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How WWII Changed Oregon (Full Documentary)

How WWII Changed Oregon (Full Documentary)


I REMEMBER VERY WELL
THE DAY THAT PEARL HARBOR
WAS ATTACKED. IT WAS A SUNDAY MORNING, AND I HAD JUST VISITED
MY FRIEND, WHO LIVED
ABOUT A HALF-MILE FROM ME. I WORKED AT A HOSPITAL, SO I WAS IN
THE HOSPITAL ROOM. WE HAD JUST COME HOME
FROM CHURCH AND STARTING TO GET READY
FOR LUNCH, AND WHAM! MY DAD CAME IN
AND SAID, “PEARL HARBOR’S
BEEN ATTACKED.” [ machine guns firing
and plane engines roaring ] WORLD WAR II
PROVED TO BE THE PIVOTAL EVENT OF THE 20th CENTURY. ON THE BATTLEFIELD
AND AT HOME, THE IMPACT OF THE WAR
WAS IMMENSE. IT CREATED INDELIBLE MEMORIES
IN EACH PERSON IT TOUCHED, AND IT TOUCHED
JUST ABOUT EVERYONE. Woman:
IT AFFECTED THEIR LIVES
FOREVER. THEY GAVE UP
THEIR BOYHOOD. THEY GAVE UP ALL THEY HAD
FOR THAT WAR. Woman:
MY BEST MEMORIES WERE MEETING
SO MANY PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER, ALL OVER, FROM MOST EVERY STATE
IN THE UNION, TO FIND OUT THAT PEOPLE
ARE THE SAME MOSTLY EVERYWHERE. Man:
THE NEXT SECOND
SOMEBODY COULD KILL YOU. AND, OF COURSE, WHEN THERE’S
ARTILLERY GOING ALL AROUND AND MORTARS AND ALL THAT
OTHER KIND OF STUFF, AND YOU JUST WONDER
IS THE NEXT ONE COMING OVER, HAS THAT GOT
MY NAME ON IT? THERE’S SO MANY PEOPLE
THAT DON’T HAVE A CLUE WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT. THEY JUST, “GEE, THAT MUST
HAVE BEEN SOMETHING.” YEAH, IT WAS REALLY SOMETHING
ALL RIGHT, THAT’S FOR SURE. YEP. FUNDING FOR OREGON EXPERIENCE
IS PROVIDED BY… THANK YOU. Man:
ARE THE JAPANESE GOING TO COME
ON OVER AND INVADE THE U.S.? BECAUSE THIS MIGHT
JUST OCCUR. THE WAY THEY HAD HIT
PEARL HARBOR WITH PRACTICALLY NO DEFENSE, THEY COULD COME RIGHT STRAIGHT
ONTO THE CALIFORNIA OR OREGON COAST. IMMEDIATELY
AFTER PEARL HARBOR, MANY OF THE FAMILIES
HAD VISITORS, MEN IN BLACK SUITS,
AND THEY WERE THE FBI. MY DAD WORKED IN
AN IMPORTING/EXPORTING STORE, AND, OF COURSE, WHEN THEY WENT
TO WORK ON MONDAY MORNING, THE FBI WAS —
WERE STANDING RIGHT THERE. AND THEY ARRESTED THE OWNER
OF THE STORE IMMEDIATELY, BUT SOME OF THE EMPLOYEES
WERE ALLOWED TO COME HOME AT THE END OF THREE DAYS. SO WHEN HE GOT HOME,
HE THOUGHT, “OH, WELL, THEY STILL MIGHT
COME AFTER ME, SO I’LL BE READY,” AND SO HE PACKED
HIS LITTLE SUITCASE AND HE JUST LEFT IT
BY THE FRONT DOOR. THEY NEVER DID COME AFTER HIM,
SO HE GOT THE IDEA, “OH, I’M NOT IMPORTANT ENOUGH
TO BE ARRESTED,” AND IT MAY HAVE PUNCTURED
HIS EGO A LITTLE BIT. BUT IN THE CASE
OF A LOT OF FAMILIES, I THINK IT ENDED UP
ABOUT 70 OR 80 FATHERS WERE PICKED UP
BY THE FBI. THE MOTHERS AND THE KIDS
NEVER KNEW WHY THEIR FATHERS
WERE ARRESTED. NO REASON WAS
EVER GIVEN. [ seagulls cawing ] WITHIN WEEKS
OF PEARL HARBOR, SEVERAL COASTAL TOWNS
ORGANIZED CITIZEN MILITIAS, PATROLLING THE BEACHES
AND TRAINING TO REPEL OR AT LEAST SLOW DOWN
A JAPANESE ATTACK. SCHOOLBOYS BUILT
MODEL AIRPLANES TO HELP SKYWATCHERS
IDENTIFY ENEMY AIRCRAFT. [ air raid siren blares ] PEOPLE IN PORTLAND
AND OTHER CITIES PRACTICED BLACKOUTS
AND AIR RAID DRILLS. FAMILIES LEARNED HOW
TO NEUTRALIZE ANY FIRE BOMBS THAT MIGHT LAND
IN THEIR HOMES. [ engine turns over
and starts ] FRANK GEHRMAN HAD JOINED
THE NATIONAL GUARD MONTHS BEFORE WAR
BROKE OUT. WELL, THEY TOLD ME
IF I’D VOLUNTEER, I COULD PICK MY PLACE
WHERE I WANTED TO GO, SO I SAYS, “WELL, I WANT
THE ENGINEERS. “I’VE BEEN DRIVING
A CAT, “SO I’D LIKE TO GO HELP BUILD
AIRSTRIPS OR SOMETHING FOR THE ARMY.” AND THEY — THEY DIDN’T
GIVE IT TO ME. AND THE OLD MAJOR
IN THE MEDICS, HE SAYS THAT WE WAS ALL
HANDPICKED, EVERY ONE OF US. AND I THINK WHAT HE DONE, HE GOT
— MOST OF US WERE FARM BOYS. I THINK HE FIGURED
WE COULD STAND BLOOD. AND SO, ANYWAY,
I GOT IN THE MEDICS, AND I DIDN’T WANT THAT. I DIDN’T WANT THE MEDICS
AT ALL. HIS BATTALION DEPLOYED
TO NEW GUINEA, WHERE THE JAPANESE
HAD ESTABLISHED AIR BASES. SO WE WALKED FROM ONE END
OF NEW GUINEA TO THE OTHER BECAUSE IT WAS ALL SWAMPS. YOU COULDN’T DRIVE ANYTHING
UP DIRECTLY. IT WAS AWFUL. WE HAD ONE
BIG MOUNTAIN THERE. THEY CALLED IT
ROOSEVELT RIDGE. THEY FOUGHT FOR 76 DAYS
TO TAKE THIS ONE MOUNTAIN. AND THEN THERE WAS
BIAK ISLAND, A LITTLE ISLAND
THAT HAD A GOOD AIRSTRIP ON IT, AND WE TOOK IT. THAT’S THE WORST BATTLE WE HAD
IS BIAK. AND WE HAD A GUY
FIGHTING REAR GUARD FOR US. HE HAD A MACHINE GUN, A LITTLE AIR-COOLED
MACHINE GUN, AND HE BURNT UP A BARREL
SHOOTING AT THE JAPS. THEY SAID THAT HE HAD THEM
PILED THREE DEEP IN THE ROAD
COMING DOWN AT US. AND THE BIGGEST WOUNDED WE HAD
THAT DAY WAS OUR OWN NAVY. THEY CALLED THE NAVY IN
TO SHELL THIS RIDGE, AND THEY WERE SUPPOSED
TO SHELL THE THIRD RIDGE, AND THEY DIDN’T DO IT. THEY GOT DOWN
ON THE SECOND RIDGE, AND THAT’S WHERE WE WAS DUG IN,
OUR SECOND BATTALION. BUT ACCORDING TO MY COUNT,
WE HAD 60 DEAD PEOPLE THAT DAY. AS A MEDIC, FRANK TREATED
PLENTY OF MALARIA AND OTHER TROPICAL SICKNESSES AS WELL AS EVERY SORT
OF WAR INJURY. HE ALSO TENDED
TO WOUNDED PRISONERS. THEY BROUGHT THEM
INTO THE AID STATION, AND WE TOOK CARE OF THEM. SO I WAS GIVING ONE OF THEM
A CHOCOLATE BAR, AND HE WAS EATING IT. THE INFANTRY GUYS
THAT BROUGHT HIM IN WAS MAD AND SAYS, “YOU FEEDING THEM,”
SO AND SO, AND I SAYS, “IF YOU
DON’T WANT ME TO FEED THEM, DON’T BRING HIM IN HERE.” I SAYS, “WE’VE GOT TO
TAKE CARE OF THEM, TOO,” I SAYS,
