AR: “Dog tags had a letter on them- Jewish soldiers’ letter was H, for Hebrew.”

What is your birth year?

1923. 

On his family and childhood: 

My mother was born in California. Both of our families were what you’d call ‘pioneer families’. Her family grew up in California, and my dad’s family started on the East Coast and came out to Portland. I was born in Portland- we came out here in the 1860’s. Actually, I was born down near Washington Park. [I had] a sister, and a brother, and when my sister was coming along, they built a house on Laurel Street. That’s where I grew up, and went to Ainsworth School, Lincoln High School, and then on to college. Lincoln was the only west-side high school; it served Tigard, Multnomah, Oswego, Dunthorpe- all these areas. It was all in the old Lincoln Hall; the whole school was in that building.

On growing up in the Great Depression:

Fortunately, our family [was] not that effected; my dad was a physician, and so his medical practice kept us going real well. We got through that okay.

Pre-war:

Well, you probably know that the war really started with Pearl Harbor. We declared war with the Japanese and the Germans; the Germans joined the Japanese, and that’s when we got into all of WWII. At that time, I was a sophomore down at Stanford University. Interesting enough, four of us rented a house off-campus, and one of my friends from campus came over and said, “Did you hear the news?” No, we hadn’t, but being in a house had an advantage. Over in the campus, they had blackouts. So many rumors, about where the Japanese were- [that] they were bombing Los Angeles, the Bay area- which were, of course, false. They put everything on the West Coast on a blackout. But, we were in a house, so we could pull down the shades. Stanford University was just prior to taking their quarterly exams; they were in pretty bad shape. Because I was involved in ROTC- which is the Reserve Officer Training Corp- in my third year, I actually enlisted in the Army through the ROTC program, with the idea that eventually you’d be called up, and then trained to go to Officer’s School. Interesting enough, summer of ’42, I got a job in the shipyards here. I made enough money to pay for room, board, and tuition at Stanford for one full quarter- which was $343. {Laughs} In April of ’43, I got my orders to go through the Ordinance division of the Army, because my background was in engineering. We were stationed, of all places, at Santa Anita, which is a racetrack in California. When the war broke out, all the Japanese on the West Coast were interned and sent to these various places off the coast. If you read the history on it, it was a pretty rough situation for them. Because there were actually some traces from Pearl Harbor- that some of [the attackers] actually had contact in the United States- they didn’t know who was a spy, and who wasn’t. 

On training:

Most of our training was desert training. While I had completed this basic training in the Ordinance, which was really desert-type training, there was no opening for Officer’s school for Ordinance. I was sent back, actually to Stanford University, under what they call ‘ASTP’. This was a program where you could continue your studies until you got called up for active duty. At the same time, the Air Force had been very much depleted by the Germans, and they were trying to fill in what they called ‘replacement crews’. They came recruiting, and I decided that I wanted to get into more active service. I wanted to play a more active part in the war. Was this the result of a spirit of adventure- or some factor that I cannot explain? It could be all of that. I guess I was gung-ho; [I] didn’t tell my parents, which was a shock to them- to find out I was going in the Air Force. That’s where I ended up, and went through gunnery school; [it] was at Las Vegas, [which] was a very small town, at that time. On to bombardier training at Victorville, California, where I actually started training with the bomb site, and flying airplanes.From bombardier training, you went up to Walla Walla, Washington. At that time, while I was at the home of Whitman college, was a very provincial town- very religious. It was pretty much under the influence of the Seventh Day Adventist. It was not a what you’d call gung-ho place. There weren’t many places where you could go eat and have a drink. That’s where our crew assembled, and where we were introduced to our airplanes. There, we did assimilated missions. There were some experiences we had, before we went overseas, like our training at Moses Lake. We had a fire in our airplane; one of the engines caught on fire, and we had to land it at a different airbase than we had taken off from. Unfortunately, at that time, my folks had come up to Walla Walla to meet us- well, they found out that we’re in trouble. We finally got back there. When we finished our training, they sent us to California. We were thinking, “Oh, we’re going over to the South Pacific.” So, we all got short haircuts. {Laughs} Shaved haircuts. What happens is, they put us on a troop train, we went cross-country, through the East Coast, and then instead of flying a plane over there- they already had planes there- we actually went over on a converted luxury liner. Well, when I say that, there were 9,000 troops on it. Not only Air Force, but Army. We were stacked up four high in bunks. It was not luxury. {Laughs} We got to our base; we had trained in B24s in Walla Walla- we get to this air base, and they’re B17s. There was almost a month of training, mostly for our pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer- he was an enlisted man- and the radio operator, to operate the equipment, which was different than what we had seen in the B24s. I had a gun turret, and we had trained in aerial gunnery, in Las Vegas. There was a turret that the bombardier operated, so we spent almost a month before we flew our first missions. 

