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Interview with Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr. [5/22/2003]

Michael Willie:

Today is Thursday, May 22nd, 2003. And this is the beginning of an interview with Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr., at the Erlanger HealthLink Plus office, 975 East 3rd Street, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Mr. Rowe was born on October 31st, 1922, and is now 80 years old. My name is Michael Willie and I will conduct this interview. Mr. Rowe, could you state for the recording your name and its spelling, please. RAYMOND

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr. That's R-a-y-m-o-n-d, O-s-c-a-r, R-o-w-e, Jr.

Michael Willie:

Okay. And during which war did you serve?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

World War II.

Michael Willie:

And which branch of the service?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Army Air Force.

Michael Willie:

And what was your highest rank attained?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

First lieutenant.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Where were you born, Mr. Rowe?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Michael Willie:

All right. Tell me about your family. Did you have any brothers or sisters?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I had one sister, but she died.

Michael Willie:

Okay. How -- what was her age relative to yours? Were you older or younger?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

She was three years younger.

Michael Willie:

Okay. And tell me about your parents. Your dad, what did your dad do for a living when you were --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

He was an auditor and an accountant and a tax expert.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

He died at the young age of 87.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Now, you were born in Philadelphia. Were you raised there also? Did you live there --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

No, I was raised in Chattanooga.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Why did you move down here?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

When I was three years old, my mother and father were working with the Railway Express and they just opened an office here in Chattanooga.

Michael Willie:

Okay. All right. So you -- you spent your formative years here. Did you live here up until the time you joined the service?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

That's correct.

Michael Willie:

Okay. How old were you when you joined the service?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

20.

Michael Willie:

Okay. And did you join or were you drafted?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I enlisted in the Army Air Force.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Did you particularly want to fly or was there any particular reason why you joined the Army?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Oh, I wanted to fly so badly that my father sent me out to the airport, Chattanooga Airport, to have flying -- take flying lessons.

Michael Willie:

Oh, really? And so did you know how to fly then when you --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I did know how to fly.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Was that an advantage as far as getting in? Did you have any problems getting into the Air -- the Air Force at that time?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Well, I did, because I had a hernia when they checked my physical. So by the time I was recuperating, the Army called me in to draft me. Then the Air Force immediately said, "Well, we're going to sign you up, so we'll give you 90 days leave." So I had 90 days leave to begin with.

Michael Willie:

And was that enough time to get over the -- the hernia?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

The hernia, correct. Yes.

Michael Willie:

Okay. All right. So after you go in then, where do you go to basic training?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Well, I started out with Tampa, Florida. And then they transferred me to Maryville, Tennessee, in the college there called College Training Detachment.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

For a month.

Michael Willie:

Okay. And what were you -- what were you doing in College Training Detachment? What were you learning at --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

We were just waiting for an assignment, an opening somewhere.

Michael Willie:

Oh, okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

See, we were selected for pilots.

Michael Willie:

Got you.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

And there was no facility to train us at that time.

Michael Willie:

And what year was that in, '42?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

1942.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Okay. So while you were in Maryville then, what were you actually doing?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

We were studying.

Michael Willie:

Was that at Maryville College or was Maryville --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

At Maryville College, yes.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

And we had an epidemic of German measles while I was there.

Michael Willie:

Did you really?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Everyone had German measles. Yeah, we studied just Air Force aviation, meteorology, things -- items like that.

Michael Willie:

Was this old hat for you? Did you already know this -- these things or was this --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

It was all familiar to me.

Michael Willie:

Okay. All right. So how long did you actually wait in Maryville?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

It was only about 60 days.

Michael Willie:

Okay. And then where did you go from Maryville?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I went to primary training at Newport, Tennessee. That was a small twin-engine airplane that was very easy to fly and land, but the only problem was, I was bored, so somebody said, "Try a new stunt." And that was taking an airplane and flying it straight up in the air, straight up until it stalls out, then it falls back and it whips forward. Called a whiplash. And what a thrill that is. Only trouble is, we twisted the empennage. And they said you're going to get court-martialed if I did that again. So we quit that one.

Michael Willie:

Now, were you the only -- only one who can really fly coming into primary training or were there other people?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Very, very few.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

You know, see, we were all just out of high school.

Michael Willie:

Right. Okay. So how long were you actually in primary training?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I don't know -- remember any dates.

Michael Willie:

That's all right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

In fact, I can hardly remember the places where -- where I was stationed, you know.

Michael Willie:

And that's all right. That's all right. Do you remember a particularly high number of people washing out in primary training or -- or --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Oh, it was terrible. It was just -- your buddies just dropped out right and left. I mean, they just -- I know we had one guitar player that he was just so thrilled he wanted to become a pilot, but he had no coordination for flying at all.

Michael Willie:

Right. Right. So, I mean, would you say half of the people washed out or --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

More.

Michael Willie:

More?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Well, of course, they washed out into being navigators --

Michael Willie:

Right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

-- or --

Michael Willie:

Right. But as far as pilot.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Right. Right.

Michael Willie:

Okay. So you finish up in Newport. And then where do you go from there? Do you remember?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I went to basic training. I remember the airplane. It was an 1810. It was a twin-engine.

Michael Willie:

Okay. So -- and so after primary is basic then? Basic flight training, is that what it is?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

That's what I would -- I would think it is.

