Oral History Interview with Warren J. Toussaint.

Previous Next World War II Exhibit Page Home Search
Record 59/959
Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
Admin/Biog History Oral history interview with Warren J. Toussaint. He was born in Milwaukee Wisconsin in 1926. His father was a white collar worker gainfully employed even through the Depression. He has one younger sister. Warren attended the public grade and high schools, graduating in 1944. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy one day prior to his 18th birthday, took basic training at Great Lakes Naval Training Station and then trained as a hospital corpsman. He spent the war years as an operating room technician stateside in base hospitals.

At the end of World War II, Warren returned to civilian life, enrolled at Marquette University and graduated in June of 1950. He was in the active reserve and was called up for duty in the Korean War almost as soon as he graduated. He got married at that time to a girl he had been dating for several years.

Warren became a member of a surgical team that was sent to Japan and then to Korea. His team was assigned to POW camps where, for the most part, they treated the various illnesses and injuries of North Korean and Chinese prisoners. He had no strong feelings about either the Chinese or North Koreans except to state that the North Koreans strongly disliked Americans and were much more aggressive in their actions. Warren spent a little less than a year in that theater of operation and was discharged in 1952. His first child was born while he was overseas.

Upon returning to civilian life, Warren took employment with a large pharmaceutical company as a drug representative, didn't care for it much and took a similar job with another drug company. He didn't like that either and realized that he missed the Navy. He re-enlisted and was transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard, serving in several places before being transferred to Charlevoix,. Michigan. He spent the balance of his career there as a medic and was involved in the rescue efforts for a large vessel that sank in 1958. His Coast Guard unit was responsible for rescuing some of the survivors of that sinking. Their action was heroic because of the nature of the storm they had to brave. (The name of the vessel is well known and the story was in all the newpapers but the name escapes me at the moment).

I did not write down the date but believe that Warren retired in the early 1980's as a Chief Warrent Officer. He and his wife reside in Oshkosh and he has three grown children, one of whom lives here. He is active in veterans affairs and I believe served for a time as commander of the local American Legion Post. Warren's diary of his service in Korea is in the archives of the OPM.
Classification Archives
Collection World War II Oral History Project
Dates of Accumulation January 28, 2004
Abstract Oral history interview with Warren J. Toussaint. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy one day prior to his 18th birthday, took basic training at Great Lakes Naval Training Station and then trained as a hospital corpsman. He spent the war years as an operating room technician stateside in base hospitals. He was in the active reserve and was called up for duty in the Korean War.
Warren became a member of a surgical team that was sent to Japan and then to Korea. His team was assigned to POW camps where, for the most part, they treated the various illnesses and injuries of North Korean and Chinese prisoners. Warren spent a little less than a year in that theater of operation and was discharged in 1952. Warren's diary of his service in Korea is in the archives of the OPM.

Warren Toussaint Interview
28 January 2004
Conducted by Thomas M. Sullivan

(T: identifies the interviewer, Tom Sullivan; W: identifies the subject, Warren Toussaint. Open brackets [ ] or bracketed words indicate that either a word or phrase is not understood, or that proper spelling for the word is unclear).

T: It's January 28th, 2004 and I'm Tom Sullivan at the Oshkosh Public Museum with Warren Toussaint who's going to tell me about his experiences in the Second World War and in the Korean War, as well as his life in Oshkosh. Are you ready Warren?

W: I'm ready.

T: Let's begin then by having you tell me when and where you were born.

W: I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 17 February 1926.

T: Were your mother and dad both from the Milwaukee area?

W: That's correct.

T: What did your dad do for a living?

W: My dad was a white-collar worker. He worked for Northwestern Fuel Company, which are now defunct. You know, a coal company. And he was a kind of a yard boss in an office where they weighed the trucks when they loaded coal and took off. And that was a routine job but he did his job, worked hard, you know. Worked all through the Depression.

T: I see. That's good.

W: That's important.

T: Because there were a lot of people that didn't work through the Depression, as you probably know very well. Do you have any brothers and sisters?

W: One sister.

T: Is she still living?

W: Ten years younger than I am. She was born in '36. In fact I'm going to see her Friday.

T: Tell me a little bit about your childhood, where you went to school and what you did for fun after school, things like that.

W: Well, the best way to describe it, I think, is that everything functioned around three things: the block (the neighborhood), the school and the church. We didn't have a car. We weren't poor…

T: A lot of people didn't have a car.

W: Yeah. We ate well. Mother was a fantastic cook. And I grew up with really no tough problems. I used to ride my bike a lot. All summer long I rode my bike; used to go swimming almost every day at one of the local, at one of the city pools.

We always had a good Christmas. We had a good relationship. It was kind of, kinda sweet in a way that I had no complaints. Everything went along fine. I went to Garden Homes Elementary School. In those days you went from Kindergarten to eighth grade and then you went to high school.

And high school was Rufus King high school in Milwaukee. And that building was brand new in 1938 so I started in '40 and it was two years old and it was a beautiful school. And when I graduated I didn't see it again until we had our 50th anniversary a few years ago. Ten years ago.

So anyway, that's my schooling and what I did for recreation, I began reading a lot. We used to have fun in the summertime. When it rained, we'd sit on our front porch and we exchanged Big-Little Books.

T: Yes, I remember those.

W: See; now you know. These younger kids say, "What are you talking about?" I wouldn't, no nothing is ideal but it was a pretty risk-free time of my life. And then along comes the war, you know.

T: Speaking of the war, in the late thirties and the early forties there was war in Europe and there was war in the Far East. Did you and your pals give any thought to those conflicts at that time, before Pearl Harbor happened?

W: Yeah. Well see now, Pearl Harbor I was finishing up sophomore year in high school. Tenth grade, whatever. I think, listening to my dad talk, and those were the days when you sat at the table, you didn't speak unless spoken to.

T: And ate everything on your plate.

W: Or else. There was no yelling or arguing but it was put there and you eat it. If you don't like it, tough tarts. That sounds kind of Swedish too, but that's true. I mean, that's the way it was. You accepted that. You didn't always like it.

But my dad was a pretty observant person. He said, "This is no good." I said, "What's that dad?" Remember now, I was 16 years old, 14, whatever. He said, we're talking about like '39, '40 when all this stuff happened - with the Germans invading Poland and so forth. But anyway he said to me, "The president, there's no way he can stop us from getting in this war." And I said, "Really, Dad?" And he said, "Yeah, it's comin." He said it's going to be the same thing like World War I. You know, we had to get in because if they don't, this guy Hitler's going to take over the world, and he believes he can. And I said, "What about me?" And he said, "Well, you'll probably have to go." You know.

Now he was never in a war because he was too young for World War I and too old for World War II. That little gap. And he hated that because he joined the National Guard and he did two weeks duty at the Cudahy Meat Packing Plant when they had riots down there. And he still talked about it 80 years later. I mean, to him that was a big deal. And he said, "When I die, I want a flag next to my casket. And that's what we did. He died at 94.

Now I'm off the track, but anyway to sum it up, it was just that it was almost an idyllic situation. We had, we didn't have a lot of money but we never complained.

T: Now when you graduated from high school in what, '42…?

W: '44. January of '44.

T: I imagine you were pretty much aware of the fact that you'd be going in the service.

W: Well, you have to remember that this was two years after Pearl Harbor. Now the day of Pearl Harbor was a Sunday. Pearl Harbor was on Sunday. On Monday the president, you know, spoke to the joint senate and house. And we were all taken to the gymnasium at Milwaukee. And all the boys, we always sat on the floor, legs crossed, and the girls were all up in the balcony. And they hooked up to the radio to Washington, D.C. which was a big thing in those days. And we heard the president declare war, ask that war be declared against the Japanese. Well you could just see everybody just, like, they didn't groan or moan. Because remember, our generation was not exposed, all we were exposed to had been the Depression. We had no conflict.

And so what happened was, I can remember very distinctly, now I can't be right on my numbers. I think at least 12 to 15 guys got up from that meeting when it was over - it only lasted a few minutes, the speech - and they went to their locker and took their books and clothes off and they went said to the teacher, "We're going down and enlist. We're done. We're through." They left school, on the spot. Surprised their mother and everything. They just went down and joined.

But you have to remember that the side issue was we all were gonna go because we were gonna kill everybody, you know. We were gonna conquer the world. At 18 you know everything. Then reality sets in. But the point was that we didn't know some of the guys left until the next morning; they weren't there. You know, they just went home. Well what happened was, we knew that when we graduated at the end of January, that we would probably all be gone within thirty days, and we were.

I would say that, and I can't say 100%, but I would say that there was only one or two men in our class that didn't go, for medical reasons you know, whatever. And we didn't complain about that. And we just sorta, that whole era of people just disappeared. There was no local contact anymore because by the time the war was over, some had gotten married, the girls you know. So forth and so on.

And the problem they had for our 50th anniversary, they couldn't locate everybody because we dispersed. And after all, on your 50th, there are already a lot of people that are retired and they're living in Arizona and so on. They did a magnificent job. There was only one we never could trace because it was hard to trace the women because they get married. But they found me and I'd moved 31 times. See, I'm retired military.

I don't want to get off the track, so what happened was, yeah! So I sat down with my dad and I said, "Pa, what should I do?" And he said, "Well, I'll tell you one thing. I was in the army," and he said, "If you want to sleep in a tent and go through the mud," he said, "That's fine." He said, "I recommend you join the Navy." "Why?" "Well," he said, "If you get killed, it'll be over in a hurry, and the second thing is you sleep on a clean mattress every night aboard ship or wherever you go."

But you see, in those days, and this is important for people that don't understand things, you could not, after your eighteenth birthday, you could not enlist in the force that you wanted to go into. People don't know that.

T: I didn't know that.

W: Okay. Let me explain why. At 18 you could not enlist anymore like on your birthday. You had to wait for a call from the draft board.

T: When did you register? Did you register before you were 18 years old? I don't remember when I registered.

