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Interview with James C. Shildmyer [6/28/2002]

Philip Shaull:

Today is Friday, June 28th, 2002. My name is Phil Shaull. I'm a staff member of United States Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, and I'm at the home of James and Joan Shildmyer in Marion, Indiana, interviewing Mr. Shildmyer today for the Veterans History Project. Mr. Shildmyer, thank you for your time and sharing your experiences in the military. Tell us a little bit, first, about how you entered the military.

James C. Shildmyer:

It was on April 5th, 1951, you know, and I -- the day I was sworn in, and as they say, took that one step forward to become a soldier in the United States Army. I didn't really want to be in the Army. I was enjoying my life as a -- as a worker/employee in a national china company here in Marion and going out with my girlfriend every evening, but there was a war going on in Korea. And while I certainly didn't want to go to war, I knew that if I didn't go into the Army, if I tried to avoid it through getting some kind of an exemption or whatever, I knew I'd regret it in the years to come. And as it turned out, it was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me in my whole life, my Army experiences. So I don't mind it a bit.

Philip Shaull:

And you were 21 years old when you --

James C. Shildmyer:

Yes.

Philip Shaull:

-- I assume got a letter that said report --

James C. Shildmyer:

Yes. I waited -- I knew I'd be drafted, and rather than enlist, I thought, Okay. I'll just wait, and it -- didn't wait very long. I got a letter and it said, "Greetings," and so I went to Indianapolis and I was inducted. And as I said earlier, I took that step forward and became part of the United States Army. From Indianapolis I was sent to Camp Custer in Michigan, and there it was just sort of an indoctrination thing. We took tests, aptitude tests, intelligence tests, and medical tests, see what kind of condition we were in. I didn't do very well on the aptitude tests because I'm not electronically minded and I'm not mechanically minded, but apparently I did fairly well on the intelligence test because I wound up getting a pretty good job in the Army, and I think it was due to the score I made on that test. It was funny. A lot of people took it -- lot of men that were there that day thought it was a big joke and they just answered questions any way they wanted to in order to get through and get out. But I knew that the -- this was going to stay in my file through my Army career and so I did the best job I could, and I'm certainly happy for it. We spent a few days there, and then we were transferred by train to Fort Riley in Kansas, and that's where my Army life really began. I was in the heavy weapons infantry company, and basic training was very tough. It was probably as difficult as it could become -- as it could be, but to top matters off, we had a flood that year. In April of 1951, latter part of April, the Republican River, which flows through Fort Riley, Kansas, went over its banks and flooded the whole camp, in particular, the Camp Funston area where we were, and we had to evacuate the camp. And it was right around the first of May that we went up in the hills around Fort Riley, Kansas, and lived in pup tents, which we thought would be just a short while, but it wasn't. We were in those pup tents until the middle of August.

Philip Shaull:

Oh.

James C. Shildmyer:

And it so happens that we never could take a bath, take a shower from the first of May till the middle of August and went on 20-mile hikes where we would really perspire and --

Philip Shaull:

How hot was it?

James C. Shildmyer:

Many days it exceeded a hundred degrees.

Philip Shaull:

Wow.

James C. Shildmyer:

Many times. And it was rough. We were issued one half of a canteen cup of water in the morning. That was our water to drink for 24 hours. Also, we had to shave and to brush our teeth and so forth, but we were forced to shave. So rather than waste the water, we -- half a dozen of us, we'd get together and pool our water and pour it in a steel helmet, and then we'd all shave using the same dirty water, but we saved some water that way. Eventually we survived. We were young and tough, but it was -- it was very difficult. In fact, we often said that the guys fighting in Korea should send us care packages because we didn't have enough to eat, we didn't have enough to drink. But one day I was -- my name was called out along with several other fellas, and we were told to report to division headquarters. And of course, we had no idea why, but I looked around and I noticed the fellas whose names were called along with mine -- I think it was five other fellas -- they were all college graduates, very intelligent guys. And I thought, Well, this can't be too bad. I was not a college graduate. In fact, I hadn't gone to college. I was working. But I thought, This might be kind of good if I'm grouped with these college men. So we went to division headquarters, and we were ushered into a room, and there was two or three other fellas from a different part of the camp also there. We stood in a line in front of a man at a desk, and this man sat there wearing civilian clothes. And we had no idea what to expect. He stood up finally and then came walking over to us and said something to the effect that, "If you fellas are willing to jump out of an airplane at night behind enemy lines; sneak up on a soldier, an enemy soldier, and slit his neck, cut his throat; if you're willing to sabotage a railroad trestle so that the next train crashes that comes across that trestle; if you're willing to spend this time behind enemy lines and so forth, then you want -- I want you to stay in line here." "If you don't want to do this, there's the door and you can leave. And it will not show up in -- in a negative manner on your record." Well, of course, we all looked at each other and he just stood there with kind of a grin on his face. Some of the fellas left.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

They headed out the door and they were gone. And as soon as they left and the door was shut, he smiled and said, "Okay. Now we've separated the men from the boys, and I want to tell you that it isn't going to be anything like I just described, but I wanted to see how you'd react." He said, "Actually, you men have been chosen to go to counterintelligence school in Baltimore as soon as your basic training here is finished."

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

And so I breathed a sigh of relief and I thought, My gosh, I'm glad I didn't go out that door because --

Philip Shaull:

So what happened to the couple that did leave?

James C. Shildmyer:

Oh, nothing. Nothing. They just returned to the company. I don't really know what happened to them. I lost track of them then.

Philip Shaull:

But could they have had the opportunity to also get into intelligence and --

James C. Shildmyer:

Oh, yes.

Philip Shaull:

-- because they left --

James C. Shildmyer:

Because they left, that was it, uh-huh.

Philip Shaull:

Wow. Okay.

