Kevin Bing: This begins an interview with Fredrick Henry Bing in Emerson, New Jersey on November 18, 2003 with Kevin Bing ...
Sandra Stewart Holyoak: Sandra Stewart Holyoak ...
Stephen Kempinski: ... Stephen Kempinski.
SH: Mr. Bing, we'd like to thank you for taking time today to sit down with us and talk about your experiences in World War II. To begin with would you please tell us where and when you were born?
FB: I was born in Irvington, New York, Irvington-on-the-Hudson and that was April 17, 1918. A very tiny town on the Hudson River and I was there until I went in the service in 1943, and then I came back from the service to Irvington. I lived there a short time and then I lived in Dobbs Ferry with my in-laws before I came to New Jersey, in 1950, I came to New Jersey.
SH: Let's back it up a bit and Kevin and Steve will ask you some questions about growing up.
KB: I was going to ask you about what it was like growing up in Irvington. I understand you're very interested in the history of the town.
FB: Irvington was a very small town. The streets were almost like a wishbone, where they came out north and south and they deadended on real big private estates that were owned by multi-millionaires. The one bordering our street formerly was owned by Tiffany, the man that did the glasswork and we had other people and north of us in Tarrytown were the Rockefellers. We had the Vanderbilts and then we had castles. Everybody seemed to build a castle. Belsovers built one, Sterns built one and had a very nice skating pond which we weren't supposed to use but we did use it. So Irvington was a quiet little town. It was the home of Washington Irving, the author and when I was a little boy my dad would take me in his plumbing truck and he worked for all these wealthy people on their estates, so I got to see Wilford's Roost which was the home of Washington Irving and many of the other estates, mainly the kitchens and places of that nature. But a little school house was built around 1912. I'd say it was kindergarten through high school and my sister was the first class in there. I was eleven years younger than her. I graduated from that high school in 1935. The Depression was still on. There was no work, there was no money.
SH: Can you tell us what your father did while he was living in Irvington?
FB: My father was a plumber or a plumbing contractor. He always wanted to be a doctor but he ended up a plumber. At the war time, things changed drastically where he lost his business, he lost his home, and he lost his sight. So when I was to be drafted in the army, I got my 1-A and the tests and everything and the doctor said to me, "Your father's blind. You're the sole support of the family. They have no money, tell the draft board." So I wrote a letter and the draft board deferred me. They gave me another classification. Then, all of a sudden,, the good Lord saw fit that my father should regain his sight. The retinas came back into place. He went to work in a war plant in Tarrytown making the bomber wings for the Avenger fighter in the Pacific, and he worked there all the years of the war. Now he was an older man. Then he moved to Jersey after that but he never went back in the plumbing business. He and his brother owned a dual business in Irvington called "Bing Brothers." My uncle had the hardware and my dad had the plumbing end, and then that was all disbanded when they retired.
SH: Did your father talk at all about what it was like for him during World War I? You were born right after.
FB: My dad never mentioned World War I. I think he was too old and had children, which made him ineligible so he never mentioned World War I. I could tell you about my father-in-law who was in World War I and World War II. This was a robust, strong man, crew cut hair, built like a barrel. He was in World War I. He was in the trenches. World War II we were driving over to New Jersey to see my sister in our little 1932 Plymouth, I can remember like it was yesterday. We had a little radio on the steering column and he had turned it on and it was a Sunday afternoon and, all of a sudden, the announcement came over that Pearl Harbor was bombed. He sat there, he was driving, he sat there and he said, "Something has to be done." That's all he said. The next day he went down and enlisted in the Marine Corps, went to Parris Island with all the eighteen year olds. Of course he was an old man. He took everything they gave and more. He taught them amphibious landings, the young recruits, but they never sent him overseas, and the strange part was he was at Floyd Bennett Field and they were all standing in line there for a review by a very high officer, with the commandant of the field, and they're going down the line and all the fellows, they had been in the Pacific. They were loaded with medals and ribbons and, all of a sudden,, here, he's there with a Good Conduct Medal and this high muck-a-muck said, "Why hasn't that man gone to the Pacific?" And the commandant said to him, "I'll tell you later in the office." So he got him in the office and said, "Do you know how old that man is? I can't send him to the Pacific." So my father-in-law was quite a guy. I've had a number of relatives, would you want me to discuss any of them at all?
FB: The first one is my niece's husband. His name was John Tiger and for years John Tiger all he ever said to me was, "We were in the honor guard at SHAEF Headquarters after the war," and I knew they had to do something. They just don't pick some guys and stick them there. He came one day to Beach Haven [ New Jersey ] and he sat down, related the whole story. He was in a heavy mortar platoon or a company, I think, and they were attached to divisions as needed, and they were exhausted and he said they got to a place, and all the trucks had broken down. He said, "Oh, thank goodness, we're gonna get a day or two, two days rest," and the sergeant came along and says, "We're moving out." He said I said to the sergeant, "Why are we moving out?" He said "We're packing everything on our backs and we're going," and the base plate for the mortar was eighty pounds alone, or something like that. All their equipment, all the mortars, all the shells, he said they marched thirty miles., all of a sudden, they came to a rise and they looked down from where they were and there was the bridge at Remagen. He said they raced across the bridge, went through the tunnel on the other side and came out on the West slope. They set up all their heavy mortars and they looked to the East slope and all the Germans were on the East slope, the ones that were guarding the bridge., all of a sudden, they decided to attack this company. He said their mortars were white hot! He said they killed more Germans coming down that slope on the other side. So they were really heroes and that was the group that was in SHAEF Headquarters and he said everyone had to go by their desks, Eisenhower, whoever it was, had to go by their desk, before they could enter the inside rooms of SHAEF Headquarters...I had a cousin; his name was Bobby Hunt, eighteen years old. I learned from his mother afterward. He enlisted in the navy, trained, was put on the Yorktown. He was on the Yorktown in the black gang. The black gang is the ones that are down in the hold firing the furnaces. He wrote his mother a letter and said, "We don't know when we're gonna get it." The bomb went down the shaft, and that was the end of anybody that was down in the hold. I guess, all she got was a letter back. He was eighteen years old, and I had two other cousins. Fred Grosse, he was in the Pacific. He was assigned to a water filtration unit. He worked in the Navy but they assigned it to the Marines. My other cousin was in Pearl Harbor and he was an expert in radar and things of that nature. He was an officer there. That, basically, is the family and who went where. Now the odd thing about coming back, and I never realized this, nobody said anything. I might have known they were in the Army, the Navy, Air Corps, but that was it. They all came back, went to work, raised a family. Only one fellow said something and I worked with the fellow by the name of Charlie, I forget his last name. I saw him, he didn't come back to the office like the rest of us did. I saw him on the street and he looked at me and he said, "Fred, I was a captain in the infantry and I sent men out to die. I never knew their names." That's all he said to me. That's basically it.
