I can’t definitively find any parents for John George Sr.
- There was a baptism of a Wilmot Alexandra, Born Jan 9, 1885, parents Richard and Mary Jane George of Lady Cove. http://ngb.chebucto.org/Vstats/pre-1891-britania-meth-bap-1883-1891-tb.shtml
- A Mary Jane George died in apparently April 23, 1894 at Lady Cove age 41 years, that would make her birth year 1853.
- Found this interview on the internet – identifies
- Johns Father as being named Richard
- Richard married Mary Jane Hart and moved to Random Island
Full text of interview follows
Nicholas Molnar: This begins an interview with Mr. Richard George on May 23, 2005, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with Nicholas Molnar and …
Peter Asch: … Peter Asch …
Susan Yousif: … Susan Yousif.
NM: Thank you for sitting for this interview. We will start with a little bit about your family history. Can you tell us a little bit about your father?
Richard George: Okay, I can go all the way back, if you’d like, to the 1600s. I brought a copy of the Family Tree with me. My father’s family left England and Wales for Newfoundland between the mid 1600s to the late 1700s. The George surname arrived in the late 1600s. Robert George appears in the census in 1702 in the village of Hearts Content, Newfoundland. He was listed as a “Planter” with one schooner, several small boats, a building where fish were dried and salted, and several servants. Members of the George family still reside in the village of Hearts Content. The Garland surname arrived in Harbour Grace in the late 1600s. My fifth great grandfather Mathias Henry Garland’s headstone is in the Lower Island Cove cemetery (1736-1791). The Hart surname appears in Hants Harbour [in] the late 1700s. The Price surname appears in Hants Harbour around 1800. Members of the four branches moved to Random Island in the 1860s. My second Great grandfather Joseph Hart and his son Theophilus established lumber mills at that time. My Great grandfather Richard George married Mary Jane Hart and moved to Random Island and established another lumber mill in the early 1870s. My grandfather John George was born 1874. He died in 1948 at the age of 74. My grandmother Priscilla Garland was born in 1874. She died in 1906 at the age of 32. So, that’s my father’s side, in Newfoundland. On my mother’s side there were her maternal grandparents Christopher Crowley and Margaret McIntyre. Her paternal grandparents were Peter Gaffney and Mary O’Mackay. My great grandparents (Crowley) appear, along with two children, in the 1870 census in Union Township (now Lyndhurst), New Jersey. At least two children were born during the Civil War. So, I know that they were here at least that long. The Gaffneys are also listed in the 1870 census (with no children). My grandfather Martin Gaffney was born in 1873. He died at the age of forty-four in 1917. My grandmother Bridget Crowley was born in 1874. She died at the age of thirty-two in 1906. So, then, my father arrived in about 1924. … He was a first mate on a ship, that went to Europe and down to the Caribbean with dried fish [and back] to Europe, which was the big thing off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. That’s the big fishing area of the world, really, and lumber. The Harts and the Georges started a lumber mill on Random Island in the mid 1800s. The Garlands began their shipbuilding and maritime enterprises in the early 1800s. The Prices were “Planters” with a fleet of fishing vessels. The Garlands went into law and politics in the late 1800s. So, that’s how my father got into sailing. … As I believe I mentioned, he started out working in the lumber mill as just a boy, in the kitchen, and moved out onto the Grand Banks, fishing, as a teenager, which was quite dangerous, if you’ve seenThe Perfect Storm. You’ve seen that movie?
RG: Okay, well, if you can, visualize a thirteen-year-old boy out on a small dory, no bigger than from there to there, with the nets, pulling the fish in. If you’ve ever seen, or never seen, Winslow Homer’s The Herring Net(1885) there’s a boy and a man pulling in the nets, the seine nets. That’s what my father did, and then, he became a seaman and worked his way up to first mate, again, on his uncle’s ship, and settled here about 1924, met my mother. He was on his way [to] Australia and he told his uncle, “If I don’t catch a ship to Australia, the next time you come around, I’ll go back to Newfoundland,” but … he got a job in New York City, then, came over to New Jersey, where he met my mother. … That was the end of that, [laughter] no more Australia, settled in Lyndhurst. … I don’t know if you want to go into his work history.
NM: Yes, please.
RG: Okay, he started out with the United Cork Company in Lyndhurst and in those days before Styrofoam, he was involved with the processing of cork into insulation, primarily for big commercial refrigerators and such, and then, you don’t see too much of it anymore, but cork flooring. They put a varnishing finish on the cork panels. … They installed it in kitchens or in rec rooms. So, that was primarily their business. He had an opportunity to go with Western Electric in Kearney, New Jersey, working in their wire manufacturing process and worked his way up to foreman. The Depression hit in ’29 and he kept his job until 1936. The reason I would have to say [that is], it was around 1936 that we moved to North Arlington, which is the next town over, into a two-family house. He lost his job at Western Electric due to the Depression. He then went out into general contracting. He could do all phases of construction: building, plumbing and electrical. You name it, he could do it, and so, he had his own business going, and then, he bumped into one of the brothers who owned the United Cork Company and they asked him if he’d like to come back. He did. So, then, we moved back to Lyndhurst and that was 1938. So, for about two years, he did the contracting business on his own, found it quite successful, but my mother liked the security of a job, so, he went back to the Cork Company. Then World War II broke out. … The cork was used for packing, as well as refrigeration, for shells, munitions, you name it. So, it became a critical business and he stayed at [United Cork], although he was only forty when the war broke out in 1941. He was too old to be drafted, but, by the time the war ended in ’45, his name was on the list, even though he had two children. So, then, in 1948, ’49, somewhere in that timeframe, a German scientist invented Styrofoam. The United Cork Company was owned by a German family. They had extensive business contacts in Germany. They brought the scientist to New Jersey. … If you’ve seen the Styrofoam in its raw form, it’s like corn kernels. You pop it under steam/pressure that makes the Styrofoam. So, if you look at a sheet of Styrofoam, you’ll see the granule effect in the Styrofoam. They were just thinking of making it for insulation to replace cork. … My father had the opportunity [to work on this]. They assigned my father to work with the scientist to get it into mass production in sheet form and [they had] very strict tolerances on the thickness of it, for various uses in refrigeration and insulation. They weren’t thinking of what we know it to be used for today. I mean, it’s into a million things today, right, and so, they reached the point where they were going to build a factory to make Styrofoam in Ohio. So, I know I was in my senior year in high school, (1949) when my parents went away on a summer vacation and there was a fire in the main plant in Kearney. The company had to make a decision, replace that building or [not]. With the money that they were going to be using [to build the] new building in Ohio, plus, the insurance money, they decided to rebuild and stick with the cork. As I recall they eventually sold the patent for Styrofoam to Armstrong Cork. My father was the assistant plant manager; that’s how he retired. Then, at the age of sixty, he got a job with the Bergen County Park System. [Laughter] … My mother threw him out of the house, I think. That’s not the story I heard at the time, but that’s what I believe. He knew a state assemblyman who got him a job in Van Saun County Park, it’s up in Northern Bergen County, near, Ridgewood. He ended up working his way up to be an assistant foreman. … He was in his seventy’s. I said, “Pop, I don’t get this.” He came down here to Rutgers, to the Agricultural [School], to take courses in gardening and park maintenance. He was going around in his own truck to every park in Bergen County. So I asked, “Pop, why don’t you give it up?” [Laughter] … I didn’t quite put it that way, but he loved it and he was seventy-four years old when he finally decided to pack it in. My father passed away in 1985 of a stroke. On my mother’s side, as I said, going through the archives and checking the census in Trenton, my grandmother’s siblings, and my grandfather’s as well, were born in the 1860s/70s in Union Township, now Lyndhurst. My grandfather Martin Gaffney’s parents were Peter Gaffney and Mary O’Mackay. My great grandfather, Peter Gaffney, worked on the [Erie-Lackawanna Railroad], when it was just the Lackawanna Railroad. He died in an accident in the 1880s. … As a result, the railroad educated my grandfather. My grandfather went to a technical school. Near the site of Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands, there used to be a roundhouse where the train engines would come in for maintenance. There might still be remnants of the facility today. My mother and father pointed out where it was back in the 1950s. From what my mother said, my grandfather was the foreman in charge of the engineering team, the technical team that maintained the engines for the Lackawanna Railroad. My mother’s mother and father are buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. I checked with St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in East Rutherford, New Jersey, to obtain records on the Gaffney and Crowley surnames. There were at least three Martin Gaffney’s, one of whom fit the time when my grandfather lived. The problem was that he died in 1917 in White Haven Pennsylvania of tuberculosis. I had also found conflicting records regarding my grandmother Bridget (Crowley) Gaffney. Their marriage certificate showed Martin Gaffney married Bridget Crowley. Other records showed her named as ‘Belinda’ Crowley. So how can I track this down? I called my cousin and said, “I believe that I’ve found our grandfather Martin but the records indicate that he died in White Haven, Pennsylvania of Tuberculosis.” She said, “if you remember there was a white glass canoe planter on a table on the front porch, and it said, ‘White Haven, Pennsylvania,’ on it,” and she asked, “Don’t you remember?” I said, “No, you know, I was a kid. I remember the canoe but nothing else.” She remembered that her mother talked to my mother about the time when she was a teenager going to White Haven, Pennsylvania, to visit their father in the sanitarium. That is how her mother came to bring home this milk glass canoe. So, I called my daughter and I said, “You won’t believe this. I just found out what White Haven, Pennsylvania is all about. Now, I’ve one last mystery to solve: Belinda.” My daughter said, “Grandma told me her mother hated the name Bridget.” I should point out that the high school was just a few blocks from my parent’s home. My daughter would go there, along with my other children, for lunch. My father and mother were at the point in their lives where they were starting to talk about their families. I wish I had been there, and so, Belinda turns out to be Bridget. She hated the name Bridget and that was that. Bridget’s father, Christopher Crowley-there’s an interesting part about him. My Grandmother Bridget “Belinda” Crowley’s, father and mother were Christopher Crowley and Margaret McIntyre (they are buried along with Peter Gaffney in St. Peter’s Church cemetery in Belleville, NJ). In the 1870 Census, Christopher had one thousand dollars worth of property. Now, where did he get one thousand dollars from in 1870? That was a lot of money in 1870. My son David went into the Bergen country archives in Hackensack, New Jersey. There he found the deed for the purchase of property in Kingsland (now a section of Lyndhurst), New Jersey. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find out how or where that money came from. That’s pretty much it on the family. I mean, I can go into a lot more, but I don’t know … how deep you want to [go].
NM: That was fine. You lived in North Arlington at first.
