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Record 33/959

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Oral history interview with Clarence Jungwirth by Brad Larson. He discusses his experiences in the 32nd Division during World War II. A typed transcript is on a computer file in the archives. Clarence Jungwirth Interview 18 September 2002 Conducted by Brad Larson {B: indicates the interviewer, Mr. Larson: C: indicates Mr. Jungwirth}. B: September 18th, 2002, Brad Larson sitting in my office with Clarence Jungwirth. Clarence, one of the things I wanted to talk about today is, last couple weeks ago you mentioned some of the fellows that you knew from Oshkosh that were killed during the war. And I thought we could talk a little bit about that and maybe talk a little bit about whether you visited with some of those families when you came back to the community after the war. So maybe we could start out with ah, Norb Kinne. C: Norbert Kinne was a private in Company H., 127th Infantry. And he joined the National Guard in 1940 when I did. He come from a poor family that lived on the corner of ah, on the northeast corner of 6th and I think it's Michigan Street. Yeah, it's Michigan Street. There was a filling station on the corner. [ ] filling station. And that's where I got to know Norbert. And he was a rough and ready guy, [ ] 6th Ward type. Nice guy. Helluva nice guy. He loved to drink, he loved to gamble. He was a typical south sider that liked to do that. And ah, I was company clerk. And through my job as company clerk, I had to deal with the men on an almost hourly basis. And a company clerk in any company has got a helluva lot of authority because most of the officers in the national guard at that time didn't want to be bothered with paper work or signing or anything. And they left it up to the company clerk to do the thing. So I got to be friends with all the guys because I could give em passes when they wanted to, I could give em passes that were quasi-legal according to army regulations. And I built up a friendship with every man in the company because of the perks I could give em. And I could get away with it. If you're familiar with "Radar" on "Mash", every company clerk in any company during World War II, in the older regiments was the same way. Especially National Guard units. You got away with murder. And this is how I got to know all the guys. And I got to know Kinne pretty well because he was a friendly guy. He was, say about six foot ah, not heavy built but solid built. And he was in a, I believe a machine gun squad. Each company would have machine guns and 81-millimeter mortars. Heavy weapons. And you needed ah, strong men to carry the mortar or the base plate for the mortar, or a machine gun with a tripod. You hadda be rugged and Kinne was one of those. B: Rugged guy. C: Rugged guy. Always jovial as I remember him. You know he'd like to go to town and booze 'er up. So did everybody on the end, in H Company and after. You have to remember that the national guardsmen at that time, in 1940 and before World War I, were guys that were lookin for a buck. They didn't have a job and he was one of those guys, just like I was, see? And ah, Kinne happened to be friends with a neighbor of mine, Larry [Marine]. And that association developed into a strong friendship. And I especially remember Kinne because of his gambling instincts he use to make a lot of money. And one time, I wanted to go, Gen. MacArthur had said that nobody could go south of a line from Sydney to ah, go straight across from Sydney, it would be like going from New York to L.A. You couldn't go south of that line. My girl was in southern Australia and I wanted to visit her before we went into combat. And I didn't have any money. And ah, this was after we had come back from Buna. And I asked Larry Marine who was a friend of Kinne, we were good friends, I asked Larry [ ] who had the money that they could borrow me. And I borrowed a hundred bucks from Kinne. He says, "Sure." They called me "hayway", that was my nickname. H,A,Y,W,A,Y. That's a story in itself, how I got that. B: Maybe we could get to that one later. C: Yup. And I says to Kinne, "Could you borrow me a hundred bucks?" "Sure, Hayway," he says. "Hell, yeah," he says. "Pay me back whenever you can pay me back." And he give me a hundred bucks that I wrangled my way out to see my girl. And what had happened, I had come back, and when I come back, I had gotten malaria real bad. And I ended up in the hospital. And I was in the hospital for about six to nine months. And we got, I got separated from Company H, 127th Infantry. Because I had been in the hospital so long. So they put me in a, oh where they put ah, how should I say it? A camp where soldiers aren't assigned to a permanent company. It's like a rehabilitation center. And when you're well enough, they'll assign you to a [ ] company. And meanwhile, while I was in that malaria camp, Kinne and the rest of the guys went back to New Guinea. And they fought up along the northern coast of New Guinea. And Kinne got killed up, I think it was on the [Journemore} River. In [ ] in New Guinea. People