KP: This begins an interview with Mr. Alden F. Jacobs on October 28, 1996, at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, with Kurt Piehler and ...
JB: Jennifer Bernstein
KP: I would like to ask you about your parents, beginning with your father, who was a first-generation American of Dutch-English lineage.
AJ: ... My Dad was born [in] ... East Orange, and his father was an Englishman, from London, and I have, in my historical files, a picture of Grandpa coming to America as a carpenter, with great recommendations from his boss in London [as] being a good carpenter, honest, trustworthy, etc. ... Then, my mother was born in Newark and lived there, I guess, until she and Dad were married. Her father was a truck farmer and had a big truck garden in the part of Newark which is now the Ballantine Brewery area. Then, they moved to Piscataway and he had the truck farm out there for many years. Dad went to … grade school in the Oranges, and then, to Plainfield High School, from a house on Mariners Place that his dad built, and is still occupied today. ... He graduated from Plainfield High, I think, in the Class of '14 and immediately went to work for the State Trust Company in Plainfield as a runner, the guy carrying the checks from one bank to another in Plainfield, of which there was about six banks in Plainfield. … He spent all his working career in that same bank, went from runner to chairman, and then, when the mergers came in[to] Plainfield, he was included in the transfer to the Plainfield Trust Company, which is, today, the United National Bank. … Of course, all the banks in that period of time merged, small banks into bigger banks into still bigger banks, and it is still going on today, although the banking industry has changed significantly. We lived in Dunellen at the time he got really started in the bank, and I went to the Washington Street School in Dunellen, and, as a matter-of-fact, that school was closed this year and sold to another church school, and they had a party for all those who had been to Washington Street. … I happened to have my class picture from 1923, which they used in their celebration, and the superintendent took me out [and] said, "That little boy right there in the middle looks like you," and it was, but, ... Plainfield High, in his day, was a very stable school. [As] a matter-of-fact, its stability ran through [his children]. My sisters and I went there and I had three sisters, ... Edna, Doris, and Edith. ... Two of them were born while we were still in Dunellen and the other when we'd moved to Plainfield, and Dad had grown to the point were he was a financial guy involved in the City of Plainfield and the hospital, and he was the treasurer of the Wardlaw School, ... the treasurer of the City of Plainfield, and the stamps. What was it [that] we used to get for Christmas?
KP: The Green Stamps?
AJ: No. These were the stamps that you got to put on your letters at Christmas time.
KP: Christmas Seals?
AJ: Christmas Seals, and the kids, ... my sisters and I, used to help count the cash that came to our house. ... In those days, ... Pop got the envelopes preprinted for 11.18 , and we counted the money, and he deposited it. That went on for years. ... [It was] an annual event, to take care of those Christmas Seals. ... Now, today, of course, it's the stamps for improving the health of the little ones. ... After we got settled here and we moved from Dunellen to Plainfield, … I went to Plainfield High School, and the girls, too, and I had some of the greatest teachers that influenced my life that I ever remember. … Maybe the young folks do, today, have teachers that they remember and say, "This guy really influenced my thinking, the direction of my life," and we had little trouble in getting into college. We had a decent record in high school, and then, later on, my daughters went to Plainfield High School, sons and daughters both. I had two daughters after the war and ... three sons. ... Mom and Dad, to retrace my steps to their early years, … met at the Methodist Meeting House in Ocean Grove. I don't know whether I put that in.
KP: We just interviewed someone from Ocean Grove.
AJ: Did you?
KP: He is an usher in the meeting hall.
AJ: Yeah, well, that's been a great spot for many years. My sister, Doris, is a Methodist lay preacher for the Methodist women and she goes up to Ocean Grove. She lives in Lavallette, and, I think, you know, she is a staunch Methodist, and she says, "I don't know about you. You may be partly heathen," because I was brought up in the Baptist Church, where Pop was. ... [Now], my church is still in Florida. It's a Southern Baptist [Church] in St. Augustine, ... a nice, small church. … I said, well, you know, having taught Sunday School and been involved in what I thought were the important measures of ... values that were inculcated in us as we grew up, that my mother and father both taught, "You have to learn to make your own decisions. We'll give you our best guidance, and, if you do something that's radically wrong, you'll get chastised," or whatever, you know, put on the black list for dates and events, etc., which happens today, I am sure, in families, but, we had a very happy life. … We studied, both at home and in school, the impact of World War I on the American scene, and my father didn't get involved in World War I only because I was newly arrived on the scene, and so, my mother used to kid. She says, "Well, you kept your father out of World War I, but, you're old enough now to be in World War II," mother was very enthusiastic, when I came to Rutgers, that they had an ROTC program. My father was lackadaisical about it. He didn't know as much about it as, apparently, my mother felt she did, and I came close to not coming to Rutgers, because there was a mathematics program ... at Iowa that I liked very much, and the acceptance for Iowa came after I had been brought over here by the head of the math department in Plainfield and was accepted at Rutgers. About a week or ten days later came the acceptance from Iowa, which I turned down, and I often wondered what my life would have been like had I gone to the Mid-West, because the whole thinking in the Mid-West, then and now, is quite different from the East, but, nonetheless, I stayed here, and I think that my classmates and I, in the ROTC, joined it because we firmly believed it was the sensible thing to do. We enjoyed it … [as] a purely activity event, and so, if you didn't like calisthenics, … you took military drill instead, [laughter] but, it was a good program. We had good officers from the regular Army, sergeants and senior officers, who ran the ROTC program then, and I know they have the same thing today, and it's been broadened, and I guess the gals get in, too, don't they?
AJ: And I don't know whether this clamor for gals getting into the southern military college is all that it's meant to be, but, they get in, and then, some of them last and some of them don't. I think it's just a question of how early in your life you determine what you want to do, what direction you want to be [in]. I didn't learn 'til I read, in fairly recent years, a book by, ... I tell you, at this age, sometimes this spontaneity of memory [fades]. ... I can see the book, Critical Path, by Buchminster Fuller, a big, thick book, and in which he reviews the course of history in America from early days and ends up suggesting that the legal profession and the banking profession, the financial world, guided the forces which made America go this way or that, and maybe that's still true. So, I took quite a notion to this concept of the critical path, and I wanted to write a little story about that, or a book, "Do you know what your critical path is?" and I think that our own critical paths started just as we are talking about, your background, your upbringing, and I don't know how influential religion was then. It seems to be less effective today, in the sense that a lot of folks say, "I believe in God, but, I don't believe in any particular secular religion," and that's a matter of personal choice, of course, but, we ... grew up in a family that went to church every Sunday. Pop and I couldn't sing. We could make noise, as far as effort. My sister used [to say], "You don't sing, Alden." It never was one of my strong points. I liked music, and I like to sing On the Banks of the Old Raritan, [laughter] but, I never learned to really sing, and, you know, you get down to the country western music, … I like Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry. … We found out, later, that that was an activity that was owned by one of my member companies at the Life Office Management Association (LOMA). So, the lifestyle in Plainfield, at that time, was fairly routine. It was called the "Queen City." We lived in a relaxed pattern of homes, gardens, sandlot baseball, and we appreciated the fact that we had the freedom to do what we wanted, because of the history of America, the fact ... that we participated, but, again, even though, I said earlier that we studied history, we didn't realize the significance of some of those things that we studied until later on. I have read, recently, books that I studied way back in school, but, I read them now with a different perspective. I think about them differently, even our friend, Mr. Shakespeare. … My daughter is a Shakespeare scholar as well as a librarian and she says, "Well, that's normal. Your first time around, you don't realize how significant these early writers were," and my mother always insisted that I appreciate the poetry of Longfellow, and she used to have me read it, and [she would say], "You have to get more feeling into your reading," you know, (Vases Short?), and Gitche Gumee, and all the stuff that he wrote. … I learned to read it reasonable well and now I am tutoring a Chinese gentleman, in English as a Second Language, and we've read some of Longfellow and some modern poetry, so he gets the rhythm of English. … He said that he likes Longfellow better than the modern poets and I don't know how long it'll be before we get a good reaction to his overall English. He wants to become a citizen, which I hope he does, but, back ... to early high school. We studied enough math in the fourth year in high school so that, ... when I came to Rutgers, I was put in sophomore classes and had some of the greatest professors here in math that you could have had. Professor Morris, who was head of the department, he emphasized the fact, that there are two kinds of knowledge, that which you can carry in your head and that which you know where to go and get. Each is equally important. ... I think the good teachers along the line, .. in biology, botany, physics and chemistry, and so on, they all taught us as much philosophy of learning as they did the specific subject. … I have found that my dad had a philosophy book in high school that I still have, and it was important. ... I also understand that, in France, today, you have to study a philosophy course and write an essay on some subject that relates [to philosophy] before you can graduate from high school. It's a good idea. Anyway, all this educational effort that I had in high school paid off at Rutgers, ... in the sense of the subject matter. My biggest problem, then and now, is, I didn't, in the eighth grade, or seventh, eighth, ninth, whatever, study enough language. I didn't object to studying language, but, it didn't fire me up, and I can remember some of the early teachers and my mother both saying, "Some day, you're going to regret that you didn't learn all the basics of English, grammar, structure," and I have regretted it. I learn it when necessary, even now, and both my wives are good grammarians, so, I get corrected, if I write, and they straighten me out. ... So, life at Rutgers got under way in '36, right, the Fall of '36, and I lived on the top floor of Winants Hall with Howard Billing, who was ... to be a geology major. Of course, we didn't pick our major until, what, sophomore year? I'm not sure. Anyway, we had a corner room on the top floor, and we enjoyed living there, and, of course, I go back now and see the great changes in what is now a historically significant building. ... Both Howard and I worked for the lady, who just recently passed away, who ran the cafeteria ... and the eating program on campus. … We worked in the cafeteria. We served special banquets. When professors had a meeting session with a meal, a lot of it was served down there, but, the Commons was nonexistent, you know. Isn't that where you have the big meeting functions now?
AJ: ... So, it went, and I've forgotten exactly how many times a week we had ROTC, I guess twice ... a week, and we drilled [in] back of the gymnasium, up here, or the old gym. On that field behind [it], we had our drill field, or in what was Nielson Field, which is now cluttered with buildings, I guess, and we had a great time, a great time. ... In the summer between sophomore and junior years, we had to decide on the advanced course, which I signed up for promptly, although I was at the Shore. My dad had a place that was built in Lavallette, which my sisters are living in today, and I think he ... built [it] in '24, and so, we all went down to the beach after school, and I kept waiting to hear whether I had been accepted for this ROTC advanced program, and I said, "It should have been here by now." So, my mother's saying, "You better go back to Plainfield and see if your father left in on the piano." ... Sure enough, I went up with him one Monday morning, he'd commute back to the bank, and there was the letter from Rutgers, ROTC Department. So, I grabbed it and came right over and the sergeant said, "You might [have] known [that] an old Dutchman is the last guy in," [laughter] and I said, "Well, I'm sorry," but, it's no problem, and so, from then on, we were in the advanced ROTC, which went very well. We had our drills, and then, in the summer, we had two weeks at Peekskill, where we learned the significance of keeping the tent area immaculately clean. "If I find a match stick on the grass," the sergeant used to warn us, we would get disciplinary action, but, ... most of the military training up there at Peekskill, and later at Fort Drum, upstate, had a clean, military discipline aspect to it that we didn't appreciate then as much as you do today, the significance of its impact on your life. Again, the critical path, which includes, and I think, today, I sense this in my grandchildren, of which I have fourteen, the discipline of certain activities. [The] music and sports activities that they've been involved in helps them all the way along. The four girls which my daughter has are all scholars, three of them in college this year, and she has no husband. [He] scattered his effort and left, so, they finally broke that up, unfortunately, but, the girls are all doing well, and I think the music, and the drill bands, and all those things, which they were all involved in, helped very significantly in how they approached life. What they're all going to be, I don't know. I think the middle, you can't have a middle with four, can you? [The] number three ... granddaughter was Tara. I think she is very oriented towards philosophy, religious philosophy. She's going to a small school in North Carolina. ... I thought all the things we learned in this military training contributed to the significance ... of the right kind of decisions when we had to make them. We lost a couple of guys in training because they didn't obey orders. A guy says, "Keep your head down in the pit when you're on the target detail," and a guy says, "Why don't they shoot? Why don't they shoot?" Who knows, but, who cares? ... You know, we were there in the pits, marking the targets, and this one guy just ... couldn't sit still, and he raised up out of the pit at just the instant they fired, and, of course, he was killed. Now, that type of situation is one thing, but, of course, during the war, later on, we lost men in training, not through their carelessness, but, just the advent ... of bullets that were ricocheted or whatever. I don't think that the Japanese, in some cases, they couldn't, and I think this is the same thing with most all soldiers, very seldom do you draw a bead on a particular person. You think you do, but, you don't. You shoot and it's the amount of firepower that's delivered on an area that enables the troops to take it. So, I lost a few men from training accidents, later on, down in the South Pacific, but, the ... Peekskill experience of drill and learning, I thought, was terrific. We had one wild, exciting day. We were firing. ... Have you ever seen a .50 caliber bullet?