“SAME AS YOU GUYS. IF YOU BRING IN A WOUNDED GUY,
WE’LL TAKE CARE OF HIM.” AND SO WE DID. AND WE TOOK CARE
OF QUITE A FEW OF THEM. THE JAPS HAD TUNNELS, AND THEY’D GO OVER
AND COME UP SOMEPLACE ELSE, SO IT WAS REAL BAD
GETTING THEM. YOU HAD TO GET UP
TO THEM TUNNELS AND THROW HAND GRENADES
INTO THEM, FLAME THROWERS. THEY BROUGHT FLAME THROWERS
IN LAST. THAT WAS —
THEY WERE WICKED. HE SAVED MANY LIVES,
AND HE ENDED AT LEAST ONE. AT THAT TIME
I HAD A .45 PISTOL, AND I WAS WALKING
DOWN THE TRAIL, AND PRETTY SOON
HERE HE LAID, AND HE SWINGS HIS RIFLE
AROUND AT ME, AND I BEAT HIM TO THE DRAW. AND HE WAS JUST A LITTLE
OLD LOOKOUT, YOU KNOW, OUT THERE AHEAD
OF THE GUYS. AND SO WHEN I SHOT HIM, THAT’S THE ONLY ONE
I EVER SHOT AT, BUT I GOT HIM
WITH A .45 PISTOL. SO THEN THEY STARTED TO OPEN UP
WITH MACHINE GUNS. FRANK GEHRMAN OFTEN RISKED
ENEMY FIRE TO RETRIEVE WOUNDED COMRADES. FOR THIS, HE WAS AWARDED
THE ARMY’S DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS
FOR EXTRAORDINARY HEROISM. OKAY, STEP UP. YES, DEAR. THE UNITED STATES ENTERED
THE WAR WITH AN ACTIVE CAVALRY. THE ARMY HAD PROCURED
A NUMBER OF ITS HORSES FROM THE WILD HERDS
OF EASTERN OREGON, WHERE HORACE DURFEY
BUCKAROOED. IN 1939, THERE WAS A BIG CALL
FOR ARMY HORSES, YOU KNOW, AND I GOT A JOB
BREAKING HORSES. THERE WAS A BIG PUSH
TO GET CAVALRY HORSES, AND THOSE OLD
CAVALRY OFFICERS THOUGHT THEY WERE GOING TO
WIN THE WAR WITH THE CAVALRY. EVEN WE KNEW THAT, US OLD BOYS OUT THERE
IN THE CORRALS, YOU KNOW, THAT WE COULDN’T WIN THE WAR
WITH THE CAVALRY, BUT THEY WAS PAYING US
PRETTY GOOD MONEY, PROBABLY THE BEST MONEY
I’D EVER MADE, YOU KNOW. AND SO WE JUST KEPT
OUR MOUTHS SHUT AND JUST KEPT GOING. BY 1943, THE ARMY HAD TERMINATED
MOST OF ITS HORSE PROGRAMS. THEY SAID THE CAVALRY HAD 42,000
HEAD OF HORSES AT THAT TIME, THE GOVERNMENT DID,
FOR THE ARMY. THAT’S A FEW HORSES. I ALWAYS WONDERED WHAT THEY’D
DONE WITH THEM AFTER THE WAR, AND I NEVER REALLY KNEW
TILL YEARS LATER. AFTER THE WAR,
HORACE TRACKED DOWN ONE OF THE FORT RILEY
OFFICERS. HE SAYS, “THERE WAS NINE
KILLING PLANTS IN CANADA.” HE SAYS, “I WAS IN CHARGE,
AND WE SHIPPED ALL — “WE SHIPPED 29,000 HEAD
OF HORSES TO CANADA, “AND THEY WERE BUTCHERED,
PICKLED IN BARRELS, “AND THEY WERE SHIPPED
TO THE LOWLANDS OF EUROPE, AND THAT’S WHAT THEY FED
THOSE PEOPLE ON AFTER THE WAR.” CARL KOSTOL
OF BAKER CITY JOINED THE NATIONAL GUARD
IN 1938. HE HAD PLANNED TO SERVE
JUST ONE YEAR OF ACTIVE DUTY. THE WAR BROKE OUT. THIS MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE. BAKER HAD SOME REAL EARLY
CASUALTIES IN THE WAR. WE HAD THREE BOYS KILLED
AT PEARL HARBOR FROM BAKER. ONE’S MY CLASS IN SCHOOL, AND THE OTHER
A CLASS AHEAD OF ME, AND WE HAD THREE BOYS
ON THE BATAAN DEATH MARCH, AND ONLY ONE OF THEM
SURVIVED THAT. SO YOU HAD SOME INCENTIVE. YOU NEEDED TO GET EVEN
WITH THOSE DIRTY SO-AND-SOs. HE ENLISTED IN THE AIR FORCE
AND ENTERED PILOT TRAINING. WHEN I GRADUATED
AND WENT THROUGH TRAINING, I WAS SENT TO CHINA
FLYING B-25s. THE PEOPLE THAT WERE
IN THE SQUADRON WERE FARM BOYS
JUST LIKE ME, JUST YOUNG KIDS THAT HAD
HAD A LITTLE TRAINING AND HERE WE’D HAVE
A TOUGH MISSION ASSIGNED TO US AND MAYBE SOUND LIKE
IT MIGHT BE A LITTLE HAIRY, AND ALL THESE FELLOWS
JUST SUCKED IT UP AND WENT
AND DID THE MISSION. THAT ALWAYS IMPRESSED ME ABOUT BEING A MEMBER
OF A GROUP LIKE THAT. MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW
WHY WE WERE IN CHINA, AND THEY STILL DON’T KNOW. THE REASON WE WAS THERE IS TO
TRY TO KEEP CHINA IN THE WAR. AS LONG AS WE KEPT CHINA
IN THE WAR, JAPAN HAD TO HAVE ANYWHERE FROM 1 TO 2 MILLION SOLDIERS
IN CHINA, AND SO THOSE WERE SOLDIERS
THAT COULDN’T GO DOWN IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC
OR ANYPLACE ELSE. CARL WENT ON
TO FLY 38 MISSIONS. WE’D GO OUT TO SEA AND TRY
TO GET SOME SHIPPING, AND WE’D GO DOWN
AND SUPPORT THE CHINESE TROOPS. I HAD THE MISFORTUNE
OF A VERY BAD HIT FROM AN ANTI-AIRCRAFT SHELL, AND WE HAD TO BAIL OUT
ALMOST RIGHT OVER THE TARGET, WHICH WAS 200 MILES
BEHIND THE LINES. I DELAYED MY OPENING BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT
TO GET SHOT AT IN THE AIR, AND SO I WAS WATCHING
THE GROUND COME UP. I’D NEVER HAD
A PARACHUTE JUMP. THEY USED TO HAVE — THAT’S PART OF YOUR TRAINING
IN THE CADET PROGRAM, BUT THEY STOPPED BECAUSE THEY WERE GETTING
TOO MANY BROKEN ANKLES. SO I SAW MY PLANE
HIT THE GROUND. ALL OF A SUDDEN THE GROUND
WAS COMING UP SO FAST THAT I JERKED THE CORD
AND WAS JUST — JUST HAD TIME TO REACH UP
AND GRAB MY SHROUDS, AND I WAS ON THE GROUND. THE AIR FORCE
NOTIFIED CARL’S FAMILY THAT HE WAS
MISSING IN ACTION. HE HAD IN FACT BEEN RESCUED
BY CHINESE GUERRILLA SOLDIERS. THEY GOT $500
IN AMERICAN FUNDS — WE CALLED IT GOLD
IN THOSE DAYS — FOR EACH FLIER THEY BROUGHT OUT
FROM BEHIND THE LINES, AND THAT WAS AN ABSOLUTE FORTUNE
IN THOSE DAYS. THE GUERRILLAS LIVE
OFF THE LAND, AND WE’D MAKE SOME MILES
AND WIND UP IN A LITTLE VILLAGE, AND THEY’D JUST RUSTLE UP
SOME FOOD. I SPENT A MONTH
GETTING BACK FROM THAT. THERE WAS A REGULATION
IN THE 14th AIR FORCE THAT IF YOU’D BEEN
BEHIND THE ENEMY LINES, YOU WERE NOT PERMITTED
TO FLY ANYMORE. THAT WAS THE END
OF MY COMBAT FLYING. Announcer:
WHAT NEXT: SEATTLE, PORTLAND,
SAN FRANCISCO, LOS ANGELES? PERHAPS, SO THE JAPS THINK, BUT
A GREAT AMERICA IS NOW AROUSED. Katagiri:
THE REASON THAT THEY GAVE
FOR EVACUATING US WAS FOR MILITARY REASONS, THAT THE WHOLE WEST COAST
WAS A MILITARILY STRATEGIC ZONE AND THAT GENERAL DeWITT,
WHO WAS IN CHARGE, INSISTED THAT ALL PERSONS
OF JAPANESE ANCESTRY BE REMOVED FROM THIS ZONE. AND HIS ATTITUDE WAS
A JAP IS A JAP. IT DOESN’T MATTER IF HE’S
AN AMERICAN CITIZEN; IF HE HAS JAPANESE BLOOD,
THEN HE’S AN ENEMY. AND HE CAME OUT
AND SAID THIS OPENLY. AND WHEN THEY WERE TRYING
TO DECIDE SHOULD THEY EVACUATE ALL PERSONS
OF JAPANESE ANCESTRY, ONE OF THE FEW VOICES THAT SAID,
“NO, THAT’S NOT NECESSARY,” WAS J. EDGAR HOOVER, AND HE WAS
AGAINST EVACUATION BECAUSE HE KNEW THERE WAS
NOTHING GOING ON IN THE JAPANESE COMMUNITY. BY MAY 5, ALL OF THE FAMILIES
LIVING IN PORTLAND WERE REQUIRED TO REPORT TO THE — WHAT WE CALLED
THE PORTLAND ASSEMBLY CENTER, AND THAT’S WHERE
THE EXPO CENTER IS TODAY. AND AT THAT TIME, THE EXPO
CENTER WAS THE STOCKYARDS, AND SO THEY HAD TO CONVERT THE
STOCKYARDS INTO LIVING QUARTERS. IT ACCOMMODATED
ABOUT 3,500 PEOPLE. MY FATHER CAME HERE
TO PORTLAND IN 1897, AND MY MOTHER CAME
IN 1917. MAE NINUMIYA
WAS 23 WHEN THE EVACUATION PLANS
WERE ANNOUNCED. I KEPT THINKING
SINCE MY BROTHERS AND I, WE WERE CITIZENS,
WE WERE BORN HERE, I SAID,
“WE WON’T HAVE TO GO. WE WERE CITIZENS, SO WHY WOULD
THEY PUT CITIZENS INTO CAMP?” I SAID. OH, NO, I WAS MISTAKEN. WE JUST HAD TO PACK AND DO
WHAT WE WERE ORDERED TO DO. OUR CUBICLE WAS JUST THE RIGHT
SIZE FOR FIVE CANVAS ARMY COTS, AND THERE WAS NO DOOR
TO THE CUBICLE, AND YOU CAN HEAR EVERYTHING
COMING OVER THE WALLS. AND WHEN YOU’RE ABOUT 15,
YOU’RE VERY ADAPTABLE, AND SO I WASN’T COMPLAINING
TOO MUCH. EXCEPT ONE DAY,
IT WAS A HOT DAY, SO I MADE MY WAY OUT TO THE
NORTH SIDE OF THE BUILDING WHERE THE SHADE WAS. SO I WAS SITTING
ON THE DIRT GROUND, LEANING AGAINST THE BUILDING, WHEN SOMEBODY HOLLERED,
“HEY, GEORGE!” AND I LOOKED UP AND THERE WAS
A CAR PASSING BY ON THE ROAD. AND FROM THE BACK WINDOW OF THE
CAR WAS MY OLD FRIEND EVAN, BUT ALL I HAD TIME TO SAY WAS,
“HI, EVAN,” AND THE CAR WENT DOWN
THE ROAD. AND JUST AT THAT MOMENT, MY EYES FOCUSED ON THE BARBED
WIRE FENCE BETWEEN US, AND IT HIT ME
FOR THE FIRST TIME THAT WE WERE IN KIND OF
A BAD PREDICAMENT. THE FAMILIES WERE CONFINED
TO THE PORTLAND ASSEMBLY CENTER FOR ABOUT FOUR MONTHS, AWAITING CONSTRUCTION
OF THE INTERNMENT CAMPS. MAE’S FAMILY
WAS THEN SENT TO IDAHO. MINIDOKA, HUNT, IDAHO,
IS WHERE THE PLACE WAS, AND THEY GOT THESE ARMY BARRACKS
AND HAD THEM ALL IN A ROW. IT WAS ISOLATED,
IT WAS BARREN COUNTRY, AND THE WIND WOULD JUST BLOW, AND ALL THESE SAGEBRUSH CAME
TUMBLING ALL OVER THE PLACE. NOTHING GREW AT THAT TIME,
BUT AFTER WE WERE THERE, THE PEOPLE BEGAN TO GROW
LITTLE GARDEN PLOTS RIGHT BY THEIR BARRACKS, AND THEY GREW VEGETABLES
AND FLOWERS. THEY HAD SOME
BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS BLOOMING AFTER A FEW MONTHS
THAT WE WERE THERE. IN OREGON
AND THROUGHOUT THE U.S., WARTIME MEANT SHORTAGES
OF ALMOST EVERYTHING. WE HAD A HARD TIME GETTING TIRES
FOR LOGGING TRUCKS AND FOR AUTOMOBILES
OF ALL KINDS. BILL HAGENSTEIN WORKED FOR THE WEST COAST
LUMBERMAN’S ASSOCIATION. ANYTHING THAT WAS MADE WITH
METAL BECAME IN TIGHT SUPPLY BECAUSE SO MUCH OF IT
WAS GOING OFF FOR THE USE OF THE MILITARY
DURING THE WAR. IN NEARLY EVERY TOWN, OREGONIANS SALVAGED
SCRAP METAL, PAPER,
AND RUBBER. THE CITIZENS OF BAKER CITY
DONATED MORE THAN JUST SCRAP TO THE WAR EFFORT. Man:
WELL, THAT WAS
A CIVIL WAR CANNON, THAT’S ONE OF THESE BIG
ROUND TUBES ABOUT LIKE THIS, SOLID METAL, YOU KNOW,
MOUNTED. AND DURING THE WAR EFFORT,
OF COURSE, THEY NEEDED SCRAP IRON
REAL BAD, SO SOMEBODY OR SOMEBODIES
GOT REAL PATRIOTIC HERE AND DECIDED WE OUGHT TO GIVE
OUR CANNON TO THE WAR EFFORT. WELL, THEY DID. AND OF COURSE, AFTER IT WAS GONE
AND AFTER THE WAR WAS OVER, WELL, THEN THEY WISHED
THEY HADN’T GIVEN IT AWAY. PEOPLE COLLECTED BACON GREASE
FOR THE WAR. THEY DROVE LESS,
WALKED MORE, CARPOOLED, AND CUT BACK
ON ELECTRICITY. WORLD WAR II
SPAWNED SOME OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL
CONSERVATION AND RECYCLING IN U.S. HISTORY. GAS WAS RATIONED,
FOOD WAS RATIONED. EACH PERSON HAD AN ALLOTMENT
OF RATION STAMPS. AND ONE OF THE BIG PROBLEMS
WAS GETTING ENOUGH MEAT; MEAT WAS RATIONED. AND ONE OF
THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE U.S. DEPARTMENT
OF AGRICULTURE WAS FEED THE LOGGERS
MORE PEANUT BUTTER. WELL, HELL, LOGGERS
LIKE PEANUT BUTTER ALL RIGHT, BUT THEY LIKE MEAT
A LOT BETTER. SO THEY SENT A DOCTOR,
DR. AUCHTER — I REMEMBER HIS NAME,
A-U-C-H-T-E-R — WHO WAS A MEDICAL DOCTOR,
BUT HE WAS A NUTRITION EXPERT. AND THEY SENT HIM OUT HERE,
AND THEY GAVE ME THE JOB OF TAKING HIM OUT
INTO A LOGGING CAMP, WHERE HE SPENT A WEEK. AND THEY FITTED HIM UP
WITH THE LOGGER’S CORK SHOES AND HE WENT OUT WHERE THEY WERE
STILL FALLING TIMBER BY HAND WITH THEIR 4.5-POUND AXES, THEIR 9-FOOT FALLING SAWS
AND WHATNOT, AND HE MADE A REPORT THAT, “FORGET THE PEANUT BUTTER
AND GET THE MEAT FOR THEM,” AND THEY GOT
EXTRA MEAT RATIONS FOR ALL THE MEN
THAT WORKED IN THE WOODS. EVERYBODY THOUGHT HE WAS
A GREAT GUY. IF THEY HAD EVER
GIVEN ANYBODY A MEDAL, HE WOULD HAVE RECEIVED IT. HEALTH EDUCATION FLOURISHED. VICTORY GARDEN PROGRAMS
URGED FAMILIES TO GROW THEIR OWN. Woman:
I HELPED IN THE GARDEN
WITH MY DAD, ALMOST AN ACRE OF IT, AND THEN WE SHARED IT
