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Interview with Raymond Robert Wade [8/15/2002]

Larry Ordner:

This recording is made August 15th, 2002, with Raymond Robert Wade. The last name is spelled W-a-d-e. Mr. Wade resides at Rural Route 1, Box 121, in Owensville, Indiana. He is a native of Belmont, Illinois, served in the United States Army in the 182nd Regiment out of Camp Edwards near Boston along the cape. He served as a Private First Class from August 10th, 1941, until August 5th, 1945. He was drafted at age 23, saw service in -- the World War II era, of course, from -- in -- in, well, many locations, including, but not limited to, Australia, New Caledonia, Guadalcanal, the Fijis, Bougainville, New Hebrides, and then back home to San Francisco in the states. He is a winner of a Guadalcanal Citation that came via the President. This tape is made with Larry Ordner, Regional Director for the United States Senator Dick Lugar. Well, Raymond, thanks so much for -- for agreeing to participate in the Veterans History Project. I appreciate your doing this. Now, you were -- where were you at age 23, when you -- when you were drafted? Now, I know you were born in Illinois. Had -- had your family moved to this area?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, yeah.

Larry Ordner:

Okay. When did you come to Indiana?

Raymond Robert Wade:

1926.

Larry Ordner:

1926. So you were settled in in --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yeah.

Larry Ordner:

-- in the Gibson County area, right?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yeah.

Larry Ordner:

So what were you doing when you were at age 23? What were you doing at that time?

Raymond Robert Wade:

I was a farmer.

Larry Ordner:

Okay.

Raymond Robert Wade:

Farming.

Larry Ordner:

Well, can I ask you, then, of course the war was -- well, things -- I guess the U.S. had not officially entered the war, but -- but things -- certainly the war was raging by that time --

Raymond Robert Wade:

That's right.

Larry Ordner:

-- out in other places, of course, and -- and this was before Pearl Harbor, so what did you think when that draft notice arrived and what -- what was the reaction at home?

Raymond Robert Wade:

I didn't -- I didn't mind it a bit.

Larry Ordner:

Yeah. Lots of guys --

Raymond Robert Wade:

I knew -- I knew we had a year to do, and we wanted to get it done. I think most boys was that way. They wanted to get home, get -- get the job done and get home.

Larry Ordner:

Yeah. So where did you go for induction? Do you remember that?

Raymond Robert Wade:

I went to Fort -- Fort Benning -- it's Fort Benning, Georgia -- uh, Fort Harrison --

Larry Ordner:

Fort Benjamin, Harrison --

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- Fort Benjamin Harrison --

Larry Ordner:

-- up in Indy?

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- in Indianapolis.

Larry Ordner:

Okay. And then did you -- did they send you for basic training then?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Went from there to Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Larry Ordner:

Spartanburg? Really.

Raymond Robert Wade:

Done 17 weeks down there and got the _____.

Larry Ordner:

How -- how did you get down there?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Went by train.

Larry Ordner:

Did they tell you where you were going --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yeah.

Larry Ordner:

-- to?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yeah. They told us -- they told us where we were going.

Larry Ordner:

Okay. What was basic training like for you? Was it -- was it pretty rigorous?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Well, they worked us over pretty good.

Larry Ordner:

Lots of guys have told me that -- that, you know, the ones that maybe -- maybe grew up in -- on the farms, it wasn't too bad for them, but a lot of the city guys had a lot of --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Well, they did. They did. It didn't bother me any.

Larry Ordner:

Didn't bother you?

Raymond Robert Wade:

No, not at all.

Larry Ordner:

Well, was it kind of different adjusting to military life, though, any -- any -- I guess --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Well, it seemed like they was pretty strict on some of the boys, and then -- then some they -- some of the boys didn't have no trouble at all, they'd just fall in there and just -- just done whatever they said. And sure, for -- oh, you know, there was always trouble. We had one or two boys that were usually a lot of trouble.

Larry Ordner:

Any -- any particular memories from -- of basic training that just kind of stick out in your mind?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

Larry Ordner:

Tell me about those.

Raymond Robert Wade:

There was a Sergeant, his name was Sharp. Sergeant Sharp. Best soldier I ever seen in my life. And he was the one that trained us. And I think of him every day.

Larry Ordner:

Really. Well, what -- what made him special?

Raymond Robert Wade:

He was tops. He was a -- he -- he was like this, and he walked like that. He was built around the waist about a 22, 21, looked perfect.

Larry Ordner:

I'll be darned.

Raymond Robert Wade:

Perfect soldier.

Larry Ordner:

Huh. I bet you can hear his voice, can't you?

Raymond Robert Wade:

I look for him when I'll go to -- down to -- oh, in Nashville, Tennessee -- that's where his home was -- and I'll look for him like -- if I know -- I could see him a block away and know him --

Larry Ordner:

Is that right?

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- yet today.

Larry Ordner:

I'll be darned.

Raymond Robert Wade:

He was that good. Tops. He had been in the Army six years. Yeah, and he was one of the better ones. When he told you something you better pay attention, because he was telling you the truth. And a lot of the boys paid a lot of attention to him too. And there was a few , you know, goof-offs.

Larry Ordner:

So what happened to -- maybe to those goof-offs that didn't --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Well --

Larry Ordner:

-- pay attention?

