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Interview with Frank Braun [7/24/2003]

Patricia Kuentz:

Gosh, [laughter] Frank, I'm in trouble already. I'm visiting with Frank Braun, that's B-r-a-u-n, at his home at 2024 Drew Avenue South; is it? Okay. In Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am Patsy Kuentz. I am interviewing Frank this morning. We are the only two who are here attending the interview. Frank's birth date is August the 14th, 1927. The branch of the service in which he served is the Navy. And he served during both World War II and the Korean Conflict. The highest rank that he attained is PNA 2, personnel man second class.

Frank Braun:

Temporary.

Patricia Kuentz:

Temporary. Okay. Frank, okay. We'll start asking you questions here.

Frank Braun:

Okay.

Patricia Kuentz:

Were you drafted or did you enlist or how did you get into the service?

Frank Braun:

Oh. I enlisted in the U.S. Navy just a week before my 18th birthday. It was -- that was well-planned. My brother had preceded me in the Navy. My father had been a veteran of World War I in the Army. And I guess I had heard so much about the Army that I decided the Navy would be a better place. We used to joke that you always had a clean bed to sleep in at night and you had for the most part a warm shower every day. So I volunteered. I enlisted. However, I did it in the minimum time before my 18th birthday when of course I would have been subject to selective service and then for assignment to some branch of the service, whatever the selective service would decide upon.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay. All right. Now, and so the Navy sounded good to you. Your brother was in the Navy also?

Frank Braun:

Uh-huh. Yes. Yes. Yes. Ahead of me. Yes.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay. And how much older than you?

Frank Braun:

Two years.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay. All right. So he was still in at the time --

Frank Braun:

Oh, yeah.

Patricia Kuentz:

-- that you went in?

Frank Braun:

Yes. He was on a carrier in the Pacific at that time.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay. Were you two only two boys?

Frank Braun:

Yes. We were the only siblings. No sisters. Just two boys.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay. And so now you were living in Minneapolis?

Frank Braun:

No. No. No. No. I was born in Minneapolis. That's true. In the old Swedish Hospital. But our place of residence was on a farm in the western -- northwestern part of Hennepin County in Maple Grove which my grandparents had bought in 1907. And my parents married in 1923. My brother was born in '25. We say born in -- we were born physically in hospitals.

Patricia Kuentz:

Right.

Frank Braun:

But -- but our place of residence was in rural Hennepin County.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

In the township at that time of Maple Grove. Strictly rural.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay. Okay. Tell me about the first days that you were in the service. What do you recall of that period of time? How did you get to the training camp? That sort of thing.

Frank Braun:

We went by train. I don't know how -- I can't recall how many people there might have been; 25 or 30 in our group. We assembled at the federal building on Washington Avenue in downtown Minneapolis in the late afternoon. We had a super someplace. And then we were marched over to the -- to the Milwaukee depot. And took I believe it was the Milwaukee because we took the train I believe then to Kansas City and there changed to another train. I believe it took us about four days to get to San Diego going slowly across the country. It ways my first train ride.

Patricia Kuentz:

I was wondering about that.

Frank Braun:

Everything was exciting, new, different. I don't think I -- I wasn't really naive. I mean, I hadn't been much out of Hennepin County. But see, I had graduated from high school at the age of 16.

Patricia Kuentz:

Auh.

Frank Braun:

So I had a full year to spend before I would meet my responsibilities or duties to -- the war was still on of course. I anticipated it would go on for many years.

Patricia Kuentz:

Right.

Frank Braun:

So I decided to go to college that year. And I went to the University of Minnesota as a freshman for one year. So I had that year of enhancement that many other people didn't have.

Patricia Kuentz:

A little time to mature.

Frank Braun:

Yes. And I found that that year was for me just a year of great intellectual stipulation, totally new experiences. I did live at home and commuted with a neighbor who was working on her degree. And so we did drive back and forth. So I didn't have the experience of living in a university community.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

But I was there every day, five days a week. And for me it was just a period of explosion of interest. As an illustration I had taken these vocational interest or aptitude tests right at the end of my senior year in high school. And there was no pattern. There was nothing displayed. I was just blah. And I took them again I'd say after my first quarter, the term. We were on the quarter system at the time again. And suddenly there was a flowering of interest. I had the good fortune an English instructor, a woman by the name of Ruth Christy would couldn't understand why I wasn't able to write about anything in composition class. I said I had no experiences. I have nothing to write about. She said, "Go to the library. Go to the Arthur Upsen Room (ph). Go in there and just sit. And occasionally pull a book off the shelf and read." Now, so that's what I did. The Arthur Upson Room is still there. And I fondly tell the librarian at the University of Minnesota what significance it had for me.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh. I'm sure.

Frank Braun:

Then another thing at the university -- I'm diverging from purposes of your statement.

