Tara Kraenzlin: This begins an interview with Mr. Charles Whitlock on April 22, 1999 in New Brunswick, New Jersey with Tara Kraenzlin ...
Michael Spellman: ... and Michael Spellman.
TK: Mr. Whitlock, I guess I'd like to begin by asking you a few questions. Now your father was actually from New Brunswick originally.
Charles Whitlock: Yes.
TK: Do you know how and where your parents met?
CW: Well, my father was president of the New Brunswick Trust Company. My mother came from South Jersey and her father was a banker. My father's family all were in New Jersey. An older sister was principal of a school, elementary school, in New Brunswick, I forget the name of it just now, and another sister was a professor at the University of Illinois, and that, my Aunt Mary and my mother were both teaching in Highland Park in the Lafayette School, and that's how my mother met my father was through this sister.
TK: After that they continued to live in New Brunswick or Highland Park?
CW: Highland Park.
TK: Did your father tell you much about what New Brunswick was like when he was growing up?
CW: Not, not too much. ... There was a great deal of historical interest when I grew up. I mean there were pageants ... about the Dutch immigrants and how New Brunswick was founded and so forth.
TK: Pageants when you were growing up like on certain days of the year?
TK: On special holidays or ...
CW: I don't remember but in celebration of the Dutch I remember that much.
TK: Would you participate at all?
CW: Yes, as a kid ... I remembering being in one of the pageants.
TK: Was there a connection between the founding of the town or the founding of the University, was Rutgers a part of these?
CW: Yes, we were pretty much aware of the role that Rutgers played, and the Dutch connection. I took New Testament Greek, when I was still an undergraduate at the seminary here.
CW: So, I was aware of that, the Dutch Reform Church.
TK: Sure, sure. Which church did you attend growing up?
CW: The First Baptist Church.
TK: In New Brunswick?
CW: New Brunswick at first and then Highland Park when it came about.
TK: Okay. What was Highland Park like when you were growing up?
CW: Well, it was like "faculty row." I've often thought about it. On Lincoln Avenue where I lived Charles Whitman, who was head of the English department, was two doors away. Professor Kull in the history department, all these professors' kids I knew and went to school with. Dean Daggett was up, up the street who was in School of Engineering. A guy named Eliot, whom I didn't know, at the School of Education I think.
TK: It's still a haven for ...
CW: And Professor McKinney who turned out to be one of my best friends was two blocks away.
TK: So growing up ...
CW: And Professor Foster at the School of Education I used to baby-sit for. So it was really deeply connected with Rutgers.
TK: Had your father attended Rutgers?
CW: No, he didn't go to college.
TK: Okay. ... Growing up would you get taken to a lot of events at Rutgers or would you have much contact with the college?
CW: No. I had very little as a matter-of-fact, we used to say that if you couldn't go to college, go to Rutgers. [Laughs] The local attitude towards Rutgers was very ...
TK: And by college was that Princeton? Or, if you couldn't go to Princeton go to Rutgers, or?
CW: Well, no. I used to say this was part of the culture growing up.
CW: I used to say the only difference between high school and college was that I had to walk two miles to high school and only one mile to Rutgers.
TK: So you moved up in the world.
TK: And ...
CW: I was the last class in Highland Park to go to New Brunswick High School. From then on ...
TK: Yes, right, and then they built the Highland Park High School.
TK: What was your neighborhood like besides this presence of professors, what was it, was it ethnically a diverse neighborhood at that time, or not really?
CW: The Livingston Manor was very quote, unquote "exclusive."
TK: Yes. ... How was your grade school experience in Highland Park?
CW: I didn't pay any attention to academic affairs until freshman year in college.
TK: Really, really.
CW: I had a jazz band that I played with and I use to ...
TK: All through high school?
CW: All through high school. I use to go into New York and ...
TK: Oh, really, and perform?
CW: We'd go in Roseland Dance Hall ...
CW: And listen to bands, Fletcher Henderson. It's been a continuing interest all my life. I've collected ...
TK: What do you play?
CW: Trumpet. I have ...
TK: Any good?
CW: I have now four hundred and thirty-two, I think, recordings of Fletcher Henderson out of about four hundred and eighty known recordings.
TK: Quite a buff.
CW: I've collected Fletcher Henderson.
TK: So, you're quite a [collector]. Where did you find most of them?
CW: Oh, I've ...
TK: Garage sales?
CW: All over the place. Used to go into New York and pick them up.
TK: And would you actually perform with this band in high school?
CW: We played for school dances.
CW: Stuff like that, we weren't very good.
CW: But it was fun.
TK: Was the jazz influence really big in that community?
CW: Oh, yes.
TK: Would you ever have any ...
CW: My trumpet teacher, who played with a band in New York and on the radio, was with the Cliquclub Club Band, Leo Reisman, he lived just a block away.
TK: Okay. ... Would it ever come up that there would ever be a chance that bands would actually come to New Brunswick, or not really?
CW: I don't remember any.
TK: More often that you would have to go to New York?
TK: Could you get the train from Highland Park to New York at that time?
CW: Well, New Brunswick.
TK: To New York, okay. So it was pretty convenient.
TK: What were the dances like in high school?
CW: I don't know much about the dances because I played the trumpet. I didn't dance. It was, I don't remember really.
TK: Did you have any aspirations of becoming a professional musician?
CW: No, I wasn't that good.
TK: And you knew it?
CW: And I knew it.
TK: Okay. So you eventually came to New Brunswick High School. ... What kind of things did you take up there?
CW: Well, New Brunswick High School actually was an excellent school. It was overcrowded.
TK: Yes. Did you have to go in shifts at all?
CW: Three, three different shifts.
TK: How would that work?
CW: ... I was head of the traffic committee that laid out patterns going from class to class.
TK: Maybe you could tell us a little more about that.
CW: Well, it was so crowded.
TK: What were the shifts for example?
CW: Some classes started at, I guess, eight. Some at nine and some at ten, they were phased back and forth.
CW: But the teaching was superior. A woman, named Elizabeth Steichen, in history was college caliber without any question, as good as anybody I ever had in college. And I remember them all very well.
TK: The high school in New Brunswick was not located where it is now, it was the old ...
CW: I think it's still there.
TK: I think, they moved it.
CW: Oh, had they recently?
TK: It's ... a grammar school now, because it got so crowded. Do you have any other teachers that stood out besides Miss, Miss Steichen?
CW: Well, in Highland Park there was a Mrs. Fourat who taught Latin. I had six years of Latin in school and two years of French, and then in college I had two years of German and three years of Greek so I had a lot of language background.
TK: Language background. Both modern and ...
CW: And there was a Miss Rainey, who was in the music department and she helped to get me into the Rutgers Glee Club early on. ...
TK: So you sang with the Glee Club?
CW: All the way through, yes.
TK: And you still know all the words to all the cheers?
CW: Yes, yes. And Soup Walters is still a very good friend of mine. I'm going to go to see him after this session today.
TK: Okay. Excellent.
CW: He's getting old now.
TK: Have you ... followed the Glee Club at all, do you own their latest CD?
CW: Yes, yes. I have one.
CW: My younger brother was with the Glee Club and the choir, too. He was the Class of '48.
TK: Had ... you sung in high school?
CW: Yes, acapella choir, Miss Rainey headed it up for us.
TK: And she ...
CW: It was a good, good high school, I mean, I was able to go directly from acapella group in high school into the Rutgers Glee Club.
MS: How and when did you start swimming and this ...
CW: Well, I still am. One of the things I held in the back of my mind for a while, I forget the coach's name, but, there was an alumni swim meet year.
CW: And I said to myself, "When I get to be seventy-five, I'll compete." But they don't do that anymore. I swim twenty lengths a day, still.
TK: They do a golf tournament over reunion weekend instead.
CW: Yes, I don't play golf. I don't know, I just started swimming as a freshman and Coach Reilly was in Highland Park, and his son married Esther Whitman, who is the daughter of ...
TK: Right of the professor ...
CW: Of the English department.
MS: Would you, growing up in Highland Park, I mean, was the Raritan the place you would go swim, fish, do everything like that?
CW: No, we had, my family had a place in South Jersey down in Delaware Bay and we went there every summer. So I swam all the time.
TK: So you would spend the whole summer down in South Jersey?
TK: Was that around the area your mother was from or not?
CW: Yes. In a "huge" town called Elmer, New Jersey with a population of 475.
TK: Yes, I can't say I'm familiar with it. [Laughs]
CW: No. ... My mother's family was also very talented. Her father was a bank president and editor and owner of a newspaper, a South Jersey newspaper. There were three uncles, all of whom I felt very close to, the oldest, I have etchings of his hanging in our house. He was head of the Philadelphia Sketch Club, and he was, he did it as a hobby. He was vice-president in charge of sales of Mead Paper Company. And my Uncle Mulford, a little younger, became head of an International Bromeliad Society. He did explorations all through South and Central America, and I now have a small greenhouse with nearly two hundred Bromeliads.
TK: Oh, really.
CW: So it was a neat family.
TK: So you're a collector in all senses? You were able to maintain contact with your maternal grandparents by going down there, or?
CW: Yes, and this whole clan, all the uncles.
TK: The extended family.
TK: You continued going there every summer until the end of high school, or?
CW: Yes. And then when I joined the freshman swimming team I became a swimming instructor in a camp in New Hampshire. All four summers were there.
TK: So your summers were in ...
CW: So I swam all summer.
TK: What did you think of New Hampshire as a, coming from New Jersey?
CW: Oh, I loved it.
TK: Yes. A little more nature than in Highland Park? What kind of camp was it, a swimming camp?
CW: Family camp. I taught the kids how to swim.
TK: And was it neat for you to be away from home such a ...
CW: No, I had a wonderful time, I hated to come back.
CW: On this lake where the camp was, Ragged Mountain Lake, Princeton swimmers also trained there. So I got to know the Princeton swimmers that were of the same class at Princeton that I was at Rutgers. A guy named Al Vanderweigh was a freestyle and a guy named Hugh Bell who was a butterfly.
TK: Would you compete against these guys?
CW: Only when I had to. I did a couple of times and, not in the summer, but in meets with Princeton. They were really good.
TK: Who usually won the Rutgers Princeton meets?
CW: Well, Rutgers was pretty good in those days.
TK: Yes, really. But you, you had the unusual experience of being able to know your opponent.
TK: Face-to-face. In coming, in the New Brunswick High School besides the acapella group, did you participate in any other after-school activities, or things like that?
CW: No, the jazz group took up most of the time.
TK: Oh, right. And how did grown-ups ...
CW: I don't think I, and we were so far away, I mean, you know you didn't ...
TK: Didn't stick around all day. And would you take the train or you would walk back and forth, which was two miles?
CW: Two miles.
TK: Having grown up in Highland Park was it assumed that you would go to Rutgers ... had you thought you would want to go somewhere else? How was it that you came to Rutgers?
CW: Well, it's hard to go back. I didn't assume I was going to go. What I would have liked to have done would be to go to flying school.
TK: Oh, really?
CW: Park Flying School in St. Louis was the one that I wanted to go to, or a military academy. I applied to Annapolis.
TK: To Annapolis?
CW: But I didn't get accepted. I got a state scholarship to Rutgers, so I came here.
TK: Yes. A lot of people, the state scholarships made their minds up for them.
CW: Yes. It did in my case. I was not wildly enthusiastic.
TK: About coming to Rutgers? Yes. I supposed that after going to high school in New Brunswick it doesn't seem like much of a jump.
CW: I used to walk on the railroad tracks from Highland Park across to the campus here.
TK: And a lot of your friends from New Brunswick High also ended up at Rutgers?
CW: They all ended up here.
TK: [Laughs] It was fate in a way. So you came to Rutgers in the fall of 1937, what did you think of campus life when you first arrived?
CW: I didn't have any campus life.
TK: [Laughs] Because you were a commuter. And how did you feel as a commuter, did you feel that you were left out of some of the activities because ...
CW: No, I became, I had gone through a religious experience in the summer of '37. I'd been a kind of agnostic and I became a Christian in the "born again" sense - I hate the term but ... and so, I spent, I became head of the League of Evangelical Students.
TK: Okay, right, I read about that.
CW: In freshman year for example, and sophomore year I took New Testament Greek and studied Old Testament at the seminary, and that's what I did during my spare time. Damn near flunked out freshman year.
TK: Because you spent so much time ...
CW: And because the religious experience was so potent at that time ...
TK: That you ...
CW: Yes. I would have practically flunked out of Rutgers if it hadn't been for a very nice botany teacher. I, instead of going to botany lab, I'd go study Greek.
CW: At the seminary. So I missed half the course and then when it came to the final exam on "Evolution," I gave Scriptural evidence that it was wrong. And I certainly would have flunked except that the instructor happened to be a Sunday school teacher, so he had a very, very tender spot, and I got a D-minus.
TK: [Laughs] So you just barely made it out of botany. That wasn't your, your focus anyway.
CW: No. But that ... the intensity of that experience only lasted through February.
TK: Then you could do it yourself.
CW: Then I was ready to leave, I was going to go to the Moody Bible Institute and become a missionary.
CW: Right next door here there's a home that was inhabited by Dr. William Demarest who was a former president ...
TK: President of Rutgers.
CW: President of Rutgers, and a minister.
CW: And my mother knew that I was planning to go to Africa or someplace and she talked to Demarest and he talked to me, and so I decided to stick it out.
TK: So you could have both here, both your academics and your religion.
CW: Yes, from then on, I calmed down. It was one of those things ...
TK: How fully was the seminary integrated into campus life or into the University? Were they separated entities, at that time?