KB: Before we get into the war, I wanted to ask you a little about the Depression and how it was growing up and how your family dealt with that?
FB: We were fortunate during the Depression. We at least had a roof over our head and with just enough money to my mother to put meals on the table. We never went without food. But there was no work at all. They were just very, very careful with their money. We were most fortunate. A lot of people had far less than that, a lot of people that I knew. We just, my mother and father, made out with what they had. There were no luxuries or anything like that but anyway, we were most fortunate in the Depression.
SK: How different was town before the Depression how did it effect the town?
FB: The wealthy people all had money, and that was like family money, and I don't feel they were affected too much. The townspeople, there wasn't too much work but at least they had two factories there that kept people employed somewhat. So it wasn't a real depressed area like the steel towns of Pennsylvania, where they shut down, you know, the plants and people were out of work. So Irvington had some work. There was no work in the city. I waited almost a year to get a job. I went back to school and sat in some of the math classes and science classes. I wasn't getting any further education. I just went back to school and that's when I got the call that they wanted to interview me in New York ... I went down to Wall Street and they interviewed and you became a runner, and what you did, you were a hall boy, you sat out in the hall and when the buzzer rang you went to that post, you got the mail from there and went to wherever they wanted it to go in the company. You just ran papers back and forth. So I did that a year and the salary was $15.00 a week and I paid $15.00 a month to commute. It took three hours a day and that's basically where it all began. So I had to give some of that to my mother and father, of course, for food and everything.
KB: What company was that just for the tape?
FB: The International Nickel Company. It was on Wall Street. I worked there forty four years, for the same company.
SH: In New York, commuting in like that, did you see any other effects of the Depression?
FB: Not really. It was just there weren't that many jobs. In other words, Wall Street was operating because the real crash was in '29 but it was starting to come back and when I got the job in 1936 they were beginning to come back and there was a little more work.
SH: You talked about going back to high school and taking extra courses, was it a common practice?
FB: Not really. I had to have someplace to go. I had tried business school for just a short time and I didn't want my mother to waste any money on it. I was not going to be a secretary. I knew that. So I said, "No, I've got to wait for work." So I'd just go back to the schoolhouse and sit in the lecture halls, which is something to do. I heard the same lecture all over again.
KB: I guess the first question about the war would be how did you come to enter the army?
FB: Well you get your classification and then you get your notice, you know, to go to New York City to Grand Central Palace. On that day I got on the train in Tarrytown. I went in; you carried a little duffle bag for your clothes to be put in to send home, and you go in for your physical exam and it's like a lineup of three desks and one is Army, one is Navy, and one is Marine Corps and I was really not qualified for the Marine Corps. I was a skinny-malink. I really, I don't think they wanted me and so the Amy took me, and you left there and we went to Camp Upton in Long Island and we stayed there, maybe, a good week, and they interviewed you out there ... I had studied meteorology at home on my own and I brought some of my work with me and I just showed it to the interviewer. One instance I can relate; we had a fellow in our outfit that was a professor at Columbia and his name was Bernhardt and, all of a sudden, I met him out there for the first time and he said, "You know what? I had one of my students out here at the same time say to me, Professor Bernhard what are you doing here?" and I told him, "I am cleaning garbage cans," and that's what we did. You cleaned up garbage cans, you mop the floor, and then,, all of a sudden,, you're lined up in the morning, they put you on a train. Well it was, the train I think, was made in the Civil War. It was old and rattling and they were shunting us on the side all the time for trains coming by with pigs and everything else in them. We were not high priority. But sleeping upright on a train for a few nights is not exactly a pleasure. So the boys, we got to a place somewhere in the South alongside of a lumber yard, and the boys opened the windows of the train and they decided they were gonna sleep on boards. So they started loading lumber into the train and along came the owner of the lumber yard. We saw him coming and, all of a sudden, the train pulls out and he's standing there. I think he was saying a few bad words at us. But the boys spread the lumber on top of the seats and there we slept until we got to Camp Van Doren. That began it, when you got to Van Doren.
SH: Can you tell us where Van Doren is?
FB: Van Doren is in Mississippi. It was near a town called Centerville which is in the middle of nowhere and Centerville reminded me of Marshall Dillon [Editors Note: Of the TV show Gunsmoke]. The sidewalks were up off the street. There was one eatery, had steaks. There were ten thousand soldiers in the camp, needless to say I never had a steak. You couldn't get in the place. There was no place to go for a weekend so the boys generally went to Baton Rogue and the long trip was to New Orleans and some went to Natchez. But Van Doren, because the land was cheap, was in the middle of nowhere. The tar paper shacks that they built, pot bellied stoves, and that was our training ground. We had washboard roads made out of clay, which was good exercise. You sweat and you were covered with clay. They didn't even recognize who you were talking to. But it was all in the training. They first put me into meteorology and we really didn't have any meteorology equipment. So I made up some fake stuff to look like it so we could convince the officers of what we were going to do, and then they had too many meteorologists. So some of us had to go and that was at the time that they sent part of our group to the infantry. I, fortunately, was not on the infantry list. I stayed on the artillery list and they put me in communications.
SH: What year was this?
FB: I think 1944, because I went in in '43. It might have been late '43, early '44, and they took a lot of our men and sent them to the infantry. They brought in Air Corps men, into our outfit, and of course, we had the same cadre there that we started out with.
SH: Had you applied to any special programs like ASTP or OCS?
FB: It was rather late. Those were the later years and I know some officer asked me why I didn't apply, and I said, "Well" there were like two openings. You applied for parachute troops or you could apply for infantry, and I said, "I was very happy being in the artillery." So, you know, I never did apply for that.
SH: These maneuvers that you were on in Mississippi, can you talk about what it was like in a typical day?
