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Record 28/959
Oral history interview with Irwin "Irv" Tesch conducted by Brad Larson for the World War II project. Irwin "Irv" Tesch enlited into the United States Marine Corps in March 1945. Was enroute to Okinawa when Japan surrendered; sent to China and spent several years there. Discharged 1949. Describes Oshkosh in the 1930s and 1940s. Irwin Tesch Interview June 25, 2002 Conducted by Brad Larson {B: denotes the interviewer, Brad Larson. I: denotes Mr. Irwin Tesch}. B: Okay, this is June 25th, 2002. I'm sitting in my office with Irv Tesch. A hot and humid day. So Irv, I guess if you're ready, I'm ready. Ready to go. I: Sure. B: Okay. Why don't you just start by giving me your name and date of birth and where you were born. I: Irv Tesch. Born in Oshkosh on March 4th, 1927. B: Well, the first thing I'd like to know is ah, we'll talk a little bit about the war. In 1927 you were older, I mean you were pretty young at the time. Do you remember Pearl Harbor at all or the events leading up to Pearl Harbor? I: Oh, yes. Yes, I do. I was in the yard playing football at the time. And ah, the announcement came over the radio. It seemed like ah, seconds after that, the streets were bare. Everybody was listening to their radio. Everybody. The kids went in the house and there were nobody on the streets. Because everyone, you know, was interested in what happened. B: What happened in school then the next week? You would have gone back to school. I: Yeah, they were talking about you know ah, what's gonna happen. Where are our men going, you know and ah, how many men are going. At what age, and how are they going to get these men in service and everything like that. B: At the time, you were pretty young. Did you think that the war would last and you would be affected. Did you think about that at all? I: Oh yes. I had no idea that it would last that long. B: I imagine it was a big topic of conversation between you and your friends. And among your family. Did you follow the war news quite a bit? I: Oh yes. In the movies and on the radio and in school. You know, you'd hear about it in school just about every day. And at that time, they had the weekly reader? I don't know if you remember that. Then that would come out once a week and there would be stories in there. B: Now one of the things that maybe I could get you to think back of how important newsreels were. That's something that we don't hear very often today with television. What about newsreels? Did you follow newsreel programs? I: Oh yes. Unh huh. Every time you went to a movie there was a, I forgot how it started but there were newsreels and it would show what happened. It's not like today. Today they got, they're taking pictures right when it's happening, you know. And ah, in a way, I don't think that's right, you know. You're getting information that shouldn't be given, really. B: Did you go to the movies often then? I: Every Saturday. B: Did ya? I: It was only ten cents. So during the week, we'd scrape up ten cents to go to the movies. And there were serials on at that time. So if you missed one week, oh, then you had to try to figure out what happened that week that you missed, you know? Like Terry and the Pirates and all that stuff, you know. B: As a teenager, did you engage in any of the war activities here in Oshkosh? Projects like collecting aluminum and paper and that sort of thing? I: No. Not that I can recall. Just that we had a garden. Everybody had a victory garden. And they'd grow their own things instead of trying to get it at the store, and stuff like that. I know we had ah, corn, and tomatoes, and onions, and grapes and everything. B: Where did you live? I: I lived on Parkway at that time. Right near where the hospital was. B: Yeah. Huh. Well now when did you, were you drafted or did you enlist? I: No. I enlisted. B: When did you enlist? I: I enlisted February 7th in '45. B: Tell me about that. I bet there's a story there. Maybe you could tell me all about that. I: Well, I got something down here. It was my turn to go. I was going to be 18. And I didn't want to get drafted. So I went to Milwaukee. They didn't have a recruiting station for the Marines here so I had to go to Milwaukee to enlist. And I enlisted there. And they told me if I passed my physical, I had to go back three days later. And so they told me to turn my books in at school. Because if I passed the physical, I would go right to ah, boot camp. So I turned my books in and went back and said goodbye to my family. And ah, I left. I passed the physical. So ah, off I went. And I was put in charge of the other four men that went along. So then we got there. Got to boot camp. And the first thing they do is assign you to a barracks and then you get your clothes and get your hair cut. And you start your