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- I -- I always wondered whatever did happen, because, see, we went -- it was about four bunches of us boys that went here and went there and went there, and some went in the paratroopers, and I don't know what happened to them goof-offs. They -- they tried to soldier and they -- they -- they couldn't do it. There was one or two boys couldn't soldier. They just absolutely couldn't do it. It wasn't in them.

Larry Ordner:

Yeah. Well, what else -- anything else that kind of sticks in your mind from the boot camp --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Well --

Larry Ordner:

-- basic training era or any -- any -- any incidents, any training that -- that maybe caused problems for people?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, we had one boy that went home, stayed -- stayed home for two or three days or a week, and he come back, and they'd just bring him in for -- for guard, you know, let him sit out there separate, all the boys would look at him. {Laughing} Oh we wanted to be _____. They'd take him down to the guard house and let him sleep that night, and he turned out to the best soldier in the world.

Larry Ordner:

Is that right?

Raymond Robert Wade:

He didn't -- he was out of Kentucky. He was a nice looking kid. He just didn't know. It was something new, he didn't know, but he got -- he got to be a real solider, he did, before it was over with.

Larry Ordner:

Yeah. So after -- the U.S. was really gearing up at that time?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, yeah. We knew -- our Captain -- our Captain told us where we was getting our training, he said we'd be lucky if we ain't gone by Christmas.

Larry Ordner:

Yeah. And he was right, wasn't he?

Raymond Robert Wade:

He said, "It don't look a bit good out there." So we took things serious, because, you know, we -- we -- we wanted to live.

Larry Ordner:

So, then -- so you trained down and studied down in -- basic in South Carolina. Did you have any terrain down there that helped in training, you think, in South Carolina?

Raymond Robert Wade:

No, I don't know as the terrain -- Well, there was hills and hollers, and we walked, and, let's see, we went on a 17 mile hike, we did one night, and about all of us made it.

Larry Ordner:

Wow.

Raymond Robert Wade:

We did.

Larry Ordner:

You had a full pack, I guess?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Full -- oh, yeah, full pack. And about all of us made it. They was one or two, you know, I see that got --

Larry Ordner:

Yeah. What was your first assignment outside of basic training? Where did they send you after basic?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Well, they sent us -- they sent us to -- up at Boston, you know, up there, and they was all on -- all on the -- in the south on the news, and we went up there and we just had to guard some outposts and -- and stuff around there. And -- and we liked to starve to death.

Larry Ordner:

Really?

Raymond Robert Wade:

We didn't get no -- nothing to eat.

Larry Ordner:

Why was that?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Well, they wasn't no one there to feed us. We just had soup and a bunch of stuff {laughing}.

Larry Ordner:

You had rations?

Raymond Robert Wade:

We had some K-rations. We ate them.

Larry Ordner:

Tell me about K-rations.

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, my, it was -- they was -- that was --

Larry Ordner:

What did that typically consist of?

Raymond Robert Wade:

That was absolutely ridiculous. But that's all they could afford. That's all they knowed.

Larry Ordner:

What -- what -- what were K-rations? Tell the -- for the purpose of the tape, what was that?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Hard biscuits and -- and -- and it seemed like they was some hard chocolate candy in there, best I remember, and they was -- seem like they was a wiener -- wiener in there.

Larry Ordner:

I've heard that some of those -- some of those wieners and sausages were -- were made up in -- well, in Fort Branch, in that area.

Raymond Robert Wade:

Well, it could have been here -- here at the Indies.

Larry Ordner:

Indies. That's what I heard. I heard --

Raymond Robert Wade:

I -- seemed like we did get some bacon -- them canned bacon. It was canned, and we'd open it, and it had Fort Branch --

Larry Ordner:

I was --

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- marked on it.

Larry Ordner:

-- because I remember talking to a man from up in this area, and he -- he was -- he was from Fort Branch, and I remember how he looked forward to seeing that Fort Branch --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Good bacon too, it was. Now, it was salty, but all you had to do with that, just soak it in water for a while.

Larry Ordner:

Well, now, where were you when -- when Pearl Harbor happened? How -- how did you get the news of that?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Well, I tell you what, we -- it was Sunday morning, and we was there at Boston, and the boys all begin to come in from the -- from -- from North Carolina, going to maneuvers, coming in, just coming in carloads at a time, coming into the barracks, and we was upstairs, got up, and someone had the radio downstairs on, and I went down there and they said, "Hey, we at war. They're bombing Hawaii, the Japanese are." And you could hear the -- you could -- seemed like you could hear the damn planes.

Larry Ordner:

Is that right?

Raymond Robert Wade:

They was -- they was coming down.

Larry Ordner:

So they had somebody like --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yeah, they was --

Larry Ordner:

-- like, _____ on the boats?

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- they was sending it right back to us.

Larry Ordner:

Do you remember hearing the President's speech the next day?

Raymond Robert Wade:

You know, I don't believe -- I don't really believe we heard it, because we just had that one radio in there, and all the boys was --

Larry Ordner:

But there was absolutely no doubt what was going to happen then?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, yeah. Absolutely. We --

Larry Ordner:

Well, did the mood change at that time, do you think? I know you were --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, yeah. We got -- see, we had to get serious. We -- we -- we knew we was into it. We -- and we knew we was going to win. It -- it wasn't a sole in that outfit that -- that knew we was going to lose. "Oh, we're gonna win this. And we'll win it in 18 months. " That's what we said, 18 months.