Michael Willie:

That's all right. Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

But I remember when I flew -- landed the airplane, the instructor said, "You can't fly this airplane into the ground at that speed, you're going to crash." I said, "Sir, you're flying it -- you're landing it too slow. You're ten miles an hour too slow. You can't land it that slow." He said, "Go ahead. If you can do it, go ahead." So I had to.

Michael Willie:

You did? Well, was this a problem? I mean, did you --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

1810 was like a bumblebee. The wing span was so small and area so small, that wasn't capable of flying and landing properly.

Michael Willie:

Yeah. Okay. Well, was that a problem in your training then? Did you feel like you were --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

No, I didn't have any problem.

Michael Willie:

Did not. I didn't understand.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

But then one time on night training -- on a night flight, there were two, the pilot and co-pilot. We were going cross country. And first half of it, one of us would fly and the other navigate. And then on the return trip, the other would fly and the other would navigate, alternate. Well, on the way back, something happened, our radio interference started getting bad, so, "Oh, wait, I know what to do" -- "Oh, I know what to do," so I leaned back and start working on the control of the radio. And all of a sudden, the engines quit. So we had to holler "Mayday, Mayday, our engines quit. We're going to have to bail out." I looked back there and looked back there and there was a switch that when I had reached backwards had hit it. It turned the engines off. We had already pulled the doors open and we were getting ready to bail out when I happened to flip that switch. The Air Force never did know anything about that switch. We landed the airplane. They said, "We can't find anything wrong with this," when they were testing it. How in the world we ever won the war with some of the boo-boos we pulled.

Michael Willie:

Okay. All right. So you finished basic. And as many people wash out here or is this typically --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I don't remember the washout rates. They didn't really notify us.

Michael Willie:

Okay. That's fine. All right. Where do you go from there? What kind of -- what kind of plane do you end up flying after basic, where you --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Well, I think I skipped the advanced training. The 1810 was in the advanced. Somehow I missed from primary to the basic to the advanced.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

So -- but then I went directly into the training for B-17s.

Michael Willie:

Okay. All right. And, now, how tough is it to fly a B-17? Do you think --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

When I first sat in the cockpit of that B-17, I said, "Good Lord, I'll never be able to fly a thing like this. Too many instruments, too much." And I felt, well, other characters have been able to do it, so I can do it too. It was just that had to convince yourself.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

It was -- it was mind boggling to just look in there and see all those instruments and all. Two wheels, and pedals here, pedals there, and gauges here, gauges there. And, oh, it was -- it was just tremendous.

Michael Willie:

Well, what is the -- what is the training involved in that? Is it a bunch of classroom work in all of this before you actually get to take it out or how soon are you expected to be able to fly this thing?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Well, best I can remember, they just -- we just went in the airplane with an instructor and he would take off, we'd fly it and learn how to stall it and all, and then he would land it. Then pretty -- it wasn't very -- two or three times, we were doing it ourselves.

Michael Willie:

Really? Well, once you convinced yourself that you could do it, though, could you do it?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Oh, yeah, surely.

Michael Willie:

That pretty much it?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Yeah. Fact is, I can land the airplane so smoothly that the first pilot, when we were in combat, he said, "I'm not going to try to land that airplane. I'd drop it in ten feet because of bad depth perception."

Michael Willie:

Right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

So I had to land the airplane every time for him.

Michael Willie:

Really? All right. So your B-17 training, during this time, it's still just all training, right? I mean, everybody in there is learning to be a pilot?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Oh, yes. No. Yes.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I think. I don't know.

Michael Willie:

No. That's fine. All right. So what do you do after you finish up your B-17 training? Is there any problem?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Well, we went to -- we were -- I was sent to Tampa, Florida, where I picked up -- the crew for the B-17 that we were going to fly in combat assembled there.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

In Tampa, Florida.

Michael Willie:

All right. And how many people are on the crew of a B-17?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Well, there was 11 at that time.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

But then I looked at the bombardier and I said, "Well, I know you." And he says, "I know you." "Well, Bill Stewart." He and I graduated from Chattanooga High School --

Michael Willie:

I'll be darned.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

-- in 1941.

Michael Willie:

I'll be darned. That's a small world.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

It is.

Michael Willie:

Okay. All right. So you pick up your -- you pick up your crew, B-17 crew. What are all the positions on the crew of a B-17? What is the job of these 11 people?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Well, you have a pilot and a co-pilot. Pilot is the one that sits on the left and the co-pilot on the right. And I was the co-pilot, so I was in charge of all the instruments and pulling the flaps up at the right time and lowering the landing gear at the right time, changing the tanks from one tank to the other when we needed to.

Michael Willie:

In landing, right?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

In landing.

Michael Willie:

You're like -- okay. And who else?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

We had an engineer that was on a ball turret above us that handled two machine guns. And engineer, I don't know what he did. Each one of them were assigned something and I really didn't pay much attention, other than the navigator, of course. He showed us how to go or told us what setting to put -- set on the compass and reading. And bombardier, he sat -- that poor guy sat in the nose of the airplane. He saw all the action, enemy action, in combat and all.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I felt sorry for him.

