Naomi Schottenstein: This is March 13, 1997. I’m interviewing Bill Warren
and we’re at the Columbus Jewish Federation Building on College Avenue. I’m
interested in speaking to Bill to get a picture of more information regarding
Warren: End of World War II.
Interviewer: End of World War II…okay, and Bill has a lot of great
information here so we’ll get started with that. Bill, what is your full name?
Warren: William C. Warren.
Interviewer: And are you a resident of Columbus?
Warren: All my life.
Interviewer: For life, okay. And where are you living now?
Warren: 1096 Belden Road.
Warren: Belden Road.
Interviewer: And so you’ve been here all your life?
Warren: All but seven years. We moved up here from Hamilton during the
Interviewer: Okay. How many members in your family?
Interviewer: And who are they?
Warren: My son William, Jr. and my daughter Caroline.
Warren: My wife Carol.
Interviewer: Carol? Okay. Are your children in Columbus?
Warren: No, one is in Livonia, Caroline is in Livonia, Michigan, and William
is in Atlanta, Georgia.
Interviewer: I think since you have so much to tell us about the war, let’s
just get started with the beginning. How old were you when you went into the
Warren: Eighteen years old.
Interviewer: And what year was that?
Warren: 1943, August 5.
Interviewer: August 5. Well you remember down to the minute. Were you a
Warren: There wasn’t any volunteers. We had a peacetime draft.
Interviewer: Peacetime draft. Okay so you were drafted?
Warren: Everybody drafted. 16,000,000 men in one day
Interviewer: In one day?
Warren: Signed up.
Interviewer: Amazing. And where did you start your military career?
Warren: Entered the service from Highland Avenue School, which was the draft
board on the west side of Columbus and trained to Fort Thomas, Kentucky,
arriving late that day and stayed for processing about seven-eight days. And
trying, I wanted to be in the Air Force. So I took a lapfull of aptitude tests,
qualified for the Air Force and shipped out to Miami Beach, Florida, because a
lot of barracks and camps…yet completed so they emptied the hotels and
they put us in, four men to a room.
Warren: I was in the Broadripple Hotel on Collins Avenue.
Interviewer: What was the name of the hotel?
Warren: Broadripple. Right across the street from the Fontainebleu.
Interviewer: Is that hotel still…
Warren: The Broadripple is and the Fontainebleu is Harvey Firestone’s
Interviewer: Yeah it sure is. Have you been back to that region?
Warren: Yes. As a matter of fact I went back after the Korean War and I
wanted to see Collins Avenue again, see the beach. So we’ve been back three or
four times really.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Okay. Then where did you go after your…
Warren: From Miami Beach which was our basic training, I entrained to Beloxi,
Interviewer: How long were you in Miami Beach?
Warren: The usual 15 weeks. For processing and all and training.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: And I entrained to Biloxi, Mississippi, to the Aircraft Mechanic and
Flight School and I was to become a Flight Engineer. That’s what I wanted to
do and that’s what I got to be. So I was there six months. Completed all of
the mechanical training, electrical, hydraulic, manual, and then entrained to
Laredo, Texas, to take Aerial Gunnery School. And that’s my first flight in a
Interviewer: Uh huh. So were you with the same group of men from the
Warren: The Air Force, the group I joined with, they went to the Field
Artillery, they went all over the service. But the group that was processed
together, we stayed all the way to Laredo, to Aerial Gunner School, the same
Interviewer: All right. Now what’s the time slot at this point?
Warren: I’d been gone, when I graduated Aerial Gunnery School in Laredo,
Texas, I was gone one year to the day from August 5, ’43 to August 5, ’44,
before I got my first furlough to come home.
Interviewer: Uh huh. So you didn’t have a furlough?
Warren: No I was going to training all the time. All that time.
Interviewer: Pretty intense, huh?
Warren: I was going to school from six o’clock at night ’till two a.m. in
the morning, six days a week.
Interviewer: Uh huh. What was your schooling before you went into the
Warren: Graduate of Central High School, Columbus, Ohio.
Interviewer: And then went into the service right after that?
Warren: They give us time. They give us, my birthday being April 7, I could
have legally been called up but they deferred everyone to point of graduation
and that’s when your papers came, one week after graduation, June 9. I
reported August 5.
Interviewer: Huh. Okay. Now we’re in…
Warren: Laredo, Texas. Got my week’s furlough, came home and turned around
and went out to Salinas, California Air Base for crew transition. That is all
the Aerial Gunners, all the Flight Engineers, everyone was shipped out to these
points for crew conversion and we went to Tonapha Point, Nevada, and that’s
where I met my bomber crew, my pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier and my
five other aerial gunners.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: Trained at Tonapha for six months.
Interviewer: Just six months?
Warren: In heavy bombardment, B-24 Liberators.
Interviewer: Hmmm. You were growing up in a hurry, weren’t you?
Warren: We went from a kid to a man and no in-between…
Warren: ’cause you were thrown into a barracks with guys who smoked, drank
and did things that the 18-year-old just didn’t do.
Warren: And it was like the movie, “The Best Years of Your Life”.
Warren: It really was.
Interviewer: Were you able to correspond with your family?
Warren: Oh I wrote letters every, I got letters from home every week or so
and I wrote home at least twice, sometimes three times a month.
Interviewer: Uh huh. They kept you pretty busy though at that point, didn’t
Warren: At that point I was flying six hours a day, six days a week and going
to ground school about three hours each evening to become a full-fledged,
certified flight engineer.
Interviewer: At this point now you’re 19 years old?
Interviewer: And you’re a flying…
Warren: Flight engineer.
Interviewer: Flight engineer?
Warren: …crew, air combat crew.
Interviewer: How many people were on that?
Interviewer: Ten in a crew?
Warren: Yeah, ten men. And then we all received our wings and proceeded to
Hamilton Field, California, which was a big surprise in store for us.
Interviewer: What was this, what was the place now?
Warren: Hamilton Field, California.
Warren: Hamilton Field.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: In San Francisco. We arrived and processed and was issued all new
flight gear for a takeoff at 6:45 sunset in the evening. We were out, I gassed
my airplane up, had all the new equipment and we had 50 bombers lined up ready
to go to Pearl Harbor and on to the front when a yellow-flagged jeep, a
checkered-flagged jeep come and stopped at each airplane. Well I was wondering,
this is unusual. So when he got to me, he says, “Change of orders.”
Well I get off the airplane, turn everything back in and that evening instead of
being over the Pacific Ocean between Frisco and Hawaii or Pearl, we were on a
nightbound train, 21 car troop train, heading for of all places, Langley Field,
Virginia, six and a half days across the country.
Warren: Our crews happened to be in the right place at the right time…in the service. Radar had been developed and were selected as the first
radar-bombardment crews in the U. S. Air Force, for training. So we hopped
across the United States, went to Langley Field, Virginia for seven weeks and we
practiced radar bombardment techniques up and down the James River, picking out
the various bridges, surface vessels at Norfolk, and so forth. Turned around,
got another week’s furlough, come home, went out, back out to California, at
Mather Field this time north of San Francisco, got issued a brand new…
Interviewer: What was this field now?
