This interview for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society is being recorded
on Monday, October 4, 1999 as part of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society
Oral History Project. The interview is being recorded at the Society offices on
College Avenue. My name is Dave Graham and I am interviewing Mr. Julian Moliff
and now we’ll begin.

Interviewer: We’ll begin with a little bit of family background.

Moliff: Okay. My grandmother was Eva Goldweber and Max Goldweber and they
came from Poland, it was Russia then, and my grandfather went to Brazil first
and he said that Brazil was no better than Russia so he left Brazil, for the

Interviewer: Okay.

Moliff: And he … that they heard about Columbus and they had relatives
in Columbus so he came to Columbus.

Interviewer: What relatives did he have here?

Moliff: There was a couple, Goldberg, the Goldbergs and the Krakowitzes,

Interviewer: What was their relationship, can you tell me?

Moliff: I don’t remember.

Interviewer: Cousins?

Moliff: But they were all … members of the Agudas Achim … on
Washington Avenue.


Moliff: As a matter of fact my Aunt and Uncle Cooper lived right across the
street from there. We used to go there. And we, my father is from Russia, from a
little town around Odessa and they decided to put him in the Army and he decided
to leave.

Interviewer: In the Russian Army …

Moliff: Yeah. He said that was no place for a Jew.

Interviewer: What year, approximately what time do you know …

Moliff: Well I don’t know. Dad must have been, let’s see around 1908-1909
… And maybe later. And he came to this country and he sold, went
door-to-door selling clothes until he saved enough money and he heard, I’m
going over to this pretty fast. He heard that there was a university in
Columbus, Ohio that if you had $16, you could go to school. In Russia he was a,
he worked in the sugar refinery as an inspector, in fact he was sort of a big
shot he said. He used to go around with a horse and buggy and from place to
place for inspections and he knew a little bit about chemistry. His father was
a, it’s an interesting family. Shouldn’t have gone over it so fast. His
father was principal of a school, so education was something that he had.

Interviewer: You know I’m just thinking here … if you think you have
a lot of family history that you could share, that might be a separate interview
if your father had told you many stories about his experiences in the old
country …

Moliff: He didn’t tell me, he was sort of quiet.

Interviewer: that might be a …

Moliff: See he stopped talking about his family with the Revolution came . .
. .

Interviewer: 1917.

Moliff: they were wiped out, everyone was killed.

Interviewer: During the Revolution?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: … the Holocaust?

Moliff: Well during the Russian Revolution.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: They were all wiped out and he wouldn’t talk about ’em. But he
wanted an education and he said he worked three years to save $16.

Interviewer: (Laughs)

Moliff: And he finally came to Columbus and went to Ohio State. He was a
really good student.

Interviewer: Uh huh. What was his education in?

Moliff: He took Chemistry.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: And he, when I went, I went to Ohio State and then he, when I went to
the (indistinct conversation) on my desk and they said, “Are you actually
Julian Moliff?” and I said, “Yeah.” He said, “You’re Sam
Moliff’s son?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Well if you’re
half as good a student as Sam was, you’ll be all right.”


Moliff: And there is, I found a picture of him in the hall right down in the
Chemistry Building, not by himself, with a lot of people. And he was, he was, he
was a man, he was a good guy. He became very well known in the paint industry
and …

Interviewer: In what industry?

Moliff: Paint, paint industry. He became very well known.

Interviewer: Huh.

Moliff: Paint, yeah. I was a paint chemist too.

Interviewer: Hmmm, …

Moliff: He had a patent with the, of the street-marking paint that you see
all over the place. He had a patent on that and he needed a job, he’d lost his
job during the Depression. Not that he lost his business, not his job, he lost
his business and he needed a job so he went to the Glidden Company where he used
to work and they said, “If you give us the patent, we’ll let you get a
job,” and that’s how …

Interviewer: So he gave up the patent?

Moliff: Yeah … so, yeah.

Interviewer: Well then let’s, what about your mother’s side …

Moliff: My mother was, my grandmother was a big macher in the Agudas
Achim and she had a house on Parsons and Livingston, a big house. I remember
that house.

Interviewer: Hmmm.

Moliff: This was way back. I was … and she used to board students from
the University, Jewish students, and …

Interviewer: From Ohio State?

Moliff: Yeah. And she had, my mother had three sisters. She had Katie and
Sadie and Nancy, sisters.


Moliff: Yeah her sisters and she …

Interviewer: Were they her sisters or yours?

Moliff: No her sisters. I didn’t have …

Interviewer: Her sisters?

Moliff: Yeah, she and, and they lived there and Grandma and Grandpa used to
go sell rags or pick up, buy rags or sell them, whatever. And he, he was really
a nice guy but he wasn’t very, a businessman …

Interviewer: Your grandfather?

Moliff: My grandpa. My grandma ran … Grandpa died before the
Depression. He died when I was about six years old.

Interviewer: And what was his last name?

Moliff: Goldweber.

Interviewer: Goldweber?

Moliff: Yeah. And …


Moliff: And then …

Interviewer: Your family name is Moliff. Was that the family name from

Moliff: There’s a story on that.


Moliff: Dad tells the story that when he came to … Ellis Island there .
. . .

Interviewer: That was …

Moliff: That was …

Interviewer: Yeah.

Moliff: Ellis Island. He said … Dad couldn’t speak English and the
guy at the desk asked him what his name was and he told them it’s something
like Mahuggybear or whatever it was and the guy says, “I can’t spell
that,” he says. “What was it?” And he says, “Mahuggybear”,
and the guy says, “Well how about Moliff, do you like Moliff?” Dad
says, “Yeah”, and that’s how we got the name Moliff.


Moliff: (laughs)


Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Has anybody tried to find your original name, family name?

Moliff: Yeah, you know, my sister has papers and so forth and … When
Dad and Mom … came, they lived in Florida for a while and when they came
back they lived with my sister and she’s got most of the stuff they …
citizenship papers and so forth.

Interviewer: What is her last name?

Moliff: Her last name is Sylvia Chaiten, Chaiten.

Interviewer: How do you spell that last name?

Moliff: C-H-A-I-T-E-N.

Interviewer: Uh huh… Does she live in Ohio or …

Moliff: She lives in Lyndhurst which is a suburb near Cleveland, suburb of

Interviewer: Uh huh. Okay. Anything else of interest that you think from the
family’s …

Moliff: Well there’s a lot of the, ‘course I was real little. A lot of
the family members used to … we, we didn’t go, we didn’t go to
synagogue and the … Dad’s mom, Dad was quite, not, liberal is not the
word but he wasn’t …

Interviewer: Progressive?

Moliff: Progressive, or whatever you want to call it.


Moliff: … And he, we didn’t go, we celebrated the holidays but we
didn’t keep kosher …

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: And Dad was so interested, Dad and Mom were so interested in becoming
Americans and Americanized American citizens that they didn’t speak Yiddish
which I don’t, I think they should have. I love to, used to go over to my
grandmother’s house and she would speak Yiddish to us and we’d answer in
English …

Interviewer: You learned some Yiddish?

Moliff: Yeah I learned some. I could understand her but we didn’t speak it.

Interviewer: How about Russian? Did they speak Russian?

Moliff: They didn’t speak Russian.


Moliff: They spoke English. And in the middle of their living room there was
a big pedestal with a large, big dictionary on it.

Interviewer: In their home?

Moliff: In our home. And if I didn’t know a word, my Dad said, ”
Dictionary.” He was very, very, both of them, they were interested in
becoming Americanized. They became a citizen, they voted, they …, they
read a lot. They also read a lot of Russian books in Russian. They’d buy the
books from the, not buy the books, they went to the library and get the books in

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: And we’d read them. Mom didn’t go to school. She only went to
elementary school and she became, learned how to read on her own. Used to read
quite a bit but she did it all by herself. And Dad worked and Mom stayed home
and …

Interviewer: Uh huh. How many in your family, your sisters?

Moliff: My brother, myself and then my mother got sick and she couldn’t
have any children and they told us she couldn’t have any children. But she had
a little girl 16 years later and I have a sister that’s 16 years younger then
I am.

