Oral History Interview with Herbert Pahlow, Merchant Marine

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Record 13/959
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Admin/Biog History Herbert H. Pahlow was born on December 3, 1917 on the family farm in the Town of Vinland, the son of Rose Henke and Henry Pahlow. Herbs early years were spent on his parents' farm and later ventured into cheese making and truck driving. He was employed at the Universal Foundry as a core maker for 39 years with a pause to join the Merchant Marines, which he held in high regards, from December 1943 to July 1945 in the South Pacific. He served on three different vessels during the war and his ship was under artillery fire while unloading supplies during the Battle of Iwo Jima. He became a veteran when the government declared the Merchant Marines veterans in 1988. Herb married Dolores "Dotty" Wolf on April 10, 1948. After retiring he worked at the Roxy Restaurant in maintenance. Volunteering for the Red Cross Escort Service and Blood Bank was his dedication for many years. He was a lifelong member of Martin Luther Lutheran Church and enjoyed the Men's Club and many friends. He was also a member of the Fox River Retirees for many years. Herb also enjoyed bowling. He died in Oshkosh on December 3, 2007.
Classification Archives
Collection World War II Oral History Project
Dates of Accumulation 2002 - 2002
Abstract Oral history interview with Herbert Pahlow by Bradley Larson for the Oshkosh World War II project. He discusses his experiences in the Merchant Marines during 1944-46, onboard three ships in the Pacific Theater. A transcript is on file in the Archives computer.

FEBRUARY 22, 2002

BL: Well let's back up a little bit, lets talk about Pearl Harbor to begin with.

HP: Pearl Harbor?

BL: Yeah, where were you on Pearl Harbor, what was happening on December 7th?

DP: In 1941..

BL: Were you here in Oshkosh?

DP: Yeah, you were working at the foundry…

HP: Yeah I started at the foundry in 1941..

BL: What foundry?

HP: Universal Foundry, yeah, in Oshkosh.

BL: What did you think, either one of you, actually Dolly, please feel free to…What did you think when you heard the news that Japan had attacked the United States?

HP: Well, they wanted me to come out to San Francisco because I had a little training in different things, you know, with the waters and they thought it would be a good place to put me. So that's how I got in the Merchant Marines.

BL: Were you two married then?

DP: No we weren't.

HP: No, I wasn't married at that time and neither was she.

DP: No, I didn't know him then.

HP: I traveled half way around the world you might say, before I met her.

DP: You joined the Merchant Marines.

HP: I joined the Merchant Marines.

BL: Do you remember what date you joined?

HP: Well, let's see, was that in…I got all the literature in here, where I went to school out in California. Is that the one when I was in training?

DP: About "44", "43" or "44".

HP: "43" and "44", yeah, that's when I got in there. That's when the war was on. Yeah.

BL: They sent you to California for training?

HP: Yeah, mmhmm.

BL: What did you do there, what kind of training?

HP: Well, we had ships out there and that's what we did, they put us on ships and we had training on ships.

BL: Had you ever been to sea before that?

HP: I was in Chesapeake Bay out in New York and I was on the Atlantic for a little while, just scooting around there with different ships that they sent me out in California…I mean Washington, Washington DC. So it was something we never thought we'd use, just got the training and everything and all of a sudden, when I found out that they wanted me in the Merchant Marines, so then I went out to California and got in the Merchant Marines. I had one guy, a friend of mine that was in there and he liked it, so I said…

BL: A guy from Oshkosh?

HP: Yeah, yeah he was from Oshkosh.

BL: Who was that?

HP: Well let's see, who was that guy that joined…

DP: I have no idea…

HP: No, that wasn't either, I bet they were out in California, no, out in Washington DC, that's where he was, he was just a friend of mine out there, yeah.

BL: Do you remember Herb, was the Merchant Marines considered to be dangerous duty?

HP: Yes they were.

BL: Why?

HP: We went in a lot of the places that ships didn't go, see. It was dangerous water. That's what they always told us you know.

BL: What kind of dangers were there?

HP: Well that was during the war, see. You had a chance to get in trouble with almost anybody out there.

DP: Submarines…

HP: Submarines, submarines were quite popular, in fact one blew one at us, while we were out at sea, right off the shore.

BL: In the Pacific or the Atlantic?

HP: In the Atlantic, that was in the Atlantic…

DP: The Pacific.