Warren: Mather, Mather Field.
Warren: M-A-T-H-E-R Field. It’s out of Sacramento just north of San
Francisco. At that time we got our issue of clothing and indeed we did take off
at 6:45, 50 planes heading for John Rodgers field in Pearl Harbor.
Interviewer: So this was like a six-month delay?
Warren: Six weeks.
Interviewer: Six weeks delay from your initial…
Warren: Six weeks. Yeah.
Interviewer: Now what’s the time, give me the date.
Warren: This is roughly March, 1945.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Give me the date of Pearl Harbor. I got to get that.
Warren: December 7, 1941.
Warren: And we flew over to John Rodgers, spent two days in Hawaii and we
started island hopping. We went out to Canton Island which was again two
thousand miles away just like Pearl was from Mather . Spent the day and night
there, refueled, went to Tarawa which was out in the…Marshalls which
your stop overs for your ferrying to the front. So this…
Interviewer: What was the reason for the stop overs?
Warren: Well they refuelled. You had your limitation. We had two thousand
miles and every two thousand miles, we’d land on an island.
Warren: So this nice brand new Ford-built B-24 was giving me trouble and I
couldn’t figure it out. We were losing manifold pressure in No. 3 engine,
manifold pressure being equal to the pressure down on the surface of the earth.
So we took off two days later and we got 4 1/2 hours out of Tarawa and my engine
blows up, catches on fire.
Interviewer: In the air?
Warren: In the air, yeah. Four and a half hours. So here’s 50 airplanes. We’re
at about 8 thousand 500 feet. At this time we were heading for Biack, New
Guinea. Well we got the order to abandon the aircraft so…
Interviewer: How many people were on your aircarft at that time?
Interviewer: Still ten? Okay.
Warren: So we had to move. As these planes went over they took a load of
ammunition, machine guns, replacement parts, propellers, anything that you could
carry with you. So I had to drop all those in the open ocean, all brand new
Interviewer: Just dumped them?
Warren: Dumped them right out the bomber, yeah.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: So we made an about face. We didn’t arrive to the point of no
return so it was closer to go back to Tarawa than to go on to Biack so….
Interviewer: To go on to where?
Warren: To Biack, New Guinea.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: So we turned around and went back and the airplane was in bad shape
and we were not hurt. We made a safe landing. So we had to stay 15 days on
Tarawa awaiting transportation to our destination. Finally we got picked up on a
C-47, a troop transport, flown down to Biack and then to our final destination
which was Laye, New Guinea. That’s down near Port Moresby, the southern tip of
New Guinea, very close to Australia actually for geographic purposes. There we
joined the 43rd Bomb Group, 63rd Bomb Squadron which was Sea Hawks. We were in
the Pathfinders. Our planes were painted solid black for night-time operation
So we stayed in New Guinea for the usual length of time intil they
cleared the next island and built the next air base and we started our island
hopping up from New Guinea. We went up to Clark Field in the Philippines. And
the 43rd was operational in the Spring and early Summer of ’45, flying support
missions, Pathfinding missions, ladder searches up and down the Chinese coast,
the East China Sea, and all the way to the Japanese mainland which was now
reduced somewhat from a fearful fighter program. They just didn’t, they didn’t
have any equipment. So we did that for about 2 ½ months. And then we got a
call for a transfer. So the Okinawa Campaign had just wound down. This was after
Easter and the invasion of Japan came on Easter Sunday and when they finally got
the island occupied, we were sent up to a brand new airstrip about 6 miles from
Okinawa on a sandspit known as Ieshima.
Warren: Ieshima. Ieshima is noted for two historical facts. One – famous
newswriter Ernie Pyle was killed on Ieshima by…
Interviewer: Ernie Pyle, uh huh.
Warren: Ernie Pyle. He was shot through the head by a Japanese sniper. Our
airfield there was a coral reef and was loaded with about 400 B-24s, B-25s,
P-47s, P-38s and P-51s. We then started operational night flights. We did all of
our bombing and work at night. We harassed Japanese shipping up and down from
what is now called Taiwan. It was Formosa then. Up the Yangsee River, up the
China coast, East China Sea, North China and the Sea of Japan and we could fly
about 12 hours on each mission in this sense. So this went on until the morning
of August 6, 1945 when the night before, we were up flying and our navigator was
a rather shrewd, very intelligent person and we were supposed to be 60 miles off
of the Kayushu tip of Kayushu Alley but we saw a gigantic fire and it looked
like an open hearth in a steel mill.
So we thought, well one, we’re lost, we’re
closer than we thought we were and two, we don’t know what the heck we’re
looking at. And the navigator, Maurice Shrewdenback, a lieutenant, took a
celestial fix and indeed, we were 70 miles from Hiroshima. Well Hiroshima meant
nothing to us but Curry Naval Base sure as hell did ’cause that’s where the
fires come out of. So we were indeed 70 miles away and we had just saw the night
effects of the bomb that was dropped the day before. We did not know that. Had
Interviewer: You didn’t have that information at that point, did you?
Warren: When we got back to Ieshima, we found out in a hell of a hurry
because we were asked questions about which we did not understand, didn’t know
anything about it and our navigator being, he was a Cambridge man, he was an
electrical engineer and well versed. He said, “Something is different. They’re
asking questions chemically-based, about chemistry.” He says, “This is
different.” So we got a hold-down.
Interviewer: What were the questions like?
Warren: Well they would be debriefing. “What did you see? What were the
colors?” and so forth, which meant nothing to us. ‘Cause this incendiary…, it had burned everything up and it’s orange or red in a glow, you
know. But they asked different questions than our debriefings of before. So we
got a hold-down on the 6th…that the government was waiting for Japan to
surrender. Under the Potsdam Agreement, they were given, we dropped millions of
leaflets over Japan saying, “Vacate your cities. You will be destroyed if
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: Well they were smart enough. They knew we had dropped an atomic bomb.
But they figured we were only capable actually of making one since the immensity
of the production, the problems were so tremendous, so they didn’t surrender.
Well on the 9th of August when we dropped they second one, then they didn’t
know how many we had in the pipeline and on the 12th, they acknowledged that
they would surrender. At this time we were sitting on Ieshima and the great
Okinawa typhoon of 1945 had come and passed and we lost nearly all of our flight
clothes and we lost about everything we had.
Interviewer: Were you in the typhoon?
Warren: Yeah, oh, yeah. For three days.
Interviewer: Tell us a little bit how that typhoon…
Warren: That typhoon hits you like a locomotive, like they say in a tornado,
except it’s continuous for two or three days. We had ground-sustained winds, I
well remember from the meteorological chart, of 86 miles an hour sustained, 115
miles erratic. Blew all our tents down and just virtually ruined the base.
Interviewer: And it’s raining the whole…
Warren: All rain for three days.