Michael Willie:

Right. Right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Then, of course, he dropped the bombs. And then we had a radio operator and two waist gunners. And we had a ball turret that was a little ball under the bottom of the B-17.

Michael Willie:

See, that's the one I wouldn't want to be in. I'm just -- the flak comes from below, right, I mean?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Well, yes, the antiaircraft fire. But you couldn't see it until it burst.

Michael Willie:

Yeah.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

So it didn't matter. And then we had a tail gunner. He sat way back there all by his lonesome.

Michael Willie:

Okay. All right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

But when the B-17 exploded, there were more tail gunners survived than any other crew member.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Because the airplane would fall apart and the -- and the tail would just flutter down just like a leaf.

Michael Willie:

Would it? I guess that makes sense. Although, it's not really comforting.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

No, it isn't.

Michael Willie:

Still awful high to fall.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

It might be a horrible feeling to be swinging back and forth not being able to get out.

Michael Willie:

Right. Okay. So you assembled a crew then in Tampa?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

In Tampa, Florida.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Then we went to Savannah, Georgia. And in Savannah, they asked for a volunteer to help a test pilot test some B-17s because all the B-17s were going through there at that time and then going flying overseas. So I volunteered. So I -- I don't know why. I just volunteered. So I helped them out. Then we flew up two airplanes -- two B-17s and tested them out and all. He says, "You know, I need somebody, a good test pilot. Would you please leave your crew and help me out?" "Oh, no, I can't leave my crew. We're all one."

Michael Willie:

Right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Oh, camaraderie, wuh --

Michael Willie:

You regret that decision?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

We went all the way over to Greenland and then we flew over to someplace in England. On the way over, we saw so many German submarines that ended up spouting water out of them. They were whales.

Michael Willie:

Really? Yeah, okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Then we had no ammunition, no guns. I mean, we were just stripped down to fly over there. And the first thing when we landed at the air base in England, the commander had been indoctrinating us all, telling us all. And he says, "Now, there are women in Norwich." This was in Deopham Green, Attleborough, England. And there was a little town named Norwich. He said, "On Friday nights, we bring some -- whole truckloads of women -- these are young ladies -- in. And they want to wine and dine and dance and occasionally do whatever, anything, but for goodness sakes, get them out of your barracks by Wednesday, because their mother calls me on Wednesdays, they worry about them." Like I say, I don't know how we ever won the war. And being the youngest crew there, we had to -- we had the privilege of going to Scotland and loading up with scotch whiskey --

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

-- and beer.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Then on the way back, we were told to fly at least 10,000 feet to cool the beer and the scotch off. Because English don't drink cool. They didn't have ice in those days.

Michael Willie:

Okay. So you got the gravy job. All right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Then at the air base, we were -- had a couple of experiences with buzz bombs coming over. That was the --

Michael Willie:

Explain what a buzz bomb means.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Buzz bomb is just a regular airplane, small model airplane with an engine in it. And it would go putt, putt, putt, putt. And when it stopped putting, that's when you hit the ground, because when it -- when it stopped putting, it would drop and explode. And we had one especially explode so close to our barracks, it knocked the -- our mess kits off the shelf.

Michael Willie:

Wow.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

That's shaking the ground, you know.

Michael Willie:

You're okay until you hear it stop.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Until you hear it stop.

Michael Willie:

Okay. All right. Now, where are you guys based? Are you based then in a -- is it little tents?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Oh, little -- oh, in Quonset huts. Quonset huts, we were all in.

Michael Willie:

All right. And how many planes are basically here? Are you -- are you guys in a B-17 squadron? Is that basically --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Yes, they were all B-17s at the air base.

Michael Willie:

Okay. All right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

And we had what was called a Norwich bomb site, which was the best site of any nation in the world at that time. Most accurate.

Michael Willie:

Really?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

And it was so secret that I understood later that they would actually fly it to another air base where it was more secure than our air base. So that's -- that's what the Germans wanted to find out when I was interrogated after I was shot down. Say, "I don't know. I'm just a student."

Michael Willie:

Right. Okay. So how soon -- how soon are you flying missions then when you -- when you actually get to your base?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I would say just about two or three weeks, two -- within a week, within a week.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

But that was first flight. The first bombing run was a fiasco.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

It was right after the invasion of Normandy. And there was a fort that was held out that was the Germans were in, and it was only about a hundred and fifty miles inside of France. And we were the one that bombed that. 52 airplanes were bombing just a small fort because they had a lot of fire power there that had to be bombed. When we flew over the English Channel, there were two small islands called Jersey and Guernsey. They had two antiaircraft guns there. And somebody broke silence, said, "Hey, Commander, we're going to head right over those two islands and you know they have two guns there." "Oh, those blank-blanks, they couldn't hit the side of a barn door if they were in it." Over the target, his airplane was hit.

Michael Willie:

You're kidding me.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I mean, over the island, his airplane was hit.

Michael Willie:

Right. The commander?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

The commander's.

Michael Willie:

And when did --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

And all them had to bail out. So when we bombed this fort, the deputy leader, the navigator -- I understand that when the bombardier is focusing on the target, he has an extended vision. And then when he comes closer, he puts it to another position to drop the bombs. But he left it in extended vision, so that when he got over the target, we dropped the bombs about 300 yards beyond the target. How did we ever win the war.

