "Dick" Anderson served as the head football coach at Rutgers from 1984 to 1989.] We began to see a change in the strength and health room, a tremendous change in that. The trainers' facilities became better--not great, but became much better. It wasn't until this recent [renovation], with the building of the stadium [High Point Solutions Stadium] and expansion, that really, I'd say, that Rutgers reached where it should have been fifty years ago, fifty years ago. Up at Penn State, Beaver Stadium was on one side and Beaver Stadium was just as bad as Rutgers. They decided to move it on the other side of Route 80. I say it looks like an erector set; it's one of the worst-looking stadiums in the country. Have you been there?
SI: I have seen it.
DH: It's terrible. It's terrible, but Penn State moved and Rutgers did not. That's basically the difference.
SI: When you took over as the recruiter, you were responsible for the entire recruiting program.
DH: Just football.
SI: You were the only one recruiting for football.
DH: Right, right.
SI: What was the state of that whole program? With one recruiter, how easy was it to get players to commit to Rutgers? Were players reticent to commit?
DH: It wasn't easy, because Rutgers facilities were so poor. They would listen; I'd go see them. A lot of the people that I visited, they knew me from before and, on John's staff, we all had areas to recruit. When football season was over, we (the coaches) were on the road recruiting then for football.
DH: So, a lot of the people that I ultimately would go to talk to, I had known. One of the typical responses is, "Bud, I have this guy right here. He could play at Rutgers without any trouble," and my standard report was, "Can he play for Penn State?" "No, no, he can't," but, if we're going to play Penn State, we can't play them with the kids that can't play there. It was hard. It was very hard and, even with the scholarships that we were able to offer, I had people that I could offer a full scholarship to and they turned it down and would go to Princeton for half a scholarship. So, we couldn't do anything in South Jersey. You just couldn't. In those days, [Penn State Head Coach] Joe Paterno could come into South Jersey, spend the night at a banquet and recruit the five best kids out of South Jersey. They wouldn't even listen to you from Rutgers. In North Jersey, most of the people there went to Syracuse. That was not the easiest job.
SI: When you became the Assistant Athletic Director, what were your responsibilities at that point?
DH: I had scheduling for all sports, except football and basketball--I didn't have the women--which was fairly easy, because we belonged to the ECAC [Eastern College Athletic Conference]. Once a year, the ECAC had a big get-together up on the Cape. There could be five of us, like you and I. I'd say, "Listen, I've got this open in baseball. What do you have?" "Yes, okay," boom. "You're open?" We have the schedules, right, and that's the way it went. I had charge of all the facilities, to make sure that they were ready when the time came. I was responsible for hiring all of the people who ran the facilities, with the exception of physical plant people, who were in charge of the building, and food service, but ushers and ticket-takers and things like that were mine to hire.
SI: In terms of facility scheduling, did you have any conflicts with any other departments, like phys. ed. or recreation?
DH: Yes, Livingston [College] gave us most of the headache. The kids from Livingston had no gym. There was nothing. So, they would come over to the Barn about four o'clock. Half of the gym was already occupied by Livingston people and there's a conflict. There's a racial conflict, really, yes. Then, when they talked about building a new basketball arena, it should not have been built where it is [on Livingston Campus]. It should have been built right where the big "Bubble" is [on Busch Campus]. You had everything right there, but the Dean of Livingston College insisted that it be built where it is today. His reasoning was that the kids from Livingston could come over there and play. So, if we had basketball scheduled at four o'clock, I'd have to go down to the floor sometimes and tell the kids, "Hey, this is basketball," and they'd give you [a hard time]. It wasn't easy. I sympathized with the kids from Livingston, because they had no place to go. Whoever decided to build that college out where it is without putting up recreational facilities should have their head examined. The other problem we would have, with Rutgers [College] more than anybody else, the people that were responsible for having concerts. Now, in my day, in [the] '60s and '70s there, the '70s and '80s, concerts were big. I mean, if a show went well in New York and was booked in Philadelphia, they would book the RAC, because it's a half a stop on the way, and make a bundle. I would run into those people from Rutgers who insisted that, "We'll schedule this event and we'll run it," and I kept saying to them, "You won't run it, because you don't know the facility." It's not like the gym. Well, we got that straightened out a little bit. So, running the RAC, we had almost ninety basketball games a year in the RAC. When the Nets came over and the women came in and the high schools ran their tournaments, we were busy. We were busy. It took awhile, but, finally, they built a baseball field, which was okay--nothing great, but it was something else. Yes, I had my hands full with the RAC. We had events in the stadium. The Home News used to run a band competition in the stadium, things like that. Yes, it was different.