FB: A day. The meteorology group, I didn't go out on bivouacs with them. I was transferred to communications and that meant you were going to run lines between the switchboards, so communications could go from our battery to the other battalions with the firing batteries because our battery was the hub. The colonel was there, the general was there. They designed everything. Battalions can operate on their own but when they want something focused it's designed by our group, so it came out through our switchboard to the others. So we would lay wire, it was a heavy wire, and you'd lay it from point to point and hook it up with the boards, and, most times, the wire would be ripped up by tanks and the field crews had to go out and find out where the rip was and then you find out where your wire is on this side and where your wire is on this side and then you splice in a new piece and reestablish communications. That was basically the function of the lineman. He could climb poles and put wire up there. He could do anything like that. They were field linemen, and that was the group I was with. Then one night they called upon me and said, "Look, take a crew out, going to another battalion." Like the 862 nd or something which is a light field artillery battalion. So, I took the crew and, somehow or another they couldn't locate the lines and the battalion was behind a wall, a big wall in some German house it had a big wall and they were behind that. So, all of a sudden, it came over the board, "Come back in, go out the next morning." Well, this was only the operator's idea. We did come back in and we were coming down toward an outpost and somebody on the roof let go with a burp gun and the tracers were flying all over the place so the fellow driving our vehicle stopped dead. I figured, "We're dead," because he stopped dead in the road. But, somehow or other, the fellow on the roof with the burp gun stopped and we went on down the hill, through the checkpoint, and on out. So I'm sleeping and, all of a sudden, the battery commander came over and poked me and said, "Why did you come in?" I said, "Because the orders came over, we were to come in." He said, "Not really." He talked to the fellow on the board. We went out the next morning, and established communications again, but that's the field linemen, in Mississippi you had to lay your wire, and you had to pick it up and put it back on the big reels on trucks, and they hand crank the reels to pull up the wire and you are at the pole with a pulley on it and you stood back here and as the wire came up and it was red clay coming up everywhere and you're sweating bullets. The longest time we ever had on bivouac was: we were twenty-four hours through the night and into the next day. I can remember I stood up against a tree and fell sound asleep but, outside of that, that was the longest we had.
SH: Did you ever get into town, so to speak?
FB: Oh, yeah, my wife came down, I have pictures here. She came down and joined me. We got her into a little house. This was, there weren't very many houses and this woman took on soldiers' wives and I saw her for a short time. But I got into Baton Rouge once on a Sunday and I went with another buddy and his wife to New Orleans and the cities were both quiet at that time, no real action. Baton Rouge deserted on a Sunday. New Orleans was just a little city.
SH: How shocking was the South to a boy from Irvington-on-the-Hudson?
FB: It was different. At that time there was segregation as we all know and the people of African American heritage were like very obedient and didn't get out of line. They weren't allowed in restrooms. They had their own restrooms. They had, I guess, [to go to the] back of the bus in those days. So it was a complete revelation to see this, because up North we had nothing like that. It was a terrible thing, but it was common practice in the South.
SH: There is a picture on your wall that you related a story about that was painted in that time period, correct?
FB: Well, one Saturday most everyone was out of camp and being a married man I was in camp quite a bit on a Saturday and this gentleman who was in the outfit and I knew he was an artist and he made the covers for theSaturday Evening Post and Liberty Magazine for a Scotch ad, meaning scotch whiskey, the black and white scotty dogs, and he painted those. So he was a good artist before he came in. So when he came in he sent home for his chalks and he made a lot of portraits of the general, higher officers, and one of the general was exquisite. He was coming right out of the picture. It was perfect.
SH: Who was this general?
FB: General McGaw.
SH: And the artist's name is...
FB: Howard Van Dyke. So I was in the day room and Howard come to me and said, "Want me to paint your picture?" I said, "Okay, go ahead." So I sat for the portrait. I gave him practically everything I had, it was like $20.00, but he took the money and he went into Baton Rouge. I knew he was an accomplished pianist, too, and he played at the hotel there and he needed bus money to get there to make money. He was really not a soldier. He was an artist. A lot of us weren't exactly soldiers either and he was just a nice guy and when they went to the infantry, he went to the 255 th Infantry Regiment. He was no longer in our outfit. He was with the whole group that went over. Nice guy and I was so glad to have his portrait of me.
SH: I just wanted you to talk about how you leave Mississippi and where you go from there?
FB: Well our outfit was down there quite a while, because they turned over the infantry twice, I believe, where they needed people in like Anzio beachhead and it was a tremendous amount of casualties in those areas. So they came to our division, the 63 rd, I believe, twice, I'm not sure and they took a certain number. Now, your whole thing is broken up and they had to go back to the replacement depot, to the source, and get new soldiers. So we went through a couple of training cycles. So we stayed there quite a while. We were there from September when I went in until December the following year, so that's a long haul. So we just retrained with them all over again and we had Air Corps people with us too, they came in. Christmas day, I can remember, they were loading the box cars, I wasn't involved in that, but I heard, and then right after that they put us on a train heading north and we arrived at Camp Shanks near Nyack, New York. My wife had an aunt who lived near there and she went over to her aunt's house and the night before we shipped out I got a pass to go over to her house, just to see my wife, and then we went. We were loaded on to the West Point, which was a fairly big liner in those days, and from what I can judge, we went south and it was very rough going south, and I was sick and then we turned and went east and I was not sick anymore. It was a good voyage, and the next thing I know we were nearing the Azores and we were met by British destroyers who escorted us into towards Gibraltar. Went through Gibraltar and we went up to Marseilles. That ship couldn't come into Marseilles so we were loaded in lighters, I think they called them lighters, and they brought us to the dock, and then they brought us to a god-awful place. It was high on a hill. It was flat and it was rocks. There were rocks from one end to the other and that's where we were to pitch our little tents. Well, what you have in the artillery, or infantry is one shelter half, a piece of rope, three tent pegs and one pole. See, you got together with the other man and you devised the tent from this. Now these tents were okay but you didn't, if it was raining, you didn't dare touch a tent on the inside. Everywhere you touched it the water would come through and it would not be a pleasant night. So first night we wore everything, I mean it was cold, It was January and we wore everything, overcoats, and we had each had a blanket so we put one on the rocks and one over us, no sleep. So next morning somebody got a jeep and they decided we needed straw. So we went out into the countryside to a farm and there's an old
farmer there. So we had one of the boys thought he was a linguist. He really wasn't. So we wanted the hay up in the barn. To get this over to the French farmer, he goes, " Se Couche, Se Couche. " Well, I have no idea what Se Couche meant. I took two years of French and I could only say oui, oui. Anyway we judged, I don't know if this is true or not, but the farmer interpreted what this guy was saying that we wanted to go to a house of ill repute in town. We told him, "No, we wanted straw." So we went up in the barn, got the straw out, gave him a couple of packs of cigarettes and went back. So after that the sleeping was a little better. We slept on straw. So we stayed there maybe about a week. One day a big trailer came in, looked like something they ran through a school house, and they, I didn't know what it was. They ran us in on one end. You take off all your clothes, everything, and dumped them in a bucket and they run you into a shower and they say you got a total of like three minutes, it's gonna be turned on, you soap up, you better have the soap off, or you're gonna live with it, and it's turned off like in three minutes you got to the other end pick up your bucket and get dressed. Well, that was basically the only bath we had over there. But, fortunately, we weren't like the infantry where they would be just, I mean, totally covered with mud. Then from there we went up to a little town Sarreguimes or Remelfling ...