HP: …Or the Pacific I mean, that was in the Pacific. It happened to be in the bushes and we happened to get kind of a trickily notice that there was somebody in there, you know. By the time we got that done, they had fired a shell and blew our gun right off the tail end of the ship and smashed it all to pieces.

DP: From the shore.

HP: From the shore, see, they were from the shore. But ah, we didn't have to stop; we kept right on going. We broadcast while we were out there, that there was a dangerous spot right in that area. We gave em the notification where it was and everything and I don't know the guys must've got scared and stayed in there or got the hell out you know, because after we shot…We blew a bunch of shells in there, I don't know if we killed anybody or not but we shot a lot in there, so I don't know. It was the first experience we had out there.

BL: What kind of cargo did you haul?

HP: Well, mostly food and supplies for different areas, different spots on the way down.

DP: War materials…

HP: War materials, lots of war materials.

BL: Did you and your people on the ship, did you feel that you were doing an important job?

HP: Well, they told us we were, when we got on there. They said "This is a very important job and your life is a little bit at stake here." So whatever you think, that's what we did and it was interesting.

DP: These are the three ships you sailed on.

HP: Yeah, these are the three different ships that I sailed on.

DP: Do you remember the names of the ships?

HP: That's the United Stated Coast Guard certificate, yeah.

DP: Yeah, read the name of the ships.

HP: Yeah, I was a fireman water tenure I was on there, that was out of San Francisco, and uh…

DP: The name?

HP: Herbert Pahlow…

DP: No, no…

HP: Oh, you mean on the bottom…Oh, that was the Andreas Hunt Shatica, that one there, that was the first ship. Place of discharge was Okayama [Yokohama?] Japan, that's where we wound up in, Okayama Japan.

DP: And the next one?

HP: The next one was ah…San Francisco, The Jeremiah Rusk, that was another one that I sailed on, and that one was…Yeah, that was out of San Francisco too, that's where I shipped out of there.

DP: And your rating on that one was…

HP: My rating was uh…It was oiler, it was oiler on there…This was the one that had the fireman water tether…was like a second class engineer.

DP: And the third one?

HP: And the third one was the same as that other one, San Francisco, Merchant Marine.

DP: What was the name of the third ship?

HP: Oh, the third ship? It was…US President Tyler; I served on that one.

BL: Now all of those jobs you had are below decks, down in the engine room.

HP: No, most of it was in the engine room, yeah, but a lot of it we did have to take care of a few things on deck too, you know, operate on some of those machines that were out there too, in case something happens.

BL: The jobs that were below deck, were they considered to be more hazardous, more dangerous than the others?

HP: Well, they probably thought it was, and it was more dangerous because we could get hit, and maybe not get out. But we were just fortunate enough that we sailed all over and dropped supplies all over, in three different ships.

BL: Did those thoughts ever occur to you while you were there, down below?

HP: Oh, yeah, quite a few did.

BL: They did.

HP: We often thought…We'd get the notice you know…that certain areas…they'd tell us down there what kind of trouble we were in. While we were down there they'd say, "Don't be alarmed if some of the shore people decide to take a whack at us." You know that's how they kinda talked to you. But that's what happened out there, then, in those kind of waters. I was in there for quite a while, for two years I was there.

DP: You told me one time that you tried to stop a barrel of acid in a stormy sea.

HP: Oh, yeah, you mean that one where they were shooting at us?

DP: No, you said there was a big storm, like a cyclone.

HP: That was…They called it…they had another name for it too, like a…It was the same as a tornado out there. Much, much worse because it just smashed everything all to pieces so we opted to keep going and we pulled into that one harbor and that's how we got out of it.

DP: You said you tried to stop a rolling…

HP: Oh, that uh…you mean when they threw that…acid on board…

DP: It became unleashed on the ship.

HP: Yeah, yeah…they threw that acid on there and, they dropped it from one of the boats around there…

DP: You said you had to quick wash your face…

HP: Oh, yeah, because it was so strong that…One of the planes around there had dropped one.

DP: It rolled down the ship…

HP: Oh that was the one that rolled down the ship, yeah…
DP: It got loose…

HP: Yeah, it got loose, yeah…we were carrying it, see, and that got loose and rolled around the ship and busted some of the stuff apart. We had to be careful that nobody got in there, you know. We had to be careful not to get any people in there that would be affected by it. It was quite dangerous.