Larry Ordner:

So do you think -- How -- how was it determined that you were going to be headed to the Pacific? How did that happen?

Raymond Robert Wade:

I tell you what, sir, they issued us a bunch of stuff. It's been so long, it's been 60 years ago. They sent us out and sent us one time with -- with -- issued us winter clothes. Here a day or two here he come back and took it away from us. And they issued us some moskeeter nets to put over our heads for moskeeters, all that stuff, and they come and took that away from us. And they didn't give us nothing for a while and here they'd come back with the moskeeter nets. I said, "Well, we're going down -- down south."

Larry Ordner:

So you were figuring out where you were gonna go based on --

Raymond Robert Wade:

And so we said well, we was going down -- we was going to -- down south somewheres. Well, the 23rd of January we was sailing, 19 --19 and

Larry Ordner:

42.

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- 42.

Larry Ordner:

Yeah. And -- and so you -- you left off the west coast, right?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Left Brooklyn, New York -- _____ Brooklyn, New York --

Larry Ordner:

Left Brooklyn. Really?

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- the 23rd of January, 1942. We was the first convoy out at sea.

Larry Ordner:

Were you -- were you in Brooklyn only long enough basically to depart from there?

Raymond Robert Wade:

That's right. Just -- they wouldn't even let us out on the streets.

Larry Ordner:

Is that right?

Raymond Robert Wade:

They brought us in on the train and put us upstairs in a big hotel, a big something -- we had a lot of beds in there -- and we wasn't even allowed on the streets --

Larry Ordner:

Is that right?

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- so we unloaded from there and onto the ship and out down -- around down through the Panama Canal.

Larry Ordner:

Was -- was the U.S. in -- in any -- was -- was the U.S. imposing blackouts at that time?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, yeah.

Larry Ordner:

Okay.

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, definitely. Definitely.

Larry Ordner:

And I guess --

Raymond Robert Wade:

_____.

Larry Ordner:

-- and I guess there -- it was conceivable that there could have been an attack on the east coast or anywhere, wasn't it?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Absolutely, it could have been. Absolutely.

Larry Ordner:

Was there concern that -- that there were enemy subs out there just off the coast?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Larry Ordner:

Wow.

Raymond Robert Wade:

They knew they could be anywhere.

Larry Ordner:

Is that right?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yeah.

Larry Ordner:

So --

Raymond Robert Wade:

The Jap -- the Japanese could have been -- they's sneaky, you know.

Larry Ordner:

So you left Brooklyn on -- was it a -- was it a commercial --

Raymond Robert Wade:

It was on the Argentina -- on the Santa Lina (ph) ship -- Santa Lina. And a big -- big ship was with us.

Larry Ordner:

So roughly how many men might have been on your ship? Are we talking hundreds, thousands maybe?

Raymond Robert Wade:

That whole regiment there.

Larry Ordner:

Really?

Raymond Robert Wade:

That whole regiment was on that ship, and 132 was the Illinois outfit. They was on the Argentina.

Larry Ordner:

Were you -- you were part of the convoy?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Larry Ordner:

And then so -- so your route, then, you -- you -- you sailed down the -- down the east coast --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yep.

Larry Ordner:

-- then you -- what, the Panama Canal and --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Through the Panama Canal.

Larry Ordner:

What was it like going through the Panama Canal?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, it was nice. Nice --

Larry Ordner:

What do you remember -- what do you remember about that?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, I remember that, they'd go down through there. That was beautiful, all them big chain -- you had that rope on that -- what do you call them -- and they're big flying -- like a dirigible --

Larry Ordner:

Oh, yeah. Uh-huh.

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- got blowed up, air in it, you know. Oh, them was flying around.

Larry Ordner:

Oh, really.

Raymond Robert Wade:

Aw, yeah. We -- they loaded -- they had all that stuff. They was looking for anything. Anything could happen there.

Larry Ordner:

So -- And these were U.S. airships, right?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Larry Ordner:

My goodness.

Raymond Robert Wade:

We pulled out -- out of Panama -- out of Panama Canal 4th -- the 1st day of February at 4:00 and they told us where we was going.

Larry Ordner:

And --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Going to Australia. And they claimed we was tried to get -- we was going into the Philippines, and they -- MacArthur had come out of there -- was on his way out of there, and they sent us into -- to --

Larry Ordner:

And MacArthur came out and vowed to return, didn't he?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, yeah. You better believe it.

Larry Ordner:

Yeah.

Raymond Robert Wade:

And he meant business too.

Larry Ordner:

So you did land, then, in Australia?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yeah.

Larry Ordner:

How long were you there? I guess was that mainly --

Raymond Robert Wade:

We was 39 days going overseas, and we all got sick. And I tell you, I don't know how we ever made it. And we got in a hurricane --

Larry Ordner:

Really?

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- and we -- we was all boarded down, couldn't get on ship for seven, eight days, and when we all come out we was all sick. And they fed us out on -- on the boat -- out on top of the boat, and in a tub was sandwiches, and we liked to starve to death, and -- and the bread was moldy and everything else --

Larry Ordner:

Wow.