KB: Mr. Bing is pulling out a diary of the places he went to.
SH: Did you keep this while you were in the service?
FB: Yes. I wrote this down as we went, everywhere we went. I'll let you see it. Okay, we went up to a place called Willerwald on February the 3 rd. We stayed there a little while because we were in Alsace-Lorraine. The people were not asked to leave their homes. These people did not consider themselves Germans, I guess, nor French. They were Alsatians. And we stayed and I slept on the living floor there for a while and operated the board. No, I was a lineman. Then we went to Sarreguimes on February the 17 th. Now, it was there in Sarreguimes that we went to pick up wire and we were coming back and the sky in the east lit up like nothing I have ever seen and it went on for about a half hour. We found out from the fellow on the switchboard that it was the British bombers bombing the Siegfried Line, and it was quite a display. They dropped some big ones and they kept it up for a good half hour. Boy, they really pulverized, or tried to pulverize the Siegfried Line. Then coming over the board the fellow said, "We are spearheading the drive through the Siegfried." Well, the sergeant said to me the next day, "I'll take one board forward, you hold the board here until communications are established there. We'll contact you, pull the board, follow and set up where we are." Fine. We got the word, "Pull the board," went forward. We got to a point and the MPs are standing there waving at us not to continue on the road we were on, and they said that the Germans had it all zeroed in and we'd never last ten feet on that road. We would all be killed. So we went to the right and seemingly the road we took was not seen by the Germans. It went in like the back door to this little town. So we got there and I went to the little farmhouse where we're up set with the board and I went to the back door, which is like down a slope, and the sergeant met me there and he said, "Fred, an 88 just came in, sliced up a little tiny sapling and didn't go off." It probably was a sabotaged shell. Otherwise, we never would have found any of the sergeant, that close to an 88. So I can't quite remember, along the way I became, I was [placed] on the board. They came to me one night and said the fellow on the board is having a nervous breakdown, would I take the board? I said, "Sure, why not?" So then I became an operator on the board and at that time we came here, the name of the town was Ensheim and we were there on March the 20 th. So I went, they said, "Fred, go for chow," and I got my mess gear and I walked down the street and as I walked down the street, there was a row of huge mortars there, the 80 mm jobs, the big ones, all lined up on the street, and I figured I'm not really with the artillery anymore, I'm with the infantry now. By the time I came out of chow they had disappeared. That company had moved out. So anyway the next day I got curious, where are we? And I walked up this cobblestone street and I went in a farmhouse and I went upstairs and I very cautiously looked out the lower edge of the window and I expected to see farmland. What I saw was white, concrete mushroom turrets with black guns sticking out of it and a bunch of these things they had to keep the tanks from coming in, tank traps and these spires. I was shocked. The colonel had moved us under their noses and they never knew we were there. So when we got into this position, there was another fellow on the board and we heard these shells going overhead, sounded like a freight train. It must have been some pretty heavy stuff, and he says, "That's our corps artillery giving them hell." All of a sudden, he said, "The 718 th said they're going into the cellar, they're being shelled right now." So it was not Corps artillery. So we stayed on the Siegfried Line a number of days. Now, all of a sudden, one day they said, "We're moving out," and I figured, we're moving out, so we went forward up over a hill and the Siegfried was kind of below us and all I saw up there were huge craters, where the bombs hit in, and dead horses were up there because they used horses a lot, and what had happened is General Patton, my boy, had broken through up north and they deserted the Siegfried Line. They pulled out and they were no longer there. So getting through at that point, when we went through, was not any fight. They were gone. So then we went from there and crossed the Rhine first and that's just before we got to Heidelberg. The Rhine crossing was at Lampertheimer March 28 th. We arrived near Heidelberg on April the 1 st which was Easter Sunday, and we were all set up there, the division was set up to fight the Germans, and over the board, one of the fellows said, "Hey, one of the German officers, high officer and our high officer got together on an underground telephone line and agreed that if the Germans pulled out of Heidelberg, we would fight them on the other side of the Neckar River." Heidelberg was a little college town, very beautiful, and I guess the Germans wanted to preserve it. So next thing I know we're in Heidelberg and the following morning we pulled out and we started chasing the Germans at that point. They were moving, and setting up, moving, and it was a chase.
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FB: Then we crossed the Danube at Gunzburg on April 27 th. We were then relieved from the line on April 29 th in a little town called Niederstofzingen. We were then sent to a rest area in Boxberg on May the 2 nd. VE Day came on May the 7 th in Adelsheim. Then we were assigned at that point to process troops to go to the Far East, to the Pacific Theater, and we were going after we processed our troops. We were going to go along and follow them and go there. So, fortunately after that the Japanese surrendered, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki there they dropped the bombs, and then we were acting as just occupation troops at that point.
KB: One thing that I noticed in your log book is on this page, I'm turning back a page, you have "liberation" written here, do you know what that is?
FB: Liberation, I think, that was when part of the troops went to one of the camps. I never did go to the camp. Fortunately, I didn't have to see the horrors there. I think I wrote that in that certain of our officers and our PR man went and it was Aglasterhauser around April, the 2 nd, I'm not quite sure. I wrote liberation there and that's possibly what it was for, I'm not sure.
SH: As you were following the Germans, as you said they were basically on the run, how fast were you moving in a day?
FB: I'm just looking at the dates here. Okay, from the time we left Heidelberg on April the 1 st, on April 29 th about fifteen different towns in that short length of time. The German army was basically on the run and at one point when we were on the Autobahn, they were streaming back, in the middle, with just their clothes, no weapons, and they were all walking back to the internment camps, where they were to be placed and so they had surrendered, most of the troops at that time.