Patricia Kuentz:

That's okay. That's okay.

Frank Braun:

There was a tradition at the university at that time that departments or special areas of interest would hold afternoon coffee hours which there would be a panel discussion or a lecture on some subject related to that discipline. Well, I tell people, "I majored in coffee hours."

Patricia Kuentz:

[Laughter] That was your favorite part.

Frank Braun:

I went to every one that I could get to. I also had a part time job. I worked in the book store, as we had very little money. I tell the story that I paid my first quarter's tuition by selling my bicycle.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh, my gosh.

Frank Braun:

A bicycle that my parents had given me when I was quite young. I got $25.00 for it. And that was the tuition for Fall for a quarter in the arts college at the university.

Patricia Kuentz:

Wow.

Frank Braun:

Well, I'm diverting.

Patricia Kuentz:

But that's okay. So you did have some experience outside --

Frank Braun:

Outside of Osseo, outside of rural Minnesota.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. Yeah.

Frank Braun:

Outside of a very small and limited high school.

Patricia Kuentz:

Right. When you went into the service.

Frank Braun:

Yes. So you asked me the question how did we get there?

Patricia Kuentz:

Yes.

Frank Braun:

We road the train. I arrived in San Diego. And we were transported by buses to the -- the train -- naval training station. Absolutely splendid place. All of this Spanish style architecture, arcades and begonvia (ph) and flowers that I had never seen before on the naval training station.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh, sure. Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

And that's where I spent my boot camp.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

So until -- it's all in the papers there. We finished that. I think I came home at Thanksgiving time. Was there for my boot training.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

I noticed in the papers I had five days vacation and seven days travel time. So again, doing it by train.

Patricia Kuentz:

Took about that long probably.

Frank Braun:

I got home on Thanksgiving Day and had presumably five days at home and then returned to San Diego also by train.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay. Were there any surprises to you when you were in the training? Was it hard to be in kind of a communal living situation?

Frank Braun:

I --

Patricia Kuentz:

Was it kind of different for you?

Frank Braun:

I never lived that way because as I said I always lived in the family. When I went to college I commuted from home.

Patricia Kuentz:

Right.

Frank Braun:

I won't think it was hard. It was all strangers. I knew no one at all.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yes.

Frank Braun:

I've always found that to be stimulating. And I still do in my later years now. I like to travel in groups where I don't know anybody or travel alone and think, confronted with the question each morning, "Where will I sleep tonight?"

Patricia Kuentz:

Yes.

Frank Braun:

And that challenges me rather than frightens me.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh. Okay. A. So no. I didn't -- I didn't have any long standing friends, life-long friendships from that or anything. No. I didn't find any problem with the adjustment. The physical training involved I did find difficult because I was a very slight build. I think according to someplace it said I weighed 128 or is it 35 pounds at that time. And I'm only five seven. So I was a slender wisp.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yes. I guess you were.

Frank Braun:

And I -- one advantage I had I never learned to swim in this Minnesota land of lakes.

Patricia Kuentz:

Right.

Frank Braun:

Until I became a freshman at the University of Minnesota. We were required to take physical education. And I chose to take swimming in order to be -- learn how to swim. And thank God I did because we were expected to, you know, leap off towers and to in preparation for abandon ship and everything.

Patricia Kuentz:

Sure.

Frank Braun:

And I saw other people in my training program who were terrified by that.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah.

Frank Braun:

It didn't bother me because we had done it.

Patricia Kuentz:

You were comfortable in the water.

Frank Braun:

Yes. And I could drop into the water and swim to the -- you didn't have to retrieve me from the pool. I saw many others doing that. But physically I could not -- didn't have enough strength to do those scaling walls and climb up.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

And then frankly I cheated. When the drill instructor wasn't looking -- I knew I could only get up that far. And I would quickly fall to the ground and move on to the next obstacle.

Patricia Kuentz:

[Laughter]

Frank Braun:

Some of them I remember. A couple of the guys with me called it to my attention. "You didn't do that." I was so independent I ignored them.

Patricia Kuentz:

Did you feel like you gained strength though during the training?

Frank Braun:

It really wasn't -- I survived it.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah.

Frank Braun:

I don't know that I gained. I do remember one thing. And it does appear on my ID photo from that time. The California sunlight was very hot. And we did not wear -- we wore only white sailor hats.

Patricia Kuentz:

Sure. A. Which came about to here.

Patricia Kuentz:

Right.

Frank Braun:

And my face reddened, blistered, scaled. And for a long time afterwards I had a line right there between my hairline and the eyebrows. That was very, very uncomfortable.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

I do remember the hot sunlight. And I remember my frustration with the requirement that we had to -- about the dress requirement. We would get up early in the morning and go out marching when it was cold, California morning. And we wore our dungarees and then our black wool turtleneck sweaters underneath. And we could not take those off.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh.