Interviewer: So that is Sylvia?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: What’s your brother’s name?

Moliff: Albert.

Interviewer: Albert? Did he serve in the war?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: He also? In what rank?

Moliff: He had a very interesting, he went to, he was in the Field Artillery.
Well first I was, when I was drafted, I went to Camp Shelby and he went, he went
to New Orleans in the Naval Air Corps after that. And he never drove a car. I
could drive but he couldn’t. And he said, “I used to go down and watch
them fly and the planes would take off and land and take off and land.” I always
knew which one he was because he bounced it. Yeah. And he, but he couldn’t
fly, he couldn’t steer the plane on the ground. So they washed him out.


Moliff: So from there he went to the Field Artillery and they sent him to
Hawaii and he was on the Field Artillery there in Hawaii and he got sort of
bored and he walked into the office there, that’s where the Stars and
were published. He went into the office there and they hired him
as a, he worked as a reporter and a writer. The day of the war he was working
for the Stars and Stripes … I got a letter from him
when I was in Burma and he said that he’s tired and he wanted to do some
fighting so he said he, you know we were crazy in those days, and that he was
going to quit the Stars and Stripes. And I wrote him one
page in big letters and I said, “One damn fool in the family is


Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: So he stayed …

Moliff: Yeah he stayed …

Interviewer: So he stayed in the Pacific?

Moliff: Yeah he stayed in Hawaii.

Interviewer: In Hawaii?

Moliff: Yeah. And he liked to go back there too.

Interviewer: I wonder if that’s where they published the Pacific Edition.

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: There was also a European Stars and Stripes.

Moliff: Well we used to get the, I don’t know, which one would you get when
you were in Burma?



Interviewer: Did you ever read an article written by him …

Moliff: I didn’t know …

Interviewer: Did he write or other work?

Moliff: I think he wrote some. I think he worked as a editor …

Interviewer: So you might see his name on a newspaper?

Moliff: You might.

Interviewer: Albert Moliff?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: … Well let’s talk more about you, about your background
then. Oh, was he older or younger than you?

Moliff: He was younger.

Interviewer: He was younger?

Moliff: He was 15 months younger.

Interviewer: Okay. So what age were you when you entered the service then?

Moliff: I was 21.

Interviewer: Had you been to college?

Moliff: I was a junior at the University.

Interviewer: Uh huh, okay.

Moliff: And I was drafted ten months before war was declared. And I …


Moliff: And I could have, I could have gotten a deferment until I graduated
but I decided it was best to get it over with and then finish up. So I went to
Camp Shelby in Mississippi which was, they were just building it and we were,
there wasn’t much to do there. We didn’t have any, there wasn’t much
equipment. We didn’t have any guns. And I went in the Mortar Squad and believe
it or not, we had a stove pipe for a mortar and we used to go just to Camp
Shelby and to Hattiesburg and goof around and so forth like kids would. And then

Interviewer: What rank or what unit? Was this a regular Army division?

Moliff: This was the 37th Division of the United, of Ohio. It was
a National Guard Unit.

Interviewer: Thirty-seventh?

Moliff: Thirty-seventh.

Interviewer: That was the Ohio?

Moliff: Yeah, National Guard. And we were with the National Guard and boy
they were something. They didn’t like college kids and I was …

Interviewer: Did you actually join the National Guard? Is that what you did?

Moliff: No, no, no. I was drafted into the Army.

Interviewer: And you just were assigned?

Moliff: Yeah. The 37th Division is an old Ohio Division. But the
units that made it up were the National Guards from all over the …

Interviewer: So you had fellows in there from Ohio?

Moliff: Yeah, it was an Ohio Division. And so . . . We didn’t do much
during the ten months. I had a good close-order drill. We had some maneuvers. We
went on maneuvers which we didn’t, which was a joke and I decided in the
middle of the moves that I was tired of it so I, we were going through Louisiana
and so forth, I decided I was going to get captured so I got captured. That was
my end of the …

Interviewer: You ended the maneuvers?

Moliff: I ended my … in the maneuvers. To go back, something that I
think maybe you ought to know was that to me, to this day, I wonder if I did the
right thing is what worries me. We had a dog tag. You know what dog tags are?


Moliff: You got your blood type and your name and also they got your
religion. And in those days there was Hitler and so forth and I didn’t know
what I was doing so I said “none.” And to this day I wonder if I did
the right thing.

Interviewer: Well … a question.

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: So.

Moliff: There’s no good answer, I know you can’t answer. But no it . . .

Interviewer: Like what? You might expand? What do you think you might have
done instead of what you did?

Moliff: Well I could have said I was Jewish and be proud of it. I was proud
of it and … I didn’t run into any real anti-Semitic experience in the
service and …


Moliff: … So anyway we were …

Interviewer: And people knew you were Jewish?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: How did you express it? How did they know?

Moliff: I told them. It didn’t come out, “Hey you know I’m
Jewish.” But in the course of the being together, living together,
something would generally come up. A holiday would come up and we celebrated the

Interviewer: You did celebrate Jewish holidays?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: But did you have Jewish friends …

Moliff: There weren’t very many Jews …


Moliff: In fact in the whole war I never ran into very many Jewish friends
and well I had some friends in, from New York and how they got into the 37th
Division I don’t know. I know we went to Hattiesburg and we got on a bus, just
the two of us, the kid from New York and myself, we got on this bus and …
it was empty, you know and young fellows, we went all the way to the back to sit
down. They’re from New York, I’m from Ohio. What do I know about Southern
prejudices? So the truck driver said, “You can’t sit back there. That’s
for the niggers.” And so I said, “I’ll sit right where I damn
please.” So we sat back there and the next stop a bunch of blacks got on
and they went to the back and they saw us sitting there and the whole bus was
empty, picture this, the whole bus was empty, and they went back and they were
holding onto the, standing up holding on, they wouldn’t sit down.


Moliff: So we got up and left … So that was my experience with
prejudices, one of them.

Interviewer: You saw a lot of that?

Moliff: Yeah. Where were we?

Interviewer: I think that’s interesting …

Moliff: Yeah.


Moliff: So …


Moliff: anyway …


Moliff: There wasn’t much interesting going on in Camp Shelby.

Interviewer: Well how about Pearl Harbor Day? Were you at Camp Shelby …

Moliff: Yeah Pearl Harbor thing. I was writing a letter to my folks and, I
can picture this. I was writing a letter to my folks and somebody came in and
said, “The Japs are bombing Pearl Harbor,” and I said, “Where in
the hell I Pearl Harbor?” I soon found out. But anyway right as they bombed
Pearl Harbor, the next day we got all kinds of equipment. We got guns, we got
mortars, we got machinery. We were a heavy weapons company, H Company, Heavy

Interviewer: Yeah.

Moliff: So I was in the machine gun unit, a water-cooled machine gun, and we
got a machine gun we had to clean up and we got rifles, M1s. We were cleaning
them up. And we consistently … from head to foot.

Interviewer: The next day?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: How many were picked for heavy weapons? Was there a special . .
. .

Moliff: (Laughs)


Moliff: I’m glad you asked that. That’s a funny story.


Moliff: When I was at, when I went to Ohio State, I was in the ROTC. ROTC was
Field Artillery. And they had Cavalry in those days but they also had Field
Artillery. And so when I was on the train going to Camp Shelby, they interviewed
us, these fellows from the National Guard, officers or whatever. Anyway, so they
asked me if I had any experience. I said, “Yeah I had ROTC.” And I
was, that was, they didn’t like ROTC. So I said I was in the Field Artillery
in 75. And he said, “Oh that’s great, I’ll put you in the Heavy Weapons
company. That’s, is that okay with you?” What do I know about the Army? I
thought Heavy Weapons was I-75, the heaviest weapon was a mortar.


Moliff: So that’s how I got in. They played a trick on me.

Interviewer: That was done on the train?

Moliff: On the train going to …


Moliff: …to Camp Shelby. So that’s how I got into Heavy Weapons.

Interviewer: … You mentioned training with a stove pipe for a mortar.