WITH PEOPLE THAT DIDN’T HAVE GARDENS, TOO,
YOU KNOW. AND MY DAD HAD SOME HONEYBEES,
AND SUGAR WAS RATIONED, SO HE HAD A LOT OF PEOPLE
THAT HE KEPT IN HONEY. THAT WAS A GOOD THING. WHERE WARTIME INDUSTRIES
WERE IN FULL SWING, HOUSING WAS IN SHORT SUPPLY. PLACES TO RENT
BECAME ESPECIALLY SCARCE AROUND MILITARY BASES. I DON’T THINK THERE WAS
A WEEK WENT BY THERE FOR THREE OR FOUR YEARS THAT SOME WOMAN WASN’T KNOCKING
ON THE DOOR WANTING TO KNOW IF IN THIS GREAT BIG HOUSE
YOU MIGHT HAVE AN EMPTY ROOM. IT WAS BAD. AND I KNEW ONE YOUNG WOMAN
WHOSE HUSBAND WAS AN OFFICER THAT JUST BY ACCIDENT MANAGED
TO RENT A MOTEL ROOM. IT WAS A ROOM AND BATH, AND SHE HAD PUT A HOT PLATE
IN THE CORNER AND A COFFEEPOT, AND SHE PAID ME 35 CENTS AN HOUR
TO DO HER HOUSEWORK. WELL, I’D SWEEP THE FLOOR
AND I’D DUST EVERYTHING, AND IT’D TAKE ME
ABOUT 20 MINUTES, AND SHE’D PAY ME
FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS JUST SO SHE’D HAVE SOMEBODY
TO TALK TO. SHE DIDN’T KNOW A SOUL, BUT HE MIGHT GET A CHANCE
TO GET OFF ON THE WEEKENDS, SO THERE SHE SAT. PHIL LEVEQUE JOINED THE ARMY
FRESH OUT OF COLLEGE. HE WAS ASSIGNED TO
AN INFANTRY UNIT ON THE FRONT LINES
IN LUXEMBOURG. I WAS IN A SECTION
OF SIX PRIVATES AND A SERGEANT. IT WAS CALLED
THE INTELLIGENCE SECTION, AND WHEN I FIRST HEARD
ABOUT THAT, I SAYS, “WELL, I THINK
I’M FAIRLY INTELLIGENT, AND MAYBE I’M
IN THE RIGHT PLACE.” SO I ASKED MY FIRST SERGEANT,
“WHAT WILL I BE DOING?” “YOU WILL BE A SCOUT
AND A POINT MAN AND A FORWARD OBSERVER.” AND I SAYS, “OH, MAN,
THAT’S ALL SHE WROTE. I AIN’T COMING HOME.” YOU KNOW THAT YOU’RE
IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF A GERMAN SOMEPLACE,
YOU JUST KNOW YOU ARE. AND THERE’S NO WAY THAT YOU
CAN REALLY GET USED TO THIS AND SAY, “THIS IS
GOING TO BE OKAY.” [ machine gun firing ] WE WERE GOING FROM
ONE SMALL TOWN TO ANOTHER. THE GERMANS HAD ARTILLERY
AT THIS TOWN WHERE WE WERE, AND SO SOMEBODY DECIDED THAT THEY WERE GOING TO SEND
THE INFANTRY OUT FOR THIS ARTILLERY PIECE, SO THEY STARTED ACROSS
THIS 100-YARD FIELD. WELL, THEY DIDN’T KNOW IT
AT THE TIME — THEY KNEW THERE WAS
AN ARTILLERY PIECE AHEAD OF THEM SOMEPLACE,
BUT THERE WAS A MACHINE GUN WITH TWO GERMAN HITLER YOUTH
BEHIND THE MACHINE GUN, AND THEY GOT OUT ABOUT,
I GUESS, ABOUT 30 YARDS OUT
INTO THIS FIELD, AND THE HITLER YOUTH CUT LOOSE
WITH THE MACHINE GUN. AND AHEAD OF THESE GUYS ABOUT 20
YARDS, IT LOOKED LIKE A DITCH, AND SO THEY ALL — THE SURVIVORS
OF THIS FIRST MACHINE GUN — RAN FOR THIS DITCH
FOR SOME COVER, AND SO FORTH. THE GERMANS HAD A MACHINE GUN
AT THE END OF THE DITCH. SO THEY GOT THE WHOLE BUNCH
OF THEM ALONG THIS DITCH LINE, AND SO THEY PROBABLY LOST
AT LEAST 20 OF 30 MEN JUST LIKE THAT, IN A MATTER
OF FIVE OR TEN MINUTES, SOMETHING LIKE THAT. THE NAME OF THE GAME WAS, IT
CAN’T GET ANY WORSE THAN THIS. WELL, THAT WAS NOT
TRUE EITHER. IT GOT WORSE THAN THAT
LATER ON. BACK HOME, MANY PRODUCTS
WERE HARD TO GET. BUT PRODUCTION ITSELF, EVERYTHING FROM AGRICULTURE
TO INDUSTRY, WAS BOOMING. THE CITIES, ESPECIALLY
PORTLAND, GREW AND PROSPERED. Bonnie:
PEOPLE THAT LIVED OUT
IN EASTERN OREGON WOULD COME INTO PORTLAND
TO GET A JOB AT THE SHIPYARDS, AND THEY TRULY KNEW
THEY’D BE HIRED BECAUSE THEY NEEDED HELP. AND OTHERWISE, THEY WOULD
NEVER HAVE DONE THAT. A LOT OF LOGGERS
WERE TAKEN OUT OF THE WOODS AND WENT INTO THE SHIPYARDS AND WENT INTO
THE AIRCRAFT FACTORIES BECAUSE FIRST PLACE, YOU’RE NOT LIVING OUT IN
THE WOODS OF THE LOGGING CAMP, YOU’RE CLOSE TO
THE BRIGHT LIGHTS AND THE GIRLS, YOU’RE IN TOWN. SO THERE WAS
A BIG DRAIN OF MEN. AND OF COURSE, THE WAGES
WERE PROBABLY SUPERIOR TO WHAT THE MEN WERE
ACTUALLY GETTING IN THE WOODS. FARMERS CONTRACTED WORKERS
FROM MEXICO FOR MANY AGRICULTURAL JOBS. SOME COMMUNITIES HAD NEVER SEEN
HISPANIC WORKERS IN THE FIELDS. Theurer:
AND THEY WERE BRINGING THEM IN
BY THE TRAINLOADS TO HARVEST THE HOPS BECAUSE THERE WEREN’T
ANY HOP PEOPLE ANYMORE. THEY WERE ALL DOING SOMETHING
LIKE BUILD SHIPS AND MAKING A LOT MORE MONEY. THE WAR ALTERED EVERYDAY LIFE
JUST ABOUT EVERYWHERE. Bonnie:
SCHOOL WAS QUITE DIFFERENT
BECAUSE WE LOST TEACHERS. THE BAND TEACHER
WAS OFF TO WAR, WE HAD A SCIENCE TEACHER
THAT WENT TO WAR, AND MANY OF THE CLASSES
WERE SMALL BECAUSE THE BOYS
WERE ENLISTING. THERE WASN’T MANY BOYS;
THEY SOON DISAPPEARED. YOU KNOW, YOU COULDN’T TAKE
ANY FOREIGN LANGUAGES BECAUSE THERE WERE NO
FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHERS, AND I WANTED TO BECOME
A TEACHER. GAS WOULD NOT PERMIT US
DRIVING OVER TO SOUTHERN OREGON COLLEGE,
WHERE I WOULD HAVE WENT, AND SO I PUT THAT ASIDE. Ward:
I HAD A FRIEND HERE IN BAKER,
HIS NAME WAS HAROLD SHERROD, AND HE SAYS, “WE CAN GO DOWN
AT PORTLAND, THE SHIPYARDS, AND MAKE $1.20 AN HOUR,” AND WE TOOK OFF FOR PORTLAND
AND WENT TO WORK. THE THREE SHIPYARDS
IN PORTLAND AND VANCOUVER BUILT MORE THAN 700 VESSELS
DURING THE WAR. ONE INTERESTING THING THERE, THEY DECIDED THEY WANTED TO MAKE
A RECORD BUILDING A SHIP, SO THEY CALLED IT
THE HOT SHIP. THEY WAS GOING TO BUILD IT
IN 10 DAYS. SO THEY PICKED
THE BEST CREWS, AND OUR CREW HAPPENED
TO GET PICKED. I WAS WORKING DAY SHIFT,
AND THEN SWING SHIFT COME ON, AND THEN THE NIGHT CREW. GOLLY, WHEN YOU’D COME BACK
THE NEXT MORNING, YOU KNOW,
IT HAD ADVANCED SO FAR THAT YOU DIDN’T HARDLY
