After the Attack, Sub School, and Submarine War Patrols in the South Pacific…Interview with a Survivor

balao1

I interviewed Pop about 25 years ago and asked him questions about December 7, 1941, and about his World War II Experience, especially Submarine War Patrols in the South Pacific.

His descriptive, first hand account of the attack on Pearl Harbor…From the moment he realized we were under attack, is chilling.

I had heard many stories about the War over the years, growing up…many often corroborated by other veterans of the War…men and women with whom I had great respect as a boy. My knowledge of our family history allowed me to ask in depth questions, and probe Pop’s long term memories. Here is what we recovered and transcribed from that interview:

Saul: Name a couple of the events you will always remember in your life.

Pop: My first war patrol
Saul: Your first war patrol?
Pop: Pearl Harbor.
Drawing straws for submarines that had sunk that I would’ve been on

Saul: yes things you will always remember. What else ?
Pop: VJ Day. end of World War II. I was in San Francisco.
Saul: What were you doing in San Francisco?
Pop: riding in a jeep with a bunch of waves. We were going down market street screaming and raising hell.
Saul: how were you so lucky as to be with all the waves?
Pop: I just happened to meet them by the street. I was, at that time, a first class petty officer yet was unusual to run with them because normally they wouldn’t have anything to do with me because they were all officers. That was interesting.
Saul: they picked you up?
Pop: yes
Saul: where did they take you or is that something you’d rather not put on tape?
Pop: no I don’t know. I don’t remember. You know that’s a long time ago and it isn’t that exciting now. It was then. Your mother had already left Honolulu.
Saul: so you were in San Francisco? How come?
Pop: I came back from Saipan and was rebuilding what they call refit overhaul of the submarine.
Saul: So let’s run back to what you were doing in Saipan.
Pop: I was on a relief crew. I went in there on the submarine Balao and I got off onto the Fulton which was a big submarine tender. She tended about 20 submarines and I was in the 81st division which was the relief crew. My boss was called Reesey Cooper. He was a chief petty officer. He made Ensign six months before, but he didn’t know it. See you never got word. Things went on that you didn’t know about. In fact we made a liberty in San Francisco on the Balao and the shore patrol came in and gave us hell! We were making too much noise! This was the end of the war and they said you guys are making too much noise! Then they said you Chief, you’re the one who’s the ring leader! And then he says incidentally you made ensign and Reseey responded with, “I did? Well I didn’t ask for the damn thing. He said I’m the chief!” but they said no you’re not, you’re an ensign you got to act like a gentleman. But he never changed. And he did a lot for me. He was good to me but I was his leading snipe, lead crew.

Saul: after the war did you ever see him again?
Pop: yeah, a couple of times in Pearl Harbor. He was always in trouble. He had the shore patrol in Pearl Harbor and took the duty chief and went to town and got smashed up so he got a court-martial. But ol’ coop was like that. He didn’t care about anything.
Saul: so you were in Saipan, World War II started, you went to sub school?
Pop: I was in Pearl Harbor when the war started. 10 days of my life was lost there’s no records. I came to the base and I jumped in and stole a whale boat and went out toward the Arizona and picked guys out of the water. I threw a line out over the stern and said hang on and I’ll pull you and we got straight and I went over the side. I had my uniform on…a pair of white pants and skivvies T-shirt. That was it.
Saul: no shoes?
Pop: yes shoes, no money. I got over to the beach where the Pennsylvania was in dry dock and the Casin and the Downs were in the same drydock. There’s pictures of that and I did a lot of things. I put a water hose on the bow of the Pennsylvania. They didn’t have the fire stuff they have today and we wanted to keep it from burning. So I got to thinking you know this is foolish. I’m out here busting my buns and nobody’s here to supervise. After all remember you’re a sailor and you got to have leadership and I didn’t have any. Should’ve taken the bull by the horns and been my own leader, now that I look back. So went on the USS Honolulu. She was getting ready to get underway and I thought well at least I’ll get on a fighting ship. She got hit with a 500 pound bomb. Went through the dock and split the seams open. Didn’t get hurt so the quarter deck, the master of the day says “where you from”? It was the Medusa and I was a metalsmith. He said we can use you. The harbormaster passed the word when I ran in the gate. You can’t get back to your own ship. There’s no boats running. Go wherever you can to be of help. This is a good place to go so I went where I was gonna get three meals a day and the sailors chipped in their clothes. I had clothes they called DC-discarded clothing — the guys that went to jail they put them in the brig I had those things. The guys chipped in some money so I could buy a toothbrush things like that.
Your mother didn’t know. She was living outside of housing and she didn’t know if I was living or dead. Finally one of the yard workers got a message to her but all this time I’m broke you know for 10 days. So when I left there I got a letter from the commanding officer of the Honolulu that I reported aboard the time that I worked and a commendation for what I had done. Then they took me on a boat back to the Medusa that was on the other side of the Island. I went on board and the master at arms met me at the gangway. They called for the master at arms. I was the only guy alive on the ship of about 600 men that didn’t make it back alive! You know they thought I was dead! So the kids, all my shipmates, my shop was right off the wall where the quarterdeck was. They all came running. Hey Klein, look at your battle station! It was the after crows nest that was blown to hell! So if I’d been aboard I’d have been killed by the destroyers alongside of us that was firing over the Medusa into the kamikazes. The Curtis was a seaplane tender next birth from us.