training. B: Was this in South Carolina? I: Yes. Parris Island. B: Why didn't you want to be drafted? You mentioned that you didn't want… I: I didn't want to go in the army. I don't know why. I just didn't want to go in the army. I had an uncle that was in the Marines and it seemed like ah, that's the thing to do. B: Did the Marines appeal to you for any other reason? Were they more…? I: More physically, you know. Ah, fit or whatever it was. B: And you thought it was going to be your time and you were gonna get drafted so you picked the Marines. I: Unh huh. Yeah. B: What was boot camp like? Was it tough? I: Oh yeah. Boot camp was. It was ah, well there was ah, physical training every morning, you know ah. Push ups, pull-ups, running and then you'd go to the mess hall. Then you'd go out in the field and then they would go through obstacle courses and ah, take your weapons apart, put em together, so you knew how to do it. Then you'd do it blindfolded. And you knew how to do this. Because sometimes you know, you'd have to do this in the dark, maybe. You never knew, so. You knew how to take maybe two weapons apart and put em together again - and make em work. B: What was the spirit like? What was the feeling like among the people that were there? I: Everybody was, I should say gung ho, you know. They were all enthused about. Sometimes you weren't because you'd be swearing at your sergeant or something like that, but because of some task you had to do, you know. But ah, otherwise the spirit was high. Higher than it is today, I think. B: At that point in the war, Nazi Germany was just about defeated. You probably were in boot camp when… I: I was just coming home on leave when this happened. I was on a train and everybody was, "Oh, now we got to get the rest of it done." And ah, of course there weren't many Marines in Europe. They were all ah, in the South Pacific, so. Well when I went back, I went to Camp LeJeune to get basic training. And there they teach you different things there. Hand to hand combat, and bayonet fighting, and judo and stuff like that. B: Now I have two thoughts here. Maybe you could describe what troop trains were like. That's a term that we don't often hear today. Troop trains. I: Unh, huh. When I went ah, we got, from Camp LeJeune I got transferred to Camp Pendleton in California. So we were on a troop train. And there were two troop trains, I think. We were the youngest draft to go overseas because if you were over 21, you were an old man at that time. So most of us were you know, in our teens. And ah, well the troop train, it was fun but I had a regular Pullman car. Some of them had the other kind. It looks like cattle cars, you know. Bunks on this side and bunks on that side. But I was lucky. I had a Pullman car. So at night when we went, just pulled ours down. One up and one down. But we had a lot of fun on the train. I know we stopped at one place and there was a guy with a whole truckload of watermelons. And he was selling them, at that time, 50 cents apiece. By the time we left and the train started up again, that truck was empty. And it was full. B: Had you been outside of Oshkosh at all? Had you traveled very much before you went into the service? I: No, not much. I worked at Reynolds Cherry Orchards in Sturgeon Bay at one time. And that was during the war too. And that's why they put me in charge when I left Milwaukee to go to boot camp. Because I was away from home. I was no mama's boy so they put me in charge. B: Was it, do you think it was common that people hadn't traveled much? I: Oh yeah. Because ah, you know you didn't go that much. If you went sixty miles, you thought it was a long way. Cars weren't like they are now. If you got a flat tire, you had to fix it yourself. You didn't, you know, take one out of the trunk and ah, put it on and go to the service station and have it fixed. Most of the people fixed theirs themselves. Because you had inner tubes at that time. And now you hardly ever hear of that. So you'd have a patch kit in your car, and a pump in your car. So you'd fix it right on the road. It happened to me. B: As you're heading over to Camp Pendleton in California, did you, did you, think back now, you're a teen-ager. Did everybody assume that you were going to have to invade Japan? I: That's what they thought, yeah. And everywhere we went, even the troop train, when you went through a city, you know. All the people - there were a lot of people at the depot or wherever you went through - and they'd all holler, "We want victory, we want victory." B: What happened when you got to Camp Pendleton? I: Well, we took more training there and then we were assigned to ah, leave the 'states. And we were put in a draft. They called it a 'draft'. And ah, we sat for about three days before we got called. Then they took us from Camp Pendleton