BL: Were you off Okinawa, one of the photographs here shows a picture of the island of Iwo Jima

HP: Yeah we were there.

BL: Were ya?

HP: We were in there a couple different times.

BL: What do you remember about Iwo Jima?

HP: Well, not too much. We were there just a short time unloading some supplies there. We didn't have much time to go ashore or anything. We did go ashore once, but that's all we had, no visitation there. It was supposed to be a pretty dangerous area, so we just kinda dropped a lot of supplies off there. Gave em a chance to shoot back at somebody if they wanted to shoot back at us.

BL: They drop a few shells at you?

HP: Yeah they did, they dropped a few shells, but we didn't get hit too bad.

BL: Is that where your ship was hit by a shell, off Iwo Jima? Or was that a different island?

HP: Well, that was Iwo Jima, that was a different island, yeah…Iwo Jima, yeah, cuz that's where we got…we got hit with that one shell, out there…yeah. So it got hit on the tail…or the bow of the ship is where it got hit, right near the front end, and it wasn't too dangerous I mean, 'cause we could still keep on going. But it did take the tip right off the point. Shot that right off, you know. Kinda scared all the guys on there for a little while, you know, how dangerous it was going to be if we got any further. Oh yeah, it was quite a dangerous job, I'll say that. But fortunately we lived through it, so.

BL: Did you get back to Oshkosh at all on leaves during the war?

HP: No I did not…Once I got back didn't I? Yeah, once I came back from California. Yeah, I spent some time, one trip I came back.

BL: Yeah, leaves were pretty scarce to get?

HP: Well, if you happened to be docked in California…the one time we docked in New York and that's when I took a plane and flew home. I flew home for just a short time. But outside of that I had another time in California, where I got out of there.

BL: Do you remember what was happening in Oshkosh during the war? Do you have any memories of what was happening here? Industries, or War Bond drives or…

HP: Well, the foundry was quite a busy place, they were making all kinds of supplies for us, so that was pretty good.

BL: What kind of things, do you remember what they were…

HP: Oh, there were parts for a machine gun, cannons, or those outfits they would have on board. We had all kind of supplies for those and so we were pretty well set if we had a sudden attack, you know we could fire back. That's the way it always went. So it was only a couple of times we were shot from shore, and that was in a dangerous area and we're just lucky we didn't get blowed apart. It hit that one…right on board, right on the bow and it really cooked that oil and took that sail right off of there.

DP: Well, in Oshkosh, they had a lot of women working in the foundry. I was one of them.

BL: Oh you were?

DP: I was. This was before we met. I inspected air-cool cylinders, when they put women to work. They put us to work, first in the vocational school, to learn cord making. They had it set up with an oven in the rooms to bake the cord in the classrooms…to learn the training when the guys left for the service. So that's uh…It didn't last very long, three months maybe.

BL: That's how you two met?

DP: Yeah, he worked in the core room, and I had to go through the core room, to get to where I had to go.

HP: Then she found out I was in the Merchant Marines.

DP: Well, you were going to go…

HP: I was going to go but I mean after that, then you found out…

DP: We had no friendship at that time. So he left and then I left the foundry because it was a little too hard for me.

BL: How did you find out about the foundry, were there ads in the paper or something?

HP: Oh, yeah.

DP: It was because the vocational schools wanted women to learn core making. We could go to the foundry and do core making.

HP: That's what I was doing when I left, I was a core maker there.

DP: So the foundry had a lot of women working there.

HP: Yeah, there was quite a few…

BL: What was the general feeling that were in the war plant at that time, did they feel they were doing an important job?

DP: Well, we took the places of many men, who couldn't be there and produce. Just like you heard about Rosie the Riveter, in the better plants where they made the equipment and planes.

HP: Yeah everything like that…we trained em in everything, they learned every thing that was to be learned about.

DP: The women, I think we're underplayed really, because of what they did in the war too. So.

HP: It was a good experience, but it was very dangerous, because several ships…

DP: Not all Marines were in dangerous waters…

HP: Oh, yeah…

DP: So, those who were made them eligible for Veterans Star and the medal. So..

BL: It says here you got out in…was it 1946, was it…or "45"?

HP: It was the end of "45" into "46". Right in there, yeah.

BL: Yeah, what do you remember about coming back to Oshkosh?

HP: Well…

DP: You're mother was pretty glad.

HP: Mother was glad, I'll say that!