AJ: Well, it's probably as big as that fat thumb of mine, you know, a very sizable bullet, and we were shooting .50 caliber machine guns from a high gun emplacement, down across the lake, in the mountains by Peekskill, at a target that had been painted on a rock, and we were plastering that target quite effectively, and a state trooper came roaring up and hollered at me, "Lieutenant, Lieutenant, stop, cease." "What's the trouble?" "Well, nothing, except your ricochets," where the bullet hits and bounces off, "are landing on the Bear Mountain Bridge." [They] scared people to death, and, of course, ... we stopped that, and we picked a new target area soon after. ... We made training for the guys as realistic as we could and, when we graduated, we were assigned to a military [unit]. ... We graduated in '40, and I got an assignment from the ROTC people. It was [with the] Reserves, First Army. [They] assigned us to a CMTC unit, which was at Fort Dix, and we were assigned to various companies, infantry companies. Most of these classmates of mine went to ordnance, but, we were brought up as infantrymen, which we referred to as the "queen" of the services. Every service branch has its own, you know, spirit of camaraderie, but, we thought infantry was definitely it, and it was tough, realistically tough, no question. ... We're down there at Fort Dix, the first assignment was to a CMTC infantry company and most of these kids were youngsters from the streets of New York and Newark in CMTC, Civilian Military Training Corps. … We had forced marches all day long and the kids were dropping like wallflowers. They couldn't take a forced march. They were used to fooling around on the streets of New York. We were talking about trudging in sand. So, I got more nicknames, you know. "[Are you] a mountain goat, Lieutenant? You go through this like [it was nothing]," but, I learned, early on, to have a fairly good physical frame. That was important to being an infantryman, and I still walk a considerable amount of the time, but, then, it was important, and so, Fort Dix was my first assignment out of college. … Then, in keeping with what the life insurance editor had said, "Come back after the war," the First Army assigned us to the 311th Infantry in New Jersey, the 78th Lightning Division, and that went along fine, and then, in the Spring of ... '41, I was assigned to a National Guard outfit and told to be prepared to go to Alabama to join the 27th Infantry. … Everybody said, "Oh, you poor guy, you're going to go to the National Guard outfit." Well, at that time, there was a lot of thought that the Reserve officers were "Johnny-come-latelys" and the National Guard officers were tough. I had no concept of one or the other, [being] fairly fresh out of school, wasn't less than a year. ... Well, I got along with people, and so, I didn't have any concerns about joining the division, and I was ordered to active duty in July of '41. [I] went down to Anniston, Alabama, and the division was on maneuvers. Now, this is before your time. We had maneuvers between two forces that were built up by the War Department, the Red Army and the Blue Army, and they were deployed in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and parts of Texas, fighting each other with a problem that was set up by the War Department. … I get to Anniston, Alabama, and the division's out in the field, and so, the adjutant in Camp Capt. White, said to me, "Alden, ... you've gotta investigate a suicide here on the post, and then, we're going to send you out to your outfit, [the] 106th Infantry, in Louisiana," and so, I lead the convoy, including a lot of fellas who had been released from the stockade, the bad boys, and we took off, after I had completed this investigation. That poor guy had shot himself with a .45, and that's another big slug, and we loaded these prisoners, and we told them, "You're going to behave on this trip, or else we're going to lock you up in the ambulance, and you won't get out, except [unless] it's necessary." [laughter] So, they behaved pretty good. The only place we were concerned was in Jackson, Mississippi, where we had an overnight bivouac, and there was a girls' college in Jackson, and they didn't want these bad boys to be going out [and] involving the girls. So, they behaved. ... We had our own military police, and we kept a pretty close eye [on them], we finally got this whole gang delivered to where they belonged, in ... the dismal part of Louisiana. Now, I don't know whether you've ever been to Louisiana, but, there are parts of it, and Arkansas, [where] it's the dregs, ... chiggers, and wild bush, and all kinds of snakes, and everything objectionable to living, at least from our point of view. I reported to the colonel. The poor guy sat in a camp chair, his legs all wrapped up with cloth. He'd been bitten to death by chiggers and he laughed and said, "Well, I'll survive, but, I certainly look like a mess now," and so, ... we went into action. I was assigned ... to a machine gun platoon, and, in those days, we had .30 caliber water cooled machine guns that could be fired from a standing mount or could be mounted on a truck or a jeep. [We] didn't have jeeps at that time, we didn't get them until later, and we did all kinds of wild things with the machine guns. Because they were maneuvers, you're firing blanks. … I guess it was ... three weeks after my joining the outfit, we'd been winning our war, from our point of view, but, the umpires, like the one at the World Series the other night, they saw things one way and we saw them another, and they said, "Well, we see your point, Lieutenant, but, we've got the facts that you don't have." … We were up ... near Shreveport, Louisiana, which, ... at that point, was a fairly big city, and we were defending Shreveport from the enemy troops, and I can't think of any place around here. We had our platoon of machine guns set up around a hill, good elevation, good field of fire. I could see a road. The enemy was coming down and the boys said, "We could have knocked them off like ducks in a shooting gallery," but, after we left the point, which was the advanced scouts of our body, we let them through, and then, the main body drove in there, and we opened fire, and the umpires let us persist for awhile, and then, they said, "Well, we'll give you half an hour to get out. They've got more men than you can kill." So, we packed up our half ton of stuff, and, on the way out, we came across a troop of enemy cavalry in a little churchyard, and I don't know why they were picketed at that time. The horses were all tied to ... a line. So, we go roaring through this churchyard, all guns blazing, and the horses took off. Like, it took them two weeks to catch up with the horses. [laughter] So, we won the day, no matter how they looked at it, but, I later wrote to the mayor of the town, Shreveport, and told him [how] we'd saved his town, and he sent me back a book about Shreveport, which was interesting, but, ... those war games involved a tremendous number of troops, and we worked harder at the war games than, later on, we worked. You know, the tempo of a war depends on both sides, and we soon learned, after Pearl Harbor, [that] the division was ordered from Alabama west, and we didn't find out 'til much later that we had been ordered to the Philippines, but, the Japanese got there before we did. So, we were sidetracked in California to defend the coast. We went up to Fort Ord and had camp and training there, and I forget just when, some time after the first of the year, we were packed on to the SS (Luramane?), which was a Holland-America luxury ... liner, and sent overseas without too much escort, because the Navy was busy in the Atlantic, but, we had some wild excitement on the way over. You know, you'd get into situations where the guy says, "Hey, we got a submarine alert." "We got an airplane alert," but, we made it. … We found out, again, the difficulty of decision making in the human mind, [which] was apparent in the tactics which we ran into from the Japanese. They would [back down], as they did at Pearl Harbor. If they'd have followed up ... after that attack, they could have taken those islands without any question and come on to the coast, but, they had a great tendency to make a big bang and not follow through. ... So, we, ... again, were slowed up by the fact that they were in the Western Central Pacific in greater force than we could contend with. So, we were given the assignment to defend the Hawaiian Islands for a while. We were side-tracked from Oahu to the big island of Hawaii and put ashore at Hilo. ... "Don't light a cigarette, don't show a light," you know, "or you'll get your head handed to you," and these poor guys, driving a two-and-a-half ton truck, pulling troops and gear, the road going up from Hilo to Kamuela, which is close to the Saddle, between the two mountains, (feel that?) hair pin, and these guys had never seen this road before, didn't have any maps of the road, and so, driving [under] blackout, we lost three or four trucks over the cliff. [If] a guy came, and he might have been going a little too fast, over he went. So, we lost quite a few men and equipment with that first ride, and we then got into what ... was then, and still is, to a degree, the Parker Ranch, which was at Kamuela, Hawaii, they call it different things, and it was the largest cattle ranch in the islands. They supplied a lot of the meat, steer meat, that they needed in Honolulu and other big cities, ... but, they still imported a lot of meat from Australia and the States. … We trained there and defended the coast, had lots of interesting experiences with the Japanese and with the natives. I've forgotten the exact date. [From] these records I had, I could figure it out, somewhere in '43 or '44, the Japanese, it was learned by intelligence forces that they were mounting a fairly sizable force, troop ships, headed our way. So, the Old Man came down, and gave us a pep talk, and said that, "If we held on to the beaches for twenty-four hours, we'd be heroes, and, if we held out for thirty-six hours, boy, fantastic, and, if we'd hold out forty-eight hours, it was even better," and, you know, we were young hot shots. We didn't know the significance of all this. "(John?), the old man sounded like he was serious," and we decided [that] he was serious. ... We were getting extra supplies of blood plasma, extra supplies of ammunition. We mounted a pattern to retreat up the Havi Peninsula, if the Japanese came. Well, that day was saved by the Air Force. B-24s attacked the Japanese convoys out in the Central Pacific and they licked them. So, that crisis ended and, soon after that, we were brought from the big island to Oahu. ... Well, I think the regiment was split between Scofield Barracks, which was up in the middle of Oahu, and Fort Ruger, which was right by Diamond Head, and [we were] there, again, to defend the island and prepare for other operations, of which we ended up doing four or five from Oahu, until we were finally sent south, but, I was given the opportunity to learn TQM. … I'd been through a lot of different assignments, which is always good, whether you're in one environment or another. So, I was given this one chance to go down to Admiral Nimitz's headquarters and I was looking at the clearance I got by the FBI. ...
------------------------------------END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE ONE--------------------------------------
AJ: ... So, we were cleared, and I was amazed at the summation of this plan, grand plan, by the War Department, I think it was called that then, and Nimitz's staff. [It] was that we were taking these islands strictly to build airfields on, and then, to bomb the dickens out of Japan. ... So, I got trained by the Navy and the Marine Corps, and I had a lot of friends in both services, to be a TQM, which is a transport quartermaster, somebody skilled in loading ships or airplanes, but, in our case, in the Pacific, with loading ships, so that they could be used in combat. You loaded the supplies so that the last thing in was the first thing out, [that] was the objective, and the troop ships were loaded so that you could get the infantrymen ashore. ... The Japanese, we captured documents [from them] that said, "Let the infidels land, and then, push them back into the sea." Well, we generally landed with forces of anywhere from four to six times what we estimated they had ashore, the same thing Eisenhower did in Europe. You had to land with a massive force and get a toehold, and then, expand. So, our amphibious operations later proved to be right. ... At that time, I was still commanding a machine gun company in the 106th Infantry, and the Old Man said, "Well, you have been trained for the TQM assignment and the first troops out are going to be the 165th Infantry," which is the third regiment in our New York State Division. We used to kiddingly call the 165th, "The Frightened Irish," because they were mostly Irishmen from the 165th, and they were not frightened. They were a tough bunch, but, nonetheless, they were going to be first out. They were going to go down and take Makin Island, and I was to be loaned to the garrison commander to load his forces, which would come ashore and build the airfield, and it was some experience. It was wild and exciting. We loaded up two or three ships with garrison forces and a lot of Air Force stuff, if we're going to man this airfield after we got it built, and the Air Force didn't have a master plan, and the significance of planning the kind of load we wanted was, you had to know what they wanted to bring and why, and the Air Force said, "Oh, just don't worry. We'll bring it. We'll have it on the dock. You get it on the ship, and then, later, you'll get it off the ship." Well, we finally sailed, and they still had stuff on the dock. ... The ship that we were on, the Cape SanMartin, was skippered by a guy named (Ellis?), I think, who had been on the first run to Murmansk for the United States. … I thought, "This guy is significant." He worked for the steamship company, that's still in Louisiana, New Orleans, and he had pictures of his ship, and I think eighty-some ships [were] going to Murmansk, and German torpedo bombers sank three-quarters of those ships, and he has pictures of these ships, "Pop, pop, pop," you know. He says, "Well, let's hope we have as good luck where we're going," and we sailed down to Makin, and this was a merchant ship. The deal, during the war, and you might wonder about it, [was], you put your hoot down and there you are. Then, if the captain, for some reason, said, "Oh, we're going to [move]. This is not such a good spot," and, if you'd been attacked while you were down in that spot and you moved, every time you moved, you got a bonus from the pay. So, we were anchored in Makin Harbor, and the troops from [the] 165th were pretty much ashore, and we were unloading Marston matting, which they make the airfield out of, on a coral base and cement, and we had several triple alerts. The Japanese were thought to have submarines coming in, and they had surface ships in the area, and they had airplanes, and, so help me, I [will] never forget the day we, the captain and I, stood on the bridge and watched this Japanese torpedo bomber come off from the left and drop his torpedo at what looked like a destroyer to our left. … I said, "Jeez, it looked like it was coming right at us." We had aviation gas in one hold, which would have made a real big bang, we had bombs, all kinds of bombs, in the after hold, another big bang, if we get hit. The captain says, "Well, I don't know." ... Have you ever seen a torpedo? You know, in the movies, you see them with their wake from the propeller. [It] went under the ship. It's the only reason I'm sitting here today. The ship would have gone up like a skyrocket. It went up on the beach and the aircraft carrier (Liscombe Bay?) caught three torpedoes that same day and blew up like a skyrocket. ... The American forces had a tough day. We lost a lot of ships and a lot of manpower, but, we secured the island. The Japs eventually quit. ... Again, they would attack you and find that that's not working so good, and they'd do the same thing all over again, but, we secured the island, and then, I made a tactical blunder. The ship was ordered to go, we couldn't finish unloading, and the crew we had from the shore was a black quartermaster company. They used to kid me, "You ever been the boss of a chain gang, Lieutenant?" I was trying to get them to hurry up and get this stuff out of the ship. I said, "No, I never have, but, we've got to go." So, they were ordered ashore and ... I didn't get any orders right then. The captain said, ... "We just got orders to go back to the States. You want to come?" Well, my orders didn't read that way and nobody knew where the hell I was. [laughter] I was on loan to this task force, but, I went back to Honolulu and to my outfit. … The