Michael Willie:

Right. Oh, honestly, you guys did? I mean --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

There were 54 of us that bombed way beyond the target.

Michael Willie:

Oh, my gosh. Well, did you -- I mean, was there a debrief where you find out about this or, I mean, how do you end up?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

We found out immediately when we came in.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Yeah. Oh, and the other thing, when you came in from a mission, I had never been drinking alcohol, and they would give you a glass of bourbon or something, an iced tea glass like that. And I says, "I don't drink." "Son, you drink that." "Yes, sir." And I was -- I was dizzy for a while.

Michael Willie:

Is that the debriefing? Is that --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

That was the debriefing.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

But it was really to relax you. And it really did. It relaxed you. I could feel the tingle in my toes.

Michael Willie:

Okay. All right. Now, your first mission, do you fly as a crew in your first mission?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

That's right.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Because some people had said like that pilot would fly with somebody else, a different crew and co-pilot.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

No, we had our crew together. We flew together.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Is there like a worst position to be in in as far as the squadron goes? Is the front or the back or is there any position where you don't want to be when you --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I don't know, but the first pilot and I were so good to fly in formation that we were on low element lead. In other words, the commander of the first airplane was right here. Well, we flew directly under him. And we would fly so close to him that we had to back off when we went over the target so that he could drop his bombs.

Michael Willie:

Wow.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

And the closer your formation was, the less chance you had of enemy fire.

Michael Willie:

Right. Right. I've heard of people saying they were supposed to scrape paint. I think they were probably -- probably --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

But can you imagine sitting there for 10, 11 hours looking up like this flying. My neck still hurts.

Michael Willie:

All right. Now, while you're -- how often are you flying missions? Are you flying every day, you flying every other day, or do you even know?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

You know, I don't remember. But I know mainly it was because of weather. The weather was terrible when we were over there in November.

Michael Willie:

Well, did you get to go visit anywhere, visit any places?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Yes, I visited England -- I mean, London.

Michael Willie:

London? What was that like?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

It was just an old, dreary city with cobblestone streets. And, of course, most of the time we were there was at night. And had a blackout.

Michael Willie:

Yeah.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

And you could barely navigate. Let's see. The bombardier/navigator, Bill -- can't remember the -- his name. He had night blindness, he couldn't see good at night, so I had to lead him around.

Michael Willie:

Give him a cane.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Yeah.

Michael Willie:

And what about the -- the civilians, were they -- were they cordial to the Americans?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Oh, yes. Oh, surely. Oh, yeah. Yeah, they liked our money.

Michael Willie:

Yeah.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

For example, the -- that May West stove you have, they'd rent it out for $450 a year for each stove. We had to buy our own coal from them.

Michael Willie:

All right. Now, what are -- what were some particularly harrowing missions, some particular missions that were -- that were -- were close calls before everything happened?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Well, I think the one was at Bremen before -- that was before we were shot down. The antiaircraft fire was so heavy that you felt like you could walk on it. In other words, it was -- you'd be sitting there and all of a sudden you'd just see a little red flare and then a puff of smoke. I want to say shells or something like that. And all you'd see was just -- I mean, it was so close you could see little red flare and smoke, and then you'd feel a shudder when the pieces of shrapnel went through your airplane.

Michael Willie:

Oh, man. Do you get used to it, do you -- I mean, are you scared the whole time you're up there or do you just get used to it?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

You're numb, I believe. You're so -- you're so excited and thrilled and exuberated and it just -- for example, there was one particular mission, there was a burst of antiaircraft fire straight ahead of us, same position we were in, and it kept bursting. I remember it was three or four at a time, about every three or four seconds apart. And as it kept getting closer, all I could say is, "Dear God, Dear God, Dear God." And by the time that we got to that place where they were bursting, they quit. And didn't know what happened. I thought, well, thank you, Lord. But find out that that's when they had to reload their weapons.

Michael Willie:

Oh.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

So the Lord answered our prayers.

Michael Willie:

Obviously so. All right. Now, did you -- would you know how -- like when you came in, did you see the holes from the flak come in the side? Did you ever get -- did this ever make you antsy about going out the next time?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

No, it didn't. But by the time that we had closed -- shut the engines off, the riveters were on the airplane patching it up going rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat.

Michael Willie:

Right. Now --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

And fact is, I volunteered one time to go as a fill-in for a co-pilot. That was their last mission and he conveniently had a sinus problem and a bad cold and couldn't fly. I volunteered.

Michael Willie:

Well, this counts towards your flights, right, I mean?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

No, because it was a crew.

Michael Willie:

Oh, really?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Sure. See, I flew 17 missions. My other -- the rest of the crew only flew 16. So no matter whether or not -- I would still fly the same number today even though I volunteered on another one.

Michael Willie:

Was there a certain number that you were trying to hit though?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I think it was 35. I'm not positive.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Either 25 or 35. I believe it was 35.

Michael Willie:

Okay. But, I mean, is it a big deal to count them down, to count down like how many more you have left?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Oh, yeah, you'd count them every time you came in.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

But not very many survived that many though. I don't know. Very small percentage finished. Our rate of -- of being shot down was very high.