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Where was the real mortar?

Moliff: I don’t know. In storage some place.

Interviewer: So you really didn’t have weapons?

Moliff: We didn’t have a mortar. We, I think we had one machine gun. We had
some rifles but the rifles were the bolt-action …


Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: And then, but we sure got the weapons … We did go to the firing
ranges … I mean we went to the firing ranges to fire the rifles.

Interviewer: Yeah, but not the mortar?

Moliff: No not the mortar. We fired, we learned how to fire a mortar pretty

Interviewer: After Pearl Harbor?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Did you have a sweetheart at the time, a girlfriend back in the

Moliff: I was engaged to a young lady named Tillie, Tillie Cohen.

Interviewer: Oh yeah? How did that come about, I mean, you just dated or how
did you mean?

Moliff: I don’t know. I just met her. I was going to the University and I
think there was an affair or something. I met her at the affair and I liked her
and she liked me and that was it.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: But when I came back we were different people.

Interviewer: You mean after the war?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Did you correspond during the war …

Moliff: Yeah I corresponded with her.

Interviewer: But you were actually engaged to be married?

Moliff: We were engaged to be married, yeah. But we …

Interviewer: When did that change?

Moliff: When I came back.

Interviewer: She was still expecting marriage?

Moliff: Well she, well we were different in a lot of ways. She was very
religious and brought up in a kosher family and I think that finally got to her
that I wasn’t going to be kosher.


Moliff: I think that was it.

Interviewer: Okay. But that was your main romantic interest during the war

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Did you actually get letters …

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Okay.

Moliff: Well … in the first, before I went to Burma, I was in

Interviewer: I see. Well why don’t we move along with the story… .
Guadalcanal is one of the great battles of World War II.

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Why don’t we just take off from December 7th . . .

Moliff: Okay.

Interviewer: …and begin to touch on the major events in your life.

Moliff: We, it was after December 7th we were … We were
equipped with, fully equipped and I … were assigned certain duties. In
fact I was given a rifle with some bullets and had the loading platform of the
railroad station, to guard that loading platform and if anybody got on …
That sounds silly but it’s true and we were, we did some intensive training
after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. And Pearl Harbor was bombed in December and
in February we were on a train going to Indiantown Gap for overseas duty and the
rumor was that we were going to go to England.

Interviewer: Central England, okay?

Moliff: Most of the time those rumors were true.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: But while we were on the train to Normandy, the French were around
in Normandy that sabotaged or sunken in the harbor.


Moliff: That’s, and when we went to Indiantown Gap, we just stayed there
for weeks and nothing, we didn’t do much of anything and one day the captain
told me he was going to transfer me to another unit ’cause they’re going to
be shipped out right away, that I, would it be all right with me. And I said,
“Yeah.” And I went to the 147th Infantry.

Interviewer: The 147th was a …

Moliff: The 147th Infantry Unit. I was in the 148th

Interviewer: …regiment?

Moliff: Regiment, right, excuse me, 148th and I was transferred to
the 147th Heavy Weapons Company.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: And I was on a ship and we went to the Brooklyn Naval Yard and we got
on a boat, not a boat, well it could be a boat. And we were shipped out right
away. And we had a tremendous, I can picture that today … tremendous
number of ships. What do they call it?


Moliff: Anyway we could see, a convoy.


Moliff: … And the convoy left and they had the destroyers going in and
out and they had the battleship in the middle and we were tagging along. And
suddenly the convoy all went to Europe, across the Atlantic. But we stayed on
and went straight down the coast and we went through the Panama Canal. That was
interesting. We didn’t get off the ship but we could tell and we went into the
Pacific. We were on that boat for 31 days. Ended up in an Island called Tonga .
. . in the Cook Islands.

Interviewer: Was that, what time of year was that?

Moliff: Oh I think it was in around the Summertime.

Interviewer: And you were with the 147th Infantry Regiment …

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: of the 37th Infantry Division?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Okay. Well …

Moliff: I think we were not with the 37th any more when we were
left. The 37th was in Uniontown Gap.

Interviewer: Okay.

Moliff: And they went their own way.

Interviewer: So it was this Regiment?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: You did have a Regiment? All right. And then what happened?

Moliff: And they, we made a landing. That was interesting too … When we
looked at it we could see big guns pointing out to sea and they, sandbags, the
guns around it and we thought this was an important island or something. So we
made our landing and there was no one, no opposition.

Interviewer: Did you go in in landing crafts?

Moliff: Yeah. We were …


Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Huh.

Moliff: And when we got there, they told us it would be no operation. It was
a friendly island.


Moliff: These big guns made us think this was an important island, but when
we got there, these big guns were nothing but coconut trees pointing out. They
weren’t guns at all.

Interviewer: Were they made to look like guns or?

Moliff: Made to look like guns.

Interviewer: By the Japanese or Americans?

Moliff: Americans. They were New Zealanders there.

Interviewer: On Tonga St. Luk?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: That’s interesting. How long were you there?

Moliff: Oh I don’t know, about, time is …


Moliff: And we got the, I think while we were there there was the invasion of
Guadalcanal. There was a lot of sea battles and the biggest thing that we had
was to, they had a platform build and we’d get up on the platform to see . . .
. and use glasses and everything to see over all the ships we saw. And we would
report right away and that was our duties. It was sort of dull living there. And
one day they told us to pack up, we were leaving. And we got on the ship and we
went to the New Hebrides and New Hebrides was an island, a naval base, and they
had ships galore in there. And while we were there a ship came in and everybody
went wild, I mean horns were blowing and guns were being shot up in the air and
things. This ship was a cruiser thing out of San Francisco and it had a Japanese
… in its smokestack.

Interviewer: You could see this?

Moliff: Yeah I could see it. And the reason we were sent, we found out, was
that they sent some troops from the United States on a ship to go to
Guadalcanal. The Army was replacing the Marines on Guadalcanal. And they were
told, when we were told to go into the New Hebrides, you had to get a pilot and
this stupid, this is a story. This stupid captain or whatever they call him,
said he’s not going to let any pilots use his ship so he’s going to pilot it
himself. ‘Course he did right into a bomb and he sunk the ship.

Interviewer: How did you hear about that?

Moliff: From the fellows, from the survivors of the, nobody was killed.

Interviewer: Oh yeah?

Moliff: From the guys on the shore.


Moliff: So they lost all their equipment and rather than go ahead and reequip
those men, it was easier to get another group and we were selected.


Moliff: And so …

Interviewer: … to go where now?

Moliff: To Guadalcanal. So anyway we went to the New Hebrides and we
practiced with combat landings and we made a, then we went to Guadalcanal and we
made a combat landing on the … ‘Course there was no firing coming.
Couldn’t figure out why there was no firing on us.

Interviewer: Let me ask you this, combat landing. Was the naval ship
bombarding the shore … .

Moliff: No nothing. We just went up there and we went into the boats and we
jumped over the side and held our guns and went on shore. I had the machine gun.
It was a air crew machine gun and I stepped down and a guy came up with the
tripod, I put it on the tripod. Did everything just right and loaded, the guy
came up with the ammunition, loaded it and I looked up. Everything was quiet.
Here there were marines all along the shore watching us … That was the
closest I ever came to a combat landing.

Interviewer: Friendly crew?

Moliff: Friendly crew.


Moliff: … Anyway, while we were on Guadalcanal we replaced the marines.
We took over their positions and the sorriest thing, when we marched in to take
over their positions, they were on the side of the road …

Interviewer: Go ahead …

Moliff: They were on the side of the road and as we marched in, they were the
sorriest, beat-up bunch of fellows you ever saw. They were really, looked, and
you know they always called, made fun of the Army, Dogface and so forth. They
didn’t say a word to us.

Interviewer: The marines you were replacing on Guadalcanal?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: What was so bad about it?

Moliff: They were worn out. They were dirty, they didn’t look like marines.

Interviewer: Anyway.

Moliff: We looked like them in a short while. So, and then after we took
their positions over, a couple of days later we made an attack. The first one,
we were green too.

Interviewer: Huh.