DP: So was the whole family.

HP: Yeah, because they didn't know if I was going to make it back or not, all the dangerous waters I was in, see, you know. But they were kinda glad to see me when I got home.

BL: Did you have a big party?

HP: Oh, yeah, they had quite a party for me out there. Yep, Yeah they did.

BL: I'll betchya they did. Did you get your old job back at the foundry?

HP: Oh yeah, I got my job back, yeah as far as that went. Yeah. I took another job too, besides that.

DP: No, you went back in the core room…

HP: I went back in the core room, yeah. But I didn't do much in there; I had that partial supervision job too.

DP: Nooo, you weren't a supervisor.

HP: No, I was kinda in charge of that area at one time.

DP: Oh, were you?

HP: Yeah, they wanted me in charge of that one area.

DP: You had thirty-eight years there.

BL: Wow!

HP: Yeah that was a long time. I was a young guy when I first got in there, and it seemed pretty interesting because of all the stuff during the war. That's how I got in the service that time, cuz I knew…I was kinda lookin' for it so they tucked me in there.

BL: Was there great pressure among men of military age to do something for the war effort, either enlist or go in the Merchant Marines or something? Did people talk about it?

HP: Not necessarily, but they knew that the job that we were going to take was involved in supplying supplies for everybody in the South Pacific. For our people who were out there. That's how I happened to get in there because we were going to go aboard ship in California and they needed Merchant Marines to protect the sea, too.

BL: Did you have any friends that were in the…that you knew, any of your neighbors, or brothers or friends that were in the military, or the Merchant Marines?

HP: The only one was…

DP: In the Merchant Marines? No, but in one of those pictures up there, he met his brother in Siapan, and no one knew that they were there.

BL: How did that happen?
HP: Well I knew he was in Siapian, see.

DP: You did?

HP: Oh, I knew he was in Siapian, but I didn't know we were going to get there right away. Actually the ship was going to sail in, so I thought jeez, I'm going to surprise my brother. So I did and I walked in on him and he couldn't say a word. He said, "How did you get here?" I said, "The ships sitting out there." One of the guys said, "You got a brother over here?" "Well, how bout stoppin over there, you want to see him?" I said, "Yeah, lets do it." So that's what happened, we put in the harbor there.

DP: Isn't that something, it's amazing.

BL: That is really something. A great big Pacific Ocean and these two guys happen to come together on that little island.

HP: Yeah, well we knew I had a chance with the ship I was sailing in, I knew we were going to hit that island that he was on, see. So I asked the skipper, I said, "How bout buckin us in there for a while?" He said, "We'll see." By God he did, he got us in there for a while. Just like for a day or two. He said, "You got to see your brother anyway." I said, "Great, thanks I did."

BL: What was your brother, what was he in?

HP: He was…he more or less was…

DP: He was in the army.

HP: Army, yeah…well, he was in the army but he didn't have much of a job there, he was just one of the monkey guys, too, ya know?

DP: I don't know if he was in the infantry…

HP: Yeah, he was in the infantry to begin with, yeah…but then he had to stay and work till the war was over, anyway. So that's how that happened. But we got to see each other anyway.

BL: Dolly, what did you do after you left the foundry?

DP: I went to work at Walgreen's, as a counter waitress, you know. I was very young.

BL: Do you remember Pearl Harbor, most people who lived through it remember.

DP: Yes.

BL: Well, tell me what you remember about that day.

DP: Well, I can remember those words, 'A day in Infamy' the president proclaimed, and being a teenager, it didn't pack as big a whollop as September 11th did. I don't even think I knew about Pearl Harbor. As young as these kids are now they didn't know about what we know about now and then. But we certainly learned fast about what to believe.

HP: Yeah.

BL: Did they have activities at school for students who were associated with the war, like bond drives or scrap metal drives?

DP: Oh yes, oh yes.

HP: What was it a lot of them did over there, too?

BL: What were some of the things you would do?

HP: Well, like we picked up mostly supplies…

DP: No, no this is after Pearl Harbor in "41".

HP: Oh, Pearl Harbor, oh in "41" Pearl Harbor…what the hell was Pearl Harbor…

DP: You were working at the foundry…

HP: Yeah, I was working at the foundry…

DP: But all that I can remember is the bond drives, and the gas stamps and the gas rationing and all that too support and do with less.