SH: Did you ever run into any civilians before the hostilities ended in these little towns that you were coming to, once you left the Seigfried line, or even before?
FB: Actually, when our group would go forward and it was a German town and we wanted to set up there, the civilians were all told to leave. They were given some time, an hour, whatever; "Pick up your belongings and go." So any town we went into, it was empty. A strange thing, I went into one town and I looked at the doorbell and a family of Benz had gone out the house and that's my mother, [her maiden name] was Benz. So it could very well have been my relatives that were asked to leave. The German people did not want to be known that they had anything to do with the Nazi Party because they figured that they'd be executed, or whatever their thoughts were, so, any town you went into they have a square there with a fountain, you know, the little German towns, it was loaded with flags and swords and guns. Everything was thrown out of the houses onto to this square so you couldn't say, "That's your gun, that's your sword" and the white flags were hanging out of the windows. They put like little white towels and they'd hang them out that they had surrendered. So when you move into a town, basically, there was no major contact until after the war and we hired German girls to work on the switchboard and maybe work in the kitchen. Displaced people were hired there, too, to work in the kitchen, because they didn't have anything. They were displaced. They were mainly from the middle Europe people. Nice people but they had no homes. So we were in a ... castle. It's called a castle, it was a schloss and it was a place where German people went to rest for the summer, a couple of stories high, it wasn't a real castle but it was big. We were all housed there, and we stayed there. It was on the Rhine River.
KB: You spoke about seeing your family name in a town, obviously being of German descent, how did you feel about, all of a sudden, fighting the Germans?
FB: Well, that question was asked to me by my battery commander. He took me aside one day and "Fred, you have all German ancestry, how do you feel about the Germans?" And I said, "They are not, the German army, they're not good people. I'd just as soon go over there, it's them or me and I'm sure I'd rather have it them." He said, "Fine. I want you to do me a favor," he said, "Every month I want you to write me a letter," not to him, he gave me an address and a person to send it to, in that letter he said, "I want you to talk all about nice things and home but somewhere near if there's any subversion you've spotted in your outfit, anybody badmouthing the US or you think you they might be trouble makers, you indicate in there that things are not well with like Aunt Susie. I'll tell you later," or something like that he said, "Indicate that." But we never had a case of anyone in our outfit that I had to report. So then when we were going overseas he came to me and he said, "Fred, you can stop your letter." So he had me sort of as an agent for him to let him know if somebody was stirring up trouble in the outfit. But he asked me to do it. You're talking about ancestry. Our friend down at the shore had the next house, his name was Hemmi Grau. Hemmi was born and brought up in Germany, moved over here at a younger age, taken into the US Army, spoke fluent German. He was in another division over there, infantry division. He told me after the war he hadn't enough points to leave but they sent him back to the United States and he ended up in a camp where they had German prisoners. He spoke fluent German; he went and talked to them, and he said, "You know what they told me?" They were so fond of General Patton that they thought General Patton's driver should be court martialed, and the poor guy was just driving a vehicle. But this is the way the German soldier felt about General Patton. They admired this man for his spunk.
SH: As a young man of German heritage what did you know of the Bund activity or the young German organization for boys, did anybody you know belong to anything like that?
FB: No. Fortunately, no. They had them in the US, of course. I certainly wouldn't have anything to do with them. They were more in the Midwest I'd say, more so than around Irvington. Our knowledge came from newspaper, radio.
SH: As a young man you were graduating from high school when Hitler is starting his move, were you aware of it? Was it in US papers that you were reading?
FB: We were aware that he certainly was running over Europe and that the British were in real trouble. But up to that point our president, or the powers that be, did not declare war on the Axis powers until Pearl Harbor and then we were sending things over through the Murmansk run and Britain. We were trying to supply them. What they did here was an absolute, amazing job. The young guys were all in the service. The middle-aged men and all the ladies made all of the goods; the war goods that we received. Now you're talking heavy labor, real jobs. These ladies did an amazing job. They even flew the planes that had the tow targets so the gunners could shoot at it and practice. A few planes came back with a few holes in them. These ladies had real guts; ferried the planes overseas. So if it wasn't for them. Everyone contributed. No one I knew didn't contribute.
SH: While you were in Europe, how often did you get mail and information as to what was going on?
FB: It would get through on occasion. I can't remember the frequency but I do remember that I lost my watch on the way from Marseilles. I wrote to my mother and just said, "I lost my watch." Somewhere along when I was in the line, I got a little box and there was a brand new watch. It found me in Germany. I still have it today. It's a wind-up, still goes, never had any repair work done on it. I still have the watch.
SH: You said you and your wife were able to communicate on a fairly regular basis?
FB: Yes. I sent mail home and, of course, it was all censored. So you only talk, never said where you were, talked in generalities and my mother had like a weak heart and everything and problems and I didn't want to disturb her heart, so I kinda talked like I was so far back in the line I could have been in the United States, you know. Oh, everything is just grand and glorious you know, okie dokey so she wouldn't worry because she was a worrier, my mother, a ninety-eight pounds soaking wet worrier. So, anyway, we would write letters like that.
SK: The 63 rd Division took 21000 enemy prisoners, did you have any experiences with the prisoners at all?
FB: No. I basically only saw one German prisoner, who was an SS officer, and these displaced people who were taken from all over Europe, mistreated, slave labor. They had this guy and when I walked in they had him in where pigs were kept in a cage, a low thing for pigs, and they had locked him in there and I saw this guy. You could tell by the rank up here, he had the stripes on his shirt, he was an officer of the SS and they were holding him there until the American army could come and take him prisoner. But there he was in a pig sty and they weren't too pleased with him, to say the least.
SH: Did you see any of the labor camps?
FB: I fortunately didn't go to these labor camps. Our PR officer went there with some of our officers and he came back and related what was going on and it was just terrible.
SH: Did you ever see General Patton?
FB: I only wish I did. I think I'd have followed him to hell. This guy is, I'm telling you, he was something else. I've read his book and as he said of Rommel, "You damn fool; I've read your book," about Africa and the warfare, tank warfare in Africa. "I've read you book." He was something else. Thank God, he broke through up North. I think we'd still be sitting on the Siegfried. That was quite a fortification. They had everything in there.