Saul: when you were on the Honolulu what did you do?
Pop: I worked in the metalsmith shop. They sent me down with the crew members that were metalsmiths and we went and we had to put all the insulation off the bulkhead so we could find these cracks. It was a lousy job because it was spun glass and it itched. They put a radio, a wire you know you get these connections that cables go through from one compartment and waterproof really and they’ve got a little antenna there and we had the radio on and water was up to here where we were working.
Saul: up to your waist?
Pop: yes we had to get it pumped out but we had to shore it before we pumped it out. A lot of people don’t understand what you’re talking about you know this navy.
Saul: what did you use to pump it? out D250s? Handy Billings?

Pop: no we didn’t have anything in there at that time. We were plugging it up so it wouldn’t come in but when we got ready to pump it would pump. They probably were handy billings at that time but anyhow that’s what we worked on. Getting that thing done and it was a miserable job because of the spun glass. So we had the radio in there and we hear columburn, was the big announcer, and he says it’s been rumored that Pearl Harbor has been bombed with heavy loss of life. And that’s it. Here we are with water up to there and we know Pearl Harbor was bombed and it was lots of people killed. I saw them killed. But the United States didn’t know. Then when I finally (this jumps ahead from what happened) when I finally went back to Detroit to submarine school and at the time I was on a train and had the flu. I was pretty sick. The Red Cross came aboard at different stops to check on me. I had 10 days leave before I went to sub school. So I went to Marine City, Michigan where my folks were. Before I got on the train we were at the train by the office of ONI which is Naval intelligence and warned that we were not to divulge anything that happened in Pearl Harbor.
People would ask questions and you don’t tell them anything. Now this is the government talking “we’d like to tell but you couldn’t. So when I got back to Michigan my dad is working for the government and set me up to speak after I got better. I was sick for a while. So he set me up to speak at one of those meetings for the people building the Sherman tanks. I said I can’t tell anything I was told not to. Well they had an Army colonel and he said he’d sit in the front row and he says I’ll censor if they ask anything, I’ll shake my head if you can. So I went and told them what we did what happened and he cut me off at times but most of the time he just let me talk and then I went to sub school.

Saul: ok but we’ll come back to talking about when you went away to sub school. Let’s go back to when you were in the Honolulu.

Saul: you were working in the metal shop and you had water up to your waste and you’re listening to the radio and so you worked there for 10 days or so huh?
Pop: yeah actually 10 days. That was before they sent me back to my ship the Medusa which was anchored on the other side of Fort Allen. The only hit was my battle station, the upper crows nest.

1024px-USS_Medusa_(AR-1)_at_Pearl_Harbor_February_1942 wiki
Saul: so you got back to the Medusa and then what happened?
Pop: I was to resume my duties as metalsmith. Actually I was a fireman first which is like third class petty officer and I’ve already made third class but the war started and you didn’t have time to go do the paperwork. They gave me my rating paperwork and put it through.