W: No, no. See, you didn't register until you were 18 but I joined the Navy the day before I was 18. And you know I won a 25-dollar bet with some guy that thought he knew everything, see. And I'm kind of funny. If I say something and I'm sure about it, I ain't afraid to defend it. But anyway he told me, he said, I said, you know this was in Korea and I was on active duty. I said to the guy, "You know there was a time when you couldn't join the Navy." He said, "You're crazy." I said, "You couldn't join the Navy during the war if you were over 18." "I never heard of such a thing. I'll bet you 25 bucks." I said, "Fine." Now he said, "Explain it." I said, "Because you hadda join before you reached 18, because at 18 you came under Social Security and could not decide to go. Now when they call you, you could say, 'I'd like to go in the Navy.' But they may put you in the Marines. They will not necessarily do what you want to do. But if you go in before you are 18, with your parents consent, you can go where you want." He said, "I never heard of that." I said, "Okay." Well, he looked [ ] and he said, "Here's your 25 bucks."

The point was, that's kind of a long explanation, but the point was that I wanted to go in the Navy so I went down and enlisted in the Navy, had the physical. Now because you enlisted, volunteered, of course you were treated special. Because there was about 25 guys in line and they brought up, they were so busy with draftees, you know. They were bringing trainloads of guys from Chicago for physicals in Milwaukee. Did you ever know that?

T: No.

W: Okay. They used to bring trains up because they were swamped in Chicago. That's a big city. So they put em on trains and bring em to Milwaukee and get their physical, and turn around and take em back to Chicago. Well there was hundreds and hundreds of guys at the place where they're doin physicals, you know. Doctors were workin overtime. But when the Navy recruiter brought us over, we went to the head of the line, see. And that was the first sign that something happened because we thought we were pretty cocky - these guys are just draftees, you know. There was always a little less feeling about a draftee.

But if you were over 18, you were automatically a draftee whether you liked it or not. And you could say, like, the guy might say to you, "Well I'd like to go in the Army." "No, we need Marines." And then you'd go to the Marine Corps. You had no choice. I had choice. Never regretted it.

I always wanted - my father was an unofficial medic. I mean he liked medical stuff. And so he said, and I wanted to too. In fact I wanted to be a doctor. So I said, "I'll go in the Navy and I'll try to get in corpsman's school, you know. At first I couldn't get it and they sent me to a radio technician school which was out of my - all I know is you turn the radio's knobs, you know.

T: You went through the usual basic training first?

W: Oh, the basic training was at Great Lakes, Illinois and I got there on the 17th of February. My first full day in the Navy was my birthday. Because I was 17 years old when I went in. Yeah. I skipped that, Great Lakes. And of course it was like everything else. There was thousands of buildings and hundreds of thousands of guys. And I was, our company was numbered 369. That meant there was 369 companies formed since January 1st. Each one was over a hundred. So that's the way it was. They would put through, I would think, sometimes four to five companies a day. You know they run through all the systems.

And then I went to corps school. I went to corps school at San Diego, California.

T: When you went to be a medical corpsman, did you wangle that some way or was it just a matter of luck that, did somebody say, "Well, this is where you're going to go, Warren."

W: Well no. I asked for it and got it. To be honest with you I don't think it was just luck or my brilliance or whatever. But I mean that had nothin to do with it. But I went to corps school…

T: You had a little bit of a choice at the time.

W: Yeah I did. Remember now, the war was two years old. But they were in dire need of medics because they, because during the war you know, the first stories, you said you were in Korea. You weren't in World War II, right?

T: No. I was in the Korean War.

W: Well what happened was, the Americans were gullible for things. We believed in the Geneva Convention. So all the medical personnel that were in with the Marine Corps, not just the Navy now, they needed corpsmen with the Marines because the Marines don't have their own corpsmen. So when they went to there, they told everybody, they said, "You know, things are getting tough because the Japanese were killing the corpsmen first." See, you get rid of the corpsmen out of a unit and now they had no medical help and then the next one you shoot is the radioman. And now you got… and that's exactly what happened. But the medical people in coordination with the rules of the Geneva Convention always had a red cross on their helmet. That was a target for the Japanese. And we didn't wise up until finally when I got to the school, which was two years after Guadalcanal, you know, that's where it all started. I mean they killed every corpsman they could out there. You could get promoted every day in the field. You go from third class to, second to first. You could make chief in two weeks. Because the other guys are being killed. No, this is a true story.

T: It's terrible.

W: I know. But see, [ ]. And the guy said okay. So by the time I got there, they said, "Now some of you are goin from this class and you'll be assigned to the Marine Corps." Well I was hoping it was me, like a dope you know. But I graduated fourth in a class of 112.

T: Where did you get your corps training?

W: In San Diego Naval Hospital. The biggest hospital in the world is in San Diego. It was at the time and still is, I think. But anyway what happened was the corps school was like, away from there. I mean it wasn't right on the grounds. In fact, the whole corps school was on the grounds of the ex 1932 World, what do you call those things, like in New York and Seattle later? World's Fair.

There was a big area there where the buildings were built. And they were just built. I mean they were nothing fancy. And then there was a big parade ground where the cars used to park for that thing. And that was our parade ground. But we had classes all the way around. We ate there. We were not at the hospital.

T: How long did that training last?

W: It was not too long. I think it was about nine weeks. But you know we had classes five days a week all day long. It was like a, people go, "Ha, ha." You know like a nurse goes three years. But I'll tell you, we learned a lot about medicine in that nine weeks. We had nurses, we had good instructors. And I graduated pretty high, not because I was smart but I wanted to be successful.

Well they didn't take any of our first ten percent to go to the Marine Corps. They took all the guys at the bottom, see? I mean that was not a written law but that's the way it was. Because you knew what was open when you were gonna graduate. Every week you worked your way up till finally the week you graduated you were first in line to eat and all that kind of stuff. All that morale crap.

So what happened was, they said, "Now," about two or three weeks before we graduated, they came out with a list of all the available places to go. Well, I was not a little wimp you know. I said, "I want to go as far away from here as I can. I want to see my country." You know, I was [ ]. A lot of guys says, "Oh I want to go to Great Lakes. I live in Chicago." You can always live in Chicago, you know. And I'm the other way around, see.

And they put the list up there and of course I had the fourth pick so I could go anywhere. You know, you picked, number one got, was first to pick, number two, number three, all the way down. Well obviously when you get down to the bottom, there's not much left and you end up in the Marine Corps.

I picked Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Now this is a trip from San Diego, that's the furthest you can go in our country, practically. Except up in Maine. But you know, the guy says, "Are you nuts? You live in Milwaukee. You could go to Great Lakes." I said, "No. I've lived there for 18 years. Now I want to see the world and they're payin for it. Load the train, you've got to stop, and who cares? You didn't have any family with you, you know. But anyway, If I'm going too long, just hold your finger up. But anyway I went to New Hampshire and when I got there, you know you start at the bottom of the pole. I worked on a ward. A ward coolie we used to call em.

T: Was this in a big base hospital of some sort?

W: Naval hospital. Portsmouth, New Hampshire. No longer a naval hospital. They had a lot of red brick hospitals, you know. They had St. Albans in New York. And they had Philadelphia Navy. They used to have a lot of little hospitals. But that, because of the change of medicine, they've condensed them into three or four big ones, you know. Like Walter Reed in Washington is a big Army, Bethesda is the big Navy. And because of transportation, you don't need all these little hospitals.

But it was a beautiful place. It was on an island and see, that was a sub base. So then the guy says, "Why don't you become a specialized sub corpsman?" And I was just gullible enough to say, "Yeah, I would like to…" You know, not thinkin. But then they didn't need anybody. And so I worked in the ward. While I worked on the ward, they put up a sign that said there's openings for two men to become surgical technicians. And that course was six months. But it was all like, you didn't go to school with books. You learned on the job but it was six months. And then if you passed everything, you became a surgical tech. And I loved that idea.

So I turned around, you want me to stop? (Tape is briefly stopped for a check). I pick it up there huh?

So what happened was, they put this piece of paper up and said there was openings and several guys went up and some guys said, "Oh, I don't want to do that." Because you know you could be a lab tech, you could be an O.R. tech., you could stay in a ward, work your way up through the wards. There's all specialties. X-rays, you know. The surgical was in my head.

So then in those days the nurses were all single. You know they weren't allowed to get married, the Navy nurses. If they did, they threw you out. And they were good nurses. This one gal was hard. They were hard. And they'd call me up for an interview. You know I thought I was going to college or something. She sat me down, "What makes you think you want to work in the operating room? Are you scared of blood? I said, "No. I am interested, I think I got enough sense to become… "Well we'll find out about that." You know, one of those kind. "You'll hear from us." Well next morning they said, "Guess what? You've been selected."

Well, the other guy lasted one day. Because they start you out - and I'm trying not to be too - when you go in there as a student to work, you get the dirty work. I mean the filthy… Because in those days you had to wash everything by hand. We didn't even use gloves. Squeeze the blood out of the sheets and that. Today everything's throwaway. And these young people don't understand that.

T: All the needles had to get re-sharpened…

W: Well certainly. And you had to clean each one and then you give a doctor a dull surgical knife or a needle that is plugged up and man, all hell breaks loose! That was your job. Because you had duty every other night so you worked till midnight making packs up, and not to go into detail, but you understand what I'm saying.

So what happened was the first day I was there, what they would do is these guys that were already graduated that had been around awhile, they would just, you were in what they called the clean-up room. They would open the door and they would slide these buckets of blood and water and sheets half wet. They'd just shove, "Another one for ya." Instruments and you had to subtract all that and wash it off and you got to thinking, "I'm nuts for being here." But I didn't, see. I thought, they ain't gonna throw me out.

Well this kid, after the first day went to the nurse. He said, "I don't need this." She said, "Fine." So he was gone and they brought another guy in. And this went on for a whole month. I never saw an operation. All I was, was a blood coolie, if you wanna talk about that. And I tell my children. They laugh, you know but I was a nothin. But that's good because it brings you down to size. Because I was, I'm going to be a surgeon, you know. A little bit of ego.

And every time that door opened after each case, they'd take these big metal buckets and slide em in, "Here you go bud." Take another one, jeez you just got done with the rest of them. Because you see, the only thing you threw away was sponges, the blood sponges. But anything that was linen or instruments or anything, you had to scrub those and you better not leave any blood on those when you sterilize em. And you know, that was the way it was.

