PFC, US Army, 1942-1945
By Ken Mazur
What, the camera on now? Itís not on me, is it?
Good to go.
Can ya see me?
Uh-huhÖallright. Lets start out with your basic biography stuff, like, uh, When did you go inÖuh, what outfit were you withÖ
Well, I was drafted November 6 in ë42. From here we went to the depot. From there we went to Camp CusterÖstayed there for ëbout a weekÖ
Where was that?
Battle Creek. And, from there we went5 to camp Claiborne, Louisiana. It was a National Guard outfit, the 103rd from Arizona. Aaand we did our basic training there. Aaand from every company, bout 3 or 4 guysÖgo to another outfit. AndÖI and two other guys from our company, and every company had 1 or 2 guys, and we went, uhÖwe were lined up down at the regimental HQ.."you 40 guys go this side, you 40 guys go there." Now, the ones on one side, they transferred to Africa. My group, that I was in, we were transferred to 20 miles on the other side of Alexandria, Louisiana, to Camp Livingston. Then, uh, it was an outfit, a national guard outfit, from Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois, the 38th Infantry Divisional. And, from there, we did more training. And then, the following, well, lets see, in Nov, about a year later, we were shipped out. No, I take that back. It was about August, we were shipped out. We went to New GuiÖno, we went to Hawaii for 6 months. And from there, we went to New Guinea, and from New Guinea to Leyte. In New Guinea we went to place called Buna, and from there we went to Leyte. <cough> We was on a Liberty Ship, converted. It had 4x4 ladders going into the holes, it had 4 holes in it, and about a day before we were to land, there were some planes overhead. Turned out to be kamikazes, or whatever you call ëem. And uh, the captain of the ship ordered everyone out of the hole. At first, he told us go down in the holes, in case we were strafed. Then they said come back out. ëCause we wouldnít have a chance. You get a bunch a guys crawlin outta 4 ft wide ladder, 2x4s 4x4s outta the hole, cause everybody knows what a Liberty Ship wasÖand thenÖthen, uh, they came by. They was hittin some ships, hit a ship between us and there was one comin alongside of usÖ.I donít know how he went through that flack and everything, he made it and went and hit another ship. Then the next day, we landed. So we left our gear, uh, on the ship. Then we went, landed on the beach out there, had out tents set up and everything. Then ëbout 6 oíclock, about 4 or 5 of them came flyin over. The fly over us, round, and hittin all the doggone cargo ships. And the one we were on, he came around and landed between, uh, the structure and the third hole. And all the belongings we had, all the guys, it went down, duffel bags and everything.
Öand from there, we went to uh, we went to uh, Luzon. We landed above Subic Bay about 60 miles. And then we came down to Subic Bay, and from Subic Bay, we were goin, thatís in Bataan, peninsula, they had place called ah..Zigzag Pass and ahÖ 34th div was there, and we releived them and we then we went all through there. It took I donít know how long it did. And then the campaign was over, and we stayed around for a while and then they shipped us out. Before the 1st time I was in combat, we was right next to a field hospital, it was sumpím like MASH. Doctors didnít have no masks on, or nuthiní. And they was, I was in an anti-tank outfit, which they didnít have no tanks there..we had fif-teeeÖmillimeter guns., and there was no tanks to shoot, unless they brought emÖwe, we went one day, to shoot at pillboxes, but that was laterÖwe was next to the hospital, and the guys would take guys out of our outfit, use em for grave registration, or mule carriersÖwe took stuff on our backs, cause they couldnít use us. There was no tanks, only infantry. So they hollered for two guys to go to the medical tent. I never seen nuthin like thatÖthe doctors were all in uh, in uh. Not..Wha-what the hell you call it, in fatigues and they said, "fella, hold that guys leg." They pull his pants up, they sl.., you know, they slice and sawed his leg offÖthat was the first time. I never flinched or nuthin, and then he tells me, he says take your little shovel and go out there and bury that guys leg, cause it was.. of gangrene. That was the first timeÖand then we went out to, uh, on the other side of, uh, of Manila, and uh, Marvellas, and thatís where we had the rest of the campaign out there. And our outfit, the 38th div, recorded more deaths, than any other division on that one island, 25000 Japanese were killed.