SI: Were you involved in lobbying for new facilities?
DH: No, I was not, no.
DH: No. I had nothing to do with that. I did work with a guy by the name of Tony Oliva to see if we couldn't get a new scoreboard, but I wouldn't say that I had anything really. I met with (Alex?) and told him what our problem was with the scoreboard. I look back on that, there was never any real discussion in our department about new facilities. My immediate boss, Fred Gruninger, that wasn't one of his [strengths]. He didn't see that. He was not a fundraiser, let's put it that way. So, we didn't have anything like that.
SI: What was your working relationship like with Fred Gruninger?
DH: We're okay. I mean, he gave me the job to do and let me do it. That was fine. That was fine with me, right.
SI: Did your job change at all over the years or were you mostly focused on facility management and scheduling?
DH: Yes, right. It really didn't change. Fred was the head of the department. He set the pace and you abide by it. That was it, yes, yes.
SI: Let me pause.
JD: So, you've already gone through Kutztown.
DH: Is that what you normally do?
SI: Yes. We discuss your whole life and your career. I wanted to ask you a question. You were here in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which was a time of real change at Rutgers, socially, with the student protest movements. Did that affect any part of your time with the football team and your early time as Assistant Athletic Director? Did that kind of rebelliousness among the students affect your work?
DH: Yes. I'll tell you, where we had the most trouble was in the RAC. Frank Burns had his own problems with football, which didn't affect me at all, but the actual--when it first started, we were in the Barn and they started five blacks. Do you remember that at all? Well, okay, so, they started five blacks. It didn't make any difference to me. The place is jammed to start with. At halftime, I walked out into the lobby. For some reason, I came back--the floor was crowded with blacks, crowded. I said, "What the hell's going on?" Well, this is a protest. This is a protest. They're out there and they're not going to move. Well, the President wasn't there, Bob Ochs [head of the Public Safety Department] wasn't there. Les Unger [Rutgers Sports Information Director] and I, now, there's two white guys on the floor, Les Unger and me. [laughter] The officials got off the floor. The teams got off the floor. We asked them to leave and [the protestors said], "No." So, I went up to the officials. They said, "Bud, we're not going back out in that kind of situation." Nothing's going right. So, I went down again and said, "If you don't clear the floor, we'll have to forfeit the game." They wouldn't go, so, we forfeited the game. Then, Les and I, we were staying around, so, people left. Then, when the RAC was built, things kind of calmed down a little bit after that. Even [star player] Phil Sellers came out and tried to get the people [to leave]--they wouldn't go. It was a time [when] certain groups wouldn't stand for the National Anthem, certain groups were going to smoke in the Barn no matter what you told them. It's that kind of thing. When we went to the RAC, it was the active protests. We had people with all kinds of signs. We had people who wanted to march up and down the floor.
JD: Were protesting the war.
DH: Protesting a lot of things, right.
DH: It was the years of protest. We had our hands full with that, although I thought we did a pretty good job. Some of the worst problems we had was the high school kids. They were terrible. I mean, I'd call the cops sometimes in the afternoon and say, "Hey, I've got six or seven cars out here of kids that are already drinking." Then, we had--the concerts were big in those days at the RAC. We would have our share of problems, but I thought we handled them extremely well.
SI: You must have had to work closely with Public Safety and other departments.
DH: Oh, the police, I would have a meeting with everybody concerned, from the police on down to the food vendors and all that. We would have our meeting of who's going to do [what], where you were supposed to be, etc., etc., etc. You'd get sixty-five hundred kids in there one night--well, half of them are smoking pot and the other are breathing it and the people up on the stage are off the wall to start with. We had a tough situation, which we handled extremely well. The best was when they came in and had either the boxing or the wrestling--those guys would be in the bag before they got there. Then, of course, they're inside, they can't get out, so, they're pretty good, but the minute that thing was over, man, they were out every door we had, [laughter] to get to the closest bar. We had some very good times at Rutgers. Some of those concerts, like the Grateful Dead was one of the greatest concerts we ever had, but it was a time when everybody had to be [involved]. At that time, I employed as many students as I could for all those events. It wasn't a dull time. We had ninety basketball games in there. That's a lot.
SI: I know they had some tournaments, like the NCAA tournaments.
DH: Well, we had the Women's Open tennis tournament in our facility and I think it was one of the first times that they used the blue floor. Hey, Jayne, who was the reigning champion when she was here?
