The Library of Congress Veterans History Project Home 
Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Home » Text Transcript

Interview with Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs [11/8/2002]

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Today's date is November 8th, 2002, the place of the interview is Garner City, Michigan, and I am interviewing Rose Gibbs, and my name is Jayne Pacheco from Eastern Michigan University and the person working the camera is Gary Cali. So do you want to go ahead and get started, Rose?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Yes.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Okay. Could you tell us a little bit about your family life and where you were born?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

I was born in Blackstone, Virginia, Nottoway County, a family of four kids, mother and father. My father was deceased when I was three years old, and we moved to Brunswick County. My mother remarried about four years later, and we moved back to Nottoway County, and my stepfather was a farmer. Of course, my mother was a housewife, and we moved a couple of times, you know, but it was still within the Nottoway County. I attended school at Donald Town for first grade; second grade, we moved to Blackstone, and the strange thing about it is, I wanted to tell this because, don't be born in September.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Is that a bad month?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

That's a bad month. I was so happy that I was going to school, got to the classroom and the teacher said, "I'm sorry. You can't go to school this year. You will have to wait another year. You're not six years old yet." Okay. This is like September the 3rd. My birthday is on the 14th. So I went back home and I told my mother about it, and after that I had a different attitude towards school. I don't care whether I go or not. They won't let me go when I wanted to go, but I got through it, and I graduated from high school in 1946. And let's see, the first job I had was at Roses Five and Dime. Before this we can go back a little bit. I grew up on a farm. It was a tobacco farm. We had (directed) tobacco or food cured tobacco, and the tobacco, corn, and I can tell you some funny stories during that time, but I don't think you want to hear them.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

We have a lot about your stories to cover.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Yeah. So get back to the Roses Five and Dime. The lady that was in charge of the telephone office came down and said, "Rose, would you like to be a clerk in the office?" And I says, "That sounds like a good idea." So I started work for the telephone company as a clerk, receiving payments, doing telephone directory work, and that was in payments and such. Then I said to her one day, I said, "You know, Evelyn, I would like to learn the switchboard." (Cough) -- Excuse me. She says, "I think that's a good idea." So I learned the switchboard. And she said "We have people who are sick at times and people on vacation, and you can fill in." I said, "Okay." The next thing I know is, "Rose, can you go to (?South Hill?) for two weeks? They have a girl on vacation." "Sure, no problem." So I filled in for two weeks there, and I came back to Blackstone. And then again, "Rose, we need you the South Boston, Virginia." I said, "Okay, for two weeks?" "Yeah." "Okay." So I worked two weeks there and I came back, and in the meantime I'm still going to school, taking evening classes, night classes, whenever I could work them in my schedule around work. I decided I think I'll move to Richmond. I had my two brothers living in Richmond. So I went to work for the Chesapeake Telephone Companies, and there is where I saw the big sign "Uncle Sam Wants You." And I inviting the females to enlist into the service. And I saw this sign that said "free clothes, free food, free boarding, free training and $75 dollars a month." And I said, "Ooh wee. That's pretty good. I think I'll go down and apply." Three of us girls did. We all three backed out at first. No, we don't want to go. I changed my mind. I said, "Yeah, I'm going in." So I inducted on March the 2nd, 1949. And here I thought too, well, I'll get to see the country. I'm stationed 30 miles from my home.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

That's funny.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

So basic training they had a sign in the office that says if you want a weekend pass, sign up. Well, every weekend I signed up. Every weekend I got a pass, but really you were only supposed to have one pass during the eight weeks basic training. Well, if my card was the there I took it and went home.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

So you had eight weeks?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Yeah, and at the end of the basic training you saw the picture with the sergeant.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Uh huh. Why don't you show it to us?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Oh, here it is. She said to me

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Go ahead and show it to us.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

She said to me, "Gibbs, you know you were only supposed to have one pass during your basic training." I say, "Really, only one?" She said, "You had eight." I says, "Well, I'll tell you what. There's a sign up that says if you want a pass sign up for it. That's what I did." And I said, "When I got ready to leave to go on pass, the card goes there and I took it, and nobody said anything about it until now, you saying something about it."