Saul: Did you already put in the request for sub school?
Pop: I put in for sub school every month if there was an opening. I guess the executive officer was tired of seeing my application, my request. A sailor can always put a request in. The second request I had in was for for the Black Hawk. Black Hawk was not a submarine. It was a battleship repair just like the Medusa was. It was in the Asiatic station and when he joined the Navy sailors “oh glee, I wanted to go to the asiatic station because they heard all these fascinating stories. They saw the movies they made of it.

Saul: you go there you never come back.
Pop: that’s right. Yea, you don’t really know but some of them came back.

Saul: most of them married an oriental girl and opened a bar.
Pop: They married — a lot of them married what they called White Russians. Some of them were refugees from the czar that settled in that area. I worked for one Charlie Cobb at the subbase. He was stationed there. He married a White Russian. A nice woman I met her. He was my chief but he put in for it and he was out there when the war started. It was pretty hard for some of them to get back you know so much when on there. But as I was exempt, I didn’t go there thank God. I was better off where I was because I didn’t know when I have gotten back if I’d have gone there.

So I did get my submarine school but it was in July, the war started in December so I worked on the base. One of the jobs we did we had what they called working parties.
Each ship was assigned so many men to these working parties and then the working parties were run by different chiefs and officers and the one I was on was recovering bodies from the Arizona, California, different ships. The bodies were in the water and we’d take a body that we’d pick up and put in a burlap sack. This was a horrible thing but if we had a torso two hands and two legs that was a body. You didn’t know who it was. They weren’t that straight with the name tags but after that came out we all had to wear name tags, metal name tags.
Saul: dogtags
Pop: dog tags. Okay yeah I didn’t have to. I don’t remember that they had them at that time. You know this goes back a few years. I did have them. I gave them to my daughter Maile I think or Deborah for Dylan. One of them
Saul: I think I have them
Pop: you might have them

Saul: so you were picking up bodies — how many ships lost?
Pop: Yeah picking up bodies and putting them in burlap sacks. I don’t know if you know where the Arizona was but it was almost in the middle of the Harbor alongside Ford Island. We had a big 30 foot motor launch and we towed them in the water, the bags over to Pearl city and they picked them up in trucks, the bags.
Saul: sharks follow you?

Pop: oh no I never saw a shark in Pearl Harbor in all the time I was there and I used to swim. I was on the swimming team for the Medusa. Never saw sharks. They may have been in there but I never saw them. So anyhow we took them over there and put them up on what was called the Red Hill which is now Punchbowl the cemetery. So you don’t know what’s in there, who’s in there. It’s guess as guess can, one of those things. At least they were buried. Every body we found was buried. There were bodies we didn’t find. There’s bodies that are still on the Arizona submerged with the ship. They’re in a compartment. You ain’t gonna get em out of those compartments. I finally was anxious to leave. You can only get so much of that and you don’t sleep nights. You see you grabbing an arm and putting it in a bag. Who can stand stuff like that?

Saul: so how many working parties? Did you have to go out every day and do that?
Pop: every day, every day, every day we went out and reported to working parties. Sometimes it’s different jobs but I always seemed to get these damn recovery of bodies. There were other ships alongside battleship row that had bodies that we had to get out. Now the ship was sunk just so far and they had bodies. You asked me how many ships were lost. I don’t know I think we had 11 battleships at that time. As a young kid we used to sit on the boat deck of the Medusa and watch the battle fleet come in. When they’d come in on Friday we could name each battleship by distinguishing characteristics like the California had a wire mast. You could tell that one. Some of the newer ones had the tripped mass, metal.

Saul: do you have numbers
Pop: yeah, oh yeah. We didn’t go by numbers. I don’t even know if they had them. After the war started they took the numbers off. Even the submarine I was on in the war.
No identifying recognition at all because if we were sunk, they didn’t want anybody to know.
Saul: right
Pop: so I was 285 but there was no 285 on my submarine. It was when I got out there but later there wasn’t. That was there in 1941 after the war started.