that are listening to this will look up on a map and they can see where [Lae, Salamoa] and all those places are. This is where MacArthur was making strides up the northern shore of New Guinea. He was bypassing the heavily fortified Japanese outposts and he'd go where there was the least opposition. He, because at Buna, he fought a bloody stalemate. And he vowed never to do it again. So this, where Kinne got killed up there, and I had already gotten assigned to a rehabilitation camp. And I, from the rehabilitation camp, I ended up with the 24th Infantry, regular army division, as a rifleman. Not as a company clerk but as a rifleman. And when I heard that Kinne had got killed, I was devastated. And I had owed him a hundred bucks; I had never paid him back. And this was in 40; I gotta keep my years straight now. 41, 42, he got killed in '43. He got killed, I think, in the spring of '43. And then in, I was in the, I was in the rehabilitation camp for, with hospitalization and rehabilitation, it was almost over a year. Then I went back to New Guinea in 1944. And then I got assigned to the 24th Infantry Division. Ten days before the invasion of Leyte. [ ]. I still owed Kinne that hundred bucks because I had now way, well he was dead. And now I was separated from the 32nd Infantry Division. And I'm a real honest guy. And it bothered me that I owed Kinne a hundred bucks. Because I was known in that neighborhood as one of the most honest guys, because I'm Catholic and the idea that ah, it was a sin to do things like that and not pay it back. So I was real conscientious about it. So after the war, when I got home in August 27th, 1945, after the war, the first thing I did was take a hundred dollars and went to Kinne's family who lived on, in a house on 6th Street. And meanwhile I had asked some of the friends of his who should get that hundred dollars. And they said, "Give it to one of his favorite sisters." And I visited her home. She didn't, I tried, called her and told her I wanted to come over and talk to her. And I come in and I told her the story of how I borrowed a hundred bucks from her, and I gave her the hundred dollar cash. I said, "This is what I borrowed from your brother." And I don't even, I don't know if I threw any interest in or not. I don't remember. But anyway, I thought this was a family secret, that I had taken the guts and courage to go honest enough to pay back. In October or November we had a reunion of the Company H, 127th Infantry in '45. Celebrating our return. And ah, the captain, the wife of the captain of the company remarked to me, "You know Clarence, that was an honorable thing that you did to return…" In other words the word had gotten around through the community that a guy by the name of Clarence had paid the hundred bucks back. Which was considered, to me it was nothing unusual for me. But the company, it spread through the company and you know how the word travels. And that was my association with Kinne. B: Is there any Kinne family members left in town? C: Yep. One of the Kinne girls was a waitress at Werch's Restaurant on Oregon Street. It's Red's Pizza now. And I used, her name is Ruth Kinne. That was her maiden name. Now who she married, I don't know. I don't know who she married. And Ruth has got to be, I would say that she's probably around my age, 84, 85, 86. B: Was it common for people like you who had survived the war to visit the relatives or parents of people that had ah, lost their lives? C: Yeah, right, right. That was common for, the guys, it was common for the guys to visit any of their buddies that had been killed, to visit their families. And when I get to Andrew Koessel, I'll tell you about a visit. B: Tell me about it. C: Now Andy Koessel, Andy Koessel had joined the National Guard in 1939 and he, he and I were ah, buddies, friends. We had interest in building model ships, model airplanes and we belonged to Sacred Heart Church. And he was a year or two older than I was. But we had a common interest which is one of those mutual friends that you make that, through having a similar interest in the thing. And Andy and I became very, very close. Almost like a brother; we were very close because of our working together on different projects. It would take us a couple months to do, we'd go to each other's house to work. And Andy was one of the nicest guys that a guy could ever have a friend with. He never argued with you. He was just a prince of a guy. And Andy was, Andy became a sergeant in Company H, 127. When I joined the National Guard, I was the company clerk right away because I could type. And of course Andy and I being friends, ah, our friendship just kept growing and growing. And ah, Andy became First Sergeant and I was his company clerk. So that brought us closer together. And when we went to New Guinea at the Battle of Buna, Andy was First Sergeant then. And I was, I had been company clerk for Company H, 127, ever since we left, since we joined the guards. And until we were in Australia. Stupid as it is, I wanted a taste of combat when I first heard that we were goin into combat. I understand it's common amongst guys 