So after the month, she called me in. And all that time she would just look in the door and say, "How you doin?" I'd said, "Fine." She says, "Alright." Then she'd walk [ ]. After a month she said, "Would you come over here please?" I thought, now what did I do? She said, "You're gonna scrub tomorrow morning." I said, "I haven't even seen a [ ]. "Listen to me. It's a small operation. You're gonna scrub, I'm gonna be at your back, lookin over your shoulder. I'll tell you everything you have to do. In the meantime, today you're gonna practice puttin on gowns and gloves."

Oh boy. This is a step up. Now, to make a long story short, I was so nervous during the surgery but the doctor knew. It was a minor surgery. I think we took a, I can remember it distinctly, we took out a growth on a man's breast. And it was not cancerous you know, but just the idea that I was getting my feet wet. It was really…

Well from then on, of course after I was graduated from there, I didn't stay there, they transferred me to the small naval hospital at an airbase on Quonset Point, Rhode Island. Which wasn't that far away. I got orders to go there as a graduate tech., okay? The same week, about three days before I got those orders, I got orders to report aboard a naval ship. A merchant marine ship as part of an armed guard group.

Now this is kind of weird. In the meantime two days later orders comes and said, "Cancel all prior orders. Transfer this man to Quonset Point, Rhode Island Naval Hospital." So the guy that replaced me to go from Portsmouth, that replaced me on the ship, the ship blew up and they never found him. Now you talk about, and I'm not exaggerating. Like turning the cup over, you know? And when I later on, he was a wonderful guy. But see my name was with a 't' and he was a 'w' so he was next to go. And when I came home on leave after the war from Quonset Point, Rhode Island, I stopped to see his parents in [Indianapolis] but I never told em that story. I said, "I was a friend of your son and I'm sorry that…" I knew he passed away and they were in tears. But to tell them that he took my place would be not proper, right?

T: Right. Best left unsaid.

W: Yeah. So I worked there until I was discharged. Now in 1946 I applied to Marquette University and was accepted. And I fought in my mind about accepting or staying. I loved the Navy. I loved the discipline. I loved the surgery and I used to scrub with doctors and I had doctors tell me when I got out of the Navy, they said come give em a call because "We need guys like you in civilian life," at that time. And it's a different era, you know. And nowadays everything's graduated with [ ]. He said, "It's guys like you. You know what you're doin but you don't have a piece of paper saying how wonderful you are." So he said, "As doctors, we could care less." And you know, it's true.

So then the guy, this one morning we had an emergency appendectomy. They called me out of bed. I had the duty and went in. Two of us went in. I scrubbed, the other guy circulated. And we got ready to go and he said, "You guys ready to go?" And he said, "What time is it?" So I handed him the…he says, "Scalpel." I give him the scalpel and he gave it back to me. And you know you don't argue. I thought well, maybe he doesn't like it. Because you always have two available. I put the scalpel over this way and he said, I grabbed the other one here and he said, "This one don't feel right either. Come over on this side. You do this job."

And you could hear a pin drop, you know. Because you know you're kind of a wise guy when you're
[ ]. You feel better than everybody else. That's the truth. And you have a good job and responsibilities. I'm being blunt with you. I was just like the rest of them. Hot shot. I got on the other side and it took me an hour and twenty minutes. The doctor did them in twenty minutes, you know. The appendectomy. And he said, "Hey," towards the end, after I'd closed it up, you know, he said, "Well go ahead and close it up. Go ahead and finish while I'm taking a shower." There was no doctors in the room and I'm with this patient. Now I'm not bragging about that. But the point is that was the way life was.

So I suddenly had this thrill to remain a surgical tech the rest of my life in the Navy. No, education's better. So I got out in June of '46. And the first Sunday I'm out I met my wife, which I'm married to today for 53 years. Funny world, huh?

Okay. Now as I told you, to put this to rest about World War II, that was the extent of my activity. I never left the nation, never left the coast. Because I came in with a later group. I was treated well. I went all the way up to second class Petty Officer which was pretty good at that time. I probably could have gone to first class because I had good recommendations. I had doctors call me long distance. I had one guy call me from Colorado. He said, "Listen, if you come out here," or Iowa, "If you come out here, I want you to look at this place. We want to put you in charge of the operating room." I said, "Well, I'm going to college." And he says, "Oh well, that's even better." You know?

So I went to Marquette and that was it for four years. But I stayed in the Naval Reserve from '46…

T: You were in the active reserve then?

W: That's correct. Every summer we went for two weeks training duty. You went to training once a month or twice a month, I forget. And it was money for me I didn't have.

T: You didn't have to worry about going back in the service because we'd already fought the big war!

W: Ha, ha, ha. Didn't work out that way. And I'll tell you this, as God is my witness. I haven't lied in one thing I spoke to you today. But let me tell you something. The day that, the baccalaureate service. You know what that is. Baccalaureate is where most of these religious schools have, you know you have a prayer and of course I'm not Catholic and the priest, I was always courteous and they said everybody should go. We had our gowns on. This was about three or four days before graduation. It's on a Sunday, right? Guess what Sunday it was. June 25th, 1950. What happened that day? The North Koreans attacked South Korea.

So here we are in line. As God is my witness, we're standing in line. I'm still outside. The graduates are all up Wisconsin Avenue. And a guy says, "Hey, guess what I've got on my radio?" He had one of these first early portable radio things. They always, ear things and compared it to today of course. Today everything comes out of the wind, you know. And so he said to me, "Guess whatToussaint?" I said, "What is it?" "Looks like we're going to go to war." "Oh my God!" You know like, because you see I was planning to get married.

So we went through with the service and then of course they started calling up the reservists. Well the first ones they call are the yeomen. They gotta do the paperwork. The next one comes in the medical. They gotta check the people comin back in. So I volunteered. I said, "Take me." I mean you can't get a job. Nobody would hire you.

T: Now did you get married?

W: That's comin up. I had dated my wife heavily for about three and a half years. I told her I couldn't get married while in college. To this day, that was a mistake. I should have married her. She is a wonderful person and we're still happily married. Okay? But that's like shaking dice.

So what happened was the whole [ ] issue is her life style. She was from New Jersey. And when I got married…

T: Did you meet her in college?

W: No. I met her in, no, I'll tell you what. Her mother had died when she was seventeen. Her father remarried and asked her to leave. So she came to Milwaukee to live with her older sister who was in the WAVES in World War II and married a guy, he just died a year ago. Her brother-in-law. So what happened was, she came to church on Sunday. That was my first Sunday. And I sat down in the pew and I see these two chickies walk by. I said to my mom, I said, "Hey, look at those chickies." She said, "Don't talk that way in church." I said, "Well I'm just saying they look nice. Who are they?" She said, "I don't know their names but the older one is married to a guy from Milwaukee." His name was Muckerheide. You talk about Deutsche, huh? And she said, "The younger girl is her sister and she's about 18 or 19 years old." "That's a nice looking chick." Mind you, as God is my witness, my mother could have verified it and my wife still… I said, "I'm going to get a date with her." She says, "Just pay attention to the sermon." I says, "Okay."

So naturally I was a war hero. Ha, ha. You know. And so I got up and I said, "Hi," on the way out. I said, "I'm Warren Toussaint." She said, "Oh, I've heard about you. Nice to meet you." And she walked away. I said, "Well you buck-headed old… Who do you think you are talking to me like that?" You know? And she didn't do it on purpose. She was that reticent type. Quiet. She still is quiet. So that was a challenge to me.

So then, well it's part of my life actually. So we dated all those, I finally had a car. Did a lot of neckin but you know we never talked about sex in an open sense. We were naïve.

T: It was a different world.

W: It was a different world. Not better but different. Okay? You know we were in love. We wanted each other badly. We fought it off. Commitment. So when this Korean War thing, this brings you up to date.

When the Korean War thing came, I said, she said, "Honey, I'm telling you, I love you. I know you're going to marry me," she says, "But I can't put up with this much longer," she says. "Either we get married before you go or I'm going to look for somebody else." That was, she really wasn't but that was a threat. I didn't know what. I said, "Set the date."

Two weeks later we were married, just like that. Everything [ ]. And I was happy, went down the aisle, went to Chicago. Now I was on active duty, see. Then already, in August. We got married in October.

So I'm working in the operating room at Great Lakes and now we're comin to the point of the diary. I was working and we married and we lived in Zion, Illinois. We shared a bathroom with another couple. That's the way it was in those days. I mean you used the bathroom, you had a door from each room going into the bathroom. And it was a young couple like us. We had a room and a half. We had a place to eat and we shared a bathroom. We had a front room and we slept on a couch.

But you know when you're young and in love, who cares? You know you don't make a big thing of it. And we were making not that much money. And I'd graduated from Marquette. And to this day I'll tell you, Mr. Sullivan, I don't know why that girl ever stuck around because it wasn't easy. You know, it wasn't easy. But that's life.

So what happened was, that I, this was October. I went, remember this is October 1950. And of course we had troops over there in Korea. And I never dreamed about it but we went to surgery one day and I was working with another surgical tech from World War II named Bill [Moning] whom I still talk about. I haven't seen him for 55 years. But we're gonna try and see him, drive and see him sometime. And he's waiting for us but we're all getting older.

And so what happened was we got a call and a nurse came in and she said, "You two guys are…" We were both scrubbed. "You two guys, I'll get a replacement." I told em I hadda get a replacement because we were scrubbed on cases. And you don't just walk off the case. You wait until somebody scrubs and replaces you. And you're supposed to get over to personnel right away. So I says to Bill, "What the hell's going on?" He says, "I don't know." So we went over there, because you had to walk half a block. And the guy said, "You guys will be leaving Chicago at three o'clock this afternoon for Japan. I got your orders here." Remember now, we were in the Navy files as surgical techs which was a specialty like 8430, like the Army does. And I says, "Oh boy!"