Saul: so December 7 then you put in for sub school and you stayed on the Medusa until July. There you had odd jobs to do. You made fireman first?
Pop: right, which is the same as third class.

Saul: how much were you getting paid
Pop: I think at that time I was getting $68 per month, big pay! I was married, wasn’t easy

Saul: where was Mom living?
Pop: in Damon track which was right next to Hickam Field there.
Saul: with her parents
Pop: yeah I lived there too with them. The only reason I wasn’t on the ship when the war started was because I was married and married men got overnight liberty. If you weren’t married, you had to be back to the ship by midnight. So when the war started the word went out on the radio right away. All men return to their ships. In my case I ran down to Dillingham Boulevard. We were three doors from Dillingham Boulevard. Next door on the Other side of Us was P road.

house on damon track april 30, 1959
Saul: you were at grandma and grandpas or navy housing?
Pop: at grandma and grandpas house which was right across from navy housing on the other side, area one. But next to us was navy warehouses. So I ran. Dillingham blvd was just a narrow 2 lane road. Some officer was coming down like hell with his car returning to the base. He stopped and picked me up. I had my white pants on and my skivvies shirt.
Saul: That was like P road 2 or 3 miles from Pearl Harbor? “P” Road where you were?
Pop: About 2 miles
Saul: Wasn’t too far?

Pop: Yea, about 2 miles. So we ran. We got up. We didn’t even get in the base and they came. A plane came down straight on Dillingham blvd. I guess they dropped a load of bombs and flying all over, trying to keep people from coming back onto the base. The guy, I think he was a lieutenant drove off into the cornfields. The area, which is now housing, I don’t think had houses there back then. I remember we went into the cane fields. I’m going back and trying to remember every detail. Hickam I know was on the left-hand side. We went past and jumped out of the car and left the car there. We ran towards the gate- the main gate into Pearl Harbor. And the Marines at the gate said go wherever you can be of help. You can’t get back to your ships. Boats aren’t running. The all 10 dock was right there about 100 yards maybe from the gate. You’d come back from liberty on the bus or car or whatever and you go down on the dock which was a great big dock and every ship.

Saul: floating platform where the boats would come up?
Pop: no, they’d come up and they’d pick up sailors and they’d call out “Medusa” and all these sailors jump in the boat. “Curtis”…
Saul: but they weren’t running.
Pop: no not on that day, they weren’t running. See this is regular. So it was funny–I get down there and he says go anywhere you can be of help.
Saul: so you went down to the boat docks and the boats weren’t running.

Pop: right. So he says go wherever you can be of help. There were about 12 of us down there and we ran towards 10-10 dock towards the officers club which was down about 200 yards. And that’s where the navy action overhaul area was. In fact, the Honolulu was pulled in a berth there and the St. Louis. The St. Louis got underway. She was in the berth next
Saul: she got out of the harbor?

Pop: yea but the Honolulu started backing out and they dropped this 500 pound bomb thru the deck and it split the seams so she never got out. Some ships got out, I don’t know which ones but St. Louis got out. I ran on the wrong ship hoping to go to sea but it was interesting and scarey…very scarey! To stand there and see your entire fleet, the greatest fleet in the world on the bottom, tore your heart out. We were invincible, we thought. Nobody could do this to us.

Saul: but we were. We made a come back.
Pop: made a come back, but Saul, it was hell going thru it. What we did and to be part of it and some of it you can’t even document. You can’t prove it. Can you imagine. I think when I get mad sometimes that I can’t get my records to show what I did. And I see guys getting the congressional Medal of Honor doing, I think, a lot less, Purple Hearts, what have you, but you got to remember I knew guys that were on ships that were sunk and they lost their records. Bill lei old went to prison but he’s got his records of Japanese prisons, but his records on ship were all lost.

Saul: so you went down from one dock to another and what, grabbed a whale boat or something?