On the president at the time, Franklin Delano Roosevelt:

Well, as a matter of fact, I had no political feelings. Although, just before we went overseas, I turned 21. We were allowed to vote for the president. Well, at that time, I guess my family were Republicans- I didn’t vote for him. {Laughs} But, I’ve been very interested since then. 

How much did you know about the Nazis before going overseas? Were you scared?

I always thought about what would happen if I got shot down. Through [my] uncle, who had actually worked with what was going on there, we knew that the Nazis were doing terrible things. Unfortunately, there were lots of people who said, “Why didn’t you try and do something about the concentration camps?” It was a very difficult thing to do. What a huge mistake Germany made, in putting so much of their resources into maintaining these things. It was unbelievable, that people could do the things they did. It’s hard to imagine. 

While serving overseas:

The background for WWII- Germany, of course, had taken over all of Europe at that time; England was isolated. Germany itself had no oil wells or anything. There was [oil facilities] only in Eastern Europe, in a place called Ploiești, in Romania. The Germans went down to North Africa, aimed at trying to get to the Middle East oil. That’s where early combat took place. Our forces were down there, and they were finally stopped by the British very short of getting to the Middle East. At the same time, Germany realized their shortcomings, and they had built a synthetic oil plant that produced what we call gasoline, from coal. Very interesting procedure. Ever since then, countries have looked at this as an alternative for producing fuel, although it’s expensive, and we don’t have to do it. Scientifically, and in their armament, they were very superior to this country at the start of the war. They had been preparing for this for years. 

At Victorville, we actually flew in planes, with the bombsight, and dropped bombs on ground targets. We were graded on our accuracy in doing that. The bombsight was what I would call an automatic pilot. The pilot would fly the plane; he would maintain the constant altitude, and air speed. The bombsight steered the plane; through it, you had a site where you could see the target. You kept moving; you’d put in various things, like altitude, air speed- mathematically, it calculated when you should drop the bombs. You had a sight that you looked through, and it had a line, and when you got to that point, then it triggered a release for the bombs. That’s the way it worked. A very secretive piece of equipment, which was guarded very heavily. The Germans actually got ahold of them at one time, but they didn’t have the airplanes that they could fit them in, to use. Our bombings, when we went over to Europe, was what you’d call precision bombing. We didn’t just go and drop bombs; the Germans, of course, came over to England and just bombed London and [other] various areas. The British- they were flying night missions, and they would just target a city and drop bombs. In both cases, of course, caused a lot of civilian casualty. [The] British, especially in London, during most of the war, lived underground, in the subways. Now, the Air Force- which was still under the Army at that time- went over to England in 1942, and started bringing planes over. They actually flew planes over, and crews. They started their missions, but the casualties were just tremendous, because as soon as they took off from England, they were over enemy territory. It was a big advantage to the Germans, and they had developed anti-aircraft. At that time, they had a very superior fire plane facility. There were very few crews that made it through all their missions. At the end of that time, and especially after Normandy, the United States was developing better planes, and a better facility. When our crew went over, we were a replacement crew. Because there were so many of these crews had been shot down or had completed their missions, we were a fill-in crew. The mission was to disable the German Air Force, and to go after their industry. One of the main targets, and the most heavily defended, were the synthetic oil plants that they built. The Army and the Air Force, all of the military, depend on fuel. If you don’t have something to drive your equipment, you don’t have anything. The targets were mostly very heavily defended, in that category. 

