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Interview with Carlos Garcia [5/21/2002]

Marilyn B. McCurry:

This is being recorded March 21, 2002, Ashland, Oregon. This gentleman's name is Carlos Garcia. Birthdate- 8-13-1914. He is 87. Current address: 301 Wimer Street. Ashland, Oregon, 97520 Wars served in: Second World War Branch of service 1 065 Signal Photo Co. Highest - Staff Sargent Recording and transcription and editing by Marilyn McCurry, Ashland, Oregon. Age, 73 Transcribed March 23, 2002. Were you enlisted or did you get drafted?

Carlos Garcia:

I enlisted.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Where was that?

Carlos Garcia:

I enlisted directly into a photographic company which was unusual. I was an amateur photographer and I had a friend that worked in a photo studio and she told me that the army was hunting for photographers and I was to take my photographic work to the Arts and Sciences Motion pictures in Hollywood. They looked at my things. I think the only thing they were hunting for was people that were interested in photography.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Did you live in the Hollywood area?

Carlos Garcia:

No, I lived, in at that time, I lived in Long Beach. The rest of the company was, from, from local, from Hollywood and a lot of them were from photographic school. And these fellows were dating each other's sisters, and getting married, and so forth, so this was a very tight unit. And you could tell the Hollywood boys. They were called by our serial number. It starts out with 19. My number is 19099964.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

That was a neat number.

Carlos Garcia:

Yeah. All my numbers are neat! So I did not go immediately. into the service. We were a couple of weeks or a month maybe or so and then we went to Camp Crowder where we took our basic.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Where is that? In California?

Carlos Garcia:

That's in Missouri. I was small, but I played football. had played football and I did pretty well. They were having a football game, soldiers you know. There was a big guy, he thought he was going to run over me. So I knocked him down the first time, not too hard. He at me and he went back and wanted another pass, so I hit him harder AND he tried a third time and I really sent him' We were playing on gravel.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

How tall are you?

Carlos Garcia:

I was 5'6". I used to tell people I was 6' but I shrunk.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

But you could lay him flat!

Carlos Garcia:

Oh yeah, cause I was quick, and I was strong!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

So you didn't go to a regular boot camp?

Carlos Garcia:

Oh yes. We went to the boot camp. Actually we went to, the basic training, we went through the, basic training twice because they were just holding us over, and actually from there we went to Texas, San Antonio The infantry there had us and we was there for while.And we had our basic training there.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Do you remember any of your instructors from there?

Carlos Garcia:

I remember Captain Wall. He was sadistic. He was a photographer from Hollywood and Every so often he would go lock himself in his room for two or three days. He'd play (garbled) Hawaiian? What is it, the German composer the heavy? You see what happens when you get old?

Marilyn B. McCurry:

You can't remember the names, I can't either!

Carlos Garcia:

Wagner! He used to play Wagner.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Oh, Wagner!

Carlos Garcia:

He ran us one night from about 4 o'clock in the afternoon to, oh, I don't know, maybe three o'clock in the morning. And one,.a couple of guys passed out, one of the guys passed out and he went over and kicked him and tried to get him up. Well that night he and the first Sargent sat up with loaded tommy guns because some of our guys were going to get him. And we were a very unhappy company! We had fought with the infantry. We stole all the motor cycles from the M.P.s. Killed a M.P. accidentally and I don't know how many people we put in the hospital, so we were a mean outfit.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Was that retaliation for the over working of the exercise or just general?

Carlos Garcia:

That was, We were, for instance, I was in the army for about four years ....

Marilyn B. McCurry:

So is this later?

Carlos Garcia:

No this was at Basic, but oh my in four years I got four days off!. A leave for four days!. And two days was travel back from Texas to California. The guys that were married he wouldn't let off base. So there was talk of getting him. But the German's beat us to it! He lost a leg at D Day.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

So he got his. But that's to bad that It was a horrible experience. It wasn't a good boot camp. How did you get through it really?

Carlos Garcia:

I knew it was a game, it was a game and I was willing to play the game.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

So did you do anything with photography while you were in boot camp, or was it just to learn to be a soldier?

Carlos Garcia:

Learn primarily to be a soldier. I did go down to Louisiana. I got a request to go take, go to an artillery range, take some pictures When I got there. there was no one there but a Master Sargent. And that was surprising cause we were the only two there And this guy made passes at me and promised me all kinds of things! He had his arm from the shoulder down his elbow with stripes. He'd been in the service a long time. He was the generals aid. And I thought, "Oh My God!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

This isn't a good start.

