Mr. Bob C. Hains
Interviewed by Lindsay Shake
Recorded on 10/24/2005 by Lindsay Shake
Transcribed on 11/19/2005-11/20/2005 by Lindsay Shake
[Interview starts at 003 on counter]
Lindsay Shake: Today is Monday, October 24th of 2005. I am Lindsay Shake and I am interviewing Bob Hains at 233 North Val Vista, Mesa, Arizona 85213 [His address, but the interview took place over the phone] Mr. Hains is a family friend. He is 81 years old and was born on February 1st, 1924. Mr. Hains served in World War II. He was in the 86th infantry, 342nd regiment and company I and held the following rank: staff sergeant. First off, I’d like to thank you for sending me all that you did, it really helped me prepare better for this interview. Also, I wanted to let you know that Terry [his daughter, also a family friend] sent me a photograph of you when you were probably 19 in your military uniform.
Bob Hains: Okay.
Lindsay Shake: I understand from our last conversation [had to re-do the interview] that you were drafted at the age of 19. Was the order to report for induction (2-13-43) the first notice you received that you had been drafted?
Bob Hains: Uh huh, yes.
LS: What were you doing when you received the letter? How did you feel after you opened it?
BH: I felt good about it because I knew it would be coming eventually and what I was doing was working at a restaurant in a service station.
LS: When were you told if you were accepted after reporting for induction?
BH: [Had trouble with phone connection, moved on to the next question]
LS: How did you feel when you received your orders to report to Rushville for act of duty? (2-24-43)
BH: I felt good because I was anticipating being drafted and everything because all of my friends and everything were going in the service.
LS: Right, do you recall what you did between notice of being called into act of duty and the day you were to leave for duty? Like, in that weeks period of time.
BH: Yes I just – we owned a service station and restaurant and I just finished up any details that I had to do there.
LS: What did you do between reporting to Fort Benjamin [Harrison] on 2-24-43 and 9-24-43?
BH: I was in basic training down in Camp Swift Texas. [He was with the 97th infantry division, and promoted to Corporal September 8th of 1943. He was an assistant squad leader. He transferred to the Air Force in January of 1944 to become a pilot. Then, he went to Northwestern State Teachers College in Alva, Oklahoma. ]
LS: And why were you sent there and what did you do there?
BH: Well I was a – we were sent there to learn infantry training and different hand to hand combat and riffle – you know how to use a riffle, and everything pretending to being in the infantry and fighting in the infantry.
LS: I see on April 13 of 1944 you logged flight time at Alva, Oklahoma. Is that something you requested? Did you enjoy that? Or was that ordered for a specific mission?
BH: No, I requested going to the – transferring from the infantry to the Air Force, because I wanted to become a pilot and I didn’t want to walk as much as they do in the infantry. They had a lot of hikes and a lot of things like this in the infantry where as I wanted to become a pilot and be – you know – glamorous.
LS: Did you enjoy that?
BH: Yes I did. And I had 4 hours of flying time at that time in a Piper Cub and enjoyed that and everything. But then they had the big battle in the bulge and things weren’t good in Germany and on general orders they sent all of us that had previous ground service training back to the ground forces.
LS: I also noticed that you are listed in that order as Corporal Rank, had you been promoted from private and what had you done to earn that promotion?
BH: Primarily I was a squad leader and doing good work and became the assistant squad leader by my work and training that I had.
LS: Was the first time you were sent over seas in 1945?
LS: Records show to ETO (European Theater of Operations), where is that?
BH: Well, we left out of Boston, Massachusetts and landed in Le Havre, France and the – went on the ship in the North Atlantic and it was interesting that half the people got sea sick and I didn’t get sea sick in crossing the ocean or anything. [Special orders #35 April 19th 1944 sent all people with ground force training back to the ground forces. He was sent to the 86th infantry division and Camp Livingston, Louisiana. While there he was promoted to sergeant then to staff sergeant.]
LS: Right and how long did it take to get there from the United States by ship?
BH: Oh, ‘bout six days.
LS: Were there any other conditions on the ship besides people getting sick such as black outs or rough water?
BH: Well, they had plenty of food and plenty of water the only thing was there was a complete blackout during that night. You know you weren’t allowed to have any lights or anything showing that would give the submarine a clue of where we were.
LS: Where did you disembark from the ship?
BH: La Havre, France. And from there we went close to Paris, France and then waited on transportation to take us to Germany.
LS: And what was your job, at that time?
BH: Squad Leader.
LS: It was during that time in Europe on April 10, 1945 that you were shot; can we talk about the circumstances?