James C. Shildmyer:

Yeah. That was it for them. So they could very well have wound up in Korea. So we were given -- finally our basic training ended and I remember going to Topeka with some other guys and we got to a YMCA there, and they were taking a shower, which was the first shower we'd had since the first of May. And then we got home and had two weeks' leave at home, wound up going to Baltimore, which is where the CIC, counterintelligence school, was and reported then to Fort Holabird on the outskirts of Baltimore --

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

-- for the school. And I was -- I couldn't believe my eyes because it was such a -- not beautiful place, but it was very neat as opposed to the rough and tumble lifestyle of an Army camp.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

It was more like a college. And I saw soldiers there from other countries that were attending these classes.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

So I was very impressed. And it was right before Labor Day in September of '51 now, and I remembered the voice came over the -- what we called the bitch box, which is actually the intercom --

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

-- saying there's going to be an inspection in ten minutes. Well, we were panicked. We were in all state -- states of dress and undress. And we immediately hollered back, "Well, what's the uniform?" In other words, what are we supposed to be wearing for this inspection: class A uniforms, fatigues, or what? The voice came back and said, "It doesn't matter. We don't care what you're wearing. Just don't mix your uniform. Don't wear part uniform and part civies. Wear one or the other." Well, I was practically dressed in civilian clothes because you only get a pass -- and we were going to get a pass for the Labor Day weekend. So I stood in my first inspection as -- in intelligence school wearing civilian clothes.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

We passed the inspection and we -- a couple of friends and I went to New York for the Labor Day weekend. When we came back, we were shocked to find out that we weren't really in the counterintelligence school.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

We thought once we were sent there that's all there was to it, but it wasn't. We were sent there to be given the opportunity to earn the right to get into the school, which is a little more complicated than I thought. So we had to go for a week of tests. One test after another and every test imaginable. I did well on some of the tests, and I know I did very poorly on some of the tests. But you know, I won't go into detail on the tests themselves. They weren't all that interesting except for the very final one. The final thing we had to go through was to sit in front of a panel -- I assume all officers, although some were in uniform, some were in civilian clothes -- and they sat there behind the long table, and I sat on a hardback chair in front of them. We had been given some warning as to what this was all about, and we were told that we were -- would probably be asked any kind of question imaginable.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

And that's exactly what happened. I can -- to this day I can remember -- I think the first question was, "What newspapers do you read?" And I said, "I read The Indianapolis Star and occasionally the Chicago Tribune." "What's the editorial policy of those newspapers?" "Well, they're conservative, republican basically newspapers." Immediately somebody else says, "What's the longest river in the world?" I said, "The Nile." Somebody else said, "Which direction does it flow?" I happened to know that it flows north, which is unusual. Most rivers flow south. And somebody else said, "Which actors won the academy award last year? Which team won the world series last year?" On and on it went like this. Questions -- every question imaginable. "Who is the president of Brazil? What type of government do they have in Brazil?"

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

And "What's the editorial policy of -- " and on and on and on. Some questions I could answer. Most questions -- thank goodness, most questions I could answer. Some I couldn't. But I didn't try to fake it. I was just too -- I knew these fellas -- people were too sharp, so I didn't fake it. I said, "I don't know." Well, after -- about a half an hour this went, and believe me, that's a long time when you're sitting on a hardback chair trying to answer questions.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

Finally they stopped and they started discussing among -- between themselves in a low voice. I couldn't hear, but I knew my fate was being decided right then and there.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

Then the gentleman who was in charge of the panel got up and he walked over to me. And he put his hand on my shoulder and said, "We're going to give you a chance. You did well on the test and you did very well." He said, "You handled yourself very well through this interview." He said, "We don't think you're going to make it through the school, however, because you don't have a college degree. You don't have that college experience, and we don't think that you'll make it, but we think you deserve a chance." And I remember saying, "Sir, that's all I want is a chance and I'll make it." And with that I was through with the interview. And the next morning, school started. And it was an extremely interesting school. All kinds of subjects were taught. It's very similar to the FBI school --

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

-- the school that a man goes -- or a woman goes through to become an FBI agent. In fact, some of the courses were taught by FBI instructors. Observation and description. Russian history -- of course, Russia was our foe in those days and communism. History of communism. Interrogation. We learned how to interrogate. We had some sessions on the polygraph machine, and there were extremely interesting courses, but they were tough. 75 was a passing grade. Every course that we took -- and there must have been 30 different courses in different subjects -- each and every course had a test at the end of it. Some courses lasted a week. Some courses lasted a couple days. Some courses lasted through the entire three months that we were there. And there was a test at the end of each one. 75 was a passing grade. If you flunked three tests, you were gone. You were out.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

I managed to ace all the tests, but it wasn't easy. I'm not saying I did it easy. I studied late into the night every night, actually in the latrine because lights are -- had lights out, I think, at ten o'clock, but they had to leave the lights on in the latrine, so I'd take my books and go in the latrine and sit on the john and study until the wee hours of the morning. Some of the fellas didn't have to do that. The guys that had gone to college and knew how to study and knew how to take notes and knew these things, they had it easier than I did, but anyway, I got by and enjoyed the courses very much and learned a lot. The final thing of the school was very interesting. It was what we called a problem. And it took the whole week. We were sent up to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Aberdeen, Maryland. And way off in one corner of that installation there were two or three homes that had -- houses that were built there. So we were put in those houses. And the problem was that supposedly Russia had invaded the United States up in the New England area, and the Russian Army was traveling south towards New York and Washington, D.C. Counterintelligence -- we counterintelligence agents were supposed to find out what was going on and do intelligence work, of course. So we were in this house, and I remember receiving a phone call and we were in teams of two -- two men per team. My teammate was a man by the name of Don Truitt, who was a graduate of the University of Missouri, had actually played varsity football, was a lineman for University of Missouri, so he was no small guy.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

We received a phone call and we were told that at a certain latrine in the far end of the installation, there was going to be some secret documents passed from an Army major to a spy, a Russian spy, and we were supposed to get there and arrest these people and get this secret information. So we got to the latrine -- to make a long story short, Don sat on the toilet as if he was doing a job, and I went over to the sink and started washing my hands. And I washed my hands and I washed my hands. I went over, and Don is sitting on the toilet with his pants down around his ankles. And all of a sudden a major walks in, in full uniform, and he goes to a urinal and he's standing there. And a little bit later in comes a civilian -- at least someone in civilian clothes. And I saw -- thought I saw a piece of paper pass from the major to this civilian. So I immediately turned and jumped and they said -- I said, "You're under arrest for espionage, and I'm Agent Jim Shildmyer" and so forth. And the civilian immediately takes off running out, and he gets away. The major started to run, and I chase -- I grabbed him and I'm waiting for Don to help me because Don is a big guy, but Don's got his pants down around his ankles --

Philip Shaull:

Oh, no.