Carlos Garcia:

So they were putting together a group of guys to go down to Louisiana to cover the maneuvers. not to take part in maneuvers, but to cover them. So I got on that thing because I thought, "I don't want to go into the infantry." So I pulled out! So there's a good reason not to go ... why you don't want homosexuals in the Service! I met this guy at headquarters in Normandy and we come by the door. He went one way and I went the other and I figured if this guy puts me in the infantry I'm going to shoot him. You got to realize that a combat guy is a different man from a civilian.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

A whole different mentality! Approach to lifee.

Carlos Garcia:

Oh yeah! Oh yeah.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Well you got off to kind'a bad start there didn't you?

Carlos Garcia:

Well no! I ...You know, I would survive.---and I tell you these things---

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Where did you go from then? Did you go into combat?

Carlos Garcia:

No. We went to England. We were six months in England and my assignment, one of my first assignments in England was preparation for the invasion. We covered, we did a lot of work. Maybe because I was a little older I got some assignments. One was bomb disposal. Diggin' up bombs. And that was fun. We were assigned to an English, while we were there ... that their English rations were, an American soldier could not live on the English rations. So they had to bring in food to us. And before that if we wanted to get something to eat so I went into a, not the (?mess) but the noncommissioned officers mess. And I was a sargent so I was able to go in. That means my guys couldn't go in. I had about four or five guys, so. I still I don't know what to do with them, so I made them all sargent! I took, put'em all aside and when we went up to the door I took my jackets off and stuck'em on the guys! Says, "They'r all promoted to sargents!" The guy just looked, his eyes got BIG! and looked! And I went in, we we went in and ate.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

They didn't.question it? They just let them do through?

Carlos Garcia:

Yeah!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

You'r a trickster! And then from there did you go to Normandy?

Carlos Garcia:

We went on with bomb disposal. Oh, I'm gonna tell you a story about bomb disposal. The Germans made a butterfly bomb about the size of a coffee can and put them into big canister and they would blow them out and scatter them. and these things had wing on them. They would unfold and glide all over the place. The kids would pick them up and of course they were a bomb set off by all kinds of different methods for exploding'em. So I got one that was already defused So when I went back to our company I gave this to a kid and say, "Hey, go take it and go throw it on the desk." And say, "What is it?" (laughs) You ought to see those guys leave that room! (Laughter)

Marilyn B. McCurry:

They knew what they could do if they were real.

Carlos Garcia:

Yeah (laughter).

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Well that sounds like it was fun in one way. But the next question is, "Were there many casualties in your unit?"

Carlos Garcia:

Yeah. We had a good share! Yeah, yeah ..

Marilyn B. McCurry:

But not from your bombing!

Carlos Garcia:

No. We had casualties from our own air crafts! To go back to be chronological on this stuff, our company was broken up into units of three people. There was a driver, a still photographer, and then a motion picture photographer. That was what I was. I shot 35 m.m. black and white. We were assigned to either division. I was assigned to CORE- actually there were three teams. Two teams of us that were assigned to CORE and our job was to support divisions that were engaged for special assignments. So I got some special assignments. The English did not have a photographic company. So we supported the English. So I served in the English Army several, a number of times. And they did not know what to do with the American. (pause)

Marilyn B. McCurry:

You're doing great and it sounds very interesting, and you are making it funny when it wasn't funny at all, but it was in away. So you got assigned to these CORE groups and you were with the English. and the English didn't know what to do with you ..

Carlos Garcia:

Well I told you about our rations, that we were not able to live on the rations, in fact we were laid out. They brought in rations for us, but prior to that is when I made all my guys sargents. Going back to we left England for the invasion I was in 0 + 3. A lot of the other fellows were, that went in with divisions (D=HR?) we had, I think it was three or four guys parachuting in.and they got interesting stories. The one thing that happened is that our footage that we shot and the stills were gathered by the Beach Master and put into a duffel bag and taken to London for processing. And some captain dropped them overboard accidentally, so we did not get any. Very few pictures of the invasion from the American side.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

This is Normandy?

Carlos Garcia:

This was Normandy,Yeah,it wasn't the Civil War! I wasn't old enough for the Civil War.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

(Laughs) My grandfather was in that. (Joking, talk about M. MCurry's Grand parents.) Alright so this is when you are in Normandy that they lost the pictures over board because the guy dropped them.