ship went back to the States and one of the guys on board called my wife and said, "Your husband was with us, but, he went back to Honolulu," and she wondered, "Why?" "Well, I had to do what the orders said." So, we got back and regrouped, and ... the next thing out was the massive attack by the division on the islands of the Carolinas, and we were picked out again, the Second Battalion, 106th Infantry. We were going to take a little atoll called Majuro, and they thought the Japanese had a tremendous force there, but, we were a diversionary force, and they waved good-bye to us after all the training and loading. … They said, "Oh, the Lost Battalion of the Second World War." We went out with the cruiser Portland, got to Majuro, sent a scouting party ashore, no Japs, no Japs at all. We found out, later, they had heard of the massive force coming this way and they withdrew to Eniwetok and Kwajalein, where the rest of our outfit went up and had a terrible battle, awful battle. … We came ashore on Majuro and there was nobody left on the island except [for] women, and children, and old men. The Japs had taken all the able-bodied people up to Kwajalein. ... It was a fantastic little atoll. It had a deep water lagoon, tremendous lagoon, which we later appreciated during one of the naval operations that were built [up] in that period of the war. We woke up and, one morning, we saw more Navy ships out in our lagoon than you would have believed possible, just everywhere, battleships, carriers, cruisers, the works, and we always liked to see the Navy, because we got fresh food instead of B rations, but, that was the great experience on Majuro. We helped straighten out the island, as far as the remnants of the poor people who were left by the Japanese, and the mayor was an old man. ... I think I still have a picture of him in my military album, [I have] quite a series of pictures from Majuro. ... We captured a bell, an old bell, that I think ended up at Annapolis. So, we ... waited 'til the end of the battle up in the Carolinas. We won it, eventually, and the forces were all brought back to the Hawaiian Islands. ... The next thing we were trained [in] was jungle training, and ... we did more amphibious training, get out on ships to practice [going] up and down nets, you know, to get in on board the LCVPs, and, in a short time. Well, I was going over this the other night. I said, "Boy, I went through the war pretty quick," when you read [about] it after the fact, but, ... we ended up going as reserves to Saipan, and it was a very, very difficult operation for the division. ... The command was Marine Corps, "Howling Mad" Smith was the commanding general, and we went ashore. ... After I got the troops ashore and all the stuff ashore, ... the whole deal was pretty well settled with the Navy. They had got us ashore, so, they left. ... I was running, at that time, a railroad. [I] had gotten involved with running a railroad with some Seabees to take supplies and troops up to the front and bring the wounded back. I never got back to my outfit. I got all these special assignments, which I think was luck on my part, because a lot of guys that had been in my spot either got wounded or killed. You never know. So, on Saipan, we had a terrible battle and the Japs on that island infiltrated our forces. They'd be behind us, they'd be ahead of us, they were all over the place. … Tactically, the Army has one point of view and the Marines have another, and General Smith, who just recently died, lost his command because he refused to throw men into what he called, "Was pure slaughter," in the center part of the island. … We found Marine units that were supposed to be in one point and weren't and had a lot of conflict, ... but, we eventually took the island, and they went through three or four banzai attacks. The Japanese would reach a point where they would say, "Well, this is it. Let's pour everything we have at these guys," and I was still working across the whole front, and the 105th Infantry was overrun, and we were quite close to the water's edge at that point and trying to help wherever we could. … We heard that one pocket of men had been trapped and we took an amphibious unit. Remember, we had the amphibious two-and-a-half ton trucks, I think they called them DUKWs. So, I commandeered a DUKW and some guys, and we went out in the ocean, came around the flank, and got these guys out, ... but, the Japs were like the kamikaze pilots. If they did a banzai attack, you just ran until you were killed, and these guys were piled up six, eight, ten deep, and, of course, the next day, when we finally secured the island, it was a mess, a mess, but, some of the Japanese people on Saipan withdrew into caves, mothers and children, down in the caves. … When they came out, if they saw any Americans, they jumped over the cliffs. They just couldn't abide being captured by us and they didn't realize that we would not treat them unfairly. We'd take care of them and so on. This was shocking to the average American soldier, you know. You're fighting for your home, same as they were fighting for their home, but, with different philosophies, and we felt we were fighting a war that was defending America, however you strategically figured it. … So, after much scurrying around, we got Saipan secured, and Tinian, which was, what, two miles away. The Japanese would roll out a battery of (long tom?) cannon, fire a salvo at Saipan, and you'd hear the shells go over, put them in the same holes night after night, never vary the pattern, which, again, we couldn't figure out why. If they wanted to mess us up, you know, put a pattern down so that we'd never know where the shell was coming, but, while [we were] there, ... we got [Saipan] pretty much secure, and then, ... I think the Second or Fourth Marines took Tinian. So, those two islands wrapped up the Carolinas. ... [At] Saipan Harbor, I don't know when this Dutchman came in, with a Dutch ship, a Dutch captain, and I was assigned to his ship to take our troops out, TQM-ing again, and he said, "Now, there's only one thing we have to remember, that when we go, we have to go at high tide. Otherwise, the channel isn't deep enough to get a fully loaded ship out." So, it was very tricky to load the ship so that its plymsal was even, … so that we could get everything we wanted on the ship and out at high tide. Subsequently, we did. The captain said we bounced on the sand bar, but, we got out, and we found out, after we left Saipan, that we weren't going back to Honolulu. We headed south for Espiritu Santo, which is down in the New Hebrides Islands, to train for Operation: Iceberg, which was Okinawa. ... There was a tough area. Believe it or not, they still had headhunters on the island and the military constables and the civilian constables both warned us, "Don't be smart guys and go wandering off into the jungle, or you'll not come back." The natives were known to be experts at the little, ole poison dart blowgun, [Mr. Jacobs imitates a blow dart being fired] and that's it. ... These same rascals would come out during the day, and wander around the camp, and steal you blind. … They wouldn't cause any trouble, because they knew [that] they couldn't in daylight, but, if you got into their jungle, that was it, kid. "You were soup in the pot," and that's the way they put it. The general used to say, "Jeez, I'm too old for that." ... That was a big Navy floating dry dock that they had at Espiritu Santo. … Operation: Iceberg, we were training for it, I don't know [for] how many months, to go up to Okinawa, and then, we knew that, after Okinawa, we'd be in Japan, and Operation: Iceberg consisted of three or four major forces. Again, we would ... bring in a force that was far greater than we estimated the Japanese, but, Okinawa was a tough fight. … The Japanese attacked the landing area with kamikaze planes, endlessly, cargo ships, Navy ships, you just never knew, and, if a kamikaze comes down, hits you, why, that's it for that particular ship. ... I was on the command ship and the commodore [was] McGovern. Some of the Navy captains in this squadron would say to me, "Boy, this is a tough squadron you drew. This guy's impossible." He says, "I've been in the Navy a long time, but, I've never done anything right with this one." Well, he was determined to make a name for himself, I guess, because, ... [when] we got to Okinawa, we started to unload all the ships, and troops, and whatever, and he didn't think it was going fast enough. He says, "I'm going ashore. I'll straighten things out," and I thought, "Oh, boy." Well, one thing about an amphibious operation, the beachmaster, on the beach, is in control. What he says, goes. The admiral went ashore and tried to get the beachmaster's attention, to do this or do that. The beachmaster says, "Admiral, afloat, you're it. Ashore, you're no better than the next guy, so, don't bug me with a lot of nonsense." The admiral told me this later. So, he couldn't do anything to speed up his ships versus the next guy's ships. ... We finally survived all the crazy attacks, and the Japanese threw a lot of stuff at us, like Makin, the same idea. Just pure luck is what kept us from getting blown out of the water. … Who was ... the journalist who got killed?
KP: Ernie Pyle.
AJ: ... Yeah, Ernie Pyle. I remember the day. ... We got everything ashore, and I ended up being port director for Nago, and we ... lost another commanding general. We lost our commanding general on Saipan, for that fight with Smith, I lost my regimental commander, then, … on Okinawa, ... we lost, again, the commanding general, [an] artillery commander. … Then, the guy that we got to replace this one general, he went out to survey the situation, and he stood on the sky line, but, you don't do that in a ground battle, because, if there's a sniper out there and [he] sees you standing out like a sore finger, "Boom," that's it, and that was a battle that was finally won, but, it was very tough. … We've been fighting the Battle of Okinawa ever since, it seems like, … bad troop assignments and bad behavior, but, it was on Okinawa that I finally got my name drawn out of a hat for a rest and recuperation, stateside, which was the first leave I had, and they didn't count it as a leave. It was a recuperation trip. [I was] sent back here for forty-five days in August of '45, and, when I had arrived back, they shipped us to Guam and to California, to a field up above San Francisco, and took us to a big mess hall. I'll never forget the sign, "Eat All You Want, But, Eat All You Take." In other words, don't leave food on your plate, waste, and we had, for the first time, you know, milk, meat, fresh vegetables. … I finally got back to Fort Dix, I come off the plane field, and Dick Louiseaux, an Air Force guy, went down to Dix [at] the same time, so, Dot brought the two of us up for our leave, and, while we were home, Doolittle dropped the atomic bomb. ... Oh, no, Doolittle did the preliminary bombing. That was on the movies the other night, … learning to fly a B-24 off a carrier deck. That was quite a movie, and so, then, the Army said, when I reported back to Dix, … "Oh, no, you're not going back to the Pacific Theater. You've had forty-four months, in forty-six months, and that's enough." The Old Man had a fit. The division was supposed to go into Japan for occupation, and then, up to Korea for more shenanigans, but, all of us who were lucky enough to get a leave, we didn't say much. As long as the Army was saying we had enough, we didn't fight it. So, we went through the rigamarole, gradually, of being mustered out and they asked us what we wanted to do. "Do you want to stay in the regular Army, do you want to go into the Reserves, or do you want to go into the National Guard?" and I had a lot of mixed feelings. For two good cents, I'd have stayed in the regular Army. I liked the military and had had reasonable success with it, but, Dotty said, "Al, I don't dislike the Army, but, I rather think I'd be happier if we weren't on the usual military merry-go-round." So, I elected to go into the National Guard and, having served with a New York National Guard outfit, I stayed with them, the 27th Division. Then, I found out that the Military Guard Bureau decided to divide New York State differently. The 27th Division was assigned upstate and the 42nd Division down state, headquartered around Manhattan, and so, I had quite a career with the New York National Guard. … At that time, I came back to work at Manhattan Life and ran the personnel and planning department. [I] enjoyed it. I got a job offer from the American Casualty Company in Pennsylvania. Mr. Harold Evans wanted a personnel guy to straighten out his personnel problems. ... American Casualty was a multiple line company headquartered in Reading, and so, we moved to Reading, and he used to say, "Boy, this is going to be terrific. You'll have a corner office, you won't have to wear a hat to work, and unlimited recruiting opportunities for career people in insurance, casualty insurance, fire insurance, health insurance, etc." So, I was intrigued, went up to Reading, and enjoyed it, but, then, the first month up there, Harold had a problem with the outfit that we had in Boston. He says, "I'm going to have to send you to Boston and straighten this office out." "How long?" "Don't know, as long as it takes," and my poor wife, who had come up from Toms River with a brand-new baby, she arrived in Reading, and the water system failed that week, and, I don't know, everything that could've gone wrong went wrong, worse than the war. So, I told my boss at American Casualty, … "I can't go to Boston, no matter how important it is, unless we get this new house in Muhlenburg Park straightened out for my poor bride," and Evans snapped his fingers a few times, and my coal furnace was out, the pot stove was out, and I was re-organized in the house with a new kitchen, a new furnace, a new this, a new that, and so, it was straightened out. … [Dotty] enjoyed the neighbors, Pennsylvania Dutch folks, solid as the good Lord could ever want. I remember, he'd say, "Alden, I'm your neighbor, I'll help you with anything, but, I won't bug you and don't you bug me," a great guy. We got along famously and, [for] the kids, a marvelous yard, a big garden, and I like to garden, always have, up until this year. ... So, that experience brought me back, because that company was sold by the Swiss owners to Continental Casualty, and so ... I didn't want to, and Dot didn't want to, go to Chicago. So, I came back to Jersey and back to life insurance with the Life Office Management Association, and spent thirty years with them, went through everything there, enjoyed it. I finally retired. My normal retirement date was in 1981, I think, but, I've visited every major life insurance company in ... North America. … Then, a buddy of mine in the association world, Bob Richards, said, "You don't want to retire. We need a fellah to run corporate relations, talk to the (Barron?) Hiltons, and this one, and that one, and the whole industry." So, I was director of corporate relations for the hotel industry and had a fascinating career with them for about eight years, and, while there, I completed the entourage which led to that briefcase, see it, every state in the union I visited, Alaska and Hawaii to boot, and I just enjoyed that. ... [On] any association world [trip], you're trying to find out if what you're doing for the members is what they want done. "Are we doing it right?" It's an educational program, and, of course, life insurance and hotel insurance, both the associations had big educational programs in every facet of running the home office or running the hotel, and that was going great (guns?) until, what, '88, I guess. … Bob had retired and Ken finally decided it was too expensive, [which is] the way he put it to me, "Too expensive to keep you on the road, covering North America." So, after the Hilton Company meeting in San Francisco, I came back to get retired again, and, I don't know how many months later, I was chomping around, looking for activity, and went to work for the JC Penny Company, and I'd never done direct selling. It was always marketing association, but, I worked for the Penny organization in Ocean County, and I enjoyed it very much, and, there, again, I could have worked a few more years, and I don't know why I didn't, but, nobody told me, these rascals, that if you worked ten years for Penny, you'd get your discount card for life. Now, I didn't expect to buy that much from Penny's, but, it's a nice idea. So, I had my discount card for the first two years after I retired, but, not for life, because I had the right age numbers, but, not the service. ... That was '88, oh, I went from Penny's, then, it was ... '94 that Dotty died, and decided I was going to Florida, and went to Florida, enjoyed it very much. ... What brought me back here was [my] number three wife, who wouldn't live in Florida.