Meanwhile my wife got pregnant on our honeymoon, which happens once in awhile. So she was working in Waukegan, I kinda forgot the name of it, starts with an A. Abbott. Abbott Drugs. She had just got a job. She only had a job from October to, this was early December when this thing happened. We thought we might stay there for the whole war at Great Lakes but it didn't work that way.

So I went right over there. And I called her. I says, "Honey, I'm comin right to see you." She said, "What's the matter?" I said, [ ] "I'll tell you when I see you." I went there and I said, "I got orders." She said, "Where are we going?" I said, "We aren't going anywhere, honey. I'm going to Japan." "Oh, okay." You know, a lot of em would have broke down crying and raising hell but she's just not that kind of person. I mean she was happy with me and everything else was fine.

I didn't see that son until I came home. He was eight months old. I checked the calendar. I was the father. But anyway he was eight months old when I came back from Korea. And then not to elaborate now, but do you want me to go on about Korea? You've got the book thing.

T: I want to hear about Korea.

W: Well, it was a funny war again because the difference was, put it this way, the difference was at World War II in 1941, the next morning on Monday morning, they were lined up around the block of all the recruiting stations in Milwaukee to get in the service. Guys just walked off the job like some of our students did. I know. I saw it. But see then I was still in school. And then when I graduated of course it had calmed down a bit.

Now Korea, Korea would probably be the second worst thing we got involved in, Viet Nam being the first. I'm not being political. I'm saying this caused the greatest dissent amongst people. And the Korean veterans were spit on. We had a Chief Petty Officer, the guy that's mentioned in my diary, Ewing. He went home on leave and some guy said, "What are you doing over in Korea?" "What are you fighting those slant-eyes for in the first place? You're a sucker." And they got in a fight and he beat this guy up. It was an old friend of his from the neighborhood that was making fun of him for bein in, and he was a Chief Petty Officer. He was a career Navy guy. And that's just one incident.

You didn't see that much in World War II. As a matter of fact, during World War II when I was going to Marquette after it was over with, I went to school with a guy that was a good, you know you meet friends. And today he's a retired undertaker in Milwaukee. Nice guy. And his mother was one of these radicals. And she would go around the neighborhood and every time she saw [ ] she would say, "How come you're not in the service? My son is." That kind of… There was a lot of it.

Now you don't see that today. But that's the way it was. If you were walking around, you could have like, one leg and somebody'd say, "Well how come you're not in the Army?" Well, you know. I'm serious. I'm not exaggerating. Now my mother wouldn't do that. But his mother did and I met her and I knew why because she was a toughie. "My kid goes, they all go." You know, one of those kind.
Which doesn't happen.

Not to digress, but anyway so what happened was when we got to, we took off out of Chicago. Norma didn't even come to Chicago. I said, "You just stay where you are. You're pregnant and I'll be fine, dear. I'll be in touch as soon as I know anything."

Flew to San Francisco. Sat there only about a day. From there we flew to, I think we flew to Hawaii. I don't know. I was vague on that. We were going to Japan and when we got, we had orders and we hadda stop because there was no jets in those days. We stopped at Kwajalain; we stopped at Guam. You know you gotta get gas.

So you know what I'm telling you. I'm not trying to patronize you but I'm telling you the truth, you know. It was a different world. You know you don't jump in a plane in San Fran and fly to Singapore like you do now. You know it's in stages. Which was fine. And of course seeing things I never seen before. I was excited. I knew I wasn't scared of what I was doing. So all we ate was sandwiches. When you flew you got sandwiches. You needed something.

But anyway we got to Japan and when we landed there, I was excited. I'm always interested in something new. The real shock though was at the airport. Two things happened. As we were walking through the terminal from the airplane, we landed at Haneda Airport which was the biggest airport in Japan and I noticed that there was a Japanese family. And I'll never forget this till the day I die because evidently the father was, this was five years after regular war now. And you know, they were coming back already. They were recovering from the war. They did a marvelous job. And so he came off the airplane and he was dressed to the, you know, black coat and hat. But when his family was waiting to see him - he had sons, daughters and his wife - the sons come first, and they're in line. And each one walked up to their father and he stood there and they would bow down to him and step aside. And the wife came last because she was a female. You know, I'm not exactly smart or anything but a lot of guys wouldn't look at that and think anything. I thought, this is the culture they have. And she came up and she bent down. He didn't bend to her. I mean he returned her bend but she, and it all happened to me within five minutes after landing. And I thought, ooooh! And these were like wealthy people. She was dressed, they were all beautiful.

The next shock was, I went to the restroom. And like all men, I'm standing up in front of the bowl and all of a sudden this gal is standing next to me. Do you know what I'm saying? Have you heard that before?

T: No.

W: No, no. I mean, see they don't have, they have communal [binjos] is what they call it. And you know, nothing is ever done about it. I mean no one's talk smart, but you know, I don't have to tell you. When you stand there and you're urinating, you know, you're concentrating on yourself and then you turn around, you turn your head and there's a woman sitting next to you, everything stops, you know. And she just bent down and pulled up her things and just "Hello", ah so." And she went, "Thank you." And she bowed and I'm still standing there with half a bladder full and I thought, what in the world! But those were two shockers. That was not in the diary.

T: You wanted to see the world…

W: I was seein it.

T: Different cultures.

W: And what bothered me over the years that continued, I was really concerned about how, especially during the Korean War, not so much the Korean, but in war how people put down this country. And most of em are ones who have never been anywhere.

So anyway, Korea. We went there and we asked why our orders read differently than other guys. See, some were sent there for duty but ours said, no, I said that in the diary. It was different kind of orders. Which means we were attached to this potential surgical team. And we were number 20. We had nine or ten corpsmen and three doctors. And that was our team and we began to get an idea of what was going on. Those things, and I don't want to talk too much about what was in the diary, but those things were developed in World War II.

T: I wanted to ask you a little more about the team because I was a little confused when I read the diary.

W: Sure. Well I apologize for some of the stuff.

T: This team was part of a larger group of, maybe it was composed of several teams that ran a certain type of a hospital. A hospital operation with several surgical teams involved. Not just your team because it was a pretty small group of guys.

W: But they had 24 teams that were activated for Korea. Twenty-four. Numbered one through twenty-four. The first ones were mostly career guys, like the first four or five teams. They just picked them right up when the war started. Now remember, we were coming like six months later. So as they got past ten or twelve, now [ ] the reservists were taking that over. But we were all trained. It took us ten minutes to learn again what we were doing. We never forgot. I could still do an appendectomy operation. I remember the names. We had to learn the names of every instrument in the place. When doctor said he wanted one, you better get the right one. That was part of the, you couldn't be a dummy, you know.

So we met. There was a, I think there was four or five teams that were formed up at the hospital in [Yakuska], Japan. Which is south of Yokohama and south of Tokyo. And I said, "Well what does this mean?" Because we were vague. We didn't know anything about it. And the guy said, "Well you're gonna be, if you get called away, you'll have your special uniforms. You have all your equipment already sitting in the supply." And I mentioned that we had 60 boxes worth, what was it, 7 ton or something like that. You know I forget the exact figure. And he said, "You can go anywhere in the world and you should be able to operate within 24 hours." And this brings back, I didn't interrupt you when you said early on about supplies and so forth. We carried our own supplies and equipment. We could operate in a cornfield, okay.

T: Did you have an X-ray unit for instance?

W: No. You couldn't hook up. You see, you had to go where you possibly couldn't have any power.

T: I guess it's difficult for me to imagine. You know you're dealing with a fracture or something like that, a compound fracture. Naturally the doctor's going to order X-rays to… Before he goes in there, he's going to want to…

W: Yeah but wait a minute. You're talking, you're right but we're talking about onsite in the field operation. Okay.

T: More like a battalion aid station than…

W: So that if the guy had a broken leg or broken hip or something, you don't even work with him. You'd send him on in to the hospital, see. In other words, we were equipped…

T: You weren't necessarily functioning as an evac hospital or anything like that.

W: We were too small for that. We were the next thing lower than that. But the reason why during World War I that came up. And I found this out afterwards. At the time I thought, 'What's a surgical team?' I never heard of it. Those things were being developed when the war ended. The atomic bomb changed the world. Aside from all the arguments of whether you should or shouldn't. The point was that we were prepared to have over a million casualties. Of which would be Marines, Navy guys, ships, Army. It was estimated that we would have one million dead to invade Japan. And after being there and seeing what they had, I'd say they were absolutely right. Because they were a citadel. I mean it was, at that time morale was still high amongst the Japanese. I wasn't there but I mean that, you know. So what I'm saying is that, I'm not even arguing the point whether the bomb should be dropped. I'll just say it's because they dropped it, we saved a lot of lives.

T: I agree.

W: Now you can argue the morals of that. That's another story. When you get old, you mellow a little bit. You don't have these black and white. So what happened was we didn't still know what we were doing. Well we finally met as a group. And we introduced ourselves. And the doctors were three brand new ex interns that never worked a day. No, I mean they were smart guys but they were brand new. Because they got commissioned as Lieutenant J. Gs not ensigns. They had one strip because of the money extra. And they had gone to school under the Navy thing during World War II, see. I mean they were in the Naval Reserve. They joined the Reserve to get a free education. Now they had to pay the price like we did. I mean they were called to active duty on the spot. All three of em were married.

And the thing that made our team really successful, we were really excited. Because as they respected us for our experience, they were smart enough to recognize that we'd been in more operations than they did. Okay? We recognized that they were officers of the United States Navy. They were doctors and they were respected then. And from there on we never had an argument with any of em.

And the proudest moment of my whole career in the Korean thing was when we got orders to go to that prisoner of war camp that had over 90,000 prisoners of war from North and South Korea and China. I mean from North Korea and China. And I, if you read that book, I'll just say in the epilogue you know, I could, there was a lot of trouble between the Chinese and the North Koreans. The North Koreans hated the Chinese as much as they…

T: I found that part very interesting.

W: Yeah. Well I made that a point. I said that's my opinion. Okay. The other thing was, to get back to the point, was that we still didn't have a grasp of what our responsibility was.

And then if you read that, you know that we went there four different times and we went to four different venues. I mean the first time that we went was to help evacuate the troops at Inchon. At New Years Eve.

(The first tape ends here).