20-21. There seems to be, you got that image of some sort of adventure and sort of a glamorous thing, you know never having experienced it. So I quit the company clerk and I joined a mortar squad to go to the Battle of Buna. Took part in that. And Andy was my first [ ]. They had gotten a different company clerk meanwhile. But when we got to New Guinea and combat conditions, the company clerk stayed behind in quarters at Port Moresby while the First Sergeants went into combat. Well I was in the 81-millimeter mortar squad and Andy said, "I need somebody to fill out the morning report, the records that you have to have come hell or high water." So I took over auxiliary company clerks job with Andy in New Guinea [ ] Buna. I was a runner for him and did all kinds of jobs. He and I would share foxholes together, and you really develop, in combat, people that have never been in combat can't realize the closeness that you develop among your comrades, your buddies. His image was enhanced in my eyes because of an incident that happened in combat at [ ] Buna. We had gotten to the edge of a river, and had pinned the Japanese in at Buna. A very bloody battle. We were on one side of the river and the Japs were on the other side of the river. The river was only maybe about 60 feet wide. And they had a wooden bridge across that river. And they asked for volunteers to go across that bridge to get the Japanese pillbox that was on the other side of that bridge. It was suicidal. And they kept killing guys right and left. A couple guys got across the bridge and they got wounded. And they slid down the bank underneath the Japanese pillbox. And they hung onto the underbrush. They couldn't swim back across the river. They would have got shot. So we watched those guys with binoculars to see how the hell they were doing. And the next night, Andy Koessel and a couple other guys swam underneath the river, under the water and brought those guys back. And saved em. And Andy I believe got the silver, I believe they call it the Silver Medal {Silver Star?} for bravery 'cause it took guts. He had guts. Ah, when we got back from Buna to Australia for rest, Andy and I were asked to go to Officers Candidate School to become First Lieutenants because we both had a high I.Q. You had to have an I.Q. of - 150 was considered a genius - and Andy and I both had around 148. Andy passed the physical test for second lieutenant but I didn't. I was a wiry runt, five foot four, 118 pounds dripping wet. Andy passed the test. I failed it. So I stayed, I stayed with the ah, until I got malaria and went to the hospital. Andy meanwhile went to Officers Candidate School and became a 2nd Lieutenant in the 41st Infantry Division, which was also a National Guard Division like the 32nd. And before the 41st Division, I hadn't seen Andy all the while he went to Officers Candidate School in Australia. Became a 2nd Lieutenant. And I hadn't seen him, he disappeared off the map because of a different division, different location. And talk about fate, one night before we were gonna, before I was gonna leave for a different outfit, I'm walking down a street down in Brisbane and I go past a dark [ ] doorway. And somebody said, "Hey, Hayway!" Here's Andy Koessel. So that's like finding a needle in a haystack at that hour of the night on that street at that particular time. And then he left with the division. That's the last we said goodbye to each other. And then he went with the 41st Infantry Division. Then when I was in malaria camp up in New Guinea, I got shipped back to New Guinea, to be shipped to the 24th Infantry Division. While I was waiting for trans-shipment, I heard that Andy was with the 41st Division and he was in the area. And I made contact with him there and he'd come to visit me. It was called [Orel Bay ] New Guinea. He and I had a reunion of sorts. And that's the last time I saw him. Then in April of '45, my mother wrote me a letter. The invasion of the Philippines occurred October 20th, 1944. I was in the third wave of the initial landing and I take pride that I beat MacArthur to the Philippines. In October and I was with the 24th Infantry Division. Then the 32nd Infantry Division relieved us, then the 41st Infantry Division relieved us. In the combat conditions, everything is so scattered, I had no chance of meeting Andy again. And then in, he got killed in April of 1945. And I found out through a letter from my mother that Andy had been killed [ ]. And the way I was told the story was that he was on a mission to some outfit and he had a message he was delivering. He was 2nd Lt. He had a message he was delivering and a Jap sniper shot him while he was enroute. And Andy took that message and stuffed it in his mouth. He had the, before he died so that the Japanese wouldn't find out what the message was. Then he was sent back to ah, Oshkosh and he was buried. He's buried in the Sacred Heart cemetery. I knew his mother and his sisters because of our relationship [ ]. And one of the saddest things that I ever hadda do when I come home, the first few days, I hadda go and visit his mother. And she cried because I knew her, you know she