Carlos Garcia:

Yeah.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

So let's take it from there

Carlos Garcia:

Of course at Normandy they had the landing. When I went ashore there wasn't much fighting. We got some artillery coming in but nothing bad like the guys the first day. But the hedge row fighting was horrible! Every field was broken up by hedge rows. These hedge rows, maybe four or five feet thick and eight or ten feet high. And you didn't know what was on the other side of that hedge row. And to go to attack you had to go through these hedge rows. And they just sit there waiting for you. So they were mean' You know we say the fighting in hedge rows was bad, but all fighting was bad' You know its--fighting in cities its bad' You know you end up by getting killed' Well to go on, in hedge rows I fought, taking of Cherbourg. We had the breakout at Saint Lo. We were tied down at Saint Lo. The English we tied down at Caen They dropped bombs, a thousand airplanes dropped bombs to break through Saint Lo to the break out. They dropped heavies, the medium come over and dropped their bombs where they should of dropped off, but because there was two rows running parallel to each other, we were on one side of the row, the Germans were on the other, and then we pulled back behind the second row (road) and well, the mediums stirred up so much dust that when the Heavies came over they couldn't see the target' So they dropped them on OUR division. They wiped out, they practically wiped out our division. I was in a fox hole. Whenever we stopped, where ever we moved, we were always looking for depressions. Even after the war and I got home also I was always,(?) for the curb or where I could find shelter. And so I found this fox hole and I was in the bottom of the fox hole. And have you ever driven when your collar comes up and hits your face, and it kind stings? My whole body was that way. When we did manage to break out, the next day, the bomb began initials the next day. We broke out and then we made a dash to Paris.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

When you say we, was it the photographers or your whole group of people that were in that unit that were left?

Carlos Garcia:

Well actually, I went in with the French! I did not go in with the Americans. The Americans held back and let the French come through. I was in Paris I think two or three days before the Americans. That was an interesting story. We pulled in our jeep, as I said there was three in our team. And we stopped. The French come up and started to hug us and so forth. Started talking to us and we say, "Americans." And they literally stepped back! And then they come in and closed around us and hugging us and so forth and I found myself going down an alley with two guys on each side of me, with my arms back, holding my arms. And I said, "These guys are all happy, do I go for my gun? Or what's going to happen?"" So they come up to a door, they knocked on the door and a little peep hole opened up, and they shut it and open the door. And it was a Bar! (Laughs) It started there! So that night we ended up in a beautiful home (place name) over looking Paris. We used to carry rations. And there is a Ten in One. That's rations enough for ten guys for one day, or one guy for ten days. I gave this to the lady of the house and she fixed us up quite a banquet and while we were sitting there, before I sat at the table, she asked me not to take my gun to the table. So I took my belt off and put it down on the floor. And while we were eating, some Frenchman comes in with a grenade. And he is screaming about all the fighting going on and you guys are eating here! And I look at that grenade. And I look at my gun and I look at that grenade. And the woman tells him, "That they are Americans here." And so he left. I reached down and put my gun back on.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Didn't feel safe at all.

Carlos Garcia:

No! We had quite a party that day! We stayed in Paris a couple days. I think it was the 4th Division that come in a couple days later. We were marching through the center of Paris. You could see the guys peeing off. (laughing and jokeing) We lost a Lieutenant. The only officer we ever lost was a guy we never saw because our job was really away from the company. We go back to the company to get a replacement for a guy who got hurt or we broke a camera, or for food or whatever. The only officer that ever got killed. I never met the guy. He was new to the company and he was killed outside of Paris. An' from Paris, let's see . We crossed the Ruhr. We had the breakhogs, went to Paris, then dash across France. We kept running out of fuel. So a couple of days we wouldn't move until we got fuel. And then we crossed the Ruhr (or was it the Siegfried line first?) But anyway when we crossed the Siegfried Line we just drove through. What could happen is there would be one hell of a fight four blocks from us, five blocks from us or a quarter of a mile, but we had no fighting. No one there. Or vice versa we'd be in a fight and a quarter mile from us they would not be in a fight. So an infantry man or a foot soldier, his knowledge is what he sees which can be yards and that's his world. The world He is in. So what's taking place someplace else is you read about it and you say, "That's not the way it happened!" So I saw Bradley on the crossing of the Ruhr. Some general made a mistake or something. I was back at head quarters. This general come back and Bradley says, "As of now you are removed of your command and you go back to your ship and go back to the United States!" Just like that. When we got back to the Company, a lot of time we'd get roughed up for some reason or other. So they'd pull us back to the Company and over there we took pictures of the War Map. It was the size of a wall. We'd go into the tent and there'd be the General, would be there sayin' what was going on,. And Bradley would be sittin' back quietly seeing what's going on. I had the greatest respect for Bradley. After they'd finished or talked for a while, he'd get up and say is this what's happening and I as a sargent would say. "YEAH! That's what's happening!" You know he would get right to the meat of it.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

And did they listen to the lower officers then?"