TK: And the seminary was of what, was it the, of what denomination, or was it free?
CW: This seminary?
CW: It's Reformed Church, Dutch Reform.
TK: Dutch Reform, even at that time?
TK: And did you find that these ideas agreed with your own, or that that was a good ...
CW: Yes. I'd, this experience, I mean, I still maintained my interest in the church. But the adolescent turmoil that I was in, as I say, lasted only about through February and then I became interested in the intellectual side of things here. I came thinking I would be pre-med.
TK: Oh, that was when the botany and the ...
CW: That, and I cut chemistry and physics and I hated all the sciences, so I shifted over to classics.
TK: And that was the Greek thing.
CW: So I had both the New Testament and Classical Greek. And then by the time I came to graduate, I had to be an English major because the courses I had taken wouldn't fit any other requirements or any other department, because I'd taken a lot of philosophy and stuff. I never had a history course as a matter-of-fact. But, no, I became very much interested in music and the history of music and took all the English courses, and enjoyed things from then on. I had a good time.
TK: So once you decided this, decided to major in classics you mentioned there were two professors who were really stood out in your, in your mind as being excellent. One was Professor McKinney, who was in music. You also mentioned that you two became friends and ...
CW: He was best man at my wedding.
TK: Oh, really?
CW: First, first wedding.
TK: And he, how did you come to know him?
CW: He lived around the corner. I don't know how, of course I met him joining the Glee Club.
TK: ... He was active in that?
CW: My father had committed suicide with the crash, the bank crash, when I was fifteen and looking back on it, it's quite clear that McKinney came to fill that role.
TK: Kind of helped you out and stuff. And you took classes under him as well at Rutgers, which ...
CW: Three years of history, of music.
TK: ... Did he give jazz its due?
CW: No, that, that was separate.
CW: Well, it, it became very important. For example, during some of the concerts in Kirkpatrick Chapel, I would turn pages while he played the organ and I became fascinated with the organ. And spent all the time I could listening to music.
TK: ... Since you bring up chapel, you would attend the chapel services that were mandatory for Rutgers students at the time, what did you think of chapel?
CW: I thought it was lousy. I mean, as far as the ministers. I was a fundamentalist.
TK: Right, too liberal for you.
CW: And these, all the ministers were more or less liberal.
TK: Yes. And then also brought ...
CW: But I thought, Norman Thomas for example, who was a socialist candidate for president, was a Presbyterian minister, he was terrific.
TK: Do you remember, I'm not sure of the year, when Wendell Willkie came to speak at chapel?
CW: I remember it well.
TK: What do you remember thinking?
CW: Oh, I, I worked for him and went door-to-door distributing pamphlets and stuff.
TK: Did you actually get a chance to meet him?
TK: And what did you think of him?
CW: Oh, I, he was my hero. He still is one of the great men, I think, that never quite made it.
TK: Yes, and so it was an honor to have him at Rutgers.
TK: At that time. A lot of men remember that visit and his time in chapel. Do you remember what the other students thought of chapel, what their attitude was?
CW: I was, I wouldn't say, isolated, because I had friends, but I didn't enter into the social life of the university at any time.
TK: Because you had your family life so nearby?
CW: Yes, and I also had the activities. I mean, I was in ROTC, Glee Club, and swimming.
TK: You never considered joining a fraternity, for example? What did you think of fraternities?
CW: I thought they were an evil influence.
TK: Really? [Laughs]
CW: Still do.
TK: And you saw, you saw daily evidence of that.
CW: Yes. My older brother flunked out of Rutgers because of his affiliation with a fraternity.
TK: It just took up too much of his time. And when did he come to Rutgers?
CW: Class of '36.
TK: And he never ended up finishing.
CW: No, when my father died he had ...
TK: And so your brother went back to work. What did he end up doing?
CW: He was president of Ortho Pharmaceutical and then president of Johnson & Johnson International and his final thing was vice-chairman of the board of J&J.
TK: Of J&J.
CW: And he never graduated from college.
TK: And so he stayed in the New Brunswick area for all of his life.
MS: How did he manage to just climb the ladder like that, so ...
CW: He managed.
MS: Personality so to speak?
CW: And we lived next door to Cary Nicholas you know, the music center at Douglass.
CW: Cary Nicholas was a, was treasurer of J&J. So that's how my brother got the job initially.
MS: How did he start at Ortho, a kind of lower entry level job?
CW: Yes. As a salesman.
MS: A salesman?
TK: ... You also belonged to the ROTC and you opted to stay in for your additional two years. Why, why did you do that?
CW: Well, after my father died I went to work waiting on tables in a restaurant and that got to be pretty tiresome.
TK: Where was the restaurant, in New Brunswick?
CW: In Highland Park.
TK: Okay. What kind of restaurant?
CW: A tearoom. It's not there anymore. So I found ways to work. I had to work.
TK: Through college.
CW: Through. And I pieced together. I got paid as a lifeguard at the swimming pool and the Glee Club paid something, or the choir, and ROTC and then I babysat.
TK: Yes, everything, here and there, patchwork.
TK: And so it's partially for the scholarship money that came with ROTC?
TK: What did you ...
CW: Well, but this, it goes deeper than that. I had been an agnostic in religion and a pacifist. This teacher that meant so much in high school, Elizabeth Steichen, was a ...
TK: Hardened pacifist.
CW: Hardened pacifist. And my journals reveal all this. In 1937 when the Spanish Revolution came about and you could, I could see and anybody could see who looked that the fascists and communist nations were testing weapons. So I decided, at that time, that there was going to be a war and decided to prepare for it.
TK: It was ... very obvious to you as early as 1937?
TK: How much news did you receive about the events in Europe over here?
CW: Well, again in my journal, I kept track everyday of things that were happening in Europe.
TK: You kept a journal from what age?
TK: All the way?
CW: All the way through combat, I quit after combat.
TK: Oh, really? Interesting. A lot of people don't keep a journal at all. And so ...
CW: So, the journal has, you know, all this about my father's suicide and all the adjustments and the religious experience and everything else.
TK: How did you see the Depression affecting other families in Highland Park and New Brunswick economically and ...
CW: Well, because they were mostly faculty members, we were the ones who felt it more than the rest.
TK: Did you have to make any adjustments as far as your lifestyle?
CW: Oh, of course, we had been well-to-do. We had two cars and a horse we kept.
TK: In your backyard?
CW: No, over at Robert Wood Johnson's house. Bobby Johnson, his son, was my age, we knew each other and we kept our horse there. We had a sailboat. We had a place at the mountains and a place at the shore. And then, after the crash, we had nothing, except a mortgage on the house. My father gambled in the stock market and lost everything. But I don't think I felt it emotionally, because life didn't change that much. Well, I went to work.
TK: Do you remember seeing any evidence of the New Deal and the WPA projects in New Brunswick, or Highland Park?
CW: We all were raised to hate Roosevelt.
CW: Really hate him.
TK: Why was that?
CW: I don't know. It was just ...
TK: It was the attitude of the ...
CW: The whole neighborhood was Republican and conservative and, for example, I not only, on my tricycle, carried "Vote for Herbert Hoover" signs. I also still have, that I carried around on my tricycle, a license plate that said, "Keep and Enforce Prohibition."
TK: [Laughs] You still have that?
CW: And I from time to time think that I'll put it in the front of my car but I'm afraid somebody will steal it.
TK: [Laughs] I think someone would steal it. It's probably worth money. So ... there was no support for programs like that in that community? When you were at Rutgers you also mentioned another professor named Houston Peterson who was a professor of philosophy department.
CW: Houston Peterson.
TK: Houston Peterson. And what courses did you take with him?
CW: Well, three courses in philosophy. One called World Prospectives and I forget the titles. But he was a, he was important to the Class of '41. I mean, he spoke at our commencement and so forth. And ...
TK: Was he personable, as well?
CW: Yes, very. And he, I kept in contact with him after the war, too. All through the war I wrote to him.
MS: Did you notice that, you said that in '37 you pretty much knew that war was so imminent. I mean, the attitude, when you read the Targums from that time, the attitude of the students is that there is no, you know, they didn't feel, you know, until Pearl Harbor happened there wasn't going to be any war for the US, but you kind of knew.
TK: In a way you were ahead of your time.
MS: Yes, exactly. I mean, you were well ahead. You were incredibly insightful for your age, I would say.
CW: Well, I had had enough trauma at that time to be, I supposed, a little different.
TK: Yes. So you weren't as caught up in ...
CW: And my father was very proud of, he did not get into World War I, but he was in the Guard, the New Jersey Guard. And there are two things that were important to him. One was the military, which is why all three of us, two brothers and I, were active in the military and flying. He owned part, before 1929, he owned part of an airplane out at Hadley Field. So he took me up to fly when I was a kid.
TK: You'd go out to Hadley Field quite often?
CW: Yes. And then junior year, in college, the Civilian Pilot Training Program started, that Roosevelt started in '39, and I flew every morning - not every morning, but most mornings, out at Hadley Field when I was a junior and a senior.
MS: What sort of plane?
CW: Well, we had an Aeronca Chief.
MS: What was the plane that you, your father brought you up in?
CW: I can't remember. I mean, he took us up, I was young.
MS: That was in the early, early days of ...
CW: That was early. Yes.
TK: That was sort of a luxury at that time.
CW: He was very, very interested in it. I mean, I can remember, for example, one of the pilots who was going to try to fly the Atlantic, before Lindbergh, took off from Hadley Field and my father took us out there to see him take off.
TK: I remember the ...
CW: He disappeared.
MS: Oh, yes.
CW: Never was seen again. J.D. Hill, I think, his name was, no, Unger, his name was Unger. But so that was part of it. And the other thing was because I had this pacifist kind of indoctrination, I guess, I was probably more alert to the, to what was happening.
TK: How much news did you hear ... of the things ... on the German front, as far as, how much did you really know about what was going on in Germany or?
CW: Not very much, the headlines for, but I knew when ...
TK: You'd taken it in college, though.
TK: You'd taken a little bit of German in college?
CW: Yes, took a couple of years.
TK: And was there any sense of any anti-German sentiment at that time as the war was approaching?
CW: I don't think I had any anti-feeling, I just thought the war was going to come.
TK: ... Did you ever discuss this with any other students or any of your professors who were your friends?
CW: I don't remember. I just assumed from freshman year on.
TK: And you were pleased with ROTC and the training you received there?
CW: Yes. I had a good time.
TK: In a way it set you up to be in a much better position once the war actually did break out.
CW: I was a Cadet Colonel in the ROTC.
TK: Right, right. So you graduated in 1941 and ...
CW: With a cap and gown, with a cap and gown over a uniform.
TK: Right, right.
CW: I was on active duty the next morning.
TK: And you had already, you knew what was coming next with these ...
CW: Yes, I had applied, I was, Rutgers was infantry, and I'd applied for transfer to the Air Force and it didn't come.
TK: How difficult was that at this time?
CW: Well, it seemed to me very difficult, because it didn't happen for six weeks and I had orders to go to the 4thArmored Division at Pine Camp, New York. And I got those canceled but I didn't get orders to report for flight duty until the middle of July. So I was a swimming instructor during that period.
TK: [Laughs] One last time.
CW: One last time.
TK: But down here, not up in New Hampshire.
CW: No, in New Hampshire.
TK: New Hampshire.
CW: Yes, I enlisted, as a matter-of-fact, in Manchester, New Hampshire, which was near the campground.
TK: What, if anything, going back I'm sorry just a second, what, if anything, do you remember of, I know that you belonged to the Scabbard and Blade and you were responsible for producing the military ball at the end of the year. Do you have any fond memories of going to those dances or anything like that?
CW: Oh, I was, I wasn't very social. I didn't go to dances except when I played trumpet.
TK: And did you play in the ...
CW: I had to go to the military ball.
TK: By golly, yes. Just to ...
CW: The final one, because the queen, and so forth, I selected.
CW: And that was another friend in New Jersey, in New Brunswick, Judge Morrison. I invited his daughter to be head of the, whatever the term is for the ball. I didn't know her, she's a very nice person. Judge Morrison helped get me the scholarship as a freshman. I was on a list but it wasn't clear whether I was going to get a state scholarship or not and he put in a good word with Governor Hoffman. I guess, Governor Hoffman, I think was governor then, a very corrupt individual. Judge Morrison was not.
TK: And you actually ...
CW: But I didn't enter in that social life.
TK: So, even though you had a part in planning the military ball you, it wasn't something you looked forward to. You graduated Phi Beta Kappa, though, very impressive. So in the end you did rather well at Rutgers.
CW: Yes, I enjoyed it. After the freshman year I had a good time. I enjoyed Rutgers very much.
TK: You devoted a lot of time to your studies. So you enlisted in New Hampshire and then at the end of July you entered active duty. Where did you go initially?
CW: Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
TK: As a member of the Air Corps?
TK: ... What did you think of Arkansas?
CW: Well, it was very friendly. Because of the religious background that I had, I fit into the South very well, because of the ...
TK: You liked the Baptists.
CW: The fundamentalist Southern Baptist Convention was such... I enjoyed going to the churches. The pilot that I had as an instructor at Rutgers with the civilian pilot training was a major from World War I. A one-eyed major, as a matter-of-fact. All he wanted to do was play. So I learned all the combat formations of World War I. I had to do immelmanns, split Ss and ...
TK: All his knowledge.