KP: Why not?
AJ: ... Just didn't like Florida, I don't know. I still miss it, 'cause I lived, not in a retirement village, I lived in a gated village, so that she couldn't have anybody wish-washing around, and it was a nice house, ocean across the street, the St. John's River on the other side. So, you had all the water, and I liked to be near the ocean, ... and then, I discovered, lo and behold, that ... every time you make a major move, you have to get a whole new team of doctors. He was checking me out. He says, "I want to send you North healthy." They discovered I had an aneurysm around my aorta, and I didn't know what an aneurysm was, and he said, "Well, you can live with it and you can die with it. It's like a stroke," and so, he said, "I think you should go to Dr. Cooley at the Heart Institute in Houston," which I did. [As a] matter-of-fact, I got a letter, yesterday, from the hospital, the Heart Institute, a questionnaire about my current state of health, and they said they'll monitor me every year, see how you're doing, a tremendous hospital in Houston. The Methodist Hospital, St. Luke's Hospital, the Children's Hospital, and the Heart Institute [are] all on one block. [You] never saw so much medical stuff in your life, all tops, all tops. I guess Cooley's the number one heart guy in the country, but, he said, "Well, I've given you an new aorta and you should be stable for the rest of your life." ... He said, "What do you want to do?" and I said, "Live to be a hundred." He said, "You might make it." [laughter] So, here we are, and ... that's pretty much a wrap up of the activities, pre- and post-[war].
KP: That was a wonderful narrative. We have a few follow-up questions, if you do not mind.
AJ: Not at all.
KP: I was struck by the fact that your mother was rather interested in your ROTC training while you father was less so.
AJ: He didn't have any enthusiasm for it, no. Mom did.
AJ: Well, I think that her brothers, who would have been World War I guys, and her cousins, who did the training back then, [influenced her]. She said, … "We believe in what America stands for, so, you're going to fight for it, but, you're better off to be an officer than to be a doughboy, and, if you're going to be an officer, you better be the best trained officer you can be," and so, she said, "Well, Rutgers ROTC would be the first step," that she saw as a positive way to pursue a military career. She [said], "I don't know whether you're going to be a military man all your life," but, I could've been. I could have been.
KP: It sounds like your mother was a remarkable woman.
AJ: Oh, she was. She lived to ninety-eight.
KP: You mentioned that she worked for a time.
AJ: Oh, yes. Back in her days, in Newark, she worked for Hahne and Co. Company, as a sales girl, then, she took training in the fine arts of office management, typing, and she worked for an insurance company, North American, I think. ... They got moved to Chicago, and her boss wanted her to go, and her father and mother discouraged her from that, but, she was ... very much oriented to[ward] business. She liked business, ... but, her father was a truck farmer, and a damn good one, and, when I was looking at the Family History Library, out in Salt Lake, looking for the family records, I found a census card which my grandfather had filled out when my mother was ten years old. When was the first census, about 1906 or something like that?
KP: 1900, perhaps.
AJ: ... Yes, I'm not sure, but, somewhere in that period. ... She was very enthusiastic about the American concept, … although I think she and her mother both participated strongly in the Methodist program at Ocean Grove. ... My grandmother was a school teacher in Old Bridge, my Grandmother Jacobs, and she, too, ended up in Ocean Grove. Ocean Grove had a lot of drawing power for the early folks who were interested in the Methodist Church.
KP: Your father was a Baptist.
AJ: Well, he was brought up in the Methodist [Church]. He turned to Baptist Church work in Plainfield, primarily because the bankers that he was associated with were in that church. ... We joined the First Baptist Church when it was on Front Street in Plainfield and after it burned down when I was a small kid. Then, they built the First Park Baptist on Seventh and Central, and we moved into that church, and then, like all churches, it splintered off. There was a group that went to North Plainfield, and another went to Park Avenue in Plainfield, but, Pop stayed there, and I got very active in the Baptist hierarchy. I was a trustee and a deacon and very active in Sunday school, particularly teenage Sunday school. That's always something going on, teenage questions, "Why this? Why that?" but, then, … with our gyrations around, ... Dotty was brought up in the Congregational Church, though her mother and father were essentially Methodist in Chicago. They met in a Methodist home in Wisconsin, and, when they came east, they couldn't find a church they liked, but, they turned to the Congregational Church, which was a New England church, and they were quite active in that church in Plainfield. So, we bounced around. We went to Reading for that American Casualty job. We were in the Baptist Church in Reading, back to Cranford, after I came back to New York. ...
---------------------------------------END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO----------------------------------
KP: This continues an interview with Mr. Alden F. Jacobs on October 28, 1996, at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with Kurt Piehler and ...
JB: Jennifer Bernstein.
KP: You were saying that you joined the Presbyterian Church when you moved to Cranford.
AJ: Yeah, we joined the Presbyterian Church. ...
KP: You did not like the Methodist Church there.
AJ: Didn't like it, too straight-laced, ... and the Presbyterian Church, I had a number of friends in it, and ... we had all four kids in the Sunday school, and I got involved in running the Sunday school, ran the junior high department. Then, in the Boy Scouts, they had the largest Cub Scout troop in Jersey in that church, and so, I got involved in being a Scoutmaster and had a Cub Pack. ... The boys enjoyed that and I did, too. We had a large, large Pack and [run] differently from a lot of Packs, the mothers ran the social part and the fathers ran the program. Now, normal activity, the Cub Pack den is run by the mother, the theory being [that] the mother is closest to the young boys than the father, but, our Cubmaster felt otherwise, so, we ran it the opposite, and the Boy Scout organization let us do it, and we had a great time. We took them to a lot of places, Gettysburg, where the boys, incidentally, were tremendously impressed with the military significance of the Battle of Gettysburg, which was one of the toughest battles American troops ever fought. ... They just couldn't believe the fact that these fellahs stood up, firing a muzzle loading rifle, not an automatic rifle, a muzzle loader, and shot. ... So, they were given, all the boys, and [I] still have it, a badge from Gettysburg. We did the whole battle, you know, trooped around. ... I don't know whether you've been down there or not, have you?
AJ: It's worth doing and you get the whole significance of the Civil War from studying the different elements of that battle. I mean, the only other battle that was more significant, I think, was the Battle of Atlanta, which, when we went to Atlanta, and this is always ironic, the cyclorama in Atlanta about the Battle of Atlanta is in the middle of Grant Park. Now, it isn't the Grant who commanded the Federal forces, but, another Grant, but, they impacted the thought process. ... "You're really a Yankee, boy," and Sherman, of course, marched to the sea, burned half the town down, and my friends in the South said, "We could show you more, but, you rascals burned it all down," [laughter] but, ... that church was a great experience, and the Boy Scouts [made an] impact. Then, when I went to Reading with the personnel department of American Casualty, I had to transfer my military status from the New York National Guard to something in Pennsylvania and the commanding officer in New York said, "No problem. We'll just hold you in limbo until you decide whether you're going to be in the Reserves, or the Pennsylvania Guard, or whatever." For two years, I couldn't decide, Pennsylvania Guard [or] Pennsylvania Reserves. Then, I got letters from the Governor of New York and the President of the United States, "Thank you for all your service." I said, "What do you mean, 'Thank you for all my service?' I haven't resigned ... or retired." [I] get in my car and get back to New York and they made a mistake. They thought I'd resigned. I said, "Resigned? Two years from normal retirement? Why would I resign?" "Oh, we made a mistake," terrible. One of my commanding officers from the war, this commanding general of the New York National Guard, he says, "Jeez, you can't undo these things." I said, "What do you mean, you can't undo them?" I've been fighting that to this day.
KP: You still have not resolved the issue.
AJ: No. The Ocean County Veterans' Office has done more to try and get my records changed, to recognize that they made a mistake, but, you see, it means, if they admit it, then, they'd have to give me a pension, but, they don't want to admit it. ... When I came back from Reading to New York, General Charlie Ferris, who was one of the men I worked with during the war, in the TQM operations, he then commanded the 410th Amphibious Engineers, … he said, "You're an infantry officer, but, you know all about amphibious operations," which I did. [I had] been on six or seven amphibious maneuvers, actual war situations. So, he said, "You can work with me, but," he said, "I have to get permission from the Corps of Engineers to give you an assignment. So, you'll just come to the meetings," and I came, and I couldn't go on their active two weeks camp, because, again, ... I didn't occupy what they called a table of occupancy position in the 410th. I was a special staff officer to the commanding general. Finally, I get a letter from the Second Corps of Engineers Base at Camp Kilmer. They said, "Sorry, Colonel, we can't give you an assignment, because you're an infantry officer, not an engineer[ing] officer." Well, I was so frustrated, I said, "Well, [forget it]." ... Then, the government had a fire in St. Louis. All the military records burned up. I said, "That's all right, fellahs," [Mr. Jacobs holds up a large folder containing all of his military documents] [laughter] and I got another file somewhere, but, I found, in these, the other night, things that I signed in 1960 to reestablish my position. ... The girl down at the headquarters in Ocean County said, "It's obvious that you didn't intend to not serve, so, we should get it straightened out." The American Legion, which I belong to, … said, "Oh, yeah, we'll help," [as did] your Representative, "Oh, we'll help," but, nothing happens.
KP: Which Representative tried to help you?
AJ: Well, the one down in Ocean County.
KP: Congressman Saxton?
AJ: Yes, yes, yes, and he wrote a nice letter, "We'll follow up, going to make a date for you to go Washington, talk to the National Guard Bureau." I said, "I'm ready. Let me know," but, nothing happened. So, somebody said the other day, "Write to the President." I said, "But, it never gets to the President, you know. That mail is screened, maybe shunted off." "Nevertheless, do it." I suppose I should, but, I don't know.
KP: Have you tried writing to the Secretary of the Army?
AJ: ... No, I haven't. I don't think I have. Maybe I should do that. It's never too late.
JB: I noticed that you were a fencer and that your team beat Princeton for the first time ever. What was that like?
AJ: It was fantastic, because the coach we had coached [for] both schools. I forget the coach's name, but, he coached Princeton and he coached Rutgers.
KP: At the same time?
AJ: Same time. He'd come into the gym over there, "Throw your weapons," say, "Defend yourself," you know. It was a great sport. It was not a spectator sport.
KP: Which sword did you fence with?
AJ: Epee. … On the end of the epee blade, which is a triangular blade, you wrap on, with dental floss, a little, three-pronged thing at the end, so that, when you hit, it would catch, leave it, and then, you put (phenopthalein?) inside, so it would leave a red mark, and it was a very exciting sport. Dotty used to come, but, there were only a handful of spectators at the average meet, but, Princeton fenced. They had a good team, and Rutgers had a good group, and, I think, the year that we beat them, we won a cup. I won the Middle Atlantic Epee Championship, and one of the guys won ... the Middle Atlantic Saber Championship, and, I don't know, we didn't do as well in the foil, but, then, we had an experience at Penn State. ... We got, I had it for a long time, I don't know what happened to it, an apologetic letter from the director of athletics at Penn State, [saying] that they were sorry that we had such bad umpiring. … See, in fencing meets, you have a pair of umpires on each end, to watch which way the action is going, and it was obvious [that] these guys didn't know beans about fencing, and so, we lost the bout, the meet, but, we thought that we had [been] cheated out of it, and, up there, I bent over to get changed and I couldn't straighten up. Guy says, "Oh, you must have sprained your sacroiliac arch." I mean, we were getting madder and madder toward the end of the meet, and I must have made a terrific lunge at this little guy, and it didn't bother me until later, [laughter] but, it was a sport that we thoroughly enjoyed.
JB: Why did you switch majors, from biology to math?