Michael Willie:

Okay. So can you think of any other particular missions that were really, really close calls before you ended up getting hit?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

No, they -- they were all just about the same. But we did have some visitors occasionally that would -- some of the ground crew, officers, navigation, the planning, the bombing experts and all, they would want to fly.

Michael Willie:

Yeah.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

And when they landed, they said, "Lord, never again."

Michael Willie:

They were shaking?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Yeah. You can't explain it. You can't explain it.

Michael Willie:

I bet. I bet. All right. So is it -- did you say your 17th mission, is this when --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

That's when we were shot down.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Now, where is that -- to where are you going on this mission? Do you remember?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Ludwigshafen.

Michael Willie:

Where is that?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Ludwigshafen. That was a synthetic oil refinery.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

And the ground -- our ground crew that maintained the engines and kept them running and all, we had -- this was -- we were on an old airplane that the -- another crew had finished their 35 missions. And there were -- it's the time is close -- they were trying to determine or find out who could keep an airplane four engines flying, the four engines running, to make an endurance record. And our plane -- if we had survived the 17th mission, we would -- our airplane would have been at the top of the list.

Michael Willie:

Really?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

We would have been number one. But the only --

Michael Willie:

Your skill or --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Or for the endurance of the airplane engines --

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

-- the four airplane engines, the longest endurance. But the only problem was, over the target, a piece of flak hit the oil cooler, the radiator, on number three engine, so I immediately had to feather the prop and shut the engine off. Then the number four engine next to it became overheated because I had to put more strain on it, so we had to feather that one. So we only had two engines.

Michael Willie:

And how do you compensate that if two engines are on one side?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Well, you just lift up the side that doesn't have the two engines and just pray that you're going to hold out until. And what we did, we threw everything out except the kitchen sink. We couldn't find it.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Hold on one second. Okay. So two engines are out. You're throwing everything out but the kitchen sink.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

And they even dropped the ball turret on the bottom of the airplane, the bottom of -- the ball turret on the bottom of the airplane, even dropped that off. And we were holding altitude at 2500 feet with two engines running and the navigator said, "Let's go to Brussels. We don't have -- we probably won't be able to make it to England." "But Paris is closer." He says, "I've been to Paris. Let's go to Brussels." "Oh, it's possible. All right. We'll go to Brussels." The only problem was, he said, "Now, we'll still -- we will steer clear of the Ruhr Valley. Will land -- which was a navigational instrument there that we were using for direction finding -- was transferred from England to France that day. And the wind had shifted 180 degrees. So, therefore, the wind blew us over the Ruhr Valley, but it was cloudy and we were both ______+ drowned. And there, the antiaircraft fire was just popping like firecrackers. It was all in front of us.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Because the speed -- the Germans had knew the speed of our airplane. And with only two engines, we were slower, so everything was bursting in front of us. And they couldn't see us, we couldn't see them.

Michael Willie:

That's luck. That's really luck.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

That's the Lord with us again. Then when he said, "Oh, go through the clouds and we'll land," there was an airfield right there, but it was full of trash. It had old tanks, it had old airplanes, it had dump trucks, it had sewer pipe, barbed wire in it. And about that time, some burst in the airplane killed one of the men and we decided to bail out, so the pilot gave the order to bail out. When we all bailed out, I was last one to go out. And I had strapped on my GI boots over my neck and strapped my parachute on. And I started to go out that small hole in the bottom of the airplane and I said, "That's too small for me to get through," even though I climbed up it and went down it every time before and after a flight. I went to the bombay doors to jump out. As I started to jump, this Raymond Newton, the -- one of the waist gunners was there. And I says, "Raymond, let's jump." "No, sir, you're officer. You jump first." I said, "Let's go." So I jumped. I didn't realize that he didn't jump. He never jumped. He froze.

Michael Willie:

You're kidding?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

No, I had no idea. I had no idea. I had no -- just never dawned on me that he wouldn't jump.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

But he never jumped. He rode the airplane down.

Michael Willie:

Oh, man.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

So when I bailed out, I felt the wind blowing. Oh, there goes my sunglasses, there goes my helmet. I had forgot to strap them on. And I drifted down for awhile because they said not to pull the -- to wait -- to delay your jump. And I delayed my jump. And when I landed, the wind was so strong that I couldn't pull the shroud, the harness to spill the chute. So I reached in there, had my hunting knife, and cut the harness. Well, packed the -- packed the parachute up and hid it under a haystack. By that time, a young German with a long old rifle came up.

Michael Willie:

Did you know where you were when you landed?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

We were supposed to have been over Belgium. Supposed to have been. It was Cologne, Germany.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Okay. So you land. Do you know where anybody else is at the time?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

No.

Michael Willie:

Did you see anyone else?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Each one of us are completely separate.

Michael Willie:

Okay. So you land in Cologne. And there is a German soldier there?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Just a German young man on a bicycle.

Michael Willie:

Oh, right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

All I had was a 25 automatic that I always carried in my uniform. And he had an Army rifle, so I gave him my pistol.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I surrendered it to him.