James C. Shildmyer:

-- and he's having trouble. He finally gets up and he's able to grab ahold of the major, and he slams him up against the wall and says -- tells him he's under arrest and we put handcuffs on him. All the time this major is yelling and screaming at us, you know, "Who are you? What are you doing? I'm a major in the United States Army and you're going to be in a lot of trouble." And he's going on like this, and I'm thinking, Oh, my gosh. Did we make a mistake? Is this really a major? Well, we take him back to our house anyway, and -- now, this is -- this is in late December, and it's very cold and there was probably a foot and a half of snow on the ground.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

Bitterly cold. We take this major inside the house to try to interrogate him, and we're not doing very well. We're not getting any answers. He's still maintaining that he's a major in the United States Army and he doesn't know what we're doing. He doesn't know what's going on and he's threatening us that we're going to be court-martialed. And we're a little worried, but we still proceed with it. So finally we decide that the only way we're going to make him talk is to strip him naked and handcuff him to the porch railing outdoors on the front porch in this bitter cold weather, and that's what we did. And it wasn't long before the major was willing to talk. He -- we brought him back inside.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

And he talked and he told us what we needed to know. And when we got all through, he said, "All right, gentlemen, I will now give you your grade." He said, "You were successful in making me talk; however, the way you did it is not the way we want our intelligence agents" -- he said, "We don't want to make people suffer." And he said, "If you had asked this question, I would have said this. If you had been -- If you had asked this question" -- and then he showed us where we failed to interrogate him properly.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

So it was quite an experience. But a few days later I graduated and got my badge and credentials. And the thing about the counterintelligence agency which is so unique over all other parts of the Army is that they actually want to send you where you want to go.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

Before graduation we filled out a form giving our first, second, and third choices as to where we would like to be stationed as agents. I put down my first choice was Chicago at the Army headquarters.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

I didn't dream I could go to a place like Indianapolis, Indiana, my -- almost my hometown.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

So I put Chicago as my first choice. I think I put somewhere in Europe as my second choice, and so forth. Sure enough, I got my papers and I was sent to Chicago at the Army headquarters, which at that time was in the old Edgewater Beach Hotel. I got a room in a rooming house near there, and the next morning reported in, was sent down to headquarters. I was sent to the counterintelligence office where I was interviewed by a man again in civilian clothes. He looked at my 201 file and he said, "Well, I see you're from Indiana." And I said, "Yes, sir." He said, "Well, we have an opening in our Indianapolis office. Would you like to go there?" I couldn't believe my ears. Was this the Army sending me practically back to my home.

Philip Shaull:

Yeah.

James C. Shildmyer:

And I said, "Yes, sir, I would like to go there." So I was given a couple days off and -- to transfer. I went back to the rooming house and checked out, picked up all my belongings and drove home, and my parents were shocked to see me. They thought I was in Chicago. I said, "No, I'm going to be in Indianapolis." So two days later I reported to the headquarters in Indianapolis, the counterintelligence headquarters in Indianapolis, which I -- it's strange. There's a building on Massachusetts Avenue which at that time was the Army induction center. And I think it was about the 400 block of Massachusetts Avenue. Counter -- and that's where I was inducted into the Army. The counterintelligence office is on the second floor of that very same building --

Philip Shaull:

Wow.

James C. Shildmyer:

-- so I had made the big circle.

Philip Shaull:

Full circle, huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

Uh-huh. From Michigan to Kansas to counterintelligence school in Baltimore and now right back to the same building where I took that one step forward. At the agency in Indianapolis, I got actual training, really on-the-job training with older agents, experienced agents, which was very much unlike the school because now it's the real thing.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

So I found that I was learning -- really learning fast what it was all about. For the most part we did background investigations -- background investigations on military personnel who were being considered for what we call a sensitive job, which could be any number of -- types of jobs that they used the terminology "sensitive." They needed clearance, secret -- for a secret or even top secret -- (coughs) excuse me. We actually -- all the agents had top secret -- we had top secret clearances. So we would run these background checks on people, and like I say, that was what we did for the most part. Sometimes it got a little bit boring because you were pretty much asking the same questions and getting the same kind of answers. There was a trick to it. A person who was going into a sensitive job was asked to fill out a form and on that form they had to put down five character references and three credit references. Well, the agent doing the investigation was obligated to check -- I think it was at least three of the character references, actually go talk with them, and I think maybe two of the credit references; however, we were taught and our superiors above us to whom we sent our reports, they took all of this information with a grain of salt, that a character reference or a credit reference gave us because if you were filling out this form, you were going to put down names of people you knew were going to say nice things about you. You would not be a fool and put down your enemy's name -- (coughs). So it was our -- it was our job to discover from the character reference who else might know John Doe and what's the relationship, and so then we would talk -- go talk to this person. And then we would always wonder, Well, why didn't John Doe put this fella's name down as a character reference.

Philip Shaull:

Yeah.

James C. Shildmyer:

And if you ask enough questions you'd maybe find out why, and then maybe you'd get some derogatory information. And if you got one piece of derogatory information, then your case went on and on because you had to keep proving or disproving that bit of derogatory information -- (coughs.) We as agents were never allowed to make a judgment ourselves as to the fitness of this John Doe who was up for a sensitive job. It was up to us to qualify the person to whom we were talking and the information that we were getting.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

For instance, if we thought we were -- if we were talking to a bank president, we would probably rate him as an A -- we have A through F. But let's say I didn't believe a word that this bank president was telling me about John Doe. For some reason it just didn't ring true to me.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