The 8th Air Force- and this was amazing- there were over 30 air fields in a section called East Anglia. Each Air Force had about a 10 mile diameter over the air base. When they went on a mission, you had to assemble up to 2,000 planes. They did this in a very organized, logistical way. Each air base took off at a certain time; you circled over your diameter, so you didn’t impact any of the other air fields. You got up to a certain altitude, and then you entered this long stream of groups of planes that were on their way to a mission. It was very tricky, and there were, actually, a lot of accidents- of planes that hit each other. There were casualties. It was an amazing thing, that they could do this, with very little impact. 

Our group had four squadrons; our squadron was 836. Each squadron had four flights; a flight was 9 or 12 planes that flew together as a group. You would fly at one altitude, and a second flight would fly 500 feet higher, and a third flight would fly at a third level. There were actually four squadron; one squadron was not flying. In other words, they would alternate- they would be on rest period. The bombardier, of course, was in the lead airplane. The rest of the planes, in that flight, would not have a bombsight; they would visually watch when the bomb started falling out of the bombardier’s plane, and then they would flip the switch that would release their bombs. 

There was a very tragic incident on our plane; we lost our radio operator. Fine young man. Interestingly enough, his background and mine were about the same- we were both juniors in chemical engineering. He was from Georgia Tech. What happened is, the pilot would radio to all crewmen to find out if everybody was okay. It was just a road check, to find out. He called the tail gunner, and he didn’t get any answer. This was the time we were going on our bomb run. He sent the radio operator back, to see what was going on. The planes were not pressurized; you were on oxygen when you got above 12,000 feet. They were not heated; you had an electric-heated suit. The temperature at 25,000 feet could be 40 below zero. There were a lot of exposure cases during the war, where people got frostbite if the suit didn’t work, or some other thing. What happened [was], where the tail gunner was, there were two oxygen outlets. There was an oxygen system all throughout the plane. He was hooked up to that; on the other side was a second one, which hadn’t been used. Evidently, the radio operator hooked up to that, [and] he wasn’t getting oxygen. It’s a serious thing, lack of oxygen- you’re not aware of what’s going on. Your whole system seems to malfunction. Well, he actually died. They call it anoxia. Then, the pilot sent me back there, as soon as I dropped the bombs, and I had a carryon oxygen bottle. [I] hooked up to [the radio operator], and we tried to give him artificial respiratory, and everything else, and nothing worked. I guess he’d expired before all this happened. Fine young man. I think about it almost everyday. That was December 30th, 1944. 