Michael Willie:

You surrendered it?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

And they put me in a little county country jail. And that night they came in, the two old men that were -- must have been a hundred years old, with a kerosene lantern and a bowl of potato soup, and they gave that to me. And I reached in my flight suit and pulled out the inhaler. When I pulled out that inhaler, I thought they were going to turn ghost. They thought it was some type of weapon. When I put that to my nose, they just "hehe hehehe." They snickered after that because -- Then, of course, the next day, the three German soldiers, in a Volkswagen of all things, with burp guns, just one young -- little young scared soldier there with three huge Germans and the burp gun in a Volkswagen. And we were going riding down this lane. They had lanes over there and we weren't on Autobahn. But all of a sudden, somebody said "Lightning" and we all had to jump out. It was a P-38 came over. And P-38s just strafed everything that was moving. So we had to jump out of that Volkswagen, I mean, and steer clear of it for a while. Then about the time we were in this Volkswagen, we -- I started hearing "vroom, vroom, vroom," and the earth started shaking. It was V-17 flight coming over to bomb Germany. But it was -- you can imagine, 52, 52, 52, 52, 52, up to 600 airplanes flying over me there just -- the ground just stood there and vibrated for 15 to 20 minutes.

Michael Willie:

Oh, man. Anyway, you're wishing you could be on one of those, huh?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

No, I wish I had been up there -- I would have liked to have been up there with them, right.

Michael Willie:

Okay. So after they passed, where do you have -- where do you end up going?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

They took us to an interrogation station there in Air Stalag 11 in Frankfurt for interrogation. We were in a small room about, I don't know, 10, 12 feet long, about three feet wide. It had a small flat bunk on it. Stayed there for about three days and trying to get as much information from us as they could.

Michael Willie:

And how are you treated there?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

We was in isolation.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh. I mean, but when they -- when they try to get information to you, are they -- are they nice, are they gently trying to get information?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

They're firm, but they're military. And, of course, I was stupid. I was just out of high school. I didn't know anything. I didn't know where the bomb site, that northern bomb site, whether they brought in from another air base or not. All I did was sit there and fly the airplane.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I was stupid.

Michael Willie:

Okay. So you were there for about three days?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Was about three days.

Michael Willie:

Okay. And then where are you sent from there?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

We went to Stalag III B, which is near Sagen. I was fortunate enough to be with the English. It was an English compound and the commander was an Englishman, of course. He had been there the full length of the war, five years. He was shot down the day of the war. Well, it was almost a country club. We had a movie theater. Not movie theater, but we had a theater where we had -- the actors had costumes, ladies costumes, women's costumes. And we had plays. We had classrooms where we would study. We had enough uniforms, baseball uniforms, two or three baseball teams. We played baseball. One night in middle of November or first of December, somewhere like that, the Germans came in and dug a large square -- dug, mounded up the dirt all around it, and then turned the fire hydrant on. The next day we ice skated. There was enough ice skates for about 40 -- I don't know. 30 or 40 people was ice skating.

Michael Willie:

That doesn't sound too bad.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

No, that wasn't.

Michael Willie:

What was the food like? I mean --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

It was -- it was fair. It wasn't too bad at III B. We had American Red Cross parcel and we ate in groups. The nice part about it was every individual had his own specialty. Some people were cooks, some of them tinsmiths. It was amazing what everybody could do. Some of those who could cook, they were the cooks and like that.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

And the food was all right. It wasn't -- we had good food. But that's when the Russians started to move in on Sagen, so we had to move out. And we were on a march for about two or three days. The first night I remember being in some type of factory, and I sneaked off from the guards and talked to just couple people. And they found some potatoes they gave me, so some of us had ate raw potatoes that night, which is delicious. I'd have been shot probably if they caught me escaping. I didn't know any difference. I was just smart enough to know how to sneak around. Can you imagine sneaking in a factory?

Michael Willie:

All right. And do you know which direction you're headed or do you have --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

No idea. I didn't know anything. I knew absolutely all we were doing was walking.

Michael Willie:

Did you know the Russians were moving in then?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Yes, we knew the Russians were moving.

Michael Willie:

Were you close enough to hear or --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

We could not hear anything, no. But we had some old guards that were with us on our walk that they were so old that their weapons were too heavy for them, and we carried them for them. Why did we carry them? Because we didn't want the Germans, the civilians, to come mob us.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

So we were our own protection carrying those.

Michael Willie:

So you were carrying weapons?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

We were carrying the guns for the guards, yeah. In fact, there's one judge here in Chattanooga that said we should be court-martialed for that.

Michael Willie:

All right. Now, again, you said you were -- you were marching for how long? About how long were you matching?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I don't know. About two or three days.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

But I know that the last night we were in a German agricultural farm area. It was like a large area about three or four hundred feet square which was a courtyard with buildings all the way around it and a huge barn with hay in it. And everyone was going up in the hay to sleep. And I looked up there and I could see flashes of light where people were lighting cigarettes and smoking them -- lighting matches and smoking cigarettes in the hay. So I looked out and I saw a patch of ground with snow on the ground this time. The patch of ground didn't have any snow on it, just a little bit of steam coming up. I looked over there and it was a manure pile, so I took some straw and put on top of that straw, and I was the only one that slept warm that night. Of course, nobody'd have anything to do with me the next day. Probably smelled to high heaven, but -- But there were two geese there, two huge white geese that disappeared that night. Well, the next morning, right at daylight, here comes a German Mark IV Panther tank up to the entrance. Came right in towards us. All of our hearts went like that. We found out later that the commander of the tank, it was his birthday, and it was mother and father he was visiting there. They owned that farm. But they -- he was going to have a goose dinner. And we were afraid they were going to annihilate us. We were scared to death. I'm telling you, it was --

Michael Willie:

Did you think it was over? I mean --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

We thought it was over; that's right. When that German tank pulled up there with that huge cannon, it looked about that large in diameter.