RG: I was born in North Arlington and probably lived there for a year or two before moving to Lyndhurst. We lived in Lyndhurst for two-three years. We then moved back to North Arlington. I spent two years in school there, kindergarten, first grade. We came back to Lyndhurst, where I entered the second grade. That would be 1938.
NM: How did the Great Depression affect your community and your family?
RG: My father always seemed to be able to earn a living and a fairly good one, all things considered, with either his own business or as a foreman working for Western Electric or the United Cork Company. As I said, we rented, but it was always a single-family, except for that short period of time where it was a two-family house in North Arlington. I didn’t realize that there was a depression. My brother had a bike. I got it second-hand they bought him a new bike. I think I had a fairly, all things considered, comfortable childhood, prior to World War II breaking out, and we were always going to the Jersey Shore, where my uncle had a place near the Highlands. My father helped him build it. My uncle had his own welding business. So, there was no problem there, on my aunt and uncle’s side. They were doing fairly well with his business. So, I didn’t see what you see on television, the dust bowls and people going to California, leaving Arkansas and Texas and going to California. The Grapes of Wrathstory was something I read about and saw in the movies but did not see in my life. I didn’t see any of that and my friends and classmates were in similar circumstances. Now, Lyndhurst is a true boiling pot. Today, it’s probably more towards the Oriental side, the Asian-American side, and maybe some Hispanic. In my day, growing up, it was Italian, Irish, and I put myself in the Irish category, Irish/Welsh. The remaining ethnic mix was made up of Northern European, German, and Polish. I grew up being invited into a friend’s family home and having an Italian meal, an Italian Sunday dinner and so on. So, we were really a true ethnic mix.
NM: It was not like where one side of the town was the Irish side and another side of the town was the Italian side.
RG: Well, now, that’s a good point. There were two predominately Italian neighborhoods in town. One was called “the Lower Hook,” the other Italian section was called “the Upper Hook.” The Lower Hook was shaped like a fish hook. I don’t know how the Upper Hook got its name. Looking at the map on that, it doesn’t look like one- a fish hook, but, anyway, that’s what they called it. That was the two concentrations of the Italian families and, in both cases, interestingly enough, the streets were very narrow. It’s almost like walking through a European street. You could just about get a car through there, even today, unless they’ve knocked some buildings down. So, that was primarily the Italian section, and then, there was a heavy concentration of Polish families, right on the edge of the Meadowlands. As you come out of Giants Stadium, on Route 3, … if you look west, you’ll see a ridgeline, Rutherford, Lyndhurst, North Arlington, along that ridgeline, there were Polish families. The rest of town was just a mix. I went to a grammar school that was right on the edge of the Lower Hook, and so, up until the eighth grade most of my classmates were Italian. Then, they combined the eighth grade students from Washington School into our school. They were from the Polish/Anglo-Saxon [section]. Then, we went on to high school. So, we had a good mix and, of course, playing sports, you didn’t have Little League in those days. We just picked up guys and went and played all around town, got to know everybody. So, that was that, as far as the ethnic groupings are concerned, and we didn’t have any blacks in town. Rutherford did and that was primarily because Rutherford was a very wealthy town and the story goes that, after the Civil War, most of the people who were living there worked in New York City. The train went through Rutherford and into New York, before the busses started to take most of that traffic. So, you had very wealthy Wall Street financial families in Rutherford and most of the servants, after the Civil War, were black, and so, they migrated north to become servants in the wealthy homes in New Jersey. So, that’s how the blacks got integrated into wealthy towns. Then, some of them concentrated, obviously, into Newark, Jersey City, and other cities. So, we played them in sports and got to know them, got to meet them. I really didn’t get to know many blacks until I went in the Army and we were integrated. Truman issued the proclamation that integrated the military in ’48. I went in the army in September ’51, and so, that was my first meeting, Northern, Southern, blacks and so, that was an experience that helped me grow a little bit, too. …
NM: You said that you were comfortable during the Depression.
RG: Comfortable, I would put us as comfortable, didn’t realize [it], yes.
NM: Did your parents ever express any opinions about Roosevelt’s New Deal policies?
RD: I can remember a little bit of it. My uncle, being in his own business, he did not like the government intervention into our affairs, the people’s affairs. He thought they were encroaching too much. My father, I think, in the beginning, kind of felt differently. Again, I was nine, ten, eleven years old. I just remember them having the discussions and my father was pretty much on Roosevelts’ side. Years later probably during my High School years he explained that he thought the government had a responsibility to “Get money back into the economy.” He was looking at the money being pumped back into the system, but, by the time I was paying attention to it; … now, going back, and you, being in history, if you’re taking economics courses, you find out that, by 1939, we were no better off than we were in 1931, [after] … taking the money and putting it into government programs and having people say, “Well, it’s going to go here, it’s going to go there,” as opposed to a free enterprise system, letting that perk through and work. So, I don’t know if you have had those classes yet. … I don’t know whether you learn that in your history classes, but, by 1939, we were worse off than we were in 1931, ’32. … World War II brought us out of it and they kind of brought a lot of that under control, or they had to, during the war. Of course, other things came into play during the war, but, to answer your question, I think my father, in those days, was pretty much pro-Roosevelt. My uncle was against [him]. … Then, as time went on, that’s why I brought in the 1939 comparison to ’31, ‘2, ‘3, I think my father started to realize, too, that, “Wait a second, enough is enough. I think we ought to let free enterprise work.” Then, he also felt the President should only serve for two terms. I know he was very strong on that. “Two terms is all you should serve. You start taking three and,” in Roosevelt’s case, “four, that’s a bit much. Now, you’re becoming virtually a dictator,” but it was wartime. … Nobody wants to change horses in midstream like that, so, he was pretty much guaranteed a third and fourth term. As you probably have heard and read, immigrants coming to this country are strong, pro-American. My father was so pro-American, [if] anybody questioned American activities, he would go after them pretty strongly. I always found that interesting. Here he is, an immigrant, and he’s the strongest pro-American. … So, he was against the third and fourth term. He didn’t like the idea. He understood it, because of the war, but I think he became more Republican and my uncle was always Republican. After the war they voted against Truman. I know he voted against Truman. I cast my first vote for Dwight David Eisenhower while I was in the infantry in Korea. I had just turned twenty-one.
NM: Do you remember Pearl Harbor?
RG: Very much so. I was ten. Yes, as a matter-of-fact, I was playing with a friend on a Sunday morning … after church. Actually, I guess it was around noontime. After church we went to an area between our houses that was a wooded area and a little on the mushy side when it rained. … It was years before they built a house there. So, we played there and as it happened we were playing war, shooting at each other, and my friend’s father called out, “Come home, immediately,” and he continued yell. I said, “Hey, Mitch, your father’s yelling.” “Come home now.” So, I thought, “What’s going on here?” … I went trotting along with him and his father told the two of us that it had just been announced that the Japanese had just attacked Pearl Harbor. So, that’s very, very vivid in my mind, to be playing war, as a ten-year-old, on a Sunday afternoon, which should be a no-no right there. I didn’t know what to think. I ran home. My father was listening to the report on the radio, there wasn’t much said, except [that] the attack had occurred. They didn’t disclose too much. We didn’t see those films that you now see quite regularly whenever a war story is on. We didn’t see that for several months. … If I’d put it in a timeframe, I would have to say it was probably after the Battle of Midway, which was in June of ’42, because that was a big victory. We knocked out, what? Three or four of their aircraft carriers and we only lost one. … Guadalcanal was going our way. … We had just invaded North Africa. Those three things happened. The tide … started to turn in Guadalcanal, we defeated the Japanese at the Battle of Midway and we invaded North Africa. We had some losses in the beginning, but that turned around when Patton got there and you’ve seen the movie Patton, and so, you know what happened there. … It was after that that they started to release more and more information because they thought the American people could now accept what a horrible day that was, and then, of course, [there were] those who were killed, who had come home injured and so forth, and the stories were seeping out, but, to see the film of those smoking battleships and everything, that was … really a shocker. … Then, the Bataan Death March, they released some news on that, because a couple of guys escaped, got to an island, were picked up, and then, they started the guerilla warfare in the Philippines. That didn’t come out until a while later, either. The fact that some of them got out and they talked about the Death March. So, that got the public opinion very strongly anti-Japanese. In fact, I just saw a little bit of it over this past weekend. … Did you see any of that? As a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor (and the atrocities) our government didn’t know who they could trust. So the Japanese Americans were herded into the concentration camps in California, and then, they brought some, I believe, to Arkansas, was it? I didn’t know that. They were brought to a farmland area in Arkansas and, now, looking back with hindsight, you say, “Gee, that was pretty rough,” and especially [for] the young men who were patriotic and wanted to get out of that, volunteered to join our military. They weren’t sent to fight the Japanese. They were sent to Europe. So, that’s the first several months, but, look, as I say, looking back with hindsight, you realize they were treated pretty badly. Japanese-Americans were treated pretty badly, but, at the time, those stories were coming out about the horrible atrocities that Japan was committing. They were also committing atrocities against the Chinese people. I mean, we had bubble gum cards. I can remember these cards; … it was before the war. “The Rape of Nanking and the Japanese,” was on a bubble gum card. I was a little kid getting these cards. Did you ever play with bubble gum card’s, you ever play to win them? You know what I’m talking about?
NM: I just know Bazooka Joe.
RG: [laughter] Okay, you’ve got bubble gum cards. Most of them were Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, [a ballplayer’s] picture on it, and you got a couple of big slabs of bubble gum to chew. … Then, you’d flip the cards on the ground and … you said, “Odd,” or, “Even.” So, “even” would be two face-ups or two face-downs. “Odd” then would be one face up and one face down. I used to have a stack of bubble gum cards. [Laughter] – So, then war bubble gum cards appeared in the late 1930s. My father wasn’t [pleased], and the teachers didn’t like this either, but there were bubble gum cards with a picture of Japanese soldiers sitting at machine guns, machine gunning women and children, on a bubble gum card. Yes, true, and so, we knew about the atrocities. We already had a fear of the Japanese. As a child, I had a fear of the Japanese because of what I saw on those bubble gum cards. That’s the only knowledge I had roughly the first year, several months, of the war, as a child, I remember very clearly.
NM: How did the war change your community and your everyday life? Did you see an immediate impact?