T: Now in your diary you mentioned being associated with these POW camps. Tell me more about that.

W: Well, since I did this last year, it's pretty fresh in my mind because I hadn't read that thing for 20 years, you know. But anyway, the first trip had nothing to do with POW's. That's when we went to Inchon. But we were getting close to the Chinese. We saw the fires when we were circling to land on the ground. And it was colder than, aw! I mean it was so cold I thought we were gonna die. And that lasted about a week and then we went back to the…

And we didn't do anything. And we didn't take our equipment.

T: You didn't take on any casualties or anything like that?

W: There weren't any. You know they had two hospital ships and they had no patients. We were sleeping in the hospital ship's wards. Those are beautiful things, you know. They got mattresses like that.

T: When I began reading your diary, I expected that you were going to be sitting on a hospital ship and doing your work there. You wouldn't be in the field.

W: No. But what we did was when we went to the hospital ship the first time, we all had to tell us what… They knew we were specialists, see. We had lab tech, not X-ray, lab, environmental, surgical. So we said, we're the two surgical techs, Bill and I. Oh man, he's going to work in surgery, you know. And we said, yeah. Well the surgery was, there was no windows in surgery. It was in the middle of the ship where there's less rolling, pitching. Everything was there because after all, you're working on a body. We had a lot of, we had no critical. We had guys that had been shot in the shoulder and we did some extra work. We took some flak out of a guys back and stuff like that. You know, it was nothing life threatening. But anyway, well you gotta work. After the first day of [ ] you get sick and tired of sittin around.

So then that was that. Well then we were home for quite awhile. And then we got a call that we had to go on this commando raid. Now we didn't know what it was. And the doctors were all commissioned about a day apart. So the one that was commissioned first is senior, you know. You got one more day in the service than the other guy. Well they got a kick out of that. The doctors got a kick out of that, you know.

So anyway I said, so he was given a sealed envelope and we hadda leave at night and we were on a train out of Yokohama. We were goin all the down, we didn't even know where we were goin. We were on the train at nine o'clock at night. You take out your orders and read em. So he gathered us all around which he shouldn't have done but he was just another guy, you know. So he tears it open and it says, "You will proceed to what - Hiroshima area," you know. Down there. "And you will do this; you will do that; you will do this." And I said, "Well this is a secret thing," I said, "We're in for about a month."

Well, that was when we went aboard a landing ship in dry-dock and those are the ones, they take on water in the back and it goes down and there's a ramp that goes out and you can run, and the water's half way up the deck. The ship is like this. The back of the ship is almost like this under the water. And then you could drive your machines right in the water. Amphibious machines. Very, very, I'd never seen one before.
We were sent there to give added medical help in case there were casualties of the British Marines who were going to make an emergency raid on land. And they landed and killed two guards and they never saw anybody else. So we didn't do anything. Well that's all right. But we were ready. Now again we didn't have our equipment. That was the second trip. And we were glad to get back home again.

We always worked at the wards the day after we got back. And so - the hospital - we always went back. That was our starting point and ending point. But the rest of the time was, got to be very interesting. Because that's when we went to [Kojido]. Now Kojido had 90,000 prisoners so I'm getting to your question. They had 90,000 prisoners and they were in camps of 10,000 each. And it didn't take em long to realize that they couldn't put the POW's, they couldn't mix, they couldn't put a North Korean in with a Chinese because one would kill the other. So they finally had like Chinese POW's, North Korean POW's. We had a lot of Chinese. When the Americans started to beat them, they surrendered like thousands because they didn't want to fight. And first of all, they had nothin against the Americans, amazingly enough. Communistic, yeah, but…

T: Maybe some of them figured it wasn't their war. It was North Korea's war.

W: Right. And they were just smart enough, and see, we got to the point, we spent quite a while on the island. And that was the thing that I kinda overdid it, but it was the truth. The doctors said, well there was a rice paddy. And we were attached to an Army field hospital. Now that field hospital, and I was careful not to say so in the book, was the one that was up in North Korea and was overrun and everybody left including the colonel. And all of the men that were behind wounded, and the priests, were all shot and killed. You don't read that in history. But that's, you can read it. There's places. It was like the 368th Field Hospital. So they pulled them, they fled south and the ones that fled were saved but the ones that stayed back were all killed. The corpsmen, every patient was bayoneted to death and the priests and the chaplains were all killed. True story.

So they, and we didn't know till we got the Kojido, which is a four-hour boat ride from Pusan. It's an island. And they brought, I'm just going to give you the picture of what it was like. There's no place that the POW's could, except that of course they outmanned us about 10,000 to one, you know. I mean but they were, you know. They had barbed wire around but it was kind of a joke, you know. Where are they gonna go? They can't swim. So anyway, but they could kill you if they wanted to. But see, I was always compassionate though too. I respected a human being. I was never a Jap hater or something like that. You can't do that when you're in medicine. I don't know why.

Anyway, so we got a tent and we all hadda squad tent which is not just too… We all had our bunks and stuff. And the chiefs slept at the front of it and we hired, there was a Japanese boy that we hired and we didn't realize it. He was a guerrilla fighter and he'd killed a lot of North Koreans. And then he was shot in his hand. He had a bandage on and I noticed he seemed to be very intelligent. I don't know why I say that but he would watch us, what we were doing.

So he said to me, and he knew a little English; his father was a doctor I found out. One of the few doctors of Korean blood that went to school in Japan before the war. Before World War II. So this kid, the more I talked to him, you know I'm always interested in listening to people. And so I said to him, "You speak good English." He said, "Yes, I took…" He didn't know it all but he was…

So one day I'm playing chess with a guy, see? One of our guys. We were just sittin there playing chess. And he's watchin. Standing right there and looking. Never said a word. And I said, "Wanna play chess?" He said, "Yeah, how does a …" It was like a first lesson in chess which is hard. He never, I never beat him again. No, I admit it. He was brilliant.

Then I found out what was so brilliant about him. He was called "The Youth Poet of North Korea." Very brilliant guy. And you know, I haven't been able to reach him. I wrote to the Korean newspapers and I can't get any connection. I don't know, maybe he's dead. I don't know. But he was younger than we were. He was about nineteen or something. He took a bunch of his students in school and they became a guerrilla group and they got guns. They were killing behind the lines much like Iraq today. I mean you know he was fighting on the good side, you know.

And his father got out of there. His mother and his father lost everything because they were living in North Korea in that, I can't remember the town but it starts with a Y I think. Starts with a P. So his father had come to Kojido to take care of the prisoners that forced him out of Korea. He was that kind of guy. And he brought his children with him and they met up again. And that's how we got this guy to work for us.

So after about a couple, two or three months, oh no, let me go back. So the doctor says, "It's up to you guys. Let us know when you're ready to operate. How long will it take?" I said, "Tomorrow morning at 8 o'clock." "You're nuts!" I said, "Tomorrow morning at 8 o'clock you can operate. I'll guarantee you that." Of course we worked all night. Because see, everything we had in the boxes was sterilized already. You know. I mean it was probably, but it was sterilized.

T: What did you do for power? Were you able to just plug in?

W: Well they had… Well remember now we were assigned to that, you know, army hospital. So they had diesel engines for power. They put power, yeah. Oh yeah, we had to have power. And then the guy, one of the guys was kind of like a mechanic guy. And he was a character. And he took, I think I mentioned it in the book when I, I don't know. He took about four or five of those High C fruit cans, you know, the big ones like that? And he took an anvil or hammer, he flattened em all out. And then he put holes in em, screwed em all together and he made us an operating room lamp. On the, hung down from the tent top. It was this long, this wide and it had four bulbs in it. And because it was tin or whatever, a light metal, you got good reflection. We had a beautiful, I mean, no… you have to go with what you got.

And the other thing was that we tried to maintain, well the next morning at, you know, the head doctor come over and he says, "Okay Toussaint, show me what you got." And the table was laying there with the light on and the pillow and I says, "Where's your first patient?" And he couldn't, he never got over that. That we were so, that we did it, not that we were wonderful but that we did it so fast. He didn't have to wait a week, you know. And the Army guy couldn't believe it. See, the Army, they were glad we were there but they were [ ]. See Army, this is important. That's why I mentioned it in the book. In the Navy, if you're a surgical tech, you scrub with the doctor. In the Army you don't. The nurses scrub in the Army. (This is definitely not true. TMS).

T: Well I scrubbed all the time. The nurses usually circulated in my particular situation.

W: Well that's news to me because…

T: Or they sat in the office.

W: Yeah, well the Navy nurses never scrubbed. Never scrubbed. It was always a Corpsman. We had good training. I don't think the Army had bad training but I mean we just, and so when we, I can verify what I'm saying in a minute but what happened was, anyway we took care of these patients and we were kept very, very busy. We played ball and we [ ] with the Army guys. We got along. They were glad we were there because that colonel, he was a colonel and he was assigned like temporary commanding officer of the hospital. And they were rebuilding and bringing guys in all the time to get em goin again. And then go back to whatever.

Well after we were there about two or three months, almost four months I think, then they said we got orders to go back. We were getting kinda, we were so efficient that we didn't work that hard anymore. I mean you know. So then they transferred us to the POW hospital outside of Pusan. And they had about a thousand POW's that were so hurt they couldn't take em to Kojido. Okay? And that's, go ahead.

T: Then were you treating POW casualties? They were prisoners of war but they had sustained wounds in…?

W: Well, wait a minute. Kojido was just prisoners. Like say, they weren't hurting. But now you remember, you got a city of a hundred thousand people indirectly. Now everyday somebody's sick or has appendicitis. So that's… We did not treat a lot of wounds. The wounded ones were in Pusan. And now we became an on scene… Now that was with the Army too. The Army was there and they had classrooms and they had wooden decks, which had to be scrubbed every night.

But there was Chinese medics, okay? That we'd captured. And they helped us. We didn't let em operate because you never know what they're gonna do. But they, and they were very nice. But you know, medicine is a healing factor. It's different than anything else. I mean you get two riflemen together and they who'll kill first. But you get two medics together and they talk about medicine. That sounds silly but you know what I'm saying.