RECOGNIZE IT ANYMORE. AND WE BUILT THAT LIBERTY SHIP
IN 10 DAYS. AND THEN IMMEDIATELY, WELL,
THEY’D BRING IN THE STEEL AND WE’D START A NEW ONE. WOMEN WERE JOINING THE
MILITARY AND MEDICAL SERVICES IN RECORD NUMBERS. AND ON THE HOME FRONT,
WOMEN NOW WORKED AT TRADITIONALLY MALE JOBS. Bonnie:
WOMEN HAD OPPORTUNITIES THAT
NEVER WOULD’VE EVER HAPPENED IF IT HADN’T HAVE BEEN
FOR WORLD WAR II. FOR INSTANCE,
I HAVE A GIRLFRIEND IN MOLALLA WHO WAS AN ELECTRICIAN
AT THE SHIPYARDS, AND SHE DID ALL THE WIRING
IN THE BOATS, SHE AND HER CREW. THEY HAD OPPORTUNITIES
TO HAVE JOB LEVELS THAT — WELL, OF COURSE, THEY NEVER
PROBABLY WOULD’VE HAD A JOB. AND THERE WAS GALS THAT
CRAWLED IN THE BELLIES OF THE BIG BOMBERS
AND WIRED DOWN THERE BECAUSE MEN DIDN’T FIT. THERE WAS NO MEN
TO TAKE THOSE JOBS; THEY WOULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED. THE PLANES WOULDN’T
HAVE GOT MADE, AND NEITHER WOULD
THE SHIPS. CHERRY HENDRIX
CAME FROM BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA. I HAD A RELATIVE
THAT LIVED IN PORTLAND AND HAD WORKED
IN THE SHIPYARD. HE WROTE ME A LETTER
AND TOLD ME THE OPPORTUNITIES
THAT I COULD HAVE IF I COME OUT HERE. MY JOB FIRST
WAS CLEANING. CLEANING, I DID MORE
OF THAT THAN ANYTHING, BUT I DID DO WELDING ALSO,
A LITTLE WELDING. I HAD NEVER BEEN ON
A GREAT BIG SHIP OR NOTHING. AND I — WE HAD TO WALK
ACROSS THE GANGPLANK OR WHATEVER IT IS,
ACROSS THE WATER, AND I AM AFRAID OF WATER,
AND I WAS SCARED TO DEATH. BUT I KNOW THAT I HAD
TO DO SOMETHING, SO I JUST WENT ACROSS THERE
AND WORKED. RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
PREVAILED IN THE U.S., BUT THE ARMED FORCES WERE
LESS SEGREGATED THAN BEFORE, AND AFRICAN AMERICANS
NOW SERVED IN LARGE NUMBERS. THOUSANDS OF BLACK WORKERS
CAME TO PORTLAND FOR THE FIRST TIME, TOO. MOST LIVED IN THE
HASTILY BUILT TOWN OF VANPORT. VANPORT WAS A —
WAS REALLY A NICE PLACE TO LIVE: CLEAN AND A LOT OF PEOPLE
LIVED THERE, DIFFERENT KINDS OF PEOPLE. BUT I’D NEVER LIVED
IN A PLACE THAT PACKED WITH PEOPLE
SO CLOSE TOGETHER. IT HAD CLUBS AND MOVIES
AND EVERYTHING. AND I WAS NOT ONE
OF THOSE PEOPLE THAT LIKED TO GO OUT
A LOT INTO CLUBS AND STUFF, SO I — I STAYED HOME
MOST OF THE TIME AND WENT TO CHURCH
ON SUNDAYS AND WHATEVER OTHER DAYS
THEY HAD SERVICES. I REALIZED THAT THERE WERE
STILL PREJUDICE HERE, BUT I DIDN’T HAVE
ANY BAD EXPERIENCES WITH PEOPLE OF NO RACE. WE GOT ALONG JUST FINE, ESPECIALLY
WHEN WE WERE WORKING. WHEN I WAS IN ALABAMA, WE COULDN’T RIDE ANYWHERE
YOU WANTED TO SIT ON THE BUS. THERE WERE SIGNS ON THE BUS
WHERE THEY SAID “COLORED.” AND THEY — PEOPLE IN ALABAMA
AND IN OTHER SOUTHERN STATES DIDN’T HAVE THE LEAST IDEA
WHAT THEY WERE DOING TO PEOPLE OF ANOTHER COLOR,
BECAUSE THAT HURT. IT REALLY HURT. AND WHEN I CAME HERE, WE COULD
GET ON THE BUS AND GET A SEAT. AND NOBODY ASKED YOU
TO MOVE. SEVERAL MILITARY FACILITIES WERE SITUATED
NEAR KLAMATH FALLS, WHERE BONNIE GEHRMAN
WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL. MAINLY WHAT I WAS DOING
WAS JUST BEING A TEENAGE GIRL, “AHH,” WITH MY JAW HANGING
BECAUSE OF SO MANY YOUNG MEN WERE GOING TO COME
TO KLAMATH FALLS. [ swing dance music playing ] SATURDAY NIGHT
WAS EVERY NIGHT. I WOULD WORK ALL DAY
AND THEN GO TO THE DANCES, AND THAT WAS —
YOU NEVER HAD ANY REST. THERE WAS GUYS
FLOCKING AROUND, AND THEY’D CUT IN
ON THE DANCES AND EVERYTHING, AND THAT’S WHERE WE LEARNED
THE GREAT JITTERBUG, AND I WAS ONE OF THE MOST HEP
AT THE JITTERBUG. WE WROTE TO THE BOYS. I HAD A WHOLE BUNCH
OF THEM. I NARROWED IT DOWN, THOUGH,
AS TIME WENT ON… [ laughs ] TO ONE. Man:
WE KNEW THAT WE WERE GOING
TO GO INTO BATTLE, BUT WE DIDN’T KNOW
WHERE OR WHEN. THE WEATHER WAS
JUST HORRIBLE. IT WAS SNOW AND FREEZING
WEATHER ALL THE TIME. WE WERE OUTSIDE
ALL THE TIME. WE NEVER EVEN KNEW
WHAT COUNTRY WE WERE IN. WE DIDN’T KNOW
WHAT COUNTRY WE WERE IN. WE DIDN’T KNOW
WHETHER WE WERE IN FRANCE OR BELGIUM
OR ANYTHING. NEVER — NEVER TOLD US
WHERE WE WERE. ED AND RICHARD ATIYEH
ARE TWINS, BORN AND RAISED
IN PORTLAND WITH THEIR YOUNGER BROTHER,
VIC. ED AND RICHARD JOINED
THE ARMY TOGETHER AND SERVED IN THE SAME COMPANY
UNTIL DECEMBER 1944. THEIR FIRST
COMBAT EXPERIENCE IN THE BRUTAL
BATTLE OF THE BULGE WOULD ALSO BE
THEIR LAST. THAT NIGHT, WE WERE
IN A FOREST RIGHT THERE, AND THEY CALLED US OUT
ABOUT 10:00, 11:00 AT NIGHT, AND IT WAS JUST
FREEZING WEATHER, AND THEY — THEY PAID US,
GAVE US BOUNDS OF MONEY. TO THIS DAY, I CAN’T UNDERSTAND
WHY THEY WOULD PAY US OFF THE NIGHT BEFORE
WE’RE GOING TO GO INTO BATTLE. AND I STILL REMEMBER
IT WAS SNOWING AND HAILING AND WE HAD
NO AIR SUPPORT. THE GERMANS, I COULD SEE
THEIR 88-MILLIMETER GUNS WERE SITTING ON TOP
OF THE GROUND BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T
HAVE TO PROTECT THEM BECAUSE OF NO AIR SUPPORT, AND THEY WERE HITTING US
WITH SHRAPNEL INTO THE TREES
AND EVERYTHING, WHICH WOULD COME DOWN
INTO THE FOXHOLES WE WERE IN AND KILLED A LOT OF PEOPLE
THAT WAY WITH SHRAPNEL
COMING DOWN THE FOXHOLES. AND WE WERE HITTING THEM
WITH EVERYTHING WE HAD. THEY JUST OUTNUMBERED US
SO MUCH, WE JUST — IT WAS JUST LIKE
TRYING TO KILL ANTS. WE JUST KEPT JUST FIGHTING
AND FIGHTING AND FIGHTING, AND WE COULDN’T FIGURE OUT
WHERE THEY WERE ALL COMING FROM. THEY JUST KEPT COMING
IN WAVE AFTER WAVE AFTER WAVE. OUR DIVISIONAL COMMANDER
SAID, “WE’RE GOING TO HAVE