RG: Yes. All of the families had the blue stars hanging in the window. They had a son or daughter [in the service], mostly sons, though. There were not that many women in the Nursing Corps in the beginning of the war but then they started female branches for the Army, (WACS), Navy (Waves), Air Force (WAFS), and such. … Right away, you saw that, and then, your classmates and other children in the school had older brothers off into the service. So, even if they weren’t in your class, your grade, you still knew [them]. During the Battle of Monte Cassino, I know we lost a couple of older brothers there. [On] D-Day, we lost a couple, and then, [we would say], “Johnny’s not in class today.” The teacher would then say, “Well, Johnny’s not here today because he’s just gotten the news that his brother was killed.” It was brought immediately into the [lives of the] families in town, and then, when the blue star went to a gold star, that, you knew, was a loss. Then, there was the movie; “the Sullivan brothers”. It was about five brothers [who were lost] on the one ship. They broke up family members from serving together after that. The next thing [was], then, you’ve seen [Saving] Private Ryan, that’s the other story, where, after you lost two sons [the remaining brother(s) could come home]. There was a family in our town that lost three sons. They were in individual branches. It was the Lewandowski family. [Editor’s Note: Three Gold Stars by Ray J. Rosamilia (Greeneland Press) tells the story of William (KIA, US Army Air Forces), Walter (KIA, US Marine Corps) and Alex (KIA, US Army) Lewandowski.] We talked about the Polish families. They lived down all the way on the other side of the ridge. They lost three sons and every one but one was an officer, pilot, naval officer, Army, infantry, and, within a year, … I believe it was a year, maybe fourteen, fifteen months, they were killed. … After the second or third one was killed the [military] said, “We will [bring them home],” and the story in the local newspapers, years later, not at the time was that the parents left it up to their children just like [Saving]Private Ryan. The remaining two sons or three sons said, “No, I do not want to go home.” So, we had a lot [of losses], and then, there was Colonel Gerard. He became an ace, from our town, that was big news, over in Germany. He flew the P-47, which had the radial engine. He shot down more than seven. Before he left for Europe he buzzed our football field in 1944. It was announced Saturday afternoon. I guess he came up from McGuire and … there were three of them and they came down, and they buzzed the football field. So, it is things like that, as a kid, that are very vivid in my mind. General Gerard became the commanding general of the New Jersey Air National Guard in the 1960s.
NM: Were there scrap metal drives? Did you see the effects of rationing?
RG: I participated in those drives. I was a Boy Scout. … In 1943, I was twelve, but my brother was in before me, so, I helped out. The Boy Scouts went around and we picked up glass and tin and you name it. I guess newspapers, too, now that I think about it. Newspapers were used because they could turn that into a cardboard of sorts, again, for packing stuff. So, we did that every Saturday morning and turned that in. On the rationing side, yes; every Christmas, a little jar of apple butter [in with my gifts]. I love apple butter and, yet, that was the only thing you could get during the war. You didn’t get much butter during the war, so, [we used] apple butter. … All of my grandchildren who have tasted it say, “How could you eat that, especially having been forced to eat it [for] four years?” So, that’s my memory. So, yes, the rationing was quite severe, but … I can never recall anybody complaining about that. … My father started a Victory garden in the back and we started a barter system. Another family had chickens and so, we’d swap vegetables during the spring, summer, for eggs, chicken, fresh chicken, and other families were doing the same thing, and then, we’d go around to families that weren’t [so adept at gardening]. My father had a green thumb. I swear, he’d put seed in, and it would grow. He would go around and help other families start their gardens from seed. [Laughter] That was something, and then, the hand-me-down clothes, of course, shoes, and then, we re-soled shoes. My father, I can still see and smell the glue. [Laughter] He’d cut out the leather, if we had any leather, it was probably, most likely, a synthetic rubber of some sort, slicing that off. You’d have another pad to put on. You glued it and he had little tacks that he [used]. I can still see him, “Mr. Shoemaker,” and that’s what everybody had to do. …
NM: Were there any blackouts?
RG: Yes, my father was part of the Civil [Defense] patrol. We practiced blackouts, I would say at least once a month, because you don’t realize how close you are to New York. We’re only several miles from New York City and the Hudson River and the Harbor. So, yes, I would say we practiced that once a month and my father was in it and my father-in-law (to be) was the head of it. … My father-in-law was very much involved. He was in World War I. … The other thing I remember very much, going down to the Jersey Shore during the war, to the Highlands, you would see the blimps up above. There’s a naval base there. It was used for loading supplies on transports headed for Europe …
RG: Naval Weapons Station Earle. They built Earle during World War II. … That’s where heavy munitions were stored and, in fact, there were stories years ago about atom bombs being stored in Earle. … You could see the ships, the cargo ships, and they would all form up just outside of Sandy Hook … for one part of the convoys. There’d be other parts in Boston and so forth, maybe, Philadelphia and Baltimore. … They would then come together somewhere in the North Atlantic, and then, scoot across. So, we had the dirigibles, the airships, the PBY flying boats. You’ve seen those, with the double-engine on the wing. It was many a summer night when you’d start hearing the distant, “Boom, boom, boom,” and we would say, “Whoa,” and we’d all run out towards the beach. … Off in the distance, you’d see the lights, a ship, and, the next day, you’d see the pallets scattered on the beach. These pallets were similar to those that you find in warehouses today. They are picked up with a forklift. Okay, in the early days, they had lifeboats, obviously, but, then, they found that the lifeboats were very difficult to get off the ship. If you listed to one side, some boats were in the water and some up in the air. The pallets solved this problem. They had springs that could be hit to release these great, big pallets. The pallets were the size of this room, with several layers on it, and they were very easy to climb on to. Well, the next day on the beach, we’d see these broken up pallets, oil slicks, clothing, and so, you knew some ships were hit the night before, just off the coast of Sandy Hook, New Jersey. This reminds me of my cousin’s husband. He enlisted right after Pearl Harbor, Merchant Marines. He was torpedoed three times. He made the Murmansk Run, which was deadly. That run went up around Norway, Sweden, to Murmansk, which was the only open port in the winter that we could get to, to get the supplies to the Soviet Union. [We] couldn’t go across the Pacific with the Japanese there. So, that’s how they had to get supplies [there] and he did that. … So, the blackouts, the war was very vivid as a child, from just being down at the Jersey Shore and seeing that, the dirigibles and so forth, and, of course, as I mentioned, the gold stars and friends losing their older brothers, and so, very vivid, very fresh in my mind. …
PA: Your brother was a little bit older than you.
RG: Yes, three-and-a-half years.
PA: Was he also too young to be involved?
RG: He quit high school in his senior year, joined the Merchant Marines. This was in 1944. I guess he went in the spring of ’44, went to the Merchant Marine base at Sheapshead Bay, Brooklyn, trained, and then, … virtually the last year of the war, he was going back and forth to Europe with the supplies for D-Day. D-Day had happened in June. It was after D-Day that he was starting to cross over. … So, he was out in 1945, ’46, I guess. Then he got his draft notice. He didn’t qualify for deferment. You had to be in before 1943, in the Merchant Marines, to qualify for an exemption from military service, because that was considered a civilian job that was quasi-military. So, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in ’46 and ’47, went to Tientsin, China. … It was at the time Chiang Kai Shek was having problems with … the Chinese Communists, Mao and such. His military station in Tientsin was attacked on several occasions by Chinese Communists in ’47, ’48. He was a machine gunner and he saw a heck of a lot more than I did. … He had some stories to tell. … He killed quite a few Chinese with his machine gun. Nobody knows much about that part of our history, but the Chinese [Communists] finally won, as we know. WEB Griffith has written about the China Marines. They were a special group. When my brother got out, he went back to Newark Prep, in Newark, New Jersey. He got his math in order. I guess he had to take a couple of other courses, too, but primarily he went to upgrade his math. He left to go to a medical technical school, in San Diego. He had former Marine friends going to that school as well. Then, he went to the University of Colorado and got his degree in chemistry. He got a job working for the government. He went around the Northwest in a mobile lab checking on the missile silos, to see if the fuel for our missiles aimed at the Soviet Union with nuclear [warhead] bombs on them was okay. He would check the volatility of the mixture, to see if the fuel was still good. He did that job for … quite a few years and … he loved it. He was all by himself and he would go out [to] these various military sites. … [In 1961], JFK said, “We will be on the moon in ten years.” Pan Am had a division that was working on rocket fuels. They got the contract in the late ’60s to develop a fuel that would get us to the moon. My brother was hired to work in that division and I can’t think of the name of it now, but it was a division of Pan Am Airlines. The project site was outside of Las Vegas. They had a place out in the middle of the desert, Jackass Flats. They set up a hundred miles of railroad track, something like that, fifty, maybe. They would put the rockets on the railroad tracks and shoot them down the railroad tracks. My brother lived in Las Vegas with his wife and children. The team was put on a bus to Jackass Flats every morning. Then in 1968, 1969, we got to the moon and the contract ended a couple of years later.
————————————–END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE ONE————————————–
RG: Okay, so, he loved it in the Las Vegas area so much, between the hunting and fishing and all the sports life, his allergies virtually disappeared, and so, when that project ended, with the rocket fuel and so forth, he decided that he was going to stay there. His wife was a nurse and she was already working in a hospital there, and so, my brother went in and, in effect, became a pharmacist in the hospital. That’s where he was working … when he died, at the age of forty-four, massive heart attack, in 1971. He was born in ’27. So, that’s his story and, now, the kids are still living in Nevada, scattered, doing quite well.
PA: What was going on in your life while he was away in China?