CW: Falling leaf and all that stuff and when I got in the Air Force I was used to fooling around. At Hadley Field you had to sideslip in, over the telephone wires, because it's a very small field. So in order to get the complete use of the turf, you had to sideslip. Well, you didn't sideslip as a cadet and also, I was used to landing using the air speed indicator. Well, as a cadet you're not supposed to, you can't. So you sit in the backseat and you cut the engine and land this, you know, aim at a spot on the field and, I missed the spot landing three times, because I had jacked up my seat so I could read the air speed indicator in the instructor's cockpit. My instructor came over and said if I missed again, he'd wash me out. And then he said, "And by the way, don't use the air speed indicator." Well, what happens if you come in a little hot so that you come down to land and you float, whereas if you're, if you're feeling the thing, so it didn't help very much.
TK: So in a way you were a little bit irritated he was using all these sort of antiquated techniques and ...
CW: It was fun.
TK: Yes. He was taking you through his glory days but how useful was that in the, in the kind of ...
CW: Not useful at all.
TK: Yes. Just more interesting than anything.
TK: Did you get a chance to get out into Arkansas a lot or?
CW: Yes, I was, I was quite sociable there, as a matter-of-fact.
TK: And that was the furthest you'd ever been from home?
CW: Yes. But it was a very friendly town and being a flying cadet in June of '41, had high, high status, especially in the South.
TK: Yes. So you were well-received by the people. But you, you mentioned that you felt comfortable ...
CW: I had more dates as a cadet than I had in the four years at Rutgers.
TK: [Laughs] Yes. You made quite an entrance.
CW: I had fun.
TK: Was there a lot of dating between the cadets and the?
CW: Oh, yes. We had a special cadet room at the major, main hotel and we had dances with all the nice girls who came every Friday and Saturday night. It was great.
TK: Since you said that you enjoyed it so much in Arkansas did you ever think of returning to the South and this area after the war?
CW: I didn't think that far ahead. I never thought I was going to get through the war alive, so I really didn't plan on anything.
TK: Now how long did you stay in Arkansas?
CW: I was three months in Arkansas, three months in basic at Augusta Georgia, three months at Barksdale Field in Louisiana, which is a B-52 base now. Then when I graduated, just like being the last class in Highland Park to go to New Brunswick High School, I was the last advanced flight training school at Barksdale. And Barksdale became a heavy bomber base, so I stayed right there as an instructor in B-24s.
TK: And what were you specifically being trained in?
CW: B-24s, heavy bombardment.
TK: Right. ... But you remained in the South for all of your training.
TK: What were Georgia and Louisiana like compared to Arkansas?
CW: I enjoyed the whole thing very much. The First Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana was a great church. Met a girl there, became engaged, it was all, it was fun. I didn't like the South, a lot of the South, but as far as being in ...
TK: You became engaged, what became?
CW: Well, it didn't last through the war.
TK: But you had written ... to her throughout the war?
MS: So in training you ended up in a heavy bomber, B-24. Did you get a choice as to what you wanted to fly?
CW: Well, you didn't get a choice. We thought we were getting a choice; I wanted to be in fighters.
MS: Yes, P-51s, something like that.
CW: Yes, and I probably would not be alive today if I'd been in P-51s, or fighters, because I liked to fool around too much and the reason I got into heavy bombers was punishment. A friend and I, when he graduated from advanced flying school, were put in A-20s, which is an attack airplane, one pilot, flying in low and fast. I forget what it was called, but an A-20 was, was a great airplane. He and I were out buzzing the Red River. We were about fifty feet off the water and there is a cable across the levy on the Red River and we were so tight he had to go under because he couldn't pull up. I went over it; it took eighteen inches off the tail of his airplane. The air speed indicator on that airplane is on the tail. So he had no airspeed indicator and I had to talk, flew back with him reading off airspeed and we were put in heavy bombardment for punishment.
TK: And that's how you ended up there?
CW: He and I had a fascinating, this guy named Robertson, he was Cadet Colonel of ROTC at Cornell. We had the, went through flight school together. We went into combat together, became squadron commanders at the same time. When we got back from combat, we both were directors of training in the 4th Air Force. He was in Walla Walla, Washington, I was at March Field. We both went to graduate school together. He became an M.D.
TK: Oh, really?
CW: But that's how we got ...
TK: So you stayed in touch with him throughout your life?
CW: Yes. That was, yes, it didn't happen very often, going through all the, you know, changes in the military.
TK: How close were the relationships that you formed with the men that you were training with?
CW: Quite close, still close.
TK: You stayed in touch with a number of them.
CW: My crew and group commander.
TK: And you were lucky enough to stick with the same crew throughout the war.
CW: Yes. Very lucky.
MS: Do you remember any kind of accidents with or anything during flight training?
CW: See, I would, I enjoyed, enjoyed it for several reasons, first of all, I like to fly. But because I was commissioned at Rutgers, I was nine months ahead of my classmates in flight school.
CW: From the commissioning. So that whenever things came up, for example, the first mission we flew on out of Australia, twelve of us took off and four of us got back. We never knew what happened to the rest. The group commander disappeared and the squadron commander, so I became the squadron commander the next morning, simply because my commission preceded that of the other pilots that were with me.
CW: So it, and I had a lot of training too, I was an instructor for six months before I went into combat. Most pilots had six weeks, if they were lucky.
TK: So you had quite a bit of training in the States. When ... and where did you actually depart?
TK: When and from where did you actually depart?
CW: Well, we went from Barksdale at Shreveport, to Greenville, South Carolina, which I hated. And then ...
TK: Why did you?
CW: Well, that was really Deep South.
TK: Yes, too much for you.
CW: Too much. And then we went to Willowrun, Ypsilanti, Michigan, the Ford bomber plant. Ford turned his automobile factory into making P-47s and B-24s and the morale was very low there. They were, they had this big assembly line. They were putting nuts and bolts in one end and getting nuts and bolts at the other end and the workers were discouraged. So we staged out of Willowrun and the workers were told that these were the B-24s that they were building. They weren't. The B-24s that they built were never approved for combat. They never got the center of gravity right. But that's where we left from. We went from there to Hamilton Field, California and then ...
MS: It must have, I mean, that's the difference between a sportscar and a truck ...
CW: The B-24 had certain advantages in the Pacific. I would not have wanted to fly a B-24 in the European Theater because they were picked on. In the Pacific, we flew faster than a B-17; we flew farther that a B-17; we carried twice as many bombs as a B-17. So we were always angry because every four-engine airplane was called a "flying fortress" in the Pacific it would take a lot of punishment.
CW: A lot of punishment. So, I mean, I was stuck with it. I don't think I thought much about it.
--------------------------------------END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE ONE-------------------------------------
TK: How was that, what did you think of that?
TK: Yes, not much action.
CW: But I became an operations officer. So, that was my first administrative job. So I had to plan all the bombing runs and all that stuff.
TK: What did you think of that duty?
CW: I liked being an operations officer.
TK: What was the feeling amongst your men, as far as, were they anxious to get over to where the actual combat was or?
CW: We had an incredible experience. When we left the States we had all our commanding officers and everything else all assigned. We got to Hawaii, this is June of '42, and the pilots, we suddenly had superimposed on us pilots who had been there, who were being promoted, who'd been through Pearl Harbor. So that it was a very bad morale situation, where we suddenly found ourselves with commanding officers that we never knew about, even though, you know, we'd been trained as a unit for six months, or five months. Besides that, these guys were B-17 pilots. Which is, I think, why we lost the group commander and my squadron commander on the first night. I don't think that, we got into very bad weather going over the Owen Stanley Mountains and they disappeared. The situation was very traumatic because in my particular squadron, where I was operations officer, the major, squadron commander, Major Seaberger went psychotic. And the night before we were to take off for Australia, he made all the enlisted men get up and he cooked breakfast for them so that they would have one good meal before they died. And he told all of us that we would never survive, that the B-24 was a bucket of bolts.
TK: So how did that effect morale?
CW: I went to sleep that night with a .45 under my pillow. I slept in the same tent as this jerk. And the next morning I had my intelligence officer drive to Pearl Harbor to Hickam Field and explain what was going on. The 7th Air Force flight surgeon came and got this guy and carted him off. It was really difficult because he, he was called down to Pearl Harbor to be relieved of command and then he drove back. We were at a place called Kipapa Gulch, an airfield, just cut out of the sugarcane patch. ... I stationed the toughest guys in the squadron, because he had asked to talk to the, all the officers. This is before our going into combat. He drove up and he reached in his car for a pistol, a .45, and so I alerted, I can remember a guy named McCubbin, who was a professional wrestler in civilian life, to grab this guy, and then he put the gun back. He came in and broke down. Said, "We're all going to our death."
TK: So you think, basically, he just completely had a mental breakdown?
CW: Yes. Then they assigned a new major, named Morse, and we were to take off for Australia the next day. I asked him if I could have his gear loaded on the airplane. He said that he was going to be killed and he didn't want anything but a bottle of whiskey and a change of underwear. And I thought, "My God, we can't do this again." A wonderful guy. Well, he disappeared the first night, so we didn't have anything, we had to send back. But that was the way we got into combat, which was not much fun.
TK: And at that time, where did you go to next? You went to Australia?
CW: Yes. At that time the Japanese were still advancing in New Guinea.
TK: Right. Right.
CW: And there was a question, this was, this was September of '42. So we were stationed in Northern Australia until the battle turned in New Guinea, because the Japanese were shooting at airplanes in the traffic pattern in Port Moresby in New Guinea. So we stayed there until January of '43 and moved to Port Moresby and I flew out of there for a year and then we moved over the mountains and up the coast.
TK: How would you say this affected people's attitude going into combat, do you think it made them just more scared?
CW: I don't remember.
TK: Did you see any other instances in the military where you feel people just lost it?
CW: I had one officer who refused to fly and I busted him.
TK: Yes. You had to.
CW: Made him an enlisted man.
CW: His name was Nixon. [Laughs]
TK: [Laughs] Ironically.
CW: No, it, combat was not romantic in any sense. I mean, or in a way, almost not dramatic, except you know, you'd, it would be grueling and boring for week after week, day after day, and then all of a sudden, you'd be in a, in a critical instance where every second counted. But we didn't have any trouble except for this one pilot.
TK: And you came to ...
CW: I mean, there were some who were better than others. But ...
TK: ... You were stationed in Australia and you'd be flying up to ...
CW: All the way; we would fly across the Coral Sea, up over the Owen Stanley Mountains, across the Bismark Sea, and bomb Rabaul, and then all the way back, twelve-hour missions. Sort of like the B-52s that were coming from England to Kosovo and back.
TK: And how long did that go on, that you were stationed there?
CW: I was in Port Moresby a year and then I was operation officer for a while and became squadron commander in March of '43. And then in November of '43, I became deputy group commander and I volunteered for two extra tours. It was, first of all, I didn't think I was going to get [back] alive, get through it alive, anyway. I really didn't believe it, so I didn't worry too much about it. And ...
TK: What was the number, the number of missions you had to fly?
CW: It was twenty-five at that time. I ended up with fifty-seven, I think.
TK: But at this time they were also raising it, as time was ...
CW: They weren't, with us. They were in England.
TK: In England. They weren't raising it at all in the Pacific?
CW: No, because, you know, we all had malaria and God knows what all. But, this ...
TK: Was it common to volunteer?
TK: Was it common to volunteer for extra tours?
CW: Not common. And I'm, I don't, I'm not trying to indicate anything in particular except that first of all I was getting promoted and so that was nice and secondly, I knew most of our losses were due to ignorance. It wasn't enemy action. It was weather and knowing how long a runway you needed to get that big thing off the ground and stuff like that. And where the difference was between Japanese naval antiaircraft and army antiaircraft, made all the difference in the world. And I knew by the time I could have gone home that most of my, the guys that went into combat with me went home in March of '43, but, I was then a squadron commander, and promoted to major and I was, then I knew every man in the group and I knew the combat and I'd been through stuff. So I volunteered. Then, I was due to come home in November of '43, but I became deputy group commander and so I volunteered again, and then I finally was relieved because of combat fatigue in ...
CW: In April of '44. And at that time there were ...
TK: Who decided that?
CW: Flight surgeon. There were four of us who had stayed all the way through. Group commander, who I still see, and I was his deputy, and then the guy who succeeded me as squadron commander of the 320th and another squadron commander. There were four of us came back who had been there since the beginning. There weren't any others left.
TK: Right. ... Initially, when you flew your first twenty-five missions you stayed with the same crew.
CW: I had the same crew all the way through until I became a group, deputy group commander. Then I had to fly as a command pilot, which I hated.
TK: Did you name your plane?
CW: No. I was an operations officer leaving the States and in Hawaii I took over another crew, one whose pilot was one of my former students.
CW: And it was his airplane, called Little Eva. And then some jerk took my airplane and got himself shot down. So I inherited his airplane, which was called the Eager Beaver. And that's where the publicity that I, I had a lot of publicity during the war and the Eager Beaver came back as a, raising money for the War Bonds and also ...
TK: You were actually featured in certain advertising campaigns or?
CW: Oh, yes. One of the things, I want to talk to somebody about it sometime. There was a period in April: April 12th, April 18th, and April 24th, in which I got the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal. The 12th, we, my crew and I, sank a Japanese cargo ship. The 18th we shot down one enemy fighter. The 24thwe shot down five enemy fighters and so that hit the headlines. And there were, I have a poster urging young men to enlist for the Air Force, and it's this mission of April 24th.
TK: Describing that you were at this mission.
CW: Describing it, yes.
TK: And you still have that poster?
TK: Neat. How much contact did you have at home, how active were you in writing letters?
CW: Well, I have, one of the things I'll give to the archives, at home, I have, my mother kept all the letters. So she has them all, and I have them now.