But itís an experience. I mean I could sit here and tell you good stories and everythingÖ
And butÖwhen we went to New Guinea, we were used as stevedores when the ship would come in, they would take one company out there and unload the ships..
And then one time, they said anybody work in a auto plant? And I said, I did, and they took a bunch of guys and they assembled, they had an assembly line, they brought partsÖlike the fender, the body, the motorÖ
And put em togetherÖ
And put em together. It was something. And then another thingÖthat, uh, experienced in New Guinea they had like storage, big tanks, and they were like on platforms. And ahÖa number of tin cans, where people in the states, they were ah..rations. And you used to see like, cans of peanut butter, jam, and everything. And you take 30 or 40 foot highÖ the can on the bottom aint gonna take that weght.
Whith all thatÖstuffÖon the ground, youíd think thereíd be ants there, there was no doggone ants or nothiní.
|You know, it was sumpím. And then there was an experience too, you know like, I got like, uh, dingee fever, and I got shipped to a hospital, and uh, Iíll take care a Öwell, the walking patients, you know. Unhealthy guys, you know a lot of guys, theyíd be wounded or everything there, andÖand from there, after New Guinea, like I say, we went to Leyte to Luzon, and we stayed in Luzon till the end of the war.|
But, it was, ah, what it wasÖthey were in the hills and we had to go out and get em. They werenít threatenin us or nothin. To me, I couldnít see that. They had em surrounded. Why not starve em? But yet they wereÖwhat they would do, they would infiltrate at nightÖif you leave food out there, theyíll take it. Like we up on, uh, Mt. Pearl, around there, around Woodpecker RidgeÖand the mess truck would bring food up there and we would eat itÖwhat we left, weíd get up, all the food would be gone.
And everyone was saying lets booby trap it. Ahhh, what the heck for. Why booby trap it. They want to live too, you know. So but anyway, we had uh, not our outift, the platoon next to us, bout maybe 500 yards away, they were hit by a banzai attack. They were trying to infiltrate through, they were haulin a 75 howitzer, on their backs, parts, they were tryin to get through, and they stopped em. aníÖWe were there you know, just to try and stop the infiltrators..
They were come and harass the people and all thatÖother than that, itís not bad. Any more questions, boss?
Heh heh. SoÖhow old were you when you went in, in November of ë42.
Letís see, 42, I was 20. I was drafted.
So what were you thinking, prior to all this, like say around pearl harbor, or earlierÖ
When I was in Honolulu, We went to Honolulu. I forgot to say, We went to Honolulu, and we had beach positions, you know, they had to do sumpím. We had jungle trainingÖand uh, so as long I was in Honolulu, I never saw Pearl Harbor. We was around it, we were at Barbers Point, Honolulu Harbor, Kaneohe, Scofield Barracks, the PaleÖ I had it made it Honolulu. I mean, everybody had it made in Honolulu.
And then we were stationed like, every week, some other outfit would take over. Like we be stationed, on Waikiki beach, by theÖzoo, along the, I donít know what highway it was, but it was by that, by the Hawaiian, Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Thatís where theÖpilots were comin, the officers, that was their headquarters. Well, that was where, uh, the rest camp was. And uh, there was no hotel, or nothin like they have now. And uhÖthatís about it thereÖlot of jungle trainin there.
Yeah. What was the view of the Japanese, in the media, and while you were training?
Well, to us, they never trained us, all they was tellin us about, how they were at Guadalcanal. Thatís when we were trainin, you know, Guadalcanal was done with, the fightin. There.
When I went in, Guadalcanal was over with, you know. But my view, of the Japanese, they were a soldier like me. I mean we heard, you know, they did this, we seen what they did, in China, and all that. But a common joeÖ
Was just like me, and I was like him.