Moliff: And we made an attack and all of a sudden they were firing at us all
over, from the trees, from the ground, all, we were surrounded. And we, there
was, we stood and we fought … We lost about eight people and they captured
one of our guys and …

Interviewer: Yeah.

Moliff: And they did torture him and …

Interviewer: Oh.

Moliff: we pulled back and pulled back and that was our first experience.

Interviewer: So you say one of your guys, you mean from your heavy weapons
platoon or?

Moliff: No, no, from one of our American soldiers …

Interviewer: From the regiment itself?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: From the larger …

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: organization?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: What was your role in that attack?

Moliff: I had the machine, light air-cooled machine …

Interviewer: Did you fire it?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Did you see the enemy?

Moliff: No. I fired into the trees. I fired wherever I thought it would be.
I, you know, the Japs were famous for getting up in trees and firing down on

Interviewer: Could you see if you were hitting any, any …?

Moliff: I don’t know whether I did or not.

Interviewer: Now you mentioned that a guy was captured and they really
tortured him?

Moliff: Huh?

Interviewer: When did they torture him?

Moliff: Well right away. When we pulled back we could hear ’em. We pulled
back, there was this, they weren’t very far from us and … when we went
back to attack the next day, they were gone. We found him. He was dead. So . . .

Interviewer: What had they done?

Moliff: I don’t know what they did to him but …


Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: How did that make the men feel?

Moliff: Angry. Well we were, war brings out the worst in people and we were,
we didn’t have much trouble with them. They had, most of their, a lot of their
soldiers had left, had been picked up by the boats and … Their, the Japs
had given up on Guadalcanal then …

Interviewer: Yeah.

Moliff: by then. And we had a lot of … a lot of little battles but we
didn’t have any really big problems and didn’t lose many people.

Interviewer: There was a movie recently … discussion called “The
Thin Red Line” that was about Guadalcanal and the Army.

Moliff: Yeah?

Interviewer: Have you seen that movie?

Moliff: No I haven’t.

Interviewer: Okay… .

Moliff: I’d like to see it.

Interviewer: … Okay. So you had minor skirmishes then after that?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Nothing major?

Moliff: No.

Interviewer: Okay.

Moliff: And they … we were going around the island and we met, and the
Japs were, by this time they weren’t trying very hard and …

Interviewer: Let me ask you this. There was an airfield built there?

Moliff: Henderson Field.

Interviewer: Did you see that?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Did you see the aircraft, the United States aircraft there?

Moliff: Hmmm.

Interviewer: Could you tell what they were, the size of them or anything?

Moliff: The best that I could remember is when we were going in, was we were
being attacked by Japanese MIGs.

Interviewer: Zeros?

Moliff: Zeros.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Moliff: And I dove underneath a truck which was a dumb thing to do, to get
away from the firing. And right above them while they were attacking us six or
eight P-38s with the … . and they shot most of them down and chased the
rest of them away. So that was when the P-38s came out. What they had there
before I don’t know. I was at the field but the hospital was near the field.
And after the Japs and the island was secured, I got, I had malaria and I went
to the hospital and I saw, and they had Japanese prisoners there.

Interviewer: … How did that make you feel?

Moliff: Not very good.

Interviewer: … then you had seen some of the aircraft there at the army

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: around the airport? They were B-24s though?

Moliff: They were all kinds.

Interviewer: … Okay. Well that’s pretty interesting. Why don’t we
just follow along with …

Moliff: From there, after the island was secured. We even got to the point
where we weren’t doing much of anything. We were, and they were trying to keep
you busy doing silly things like close-order drill and (laughs). And we went to,
they took, gave us to a place for rehab. And it was a beautiful place called
Samoa. I liked Samoa. People were friendly and it was nice and the food was
great. We had a good time there. While we were on Samoa, the rumors started that
they were going to ask for volunteers for a dangerous mission but they were
going to send you back to the States to train you. And so I thought that would
be great. If they got me in the States they would never get me out again. So I
volunteered. Now I hadn’t been wounded or just anything else. I had malaria
but I hadn’t been wounded and I was in good shape. And I didn’t have any
people dependent on me. These are all things, when they asked for volunteers, if
they weren’t, they check on. So I volunteered and I was accepted. And …

Interviewer: But you did not … Is that it?

Moliff: No.

Interviewer: But you still volunteered?

Moliff: I was a dumb kid in those days.

Interviewer: Well didn’t you know at least there would be action, I mean,

Moliff: Yeah I knew there’d be combat.

Interviewer: You knew that? Okay.

Moliff: I wasn’t afraid of combat.

Interviewer: … of interest as you, you know, as you go through this
experience that you’re led by a certain …

Moliff: Patriotism I guess you’d call it. Or love of your country or . . .
. Anyway we got on this, they took us all together and got us on this ship and
they took us to, they flew us, at that time they flew us. They flew us to New
Caledonia, which is a French island and all these combat veterans from the South
Pacific who had volunteered and were accepted were gathered in New Caledonia,
people from New Guinea and all, anyway, New Caledonia is a marvelous little
island for … rehabilitation. Frenchmen and the French girls there and . .
. .


Moliff: a lot of … A French island. And I had five years of French in
college and I thought, “Here’s a chance for me to use French.”

Interviewer: And did you?

Moliff: I tried but they didn’t want to hear it. They wanted to speak
English. No we spoke French there. We had a marvelous time there. Then they
took, this big ship came, a luxury line called “The Loraline” and it
used to go between San Francisco and Hawaii. That was it. And they put us on
there, the ship. And there were some other troops on the ship, paratroopers.
They were green but they thought they were pretty cocky. Anyway we got on this
ship and we took off and we went, I don’t remember how many days it was, but
the ship was very fast. It traveled unescorted and the first day we got in there
they put us in a bunk in a room like, and they told us to go down and get
something to eat and it was like a restaurant and they had waiters on there,
“What do you want?” Something fresh.


Interviewer: By that time …

Moliff: It was a real …

Interviewer: What was your physical condition? I mean …

Moliff: I was in good shape.

Interviewer: You were in good shape?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Had you lost weight because of the conditions you had?

Moliff: I don’t know. I probably did lose a little weight.

Interviewer: When you talk about being served in that manner … how had
you been eating over the past several months?


Interviewer: What had you been eating?

Moliff: We had, when the war, when the, Jap food finally eliminated. They
weren’t eliminated but they were in … We had kitchens and they served us
hot meals and so forth. Up to then, we were serving it was just K-rations and we

Interviewer: And you had your kitchens …

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Okay so …

Moliff: I don’t remember. I probably lost some weight but I wasn’t in bad

Interviewer: … So you’re getting extra special service on the ship?

Moliff: Yeah. And then we went to, we went to Australia for one day. I don’t
know, I think the ship had to be refueled or something or other, I don’t know.
And we got off at Perth, Australia and we put a parade on for the troops there
and I don’t think we stayed … because the Germans had been fighting for
longer than we were and, but they treated us real nice. We had a lot of fun

Interviewer: Okay, well I’m going to have to end this side of the tape and
this is the end of Side A and then we’ll flip over and continue on the other
side. Okay, we’re on Side B now continuing with the story at the Australia

Moliff: Well we got back on the ship and we took off and this time we had a
escort. And the escort was a cruiser that was camouflaged to look like a
trampship or whatever you want to call that. Guns were covered and everything
and it was escorting through the Indian Ocean. And that time, this time, we
found out we were going to India.

Interviewer: This was on your way back to the States you found out?

Moliff: Yeah this, no we weren’t going to the States. We were going to

Interviewer: Earlier in the story you thought you were going to the United
States … .

Moliff: We thought, see, that was the rumor. They planted that rumor to get a
lot of fellows to volunteer.


Moliff: Yeah, yeah I know. It was a rumor.

Interviewer: How did you, when were you just notified you were going to

Moliff: When we left Australia.

Interviewer: What did you think about that?

Moliff: India is a nice country. And we …

Interviewer: You hadn’t been identified yet, to find out what you were in?