TK: Yes, and how often would you write?
CW: I don't remember.
TK: Yes. Often enough, and you also kept in touch with some of these friends in Highland Park.
CW: My girlfriend.
TK: Oh, and your girlfriend in Louisiana.
TK: And you have all these letters still?
CW: I don't have those. I have, I threw mine away; I have my mother's that she kept. And my older brother, you see, was with the Ninth Air Force in North Africa. I have those letters of his. Then my younger brother was a B-29 co-pilot, he never got in combat. He left Rutgers, I guess as a sophomore or something, and he finished after the war.
TK: Right. You kept in touch with both of your brothers as they came into the military.
CW: Yes. I told my younger brother not to enlist, but he did.
TK: Why did you tell him that?
CW: There wasn't very much romance by the time he enlisted. I mean, I was pretty tired when I came back.
TK: Do you think you were caught up in this idea of the romance when you, when you first entered to the service?
CW: There was a romance connected with flying.
CW: There wasn't any romance, particularly in combat, except that it was good to survive.
TK: Did you keep in touch with any of the men from Rutgers ROTC who had ended up in?
CW: No, I didn't. I mean, I heard about their, a lot of things, Bill Archibald and Jimmy Reilly, and I was aware of what they were doing.
TK: Now you mentioned the first series of combat missions that you'd flown, at this point the Japanese are still on the offensive, and you've, you've moved up. Where, at what point do you switch to, or what is your next series after you complete the first twenty-five missions?
CW: I don't get the question.
TK: What were the different missions that you flew, what was the new destination?
CW: Well, it, we were fighting with very limited effort on the part of the United States. I mean, the main effort was with the Navy in the Central Pacific and we were just holding our own, down in New Guinea really at that time. So things didn't change, we had two major targets: Rabaul in New Britain and Wewak in New Guinea. We bombed them day after day. I knew where the post office was in Rabaul we bombed it so often and it was the second biggest naval base in the Pacific, so it was a rough mission. The first time that I bombed a destroyer in Rabaul there were a hundred and twenty-two warships in that harbor.
TK: Oh, wow!
CW: It was rough.
MS: You mentioned the toughness of the B-24, what was the worse condition of the your plane coming home, I mean, how much enemy fire, flack could a plane take before?
CW: Well, it took a lot. For example, on December 7th, as a matter-of-fact, 1942, we were bombing a Japanese base called Gasmata and five Japanese fighters intercepted us. In those early days, we had no fighter cover because the missions were so long that the fighters could not go the distance.
MS: You had a plane that could go that far?
CW: No, there weren't any forward bases. The first time I flew with fighter cover it was an Australian P-40. Anyway, we got shot up pretty badly and I was planning to go to a secondary target and I remember the waist gunner called me and he said, he said, "Before you do that, Captain Whitlock, will you come back here?" I came back, there were eighty-four holes between the waist and the tail and a twenty millimeter cannon had gone between this guy's legs that hadn't gone off.
TK: Oh, my goodness.
CW: And here's this hole, so we didn't go to the secondary target.
TK: It's pretty amazing of how much ...
CW: But I, it took a lot of damage. And this mission on April 24th, when we were intercepted by twelve Zeros, they shot out two engines and we were eight hundred miles from home. We were way up on Wewak on the North Coast. And I got one engine the fire, it caught on fire, and I got the fire out. But the other engine hit an oil line and I dove into clouds to get away from these fighters which were like bees buzzing around. I couldn't fly very well in a cloud on instruments with three engines and so I came out of the cloud and they were sitting there waiting for us, so I went back in. And in order to get away, what you did, and that's why, where the B-24 had an advantage, you would outrun the fighters. So here'd be the coast and I just simply take a ninety-degree angle and head out to sea and we shook the fighters. But then we had the problem of flying home on three engines. It's a long way. And I couldn't fly back along the North Coast because there was just one Japanese base after another. We would have had to run the gauntlet for six hours. So, I decided to go up over the mountains. And to show you what, how luck determines a lot of things in combat, there was a place on the map that was sort of blank. It turned out that the reason it was blank was that nobody had ever been there.
TK: Now there was nothing there.
CW: So here I was, flying on three engines, just with the tail dragging, with a saw-tooth mountain underneath. But after, I got the Silver Star that day. The reason was that after shaking the fighters, I circled out and back, over the land north of Wewak. I was on a reconnaissance flight to find a Japanese convoy, coming in. So on three engines, we sighted the convoy and reported it when we got back, and then came back. So General Kenney felt, that because we had continued the mission after the interception and so forth, that that was a good thing. So we got, back and notified them we had sighted the convoy. But then, coming back was rough.
MS: When you say that you ducked in the cloud cover to lose the Japanese Zeros, is that a maneuver they teach you, or is that something that ...
CW: You just do it.
CW: Yes, I mean, they were all over us. There were twelve fighters.
MS: I'm surprised, I mean ...
CW: There were twelve fighters.
CW: The Zero was a hell of an airplane.
MS: I mean, that's what I've read.
MS: It was a superior plane to anything the US had at that the time?
CW: We had a rough time. One of the pleasant things was when we got back. They shot out the radio, so that headquarters of the Fifth Bomber Command last heard us saying we were being attacked by a swarm of Zeros and that was the end of that. So they thought we were going down. When we got back to Port Moresby, we turned on Tokyo Rose and she told us that there'd been a B-24 at Wewak shot down. So that made us ...
MS: Oh, really?
TK: Kind of felt like ...
CW: That was great.
TK: Pretty special.
CW: Well, they saw the, they saw the B-24 with two engines gone, one on fire, heading south and so they thought that we'd gone ...
TK: They didn't think it ended the other way. How many times did things come that close, would you say?
CW: Not many times that close. There were lots of missions but the weather was one of the big problems that we didn't understand. We had no weather, we had no meteorologists. All we had were the pilots, who'd gone out before, coming back to tell us what the weather was like.
TK: You mentioned you listened to Tokyo Rose and that was a big ...
CW: Yes, we listened to that.
TK: That was a big thing for everyone.
TK: What did you think, or what did you get out of that?
CW: It was fun, good music, a lot of Benny Goodman music.
TK: Yes. Any jazz music?
CW: A lot of jazz.
TK: Oh, excellent. [Laughs] One thing you mentioned before was December 7, 1942, I didn't ask you, on December 7, 1941, you were already in Georgia at the time?
CW: I was in Shreveport, Louisiana.
TK: And do you remember receiving the news that ...
CW: Oh, yes. I was doing that, I always had fun flying, and when war was declared, I was practicing. I thought it'd be a lot of fun. I was in what's called an AT6, which is one of the best airplanes ever built, an advanced trainer. And I was flying upside-down, practicing 90-degree turns upside-down, with the radio on, and then I heard that war was declared. That's exactly where I was when it happened and, of course, everybody went ape. It was just absurd.
TK: So you were actually, you were actually up in air at the time.
CW: Yes. They put us on Armed Guard in the middle of Louisiana. [Laughs] We were marching up and down with our rifles.
TK: Don't mess with Shreveport. [Laughs]
CW: Absolutely. Yes, absurd.
TK: So you think there was a little over reaction at this?
CW: What, the country?
CW: Yes, we were all, it didn't come as a surprise.
TK: For those of you who were already in the military, it was very ...
CW: It didn't really make a difference.
TK: Because it was sort of what you'd been expecting all the time. Do you remember the "Day of Infamy Speech," the speech that President Roosevelt gave?
CW: I've heard it so often since, but I don't remember it then. No, we were out, out protecting the airplanes in Louisiana.
TK: ... Sorry, just getting, getting back to your time. Do you remember your briefings? You mentioned before when this one commanding officer had kind of gone crazy giving them a very good meal. A lot of men recount that right before flying missions you were fed very well, sort of on the same assumption that something ...
CW: Well, the Pacific was really different. We, when we got into Australia, we were put on an airstrip cut out of the jungle, rainforest, and up, Queensland, northeast, way up in the Cape York peninsula. And the first three months that we were there, we had no American supplies. We had Australian clothing, Australian food, we had powdered eggs, powered milk, coffee, tea, bread, lemon and ginger jam, and bully beef. That's all we had. And we got so we couldn't stand the smell of any of it. I can remember getting up ...
TK: The food was awful.
CW: Getting up at three o'clock in the morning, going on, before a mission, and not eating anything.
TK: Just because you'd rather have nothing than ...
CW: The smell of that bully beef meat cooked was just too much.
TK: When, if at all, did that improve?
CW: Well, not until about March of '43.
TK: Wow, wow! And then you started getting fresh ...
CW: And then we started getting stuff. We had ice cream and everything.
TK: Quit a departure from bully beef.
TK: Did you have any contact with the Australians themselves?
CW: Well, I did, because I had malaria three times. I got malaria the first time December 18th, of '42 and went down to Sidney for rehab, which was fine, and met there the guy ... Oh, another thing that I did at Rutgers, to earn money, I worked at the alumni office typing notes, class notes and the head of the alumni association, or the executive director, was a guy named Bill Powers of the Class of '33. And he was stationed in Sidney doing something or other for the Army. So I stayed with him when I was on medical leave in Sidney. That was fun.
TK: But since you were sick you didn't have a chance to see much, or anything like that?
TK: But you'd get sent ...
CW: Went to concerts and stuff.
TK: But you'd get sent all the way down to Sidney for hospitalization.
TK: How prevalent was malaria?
CW: Quite. I had it bad. We had no quinine. The Japanese had taken all the quinine. So we had nothing, except aspirin.
TK: Right, so the pain was intense.
CW: It was rough; I had a fever of 106.
TK: And ...
CW: My, my hands and feet all peeled.
TK: But this man from Rutgers was able to help you out when you came down to Sidney. Did he have family there with him?
CW: No. No. He was in, he had a cushy job of some sort. So he got us into all places.
TK: Administrative position?
CW: Yes. Nice guy. I'd worked with him in the alumni office.
TK: Yes. Then you returned and you also had it happen again twice. It struck again, the malaria.
TK: How long were you out each time?
CW: I went the second time, I went to a little town, sort of like some place in South Jersey, called Mackay, which was north of Cooktown. I went to, I was in rehab twice, I guess. When I came home I weighed hundred and twenty-five pounds. I had malaria three times, and dengue fever and dysentery and everything else. I had malaria recur a couple of times after I came home. When I went to graduate school I was on disability, ten percent disability, which helped with my tuition. It was, by the end, we were getting Atabrin and stuff like that, but initially we had nothing.
TK: When you'd be on medical leave, how much would you actually hear about what was going on, at the base?
CW: In the States, you mean?
TK: Right, at the base, would you hear any news at all? No? So you'd sometimes go back and realize that that quite a bit had changed from the last?
CW: Nothing changed very much. Just, you know, we were a holding action, essentially. We just held, got the Japanese advance stopped. Most of our work was reconnaissance. We didn't, for the first six months we flew as single airplanes. We didn't fly even in formations.
TK: Because it wasn't necessary?
CW: Well, we didn't, no. It was necessary to do what we were doing but we didn't have any, we had no fighter cover.
CW: And we were flying, during reconnaissance, against the full brunt of the Japanese Navy coming at us.
TK: How many planes did you lose, or how often, what happened was that ...
CW: We lost forty percent of the group the first month.
TK: Wow! And when things improved once you got a hold ...
CW: Then things improved. And I was, frankly, proud of the fact that during the time I was a squadron commander we only lost two airplanes during that six month period.
TK: You held, originally ...
CW: Well, I knew, you know, I knew what we were doing. That's one reason I, it was a selfish reason I stayed on, and that was that some of the people, who were sent home on the first six months, were reassigned to Europe and I had no desire to do that. I knew what we were doing, where we were, and ...
TK: Was actually better.
CW: And I'd rather deal with that. The weather was the most ... that we didn't understand. I mean, just to take a simple thing. The Owen Stanley Mountains are seventeen thousand feet and we bombed at night because we didn't have any fighter cover, so we did most of our bombing at night. But we, we would take off in the afternoon and head over the mountains. Well, every night there was a line of squalls over those mountains, I mean, just predictably, and, at first, we would, there would be dark, dark columns and light columns, and we would head for the light columns. It was the natural thing to do. Well, that was the worst thing that you could do, because that's where the sheer factor, of the updrafts and downdrafts, was at it's maximum. That's why it looked light. Whereas, heading into the darkest part of the cloud was the safest. But even safer than that was to wait until eleven o'clock at night when all these storms collapsed, but we didn't know that. We took off and hit them at five, six o'clock in the afternoon.
TK: So in other words, there were certain things you had to learn by doing.
CW: Yes, we had no one to tell us.
TK: And in a way you kept your losses down later by things you'd learned already.
CW: Flying, being able to fly instruments was more important than anything else, really.
TK: How well had your ROTC training for infantry prepare you to lead a military ...
CW: It was good. I can't be specific. It helped.
TK: And how well did the training, your three bits of training in the US, or your series of training in the US prepare you for, for both your ...
CW: For combat? Well, I was lucky, as I say, because I was an instructor.
TK: Right. So you felt prepared at the time you made it over there.
CW: So I had a lot of time, yes, much more than the average, well, twice as much as the average pilot, three times as much.
TK: Did you have any USO dances and things like that in Australia?
CW: Not when I was there.
TK: You're too remote?
CW: Yes. We were, you know, it was a very primitive holding action.
TK: Did you see a lot of kamikazi action or?
CW: No, on one mission we had a kamikazi attack that killed one of our pilots. That was a mission from Darwin, Australia all the way to Surabaja, Java and back and a guy named Olson was the lead pilot was killed by a kamikazi. That was the only one.