JD: Was it Martina?
DH: Yes, Martina [Navratilova].
DH: Yes, she was here. Pat Summerall did the play-by-play there. [Editor's Note: Martina Navratilova won the United States Women's Indoor Tennis Championship at the Rutgers Athletic Center in March 1986.]
JD: Oh, yes.
DH: Oh, we had the biggies, right. We had the biggest in there.
JD: They were fun. The concerts were fun to go to. I mean, we'd come up and go to the concerts. Yes, they were fun.
DH: We had Steve Martin. [Have] you ever heard of him?
JD: Steve Martin was hysterical.
SI: The comedian.
DH: We had him when he was first coming out. He had people in the aisles. [laughter]
JD: He came on stage, when he was really popular. He had the arrow on his head.
DH: Yes, he was something else.
JD: He was hysterical.
SI: Was the Ledge one of the facilities you had control over?
SI: The Student Activities Center.
DH: No, I had nothing to do with that.
SI: Okay. I know they did a lot of concerts there. I was wondering if you oversaw that place.
DH: Yes, that's beyond me. I was gone by that time.
JD: Yes, that was after you.
SI: When you came to Rutgers and you moved to New Jersey, where did you live?
DH: Because we didn't have a house, we moved and some alumni gave us a house to live in down in Manasquan, New Jersey. We lived there for about three months and we actually bought a house in Spotswood. I don't know if you know where that is or not, but it's south of New Brunswick. How long did we live there, Jayne?
DH: How long did we live in Spotswood?
JD: Forty-five years.
DH: How many?
DH: Right, something. So, that's where we were. We had intended ...
JD: It's right next to East Brunswick.
DH: We had intended to stay for five years, as most coaches do, because they're fired after five years. [laughter] We stayed there. It was good for us. It actually turned out, for my family, it couldn't have been better. It couldn't have been better.
SI: You mentioned your kids a few times throughout the interview, but, for the record, you have seven children.
DH: I have seven. We had two born in Delaware. We had four born in Pennsylvania and one born in New Jersey, and then, we found out how the children were made.
JD: [laughter] Stop.
DH: It was great.
SI: You were also involved in your community in Spotswood; tell me a little bit about that.
DH: No, I wasn't really. I was on the planning board.
JD: You're on the school board.
DH: No, I wasn't on the school board.
JD: The planning board?
DH: I was on the planning board. I was involved with the Lions Club, [which] was actually in South River, but a couple of us [were from] Spotswood. In actual fact, the first couple years that we were in Spotswood, every summer, we worked in a camp in Maine and that had a really profound influence upon my family. So, in the summer, we're gone, and then, we're back in September. I'm off to coaching and working, so, our actual involvement with the number of people in Spotswood was probably rather small, except, as I say, for the planning board, yes.
JD: Yours, but Mother's ...
DH: Oh, yes, different.
JD: And very involved in their church. You forget some of that stuff, because you had to run the bingos and different things, as the kids were going to school, yes.
DH: Well, we were involved in the church. My Nancy was really involved in the church. We worked the bingos. You worked the bingos, so [that] the kids go to school for nothing. [laughter]
SI: Which church?
DH: We went to Immaculate Conception in Spotswood.
SI: How long were you on the planning board?
DH: Oh, my gosh, about, I bet, six or seven years. Going into Spotswood, you come down Summerhill Road, it cuts Spotswood right in half, and the railroad goes the other way, it cuts it in half. They used to talk about expanding Summerhill Road to four lanes and a couple of us, like you and I, were sitting on this end of the planning board and we called ourselves "the Bridge and Tunnel Authority." "If they're going to put that thing through Spotswood, it's either going to be a bridge or it's going to be under the ground," [laughter] but they never did. Spotswood's a little community. It's surrounded by Monroe Township and East Brunswick. It's not going to go anywhere. I mean, that's fine.
SI: I was wondering if they had an organized plan for how to develop a town or if they just tackled issues as they arose.
DH: What plans they came up with, it was too late to do anything about it. It was already overtaken by East Brunswick and by Monroe. It's only two square miles and there isn't a heck of a lot of planning you can do for that. There's no land to speak off, although we had to build our own high school. Our children had gone to South River. South River fired a number of their faculty to reduce the number of kids, supposedly, cut down the taxes supposedly. Spotswood comes up with an alternative of, "Where are you going to send your children?" One thing I think that most of us in Spotswood felt, "We don't want to send them into New Brunswick," and so, we had to build our own high school. That was quite a feat. There's no question, that was quite a feat to do that and the school system itself has done very well. As I say, the Lions Club was really over in South River. I still belonged to the American Legion in York. [laughter] That was about it.