Warren: Torrential. Sideways, yeah. So I was working on our mess hall at the
time and we had some prefabricated plywood units and as I’m a builder and all,
I was working on that. And we st—-, the whole group, our whole 63rd Bomb
Squadron stayed in that that night ’cause our tents were blown away. So we…
Interviewer: What about buildings?
Warren: Oh most of the buildings were flattened. They were all just
steel-crowned quonset huts, loose facility. ‘Cause we moved so much, we were
in tents most of the time. We lived in tents. We had no barracks or anything
like that. So they dropped that second bomb. Well we were no longer flying night
missions against Japan and about 3:00 in the afternoon I was up on the plywood
roof nailing down the last sheets of plywood for the roof when the P.A. system
come on and said, “The war is over, the war is over, the war is over.”
Interviewer: What’s the date now?
Warren: That was the 12th of August, 1945. So I turned to my buddy and I
said, “Well I’ll be damned, the war is over” And I remember that
like it was yesterday.
Warren: Because it just struck me like, there were times when we thought we’d
never get back, you know. I’d been gone…. you know you pass one birthday
and then another birthday and so on.
Interviewer: Time didn’t mean anything?
Warren: Not any more. So we celebrated. We shot up all the ammunition and we
had a fireworks like the Fourth of July like you could not imagine and it ran on
for about 20 hours. Okinawa was just like our Fourth of July in Washington if
you can imagine that.
Interviewer: You lit up Okinawa?
Warren: We lit up the whole sky and all of our fighters and bombers went up
and we flew all over hell and we had one big time.
Interviewer: Do you have any idea how many men were on the base at that time?
Warren: There was 85,000 men on Okinawa and about 10,000 on Iheya-Shima. The
other historical reason why Iheya-Shima faces in history is this is a tangible
point where we were to physically and really end it. This was the transfer point
when MacArthur set up the surrender. He acknowledged that two Jap Betty bombers,
Bettys were twin-engine bombers, they were painted white with green crosses as
identification and they were to bring the peace envoys from Tokyo and Yokahama,
and like the Japanese government, to Iheya-Shima. And there they would transfer
to an American troop carrier, C-54, fly into Manila and make the final
Now this saved our, the atomic bomb saved out butt simply because
our group was the first, we were going to be in C-line, Operation C-line in
September, which was the physical invasion of Kayusha, of the Kayushan Island
chain. We were not going on to Honshu. That was for next April, next May in ’46.
They were going to secure the southernmost island of Kayusha and get our army
ashore and then invade Honshu after, they figured about six months. So we get a
call and they decided that they would have to investigate a place called Atsugia
Airfield which was the only operational field left in central Japan which was 12
to 15 miles out of Yokahama and Tokyo, which were side-by-side. (Indistinct) Airfield
was comparable to our Wright-Patterson. It was the experimental base, the big
fighter protective base.
It would be in today’s jargon like Andrews Air Force
Base is to Washington, (Indistinct) was to the Japanese people and government. So
five crews, 50 Americans, 50 American airmen and 10 technicians, these were
engineers, communications experts, people like that, we got our orders and we
flew up in a rain all the way from Iheya-Shima to (Indistinct) Airfield and the five
planes made a landing. We were immediately surrounded with 500 government
marines of the Japanese Imperial Force acting as bodyguards by the actual orders
of the Emperor. And they did not disobey the Emperor. They were ready to have
another Pearl Harbor but he said, “No,” and that’s the way it was.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: So we went up there and what we found was unbelievable. Manchurian
young girls, young boys, 13-14, chained to a machine, a lathe, a drill press,
some type of machine forming underground chained, living in straw, in tunnels
all around with their armament works. These were POWs (Indistinct) kids. (Indistinct) POWs, 109, 110 pounds, totally beaten, totally starved, totally…just human skeletons just identical to the way the Germans did to the Allied airmen and the
British airmen or other POWs.
Interviewer: Now these British were…
Warren: They were…
Interviewer: …service (Indistinct)
Warren: Yeah they were from Singapore and Malaysia. They had been POWs for
four and five years.
Interviewer: Four and five years?
Warren: Yeah. Worked in coal mines. Steel mills.
Interviewer: Barely alive?
Warren: Barely alive. Barely. We gave them everything we had in our pockets…to eat.
Interviewer: It was pretty shocking to see them, wasn’t it?
Warren: Ummm, we had some survivors who had made it back and who told us what
to expect should we ever become POWs. We’d rather become a POW if we went to
Europe, more of the Germans than the Japanese ’cause we had a clear
understanding because they had been at it longer and we had a few survivors who told us what to expect.
Interviewer: So you were kind of…
Warren: We were…oh yeah, we were prepared…so we spent about 20
days up in (Indistinct) and about a week and a half before MacArthur came up. And we found all these underground caves and all these airplanes, fighter planes, were fully loaded, fully fueled, fully operational and ready to go. They had been drawing all of
this equipment back from Manchuria, from Malaysia, from Singapore and as our
fronts expanded, theirs receded and so they had a comparable army of about 7,000,000 people and what aircraft and equipment was left from the long Chinese, you know (Indistinct) they brought all that back to Japan and they were ready. As an
example, they had taken about 50,000 POWs and these were Korean principally, and Manchurian and of course Chinese and anybody else they had and they marched them about 108 miles north of Tokyo into the mountainous region and they’d
cut them out and in…and then put concrete tunnels and all and pushed it
all back and this was where the Japanese government was going to hold their government in liquidation or in reaction to prevent our occupying the country.
Interviewer: You said they marched them, these people actually walked 100
Warren: Oh yeah. That’s nothing uncommon. The Bataan Death March was all
the way up the peninsula, just the way the Germans did when they (Indistinct) from Warsaw
and Poland. They marched some people right across the country. Yeah.
Interviewer: What kind of terrain is this?
Warren: This was in August. Oh they had been up there. They had already
chopped the mountain up and built this central government headquarters and then put it
back. It was underground. The whole thing was underground.
Warren: So we were, you might say a footnote to history. We were there when
Warren: So we spent our 20 S.O. days in Japan, went back to Iheya-Shima and
started to dismantle it and come home. The crew was broken up and I arrived back in the United States and of all days, Armistice Day, November 11, 1945.
Interviewer: That was memorable, wasn’t it?
Warren: Very memorable. As we crossed the Golden Gate coming back to…Field, they had painted white rocks on the hillside like the Hollywood sign, that said “Welcome home, job well done”.
Interviewer: Welcome home?
Warren: Welcome home, job well done.
Interviewer: Job well done?
Warren: Job well done.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: And as we landed our B-24, we also had about 15 men on there that we
transferred. No plane come home alone. We took as many men as we could carry.
And we landed on a runway, taxied down, on the same runway we had left and it
was the flight engineer’s job to turn down the engines. And I put my hand
on the throttle and my pilot said, “No, this is our last time.” So the
co-pilot, he killed one engine, I killed one engine, and the pilot killed two engines My flying days
were over. The war was really over.
Interviewer: Was over. Wow.
Warren: I got home in 1946.