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- so -- you know --

Larry Ordner:

So really what did that do for your weight? You probably -- you probably --

Raymond Robert Wade:

We did.

Larry Ordner:

-- lost a few pounds?

Raymond Robert Wade:

We did. We walked in vomit to the kneecaps -- up to our ankles to get to the mess hall, got up one morning and it was all cleaned up and just beautiful, and we was sailing and when we got out it was just beautiful and the ocean was just that smooth. And about ten days we went into Australia.

Larry Ordner:

One guy told me that he -- I forget the name of his ship -- he was out in the Pacific and he said that there were -- that the lines were always so long at the showers nobody could ever make it --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, no --

Larry Ordner:

-- to the showers.

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- you couldn't.

Larry Ordner:

They said when there's storms they'd take their soap and their towels and their washcloths and they'd go out --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Get on the ship.

Larry Ordner:

-- and get their showers in the typhoon.

Raymond Robert Wade:

In the rain. In the rain?

Larry Ordner:

Yeah.

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yeah. We done that on the Allen, we did, but we didn't do it on the ship, we didn't.

Larry Ordner:

Well, now, Australia at that time was mainly used as a U.S. base, wasn't it?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, yeah.

Larry Ordner:

But there -- there wasn't anything significant going on there?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Not too much. Not too much there. They was all -- they was all moving _____.

Larry Ordner:

So -- so how -- so, then, when you -- what was your assignment out of Australia? What -- what did you do then, you went to --

Raymond Robert Wade:

We went to Ballarat, Australia, we did, and we stayed in private homes for six days.

Larry Ordner:

Really?

Raymond Robert Wade:

And we got back on the -- on the ship.

Larry Ordner:

Do you remember anything about the -- where -- where you stayed?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, beautiful. It was just out of this world. Them people, they treated us like kings.

Larry Ordner:

Really?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, you could -- "Oh, we love you fellows." We did them too.

Larry Ordner:

I'll be darned.

Raymond Robert Wade:

You -- "We glad you here." Oh, wait a minute. I want to tell you another thing. We stayed there six days, and we come back to about -- to Melbourne, got there late that night, and we slept in the park. Got up the next morning to daylight, no breakfast, no nothing, which we couldn't have anything to eat because we couldn't have it out there, and we was amarchin' into the ship -- get on the ship, and we was out in the middle of the street and here come these women. They didn't even know we was in town. They didn't know we was there. "The Yankees is here. The Yankees is here." And they'd bring in -- bring sandwiches and bread and everything out to eat. They ain't afraid now. "The Yankees is here. The Yankees is here." And we just loved that, we did, because they knew -- they was just happy as a lark, they's apattin their hand, just lining up on the street just ahollerin' and going -- and we got into the ship and they give us a donut and filled our coffee, and we had a cup of coffee and went on -- got on the ship.

Larry Ordner:

And certainly Australia would have been --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, it was --

Larry Ordner:

-- a major target --

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- they were -- loved us down there, them people.

Larry Ordner:

Yeah. Well, tell me about how the war was proceeding. What was happening over there that necessitated where you guys saw service. You really bounced around quite a bit out there, didn't you?

Raymond Robert Wade:

You better believe we did.

Larry Ordner:

Yeah.

Raymond Robert Wade:

I tell you what, if Halsey hadn't come in there at Guadalcanal -- you know, when they lost them five brothers, you know, which we -- we knew they lost five brothers -- of course, the fighter pilots told us. Of course, they was coming over and wanting to buy stuff from us, swords, guns, to trade with us, because they could send stuff home and we couldn't. So we'd get whiskey, money, beer, and we'd trade with them, and they'd tell us all this stuff, they would , these fighter pilots would. And they's atellin' us about that ship that got sunk and they didn't pick them up out there, and they was five brothers on there. That's all they said. They didn't know who it was, I don't think, or they didn't say until I got home and I found out and it was the Sothern brothers or Sullivan brothers or whatever it was. And when that happened, that big wheel there in -- in -- in Hawaii, he got rid of that guy who was in charge and put Halsey in charge. And if he hadn't got in there we would have lost the war, because they pulled us off the front lines and put us on the ocean, they did one night, and then you could see them shooting -- see them shooting. And over on the other side that one ship -- transport ship got through, and the Marines sunk it with artillery, and they was coming at them just -- just who laid the chunk there on -- on -- over there on Henderson Field. They mowed them down just like cords of wood, they did, over there. We would absolutely have lost that -- that -- that island.

Larry Ordner:

Tell me about -- how -- how can you describe your role, because I -- because you went so many places. And when I say Guadalcanal, of course, I'd love to know if you can tell me what happened there for you. What -- what was that like for you?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Well, we went up on the hill -- we went up on the -- we went up Orwell Canal (ph), went across big ditch, got up on Orwell Canal up there, and we's up there 21 days, didn't have no baths, didn't take a toothbrush or anything, and we killed I don't know how many Japs. And they had that knee mortar. They could put that shell in the hip pocket, them Japs could. It shot a hand grenade. We captured one or two of them off of them, and they was -- that hand grenade was -- that knee mortar was the wickedest thing I thought they had shooting at me. We was up there 21 days, and they finally -- and they brought us back down by the fire strip. That's when we found out all this stuff.