December 31st, just before New Year’s Eve, we went to Hamburg. Hamburg is the second largest city- lots of industry, oil refineries, and everything else. It was a beautiful, clear day; it was going to be visual bombing. We got out to take off, and there was a delay on the runway, so our group had already formed. Our commander said, “Well, just take off, and tack yourself onto the next group that comes by,” which we did. Well, this was a famous group called the 100th bomb group, which was one of the earliest bomb groups that had gone overseas. They had pulled a violation of international procedure; if a plane were over enemy territory, and were disabled to the point where they were still flying but could not get back to their home base, they would lower the flaps on a plane- which slows it down- and then the fighters from the enemy would come and escort them to an enemy air field, and they would land and be taken prisoners. This was international law, and it was very much recognized. It came out of WWI, where the pilots were really gentlemen. {Laughs} Each air group was very well marked with a letter on their tail, so they could be identified. Well, this story was that one of two planes got down to low level, because they were flying on better air conditions, [and] they figured, “Well, I figure we can get back to our home base, in England.” They alerted their gunners, and shot down the two German planes, and they did get back. They were a marked group from then on. So, here we go, took off, and we tacked on, and I look up- we’d heard this story before we’d gone on this mission- we’re tacked onto the 100th bomb group. Well, that wasn’t the worst part of it. As I say, it was a clear day, and normally, when you flew over a target at high altitude, you had what’s called a jet stream. Jet stream gives you about 60 miles an hour of push when you’re at that altitude. It was customary for the planes to use that extra speed to get over the target, so they would be there less time. Well, somehow or another, this squadron we tacked onto had got turned around, so they were going into the jet stream. We hung over that target, and because it was visual, the German anti-aircraft and fire planes just fired away at this one squadron. We were actually at the rear of it. 9 of the [13] planes were shot down; two of them right off our wing. I was looking out there; I saw one of them get hit. It kneeled over, made contact with the second plane. We saw this all happening, and of course, you always look to see if there are people parachuting out- I saw a few parachutes. But, that was not the whole story. Years afterward, I’d heard that one of my best friends from high school had gone overseas and was missing in action, on December 31st. I found out later, by getting information about the 100th bomb, that he was in one of those planes. Good friend from high school. Great guy. New Year’s Eve was not a very pleasant time. There are arguments from both sides about that mission. 

We were over Frankfurt, [and] we received very heavy anti-aircraft fire, which knocked out two of our engines. Fortunately, we were in a B17- [if] we had flown a 24, I don’t think they could manage as well. The B17 was a very well-built plane. We were in a very slow glide, losing altitude, and at that time, if a plane were disabled, we had fighter escort- the P51 was the hero of the Air Force. They were able to escort the bombers, and that helped annihilate the German Air Force. They came along, and escorted us out of enemy territory. We were still in this glide, and the navigator had figured, “Well, the nearest air base shown on any map was in Reims.” In Reims was one of the most famous gothic cathedrals in the world. It was a beautiful structure, and during WWII, they actually boarded up their beautiful glass windows, and tried to make it safe from bombing. It’s not a big target, but there was a German air field there, and it had been recaptured by the Americans only about three weeks before we started to aim for [it]. Well, we were flying in the clouds, and [when] we come out of the clouds, we are headed dead on for the top of that cathedral. On the top of the cathedral was a cross with a statue of Jesus on it. A plane that has two engines- you don’t just maneuver it like [jerks hands quickly left and right]. The pilot was very delicate; I was sitting up there in the bombsight, and said, “Gee, this is my chance to shake hands with Jesus.” {Laughs} We veered around it, and landed on this air field, which had been abandoned by the Germans. We spent a couple of days there; we actually went to services on Sunday at the cathedral- magnificent structure. Then, we were flown back to England. The plane was a disaster. There were 55 holes; the German anti-aircraft shells would burst at the altitude- they always had the right altitude. They’d throw out all this shrapnel- pieces about as big as [your thumb from knuckle to top]. They would tear through all parts of the plane; if you were unlucky, and they hit something like a gas tank, it would burst into flame. There were lots of planes shot down; we saw lots of planes disabled. We’d been hit by flak quite a few times, but nothing like this damage we had.

We had one mission where a piece of flak went through right near the tail gunner, and went through the tail wheel, which was a tire. We had no tire for landing, so when we got back to our base, we alerted the damage control people, and the emergency squad. I have to hand it to [the pilot]- you never would’ve thought he was smart- but he was very capable, and he kept the tail up when we landed, slowing down to a point, because he knew he had to touch the ground at some point. At that time, you didn’t know what kind of damage it had caused, but he slowed down enough, got the tail down, and we skidded almost to the end of the runway, with no further damage. That was another incident. 