Interviewer: So those two years were memorable…
Warren: Actually it’s odd because the Korean War, I have a hard time
telling you my crew members’ names and dates, places because it wasn’t new. I was overseas
about two and a half years in Korea and …sixteen on our rescue unit. And …
Interviewer: Whan was this?
Warren: During the Korean War.
Interviewer: What was the year? Give us the …
Warren: ’50, ’51, ’52.
Interviewer: So you went back into the service?
Warren: Yeah I was back in and …
Interviewer: Was that a voluntary reentrance into the service?
Warren: Yeah. And I was, I thought I would make a career but things didn’t
work out that way.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: So that’s …
Interviewer: So you fought in the Korean War?
Warren: I was in air rescue, yeah. flying behind the lines all the time in a
Grumman SA-16, an Albatross. We would pick up downed pilots. See the B-29s would come up from Okinawa, cross the Inland Sea over Japan, over across the Straits and up
into the Yaloo. And then we would be behind Tail End Charley and we’d circle,
and when they’d return, then we would come in behind and anybody shot down, we’d try to pick them up. Out units picked up 7,000 men in three years. See you have to get them out quick ’cause in the winter, in six minutes, they’re dead,
freeze to death.
Interviewer: Wow. So that was , and these men, had been…
Warren: They were…in fighters, P-51s…
Interviewer: They were downed?
Warren: They were shot down, had engine trouble, ran out of gas, whatever,
and we would, we’d be up ahead of them and behind them all the way.
Interviewer: Did a lot of them live through it then?
Warren: Oh yeah, yeah. We picked up over 7,000 in the Third Air Rescue.
Interviewer: You were talking before we started, we were kind of reminiscing
with these magazines. Tell us about your collection of the YANK Magazines.
Warren: The YANK Magazine was the weekly journal published by the Department
of Defense of the Army and they drew from the professionals, Bill Mauldin, Ernie Pyle. All the newspaper men who were taken into the service were combed. Their records were combed. When they found they were photographers, writers, whatever, printers, they put them on the YANK.
YANK is a throwback to World War I. General Pershing decided at that time that there would be something from
home and something to home. At the end of World War I it was disbanded and at the start of World War II it was resurrected and I have the last copy of YANK Magazine from World War II.
Interviewer: Well these certainly tell the story of the war in great detail.
Warren: It tells, YANK covered every theater, every group, every division,
the hilarious as well as the more serious. We had pages of sketches of what it was, what is
was really like. It’s not like the movies whatsoever. We had home town stories,
snow. Whatever was at home, we knew about it the same week. We had the theater,
we had all the arts, sports and we had the classy pin-ups which, one appeared
Interviewer: Kept your morale going?
Warren: Oh yeah, yeah that’s true. The famous Sad Sack, he was the guy and
we all felt it was us. This is how we felt.
Interviewer: Yeah the Sad Sack was a real popular cartoon, wasn’t it?
Warren: Oh yeah. And the cartoons are magnificent. Bill Mauldin among
many, many others.
Interviewer: He was quite famous.
Warren: He was, oh yeah. General Patton wanted to court martial him because
he presented the war as anything but hilarious and anything but serious and
anything but movie-style. I never saw a general.
Interviewer: You never did?
Warren: They don’t get that close to the front.
Interviewer: Oh that’s what they send you guys out for?
Warren: That’s probably right. These stories that pay off, this is the
actual, this is a tank similar to what my brother went through the fence into.
Interviewer: So it covered all the fronts?
Warren: All fronts. We had the maps. We knew exactly what was going on where
and the news from home, the news of everything that pertained to us. This was, this
is, you’re dead tired all the time. That’s the way it was.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: …’Till we hit home town. Main Street, U.S.A.
Interviewer: Okay. We’re doing an audio description here so we’ve got to
Interviewer: It’s kind of hard to see that description on the audio but you
did get the Columbus Jewish Historical Society copy of all this and they are invaluable. I can
appreciate that. What can you tell us, you have a Japanese flag here?
Warren: I took that flag down the first day I landed in Japan at Atsugi Air
Field and at the time, there was probably 8,000 Japanese troops behind the line and 500
marines in front between us and them and this is my souvenir of World War II.
Interviewer: You tucked that away.
Warren: Tucked that right away. Stuck it in my hat. Walked right on away with
Interviewer: All these mementos are certainly invaluable to you and certainly
will be to future generations as well. You mentioned something about how the soldiers, the military was treated when they were captured. Can you tell us something about
that? We’ve got descriptions from some of these…
Warren: Well for example, a master sergeant I met up with, he …
Interviewer: Master sergeant?
Warren: Yeah, master sergeant. He worked in the coal mines in Japan and he
had a burlap bag on the end of a rope and he had no padding, nothing, and his shoulder
looked like the hide of an elephant. And he would drag coal from the face of the
mine up an incline out to where they loaded it on a barge and took it away. And this
was forced slave labor just the same as the Germans did or the British POWs ,
just anybody they got their hands on, they worked you to death and that’s the way
it was. They fed them literally nothing. They were underfed, overworked and poorly cared for to say the least.
Interviewer: And those who survived, it certainly was an amazing feat to
Warren: Usually they were the latter, taken in the latter part of the war.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Or else they wouldn’t have made it?
Warren: They wouldn’t have made it quite as long. Sometimes if they were
bilingual and could speak Spanish or some other language, they could use them as
interpreters and all and save their necks there. Probably the tragedy of World War II
unknown to the average history reader ’cause they ignore it is the infamous
massacre at (Indistinct) Japan was a city …
Interviewer: Do you have any idea how that’s spelled? Maybe some day …
Warren: I could get it for you. …was a city about half the size of
Chicago, Illinois, and in the closing days of World War II, they took all captured airmen and
particularly Austrian and British, but others as well, and made them kneel down on a curb
in the middle of the city and beheaded them one-by-one.
Interviewer: Beheaded them?
Warren: With a sword.
Interviewer: Hmmm. And every. . . . the others were watching this happen
right in front.
Warren: Uh huhm. Yep. Most of the things as seen really are not reported per
se, or if they are, they’re rewritten or made to look less grotesque than they
Interviewer: It’s just hard to imagine.
Warren: For civilized people, either German or Japanese for that matter, the
hatred was so instilled in Germany particularly from the children up. In Japan, eons of
ages going might be say going back to the turn of the century in our mind, going to
Japan was the turn of eons. They were 500 years back other than their industrial
potential but (Indistinct)
Interviewer: You mean their dislike for …
Warren: Their dislike of everybody.
Interviewer: Of everybody, not just Americans?
Warren: Oh yeah. They hated the Koreans and Manchurians and Chinese, the
Malaysians. They hated, they thought that the world was dominant for the Japanese in the
same vein Germany prefixed that we’re the superior race. And it’s rather,
almost comical if it wasn’t so tragic. You know, the pure Aryan, take a quick look.
Here’s Dr. Goebbels, a club-footed misfit, a dope addict. Here’s Herman Goerring,
a 400-pound dope addict, overweight, a flamboyant would-be soldier who never was a soldier.