Carlos Garcia:

Oh they listened to it, yeah. Of course Bradley was in charge of Second Army, and we were in Second Army. (Sentence not clear)

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Were you ever a prisoner of war?

Carlos Garcia:

No. We had ...

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Some near misses?

Carlos Garcia:

My buddy was----You pick out a buddy, you know. I had a buddy. a guy named Gutra. He was short and stocky, like a bull! And he and I used to fight in the barracks. Just for the hell of it! We'd break furniture and everybody pulled out Because of our actions. we got all the screw ups. We're both sargents. Physically we could handle'em. And so we got 'em. And Gutra got captured. I don't know too much about his being captured. They tell me that they was on a march. Gutra never said anything about his being captured. He thought his still man was killed because, the still man escaped. He said he was caught by Hitler's young group and they killed him.. But later on we found out, much later.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

He got away?

Carlos Garcia:

We found out that he got away. Gutra-they were shooting prisoners that, fell out and Gutra fell into a ditch and he hid, and was found by a farmer, and the farmer took him to the police department. So that was what saved him. There was another guy who was captured, Skippy. Skippy was short. He stayed in the army and he fought, and he became a Colonel. He fought in World War Two and in Korea and he fought in Vietnam. When he was captured he talked a German Colonel to give him a pass So he photographed the German's fighting the Russians.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

What happened to those pictures?

Carlos Garcia:

I, I, maybe they are in the German Archives. (laughter)

Marilyn B. McCurry:

That's interesting, that, that could be a turn around like that ... but he had the film and he could do it ..

Carlos Garcia:

They didn't take his gun away from him, didn't take his jeep, didn't take his driver, so. Of course the Germans thought that they were going to join us and that we were going to fight the Russian, and I think we should have.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Any medals?

Carlos Garcia:

Nah. I was supposed to be getting a bronze star, and they were going to raise it to silver star, but the war ended. But we didn't need medals, We had a guy who got the medal because he was calm and collected while taking pictures of high ranking officers. Bronze star (laughs)

Marilyn B. McCurry:

So they don't mean as much as they are supposed to?

Carlos Garcia:

No. I think what happens is each officer has so many to give away. I don't know .....

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Did you stay in touch with your family?

Carlos Garcia:

Oh yeah, wrote letters .. And when we could make phone calls. Not, In the States we made phone calls.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Were there any special things you did for good luck'

Carlos Garcia:

No.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

No, you didn't have any good luck? Did you have entertainers at all in your group? Did any of the U.S.O. people come in? Or did you entertain yourselves?

Carlos Garcia:

Where we were there wasn't much entertainment. We used to kid each other that the guys were layin in the ditches while the entertainers went by. That's not true. I never saw any entertainers. Hey wait a minute! I did! Right towards the end! We had a Lieutenant, Lieutenant Stesal. Ah, tell yah! There were so many officers. We had a lot of officers in our company. They were a sorry lot. I was ... And one night I was in charge of the (not head quarters, our own) officers whatever we call it, quarters, and I got into the files and I was able to see the IQs. (laughing .. )

Marilyn B. McCurry:

That was your entertainment?

Carlos Garcia:

Yeah. The photographers all had higher I.Q.'s than the officers!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

They wanted you to stay alive and keep taking pictures.

Carlos Garcia:

Of course we did have some officers, some of the photographers become officers in the field. They kept going. They went to the front! The other guys never got near the front!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

How near the front did you get?

Carlos Garcia:

Oh God.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

You got pretty far.

Carlos Garcia:

I got up to the front. Yeah, (sighs) I did it Mostly with the infantry. I did not like tanks.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

And when you were at the end of the war, you told me about when you were photographing the release of the people who were in the ..

Carlos Garcia:

Concentration camps.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Will you talk on that a little bit.

Carlos Garcia:

Yeah. Well, I saw, that was well into Germany. But I think I tell you that I was in across the Siegfried Line which wasn't much of a fight. The Hurtgen Forest, which was, some of the guys were on the beach of the Hurtgen Forest, I was on the beach, I was doing fine durin' the winter. The guys would start out, the company would start out with say 200 men in morning and by noon they would have eighty left ..

Marilyn B. McCurry:

So it really was ...