A soldierís a soldier.
But some of the officersÖthey were strict, you know, they bleed by the Emperor, and thatís it. Oh I could say lots about the JapaneseÖjust like, we were on ,ah, we had to take a supply train. A patrol and supply train. When I say supply train, we take these, these Phillipinos and go out with ammunitionÖand some of them were saying, " you guys are worse than the Japanese. You make us work!" And I could go on saying what happened, but Iím not going to say what happenedÖ.but you can, you knowÖ.so they went out, the ,uh, carriers didnít come back, so you take it from there
|So I mean, it, its been both sides, I mean, we seen some, what we seen, some guys were hackedÖ our guys. And then there was another incident where some of our guys, which they made a mistake, they wrote home, and of course allll letters were censored. They were sayin, "man, we made some money. We found these dead ones, Japanese, took out butt ri-, rifles, knocked their gold teeth out with ëem." They got court-martialed for that.|
Huh. Thatíll do it.
Yep, that there will do it, Iím telliní ya.
So did you guys get films?
Like, just a, overseas, or for training.
Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, we got, we got movies.
Like Hollywood movies, or training movies.
oh, we had training movies..over hereÖnot too much.. We didnít hardly see any training.. All they would show us, you know, was whatís what. This and that.
And they were all actors, you know, they werenít noÖ.so I mean when you go out in the field, you make yourself, you know. You could be a coward, you could be hero. Nine times outta ten, you donít know what your doin, you just go out there. And if youíre gonna ask me, did I shoot? I canít say I killed anybody, I firedÖ
Yeah, who knowsÖ
Unless I really shot him, you know, I know I shot him, you know, but its uhÖlike you throw a hand grenade, you know, you might hit somebody. Yeah, its uhÖ
So, what was the feeling, what was the difference in the feeling of both the military and just the general public toward both the Germans and the Japanese. Like, did they feel worse toward one or the other.
The public view?
Yeah, and the military view
We didnít talk much about it. Only one incident, when I was in uh, in Camp, uh, Livingston. Uh, we had one..solder, one Eye-talian soldier, and we were on guard detail. They had a buncha German soldiers that came from AfricaÖthey were prisoners, and this one little Eye-talian soldier, he was rough with them all the time. And of course, we never had ammunition. We had guns, but we couldnít use ammunition while we were guardin theÖtheÖGerman prisoners. NowÖour own prisoners, guys that goofed up, in the stockade, we had live ammo.
Now you take itÖ.
As far as, uh, our people here, they turned against the Japanese cause they bombed Pearl Harbor. You canít blame the people, you got ta blame theÖblame theÖlike, the President, or the Emperor, you knowÖ
people that caused the war. But what causes war? Itís money. And uh, my feelingsÖ.they were human beings, just like I was. And if I was captured, I would wanna be treated just like we treated em. And summa those guys, they treated em just as bad as they treated us.
So you got outÖwhen?
I got outÖNovember 11, no, November 6. The way I got outÖuh
November 6 ofÖ what yearÖ?
I was in the hospital, getting treated for canker sores, and the news came outÖ that the atomic bomb was dropped. I didnít know what an atomic bomb was, or what. No..half the guys, they didnít know, you knowÖnuclearÖ.well, anyway, it was uh, in August. And then we start to prepare, but in the meantime, guys in our outift that had been there a long time, they were going home on points. And then they told, sent our outfit, home together. You know, the whole bunch went. The guys on points, we went through the place, were they debark, in the clearing, they wasÖthey was giving us food and everything. They were, in other words, they werenít sent home yet, they were on details, to take care of the guys, like the whole division. And they were mad, cause they were supposed to be home like a month or two before, but yet we met them there in California.
"What the heck, I should be home!?" And to me, that was rotten. But thatís the way we came home, we came home, I had, uhÖ1 point more, you see. If I didnít have enough points, I wouldíve stayed. 64 points, I wouldíve stayed; 65 pointsÖ go home.