TK: Right. What was the attitude towards the Japanese at this time amongst the soldiers?
CW: Hated them. I never saw a Japanese.
TK: Really. Did ...
CW: We saw the effect, I mean, we were, we knew what was going on with the infantry, but we didn't have that to contend with.
TK: Right. So do you have any more questions?
MS: Yes, I was just going to say you ascended fairly quickly through the ranks. I mean, at age twenty-four you were a major. What do you feel, I mean, it's pretty amazing, what do you feel led to that? I mean personally, just the fact ...
CW: Oh, I stayed in. I'm still active with the Air Force. I do volunteer work at Hansen Air Force Base now, at a retiree office, doing counseling with airmen, who are about to retire.
CW: I'm a full Colonel in the Air Force. I made full Colonel in 1957 in the Reserve. After the war, I flew in the Reserve for a short period of time while I was at Harvard, I mean, as a graduate student. Then I got into the department. I was a lecturer in social psychology and in the social psychology department, there were individuals who were doing work for the Air Force. For example, in 1950 there were four Soviet defectors whose transcripts were sent from the Air Force Human Resources Lab to the Russian Research Center at Harvard for analysis. Well, I would, at that time, knew what was going on and so my friends would say, "I don't understand this military jargon," and it turned out that the Air Force didn't understand the social relations jargon. So I got reserve credit for translating back and forth. I would help them focus their research so that it would appear to be useful to the, to the military. And as a result of that, I was given a MOS, a Military Specialty in Psychological Warfare.
CW: And assigned to the Pentagon.
TK: Right, right.
CW: So from '57 to '61, I spent thirty days every summer in the Pentagon on psychological warfare stuff.
TK: What did you ...
CW: Now I stayed in the Reserve and I retired at age sixty as a, I made Colonel during that time.
CW: And as I say, I still do volunteer work.
TK: Getting back to this question, how do you think you were able to do so much so quickly, though, by age twenty-four to have gone through the ranks?
CW: Well, I tell my children I was a pretty good pilot.
TK: Yes. You can tell them that. And do you think that it helped that it had been an interest of yours as a child?
CW: Yes, it was a continuum. Now, I'll tell you a story. Because of the war, in January and February of '42, they, the military, decided to see how fast they could push people through training. Okay. Now at that time to go from co-pilot to pilot on a B-24 took five hundred hours. It had been higher, but they reduced it to five hundred, and then they reduced it further to see how fast you could go from a two-engine airplane, let's say, to a four-engine airplane. I had eight hours, only eight as a co-pilot.
TK: And they, you were promoted.
CW: Promoted to the first pilot. I was an instructor after a total of sixteen hours in the airplane.
CW: So it gives you a feeling of having accomplished something.
TK: Accomplished something, yes. It really, it really is very remarkable. Now you've mentioned that by 1944 you were diagnosed as having combat fatigue. Did you feel that, did you recognize that yourself?
CW: Yes. I probably would have stayed. I'd probably still be there now if the flight surgeon hadn't relieved me.
TK: [Laughs] Yes. But in ...
CW: I didn't ...
TK: In retrospect, it's for the best.
CW: Oh, sure. Oh, yes. I was getting at that time, this sort of [stuff] that you read in novels. I was protecting my men more than I was accomplishing a mission. I mean, one of the reasons I got relieved of the command was that some, a new general, who didn't know his ass from his elbow, told us to do something that I knew was dangerous. Once the wheels leave the ground, you're in command. MacArthur couldn't have changed the orders. So this, the group commander and I took turns and when we were attacked by the fighters, we refused to split up the way we were told to, so that it was time to come home.
TK: But you would see, sometimes, see a lack of wisdom in ...
CW: Oh, yes. Oh, it was pitiful.
TK: In your superiors.
CW: The mission that we were, that the Brass had told us to go on, this was March-April of '44. If there was no interception it was all right, but if you're intercepted by Zeros, it was very dangerous, because you broke up the formation. And so (Bullis), my CO, and I took turns not doing it. I mean, we would have done it if there hadn't been any interception. But as soon as the Japanese Zeros showed up, why, we told the group to stay together. So, it was time to come home.
TK: How were you sent home?
CW: You mean by air, by boat or?
TK: You were sent home through California or?
CW: Yes, had malaria in California.
TK: Did you have to stay ...
CW: Stayed in a hospital there, yes, and then we went through R&R in Atlantic City.
TK: Right. Tell us about that week, another person just last week was talking about that.
CW: Well, it was fun.
TK: You enjoyed it, actually?
CW: Yes, my mother and sister came down to see us. And my ...
TK: You stayed at one of the big hotels there.
CW: Yes, we stayed at the Chalfont-Hadden Hall.
TK: [Laughs] Had you been to Atlantic City growing up?
CW: Been to Ocean City growing up, which is right next to it.
TK: Oh, sure.
CW: My operations officer, who succeeded me as squadron commander, was also assigned there, a guy named Paul Gottke, and we'd been like that, all the way through combat. So that was fun. Then after six weeks, I don't know how many weeks, whatever, we were sent to what we hated, which was called a Standardization School. And that was, we'd all learned to do our own flying. We had developed individual peculiarities. And we were sent to standardization school, before becoming instructors again, to make sure we all taught the same way, and we hated every minute of it. I mean, to have a second lieutenant come in and tell you, after you'd been in combat for almost two years, tell you how to fly the airplane, was not appreciated. A friend of mine, that's a story that you might be amused with. A guy named, Macks, he had been with the 100th Bomb group in England that was decimated. He was one of the few survivors of the whole damn group. And when we got to Standardization School, which was in Smyrna, Tennessee, this second lieutenant came, you know, to tell us how to go through this procedure. Well, most of us got mad immediately, you know. We, I don't know what we did. We just, we had to go through it, so we did. But we didn't like it. But, Macks, oh, yes, that's his name, Macks, was a guy who had a great sense of humor. And he'd been through more than any human being had a right to. And so he waited until, he smoked this guy out, he said, "Oh Lieutenant, you seem so young." He said, "Don't you think this is a big airplane?" This is a guy who'd been in Europe, you know. "Aren't you, aren't you, don't you stand in awe of this airplane?" And then he'd say, "Gee, you're young. How old are you, to be flying an airplane like this?" And he waited and waited and waited until the final lesson, which was what do you do if you lose power on takeoff. And so this kid reached up and pulled back the throttle of one of the engines. And he said, "Now, what do you do?" Well, Major Macks shut down all four engines. They were just off the runway. And he did this about twenty feet off the ground and the airplane hit. He slammed on the brakes and he let that guy have it. I don't think he's probably ever recovered.
CW: But that was how we felt. Then I became Director of Training at March Field in California until I ...
TK: Left the service.
CW: Left service after that.
TK: And that's in 1945?
CW: Yes. And I, because I'd had so much combat and overseas experience, I was let out before the end of the war.
CW: So I could go to graduate school. I was at Harvard when the Japanese surrendered.
MS: Did you ever almost lose your plane that you remember?
CW: Well, there was one time that was due to stupidity, not anything real. I was leading the, a group one day from Port Moresby, lead ship and four squadrons, and the oil pressure started to drop on one engine, so I feathered that engine. I had a full load, of eight thousand pounds, of bombs.
CW: And then the second engine oil pressure started and I pulled back that throttle and I thought, "Well, this airplane won't fly." So I passed on command to the squadron commander, behind me, and headed out to crash in the ocean. I salvoed all the bombs, getting ready, got the crew all ready to crash. And then I noticed, I had new co-pilot, I noticed that there were eighty-four toggle switches in that airplane and he, there are two battery switches, and he only had flicked on one. So there was an overload on the electrical system, which was showing up in the instruments. So I yelled at him. We were about a hundred feet off the water at this time. Yelling, "Switch that thing on." There wasn't anything wrong with the engines.
MS: Oh, wow!
TK: And there wasn't anything to do. I had passed on command, I had dropped the bombs, I couldn't get back to the airport for, or the airdrome, for an hour and a half because everybody else was taking off. So I think that was the only time I feel that I came close to losing an airplane.
MS: Whatever happened to the plane, do you know, after the fifty-seven missions that you did fly?
CW: The Eager Beaver?
CW: I have pictures. When I got to Smyrna, Tennessee, the airplane was sent back on a War Bond tour and my crew all went home in November of '43. But when I got to standardization school in Smyrna, Tennessee in what, October, July, August I guess of '4- ...
------------------------------------END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO---------------------------------------
MS: I just saw a program the other night on ...
TK: This continues an interview with Mr. Charles Whittlock in New Brunswick, New Jersey on April 22, 1999, with Tara Kraenzlin ...
MS: Michael Spellman. On this program the other night, they found a B-24 in the mountains of China. Two peasants were walking along and they found it. They ended up finding dog tags and everything, and so it was MIAs that they recovered and this plane, (Purepont) Plane, I think it was called. I was just ...
CW: Oh, there was a B-24 found in the mountains of New Guinea after the war. And it was my squadron.
TK: Oh, wow!
MS: Oh, really!
CW: And I have photographs of that airplane in formation. One of the things, I don't know whether the archives would be interested in, but I have a lot of photographs, combat photographs.
CW: And also films.
MS: You have films?
CW: There's a, there's a thing called, "Great Planes," a series, "Great Planes of World War II," and there's one on the B-24 and I'm in it.
MS: Oh, really! Oh, wow!
CW: Nice story.
TK: With the Eager Beaver.
CW: And Eager Beaver, yes. I picked up the phone, I don't know, ten years ago, I guess, and one of my waist gunners called me and said, "Have you got the Discovery Channel?" And at that time we didn't. He said, "Well, you're on TV."
CW: ... So they were playing this movie, and he took a copy, he made a copy of it, so I have that.
MS: Oh, wow!
CW: Which is fun, I'll show my grandchildren. He was, at the time he was sitting on the sofa with his grandchildren telling them, "I flew that airplane." All of a sudden, there he is on the screen.
MS: That's great.
TK: Yes, that must have been surprising.
CW: That was fun.
TK: We'd talked to someone else whose plane had actually been made into a toy, or you know, or into a model, and that was their actual plane, and they were on the box for the toy.
MS: Oh, really?
TK: They found themselves at Toys R Us.
CW: It wasn't a B-24, though.
TK: I don't remember.
CW: Because the B-24, one on the toy boxes, that you put together now ...
CW: Not mine. But my, this guy Gottke that I came back with, who was my successor as squadron commander, it's his airplane, Moby Dick.
TK: Yes, no this was ...
CW: That's the one you buy now to put together.
MS: That's great.
TK: Yes, it's amazing how it's come back around to find you.
TK: So, you spent the remainder of your time of service in California. What did you think of your duties there? Were you upset to be away from the combat situation or were you relieved?
CW: No. I guess, my interests in psychology started there because I had felt, as I say, that I had felt that I knew something that would be useful for people. I taught these combat crews that came through ... At March Field, what happened was that crews would be put together and then come to us for six weeks and then they'd be shipped overseas. So I taught a course on combat psychology to sort of help them prepare for what they were getting into. And I hadn't been interested in psychology up until that point.
TK: How prevalent was this combat fatigue?
TK: Very prevalent. Did you see any men when you were at the R&R in Atlantic City, did you see any men who were a lot worse off than you or anything like that?
CW: No, I never saw that side of things.
TK: You decided to continue with this interest in graduate school. When did you decide that you would be going to Harvard, or when did you apply?
CW: Well, I thought I was going to the University of Chicago, and, because it had a good English department, and so one of the newspaper articles about these missions I mentioned, of April of '43, talked about me as a professor, which is pretty silly. But, because I had told somebody I guess that I was going to graduate school, wanted to teach.
TK: And it became ...
CW: So some of the headlines were "Chicago Professor."
TK: [Laughs] Meanwhile, you were only ...
CW: [Laughing] Meanwhile, I hadn't even gotten into graduate school at that point. I went to Chicago on the way back to New Brunswick and I didn't like it very much. And then I thought of going to Columbia, but I went to visit some friends in Cambridge.
TK: Lovely town.
CW: Decided to stay.
TK: Yes, and you headed directly into a social psychology program or?
CW: No, I got an MA in English.
CW: But then I changed. And then I never did complete a doctorate.
TK: But you did some work on a PhD in psychology?
CW: Yes. I got everthing done, but by that time I had two children and was running out of money and ...
TK: Didn't seem logical anymore. So you came back and you obviously did not end up marrying this girlfriend in Louisiana. When did you meet your first wife?
CW: Well, do you know anything about this first marriage?
TK: Oh, sure, yes. How you ...
CW: No, do you know anything about it?
TK: Not that much.
CW: My first wife became psychotic and was in a mental institution for five years. So I was a single parent raising two kids. And then she ended up killing our son and herself.
TK: It was a very difficult time for you. You then finished and ended up getting a very good position at ...
CW: Yes, I became a senior tutor, which is kind of a baby dean from '52 to '58 and then I became assistant to the President of Harvard, from '58 to '70, and became Dean of Harvard College from '70 to '76, and then Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences from '76 to '82.
TK: When you started out you really had no idea that you would have such a distinguished and long career at Harvard?
CW: [Laughs] I never thought of going to Harvard, I didn't even know anything about Harvard. I sort of lumped it with Princeton.
CW: I didn't know anything about it.
TK: Not anything a Rutgers' boy would aspire to.
CW: Never, it didn't mean anything to me. Princeton we were - we had hostility toward, but I didn't know anything about Harvard.
TK: Did you have sort of an anti-Ivy League sense or no?