SH: Were you able to take any pictures or anything like that while you were there?
FB: I personally didn't have a camera during the war. Most of the pictures were pictures taken in Van Dorn prior [to going overseas]. I have some here. Some taken after the war. Most of the wartime photos, I didn't have a camera.
SH: Did you have an opportunity to collect any souvenirs or anything like that?
FB: I did and I sold them to a collector years ago. I had, well, my son has a German Mauser. I had a German helmet, one of the black ones with a cross on it, that went to the collector. I had a small pistol, officer's pistol, that went to the collector and I had two swords, one was a long one with blue leather and there was a matching one that the higher officers hung on their side. They're all show, with a swastika cut into them and those, too, were sold to a collector. He took them somewhere to be shown to people somewhere.
SH: Where did you pick those up at?
FB: They were in the pile underneath a fountain. It was a huge pile and I just picked them up one time and I threw them in my duffel bag and when I had time, I packed some of them up, a little at a time, and just sent them back. But I don't really know whether you should have, or not, but I did anyway.
SH: Were you able to get food stuffs off the land so to speak like eggs? People talk about really missing fresh eggs and milk and things like that...
FB: No, we never raided a hen coop. I imagine some of the boys in the infantry got to the hen coops and they had fresh eggs in the morning. The only thing our boys would look for is, the Germans had good wine and we knew it. They had briquette, if you're familiar with what a briquette is. It's used in their stoves, it's a thing like this, it looks like a hamburger roll and it's made of compressed everything. But they would put it in their coal stoves in the winter time and that was their fuel. Well, under the big pile of briquettes was very good wine and our boys knew that. So you would go into a place and the next thing you know, two of the group were always assigned to get the shovels out and they "liberated" the wine. So in Heidelberg they liberated two cases and the first case they consumed that night, needless to say, they weren't in very good shape by morning. So they took the second case and threw it on the truck. I can still see this to my dying day, somebody cracked open a bottle and started drinking it and it had turned sour. The whole case was sour. He took his feet and pushed the case off the end of the truck and I can still see it bouncing on the road. That was the end of that, the briquette hunt.
SH: Your stories are enthralling.
SK: I was reading your profile, it said that T-3 was your rank, I just wondered if you could elaborate on that?
FB: A T3 is a technical sergeant. With three stripes alone you're called a line sergeant and you run a group of men. When you have the T underneath, it means you kinda have a specialty. Your specialty could be radio, meteorology, survey, most anything where there was something you learned, a specialized thing, and that's what the Ts were for. You were not a line man. You weren't in charge of a group but you had a specific job to do. So you went from private to PFC one stripe, corporal the second stripe, that was the big deal, and then the third stripe was the epitome because you were dealing with guys with six stripes on their arm. I wonder if I might elaborate on one other thing I forgot to tell you? When we went in the service, I didn't realize it, but, the men they are called cadre. They came from another outfit, they were in the Army, regular Army men, who during the Depression had no place to go, no food, no clothing. The army was an ideal place. You got two pairs of shoes, a dress set, a work set, three squares a day and a place to sleep. That was better than riding the rails on top of a boxcar. So, a lot of these guys came from the South and they were in the Army. They learned their trade. They were artillery men and some of them had six stripes on here, five anyway, six with Ts in here and that was our cadre and I didn't realize that thosewere the guys; we knew nothing! They were the people that taught us what to do. Thank God, they were there. They were a small nucleus. Our army was very small at the beginning of the war, and then it grew like topsy, it had to, and they trained us. If it wasn't for them we wouldn't know anything. So, those were the six stripers on here. We had one sergeant on there, Sergeant Lion, he roared like one. He was a little, short man, bald head, been in the Army all his life. He was like adjutant to the general. He was his right arm. He was the head of our barracks. One day he went, he got back from headquarters early, and he put a solution on his square around his bunk that made it like the driven snow and our boards were not. He had us in there all night scrubbing the rest of the barracks to try to look like his square on the end. Well, anyway, Sergeant Lion, being an old timer, when the shave tails would come in, these are 2 nd Lieutenants right out of OCS, right out of civilian life and they were over him but he was not anyone to be messed with, so anyway, he didn't like 2 nd Lieutenants because he was really old Army. So when we went overseas, they gave him a battlefield commission and made him 2 nd Lieutenant overseas. I don't know what he said at that point, but he was a nice guy, I got along good with him. I had to!
SH: Did you ever use any of your meteorology training?
FB: Not after I was in the Army.
SH: I just wondered if you ever found it coming into play at any point when you were moving?
FB: No, as a meteorologist, no. I just learned about weather prediction and charts and graphs and field lights and things of that nature but I got back and I was put right back into the same job and they told you, "A girl had your job but here's your job back," and away we went. That was it.
SH: In the Army did you ever find that any of experiences as a young man in Irvington had prepared you or given you a resource that you could draw upon to overcome any challenge?
FB: I think it depends on the individual. Nothing in Irvington compared or even made me ready for the Army. But you had to be determined. You had to do everything better than somebody else or do it thoroughly. Be always there when they needed you, they could count on you. These are the things that counted, otherwise you might find yourself in Timbuktu. Nothing in Irvington ever prepared me for what I faced in the Army. You go from a nice bed and a nice home with meals, not that I didn't eat in the Army, but it's not home cooking.
SH: How often did you get a hot meal?
FB: Overseas you would, they were pretty good about it, but every once in a while you lived on K rations, C rations, which is in a little tin can and it's cold. They used to make little fires or something and try to warm it up but for the most part our cooks came through with meals pretty regular. But we were on C rations and K rations a lot of times too. Every once in a while they'd have chipped beef on toast and there's a name for that but I won't say it here.
SH: It's okay, I know.
FB: It's got so you didn't mind chipped beef on toast, let me put it that way.
KB: You were never injured or wounded?
FB: Fortunately, no. I went into the cellars as much as I could. Really, you try to protect yourself. I was just lucky. I could have gone to that area and been at that backdoor of the farmhouse. That could have been me. The shell could have been alive and I would have been in pieces. Just all luck.
KB: Did you ever have to deal with combat medics?
FB: I never was involved or had seen a combat medic. They were up with the infantry. We had medics with division headquarters and things like that, that if you were injured they could send you there, but we didn't have a medic per se assigned to our particular outfit but the medics were close by so that they could rely on medics. They had like Div-Arty [Division Artillery] headquarters, division headquarters but not our company, [it] didn't have a medic. They were there, but they weren't with us.