Pop: I saw a royal boat along–you know, they used to leave the whale boats tied up to the yard arm and there was one there that nobody— well, nobody was checking on whale boats (chuckles). So I, and I was an engineer, so I asked one kid “can you steer it”? He said he’d be the ( dock set)
We went out towards the Arizona and there was still a lot of action going on in the harbor and then we got strafed. I swam over to the Oklahoma, which was turned over. Now I knew the old Oklahoma was a mine layer and I climbed up. We had a hell of a time climbing up. The bottom was kind of slippery. You ever see a ship turned over, scummy slime but we got up on the dock. The Pennsylvania was in dry dock and forward of it and in the same dry dock with the Casin and Downs which were two destroyers.
There was another one there that a friend of mine was on but it wasn’t in there. They have what they call a railway they bring ships up on there and then others are dry docked and I grabbed a fire hose. You know your grandfather was a fireman retired and he always said when there is a big fire wet the building down next to the fire to protect it. So I’m wetting down the Pennsylvania with the hose but it wasn’t burning. The Casin in the same dry dock was burning. Finally when the fire hit the (main gas line), it blew up and we were down there. In Balboa Park there’s a painting and it shows Pennsylvania, Casin and Downs and there’s 3 sailors down there with a fire hose, and you can’t distinguish who they are, but the kids, even today would say “hey Klein, did you see your picture? Somebody painted it”. It’s a fact. Some guy got this from the history books or someway, but that’s where I was. When the Casin blew up, (the magazine) there was debris all over. The corrugated metal on the pipe shop on the side came flying off the percussion so I was scratched up a little. The last I saw the hose was flopping all over. The other guys helping me with the hose was gone and that’s when I ran down to the Honolulu and got on. The Honolulu was under a jurisdiction but it was a hell of a day. That night we had air raids going on all night long. Anybody, a dog would move out there and he was dead. We were all so jumpy. And the sentries were jumpy.

Saul: you didn’t know if the Japanese were going to come back.
Pop: that was the other thing. We had the word that the Japanese were landing in Eva Beach and they had trucks going with bunches of marines up to Nanakuli. Well hell, they were way far from Pearl Harbor. Who knew what was going on. Nobody. We wasted a lot of man power. I was trying to think. Someone was at Bellows field on the other side of the island. But that was a problem. There was too much excitement. Too much going on that people had no control over what was actually happening. So then when I got under there, at least I was under someone’s control and when you are a young sailor in the navy, you want to be under someone’s jurisdiction. You can’t be running around on your own. That was part of my experience going into detail on some of it. I want to forget most of it.

War patrol was not too bad. I enjoyed the camaraderie aboard the sub. After all, that was my sub! It was a different life all together. Interesting life. We had favorite names for each other, ya know and we lived in tight quarters. I lived under the #7 main ballast tank vent. The vents about this big. It’s got a fan under it and when they dive, the vent opens and the tank floods and the oil that leaks in the pan runs, it runs out of the pan and under the bunk under the pan…that was my bunk. And I’d be sleeping when, in the morning, they’d dive just for a trim dive. When they dive, I would be spitting hydraulic fluid out of my mouth because it would just run on you. It didn’t hurt anything, it was just messy. That was part of submarine life. The toilet, if you didn’t know how to flush, the toilet could blow the shit in your face! We’d kid about it you know and when they’d blow a tank when we were submerged, the whole boat would stink. You can imagine (Laughing). But you get used to all this stuff and its part of the life.

Saul: So you, in July, how did you get to California, the mainland from Hawaii?
Pop: I went on a transfer, the Brekenridge.
Saul: Were they worried about Japanese submarines?
Pop: Oh sure. They zig-zagged all the way for us. And being an engineer, I stood watches. You didn’t ride free in anything. So I…that wasn’t as bad as the one I went out to the Pacific to catch my ship. We know there were Japanese subs. We were zig zagging. You always worried about Jap subs.
Saul: You were on the Breckenridge. Was Mom with you?
Pop: No, not then
Saul: You were headed to go to sub school?
Pop: Yes
Saul: So you were standing engine room watches?
Pop: Right. She was there in Pearl.
Saul: She was still in Honolulu?
Pop: Yeah, but I had to stand watch because I was an engineer.
Saul: so you were standing watches and they were zig zagging. What kind of engine? What kind of plant?
Pop: Stern
Saul: Stern Plant? What did they burn?
Pop: Oil. Crude oil. It’s funny. I told them
Saul: Navy Crude or something?
Pop: yea
Saul: Black oil?
Pop: Oh yea, tar. I told the guy I’m a diesel engineer. Down here you’re a mixed steam engineer. So I stood watches. You had to learn it. You know. And I didn’t like the idea of being below the water line (chuckles) with Japanese subs running around.
Saul: Yea, no kidding.
Pop: But they didn’t fire. We never got fired at.
Saul: How long did the transit take?
Pop: 6 days which is normally a 5 day trip.
Saul: But you were zig zagging so it took longer.
Pop: Longer, yea, longer