AJ: I think, probably, the fact that we thought, my parents thought, we were going to graduate into a war, and [they said], "Why don't you wait?" ... Pop knew that a lot of folks in our church, who were actuaries, knew I liked mathematics and was reasonable good at it, at that point. They said, ... "You can always go back and study the biological things you need to know, but, in the meantime, get your math degree." They didn't realizes that companies were going to think, "Oh, that's nice, but, come back after the war," but, (Elder Porter?), at Manhattan Life, great guy, he's the one that said, "Well, I'll give you a temporary job."
KP: He went to your church.
AJ: Yes. I regretted it, but, not 'til later did I realize [it]. Now, when I came back from service, I didn't get out until '46, I think, and Dot and I had a family started, ... I should have taken advantage of the GI Bill of Rights. I could have gone back to college, and, hopefully, if I was successful, then, in[to] medical [school], but, I was anxious to get the family under way and prospered, and the company at Manhattan Life, they would have gone either way, you know. They said, "Well, you can work and study or ... [do] whatever you want to do." They'd be there to support them. ... That's one of the things I probably regret that I didn't pursue. Now, my sister, Doris, who was a NJC graduate, she studied pre-med, and then, went to woman's medical [school], but, she couldn't hold up, physically, so, she changed to sociology. She got her Ph.D. in sociology and I used to kid her, I'd say, "That's a high grade personnel director." [laughter] She'd get mad. I know, I know, sociology is important, no question. ... Buckminister Fuller is the guy I was trying to remember, who wrote TheCritical Path, and I used to cite him to Doris when we were talking about how to guide your kids, and I said, "Get them on the right critical path." Fuller was quite a scholar.
KP: I know. He still has quite a following.
JB: I have some questions about the battle for Saipan. Were the troops in the field aware of the Smith vs. Smith controversy?
AJ: A fair number of them were, but, not as many ... as later.
KP: At the time, how much did you know?
AJ: Well, we were ... fairly well-aware. [For] the few days following his release, I mean, Smith was relived of his command and we couldn't believe it. My regimental commander was relived of his command. "Why? What happened?" and we found out that, ... tactically, General Ralph Smith, our commanding officer, felt that you couldn't take a mountain with a sheer cliff facing you, with nothing but Japanese guns sticking out at you, until you reduced that threat by bombardment of some kind. What was available to us? naval gun fire. He called for naval gun fire support, and "Howling Mad" Smith wouldn't okay it, and [he replied], "Just, you know, go up and take the mountain." So, every time I came and went from the battlefield to the back with wounded, I'd get a little bit more information, or this and that, but, our guys were being shot to pieces [from the] withering gun fire from this cliff face, and I think there were a lot of Marines who saw it as we did, and it wasn't 'til later that Admiral Nimitz upheld the Army's point of view and gave them credit. He said, "I don't think the 27th Division is cowardly. They certainly believe in what we're fighting for and their troops are good, dedicated [soldiers]," and it was an unfortunate incident. ... I discovered that somewhere, I think. Yeah, Love, Edward Love, was the historian of the division. That's the story. I think it's the same as this, "The Reputation of Articles in Time Magazine," 18th of September, 1944, and it was written, ... I think, by Love, but, we fought that for years. Look [at] that, all this. This is longer than that.
JB: This is for your Bronze Star.
AJ: ... Yeah, I got two Bronze Stars and a Silver Star.
KP: What action were you awarded the Silver Star for?
AJ: For rescuing those guys on Saipan.
KP: Was that your first experience with direct combat? It sounds like that rescue operation got pretty hairy.
AJ: Yeah, that was the night of the banzai attack. I had been involved in some direct action, but, that was the most definitive, ... because I know that ... the two or three guys that came up with me and got that ... pocket of resistance [were hit]. … Jeez, the bullets were all over the place and my sons, later, said, "You didn't get wounded, Pop." I said, "I was lucky." ... This story, I can let you have that, if you want to read it. Is that some more about it?
JB: Yes, a clipping from the New York Times.
AJ: This is 1944, but, you know, we knew that it was bologna. ... This article, and this report by Love, vindicates the division. ... It's, again, that same old stuff. The media grabbed the story and, it's (loathsome?), they twisted it.
KP: You really had a remarkable Army career. Not only were you trained as an infantry officer, but, you also took part in several amphibious assaults. You worked very closely with the Navy, the Air Force, and the Marines. Did you make any observations about how the services worked, or did not work, individually and in unison?
AJ: ... Yeah. The first operation out with a hot task force, [which] was going to backup Makin for the Air Force, exposed me to the fact that the Navy and we [the Army] saw this operation in one light, and the Air Force didn't seem to care what it took to get their stuff down to Makin, and we said, "Well, we certainly want you to succeed. This is why we're taking these islands, to give you guys a base to fly from, but, you're not very cooperative." I said, "Well, we've only got so many ships. The Navy can only provide so much support," and the Navy and the Army, in the amphibious operational sense, couldn't have worked closer. ... [From] that first training with the Navy on transport quartermaster, I felt very strongly that the Navy turned, … with everything they could, to teach us doughboys how to be able to operate from a floating base, the troops that had to go ashore, you know. You had a little landing craft in the Navy, a landing craft for personnel, a landing craft for vehicles and supplies, and we worked hand and glove, and, from Nimitz's headquarters, we were [told], "Whatever you fellahs need, tactically, you tell us where you want it on this ship and we'll get it out [of] the ship in the order that you want," which was the whole secret. … You get a ... Navy ship, an APA, ... which is an attack ship for personnel, when it's in Makin Harbor, it's going to stay there and defend that anchorage with everything it's got, and [they would say], "You guys ... can work around us and go ashore," and that worked very smoothly. Now, later on, when we were mixed in with the Marines, the Marines went their way and the Army went its way, and, when they got ashore, too often, it was the same thing. We had any number of instances where the Marines would say, "Well, we're covering this to this," and you'd go down on the ground and look, and you'd say, "Where is this right flank?" "Well, it's according to So-and-So and So-and-So." There's nobody there. So, the old man would say, "They can't read a map," and, next thing, down would come [from] headquarters, map training. Well, in the middle of the damn battle, you can't stop and learn how to read a map. So, things like this aggravated the coordinated effort, and, yet, I know that the average Marine Corps officer was just as anxious to succeed as we were, but, a few in higher command felt, "No matter what we say, this is it," and we [would] say, "Well, yeah, within limits. You know, we want to do the right thing, play the right game," and so on, but, we did have, after Saipan, particularly, … map reading for all officers and noncoms. "Know where you are on the ground, and then, communicate through the channels. ... You have to be in touch," and the Japanese were such that, if you left a gap, they'd run right through it, and, if they ran through it, there was all hell to pay, because, then, they'd shoot you up in the back, and we lost a few people, you know, on Saipan from Japs who'd infiltrated, and then, came back. … [We] never knew where they were, but, I'm happy to say that, on Saipan, I had an extremely strong cooperative effort with the Seabees, which were Navy controlled, … running things that were related to the support phase, and the only bad feature was this command situation, which just was a difference in philosophy, … I think. Most of us have since discussed it, that the Navy had enough firepower sitting around outside of Saipan [that] they could have shelled the heck out of that mountain, and then, we could [have taken it]. I mean, ... whether it's in Gettysburg or wherever, if it's a battle and you have an impasse, go around the ends. That's what Patton did in Europe any number of times, but, there, he had tanks and he could maneuver. We didn't have [but] minimal tank support. The islands weren't big enough for that kind of tank, some, but, not enough.
KP: How long have you been active with the 27th Infantry Division Association?
AJ: I have been active with them ever since '46, fifty years.
KP: It seems like vindicating the 27th Division and correcting the record has been a significant part of your mission.
AJ: Yes, right, and [we told] the commanding general of the 42nd and 27th, now, both, [we would do] anything we can do [to] help [him] correct this record thing. (O'Hara?), who commanded our troops, ... commanded my outfit in Saipan, … said, "I'll put you on my staff, Alden, but," he says, "you'll have to live to be 200 years old before they'll change the records," but, he was not, you know, being a wise guy. The government hates to admit they made an error. So, Dot and I used to talk about it. Well, when you're young, you don't think about your pension. Now, today, that I've been living on a pension, that extra pension would be very helpful, not that I'm crying the blues, because, [in] the life insurance industry, we had a good pension, and I took a little less active pension payment on a survivor basis, that, if I died before Dotty, she would have a continuing pension. … That reduces, from the life expectancy point of view, but, (great ?).
KP: You mentioned that, during one of the amphibious assaults, you worked with a black quartermaster unit.
KP: How often did you work with black quartermaster units?
AJ: ... One or two times beyond that one. Down in Espiritu Santo, we had one that was helping in the support phase, and they were a hard working bunch, hard working bunch, but, most of the black troops that we had in the Pacific were in the quartermaster-ordnance area. Now, the ones in Europe, who were combat oriented, … we never had any problems with them. ... They worked hard.
KP: You mentioned that someone commented that you were running the unit like a chain gang.
KP: Why did they say that?
AJ: Well, this ... ship had bags of cement up in the bow, part of the forward hold, and Marston matting, and the captain said to me, when we were unloading, I don't know what day it was, "This isn't going fast enough." So, Jacobs goes down in the hold and I started to get these guys organized. "You, get a palette ready, get the next palette ready," so that it's a steady stream of palettes up and palettes down, and that's when this one quartermaster sergeant said, "You operate like the boss on a chain gang," [laughter] and I laughed.
KP: It was one of the black sergeants.
AJ: Yeah. ... I laughed. I said, "No, I've never been involved with a chain gang," but, they worked hard, and I stayed right with them until we got the final orders that they have to leave the ship.
KP: They were taken ashore.
KP: Were you put on the island with them?
AJ: I was put on the island, but, only for a short period of time. I was transferred to a Navy ship that was going back to Honolulu, because the ship I came on was going to Frisco.
KP: You mentioned that, if you had been sly, you probably could have ended up back in the United States.
AJ: Yeah, I could have been back there in Frisco, but, I'd have had to come back anyway, what the hell. [laughter]
KP: You were in the Army before Pearl Harbor. By interviewing C. Harrison Hill and other members of your class who were in the military before Pearl Harbor, I have noticed that the military was quite different then. It was a much more formal organization.
AJ: Oh, indeed. I don't know how many breaks we had. ... Infantry was our basic [branch], ordnance and Air Force followed suit, and ... a few of us that were stuck with infantry, we didn't have any great justification for beefing in our classmates. We thought, "Oh, you guys are going for a soft touch. The ordnance is going to be based here or behind the lines." Now, there's a few ordnance personnel in forward echelons to keep the ordnance rolling and workable, but, we thought that was a lesser significance than [the] fighting infantry, [laughter] and I don't say anything today, but, I had a great appreciation, as an infantryman, for the Air Force. They saved our necks in the Pacific and the European Theater, African Theater, any number of times, and the Navy. I said, the other day, to somebody, ... "If I have to go around again, I'm going to be in the Navy." [laughter] ... I never thought to mention it, it's not significant with history, I was on a visit to Seattle. I had gone from Seattle, on a weekend, out to (Bremerton?), to see the Navy Yard out there, and, if you've been to Puget Sound, it's a big sound. The ferry ride is an hour, and I was standing on the upper deck, admiring the beautiful scenery around Puget Sound, and it's gorgeous. Those trees up there are really immense. … A young woman was standing there, not far, and she said to me, "It is absolutely the most amazing sight, isn't it?" and I said, "Yes." I really appreciate the significance of America, when you look at the beauty in this northwest corner, the prettiest part of North America, and then, she suddenly says to me, "Are you ready for the next time around?" and I said, "Jeez, I never thought about it. Why do you ask?" She said, "Well, I teach behavior to high school students, with the objective of making sure you behave properly this time, so that the next time, [in] your next life, you'll know what's important." I said, "Oh, that's very interesting." She said, "I think we have some success with it." ... Now, today, there's a lot more being written about this sort of thing, angels, good angels, bad angels, near death experiences, … like Peck's book, who wrote The Road Not Taken, and then, he wrote one recently, it's [called],In Heaven As On Earth. Did you read it?
AJ: It's written from Cloud Nine. He looks back at his body and he says, "My God, what am I doing?" and it goes on. It's a marvelous book of observation about death, and [he is] living in a blue room that's depicted as his part of heaven, and, if he thinks hard, he can recall his wife, who pre-deceased him, and they talk as if they were still on Earth. Now, that's an amazing concept, but, I thought he did a very masterful job, and who knows? I mean, we hear a lot of things about near death experiences, but, Janie, my wife now, she says, "How can you read that stuff?" I say, "I don't know. It's kind of interesting," [laughter] but, I find that my reading experiences, now, in my eighties, are much more significant to me. I think about things differently than I did, but, maybe that's what happens.
KP: While in the Army, did you attend services or encounter any chaplains?
AJ: Oh, quite regularly. I came across ... a program and I was surprised that I still had it. I'll show you, if I can land my fingers on it. I thought I could. The chaplain was a very significant guy. It wasn't that funny. This was on a ship and it was Christmas. ... Anyway, it was a typical ... military service that, you know, the chaplain tried to impress on us. ... Here it is, "Christmas Service, December 1943," aboard the USS Pierce. … I don't know, I've been involved in Scripture reading, biblical study, with some of the guys, and, of course, in the troops, we had all faiths, and you didn't have any problem with it, but, a lot of things, over the years, have changed, now. They still have interfaith services. ... Well, I guess, on Majuro, where we had the unopposed action, we kept busy with all kinds of things, including a fairly definitive church service, by the same chaplain, and I can see him now. I think this skipper on this ship kept a supply of these and he'd print them up …
KP: As they were needed.