Moliff: No. We were identified as a Provisional Unit, I think it’s 5307


Moliff: And so we didn’t have any problems on the trip … and we made
a landing at Bombay. And while we were in, then we got, it was quite an
experience going through that town with the poverty, it was horrendous and get
right in the middle of all this poverty and see a tremendous house there with
fences real high. And on top of the big fence a wall, rather, not a fence, it
had glass imbedded in …

Interviewer: Broken glass?

Moliff: Broken glass. And we, the first thing we did in the, they probably
still do it, the first thing we did in Bombay was to … to go through the
town and pick up all the dead, dead people, people. They had so many poor, the
poverty was horrendous and I think it’s still that way. But, and …, you
didn’t want to walk around by yourself there. Anyway we got on the train
there, a troop train, a village troop train which is the most uncomfortable, the
worst thing in the world, and we went up into the interior …

Interviewer: Let me ask you this at this point. Had any of your buddies from
your previous unit joined with you on this or?

Moliff: No. I didn’t see anybody from my unit.

Interviewer: You were the only one out of your …

Moliff: Well I think I was the only one out of our company that was just …

Interviewer: So you were going off on your own …

Moliff: Yes.

Interviewer: With no buddies?

Moliff: And we really, the captain didn’t like me, so. They needed recruits
and they didn’t get, they got a lot of volunteers but they didn’t take very
many. I told you they were pretty strict in, if you had anybody dependent on
you, they didn’t take you. If you had a family they wouldn’t take you.


Moliff: Yeah.


Moliff: Yeah. They wouldn’t take you if you had a family. They wouldn’t
take you if you had been wounded or were in bad health. But the big thing was if
you had a family and that was because, I found out later on, they expected 80%


Moliff: Yeah. So anyway we went to, we were on this train and we went, going
through the interior and it was interesting right away. We’d stop and they’d
bring us food to eat at designated places. One place we stopped and the birds
would fly down and take the food right out of your hand. It was interesting.
Scary. And we would see, we saw, there’s a lot of freight cars laying on the
side of the track there. The British, the tracks were narrow gauge. They don’t
have wide gauge and a lot of cars were laying there and there was a lot of
boxes, these long crates with parts of airplanes in there and the British, the
Americans were trying to train them to fly, to learn how the Hindus to fly, the
Hindus. And anyway the ride was horrible. They were, if you wanted to go to the
bathroom, all they had was a hole in the floor. The British treat their troops
pretty bad. We finally got to a place called Uraly, which was a British camp.
And they put us in there and we were going to stay there and train. And they
tried to feed us on British rations and the rations were so terrible, putrid,
that we complained, basically because there wasn’t enough but they doubled, we
were getting twice what the British were getting and we still didn’t want
that. We ended up going on K.P. ourselves, getting Hindus out of our kitchen
because they were, really, well they weren’t very good. They were dirty and
they didn’t cook right and …


Moliff: I don’t think so. I don’t know. And what we did was we went on
K.P. We had members in our outfit that could cook so we set our own kitchen up
and got our own supplies and we went out, we wanted meat, we would take a truck
and go out, you know cows are sacred in India. Anyway, so we’d have to hit it
with a truck and it was an accident.

Interviewer: How did you manage to hit it?

Moliff: Well we managed. I didn’t do it but it was managed. And I say
“we”, it was, and we would have, then we would go out into the, into
the, it was near a jungle and we would go out into the jungle and shoot birds
and whatever we … And we ate good then after we did our own cooking. It
was very intensive training, hand-to-hand combat and how to, river crossing and
how to bring wounded back over a river. And I remember one statement I always
tell my wife. They told us that if we got lost from the unit and we ran out of
food to eat what the monkeys eat. Follow the monkeys around and eat what they


Moliff: So we went on with the maneuvers against the Gurkhas which were
British Indian troops and they beat the hell out of us …


Moliff: So we learned. Then we, one day they were going and they put us on a
train and they took us up to a town called Lido and we spent a week there in
Lido and then we marched in. Now they’re building a road, they were building a
road to China and one of the things we were supposed to do was to protect and
gain more ground so they could build this road to China. And well, I’m getting
a little ahead of myself. We went into the, to go into Burma and we started
climbing mountains, not mountains, hills, steep hills. And we marched at night
so that the Japs didn’t know we were going in and on the third night, the guy
told us, listen to the radio and we did and there’s Tokyo Rose welcoming us to
Burma and tell us if we had any sense, we would leave.

Interviewer: Now in what, I mean, how does she welcome you? You must by then
had some unit number or some identification. What did she, how, what were you
called then?

Moliff: We weren’t called anything. We didn’t have any unit. We were
called, we were, at the beginning was Galahad, it was what we were called.

Interviewer: Galahad?

Moliff: Galahad. Fifty, Division 5307.

Interviewer: Okay.

Moliff: And …

Interviewer: Where did the name “Galahad” come from?

Moliff: I don’t know.

Interviewer: Okay. Let’s continue then. You were welcomed by Tokyo Rose?

Moliff: Yeah. So we still marched at night and we went into, we met, we had
some minor skirmishes but nothing very damaging or that hurt. So then, I don’t
know how the battle started but we came to a town called Wallabama and we had a
big, big, big, big battle there with, I think the Japs thought they were, didn’t
realize they were fighting experienced American troops ’cause they charged us
and they did all kinds of stupid things and we kept it, we fired so much we ran
out of ammunition. We were getting out food and our supplies dropped to us by

Interviewer: Okay. I’m going to turn this on again, yeah. This battle of

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: you were a machine gunner?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Was this the …

Moliff: We just about ran out of ammunition.

Interviewer: Was this the Banzai-type charge, were they …

Moliff: Yeah Banzais.

Interviewer: Then you could see them clearly?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: What …

Moliff: They were stupid.

Interviewer: What would, how would you describe what happened when they did

Moliff: What?

Interviewer: What you did and what happened to them?

Moliff: They’d come out, they were liquored up, I think, and they came out
charging Banzai and all we did was stay there and fire. We couldn’t…you
couldn’t miss anything. When they finally left, they had, there was 800 dead
Japs there.

Interviewer: How close did they get to your gun?

Moliff: Oh somewhere within 25-30 yards.

Interviewer: Wow! Was this an open clearing or what was it …

Moliff: It was in an open field.

Interviewer: So you could see them quite clearly?

Moliff: Uh huh.

Interviewer: Did you see the officers? It’s often portrayed that they lead
with swords …

Moliff: Oh yeah …

Interviewer: lead with swords. Is that …

Moliff: The officers weren’t there.

Interviewer: Oh they weren’t out front with their swords waving?

Moliff: I didn’t see, I didn’t see any officers, no. They might have
been, you know, we were just one little section of the whole …

Interviewer: Let me ask you some technical things about your gun. That gun
would overheat. That was not a water-cooled weapon?

Moliff: Yes it was.

Interviewer: What did you do when it was …

Moliff: When I was in Wallabum, it was a water-cooled machine gun.

Interviewer: Oh it was?

Moliff: And it was steaming.

Interviewer: Did you have to change barrels?

Moliff: No. I don’t remember actually.

Interviewer: Just …

Moliff: I don’t think we changed barrels but we almost ran out of
ammunition. We had to go get some. They were dropping ammunition for us and
supplies back of us and we had to send people to get at it.

Interviewer: Was this a daylight battle or nighttime?

Moliff: Daylight.

Interviewer: For how many days did this battle …

Moliff: Oh just one day.

Interviewer: One day?

Moliff: Yeah. That was the first experience they had meeting us and …

Interviewer: Eight hundred dead. Did you help count?

Moliff: Nope. I read it.

Interviewer: Okay. All right.

Moliff: I didn’t try to bury them either.

Interviewer: How about souvenir gathering? Any of that going on?

Moliff: I didn’t do any souvenir gathering.

Interviewer: How about the other guys?

Moliff: There’s the people that did that. There were some guys. We even had
a, you know, souvenirs, it was something you had to think about because you were
carrying everything you need on your back and the more weight you took the
harder it felt.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Well with 800 dead there, there probably was …

Moliff: Yeah there was a lot of souvenirs probably.