RG: Okay, I graduated from the eighth grade in June ’45. [News of the end of] the war in Germany, V-E Day, spread through the school, because we were still in school and we just ran out. Everybody ran out into the streets. Classes were cancelled. We ran up and down the streets like wild maniac kids. Then, in August, we were on summer vacation and the word [V-J Day] got around quickly. It wasn’t so wild, because … Families were scattered on vacation. … The atom bomb, that was something that was hard to believe and, I can’t recall, but they just said it was a massive weapon. I don’t even know if they used the word “atomic bomb” when we first got the announcement. I don’t recall that part of it, just a massive bomb, and then, how soon after that did it show up in the movie theaters? I don’t know. I think it was quite a while later before we saw that mushroom cloud for the first time. I was fourteen at this time. So, through from ’45 to ’49, the things that I’ve just mentioned, the Communists taking over China, that happened in ’48, and Truman getting elected in ’48, which was a big shock. Everybody thought that Dewey had won, because they thought that the Democrats had been in power from ’32 on [and] … everybody thought it was about time for a change. Truman hung on and I think Truman will go down, probably, as one of the top ten, fifteen Presidents, doing what he had to do at a very crucial time in our history. So, Harry Truman is one of my [favorites]. I admired him a lot, looking back, as an adult, for the things he had to do under a great deal of stress and for having some idea of what the consequences were going to be. He realized, on the one hand, that [he] probably saved millions of lives. By killing hundreds of thousands, he saved millions. It’s a horrible way to do it. … I have to say that I did a lot of reading. If I wasn’t out playing baseball and football through my high school years, I was in the library reading. I didn’t get much out of school. [Laughter] I was bored. I wanted to be out there playing sports or I wanted to be in the library. I loved to read and I loved history and that’s probably what I should have pursued. I also loved working with young people, when I had the opportunity. I got to read quite a bit about the Soviet Union and Communism and I got to understand the free enterprise system, capitalism, “A government of the people, by the people, for the people.” I had a great deal of understanding and appreciation for our way of life as a teenager, because of my reading. So, I read a lot of stories during the war about Guadalcanal, Tarawa, all of that, North Africa. So, I knew the battles. When the books were allowed to be released, I read them. The Flying Tigers in Burma, I read all of that. So, I knew quite a bit, but, then, that ended when I was fourteen, the war years ended, but I continued reading quite a bit about [it] and I became fascinated with the differences between Communism and, I keep referring to it as the free enterprise system, but capitalism if you will. Our ability to [say], “We govern; we control the government,” versus them controlling us. I saw, in my teenage years, that we had a bout on our hands with Communism and I knew quite a bit about [it]. I read quite a bit about Yalta in my teenage years. They just showed that conference again on TV, with Churchill … and Roosevelt, looking very ill, and Stalin. [Editor’s Note: February 4-11, 2005, marked the sixtieth anniversary of the Yalta Conference.] Then, I guess somewhere around my senior year, the Russians exploded the atom bomb around 1949. There is an interesting side note to the Russian atom bomb. I read a book written by a major stationed up in Bismarck, North Dakota, from ’41 to ’45; he was a transportation expert. All of the critical material going out of the United States towards the Soviet Union went through the Bismarck air base. The planes flew over Alaska over the polar [cap], and then, down into the Soviet Union. So, critical supplies, correspondence between Roosevelt and Stalin, everything was going out. It was brought to the major’s attention that … a box had broken open and they saw papers describing heavy water and various formulations. So, this is 1944. The war is still on. The book was written in ’48 or ’49, and so, he didn’t know it at the time, but here were all of the instructions for making the atom bomb, everything that was required, and it was going out to the Soviet Union. So, somebody was sending this documentation from New Mexico over to the Soviet Union. So, when I read that book in the early ’50s after I was discharged from the Army, I remember thinking that we had traitors in very high places. So, back to my high school years, as far as becoming aware of what was going on in the world and where we stood in the world and where others stood. I don’t know if you want to go into any more depth on that, but those were my formative years.
NM: You said that you played some sports in high school. Were you involved in any other activities?
RG: No, no, I really had no interest outside of sports. I look back at that and … I think about that. That was not cultivated in me in any way, shape or form by anyone. I didn’t have any desire to participate in anything [other than] sports. I just love sports. …
NM: Which sports did you play?
RG: Baseball and football. [In] baseball, the Detroit Tigers had a scout [come to my high school]. He was there, actually, looking at somebody else. They signed him, up after graduation. He was a senior, I was a freshman. Another side note: after the war [began], now, I’m ninety-nine percent sure I’m correct on this, there was only one sport, maybe two, maybe three. Track, football and basketball were allowed to continue during the war, because [of the problem of] bussing kids around, gasoline and such and the expense, but football was very big in the State of New Jersey, still is. So, I know they allowed that. The track, I’m not sure of, and baseball, no, basketball, yes; those were the two sports. So, during the war, there was no baseball. So, when I was a freshman, the war had just ended, it was the first baseball team fielded by Lyndhurst since 1941. So, I made the … junior varsity as a freshman. They allowed that in the state at that time. In football, you couldn’t do that. As a freshman, you could not play varsity football or JV, but, in baseball, you could. I pitched in a couple of [games]. So, I was pretty good and the scout saw me and talked to me and gave me some hints. I remember his name [was], Peanut something or other. He was that big. He knew [that] my mother’s two uncles [brothers] were very good baseball players and my Uncle Arthur, I mentioned him before, the welder, he played in the Ironbound section of Newark, Industrial League. Peanuts knew them. He played against them. He played in the Major Leagues as well. So, we had quite a conversation, “Who taught you this and who taught you that?” I said, “My uncle,” and he said, “Okay, stick that pitch in your back pocket and don’t throw it again until you graduate from high school, because you’re going to hurt your arm.” The pitch was a slider, if you guys follow this, okay, and it puts tremendous stress on your elbow. Well, I was pitching in a semi-pro game during the summer and I popped my elbow. He came back to look at me the following spring and I told him. [Laughter] So, I went out to the outfield. I could still throw but, if I tried to throw anything with any kind of action on it, I couldn’t. So, that ended my pitching career. … So, I played four years [in high school] and I played two years at Fairleigh Dickinson, varsity. There, again, I was on their very first baseball team, in … the spring of ’50. I made their varsity, but, again, that was their first baseball team, too, but I was, again, an outfielder. That was baseball, loved it, and, [in] football, I was doing pretty well, and then, I became ill. It was kidney stones. I had a kidney stone, very unusual for a teenager to have. Usually, it’s something you have to manufacture over many years, but I had one and it was kicking around. I kept getting stomach pains and lost my appetite. I decided to leave the team. So, that was that. That was the sports, didn’t really pursue anything else beside that.
NM: Did you plan on going to college during your high school years or was it a plan that gradually took shape?
RG: It was the last months of my high school years. I was just an average student, … didn’t know where I was going, and then, I had to take a battery of tests. Some friends of mine were going to college [and] had already been accepted at Fairleigh Dickinson and they said, “Look, why don’t you come with us?” … So, I went to my father. He said, “Okay,” and so, I took the battery of tests and, I don’t know, somebody said the IQ was, like, over, like, 140 plus or something like that, but I didn’t know what the hell that meant. So, I was accepted and I went for two years, but, as I say, I was bored. It was all business stuff. I think if I’d taken what you guys took [history], I might have stuck it out …
NM: Were you aware of what was happening in Korea when you were at Fairleigh Dickinson?
RG: Oh, very much so. … That was something else we learned, yes. The Communists liked to split countries. That way, … we’d go into a peaceful mode with our friends and they’d go into the military mode, waiting for the day when they could attack, and it was a strategy that worked in … North Vietnam, South Vietnam, North Korea, South Korea. So, that was a tactic, strategy, and so, we were very much aware of the fact that this was a dangerous situation. The Soviet Union declared war against Japan about a month before we dropped the bomb. … Because they had these messages flying back and forth, they knew we were going to drop the atom bomb. So, when they got that word, they declared war on Japan, a month before the atom bomb. What they demanded as a result of joining us in the War in the Pacific and having done nothing at all except a signed piece of paper saying, “We’re with you,” they got the … northern islands of Japan; … I think they still hold on to one. The Japanese got the rest back. They got North Korea and, for a while, they had … a good chunk of Manchuria. In effect, they had Manchuria. They weren’t given it, but they had it. That’s how the Chinese Communists were able to knock out General Chang Kai-Shek. That was their safety zone, just like Al-Qaeda had the Taliban in Afghanistan. They would find themselves in countries where they had friendly relations. That’s what they did. So, we knew, I knew, because I followed those reports, and I knew that North Korea was a boiling pot and I was not surprised when the invasion happened, to answer your question directly.
NM: How did your family feel about your joining the military?
RG: Well, if I’d dropped out of college with my Associate’s degree, I knew that, within six months, I’d be drafted. They knew I’d be drafted. So, this wasn’t something that [made me think], “Well, if I do nothing, if I just go out and try to get a job, I’m safe. I’m not safe.” … I went home and I explained [it to my parents], “I think I’m going to go and take the test,” and so forth. … My mother was always … a very quiet woman. … I don’t think she liked it, but she would go along with what my brother and I decided. My father, I don’t recall him trying to talk me out of it, again, a strong patriot, and he felt that that would be acceptable. I don’t recall him objecting.
NM: Was the process of adjusting from civilian life to military life easy or difficult?
RG: Both, it was both. Physically, I was in pretty good shape. Having been in the Boy Scout’s- we camped out quite a bit and this was surprisingly, extremely helpful, sleeping on the ground in the Boy Scouts, going foraging, making meals. We did a lot of that. The troop I was with was very good that way. So, I was not uncomfortable going in, sleeping on the ground, in a tent, and learning how to build, [with] a little grass, weed, tweeds, twigs, whatever, … a little mattress to keep me off the ground, so [that] I didn’t [absorb] the cold into my body. I was comfortable, physically. Mentally, it was another story, the discipline. I guess I would have to say [that] I was pretty footloose and fancy-free, mentally. My mother was surprised when I came home and I knew how to make a bed. [Laughter] I had to learn that pretty quickly. I had to get adjusted to somebody ordering me and telling me to do something and I knew, if I didn’t do it, I was in trouble. A lot of guys fought that. Mentally, I fought it, but, verbally, I did not and, action-wise, I did not, but, mentally, I had trouble with it, you know, “Do this. Take this pile of dirt and move [it] over there,” you know, stupid stuff. I’m not talking about something that makes sense, stupid stuff that you and I, we would all, consider kind of [stupid], but it was to break you down, so [that] they could build you back up again, you know, make you do stupid things. So, basic training, I would have to say [I thought that way for] the first eight weeks, and then, I said, “Okay, I’ve got this.”
NM: Did you know that you were going to Korea? You said that some men were going to Europe.
RG: Yes. … My friend Rickenback went to Germany and he ended up in the military police, just like I did, after the infantry. … Now, I know some of the history; I know what happened to the Third Division before I got there. The Chinese had another breakthrough in January, February and March of ’52. They got all the way into Seoul again, and then, we drove them back up to the 38th parallel. The Third Division … was among the heaviest hit. They had a South Korean division on one flank collapse. The Chinese came [in] on that side and the Third Division had to try to straighten out the line. I forget who was on the other flank, but they collapsed, too, so that the Third Division was semi-surrounded and they took heavy casualties. So, I was one of the replacements for all those heavy casualties over those couple of months. … That’s why I went to Korea, I’m sure.
PA: Had OCS training been integrated by the time you entered the program?
RG: I don’t remember seeing any blacks, no. I don’t remember seeing any blacks in there. My first black officer was when I went to the military police. He was my platoon leader, Lieutenant Wiggins, good man. No, no, I recall just white [candidates]; I don’t recall [any African-American candidates].
PA: After you joined the Third Division, did you begin to see the effects of integration?