So what happened was we had to send a guy over every morning to the POW compound to pick up 12 or 14 of these Chinamen. We would never pick up North Koreans. You could never turn your back on a North Korean. I'm serious.

T: Yeah. As I mentioned before, I found that quite interesting in the book. That there was this tremendous difference between the two.

W: Well you get smart fast because they would, if the North Koreans could get ahold of a Chinese guy who was in the wrong room or something like that, they'd kill him. They'd drive a nail in his forehead, you know. Just take a stone and nail him right in the forehead. I saw it.

But the other thing about it was we could trust the Chinese. We had two Chinese doctors that actually operated. With the Army. Now we had our own room. We had our own operating room for just the Navy guys. And the Army nurses, and this is where we got cocky with the Army nurses. You know they were just, "Oh here comes the Navy. What are we going to do with these guys," type thing. And we took over and we just did our job, you know. We didn't brag. And when they came in the first time, you know, I was scrubbing, see? They said, "What are you doin?" I said, "I'm scrubbing." In the Navy we scrubbed. "Oh, we do all the scrubbing in the Army." I said, "Well we don't function that way. Thank you very much." Conceited. And in the end they began to respect us more because when we left they actually had a party for us. You know, we had a cake and everything else. And the head nurse and they were all, I mean they had faces like a can of worms. I mean they were all, don't ever put that on the tape but I mean, they were ugly. Like I mean…

T: We had some ugly ones and we had some pretty good looking ones.

W: But the good looking ones were the ones that had come in during the war. The ugly ones had been in all the time and they were nice people [ ]. They couldn't get a date if they paid for it, you know. But anyway, we were polite to them and this one was a major. She was in charge and she said, "That's astounding," she said, "We should do the same thing and have the men do more of the scrubbing. We can get into the administration work." That's what they want anyway, with their white uniforms.

T: Sure. Sit at a desk.

W: The Navy, oh the Navy ones. They used to be in starched white uniforms that just, you couldn't even touch em. If you'd go like that, they'd be upset. They might have a black spot.

So anyway, the POW situation. So one night the guy that was our houseboy and he called me [aygeeahboogee] and I said, "What's that?" He said, "New father." Because I became a father while I was there. And I said, "[aygeeahboogee]. I'll remember that." He said, "Oh yeah, you say it fine." Then he wrote that on my cap, you know the baseball cap with the flap up. And everywhere I walked the Chinese guys would say, "Ah, [aygeeahgoogee]" You know you're a happy father. They were very nice people.

They were South Koreans that were working for us. So he said to me, "Toussaint." "What?" I said. "I want you to meet my father." Well his father worked, not with the army. He worked in the compound where there were prisoners of war that were sick or just getting better. Like I said, we didn't do a lot of treatment there. We just took like, we had an appendectomy every day, you know. With 100,000 people, you know, you're gonna have… Had nothing to do with bullets is what I'm saying.

So I said, "Okay." He said, "You and Bill." I said, "All right." So he came for us about seven o'clock in the evening and it was getting towards dark. And we walked over to the compound where his father was and we got in there and we started talking to his father. Well his father knew absolutely no English. His son was like the interpreter. But he was so glad to see us. He thanked us for treating his son so nice. Because Bill and I never took advantage of the kid. Most of our guys didn't. Army guys, some of em did. Treat em like dirt, you know. I think your I.Q. affects a lot how you treat people you know. The guy with the dummy Pfc. that's not going to go anywhere, when he can get charge of somebody, man, he cuts loose. You know what I'm trying to say?

T: Yes.

W: That's an opinion. So we said, well, we talked for a little while. We're in this room. There's prisoners on beds all over. And he was nodding his head to us. Very fine gentleman, you know. All of a sudden the power went off. Pitch black. The tent power. I said, "Bill, there's nothing we can do. We're trapped in here." They could have attacked us. But they didn't. Obviously they didn't but it's a scary moment. Was one of the scariest moments of my life. Here we are in a room with enemy, supposedly. But they were different kind of enemy. They weren't the same as being on the front battle lines. I wouldn't kid you one iota. Those guys in the front lines are kill or be killed. But here we were trapped in with no power for about five minutes. The diesel engine went down and came back on again and those people hadn't moved a step toward us. They could have knifed us, killed us, shot us and no one would have known. Never know who did it. But I think being with the doctor helped a lot because he treated them.

And like I say, when we left there, the houseboy, he had tears rolling down his cheeks. Which is rare for an Oriental to cry. They're very stoic. And he put his arms around us and he, and we gave him extra money. He got paid by the government, South Korean money. But we used to give him money because we had nothing to spend it on. We were out there in the middle of nowhere. And on an island. So he, we gave him all kinds of extra money and he was goin back to college.

I thought about, even yet, making a trip to Korea trying to find him. I've written to people. I just can't… You know I think sometimes they're afraid to tell you anything because you might be wanting something that you shouldn't know who they are. You take yourself; I know what I believe in but they don't know where you're comin from. And sometimes it's difficult to reconnect. But the guy must be about 60 years old or more if he's still living. And I would recognize him in a minute. I've got pictures at home, I think I do have some left, yeah.

We had a houseboy in Japan too, Bill and I. We were very close, Bill and I. And he took us out and we'd go shopping. He'd argue in Japanese with the guy. Say, "No, no, no don't buy that. Too expensive." And so we paid him extra money because he…

T: He was on your side.

W: We took him to dinner. He was a naval cadet. He had his Japanese uniform all the way up to the neck. They don't go for a lot of buttons but they always have, you know, navy cap. And he was going to school. That was his school uniform. [Kesaku, Hiroshi Kesaku] was his name. See, I can remember that.

T: You did get some time off then from your duties occasionally.

W: Well we would, it would depend upon the workload, you know. And then of course that gets old hat too, sitting around. I mean I'm talking about being on the POW. Yeah. We had things running so smoothly and organized. See, we used to go in the morning. In the afternoon after lunch we'd go to these compounds and hold sick call. And they'd have ten or twenty patients. You know with 10,000 people in the [ ], you're going to have sick people, you know. And people, some talk to you and think you're nuts, you know. And I said it's like a city, you know?

T: Were most of these people young people or were there, I'm just assuming that most of the prisoners were young guys.

W: Most of them were pretty young. Pretty young.

T: Did you hear from home often when you were over there?

W: Yeah. Well when my child was born, I didn't know for it for a week because, see it went to Yakuska. And Yakuska didn't know what to do with it. They sent it to the 3rd. Army Headquarters in Pusan and in Pusan, "Oh he must be one of the guys on Kojido." And my parents were really upset because they thought I was ignoring them.

But that's what you do, you know. You have to caution yourself that… Because my son was born on May 20th that I had a son. I had a telegram from the Red Cross. And my dad blistered the Red Cross. He said, "You could have done a better job." You see, we were as bastard outfit. You know what I mean? We were not in the Navy. We weren't in the Army and we were movin around. To me it was a legitimate mistake, you know. Now if I'd been in Japan at time or on a Navy ship I probably would have gotten it in 24 hours. But see, he was trying to locate. And that's just one of the things. And I know Norma was upset but she's cool. And finally I mean, I had the [ ]. He sent the report, you know, message back that, "Thank you. I got your message." Yeah, he was eight months old before I saw him.

T: Was there a point where your particular team treated combat casualties?

W: No. They were like secondary combat. When we went to the…

T: Wouldn't there have been Marines? You know you always think of the Navy and Marines as supporting each other.

W: Yeah, they do.

T: Corpsmen are usually, Navy corpsmen are usually supporting the Marines and so forth.

W: Well, we are the Marines medical [ ], you know.

T: If you had been treating casualties, would they probably have been Marine casualties?
Or wouldn't it have made any difference? I know there were times in Korea where everything was just a mess.

W: Well I don't know the answer directly to that but if you can sidestep a second, you know as far as I'm concerned, and a lot of people agree with me I think on this, is that the Marines never should have gone into Korea in the first place. Marines are not [ ]. Marines are Marines. Marines land on beaches. Then they turn the land over to the Army. But our politicians at the time, not mentioning what party or nothin. I'm just saying it. They were using Marines as Army troops in the field. And that is not the way a Marine is trained. And I'll stand on that till the day I die. Because the Marine guys themselves agreed with that. I mean they all were talking the same language.

Now to get back to that, we were almost, we were too small to be a hospital and too big to be a field treatment. You follow what I'm trying to say? Because the average platoon, twelve guys? Give or in the old days, whatever. Fifteen guys. Had a corpsman. Okay? And he would always be at the end of the group. He'd have, and his bag.

See, like I started to say, we got smart in World War II. It got so you couldn't tell the corpsman from anybody else in a platoon that was marching. If somebody spotted a, if an enemy spotted a - marching, they couldn't tell which one's a medic. Because he's wearing the same equipment, the same helmet, the same, even carried a gun, which wasn't loaded.

You weren't allowed to carry a gun, a medic. You know that. (This is not true, at least not in the United States Army. TMS). But you know what they told me in San Diego? The first dead Marine you come across, pick up his gun. But that was unofficial, see. You couldn't officially train with a gun. In fact, when we went, and it's interesting. The first trip we went, when we went to Korea from Japan. I told you we flew to, flew from [Tachikawa] to Pusan, not Pusan. Anyway you know what I'm saying. To the capitol of South Korea. To the airport there. (Seoul). And it was being turned over in two days to the Chinese. But when we, before we left Japan we hadda be outfitted and this was the first time that we got, we had parkas, we looked like Marines. We weren't but we looked like Marines. And you know extra underwear. Our Navy uniforms were all put away. The Navy uniforms wouldn't have been any good, so…

T: Was your clothing adequate for the winter weather?

W: Oh yeah. Geez, but you get so much stuff on that you sit in the airplane, if it went down, you'd go faster than you'd go down like a lead balloon in the water. But to answer that part though, is that we were all issued carbines. And I had never shot a carbine. Well we had two or three guys, there was three, one, two, there was two, twenty and twenty-one surgical teams were on this first trip. Two teams. So we had twenty some guys. While we were waiting to fly from Tachikawa this guy said, "I know how to work this thing. You guys want any lessons?" Well, hell yeah. I mean I'll get in line. I didn't even know how to put the cartridge in. Because carbines are small. But we were issued, and that was totally against the Geneva Convention. But nobody argued about it. What are you gonna do? Yeah. I had a carbine and carried it with me all the time. Never shot it. No, I mean, you know…

T: We were issued carbines but our colonel put em all away.