AJ: Yeah. ... Now, what will happen to all these papers? My kids, some could care less, but, my oldest son, he says, ... "I'd like to keep them," and I said, "Well, they'll be around," but, ... that's one of those things that you wonder about. ... You know, after you save stuff and save stuff, you wonder, "What [am I going to do]?" Like, I have a scrapbook of the Mooro Castle disaster, remember, off Asbury Park?
AJ: It's getting a little yellow with age, but, that was ... some accident.
KP: Did you actually witness the sinking?
AJ: I was down to the beach right after it happened. When I heard that it was happening, I went right down, Dotty and I both, before we were married
---------------------------------------END OF TAPE TWO, SIDE ONE----------------------------------
AJ: ... Yeah, it was a most dramatic tragedy and it's never been fully explained. That's what bugs me. It's like this current disaster of Flight 800. Who knows? but, for those of us who fly around, you wonder.
KP: You made your job as a transport quartermaster in loading for an amphibious operation seem very smooth.
KP: You must have encountered some problems and had some frustrations. You mentioned that you had some problems with the Air Force.
AJ: ... The biggest problem was to get enough advance information about the situation on the island that we were going to attack, so that the commanding officer could say, "We're going to need this kind of support, armament, to take this island and it's going to require a certain pattern of supplies." Why did you need to know the tactics? Well, because you had to bring the support stuff ashore as fast as it was anticipated in its need and you might have, as we did ... on Okinawa, … to load the ships for any one of four missions. We might be called upon to do this, cross Red Beach One, or this, against other [targets]. So, each supporting scenario had to be loaded a certain way. Then, you had to try to bring them all together, so that, when you got there, whichever way you were called upon to do it, you could put that plan into action, and the troop plan was one thing and the support plan another, and it's that mix, working with the Navy and the supporting echelons. It's like being a general staff officer. ... You have to give the old man the final decision to do this or that, depending on all the echelons involved, people, supplies, back up, and then, execute it. Well, if you didn't do that, then, you could have a disaster.
KP: It sounds like your job required a lot of patience.
AJ: It did.
KP: You must have had to check things several times to make sure everything was going according to plan.
AJ: Yes, yes. A lot of this staff work takes patience. ... Well, first, you got to know your commanding officer and how he thinks about the military operation you're facing and [you need] patience more with the supporting echelons than with him. ... If he believes in you, if ... he says, "You're doing your job and I'll let you do it," then, you can go ahead and do it, but, that's the same in business. If you know what the objective is, then, you put it together and carry it out, but, yeah, I think that you have to be patient.
KP: A veteran of the Okinawa campaign that I interviewed noted that his unit had a real supply problem. Was it difficult to keep the field units supplied during some of these campaigns?
AJ: Well, [for] that particular one, it was, because, ... as good as the supply line was, the Japanese interdicted it, constantly. ... They knew things were getting tougher and tougher the closer we got to the homeland, so that ... we had a meeting in Pearl Harbor, before that operation, and we were coming at it from Espiritu Santo, and the Navy, you know, … you've seen these pictures of the Pacific, with ships plotted here and there, to bring it all together, and focus on this one island, and have all the support elements [took a] lot of doing, on the part of the Navy more than anyone else, but, the Air Force, you know, ... knew that it was going to be tough, and it was tougher than they realized. The Japanese mounted an unbelievable series of kamikaze attacks and you can't imagine a guy, you know, he's up there, looking, and he says, "There's a ship," and he's going to dive bomb into that hold, and, depending on what's left in the hold, he may blow the ship apart or ... sink it.
KP: For Okinawa, were you on a ship or on land?
AJ: I was on a ship at Okinawa.
KP: You also saw the kamikazes. How close did they come your ship? You already had one close call with a torpedo.
AJ: Yeah. Well, the kamikazes [came] as close as across the street, here.
KP: That is pretty close.
AJ: Pretty close, when it blows up. ... I had more near death experiences, I guess, on Saipan, in the sense of getting supplies to the right people during the battle and getting the poor guys who were shot up back out of there, ... on the two or three rescue missions. That was a tough, tough battle, too, Saipan.
KP: What is your most vivid memory of combat? It sounds like you should have been scared on some of your missions.
AJ: I was scared. Oh, yeah, I was scared, but, when you're scared and you know something has to be done, you push the scariness aside. I guess you do. If you're trained in "battle technique," we used to call it, you know that the people here and the people here have to be brought in, taken out, whatever, and you do every means you can to get them out. … If you succeed, you're a hero, if you don't, you're buried. [laughter] ... War was, you know, a tremendous experience. I wouldn't take a million for having done it or I wouldn't take a million to do it again. [laughter] Oh, yeah.
KP: What was your closest call?
AJ: I don't know. ... I think, probably, the closest call was on Saipan.
KP: What were you doing?
AJ: We were rescuing ... these American troops that were surrounded by the Japs in one little isolated corner, and it was nip and tuck as to whether we could get in and out before they blew us apart, but, you're just lucky. The driver of the DUCW said, "I don't think we're going to make it, Captain," a black man. I said, "Well, let's keep trying." ... In the heat of the battle, bullets are everywhere, but, ... we knew where these guys were, and they were running out of ammunition.
KP: Were you rescuing an infantry unit?
AJ: Oh, they were an infantry unit, yeah.
KP: You were a quartermaster at that point, but, you had also been trained in the infantry.
AJ: A little of both, at that point, yeah. ... Those of us on that dock, well, we had a .45 strapped on and a carbine, ... but, you know, you would fire in the general direction of where you assumed the enemy was, but, you had bloody well [be] careful, because you didn't know exactly where these troops were that you were going to rescue. ...
KP: You did not want to kill them before you rescued them.
AJ: Well, that's right, and these were apple knockers from upstate New York. We used to kid them, the 105th infantry. We'd kid them about being apple knockers.
KP: National Guard units have been criticized, fairly or unfairly, for being very amateurish, particularly at the beginning of the war. Does this hold true for your experience? What was your opinion of the 27th Infantry's leadership?
AJ: Well, I think I was in luck in the 27th, in that we had, from those early days, the maneuvers in the South. The 27th reflected some good, sound military knowledge. We were playing war games, but, we've often said, some of us who were out there together, that that training in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas was so realistic that it stuck with us, and it was sound. … Now, the excitement of routing that troop of horses, you know, that was exciting to a machine gun platoon, and we laughed about it after it, but, had that been a war situation, that could have been effective, the disruption of that enemy unit, because they had to go and round up the horses by hand. ... I would say the 27th Division, as a whole, took their military training seriously and that stemmed from the commanding general, Burns. He said, "I know we're weekend solders, but, we want to be the best damn weekend solders that the Army has," and we came close to being activated again for Korea, and the Old Man wanted to go. We'd spent twenty-seven straight weekends preparing to go, and then, the government decided to take somebody else. My wife said, "Holy cats, all that time?" I said, "Well, what are you going to do?" but, no, I think that the commanding general of the New York National Guard, O'Hara, Buzz O'Hara, who was World War II experienced in hand-to-hand, ground fighting, knew the importance of training, right down to a "T," and General Burns did, too, and we had a lot of camaraderie that we all enjoyed. I've got, hanging over in my den, pictures of the staff, you know, at Peekskill and Fort Drum, upstate, and ... we share a lot of memories.
KP: It sounds like you stayed in touch with many of the people that you served with.
AJ: Pretty fair number, yeah, and my executive officer from [the] 2215th Pacific Ocean Area TQM Team, which I commanded, … lives in California, George O'Donnell, and we saw him last year and had a great visit, and he was very close to General Smith. He was in the 105th until he was assigned to my TQM team, but, we had twenty guys on the TQM team, and there are a lot of them that have gone already, but, we've tried to stay pretty much in touch, you know.
KP: You mentioned that, on Saipan, a number of Japanese soldiers refused to surrender and even committed suicide before your eyes, literally. Did you ever encounter any Japanese prisoners during the war?
AJ: Only on Okinawa. We had prisoners. We tried to separate the officers from the men, and we had them before they were shipped back to Honolulu and to the States, and they ... were a sultry bunch, because those guys were inculcated with, "Die for the Emperor," much more than [us]. We were dying for a cause. You know, you believe in the American picture, "This is America. This is the country that provides the freedom we like and the freedom we think the rest of the world would like to enjoy." Sometimes you wonder, today, whether we're trying to do too much or too little. I would hate to be President today, with these decisions about all the different conflicts there are, one after the other. ... After the war, we had Japanese life insurance companies who were members of our association, and I've had young ... Japanese executives sit across [from me at a table], just like this, and they'd look at me and say, "I wonder if I ever looked down a gun barrel at you." I said, "Oh, we might have." One or two guys said, "I was on Saipan." I said, "I was, too."
KP: Would you actually talk about the battle?
AJ: Yeah, but, these were unusual guys.
KP: It was uncommon for veterans of the war against Japan to encounter their former enemies later in life.
AJ: ... That's right. It's only through the fact that we had common life insurance members, and these rascals were smart enough to say, "Well, now, we're friends with you guys, tell us all you know about how to run a life insurance company," and we tried to, because we recognized that, now, here we are, we're trying to stimulate harmony.
KP: Through your conversations with these Japanese businessmen, did you learn anything new about how the Japanese conducted their campaigns?
AJ: Yes. I questioned a couple of these fellas that I got to know better than others, "Why, when you had us down, didn't you stomp on us?" and they didn't know. [They] said, "It came from above." I mean, ... the first blow, Pearl Harbor, they wiped us out at Pearl Harbor. ... We don't know for sure, but, we think they had ships with troops in the North Pacific that could have swept around, after that battle, but, ... they were shocked. If you saw that airplane story about the bombing of Japan, prior to the atomic bomb, these pilots flew off this carrier and they kept radioing back, "There's some Japanese planes, but, they're not attacking us." Now, why? They didn't believe that we could sail these ships out ... without having support, and we had some, but, not enough to [make a difference], but, ... when I talk to these fellahs, businessmen, now, they said, "Well, we're just as mystified as you as to why we didn't follow up after this or that battle," and, you know, the documents that we captured said, "Let them land. We'll push them back into the sea." It's just contrary to military logic, because, if you think about it, an attack from sea to land against a pretty fortified position, you know, that's tough. You'd have to walk ashore, through water up to your waist, bullets flying all over the place. How could anybody survive? and, unfortunately, we lost a lot of men, but, they let us get ashore. They didn't let us. We got ashore. ... That's where, which I enjoyed, ... the significance of the TQM was, right there. We got ashore, push more ashore, and more ashore, and more ashore.
KP: You mentioned that when you first reported for duty in Louisiana, you were ordered to investigate a suicide.
KP: What were your conclusions?
AJ: Well, it was at a time in American society where the military was looked upon with ... a position that, "These fellahs know how to behave," and this was a young officer who, apparently, got involved with a girl in Alabama, and he was ashamed of his involvement, as far as I can tell, 'cause I had to write his mother. I've forgotten how I tried to be diplomatic, but, the military, in the South, of course, a New York outfit in the South was double jeopardy. "You damn Yankees come down here and misbehave." So, I found out, I mean, ... he committed suicide in his own tent, and there was no ifs, ands, or buts, and I never met the gal that he was supposedly involved with, but, I understood, from friends of his, that she left the area after his death. ...
KP: Was she married?
KP: She was single.
AJ: Yes. ... We tried to inculcate in our troops that, "You are here as representatives of the federal government, but, you're also a damn Yankee, so, don't misbehave." [laughter]
KP: You also mentioned that there were many soldiers in the stockade.
AJ: Oh, these guys in the stockade, you know, they were real roughnecks. ... In any large group, you're going to get some that are bad news, no matter what, who would start a fight over nothing, who would steal, but, mostly, they were, you know, bar room brawl type guys, "Let's go out and have a beer, but, I'm going to [pick a fight]," ... but, they ran the gamut from people who misbehaved that way and with gals, and some of the gals were tougher than heck, too, let me tell you. You'd get some tough ladies, but, [in] the military, of course, prisons beget prisons, the same old story, and, I don't know, we had, I guess, twenty-five or thirty of these birds that were being returned to their outfits as having served their time, and they were not murders or anything like that, because, if they had been, I think they would be discharged and sent back. The National Guard tried very hard to use exercised supervised discipline, but, when you take weekend solders out of New York, [it's difficult], and you got a difference. Upstate New York was different than downstate New York. New York City, you get some tough cookies. Now, people don't go to New York today, because [they think], "Oh, it's terrible. It's a wild bed." I don't feel that way.
AJ: No, I like New York, and I go back to New York, and I enjoy New York, but, my Southern friends, who came up from ... Georgia, lived over in Hell's Kitchen in New York, ... fairly recently, ... when I was working for the Hotel Association. He said, "I can't stand [it]. These guys are tough cookies. You know, I walk to work every morning past the same bunch of hoodlums, and they don't do anything to me, but, I don't give them any provocation." I don't know. ... Now, Atlanta can be the same thing. We moved the outfit from New York to Atlanta, and the police had a sign up, there in Atlanta, one time, when you came in from the west, "You're entering an unguarded city, a sinful city." What a thing for the police to say, but, a lot of big cities have this problem, every now and then.