CW: No. I didn't have any feelings at that point.
TK: What was your impression of doing this Master's degree in English, what was your impression of the quality of education?
CW: Oh, it was great.
TK: Did you notice a change ...
CW: My, my advisor had been in World War I.
CW: So we got along fine.
TK: Yes. Did you notice a change from your undergraduate days at Rutgers to graduate school at Harvard, was it quite a jump or?
CW: No. I have said that passing my exams for a Master's degree was due to Rutgers, not Harvard.
TK: Excellent. You thought you were very well prepared by the ...
CW: Very well-prepared.
TK: By the Rutgers' degree. Is there, initially, a lecture, sort of like teaching ...
CW: No, that, I started teaching in '49 while doing other things. I was always primarily an administrator. But we had an experimental course in human relations, which used the Harvard Business School approach to teaching, which meant by case study, and so forth. So I became first an instructor and then on, and then I taught one course all the way through 1972, changed from time to time. But it was a, small group dynamics is what it was, and leadership, principles of leadership, which fit into my military interests, too.
TK: Right. So really a lot of your professional, your academic specialty had grown out of your military experience. What was the field of social psychology like in the 1950s?
CW: Oh, it was glorious, it was fantastic. At Harvard the, the various disciplines in the social sciences having to do with human behavior got together. For example: the psychology department split into physical psychologists and behavioral, and the behavioral psychologists came into social relations. In anthropology the same thing, the physical anthropologist and cultural anthropologists and ... So that the social relations department, which I was in, was superb, I mean, giants in the field.
CW: Absolute giants.
TK: Who were some of the people?
CW: Well, Gordon Alport in psychology. Henry Murray, who had a PhD, M.D., was OSS during the war. Clyde Kluckhohn, anthropologist. It just went on and on. But they couldn't maintain it after these big guys left. When the, when the giants in the social relations department retired then the old departments broke apart. So, then I became a lecturer in social psychology, because that's where the old clinicians went.
TK: And that's where the course now fell.
CW: Yes. And now it was called the Analysis of Interpersonal Relations.
TK: And it was taught to psychology majors, or business students, or a mixture?
CW: Both. I taught it at the Business School during the summers. It still kept that contact. Helped to found an Institute for Education Management. Being in the President's office, I could see a need for academic people to get some administrative experience because they were thrust in jobs they had no background for.
TK: Right. Right.
CW: So, a friend of mine and I started the Institute for Educational Management, which is now a part of the Harvard Business School.
TK: Sort of bridging this gap between academics and administration.
CW: Yes. Bringing in Deans and so forth. It's a very successful one. Harvard refused to send anybody to it. Literally. I was working for the President, you know, we set this thing up. We said, "Well, who do you think ought to go?" And he didn't think that faculty needed "administrative experience."
CW: He was a classic scholar, Pusey. And so Harvard didn't send anybody, which is very funny.
TK: You were actually able to pay for your Masters' degree, in part, with the GI Bill funding?
TK: What was the campus like in 1945 and the late '40s?
CW: Again, I was so busy, I didn't have any campus life. And the first job, by the way, came directly out of Rutgers. The Senior Tutor system in 1952 was a, a way of, of a breaking down the Dean's office, so that you had baby deans. There were eight Harvard houses, seven resident, one non-resident. And I became Senior Tutor of the non-resident student center, which was for commuters.
TK: Right. You had all that experience.
CW: Because I had that experience.
CW: I knew more about it then most of the Ivy Leaguers.
TK: Who had all lived on campus.
CW: And then later it developed into a Harvard House, called Dudley House, I became Master of Dudley House from '76 to 1982.
TK: And that was a resident's community?
CW: No, it was still non-resident, students who had some special reason to live off campus and the married students. Caroline Kennedy - I gave her diploma to her.
TK: Okay. In the ...
CW: She was a non-resident.
TK: But, of course. In the late '40s and early '50s, how many of your undergraduate students are, is there a large percentage of married men, returning servicemen, things like that, or is it still basically a young man's ...
CW: Well, being in the non-residents business, you always had a mix and I always enjoyed it. I never liked teaching, you know ...
TK: The eighteen-year-olds. [Laughs]
CW: A bunch of freshman. So it was fun, especially after the war.
TK: While working with the commuters you get more non-traditional students.
TK: What was the married housing at Harvard like, do you think it was adequate?
CW: Well, I, as Assistant to the President, had a role in building married student housing, which I helped integrate with the community. It had a nursery school, which we opened to an elementary school, in married student housing, all in a complex in the City of Cambridge. And now Dudley House takes care of graduate students for, until 1970 Harvard didn't pay any attention to housing graduate students.
TK: They were all on their own, sort of thing.
CW: Totally on their own.
TK: As far as housing. You then became a senior tutor, which is you said equivalent to a ...
CW: A baby dean, yes. I was in charge of all non-resident students.
TK: Yes. It's just like saying you're on the track towards becoming a Dean.
TK: Yes. What were your major responsibilities in that position?
CW: Well, total responsibility for all non-resident students, about six hundred. Everything, athletic programs, counseling.
TK: Were there special clubs and things for the commuters, to represent their interests?
TK: Did most of them commute a short distance?
CW: Most of them commuted from Boston, Cambridge, somewhere there, yes. But the married students always fell into this category.
TK: What did you think of Boston in the 1950s, what was the atmosphere of the city like?
CW: Well, see, I worked, as assistant to the President. I really dealt with Cambridge and Boston, primarily. So I was the link between all ten Harvard faculties and the cities of Cambridge and Boston.
CW: So, for example, I, when the medical school would expand I'd go work with the neighborhood in Boston. So I got to know Boston and Cambridge well. I attended every Cambridge city council meeting for twelve years.
TK: Oh, wow! So it was very important that you'd be involved in the local government as well, representing the ...
CW: I was on the, during that period of time, I was on the board of twelve red-feather agencies, and I helped the Cambridge Mental Health Center locate on Harvard property.
TK: Right. Was there a fight against that or?
CW: Well, it was complicated.
CW: But we did some good community things. You know Cambridge at all?
TK: I've been, yes, I've been around MIT ...
CW: For example, when we built the science center, the city wouldn't give us a variance, so that we could build this huge thing on no land, practically. So what we did was, I worked with the city and we built an underpass for the traffic and then gave it to the city. They, in turn, gave us the zoning requirements on top of the, of the tunnel.
TK: So you were able to work out certain compromises?
TK: In 1958, you moved up to be Assistant to the President. At this time, you know, it's a different President than the ...
CW: No, it's Pusey. Well, Conant was there first. But, no, Pusey became President in '53, and I joined the president's office in '58. At that time, I had accepted a job as Dean of Students at the University of Beirut.
TK: [Laughing] How did you come upon that?
CW: Well, after being a senior tutor, I assumed that I should go somewhere else. So I looked around for work.
TK: And that's the job that ...
CW: And I found that opening and had been accepted by the trustees. And McGeorge Bundy, do you know who McGeorge Bundy was, Assistant to National Security Advisor to Kennedy.
CW: And "Mac" Bundy was Dean of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences at age thirty-four with a bachelor's degree.
TK: Right. [Laughing]
CW: And 'Bundy' came to me in the commencement line and said, "Whitlock, I hear you're going to Beirut." And I said, "Well, yes, I guess so." And he said, "Well, I made an appointment for you to see Pusey tomorrow morning." So I came to see Pusey and I got the appointment. Bundy knew that Harvard needed somebody and ...
TK: And Lebanon was a thing of the past.
CW: That went by the board. I'm glad I didn't go there.
TK: Yes. So, in a way, you felt like there was no room for promotion at Harvard and then you were actually able to ...
CW: I didn't think of it. I never thought of going to Harvard in the first place. I never thought of Harvard, of staying up there.
TK: You'd end up there, yes.
CW: I never really thought of it. I never really applied. I had trouble, it started when my kids graduated from college, because I never applied for a job. I mean, I just sat there, sort of.
TK: Yes, yes. You moved up within the same system.
TK: You were assistant to the President for twelve years, all for the same president?
CW: He retired after that. I was caught, I think, frankly, another reason that Rutgers plays a part ... The student riots from 1969, in particular, being Assistant to the President, I almost became a bodyguard for him. And there are, I have pictures from the New York Times of my talking to him and surrounded by screaming students. And so I worked with all ten faculties on student unrest problems. And I got to be, how shall I put it, I think I became Dean of the College, frankly, because of the military background in part.
TK: Right, right.
CW: I mean, I was not just an administrator, I was a teacher. For example, in one faculty meeting at that time, and the faculty was much worse than the students, they were voting, the faculty was voting to prevent all administrators from attending faculty meetings, all administrators, all Deans and so forth.
TK: Wow, this was quite disruptive to the campus.
CW: Oh, it was terrible. And at the end of the meeting the guy who put this vote up said, "Not you, Charlie, you're a teacher." Because I worked with the students during that time, I mean, I was teaching, and I also was active in Phillips Brooks House, which is the undergraduate social service focus.
CW: One of the nicest things that's happened recently, a couple of commencements ago, an alumnus came up and said, "You were one of the good guys." Whatever that means. But I was involved in coordinating the police from all, when they occupied University Hall. We brought in the police from Cambridge, Belmont, Summerville, Watertown, and the State Police to empty that building, which we did without anybody getting hurt. The students didn't appreciate it, but ...
TK: How extensive were the protests at Harvard?
CW: Well, he, usually quick because he didn't like students from then on.
CW: He said, "I'm not going to work with these jerks."
TK: Yes. So it created a real riff between the administration and the student body.
CW: Oh, yes. Some of the great liberals on the faculty, like David Reisman, turned away from the students.
TK: Yes. So you think the students took their protests too far, that's your opinion?
TK: What do ...
CW: It was also silly.
CW: A certain amount was silly. One of my students came up and said, "You're the essence of evil." I said, "I probably am, but why?" He said, "Well, you fought in World War II."
TK: So the anti-war sentiment during the Vietnam era carried over to your history, to your generation.
CW: Oh, yes. Yes.
TK: Did you hear any other comments like that?
CW: Well, it was all sort of crazy. I mean, it was really crazy.
TK: Now you also had nephews that served in the Vietnam War. What was your opinion, you know, of the conflict itself?
CW: Yes, the Air Force tradition continues. My sister, with whom I'm staying now, she has two sons, both full colonels ...
CW: Who were in Vietnam, Air Force pilots. Her husband was World War II, Air Force. My son is a, now in the Reserve and he's a Marine Corps pilot. So we have that tradition.
TK: Yes. In the late '60s, early '70s what was your opinion of the conflict of US involvement in Vietnam?
CW: About the same as my attitude toward Kosovo, I mean, I think we had no business being there. You can't ask the military to go into a situation where you're not supposed to win, I mean, it just isn't fair.
TK: Yes. So even at this time, you saw a strong distinction between your involvement in World War II and what was ...
CW: I thought it was, Vietnam was a mistake, yes.
TK: How were students ...
CW: And I think what we're doing now in the Balkans is a mistake.
TK: How were students' concerns addressed by the administration at this time? What were students demanding, what were the actual requests?
CW: Well, what I tend to remember, first of all, there was a civil rights component. But see, I was deeply involved in that because after the 1964 law was passed, Pusey put me in charge of Affirmative Action for a time.
CW: So I had been deeply involved. I knew what the civil rights records were in all ten faculties. So I could help, therefore, because I was put on the board, the students put me on the board with the Afro-American Cultural Center and I found a place for them on campus and so forth.
TK: So, actually ...
CW: So there was that kind of thing.
TK: Starting in 1964 Harvard begins to enforce Affirmative Action with its admission policy?
CW: Well, Pusey didn't want to. He didn't approve of it, but we, we did. I acted as a facilitator, I guess, is the way to put it. It was crazy, that's all I can say. I mean, for example ...
TK: Did you ever feel that you're ...
CW: The students were about to burn down the ROTC building. Well, I was the faculty advisor to the Air Force ROTC. But they were, it was so dangerous, we lived right adjacent to the campus that I, by that time I had four children, my wife and four children I put in the car because I thought they'd burn our house down. And then the football team came in and beat them up, so that solved that.
TK: Beat the students up? So there were times when you felt that your own safety was in jeopardy?
TK: Did you have to have escorts or anything like that?
CW: No, I escorted Pusey back and forth. I mean, it got so crazy that I, we had to have faculty meetings off campus in a theater and I would go pick him up in a cab and bring him around to the stage door of the theater to bring him into a faculty meeting. You know, really crazy.
TK: Too much. Where did your wife and children go in order to get away from this?
CW: Well, this didn't last too long. But that was, that was one incidence. And we lived, it was like being in Highland Park. I mean, it was all faculty members, a place called Francis Avenue. But we had our place in Annisquan in Gloucester by that time. We got that in '65, so we went there weekends.
TK: Did you see a number of students, who were not involved in the protests, who were opposed to them, for example?
TK: How significant would you say that anti-protest sentiment was?
CW: I think, not much. They laid low pretty much. It was a mess, is a way to put it. I mean, the students, for example, in my class, they decided to go on strike, which was fine with me. Except that what being on strike meant, was that we would meet outdoors sitting on the grass, instead of inside the building. Well, I love to teach sitting on the grass outside.
TK: You call that ...
CW: And that, they were "going on strike," nobody talked about cutting class.
TK: Yes, yes.