W: Oh, were you a medic too then? I didn't know that. Okay, so you were a medic and you had carbines.

T: I was in an evac hospital.

W: But now let me tell you, that wouldn't have happened in World War II, see? That all became because of Japan. Because they were, even on Guadalcanal. You know the Army after awhile got on Guadalcanal. That was a Marine… Well they were killing the corpsmen left and right. They'd bring in 25 Corpsmen and in three days they'd have two or three left until they got smart. I'm serious! That's the way it was.

We had a guy, and it's a joke, we had a guy when I was in, when I was stationed during World War II stationed at Portsmouth. I was just a young rookie, you know, out of corps school. And there was a Chief Petty Officer, corpsman that came in that was 18 years old. That'd be like a Master Sergeant or Staff Sergeant in the Army, you know. And E9 now they call em. And he was so young looking. He hadn't shaved yet. And he couldn't even have a beer because he was under age. He's a Chief Petty Officer, which is incredible. You know why? With the Marines. He went in there as a seaman, he told me. He said, "When we got to [ ] he was Third Class. And I don't know how many days, but three or four days or later, a month later, he was Second Class. They were knocking these guys off, see. Hadda get replacements. He ended up being Chief and if he was smart he would have stayed in the Navy because he had less than two years service and he was a Chief Petty Officer. He could have done 20 years as a Chief with big pay. Now whether he did it or not, I don't know.

But that happened up in the… See, Portsmouth Naval Hospital was adjacent to the famous Navy Portsmouth Prison. They had officers and men up there since the year one. The prison in Portsmouth, I don't think it's there anymore but it was right down the road. And they didn't fool around with those prisoners. There were some pretty tough… There was murder guys and everything else. They had one captain in the Marine Corps who had, this is only Navy and Marine patients. It had nothin to do with the Army. He had put together a, not a regiment, what's the next thing down below that? You know better than I do. Company. He put together a shadow company and he was collecting the pay for the whole company. I mean we're talking thousands of buck a month. Huh? And they ran into him and put him away for like 25 years. And he was laughing at em because the money was in the bank.

That's a side story. You haven't got time for that.

T: When did your tour of duty come to an end in Korea?

W: Well, it was like World War II. They sorta like had, you got points for combat, I mean for being overseas. And they said that I would probably be released in January of 52. So I wasn't even over there 24 months.

But I was, I had an exciting 1951, I'll tell you that. I can remember standing in the hospital ship New Years Eve 1950 and Bill and I were showering because we were so grateful to be on a hospital ship and sleeping in a ward which is better than quarters. Because they got those hospital beds and I said, "Man, I'm really going to," I said to Bill, "You see what time it is? It's 5 minutes to 12. Happy New Year." He says, "Yeah, right." I mean we were in the middle of nowhere. In the bay at Inchon.

But that Christmas, see we got, we were sent there between Christmas and New Years. To Korea, our first trip. And I didn't want to put it in the, I didn't mention in the diary that Marines were dying on Christmas Eve. And I did mention that when I first got to the, in early December, at the hospital, when I saw the four striped captain, which is a colonel in your place, you know, with his white shirt, sleeves rolled up, tie askew with blood on his hands seeing patients, you better participate. You know. We worked with our uniform for two days and never got anything to eat or anything.

When we arrived there we could see what was happening. They had guys in the ward, I mean in the halls. Now Christmas Eve I was off duty. But Bill and I were like two shadows. And so this is kind of unofficial but it's a true story. And so I said, "Bill, you need some help?" "Oh man," he said, "We've lost three of em since 9 o'clock." These guys, Marines you know, kids. And I said, "Well, I can help you." And he said, "Well let me ask the nurse." Because she didn't know who I was. And he said, "My buddy here said he wants…" "Oh bring him in. We need all the help we can get." Givin shots and stuff, changing bandages. What else you gonna do?

So I was changing a bandage on a guy who'd been bayoneted in the stomach about six, seven times. And they broke every bone in his arms and legs. So he was like, what's the word I want? A mannequin, you know. This was like this and his legs were like that. All that was touching the bed was his butt. And he was gonna die. He was 18 years old. So I said, "How you doing?" He said, "I wanna see the priest. I wanna have the last rites." And we had him in a corner with a kind of a drape; everybody knew he was the worst one on the ward.

So I went up to the nurse and said, "He wants to see a priest." She says, "Well they're having Mass." And I said, "Well, I think we should meet the requirement. I'm not telling you what to do." She was very nice. I said, "this guy's dying and he wants to see his priest. It's not a question of whether I'm Jewish or you're Protestant. He wants to see his priest." She said, "What do you think you'll do?" I said, "You want me to take care of it?" She said, "What are you going to do?" I said, "I'm going to go right into the church and say, 'Get your butt over here.'" She said, "You'll get in trouble." I said, "I don't care."

And what they had at that hospital, see that was a Naval Hospital for Japan. For years. So what happened was one of the rooms that had probably been a Buddhist chapel or something was turned into an American Protestant, Jewish whatever. Services being held. And you know as well as I, I don't know your religion. That's not the issue. But you know I know the Catholics have midnight mass on Christmas. It's a big deal. It's one of the biggest - lot of em - that's the only one they go to, you know.

But anyway I went down there and I said, "Well Warren, I got a wife. I got a baby on the way. I'm a Second Class Petty Officer. If I lose it my conscience is clear. And I walked and I opened the door. And I was very polite. He was doin something, the priest. "Excuse me Padre." "Yes, young man." "There's a young Marine on our ward who is dying and he's asking for the last rites. He really needs you." And I thought, now what, you know? And he said, "Mass is over." Stopped right in the middle. "Show me." Followed me down there. I was scared to death. Went to the ward, went on there and he gave him last rites and ten minutes later the guy was dead. So the nurse said, "I don't know what's going to happen." I said, "Well, my conscience is clear. I did the right thing."

T: Sure you did.

W: Well, so the next morning, we went to bed about midnight, you know. We was, there were a lot of extra guys helping, okay, that were not officially a part of the ward. And we all just pitched in. Because, what are you gonna do, sit over there and read a book, you know? So the next morning the nurse said to me, I worked on a different ward, I had worked on an easier ward. It was a ward that had minor wounds. They could walk around. They had like a bullet through the wrist or, you know. Minor stuff. And what's so funny, a Marine general, he used to come through every two weeks and give out Purple Hearts. He had a tray full of em. "What's your name? Smith? Here's your Purple Heart." It's a different… I would never go to war with any other unit though. I'll tell you that. They take care of their men.

T: That's what I hear.

W: Yup. That's beat into them from boot camp on. But that's digression. So she said, the nurse on my ward said, "What happened to you last night?" I said, "What?" She said, "It's all over the hospital." And I said, "What about it? I just went in there and told, I didn't tell the priest what to do. I said, 'This man needs the last rites.' You know like, what are you gonna do about it?" He coulda said, "Nothing." But he didn't. She said, "I wonder what's going to happen." I said, "I don't care."

Half an hour later the phone rings. "Report to the captain's office." Commander's office of the hospital. Four striper. And everybody said, "Good luck, good luck." I walked up there and he called me and he said, "Come in young man. I understand there's quite a story about last night." I said, "Yes sir." "Why did you do that?" I said, "I did that because I felt I owed it to that man," I said, "He was gonna die without getting last rites which he felt was necessary." He says, "Congratulations, young man." I thought he was going to say, "You just lost a stripe," you know?

And this happened and a couple days later was when we left so that New Years Eve was when we were… But you know I never made a big deal of that. You are one of the few persons I told that to. And it's not in my diary. I just said that there was guys dying, you know.

T: Well, that's a nice story and I think most priests probably would do just what that fellow did, because it doesn't take long to give the last rites. He can go back and finish the Mass.

W: And not only that, what's more important. He went back and finished Mass, you know. Within a matter of minutes. And the guy had his wish. I get emotional. You know I don't cry but it was a very emotional time. In wartime things are different.

T: Oh, absolutely.

W: You know if you ran into a Catholic church at Mass here and said somebody in the hospital wants to see you, you know. They're on, they're dying. I said we'll call this afternoon or something. It's not the same. This guy knew he was dying. Even though we didn't think, we weren't sure but everything was against him. I don't mean to elaborate on anything else. I don't know what else I can tell you. I've answered your question about the POW situation. And I felt, I didn't feel guilty putting that in because I said, this is my opinion - in the epilogue. I thought, and like I said, Brad told me that's the smartest thing you did. You didn't change your diary.

T: What did you do Warren, after you got back to the States. When you were discharged from the service.

W: Well, I went to work for Lakeside Laboratories.

T: Did you stay in the active reserve? (Laughter).

W: I forget. I can't remember. I wasn't, I never was angry. I never lost, I never felt like I got screwed or something. What I did, I did with good conscience and I was going to keep my obligation and be done with it. Some guys are always bitchin, you know. I can't do that. I'm not that kind of person. That's why I'm in good shape. I'm going to be 78 years old in two weeks. Three weeks.

T: Well, I interrupted you.

W: No, I interrupted you. I went to work for Lakeside Laboratories.

T: Saw your child for the first time.

W: Yeah. Eight months old. Well, Norma brought him to me and of course he cried. He looked at me like, "Who's this jerk?" Which I understood. He's gonna be 53 years old. He's a captain in the sheriff's department in California. His grandson (means son) is 6' 7", just graduated from Arkansas University. He was a tight end for Arkansas football team. Anyway, digression.

But I got home and I went over to Lakeside and they hired me and I had ¼ the size of Iowa to call on doctors. It was in medical, the fact that my medical background helped me get the job. I didn't like it. I was on the road too much. From Monday through Friday. And Norma never complained and we weren't that, well we ate and she got pregnant with the second one. And times were tough. And I don't know to this day how we stayed together. Of all the challenges. But there was a word that we had in our generation that you don't have today. And that's called commitment. It's a different world. I'm not anti. It's just a different world. You ask a girl and "screw that guy. I'll get somebody else." We didn't talk that way. And they're not all that way but there's a lot of em.