BL: Some people have said that there was a tremendous feeling of unity during that, do you remember any feelings like that? A feeling of real togetherness?

DP: Not…no…

HP: That's between her and I…

BL: No, during the war, everybody…working together.

DP: During the war.

HP: Oh, during the war.

BL: Working together to defeat the enemy.

HP: Well, not necessarily, I don't know. Everybody seemed to be satisfied with whatever they done. See.
DP: Um, going along with what Bob Hope and Francis Lange did for all the guys in the war, going over there, entertaining. That was uppermost in our minds. That they tried to keep their morale up with different things like that.

HP: You were glad to see someone from the area, I tell ya, because it was quite a surprise if someone came out there you know.

DP: We missed a lot of our relatives that were gone. My uncles were gone in the service and always hoping and praying that they were kept safe and come home, which they did. It's hard to realize how young they were at the time too.

HP: Oh yeah.

HP: This was taken out in California too, oh, that one was taken in New York, yeah.

BL: This one? This portrait was taken in New York?

HP: Some of them in New York, yeah.

BL: Herbie, tell me about the Blitz Krieg bar, where was that?

HP: Well that was in…out of Hawaii, Blitz Krieg…it was in Hawaii is where it was. Wait a minute…Blitz Krieg bar?

BL: It says on the back here, Clifton New Jersey.

HP: New Jersey, that's the place. New Jersey that's where it was, Blitz Krieg Bar, that's what I was trying to think, I knew it was in the states. That's the one there.

BL: Was that a favorite hang out?

HP: Well it was for the guys, see. In fact, that's where most of the guys hung out.

DP: I see there's one girl too?

HP: Yeah, she was…she's kinda stuck between us all isn't she.

BL: Do you remember the day that photograph was taken?

HP: Oh yeah, well it was kind of a gathering between the whole group. See, and there was more women than that one in there too. But she just wanted to get…because she knew us and she said, "I want a picture taken between the four of you guys."

BL: What was the occasion?

HP: Just celebrations they had out there through the war, different things.

DP: Were you on a leave?

HP: I was on a leave, yeah, that's what it was.

DP: That's when you said you ate a lot of macaroni and cheese.

HP: Oh yeah.

DP: Because it was the cheapest.

HP: Yeah because we didn't have a lot of money out there at that time. So you had to take what they gave you.

BL: How was the pay in the merchant marines?

HP: It wasn't real good but it was something anyway, more than you got otherwise you know.

BL: Was it better than the foundry for example?

HP: No, well work wise it wasn't as bad, but as far as the pay, you got more money out at the foundry though.

BL: It wasn't, huh?

HP: Oh, no…no where near that. No, but it was…well we had to do something because the war was on, so that's why we decided…there were three, four of us guys decided to go join the Merchant Marines, that's how we got in there.

BL: Tell me about this one? Somebody's got the poem memorized.

HP: What's her name yet?

DP: Dora!

HP: Dora that was Dora, yes. I met her in California. She was quite a gal, Dorie.

BL: Why was she quite a gal?

HP: Well, I mean she was a real friendly gal, she says "Just because I make friends with you that's no sign we're going to shack up with you or nothing like that!" She told me right off, see. That's what happened there.

DP: All I can say is that's a nice picture of you.

BL: Yes it is. I bet you had some pretty good leaves in the Merchant Marine, didn't you?
HP: Oh, yeah.

BL: What was the best port you ever were in?

HP: Well, in the Philippines was one of 'em. That was about the most interesting place we ever were ever in. We had the most leave in there anyway. Pretty much the most interesting, I'd say, the Philippine Islands.

BL: What was so interesting about the Philippines?

HP: Well, it was something that catered to the war and everything, that's why most of us guys was sent there.

DP: Then in Japan you told me something, something about the Geisha Houses.

HP: Oh yeah, we knew about them, we never attended them though.

DP: That's not what I heard. Oh, Yokohama, you mean?(laughs) Oh Yokohama, yeah the guys would all be, well we'd hang around there you know, come on guys, let's gang up and see how much business we get tonight. We used to cater to them but we never took advantage of them like the other guys did because everyone was afraid to take a chance of this. Just to make friends with them and that's about it. Most of 'em never monkeyed around with women that much, 'cause you didn't know what they had, you know.

BL: What did you do when you heard the war was over? When they had dropped the atom bomb, what did you do?

HP: Celebrated.

BL: How?