CW: And one of the things I remember most, one of the students in my class, nice girl, who later graduated from Harvard Law School, she came to me and she said, "I want to do something for poor people." And so I said, "Fine." And she continued, I asked her what she had in mind. She continued to talk. After about the fourth time I heard the phrase "poor people" began to sound hollow. I said, "Where are you from?" She said, "Grosse Point, Michigan." It turns out her father was vice-president of Ford Motor Company and she wanted to, well, anyway, I got her a job working with poor people in East Cambridge. And after that her father gave her a free trip around the world as a, as a reward. I mean, it was that kind of thing. One of my students, who later came and asked me for a recommendation to business school. He thought he might need to fight the cops and he thought he ought to get in shape. So he went to Bermuda for two weeks to do calisthenics to get into shape to fight the cops and he didn't' see anything illogical about that at all.
TK: So it was a very tense time.
CW: Yes, it didn't last too long at Harvard.
TK: Did you see any direct reaction to the incident at Kent State? Was there a ripple effect at Harvard?
CW: Not that I know of.
TK: When, what was the exact point that they were taking over this house you mentioned?
CW: April 4, I think, 1969. April something, early April. I stayed out all night talking with students before we brought the cops in.
TK: Did you feel like you were able to get across ...
CW: Some, with some.
CW: I think they appreciated the fact that someone of us were out there with them.
TK: What do you think motivated these student protests? Do you think they were ...
CW: I have no idea.
CW: They brought, they got all the relaxation of parietal rules from which the other students benefited. I mean, it tore the place up for a while.
TK: How long ...
CW: Before the riots, Harvard was highly decentralized. In the President's office, there was one President and one Vice-Ppresident and three of us assistants, okay, from there on you were at the faculty level. After the student riots, there was a new President, who was a lawyer; he has ten Vice-Presidents, eighteen Associate Vice-Presidents, God knows how many Assistant Vice-Presidents and all that administrative stuff, you know. Whereas when I was at Harvard, initially, when I first came to Harvard, Conant taught a freshman class in science, you know, Pusey taught a class in Classics.
TK: Which was unheard of after this time.
CW: Absolutely unheard of.
TK: So in other words the administration distanced themselves from the everyday world of academics after this point.
TK: Did that sadden you to see that change?
CW: Yes, I thought it was too bad.
TK: Did you ever think of leaving Harvard in light all of these things?
CW: No, I never thought of staying. I never thought of going to Harvard, I never thought of staying at Harvard, let alone leaving Harvard.
TK: Yes. So ...
CW: I always thought I'd come back to Rutgers to teach Shakespeare.
CW: That's what I thought.
TK: Yes, it just didn't end up being in the cards. By 1970, you became Dean of Harvard College, what was that like?
CW: Well, you know the riots were in '69. And in '70, what the Dean ...
TK: The school is still pretty tense.
CW: Yes, and what it meant was endless meetings with students, just endless meetings with students.
TK: Were you happy to get this position or?
CW: Not really, because it, it was more administrative in the bad sense than I ever had and I had to give up teaching, and that ...
TK: Yes. To become Dean?
CW: Yes. I had too much to do.
TK: Yes, and that was sad, too.
CW: That was too bad.
TK: You'd been teaching straight from 1949 to 1970.
CW: Yes, yes.
CW: I taught one more year, '71, but I couldn't, couldn't do it, too much. But the Dean of Harvard College is somewhat different as I understand my classmate here, whose now retired, Crosby.
TK: Yes. Retired.
CW: Dean of Harvard College runs the administrative boards, has charge of all students' academic advising and so forth, and rules and regulations in addition to, it's not just being in charge of student affairs.
TK: Right, right. How extensive was your day to day contact with the students once you became Dean?
CW: Well, I kept up. You dealt with committees mostly. It wasn't, it wasn't very much fun.
TK: Really? Was it too much stress or?
CW: I don't know about stress, but it was just too much crap. I mean, you know.
TK: In a way, I guess, you had enjoyed teaching and found this too much of an administrative position or?
TK: I'm trying to think ... What changes went on at Harvard College during your time as Dean?
CW: Well, a lot. In 1973 we merge Harvard and Radcliffe, which was a big thing.
TK: Right. Which was the basically the co-education of Harvard University.
CW: Yes. Then when I became Associate Dean of the Faculty in '76, what we were doing then was fun, again, because we were putting through a core curriculum and we had seven tasks force on undergraduate life.
CW: Counseling, psychiatric side, core curriculum side, we examined the whole undergraduate experience. The effect of co-education and the fact of merging the male and female components of, there are two different systems. Radcliffe had one system; Harvard had another and we had to bring them together. So that was fun, until all that sort of got tired, and then I was back to doing administration.
TK: What was your take on the co-education at Harvard? Do you think it was a good idea, did you think it was long past due? What was your opinion toward it?
CW: It, it was past due. And there wasn't, it went quite smoothly, really, because Radcliffe didn't have a faculty.
TK: Right, right.
CW: So it wasn't like Douglass. I mean, there was no such thing as a Radcliffe degree. People talked about it but it was a Harvard degree, so you didn't have that problem.
TK: So in a way, it was like the idea of co-education, it was just much easier to have co-education come about.
CW: Yes, well, we already had it essentially.
TK: Did you follow the debates at all at Rutgers for co-education?
CW: Well, a little bit, but not too much.
TK: Did you ...
CW: Well, Polly Bunting, who had been head of Douglass and that she was - at this time she was President of Radcliffe.
TK: Radcliffe, okay.
CW: So I worked with her.
TK: Before she came here.
CW: After she was here.
TK: After she came here. Do you think that there was any loss to female students from single-sex education?
CW: I, my wife is a graduate of Smith,0 so I know that pretty well. And you know, I think you lose something. You gain something, you loose something.
CW: Radcliffe has no identity anymore and it doesn't mean anything, or doesn't seem to. It meant an awful lot, before it was different. For example, I was a member, during the sixties, was a member of the Radcliffe faculty. Well, there was no such thing as a Radcliffe faculty. But what that meant, if you had five women or more in your class, then you were invited to be a member of the Radcliffe faculty.
TK: Right. [Laughs]
CW: But, you know, it ...
TK: They're actually establishing a Radcliff faculty after ...
CW: Well, they were trying to. It was a, it was a gesture, it was fun, though. I'm glad that places like Smith have held out. I think that's good.
TK: Right. What's your feeling about Douglass?
CW: I'm not current, I really am not.
TK: So that was probably the biggest change that went on during your time as Dean. What else changed?
CW: Well, core curriculum came in, which was interesting.
TK: What were the basic goals?
CW: Well, Harvard had started in 1948 what we called General Education, which was interdisciplinary courses, a certain number of which you had to take. I mean, you had a choice but you had to take one in the humanities, one in the social sciences, one in the natural sciences. And that system, that's where I came in with human relations, which was a gen-ed, general education course, because it was interdisciplinary. Over the years that system broke down, so that by the, by the time of the student riots, you had a course that counted for credit in the humanities on the "films of John Ford." Well, that's not what was meant, you know, by "a broad approach to the humanities." So we simply redefined the areas and what was required and we came up with a, a new interpretation of the language requirement.
TK: You offered some modern languages or?
CW: And more on modern languages but taught in English.
CW: Than we ever had had before.
TK: Okay. Okay. What was the rationale behind that?
CW: Well, the language faculty felt that they were being made to teach courses to students who didn't want to study them and so we, we made, we did all sorts of things like allowing you to meet your language requirement in summer school and so forth. We, you know, a lot of that sort of thing.
TK: Yes. How do you think this changed undergraduate education for the average ...
CW: I think it's working out well.
TK: Broadened it. Is it the same requirement, the same core curriculum apply even to science majors and?
TK: It still exists at Harvard College today?
TK: Yes. Then you eventually leave as Dean of Harvard College, what ...
CW: And then what - became Associate Dean of Faculty.
CW: And that was, frankly, working with a core curriculum and seven task forces on undergraduate life.
TK: Yes. Then you switch over into something that's, Associate Dean of Faculty, as Master of Dudley House, something that's also ...
CW: The same time. That's just a perk, you get free room and board.
TK: Oh, is that right? [Laughs]
CW: Have to attend a lot of dances and things.
TK: And you're not ...
CW: Drink a lot of sherry. What?
TK: And you're not one for dances.
CW: I don't mind when - when I'm in charge.
TK: Oh, okay. [Laughs]
TK: What were your new responsibilities in that position?
CW: Same as I had as senior tutor, essentially.
TK: So you could go back to teaching, or not?
CW: No, that was, I couldn't do it. I tried. But the field had gone on and I'd been out of the ...
TK: Social psychology for so long.
CW: Yes. So I felt I couldn't go back.
TK: Yes. What ...
CW: So, then I retired. I retired early.
TK: Yes. Just because you could.
CW: I had a nice place to go to in Gloucester.
CW: I'd put four kids through college.
TK: Yes. Your children, did they even consider coming back to Rutgers?
TK: No. Wasn't an issue?
CW: They all went different places. Adam went to Cornell; Susan went to Harvard.
TK: Yes. I bet you that was her own decision?
CW: Yes. Matthew went to Emory, because he got a big scholarship and Beth went to Middlebury. And then Susan has her Master's in, at Michigan. She's now an Associate Editor of the University of Michigan Press. Beth got her Master's at Smith in Social Work. Adam became a Marine and Matthew is a real, a commercial real estate developer.
MS: Oh, really! What was his scholarship to Emory for?
MS: What sport?
CW: He was a, well, he did, he was on the hockey team and taught hockey when he, after college, he was assistant hockey coach at Gloucester High School.
MS: Oh, really?
CW: Yes. Emory was, is a good school.
CW: It wasn't his choice, but he got a full scholarship. I had three kids in college at the same time.
TK: [Laughs] Do you think your children always expected that they would go on to college? Was this a big part of growing up in Cambridge?
CW: Yes, and my wife taught at Buckingham Brown and Nichols School in Cambridge, where they all graduated before going to college.
TK: It was a popular place for faculty children to go to school?
TK: Your wife eventually went back for a Master's in social work, as well.
TK: Yes, and she ended up working as a social worker in Cambridge area?
TK: Did she mention why she decided to change, or why that ...
CW: Well, it meant, because I retired and moved to Gloucester, she was still teaching at BB&N, and it meant commuting everyday, which got to be pretty tiresome. It's a long commute.
TK: Right. You mentioned before we started the interview that because you became so active at Harvard you hadn't had a whole lot of contact with Rutgers. About how often would you come back to New Brunswick?
CW: I came, I came back, my mother was, went into a nursing home in the '90s, early '90s. I'd come down and see her. My sister is now in Rossmore, you know.
TK: Oh, sure.
CW: A retirement community. I didn't, I haven't been active at Rutgers.
TK: Have you been back for any of your reunions? How ...
CW: I keep up with the swimming team and the Glee Club.
TK: And had you remained active in Harvard through their ...
CW: Not too much.
TK: Not too much. When you retired you kind of retracted from that whole society.
CW: The, if the swimming team had this alumni meet for people over eighty.
TK: [Laughs] Then you'd be back.
CW: I'd come back then.
TK: I'll see if we can put in a good word with the RAA.
TK: You had mentioned before that you thought that Rutgers actually prepared you well for your time at Harvard and for your future career. Have you seen any changes, or anything on campus today, do you notice how the city is different?
CW: See, I just haven't kept that, but I think Rutgers I enjoyed very much and I think at Harvard, for example, I think Rutgers' graduates initially were underrated. Rutgers' graduates going to graduate school, I mean. But not now, I mean, since ...
TK: Right. Did you run into other Rutgers' graduates?
CW: Oh, yes. Well, Jerome Kagan in my department is a Rutgers' graduate and Carroll Morris was a Rutgers' graduate, who is in the engineering department, and we had a little group of Rutgers' alumni there for, in the late '40s and '50s. But Rutgers is thought of very highly now at Harvard. It is. But it wasn't at first.
TK: So the State University of New Jersey has come into its own, up in Cambridge?
TK: Due largely to your efforts or?
CW: No, no, no. I, I just think there are all kinds of preconceptions that people have and Rutgers wasn't thought of as an Ivy League School.
TK: Sure. You remained active in the Reserves for thirty-eight years.
TK: How ...
CW: I still am.
TK: How strong was your interest? What was your motivation for staying active in the Reserves?
CW: I enjoyed it. I still do.
TK: Yes. This love of flying and ...
CW: Yes, you know with nephews in the military and the Air Force and I, I spend every Monday, once a week, at the retiree office and I help. I help widows, who don't know what to do because their husband has died, their World War II veteran, and I can help, with a group of us who do this. We tell them what their benefits are and how to go about getting them and so forth and I think it's very worthwhile.
MS: Do you still fly then?
CW: No. I haven't flown since the early '50s.
TK: Really? Do you remain active in any veterans organizations?
CW: I never joined any.
TK: You didn't? But you have kept in touch with a number of people from your crew?
TK: Have you had any reunions or anything like that?
CW: Oh, I go to reunions, yes. The 90th bomb group that I was in has a very active reunion, I mean, four hundred and fifty, five hundred people come to that. So it's ...
TK: Yes, yes. And they're held all over?
CW: Held all over.
MS: You guys were known as the "Jolly Rogers"?
MS: That's pretty famous as ...
CW: Yes, we've got some good publicity.
TK: How many people do you actually recognize at these reunions?
CW: Well, it's, it's a funny thing, as people get older, some people look more or less the same. Other people look totally different. It's really remarkable. There are some people that I haven't seen for twenty years I recognize across the room and other people, you know, I wouldn't recognize after they gave me their name.
TK: [Laughs] So some of the friendships that you did establish during the war, though, did stay with you throughout?
CW: Yes. I have been asked to pin medals on at least three members of my crew who just received their citations this year.