Interviewer: And your machine gun contributed to it, the battle of …

Moliff: Wallabum.

Interviewer: Wallabum. Did your unit have a name yet during that engagement?

Moliff: The name came from the newspapers.

Interviewer: Uh huh.


Interviewer: Did they get word of this battle?

Moliff: Yeah. We had, there was reporters with us. I don’t know reporters,
but they were, you know, from the newspaper, with us.

Interviewer: Just one more technical. I’m interested in battlefield
details. A lot of times you’ll set up a perimeter with your gun with some
obstacle in between like a water, a stream, to have the enemy cross that. Was
that in?

Moliff: No this was just a field. I had said it was stupid. What went on at
the right or the left I don’t know.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: There might have been a lot of things that were important that
helped. Why they came across this field, and of course this happened 55 years

Interviewer: Yeah. But clearly they were right in front of your gun position?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Okay. And your unit did its share. Okay. With the casualties
there. Okay. All right, what was the next event that we should hear about, do
you think?

Moliff: Well we kept going along the road there and kept helping. We came to
a place called Napunga and Napunga was quite sad because our battalion, the
third battalion stayed at the bottom of this hill. The second battalion went up
and stayed at the top of the hill. And we were, I guess we were careless in a
lot of ways and the Japs came and surrounded, in the middle there, and
surrounded the people at the top and they were getting, we got all our supplies
dropped to us by airplane. I think I, did I tell you that?

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: And the people at the top couldn’t get supplies, couldn’t even
get water. So we had to break through to them and that was a very costly battle
for them and for us. And in the end we had to get, we tried going up the hill,
we tried going around the hill. In the end we had to get field artillery, small
field artillery pieces dropped to us and we had some fellows in there and asked
who was experienced in shooting guns. But the sergeant, the red-headed sergeant
we had was in the Field Artillery. They put the guns together and they fired
them level like this, not up, but straight. And we went up the hill firing these
guns and we finally broke through. I think it was Christmas Day we broke through
for them.

Interviewer: Were you part of the crew of one of those field artillery

Moliff: No I wasn’t in the Field Artillery but I had a rifle and a mortar
and a lot, most of the time we left the mortar there and I just took the rifle
and went with a rifle unit.

Interviewer: Oh now you were away from the machine gun?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: And with the mortar and a rifle?

Moliff: We were supposed to be able to fire anything.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: The one gun I wouldn’t touch was a BAR.

Interviewer: Why?

Moliff: ‘Cause every time there was a battle, the BAR man got killed.

Interviewer: He drew the attention …

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: of the enemy?

Moliff: Uh huh.

Interviewer: Okay so …

Moliff: And we both …

Interviewer: you personally were charging up that hill, was that?

Moliff: Not charging. Walking.

Interviewer: Walking?

Moliff: There was dead Japs all over the place and worse than that, there was
parts of dead Japs all over the place.

Interviewer: Oh yeah.

Moliff: The movies you see of people … heads, well I saw some heads and
arms and legs and things like that. But anyway …

Interviewer: Were they popping out of heavy bunkers in front of you or what,
how …

Moliff: No there weren’t any …

Interviewer: How were they fighting, just in the open?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Oh.

Moliff: Well they were hiding in trees, or hiding in bushes.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: But there were no bunkers there. They weren’t there long enough to
dig a bunker.

Interviewer: Did they get into any of this hand-to-hand combat you’d been
trained for?

Moliff: No I never got in any.

Interviewer: Okay.

Moliff: I did once but that was something else.

Interviewer: You did? Is there anything you could share with us about that

Moliff: Well it didn’t last very long.

Interviewer: How did that happen?

Moliff: We were in an area, I don’t remember exactly what it was all about
but there was a big, heavy fog and the Japs were there and we were there and we
were very close and I was laying in a trench waiting for the fog to lift to see
who was next to me and what was, and this Jap came in, he was laying next to me
and I realized who he was and we started fighting and he got up and ran away.

Interviewer: He came in to lay down for the night, just like you, is that?

Moliff: Yeah. Well I wasn’t sleeping or wasn’t laying down for a nap. I
was waiting for, I knew there were Japs there and was waiting until everything
goes so I knew where I was at.

Interviewer: What did, what was your weapon against him in that fight?

Moliff: And …

Interviewer: No knives or …

Moliff: I had a knife as, I go way back. When we were going into Burma some
British soldier came up to me and he handed me this knife, the handle had brass
knuckles on it, and he says, “This was given to me when I went and,”
he says, “I’m giving it to you to use.” To go back, before we went
into Burma, there was a British unit went in. What the heck was that general’s
name, General …

Interviewer: Well we can check our books on that.

Moliff: He was a British general. He fought, he helped organize the Israeli
Army and …

Interviewer: Oh yeah?

Moliff: I can’t remember his name. Anyway …

Interviewer: But you never saw him though yourself?

Moliff: No. But those troops went in there.

Interviewer: Uh huh. So one of those troops gave you that knife?

Moliff: Yeah he gave me the knife.

Interviewer: Did you use the knife?

Moliff: To open cans and …

Interviewer: Oh, not against that Japanese guy?

Moliff: No.

Interviewer: You just fought him?

Moliff: Uh huh. Yeah. There was about ten seconds and we realized if he wasn’t
going to run, I was going to. (laughter)

Interviewer: So he left, huh?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Okay. That was the end of it?

Moliff: I wasn’t a blood-thirsty soldier.

Interviewer: Okay. So the Americans were rescued on that hill then?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: And that was named …

Moliff: They had very bad, very bad, they had quite a few casualties.

Interviewer: Oh yeah?

Moliff: They were the second battalion. They were rescued.

Interviewer: What was the name of that place again?

Moliff: Napunga?

Interviewer: Napunga?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Okay. Well what happened then?

Moliff: Well we went to a place to rest. We were supposed to go home. We were
told we were going to go home. We were through. And Stillwell decided we were
going to go in for another major battle, the biggest one of all. And there was a
town called Mitchina, M-Y…

Interviewer: Mitchina?

Moliff: …T…M-Y-T-H-I-N-A or C. M-I-T-C-H-I-N-A I think.

Interviewer: Wow!

Moliff: Anyway there was a supply base and a center base for the Japs in
North Burma there. It was near the river.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: And there was a mountain, I mean a mountain between us and them. So
we took off to go to the, climb the mountain. And when we got to the mountain
there, the Chinese were there and it was interesting. The officer would stand by
the foot of the mountain and a Chinese troop would come up and he’d salute him
and the guy would say, “Go,” and the guy would go. And then they came
to the animals, the mules, and they’d take the stuff off the mule and put it
on the soldier’s back and he’d carry it up.

Interviewer: Wow!

Moliff: We had mules too. I forgot to tell you about those.

Interviewer: Did you work with the mules?

Moliff: Huh. No I didn’t work with them.

Interviewer: Didn’t have anything to do with those mules?

Moliff: No.

Interviewer: Okay.

Moliff: They had, the other interesting thing was those guns we had, we had
two of those guns, and they didn’t have any way of carrying them. So they got,
the natives gave us two elephants and we had finally moving, they were carrying
our guns.

Interviewer: The elephants? Those cannons?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Wow!

Moliff: And I … I talk along, I think about other stories.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Moliff: We were in this town there, I don’t know the name of it. And this
native came up and asked if I wanted a ride on an elephant. Sure, sure I did.
They bring this elephant over and he does something and the elephant gets down
and we climb up. It’s very uncomfortable. And he takes me for a ride. And the
elephant was waddling along and … we’re not talking. He’s way up in
front there and I’m in the back. We come to the river and he goes into the
river and there’s this great big fish, dead, floating around. So he mumbles
something to the elephant and he jabs at the elephant and he goes and reaches
down with his trunk and picks the fish up and gives it to him. (laughter) And we
had, we had quite a ride with it. It is an experience.

Interviewer: Riding an elephant, huh?

Moliff: Well anyway to get back to the other experience with the eleph…we
were marching along and the elephant decides to take a leak and it’s like a
pond, a puddle when the elephant got through. But they carried our guns. I don’t
know of us using the guns any more after that.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: We probably did but I wasn’t there and …

Interviewer: You’re still not wounded by this time?