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Well, it was too late.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

It was too late.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

So now you told us you enlisted in March of '49, and what part did you enlist in? What was your official title?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

It was the recruit when you first went in, and then you got promoted to private, then private to first class, then corporal and then sergeant, then sergeant first class.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Did you make it?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Sergeant First Class, E7.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Okay. I heard there was a story behind that E7, E8.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Oh, yes. No one had said anything about weight. Until they got to thinking about it I guess, and they figured I was too fat. So I was about ten pounds overweight according to the chart, and I had been recommended for E8 promotion, and I had been in the job last five or six years, and I had been recommended for promotion and approved with the exception of one guy. And he said, "You lose your ten pounds you can have your E8." And I said, "I'll tell you what. I've been weighing the same amount for the last ten years. Now all of a sudden, I've got to lose ten pounds to make my E8. You keep it. I'll just take my E7 and enjoy it."

Jayne L. Pacheco:

I admire that.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

What?

Jayne L. Pacheco:

I admire that.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Well, I don't think it was fair. Now, if they want people to lose weight and control weight it’s something else, but don't use weight as a factor for promotions when it hasn't been enforced. So, I still weigh the same.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

You stood up for yourself.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Right. Oh, I could tell you some times when I was in service I stood up for my rights. And not only mine, but the other girls too. I completed the basic training within the ministry of school, and I was transferred to Fitzsimmons Army Hospital, and I had told the Sergeant Major there that I wanted to go to the lab school, and he said when they became available I would go. In the meantime, I worked the medical library, and we'll bring in Major Charles Brown's book on the Bilibid Prison, and he would come into the library and sat and talked and talked about his experience as a prisoner in the Philippines and he wrote this book.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

And this was at the Medical Library?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Yes. And he was a neuropsychiatrist, and he worked in the MP service at the hospital, and I read this book and read this book, and every time I read it, I find a different point that I like. The first one I liked was "Ode to a Bed Bug." Should I read it? I have a rendezvous in Scarlet, and twice in mortal stain, tonight will Ed this blood of mine from near depleted vein, no wound in far from battle line no dagger will take the toll, no romance in this troth of mine, this trice and imbedding role, with this demented little skylock, who will be there and take the toll, filled with blood his empty challis, and back to ghetto in the role. Awe, this rendezvous in Scarlet, has left me no blood to lose, but night will find me in my role, when the bed bug I transfuse. There's another one in here that I really like. And I'm doing this one for Gary.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Okay?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Gary doesn't like smokers. Mark doesn't like smokers, and I must smoker. And when I read this, I can remember seeing the guys would put out a cigarette, and I would see another guy come right along behind and squash and that cigarette and picked up the little pieces, put it in paper and smoke it. And where are you? The name of it is called "Tobacco." Oh man, I know it's in here.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Is it sounds like you were good friends from the author.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Oh, yes, he came in and then I got my orders for Far East Command, Japan. Here it is, "Tobacco." Cause I must have made tobacco with the other things he did, to keep his faith with prisoners behind the bars of Bilibid, men starve and lose religion and this you'll think is odd, they laid up their old tobacco and believe again in God. So when a person wants a cigarette, they want a cigarette, you know. So -- you’re blushing.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

It's just funny.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

And then they have another that's called "Crumbs." It's four versus long. Did you ever pick crumbs right off of the floor? Tobacco, I mean, and then looked left for more, and then rolled in paper from a prison latrine. Oh, I know you said this is rather unclean, but when a man loves tobacco and is hungry as well, he'll pick up the butts from the devil in hell, the crumbs and the ashes rolled in paper so thin, you will smoke down to nothing and save again and again. That's just the first two versus of that one, but it's true. Tobacco is a big issue with me.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

It sounds like it was pretty popular then too?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Oh, yes. Packs of cigarettes were given to personnel that was in the military service. You didn't have to buy them. They were given out, but I didn't smoke then.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Oh, you didn't.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

No, I didn't smoke until I was 55 years old.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Oh my gosh. Wow.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

And the cigarette to me is relaxing. So I like my tobacco.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

And you earned that right.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Yeah, I did. I grew up on the tobacco farm and didn't smoke. Every everybody around me smoked, and I didn't complain about it. I inhaled smoke, and I didn't complain about it, and now you see people standing outside of the doors that have to go outside and have their cigarette. I don't think it's fair.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Makes you angry.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Yeah. Well, it may be something that their doing that I don't like, you know, and you accept it. And that's the way it is, but to force something onto someone, I don't think it's right. If you want to quit smoking, you'll quit.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Now I'm just kind of curious. I see that your uniform says Sutherland, but we're introduced to you as Rose Gibbs.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Sutherland is my married name.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Would you like to tell us a little bit about that? Or --