Michael Willie:

All right. And you say that was the last night?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

That was the last night.

Michael Willie:

Okay. And then so what happened next?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

The next thing I can remember is I was in Stalag VII A, which is at Moosburg, which is near Regensburg. Now, quite a few men have written about Regensburg POW camp, but I was in Moosburg. And in Moosburg, they had a winery and a cheese factory. And when they served Limburger cheese, this old rotten Limburger cheese, that's the time I would fill up, because nobody else could stand it.

Michael Willie:

Right. I've never had it.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

And then at the lunch time, they would give us some type of soup. And -- and evening would be green beans a lot. And I filled up on green beans quite frequently, because somebody near us would find a little mouse in theirs or a nail or something like -- some foreign object. And some reason, something like that turned people's stomach. And I couldn't imagine why though. It was about that time we heard Patton was coming through. They were going to get liberated. Well, I was walking around the compound. And there were only two or three of us walking. Said, "Man, wonder where everybody is." About that time, we heard some bees go by. Everybody says, "Hey, that's not bees. That's bullets." I don't know how close they were, but those bees were buzzing. So we had to get in a trench camp, little trench camp there, whatever you call those things that you get in for air raid shelters and all. Then the next day, the next morning, I walked up to the gate and says, "Hey, buddy, I want to get out and tour Germany a little bit." And he says, "Well, Raymond Rowe." It was Charles Colmer. He and I grew up together, Sergeant Charles Colmer.

Michael Willie:

I'll be darned.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

With Patton. He was a guard on the gate there.

Michael Willie:

Okay. So the Germans had abandoned -- or abandoned the --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

They had abandoned the camp, yeah. And Patton came in. And there when we woke up the next morning, there were German guards there. Well, not German. American guards were guarding us this time.

Michael Willie:

Wow. So how is that -- I mean --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Just a snap of the finger, the Germans just left.

Michael Willie:

Wow. Okay. So you end up seeing a friend of yours there at the --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Not a friend, but he and I grew up together in North Chattanooga.

Michael Willie:

I'll be darned.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Charles Colmer was a trust officer in American National Bank. And so he and I are still both good friends, naturally.

Michael Willie:

Did he let you out?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

He gave me a nine-millimeter Belgian Browning with a German swastika on it. He said, "Go down to the river down there and tell them that I sent you, to give you an automobile, you want to tour around." Well, there were pontoon bridges across the river because the Germans had demolished the bridge. And the Americans wouldn't let the Germans use the bridge. So they gave me an automobile. I was -- there were two or three of us. I don't remember. But two or three of us riding down this Autobahn, just looking around enjoying it. And all of a sudden some MPs jumped out and waved us down. "Blankety-blank-blank, sir, sir, officer, sir, what the blankety-blank are you doing on this Autobahn. It's mine." "Oh, that's all right. We'll turn around and go back the same lane we came in on." He says, "Sir, get the blankety-blank off the highway." So he took us to his commander, which was some field commander. Well, he wined and dined us. And he was just thrilled to death to have us over there and gave us all a fifth of cognac to take back. I didn't drink, so I gave it to somebody there in the POW camp. Someone had a ball that night.

Michael Willie:

So you went back to the camp?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

No, they took us back. Yeah, they took us back. The next day, same thing happened. We ended up finding the winery. It had been burned -- it had been burned the night before by Russian POWs, ex-POWs. They had built a fire in it to warm up and there was a wooden floor and it burned -- burned the winery down. Well, we went down in the basement where they stored the wine in the huge vats and we found some hose, so we put the hose in each vat and siphoned the wine out to see which was the best wine. Well, somebody found a GI can, so we filled it full of wine. Well, after siphoning about three or four of those vats when -- the water was about knee deep in there. And as I walked out in the daylight, all that inhaling the alcohol hit me. The world was just going and spinning. I had to lay down for two minutes. I couldn't stand up. The world was just swirling, just swirling around. And we carried -- well, there -- two of us were carrying this 55 -- this five-gallon can. In about 50 steps or so, the man couldn't carry it. "I ain't carrying that thing." Went and put it on my shoulder and carried it on in. But it ended up being a gas can. The fumes were --

Michael Willie:

Right.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

But somehow I had left the container of it open. And the next morning, the gas fumes were gone and the wine tasted good.

Michael Willie:

I'll be darned.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

So the commander of the air base -- I mean, of the POW camp, the American commander said, "Whoever it was that found that wine, go get us some good wine, because I want to entertain Patton." This is General Patton. So we had to go back to the winery and get some wine for General Patton.

Michael Willie:

Okay. What next? What happens next?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Well, I hate to tell you about this one.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I was out by myself and I saw this enclosure. Being curious, I walk in. Huge mounds of dirt with lowered doors. And all of a sudden there is a nice little bunny rabbit just hopping along. I would have had rabbit for breakfast, supper, lunch, soon as that rabbit -- well, I missed that rabbit. About nine times I shot and missed him nine times. The rabbit would hit the fence and bounce back and I'd shoot and I missed him. What I was curious about was inside those doors. I opened them up and I turned white. There was land mines.