TO SURRENDER.” AND BY THEN, WE HAD LOST
TWO-THIRDS OF OUR DIVISION, EITHER BY BEING KILLED
OR WOUNDED OR CAPTURED, AND THERE WAS ONLY
ONE REGIMENT LEFT OF THE THREE. WE STARTED BREAKING UP
ALL OF OUR EQUIPMENT AND DESTROYING EVERYTHING
WE POSSIBLY COULD, AND THAT’S WHEN THE GERMANS
CAME UP THERE, TOOK US — TOOK US PRISONER, SO… THE BROTHERS WERE CAPTURED
AT DIFFERENT TIMES AND SENT
TO DIFFERENT CAMPS. WE WERE CRAWLING THROUGHOUT
THIS FIELD, AND THE NEXT THING WE KNOW,
FIRE WAS COMING ACROSS IT, MACHINE-GUN FIRE AND STUFF
LIKE THAT, TOO, AND THEN SO — IT WAS MAYBE
ABOUT 10 FELLAS, AND ALL WE DID WAS PULL OUT
OUR HANDKERCHIEFS AND WAVE THEM IN THE AIR, AND THEN THE FIRING
FINALLY STOPPED, AND THEN WE STOOD UP
AND RAISED OUR HANDS AND PUT OUR HANDS
BEHIND OUR HEADS. THEY LOST CONTACT WITH EACH
OTHER FOR MORE THAN SIX MONTHS. Richard:
WE WERE WALKING
MOST OF THE TIME IN THE SNOW AND THE HAIL
AND THE RAIN, AND THEY TOLD US THAT
“IF ANYBODY DROPS OUT, YOU’RE GOING TO BE SHOT.” AND EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE,
PEOPLE WOULD DROP DOWN AND ALL OF A SUDDEN
YOU’D HEAR SOME SHOTS. YOU KNOW, PEOPLE BEING
KILLED ON THE WAY BACK. AND THEN THEY FINALLY — THEY FINALLY PUT US
IN SOME BOXCARS, AND THE CARS WERE JUST — THEY HAD US STACKED
SO TIGHT IN THERE YOU COULDN’T SIT DOWN. WELL, THEY WERE
CATTLE CARS. CATTLE CARS. AND WE COULDN’T STAND UP
OR ANYTHING, AND WE HAD TO STAND UP,
THERE WAS NO PLACE TO SIT DOWN. SOME GUYS WOULD
DIE THAT WAY; THEY’D BE DEAD
STANDING UP BECAUSE WE WERE PACKED
IN THERE SO TIGHT. THEY HAD US WORKING
IN THIS OLD PIT MINE, AND WE COULDN’T DO MUCH WORK
BECAUSE WE WERE TOO WEAK. THEY’D HAVE US OUT THERE
ALL DAY — ALL DAY LONG, FROM MORNING TILL NIGHT. EVERYBODY WAS SUFFERING
FROM MALNUTRITION, AND IN FACT
WE REACHED THE POINT WHERE WE WERE LOSING ABOUT
ONE OR TWO AMERICANS A DAY. THEY WERE JUST DYING
FROM MALNUTRITION, AND THEN WE’D HAVE FUNERALS
JUST CONSTANTLY THERE FOR THE FELLAS
THAT PASSED AWAY. AND THEN
WE COULDN’T STAND UP. WE’D BE SITTING DOWN,
YOU COULDN’T — YOU’D HAVE TO STAND UP
REAL SLOW, BECAUSE IF YOU TRIED
TO STAND UP REAL FAST, YOU’D BLACK OUT. ALL WE’D THINK ABOUT
WAS FOOD. WE’D SIT THERE TALKING
TO OTHER FELLAS THERE, AND YOU’D TALK ABOUT
EVERY MEAL YOU EVER HAD. AND EVERYBODY, WHEN THEY
COME OUT OF THE SERVICE, EVERYBODY WAS GOING TO
OPEN UP A RESTAURANT. THEN ON EASTER SUNDAY, AMERICAN TANKS BROKE INTO
OUR BARRICADE THERE AND LIBERATED EVERYBODY. BUT THE FELLAS
WERE SO WEAK THAT NOBODY
COULD HARDLY STAND UP. WE NEVER THOUGHT
WE’D EVER GET OUT, YOU KNOW. BUT I STILL REMEMBER
TO THIS DAY SEEING TWO AMERICAN OFFICERS
COMING — COMING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH AN AMERICAN FLAG. AND IT’S ONE OF THE — EVEN TODAY, I CRY
WHEN I THINK ABOUT IT, THAT — YOU KNOW, THAT WE’RE
GOING TO BE OUT OF HERE. WHEN THE JAPANESE
ATTACKED PEARL HARBOR, PRIVATE KAZ FUJII
WAS STATIONED AT AN ARMY BASE
IN TEXAS. HE WAS THE ONLY JAPANESE
AMERICAN IN HIS OUTFIT, BUT ONCE THE WAR
GOT UNDER WAY, SOLDIERS OF JAPANESE DESCENT
WERE GROUPED TOGETHER. WELL, I ENDED UP IN THE 232nd
COMBAT ENGINEER COMPANY. KAZ BECAME PART OF THE
442nd REGIMENTAL COMBAT TEAM. MAY 1, 1944, WE SHIPPED OUT
OF NORFOLK, VIRGINIA, AND 29 DAYS LATER,
WE WERE IN NAPLES, ITALY. ON JUNE 27, 1944,
I RAN OVER A MINE. THE ONLY THING THAT WAS
LEFT OF THIS GMC TRUCK WAS THE TWO FRONT TIRES. AND TWO OF THE EIGHT TIRES,
NO AXLES LEFT, JUST TWO TIRES
WERE HANGING ON THE BACK. AFTER THAT,
I WASN’T SCARED OF NOTHING. I SAID,
“I’M GOING TO MAKE IT.” IN MONTHS
OF FIERCE FIGHTING, THE 442 BECAME ONE
OF THE MOST DECORATED UNITS OF THE WAR,
BUT AT A HIGH COST. ALL THOSE DEAD HUMANS,
HORSES, AND WHATEVER ANIMAL — OTHER ANIMALS, I MEAN,
IT WAS ONE AFTER ANOTHER. YOU COULD NOT GET
THE STENCH OUT OF THERE. I NEVER REALLY CAME BACK
FROM THAT WAR. [ artillery fire
and mortars exploding ] GENERAL DOOLITTLE’S
BOMBING RAID ON TOKYO WAS FLOWN BY PILOTS FROM
OREGON’S PENDLETON AIR BASE. AND OTHER BASES REPRESENTING
EVERY BRANCH OF THE MILITARY NOW DOTTED THE STATE. THE UMATILLA ORDNANCE DEPOT, SITED WELL INLAND
AND SAFE FROM ENEMY ATTACK, STOCKPILED EVERY TYPE
OF MUNITION, FROM BULLETS TO BOMBS. THE TILLAMOOK NAVY
AIR BASE SUPPORTED A FLEET
OF MILITARY BLIMPS. THE BLIMPS PATROLLED
THE COASTAL WATERS IN SEARCH
OF ENEMY SUBMARINES. THE ARMY BUILT
CAMP ABBOT OUTSIDE OF BEND AT WHAT IS NOW SUNRIVER. CAMP WHITE DWARFED
NEARBY MEDFORD IN SIZE
AND POPULATION. BUT THE LARGEST TRAINING BASE
IN THE STATE WAS CAMP ADAIR, BUILT ON WHAT HAD BEEN
BENTON COUNTY FARMLAND. CAMP ADAIR ITSELF
WAS INTERESTING TO WATCH BECAUSE THERE WAS SO MUCH
HUBBLE AND BUBBLING WHERE THERE’D NEVER BEEN
ANY BUBBLING BEFORE. [ playing “Oh! Susanna” ] I WAS ABOUT 13 WHEN —
WHEN THE WAR STARTED. WE LIVED IN INDEPENDENCE. SMALL TOWNS 65 YEARS AGO
WERE EXTREMELY SMALL TOWNS, AND THEY WERE ISOLATED. AND YOU HAD A MOVIE
AND A COUPLE OF POOL HALLS, AND THAT WAS IT. ALL OF A SUDDEN, THERE WERE
ALL OF THESE VOLUNTEER GROUPS: YOU LEARNED
TO IDENTIFY PLANES OR YOU SAT OUT ON A STUMP
AT NIGHT AND COUNTED THE AIRPLANES
THAT WENT OVER AND YOU WORE UNIFORMS, AND THE RED CROSS LADIES
WERE ROLLING BANDAGES AND THERE WAS A LOT OF
HYPER, STAY-BUSY ACTIVITY THAT HAD NEVER
BEEN THERE. AND THE ARMY BASE
BROUGHT ABOUT 45,000 NEW NEIGHBORS
ALMOST OVERNIGHT. AND THE GIRLS ALL WANTED TO DO U.S.O.