We did get leaves, and we were out in kind of a rural area- it was kinda hard to get to London. You had to go into a town where there was a rail line, and you had to take two rail lines to get into London. I went in there a couple of times; they had a facility in London for officers. It was very nice, and it was much better than our little quonset huts, which had no heat. They had a little belly stove in the middle of this tinned place, with a few pieces of coal in there, and the same thing with no bathrooms- you had to go out to a common bath, again with practically no heat. I think fellas- taking a shower was not something you did everyday. {Laughs}

I think there was a time when we flew four missions in four days, which was very unusual. The bombardier was the first person up- something like two or three in the morning. You would go to [an] intelligence briefing; they would show you the target, they would show you where anti-aircraft facilities were, the pattern of how you should fly your mission, description of the targets. Then, the rest of the officers- the navigator, the pilot- they were up about an hour later, [and] you’d have that briefing. You had to carry your own machine guns; we’d have to carry out and clean them ourselves after each mission, even if they weren’t fired. The bombsights were carried out by mechanics; they were taken out of the planes each day, and guarded for security. There was a lot going on, and you didn’t ever take off until seven o’clock, so I’d been up four or five hours. A mission could be 8 hours; you come back down, and you go to intelligence briefing. Towards the end of the war, our planes carried a camera, which automatically was set off when you got to the target, so they could visually see what kind of damage you did, and the pattern of bombings. What you tried to do, with this whole squadron, was to get bombs concentrated over a certain area. Some of the missions, when it was clouded over- they had a device which was sort of like a radar that could see through the clouds and pick up things. The areas that showed up the best were what they called ‘rail marshelling yards’, where there were a lot of railroad tracks, and cars. If you bombed where you couldn’t see the target, you could use that facility to pick up your target. Some of this equipment, interestingly enough, were developed by the British. The United States had what they called a Lend-Lease program with the British; the story I heard was when they came to pay-up time, the British said, “Well, we’ve given you all this scientific help, and so we’re even.” 

We completed our missions, of course; I had a fairly good time in London. I went to the wax museum- of course, there was a place where you could find better food- but they had what you’d call ‘two-tier’ all through England. Even near our air base, where there was a little pub, they charged the Americans about double what the British paid, for everything. {Laughs} We spent a lot of American dollars over there. 

Did you face any anti- Semitism during this time?

I have to say yes. There was a series of things, when I put it all together, I had to assume [that it was] anti- Semitism. It was during our bombardier training; they kept score on our accuracy when we were at Victorville. I had one of the highest scores of our trainees. We usually bombed during the days; at night, they had very rough air over the desert. If the plane tipped one way or the other, it would tip your bomb inside. The whole group had night bombing scheduled, but the commander said, “The air is too rough; hold your planes down, and don’t go out.” Well, my instructor sent us out, and my bombs went all over the place. It impacted my score, and I heard some things back and forth that he could’ve been anti- Semitic. The other thing- and I never thought about this- you’re required to wear dog tags. Dog tags had a letter on them- Jewish soldiers’ letter was H, for Hebrew. If you were shot down, or taken prisoner, you’re not supposed to throw your dog tags away. If I’d ever been shot down and taken prisoner, wearing an H- I do know from one of my friends who was in the ground forces, who was taken prisoner, who was Jewish- he was treated very badly, because he was Jewish. I think the Air Force was probably more gentlemanly, so I don’t know of any other incidences. It existed, and the Armed forces, I know- all through early history, there was anti- Semitism- getting into the Academies, and so forth. 