Michael Willie:

You were shooting around them?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

There were land mines in there in stacks. What if that had been booby trapped? Lord, take care of me.

Michael Willie:

Obviously so.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

In other words, I've been doing things that normal -- normal human beings who have better sense. I did them because I was young, reckless. Enjoyed it though. Well, that -- that comes close to the end of it. That they put us in 18-wheelers, open 18-wheelers, and took us to a Havre. And the first thing they told us when we got in those 18-wheelers, "Don't sit on the tailgates because we're going to be close together." And we hadn't gone a half a mile and we heard screams. Some Canadians behind us were sitting on the tailgate and another truck came, stopped too quickly, and crushed all their legs.

Michael Willie:

Oh, man.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

That was the most horrible thing I think I heard. But then on the ship -- I'm glad I caught a ship, not a boat. On the ship, they took us all the way to Trinidad. We were laying out there eating chocolates and three and four meals a day, getting a suntan and all. By the time I arrived home, they looked at me and said, "You've been on a vacation." They expected to see me emaciated, white, and walking with a cane.

Michael Willie:

Well, was -- was it the POWs then in Trinidad? Were they trying to fatten you up?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

No, they were the -- they had some troops on board that they took down to Trinidad for some reason. And the ship took us all the way down to Trinidad, then back to -- all the way to New York City instead of Miami or someplace like that. They took us all the way to New York City. So we were on -- on ship about two weeks -- about a week or ten days at least. Time, I don't remember that times at all, but --

Michael Willie:

Did you ever find -- see anybody else from your crew? Did you ever hook up with any of them or --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Oh, I was with my bombardier/navigator.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Most of the time.

Michael Willie:

Okay. All right. So when you get back to New York City, at this time, are you discharged then or --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

No, we went -- we went -- we went home, I believe it was. And then they gave us orders to go to Miami -- me to go to Miami. But before I could leave to go there, they told me to report to San Antonio, Texas. They didn't have room for me in Miami. And I had to fill out my discharge papers. My history of my service and all, they had no record of me whatsoever. And so I didn't put down how many air medals, all my medals I was supposed to have and all. I barely could remember when I entered and when I left. And I had to -- I had to write a description of what I did in the service and everything.

Michael Willie:

How did that happen? How did they lose that, I mean?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Well, there's just so many of us. See, I was -- I still had my -- my key chain. That is not it. Well, supposed to be in one of these pockets here. Well, it's gone. I thought I had the -- yeah, here it is. That is my dog tag, 8 -- 8693, ex-POW.

Michael Willie:

I'll be darned.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I still have that. And so there were so many of us that -- and for some reason, our records never did get to San Antonio, so we had to fill out our own discharge papers and --

Michael Willie:

So what -- and are you discharged at that time?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

We were discharged at that time with -- given about 90 days of leave.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

And when I returned home, I entered Georgia Tech. And I was still on leave when I entered Georgia Tech. I was still in the military when I was at Georgia Tech. For about 90 days.

Michael Willie:

All right. And -- okay. So you go to school at Georgia Tech?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Yes.

Michael Willie:

Did you get a degree there?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Yes.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I went -- I went straight through. I went through in three -- three years.

Michael Willie:

GI bill paid?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

GI. Under the GI bill.

Michael Willie:

All right. And what did you end up doing as a career?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Well, it ended up as a supervisor at Chatham near Chattanooga.

Michael Willie:

Okay. So you end up back in Chattanooga?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Back in Chattanooga, yeah.

Michael Willie:

And do you attend any reunions or keep in touch with anybody then you served with?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

No, except once in a while I'll hear from Bill Stewart. He was the only one. There were only two of us survived now, this Bill Stewart and myself. He'll be in Chattanooga next month for the class reunion of -- or not -- luncheon for the class of Chattanooga High School for 1941 class. We have a luncheon now.

Michael Willie:

Well, you know what, if you want to get in touch with him and tell him about this program, if he wants to make a tape, we can -- we can, you know, probably work him in to an appointment if he wants to make a tape.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Okay. I will, because I just talked to him two days ago.

Michael Willie:

Yeah, if you talk to him, he'll need to call that number and get it scheduled so --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I'll call him up tonight and remind him, because I think he should.

Michael Willie:

Oh, definitely. Definitely. Be great to hear his story. All right. Now, any other organizations? I think I've seen -- are you a member of any veterans' organizations or --

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

No.

Michael Willie:

-- veterans' groups or anything like that?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

Oh, American Legion.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

And Military Officers, Ex-POW.

Michael Willie:

All right. And is there anything you'd like to talk about that we didn't cover in the interview? Anything you'd like to say that we didn't -- that we didn't cover in the interview?

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

I think we covered enough.

Michael Willie:

I think so too. I think you did a fantastic job.

Raymond Oscar Rowe, Jr.:

And I wouldn't have been here if it hadn't been for the Lord.

Michael Willie:

I -- I tell you what, just listening to your story, I'd say you are -- you were definitely blessed to make it through. I thank you for your time and I appreciate you coming in. (End of Interview.)

 
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  October 26, 2011
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