Moliff: I never got wounded in the whole war?

Interviewer: Okay.

Moliff: As a mortar man, I fade in the back and when we got to, start, our
turn to climb the mountain, the mountain, it was an experience. Some places, the
Chinese had made steps so you can walk up there and other places you had to
really climb. But the movie, they had a movie called “Merrill’s
Marauders” and nowhere’s did our unit have to go through what they did in
that movie.

Interviewer: Oh yeah.

Moliff: Climbing the mountain. But we had to go around and up and so. But it
was all, it wasn’t uncomfortable. We weren’t pulling things and putting our
feet into little holes. It wasn’t like that.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: When we got to the top, it was fascinating. It was real cold. First
time I’d been cold in all of ten years, and real cold on top of that mountain.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: And you could look down onto the clouds.

Interviewer: Wow!

Moliff: It’s a real picture. I can picture it today. I wished I had a
camera then. And you could see the peaks of other mountains peeking up through
the cloud.

Interviewer: And you’re going to do battle up there?

Moliff: No, we were going to go down. We went down. We went down the mountain
and we came to flatlands and we came to an airport which we grabbed right away.
The Japs didn’t expect us and we grabbed the airport and we could have, should
have gone right on in to Mitchina ’cause the Japs weren’t expecting us and
there wasn’t very many, but we didn’t because the officers said,
“No,” and we held onto the airfield and they brought in supplies. They
brought in reinforcements and the next day we went to attack Mitchina. It was
well fortified and it was another story.

Interviewer: They were ready for you?

Moliff: They were ready for us and the battle went on for, well after about a
week or two, the medics declared us unfit for further combat and they brought in
replacements for us.

Interviewer: This is Merrill’s Marauders?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: The whole thing, not just your battalion? You were in the Third

Moliff: Yeah. All the battalions. They were all there. They were all declared
unfit for further combat. And I weighed 125 pounds.

Interviewer: Down from what?

Moliff: I was, well I was probably 165 when I went in.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: And so I got to, we had the mortar set up and we had targets lined up
and these three guys came over and said that they’re supposed to replace us.
And I looked at them. They were young fellows, kids. They didn’t look like we
did with beards and. And I asked them, finally asked them, I said, “Did you
ever see a mortar before?” He said, “Yeah I saw one but I never fired
one.” I said, “You know how?” He said, “No.” I said,
“Well how are you supposed to do this?” He said, “I don’t
know.” So I gave him a quick lesson in how to fire a mortar, how to put the
targets and how to get the range and all that.

Interviewer: Is that right?

Moliff: And it took them 60 days to capture Mitchina. And they could have
done it in a week if we’d have, could have done it right away if we, if they
had done, been smart. I see on TV these programs where they talk about blunders.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Moliff: Yeah I’ve never seen that blunder. Maybe I’ll call them up and
tell ’em to look into that.

Interviewer: That’s one of the blunders.

Moliff: Yeah it was a big blunder.

Interviewer: They should have moved in the day you got the airfield then?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Well during that week you were engaged in the battle . .
. .

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: for a week, were you firing your mortar?

Moliff: Fired it, yeah.

Interviewer: You had targets?

Moliff: Yeah. Well we had Chinese with us too and we made a few attempts to
go in but it was too well fortified. And the Chinese were supposed…we sent the
Chinese around…city was right here and they’re supposed to go around and
attack from both sides. ‘Course the Japs pulled out and the Chinese had a
battle with themselves.

Interviewer: Oh.

Moliff: The Chinese every night would fire all their guns and weapons and
mortars up in the air. So anyway, the guy, I went over to the doctor. He says,
“What’s wrong with you?” ‘Course I was a smart aleck where we
came from. I said, “Nothing.” He said, “There’s got to be
something wrong with you or I’ll send you back.” So I says, “Well I
haven’t had glasses for two years and I need ’em. I can’t see.” So he
wrote that down.

Interviewer: Oh really? Well you had also had malaria?

Moliff: I had malaria more than once.

Interviewer: I was going to say.

Moliff: I had it on Guadalcanal and I had malaria on Samoa I think.

Interviewer: Malaria returns.

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: There is no permanent cure for malaria.

Moliff: Well I got malaria, when I got to India, I never got it again.

Interviewer: You didn’t?

Moliff: I never had malaria again.

Interviewer: Yeah?

Moliff: No I never had malaria.

Interviewer: So you had …

Moliff: I had jaundice when…the first time I had it too.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: But they won’t let me give blood because of that.

Interviewer: Never!

Moliff: No they won’t take any blood.

Interviewer: Yeah, because of the malaria.

Moliff: And …

Interviewer: So you really had nothing wrong with you at the …

Moliff: Oh I had several things. One was the only scar I got. We used to get
everything, we always used to have to go through our …, our body, was to
check for ticks.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: And they had ticks. And you’re supposed to take a cigarette, the
best way to get rid of them is to take a cigarette and put it on their behind,
near their…not on their behind…near their behind. And they would back out. If
you pulled it out, you would leave the head in. And if you left the head in, you
got infected. And that’s what happened to me. I got an infection from a tick
bite and I got blood poison and I ended up in a field hospital.

Interviewer: When was this?

Moliff: Uh …

Interviewer: Where was that?

Moliff: I can’t remember the exact time.

Interviewer: Somewhere, was it at Guadalcanal or India?

Moliff: No, it was in India.

Interviewer: It was in India, huh?

Moliff: Yeah I ended up in a British field hospital.

Interviewer: Well did part of your body swell up from that bite or what?

Moliff: … it was. It got all red and streaks down my arm and … So
anyway I got a scar from that. That’s the only scar I got in the whole war.

Interviewer: Why, they cut it out or what?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: At the hospital?

Moliff: They cut it, they squeezed it out and …

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: …put medicine on it and so forth and, but, and that’s about the only
problem I had. Oh, in the hospital there, and they put me in the hospital when
they…when I was going home. When I got left at Mitchina, they put me in the
hospital for one day and they examined my eyes and gave me a prescrip…said
they’d mail me my glasses. And I got my glasses when I was in the States.

Interviewer: You did?

Moliff: And we went, from there they sent us to a rehab place. I don’t know
the name of it anymore. And we stayed there for about four or five weeks.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: And my job there, I was, you’ll like this, was to get up in the
morning and take a, go to the hospital, pick up a body, and give it a military

Interviewer: Is that right? Where was this?

Moliff: In India.

Interviewer: In India?

Moliff: Yeah most, a lot of these fellows were getting, Americans were dying
of Typhus. There were a lot of, we were given pills to take and I took mine
religiously and I supp…I don’t know if the others did or not, but we had a
lot of fellows die of Typhus. We had more people die of Typhus than were shot by
the Japs.

Interviewer: Wow!

Moliff: And we’d go to the hospital in the morning and pick up a body and
bury it and go back in the afternoon and pick up another one.

Interviewer: Well was this military ceremony or what was it?

Moliff: It was a military ceremony and we were the field, we fired the guns.

Interviewer: Flag-draped coffin?

Moliff: A flag-draped coffin.

Interviewer: And these were Americans?

Moliff: Americans, yeah. And they were given a 21-gun salute. I don’t think
it did them any good but …

Interviewer: Was this still Merrill’s Marauders or what did they call them?

Moliff: Yeah Merrill’s Marauders.

Interviewer: Still Merrill’s Marauders?

Moliff: Well they called them replacements Merrill’s Marauders.

Interviewer: Oh yeah?

Moliff: Merrill’s Marauders went on from there and went into fight in

Interviewer: Well I got to ask you, Merrill, did you see this name named

Moliff: Oh yeah.

Interviewer: What did you see, what was your contact with him?

Moliff: No I didn’t, I just saw him. I never had any contact with him.

Interviewer: But you knew?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: What was he, a colonel or something?

Moliff: He was a general.

Interviewer: A general?

Moliff: He was a general.

Interviewer: General Merrill?