to San Diego to board ships. And ah, when we got to the dock , you know, everybody in all the offices along the docks, they were all leaning out the windows, you know, hollering, "Get this thing over, get this thing over. Come back." So ah, we boarded the ship and I thought, 'oh boy'. You know I was never on a ship before. I was just gonna be so… And they told us the code name was Duva. D-U-V-A, where we were gonna land. Nobody knew where it was because it was a code name. Well then we got out to sea and we found out it meant Guam. So we headed to Guam and it took us, oh I don't even remember how long it took us. It took us quite a while. I know I got seasick, that I know. B: What was the ship like? I: It was an ATA. It was a big ship. And ah, you know you could walk around the ship and you eat in shifts because you'd line up on one side of the ship and you'd take your turn. And we only two meals a day. Because they couldn't feed that many people, you know, in three meals. So we'd have breakfast and then we'd have dinner at night. But the meals were good. They were good but… Then we landed at Guam. And ah, we didn't land. We had a go on landing craft carriers. And ah, to get ashore. And then our sea bags come later. And they threw em in the mud. Because it was raining there. It was the rainy season, you know, in August. So the next day, everybody got their, we slept in ten man tents which were up already. And then we went and got our seabags and it was all full of red mud, you know. So you'd wash em out and lay em on your tent because the sun would be shining. And you'd just get em dry and it'd start raining again. And our tent, I can recall our tent ah, was on the side and the streets were coral. They had all coral on the streets that they put in there. And on the way to the mess hall that was all coral. But the rest of it was mud. I know we went, one night we went to the, to the movie. And the movie theater was out in the boondocks somewhere and you had to walk over there, try to get a ride or whatever. I know we… By the time you got there, your feet were all muddy and everything else. And ah, the show I saw, Eddie Bracken was there. And ah, were standing in the back and ah, it was ah, the movie started and then he was on too, you know. And before his show started, there were empty seats toward the front, you know. And he says, "What are these seats here? These men are standing in the back." "Those are officers' seats." And he says, "Not while I'm here." He says, "The show doesn't start until those seats are filled up." So everybody went [ ] walked off. That's all. B: That was a nice treat, eh? I: Yeah. Then you had to find your way back in the dark. To your tent. B: Did the idea of invading Japan, did it, was it ah, something that you talked about among your buddies. Is it anything that was a topic of conversation? I: Oh yeah. Well we didn't know we were gonna go to Japan. We thought oh, you know, there's more islands to go to. So we were prepared to go invade another island. At that time it was, Okinawa was the last one. So we thought, that's where we're gonna go. But we got on; we were heading to Japan when they dropped the bomb. Then half the convoy, we had a 27 ship convoy, with destroyer escorts on each side. And we were heading for Japan. But then you know, this all happened and half the ship, they got orders, you know. And then half the convoy went to Japan and then the other half landed in China. Well, different ports in China. They didn't all land at the same port. They landed at different places all over in China. And ah, we didn't know what was gonna happen there either. Because the Japanese didn't surrender yet, to China. They were surrendering to the United State aboard the Missouri, you know. But they didn't surrender to China. They would not surrender to China. So we didn't know what was going to happen. We had full combat gear and ah, we had overhead cover and everything else when we landed. B: You went to China? I: Yes. I went to China. So we got on our trucks and we started heading toward our barracks. B: Where in China? Excuse me. I: I was in Tsingtao. And some of them went to Tientsin. Some of them went to [Tangkoo]. All the different ports that were there. But we unloaded our ships and the Japanese burnt our schoolhouse down that we were supposed to move into. So we had to go a different route. Well, we went from our, we went in our trucks. And we went down the streets and there were thousands and thousands of people. Chinese. All with their thumbs up. And the word was Dinghao, which meant "Very good, very good," you know. So then we were assigned another barracks and we got there and ah, it was a big ah, what do they call it, coliseum like. And ah, we drove our trucks in there and there was a big schoolhouse there and that's where we stayed. In