Larry Ordner:

Can I ask you what -- how do you stay focused, how do you keep your morale for 21 days --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Well, {laughing}, they'd be days you'd be down --

Larry Ordner:

I bet so.

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- there would, and they'd be days you'd be up, and they'd be days you'd be -- we could tell when the Marines -- when the Japanese was going to attack us.

Larry Ordner:

Well, that's what I was wondering. How could -- how could you tell --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Well, they'd start -- they'd start shooting at us late in the evening -- late -- or early in the morning --

Larry Ordner:

Okay.

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- and we'd say well, they's a -- they's a ship coming. And how they knew that, I don't know, but they did. And then we'd clean them out, and sure four or five days here they'd come again and they'd shoot. Well, see what happened, in the night they'd send three or four big ships down there and -- and -- and bomb the Henderson Field. And I guess they knew about that. We got checking -- we got people that, you know, how can they jump on us, because we didn't think there was very many out there. I mean, we thought we had them pretty well cleaned out. And hell, there was a bunch of us, there was, all along there, and they'd -- they'd start fighting, but one guy would fight a army. One Jap would fight a army. He -- he didn't care to die. But we -- we wanted to live. And they'd bomb Henderson Field, they would. And when Halsey come in there Halsey stopped that. He said, "They ain't going to bomb Henderson Field no more as long as I'm in charge." And another thing, that damn guy -- she had a cousin on one of the aircraft carriers sitting right out there, and we could see it burning. Her cousin was on the aircraft carrier. And I had another neighbor in the next aircraft carrier they sunk. And hell, that was a bunch of bullshit, him have that aircraft carrier sitting out there where you could see it and Henderson Field right over there. Hell, he ought to been two miles, three -- three hundred miles back. That's why he lost his job, that guy. I don't know who he was, never did learn who that guy was in charge, but when Halsey got in there he made business. And we loved him, and them air pilots loved him too, them Army guys. All of us and all the officers. He'd get the job done. I have to praise Halsey. Can't take it away from him.

Larry Ordner:

Yeah. I'm going to have to let you kind of guide me through -- through your time here, because I know you -- you had several locations, including the Fijis and New Hebrides, among others, and what stands out in your -- in your time during -- during this -- the combat situations? What -- what can you tell me about what that was like?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Well, as far as that goes, we all hated it. I'll tell you that. Every soldier at war hated it. We hated the duty, we hated this, we hated that, we hated our damn food. We -- you know, when we went to New Caledonia we just had 90 days supply. Before they got back in there to us, hell, we liked to starve death. And our Captain sent me and my buddy -- Army buddy -- he's still living, just living in North Carolina; I hear from him every once in a while, we visit every once in a while -- out to kill deer.

Larry Ordner:

Really?

Raymond Robert Wade:

And we didn't get any, we didn't. But hell, we starved it. We was out -- all the boys out of tobaccer, cigarettes, everything, because everybody smoked, they did. What didn't smoke they chewed tobaccer. We had ourselves some southern boys chewed tobaccer.

Larry Ordner:

But there was no way -- how -- how --

Raymond Robert Wade:

They couldn't get to us. They couldn't get to --- And I think what we did get we got from Australia.

Larry Ordner:

No kidding?

Raymond Robert Wade:

I think. Now, I couldn't prove that, see, because I don't know. When you don't know nothing, you don't know, you know, you can't say. Well, we went back to Fiji -- we went back to the Fiji Islands, if you want to know what, we got back down -- down to the Fiji Islands -- we went back to the Fiji Islands, in my squad we had about I forget now how many was in it when we went to Guadalcanal. It must have been about -- must have been about 40 of us -- oh, they was more than that -- 60 of us. When we got back -- back to the Fiji Islands I think they was about 21 of us left. They got wounded and got hurt and got shipped off. And we was there landing -- we was there nine months getting in shape. We all took malaria, we did, after we come off from there. We all got sick, and they couldn't get us back in shape and we couldn't go up, and finally they did get us -- sent a lot of boys home, they did, had malaria.

Larry Ordner:

Well, now, what did you get -- what were the symptoms of that?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, hell, I'll tell you what, boy, that's bad. Did you see ole Hardball on -- on --

Larry Ordner:

Oh, Chris Matthews?

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- Chris Mathews?

Larry Ordner:

Yeah.

Raymond Robert Wade:

Damn, he had it.

Larry Ordner:

No.

Raymond Robert Wade:

That's rough. I had -- I had 106 temperature my last time I had it. Damn, I laid in the hospital for -- for seven straight days and couldn't hardly get out of bed just to go to the bathroom.

Larry Ordner:

Wow.

Raymond Robert Wade:

I had a little soup to eat and I had a temperature. Damn, I had it rough, I did. And I had it eight or ten times.

Larry Ordner:

My goodness.

Raymond Robert Wade:

And the Captain said, "Hell, I'm going to send you home. And you got that bad kneecap." He said, "I'm going to send you home. You can't -- you ain't no good over here." So he sent me home.

Larry Ordner:

Really.

Raymond Robert Wade:

Sent me home. That's back when I was at the New Hebrides Islands. I was in the bone specialist hospital there over at New Hebrides Islands. Pretty rough up there. Pretty rough.