was like a [ ] mother to her. And she wanted to know how Andy died and how he had been in New Guinea and all. And I hadda tell her you know, everything I knew about Andy, you know. And she cried and it was heart-rending. What can you say to a mother. And there was two boys in the family, Andy, Mickey, and I think there was four or five girls. So he was the only boy. And he must have been about 25 or 26 when he was killed. And to this day, I can see myself standing in Mrs. Koessel's house and her sitting in the living room, telling her all about Andy. And it was a relief for her psychologically. It was a sort of, what would you call ah, a type of a closure for her, and for me. And ah, I'm Catholic. I say my morning prayers and my night prayers. And ever since Andy got killed I've prayed for him every day. Every day. Because we as Catholic believe that your soul [ ] and that if you're in purgatory which is part of Catholic belief, that prayers for him will help him get out of purgatory. That's part of Catholic doctrine. And I prayed for that guy every day for now its been since 1944, so its, well 1945, so its been ah, 55, 57 years I prayed for him. 'Cause he and I were the closest of friends. You couldn't get a better man. He had ah, charisma, he had a good sense of humor, he had common sense for an officer, not a non-commissioned officer. He was a leader and many leaders, you don't find these qualities of a sense of humor. In many leaders, you don't find this quality of a sense of humor, fairness, ah, not bombastic. He just, just was an ideal officer. And he was a type of a man illustrated by the fact that he was one of the guys that swam across the river. He didn't ask anybody else to do it. He was a sergeant. He could have said, "You, private." Or "You, corporal, you go.' But he went himself and did it, to give you an idea of what type of man he was - first class. First class. B: I get the sense that the war never really left you, did it? C: Never. It has never, it has never left me. Now that I look back on my life, and all the things I've experienced, health-wise, emotionally, mentally, not mentally disturbed, but ah, its affected me. It's affected me. I have had, I have had insomnia for let's see, since, I would say since 50, I've had insomnia for 52 years. Can't sleep. I've had difficulty sleeping. You see it's never left me. I, I got blown out of a foxhole at Buna by an artillery shell. And maybe once a year or twice a year, I will wake up as if an explosion is in my head. It's the sound of that shell going off, 'cause it was so close. And I'll wake up with a great big bang. That'll happen maybe once or twice a year and it has for the last 50 some years. 'Cause it's just like shell shock. That's what it was. And ah, although I didn't realize it at the time, when you're a soldier, you're exposed to gunfire all the time, shelling and firing, you know. Bang. thing that has affected me, and this affects me maybe every three or four months since I got out of the army, that I was overseas for over four, for almost four years. I thought I was never gonna get home. I thought I was gonna be killed because I was in so many, all through the Philippines from one end to the other in combat conditions. And the horror stories that I couldn't tell. I will wake up, I'll be dreaming I'm overseas and I'm trying to get home. And just as I'm making the arrangements to get home, I'll wake up. In other words, I get to a point where I'm struggling to get home and then I'll wake up. And then I breathe a sigh of relief. B: That's very telling though, isn't it? C: Yep. And my situation isn't unique. It's common. I would say that probably 99% of people that are in combat. People that have never been in combat can't realize the horrors that you're surrounded with all the time. For example, one time in the Phili…in New Guinea, I hadda get ready for a, dig a foxhole. And I, it was getting dark. I had to dig in a hurry and so I went on the beach in the sand. And when I started digging I dug into a dead Japanese. He had been buried with just a shallow thing. I dug right into his body and brought a shovel-full of his body up. And the stink from that rotting body, I can smell today yet. And this was just one little incident. At the time, the only way a GI can survive is you've gotta ignore those things. You ignore death, the smell, the blood, the guts. Ah, if you let it get to ya, you'll go nuts. You'll go nuts. Ah, another example. One time in the Philippines, ah, this was on Leyte. A Japanese made a Bonzai attack against us at night. They were drunk and our artillery and machine guns cut them all to hell. There must have been about a hundred of em. It chopped em into little pieces. Arms, legs, heads, guts, brains were scattered all over the road, the ditches. The next day, when we made our advance, we got pinned down in all that shit. Here we are, crawling amongst intestines, brains, stomachs, arms, legs. Don't know if we're going to be the next ones killed. And we're pinned down in this shit. We, we beat back the ah, ah, Japs and kept on going. Washed it right out of our mind. Psychologically, you can, you