the big schoolhouse. And that night I was put on guard duty. We had to clear the compound of Chinese because they were crawling under the trucks and the ducts and everything else. They didn't see nothing like this you know. They never saw anything like this. And they never saw any of our equipment before. So we hadda hard time getting em out of there. And then there was one Chinese, he says ah, "You gotta say a certain word and then they'll know what you mean." So the word was [sooba] which meant 'move', you know. So we started taking our rifles and trying to push them and hollering, "Sooba, sooba, sooba." And then they would clear the whole compound. Well, at night at every gate we had a guard there so they wouldn't come back. But there were, there was a big wall all the way around it. So there were gates at certain places. That's where we were put on guard duty. And the first night there, it's strange, you don't know what's going to happen or anything else. You don't know if the Japanese you know, are gonna uprise again or not. But they did not because they knew that we were there. And ah, so that was our job, getting em out of there. B: I imagine that first night especially, there was a lot of tension in the air. I: Oh, there was. Every time you heard a shot or something, you know. You didn't know what to do. B: Well what did the Chinese, excuse me, what did the Japanese do? Did you eventually contact Japanese troops? I: Oh yes. We put em in billets. And ah, we had ah, we put em on work details. Japanese helped us then. My job was to unload ships. I was in the motor transport. So that's what we would do, and ah, they would have work details. They would be in their barracks and they would march from the barracks to the dock. They had Japanese officers that would do this, you know. And they'd march em to the ship and they would help us load our trucks. B: What was their attitude? The Japanese soldier. What was their attitude? I: Well you couldn't, you couldn't communicate with them, you know. They seemed to think that, well it's over, you know. It's all over. So they just did their work and that was it. I talked to one Japanese officer. He spoke English, you know, this Japanese officer. He says ah, I said, "How do you know English?" He said, "Oh, I went to school in Cincinnati." So… B: How long were you there? I: I was there, let's see; I was there thirteen months and then I come home on a terminal leave. After you were there over a year, you could come home, or sixteen months I think. Then I could come home on terminal leave. So I come home on, on ah, terminal leave. But you hadda do it by getting a hop here and a hop there. And so I kinda liked it because when it was your turn, we went to the airfield and we got to the airfield and the Red Cross were taking our plane. They took our plane to come back. So we had to wait another day. So we waited another day and caught another plane and we flew to, I was at Tiensin at that time. We flew to Tsingtao. From there we went to Okinawa. And then stayed there for three days. Then we went to Kwajelein and Johnson Island. Johnson Island we had to stay three days too so they could refuel the plane. And then we flew from there to Hawaii. And we stayed there five days. We didn't fly back there. We had to catch a ship back there. Then we got on a ship and there were all different people working there. There were different people on the ship you know. There were families on the ship. And then ah, so that's how… And then we went to Treasure Island. And our leave didn't start until we, you know, left Treasure Island. So it took us probably 20, 21 days to get to the 'states. And then our leave started, which I had a 30 day leave. And after the leave, then we come back and ah B: You came back here to Oshkosh? I: No, no. I ah, oh yeah, I come back for leave at Oshkosh. And then I left Oshkosh and went back to Treasure Island. And the same thing happened when we went back to China again. But then the communists were starting to infiltrate on our, on us. And they would fire on our trucks. B: They would? I: Oh, yes. They raided our ammo dump one night. Nine Marines got killed that night. See, people didn't hear about that. B: I was just going to remark on that. I: Little things that happened. When it, you know, the war was over with and ah, the commies were trying to take over. So ah…. B: So it was almost as if, it sounds to me like when you went back you were almost in a state of war with the communists. Not a full-fledged state of war, but… I: But every once in awhile you… B: Progressive hostilities… I: You'd find a sniper. One night a sniper fired at me while I was on guard duty. And ah, I could hear the bullets going by. I could hear them. I got behind a wall and I could hear em hitting the building in back of me. And I thought, "Oh