Interviewer: And that’s supposed to be the perfect …
Warren: That’s supposed to be the pure Aryan race. And it’s ironic as
hell. Here are some of the most brilliant of minds, none of which are oriented toward more than
the other. You have Dr. Nils Bohr of Copenhagen, a Danish. You have Enrico Fermi, a Italian. You have Ernest Wagner, a Netherlands or Dutchee. You have Albert Einstein, a Swedish citizen turned citizen of the United States. You
have Oppenheimer who was an American by birth.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: And all of these people and out-produced, outsmarted, and split the
atom. And the first statements that the Germans said after trying unsuccessfully to do the
same, said, “If we can’t do it, nobody else is smart enough.” And this
tells you a lot.
Interviewer: All this intelligence was …
Warren: …from the four corners of the world. Nobody has a monopoly on
anything. We could not have done it without Fermi who had a price on his head by the Germans because he married a Jewish, his wife was Jewish. Oppenheimer, of course he was Jewish in the financial section in New York. A Dane, Neil Bohr
was simply a world-eminent scientist. Einstein was also, Hitler put a price on
his head of $25,000 in gold …assassinated. And even …all choose to come
here of their own volition to save their life and their prestige, came to Princeton
and Harvard and come together at Los Alamos and outsmarted the world.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: Per se.
Interviewer: Hmmm. It’s really so amazing to be able to recall, you do have
a good memory Bill, and you’re remembering dates and of course the things that were
embedded in your mind can never be wiped away. As you say, you did grow up in a hurry. Were you aware while you were in Japan, did they keep you appraised of how the war was going on in Europe?
Warren: Well the war was over. See on May 8, Germany and Italy had
surrendered and in August, we were in troops fresh from Germany and France and of course we were already in the islands so we knew the direction. We figured that Operation
Sea Lion and all and the actual physical invasion of Japan would be a six- to
eight month ordeal to get a beachhold on …It wasn’t like going across from
England, 28 miles of water. We were down on Okinawa, 400 miles. We had to transport a whole amphibious group that distance …
Interviewer: Over the water, yeah.
Warren: Oh yeah, before we ever got up there. So this was an 8- or 10,000-bed
hospital set up in Manila to handle casualties for the first month, to give you an
example of what they expected.
Warren: See the atom bomb saved all of the American lives that would have
been lost plus several more Japanese lives than it was cost at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And
they had the choice. We didn’t. They, we dropped leaflets and they dropped bombs on Pearl Harbor.
Interviewer: Um hum.
Warren: On warning.
Interviewer: You mentioned the dropping of the atomic bomb. Had you ever met
Paul Tibbets from here in Columbus who was one of the men who … Warren: He was the lead pilot and the commanding officer in the 509th
Composite. And no I have never met Colonel Tibbets. I was in a bombardment,
the B-24s were the heavies before the 29s. The first time I ever saw a 29 I couldn’t believe
how big they were ’cause we were the big ones then.
Interviewer: Uh huh..
Warren: We weighed 72,000 pounds, carried 8,000 pounds of bombs, 10,000
rounds of ammunition and ten men, 3,000 gallons of gas. We were big. But those things were tremendous.
Interviewer: Has the equipment changed dramatically from then in terms of
size and …
Warren: Everything where we utilized RPM and horsepower, it’s now thrust by
the millions of pounds. Yeah, our longest flight would be 14 hours and 30 minutes. These guys can fly 45 hours today.
Interviewer: That’s interesting.
Warren: To Turkey and back.
Interviewer: Uh huh,
Warren: And they air-refuel too.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Interviewer: Have you ever gone back to Japan or Korea?
Warren: I lived in Japan for about two and a half years.
Interviewer: Two and a half years?
Warren: Uh huh.
Interviewer: When was that?
Warren: During the Korean War. See we were based at a place called Ashiya,
Japan, which was the 39th Air Rescue’s headquarters and from there we fanned out and
went to Korea. We would go to Korea for 15 days and then come back and get relief and another crew would go over and stay at K-16 at Seoul.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: See I got all over Korea, all over Japan and I saw Japan on its knees
the day of the surrender and I saw it just five years later on the rebound.
Interviewer: What was the attitude of the Japanese to the Americans?
Warren: The Japanese, just like the Germans, they talk one way but they think
another. I had German POWs at one time in the Virginias or in the Carolinas and they
were bragging about how many airplanes they had made, like 13,000 airplanes. I
said, “Thirteen thousand,” I said. “We built 55,000 a year.”
They couldn’t comprehend that we were building …
Interviewer: A big difference, isn’t that?
Warren: A big difference. We were building a B-24 bomber, one every 55
minutes at the Ford plant in Detroit.
Interviewer: That sounds like they really …
Warren: We built 300,000 airplanes in four years, including building the
plants to build them in. We built 19,000 B-24s, which was the most-produced airplane in World War
II by the way. And about 12,000 B-17s. Another 3,000 B-29s, and another 25,000 fighters, P-47s, 51s and P-38s, fighter planes.
Interviewer: Boy that’s really mass production.
Warren: Oh that was where the Germans underestimated America where we could
build a car in about 11 1/2 seconds or anything else. We built, since World War II as
an example, we have built more structures, more bridges, more construction, more
highway miles and more houses than have been built in the history of the world.
Warren: I’m a retired building inspector.
Interviewer: Oh is that what you do?
Warren: I know what I’m talking about, yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah. I was going to ask you what your profession is.
Warren: Yeah. I worked for the City of Columbus for 33 years.
Interviewer: Was that after your military …
Warren: Yeah, after Korea.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: Uh huh. Yeah.
Interviewer: I think we’re coming to the end of one side of the tape Bill
and I’m just going to stop it and turn it over and we will continue.
Warren: All right.
Interviewer: Okay Bill, we’re on the other side of the tape now. It’s
awfully hard to keep in real straight chronological order but we’re going to try to pick up a lot
of tidbits as we go along here. In front of you you have a YANK Magazine and there’s an article in here about trial in Rome and, tell us a little bit about that. Warren: The YANK Magazine, the Army weekly, and this particular one was
December 7, 1945, and they tell the trial in Rome of the first Nazi general to face a U.
S. military commission. His sentence was death and the German officers, Dolster among others, told the commission he was only acting under orders from Hitler and Field Marshall Kesserling when he ordered the execution of all O.S.S. commandos.
The O.S.S. was the Office of Strategic Services and whenever they took prisoners,
they killed them, period, right now. “An order was given by me that the men
were to be shot,” the accused conceded on the stand. “And then I meditated
farther and decided to talk with Colonel Almarch, Commander of the 135th.” Dolster
said he ordered Almarch to hold up the execution while he consulted the next higher
headquarters, that of Army group commanded by General Gustav. When the headquarters demanded the firing squad, the Americans, they ordered the prisoners shot by 7 a.m. That’s German justice.