Well, I would rate him an A maybe but his information an F. So -- or actually, we went by numbers on the information would be a 6. So people were rated with a letter and the information was rated with a number. So at the end of every report we typed up, after every interview, we put our own judgment at the bottom, an A1 or an F6 or whatever. And then we'd never really know what ever happened from then on. So being -- I was sent to southern Indiana to work with an agent down there after I had a few days in Indianapolis, and I worked with an agent whose name was Peterson in Jeffersonville, Indiana. We had offices at the Jeffersonville Quartermaster Depot. And he was going to be retiring from the service shortly so it behooved me to learn everything I could from him because it stood to reason I was going to take over that office by myself, which I did after a month or so. But the agent in charge in Indianapolis saw fit to move the office to Bedford, Indiana, which was more of a central location for southern Indiana. So I had a nice office in Bedford. I shared space in a room next to the Army and Navy recruiting people. I had my own office, telephone, and I lived in a little apartment there in Bedford. And I had a car -- actually, an Army car, but it was painted black so it didn't look like an Army car. It had regular Indiana license plates on it, but they were -- this car had confidential license plates in that if someone ever tried to track or -- track the license number through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, they would run into a stone wall and wouldn't be able to -- there would be a flag on that number so the people at the DMV would not be able to tell who actually had that license number. But it was really a wonderful life. One day I had received a phone call from the agent in charge in Indianapolis and he said -- told me to drive to Indianapolis and report in. I thought, I might be in trouble about something, but I couldn't imagine what I did wrong, so I zipped up to Indianapolis and went in -- And again, to make a long story short, he said, "Jim, you are the only single agent we have. Every other man in our detachment is married and some have children." And he said, "We have a request -- a request from the FBI in Louisville to loan them one of our agents to go undercover." And they -- he said, "We thought of you since you're young, single, and not tied down with obligations." He said, "Would you consider moving?" He said, "It's a voluntary thing. We're not going to make you do it because it's not the Army. It's the FBI so you can refuse it." And he said, "Do you think you'd like to go undercover?" And I said, "Sure." I thought, Gee, this is an experience. Some day I'll write a book --

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

-- and I can put this in the book. So he told me to report to the FBI in Louisville. The reason they wanted someone from the Army intelligence was that there was only two agents there, and those agents had to cover not only Louisville but southern Indiana. And they were pretty well-known. They'd been there for a while. And they were afraid to try to go undercover because there were -- somebody would recognize them eventually or figure it out. So that's why they wanted somebody from the outside. So I reported in to their office and they explained to me that there was a lot of thievery going on at the Indiana Arsenal, which was located at Clarksville -- Clarksville, Indiana, which is just a few miles north of Jeffersonville, Indiana. At the Indiana Arsenal naval shells were manufactured. And there's two big civilian companies there, Goodyear, which made the rubber bags that would -- that they -- powder that DuPont made -- DuPont made the powder, and the powder would go in the rubber bags, and the rubber bags would be dropped in the steel shell casings. This all happened there at the Indiana Arsenal. But according to the FBI, there was a lot of stuff being stolen. Tools were being stolen, tires were being stolen, gasoline was being stolen. And they couldn't get a handle on it because they just needed somebody on the scene. So I was hired and -- I was hired by the Indiana Arsenal. We -- the only person who really knew who I was was the major in the engineering corps who was my boss. He, of course, had to know who I really was because I never was a very good employee. I was purposely acting the part of a bum, and -- so that I could get the attention of these thieves. The officer in charge of security knew that I was there and he knew who I was. The officer -- the colonel who was a commandant of the whole arsenal only knew that I was there. He said he didn't want to meet me because he said, "I'm afraid something might come up sometime and I might let something slip." So he said, "Let me know when he gets on board and when he leaves but I don't want to ever know him. I don't want to ever meet him." So really only two people knew me. And it was my job to try to work myself into this group of guys that was stealing stuff. In order to do that, my boss, the engineer, the major, gave me a pickup truck. He also gave me a pass that would enable me to go anywhere on the arsenal. Now, most employees could only have a pass to go in the area in which they worked and they couldn't go anywhere else.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

But my pass enabled me to go everywhere. My job, what I was doing as I went everywhere, was to take my clipboard and check different Army vehicles, write down the number of the vehicle and then check the mileage and see what the mileage was on that vehicle.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

And everybody believed that this was an important job that I was performing. At the end of the day, I would come back to the office and I would go in the major's office and I would hand him my paper off out of my clipboard that had all the vehicle numbers and all the mileages. When nobody was looking, he'd wad it up and throw it in the wastebasket because it was absolutely of no use whatsoever, but it was a job that let me go everywhere. And I spent a lot of time in the smoking -- what they called the smoking shacks because it was a place where gunpowder everywhere, you weren't allowed to smoke. You weren't even allowed to carry matches, but men were allowed to -- I think it was 10 minutes out of every hour, they could take a smoking break and go in some of these designated smoking shacks. Well, they -- since I was trying to play the part of a bum, I spent a lot of my time in the smoking shacks and just hanging out in there. And then I would brag that I could take my truck and even leave the place if I wanted to hoping somebody would say, Well, will you deliver these tires for us, and so forth. Well, this went on and on, and I finally did work in and get in with a group of these guys and even found a marijuana supplier that was doing a good deal of business there.

Philip Shaull:

Wow.

James C. Shildmyer:

And I had some funny things happen. One quick thing I could relate to you is that when you're undercover, it's not really just like the movies portray it. It's really a very tense job and you -- every time somebody says something to you, you immediately wonder why did they say that. For instance, I had a man say to me one day -- he had been a -- he was one of my buddies and he was one of these guys that was guilty of stealing. And he was talking one day in the smoking shack about being a cab driver in Louisville before he got this job at the Indiana Arsenal. And he talked about the day that a couple FBI men got in his taxi.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

Now, as soon as he said FBI, I started to sweat a little bit. And I said, "Bill" -- I don't remember now what his name was, but let's say Bill -- I said, "Bill, how do you know they were FBI agents when they got in your taxi?" He said, "Well, I could tell." He said, "I can spot an FBI man in a second." Well, I'm really squirming now. And I thought, I've got to call his bluff on this. And I looked at him and I grinned and I said, "Shoot, Bill, how" -- "you're full of it. For all you know, I could be an FBI agent." He said, "Ah, Jim, I know you're not an FBI agent." (Laughter.) Another time a fella -- this is in December and when I was there and a fella asked me my address. What we were taught is -- as agents that when you're undercover, you tell the truth, but you tell as little of the truth as necessary. So I said, "I live in Jeffersonville." And he said, "Well, where? What street?" I said, "I live on Market Street." He said, "Well, where? What's your address?" I said, "Well, it's on the north end of Market Street." And I'm thinking, Why is he asking me? What is -- Why does he want to know where I live? I finally wound up giving him my house number, which was -- actually, again, I just had a room in a -- in an old lady's rooming house there. And I said, "Why do you" -- finally I said, "Why do you want to know?" And he wouldn't answer. He said, "Well, I've got my reasons." And now I'm really concerned. I remember leaving that night, and of course we were armed. I had a Ruger issued, a .38 revolver, but I couldn't carry that on the job. I mean who -- why would I have -- have to have a .38 revolver if anybody ever saw it, so I kept it in the glove box of my Army car. I went home that night and I was checking the rearview mirror. I drove around the block two or three times before I went in the house, went in the house and I remember squatting down the window in the front living room and looking -- was peeking out the curtain to see if any cars were coming by. Nothing happened.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

The next day this fellow was there, and I tried to talk to him, tried to pump him, get some information, couldn't get anything. He acted pretty normal. Well, on and on -- it went on. My job ended right before Christmas. Nothing ever happened with this guy. I went -- left the undercover job and I went back as -- to become a counterintelligence agent again for the Army. And I'm back in Bedford. It's now about, I think, probably March. And in the mail I opened up a card, and it's a Christmas card from this fella.