Uh huh. Points were given for how ever long you were inÖ
Yeah, I was in 22 months overseas. 22 monthsÖnot quite two years.
And I had been in the army, lets see, just under 3 years. Eh, it was a good experienceÖ.
So, itís like 1940, late 1940, 41, the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. Did you pretty much know you were going to go in, and you were just waiting?
To be draftedÖ.
|Well, everyone knew everyone was going to be drafted. I was waitin, I was workin downÖfor a contractor down in Detroit. My time came up, I got the letter, to report. It was, uh, what the heck was itÖ52, or 57 down in River Rouge, we had to sign up at a High School. Then we got the letter, and we all went. Some of the guys I knew from the neighborhood went, but after weíd gotten, uhÖin the camp, we were spread to different companies.|
Did you have any choice, as to like, whatÖ kinda job you were going to do, or where youÖ
Öwere going to goÖ
Not at all, huh.
Well, I mean, if you were in, like, just say like, a lot of em were in the National Guard, just say, like, I had a good education, theyíd probably put me in company clerk, or you know, a medic or sumpím.
Based on your skillsÖ
But 90% of the guys were just like me, they only went to 8th gradeÖ
Ö9th grade, thatís all. See nowÖsome of those guys that went through high school, turned out to be noncoms, or officers, stuff like thatÖ.so, eh, it wasnít bad.
So, like, post war. Youíre back, and youíre watching Hollywood movies about the war. You know, John Wayne, stuff like thatÖ
Were they, I mean, was it commonly known that thatís not how war was, but just nobody caredÖ
It was fiction
Did the veterans protest, orÖ
Just like that Guadalcanal movie, with John Wayne and themÖnot John Wayne, yeah, it was all, you know, they didnít do thatÖlike that. And the Japanese werenít dressed like that, with a big smile. Japanese always had a frown on it. Never smiled. And one thing about the Japanese, you could always tell a Japanese officerÖhe always had cleaaan underwear onÖand he had hisÖshirtÖturned over his jacketÖblouse, like white, you could always tell, and they were always neatÖ,compared to a regular GI.
GIís ,you could tell, right away, cause a GI was a flunky like I am, in the service. But I mean there was uh, the-, the only one way I could advanced, we had uh, aÖ57 millimeter, there was aÖgunner, and I was next one in line, then bandoleer, the guys with the ammoÖthere was seven of us in a squad, eight with the sergeant, and if he got knocked off, Iíd jump over, and then the other guy would take my place, and weíd go like that, see. And I carried a side-arm, the high and the gunner carried a side-arm, and I carried a Wesson 45 submachine gun, and the rest of em carried carbines, or rifles. The M1. And uhÖ.we used it a lot, you know, like point blank, we were shooting at pill boxes, or something like that. Armor pierce, no explosives, or nuttin.
Yeah. So basically, you went to the Philipines after MacArthur came back? In 44Ö?
Yeah, I was, I was on Leyte, he was there ahead of usÖ
YeahÖI mean, I was in the serviceÖ
ÖI was in PhiliÖHonolulu, New Guinea, Leyte, and Luzon. I was ,uh, at Subic Bay, and at ,ah, around that bay was a town called Olongafo, and it was a zigzag pass going over the mountains, going towards uh, BataanÖwell, it is Bataan peninsula, but going towardsÖManila, and Marvelles, going towards down Corregidor-way, and uh, we where there about 3 months, at that campaign there. You donít, you donít want to know what happened to me, do you? <laugh> Well, like that self-inflicted wound?<points to thumb> That ship me back to Leyte? What it was, we was, uh, when we werenít doing nothiní, like I was sayin, they infiltrate, they want to go to the supply dump, they steal everything, just to surviveÖand we were out all night at this one bridge, didnít sleep, we came back to the tent, and uh, were cleanin our weapons, I had the 45. Of course, you got to take the slugs out. Out of the clip. I didnít, I put the clip back in, pull the slideÖboom..hit me, hit another fellaÖ
ÖHinchey. And then they ship me, for oberservation, thinkin, you know, thatÖI did it on purpose. I wanít gonnaÖshoot myself, shoot my buddy.