RG: Yes, yes. Well, … we had blacks in basic training and it was a very strange situation. I can’t remember his name now, but one black [soldier] went to Fort Benning as well, for paratroop school, upon graduation. … The paratroop divisions were very limited, because they weren’t using them for anything. I think they used them once in Korea, before I got there. … So, they sent them right out to line companies. They didn’t keep them in paratroop divisions. So, we’re in this group being sent to the Third Division waiting to get our assignments to the various companies. … I was assigned to Easy Company, and who shows up but the black [soldier] who was with us in basic training. … There were a couple of us that had been together, right from Fort Dix all the way through to Korea. He comes in with his paratroop wings. I said, “What the hell are you doing here?” and he said, “No assignment in the paratroop division for me.” He was pretty bitter. He went all the way through it, didn’t get to the paratroopers. Now, he’s in a line company. A paratrooper does not want to be in a line company. He wants to be jumping out of planes, doing a lot of crazy stuff. … We were integrated in basic training and we were integrated in Korea. … From what I recall, that was right around the time [that] the integration had just been [implemented]. Truman said, “It’s going to happen,” right, in ’48, but, in ’51, some time in the spring of ’51, I went [into the service] in September, the military leaders said, “It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen now. We’re integrating right at the basic training level.” So, this fellow, along with several others, was among the very first blacks to be put into basic training with whites, and then, in Korea, we were integrated. There weren’t any racial problems in the infantry that I saw. After I transferred to the Military Police I began to see problems. … A couple of Southern blacks had a tough time with it. There were two categories, really. The Southern blacks were docile in many ways. … There was still that fear, I think, instilled in them, so, they did not [rock the boat]. … Then, the Northern city blacks, they were furious at the Southern blacks for being docile and they would [say things] like, “Get moving. Do this. Do that. Hey, man.” You’d see some of that, not in front of us too much, but you’d see [it] a little bit and you’d see reactions changing. Over time you didn’t see that docile attitude and it almost went over to the point of being arrogant, and so, then, you saw … another side, where they’re trying to fight their way through this thing, mentally. So, it was tough. They had a tough time of it. Southern whites, I had some experiences that weren’t so nice and, of course, when they found out I was a Yankee they gave me a little grief but since I had been in combat and they knew that I had been promoted as squad leader the grief was short lived. I did not become a squad leader in the MPs. There was one guy from Massachusetts and a guy came in from Nebraska, later on. The Platoon Sergeant [a Southern non-com] asked, “Where are you from?” “New Jersey.” “Over there,” … and so, I had all these Rebels [to deal with], big Rebel flag on the side of the tent. The first black [soldier] that came in, [they] put him right next to me. … I thought, “You guys, you’re really not getting with the program yet.” … The Southern whites had a tough time with integration, but it had to be done, it was done and here we are today. … Looking at it from my perspective, I know that you still see blacks upset with a lot of things, but I think we’ve come a hell of a long way in fifty years and a lot of it had to do with military service, too, getting everybody to know everybody else, being associated, sleeping next to a guy and having him tell you stories about what it was like growing up in South Carolina. You get your head straight quick. You think to yourself, “Hey, I had some rough moments here, a rough moment there.” Compared to the blacks, no, you didn’t have a rough moment at all. This kid had a rough time. He saw blacks hung from a tree. [I thought], “You’ve got to be kidding me.” … I heard stories and saw things, but I think, now, if we had some blacks sitting here today, they might not agree with me, but I think we’ve come a hell of a long way. So, that’s the integration side of it and I had a great lieutenant, black, military police, not the infantry. I didn’t see any black officers in the infantry, not where I was, anyway. … When I arrived in Korea, as I mentioned I was assigned to Easy Company, [I was] brought to meet with the company commander. After some questioning he told me about a field commission program, where I would become a Second lieutenant. He asked if I would be interested and I made a serious mistake; I said, “No. I just want to put in my time and go home.” I should point out that in my basic training company almost of us … had two years of college. I didn’t say that before. In fact, [in] my basic training company, except for a handful of guys, [like] the blacks that I mentioned, I don’t think any of them had any college, and then, some city kids, the rest were college graduates. Ivy League, most every one of them went to Ivy League [colleges], then, two-year guys, like us, like my friend, Frank Hull, from the Bronx. He had two years at Fordham. So back to Korea. Frank was next in line to see the C.O.. Now, he’s “H,” I’m “G.” I went in first, he goes in second. [He] comes back out. I ask, “He ask you if you wanted to … get into the field commission program, officer’s program?” He answered, “Yes.” I asked, “What did you say?” He said, “I told him that I’ll think about it.” I said, “Frank, why didn’t I think of that?” [Laughter] The reaction I got to saying no was not good. … Without going into details, I was given some nasty assignments so, eventually, I said, “Yes,” [laughter] and so, eventually, I was promoted to squad leader and was given the Third Squad. The morning that I got the Third Squad … we went into reserve. Guys were going home. Frank Hull got the Fourth Squad. I was now in the program. That afternoon I was told to report to our new company commander, Dan Foldberg. He told me that I was being transferred to the Third Division Military Police. My original C.O. had been killed in action. They took twenty guys from the Third Division line companies and transferred them to the Military Police. The division is comprised of twenty thousand men, approximately, when you throw in the artillery and all the other stuff, support stuff, and I was one of twenty guys selected to go to the military police. First of all, he wanted to know if I had anything to do with the transfer, because he had just promoted me that morning. [Laughter] He asked, “Do you know anything about this?” I said, “No sir, I don’t.” He then asked if I knew anyone at Division Head Quarters, Regiment H.Q. Battalion H.Q?” Again I said, “No sir, I don’t”… I asked, “What is this all about sir?” So, he said, “Well, you’re one of twenty men in the division that meet a certain profile, IQ, combat,” they wanted guys there that [had] combat service, “and a certain amount of months remaining in Korea.” So, I met the three main criteria. I was stupid. I had five or six months to go [laughter] and, anyway, so, I went to the military police. Frank Hull made first sergeant. I belong to the Society of the Third Division. There is a roster of members in the Society that is put out annually. Frank was on that roster in 2001. His name did not appear again. He made first sergeant, which is like a company commander, in effect. He’s with the company commander, a captain. He was wounded twice. So, that’s that. …
PA: You said that you had an African-American officer when you got into the MPs.
PA: How did the white Southerners take to that?
RG: Not well. They didn’t take it well. … He was Northern. … They did not take to it too well, … but they had to listen, you know. Obviously, they took their commands, but … every one of them pretty much paid attention to the platoon sergeant and the company [commander]. The company commander was a white, as well as the provost marshal, who was a major. I think I mentioned his name in here. He was white and a close friend of John Eisenhower’s. They were classmates at West Point, and so, well, that reminds me; … after Dwight David was elected President, November of ’52, I was selected to be one of John’s security/honor guard. He was G-2, [assistant chief of staff], intelligence. … I was able to carry out that assignment for about a month, It was an honor and a privilege to be selected to be his [guard]. … At night, they … put him into a special compound, with guard dogs. He’s the President’s son, after all. So, they had to make sure that he wasn’t [in danger]. I had a problem though. I had hurt my back in the infantry. I must have landed wrong. I’ve got a compressed disc at the bottom of my spine. It was aggravated, so, I just couldn’t stand. … I couldn’t stand that long. So, I went to the company commander and asked to go back on regular duty and he asked, “Are you sure?” He said, … “You know, it’s an honor [that] you’ve been selected and I know Major Eisenhower likes you and would like you to stay.” I said, “My back;” I said, “I can’t stand for that long. I would like to go back to regular duty”… Really, I just … didn’t want to stand around any more. So, what they wanted the twenty of us for was night patrols. We had North Koreans [with us]. … Most of them were engineering students and they were either graduates or in school to become electrical or mechanical engineers in Pyongyang. That’s where the North Korean university is, probably to this day. So, they were assigned to us and we would go out on patrols at night and that’s what they put me back into. … Every one of us who had been in combat went out on these patrols at night. Back to John Eisenhower for a moment. I bumped into him, actually I knocked him down, when I was in the infantry. My platoon was taken off line to practice an attack on a Chinese outpost. We were to take prisoners. I found out later that Major Eisenhower had developed the plan. It had been raining. I slipped in the mud as we’re going through the barbed wire and, actually, the guy in front of me slipped, bumped into me, and we both started rolling down the hill. I knocked someone down. We start rolling in the mud down the hill. Someone went running to pick him up. That someone said, “Sir, are you all right?” and I knew they weren’t talking to me. [Laughter] “Sir, what happened” and so on. … After the action, … I was involved in a couple of things. The platoon sergeant came for me. I was to go in and give a report. Now, I’m just a PFC, [private first class], a lousy PFC, and I gave a report to this major. … [I] find out later, it’s Major Eisenhower and he was the one responsible for the planning. … We were out there to attack a Chinese Outpost and try to get some prisoners and information. It was a flop. … So, then, when I became … part of his security, I got to talking to his driver. His name was Red, I can’t … remember his actual name, and I said, “Do you remember a night …” and he said, “Yes. I was the one who picked him up.” I said, “Oh, I’m the guy that knocked him down.” [Laughter] He said, “Wait until I tell the Major.” I said, “I don’t know if that’s a good idea,” … but he told him. The Major came out and talked to me. He said, “I understand you’re the guy that knocked me into the mud a couple of months ago.” “Yes, sir.” So, that’s my Major Eisenhower story. …
PA: After your transfer, you remained in the MPs until the end of your tour.
RG: To the end, that’s right. … I was getting on the landing craft to go out to the troopship to go home the day the truce was signed, and I believe that’s the 27th of July. You’d think I’d know that date. … We were standing right next to the barracks and the radio [was] on and they said, “The truce has just been signed.” … We’re all looking at each other, “Now, we’re going home.” So, I went home the day the truce was signed.
NM: Was there any interaction between the Army and the Korean civilians? Did you have any interaction with them?
RG: … Not really, only at night, when I was on these night patrols with the North Koreans … that were attached to us. We would pick up people and it’s just like in this country; you know a Boston accent, you know a New York accent and you know an Alabama accent. The North Koreans with us knew a North Korean accent, and a South Korean accent. There was a line beyond which no civilians could go and that’s where we patrolled, at night, with our North Koreans. … We’d pull off and we’d just go into our little hideaways in the jeep, get out of the jeep and wait, and, if anything stirred, we stopped them. … We got a couple that were infiltrating through. We had a guy, son of missionaries, who could speak several Chinese dialects and could also speak enough Korean.
————————————-END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO————————————–
PA: You were telling us about the son of the missionary.
RG: The son of the missionary was the interrogator. He could speak several dialects of Chinese as well as the [Korean language], … because we were always opposite the Chinese. I never went up against the North Koreans, to my knowledge, but those infiltrating through our lines were the North Koreans. It’d make no sense for the Chinese to try to infiltrate. I don’t think they could get away with it. … So, those were the civilians, … plus the women who were allowed to come up, but we were just in back of the line beyond which no civilians could go, but we patrolled just behind the frontlines at all times.