Larry Ordner:

Well, you said pretty rough, but I -- I have a feeling it's a lot rougher -- my definition of what pretty rough would be is a whole lot lighter than --

Raymond Robert Wade:

I tell you what, when we landed -- when we landed on Guadalcanal there was a -- a Major, I think -- a -- a -- he -- he was a Colonel -- he was a Marine, had his helmet on, no shirt, and a pair of shorts, is all he had on, and a pair of shoes, and he kept hollerin' at us boys, "Run, get that stuff off. Get that stuff off. We got one antiaircraft shell. One antiaircraft shell. Get that gasoline. Get that stuff off. Run. Run." Said they'd be over at 1:00. "Be over at 1:00." Well, hell, we didn't know what he was asayin'. And finally, then, one of the Sergeants, I think, in one of the -- the platoons said, "What do you mean, sir, at 1:00?" He said, "Them zeroes will be over at 1:00. They come every day at 1:00." _____. They didn't -- they wouldn't come at 1 or 4:00. It was all short in time. You could pretty well tell, get ready for them. We knew they was coming. Sure enough, they was. He said, "Them ships will back out here," and he says, "we won't get nothing. So get all them eats and all that stuff off, because we ain't got but one antiaircraft shell here." Boy, you talk about moving, we was in there about two hours and here they come. And them -- you could see them acomin', and you could hear them. You could tell they was Japanese planes. They run different. And now that damn Japanese car, you can't hear the damn motor run in it. That's what makes me so mad. We shot every one of them planes down, every one of them. Never hit a ship. They backed out, but they never come back. We never got that. He said they'd get out of here. He said what you would get is what we get, and that was it, too.

Larry Ordner:

I -- I'm sure that the time that you were over there there were -- there were some terrible, horrible moments?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, yeah.

Larry Ordner:

Is there a -- is there a --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yeah.

Larry Ordner:

-- something that -- that just --

Raymond Robert Wade:

I tell you what, I'll tell -- tell you another tale. I'll tell you, on Bougainville, last battle I had. I was on Bougainville, and we was out on hill 260. It had an old pea tree on it. Great big sumabuckin' tree that was that big, _____ up in there, and we had to build a scaffold up there and put two artillerymen up there and a bed up there, had a radio and everything up there, and we was ashellin' them Japs, artillery _____, and we was just beating the heck out of them. They come in one night and killed them guys, the Japs did, dug in under that tree, and we fought them devils for 21 days to get them out from under there. And we played cowboys and Indians one morning, going down that hill, turn -- turn around and shoot, and they run us off. Then we'd come back and run them off, but -- oh, but under that tree we poured gasoline on it, burnt it, they was still shooting at us. That's no damn bull, bud. They still shot at us. We burnt the tree down. _____. When we took -- 21 days, and when we picked up the rifles on that little about an acre and a half, we picked up 1,100 rifles -- Japanese rifles.

Larry Ordner:

My goodness.

Raymond Robert Wade:

We could see them, we'd kill one and they'd drag him back down. What the heck they done with him, I don't know, but when we took that island -- that hill back we picked up 1,100 rifles. And I come down the hill, and I got sick, and the kneecap was abotherin' me, and I told the boy taking care of the sick book, I says, "I'm getting where I can't go," and he said, "Wade, are you telling me the truth?" I said, "I sure am." "Well," he said, "if -- if you're telling me the truth --" he was a Jew boy, hell of a nice fella, good -- about your size. He says, "You -- you -- if you're telling me the truth, I'll have you off this island in three days." He said, "You be on sick call in the morning." So I went on sick call, went down and they X-rayed me and sent me back. "Ahh, we don't need you. You can't do nothing." So they sent me back to Guadalcanal. I went back to Guadalcanal. I left that out there. I've been to Guadalcanal twice. Then I went from there up to New Hebrides. That was the last battle. Yeah, hell, we played cowboys and Indians. Run down that hill, shoot, run down that hill, turn around, shoot. They run us off from there. And the old -- what made it so damn bad, the Colonel Ohm (ph), he come out of Panama Canal. He said, "I'm a -- I'm a -- a swamp fighter. I can fight in these jungles." And you could hear him for ten miles, you could. And he come up on that hill, and they took that hill away from us. There was about 15 of us up there guarding that outpost, and about 11:00 here he come, and a company all come back, and they was going to take -- run them Japs off. And he got on the telephone, call that Colonel Patch (ph), I believe it was, "Ahh, nothing but a sniper or two. We'll have the hill -- have the hill back in 15 minutes." We got it back in 21 days. You could hear him for ten miles. Wonder he hadn't got shot {laughing}.

Larry Ordner:

How did you finally get the news that you were going to get to come home?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Well, sir, I got up -- out of -- of having malaria, got up, I was up about three or four days, moving around in the hospital, and they'd have inspection every week, and the Captain, they'd line us all up, and he'd come around and tell us what was going to -- what he had done to this soldier, how he had passed him, got him up and going. And the General was there. He's a big wheel. He's alistenin'. And so they come around and they come up to me and this here Major said to this Captain, he said, "You find out what they going to do with him today." So I did, and they sent me over to a Lieutenant Colonel or something, and he examined me, he did, and he give me a envelope and said, "You take this back and give it to your nurse. And it was late, getting dark almost, when we got back. The next morning the nurse come in at the door. She _____+ "Wade, you're going home."