We had a rabbi who was originally from Portland- who was actually my uncle- his name was Jonah B. Wise. He went from Portland to New York, and he was involved in what they call the joint-distribution committee. Their work was trying to get Jews out of Germany, and settled in this country. He knew quite a bit about what was going on in Germany. People knew that there were problems. Quite a few people came to Portland- they had to be sponsored and guaranteed by individuals. In other words- we were in a Depression. It’s such a similar case now- you talk about bringing refugees in. People here are saying, “These people are coming in and taking our jobs.” Well, the same thing was going on in the ’30s. They didn’t want a huge influx of refugees coming in, because unemployment was very high in this country. As a matter of fact, 1938 was the highest period of unemployment during that period of time. This was what, 6 years after Roosevelt had come in. One of the things I’ve thought about, and I think other people have eluded to this- he saw, in our getting involved in war, a chance for increased employment. This was one of the things in the back of his mind, and it was true. Of course, the other side of the coin is to do this, this started our huge debt of spending. I think it was $100,000,000,000 that we were in debt to at the end of WWII- something like that. There were 11,000,000 service people, plus all the industry. That was a miraculous thing, what they did to get this country up and running. Prior to that time, our forces had been neglected. I’ve read that the American public was not enthusiastic about going back to another European war. Did you notice this? Yeah. There was a lot of isolationists. You have to recognize that that was going on. 

It was an interesting period of time, and one thing I will say- my dad being a doctor, he was able to get gasoline. When we finished our missions, and I had 30 day leave at home, I came home, and my brother was home. We went on a vacation, which was unusual. {Laughs} We went to our favorite family place- Lake Crescent, in Washington. Gorgeous place. I went back into the service through a physical, and [a] re- assignment period down in California. We were sent to Midland, Texas. Great place. Home of George Bush! Midland, Texas, was in the middle of Texas. Air base was 10 miles on one side, and there was a big oil town on the other, which was very wild, and frontier-like. Lots of drinking. Midland, Texas, was a very provincial, dry town- church town. Well, we met some girls who lived in Midland, Texas, but we knew if we wanted to go out- we were gung-ho. {Laughs} Had some kind of transportation to Midland to get the girls, take them back to the Air Base- it was just life. While we were there, we were training for the B29 program in the South Pacific. Well, that’s when they started dropping the bombs. I had enough points- you earn points from the number of missions you’ve flown, and the number of hours, the time you’d been in the service, and so forth- that I was eligible to get out. By the time I got back to Portland, it was October. I wasn’t going to be out of the service until the first of November- I wanted to go down to Oregon State, because I found out that Stanford was not as good a school for chemical engineering as Oregon State. They’d already started school, and chemical engineering is a one-course per year type of thing. It wasn’t something you could pick up on the second quarter. I found out that the University of Washington had a November semester system, so that’s where I ended up taking the rest of my chemical engineering.

What were your friends and family’s reaction to your service?

Not very good, because you’d pick up a newspaper, and read that 50 planes were shot down. Well, they didn’t know which missions were on, or anything else, unless they were notified. At the same time, my brother was an infantry officer over in the South Pacific; he was in the Philippines. In the February of 1945, he was injured. They were out, trying to clean up a Japanese group. In February, the American troops had landed in the Philippines, and McArthur- big time McArthur- wanted to get the Manila, so he went straight down through the country, and they took Manila. The Japanese scattered, up into the other areas of the Philippines, and my brother’s division had the assignment to go after them. He was wounded, and it was kind of a little interesting story- when they took him back out of the Philippines, on the way back to the States, they landed in Guam. When he was in Guam, the attendant came in and said, “There’s a Jewish rabbi here- would you like to talk to him?” My brother said, “Sure.” In walked the rabbi- he was our rabbi from Temple Beth Israel- rabbi Berkowitz. He had, during WWII, volunteered to be a chaplain. He saw my brother before he ever got home, and he was on his way home- he told my folks about my brother’s condition. That was his end of service, but I was still flying. You can imagine what parents were going through- like I said, reading the statistics, seeing about this mission- it must’ve been very hard on them.

How did you stay in touch with them?

Letters. I had a whole stack of letters I kept, going both ways. We got mail. 

What was the food like?