Philip Shaull:

Oh.

James C. Shildmyer:

And it finally caught up with me. He wanted my address because he wanted to send me a Christmas card. (Laughter.) But when you're undercover, you're suspecting anything and everything.

Philip Shaull:

Yeah.

James C. Shildmyer:

And it really worries you. I had another experience that I'll tell you because this one, I think beats most of them, in that it's something like a story or a TV show, but it's true.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

It's a true story. Truth is stranger than fiction, I guess. When I was an agent still down in Jeffersonville, Indiana, working at the quartermaster depot, a girl who was a secretary to the security officer there was single just like me. We got to be friends. She knew I was an agent. I had no reason -- I wasn't undercover so I had no reason to keep it a secret.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

And one day I said, "Let's after work go get a drink." And she said "Yes," so we did. A couple nights later we had dinner together, maybe we went to a movie a couple times. We did not have a romance. We were just good friends.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

We enjoyed each other's company. In fact, what we would do is leave the quartermaster depot in my car, we'd go to dinner, go to a movie or whatever. When we were finished, I'd come back to the parking lot, she'd get her car, she'd go home, and I'd go home.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

I don't think we ever even kissed. I mean it was just -- we were just good friends.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

Okay. This went on for a while. And now I'm on this undercover job that I just described a while ago at the Indiana Arsenal, which is only ten miles from the quartermaster depot. I'm working into this group, working my way in, and they've accepted me. I'm now one of them. We're in the basement of the big administration building, which was also a place where you could smoke, so we went there to have our cigarettes and maybe get a cup of coffee. I'm standing there having a cigarette, drinking a cup of coffee, talking to these guys who are really rough characters. I look at the steps coming down to the office and here comes this girl, Jane, down the steps, coming -- walking right toward me. And I'm just standing there with dirty clothes on, hadn't shaved, hadn't taken a shower, didn't have a haircut for weeks and weeks, really looked like a bum.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

I knew she -- in a split second I knew she was going to walk up to me and say, "Jim, aren't you a counterintelligence agent anymore? What are you doing?" which would have -- it might have gotten me killed. It would have really gotten me beat up.

Philip Shaull:

Yeah.

James C. Shildmyer:

So I had to make a split-second decision as she's walking towards me as to what I'm going to do. And I felt I've got to connect with her, I've got to let her see me and make her realize that I don't want to talk to her. So the minute she got near me and our eyes met, I kind of gave her a little sneer and turned my head and turned my back on her, which I felt was an awful thing to do, but no woman is going to speak to a man after he sneers at her and turns his back.

Philip Shaull:

Yep.

James C. Shildmyer:

So I thought I'm safe. And sure enough she walked right on past me and over to some other people, and I quickly left then. I got -- I suggested to the guys, "Let's get out of here" and we left, and that was the end of it -- of the situation with Jane. But it really made me feel bad. So I made up my mind that when this undercover job is over I'm going to find her and apologize and explain what it was all about. So right before Christmas -- I think it might have even been Christmas Eve -- is when the job ended. And that morning I walked in with the security officer and wearing a nice suit and shaved and cleaned and with a haircut and wearing a tie and shocked everybody when they found out that I was an undercover counterintelligence agent. So when all that was done I went to the reception desk and I asked if I could see Miss Reynolds for a moment, and they said certainly. And they called upstairs to her office. And she then put the phone down and came back over to me and said, "I'm sorry. Ms. Reynolds is not working today. She is off for Christmas and took a few extra days, so she's not available." So I said "Okay," and I left. And that was the end of it, I thought. But I really felt bad having never been able to explain to her what was going on. I assumed that she had transferred, which was common for civil service civilians to transfer from one military installation to another, especially, so I figured she just left the quartermaster depot and was working at the Indiana Arsenal. It was almost a year later -- well, it was a year later. I'm out of the service. No longer an agent, not even in the Army. I'm working as a salesman in Indianapolis. I'm walking down Washington Street in Indianapolis and I -- (END SIDE ONE, TAPE ONE; BEGIN SIDE TWO, TAPE ONE)

Philip Shaull:

You were -- just to recap, you were -- this was after your counterintelligence job was over.

James C. Shildmyer:

Yeah. And I'm a salesman in Indianapolis walking down the street, and I see her walking toward me. She stops, I stop, we greet each other, and actually we're right in front of the Washington Hotel. And I said, "Jane, do you have time? Let's step in the cocktail lounge here and have a drink because I need to talk with you. There's something I want to talk to you about." So she said, "Sure." So we went and sat down, and we ordered a drink. She said, "What's on your mind?" I said, "I've got to apologize." She said, "Why?" I said, "For the way I treated you right before Christmas last year at the Indiana Arsenal." She said, "What are you talking about? I don't know what you" -- I said, "When you walked down the steps and walked toward me, and I looked at you and sneered and turned my back on you and wouldn't speak to you." She said, "Jim, I never have worked at the Indiana Arsenal. My identical twin sister works at the Indiana Arsenal."

Philip Shaull:

Oh, no.

James C. Shildmyer:

Who -- whom I had never met and who had never met me. And she didn't know me from Adam.

Philip Shaull:

So she wasn't going to walk up to you --

James C. Shildmyer:

She wasn't going to walk up and say anything to me anyway.

Philip Shaull:

Oh, wow.

James C. Shildmyer:

But she scared the heck out of me. But see, since Jane and I were only friends, I'd never been to her home. I think I remembered that she told me she had a twin sister, but it didn't register. I'd never met the sister. Sister had never met me because we weren't romantically involved. We were just friends, but there's a true story, how scared I was.