Moliff: He had a, he had a, in the battle of Mitchina, he had a heart attack.
And he was sent, was replaced by a Colonel Osborme who was Commander of the
Second Battalion.

Interviewer: Now this Merrill General. Had you seen him before the battle of

Moliff: Yeah, you’d see him every once in a while. He was walking around
the troops. He was very, there wasn’t much, what do you call military, much .
. . .

Interviewer: Protocol or …

Moliff: … and he … either. In fact we would, lots of times, we
would be marching and there was a group of officers at the side of the road or
trail. And one of them would be General Stillwell.

Interviewer: And so you saw him?

Moliff: Yeah. Well we put on an exhibit for, before we went in, for the big
brass. There were, the general I was thinking about was Wingate.

Interviewer: Okay. British general?

Moliff: Yeah. General Wingate, General Stillwell, Lord Mountbatten, I don’t
know, a number of others. And we put on a mortar exhibition, firing the mortar,
quick in barrage and back.

Interviewer: For them?

Moliff: For the officers.

Interviewer: Hah! Anyway.

Moliff: But anyway …

Interviewer: Now …

Moliff: Stillwell had a, not Stillwell. Merrill had a heart attack and
Osborne took over.

Interviewer: So you were an eye witness to General Merrill and Stillwell and

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Mountbatten and …

Moliff: I saw …

Interviewer: Who was the British one you just mentioned, his name?

Moliff: Wingate.

Interviewer: Wingate? You saw all these people?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: And you did a mortar …

Moliff: Exhibition.

Interviewer: Ex–,

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Did you ever, you had no personal contact with …

Moliff: No not …

Interviewer: Just as a soldier?

Moliff: I wasn’t an officer.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: And I …

Interviewer: But you saw them?

Moliff: I had this much experience personally. We were, free day, and we had
stopped for rest through the time, and our colonel, Colonel, I forget names.

Interviewer: Okay.

Moliff: Anyway the colonel of our unit wanted to go visit Colonel Hunter. And
so he said, there’s somebody come up and said, “You, you and you, you
escort the colonel.” And I was one of them. And he said, “You be the
head, lead scout.” Okay, so I got in front of him, taking him, there were
about 4 or 500 yards apart, the two companies. And we went down the trail and I’m
looking and I know there’s Japs around so I’m looking. So I see a Jap behind
a tree, a bush, not a tree. And he’s not doing anything but I motion everybody
down and I’m looking and looking and looking and looking and looking. Finally
I picked my rifle up and I fire. And I hit what I fired. And I walk over and
look and he was dead already before I hit him.

Interviewer: He was dead?

Moliff: Yeah he was a dead Jap. I shot a dead Jap. (laughs)

Interviewer: What was he, propped against a tree or something?

Moliff: Yeah. But he looked like he was looking at …

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: us. Anyway, we left, that’s as close as I ever came to …

Interviewer: Was escorting a, okay. Stillwell wasn’t involved in that? He
wasn’t too …

Moliff: Oh no.

Interviewer: Okay. Well that’s interesting.

Moliff: … more times if I would have saw Stillwell, I would have shot
him. (laughs)

Interviewer: Why is that?

Moliff: Oh he, he went into the, I don’t know if I knew this in the field
or I read it some- place but when we went into Mitchina, he went into the
hospital and took out all, he said, “Anybody that can walk, we need ’em,”
and he took all these people from the hospital back out into the combat area.

Interviewer: Oh yeah?

Moliff: That’s true.

Interviewer: Oh, okay. Well meeting personalities is always of interest
during the wars to, you know, fill out …

Moliff: Well I saw him but I didn’t meet him.

Interviewer: Yeah. That’s, you put on a mortar display for him. Well we’ve,
I guess we’ve covered your combat experiences. You’re heading back to the

Moliff: Yeah. I …

Interviewer: Kind of coming to an end here, I guess.

Moliff: We got on a plane. They took us to, flew us to Karachi. It was India
in those days. Today it’s Pakistan.

Interviewer: Pakistan, yeah.

Moliff: We went to Karachi and at Karachi we caught another plane. They sent
us another plane. And they took us to Cairo, Egypt.

Interviewer: To Egypt?

Moliff: Yeah, Cairo.

Interviewer: Okay.

Moliff: We spent one day in Cairo. It was interesting. I found a Jewish
family I talked to and so forth. In Cairo I found a Jewish family.

Interviewer: In Cairo you found a Jewish family. I’ll bet there’s another
story there.

Moliff: Not really, I didn’t …

Interviewer: Did you return then directly to the States?

Moliff: Well no. We went from Cairo to Casablanca. I spent ten days in
Casablanca and that is a, what was a marvelous place.

Interviewer: Ten days. Another story there?

Moliff: (laughs)

Interviewer: How did they get you back to the States?

Moliff: From Casablanca I flew back to the States.

Interviewer: Oh yeah? And that was the end of your …

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Were you discharged? You were at West Point? When were you
discharged out of the service?

Moliff: I went from, we went, we flew to Miami and from Miami they assigned
me to West Point and I stayed at West Point until, they was sent, I was at the
Infantry Cadre. I wasn’t a cadet or anything.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: They had a cadre there of infantry soldiers.

Interviewer: Okay.

Moliff: And they assigned me there. It was good duty.

Interviewer: What time of year did you arrive there?

Moliff: In the Fall.

Interviewer: In the Fall of what, ’44 or ‘4…

Moliff: ’44.

Interviewer: The war was still on?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Is that correct?

Moliff: Yeah the war was still on.

Interviewer: Okay, okay.

Moliff: ’45, or ’44. Well when did the war end?

Interviewer: ’45. Should be ’44 most likely.

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Okay.

Moliff: And they …

Interviewer: We’re coming to the end.

Moliff: I was going to say. Anyway I was just, where was I at?

Interviewer: You were at West Point. When did you meet your current wife?

Moliff: A year.

Interviewer: The woman you married at the end of (laughter) …

Moliff: I met my wife when I returned back, when I went to school again.

Interviewer: Back at Ohio State?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Okay.

Moliff: No we went from West Point. The thing about that I don’t think you
noticed it, the thing that I don’t know if many infantry soldiers have done
this but that was a complete trip around the world.

Interviewer: Complete trip, yeah. ‘Cause you came back by way of Cairo.

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: You went over the Pacific and returned by way of Cairo.

Moliff: We went over the Atlantic.

Interviewer: Around the world?

Moliff: Around the world.

Interviewer: Around the world traveler in World War II?

Moliff: Not a sailor, a soldier (laughs).

Interviewer: So your spouse’s name is Shirley, is that …

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: the young lady you met at Ohio State?

Moliff: Yeah.

Interviewer: Okay.

Moliff: That was the young lady that came in.

Interviewer: And do you have children?

Moliff: Four kids.

Interviewer: And grandchildren?

Moliff: Seven.

Interviewer: Okay.

Moliff: Great-grandchildren too.

Interviewer: Oh my gosh. So that’s a complete …

Moliff: Well I’m 81 years old.

Interviewer: You’re 81? A complete, rounding out. Well we’re coming to
the end of the tape here. Any final war experiences to add to that or?

Moliff: Probably, but I can’t remember.

Interviewer: We could spend another day probably hearing about Cairo and…

Moliff: Had a lot of fun.

Interviewer: Casablanca.

Moliff: Cairo … Casablanca was a place I loved. There’s two places I’d
like to go.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Moliff: One is Samoa and my wife says, “No,” she has no desire to
go to Samoa. I wouldn’t mind going back to Cairo either. Neither place, that’s
50 years ago, neither place is like it was when I was there.

Interviewer: What do you think about your time with Merrill’s Marauders
overall? Was …

Moliff: I think the whole, the whole war didn’t accomplish very much. Well
we had to, we had to kill Hitler. We had to get rid of him. We had to destroy
the Japanese Empire.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Moliff: But we’re going right back to the same thing. People are very
cruel, very vicious. I don’t understand what’s going on in this world today.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Okay. Well I think we’re at an end here and we’ll
just end the interview at this point. Thanks.

* * *

Transcribed by Honey Abramson

Edited by Peggy Kaplan