Carlos Garcia:

Oh yeah' You'd see them loading the trucks with the dead. Well the guys would come in just before dark with the truck loads. In the morning they'd be throwin' them in on the trucks. Just heapin them in the trucks. I thought I'd do a story on the handling of the dead and I saw lots of pictures of them throwin them into the trucks. I went to the grave yard and they had holes dug, and they'd take the truck and they would just drive by and throw them in the holes. Two guys on the truck. One guy down below. and just throw them in the hole Another guy had all the dog tags, he had a whole handfuls of dog tags. I cut that thing short because it was very unpleasant-Yeah! Crossin' the Rhine, crossing the Reutter, Crossing the Oker, that was a bitch of a fight. (Hesitation, he lost his concentration.) I always bring the Concentration Camps up; because people say it did not happen! AND I WAS THERE! And the worst thing that happened to me in the whole war was having to do the Concentration Camp. I'd been shelled. I'd been bombed, I had been strafed, the whole works, like any other infantry man. I did work with the infantry, but when we went to the Concentration Camp we sawall these poor guys, partly dead and dieing! Most of us by then were tough soldiers, many of us were crying!. I started to go up to the building, upstairs in the building, and I couldn't do it because I'd would have had walk on the bodies. While I was taking pictures one of these "What's its?" guys, crawled up and kissed my feet! At that time it didn't affect me much, in fact I told him, "Get up young man. Don't crawn" But latter on I began to think about it. I thought well, "My God, this guy is just like you and me!" So it has hardened. (?) I don't know whether the guy lived or died. I imagine he died. Did he have a wife? Did he have kids? (Nah, and I don't know.) Its the worst thing that ever happened! The other one I can understand. You either get killed or kill. You know it is very simple. Can't understand it! Why they'd do it! I can't understand it!! I understand shooting prisoners. You have to shoot prisoners. Say you are in retreat, got to shoot ;your guys because you know if you let them go they are going to pick up a gun and come back after you. So, you have to kill them. Incidentally, early on when we were in Normandy, we were killing prisoners. Word came down was ... "Don't kill prisoners "cause they'll fight. If they are going to be killed there will be nothin' for them to surrender!" So the army encouraged us not to kill prisoners. The better we treated the prisoners---- and the word get back to them-(waiting)

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Then they would be more likely to surrender. That was a tough part of your life!

Carlos Garcia:

Oh, I had some good times!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

O.K. Lets hear about the good times. Did you travel while you were in service at all? Other than the army "traveling" you?

Carlos Garcia:

As I say, we worked out of a jeep. We lived out of a jeep. So we were on the road ALL the time. ALL the time.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

But there never was a time when you had a leave except maybe, Paris

Carlos Garcia:

Well, we were kind'a loose and fancy free. We were sent up to the front lines lots of times And a lot of times. getting to the front line we'd take our time. We'd stop at a little town. One of ours. We were not known as the heavy Luttenburg. We'd be driving up and down the street and we'd look down the road and off to the side there would be a little village. So we'd drive down to the village and ask for the mayor, get the mayor of the place. We want all the guns and binoculars, and cameras here (see the place) And coming back lots of times we had to take the film back. So Lots of times we'd drive around the village and scavenge for food through the cameras. You know we shot (a picture of) a box car. It was closed and we opened it up, the box car,.and it was full of microscopes. So we loaded the jeep with microscopes. Not that we knew what we were going to do with them. The M.P. stops us, made us take 'em to the hospital. I had a driver named Hamilsil, little Mexican. He was a great driver, the best I ever had. He'd come back at night and follow the same road and I don't know how he did it. But he loved little cars and he was always stealing them. Every time he'd come across a little car, he'd steal it. (laughs) "Cute little thing!" he used to say. The M.P.s would stop him and take the car away from him. And he'd go steal another one.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

That was part of your entertainment or pranks? Did you keep any kind of diary?

Carlos Garcia:

No. Never.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Too busy?

Carlos Garcia:

I don't know anybody who wrote a diary.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

I can understand how there wouldn't be time. How did your service end? Do you recall the last days of it?