Saul: So where did you land?
Pop: San Francisco. That was another thing. Sub had Mare Island come in because we were going to submarine school. They had the transportation to pick us up and segregate us from the guys that were just going service gram.
Saul: Did you make liberty in San Francisco?
Pop: yea, well I was sick. I was coming down with the flu. George Gall, who was 1st class, I was a fireman, he took a liking to me. We got along. He sang and he and I used to go in the bar and they’d say, hey Klein, sing! So I didn’t play the uke then, but I could sing without the uke. The drinks would come free for the guys I was with just to keep us there to entertain. So George Gall, we went in the hotels to spend the night, waiting for our train. We had priority travel home. I got the thing in my file that says, this man has been out of the United States for so long and he was going to return to the Pacific. So number one priority for transportation. That’s when you had to have these things, so if you ever want one, look in the file and find all that stuff that I’m told “You ought to get rid of that shit”. But it means something to me.
Saul: Yea, me too.
Pop: yea, anyways, George went to the local drug store and he got all kinds of drugs and cough drops and he is feeding me this stuff. And he is on his way to sub school. Now this guy came from the Asiatic station and he was on a destroyer out there. He was a rough and tumble. Anyone that’s at the Asiatic station was a rough sailor, and he was. But he liked me because I sang. We stayed friends for a long time after the war.
Saul: you met him where? You just met him on the ship coming across?
Pop: yea and then we may have met. Worked on a working party there at the base before we got on the ship. But we became very good friends. Your mother even knows George. He came to our house when we were in Pearl. Some acquaintances you meet you keep for a long time. He was one of them. But I’ll never forget when we came back in the hotel. I never thought I’d see him again. He comes walking up to that hotel. He got me the room there. He was 1st class and made a lot more money than I did and he’s got all these drugs, over the counter drugs. He is trying to doctor me. He was with me on the train ride all the way to Chicago. We changed in Chicago. We went to the grand trunk to Detroit and he went on to New York I guess. Then I met him in sub school. We met again. It was interesting.

Saul: how long did sub school last?
Pop: 6 weeks

Sub School Class 1943.jpg
Saul: So how long did you stay in Detroit before you went to sub school?
Pop: I think I had 10 days leave.

pop with buddies
Saul: you had leave, huh?
Pop: I went to sub school and when I came back, I went to Key West, Florida. They had what you called old, old boats…really old submarines. And we rode those just to learn submarines. Had no relation to the submarines we were going to. We were going to the Cadillac of the fleet and these were the model T’s of the fleet! When they’d dive, you could see the red light that would ooze thru the seats if you went down too deep. They were miserable. No bunks. You lied on the floor. Normally you didn’t stay out over night. You operated all the day then back in at night. And everything done by hand. If you want to dive, you had to pull the lever. On our boat, it is all hydraulics, but it was interesting to see how things had changed.
Saul: Old boats
Pop: Yea, old boats. I was, I forget, 013. I think they lost a couple of these too. The R boats were old ones also. They fought the war in the Aleutians. We used everything we could. I knew guys on the R boat. They were miserable. They slept on decks and wherever they could. They made lengthy war patrols. So anyhow, it has been a long time since I even talked about it.
Saul: So sub school…how long did it last?
Pop: 6 weeks
Saul: 6 weeks?
Pop: Yea, there’s two parts to that. 6 weeks to learn how to be a submariner and I think it was 4 weeks for engineering school if you were going to be an engineer. Then you went to radio school if you were going to be a radio man. So I went to engineer school. Old Patty Rand was my chief. I remember all these guys. We had a guy they called him princess navy. He was a chief. He never went to war. He ran the sub school. You know in those days, a chief had a lot of power. This guy was an ex chief for the china fleet. He lined us all up…chiefs, most of us were chiefs then.
Saul: you weren’t a chief in sub school
Pop: no, no, no
Saul: after sub school?
Pop: yea. I made chief when I went to the Balao right after that. I made chief on the Balao, but most of these guys like Gall, he was a chief. But they had all these chiefs and he says…he talked with a Polish accent…and he’s telling them there will be no fooling around. There’s a war going on. And one of the chiefs says “How would you know? You never left the states. You’ve been here all the time. We just came back from the war!” They transferred his ass out for
Saul: insubordination?