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Well, my husband was in the Marine Corp, and we were married for 29 years, and I divorced him, and it took about four years for it to become final. So then do I say I was married to him for 25 years, or do I say for 29? So

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Right.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

In the court proceedings, I asked to retain my maiden name, and Gibbs is my maiden name.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

So did you meet him when you were in the service?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Yes, I met him while I was in Japan. On Sundays we would go out to this club in staff, NCO club, and have dinner. And they had two bands, one was a county and western band and the other one was a Japanese band. They would alternate.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

You had a variety then.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Yeah. So I met him there. But he was with the Marine Air Wing, they call them the Mustangs. And they would fly back and forth from Korea to the Airbase called Itami, I t a m i, and there was a place (Hata) or (?Kiky?). So, but when we first got to Japan, we got off the ship and went on the bus. The bus had bars up at the doors and the windows. And I said to myself, "Rose, what have you gotten yourself into now?" You know what I said, "Bars up at the window." And they says, "Well, Rose, you know this is wartime." You know, I thought, yeah, I know that, “But bars on the bus?” So we were taken the quarters and we only remain in Yokohama for about a week. Then we drove train overnight down to Osaka and I worked at Osaka Army Hospital. We received casualties from Korea, and we worked seven days a week, twelve hours a day, yeah, until we got additional help in because sometimes we did have to go back at nighttime and take information on the nearest of kin. And so then, the Army decided I don't know what took place, but the Osaka Hospital went back the Japanese sanctions, and we are transferred out to the 279th General Hospital doing the same job, you know, but it was nice. I could tell you some laughing and just laugh and laugh and laugh.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Well, we want to know what did while you were there.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Besides working in the lab, I went on a fundraiser. We were trying to get funds for this orphanage. So, well, I put my civilian dress on and went to get the tickets, the raffle tickets, and sell them, and I approached this one man, and I said, "Yeah, I know he's got money." So I sold him I said, "Come on. I know you got more money to buy some tickets. These are for the little kids." And come to find out, he was the Airbase Commander.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Oh my.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

I mean he was the head man. Well, I didn't know. I was selling tickets.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Right. You were trying to help the children.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Right. So I didn't know until I got a letter of accommodation, and it was so funny.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

What did that letter say?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Congratulating me on the efforts that I had put in.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

And did you keep it?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

I have it someplace.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Somewhere.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Someplace, yes, I do. So -- and then another experience I had. We went to the Nara Zoo. That zoo is full of monkeys. So I'd walk up to the fence and say, "Chi, chi, chi, chi, chi, chi." And I looked behind me and I'd see all these Japanese ladies and they'd have the hand over the mouth, like this, giggling. So I said to mamma son, back at the quarters, and I told her what had happened. And she says, "Well, don't you know “chi chi” means in Japanese?" And I said, "No, I don't. I always called a monkey “chi chi”.” She said, "It means “breast”." So here we call monkeys “Chi Chi.” And right behind you is some Saki cups -- that one and the other one that looks like a toad stool. Yeah, this is Saki cup. Okay. I had two of these. I don't know what happened the other one, but I had two of these, and we went to a festival and I saw these. And I said, "Oh, what nice ashtrays these would make." So I brought them back, and set them on my dresser, and mama said, "Oh, Rose, you meant so and so." She said that was the festival of fertility. Well, I got to take another look at this toad stool.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Oh my. So it's almost like you had a really good time over there even though you worked so much.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Oh, yes. I enjoyed it. I sure did. We would go down to (Wakayama) Beach, and we didn't go into the water though. We'd just walk along the sand.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Do you want me to put that down?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Yeah. And another time was funny to me wasn't going over -- it was group from Texas, the Calgary, and we got assigned to where we were going, and that weekend they call, "Hey, you girls, want to go for a ride in a Jeep on the beach?" "Sure, let's go." So we went, and we had bed check at twelve o'clock. We had to be in. Well, the Jeep got stuck in the sand. I said, "We won't make it back in time. So I better call.” So I call and said we would be late, and we got CQ quarters. We signed in, and I said, "What time is it?" She said, "It's zero, zero, zero, one." I said, "Whew, one minute late." And I didn't think anymore about it. But the other three said, we're going to get it. We're going to the disciplinary action on this. Well, the next day they call me down to the office and they said, "Here it comes." Well, I went in and the first thing they said was, "Gibbs, can you type?" I said, "Yes, I can type." So they had a pile of papers to type. Well, Boy, I never typed so fast and got those papers out the way, and I said, "Do you have any more?" And he said, "No, you can go back to your quarters." So the other girls were sitting down there and the first thing they said was, "What'd they say? What did they say?" I said, "They didn't say anything." And that night we left for Osaka, and we were sitting on the or standing the deck waiting for the train, and I said to the CO, "I'm sorry we were late last night coming in." She says, "Oh, you were just one minute late. Don't think anything of it." And I got to thinking. That CQ told us wrong. It should have been zero, one, zero, zero, not zero zero zero one. See, we were one hour late, not one minute. Well, we didn't say anything about it, and headed down to Osaka overnight.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