BH: Yes, we were in cleaning out a forest area for – in Germany. What we were doing we were going down a hill to revene and then we were going back up again. The Germans had a 20 millimeter anti Aircraft gun that they were using on the grounds they were on the opposite hill and they were lined up on the fence row and they caught a bunch of us on the fence row. They wounded a lot and killed a couple people at that time.
LS: Who got you medical attention?
BH: Well, the medics came and picked up the wounded and took us back to a field hospital and from there we were transported to La Havre, France - not to La Havre but to Vittel, France where we recuperated from the wounds and had them taken care of.
LS: So how long were you in the hospital?
BH: I was in the hospital for about a month until we could rejoin the division. I wanted to rejoin the division and it took a while and I was ambulatory but, you know, they wouldn’t let me join the division till – and by that time the war was over.
LS: So is that why you returned to the US in June, 1945?
LS: What an honor to have received a Purple Heart for your service in Germany. How did you receive it? Like was there a ceremony?
BH: Well actually I received it after I got back to the United States you know and you know I received the Purple Heart after I got back to the United States and when we came back from Germany we got a 30 day leave and then went to Sacramento to prepare, to get ready, to go for the invasion of Japan.
LS: I notice at the time you received your Purple Heart you were a sergeant. Had you been promoted again? What had you done to earn the promotion?
BH: No, I wasn’t promoted again. I was a staff sergeant at the time I received the Purple Heart and I continued to be a staff sergeant.
LS: I see you left the US in August of 1945 to AP, where was that?
BH: Asia. Yeah, we were going to – our division was the first division pulled out of – whole division pulled out of Europe to go for the invasion of Japan.
LS: It took 21 days to get there, correct?
BH: Well, it took about that long to get to – because we went to the Caroline Islands and then went to midland in the Philippine islands and then to Mindanao.
LS: What was the mode of transportation? What were the traveling conditions?
BH: Traveling conditions were good but it was by ship all the way.
LS: What was your job when you got there?
BH: Squad leader for the squad and the platoon and we didn’t – primarily were waiting on orders to figure out what was going to happen after they dropped the atomic bomb.
LS: Where were you when victory was announced that the war was over?
BH: We were on board ship. Ready – crossing the Pacific Ocean.
LS: Why was it not until January of 1496 [error made, supposed to be 1946] that you returned to the US?
BH: Because they kept us in the Philippine Islands just waiting on transportation and going on patrol there and they didn’t have the facilities to bring the people back at that time. You know, until January of ‘46 and you needed a certain number of points in order to be discharged to come back.
LS: And how was the trip different on the way back to the United States then it was leaving from the United States?
BH: We didn’t have to worry about submarines or things like this because the war was over and it was more relaxed. We weren’t thinking about a submarine or anything sinking the ship.
LS: Now I just have some general questions to ask you that you’ve already answered in the previous interview.
LS: How did you stay in touch with your family?
BH: Primarily with letters was the way – at that time they didn’t have telephone communication to any of ‘em so the only way you could keep contact was letters and postcards.
LS: What was the food like?
BH: The food was good. I didn’t mind the food at all and everything. You know I didn’t even mind the K-Rashioning and this kind of stuff.
LS: Did you have plenty of supplies or was there any problem with lack of supplies?
BH: No, we had plenty of supplies. You know there was a surplus of ammunition and everything because we took em with us. We didn’t run short on food or ammunition or supplies or anything.
LS: Did you perform any rituals for good luck while you were in war?
BH: Uh, rephrase that.
LS: Did you do any rituals for good luck?
BH: Well the only thing I did - I was more religious at that time – and I went to church whenever there was - the chaplain was holding a church meeting and there was one in Germany that I went to – the chapel held a church meeting – and there was only three of us that was there. And that was one of them where I was wounded a couple of days after that.
LS: When on the battlefield, where did you sleep, for example, fox holes, behind sand bags, etc?
BH: It varied. Sometimes we would be in a fox hole but most of the time while we were overseas and fighting and everything we were sleeping in houses that we had cleared and taken. You know, because it was primarily city fighting that we were doing.
LS: What did you do in downtime to entertain yourself?
BH: Slept mostly. Because we were on alert all the time and any time we had down time we were either playing cards or sleeping.
LS: Were you ever on leave, like did you ever get to take a vacation, between February 13th, 1943 and the day you were honorably discharged on in February 2nd, 1946? If so, what did you do?
BH: Well, we had a 30 day leave when we came back from Germany. And at that time I went home and visited family and you know friends and everything. In the mean time my mother – family - had moved to Anderson, Indiana and I spent the time visiting in Anderson, Indiana and everything.