Philip Shaull:

Wow.

James C. Shildmyer:

And of a person who wouldn't have known me anyway.

Philip Shaull:

Yeah. Tell me a little bit about maybe -- what was your most dangerous situation with the counterintelligence.

James C. Shildmyer:

Well, I think I just did.

Philip Shaull:

That was it?

James C. Shildmyer:

Yeah. That was probably the most dangerous because of the people that were involved and what they were doing.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

And if they had known who I was, I don't know that they would have murdered me, but it -- it wouldn't have been -- I wouldn't have been very healthy for a while. I had some other cases that were much more high level. For instance, there was an espionage case which took place at the Crane Naval Ammunition Depot, which is near Spencer, Indiana, in southern Indiana. The agent in charge in Indianapolis put out a notice to all of us field agents about a situation that he had been informed about, from the FBI. The FBI had said that we should be on the lookout -- all intelligence personnel should be on the lookout for people who are posing as reporters trying to get information -- military information from military bases.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

Well, this word was passed on to me, and so I immediately ran -- put a phone call in to the several military bases in my area, which was Crane Naval Ammunition Depot, Jefferson Proving Grounds, Indiana Arsenal, and so forth, at different ones. I remember talking to the security officer at the Crane Naval Ammunition Depot and told him about it, that he should be on the lookout if any reporters come and want to get information. He said, "Well, it's already happened." And I said, "Really. What -- what happened?" And he said, "We" -- "I got a request from somebody at Tri-Line Industries, which I" -- he said he thinks it's out of Chicago. And they want -- they want to come in and get some information for companies that they represent. And I said, "Well, don't do anything about it right now." And he told me that this had been the second request. Well, the very next -- so I said, "Be alert. If they want -- if you hear it again, get in touch with me." The very next day he calls me and said a woman who wanted to come on the base and get some information for the company she represented. I said, "Let her come on. Get her in your office and keep her in your office until I get there." Well, it took me an hour or so to drive over there. I interviewed the lady and asked her why she was doing this, and she said she had answered an ad that was in the newspaper in the Lafayette Indiana Courier Journal advertising for reporters, in particular, housewives, to make extra money on the side -- housewives, believe it or not -- by getting information. And they said they would furnish a list of what they wanted know. Well, what they wanted to know was -- I'm going by memory now, and I can't remember precisely, but it was such -- it was information about the fuses that was -- that were used in the naval shells that were being stored at the ammunition depot. What kind of fuses, the manufacturer of the fuse, and what type of fuse it was, and different specific questions about the fuse.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

And supposedly this woman -- the reason she's getting this information supposedly was to let the different bidders, different civilian companies that manufactured fuses and other naval parts, let them know if they were successful bidders or not.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

Well, think about it. It's kind of ridiculous. If you're a big company, big enough to have Navy contracts, do you need a little housewife to go in and get information for you? You're going to know if you're a successful bidder or not.

Philip Shaull:

Right.

James C. Shildmyer:

But -- if this is all on the level. Well, obviously it wasn't. Tri-Line Industries was a fictitious name with a fictitious address in Chicago, a P.O. Box is where this lady was supposed to send her information and -- if she was successful in getting it, which she wasn't.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

But that's the way the communists worked back in those days. As farfetched as that sounds, it is the truth, every word of it because I was there. The communists had a policy of sending out a thousand possibilities in the hope that one of them would come through with some information.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

That was their scope. That's what they tried to do. And all this little housewife -- I -- she realized, you know -- and she was an innocent person. She was just a lady that was trying to make some extra money. I told her to go home and I sent the information to the agent in charge, my boss, the agent in charge in Indianapolis, who I'm sure turned it over to the FBI. But as usually happened in a case like that, I never really found out, you know, what the outcome was.

Philip Shaull:

Was that frustrating to you?

James C. Shildmyer:

In a way. You always wondered, Gee, what really was this all about?

Philip Shaull:

Yeah.

James C. Shildmyer:

But you never really --

Philip Shaull:

Or are they loose and they're going to look for me. (Laughter.)

James C. Shildmyer:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. There was another thing -- a communist type of thing that was going on since the Korean War was going on. And actually my mother was involved in this one. My mother worked at the courthouse here in Marion, in the auditor's office. Of course, she knew what I was doing, intelligence work in Bedford, Indiana. And one day -- one morning my mother called me and she said, "Jim, we got a box in from a Hudson company out of New York, and it's full of brochures, booklets with instructions that the auditor is to set these on the counter and make them available to the public, free of charge, and more __ you know, how do they do -- And my mother said that she flipped through it and she said, "Jim, it really looked strange and the wording is strange." She said, "It doesn't sound very American. It doesn't sound very patriotic."

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

And so I said, "Well, if it was sent to your courthouse in Marion, maybe it was sent to the courthouse here in Bedford." So I thanked Mom and I hung up and I beat it over to the courthouse right there in Bedford. And sure enough, in the auditor's office, right on the desk -- or on the counter available to the public was stacks of these booklets.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

I flipped through them and in the booklets was sentences written to the families of American servicemen who are serving in Korea and words to the effect that, If your son or a family relative is in the Army in Korea, please let him know that the communists are not the bad people that your American -- that your American government says they are.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

It's -- can be very cold in Korea. Maybe your son or your nephew is not fed properly, is not able to keep warm. If he would come over to the communist side to the North Koreans, he would be well-fed, he would be taken care of, given good medical treatment. There's no reason for him to be fighting us, and so forth. This was on the counter in the auditor's office in Marion. And so I immediately then advised the -- my agent in Indianapolis about this communist literature that's being set up on auditors' offices. And he said, "Well, check every county seat in southern Indiana." So I took off and it took me quite a while to drive to every one, but I think I found that literature in almost every one. Maybe not every one, but almost every one. And what was strange was the auditors, you know, did just what the little covering letter said, Set this on the counter, make it available to the public, and then they never did look at it, you know, to see what kind of communist literature they were passing out.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

Again, the agent in charge told me that the FBI -- after him talking to the FBI, he said it is a fictitious address in New York. There was no such place and so forth. So again, I never really got the final outcome, but you think about southern Indiana, little towns like Bedford and --

Philip Shaull:

Yeah.

James C. Shildmyer:

-- that the communists were working there.

Philip Shaull:

Did that surprise you or --

James C. Shildmyer:

Sure.