Our air base was adjacent to a beet farm- in fact, I think it was actually on the premises. We had a lot of beets. Fair food- it was Army type food. I know we ate better than the ground forces. We were out of the elements, so I don’t know; it was interesting- if you were going to go on a difficult mission, you got real eggs for breakfast. If you were going on a regular mission, you got powdered eggs. It was a lot of G.I. food. The air base had a big mess hall, and the food was edible- it was okay. It was a long day; you had breakfast, and then you came back and you’d had nothing to eat. We carried candies, and stuff you could eat on the airplane, but we had no real food through breakfast to dinner. We came back down, went to intelligence meetings, cleaned our guns, and then some of the officers- I was one of them, in our barracks- were given the job of censoring the enlisted men’s mail. It was very painful; I just didn’t like this at all. You didn’t like the idea that you were looking at their personal life, and maybe at home. It was just another job- another half hour of work. 

Life after the war:

It took me three years [to get my degree], because I had to take some back-up courses at Washington. [I] was employed up in Camas, Washington, where I was lived for five years. I was single; I was very active up there. I ended up being chairman of our junior Chamber of Commerce- I was a state officer in that category. [I] travelled all over the state, to meetings. Then, while I was there, I met my wife-to-be, and started dating. {Laughs} We originally thought about living in Camas, but she lived in Portland, and of course I was affiliated with our congregation in Portland, [and had] family in Portland. When we got married, we moved to Northeast Portland. We were there until we moved to our condo. It was a different area, in those days. Our first apartment was on the corner of Vancouver and Alberta. We started having a family, and we started looking for a house, and we moved farther out into Northeast, because I was commuting. We had four children; our son, a great young man, he died when he was 47. He was ill. He was an Eagle Scout, an athlete- just a great young man. Three daughters- they are all three married. 6 grandchildren, [and] one great-grandchild- she’s two and a half. Fortunately, she lives in Portland. Then, I have a daughter and son-in-law in Alameda, California. 

[I] got a job out of school, at Crown Zellerbach Corporation. My career with Crown Zellerbach, which was 35 years- I did a lot of time traveling. I spent a lot of time in Louisiana. I had three different categories of jobs- one in research, one in chemical process- they were making products out of their waste materials- and the third one, which was environmental services. We were responsible for all the environmental projects all through the corporation. Crown Zellerbach was very good about this; they were leaders in the field. Leaders in forestation. We cleaned up our rivers, we cleaned up our mills. We did a lot of testing; I actually had a challenge to the EPA. They had lots of methods for testing- you came out with one that was so difficult to do in the field, and expensive, that we devised an alternate method, which they adapted. [It] saved the industry a lot of money, I think. We put in all kinds of air and water pollution systems. I got into a field of corrosion engineering, and did a lot of that kind of work. 

When I retired- which was quite a while ago- 1985- I got involved, through my mother, who was one of the pioneers of Loaves and Fishes, [with what] is now called Meals on Wheels. My career- not only was I a driver, but I was a site chairman. We had a volunteer group which governed our center, which was downtown. I was on the board of the whole organization for 6 years. That was my main volunteer activity, along with another one- I started playing the violin when I was 5 years old, followed my musical career all the way through college. I played in the Youth Philharmonic for a few years. Kinda put my violin down for a lot of years, but when I retired, I got involved with the volunteer program, for a daycare center for people with dementia. This was what started at the Jewish Community Center; they had one professional, and we had people six hours a day. We had all kinds of programs; my part of it was musical. We did singing, and we also did day trips. We did physical things with them; we were kind of helpers, for the one professional. I carried that on for quite a few years, and it was eventually transferred to the Robison Health Center. I still go out there once a week, and do a sing-along with the adults. It’s so interesting- it’s revived all my musical background, because in addition to classical- my father and brother and I did a lot of playing of the early populars together, all three of us. You grew up through a lot of different musical eras. Yes. Oh my gosh, yes. Well, the songs we sing- I think they end in about the ’50s or ’60s. I just can’t relate to this [new music]. It just doesn’t sound like music. What songs were popular when you were in high school? Oh, gosh yeah. ‘Once in a While’, ‘I’ll Never Smile Again’, ‘Walking My Baby Back Home’. All kinds of things. I’ve taken a lot of songs from the musicals- Fiddler on the Roof, Sound of Music. A lot of good music came from those. 