And uh, he was hit, he wasÖsent home, and uhÖand they wanted to know if I wanted a purple heart. I said, "For what?" and they wouldnít of give it to me anywayÖ.
ÖCause it was a self-inflicted wound. There were a lotta self-inflicted wounds. Guys shootin themselves in the leg. They wereÖshipped somewhere, I donít know what, you never seen them, cause they could tell. An accidentÖ.
But if you shoot yourself, well the reason you shoot yourself in the foot, you canít move, canít run. But this here, what the heck, this thumb here, you know. But it was uhÖlike, my feelings about the JapaneseÖwe didnít even know what a enemy was, most of us. You know, like a guy, in school days. We fight, yeah, heís your enemy, but as far as the people, the Japanese, you knowÖ.Pearl Harbor. Eh, Pearl Harbor was what, whatís Pearl Harbor? Down in the Hawaiian Islands! Oh, ohÖAnd then they say uh, that one in Alaska, I donít know what town was bombed out there, from the submarine. We didnít even know about that, you know. SoÖit uhÖto a lot of people, a lot of guys, we just went and did your jobs, you know.
And nobodyÖwhen we went in, I went in as a PFC, you went in as a Corporal, for two years we were like that. We were never advanced, only one guy was advanced, from a non-commisioned officer to a lieutenantÖ
Ösecond lieutenant, in our outfit. Because the other guy was removed, shot, or something, you know. Thatís the only time, but there was very few advancements. Like I said, the only time you get advanced, somebody else gets knocked off. And there were uh, there was a K company. K company was known throughout the world war that it was a bad company. Out of 250 guys, K Company, when we went back home, there were only 5 or 6 original guys.
The other ones were replacements.
Now in ourÖour outfit, there was no more than I can count em on my hand, maybe 9 guys, that were killed in action. Some were wounded. No more than about 30 all together. Because we werenít used as infantry, as replacements, you knowÖ
But uh, like K Company, in our outfit, 152nd, there was only 6, that, from the original that came from overseas, from the United States, that were original. The rest were replacements
That should do itÖ
Well, as far as when we got home, it took us 17 daysÖto get from the Philippines, all the way to Los Angeles, we went to Camp Anza. And on the way back, we got into a typhoon, which here we call aÖ.
HurricanesÖand tornadoes. And the ship, the bow, or the aft, the back, itíd be so high, that you could see the propellors, and then itíd come down... And everybody was sick,
Everybody was sick
And I got acquainted with some Merchant Marines there, because I got that Dinghy Fever, and I went, they put me in uh, what they call it, on a ship, the hospital, what is itÖwhat is it, not hospital, I mean on a ship that we was cominí homeÖ
Yeah, they put me there, and then there was a guy there, from that ship, and he was sick, and they brought me some food, and he said, "You eat that stuff?" and I said yeah, so I got acquainted with him, and he told this guy, "Hey, you bring this guy some food," and the guys that were in the sick bay, you know, bout 3 or 4 of us. And then after I got out of sickbay, I said, "Hey. You got any ice cream?" I said, "Our outfit doesnít have any ice cream." So he gave me four, he smuggled 4 gallons, and I took it out to the guys. Not to the officersÖ
to the, you knowÖ
And we used to do, we used to pilfer, on the ship, you would have your own supplies, like, cans of food, bully beef, and all that. Of all the things I got, was pineapple. And if they wouldíve caught us <laughs> they would have got us, you know, we woulda been caught for stealing. Well, but heck, everyone took a can, pitched it over the side, leave a trail for submarinesÖ.<laugh> But it was good, it wasÖ
|And then uh, and then when I was discharged, at Camp Anza, we went all the way to Fort Sherman, Illinois, and then we got our, we got our mustered-out pay, and uh, we got off the train, they took us out to the paymaster, and they payed us, and there was these young 90-day wondersÖwe just got off, most of the guys I was with was in combat and these guys, we wouldnít salute them, and they tried to say, "Hey soldier, come here"Öevery one of us ignored them.|
And then, when we went to the canteen, all the guys that were workin in the canteen, were prisoners of war, German prisoners, and that kinda..peeved a lot of our guys. They were talkin to our girls, and all that. And from there, we took a taxicab to the station, in Chicago there, I donít know what they call it, Central Station, and I was waitin, we were all waitin, some guyís went home by plane that lived in the east, some went by train, andÖI was walkin around, and all of sudden, somebody slapped me on the fa-, on the back, and said "Stosh, is that you!?" I said, yeah, turned out to be my brother, on leave from Camp Sheridan, going home on leaveÖ.
