Interview with Robert Lauth Sr.
My name is Laura Lauth and I'm interviewing Robert Lauth Sr. whose birthday is 11/17/1917 and his address is 12051 Waterford Lane, Carmel, Indiana.
Laura Lauth: What war did you serve in?
Robert Lauth: World War II and the Korean War.
LL: What branch of service did you serve in?
LL: Were you drafted or did you enlist?
RL: I enlisted I guess— enlisted.
LL: Where were you living at the time that you enlisted?
LL: Why did you join?
RL: Well, if I hadn't joined I would have ended up being drafted.
LL: Why did you pick the service branch that you joined?
RL: Very fortunate for me, a friend of mine's brother was in ordinance. I had no idea what even ordinance was, but it worked out.
LL: Do you recall your first days in service?
LL: What did it feel like?
RL: Not good.
LL: Can you tell me about your boot camp or training experience?
RL: I was sent to Aberdeen, Maryland— that's where I went to ordinance, that's where one of the ordinance centers was and we began to get use to boot camp and learned to march and things that you would have never done before.
LL: How did you get through it?
RL: Well, I guess it wasn't that hard, we had a lot of friends there.
LL: Where exactly did you go for your service?
RL: Well I was at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, just outside of Baltimore for over two years, then went to Cadbury, up to the camp, in addition to the whole camp I was instructed and listened to the instructors for two years before I went overseas.
LL: What was your job assignment?
RL: I was Assistant Adjutant. . .I was actually assigned to do anything.
LL: Did you ever see combat?
LL: Can you tell me about a couple of your most memorable experiences?
RL: Well, one of them was when I went to Hiroshima very shortly after they said that it was safe to go. It was very devastating— I remember the naval base in Japan which was a submarine base. It was badly devastated as was everything else so it really wasn't all that big of a deal.
LL: Were you awarded any medals or citations?
RL: Just the usual. .. for good conduct.
LL: How did you stay in touch with your family while you were gone?
LL: What was the food like?
RL: It wasn't bad. It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad. I gained a little bit of weight.
LL: Did you have plenty of supplies?
RL: Yes, except maybe the beer and whiskey.
LL: Did you feel pressure or stress?
LL: Was there anything special that you did for good luck?
LL: How did people entertain themselves during the war? Were there entertainers?
RL: No, I don't remember any entertainers. I'm sure they were some place, but they weren't where I was.
LL: So what did you do for fun while you weren't working?
RL: We played cards; that's about it. We thought about our family.
LL: What did you do when you were on leave?
RL: When I was on leave actually I came home, which was several times in about three and a half years. I was lucky enough to get home on Christmas every year.
LL: Did you travel anywhere while in service?
LL: Not much; I really didn't see much of Europe at all and in Japan I didn't go to Tokyo or something. I didn't see much.
LL: Do you recall any particularly humorous or unusual events?
RL: I can't really think of anything too humorous in the war [laughs].
LL: Did you or any of your friends pull any pranks?
RL: I don't think so; we were a little bit young.
LL: Do you have any photographs?
LL: Who are most of the people in the photographs?
RL: My companions I guess and some others—that would be all.
LL: What did you think of the officers and your fellow soldiers? Did you get
along with them?
RL: Oh yes, you had to.
LL: Did you ever keep a diary?
LL: Do you recall the day that your service ended?
LL: Where were you?
RL: I was back at the camp.
LL: Can you tell me about that?
RL: Well, it was a pretty good thing. The first thing that people usually did was get ready and then you service ended, and then you start all over.
LL: What did you do the days and weeks after your service ended?
RL: I looked for a job.
LL: Did you continue with any education after your service ended?
RL: No, that was stupid, very stupid.
LL: Did you join a veteran's organization?
LL: Which organization was that?
RL: American Legion.
LL: What was your career after the war?
LL: Did your military experience influence your thinking of war or about the military in general?
RL: Oh yes I'm sure it did.
LL: In what ways?
RL: Well, I learned things about it that I never knew before.
LL: For your veteran's organization, what kinds of activities does your post or association have?
RL: Well they have [?] parties and steak fries, things like that.
LL: Do you attend reunions?
LL: How did your service and experience affect your life?