I hadn’t really talked much about the war experience with our children- it actually got down to my grandchild, who lived in Dallas, Texas. He was in a high school class, and they were very gung-ho about finding out about their grandparents’ experiences during the war. That was when I first started talking to everybody about all this. I had kept a very skimpy diary. 

What do you think the general public should know about war?

I don’t know whether it’s affected my outlook on what’s going on in the world today. I think kids nowadays are not disciplined; there was a great deal of discipline in our day. Growing up, and the Armed forces, were very disciplined. When you think about it, things sodomy carried a capital punishment. That, of course, is not true today. We recognize things like [being] gay; I’m sure there were people who were gay in our day- it was not recognized [then]. There are good young people coming along, but by the same token, I think we’ve built a subculture that is not anything we’re addressing right now. I don’t like to get political, but I think generally, our government has not tried to get us out of this area. They keep adding more programs, and more support, encouragement, for people to take from the government. When I went to work for Crown Zellerbach, I found out about this- during WWII, they kept their mill going. They were very short on personnel, especially workmen who had gone in the service. They had a facility where people could stay overnight; it was a very modest inn in Camas, Washington. They would go down to 3rd and Burnside, take some of these derelicts that were hanging around, [take] them out there, put them to work, and many of them stayed and kind of got reconditioned into their lives. Today, you don’t hear about that. These people are left down there on the street. We’re not solving the problem. There were programs before WWII, where the government took unemployed people, and put them to work, doing things. Of course, the government was paying for it, but at least they were doing something

How did your service affect your life?

The one physical affect, I think, and I didn’t recognize this, and I probably still haven’t done anything about it- we flew a mission once where I had a bad cold. After you dropped the bombs, you were at 25,000 feet, and you were at an altitude were they knew where you were, for anti-aircraft. So, immediately after the bombs were dropped, the planes would take a vertical dive of about 5,000 feet. If you’ve ever flown with a cold, you know any change in altitude affects you. Well, I went practically deaf for almost a day. Not deaf, but I knew I had ear problems. I never really thought too much about it, but I think when I was in [my] 40s or 50s, I started noticing I had tinnitus- kind of a ringing in your ears. I think that could’ve been the affect. If I’d recognized it, and gone to the VA- which I ended up [doing as] I was losing some hearing- I probably could’ve gotten my hearing aids through them, for very little money and treatment. That was one affect. The other- I think I kinda had a broad awakening to what’s going on in the world, and an interest in the world. I am sort of a history buff, I guess, especially the WWII. I think it settled me down; I wasn’t unsettled before I went to service, but I think about this- when people came out of the service, and of course they came from all over the country, and all kinds of backgrounds, the government saw to taking care of them. They offered them the G.I. bill, which allowed them to go to school. They had gotten rid of this restlessness, especially with young people that weren’t on a college track. They got them interested in bettering themselves; they were able to buy houses. This whole generation- they’re the people that were the scientists, and really put this country in good shape. You don’t see that now. The government is still trying to bring people out of the service and into that category. There are a lot of good people; there are a lot of good programs. I don’t think we can look to the government to do everything- you’re seeing more social action coming out of the private and religious sector. I think it’s one way we can hopefully get ourselves out of the demise. 

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This interview has been lightly edited for readability. However, to maintain integrity, and to respect the stories of the veteran, content has not been altered from the original transcription. This interview was originally recorded and later transcribed. Questions partially retrieved from:

“Guidelines.” Veterans History Project. Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 23 June 2017. <www.loc.gov/vets/guidelines.html>.

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