HP: Well, they had a great big party out there in California at that time and they just raised hell. They put the drinks out there, you could do what you wanted to, you know. Oh yeah, it was very interesting.

BL: So you were in California when you heard the war was over?

HP: Yeah. That's where I ended up, California yeah. Then I came home after that didn't I.

DP: Mmhmm

HP: I guess I…no I didn't take a train, I flew home that time. Yeah. Yeah I took a plane out of there. Yeah.

DP: You forgot to tell him what you did as a job aboard ship. There's a picture up there. The far right lower one.
HP: Oh, that…Oh that was…Yeah, I was a barber. I was a barber on board ship. One day I cut twelve heads. "Oh, hey Pahlow's a barber, you guys all look like bears, let's put him to work." So that's how I got to work doin that.

BL: How did you get to be a barber?

HP: Because they didn't have nobody on board.

BL: So you just learned, yourself?

HP: Well the reason I was a barber was because I like my hair looking nice always, you know, and I said if you want your hair looking nice, I'm going to be the barber. These guys who were cutting hair, it looked like somebody run em through a machine. Take off, here and there. Jesus, don't ever do any thing like those Jack Asses did the other time. I used to give 'em all good haircuts.

DP: Who cut yours?

HP: Well that's the trouble, I had a hell of a job getting a good haircut because I had one guy, well I talked to him a little bit, and showed him what I was doing and I gave him the stuff to use the clippers, and he didn't do too bad of a job, but it didn't look as good as the rest of the guys.

DP: How much did you get a head?

HP: Well, I used to get a buck a piece out of em. But after a long time, I only got fifty cents and I said, "I can't even monkey around with fifty cents anymore, I gotta have a buck or no haircut." "Well that's all right, that's all right." they said. So I made twelve bucks in one day.

BL: That's pretty good.

HP: Yeah that was pretty good, yeah. Well, then I had a steady job on there for the whole time I was on there. Everybody needed a haircut and I was more busy there than I was in the engine room. Even the skipper on there said, "Well Herb, as long as you're doing such a good job and we're paying ya for being on board ship here, you want to do something for me?" I said, "Yeah, what do ya want?" He said, "Give me a haircut." So I gave him a haircut and he said, "Okay, that's good enough for me." He said, "Just go ahead and take care of your barbering, we aren't that busy with ships right now anyways." The war was just about over then any way, see, or getting pretty close to the end. It was quite an experience out there with all the barbering I did.

BL: Well Herb, I'm looking at something here, "The Royal Order of the Dragon", from the SS President Tyler, what's that all about?

HP: President Tyler, well that's the name of the ship that I sailed on.

BL: What's the "Royal Order of the Dragon"?

HP: Well that was there…that's some kind of a…something that they always did, and they called it the Royal Order of the Dragon. Because of the different waters that were red.

BL: Like crossing the equator.

HP: Oh yeah, crossing the equator, this is what I got for crossing the equator that time. A dragon, yeah.

BL: What are some of the things they did when you crossed the equator, anything goofy or anything…

HP: Not necessarily, you know but they used to let us get shined up.

DP: Was there a mark in the water where you would cross the equator?

HP: I told the guys, I said…because I had been there before, been through there before a lot of the guys aboard ship. One of the guys said, "How do you know we're going across the equator?"
I said, "You'll find out when we get there." So I told this guy who was on board, "When you get to the equator, the ship shakes and bumps and shakes!" Jeez, I scared the hell out of those guys when they found out about that. Yeah that was quite an experience out there. But, some of that was during the war…but we stayed for quite awhile after the war too.

BL: Maybe I could take some of this and take some copies and then I could take em back to you if that would be…

HP: Yeah, if you want to do that. Sure…which one is that now?

DP: Well it shows…It names the three ships and your engine training at Sheepshead Bay…In "44".

HP: In "44", yeah.

HP: Yeah, they treated us pretty good over there. Yeah, that was a pretty good ship to sail on, I tell ya. They paid good money and everything.

BL: What's the difference between a good ship and a bad ship?

HP: Well, with a bad ship you didn't get much support, you went along because you had a job, and that was about it. The job I had on ship wasn't too bad, I mean I thought it was pretty good. I did stay on it after the war; I stayed on one more shift at that time. So…

BL: Why did you do that? Did they ask you to?