NM: What was the relationship between the officers and the enlisted men like?
RG: … I’m hesitant to tell the story. It’s about the Puerto Rican 65th regiment. … I was selected to become a scout. I’ll call it a scout or point man. By the time I got there, there were frontlines and there were outposts. Most of the fighting was over the outposts, and so, [I would] be a scout for the squad assigned to take supplies out [to the outpost]. I would be the one, … because I was always selected for the lousy jobs, right, because of what I had said about not wanting to be an officer, right? [Laughter] He assigned me to every lousy detail until I finally said, “Okay.” Anyway, so, I became a scout and I went out. So, I take the squad and supplies [out] to Outpost Kelly and return with the wounded. I had maybe three or four different routes. So in September ’52 my company was on Outpost Kelly for ten days. I continued to bring our wounded back to the front lines and return with replacements and supplies. After ten days we were relieved. It was my job to go back to the front lines and bring out the relieving company. It turned out that they were from the 65th Puerto Rican Regiment. That night they were hit by the Chinese. So, the company that I took out was hit and rumors were flying that they were virtually wiped out. … Stories that came out later were that the Puerto Ricans couldn’t understand the American [officers], the English commands. There was a lot of controversy over that. I think that’s about as far as I want to talk about that. That’s the only time I knew of any [problems], and then, after that, … the 65th was integrated with the rest of the regiments in the division, and so, it wasn’t a pure Puerto Rican regiment any more.
NM: They split it up.
RG: They split them up, yes. So, we had the Puerto Ricans. … It’s a sad thing, because this much I can [say], I do feel I should say, the 65th [was] just like the Japanese-[American or Nisei] regiments in World War II. The Japanese-[Americans] were among the highest decorated for a regimental-size unit, highly decorated unit in the Army in World War II. The Puerto Ricans were very close; the Puerto Rican 65th Regiment was very close. When Korea broke out, they went over and almost all of them were led by World War II veterans. Their sergeants, their noncommissioned officers and a handful of their commissioned officers were Puerto Rican, with excellent training and experience, combat experience, and just at the very top, … maybe down to captain, were Americans, North Americans. So, they had an excellent reputation … in Korea, but you had troops rotating home. … If you served in the infantry, you served nine or ten months. … Like me, I served about a year, because I was infantry plus [the military police]. So, you got points if you were on the frontline, and so, they started rotating the experienced guys home, just like me. [When] I went over, I was green. Well, you had to learn, but I had American officers telling me what to do, in English. … The experienced soldiers were rotating home, so, there’s twenty-year-old kids like me who only speak a little English. All the veterans have gone home, only a handful are left, and, now, you have North American English-speaking officers telling them [what to do]. So, the handful of survivors said there was total confusion that night. So, you have to look at the situation down through the years. … There’s been several articles in the American Legion magazine, Veterans of Foreign Wars, articles written about [that night] from the Puerto Rican perspective, by Puerto Rican veterans, some were in that company that I took out that night. … There was only a handful that survived and I saw one story about one guy that survived. So, that’s the only experience that I can say [anything about], and then, my experience with the company commander, [laughter] but look … how stupid I was, to say, “No, I don’t want to participate in the officer’s program.” … He was a World War II veteran. There, I would say there was … a little bit of unhappiness and, if you’ve seen theBridges of Toko-Ri with William Holden, he’s called up as a jet pilot. He gets shot down. … Grace Kelly is the wife. If you’ve never seen that movie, that typifies the feeling of those who were called back in, but they stayed in the Reserve. I think the officers had to stay in for six years, like it or not. If you were an officer, after World War II, you could check me on that, I’m ninety-nine percent sure, that they didn’t have a choice. … So, even if you didn’t stay in the Guard or the Reserves, you were in. If you were a critical [MOS], a jet pilot, you’re back. Officers, you’re back. My company commander was World War II. He was not a happy man, but it had nothing to do [with me], and then, my stupid comment to him that, “No, I don’t want to.” … Those were the only ones I would say were a little unhappy that they were called back to [Korea]. They had done their time, in essence, and they didn’t think they should be there again. … The regular Army guys, that was different, … like John Eisenhower. He was in the tail end of World War II and he was making a career of it. … Career officers, I never saw any animosity, any problems. Back to the 65th for a moment, I can honestly say that was the only time, and I didn’t see it [then]. I’ve only heard about it since the incident occurred and, since I was the one that took the company out, I have a certain affinity for the story, feelings about it. …
NM: What were your duties when you were on the frontlines, patrolling and things like that?
RG: … Well, I was a PFC, then, a corporal, and so, I was a rifleman. They sent me to sniper school … and I was a scout, so, my duties were, as I say, [varied]. … You know what a listening post is? Okay, you have the frontlines and, somewhere out in the front of the frontlines, you … put somebody and he sits out there at night, with a radio com line back to the command post, or a walkie-talkie. … He had me doing that out there at the listening post all by myself. … One night, I was virtually surrounded by Chinese. I could hear them talking, and the other thing [was], he would have me scouting. … I call it a scout; I would be the one that would take the people out to the outposts, take the wounded back. So, I had people with me, those who were carrying supplies, those who were riflemen, to help in case anything happened, in case we were hit. Fortunately, I learned three, maybe four, different routes out. I never took the same route two nights in a row, and so, other guys who did it got hit. I never got hit. I’m lucky. Then, when I was on the outpost, every night, I would take our wounded off and bring back supplies. I said, “Well, how come there’s no scout back there, doing what I did when I was back on the frontlines? How come? I’m going both ways here, every night.” … Anyway, I guess because I never got hit, I guess they thought I was a lucky charm or something. So, that was one duty. Then, I was a Browning automatic rifleman. … Then, I was like an assistant squad leader, and [there was] the one thing that I talked about with John Eisenhower, where we went out to attack that outpost and that was a dud exercise. I had to give a report on it. I was ordered to go with the machine gun crew and help set the machine gun up. They covered us as we went into the attack. On the way back to the line we stopped. … The platoon commander; it was almost a full company. It was at least two platoons, maybe three platoons. So, that would be … over a hundred men. Word came back to the Platoon Sergeant and me that they couldn’t find the machine gun. [Laughter] Now, the sun’s coming up and you don’t want to be caught out in the rice paddies with the sun coming up. So, they can’t find the machine gun. [I said], “I’ll go. I know where it is,” and so, I went and got the machine gun crew and brought them back. That’s what I had to report [about] to Eisenhower. He wanted to know exactly everything that I was ordered to do. Major Eisenhower wanted to know what happened and asked me questions that implied the lieutenant was in trouble. You know, that’s really what was behind it. They fired him. He was gone. … That day, he was gone. We had a new platoon leader. … Those were my duties.
NM: You were opposing the Chinese.
RG: We were always opposite the Chinese, that I’m aware of, yes.
NM: Did they perform similar operations? Did you ever run into Chinese patrols yourself?
RG: No. I went out and set up ambushes, never got involved in being ambushed, most of our fighting was at night with very little firing of my weapon. While on the front lines we mostly sat there and got bombarded. I was in one major attack of battalion-size that would be several hundred men. We had to take back Outpost Kelly. They assigned me to be a radioman, of the attacking company. My C.O. called me out, made me a radioman for another company commander, whose radioman got sick. So, we took pretty heavy casualties and that’s the time that I fired my weapon for a long period of time, but I had the radio, so, I … really didn’t do as much as everybody else. … The Chinese had just gotten proximity fuses. I don’t know if you know what that is; proximity, I’m sorry, proximity fuses, something we developed during World War II. … If a shell comes down, it goes down to the ground and explodes. Proximity [fuse ordnance] comes down within that distance of a tree or the ground and the shrapnel goes out [in a downward cone]. Well, that’s what the Chinese had that day and anybody standing was cut down. … So, we had [heavy casualties], but we took the hill. So, that was my main, major attack, where I saw pretty serious trouble. The rest of the time was just being exposed, sitting out on the outpost, getting shelled constantly. … I would have to say, every night, we’d take fifteen or twenty wounded off the hill, just constant shelling for ten days, and then, on the frontlines, occasional shelling. So, that was pretty much it.
PA: For which actions were the two Service Stars on your record awarded?
RG: Those are for the summer or spring and summer and fall, I don’t know, because it goes by your time. I got there in the spring and I left the infantry in the fall, so, that would be for that period of time, for what I’ve just described, being on the frontlines. … They award you that. What else do they have there?
PA: You have the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the United Nations Service Medal and the Korean Service Medal.
RG: … I’ve got some things from New Jersey, too, that the VFW [Veterans of Foreign Wars] advised … Korean War veterans to put in [for]. So, I’ve got a couple of other New Jersey medals. One is for being in combat. They awarded the same thing for World War II veterans, I understand, and then, for Korean [War veterans], and I think they’ve just come out with one for Vietnam, and the other is for being in the military during wartime. So, those are two New Jersey medals that are not on that thing, but they’re nothing. They’re just for being there, [laughter] occupying space.
NM: Were there any duties with the military police that we did not discuss?
RG: Well, pretty much, the reason they wanted the combat infantrymen, the twenty of us, was pretty much for the night patrols, where we were pretty much running with North Koreans. … Most of them were either college graduates or college students and most of them were engineering [majors], electrical, mechanical engineers who defected. If you remember, we went all the way up to the Yalu, and then, came back and, on the way, we got pushed back, … when the Chinese came across the Yalu. Well, tens of thousands of North Koreans of all types fled south with the United Nations forces. So, we had them. So, most of my time was [spent] patrolling at night, going into little hideaways and looking, … because we were always north of the line where no civilians were, and we picked up a few. That was pretty much what I did. … I don’t know if you were sitting here when I talked about John Eisenhower. … So, I became part of his security for about a month and I couldn’t take it anymore. … I had problems with my back. I couldn’t stand for any length of time . … It was an honor and a privilege, really, and, as the company commander, my company commander, said, … and the provost marshal called me in, the major who was John Eisenhower’s friend called me in, and said, “Are you sure you want to do this?” I said, “My back,” you know. So, I went back to doing the patrol duty at night.
NM: After that, you were discharged.
RG: Sent home and discharged and went back to school, went back to Fairleigh Dickinson. … I waited a year. I took a couple of courses, to see if I really wanted to do it. I went nights. That was a mistake, because I had the full GI Bill. I should have gone back days afterwards, because the one friend that I mentioned from Massachusetts, he went home [at] the same time I did, [and] another one, he was going to go back [then also]. He was U of M [University of Massachusetts] and the other one was Southern Methodist, and then, another one [was] University of Texas and Texas Tech, all four of us. They wanted me to go down. I could have gone, gone down to Southern Methodist, Texas Tech or University of Texas or U of M, and I wasn’t married, … but I was serious with the woman who became my wife, and she wanted to go. … Her family was originally from Massachusetts, and so, I thought about it, thought about it and, again, the mentality was, “Go back to work, make a buck and get on with your life, [not] school.” My wife had to program me. I finally went back in ’54, going nights. It took me [a while], because I took light credits, just to make sure I could handle it, because, then, I got the job at New Jersey Bell as a consultant.