SH: As far as supplies and equipment that you needed, was that adequate? Were there any times when you didn't have what you needed?
FB: When we were in the States, when I first went in, we didn't have any meteorological equipment. We had to sort of fake it. Then they got the real equipment after that. The guns, I used to go on guard duty and the guns, they were old. They looked like Civil War. They were old. But we had to guard them at night anyway, just in case. But just before we left, I went over and the guns were the very modern 155s and 105s. They had been made in the factories by the older men and the ladies and they were nice field pieces but we got them just before we went over, because they needed them more overseas than we needed them in Van Dorn. But our equipment, we had all our gas masks up and trained on them, that whole time almost up to the time we were ready to leave and, all of a sudden, they gave us a new gas mask and we had to just to take them with us, maybe they were pretty much the same as the old-timers, but we got new gas masks before we left and we also had a carbine. Artillery had a carbine, and the officers had revolvers. There were no M1s in our outfit. That was strictly an infantry rifle. It was a nice rifle but we didn't have one.
SH: In terms of your lines and equipment, you had everything you needed when you were in France and then in Germany?
FB: We always could get the wires we needed. We had the boards we needed and as far as I know, had all the med equipment we needed. As far as I know the supplies were adequate, that we got what we needed.
SH: Did you ever come in contact with any of the other Allied troops, the French, or the British, or anyone?
FB: Not to my knowledge. I did come in contact with other units. One in particular was a funny incident. I'm riding along and, all of a sudden, I'd see a 155 Battalion set up and that's the Long Toms. They were not with us. We had a 155 Howitzer, couldn't shoot as far, 155 Long Tom went out a bit more, and it was an African American outfit and they were all there and I walked over to the gunner and he was on the lanyard ready to fire the weapon and he recites, "Mr. Hitler, count your chillins'," and he pulled the lanyard and a round went off and I heard that, that was so funny, "Count your chillins'." But I can't remember ... oh, there was only one other outfit that we came in contact with. One morning, [I] woke up and went outside, the sight; I couldn't believe what I was looking at. There were two huge guns there that brought their tractors, their trailers, their diggers with them. They were monstrous guns, only two, and they had dug a huge trench in back of the gun. It must have been six foot deep with this machine and they set up the gun and were all set up to go. They had come in during the night and I slept so sound I never heard them out there and they're digging away with this digger. It all went as a unit and I think it was a long range ammo depot, try to get another big gun, that type of thing. The only pieces I ever saw like it and they fired off two rounds and the shingles were flying off the farmhouse. They were raining down. These guns were monsters. I don't know the number of inches they were and then, all of a sudden, they packed up and they left. That's the only time I ever saw them.
SH: To begin again, we understand that you have a Bronze Star citation, can you tell us how it reads or what it was for please?
FB: Well, basically, I guess it was for just doing a good job, because I was never a hero, you know, and I guess the battery commander liked what I did and two of us went up at one time, we were both in communications, and we got the award. Others in the outfit have also gotten the same award. That's basically it.
SH: There was not a certain incident that you ...
FB: Well, actually, I think it might have been influenced by when you're on the board and the line goes out, that could be serious and I said, "There's got to be some better way." So I lined up a board there, with a diagram with all the various battalions and the people we had to talk to and then I devised a way of, by screaming, getting the message down through a series of switchboards because the lines we had wouldn't carry, it's not like a telephone line today, and by doing this I would get the message through. I had a compliment, some of the officers told someone else, he was always glad when Bing was on the board, so I think maybe the battery commander thought that I should have some sort of an award for that.
SH: As far as the board, if you had been overrun for some reason, was there any directions or special security measures that you needed?
FB: No, the board was just an ordinary field switchboard, nothing secret about that. We didn't have any codes to destroy, nothing of that nature, if we were overrun.
SH: Okay, please continue.
KB: You spent a while in occupation duties, which is a very different thing than being in combat duty, were there any problems switching from combat duty to occupation duty?
FB: Well, actually occupation duty was ... At first we were supposed to service the troops and get them ready for the Pacific. But after that, we were just billet. One summer we spent at a castle and then we traveled around a bit and then they had trips you could take and if you had a couple of dollars you could go on a trip ... I went to three of them. I went to Brussels once, I went to Paris once, and then I went, Christmas time, I went to Switzerland. It was beautiful. I have a whole album upstairs of Swiss pictures. They were lovely people. They treated us like we were royalty and I learned a lot.
SH: What about Brussels? In so short of time after the war what that was like?
FB: I can't remember too much of Brussels...
SH: And there is always Paris ...
FB: The main thing in my mind was the Swiss trip ... No, I went through Bastogne going up there into Brussels and then Luxemburg but I can't remember too much. It was very quaint and they had The Mannequin there. Have you ever heard of The Mannequin? It's a little statue they put him there and he was doing, when they found him, and the water is coming out and that's his name. I remember seeing the little statue but not too much.
KB: I understand you have a story about Bastogne and the 101 st.
FB: Oh, the 101 st were relieved from Bastogne and then they came down and when we entered the line, the 101 st was on our right flank. They were in a town called Haguenau and we were on their left flank but I could see the gun flashes from Haguenau. The battle was going on over there but I never saw the 101 st.
KB: During the occupation, there was a non-fraternization rule, how well was that followed to your knowledge?
FB: Well, actually, after the war and everything was over we employed Germans and you could call the switchboard and there'd be a German girl on there, like, you know, " Heidelberg! "
SH: Is that where you were stationed during your occupation duty, within Heidelberg?
FB: No, no. I only wish it. No, I was stationed in a number of places during the occupation ... Backnang was one of the main places and then after that I started moving and I went to a couple of more field artillery outfits as they kept breaking them up. I kept moving and went to a town called Badmergentheim and then on March the 7 th we went to Antwerp to get on a boat called the Marine Raven and I always swore it was a converted oil tanker. It was a rough trip back. It was in March, we were underneath Iceland and we were in a boat that creaked and groaned and I was sick most of the way, and the waves I swear were twenty foot high and you'd go into one, you'd say, "Well, we got it made," the next thing you know you go into the other one and the backend of the boat would come out and the propellers would rev up and shake the whole boat and then you'd go diving into the next one again and it went on for ten days and I was, that's why I've never really been on a boat again.
SH: Where did you come into?
