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Record 104/959
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Cassette recorded oral history interview with Joseph Fisher by Gordon Doule. He discusses his experiences in the US Navy during World War II. Oral History with Joseph Fisher, conducted by Gordon Doule, 25 October, 1993 F: My name is Joseph Fisher Jr., I'm 6 years old. I was born in Oshkosh, May 5, 1927. My wife's name is Genevieve, her name was [Swanke]. I was a barber for 43 years. Starting in the navy, actually. I have five daughters - Chris, Donna, Susan, Julie and Lynette. I went to school at Sacred Heart for eight years, then I went to one year at South Park, and I went to two years at Oshkosh High School. I quit when I was a junior. I lived all my life in Oshkosh, then I joined the navy. I was in a V-6, they call it, Reserve, I was in for 25 months. Other than that I had 20 months sea duty. I wanted to join when I was 16 but my then my father wouldn't sign for me so I wanted 'til I was 17, when he signed. I was 17 May 1st. May 3rd I went down to Milwaukee for a physical, and May 5th I was sworn in the navy. I came home for ten days, went back to Great Lakes and I went through boot camp. Five weeks and five days, we came back again for another ten days. Went back to Great Lakes and went right out to California. Was there about two days and got on a ship, on a LST, that went to Pearl Harbor. I was there for five weeks, I guess, waiting for a ship, and I got assigned to a destroyer escort, DE-9, The Carlson. I guess I'm jumping ahead now. Did I forget about [ ]? We went through, we were running between [ ] and [ ], escorting for either tankers or cargo ships, mostly like for submarines, watching for submarines and that. Then from there we went to Leyte Gulf, Philippine Islands. There wasn't much action going on right then. It was mostly just escorting in and out and that. The whole invasion of Okinawa, that started April 1st on Easter Sunday, in 1945. The first couple days there wasn't much going on and then towards the end there it was really bad with the kamikazes and that. We almost got torpedoed down there - a torpedo went right under the ship. It was about 9:00 in the evening and I saw it. I was standing at mid-ships and I seen the plane come in and I just stood there and I thought for sure that was the end of it. It went under the ship and kept going. We were almost bombed down there once, it was off the coast of Okinawa. The capital was Naha. And they fired out at us, and water from the shell splashed up on our fantail and we got out of there in a hurry. After that, we went up to the coast of Japan when the bombers were coming from Guam and they could carry enough fuel so they could fly from Guam to Japan, but in order to have fighters escort them in, there was carriers between Guam and Japan, and as the bombers would go over, the fighters would go up and escort them in. And we had duty there watching them when they would take off or if anything happened. Like we picked up one - he wasn't revved up enough or something - and he went in the water and we picked up the survivors. That was our duty up there. Up there we was out to sea for three months and we never saw land at all. Took all our supplies on from the carriers, our fuel and food and everything. At the end of the war we were sent back to - right before the end of the war - we were sent to Guam because our ship was in such bad shape, and that's when the war was over. As soon as the war was over we got shipped back to the United States and they scrapped the ship. There's a lot of things I recall. I think it made me a better person by going in - I think all kids and that should go in now, it wouldn't hurt them. You learn how to live on your own, and I think you learn how to pray. A couple times there we thought it was over with and we were very lucky, think, that we come back. Met a lot of good people - wonderful people - and we met a lot of bad people, too so, it's...We don't have no reunions or that - I always would have liked to have got together with the whole ship but I don't know, we just never...there was a lot of hard feelings on that ship - actually, before I got on there they even mutinied in the United States, and they just shipped them right back out, that's why the ship was in such bad shape. And I've looked up a few fellas - a couple in Chicago, and I had their telephone numbers and that, but I don't know, I guess they just left. A couple of years ago we looked up one in Holland, Michigan, and he was - I talked to his brother - the one I was looking for, he was out in California then. I learned a lot of things, like I said, I learned a lot of good things and a lot of bad things. But I think it make a better person out of you. For one thing you appreciate your country. And, I said, a lot of times you will still get upset with some of the stuff that's going on but I guess we still got the best country in the world right here. If I had to go back in I would, if I had to fight for them. I don't know what else.
Oral History Interview with Joseph Fisher -WORLD WAR II -Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
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Last modified on: December 12, 2009