NM: You were working and going to school at the same time.
RG: I was working and going to school at night, yes, which was a tough haul, because if I had gone days we could have lived on campus. My wife, even if she had children, everything would have been paid for, everything, lodging, stipend and college tuition. … I made a mistake there, but I got my degree in ’58, still working for the telephone company.
NM: Did you know, prior to leaving the military, that you were going to go back to school?
RG: … No, I would have to say my wife influenced me and I saw that my two-year degree wasn’t going to do a heck of a lot for me. … I got a job with Sears-Roebuck and they were upset when I quit, but I was only making thirty dollars a week. [Laughter] I told them, “You know, I’m thinking of getting engaged and maybe getting married in another year or two.” … They put me in the hardware department. “Why, don’t you know, the hardware department at Sears-Roebuck is the place to be if you want to have a career, a business career,” and Fairleigh Dickinson … had a lot of people in Sears-Roebuck in New Jersey. I went to Becton-Dickinson for a job interview. They make pharmaceutical supplies, syringes and such, and I could have got a nighttime job with them, … a training job, to become a foreman of their production line, work my way into upper management. I decided not to take that job. Later I thought, “Well, what I should have done was gone back to school days, part-time.” You can go part-time, right? You don’t have to take a full sixteen [credits]. [I] probably could have gone back and done [it]; I was doing ten at night. I could have done ten during the day. So, I ended up getting a salesman’s job and making good money, with commission and everything else. I did not have a full appreciation of what my situation was all about. Probably, if I had gotten my commission, if I had stayed in and gotten my field commission, I might have made the military my career. … My mind was getting straight, as far as the military is concerned. [Laughter] I was a pretty disciplined fellow, … but, then, … when I came home on the troopship, and going through San Francisco and Camp Kilmer, here in New Jersey, not too far from here, I saw that [the] peacetime military, is really not a good place to be, unless you have good rank. [Laughter] You’re going to be treated like dirt, you know. So, I thought, “I’m not sure that I would like the peacetime military.” Not that I’m a warrior, don’t misunderstand me; … I don’t mean it that way. It’s just that it becomes, pardon the expression, very chicken, and I’ll leave the rest of the comment off, but it became very … chicken and I saw a lot of that coming home. … No, I didn’t have an appreciation for … where I was headed. My wife, really, was an influence on me, yes.
NM: Did you find it difficult to get back into civilian life after leaving the military?
RG: My father did not give me a chance [laughter] to become, what did they call them during World War II? “Fifty-Two Week Wonders,” or something like that, when they got fifty-two weeks of pay when they were discharged after World War II, and all these guys are hanging around in their Army uniforms, Air Force uniform jackets and everything else, … [in] 1946. They didn’t do that after Korea. You got a stipend, but you didn’t get much and my father … wasn’t about to come home at night and see me lounging around the house. [Laughter] “What did you do today?” “Well,” and my mother would tell him, “He just laid around, reading.” “Oh.” He got on my case big time, big time. So, within, I would have to say, three or four weeks, I was working in Sears-Roebuck. So, I didn’t have the time to be a bum.
PA: You mentioned that you came back to a serious relationship. Had that relationship started before Korea?
RG: … We were dating and we wrote and there was another young woman that I was writing to as well. … One was green ink and the other was blue ink; I married the blue ink. So, yes, [I was] dating, but, over there, I started to think seriously, “If I get out …”. You’ve heard this, I’m sure, in other of your interviews, “If I get through this, then, I think … my life is straightened out.” … You want to have kids. It was a big thing that hit me, “I want a family.” So, [after] coming home, I still dated for about, let’s see, when did I get out, ’53? I asked her to marry me in ’54. So, about a year after I was home, I asked her to marry me and, a year later, we got married, or, several months later, we got married. … Yes, so, I pretty much realized that I [wanted a family]. … Very young; I was twenty-four when we got married, just turned. She was twenty, so, [it was] a bit young … for her. I often thought that I should have waited for her to see things, do things. She was highly intelligent and why she married me, I’ll never know. [Laughter]
NM: Were many veterans there taking part-time classes on the GI Bill?
RG: … Yes. If I may just back up from that [for] just a moment; I’ll get back to it. When I was [first] going, when I started in … September of ’49 at Fairleigh Dickinson, there were a lot of GIs in my classroom. … It wasn’t until later that I fully appreciated the effect that they had on me, being in the classroom, because they were the perfect students. They had been through something and they were now going to get their [education] and the GI Bill was going to get it for them. They wanted to do something with [their] lives. … After every class, they were up there talking to the professor. In the class, they were raising [their hands], asking questions, answering questions. They made those classrooms vital and, here I am, a seventeen, eighteen-year-old kid. … There were girls in the classroom, too, and one of them was a high school classmate of mine and I mentioned this [to her]. She graduated, she became a teacher in Toms River and she said, “Yes, having those men in the classroom was a tremendous influence on us, as just being teenagers.” In 1956 I took a Saturday morning literature class, because the professor was supposed to be fantastic. He was a writer and he was involved with Broadway plays, Dr. Angoff. So, that was my only time where I was exposed to what I had once been exposed to. It was a junior English class, the English literature class, and so, I saw those [younger students] and I could see them looking at me. Here I am, I’m not that much older than them, all right; they’re twenty-one, maybe, and I’m twenty-five. [Laughter] So, there’s not that much difference in age, but [there was a difference] in what I’ve been through, and they’re still, just going through college and having a ball. I saw … the impact that I had on them, but, [in] the night courses that I took during the week, almost every one of us, we were either [Korean War veterans or] there were some World War II guys, still, because they had found out, on their job, that they’d better get a degree or they were going nowhere. … So, now, this is, what, ’54, when I went back? So, this is several years after they’re out, but some of them had been in during the ’46-’47-’48 timeframe, after World War II and before Korea, and so, we were all adults. [With] the professors, the difference, here, was a big difference in the relationship, but it recalled, to me, what I had seen with the veterans when I was just an eighteen-year-old kid. The professors and the students, they were equals. They weren’t professor/student; I was a student. Now, I’m in the same position and, now, the professors [are my equals]. So, I’m up there buzzing around and I’m talking. … Again, I had a job during the day, so, … really, whatever I got in the classroom and got from the professor, I only had a little bit [of time] to study over the weekend or I’m taking the kids out, you know, little babies out and all the parenting stuff, but that relationship with the professors had changed, complete 180. … So, you guys, … I guess you don’t have that many people older than you in your classrooms, do you? You don’t get that exposure.
NM: Not usually. For example, this past semester, we had one student who was twenty-nine and had been in the Marines, but he was the only one.
RG: Right. How did he act in class?
NM: He was like a student.
RG: Right, but did he go up [to the professor]? Did he participate more, do you think?
NM: Yes, I think so. He was always in class. I cannot say that I was always in class. [Laughter] He was always in class.
RG: Right. What about … going up to the professor after the class? Did you see much of that?
RG: Or do you all do that? I mean, you guys maybe have a different attitude today. I used to just buzz out of the classroom. [Laughter] No, you hang around? …
NM: I think he hung around a little bit. Yes, I understand what you are saying. They were more responsible, they did not mess around. I understand what you are saying.
RG: Yes. “I need that piece of paper bad and [I am going to] get it,” you know. I did. … The mistake I made is not going back days. The telephone company, by the way, and I had this confirmed to me, I didn’t believe it when I heard it, they did not look upon … my nighttime degree as being a degree. They only looked upon my associate’s degree as being [real], full-time, days. “I did not get [the total experience]. There’s more to college,” that’s the way they thought in [those] days. “There’s more to college than the classroom.” Your social environment was as important to the telephone company, this is AT&T, [the] Bell System now, nationwide, not just New Jersey Bell, … as your classroom [work]. They looked upon all of your outside activities, if you belonged to a fraternity, sorority, whatever, and I said, “I don’t believe that. A degree is a degree.” “No, you are a step down.” … When I went through the Telephone Company training, I was surrounded by Ivy League. I had two guys from Rutgers. You’re not Ivy League, but you’re damn close and you’re equal to … [the] Ivy League. You’re just not written down that way. Then, I had Cornell, Princeton, … one guy from Harvard. They’re in the class. … There’s eleven of us in the class, and me, from Fairleigh Dickinson, and I’m going nights. So, I’m trying to study, to, you know, keep up with them during the daytime, and I’m going to school at night. I said, “This is not much fun,” but I did it and they, of course, were on [the] fast track and I was on a very slow track. So, after nine years I left.
NM: Do you think that any of the skills that you acquired in the Army, such as discipline, helped you in your professional life?
RG: Definitely, definitely, … the discipline of getting projects out as I moved up the ladder, especially when I went with Citibank; with the telephone company, getting things lined up to go out or uncover information in order to develop a telecommunications system for a corporation, that kind of thing. I always had very good writing skills and I didn’t realize it that much at the time, but they were. I had an excellent [professor], I only got a “B” from him, Dr. Rainus, from University of Nebraska and Fairleigh Dickinson. … Can I sidetrack for a moment, before I go on with whatever, the discipline? … I have to give this man credit and I have to mention his name, Dr. Rainus, and, as I say, I only got a lousy “B” from him, but … he was English composition, freshman, and this is where [I had] all the Army, military guys around me. I mean, … they had war stories to tell. What he wanted you to do is, during the week, every expression, every hand movement, everything that was used by someone else to influence you or that you noticed, like [how] I’m using my hands now, on a little card, write it down, what was the subject, what was being used to influence you, and then, … you had to attach these cards to the story of the essay that you had to tell each week. You had to write an essay and you had to incorporate everything that was … on these cards into this essay, … raw, completely raw, no editing, you know, just raw, into the story. Okay, and the story could be fictional, it could be true, … it made no difference what the story was, but he wanted that incorporated in it. … I had a devil of a time with this, … trying to record it all and put it down. Now, the guys in the military, they [did great]. … The other thing was, you then had to incorporate it for a part of your final [project], not just your tests, but turning in something, a final essay. You had to edit it and he wanted to see your first draft, second draft and third draft, as to how you evolved into this final story, and, again, incorporating all of the [notes], because he handed back the essays with grades. … Then, he wanted that all incorporated into a final product, okay. Well, I was able to use that in my business life and listening to these military guys talking, they were telling war stories and incorporating all the stuff in, but the ability to just talk raw, and then, write down raw data, that served me extremely well, and then, the editing process, to get it to where this is now acceptable to go out to a customer, or, as when I went with Citibank, to go in to department heads, senior executives, top executives. Any reports I did, I was able to write in such a fashion and able to edit it so that it was like a good [piece]. So, I don’t know, I’m rambling here, but I’ll never forget Dr. Rainus. He served me very well, but the discipline, oh, yes, so, the discipline, military discipline, yes, it got my mind on how to study better at night, because, as I said, I don’t know if you were here, but I’m an audiovisual [learner]. I could hear something in the classroom and I would say maybe seventy-five, eighty-five percent of it would stick, but I would have to get home, I would have to get someplace, and write it down quickly. Whatever I didn’t get, I would have to flush out as soon as I got a chance, while it was still fresh. Then, it stuck. The moment I wrote it down, it stuck. … Learning your own abilities, disabilities, ways of doing things, I think the military helped me get that act together. … Each of us has his own way of studying and retaining something. If you have a photographic memory, then, you don’t have any problem at all. Some of my grandchildren do. I don’t know where they got it, from my wife, I guess. …
PA: I read in your pre-interview survey that you are involved in several veterans’ associations. Would you like to speak about your work with them?