boy, what am I gonna do?" You know. But then it just stopped. It must have been just one. I couldn't see where it was comin from because it was dark and there was no gun flash or anything like that. And ah, so it just stopped and that was it. B: Were you allowed to return fire? I: Oh, yes. We were at, we had loaded weapons. But I couldn't fire at anybody. I didn't know where they were. B: How long did this continue then? This state of tension and aggression? I: This, well then we pulled out of there. When we pulled out of China. B: Which was when/ I: Ah, let's see if I got it here. Ah, oh it was in June. June of '49. No, June of '48. Let's see, '47. B: Well, you were over there a good while. I: I was over there seventeen months. Then we come back to the 'states. We loaded all of our equipment up. Some of it they just left there. Some of the trucks and stuff. They just left there. Then we loaded the rest of the stuff and we come back to the 'states. We got back to the 'states on June 3rd. And we landed at the same place that we left from. And then they had a big ah, then they had big celebrations and everything. They could have, they had civilians comin aboard your ship, the ship that we were on. And ah, then you could volunteer to escort these people around. So we met some, we met a lot of people there. We met some girls and they invited us to a dance. Two weeks later they were going to have a dance and they invited us to the dance. So it was kinda good. But the rest of the time I was at ah, Camp Pendleton. B: What's your most enduring memory of ah, the time you were in China. Probably if there's one thing that sticks out in your mind more than anything else, Mr. Tesch. What is that one thought from the Chinese occupation? I: T he one thing that got me was when I got shot at. And I [ ], I still have nightmares on that, because ah… Another thing that happened. We were unloading ship one night and I had 22 barrels of gasoline, 55 gallons, you know, drums of gasoline. And I was pulling away from the dock and ah, the truck was slowing down. I couldn't figure out why. I left my emergency brake on and it was on fire. Underneath it was on fire with 22 barrels of gasoline. And here I go, here I go. I got under the truck and I start throwing sand under the truck to put the flame out. It was not just smoke. It was flaming. I got it out and I was so relieved. I never left the emergency brake on again. B: Chinese people good to you? Were they? I: Most of them were real good, yeah. Yeah. We'd even help em out. We'd haul everything. When we unloaded ship we hauled everything. Everything imaginable. And sometimes during the day we had to haul coal for our barracks, you know. And we ah, have them fill the truck a little bit and we'd go around the corner and there'd be a whole bunch of Chinese picking up this coal that went over the edge, you know. And then they'd holler, "[Dinghao]" which meant "very good." B: So were you discharged then from Camp Pendleton and… I: No, no. I went to Great Lakes. I had to go to Great Lakes and we stayed there for three days and got all our medical records. You know they examine you for your teeth and everything else, just like when you went in. Then they, then you got discharged. See, I enlisted for four years. So I got discharged on the 7th of February B: In 1945. I: 1949. B: Nine, I mean. Yeah, okay. I: So then you got your ticket home and them from there you were on your own. You were a civilian again. You were still in uniform, but you were a civilian again. B: What was Oshkosh like in the 1940's? I: Well, I dunno. It was ah, seemed more peaceful. You know? People weren't in such a hurry. Well during the Depression which was in the '30's, ah, men were out of work and on Main Street you'd see a lot of men, you know. Talkin to each other, and then there was ah, there were halls where these men would gather and play cards and ah, and ah just to keep em busy because there wasn't any work you know. And ah, my dad worked at Buckstaff's at that time. And ah, they laid off too. So then he worked on the WPA. Which, you know, then they did our streets and did all that. But it wasn't like it is now. Now you got these hoes and shovels and everything else. Then it was done by hand and it was done in tiers, you know. They would shovel the dirt on one platform and then there'd be somebody else shoveling it up at another one. These sewers were down twelve foot deep, you know. B: That must have made quite an impression on you. You would have been just a boy. That must have really made an impression. The Depression and, and ah, the work project. That really stuck in your mind. I: Oh, yeah. Because, you know, people - and they were bums, you know. Lot of bums go through Oshkosh. And ah, well, they'd stop at our house and my mom would always give em something. "Sit out