Interviewer: Hmm. Now I think the importance of the trials in Rome is that,
we hear about the Nurenburg trials …
Interviewer: but we don’t hear as much about this and this preceded the
Warren: Oh this preceded it for a year. Yeah, uh huh.
Interviewer: And that’s where it started then, the rundown of these
Warren: Uh huh.
Interviewer: Okay. Tell us also about, you mentioned Tail End Charlie. You
were talking about …
Warren: Tail End Charlie is the last bomber in the last formation toward the
target. The lead plane, and I have to explain how a formation goes about it. Say there’s
a what’s called a maximum effort. That is to say every airplane capable of
flying is put into the air over a target or a series of targets that would be
continually hit. So usually the lead plane, in the skies, there’s usually a bright
orange-colored bomber that is not going to the mission but they’re painted with polka dot or
squares or checkers and he’s the lead ship. So the first squadron to form up will go
up and get on his tail and all of the others converge, see these aircraft come from
various fields. They don’t all come from the same field. So as they progress toward
the target and converge, then the steps, the 18,500, the 14,500, all of these
aircraft that you see from the ground are in a pre-determined position in order that they
can break out and give maximum firepower. In other words, if you’re spread,
your 10 guns on that airplane don’t amount to much. But the entire formation, then
10 become 20, 20 become 40 and you have a solid wall of protective fire.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: Tail End Charlie is the last plane to link up in a formation bound
for a designated target. And one thing, the air is very turbulent way back there so you get a
bumpy, rough ride and you’re the man they like to pick off because there’s
nobody behind you. So Tail End Charlie and particularly tail gunners suffer high casualties
in their position because being the last man, there was nobody behind them except the enemy.
Interviewer: So he was important?
Warren: He was sacrificed.
Interviewer: Yeah. I mean they were all important but there was a huge
significance with that.
Warren: Yeah. Big difference. Nobody wanted to be Tail End Charlie.
Interviewer: I’ve heard of Tail End Charlie for many years but I don’t
think I fully understood the significance.
Warren: It’s what it amounts to.
Interviewer: Uh huh. So that wasn’t totally an honor then when you became
Tail End Charlie.
Warren: No. Your lead ship would be out here with a checker board and you’re
all coming up and flying up from all over and the last guy down here is the last one to
Interviewer: Uh huh. Yeah, he’s was the one that could have gotten it.
Interviewer: For everybody.
Interviewer: You mentioned something about Knights of the Round Table.
Warren: Knights of the Round Table in Columbus, there’s a group of World
War II, Korean< and Viet Nam veterans who meet over in the Upper Arlington City Hall three or four times a year and openly discuss by one member, his or her happenings in
the field or in the theater in which he or she was acquainted with. We have army nurses who were on Bataan, we have field marshalls who were at Bastogne and they give you their eye-witness report of a particular happening like in the
Battle of Bastogne and the Battle of the Bulge. Malgomy, the Massacre of Malgomy, comes to mind. As the Germans overran Bastogne in the last futile effort to split the American forces, they decided that every American prisoner taken would be shot and they marched them northeast toward Germany. Bear in mind where Bastogne is very close to the German Rhineland. And they marched these poor men up there and used barbed wire to tie their hands behind them and shot them by the hundreds.
Interviewer: Goodness sakes.
Warren: I have pictures of that.
Interviewer: Yeah. But you weren’t in that …
Warren: No. My brother was right there almost …
Interviewer: So the Knights of the Round Table include men from both …
Warren: Men and women from everything.
Interviewer: from Europe and …
Warren: Yeah and south Pacific.
Interviewer: and south Pacific.
Interviewer: Uh hum. And they still meet pretty regularly?
Warren: Yeah. We have an agenda and they have a little discussion.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: Usually about 30 people more or less.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Uh huh. Can you tell us about your collection? I know
you have an extensive collection of memorabilia. I know that we’ve already discussed
the YANK Magazine. Warren: I have my photographs which at present in my book form which are over
in the depository at Wright-Patterson Air Base in the Museum.
Interviewer: Are these your personal …
Warren: Yeah and they’re making …
Interviewer: photographs that you’ve taken?
Warren: they’re making copies of those for a yet-to-be-published story of
the occupation of Japan …They’re over there right now.
Warren: That publication should come out early Spring or early Summer.
Interviewer: And remembering too that cameras then were not what they are
Warren: Three dollar and fifty cent box camera.
Warren: Took a thousand pictures with that little camera.
Interviewer: How many?
Warren: A thousand.
Interviewer: A thousand?
Warren: Yeah. I still got them from Korea. Still got the camera.
Interviewer: Is that right, you still have the camera?
Warren: Little box camera.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: First flash …
Interviewer: …was important then.
Warren: Oh yeah. We could get film at the PX.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: And I have pictures of my crew on Iheya-Shima at Ernie Pyle’s
headstone, memorial for his spot of execution. A little three-foot-high monument is there and I
have my picture of my crew. We have pictures from New Guinea, Clark Field,
Iheya-Shima and at the Palace Gates in Tokyo.
Interviewer: Do you have any other publications in your collection?
Warren: I have the first English-printed newspaper, The Nippon Times,
the very first one and I got that in 1945.
Interviewer: And where was that published?
Warren: In Tokyo.
Interviewer: In Tokyo? But it’s in English?
Warren: It’s printed in English.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And you have a copy of that?
Warren: I have the original.
Interviewer: You have the original?
Interviewer: Isn’t that fascinating?
Interviewer: You showed us this magazine here after the battle?
Warren: After the battle.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: The atomic bomb.
Interviewer: It tells about the atomic bomb?
Warren: Yes it does in great detail really. It mentions the other people,
such as Enrico Fermi. He was the man who designed the Stagg Field squash court pile that actually made atomic split fission possible.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: And he later on …Oppenheimer out to Los Alamos to put the bomb
together. The big men in this, after all there are not very many people in the world
capable of understanding Einstein’s theory and those that did, luckily were under one
roof, our own, and by invitation and by birth here. But for example, William R. Lawrence, for example, his brother was a New York Times
correspondent, a scientific writer, and William Lawrence was the inventor of the cyclotron and
he was associate professor with Oppenheimer at Berkeley where the bomb actually was discussed in theoretical detail early in 1940.
Interviewer: You know Bill, I don’t mean to interrupt you but actually it
probably would be a good idea for us to have a copy of this magazine. It’s so detailed.
Warren: Yeah it’s great.
Interviewer: And there’s a lot of, there are a lot of photographs in here
and graphs and…
Warren: The important thing is this little pump right here was made right
here by (Indistinct) Pump in Columbus
Interviewer: Right here in Columbus?
Interviewer: Part, is that part of the atomic bomb?
Warren: No part of the Oak Ridge, Tennessee Diffusion Plant.
Interviewer: Oh my goodness. Yeah.