Philip Shaull:

-- that you were on the job?

James C. Shildmyer:

It surprised me except when I remembered something that we were taught, what I just mentioned, at the CIC school. They said -- they said, For one thing, by the time you graduate from here, your picture and life story will be at Moscow.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

And they said, Secondly, you can bet that the communists, the way they work is to send out so many different feelers here and there, everywhere -- some of them ridiculous, and they knew they are, but if they get one positive response, one bit of information that they didn't have before, they'd consider it successful. And so from that standpoint, I wasn't all that surprised, but it was hard to believe that it was happening in southern Indiana.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh. Well, it would be.

James C. Shildmyer:

And I suppose, you know, if you bring it up to date, I suppose the same type of thing is going on now with the Arabs and the -- or the terrorists, things that are going on that we are not in the know. It's hard to believe probably what's going on.

Philip Shaull:

Yeah. That's -- you would have an interesting perspective on that. How do you feel about -- are we doing enough? Are we being aggressive enough with that?

James C. Shildmyer:

I think we are now. I don't know if you can ever be too aggressive. I think the president certainly set the right tone and -- but I think we've been way too lax. We have permitted people to come in this country on questionable visas, then we don't know where they are. There are thousands of people in this country on questionable visas, and their -- you know, their location isn't even known. We're getting better at it, but we've been so careless through the years because, you know, we're so confident. Nothing could happen to us. We're Americans in America. It's not going to happen here.

Philip Shaull:

Yeah.

James C. Shildmyer:

But it did. So I think we -- we must be extremely cautious. This is a whole new ball game as compared to back when I was doing it against the communists.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

In many ways more fearful because now it can happen right here on our own soil --

Philip Shaull:

Yeah.

James C. Shildmyer:

-- and has happened. So yeah, I'm very concerned about it. I thank God that we've got the president that we have. I think he's going to do a good job. And that we have senators like Dick Lugar, who I think are tremendous in the intelligence world.

Philip Shaull:

Yeah. It's -- with their committee in the house senate.

James C. Shildmyer:

Yep.

Philip Shaull:

Their committee, I'm sure, hearing lots of interesting and scary stuff all at once.

James C. Shildmyer:

Absolutely.

Philip Shaull:

Did you ever have a chance or did you ever want to work in intelligence other than southern Indiana or --

James C. Shildmyer:

Well, yeah. I did consider it when my term of service was up in the Army with counterintelligence, of course, they asked me to enlist -- reenlist for another -- another itch. And I considered it because it was a good life, but by then I had met a girl and I wanted to get married. And it was tradition that if you reenlisted, you would then go overseas immediately. Well, I didn't want to go overseas for three years because I'd fallen in love.

Philip Shaull:

Yeah.

James C. Shildmyer:

And thinking about getting married. And it was the girl you met a while ago is the one.

Philip Shaull:

I wondered. You mentioned her name, and I wondered if that was the same --

James C. Shildmyer:

Yeah. That was Joanie. So I decided not to reenlist because I didn't want to go overseas for two, three years --

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

-- and leave her and not be able to get married. I considered the Secret Service because I loved that kind of a life, but it would have been hard to get in the Secret Service because, as I said earlier, I did not have a college education and it's almost a requirement. I couldn't get in the FBI. Even though -- it's funny -- even though I had worked undercover for the FBI, I could not become an FBI agent because my lack of education. Same way with the Secret Service. I could have gotten in the Secret Service, but it would have been a long, long haul before I could become -- be an agent. The CIA was very possible because the CIA was really recruiting back then.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

As I suppose they are now. And they would not have been concerned about my lack of college, my experience, as an intelligence agent would have been enough, but again, I didn't want to go overseas. So I turned it all down and took a different approach to life and became a salesman. And so -- but I loved -- I did love that kind of a life, and it's the best job in the Army by far.

Philip Shaull:

Yeah. It sounds -- sounds like it would be fascinating work. So you have no regrets that you chose to stay in there when they asked you if you'd go and jump out of plane behind enemy lines and all that?

James C. Shildmyer:

Right, right. No. I was very happy, very happy and thankful for the kind of a career I had in the service.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

I'd do it all again if I had the chance.

Philip Shaull:

How much of what you did related directly to the events of the Korean War -- how much, if you -- if this is even possible to say -- versus how much was just things that had been going on and would continue to go on regardless of the war going on?

James C. Shildmyer:

Well, it was really both. The two things that were almost directly related -- one, what I told you a while ago, the communist literature, which tried to get our men to defect and surrender to the enemy through pressure from Mother or Dad or Aunt Sadie or whatever. That, I think, was a direct involvement. But the other involvement, while not quite as direct, was the background checks that we did on people who then they themselves became instrumental in this or that.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

And if we didn't run good background checks and weed out the people who were potential alcoholics, who were potential druggies -- if we didn't weed out those kind of people and find out about them, then they would have gone into sensitive jobs, and who knows what kind of trouble they might have caused, so that's an indirect relationship or indirect bearing on the war effort --

Philip Shaull:

Sure.

James C. Shildmyer:

-- but still a necessary one.

Philip Shaull:

Oh, yeah.

James C. Shildmyer:

Somebody had to do it.

Philip Shaull:

Absolutely. So you acted kind of as a gatekeeper for --

James C. Shildmyer:

Yeah. In some ways, you might say that, uh-huh.

Philip Shaull:

Even though you didn't go into the Secret Service or anything directly intelligence related, how do you feel like your experiences helped you, maybe even to this day, in different situations through life?

James C. Shildmyer:

Well, in the world of business, I have always found that -- I would catch myself reverting back to my classes on interrogation.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

And while I never really interrogated a customer or a potential customer, I would find myself asking questions and maybe playing that role to get the kind of information I needed from this potential customer that would enable me to make the sale. So I -- yeah, I think it helped me quite a bit in the world of business. Not directly, but certainly indirectly. And it gave me a lot of good stories to tell.

Philip Shaull:

Oh, yeah. Absolutely. You wrote a book. Tell me about the book.