in the back yard there and I'll bring you something." So she would bring em a meal. We never were hungry. I can't say that we were ever hungry because stuff that we didn't grow, people were, they would give you stuff. You'd trade stuff, you know. You'd trade, say, a bunch of carrots for some potatoes or something like that. And our milk man, which lived on a farm, he always brought us stuff. He'd bring our milk and he'd put some carrots there, or beets or something like that. B: What did a boy do for recreation back then? I: Most of the time we walked the streets. Just, at night we'd go down Main Street, walk from one end to the other. And go to the pin ball machines at that time. Almost every place had a pin ball machine. Then you'd go to the bowling alleys and watch people bowl and that's about all you did. And you sat in the park by the bridge. And ah, but during the summertime, we'd ah, they had the recreational department. They had ah, people at different parks. Like they have em at schools now. And then ah, you'd go there. We went to Menomonee Park all day during the summertime. That was before we started working. You could work at sixteen at that time. Go get a working permit and then you'd… I worked at Leach's. And then… B: You did? What did you do at Leach's? I: Unload boxcars of lumber. Heavy lumber. And it was hot, like today, and you'd be unloading lumber. B: What did they pay you? Do you remember? I: I think it was 25 cents an hour. B: One of my volunteers worked at Leach's as a, well he would be about your age. Maybe not quite as old. His name's Tom Sullivan. I: Yeah, he's my age. I know Tom. I went to high school with him. B: He's the one that's going to transcribe this tape. I: Oh, good, good. B: So he worked there too. I think he told me he washed kerosene off parts. I: Oh, he probably did, yeah. Yeah. He probably worked there same time I did. During the summer. Yeah I went to school with Tom. All the way through. B: So you were able to get some work during the summer. I: Yeah, when I was 16. Yeah we worked… first I went up to Sturgeon Bay. I worked at the cherry orchards there. That was before I was old enough to get a job. Then I worked at Stretch's, which is Miles Kimball now. They made wagon, wagons. Then I worked on the railroad. B: What did you do on the railroad? I: Put in new tracks. And that's when, that's when the streamliners were comin through. It just started up then. Instead of just the old regular trains, you know. With the coal car on the back. And so we had to put in heavier tracks and fix the crossings. We did that. B: It must have been pretty exciting when the streamliner came through. I: Oh, it was. Everybody you know, the first one that came through, they parked it on Broad Street. Where the tracks were on Broad Street. Where the Northwestern depot was? And ah, everybody could go through it, you know. Oh, seemed like a luxury liner. "The 400" they called it. B: Now some of this would have been during the war. Some of this could have been during the war. Did you have a sense that you were helping the war effort as a boy? Did you? I: Oh yeah. B: Were there very many men around during the war? That you remember? I: No. Women were doing a lot of work. I know at Leach's, there was women on the tow motors and stuff like that. And they other ones were older, you know. They were in their forties or something. And they didn't take them. I think the highest they went was 38 years old. In the draft. B: What was the, what was the spirit like among people during those years? I: Well, I think there's, it was high really. I think they ah, stuck together more than they do now. You know? You knew your whole block at that time. Knew everybody on your block. Now I don't even know my neighbor. And people lived in their homes longer than they do now. But the college, there weren't many people going to college because the men are all gone. And ah, Teachers College, what they called the Teachers College at that time, they were training cadets there. Didn't Jean tell you about them cadets that they trained? B: Tell me about it. I: Yeah, she used to go out with the cadets. And ah, they'd go down to the Raulf Hotel and go to dances and stuff like that. And the cadets would walk em home. And ah, you know they were lonely too. So they were on, well that was their duty. To get trained for the Air Force. B: It must have been pretty exciting though as a boy, huh? I: Oh yes. B: Lots to do. I: Oh, lots to do when you're a boy. We never had, we never had time you know where you say, "Oh, there's nothin to do." But we had, we played ball. We played against different teams you know. Played against South Side, played against the West Side. They, 'cause they had kids playing ball too. Just scrub teams, that's all they were. Sometimes you only had six people playin