have to do it. And the thing that's in the Philippines, especially what saved us, is that our company would make an attack one day. The next day they will put you at the rear of the column. The next company would make an attack. And they would rotate the companies and battalions. So you didn't have to face the shit every day. Otherwise you never would have [ ]. You never would have [ ]. B: How did you learn to view your enemy, the Japanese? C: As, I viewed him as, as a, ah, I didn't think any more of him than I did that picture. In other words, you block out, you block out the fact that they're a human being. B: Other veterans have told me that too. C: Yup. You don't, you do not see them as a human being. Because if you see them as a human being, you won't shoot em. You won't shoot him. You've gotta be non-objective. You've gotta, otherwise you'll go crazy. You're shooting, you're shooting somebody else's mother, a brother, son, grandson if you start thinkin about it. B: When you were overseas, did you - Andy Koessel being an exception - did your mother or your friends keep you informed of the men from Oshkosh who were being killed? Did you have a sense of what, how it was affecting the community? C: Yup. Yup. They, yup. And my mother tells me that they ah, the ah, ah, the prayers, especially in our Catholic neighborhood - the 6th Ward was all Catholic - and the GIs that were getting killed out of our neighborhood, there was a number of em from Sacred Heart Church that got killed. That the prayers and the masses that he said, it was constant. And my mother worried about me every day. Worried about me every day. My dad was a quiet kind. He never said much. My dad and I were never close. But I knew that he was proud of me. And you got, you're going back into the history of the generation gap between the first generation of 6th Warders and their children. There was a gap there. There was no close father-son relationship which was part of the culture of the 6th Ward at that time. Ah, that's part of the children should be seen, not heard ideology. That was part of the German culture. The German immigrants that come here. That was carried over to the first, first people born here in the 'states. B: A couple years after the war, in 1948, there was a monument that was erected in South Park. Did you attend that ceremony? C: I don't recall. But I got, I got all the names off of it. Yeah. I got that in my book. I went down there and got it. I think I must have attended it. But I can't remember because it's so long ago. B: You must have known an awful lot of those people. C: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Sure. Sure. B: One of the things that you mentioned is that you were sick with malaria. Can you describe for me and for the people that are listening to this tape what happens when a man is sick with malaria? C: When you're sick with malaria, all of a sudden your temperature will drop, will go in a matter of ah, maybe of one or two minutes will go up to 103-104 degrees. Then maybe that'll last ten minutes, fifteen minutes, an hour. Then all of a sudden it will drop down to about 96.5-97,5 and your body quivers. It shakes so hard that one time they took me from the company street, we [ ] back in Australia, they took me and put me on a stretcher in a medical room that had a wooden floor. I was shaking so hard from the chills, that the floor was shaking. Sitting on the, laying on the stretcher. B: And this is in the hot tropics. C: Yeah. It, it's a, as soon as you get cold, you start shaking. Your shivering just like you're gonna freeze. You get that cold. B: Are you conscious? C: Yeah, you're conscious. You're conscious unless it gets so bad you go into a coma. Which, there's different types of malaria. I had the type that I was conscious all the time. To do that. And I had it, I got it, the first time I got it the company was moving out of Buna to go back to Port Moresby. The combat had been finished. The night we were supposed to move, the next day we were supposed to move. I never had malaria up until that time. Until that night. The night we were supposed to move back to the airstrip to fly back, I got malaria that night. I went to the medics. I says, "Can you give me something for it?" 'Cause all you had at that time was quinine. Medic says, "Sorry, everything is packed up. We can't, we got no transportation for you. The airstrip was ten miles away. If you want to get to the airstrip with the company, you got to walk." Hundred and five fever, hundred and four. Sweating, festering, I didn't want to stay back because I'm not going to sit on this beach at Buna all alone. And the company's moving to airstrip to move out. So I got all my equipment on my back, rifle, oh shit. And I fell way behind because I had, was so exhausted during the malaria. And I kept on walking in the 105 degree heat, hundred degree humidity, walking through jungle, corduroy roads. It was ten miles to the airstrip. I walked to that son-of-a-bitchin airstrip and I made it. And when I got to that airstrip, I never felt so good in my life. I burnt that son-of-a-bitch right out. Fright, fear of