SI: To go back to your time at Rutgers, towards the end of your tenure as Associate Athletic Director was when President Bloustein passed away.
SI: President Lawrence came in.
DH: That's it.
SI: Did that signal any major change during your time there for athletics?
DH: Not for me, no. Not for me, it didn't, but I think it did in the athletic administration under Gruninger. I think it very definitely had some effect and some of the coaches that Gruninger had brought in as football didn't work out very well. I think there was a definite problem in the Athletic Department administration, but it did not affect me. It didn't change my job any. It didn't add or subtract for any difficulties. I just did what I was supposed to do.
SI: How was the department set up during your time? I know Rita Kay Thomas was the Associate Director for women's sports. You were Associate Director in charge of facilities and scheduling. Were there other associate directors?
DH: We had a business manager and we had a ticket manager. We had an assistant business manager, and then, they brought in Terry Beacham. He was more than an assistant manager; he was the financial director. Then, we brought in John Ternyila. So, while I was there, we brought in maybe five or six or seven what you would call lower-level administrators, but the problem [was] between the Athletic Director and the football program more than anything. The basketball, the women's basketball [coach, C. Vivian Stringer], she has the world. I mean, you can't touch her, her salary and everything that goes with it.
JD: The Joe Paterno of Rutgers.
DH: [laughter] Right.
DH: The basketball people, they had some trouble. They couldn't quite get their act together. Fred had interviewed a couple people that would have been fine. There were people on the Athletic Board who didn't like his selection. Now, jeez, I'm beginning to lose it. We brought in the assistant coach from Penn, who had a great reputation as a recruiter, and it didn't work out.
JD: For football?
DH: No, basketball.
JD: Basketball. [Editor's Note: Craig Littlepage served as Rutgers head men's basketball coach from 1985 to 1988; he had previously served as head coach at the University of Pennsylvania.]
DH: Basketball. Well, for years, the business manager had an assistant who kept a record of the expenses with a blue pencil and a red pencil--try that in today's business.
DH: As a result, the University finally went to computers and football is a good example. Frank Burns thought, thought, looking at the stuff, he has seventy thousand dollars to spend. So, he spends it. Oh, no, the computer says you're seventy-thousand minus, but our girl, she's still doing the red and blue. It took awhile before the athletic administration actually went to computers. Yes, that was quite a jump, but, no, I'm not sure what happened after. They brought in--I don't know whether the guy's still there--they brought in some guy, he was supposed to scrutinize the financial end of the Athletic Department. I don't know what ever happened to that, whether he's still there or not. After I left, I'm not really [involved]. I ran the shot clock for a long time. I enjoyed that, but I wasn't a part of all the whatever grew out of that, yes, which was okay.
JD: What year was that, Dad?
DH: 1992, after I left.
SI: They had not started planning for the new football stadium at that time.
DH: You know ...
SI: Was it in the initial phases?
DH: What was his name? Gruber, Gerber. [Editor's Note: Doug Graber served as the head football coach at Rutgers from 1990 to 1995.] He had gone to Bob Mulcahy, up at the Meadowlands, and he and Mulcahy had agreed on a loan from the Meadowlands to actually rebuild the stadium and Gruninger was not a part of it. He was not a part of it. He didn't know that that had taken place. [Editor's Note: Robert E. Mulcahy, III, served as Director of Athletics at Rutgers University from 1998 to 2008. In the nineteen years prior to coming to Rutgers, he was President and CEO of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.]
SI: Who was the person from Rutgers that went to Mulcahy?
DH: Well, I said Graber.
DH: He was the football coach at the time.
DH: He realized that there's no way that we're going to play North Carolina or Michigan State or Penn State or those places with the kind of facilities that we had and the kind of scholarship program that we had. Going to Fred, that was not his--Fred knew more about the NCAA and the ECAC and the Atlantic Ten and the Big East than any one guy I could imagine. He knew more, and that was his way. If you wanted somebody to head that group, he should've been the one, but raising money was not his forte. I'm sure Graber felt that going to Fred, he didn't get anywhere. So, he went to Mulcahy and they came through with the money. Then, all of a sudden, there it is. Now, what are you going to say, "No, I don't want it?" It put Fred in a bind, and the fact that all those coaches that he hired were not successful. Who the hell did he get from California? [Editor's Note: Terry Shea, who had previously coached for Cal, San Jose State and Stanford, served as the head football coach at Rutgers from 1996 to 2000.]