Carlos Garcia:

Yeah! When they dropped the bomb! Yeah, we were scheduled to go to Japan. We were pulled out and scheduled to go to Japan. We were R & R. They put us in some, just out of.. .... we were in Bavaria, a boot camp. They had hot spring water. Blm tubs. I never saw any tubs this big before. And you open the hot water and it'd go, "Shish, Shish!" and you'd open the cold water and it'd go "Shish, SHISH" (Laughs) So we were stationed there and some of the guys had gotten girls and hid them in the rooms. (Laughs) There"s not much you can do to a combat man. You put them in a (?????) which is bigger than the front line. So what can you do with them? So the guys picked up some gals. (Long Pause) We were interviewed and I said I would not go to another invasion. 1 t was too painful. And I meant it. I just wasn't going to do it anymore. And they declared the whole company unfit for combat. So that took care of that.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Then you were released.

Carlos Garcia:

Yeah, that was when we were released after that. But I really don't remember much of that. I remember being at the place and playing a lot of ping pong and that sort of thing. We was in the Alps in Bavaria. I'd have to look up in the map, we were just outside of a town. And then we came home on a Liberty Ship. There was about eight or twelve of us. We had the run of the ship.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

You were all photographers.

Carlos Garcia:

Yes, we were all photographers. I don't think we had any drivers with us, but we were photographers. And I heard one of the sailors say to another, "Gee those guys are tough!"

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Well, you had been through hell!

Carlos Garcia:

Yeah! (Laughs) You know when you think of them-(Shakes his head)

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Sure, they were "husky" sailors, but you were tougher than they were!

Carlos Garcia:

Yeah! It took us twenty one days to get back! Twenty one days! They had a crack on the cylinder head. So they'd take a chisel and drive rags into that crack. They'd take a five gallon can and open it up and screwed it down on it, on top of the head, and it would go for about a half hour and then it would go "Ca BOOM!", and they'd have to stop and do it over again.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Did you help them?

Carlos Garcia:

No, I just watched 'em. They couldn't have been any nicer to us! They let us own the ship! They treated us great. And They gave us food. They fed us wem

Marilyn B. McCurry:

THEY gave you some food?

Carlos Garcia:

Yep!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Where did you dock when you came in?

Carlos Garcia:

Boston. Then we came across the United States in a freight car. They had bunks in the freight car We went all the way to California. It took us three or four. days. They'd stop and we would be on a siding you know? I,.it was France, I think I was, in a forty by eight foot box car. Forty men or eight horses, (from?) .... during World War One. (I think he ment the box car was vintage.)They were infantry guys and some colonel hadn't been in very long, hadn't seen any fighting; he wanted them to rack the rifles. But the infantry men is never allowed to. (he) You carry the rifle wherever you go. He sleeps with his rifle. And the train would stop and the guys would scatter and they would come back with fruit and eggs, and this Colonel; we were driving this Colonel mad. And when one man came back and wanted a pro. kit, he gave up! (Laughter)

Marilyn B. McCurry:

So were you back into a regular camp when you got off of thats train car or were you free to go home?

Carlos Garcia:

We went to Fort MacArthur after we got home, we were supposed to stay at Fort MacArthur, for I don't know for how long. But Ruth lived in Long Beach (his future wife) so, and I went over the fence. Went to see Ruth!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Well that was fun.

Carlos Garcia:

Yeah! I did! She lived in the path of one of the airplane take offs over her house. While I was there an airplane went by. I bolted over the sofa and layed down on the floor.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

It brought back the war,

Carlos Garcia:

Oh Yeah! I'd be walking down the street and the first thing I'd know, instead of walking on the side walk I'd be crawling along the side of the buildings .

Marilyn B. McCurry:

The war was with you and you just couldn't escape it. ------

Carlos Garcia:

It was ..... (pause-This man has had three heart attacks so I waited.) ...

Marilyn B. McCurry:

You've done real well. I'm very interested. Its beautiful. But it wasn't so beautiful. when you went through it . So afterward it was hard to not just automatically act the way you had been doing. for, how many years were you over there?

Carlos Garcia:

Six months before the invasion. Course we got some bombs-but nothing, nothing like we got later on, you know .. ---I don't know how you can explain.combat .. It's ... You know I'd say we weren't afraid we were, TERRIFIED!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

And that doesn't leave you! It's a pain that's there.

Carlos Garcia:

Ohhh, You bury it, You bury it! And my poor wife ... we got married six weeks after I got home and we went to Mexico for a honeymoon, three months. She couldn't touch me, but I'd come up fighting. What she had to do was knock on the wall when she come down to, or shake the bed. And that went on for years.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Did you ever do any therapy or anything like that to get over it?

Carlos Garcia:

No. No. I yeah, I don't know what you do? (Sad)

Marilyn B. McCurry:

I don't know either, but I know some people did find relief I don't know anybody personally, you just see in movies where people have had flash backs and they start talking to the other person like its the war.