ball. Sometimes you only had eight, you know. You didn't have a full, full roster or anything but ah, it's all hardball. I know one time we played by Waite's Carpet on Tennessee. Out by Custer there? And ah, there was a baseball diamond there so that's where we went and played. Sometimes you'd hit the ball and it'd go in the tall grass there; then you'd get a home run because they couldn't find the ball. B: This is something, this is something I ask all the people that I interview. After Pearl Harbor, did you ever doubt or have any feelings that America would lose the war? I: Never. Never. Ah… B: Why? I: Because our forces at the peak were... They stuck together you know. And everybody was, everybody was trying. You know, war bonds, ration stamps, and the people went along with it. They didn't grumble about anything, you know. "Oh, I don't have this, I don't have that." And so I thought the American people were, we'd win this. B: You never thought…? I: I never thought that. No. I never thought the Germans would do it, or Japan. No I never thought that. B: That is something I find, I think it is typically American. But I also think, I'm very amazed at it because of the, I'm not so sure we would have that attitude today. I: No, probably not. Probably not. B: Well, back to when you got discharged from the Marines, what happened when you got back here to Oshkosh then? I: Well, I tried to find a job, you know. And ah, well things were goin slow, you know. And I was on, I was collecting my $20.00 a week at that time. From the government. And then I looked around and looked around. I had piddly jobs you know. Working at a garage, sweeping the floor there. Then I got into a foundry. Universal Foundry at that time. And I worked there for oh, probably almost ten years. Well then the Korean War started, of course. And then everything started boomin up again. So the, they were making castings for different stuff you know, at that time. B: What was your job at the foundry? I: At first I was puttin weights on, on ah, the molds. Put the weights on the molds so that the, when they poured the iron, the sand doesn't come off, see? And ah, then ah, the line I was working on got shut down. And then I went in the stock room and I worked in there until the line started up again. Then ah, the foreman asked me if I would run a machine. A [muller] machine which mixed the sand for the molders. I says, "Well, I can learn." So I worked the night shift. He trained me to, to ah, and the one that worked the morning shift trained me for the second shift. So, then I run that 'til ah… and then, well ah, I run that all the time and then I got laid off, or I got bumped 'cause the line shut down again. So I went on different machine that did the same thing but it was for the night shift, see? I thought, "Aw, I'm not gonna work in this place all my life." So I went back to school and ah, well I went back to school while I was working. I went to school in the morning and then worked at the foundry in the afternoon. And ah, I was doing drafting, training for drafting. So the, one of the engineers, he'd always come and talk to us. And ah, his son was going to quit at Miller Electric in Appleton. In the drafting, in the engineering department. He says he's gonna quit at a certain time. He says, "Go up there and see if you can get in." 'Cause I had already finished school. And I told them at the foundry, I says, "Don't you have anything in the engineering department here?" "Nah, nah, nah." They only had one guy, which was an engineer. And they didn't have anything open, so I says, "Well, …" So I went up there and I ah, got an interview and they hired me right away. So I gave my notice at the foundry. Gave em two weeks notice. And I told em at Miller Electric, I says I would never, you know, just quit on somebody. I says, "When I leave here, if I leave here, I'll give you notice." So they thought that was pretty good. So then I gave em my notice there and they didn't train anybody. They thought I was kidding, you know. They thought I hadda stay there the rest of my life. So that Friday, I says, "Well, so long everybody. I'm leaving." And the foreman says, "What? You're leaving?" I says, "I told you two weeks ago I was gonna leave." So I went up to Miller Electric and worked there. And ah, so then ah, let's see, I worked there for about, I did drawings up there for about six months. And I seen an ad in the paper here for an artist. And so, I didn't know what they wanted. So I went and got an interview for Gear-Murray in town here. B: Oh, sure. I: And ah, the boss there, he, see I took my training at the, the technical institute and both of these guys were teachers there. And they quit there and took a job with Gear-Murray, Gear-Murray was startin up a new branch. So they asked me how, you know I brought some drawings along