SI: Was that Anderson?
SI: Dick Anderson.
DH: No, no, Anderson was from Pennsylvania [Penn State]. Joe Paterno was the one who told Fred to hire Anderson. Anderson came with one of the best staffs possible and Joe Paterno told Anderson, "Don't go down there unless you have an indoor facility. Don't go." We didn't have it; we didn't have it. All of a sudden, the money came for that "Bubble" [Rutgers Indoor Practice and Conditioning Facility]. Where the hell it came from or who, I have no clue, but, all of a sudden, we had this "Bubble." Fine, the "Bubble" was fine. The stadium was a disaster. Boy, I'm losing it.
JD: [laughter] No, you're not.
DH: We had a kid from Franklin who really liked Rutgers, liked Ted Cottrell [Rutgers defensive line coach and defensive coordinator from 1973 to 1980], but he said, "I can't come to Rutgers. I look at your weight room, which doesn't exist, and I go up to Penn State and I'm walking into ...
JD: State of the art.
DH: Yes, right.
SI: The department's offices now are in the RAC. Did they move as soon as the RAC opened?
DH: Fred Gruninger wanted his office to stay in the gym and his reasoning for that [was], he always told us, he wanted to be close to [Old] Queens. If they called him, he wanted to be over, scoot right down there. All the other offices were in the gym. They built the RAC and they built two offices on the west end and two offices on the east end. The two offices on the east end were supposed to go to the men's and women's basketball coach. The two offices on the west end, Fred didn't have a clue--no, I shouldn't say it that way. Fred didn't have an idea who was to go there and I said, "If we're going to run the RAC for basketball, you'd better have somebody in that building." So, that's [how] I got out there. Then, when Rita Kay came aboard, they gave her that room. The business office really wasn't an office; it was just a space that they made an office out of it. Way back early, when I was still coaching football, the kids of the ice [hockey] team had come to Rutgers and asked them to make them a varsity sport. Of course, we don't have a rink and the idea was, "No, we can't handle that." So, one of the Rutgers alumni, who was a big shot in General Motors, heard about it and he put into trust five hundred thousand dollars to build a rink. The treasurer of this University said, "No, we won't start a rink until we have all the money." Herb Goodkind used to say, "Put a hole in the ground and the money will come." Well, that money sat there for almost six years and, what's he called? Joe [Whiteside], he wouldn't touch it. So, he took it back and he bought furniture for the Athletic Center upstairs. We used to go to Peddie [School] for spring practice. We went there one year. We went there and the bulldozers were out behind the locker [room]. You could walk out of the locker to these bulldozers, "Jesus, what are you making?" "We're making an ice rink." I look around, the sky is up there; the second year we go down there, there's a roof over it with heat lamps, right, and a couple bleachers on the side. It's not enclosed yet, but it's frozen, right. The last year we were down there, it was all enclosed, a perfect ice rink. To this day, we don't have an ice rink. I was saying, now, the Sonny Werblin Center is not run by the Athletic Division. It's run by the Rutgers ...
SI: Recreation Division.
DH: Right, and you talk about a king, she runs it. Don't let anybody kid you--she runs it. The pool that was put in there, which is a fantastic [pool]; have you been in the pool?
SI: I have seen it, yes.
DH: And the men don't use it anymore, right, okay. The Rutgers Athletic Department pays her to rent that pool. You figure that one out.
JD: A lot of politics.
DH: No, well, that's her. She's tough. No, my job did not entail me into any of those things like that. It was my job to make sure, in those days, that men were eligible. We didn't have any eligibility department, like they do now.
SI: Okay. You were in charge of compliance.
DH: Everything, right.
DH: But, my compliance wouldn't hold up a candle to what they have today. I mean, it just wouldn't. One of the things that--you just expected it, let's put it that way. You expected those people to be honest.
DH: The idea ...
JD: The kids and the teachers, right down the line.
DH: The idea of somebody cheating just never occurred to you, but it was my job, among other things, to make sure that everybody was eligible. I'd take the word from the coaches then.
SI: Did you have to report it to the NCAA?
DH: Oh, yes. You made your annual report, which was nothing.
SI: Were there ever any indications that there was anything that had to be investigated?