AND THAT KIND OF THING, AND THEY WENT OUT
TO CAMP ADAIR ON THE BIG BUSES AND WENT TO DANCES
AND CONCERTS AND SOCIALIZED. I HAD NEVER SEEN
A BLACK PERSON. THE BUS FROM CAMP ADAIR
CAME IN AND A YOUNG MAN GOT OFF
WITH HIS WIFE. HE WAS A —
NOT HIS COLLAR — HE WAS EITHER A LIEUTENANT
OR A CAPTAIN, AND I DON’T REMEMBER, BUT HE WAS IN THE PINKS
AND THE UNIFORM JUST STARCHED UNMERCIFULLY. HE WAS A BIG MAN. AND I THINK AT THAT TIME, I THOUGHT SHE WAS THE
PRETTIEST THING I HAD EVER SEEN. SHE WAS A TALL
AND SLENDERED LADY. BLACK, NO QUESTION
ABOUT IT. DRESSED RIGHT
TO THE TEETH. BUT SHE STAYED OUT ON THE STREET
IN FRONT OF THE RESTAURANT — THERE WAS A LITTLE MARQUEE
TO KEEP HER OUT OF THE RAIN, AND SHE HAD A —
JUST A SUITCASE. HE CAME IN,
GOT TWO TICKETS TO SALEM, AND I TOLD HIM
THAT THE BUS WOULD BE ABOUT ANOTHER 15 MINUTES, AND WHY DIDN’T HE BRING HIS WIFE
IN OUT OF THE RAIN? AND HE KIND OF TURNED AROUND
HALFWAY AWAY AND LOOKED BEYOND HIM — THE PLACE WAS PRETTY FULL:
FARMERS, LOGGERS — AND HE JUST SMILED
AND VERY NICELY SAID, “NO, WE’LL BE ALL RIGHT,
THANK YOU.” THEY WENT OUT
AND THEY STOOD OUTSIDE. AND I GOT HOME THAT NIGHT AND I WAS SOUNDING OFF
TO MY MOTHER ABOUT — LOOKED TO ME LIKE HE COULD’VE
DAMN WELL BROUGHT HER IN OUT OF THE RAIN. MOTHER SAID,
“HE’S SMARTER THAN YOU ARE. THINK ABOUT IT.” STEVE BESSE EARNED
A DEGREE IN AGRONOMY, CROP SCIENCE,
FROM O.S.U. HE DREAMED OF OWNING
HIS OWN SEED STORE, BUT THE WAR DETOURED HIM
INTO NAVY MIDSHIPMAN’S SCHOOL. I HAD NEVER BEEN ON A SHIP OTHER THAN, OH, A SMALL BOAT
OUT IN THE OCEAN FOR — TO CATCH A SALMON. THAT WAS IT. WHEN I FINISHED
MY TRAINING, I WAS ASSIGNED AS
AN EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF A BRAND-NEW LCI,
THE LCI-420, LANDING CRAFT INFANTRY. ON JUNE 6, 1944, HE AND MORE THAN
100,000 OTHER MEN CROSSED THE ENGLISH CHANNEL TO WHAT WAS CODE-NAMED
OMAHA BEACH. THIS WAS D-DAY. WE’D SAILED ALL NIGHT
ACROSS THE CHANNEL, ARRIVING THERE ABOUT
6:00 IN THE MORNING OFF OF THE NORMANDY BEACH. THERE WAS A LOT OF GUNFIRE
AND A LOT OF NOISE. WELL, AS WE WENT IN
FOR OUR FIRST LANDING, THERE WERE LOTS
OF BEACH OBSTACLES, BIG PRONGED OBSTACLES
PLANTED IN THE SAND, MOST OF THEM WITH A MINE
ATTACHED TO THEM. WE TRIED TO AVOID THOSE, WERE SUCCESSFUL IN AVOIDING
THE BEACH OBSTACLES, AND THEN WE HAD A MAN
RUN A LINE ASHORE BECAUSE WE COULDN’T GET
QUITE TO THE BEACH TO MAKE A DRY LANDING. AND THEN PUT
OUR RAMPS DOWN. THE TROOPS TOOK OFF,
AND THEY HAD THE LINE TO HANG ONTO
TO GET ASHORE. AND THEY WERE —
SOME WERE… SOME WERE SHOT BEFORE THEY
COULD EVEN GET OFF THE RAMP. IT WAS…
IT WAS QUITE A — QUITE A DAY. WE WERE ON OMAHA BEACH;
NOTHING BUT DEBRIS AND PEOPLE HUNKERED DOWN
IN THE SAND BECAUSE THEY COULDN’T MOVE BECAUSE OF BOTH MACHINE-GUN FIRE
AND HEAVY ARMS. AND IT WAS — WE WEREN’T SURE WHETHER THEY
WERE GOING TO GET OFF OR NOT. HIS SHIP FIRST STORMED
THE BEACH WITH A GROUP
OF FOUR OTHERS. THE OTHER FOUR SHIPS WERE
DESTROYED ON THAT INITIAL RUN. BUT WE MANAGED TO GET OFF, THEN WENT OUT ABOUT 10 MILES
TO BIG TRANSPORTS WHICH HAD OTHER TROOPS
ABOARD, AND WE LOADED THOSE TROOPS
ONTO OUR SHIP AND THEN HEADED RIGHT BACK IN
AND MADE ANOTHER BEACHING. AGAIN, UNDER
PRETTY HEAVY FIRE. STEVE’S SHIP WENT ON
TO MAKE 12 LANDINGS. AND THEN THAT NIGHT, WE HAD A VERY INTERESTING
EXPERIENCE THAT NIGHT. THERE WERE TWO TUGS THAT WERE TO TAKE
BARGES OF AMMUNITION. EACH BARGE HAD 1,000 TONS
OF OPEN AMMUNITION ON DECK. AND THE TUGS WERE TO TAKE
THESE BARGES IN AND BEACH THEM SO THAT THEY HAD RESUPPLIES
FOR THEIR AMMUNITION. THE TUGS HIT MINES
AND WERE DESTROYED, SO THEY USED TWO LCIs,
OURS AND ANOTHER ONE. WE TIED UP ON EACH —
ONE ON EACH SIDE OF THE BARGE, AND WE TOOK THOSE BARGES
AND WENT IN AND BEACHED THEM UNDER
HORRENDOUS FIRE THAT NIGHT. THE SKY WAS LIT UP. THERE WAS A LOT OF
ANTI-AIRCRAFT FIRE, GERMAN PLANES
WERE OVERHEAD, AND THE TRACERS THAT WERE
JUST FLYING THROUGH THE AIR, IT’D ONLY TAKE ABOUT
ONE OF THOSE TO BLOW UP THIS 1,000 TONS
OF AMMUNITION. AND I REALIZED HOW PRECARIOUS
THE WHOLE THING WAS, NOT ONLY FOR OUR SHIP
BUT THIS WHOLE INVASION. IT WAS JUST —
IT WAS ALMOST FALLING APART BECAUSE OF
THE HEAVY CASUALTIES AND LOSING THE TUGS
AND LOSING OTHER SHIPS, MY OTHER SISTER SHIPS
THAT HAD GONE. AND I WONDERED, “WHERE ARE WE
GOING TO GO WITH THIS? ARE WE GOING
TO MAKE IT OR NOT?” AND IT JUST SCARED THE DAYLIGHTS
OUT OF ME. BUT THEN I PULLED MYSELF
TOGETHER AND HOLLERED AT MY…
BOATSWAIN TO TAKE AN AXE AND CUT THE HAWSER;
WE WERE ON THE BEACH AND CUT OURSELVES LOOSE
FROM THIS BARGE AND TOOK OFF. ON ONE OF OUR TRIPS BACK OUT
TO THE TROOP TRANSPORTS, AND I WAS CHECKING TO MAKE
SURE EVERYTHING WAS FINE FOR OUR NEXT BEACHING, AND I WAS RIGHT BESIDE
THE PORTHOLE OF THIS BIG SHIP, AND I — AND IT WAS
THE GALLEY. I LOOKED IN,
AND HERE WAS A COOK, AND HE WAS SLICING OFF A GREAT, BIG PIECE
OF BEAUTIFUL ROAST BEEF. AND I LOOKED
AND I DROOLED. I’D BEEN FOUR DAYS
UNDER NOTHING BUT K-RATIONS, AND WE HADN’T HAD ANYTHING
REALLY TO EAT. AND HE COULD SEE,