You lot lucky.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Yeah, yeah, we did.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Right.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

But I can honestly say I never had my pass pulled, and never had disciplinary action taken, I never, never went AWOL. So everything was on up and up. So, and then getting ready to come home I thought we was going to head to San Francisco, but we headed the Philippines, and we went shopping. This Navy Chief took us shopping and to the movies, and we went by this one store and it sold coconuts, and there was the biggest coconut I've ever seen in my life, and (Cough) excuse me. My mother loves coconuts. So I says, "I'm going to buy that coconut, and I'm going to take that coconut home with me." And the girl says, "Rose, you know you can't that coconut home." And I says, "I'm taking that coconut home." So the merchant put the coconut in a brown paper bag, he didn't roll it like he normally would, he just squashed it up. So that's the way I carried that brown paper bag. Got on the ship, came home, San Francisco, and then the plane the (Seven) Air Force Base, and then to Richmond, still carrying that brown paper bag with that coconut in it. And no one along the way has said, what do you have in that brown paper bag? The only person that asked me, “What do you have in that brown paper bag?” was my mother. I say, "Mom, it's a coconut." She says, "Where on earth did you get this coconut?” I said, "I got it in the Philippines." So we had coconut pie, cake and candy, you know. Well, it was Christmas. It was time for it. See, I came back to the states November '53.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Oh, okay.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

And it took 30 days to get here, but after we left Japan. Then I was assigned again to Fort Lee, and then I went one year of school in Texas, medical field service school. I went to school for a year. And Paul, the man I married, he was at Cherry Point off (Cherry) Island. We corresponded with each other. And he said, "On your way back to Virginia stop by to see me. I have a surprise for you." And I said "Whew, surprise for me?" So I went by to see him and he says, "Will you marry me?" I says, "Marry you? Have you thought about this?" I said, "Well give me time to think about it." He said, "Well, if I didn't want to marry you, I wouldn't have asked you." I said, "Okay, but give me time to think about it." So, this was like in September of '55, and we were married in December of '55.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

So you guys got married after you came back then?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Uh huh. He came back to the states before I did.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Oh, he did?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Uh huh. (Coughs) excuse me.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

And could you tell us a little bit about what you saw while you were in the Korean War?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Mostly the casualties, they were flown in from Korea, and they were lined up in the hallways, and you didn't have time to, really, think about what had happened, it was what you could do to help them. And this then when we were at 279th. They had he receiving ward there, but when I was at the Osaka Army Hospital, we had frostbite cases. So we set up a center for the frostbite cases. The cases started dwindling off after the Army issued a warning.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

I think you had a picture with a frostbite case.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Yeah. You can only see the nurse, you know.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Right.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

You can't see the area that was frostbitten. The Army made a statement that the guys would be court martialed if they did not wear the wool socks that had been issued to them. So the cases dwindled down to the point where the center was closed. A lot of the guys weren't wearing their wool socks and getting frostbitten, but I had I wouldn't say I'm a witness to the fact they didn't wear the socks. I'm a witness to the fact that they did issue an order. If you don't wear those socks you're going to be court martialed. And also, the guys that came down with Hemorrhagic fever. They came in and I had to make my ward rounds, and they seemed to understand what you were saying to them with their eyes, but they couldn't speak. They weren't in a coma, but they weren't active in the sense of word, and then there's one guy that -- he was Ethiopian. See, this was United Nations effort. So I went into the room and I looked at his name tag on his arm, armband I guess you call it. It said Tula Sambeta. I'll never forget this as long as I and I looked checked the other was Tula Sambeta, and he nodded his head yes. I drew his blood, and I got ready to leave and he said, “Tu da lu.” That was the only thing, you know, “Tu da lu,” and I said, “Tu da lu.” And that amazed me. I had to smile back at him, and he smiled back and I never forgotten him. “Tu da lu,” and that was so funny.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