Warren: Theoretically there were three ways to make an atomic bomb so being
America, we decided we’d try all three. There was the physical, and the chemical and
the >mechanical. The physical being to split, that was what Oak Ridge was all
about. In other words they would take like a mile-long plant and put fusionary screens,
barriers as they were called, and pump …fluoride through them and each
time a little bit more would come out until at the end of the line an eye dropper of
material of U-235 or U-238 would be producable. Germany tried this and never got out
of the imaginary, limited stage of the laboratory. Oppenheimer said, “Yeah,
we can do it.” And thus we built Oak Ridge and then we went the other way with
plutonium to Hamford Plutonium Works in Hamford, Washington, and did it in an entirely different method and way, and the Manhattan Project itself at
Columbia. All of it come out to Los Alamos and it was decided that the gun-barrel type,
we built two type of bombs, the uranium and the fusion bomb.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: It was quite unique …
Interviewer: Yeah we’ll have to get a copy of it. Now we were talking about
your collection of memorabilia and did you bring back any other flags? Do you have any war weapons, any…
Warren: Those were taken by the officers who didn’t participate too much in
World War II but were on hand on the receiving end and they parted company.
Interviewer: Oh, so …
Warren: This I kept in my hat, that flag.
Interviewer: You kept it concealed. Otherwise it might have gotten …
Warren: Somebody would have gotten it. Yeah.
Warren: Yeah I wore that hat and stuffed that flag right under it.
Interviewer: Yeah well that’s …
Warren: That’s how a lot of war souvenirs were collected.
Interviewer: Oh goodness.
Warren: When you come back to the country.
Interviewer: Not totally authentic collection?
Warren: No, no, no.
Interviewer: I know you do some school visits. Can you tell us a little bit
about that? I know it’s important to educate these kids. I don’t think they get a lot of
background about World War II, do they?
Warren: The teachers who were not in it don’t understand it and are not
interested in it because the rewrite of history being what it is, and the worst type thing is
some of the…and programs that pretended to be anything but realistic. But
aside from that, I have talked to like Upper Arlington High School there and given some insight into the world of reality, rather than the movie-style version of war. War really is a lot of boredom and a lot of mud and a lot of rain and a lot of
wishing and very little action from time to time.
Interviewer: Waiting, just waiting it out?
Warren: The wait, yeah.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Your school talks, how is that organized, through…
Warren: Usually somebody hears from the Round Table or something like that
and says, “Would you come?” or whatever and then I take my YANKS and stuff
and show the kids …
Interviewer: Are they willing to listen or curious?
Warren: Not much. They’re not interested. They think that being a POW is
like Hogan’s Heroes on TV where you ate well, slept well and played well, when in reality
from those pictures you see here, the real thing was anything but that. And this
is what TV and the writers do a great disservice to. And this is really why I’d
like Mr. Wexner or somebody like that who has the capabilities of turning this into a
course like where we really could put it in a school library and really see how it
really was, not like some make-believe rewrite people, skinhead or otherwise, who says it never happened.
Interviewer: It’s painful, if you’ve been there, it’s really painful to
see it distorted, isn’t it?
Warren: The last eyewitnesses are rapidly declining in number. Now I’ll be
72 years old on April 7th. Luckily I feel I’m in pretty good health. I’ve been most
fortunate. I’ve been in two wars. I spent over three years overseas and to come out of it
with hardly a scratch is almost unbelievable. I would not like to see the
eyewitness pretensions end without reflection, without some kind of a record and that’s
why I’m sitting here. I read your article in the paper about a year ago, about
what you were doing, and I thought you may be interested in this …in the world
of reality and not “I heard it from him and this is the way he said it was,”
but I was there and saw it.
Interviewer: Well I’m so glad we have this recorded because that’s what’s
so important about this I know. First eye-hand vision is critical and we’re certainly getting
a good fill-in from you. We appreciate that too. We appreciate the fact that you even
took the time to call in the first place and so now that we have this opportunity,
we really value it. Do you have reunions with your, the men that you…
Warren: The Army and the Navy can do that because they as a unit stayed
together. The Air Force, for example my crew, Bill Warren, Flight Engineer, Columbus, Ohio;
my co-pilot, Bill Holloman, Pennsylvania; my pilot, Hudland from Wisconsin;
my navigator, how he’s dead from a heart attack, was from Cambridge, Massachusetts;
my right waist gunner, he was from Texas; my top turret gunner, Danny, whom we still correspond and stay at each other’s houses on
occasion from Wiscasset, Maine; my bombardier and my radar operator; these people are from
the four corners of the country. Being because it took so much training, whereby
in the infantry, ten guys come in and you stayed together and if you wasn’t
killed, you come home together. We didn’t. By the time it would take to train a pilot
and co-pilot, let me give you an example. I met my crew at about 7:00 in the morning
on Torah Point, Nevada, on the flight line and a squadron of six …trucks
come down from the defender. And one truck was flight engineers and one truck was navigators and one truck was pilots and one of them was co-pilots and another
was gunners and we were assigned a number. My crew number was 182 for POW purposes. So when they come up to the airplane they simply called off,
“Crew 182”. Ten men jumped off the truck.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: Crew 183, 40 feet away, ten more men. Shook hands, go on the airplane
and started in. That was the way it was.
Interviewer: So you were kind of dispersed then?
Warren: Nobody knew anybody.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Interviewer: But you all worked together …
Warren: We were like brothers at the end of the time. You know after all that
time when we said goodbye on Iheya-Shima it was like, you know, civilian life by that
time had become such a thing of the past that it wasn’t normal. And we wanted
it, we wanted it.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: But New Guinea, New Caledonia, Clark Field, Los Negras, the
Philippines, Okinawa, Iheya-Shima, good God you couldn’t remember where you were two months ago, you know. And we were in unusual, strange places anyway.
Interviewer: Sure, you weren’t familiar with any …
Warren: We weren’t familiar with nothing.
Interviewer: Uh huh. The languages and the scenery and everything.
Warren: Yeah, oh yeah.
Interviewer: Well this has certainly been a fascinating experience. I don’t
know if you can fill us
in with any other bits of information. There’s probably no end…
Warren: I’ll give you a thought that’s bothered the, bothered me ever
since. I think they made a grave mistake in the construction of the U.N. on the East River in New York. I think the United Nations building should have been built in twoparts. One should have been built in downtown Berlin and they should have put a ring
around it of about ten square miles. The other should have been built in downtown
Hiroshima, Nagasaki or whatever, and the same thing. Never allow any
reconstruction to take place in any of those areas and each of the so-called members and
delegates to the U.N. should have been a blinded veteran, an armless veteran, a legless veteran, a shot-up veteran, a sickly-malarian veteran and they ain’t going to be so damn…to go to war
Interviewer: They can appreciate …
Warren: What it’s all about.
Interviewer: what it’s all about. Uh huh.