HP: Well I don't know…No I just wanted…I liked the ship I was on and I knew all the guys and I thought 'Hell, I'll take another trip,' so I took another trip after the war was over. It was out of California then that time…That's Yokohama Japan.

BL: Do these bring back any memories?

HP: Oh yeah.

BL: What was Japan like after the war in particular?

HP: Well, they were very friendly. Very friendly people, I'll say that.

BL: Even after the war?

HP: Yeah, they were very friendly, that's how we happened to get all these pictures of em. When we sailed out of California at that time and the boys from Yokohama, they said, "Well the war is over, we don't have to fight anymore, do we?" We said, "No we ain't gonna fight, we'll make friends with ya. So we got friendly after the war. So that was all right, you know. That's why I got to stay in Japan too, I got to stay there a little longer.

DP: It's that King Neptune that I'm looking for. I don't know what happened to that one.

HP: Oh, King Neptune in the equator. We had to cross the equator and you always got some kind of a medal, for crossing the equator.

BL: Herb, did you keep in touch with anyone after the war, the people you met in the Merchant Marine, or did they all come back here?

HP: No (Jumbled tape, cannot hear complete answer)

BL: Did you have a sense of pride when the war was over, did you have a sense of accomplishment?

HP: Well, they had us out in Seattle Washington.

DP: Did you feel good about what you did?

HP: Oh yeah. They made us feel good because they said, "You boys did an awful good job servicing the engines and all that and making sure we got to all the different places." They thanked us for that and so it was pretty nice after the war when everybody appreciated what you done. So I don't know…We were really glad when the war was over because then we could get out of the ship and this and that…and we were ready to get home about that time because…three different ships I was on that time. One Transport and two Liberties I sailed on. The Transport was the one where we took all the troops down into the Islands…Heading toward Japan, all the islands between Japan and the United States, and we dropped a bunch of stuff off in-between there always.

BL: How many troops were out there?

HP: Twelve hundred, I guess twelve hundred. We dropped some off here, and some off there. They all got in different places, ya know? Like if somebody needed somebody there and somebody there, all the way down to California and then out in the South Pacific and different places. You'd drop some in Hawaii and all over. They wanted to make sure everybody had some protection after the war was over, too.

BL: So then what happened…When did you two get married?

DP: April 10th of "48". Two year courtship before that.
(More problematic tape)

DP: That's why we never took a cruise. I thought I would only be able to find him in the engine room somewhere. If we took a honeymoon cruise…a delayed honeymoon cruise.

HP: We'd have got along all right I think…

DP: Well yeah, I know where you would be anxious to be, down in the…how they run the engine rooms.

HP: It's pretty interesting. I watch all them…we had that one chap going all through the Liberty, he had to make sure that everyone had a station all the way around so if the boiler room got too hot or…you know. He made sure our ship was operating perfectly all the way down until you get back. Some days you'd have to watch em because you'd say, "Did you take care of that?" "Oh God, I guess we forgot that." You know, they'd say and I'd say, "Don't forget, you want the ship to drop in the ocean?"

DP: I would go to the movie stores and get any kind of a "ship" picture on the ocean, to dealing with this type of thing and he would just be glued to the movie.

HP: It was an interesting job in the engine room, you know.

BL: Were they well made ships?

HP: They were well made and everything, but still most of the ships that were sailing were all about three years old, some of 'em were, most of em were new ships though. Some of 'em got sunk.

DP: According to that article, I had never known…um seven hundred Merchant Marine ships. That seemed unbelievable.

BL: I'll have to look that up. Well, thanks a lot this has been great.

HP: What do you mean, sinking you mean. Well, quite a few of em got hit.

DP: Yeah, this is that article that I quoted.

HP: Well that was an interesting situation, I'll say that.

BL: Well, it sure sounds that way.

HP: Yeah, we made damn sure. It was a dangerous area so we had to just be careful what you done. Make it as safe as you could. So we used to keep track of those guys on deck and everything, so they didn't foul anything up while we were under way. So I was more or less second assistant, that way I could watch things myself. So…

BL: Dolly, maybe you and I could take some of these and…
Event World War II
Category 6: T&E For Communication
Object ID OH2001.3.20
Object Name Tape, Magnetic
People Pahlow, Herbert
Pahlow, Dolores
Subjects World War II
Pacific Theater of Operations
United States Merchant Marine
Title Oral History Interview with Herbert Pahlow, Merchant Marine
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Last modified on: December 12, 2009