So was it frustrating to not be able to communicate with some of the patients?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Oh, yes, very much so, and then too we had to spend so much time in each section of lab -- my time to spend in the morgue.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

And this was in the lab?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

This is at Fitzsimmons.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Okay.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

That's not overseas. So my time was when the guys died of the Hemorrhagic fever, and the seal of the hospital came down and said, "Hey, you guys, make sure your wearing your gloves and your mask. We don't know exactly what has caused the deaths of these individuals." And I said, "Ut oh, look out here." There was two of us, Heathner and myself, and the pathologist, Gregg Johnson, and we do not touch this on those patients, and I was glad to get out of that section. And then one night I was on emergency call back. The blood bank refrigerator went out, but all the blood had to be transferred to the morgue refrigerator, and about two o'clock in the morning we get orders. We need blood. So we had to go into the morgue refrigerator and get the blood, and I was coming out, something went by, I felt someone beside me and I about (punching). I almost made another entrance to the morgue, but what it was something and it dropped down and it hit me, but it scared the life out of me.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Oh, yes. You don't expect movement there.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Huh uh. So something else that happened - Oh, this is a terrible story, but it's true. The chief nurse was in the hospital as a patient, and she came down to the lab. I was on call back duty, and we were sitting there. And she says, "Rose, do you have any magazines to read?" And I says, "Yeah. Help yourself and take them up to your room." You know, and so she left, and I was working in the chemistry lab, and I heard this "plop" outside of the window. What I was doing I couldn't stop and go and look then. If I did, I would have to start the test all over again. It was her. She had jumped out of the window. Yep. I was just talking to her. It can't be, but it was.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

That must have been difficult.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Oh, yeah, it was. So --

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Did that happen a lot where you knew the patients that you were serving or from the soldiers that came in?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Just the one was Waverly that was on active duty.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Why don’t you tell us about that story?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

I was in school at Fort Sam, and I was doing blood typing, and I looked up, and I says, "Waverly Cole." We graduated from high school together.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Oh my.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

And then, of course, he was going to through the anesthesiologist and I was going through lab, but I didn't get to see him after that.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Okay.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

So then I went back to Fort Lee, got married, got pregnant, and got out. But the funny thing about it was they said if you got married you could get out, you know. Well I put in to be discharged by reason of marriage. They turned me down and they said, no, you have a critical MOS and you have gone to the one year school so no. Sergeant Major says, "Well, I only see one thing for you to do, Rose, and that's to get pregnant." So I said, "I'll work on it." So, I was pregnant at the time, but I didn't know it, but I knew something was wrong with me because I would just assume to tell somebody off as look at them, and that wasn't my nature. So that one day the OB GYN doctor came through the lab, and I told him how I was feeling. I said I am not nauseous, don't have any signs of pregnancy or anything, I said, but something's wrong. My disposition is just assume to tell you off. He says, "During your break come down and I'll check you to see." And I said, "Okay." So I went down and he said, "Girl, you’re pregnant." I said, "Sign that little piece of paper." And I took the paper back to Sergeant Major and this is about a period of two weeks difference. He says, "I know I told you to do it, but how did you do it so fast?" Because my husband was stationed down at Cherry Point and I'm at Fort Lee, but he had come up during Easter vacation, and I had the little girl, Laurie, and she was born in New York.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

So that's how were able to spend time with your husband then?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Oh, yeah.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

To get pregnant.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

No, he came up for a weekend visit.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Right. But after you got pregnant?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

That was when I got pregnant. When he came up for the weekend visit, but I didn't know it, you know, that I was pregnant until the doctor checked me.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

So then you were able to move in with him?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