LS: What was the first thing you did when you returned to the US in February of 1946?
BH: The first thing that I did was primarily just glad to be back in the United States and nothing in particular because I didn’t go back to work right away after I was discharged or anything.
LS: What career did you pursue after the war?
BH: What after the war?
LS: What career did you pursue?
BH: I didn’t understand that word, Lindsay. [Phone connection wasn’t clear]
LS: Oh, like what was your job after you came back from the war?
BH: Oh! What I did after the war I went back to work at Guide Lamp as an apprentice tool and die maker and I did that until I got ready to go to college and after I came back in February and was discharged I started college at Indiana University in that fall session.
LS: And was your education funded by the G.I. Bill?
BH: Yes. If it wouldn’t have been for the G.I. Bill I probably wouldn’t of went to college and would’ve became a tool and die maker.
LS: How did your experience influence your opinion about war, For example, Do you think we should be in Iraq?
BH: I think we should be in war at different times. I think if were going to fight a war we should do it with the best of our ability. Not like they’re doing in Iraq now by being more in holding action or the same way as Vietnam. I think if we went in Vietnam we should’ve went in there and fought with really everything we could because you go to war to win and if you don’t use everything in your capabilities then you’re not gonna win.
LS: How did your service and experience in the military affect your life?
BH: It made me appreciate the simple things a lot more and the fact that you can’t get by without a lot of material things. You don’t need a lot of things to be happy it’s the small things that make you happy.
LS: Can you explain all of your decorations and what they were for? And I have a list of them so I’ll just go through them.
BH: Well, the American Theatre is for service in the United States. The European theater was for service in Germany, France and that area the Asian Theatre was for service in the Pacific and the Pacific and the Carolines and the Hiroshima and in that area. That’s what the three different service medals were. And then the Combat Infantry Badge that I received is for in your infantry if you actually engaged in combat which you know we were and everything.
LS: Right, and I’m not sure if I’m pronouncing this correctly so please correct me if I pronounce it wrong, The Eame Number One Bronze Star?
BH: Yeah, that was the – actually the bronze star that I got for being in Germany and everything.
LS: And was it for performing any specific type of service or was it just for serving there?
BH: Just for serving there.
LS: Right. The Good Conduct Award? What was that for and if you could explain it?
BH: Well, the good conduct medal was incase you haven’t been a-wall or if you hadn’t started fights or any of this kind of stuff. It’s for Good Conduct, like you would have in the school and everything.
LS: And could you please explain the Purple Heart?
BH: The Purple Heart was because of being wounded in Germany and that was caused by a German aircraft gun firing at – across from one hill to another where we were.
LS: And could you explain the Victory Medal?
BH: The Victory Medal was given to everybody that was in the service after the war was over.
LS: What was the Expert Riffle Award for?
BH: Well, in the infantry you had to qualify on riffles and carbines and machine guns, all different types of weapons. I qualified as an expert on the riffle and the carbine, which is a smaller riffle, similar to the automatic riffle they have now, and you had to at least be a ?marsh men? or an expert before they would put you in a field to shoot and everything.
LS: And did you teach anyone else how to use the riffle or the carbine?
BH: No, I would teach my squad to shoot afterwards but before that the other squad leaders or sergeants would be teaching the people how to fire the riffle, how to clean ‘em, and take care of them. You had to definitely keep your riffle clean because your life depended on it.
LS: After defending our country for three years and sustaining gun shot wounds, do you feel your disability compensation was adequate or fair or do you think that you deserved more?
BH: No, I feel that it was very adequate.
LS: [Forgot to mention earlier] Could we talk about waiting for the Atomic Bomb to drop and what kinds of emotions were going through your head?
BH: Really not a whole lot of emotions and everything, I was just unhappy that I got shot because I wanted to keep on going and everything. But, not a lot of emotions.
LS: Would you say that being shot affected your experience in the military a whole lot?
BH: Not a lot. I would say that it affected it some but not what I would call a lot. Like right now if I wasn’t as old as I am and they wanted me to go back to the service I would go back to the service.
LS: Right. Is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you would like to share or anything else about your experience in the military?
BH: No, I think we’ve covered everything pretty well, Lindsay.
LS: Okay. Thank you so much for doing this interview.
BH: Yeah, that’s no problem. I’m just happy that I could do it for ya.
LS: Oh, thank you so much. Okay, well, I’ll be sure to put together an excellent essay and do a good project.
BH: Okay well if you have any more questions or think of anything feel free to give me a call anytime.
LS: Okay, bye Mr. Hains.
BH: Yeah, say hello to Lauren and everything for me, okay?
LS: Okay! Bye.
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