Carlos Garcia:

Yeah we had our flash backs, ----but we settled down. We settle down.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Well it was certainly admirable if you could do that Carlos! Hell doesn't stop ...

Carlos Garcia:

Well yeah, but you know we just got some hell too! We were in Berlin. I was one of the first Americans in Berlin. We went to the Potsdam Conference and we were assigned to a signal photo outfit. They were line people, but they had not been up in the line very much. They had lost five guys I think. Two died of pneumonia, one was killed by a guard, somebody turned over a jeep, that sor'ta thing. So they were assigned us to this outfit. The food (blah) We had our own jeep and we had all our own assignments all over Berlin--to take pictures of certain buildings . for presentations, and so on. Well they wanted us to go into their offices, and we had a jeep, but they put them into a motor pool, and we had to go to an officer to get our jeep. So we would show up at one of these dedications. You'd get a phone call, "How come you guys didn't show up?" "Sorry Sir, these are orders from Lieutenant S." (Laughs) And I'd show up or not, in dungarees, because certain hours we had to be in dungarees. and we'd to show up at the presentation in dungarees. The general,( garbled-laughing) said we were a violation of Lieutenant Silverman. It wasn't long before they pretty much left us alone. Then we were going to Berlin. Berlin was a roarin' place and we'd go out at night and we'd have "Bed Check'" They wanted to take "Bed Check." Well the Captain of our outfit was going to Potsdam, and they had a full outfit there, finally told them, "Leave those guys alone." So we go out to .. that night we go to the bar and what not. So they had "Bed Check'" So I figured I'd fix up a camera with a trip wire on it so if a guy came in it would flash him. I took a picture of the Lieutenant. So he started jumpin' me about this thing you know and I said, "Well. somebody's been stealing things from us!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

You always had an excuse didn't you?

Carlos Garcia:

Yeah! (laughing) And they had a white glove inspection. They picked up, ... One of the drivers carried a tommy gun. He picked up this guy's tommy gun with his white glove and the oil just ran off of it. And of course we busted out laughing you know (and he said) "You guys don't give a damn! and the driver said, "No sir!"(Laughter)

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Well, after it was all over and you got married, what did you do after the war? How did you get into the government taking pictures of the rockets?

Carlos Garcia:

Well, I went to photo school on the G.I. Bill and from there I want to work for a commercial house tak'n pictures of tables, table settings, glassware and catalogues, National Ad. We did a lot of color for national ads. I got a, a friend of mine who told me North American Aviation was hiring, so I went and joined. I worked in the lab for just short period of time. Then become, got into the motion picture section, that's cleaner than the lab, just a few weeks and I was at the top and then from there I went into the motion picture unit. I became head of the motion picture unit. Then I started the full instrumentation for the use of photography for engineering. That was a lot of fun! These things went fast. Made a lot of noise. Went BOOM! We worked, did a lot of chase work. Aircraft, taking pictures in the air of fighters. High performance aircraft. Took pictures of the X-l0 which in some way was a forrrunner for the shuttle. (garbled) We had one explosion and we had the chase and the bird was off of our wing tip oh maybe, twenty five feet or so and then it blew up! And I had a crew on the lake bed, this was at Edwards and I thought, "My God! here's where I'm going to have to face a bunch of wives tonight!", cause they were scattered along the lake bed. I was on a T-33 and from a T-33 you can't look back because of the head rest and the Pilot laid it over and he said, "They're O.K." So that was a relief. And the only footage we could use was the last guy! Everybody, just had a ball of flames. The last guy had a ball of flame but a wheel came bouncing out. We had several other types of things like that. I saw this thing coming on Micro Chips. I put together a group and I ended up one of the best labs in the world at 30 making chips.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Where was that?

Carlos Garcia:

That was in Anaheim. Yeah! Yeah!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

How long did you do that?

Carlos Garcia:

I don't know. Twenty years I guess. (He looks for picture in his wallet.)

Marilyn B. McCurry:

You are just like me, I can't find the pictures when I want them.(He comes up with the card.)

Carlos Garcia:

Its a business card, I'm going to try and impress you!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

And I won't know how to be impressed ... (pause as he holds up long chain of credit and business cards You've got a goodly number of cards there!

Carlos Garcia:

Oh, I had guys working for me, and all these cards they had to carry you know and they would hold them up like this.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

And it would come down in a string two yards long? (hunts and hunts, "It is probably right there." (He hands it to me.) I didn't think I would ever get to meet somebody from ROCETDYNE INTERNATIONAL!