KP: Did you ever serve on a court-martial board?
AJ: I think only twice, court-martial[s] for AWOL. [Do] you know what that is?
AJ: AWOL, yeah, "Go away without leave," yeah. We had a saying, the first year, in October of '41, "Over the Hill In October." We hadn't gotten a leave that we expected. ...
KP: The unrest that caused was widely reported.
AJ: Yes. So, we ... finally got our leaves, but, that was the cry, … "Over the Hill In October." ... Those two military trials were not too tough.
KP: Did both cases concern AWOL?
KP: You were in the Army before Pearl Harbor. How surprised were military personnel by the attack? The general public, of course, was very surprised.
AJ: Well, we're not as surprised as the public, and, yet, we were, my wife and I, in Alabama, in the theater when they announced, "All officers and men [of the] 27th Division, return to base. Pearl Harbor has been bombed." We were surprised at the fact that we hadn't been forewarned, specifically, and we found out, later, that the armed forces in the Philippines knew the day before this that something was cooking, and the Japs had taken advantage of that in the Philippines. ... [There were an] awful lot of mysterious communications during that week or so prior to December 7th. Some ships were warned away from Manila, because they thought the Japs were going to bomb them, before this, so, somebody had their finger on the overall movements of the Japanese Navy and the disposition of Japanese forces, and I don't know. The same thing, I think, happened in Europe, a lot of displaced communications as to what the intent was at certain phases. ... There's a new book [out] about Hitler. ... There are two different stories about [the] German and Italian military, "Are you part of the German hierarchy, militarily, or Hitler's Nazis?" two different philosophies. … I got an Italian tailor. He says, "Oh, I was in the King's Army, so, we were on your side," [laughter] and they're very different, very different.
KP: The 27th Infantry Division spent a lot of time defending Hawaii.
KP: Many troops who passed through Hawaii, even briefly, had fond memories of the islands. What are your fondest memories of Hawaii?
AJ: ... When we landed at Hilo, the only tragic part was the loss of those trucks and troops going up the road to Kamuela, but, when I was billeted in Stall One of Stable Three at the Parker Ranch, I was soon involved in being fire marshal for the Parker Ranch, where we were training, and, … in that part of the island, in the tundra, fires got going and they'd burn, kind of smolder in the ground, pop up in a (cactus?), and come out. So, I had a very happy pattern of working with the local guys, the cowboys and others, in keeping the fire situation under control. ... Then, again, in training, we had the beach from Kona all the way up to Havi. I was introduced to Leighton Hind, who was a rancher, had the second biggest ranch, after Parker, on the island, and he invited us down, when we had free time, to stay on his ranch and to hunt pheasant and wild pig from horseback, and then, I had a girlfriend in the Nurses Corps that used to go down there with me. … We'd have a luau and I still hear from her at Christmas time. She married a dentist, had five kids, but, we had a great time on the big island [with] the native population from all those hands at the Parker Ranch and Hind's Puw Wawa Ranch. ... He had a big hill near his ranch house that looked like an inverted gelatin dish, and it was "The Hill of Many Valleys," Puw Wawa, but, he was a most generous guy, and, every time we wanted a change of pace or recuperation, we'd spend a weekend up at his ranch. ... Then, the one down from his ranch [was] the Kona Inn. The manager of the Kona Inn was very sympathetic to the fact that we were there protecting his interests. We had a very unusual experience. One night, he called headquarters, and we had since moved our headquarters, (battalion?) headquarters, down ... to Kona, and we had a house, battalion headquarters, and a guy from Westfield and I were sleeping on the front porch, and we got an alert that there was an unusual sound coming from down toward the beach, the coffee plantation. We went down, and we could hear this sound, so, we said, "Jeez, maybe it's a Japanese submarine." Well, it stopped, and, a couple nights later, it started again, or least it was heard again. ... We'd strap on the .45s, tie them down, loaded for bear. Tom and I, we went down there, stalking through the coffee plantation, came across a little Japanese farmer, and he looked scared to death, and we said, "Hear that sound? What is that? Do you know what it is?" and he grinned, and we thought, "Oh, something's screwy." So, he took us down through the grove, and it was a huge bullfrog, [laughter] sitting in the middle of this little pond, making this damn noise, and we laughed. So, the Japanese alert turned out to be a bullfrog, but, ... we had a few funny experiences like that. The Japanese who lived on the island were very conscious of the fact that they were on the spot, because some of those Japanese midget subs had been seen coming around the edges of the island, and, of course, ... just up from Kona, you go around a peninsula, which goes on to the mountainous edge of the big island, and it's practically inaccessible. We had maneuvers in and around there, you know, training, and my pioneer platoon, my company at that time, was told, "You have to build a bridge." Pioneer platoon, these guys, again, are not engineers, they're infantry solders. We go over to find out where this gulf bridge was to be built and here's a pile of timber and this and that. "How the hell are we going to build a bridge?" Well, we get out the engineering manual. You know, the Army is full of manuals, from anything to anything, and, by George, we built what was labeled a "Jacobs Bridge." I don't know how long it lasted, but, it was good and solid. We built an A-frame and swung the beams across. ... I got back from a military leave in Honolulu. I missed the plane or something when I got in Hilo Airport and I couldn't get back up to Kamuela in time to make the deadline for my leave. ... A sugar cane truck brought me up to Honokaa, which was just below Kamusha, and I knocked on a door, and the lady, it was a blackout, "Oh," she says, "come in, Lieutenant." ... So, they put me up overnight, (without I, yes, or no?), fed me breakfast, and took me up to camp in the morning, but, they were all tremendously helpful. … On Oahu, when we went there, my gang, Second Battalion Headquarters, was at Fort Ruger, which is just below Diamond Head. ... I don't think there's much left of that fort anymore. It's been developed, like everywhere else.
KP: How long after the war did you return to Hawaii?
AJ: ... Must have been a good ten years after the war.
KP: Some people that I have interviewed returned in the 1980s and were shocked at how much had changed.
AJ: Oh, yes. Yes, we had some great experiences when we first came back, and then, I've been back for three or four different meetings and taken the opportunity to see some of the places that I enjoyed before. I had two, two or three, I think two Christmas dinners in the Moana Hotel on Waikiki Beach during the war, just happened to be back in-between operations, and then, we guarded Doris Duke's Honolulu estate. ... Then, we had an emergency headquarters down a real deep [shaft]. We used to say, if anything happened, we'll be buried. It was underneath a mountain, down a great, long shaft, part of the water company's operation, but, very deep in the mountain. That was our battalion emergency headquarters. Then, one night, I got arrested by the Honolulu Police Department, ... one bright morning. We used to sleep with one platoon of troops in uniform, ready to go, and the military department in Hawaii, at (Fort Cam?), used to give ... military exercises to keep us on our toes, and so, we had this practice of being ready to go at the drop of a hat, and, one night, the alarm went off that there was an attack under way at Black Point, which is down around the end of Waikiki Beach. We mount up into our trucks, and we go roaring down this street, get down to ... Kamehameha Boulevard, [and the] Honolulu Police Department hauls up in front of my jeep and says, "Where the hell do you think you're going, Lieutenant?" I said, "We're answering an emergency." "What are you talking about? There's no emergency." I said, "Really? We got alerted by the outpost on the beach," at such and such a spot, "that they were under attack." "Come on." The Honolulu Police had not been alerted to this problem, so, we were all paraded down to police headquarters ... to figure out what had happened. Yeah, that was a riot, the things that you forget.
KP: How often did your men get in trouble in Honolulu?
AJ: Oh, not much, a rare thing. ... I had a good company.
KP: It seems that way, because other officers that I have asked had stories upon stories about drunken fights and breaking places up.
AJ: Yeah. ... We really didn't have any bad escapades. Once in a while, a guy would get overly involved with some natives, miss his return date back to base, and, of course, [there was] the unusual number who got enamoured with a gal. Some of them stayed ... in Hawaii when the war ended, but, no, by and large, the 27th had a pretty good record in Hawaii, both ... down in Honolulu proper as well as up in Scofield Barracks. Scofield Barracks is right in the middle of the sugar cane and pineapple fields, and, even today, when the pineapples are ready, everything stops and you cut pineapples. We used to kid about, "No school today. Everybody cutting pineapples." I forget, there was some ditty that went along with it, but, I can't remember.
JB: You entered college in 1936, at the height of the Great Depression. Were you aware of how difficult it was to go to college at that time?
AJ: Well, maybe it was the economics of the banking industry that impacted me at that time. My youngest sister was born the day Roosevelt declared the bank holiday, and my Dad came home and [said], "Another mouth to feed and I might not have a job," and we were all very conscious of the tightness of economics. … I worked, in the summers, as a carpenter. My grandfather, my Dad's father, was a cabinet maker and carpenter. Pop didn't know, hardly, which end of a hammer to use, but, his father was a terrific cabinet maker, ... and my Grandfather Smith [was] very handy with tools. So, I worked, I guess, four summers for a contractor who was a friend of my Dad's, Les Reneger, and he counted me as a carpenter's helper, so [that] I could work longer hours and make more bucks. … He knew I was going to need it for college. ... [What] Pop told me first is, "You got to work as much as you can to help with all the expenses," but, of course, the tuition, then, was a heck of a lot less than today, but, my mother said, "Well, you know, we'll make it," but, I was the oldest of the four kids, and we were all separate [by] five years. … My youngest sister was seventeen years younger than me, and, yeah, we were very conscious of the economic [situation]. ...
-----------------------------------END OF TAPE TWO, SIDE TWO--------------------------------------
KP: This continues an interview with Mr. Alden F. Jacobs on October 28, 1996, at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with Kurt Piehler and ...
JB: Jennifer Bernstein
KP: You were saying that you were very conscious of how tight things were during the Depression.
AJ: Yes, we were, and the banking industry, like the life insurance industry I later joined, [was] very conservative. Salaries were not big, and, of course, tuition was not as high as it is today, but, we ... went to school with the understanding [that] we would not be spendthrift, we would be as economical as we could be, and I worked on campus, up at ... the cafeteria, and then, with Les Reneger, on the outside. … I really learned every aspect of the carpentry trade, building trade. That stood me in good stead all my life.
KP: At Rutgers, you never joined a fraternity.
AJ: I almost did. I was pledged to AKP, is that right? yeah, one block over, and I don't know what interrupted that. I never can remember why I never [joined]. I liked them, they liked me, and it went along, ... but, it didn't get consummated. [I] ended up being a Scarlet Barb. Yeah, [I] had a lot of friends in different fraternities. [It is] just one of those things.
KP: It sounds like you participated in many activities. You attended games.
KP: You also played several sports.
AJ: Yes. ... I ran. Cross-country and fencing were the two primary activities, and some swimming, but, I never got competitive. We had a good coach then, too.
KP: Rutgers had a very good swimming program. It was one of the best in the country.
AJ: Yes, right, right.
KP: Do you have any memories of Dean Metzger?
AJ: Oh, indeed, yes. I liked him. He was, I think, what should we say? tough but fair. ... We used to kid about Mr. Demarest, because of his whistle when he spoke.
KP: Whistling Willie.
AJ: Yeah, Whistling Willie. Do you remember that?
KP: I have heard the Whistling Willie stories.
AJ: Yeah, yeah, but, I didn't have any problems with the school administrators. ... [I] got along well with them.
KP: Do you remember attending chapel services?
AJ: Well, (Bill Johnson?) and I sat side by side in chapel, poor guy's since died, too, but, … being brought up with kind of a chapel experience background, we went to chapel and enjoyed it. Yeah, it was a good experience, yes.
KP: Your mother thought it was good idea that you take ROTC. It sounds like your parents, particularly your mother, were aware that a war was approaching.
KP: Many of the members of the Classes of 1941 and 1942 that I have interviewed were oblivious to the war before Pearl Harbor. However, in the 1930s, your family was convinced that war was inevitable.
AJ: Oh, yes, we could see it.
KP: What made you so sure?
AJ: Well, [from] the conflicts that we studied in history, it seemed [inevitable] to us. I know, [in] discussions we had with Ms. Bond at Plainfield High School, she said, "The activities that are going on in the Balkans, unless resolved, are going to lead to war." Of course, something has to happen that triggers it, but, we were alerted to the fact that there was so much unrest in the political scenarios over there, the economic scenario. I don't know, I haven't read that much about the Nazi hierarchy, but, a lot of the, … what, aristocratic German troops, what's the word? I can't think of the word, [Junkers], they didn't see the war as Hitler did. … Of course, he picked a cause and wrongly pursued it. … I don't know. We had great debates in high school about the influence of different hierarchies on the outcome of political trends. It's like the conflicts we used to measure in a religious sense, what's been going on today in Israel and Syria. They've been having fights like that ever since time began and I don't know whether it will ever end, when you think about it. The Yugoslavia that we knew, you know, when you were in high school, Tito was probably the number one guy, right?