RG: I joined the American Legion and the VFW, primarily … because they’re involved politically, in Washington and in state governments, for veterans’ affairs. I thought that was one way I could participate. I am not an active [member]. I don’t go to meetings or conferences or whatever. I didn’t have any desire to work my way up through any command structure in those organizations, but the giving of money to them so [that] they could carry out [their mission], I thought that would be something I could do. So, I joined primarily for that reason. … Then, I joined Society of the Third Division, Infantry, for similar reasons. One was to see if I could find any people that I had been in with and maybe correspond [with them]. I lost touch with [them]. … I tried to find them but I couldn’t make contact with the ones that I had … seen their names, and so, that was that, and I still belong to the society. The Combat Infantryman’s Association, I saw that mentioned in one of the … Veterans of Foreign Wars magazines. They have two groups here in New Jersey, one north of the Raritan and the other south of the Raritan. I would break it [down] geographically, that way. So, I belong to the one in Trenton. They have quarterly meetings. They have one coming in June. I don’t know if I’ll make it or not. I was going to mention your activities to them. I mentioned this to Ms. Holyoak. She said, “Well, you mention it to them and they [will] contact us if they’re interested in doing it.” She preferred that it work that way, because I suggested, “If you want to come and talk to them, [I will help].” She said, “No, I would prefer that you talk to them about it, tell them [about the interviews], … especially after the interview. … If any of them are interested, [tell them] to contact you.” I know you’re predominantly interested in Rutgers graduates, but I was talking to Tom [Kindre] over the weekend and I said, “I know I’m not [an alumnus]. You’ve invited me in. Would you be interested in any others, if I do talk to them, non-Rutgers?” because, then, I don’t even know what their scholastic background is, educational [background]. Getting back to the Combat Infantryman’s Association. I joined because, as you get older, I thought this would be nice, to talk to some guys, and there’s still a couple of World War II guys in there that have seen and done things. Most of them are Korean [War veterans]. There was one guy there from Vietnam, which I thought was sad. … I guess they’re still having trouble, mentally, with it and I never really talked about any of this either, so, my kids don’t know half of what I’ve said today, probably less than a quarter.
NM: Would you like to add anything about your family and your children?
RG: Well, yes, my oldest boy is an electrical engineer. I just came back from North Carolina. When you called me, I’d just gotten in an hour or two before from there, and so, he lives on a mountaintop near Asheville. Most of what he does he can do at home, on his computer, and he knows electronics and he knows software. … He does a lot of work with the pharmaceutical companies. He is involved with the electronics that control the manufacturing process ie the movement, the temperatures, fluids, moving, all of that is controlled by electronic equipment and that’s controlled by software now. Computer software makes the electronics function, so that the liquid goes in, the bottle moves, and so on. With the pharmaceutical companies, with the FDA, they want to see the documentation, all the way along the line, as to, “Is this product at the right temperature?” especially if it’s pills, medications. It has to be manufactured, processed, at a certain temperature, put together at a certain temperature, put into the pill or capsule, whatever, [at] certain temperatures, right. They want to see the documentation, to see that the process is being done. Well, these companies have been doing it for thirty years, twenty years, fifteen years. They make changes in the equipment to make sure that the temperature is right, but they don’t change the documentation to show what changes they made in the equipment. They can’t prove it; they can’t prove the documentation. So, the FDA will come in and say, “Do you have documentation?” So, my son goes over the documentation to make sure it matches the actual process. If not, he straightens it out. Now, that’s pretty much what he’s in to. My second son, David, he’s working with Nestle. He’s a salesman there. He’s the only one that hasn’t been involved with college and he’s a people person. He just likes to be out, and so, he never went [to college]. Then, my daughter, she has two associate’s degrees, in graphic arts and business. She’s back to Centenary now, with three teenagers at home, not much younger than you guys, I guess, and she decided to go back, get her teaching degree and she’s honor roll. I believe she had a graphic arts scholarship offer from Rutgers. … Is there another school associated with [the arts]?
NM: Mason Gross is the art school.
RG: Would that be the one? because it was … Rutgers or affiliated with Rutgers. She was going to get a full ride to get her BS or BA, but she’s two hours away, up in Long Valley, Chester, Morristown area, and William Paterson was two hours the other way, full boat, and they have a graphic arts BS degree program. So, she got into Centenary and she went back in as almost a full junior. She’s gotten off [to a good start]. She’s into an awards program, … the National English Literature Society or something like that. She just got put into that. She got a several thousand-dollar scholarship there. So, she’s doing wonderfully well and she was involved with the Republican Convention last August and she got to meet George Bush and Laura and all the other politicians. She was outside, outside where all the television reporters and writers were going through, to vet them. So, she did that the first night. So, she had Secret Service [clearance].
NM: Was that when the President came to New Jersey?
RG: No, no, … at Madison Square Garden, the convention at Madison Square Garden. She was … there three or four nights, and so, she did that, and then, the third night, I think it was [when] Vice-President Cheney was giving his speech and Zell Miller was giving his speech, the New Jersey delegation, which had involved her in this whole thing, they brought her in, inside. So, the delegation was only a few feet from where the Cheney’s sat, and she got to meet them and the family and all of that. … Then, the last night, Bush gave his speech and she had met him briefly, … earlier in the day, I guess. So, here she is, [near] the elevator that he had to get off, with Laura and all the Secret Service, to go down into the main convention area. He goes by; he says, “Oh, you’re still here? How did you get in here from there?” you know, because she had been in another part of the building when he had met her earlier, and so, … he said a few words, … then, he buzzed off. So, that was George Bush and that’s Patty, and then, Gary is the youngest and he went to Montclair State, after bouncing around the country. He went down to the University of Miami, well, my oldest got his degree at the University of Miami, too, went down there for a year, quit, went out to California with his uncle, went to a college out there for a year, said, “No, this isn’t for me, either,” came home. [laughter] So, he was one of those, and he’s a lot like me. He finally got his act together and [went to] Montclair State and, now, he’s an assistant plant manager with Manheim Auto Auction. I don’t know if you know them, but they’re part of Cox. …
————————————-END OF TAPE TWO, SIDE ONE————————————–
RG: Okay, so, well, he went to Montclair State, got his degree. While he was going to Montclair State, he was working four hours a day, five days a week, with UPS, [was] put into management, part-time management, still going to college, and he got into personnel and graduated, waited, waited a couple of years, to get into full-time. He was working full-time, but he couldn’t get promoted. He didn’t go up the chain of command. Everything was frozen, and so, finally, he left them, got a job as personnel manager with a good sized company. I can’t remember the [name]. He left about a year before they went bankrupt, fortunately. He joined this company and he had something like twenty people reporting to him, strictly personnel, writing up all the documentation on personnel requirements. So, he got all of the government documentation and got it into a format to put out to the managers within the auction. Overall, Manheim is the largest auto auction in the country, in the world, but his division is the second largest in the country. So, then, they gave him more responsibility and more responsibility. Now, he has something like three hundred people reporting to him, and so, he’s done well. So, that’s the children. They only know a little bit about some of the things I’ve talked about, as far as the Korean War is concerned and the military. … They can listen to this.
NM: If you would like copies of the tapes, we can make them for you, too.
RG: Oh, good, okay. Maybe it will be released upon my death. No, I’m kidding. [Laughter]
NM: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
RG: No. … [I have] nine grandchildren, great kids, little kids. …
PA: Would you like to say anything about your wife?
RG: She passed away, lung cancer, … New Year’s Day 1991. She did not want to go to college. Strangely, she demanded, not demanded, but she strongly recommended, that I go. She took a test for New Jersey Bell, and the reason some of these things are in [my mind is] because this just came up not too long ago with my children and grandchildren; they wanted to know about their grandmother. … So, she took a test, took the test for New Jersey Bell. New Jersey Bell was moved out of New York Telephone Company in 1925. So, this is 1952, when she graduated from high school, and she took the test. She got the highest score of any female. My father-in-law was assistant controller of New Jersey Bell and the controller called him in. The controller was a graduate of Duke University and most of the senior management of New Jersey Bell was from Southern Telephone Companies. … [He] called my father-in-law in, said, “How come Joan is not going to college?” “She doesn’t want to go.” “Do you have any idea about what her IQ test scores are?” “No.” It was in the 150s, almost like 160. … For Christmas, I would get her the puzzles from the London Times and the New York Times and she’d breeze through. So, she was a brilliant woman, but she didn’t want to go to college. She was like me in many ways. I want to go out and make [money]. She wanted to be independent, and my daughter did the same thing. We tried to convince Patty “Go to college,” didn’t want to go. “I want to make a buck and be on my own.” I don’t know where we got that in our heads. … My wife wanted to be a mother, raised the kids and, even after I became fairly successful, … I said, “Why don’t you just go out [and] and do volunteer work in a hospital? Get out of the house,” and, no, she wanted to be home with the kids. She was a terrific mother and wife.
NM: Okay. Thank you once again for sitting for the interview
RG: Okay. If you have any more questions, fire away.
NM: No, I think we are finished. It was very interesting. This concludes our interview with Mr. Richard George on May 23, 2005, in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
[Editor’s Note: Mr. George has donated copies of several documents related to his service in the Korean War to the Rutgers Oral History Archives. The Rutgers Oral History Archives will facilitate researcher access to these materials upon request.]
———————————————END OF INTERVIEW——————————————-
Reviewed by James Herrera 10/05/05
Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 3/27/06
Reviewed by Richard George 8/18/10