Carlos Garcia:

We did some pretty good work.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Thank you for showing me and thank you for talking and telling me and I hope I get it and can make it so it will be readable for everybody!

Carlos Garcia:

Thank you for asking!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Was there anybody left from your unit that you ever got back together with?

Carlos Garcia:

Oh yes. Yeah I've got pictures of the guys here.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

What would you say the effect on your life the war was?

Carlos Garcia:

A very positive one. Oh yeah! Oh yeah!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

In what way?

Carlos Garcia:

I know my limits.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

They were much bigger than you thought they were?

Carlos Garcia:

They got stretched!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

When you went in you didn't know you could endure that much did you?

Carlos Garcia:

No you don't know what your limits are until you've been tested.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Then you know what a strong person you really were.

Carlos Garcia:

We all were!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Well I don't mean just you. (skip)

Carlos Garcia:

But we don't know what our limits are until we are tested. You know that well. And when they really stretch you out, which they did ... (laughs)

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Well I think you came back pretty well considering what you went through. I think you had strong limits! I know for a time there Ruth must have thought you were never going to be well again.

Carlos Garcia:

No. No ...

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Did she deal with it well when you would flash back?

Carlos Garcia:

Yeah .... it didn't bother because it was over with,

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Its like having a night mare and you wake up and now it is over with? I don't know I'm guessing.

Carlos Garcia:

I've been shelled layin' out in a field, no cover! And I said, "God if I live through this thing I'll never complain again as long as I have a full belly, a warm place to sleep and somebody to cuddle up to."

Marilyn B. McCurry:

And you got that.

Carlos Garcia:

You get down to essentials!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

And that makes a whole different approach to life.

Carlos Garcia:

Yeah! Yeah. Be thankful! Why should it bother you? Some of the things I would get bothered by mean nothing.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

No, they are frustrating but they were not life and death matters.

Carlos Garcia:

We also had some good times.

Marilyn B. McCurry:

You told me. Tell me about the snakes. Let's put that in. Was that in Florida?

Carlos Garcia:

That was in Louisiana. Sargent by the name of Maudree. a gambler. He gambled, he gambled all night long, but he also caught snakes. He'd sell 'em. He'd lecture on snakes. So he and I used to go. I used to go with him to gather these snakes. You'd come into his room and "Had to be careful "he said. He had snakes hanging in bags all over his room and then he would turn them loose on the floor so they could get exercise When he was around people he was very cavalier about having the snakes. So we were back in the swamp and we got hold of a cooperhead. Put it into a paper bag. Put it into what we called a paddy wagon. When he wasn't there or wasn't lookin' I changed it. I hid the snake some place else. He saw the empty bag and thought it had escaped. He wouldn't go near the inside of that car!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

He respected them.

Carlos Garcia:

Oh he did! He knew what they could do. Maudree had a (?) motion picture man and he and his group were going down to a village they thought had been captured. You had to be careful because they would say they had captured a village and they hadn't captured it you know? Or they'd been knocked back out. They were driving their jeep and they got machine gunned. And the still man took a bullet in his hand and it came out his elbow. Knocked him out. Maudree went and got into a culvert and they machine gunned him, whipped his back, all the way long his back. Couldn't hit him. It was hitting him but it wasn't going IN, just skinning him. And he got up and ran into a wheat field. The Germans come after him with a dog. And one of our tanks saw the chain of events so they come up. They saw the gunmen in the field and opened up on them. So Maudree got up ran toward the tank. He refused to go in combat anymore, so they broke him to private and sent him into Paris. They did that to several guys when they'd get a bad deal, they can't work. You see as a photographer you CAN'T SHAKE!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

Well not and make good pictures, that's for sure! So if you couldn't keep your hand steady any longer, then you couldn't be in that unit?

Carlos Garcia:

Well that was one of the things you couldn't do.you know. They found the driver, in the village and he was killed! Now we don't really know whether we killed him ourselves. That's friendly fire. One of the things I used to do with another guy named Bateser--Is, there is all kinds of explosives layin' around the field you know, artillery shells and all kinds of stuff. We'd roll them into a fox hole and fill the fox hole with an explosive. Then we would light them and walk off. Put a long fuse on them. They'd go BANG! you know. The Germans would see it and they'd start putting up artillery fire there too!

Marilyn B. McCurry:

You used up some of their ammunition that way! What did I forget to ask you about? Is there anything you'd like to tell that we didn't cover? You did real well! (He seemed pretty tired, so we stopped recording.)

 
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  October 26, 2011
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