being left behind in the jungles; the Japanese were still around. You know, it was fear, I dunno. To me, as I reflect back on it, it was like a guardian angel was walking along me, aside of me. Because no way could a man survive that under natural conditions. Because I met Andy at the airstrip and this was one of the funniest incidents that happened between Andy and me. I said, "Andy, I feel good." And that night, that evening the planes were supposed to come in to pick us up to take us back to Moresby. And Andy and I says, well this was a sand strip. And we never had a chance to dig a decent foxhole. Because the water, and here it was sand. We dug a foxhole five feet deep because it was so damn easy. We just got it dug and then the officers come, fill it up because the planes are comin. We filled it up. Ten, fifteen minutes later, the officer says, "Dig another foxhole, the planes have been cancelled. Andy and I says, "The hell with this shit." We slept on the ground. B: Why did, why did a person have to dig a foxhole every time you stopped? C: Because anything that moved at night was shot. Our first, our first day, our first night of combat, the first man killed was our own man. That was our first casualty of H Company. He moved around at night and he went to another guy's foxhole. It was pitch black. And he was stupid enough to grab the guys gun when the guy put him, the guy let him have it, killed him. First man killed from Company H. Something. Anything that moved at night was shot at. B: And you almost had to do that. C: You had to. Because the Japanese moved at night. They always moved at night. Ah, we developed ah, in the Philippines especially, we would put wire around a series of foxholes. And we would put tin cans with stones in em. So they rattled. The Americans never moved at night. I almost got killed in the Philippines that way. I had lost my shovel. This was on Leyte. {The first tape ends here}. C: I lost my shovel and we were on a rocky hilltop. On a side of a river that was rocky. And it was all gravel. And I couldn't dig it deep enough. And I dug it about three, four inches deep because that's all I could do it. And it started to rain. And I was, you had to keep down as close as possible. And it filled up with water. And that was, you didn't want to drown or get out. And I got out and the next morning one of my buddies says, "Jungwirth," he says, "I saw somebody get out of a foxhole. I took my rifle and I aimed it at a helmet. But I couldn't'' pull the trigger." He says, "I couldn't pull that trigger. Something stopped my from pulling that trigger." Otherwise he would have drilled my right through the head. Showing you the dangers. B: When the 32nd left Oshkosh, there was a send-off at the Northwestern railroad station. And the newspaper accounts say there was a large group of citizens. Tell me about that. C: That was, that was ah, a glorious event in the life of a young man like myself and other young men of my age from Oshkosh who were clamoring for adventure. We wanted, I wanted to get the hell out of Oshkosh so bad I could taste it. B: Why? C: 'Cause there was no jobs. Life was drudgery. All you did, if you can imagine what the hell it was in 1940, it was, the Depression was going. There were hundreds of us young guys. Twenty, twenty one years old. I was making $8.00 a month, a part time job. Hundred bucks a month for eight bucks a month {probably means $8.00 a month for 100 hours work}. Here the army was gonna pay us twenty one bucks a month. Plus you got three square meals a day. A vacation, paid vacation. A month's paid vacation. To us it was paradise. That was one of the most glorious events of my life. Of my young life. Because we could get on that train and get the hell out of Oshkosh. We couldn't wait. We couldn't wait. B: Did you go to the big dance at the Eagles? C: I don't recall. I don't remember specifically. I don't remember [ ]. B: Do you think the other people in the company shared that [ ]. C: Oh, yeah. It was, it was a rapturous occasion. Our girls come down and [ ] we was kissing each other. You know, we were, we were ready to get on that train. Ah, the sense of adventure felt by most of us guys was a common thread that run through that when we left in 1940. Keep in mind, we never thought we were gonna be at war. Like I told you I volunteered to be part; I wanted to see what combat was like? We moved into combat on Christmas eve 1942. I served, I saw my first wounded man and the magic disappeared in minutes. From then on, it was fear for four years. It takes the snap of a finger before, when you see your first wounded. This was, this was the real shit. B: You mentioned before, to us today a dollar doesn't sound like much. But you mentioned a dollar was a lot of money. C: A dollar was a lot of money. A dollar was a helluva lot of money. We had ah, ah, I was making from 1935 until 1940 when I joined the Guards {The National Guard}, that's six years, I was making eight dollars a month. For a hundred hours work. That's 8 cent an hour. My dad was making maybe two or three dollars a week if he worked. So I helped support my family with the