DH: Never, in my mind. We never had an incident. One thing, Fred, every year, at the beginning of every school year, Fred had all the coaches, all the coaches, everybody involved, in for a meeting and he had a guy from the FBI come in and talk about drugs and cheating and all that kind of stuff. So, if a coach walked out of there, it wasn't because Fred hadn't provided him with what he should have known about being eligible. I don't recall that we ever had a problem.
SI: Did you do any work in terms of getting tutoring for athletes?
SI: Academic support.
DH: Football-wise, John decided that, after practice, two nights a week, we would have all the people that needed tutoring and we'd bring in tutors. One of us coaches would have to stay to make sure the kids studied for an hour or two. Then, a little bit later, Fred hired somebody to head the tutoring program out at the football stadium. After they had redone the stadium and built offices upstairs and all, there [were] a couple computer rooms and this one guy was in charge. I think they now have about eight or nine guys to do what he did, but that all took time, yes, that all took time. Let's put it this way, after all those things, the war seemed to be a long time ago. [laughter]
SI: Does anything else stand out about your time at Rutgers that you would like to share, anything that we skipped over?
DH: Well, things worked out so well for Nance and I. I was at the office one day, I get a call from Fred. He said--now, I'm quoting him, because I remember it so well--[Fred said], "I don't want you to answer this right away, but I have a proposition that you might consider." I said, "Well, go ahead. What do you mean?" He said, "The basketball team's going to Spain and I need an administrator to go with them, because I can't go. I'm going to an NCAA thing and I wondered if you and Nance would like to go. Now, you don't have to answer right away." I said, "Okay, we'll go." [laughter] So, we, Nance and I, went with the basketball team to Spain and we couldn't have done that anyplace else, spent ten days with the basketball team.
DH: Another time, it was my job, I did this for football, I handled the transportation for the football team. Transportation and housing came out of my office. So, we were going to play the University of Tampa and I got to talking [to] people about [flying]. I said to Fred, "We're going to fly to Tampa," be the first time that any Rutgers team ever flew anywhere.
JD: Was that before Hawaii?
DH: Yes, oh, yes. So, we're off. We go to the airport. My Nancy's standing right next to me, and because I'm the guy who arranged it, I get to sit in the front. We take off. Mommy's hands [were] gripping mine; she had never flown before. So, she's holding on tight and I say, "Relax." We had one of our faculty members, [Professor William] Bauer, who was a major general in the US Air Force Reserve. He was flying with us. As I look over the back of the [plane], the door was open, there wasn't anybody in the plane except us from Rutgers and Rutgers people. They had a flight engineer then who was from Rutgers and Bill came back and he said, "Hey, how are things going?" I said, "Fine. Nancy's a little, not certain, first flight." "What?" He goes into the cockpit. The next thing you know, he comes out, he gets Nancy. He takes Nancy into the cockpit. She sits on the chair behind the pilot as we fly over Washington, DC.
DH: That would've never happened if we'd have been at Kutztown. Then, the undefeated year , we played Tulane, and so, Nance and I were able to go down and stay with the football team and see us defeat Tulane. It was great. So, there were many happy things that we did with it.
SI: When was that first flight?
DH: To Tampa?
DH: I don't know, you'd have to look at the schedule when we went to Tampa. I really don't remember that.
JD: (Buddy?) wasn't playing yet, was he?
DH: Yes, yes.
JD: He was? So, it had to be '71-'72.
DH: Somewhere in there.
JD: I mean, he played, he was there '72 to '75.
DH: Twitchell scheduled the University of Hawaii [in 1974]. We were trying to use that for a recruiting gimmick, but the facilities were so bad. Well, anyway, I arranged the flights for that and we paid a little bit for Mommy. It wasn't full price. We sat up front for that one, too, and Mommy kept saying, "What kind of hotel?" I said, "It's a ragbag. It's a ragbag. You won't like it." We get to the hotel, it's beautiful. We walk up. Our room looks right out on Diamond Head. So, I said, "Okay, we'll walk downtown." Mom and I go walk downtown. I can't find anything in Honolulu that I remember from the war, nothing. The only building I came across was the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, which originally was built out of pink coral. That was still there, but where the pools and everything else around, high-rises, but we still had a great time. We had a great time. So, those were a couple perks, among other things, that we got at Rutgers, yes.
SI: Great. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
DH: You do a great job.
SI: Thank you.
DH: You really do.
JD: It's a long, full life.
SI: You did a great job talking.
DH: You can turn that off.
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Reviewed by Kathryn Tracy Rizzi 1/30/2013
Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 3/31/2015
Reviewed by Donald B. Heilman 8/13/2015