--------------------------------------END OF TAPE TWO, SIDE ONE-------------------------------------
CW: No, it was with another crew.
MS: That actually happened with one of my good friend's grandfathers. He was awarded the Silver Star about three years ago. The committee reviewed it and decided ....
CW: It means a lot, you know.
MS: Yes, it ...
CW: And the, I won't go into detail, but this guy did a fantastic job on a mission. I didn't know about it and it was after I had moved to group.
TK: Yes. How about the men that you were with at Rutgers, did you maintain contact with them over the years?
CW: Not, not really. Eddie Taylor I see, who is Class of '40, and he and I were in the Glee Club together. His daughter is now director, Choir Director, at Radcliffe. And Bill Archibald who just died. But no, I haven't kept in contact.
TK: Yes. One thing that we didn't ask you is your feelings on the atomic bomb and the dropping of the atomic bomb.
CW: I thought it was absolutely necessary and there's no, not a shred of doubt in my mind.
TK: Yes. How did you feel about the controversy or talk of it at the fiftieth anniversary, did you keep up with any of that?
CW: I, there's some question in my mind whether we should have dropped the second one.
CW: But not the first one.
TK: Yes. So from your point of view you knew that...
CW: It saved hundreds of thousands of lives ...
TK: Yes. On both sides.
CW: I don't think there's any question about it.
MS: I think it was your father's middle name, Boudinot?
MS: That he was a signer, Boudinot was a signer of the, I think, the Declaration of Independence? Is that ...
CW: That's him, Elias Boudinot.
TK: It is your direct relation?
TK: Yes. Interesting.
CW: He had a daughter, Susan, and our daughter is Susan Boudinot Whitlock.
MS: Oh, really?
TK: So do you know about your whole family history in that line?
CW: He was a businessman in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
CW: Who raised a lot of money for the Revolutionary Army.
CW: And he was one of the first trustees of Princeton University.
MS: Oh, really?
CW: In the Princeton Library there's a Boudinot Room as a matter-of-fact.
CW: With mostly china and stuff that he had.
CW: No, I ... have fun with the, I have a grandson now, Samuel Preston. Well, I'm the direct descendent of Colonel Isaac Preston, who was in the Revolutionary War.
MS: He fought at Valley Forge?
CW: He fought at Valley Forge. My middle name is Preston after Isaac Preston.
MS: Is it?
TK: By the time you made it out to Harvard, after a few years it would be obvious that you wouldn't return to New Jersey, for your retirement, do you consider Massachusetts to be your home now? And for your children as well?
CW: Yes. Yes, they don't really have, feel ties to New Jersey, anymore.
TK: Yes. Can you think of anything that we forgot to ask you?
MS: One more question about the Raritan. I see photos, you know, circa the '20s and '30s, and it reminds me a lot about the mouth of the Manasquan as far as the boats that are in the river, I mean, they were pleasure craft. Now the big thing you see in the river is the crew boat, which means when you were growing up there was, you know, pleasure boats and sail boats and all that up and down the river?
CW: Yes. Yes, well, no. No, when I was in high school, the whole contamination thing, the Raritan was terribly polluted, even when I was in high school. I mean, I swam in it once and that's all. The Johns Manville Company was putting asbestos in the river and everything. So, no, I, we, I did a lot of sailing down in Island Heights, Toms River area, where we had a boat for a while, but not in the Raritan River. As a matter-of-fact, I think I wrote a paper in high school about the contamination of the, of the Raritan River.
TK: Do you think the situation has gotten better or worse?
CW: I don't know, I haven't kept up.
MS: I wouldn't go swimming in it.
CW: But the charts you have?
MS: No, I said I wouldn't swim in it.
CW: You wouldn't. No. The Charles, I was on the Charles River Commission to, to restore that river and you can swim in that now and it was so bad before that you couldn't possibly, I mean, dead fish all over the place.
TK: So there's hope for ...
TK: Okay. Well, you can't think of anything else that we forgot to ask or anything?
TK: Thank you very much for your time.
TK: You were mentioning that there's, in 1943 the alumni magazine actually had your picture on the cover?
CW: Yes, and my mother had given some letters to Betty Durham in the alumni office, where I worked as an undergraduate, and they published them in one of the alumni monthlies.
TK: They produced the letters directly, or was there an article in it, as well?
CW: I think it was just letters as I recall.
TK: Did your mother then send that on to you?
TK: Yes. What did you think of it?
CW: I was embarrassed. [Laughs]
TK: [Laughs] Did you hear ...
CW: I was still in combat at that time.
TK: Yes, yes. Good.
CW: I mean, in one of their articles called "Portrait of a Liberator Pilot."
TK: And that was in ...
CW: I have that.
TK: That was in?
CW: That was in a magazine called Plane Talk.
TK: Yes. And what year was that?
CW: '43, something like that. I had a lot of publicity.
TK: You actually did get a lot of press.
TK: Do you think that helped you at all in your advance in the military?
CW: No, I don't.
TK: Yes. One last thing that I'm interested in, you said that after you had been Dean of Harvard College for six years that you thought you couldn't go back to teaching because you were had just lost so much. What did you see as the changes in your field of psychology?
CW: Well, a lot. And, ... the faculty members that I taught with had become much more research oriented and I never had any research.
TK: Right, right.
CW: One thing, you might find of interest. I meet people from World War II, obviously, all the time and have, a lot of individuals have bad vibes and won't talk about, about combat experiences and I think that's totally understandable. In my case, I can talk about it quite readily, as you can see, because it was rewarding and I felt as if I were doing something important.
TK: So you were always able to talk about it?
CW: And I was there because I wanted to be. So, I wasn't drafted, you know. Had some tough times, but I felt that, by and large, we did pretty well and I thought what we were doing was important.
TK: Since you did study psychology and you taught this class, one of the things I was interested in, what did you think when Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was actually diagnosed as a separate issue? This is what they would call combat stress, or whatever, what did you think of that in the '70 and '80s?
CW: Well, I had been thinking about it a lot because I had taught combat psychology, which included fatigue and stress.
CW: At March Field, but also because of what I was doing at Harvard. The School of Public Heath had me lecture to airline pilots on the effect of fatigue on flying. So I, you know, I enjoyed that. That was fun to get a bunch of airline pilots in and tell them what happens psychologically when fatigue sets in.
TK: Right. But did you see this as a validation of what you saw, as a real problem?
CW: Yes, yes. But you see, I'd got into it early, early on. For example, as a graduate student I was studying books by ex-Air Force flight surgeons on stress, and the experiments with sodium amytal, and so forth. And I had as a flight doctor, I guess you'd call a flight surgeon, I had a psychiatrist for a while, who was a psychiatrist at Bellevue Hospital, and he and I talked endlessly. We had to face questions of who should fly and who shouldn't fly at any given moment. For example, after one mission in which the shell blew up in the face of my radio operator, he was paralyzed from his waist down and I had worked with psychiatrists, with him on that. He got over it. But I became interested in the stress of combat long before it became a popular thing to talk about it.
TK: I was just going to mention that in a way you identified something that had not yet been identified by the, recognized, by the psychological community for ...
CW: Yes, at least, they weren't talking about it, or at least I didn't know they were talking about it.
TK: I think I asked this before, but more specifically, how did you feel the military acknowledged it? Like in your time in Atlantic City, did you feel like they addressed it adequately or?
CW: I don't think so. I don't remember frankly.
TK: And also how did ...
CW: I think we were interviewed and stuff.
TK: How do you feel that the coming of this diagnosis, and of this sort of new study in psychology, how do you feel that that validated the experiences of Vietnam veterans?
CW: Oh, I think greatly so. See, the stress that they were under, they, half of them didn't want to be there and they didn't believe in what they were doing and they weren't allowed to use their own initiative.
TK: Right, so these are important factors in their experience?
CW: Oh, absolutely. I mean, when you choose to do something and get into trouble, that's one thing. If somebody else forces you to do it, that's a totally different psychological burden to bear.
TK: How prevalent would you say that this kind of combat fatigue was amongst your crew members?
CW: It was, it was prevalent. But we, part of my job was to tell when these guys should be sent home. So I was lucky to have a psychiatrist as a flight surgeon.
TK: What were the main things that you would use as indicators?
CW: Oh, all, all the usual. I mean, sleep and, and food, eating disorders and, you could tell. Sometimes they'd be too eager. I remember one guy, named John Ewing. He'd been out on an eight-hour mission and he landed and we were briefing crews to go out on another mission. He wanted to take off right away. I mean, he was so tired he could hardly stand up, but he wanted to get right in. Then you stop somebody.
TK: You had to make the decision for them, at that point.
CW: Yes, to stop it.
TK: Yes. You had mentioned that you always felt comfortable talking about the war. Does that include talking to your wife and kids about it?
TK: As they were growing up, do you think they had a good sense of what it is you did during the war?
CW: I think so. See, I was still going to the Pentagon when they were young.
TK: Yes. Are you able to talk more about your specific experiences, what your work was at the Pentagon?
CW: I don't think I've ever gotten into that. I talked more about flying.
TK: I mean, could you explain to us, exactly what you were doing there?
CW: Oh, it, it was fascinating. For example, the question is, right now, the fact that last night Milosovic's house was bombed. That's certainly, they are saying it's a "military target", which is bologna. It's command and control, in the sense that he's there. But what is the psychological effect on the, on the people and on him, and on the leadership, you know? And that's, that's a lot of fun. For example, the Soviet defectors in '50, '51, there was a threat, the Generals, the General Staff, was facing a threat of pilots, Soviet pilots defecting. They didn't give them maps, they only gave them maps for, let's say, fifty miles from the base, because they didn't want them to escape. And so what, what we did was to feed information about "lack of trust." I mean, talking about pilots. We would talk about these protocols that we were working with, and so forth. Another factor was that the Soviet hierarchy at that time, the Army hierarchy, was forbidding individual airmen from taking leave for social events, like the wedding of their daughter, or their friend, or whatever.
TK: That was causing more problems.
CW: And what happened, what happened was that the doctors, the flight surgeons were keeping pressure off the system by saying these guys are sick and then they'd go to the, attend the wedding. So then we'd put, tried to put pressure on the military, saying this is what the doctors are doing. That's a dirty trick, because it just raises the stress on the pilots. It was interesting, because psychological warfare can boomerang something terrible. And one of the things we were doing, at that time, was we were giving excess airplanes to underdeveloped countries, which is a dirty trick because it took so much of their resources to maintain them, that they were worse off than if we didn't do anything. So one of the projects that I worked on was to get, in Afghanistan as a matter-of-fact, at the time, was to get them to make airplanes, World War I, or pre-World War I airplanes, where it would develop, you know, their own industries, cottage farm industries, and so forth, and that was a great success. And right now the Afghans have a pretty good trainer. That probably came from, from that period. So I enjoyed it.
TK: In your work in California, before the end of the war, how much credence, or how much belief, was there in this kind of psychology that you were talking about? Do you think people were ...
CW: No, no, they listened. No, it was a good audience, yes. They didn't know what, you know, to talk to somebody before they go into combat about what it's like, they, they find it very interesting.
TK: You mentioned that you never had a problem talking about the war. What did you notice amongst other men of your generation, did you think most of them always talked about it, or have they eased into talking about it?
CW: A lot of them still won't talk about it. I have a friend, whom I had known for years and we were talking recently. And he never would talk about it to his family, or anybody else. His crew bombed friendly troops by mistake, and he's never admitted it to anybody, as far as I know, until we talked about it.
TK: Yes. It's something ...
CW: And, you know, I was involved in a lot of tragedy but not, not directly involved, I mean, I, I was lucky. And I end up not teaching Shakespeare; that was my big problem.
TK: [Laughs] Your life's plan was altered by your thirty-five year stint an Harvard University.
CW: Yes. [Laughs]
TK: Okay. Can you think of anything else that we've forgotten to ask?
CW: I thought that last thing would be of interest because a lot of people, a lot of my friends won't talk.
TK: How long have the reunions actually been going on for? When did you go to your first reunion?
CW: Oh, 1970. Something like that.
TK: And have you noticed a trend over the years, did attendance pick up for a while?
CW: Yes, and it's still going. It's, it's, most combat reunions tend to trail off, but our group doesn't.
TK: Right. And do you notice that you'll notice someone new each time or?
CW: Yes, they keep adding people.
TK: So some people are a little slow to come around to the idea of a reunion?
CW: Yes, they decide they don't, not interested and then finally, "Well, I'll try it."
TK: It's not so bad after all. What's the basic setup of this type of reunion?
CW: Well, it's usually a three-day reunion in which there's a lot of, I mean, the golf tournaments and tours, and so forth and so on, and then there's a big dinner.
TK: Swimming race?
CW: No, not so much that. But, you know, we'll take a trip up the Mississippi or something.
TK: Sure. Something social.
CW: And then there's a business meeting. I worked on the scholarship committee. We have scholarships for children, or descendants of men in the group.
CW: That we collect money for and distribute. So there's some positive stuff.
TK: You were helping to choose the recipients of the scholarships?
CW: Yes. So, it makes it something more than just sentimentality.
TK: Yes, yes, and what does your wife think of the reunions?
CW: She doesn't, she's neither here nor there.
CW: My wife's much younger than I, and so she doesn't remember World War II.
TK: Yes, yes.
CW: But she's interested in meeting all my old friends.
TK: [Laughs] Excellent.
--------------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW--------------------------------------------
Reviewed by Neal A. Hammerschlag 6/6/01
Edited by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 6/26/01
Edited by Charles Whitlock 7/15/01