FB: Came into New York City. The Statue of Liberty looked very good. Went to Camp Kilmer in New Jersey and I got out of there on April Fools Day, April the 1, 1946, and then went home.
SH: Did you ever think of using any of your GI Bill benefits and returning to school?
FB: Not to school but I did get a partial mortgage, a four percent mortgage. So they ran out of four percent money and I got a combination mortgage, four, four and a quarter, bought a house. I needed one bad. I was living with the in-laws and I had one room. We had two small children. So I came to New Jersey, bought a house for eleven thousand, two hundred dollars. I tried to get them to take the garage off and make it cheaper. He refused. I had to put two hundred dollars down, and prove I could make seventy-five dollars a month, which was my salary, seventy five dollars a week and I had three hundred dollars to my name. I look back and say, "Boy, you had some guts." But we were all in the same boat.
SH: How old were your children when you came back?
FB: Three and one. Rich was three, Bob was one. They were little tykes.
SH: Had you gotten any R&R? Were these trips that you went to Brussels and Paris and places like that, was that R&R?
FB: Well, if you went to Paris there was very little relaxation. No, these were lovely trips. The one to Switzerland was outstanding. I was there Christmas time. Spent a week in Switzerland.
SH: In Zurich?
FB: Geneva, all the different cities in Switzerland, Lucerne, you know, just everywhere.
SH: Sponsored by the Army or were you just on your own?
FB: Oh, no, they were Army trips and I forget the amount of money. We didn't have any money, really, so you really saved up what you had to take a trip like that.
SH: What did they do to keep the occupation forces busy?
FB: You know at that point, man the boards, keep the communications open, and we had a certain number of hours you're on duty. It was just like, you just continued with your normal work.
SH: How quickly did you see the population getting back to the business at hand?
FB: In Germany? Well, the one thing about the German people, they're very fastidious or what will I say? You would drive along a road and you were in France and there was rubble and everything., all of a sudden,, [at] the borderline you'd come to a town where all the rubble was in neat little piles and all the bricks were in neat little piles and the streets were, like, swept and I'm saying, we have two different things here. But you could always tell when you came to the border because the Germans had things picked up right after the bomb fell. This is a German, this is his trait, he's just that way.
KB: After the war, as I understand, you went back to the same firm?
FB: Yes, the same firm. At that time I was in accounting and I went back into accounting and all the rest of the boys came back, too. I stayed in accounting for quite a while. But then there's a whole series of things happen after that. You really want to hear about that?
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KB: This is tape two side one of an interview with Fred Bing. You were talking about your job at the accounting firm after the war.
FB: Well, there were a series of jobs. So to make a long story short, a job came up in the Huntington Division and I took that because I knew if I didn't, I probably would never get another offer. I was only there a while at the Huntington Division. ... I went with the vice president of the company as his administrative assistant and I was also to form the market research group which was the statistical part which they never had, so I did that. Then I went from there to the general sales and marketing services. I was a statistician and an assistant to the head of that. One time that they had a problem in accounting, they came down and said they would like to have me come back and work on the problem there and I went back. Then I spent the last twelve years as the head of that group, which was really a confidential area group. All the confidential information for the company was compiled there. But, not like today, it was all done manually. There was no such thing as a computer. They were going into computers when I left the company and I gave them six months and said, "I'm out of here, I'm through."
SH: As evidenced by the paintings here in this room, I assume painting is your hobby or charcoal I should say?
FB: Well, that's pastels, it's similar. Yeah, it's a hobby of mine. I started it overseas with little sketches and then I got back here and I just looked at pictures and said, "Well I'll put down what I see." So I drew a number of pictures and here we are.
KB: Both your sons went to Rutgers and I was wondering what memories you have of Rutgers during the times your sons went, going to football games, and what have you?
FB: Well, they were both members of the Dekes [Delta Kappa Epsilon] and I can remember my wife and I coming to parents' day and it's very enjoyable. Had a lovely meal and they would take the cook and run her through the thing singing, "Someone's in the kitchen with Dina" or whatever her name was, you know. It was really fun and I got to meet all the fellows and most of them were footballers, I guess, athletes and everything. Nice bunch of boys. So anyway, the band was there and the band played so loud for the first numbers that Peg and I could not even talk. So we all, the parents, left after the first number. The boys got rid of us. One time we visited and Rich and Kevin had a room and we walked in and it was spic and span.
SK: For the tape, Rich is your son and Kevin ...
FB: Yeah. Kevin is his roommate, Kevin Gaynor. The room was spic and span and my wife said "Hey, this is ... " So my wife had to go to the lavatory and we opened the door to the lavatory and the things practically fell out and hit us. So we knew where they stuck everything, in that room. It was in the bathroom. Anyway, they were fun times. We had the football games and Rutgers was an enjoyable experience for us. People were very nice to us there.
SH: What year did your sons graduate?
FB: Rich graduated '69, Bob graduated two years later in '71. Because Rich was captain of the football team in '68, he was joint captain, they had an offense and defense captain, I think. Very enjoyable.
SH: Did they win?
FB: Well, yeah, they won quite a bit. The big battle was with Princeton. That was the big one. They used to have some knock-down battles. My wife used to die.
SH: Did your wife talk at all about what it was like to be at home on the home front with rationing and all of that going on? Did any of her letters, or any of your discussions, ever reflect what she and your parents went through here?
FB: I don't remember her ever mentioning rationing. She worked in a nickel company with me, which was just a stroke of luck. An agency sent her there and sent her to the same company out of all the companies in Lower Manhattan. But anyway, she worked there until the war and then she worked with the Anaconda Wire and Cable people in Hastings, which was closer to her home during the war and then after that she didn't work anymore, but she never mentioned rationing at all.
SH: Well, thank you so much for taking time to talk with us today. It's been delightful and we reserve the right to leave the tape in the box so to speak while we get to some of your memorabilia associated with some of the things that we see we'll turn the tape back on. If not, thank you so much.
FB: Well it was my pleasure being here and I'm glad I was able to talk to you today.
FB: Oh, when we were in Marseilles on the rocky ground down there, we used to have a German plane fly over every night, very slow, a little old bi-plane and he'd observe that we were still there, and then he'd go back to Germany again. So we nicknamed him "Bed Check Charlie."
SH: Thank you.
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Reviewed by Kevin Bing 3/21/04
Edited by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 4/2/04
Corrections entered by Kevin Bing 4/21/04
Reviewed by Frederick Henry Bing 5/27/04