James C. Shildmyer:

Well, I wrote a book in -- finished -- it took about six months to a year. I don't remember exactly how long it took. I finished it in the year 2000. The title is As I Remember, and it's about my life, really. It's an autobiography. In the introduction page I say that, Here's a list of dreams I put together years ago, not in any order of importance." Number 1 was to travel all the way around the world. Number 2, go on a hunting safari in Africa. Number 3, work as an FBI agent. Now, remember, these, I put together when I was a very young man, long before the Army. Number 4 was become a -- be a professional actor.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

Number 5, be a successful businessman. Number 6, marry the prettiest, smartest, and nicest girl there ever was and raise wonderful children. Number 7, find a way to serve God in a definite meaningful way. And the final point, Number 8, write a book and tell about all the above. So those were my dreams that I put together when I was a kid, and dern if they didn't come true. I made them come true. I have gone around the world. I did hunt in Africa in 1972. I got a lot of trophies I'll show you. And I didn't work as an FBI agent, but I certainly worked for the FBI. And I was a professional actor. I've done a lot of that. So I guess that's what made -- you may say, "Why did I write the book?" I had those goals and I realized those goals, those dreams, so I wrote a book so that my children and grandchildren -- hoping that they would have dreams and having those dreams to realize that if you work at it, you can make them come true.

Philip Shaull:

And it must be important to write them down like that, make a list of --

James C. Shildmyer:

I thought it was.

Philip Shaull:

Yeah.

James C. Shildmyer:

I thought it was.

Philip Shaull:

Yeah.

James C. Shildmyer:

But the -- I dedicated the book to my wife. It says, "This book is dedicated to my wife, Joanie, without whom it could not have been written because without her I would not have had much to write about. She encouraged me to hunt in Africa, to travel around the world, and to work in an African mission. She stood by me as I struggled in the world of business and was my sternest critic, but also my biggest fan as I performed on stage. She's always been there when I needed her." So I dedicated the book to her. And I'd like to give you this copy so that you can include it with this tape.

Philip Shaull:

Sure.

James C. Shildmyer:

Wherever it's going eventually to the --

Philip Shaull:

Library of Congress.

James C. Shildmyer:

-- Library of Congress.

Philip Shaull:

That's right.

James C. Shildmyer:

Which is thrilling to think that my book will be there. I hope you maybe can skim through it and read a little bit of it yourself.

Philip Shaull:

Yeah. I look forward to doing that. Is there anything that you want to share that maybe hasn't come up I haven't asked you yet? Do you have anything to share?

James C. Shildmyer:

No. I think we've pretty much covered it. I just think that since this was mainly about -- this interview was mainly about my service record and my career in the Army, I just want you to know and anybody that listens to this tape to know that the Army can be a wonderful place. It's like anything else in life. It's what you try and make out of it. If you want to slide by, you can do so; but if you want to really accomplish something like I wanted to, it can happen. Like I say, I had the best job there was in the Army. I interviewed one time -- I didn't tell you this, but I interviewed a brigadier general one time as a special agent. And he was on the hot seat because of someone he had hired who was -- and then fired as a security risk and then rehired because of the pressure he got from the Louisville Courier Journal -- pressure he got about firing this person who was definitely a security risk. Well, my bosses sent me down there to find out from this general why he did this.

Philip Shaull:

Why he rehired him?

James C. Shildmyer:

Yeah.

Philip Shaull:

Okay.

James C. Shildmyer:

Why he rehired this man. And I was told, "You're acting on the orders of Lieutenant General Chamberlain," who was head of 5th Army in Chicago. So I was told, "You have all the authority you need." Well, when I got there and started asking questions, nobody wanted to talk to me. They kept shooting me up. I started out with a lieutenant, and he sent me to a captain, and he sent me to a major, and so forth. And I finally wound up talking to a colonel who was the aid to this general. And he said, "You'll have to come back at two o'clock this afternoon, and I'll allow you to talk to the general to get your questions answered because nobody else can answer them." So at two o'clock that afternoon I went back. The general was sitting there. The colonel brought me in. Sitting next to the general was his attorney. And they brought me in and he said, "This is Mr. Shildmyer. He's a counterintelligence agent, and I believe he's an Army officer." And then he looked at me with a question mark on his face, you know. And I was -- he was hoping that I would answer, "Yes, I'm a lieutenant. Yes, I'm a captain," or whatever. Well, immediately -- that's why we were called special agent.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

Because immediately, once you tell your rank --

Philip Shaull:

It gives it away.

James C. Shildmyer:

-- it gives it -- you know, anybody higher than you --

Philip Shaull:

Yeah.

James C. Shildmyer:

-- is going to lord it over you.

Philip Shaull:

Right.

James C. Shildmyer:

And so I replied -- I said, "Colonel, I'm a special agent. My rank is confidential," which it was rated confidential. And I said, "I have these questions," and so my -- the point I'm making is that you can -- you can be whatever you want to be if you work at it hard enough. Here I was, in reality, a mere sergeant, as far as my pay scale was concerned.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

And I'm interviewing a general.

Philip Shaull:

Was that intimidating?

James C. Shildmyer:

Very much so, but I did my best not to show it.

Philip Shaull:

Uh-huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

But certainly I was scared. I was really worried.

Philip Shaull:

Right.

James C. Shildmyer:

Especially with these attorneys sitting right there. And he started giving me a real hard time. It was none of my business, you know, and so forth. And he was commander of this post. He would do what he wanted to do. And I said, "Fine, whatever you say, sir, will go in my report, which goes to my agent in charge, who in turn will send it to Lieutenant General Chamberlain at 5th Army headquarters. So whatever you say or don't say is fine with me."

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

"It will be in my report, just whatever you say." Well immediately, he changed.

Philip Shaull:

Yeah.

James C. Shildmyer:

When he knew it was going to go to his boss --

Philip Shaull:

Yeah. Right, right.

James C. Shildmyer:

-- who was a lieutenant, as well.

Philip Shaull:

Right.

James C. Shildmyer:

So the point being that here I was a mere sergeant talking to a general and getting the general to answer my questions.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

This is a great job in the Army. And that's why I say it's the best job in the Army.

Philip Shaull:

Huh.

James C. Shildmyer:

A number of things happened like that.

Philip Shaull:

Yeah.

James C. Shildmyer:

Again, I'd do it all over again if I could, but I'm too old.

Philip Shaull:

Well, I sure thank you for your time and your interesting story. It's --

James C. Shildmyer:

Thank you.

Philip Shaull:

And thank you for your service to our country and thanks for your time.

James C. Shildmyer:

Thank you. Thank you for being here. (END OF INTERVIEW)

 
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  October 26, 2011
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