HE SAID, “Y’ALL LIKE
A ROAST BEEF SANDWICH?” I SAID, “MAN, WOULD I.” AND HE SAID,
“HOW ABOUT YOUR CREW?” AND HE MADE UP A SANDWICH
FOR EVERY MAN OF MY CREW, AND, MAN,
I CAN STILL TASTE IT. THE BLY DISTRICT
OF THE FREMONT NATIONAL FOREST LIES BETWEEN LAKEVIEW
AND KLAMATH FALLS. LATE IN THE WAR, JACK SMITH SERVED
AS ASSISTANT RANGER THERE. SPIKE, THE RANGER, AND I
WORKED TIMBER SALES ALL WEEK AND THEN ON SATURDAY MORNING, WE TOOK CARE
OF THE PUBLIC IF THEY HAD BUSINESS
WITH THE FOREST SERVICE, AND THIS SATURDAY MORNING,
ON MAY 5, 1945, JUMBO WARNER’S PICKUP
CAME IN AT A HIGH RATE OF SPEED AND WHEELED AROUND
BACK OF THE OFFICE, AND HE RAN
INTO THE OFFICE AND SAID
THERE’S BEEN AN EXPLOSION UP ON GEARHART MOUNTAIN, ON
THE SIDE OF GEARHART MOUNTAIN, AND THERE’S SEVERAL PEOPLE
HURT. THE JAPANESE HAD LAUNCHED THOUSANDS OF BOMB-CARRYING
HYDROGEN BALLOONS TOWARD
THE AMERICAN MAINLAND. MANY OF THEM,
LIKE THESE, WERE SHOT FROM THE SKY
BY AMERICAN PLANES. ABOUT 300 OTHERS
DID REACH LAND, BUT THAT WAS KEPT SECRET
FROM THE JAPANESE. ALMOST ALL OF THE BOMBS
EXPLODED HARMLESSLY, EXCEPT FOR ONE. REVEREND MITCHELL
WAS ON THE ROAD, AND HE JUST POINTED
THATAWAY. I DON’T KNOW
THAT HE EVEN SPOKE. IT WAS OBVIOUS
IT WAS PRETTY SERIOUS WHEN WE GOT THERE. THERE WERE A BUNCH
OF BLOODY PEOPLE LAYING THERE, AND THEY HAD APPARENTLY
BEEN GROUPED AROUND THIS CART WHEEL
WHERE THE EXPLOSIVE WAS LOCATED. AND MAYBE SOMEBODY
TOUCHED SOMETHING, I DON’T KNOW,
BUT THEY FELL BACKWARDS FROM IT JUST LIKE THE SPOKES
OF A WHEEL ALMOST. FIVE CHILDREN
AND THE MINISTER’S WIFE HAD COME UPON
AN ARMED BALLOON BOMB HANGING FROM A TREE. THOUGH TOO LATE
FOR THE PEOPLE OF BLY, THE JAPANESE HAD ALREADY
STOPPED SENDING THE BOMBS, BELIEVING THAT FEW IF ANY
HAD EVER REACHED THE U.S. I THINK THOSE WERE
THE ONLY FATALITIES FROM WAR ACTION
IN THE UNITED STATES. WALT FERRIS BATTLED
THE JAPANESE AS A FIGHTER PILOT. LIKE CARL KOSTOL,
HE SERVED IN CHINA, ONE OF THE FAMED
FLYING TIGERS. HE, TOO, WAS SHOT DOWN
WHILE ON A MISSION, BUT UNLIKE KARL,
HE DID NOT WALK OUT OF THE FOREST
A MONTH LATER. I MET WALT WHEN I WAS 16,
HE WAS 18. HIS FAMILY HAD A RANCH
JUST OUTSIDE OF ARLINGTON. MY MOTHER USED TO WRITE
AND SAY, “YOU KNOW, HE’S GOING TO MAKE SOMEBODY
A WONDERFUL HUSBAND SOMEDAY.” AND I’D WRITE BACK
AND SAY, “MOM, I HOPE
HE FINDS SOMEONE.” DOTTIE AND WALT
HAD BEEN MARRIED ONLY ONE MONTH WHEN HE WAS SHIPPED
OVERSEAS. SHE WAS NOT TOLD
HIS DESTINATION, EVEN WHEN MONTHS LATER
SHE RECEIVED THE TELEGRAM. A YOUNG MAN BROUGHT
A TELEGRAM TO THE HOUSE WHERE I LIVED
WITH MY PARENTS AT THAT TIME AND SAID THEY WERE
SORRY TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR HUSBAND HAS BEEN
SHOT DOWN — OR THAT HE IS
MISSING IN ACTION. I HAD A LETTER
FROM GENERAL CHENNAULT SAYING THAT HE HAD BEEN
A FINE PILOT AND HE WAS JUST
MISSING IN ACTION. THE AIR FORCE TRIED TO GET ME
TO ACCEPT HIS INSURANCE, AND I WOULDN’T SIGN FOR IT, WHICH DIDN’T MAKE ME
VERY POPULAR WITH THEM, BUT I KEPT FEELING LIKE
HE WAS COMING BACK, THAT HE WAS ALIVE. BECAUSE HE ALWAYS SAID,
“I’LL BE BACK.” SIXTEEN MONTHS PASSED. DOTTIE AND A FRIEND
TOOK A SHORT VACATION TO VANCOUVER, B.C., WHERE ONE AFTERNOON,
THEY WENT TO TEA. THERE WAS A LADY
GOING AROUND READING TEA LEAVES, AND IT WAS FUN, YOU KNOW,
THIS WAS FUN TO DO. AND SO SHE CAME OVER
TO OUR TABLE AND SHE READ
MY FRIEND’S TEA LEAVES. YOU KNOW, SHE WAS GOING
TO MEET SOMEONE TALL, DARK, AND HANDSOME
AND SO FORTH. AND THEN SHE PICKED UP
MY CUP, AND SHE SAID, “OH, I SEE A ‘W’
IN YOUR CUP.” AND WITH THAT,
I BOO-HOOED. AND SHE SAID,
“OH, WHAT DID I SAY?” AND MY FRIEND SAID, “WELL,
HER HUSBAND IS MISSING IN ACTION AND HIS NAME IS WALT.” AND SHE PUT HER HAND ON ME,
AND SHE SAID, “IT’S OKAY.” THIS IS… THIS IS HARD TO SAY. “IT’S OKAY,
THE W’s UPRIGHT. HE’S ALL RIGHT,
HE’S ALIVE.” AND WE LEFT THERE
AND WENT BACK TO OUR HOTEL ROOM, AND THERE WAS A WIRE
FROM MY DAD THAT THE RED CROSS
HAD SENT A WIRE THAT HE HAD BEEN FOUND AND THAT THEY WERE
SHIPPING HIM HOME. SO THAT WAS HOW I FOUND OUT
THAT HE WAS ALIVE. MY MOTHER USED TO SAY, “ANYBODY THAT’S GOOD
TO THEIR MOTHER IS BOUND TO MAKE
A GOOD HUSBAND,” WHICH HE DID,
EVENTUALLY. WALT FERRIS WAS MY HUSBAND
FOR 52 YEARS TILL HE PASSED AWAY. THE WAR IN EUROPE
ENDED IN EARLY MAY 1945. AND THREE MONTHS LATER, ON AUGUST 14th,
JAPAN SURRENDERED. I WAS ON THE BOAT. AND EVERYBODY —
I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO — GOING TO BE PUSHED
INTO WILLAMETTE RIVER. OH, YES, I REMEMBER. I REMEMBER WHEN
IT WAS OVER. THAT WAS SOMETHING, YES. EVERYBODY STOPPED
THEIR WORK, RAN OFF THE BOAT,
AND JUST STARTED CELEBRATING. SO IT WAS NICE. IT WAS WONDERFUL
TO KNOW THAT IT WAS OVER… THAT THE WAR WAS OVER. THERE IS MORE ABOUT
OREGON AT WAR ON OREGON EXPERIENCE
ONLINE. TO LEARN MORE OR TO ORDER
A DVD OF THE SHOW, VISIT… Captions by LNS Captioning
Portland, Oregon
www.LNScaptioning.com FUNDING FOR OREGON EXPERIENCE
IS PROVIDED BY… THANK YOU.

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