that I did. They looked at em. He says, "Oh, can you do three dimensional drawings?" {The first tape ends at this point}. B: Sorry, I should have been watching that. Go ahead. I: Yeah. So they hired me and I worked there for oh, probably fourteen years. And I was ah, I was ah, the head of the art department at that time. Which there were only two other people. And ah… B: How many? I: Two other artists besides the parts writers and all that stuff. So I says, well, I says you know, how about trying to get a raise out of em. And they, "You're as high as you can go." Well, no I'm not. So then I applied at Pommerening Dodge 'cause they had a, I knew somebody that ah, knew the guy that was gonna start up Pommerening Dodge. Art Pommerening. And my brother went to school with him. So I says, I been drawing parts, so I can be parts manager. So I applied for a job there and got that right away. So I worked there for awhile. And then a job come along. My brother worked, was the head custodian at ah, North High. And so the guys were quitting there 'cause they built a new post office. They needed custodians there so. So then I went to, I applied for a job there and I got in right away then. B: Well, you had quite a career, didn't you? I: Yeah. So then they, there was another job open for engine men, which is a person that takes care of the whole building for air and electricity and all that. So I applied for that. I got that. That's what I retired at. B: Did you, do you think very much of your stint in the Marines, or do you think very much of World War II? Is there anything that might bring it back to mind and any…? I: Oh yeah. Things today you know, ah. Well, you see I belong to the Marine Corps League right now. And once you're a Marine, you're a Marine all the time. So we were on,… B: You mean for life? I: For life. And when you see another Marine, you know you can find out some way. I met one at ah, where we were at. He had USMC on there so I went up to him and he knew right away I was a Marine. B: Did he? I: Yeah. And we shook hands and I asked him where he was from and everything. And come to find out, he worked at the Post Office too. In Green Bay. And he knew the people because we had meetings, you know. For the union. And he knew the same people I knew there. B: You know, I think that's unique. Ah, among the services. I don't think that you had that sense of camaraderie with ex-sailors or ex-soldiers or ex-airmen. But the Marines are very unique in that regard. Once a Marine, always a Marine. I: Right. B: Well, do you have anything that you'd like to add, Mr. Tesch? Is there anything that we haven't covered that maybe we should tell…? I: No, but I've got photos here. Copies here from the, from the surrender in China. And our different barracks. I thought I lost this book. I was going crazy. This book is priceless, as you can tell by the cover. B: Very nice. I: See, here's the 6th Marine Division. Here's a Japanese, or a Chinese putting up their, their ah, thing that they're gonna… Here's the Japanese surrender here. See, they're giving up their weapons. Here's a commanding general. Here's a Chinese ah, gate. B: Well I can tell, you've taken very good care of this, haven't you? I: Oh, it's worth a fortune. See, bloodless beachhead. Here we're getting off our ships here. B: Could you find yourself anywhere in there? I: No, no. I could never find myself. Here's one of us. And here's, here's the streets when we come in. B: Wow. I: That's how they greeted us. B: Now you were at sea when you heard about the end of the war. Was there a, we never talked about that. Was there a party or celebration on the ship when that happened? I: No. See, the… B: You were in the 5th Marines? I: No. I was, these are just pictures of all the Marines that were there. This is at Peiping. Which is now, what do they call it? B: What was your unit? I: I was in the 1st Engineer Battalion. Here's the Japanese surrender again. Signing the papers. The end of trail. B: How did you feel about the Japanese? I: Well, most of em there seemed alright. They were a clean people. They were really clean, you know. They ah, … B: Did you have any pre-conceived ideas about them before you actually saw them? I: Well I, see on Guam they were, we had a prisoner of war camp there too. But I didn't like them there, then. But I never had direct contact with them there. Here I had direct contact with them. Here's some more surrender. This was one of my officers. B: I really appreciate you coming in to talk to me. This has been very enjoyable. I: Yes, it has for me too. B: Thanks a lot, good. You know … {The tape ends here}.
Oral History Interview with Irwin "Irv" Tesch -WORLD WAR II -Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
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Last modified on: December 12, 2009