Warren: They sell ambassadorships to these diplomats and these people are
striped-pants people who live a life of party-going in these countries, never get out in
the rice paddies.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: In all the years I was in Japan, I never saw an official of the
government do anything but play golf on the course up at Tokyo as M*A*S*H would have shown it
Warren: like you’ve seen it. That’s how officialdom lived. They didn’t
live down on Kayushu, they didn’t go out …I have a thousand pictures I took in Japan
alone, in the rice fields, in the steel mills, in the workshops, in the farms and I’ll
give you an example. I was walking through a rice paddy one day and I was taking a
sequence of the planting of the rice, the cultivating of the rice and the harvesting
of the rice, which is a very involved step because you have to transplant all this and it’s
back-breaking work. So some kids were pulling on my arm and I had my camera bag. I had four or five Hershey Bars and Milky Ways and stuff with me. And so I give them all everything I had to give them and they kept pulling on me. So
evidently I had …so I figured out they want me to go with them. So I’m walking
through these rice paddies to a very small village in the …River valley. This
is southern Kayushu about 80 miles from the Samoan …and about 40 miles from …in the middle of a rice …area, agricultural area. And I come on this little clearing of about eight huts, little houses, and here these kids lived in an orphanage.
All under one roof. There was about 90 of them , ages everywhere from 2 ½ right up to teenagers. So I saw …They had no toys. They had nothing much to eat.
They were very polite and…
Interviewer: So these were the kids that were working in the rice fields?
Warren: Yeah. Uh huh. So I went back to the Air Rescue Unit and I said,
“Hey I need some money and the next poker game that’s at payday, I want 100 bucks from
you guys.” Well they all knew me and so I went to the P.X. and I had $100
and I bought as many cases of Milky Ways and Hershey Bars and Baby Ruths and chewing gum that I could stuff in my pockets and I went back out. And I took them
to the Papa-san and Mama-san that ran this little orphanage. And I have pictures
of all this by the way. And the first day the little kids with their hand out
and they were breaking these into one little particle of Hershey bar. So I thought,
“Gee you know, a hundred kids. This ain’t going to go nowhere.”
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: So this was in the middle of transplant season, just about August. So
I went back and I said, “Oh dear, you guys. We got to do something here.” And I
told them…I said, “Every payday, I’m going to get some money here.”
Everyone paid. You know we do, Americans do these things. Nobody asked no questions. We just did it. So …
Interviewer: Your money wasn’t doing much for you anyhow.
Warren: No. So I got four or five of my buddies and we went out there and we
made a list and I got a list of all the boys and all the girls. And we got six hundred
bucks. I sent a letter to Sears Roebuck in Chicago and explained: “You take this
$600 and you split it 50/50 and you send me toys for girls and toys for boys,”
and I give them how old they were. So two weeks before Christmas we take all this stuff out there and by this time they know me ’cause I’m going there every
week, taking them to the ferris wheels and stuff like that and the carnivals, and it
became the best Christmas of my life. Even with my own children, it still stands out. They
had never tasted Coca Cola. So I had all these bottles of Coke and it looked to
them probably like cough medicine.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: When I drank mine, man that thing went down like a gas pump going
down. So we had a party and each kid …there’d be no junk, used toys. Each
girl got a doll and as their ages progressed, they got something bigger. And each boy
got a ball and a glove and then we got about 15 bats and some basketballs,
volleyballs. And the oldest teen-aged girl, we got her a bicycle. And we give them the
party of their life.
Interviewer: Well they had never seen anything like …
Warren: They’d never seen nothing like this. So we had money left over so
we bought an electric train about half as long as this table, set it all up and let them
run it all night until the wheels run off.
Interviewer: Oh goodness.
Warren: So that was the first Christmas and thereafter, every week we went
out there and we finally, we painted the whole inside of the place and bought them a wash machine ’cause they’d been doing all their clothes down in the Little Yalu River on a rock so we fixed that up for them. And when, the day I left, the train …come up and I had enough points and all 30-some months and I’m going down to the railroad station to go back to Tokyo to get on a boat to come home and here comes the entire village.
Interviewer: Oh to see you off?
Warren: …all these workmen that I’d known, carpenters and the
carvers and stone-masons, all the bricklayers, I knew all these people. Come down and they had
a little hand-made vase and I still have it in my house and that was in
appreciation. Everybody threw the windows up on the train and wondered what was going on with this: two, three hundred people out there.
Interviewer: Well you certainly made good use of your time.
Warren: That’s why I say the ambassadors are for sh– because they don’t…they don’t do the job that they should be there for, they don’t.
Interviewer: Yeah it’s just a …
Warren: Not at all.
Interviewer: …just a…
Warren: Turn that off for a minutes.
Interviewer: Bill we stopped for a couple of minutes to just kind of gather
some thoughts together and we were talking about the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. I know you have some thoughts about that. Maybe you can share that with us
Warren: Regarding the Museum, the building and the thought and the contexture
and conjecture of it, here we are some 50 years later. We don’t even have a
memorial to the World War II men who delivered this nation against an almost monstro…just a monstrosity of people, but nonetheless, presidents come and go, leaders come and go. Some are leaders. Some are not. Mediocracy excels it would seem at government but in one instance in the administration of former president Jimmy Carter, much to his credit and unknown to the general public, it was he and
his benevolent attitude that created and procured the land on the Mall for the
Holocaust Museum. It would be nice if the gentleman would be remembered in that…rather than in the hostile, anti-hostile attitude of the press when
referring to the man. If nothing else come up from the administration of that one person,
certainly that is a monument to mankind in that…
Interviewer: You know it certainly is something that we’ll all be able to
benefit by knowing that that did happen and you know, I appreciate your sharing that with us. You mentioned a little while back about accumulation of points in the service. I
think that it might be interesting to know how that worked.
Warren: Points were issued on the number of months overseas in the theater in
which you were in. As you arrived at your magic 86, that was eligibility for discharge.
And of course…
Interviewer: 86 points?
Warren: 86 points. Yeah.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: Now my brother, for example, who went in just after Pearl Harbor, I
never saw my brother in uniform. He left while I was in high school and never got back on
a furlough until I was gone. He was back out of the Army hospital in France and discharged as a civilian in ’45 when I didn’t come back until January 16 and discharged in ’46.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Warren: Never even saw him as a uniformed man. He had his uniform, of course,
but I never, never saw him and he never saw me.
Interviewer: Well I’m sure that happened a lot …
Warren: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: with family members. But you had to have a certain amount of
points to be discharged from the service?
Warren: Yeah, mustering out it was called.
Interviewer: Uh huh. You know again I’m going to record the fact that we’re
very appreciative of you wanting to share all of this information. I think it’s a real
necessity. It’s important to you too. It’s still healing. I have a husband too who is a
veteran of World War II, the European war, and I know how important it is to be able to
talk about it and you certainly have shared a lot of information with me and many people and I commend you and want to show you our appreciation. The Columbus Jewish Historical Society really appreciates all this.
Warren: Donna Reed.
Interviewer: Donna Reed, yeah in the magazine.
Warren: An 18-year old.
Interviewer: Huh. Yeah. We’ve known Donna Reed for a number of years.
Interviewer: Okay Bill. Thanks again and this is a permanent record and we’re
going to conclude the taping this afternoon. Thanks again.
Transcribed by Honey Abramson
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