AJ: … He had them under control, ... and, [with] the Russians, Stalin was a demagogue, and ... we used to wonder about, you know, the economic impact of Communism. "How can you take all the wealth of a country and just say, "Oh, we're going to divide it up by this, this, this, and this?'" It didn't make sense, but, we were brought up in America, where you worked and you were rewarded by the output of your work. Specifically, where we began to think about the fact that war might catch up with us, but, it began to simmer in some of our heads in late high school years. … I think that the "Problems of American Democracy" classes got us more involved in that than maybe others who didn't have that same [education]. We had a very good teacher who brought all these things out and we kicked the (gong?) around aggressively.
KP: It sounds like you had some excellent teachers in Plainfield.
AJ: We did.
KP: You also kept fairly abreast on current events.
KP: Did you continue this in college? Did you read the newspaper on a daily basis?
AJ: Yes. ... Back in college days, I read the Times and the Newark Evening News, and then, when the occasion permitted, I had friends who would send me the Boston Globe, and then, you'd get the Richmond paper.Now, you get complete difference, philosophically, from the editorials of these four papers, and I think that those influences made us more aware of some of the budding problems that maybe we'd otherwise be [unaware of]. … Even today, you hear all this chatter about [how] newspapers are going to be less influential because the Internet's going to provide you with everything you need. I don't believe it. The Internet is fine and I'm sure it's an exciting concept. ... I haven't made myself be more than just generally aware of it. I must get my daughter, Nancy, to bring me up-to-date.
KP: You should show her our website, where this interview will be posted.
AJ: Yes, yes, I should.
KP: Your father strikes me as a self-made man. He went from being a messenger to being the chairman of the board. Did he ever regret not going to college?
AJ: I don't think he did. ...
KP: Did he ever give you the lecture, "You need to go to college because I did not get that chance?"
AJ: I asked him, ... I don't know just when, "Why didn't you?" and he said, "Well, I was so happy and busy being a budding banker. I came to the Rutgers ... School of Banking," and I think that the same thing [happened]. He and Mom started the family [at the] end of World War I. ... She was not a big, strong woman. She was strong in many ways, but, she didn't have a big frame, so, that's why she felt she couldn't have her children [close together]. ... She had four separate families, because they were so far apart, and that's tough, because, then, you have to manage them separately, and, when my youngest sister died, Edith, is the only one that died, in 1982, that shook Mom and I both up, 'cause she died from what they thought was poisons in her system from the garden, or whatever. ... Mom was a strong gal, in the sense of her values, what she wanted her kids to do. She was very strong and supported Doris, who she wanted to be a doctor, after me not continuing my [medical education]. She wanted me to be a doctor, first, a minister, second, and businessman, third. ... All during the war, I used to get these letters from people at church, "Oh, your mother thinks you certainly should have been a minister," [laughter] and that's fine. I enjoy that philosophy, but, I never was so turned on that I left whatever I was doing and went back.
KP: It sounds like your mother believed that men and women should receive equal educations.
AJ: Oh, yes.
KP: Two of your sisters went on to earn college degrees and one received her doctorate in sociology.
AJ: Yeah, and ... Edna got degrees in interior design, art, and taught art, and was a very accomplished artist. You know, she would paint. She says, "I don't do it anymore," but, boy, her house is full of the most beautiful paintings that she did.
KP: Did your mother ever work after she got married?
AJ: I don't think she did. She used to laugh and say, "I worked all right, bringing you kids up." No, I don't think she worked, in the sense of a business employment.
KP: Did she ever join any organizations or clubs?
AJ: She was active in the First Baptist Women's Society, but, she was not too much of a joiner. ... She never liked to get overly committed, time wise, I think. ... Now, my middle sister is super active with church, but, that's her cup [of tea]. We had a Jacobs family reunion last year. ... I hosted the first one in Williamsburg and she's going to try to do the other one in Lavallette. We're supposed to have a planning session next month.
KP: How many family members came to the reunion?
AJ: We had about thirty, I guess, down in Williamsburg. My cousin, Bill, and his wife from California, ... a couple of his kids from different parts of the East Coast, and then, Doris, Edna, and none of my kids could come, because of time commitments, [laughter] but, it's fun to have a reunion. ... The grandchildren had more fun doing nothing, roaming around Williamsburg, but, I was trying to say, "Let's get them together and make them think about the future." So, I brought some stuff, ... I belong to the World Future Society, and I had a lot of handouts, and, I guess, some of them took them and read them. Others, you know, couldn't care less.
KP: How did you meet your first wife?
AJ: We met in school.
KP: Elementary school?
AJ: Yeah, in elementary school. ... Her father worked for Western Electric, thirty-five years, and they moved across the street from us in Plainfield. He was one of about a dozen Western Electric men who came from the (Hawthorne?) Plant in Chicago to open the Western Electric Plant in Kearny, which they opened, and [they] were institutionally involved with it until he retired. ... He had three different engineering degrees, electrical, mechanical, and whatever the degree is for gas, liquid gas or regular gas, [chemical]. ... She moved in, and we went to, I guess, about fifth grade, and so, we knew each other, casually, all the way in. ... We went to our sixtieth reunion of our high school class two weeks ago and a guy came up to me. He says, "Do you remember that girl that I dated and you dated at the same time?" I said, "I don't know," and he says, "Before you got serious with Dot." [It] turned out to be Virginia (Killburn?), who was ... a redhead who lived down the east end of Plainfield. I said, "She married (Darby?)." He said, "Yeah, that's right. You're lucky. She ran him into the poor house." [laughter] ... Then, the girl says, "Do you remember me?" I said, "You look very familiar." "I'm Esther (Swayze?)." She lived two doors from my grandmother on Mariners Place. We hadn't seen each other in sixty years, but, ... Jane keeps saying that we had such a happy childhood, and we did, but, she had a different type of childhood than I did. We were controlled. We could play sandlot baseball. My mother used to say, "All you could think about is playing sandlot baseball." Well, when you're, you know, ten or eleven, we had a field in the back, and we played baseball, and then, [with] my buddy, who lived behind us, on (Thorton?) Avenue, ... we used to shoot marbles, endlessly. … His father and a neighbor got into a couple of different businesses. We helped out. They used to make [what] looked like wax disks. ... [They] were aromatic, kept moths out, and they made these things, and so, we got involved in the edges, but, we were ... busy kids. ... [Concerning] our relationship with Dorothy and her folks, ... why, finally, in high school, we got moderately serious. … I used to play chess with her father a lot. She used to have ... a fit, say, "All you do is come over here to play chess with Pop," [laughter] and then, her mother used to invite us to dinner, you know, and, as we grew along, we had this group that came from the Western Electric Plant. We used to play bridge together and Dot and I used to help out in the kitchen. We'd clean up the kitchen after a bridge party, ... but, this was a typical [arrangement], ... same thing with church. We had the Young People's Association. We'd have a big affair. We'd help clean up the kitchen. That was standard practice. What do they call it? Youth Fellowship, at both the Congregational Church and the Baptist Church. I've washed more dishes in both churches than you could believe, but, it was fun. Yes, it was fun.
KP: You were married just before Pearl Harbor.
AJ: Yeah, we were married October 15, 1941. Pearl Harbor was two months later.
KP: Did you ever consider waiting until after you got out of the Army?
AJ: Oh, we kicked that around, and our parents wanted us to wait, "Wait, wait, wait, wait," but, you know kids. ... We'd known each other. We went to all the Rutgers dances, and we had this, that, and the other good time, and I guess I pressed the point more than she did. She and her mother were in Chicago, and I was about to get a military leave, and I said, "Why don't you and your mother come East, and we can get married, and then, go on our honeymoon?" and, essentially, that's what we did. We meet in Roanoke, Virginia, and, in the middle of a WCTU meeting, we got married.
KP: Women's Christian Temperance Union.
AJ: That's the one.
KP: You had no champagne toast.
AJ: No champagne toast. [laughter] The ladies told Dorothy the evils of drink, "Don't let this man get involved with whisky," the Whisky Rebellion. ... Her family [were] mostly teetotalers. Methodists didn't drink. I didn't go much for booze. I used to like a beer when I'd go fishing, but, that's about it, and my Dad was not too much [of a drinker], until later in life. He got hooked on martinis, and my mother used to say, "Fred, one's all you can have," and Pop would say, "One? Might not well drink none," but, some people can't drink more than one martini. It's a potent drink.
AJ: ... I don't like them, particularly. I like scotch. People say, "Scotch? Nothing to it." ... Now, this gal that I married, after Dot died, of course, I didn't know it until I'd known her for fifteen years, but, I found that her lifestyle centered around Alcoholics Anonymous, and she and I are still friends, but, I said, "Barbara, you're hooked. You're married to Alcoholics Anonymous," which is typical, I understand, of ... many people who get involved with that, and my son, Tom, who only drank beer, ... he joined AA to quit drinking beer, and he did. ... Then, his wife said, "You're too happy. I can't stand you, you're too happy," and they've worked out all those differences. ... I sent Barbara a book the other day, Moderation and Alcoholics Anonymous. Well, moderation in everything, I guess, is the best policy.
KP: You had two sons who served in the military, Tom and Alden
AJ: ... Right.
KP: That is rare. Most people that I have interviewed did not have sons that served in the military.
AJ: Oh, is that right?
KP: Did either one serve during the Vietnam War?
AJ: No, ... in-between times. Fred was actually with the Air Force. He had it up in … upper Maine, with that B-52 base, and was with them for quite awhile, keeping those B-52s running, and they're still running, I guess, and Tommy was in ordnance. He got involved with gigantic trucks. Now, [when] the Army ordnance sent out a wrecker to pick up a two-and-a-half ton truck, you know it's a big wrecker. ... He liked it, and he was very busy with it, and [he] learned a lot that he used when he got out of the service. … Fred, on the other hand, left the Air Force concept completely. He went into ... carpentry. I was so surprised. Tom, who was named for his grandfather, who was a cabinetmaker, ends up to be an automotive engineer, and Steven, the youngest, ... really [is] a very fine carpenter. He's in his own business as a carpenter, builder, and cabinetmaker. We're going to see him for Thanksgiving. Yeah, I was glad the boys had that experience. Steve, of course, was too young to get involved in any military, but, he appreciated the fact that ... they all knew why they served, you know. They were enthusiastic about the concept and they're unhappy with the fact that the present President seemed to be anti, and then, of course, as Commander-in-Chief, was pushed into the unrealistic situation he's in now, but, that's politics.
KP: You and your father were Republicans in the 1930s. What did you think of Roosevelt and the New Deal?
AJ: ... At that time, we had doubts. Pop used to say, "He's giving it all away," which is the typical Republican answer to any Democratic activity, but, obviously, Roosevelt took action that corrected a situation and continued to do it, so that, in ... that first term, a lot of things were straightened out by his direct action, which everybody had semi-doubts about, the CCC, ... the Conservation Corps, remember. ... The banking industry had all kinds of doubts about the actions which were taken, but, they held together, to try to keep the best of what was going, and Mr. (Case?), who ran the Federal Reserve situation in New York, was a good friend of Dad's, and they said, ... you know, "We'll watch the Federal Reserve money situation, the interest rates, and, hopefully, keep them in line," yeah.
KP: Were you ever a Boy Scout?
AJ: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I was. I was in a troop. … I think it started out, I was in the troop, first, in Evergreen School in Plainfield, and then, I was in the troop at the church, Baptist Church, and, you know, I got through First Class Scouting, but, I didn't go beyond that, for some reason, I don't know why, but, I enjoyed Scouting, and then, later on, I became active in it, yeah.
KP: You mentioned on your survey that you attended the Command and General Staff School at Leavenworth. When did you attend, before, during, or after the war?
AJ: After. ... We had a little bit of command and general staff project work during the war, while we were in Honolulu. They gave us a couple of command and general staff problems, which were deep training on how to be a general staff officer, and ... we used that in some of the related TQM work, but, then, after the war, when I was back in the National Guard, the commanding general sent all of us, the four key staff people, to Leavenworth, to participate in that program, where we were certified as general staff officers. That was a great experience and I enjoyed it very much, because the concept of being a general staff officer was broad. You should be able to manage your staff responsibilities in either personnel, or tactics, or supply, or intelligence. The more you integrate, the better. Yeah, that was a good school. When I think of some of the European military people that we trained, and then, sent back, and you look at what's happened over there, you wonder what good it did, yeah. [laughter]
KP: Is there anything that we forgot to ask you?
AJ: Not that I can think of, specifically. We ran down the whole pattern, pretty much, of operations. No, I think that the only thing [would be], I guess I mentioned the fact that, … finally, the Tenth Army recognized this TQM team, … the 2215th Pacific Ocean Area TQM Team, which they gave me command of, but, that was ... toward the end of the war, but, that concept has been continued. ... I think every division staff, or army staff, includes somebody who is ready for amphibious training. ... No, I think ... we covered the overall picture pretty thoroughly.
KP: This was great. Usually, I end up with questions that I wish I had asked.
AJ: Well, I'm not far away, if you think of anything else.
KP: Thank you very much. We enjoyed this a great deal.
JB: Thank you.
AJ: ... A pleasure indeed.
-----------------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW----------------------------------------
Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 10/29/00
Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 11/20/00
Reviewed by Alden Jacobs 1/6/01