No. During that time, period of time, he got orders for (?I & I?) staff duty in New York. So we moved to New York, and Laurie was born at Saint (Elwoods) Naval Hospital. And then the doctor says, "I'll see you here next year." And I said, "Oh no, you won't." The next year I was there about two weeks earlier. So I had two 50 weeks apart. That's what I did, two weeks apart, and then he got orders for Okinawa, and I went back to Blackstone, and I worked at Fort Lee as a civilian. The girl who was a microbiologist was on pregnancy leave, and they needed someone to fill in. So I took that position and when she came back I transferred down to Picket and worked as a clerk typist, and then he came home and we went down to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. And during that time, they have what they call a RIF program, and this is getting into his career. He was enlisted and became an officer, and after the Korean War they had they RIF program, which means “reduction in force”. So he could get out or he could stay in, but he would have to go back to his enlisted rank, which he did. I told him, "It's your choice." So he stayed in and then they got orders of Vietnam, and I worked as a telephone operator at Camp Lejeune. And I was sitting there on the switchboard on Christmas Eve night, and I said there wasn't any lights on, no calls coming or going. I said, “I think I'll see if I can call him using Da Nang.” So I dialed Hawaii. I said I would like Da Nang on a OP, please. So she put me through to the Air Force Base in the Philippines, from there to Da Nang, Da Nang answered, and I said I would like 3rd Marine division, 3rd recon battalion, and guess who answers the phone? My husband. I said, "Paul." "Yes, this is Paul." "This is Rose." "Rose, well I'll be dagone. Rose. Well, I'll be dagone." I said, "Yes, this is Rose. Merry Christmas." He said, "Merry Christmas to you too. Rose, well I'll be dagone." He says, "Rose." I says, "Yeah. Is Captain Hardy there?" "Yes, he's here." "Put him on and let me see if I can call Charlottesville, where his wife live, but she wasn't home, but he got to talk to his father in law. So he said after the conversation they went to the Colonel Lee was having a Christmas party for them, and the two walked in, and the Colonel asked them, "What have you two been up to?" And he said, "I talked to my wife tonight." "No way, no way. Don't feed me of getting through to this unit." Yeah, it was funny.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

So you were able to speak to him on Christmas well, Christmas eve.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Yeah, but you know you couldn't make phone calls to Vietnam during the war time unless you were a telephone operator.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

So it must have been a difficult time to have a relationship with him being gone?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Oh, yeah, it was terrible, and then he came home. Then he was on (?I & I?) Staff in Roanoke, Virginia, and he pulled his tour of duty there, and it was time for him to get another assignment. So he called headquarters Marine Corp. He had a buddy working there, enlisted. Your orders say Vietnam. Well, at that time he had 23 years in and he says, “I do?” So I'm putting in my retirement papers. I am not going back to Vietnam. So we got his retirement, and then he stayed in the ready reserves, I guess what you would call it, until he got his 30 in, and then about three weeks before his 65th birthday, before he got his Social Security check, he passed away. So by that time, after divorce, he married twice. So he was at Lumina Island, State of Washington. You know where that is? Well, I talked to Gene, his brother, and he said he did not want to make that trip. He didn't feel like it, and he did not want to make that trip. But, his wife well another thing too about my ex husband, I should say, he liked red heads, and his last wife was a red head, and I said to myself, “Well, he's happy now. He got that red head.” So anyway, at my entering the reserves I was working in, and of course the girls would come over from the center to do the weekend duty and one of the girls said to me, "Rose, you were on active duty; weren't you?" And I said, "Yeah." She said, "Well, you can come back into service now even though you have kids." I said, "That's the reason I was discharged because I was having a kid." She says, "But you can come back in." I says, "I have four now, not one." She says, "It doesn't make any difference. You can come back into the service." So I went over to the service and I entered the reserves and I pulled my reserve time, and then when I got well you have to have 20 good years, but I had 23 good years in. So in 1984 I finished up my reserve time. In 1987, I started getting my little paycheck which comes in handy, and it wasn't that hard. The main thing about this is this my civil job correlated with my military job, you know, a lot of times your job in the military is not the same kind of job you would have on the outside, but mine did. So I guess I was lucky in that aspect.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