Larry Ordner:

Wow.

Raymond Robert Wade:

"Oh," I said, "thank you. Thank you. I love you" {laughing}. I want to tell you another thing about the nurses, the best. Went in a dead run. Don't take nothing away from them women. They tops.

Larry Ordner:

Do you remember anything specific?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Well, they took care of everybody.

Larry Ordner:

Yeah.

Raymond Robert Wade:

When someone got sick -- I -- when I come in that night, I got off of the plane there at the New Hebrides Islands -- New Hebrides there at the airstrip, and they brought me up to the hospital, went to the door, and I had my coat on. This nurse looked at me and said, "What's the matter with you?" I said, "Well, I got sick on the plane." "Have you been to supper?" I said, "No." "You run over there and get you something to eat." Said, "I think the mess hall is open." When I got back eating there -- got me a bowl of soup, I got back, she -- she had the doctor in there taking my temperature. Said, "Put you to bed, you've got malaria." She had -- had this Captain wondering -- he told me what he was going to do to me. And he was tops. He's _____+. I used to remember his name. But you don't think they wasn't on the ball, you was crazy. They went at a dead run. And they didn't only do that for just you; it was all. It -- it wasn't just because they liked you. It -- it wasn't that way. It was everybody.

Larry Ordner:

So you finally -- you landed on where, Seattle or where did you come into?

Raymond Robert Wade:

San Francisco, California.

Larry Ordner:

San Francisco again. And then did you came -- come home by train again?

Raymond Robert Wade:

No. I went from there to the hospital.

Larry Ordner:

Oh, okay. So --

Raymond Robert Wade:

I stayed in the hospital -- I -- I stayed there -- it seemed like to me it was _____ -- it was -- it was Littleman (ph) General Hospital, Frisco, California. Stayed there about three weeks, went from there to Ogden, Utah, to the hospital, stayed there --

Larry Ordner:

But your family all -- they knew where --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yeah, they knew I was home. Yeah, they knew I was home.

Larry Ordner:

And even though it was Utah --

Raymond Robert Wade:

And we was -- come into that hospital at Ogden, Utah, the Captain, he was out of North Carolina, the Captain was. He said to me, he said, "Wade, you ain't been home for three years, have you," and I said, "Yeah, it's been three -- over three years." He said, "We never give a discharge on anybody from this hospital -- I mean furlough from this hospital, but I'm going to get you one." So he got me a discharge. Fifteen days I come home. He says -- I told him, "What do I do if I get sick?" "Well," he says, "just call in." He says, "If you're sick, find the nearest Army hospital, get in there -- or a hospital." But I didn't get sick, though.

Larry Ordner:

Now, you were -- you were discharged, finally, in August of 1945. Now, that was actually before the -- wasn't that before the bombings?

Raymond Robert Wade:

I got up the next morning and -- and they said they dropped the atomic bomb.

Larry Ordner:

I'll be darned.

Raymond Robert Wade:

I just got home, and I got up the next morning --

Larry Ordner:

Just got home and then you heard that?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Mm-hmm.

Larry Ordner:

What was your -- what was your thought about that?

Raymond Robert Wade:

"Oh," I said, "Lord, they're coming home." I said, "Ole Truman done the best thing he ever done in his life."

Larry Ordner:

I mean, there would have been an invasion and it would have been awful ugly, wouldn't it? Do you think --

Raymond Robert Wade:

You know, I was reading in Tom Brokaw's book the other day. I didn't read just a -- not very much, and, you know, he's from North Dakota -- I don't know, North Dakota or South Dakota, and he -- he had reading there what I read, that they was loading up in the Philippines -- in the -- Hawaii -- no, the Philippines, the Marines, the 3rd Division Marines, getting ready to invade Japan before they dropped the atomic bomb. They was getting ready to go.

Larry Ordner:

Yeah. I've heard a lot of guys say that they were en route.

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yeah. I didn't know that until I read that, and I know Tom wouldn't --

Larry Ordner:

And then said, you know, then they got orders to turn around. They -- they were --

Raymond Robert Wade:

That 3rd Division Marines was -- was a North Dakota outfit. I guess that's why it had it in it. They said -- yeah, he said -- I did -- I did read that.

Larry Ordner:

Do you think people at that time really comprehended what that bomb did, what --

Raymond Robert Wade:

No.

Larry Ordner:

-- what those two bombs did?

Raymond Robert Wade:

No. Hmm-mm. No, I didn't either. I didn't -- I couldn't -- I couldn't imagine that we could come up with something like that. I couldn't imagine.

Larry Ordner:

What was it like becoming a civilian again after being in the military --

Raymond Robert Wade:

I tell you what, I come home water running out of my hands -- on my hands. Nervous.

Larry Ordner:

Really?

Raymond Robert Wade:

You know. And I was 20 years before I ever talked about it.

Larry Ordner:

Yeah.

Raymond Robert Wade:

She can tell you that.

Larry Ordner:

I hear that all the time.

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yeah.

Larry Ordner:

I do.