eight. That was a lot. I was considered a rich bitch in the neighborhood. Because I was makin 8 bucks a month. Most didn't have it. There was nothin. There was nothin. So a dollar meant a helluva lot of money. I got two dollars a week. I give my mother a buck for food and for the other buck, she insisted I go to high school. So I paid all my school expenses. I paid for a new bicycle I had to have for working. I paid for all my clothes. For entertainment, going to a show, you know. And, if I was considered a rich bitch at two bucks a week, just think what the rest of the poor people, see? My confirmation present was a quarter. That's all my uncle could give me. B: You mentioned a couple of times the 6th Ward being a Catholic neighborhood. And a couple of other people have mentioned to me that if a Protestant was in a Catholic neighborhood, or vice versa, they could get a, it would be a tough time for em. C: Yes. B: Do you think that's a fair statement? C: I, I, I think it's not a fair statement because one of my best friends was Protestant. As I grew up. They moved into the neighborhood. There were exceptions to this. There was a general animosity amongst the old time Catholics. My generation, the second generation, was more 'so what' attitude. It was a generational thing. Because I went out with Lutheran girls in high school. High school was a melting pot for a lot of us Catholic boys. We got to know Lutheran girls, Lutheran guys. But there was very few of us went to high school. In my case, some of my best friends were Protestant. They lived just a few doors away from me. So it, generally I would say that the older generation had a deep animosity toward Lutherans. In a sense that they didn't want their kids to hang around Lutherans because they were afraid they might marry em. If a Catholic married a Lutheran in those days, you could be ostracized from the family completely. Ostracized. Plus it was considered, it was almost considered a sin because you're endangering your faith. Kids hadda be that, if you had any kids, you were supposed to bring em up Catholic, which was an obstacle for the Lutheran girl or boy. And also there was a fine line you hadda draw. B: I guess the last thing I wanted to talk about a little bit is about women in uniform. World War II was really the first time women had entered the military in large numbers. C: I, all the while, all the while I, all the five years, four years I was overseas, this was overseas. While we were in Australia, before the war, before we went into combat, we all had girls. Some guys married the girls eventually. Girls were, had, that was [ ]. Well once you got into combat areas and stayed in the combat areas, I never saw a woman outside of the native women in four years. When we got to the Philippines, it became a different story. After the initial, after the battles ah, after you conquered an area, then you made friends with the women. They do your laundry. There was a relationship there between the GIs and the Philippino women. There was no relationship between the GIs and the women in New Guinea. None whatsoever. The WACS would be stationed in an area. They would be fenced off. You could talk to em through a fence. You couldn't get on there. But there were very few in the beginning stages of the war. And the only other women you ever saw were in the hospitals with the nurses. B: It kind of explains the ah, when the USO show would come, this was the first chance that these GIs had to see women in a long time. C: Yeah. See now, what people don't realize is that these USO shows were held in rear areas. The average combat guy never saw it. B: Did you? C: Never. Never saw it. I was in combat all the time. B: Never saw one? C: Never saw one. You know, they weren't going to bring em up in the front. When you got Japanese snipers tied to a tree. B: Did you ever ah, any of your friends from Oshkosh, your female friends from Oshkosh, did you know of any of those ah, girls that entered the military? At all? Any of your personal acquaintances? C: None that I know of. None that I know of. Not a one. There isn't a one that I know of that was [ ]. Ah, and I think the reason for it was that these were poorly educated girls to begin with. They were needed at home in my neighborhood. In my neighborhood which was a ghetto type atmosphere. And I think it was the nurses, and the more educated women that had a little thirst for adventure. With the young women in my neighborhood, I don't think there was that spirit of adventure that I know of amongst girls. But keep in mind, I was gone already in 1940, so I don't know what the hell went on, went on in '41, '42, '43, '44, '45. I don't know. And, 'cause I was gone all the time. And the ironic fact is that when I got home, the first thing I had to do was register for the draft. B: Clarence, that's all my questions. Thanks a lot. I really appreciate it. This had been a great interview. Thank you very much.
Oral History Interview with Clarence J. Jungwirth -WORLD WAR II -Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
Clarence Jungwirth, 1941

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