RL: I don't think it hurt. I think it was a good experience for me, not necessarily a pleasant experience but it's a good experience for all young people. It teaches young people how you have to live, who you have to get along with, to obey your superiors. Superiority is nothing but rank but anyway the superiors were bigger than I was.
LL: How old were you when you enlisted?
LL: Is there anything else you would like to add or tell me about? Any stories or anything?
RL: It's been too long now, over fifty years since the end, but I think it did me good, I was never really sorry that I went, not that I really had a choice.
LL: In ordinance what kind of work would you do?
RL: I was an adjutant— an adjutant is the assistant to the commanding officer of the whole unit. I was the right-hand man, anything that he didn't want to do, I did.
LL: Did you make any particularly close friendships with anyone in service that you have kept in contact with?
RL: No. Well I did at the time, but by now they're gone. There were some that we particularly liked, the ones that didn't think they were better than us, but they're gone now.
LL: You mentioned earlier that you were assistant adjutant.
RL: I was an adjutant, yes.
LL: What did you have to do to attain that position? Did you have to have any special skills?
RL: No, not necessarily. Maybe I should explain what an adjutant is. He's the right hand man to the commanding officer and whatever good that is or bad that is, he's the guy that's right there with him and signs all the official documents.
LL: How did you feel when you were recalled to Korea after recently getting home from WWII?
RL: I was in reserve, and I didn't expect to be recalled, but the Korean War came and I understood that they were quite selective in who they called and they had a lot of people to pick from, and I think that very truly I think that they went through their records from the past and if you did a very good job they called you. If you didn't then they didn't want you. I think that's the way it worked.
LL: So it was kind of an honor to be asked?
RL: Well, I wouldn't such an honor [?], but I would say that they didn't take just anybody that they could take; they took who they thought were people who would do a good job.
LL: When you were deployed out of the country where did you go first overseas?
RL: To Manila in the Philippine Islands.
LL: And then where? Where all did you go overseas?
RL: First I went to Manila, and then we went into Japan when Japan surrendered, then I came home, and then I was recalled again for the Korean thing and then I went to Germany.
LL: What was the trip like to get to the Philippines?
RL: Long. It took thirty days. We went alone which was very unusual at that time. I mean our ship was not guarded. Just one. It took thirty days to get to Manila. We went to New Guinea and Leno [?], way out of our way. I guess to avoid any submarines, but it took a long time.
LL: Do you have a most memorable moment from any of your experiences in the different wars?
RL: I can't think of anything that would really be interesting to tell you about. I can't think of anything very memorable.
LL: Can you tell me once again about your experience going to Hiroshima?
RL: We were in Japan, Kuri Japan, which was a submarine naval base, which was damn near as bad as Hiroshima was. They came and said that everything was cleared, that they weren't worried about any atomic or anything else in Hiroshima, so they said it was safe to go, so I said "OK" and I would go. So I got in a jeep and when to Hiroshima. I didn't have any orders, I couldn't even prove that I've been there except the pictures that I have. But we went in and of course it was a terrible experience. The only building that I remember standing was a brewery, everything else was flat. Anyway some police, they said, "If you want to go to the brewery we've got beer there and we'd be glad to give you a beer." And I said, "That is a good idea." I don't remember exactly how I got the thing, but anyway I did drive up to the brewery and handed this guy the thing that said "give him one case" except that I changed it to ten cases. And then nobody argued and loaded ten cases of beer into my jeep and I went back to my area, my company, and got the beer out for the guys.
LL: Who did you go with to Hiroshima?
RL: Nobody. I went by myself.
LL: Once again, what are your thoughts about the current war with Iraq and all that's going on?
RL: I am very sorry. War never seems to solve anything. It's very dangerous and we have to get rid of this idiot there, so whatever it takes I guess, we have to do it, although as unpleasant as it is.
LL: Do you think that any war can be a success or do you think that all wars are unsuccessful?
RL: You might say that if the bomb goes off as scheduled it would be a success, but we need to get rid of this idiot, this bastard. It's still very dangerous, very dangerous.
LL: Do you think if you hadn't been involved in any wars you would feel differently about the war today?
RL: Maybe not. You actually have to have some feeling of being in it and understanding maybe a little bit of what it's like. It's a very unpleasant thing. I honestly don't see what we're going to gain by the end.
 End of interview.
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