Öso him and I went home, because I didnít know where we lived, because my parents moved, while I was in the service. That there was an experience. Then I gotÖwe got home at 3 oíclock in the morning, and he knocked on the door, and my mother opened the door, and she said, "You back again?" in Polish to Eddie, and he said, "I got somebody here." She looked, said, "Whoís that?", she says, "Oh my god, Stoshoo, is that you?" and then, after we boo-hooed for a while, I went upstairs, my brother woke up my dad, "Pa, guess whoís here?" "Oh, hi, Stosh, Iíll see you in the morning." <throws up hands>
Thatís my dad. But anyway, it was a good experience. But if you, if you get a lotta guys, and really talk, you could get some stories, you know.
But I mean, you could go, thereís a lot of incidences. Everybody can tell a story. Some fictional, a lotta guys lieÖlike, uh, when I got discharged, went to work for the company, got acquainted with some of the guys I worked with. "Hey Ferdy, were you in the service?" "Oh yeahÖ" "What outift?" Start to name the outfit, and everything, and there was no such outfit like that, you know...they donít wanna tell that they werenít in. So yeahÖbut anyway, its uhÖ
You got a picture, I can borrow? From when you were in the service?
Right here, in the book. Iíll show you what picture.
Ok, this guy here, he was an aide to General MacArthur, ok, find me. In the picture. Short guy, in the front.
Yep, thatís me.
So if you wanna, you can take that, take pictures of it. Here you can take it, and show your dad. Your dad was six years oldÖ.I could beat his buttÖ See?
I donít know what he was doin.í But thereís a story about my outfit hereÖ.whereís my glassesÖwell, anyway, thereís a story about my outfit in here. Can you shut that thing off, for a minute?Ö.or did you want to keep goingÖ
You didnít even start it!
Yeah, it was onÖ
Ok here, ok. This is our outfit here. Read this, from hereÖ
<to dog> What do you want? Let them take you out!
Anyway, thereís some pictures of me in here, my outfit. <flipping pages>
Look at your dad! <pointing to crayon marks> Thatís your dads work!
And this our outfit. And this guy was an aide to General MacArthur, and then they put him in charge of our outfit. <flipping pages> This is the bridge, where we went in, and the next dayÖshot myselfÖIíll show you the Liberty Ships we went onÖHereÖ.Look, look. Look!! Coloring!!! Hereís a picture, I donít know, I just seen itÖ.A guy blown upÖyou can find his eyes, legs, feet, see thereÖthat there was a shell that hit himÖ
That guyÖ.<looking at picture of MacArthur>Öis the camera on?
Hmm. He, to me he was a, he loved himself.
Yeah. He had a big ego. He was jealous of Montgomery, he was jealous of Patton. Had a lot of guys killed just so he could go take his picture with him. Tell you, thereís bad stories. I mean, if you were to really corner the guys, whoíre still alive, theyíd tell you.
Yeah, you can use this. But donít let your DadÖ.
Heíd color all over it!
Ok, Gramps, well thanks.
No problem, no problem.