Raymond Robert Wade:

I want to tell you -- I want to tell you a tale -- no, I want to tell you a tale. There's a boy down to Stewartsville (ph), I believe you ought to try to find him. He was in that there Japanese march -- what do you call it over there, what was it -- what was -- where they shot a lot of them, you know, where they didn't make that march, and he lives at Stewartsville. He made that. His name is -- his name is -- Oh, I have to think -- Reynolds. He lives in around Stewartsville, and I went to school with him in 1929, and I don't know him, but my brother's talked to him three or four times. He knows him. Now, my brother -- this one -- my -- this brother don't -- wasn't in the Army with him, and he made that -- what did they call that?

Larry Ordner:

Bataan?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Bataan -- Bataan -- Bataan. Yeah. He was in that.

Larry Ordner:

I couldn't think of what was --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yeah, I couldn't either. And I think -- I think a guy ought to go where -- I think you ought to get in the car and go where -- if you were in this business -- I don't know what kind of business you in here -- see if you can find him. He's around Stewartsville somewhere. And I'm sure he's still there, because he lives -- my brother would tell me if he died. He could tell you some dandies.

Larry Ordner:

Did you -- Well, looking through, it's been 60-something years already, and I --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, I know.

Larry Ordner:

-- so -- so -- so --

Raymond Robert Wade:

You forget a lot.

Larry Ordner:

-- so -- I know, but what -- how do you look back at that time and think about what you participated in and what the U.S. accomplished? You have to feel awfully proud of what the U.S. did in the --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, I tell you what, we had to win this war. We had to win it. And there wasn't a soldier at -- at -- we all believed we was going to win. You had -- we had -- we had to win. Look what Adolph Hitler was doing, which we didn't know what he was doing, killing all them Jewish people. We couldn't have that. And look what them -- them Japs was doing. They -- they -- I'm going to tell you something, this here boy I was in the Army with, and I know damn well -- we call him Tennessee; he's Al Tennessee -- he'd get about half drunk and he'd tell me this, and he was in the 37th Division -- Army Division on Leyte there in the Philippines, and they was afightin' to beat hell, and he said them damn Japs were seeing they was alosin' so they went to killing civilians. He said, "We could see it. We just aknock 'em off just as fast as we could knock 'em off." He said, "We captured a -- a -- a Japanese hospital, we did," and he said, "they had five American women in there." He said, "They'd operate on -- on them women." He said, "They used them day and night. Then we captured that place, and them women -- them American women come out, said, 'Just shoot us.' Said, 'we don't want to go home. Just shoot us." Said, 'We poor as a snake and said we can't do nothing. Just shoot us.' And they wanted to know why, and they said, 'Well, them there Goddamn doctors used us day and night,' said, 'they operated on us where we can't have kids.' Said, 'Hell, we ain't no use to us go home. Just -- just shoot us.'" Said they was loading them doctors on that truck, taking them to -- going to put them -- lock them up, said they just run out and said, "Goddamn it, we'll just mow 'em down." They killed every damn doctor there was. And he told me that two or three times, and I believed him. I'll still believe him. Now, you think we could have that in this country? Hell, they'd -- the Japanese, hell, they'd kill me and you, they didn't get their way. They ain't -- ain't humans, in my notion. And all the other boys thought that too. Hell, we hit right, and, hell, we couldn't -- Goddamn, I tell you what, that makes your hair stand up.

Larry Ordner:

It does. It does.

Raymond Robert Wade:

You can't -- you can't do that. Damn, I know we lost a lot of good buddies, I did, over there, but, yeah, you got to win.

Larry Ordner:

It had to be done, didn't it?

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yeah. Best thing he ever done. Best thing that Truman ever done, he dropped that bomb. But hell, I tell you what, her -- her -- her cousin was a Major over there, and he said -- he said they was getting ready to send 100 divisions in there. He's in the intelligence headquarters or something, I think, he was, over at Gordon. He -- he lives down here at Owensville. He's a Major, and he's still living. He said they was getting ready to send 100 divisions. Hell, we had little kids going to kill us, they did. Truman knew that, and MacArthur knew that too. They knew what was going on, and you couldn't have that. You can't have that. No, they done the best -- Truman, he turned out to be a pretty damn good President, I'll tell you. Pretty good President. He was starting not knowing nothing for a little bit. See, he started out he didn't know -- hell, he didn't even know he had a atomic bomb, someone told me. Didn't even know he had it, working on it.

Larry Ordner:

Well, Raymond, thanks so much for coming in today. I appreciate your telling me these --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Well, I can tell you --

Larry Ordner:

-- these great --

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- I wish you can find that boy there.

Larry Ordner:

Well, we'll see if we can't find him. Again, this is -- you know, this is -- I know Senator Lugar appreciates your doing this and all the Hoosier veterans that are participating in --

Raymond Robert Wade:

Well, I could tell you a hell of a lot more, but I --

Larry Ordner:

I know you could.

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- I ain't in very good shape, you know. I've got cancer up in here, so I'm half -- part way gone --

Larry Ordner:

Well, pleasure --

Raymond Robert Wade:

-- but we'll make it.

Larry Ordner:

-- pleasure to meet you.

Raymond Robert Wade:

Yeah. Same here. Good luck.

Larry Ordner:

All right. I want -- I want to get your picture out here for the -- we'll put -- get your picture in the file.

Raymond Robert Wade:

Oh, okay.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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