Pop: Yea, he was funny. I got special liberty once to buy your mother a fur coat in New York so I couldn’t complain. They gave me time off. Yea, sub school was ok.
Saul: So what happened after sub school?
Pop: She came back. While I was in sub school, she came back. And we got a light housekeeping in new London Connecticut with a Jewish family that owned the laundry on bank street which was the main drag. Real nice. They treated us real nice. Your mother came in by train. I was late to meet the train and she wondered if I left her, if I was gonna meet her and here she was, just a 17 year old kid and she traveled all the way across country over the ocean by herself. Ya know, on a transport. She had a lot of nerve, a lot of guts. When we look back, and some of the things she pulls now, you think what we went thru together. It was a lot.
So we lived with these people. They gave us a shelf in the icebox. We had the bedroom next to the father and mother and daughter, and, the whole family was in there. Oh I think we were there about 4 or 5 weeks. New London was nice. We enjoyed it there and then I got orders to Key West. I took your mother back to Marine City, Michigan and she stayed with granny and deedee till I got back from Key West. Then I got orders to the Balao. I tried to buy my way to the Cisco, another sub going in at the same time. It’s good that I didn’t. One run and she’s sunk. On the way to Australia. The Balao went thru the whole war and ended up after 10 war patrols. That was good.
Saul: Lucky boat, huh!
Pop: Didn’t do a lot of tonnage.

balao1

Saul: Stayed away from all that. Skippers were smart. That’s the way to do good!
Pop: Right (chuckling) Skippers were smart. They sank their share, but nothing like some of them did. They had no tears on their (Wild Bill) ya know, did what they had to, to get by.
Saul: Brought the crew back.
Pop: I was in there. Brought my favorite officer back. It was old Kimmel. Tom Kimmel’s dad was the admiral when the war started. He got a general court martial. 4:00 in the morning and we’d be sitting there up in the control room and he’d tell wild stories about old Tom Kimmel. His brother was also in submarines, Manny Kimmel. Then my very closest friend was Schaefer. You knew Dick Schaefer. So we had a good crew and oh, we got along good together. So we went on to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Your mother came up with me or I sent for her. I forget. And I got WWI housing. We had to put paper up against the door to keep the air out.
Saul: Cuz it was cold?
Pop: Ahhh… 40 below zero and your mother had never seen that kind of weather!
Saul: she’s from Hawaii then had to live in 40 below weather!
Pop: I put a box in the window. We didn’t have a refrigerator, so I put a box in the window. I insulated it with anything I could and we put our milk and stuff in there. The first time your mother opened the milk carton, it had a cap on it, ya know, like when the cream comes up. She washed clothes in the bathtub and had to hang them on the line. She really was like an old pioneer woman while we were back there.
Saul: You spent 3 months there?
Pop: yea, at least 3 months, maybe more.
Saul: 6 weeks of sub school, then what?
Pop: I think it was 2 weeks at (we know this should be the engineer school he spoke of earlier in this interview. Other than that, there were 17 min of just static on the tape).

For more Stories of the history of this time:

http://bit.ly/2h3Mnhi

http://bit.ly/2g7ZsZY

http://bit.ly/2gAMQ9O

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