And so what happened was I applied for a job with a company, a drug company out of, to get back to Wisconsin. They had an opening. Wyeth. The Wyeth Drug Company. I went to work for [ ] Yeah, Wyeth. W-Y-E-T-H. Out of Philadelphia, whatever. And they hired me. Went through a little training before we could [ ]. And I had the south side of Milwaukee and I hated it. I had a problem and the problem was me. I didn't like what I was doing. I enjoyed the travelling around. I made my calls and they even gave me a raise.

And I came home one night and I said, "Norma, I can't take this any more." She said, "What's the matter?" "I wanna go back in the Navy." She said, "Let's do it." Never like… And I said, "I don't have a reason. I don't understand." So I went back in the Navy and they took me right in. And I had a good job at Great Lakes. But I'm egotistical enough to know I want to get ahead. I couldn't get promoted. I would end up being the same as I was if I stayed 20 years.

T: You had a college degree.

W: Yeah, right. So, that still doesn't always mean anything but I got ahold of the Coast Guard. And of course they take Navy corpsmen with open arms. Half the corpsmen in the Coast Guard are ex-Navy. Because you have to be the type of person that likes any kind of duty. We don't have three or four corpsmen on a ship, you know. We got one. Now a lot of guys don't mind doin that. I hated it. And so they sent me to Charlevoix, Michigan on board the Coast Guard Cutter [Sundoo]. A buoy tender. Now I'm not going to get into detail on that. You got that off?

T: No, it's on. (Referring to the tape recorder).

W: Well, this was really the crowning moment because [it was] 45 years ago.

T: Charlevoix is a nice place.

W: Oh yeah.

T: Resort area.
W: We loved it and you know, it was cheap living you know, compared to the big city. And we loved it. And so I was only at the public hospital from about spring until… August I got orders to go up there. So we went up there. Got a nice house with three bedrooms.

But on November 18, 1958 was the second or first worst storm in the history of northern Lake Michigan. And the 658-foot long Carl Bradley limestone carrier sunk in 2.5 minutes with 35 men aboard. 33 of em were lost. We had to get underway. I didn't think we'd come back. Now I'm gonna just tell you that was one of my defining moments because I didn't think we were gonna make it. We were rolling, we rolled three times. You sail at all?

T: No.

W: Well you know enough about boats.

T: Yeah, I came back from Europe on a boat that broke down in the middle of the ocean.

W: We rolled three times during the night looking for survivors. We rolled 55 degrees. Now people say, "55, that's only…" But 90, you're dead.

T: You think you're not gonna come back up.

W: Yeah. 60, you may not. And people that don't ride boats may not understand. If it hangs there too long, you start reaching for your life jacket. So long story short, I'm writing a book about it and I just recently came back from Port Huron, Michigan. They invited me to come there. I didn't know what they were gonna do. But they got my picture in a book. One of the guys I rescued I haven't seen in 45 years. The other one died - has since died. But the guy that wrote it was Frank Mays. Frank, the last time I saw him they were taking him off the ship in a stretcher when they got to Charlevoix. They took him to the hospital. I never saw him again the rest of my life.

So he wrote a book, "If We Can Make It To Daylight." That's the name of it. If you ever want an exciting novel to read, I'll let you read one. I'm selling them but I wouldn't sell you one. I'd let you read my copy. But anyway he was sitting at the table in Port Huron. They had like a seminar about diving on the Great Lakes. And also about this Carl Bradley thing. And he was going to talk last in the evening. And then they asked me to come up and talk too. And of course that's a bad thing to do, to ask Warren to talk. But I didn't, no, I just took about five minutes.

Where I turned everybody on is when I, to go early, we got there at four in the afternoon on Saturday. I bought a book and the lady that published them said, "Oh, we've got five books for you free. Three for your children and two for your wife and yourself." And I said, "Well, I already bought one." She said, "Well…" I said, "I don't want my money back." So I went over and I said, "Are you Mr. Mays?" He said, "Yes." He's sittin down, he's writing. "Would you sign my book?" "Oh, I certainly would." I lay it down. He said, "What's the first name?" I said, "Warren." He said, "Warren Toussaint." The tears just rolled down his cheeks. Because we helped - I didn't personally save his life. But the ship did. But he, well I had to take care of him on the ship.

And so that night, we had so many books to sign that we even missed dinner. My wife had to run and get a sandwich for me. And then they started the evening show and they talked about diving in the Great Lakes and so forth. And at the end they called him up and of course the crowd stood and clapped. There was over 300 people there. And when they called, the MC called, I wasn't on the stage but he called me up and he says, "Now I'd like to bring up the man that helped, took care of Frank Mays when he came on… This was when he got done talking. And I walked up there and I stood there and I said, "Before I can say anything, I have to tell you something," I told the audience. I said, "You know, next week it'll be 45 years since I saw Frank." And they just rose as one and clapped, you know. And we were both pretty emotional about it. I didn't cry but Frank was pretty emotional about it. He lives in Florida.

The whole story sadly enough is that all these years nothing's been done about it. Now all of a sudden all these things are coming out. And it's incredible. Nobody cared about it. There's a book written now, this couple, teachers had put out about three tapes on ship sinkings. And I've got the one on the Carl Bradley which talks about how it was built, what it did, a big - that's 30%. The other 30% or 1/3 is my ex captain talking who's 80 some years old, talking about what we went through that night. And then the last third is Frank telling his story, which he turned now and has made a book out of it so to speak.

T: How long were you in the Coast Guard then?

W: Oh I retired after 33 years service, no 33 years total service. I was in the Coast Guard from about '58 until '81. And retired as a W-4 Warrant Officer. That's what I wanted, was to get ahead. I didn't want to make admiral. But I no sooner got in the Coast Guard. I was on the - in fact we never got a citation. I'm talking '58. I'm a Second Class Petty Officer. Okay? Within three months, within six months of being in the Coast Guard, I was First Class Petty Officer, which meant I couldn't stay on that ship and the old man wanted me to stay there. He said, "I can't keep you here. You're too high a rank."

I went to Honolulu and went aboard another ship. And then I went to isolated duty. I spent a whole year on Iwo Jima. And that was an experience because I studied hard and I took the chief's - I always came out first or second on the exams. I made Chief. I served as liaison officer at San Francisco and then went aboard the Glacier and went down to the South Pole and when I came - I had taken the test for Warrant Officer. I came back and I was number one on the list. In August of 1970, I made Warrant Officer. I had nothing to be ashamed of. I did it myself. I mean you know, I wanted to get ahead. And that little green one's there every month now.

T: You had how many children Warren?

W: Three.

T: Are they all living?

W: Yup.

T: Are they in the Oshkosh area?

W: Only my daughter. I got two sons and eight grandchildren on the West Coast. We go once a year to see em. Well one's, two of em got married not but they're on the West Coast. Well the other one, the football player married a girl in Arkansas. He lives in Fayetteville. That's a pretty area down there.

T: I guess it is. I think we've covered just about all the territory. I'm very glad that we had the opportunity to talk to you Warren. I thank you very much for coming in.

W: I'm guilty of talking too much but when you say you want me to tell a story, I'll tell it.

T: Well, you told me some very nice stories Warren and thanks much.
Event Korean War
Category 6: T&E For Communication
Legal Status Oshkosh Public Museum
Notes Warren J. Toussaint He was born in Milwaukee Wisconsin in 1926. His father was a white collar worker gainfully employed even through the Depression. He has one younger sister. Warren attended the public grade and high schools, graduating in 1944. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy one day prior to his 18th birthday, took basic training at Great Lakes Naval Training Station and then trained as a hospital corpsman. He spent the war years as an operating room technician stateside in base hospitals.

At the end of World War II, Warren returned to civilian life, enrolled at Marquette University and graduated in June of 1950. He was in the active reserve and was called up for duty in the Korean War almost as soon as he graduated. He got married at that time to a girl he had been dating for several years.

Warren became a member of a surgical team that was sent to Japan and then to Korea. His team was assigned to POW camps where, for the most part, they treated the various illnesses and injuries of North Korean and Chinese prisoners. He had no strong feelings about either the Chinese or North Koreans except to state that the North Koreans strongly disliked Americans and were much more aggressive in their actions. Warren spent a little less than a year in that theater of operation and was discharged in 1952. His first child was born while he was overseas.

Upon returning to civilian life, Warren took employment with a large pharmaceutical company as a drug representative, didn't care for it much and took a similar job with another drug company. He didn't like that either and realized that he missed the Navy. He re-enlisted and was transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard, serving in several places before being transferred to Charlevoix,. Michigan. He spent the balance of his career there as a medic and was involved in the rescue efforts for a large vessel that sank in 1958. His Coast Guard unit was responsible for rescuing some of the survivors of that sinking. Their action was heroic because of the nature of the storm they had to brave. (The name of the vessel is well known and the story was in all the newpapers but the name escapes me at the moment).

I did not write down the date but believe that Warren retired in the early 1980's as a Chief Warrent Officer. He and his wife reside in Oshkosh and he has three grown children, one of whom lives here. He is active in veterans affairs and I believe served for a time as commander of the local American Legion Post. Warren's diary of his service in Korea is in the archives of the OPM.
Object ID OH2001.3.63
Object Name Tape, Magnetic
Location of Originals Oshkosh Public Museum
People Toussaint, Warren J.
Subjects World War II
United States Navy
United States Marine Corps
Korean Conflict
Medical aspects of war
Operating rooms
Military hospitals
Prisoners of war
Title Oral History Interview with Warren J. Toussaint.
COPYRIGHT INFORMATION ~ For access to this image, contact

NOTICE: This material may be freely used by non-commercial entities for educational and/or research purposes as long as this message remains on all copied material. These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format for profit or other presentation without the permission of The Oshkosh Public Museum. © 2005 Oshkosh Public Museum, All Rights Reserved   
Last modified on: December 12, 2009