You mentioned that you stood up for yourself and others

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Yes.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

other women. Could you explain that for us?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Okay. One occasion was the time we moved from Osaka Army Hospital to the 279th General Hospital. Well, we had about four issues of clothing, and they gave us one wall locker and a foot locker and they had built a shelf for you to hang your clothes on which was maybe about it wasn't even 24 inches long. So we had the overcoats, the raincoats, the summer uniform, the winter uniform and I asked the CO where could we put these clothes, and so they had an open room with racks in it for you to hang your clothes on, and she said, "That's all the quartermaster could provide us." And we had a company meeting, and in the meeting I asked her again about additional space to hang our clothes, and she says, "I'm sorry, I've done all I can do. I can't do any more." "Thank you, ma'am, that's what I wanted to hear you say." I came back into the quarters, and at that time, we had well, you've seen the picture of the uniform dresses hospital dresses had buttons down the front. Well, I started to divide them and just pulled it out and buttons popped everywhere. And Margie (Jenson), she was across the way, says "Gibby, Gibby, what's wrong? I never seen you like this." I says, "Well, take a good look because you may never see me looking like this again." I put my class A uniform on, and I went over to the IG's office, Inspector General, and I told him anytime that I'm responsible for clothes, you take inspection and the item isn't there and I have to pay for it, I don't feel that it's right for us to hang our clothes in an open room that anyone can go in and get, and he picked up the phone, he called the quartermaster, and I know the next day, we had carpenters in there and we had dressers. We had what we needed. But you know, the CO, after that she was just nice as she could be to me, and well, the girls did they seemed like to me every place I was assigned I was the barrack sergeant, every place, "Rose, you are the barrack sergeant." Well, barrack sergeant is charge of keeping the place clean and seeing that the other duties are done. And at one time down at the school there it was a Friday, GI night, and I got a call to come down to the office. I said, "Ooh, what is this all about?" And I go down. There stands my brother with this lovely young lady standing beside him. "Sis, I want you to meet my wife." And he's in the Air Force. He's stationed at (Lackman), and I said, "What?" He said, “We just got married. We came by to take you out to dinner.”

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

I said his name was Shelton, but we called him Shelly. I said, "Shelly, you know I can't go tonight. It's GI night. We have inspection in the morning." And the CO was there, and she heard it and she says, "Oh, yes, you can. You go up and get dressed and go out to dinner."

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Oh.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Yeah. "Forget about the inspection."

Jayne L. Pacheco:

That's wonderful. So you were able to spend time with your brother.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

And that's the first time too that I had eaten in (?Ava Caro?), yeah.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Did you like it?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Oh, yeah. I love those things, and going overseas too. I mean this is back and forth, back and forth, but that doesn't matter. Where we were at (Stoman), one of the girls’ uncles lived in San Mateo. He came and took us out to dinner and to the dog races. Well, I had never been to a dog race. Well, I'm telling you I never laughed so much in all my life seeing those dogs running around after a stick, and one of the girls says, "Rose, it's the bunny on the end of the stick." I said, "You got to be kidding me. They don't have a bunny on the end of that stick." They said, "You look closely. You'll see." And sure enough, that's crazy. Those poor dogs have done all that running for nothing. So that's my experience of the races. Let's see what else I can tell you would be interesting. The clothes you know about.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Could you tell us your opinion of the Korean War?

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Well, I don't think when they fired General McArthur that it would have happened. I feel that if they let General McArthur continue on as to what he was doing that the conflict would not be there now. That's my opinion of it, and I might be entirely wrong, but that's my opinion. I was sad to hear that he had been fired and another general replaced him, but it didn't stop the war. The war continued, and I feel I've been seriously thinking about it. If they had let McArthur continue to do what he had planned on doing, we wouldn't be in the conflict that we have right now. We had cleared it right up. So

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Could you tell us a little bit about your feelings about the Oral Histories Project and having the opportunity to do this and share your story with the nation.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

I think it's great. You know, you can sit there and chitchat, chitchat with all your neighbors and friends, you know, but to let the nation know about it. The other thing is you first this, first that and before you leave (?two of us first soldier?) a month, so yeah.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Well, thank you, very much for sharing your story with us.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

Well, there's lots more. We're running out of time.

Jayne L. Pacheco:

Thank you.

Rose L. Sutherland Gibbs:

I honestly say I enjoyed and I appreciate the opportunity to express my viewpoints, and I don't regret a minute that I spent in service. If I had to do it all over, I would do it. So --

 
Home » Text Transcript
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us