Frank Braun:

That's a memory I have. Until the orders were received. And it might be, you know, mid morning. And we were still out there marching in that what I thought was blazing heat and great discomfort.

Patricia Kuentz:

In wool.

Frank Braun:

In wool. Scratchy wool. I -- that's a memory.

Patricia Kuentz:

I can see how you would remember. What do you remember about your instructors?

Frank Braun:

Oh. My drill instructor was a splendid guy. I just -- I admired him so much. He was the first American Indian I ever had been with.

Patricia Kuentz:

Is that right?

Frank Braun:

I don't know what tribe. It was from the southwest. I remember his last name was High Eagle. High Eagle. He was extremely handsome and physically fit. And, you know, sensitive to us around him.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

So I liked him a lot. I never saw him or heard from him again. But I have positive feelings.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

As well as the chief who was our overall director. I don't remember his name. But he was a genial, elderly person. He probably was in his 40s. [laughter]

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. Elderly. Right. [Laughter]. And then how did it happen that you got orders for your next duty assignment?

Frank Braun:

Okay. After I came back from boot camp leave and I was -- we all were there milling around, hundreds of us, waiting for assignments. And we were -- a couple of hundred of us were put on a train to go up the valley at California to Camp Shoemaker (ph) at Pleasanton, California which is in the greater Bay Area. This was a huge sort of distribution center for Navy personnel. And we waited there I think about two weeks for our assignment. And we got the, hundreds of us, got assigned to the Battleship Iowa which was in dry dock down at San Petro, Long Beach. And that's another memory. I had never been to San Francisco. But we had leave one day or evening. So we rushed in to see the city of course.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

But we got on the ship then. Bus loads of us. 600 or 800 of us or something because they were restocking the Iowa. And the Iowa had a crew of three thousand.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh, my.

Frank Braun:

And a lot of us were -- we were the recycled group, the new people to replace the veterans. And we got on that ship in late afternoon in December. And we were to sail out through the Golden Gate and then down the Pacific coast. I skipped the evening meal that night because I wanted to see that famous San Francisco harbor. That's a memory that is still with me.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah.

Frank Braun:

There's another side. Were going to duty on a ship. The war was over. And there were enormous signs, big billboards on the shoreline of San Francisco Bay welcoming the military back from the war.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

And we on tape we don't have the timing of all of this. So let's talk about the timing of your entrance into the service.

Frank Braun:

Oh, okay.

Patricia Kuentz:

We talked earlier about the fact the bombs had already been dropped in Japan.

Frank Braun:

Oh. I haven't told you that. Okay. Well, I did give the date, I think. I enlisted in -- we're now going back to Minneapolis, Minnesota. And I enlisted in the Navy on the 6th of August, 1945, in Minneapolis. I was not called to active duty until the 4th of September. And during that time frame we dropped two of the massive bombs on Japan and the war ended.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yes.

Frank Braun:

And the surrender had been signed. The war was finally over. A great surprise to everyone. I fully expected -- we all expected that we would have that enormous fight. The war Europe was over. But the fight against the Japanese would be lengthy and very, very costly.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. Everybody was thinking invasion. So this -- so the bombs had already been dropped by the time you actually got into the service.

Frank Braun:

Oh. I think that when I drove home that afternoon to the farm in Maple Grove after taking the oath, I think that was the day or was the next day I heard on the radio about some very large explosive device that we had exploded.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh.

Frank Braun:

It was that -- that events happened right together.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. Yeah.

Frank Braun:

That was -- and I have to check the dates on that, because the date that we dropped it in Japan was not because of the international dateline. You know, it was not our date here.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh, sure. Yeah. Okay.

Frank Braun:

And so we would have to check that out. But it was almost simultaneous that we dropped it on Hiroshima. Later I visited Hiroshima. I couldn't quite -- it was another memorable experience to see the -- the site, ground zero where because of it I was saved.

Patricia Kuentz:

That's right. A. Well, anyway, then the second bomb was dropped. And then of course they surrendered. And I think that the signing of the surrender on the Missouri was on the second of September. And I didn't go on active duty till the 4th.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

So all that happened --

Patricia Kuentz:

In one month basically.

Frank Braun:

Yeah. Less than a month. Yes.

Patricia Kuentz:

So when you got on the Iowa you knew that you were not going to be fighting

Frank Braun:

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Well, I got on the train to go to San Diego the war was -- this was an adventure for an 18-year-old off the farm in Minnesota riding the train for the first time.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

Getting on a ship for the first time, seeing the ocean for the first time.

Patricia Kuentz:

Right. Right.

Frank Braun:

I mean, this was a period of splendor for me.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. Yeah. And how was riding on a ship? Did you get sea sick at all?

Frank Braun:

No. I never got sea sick.

Patricia Kuentz:

Never had a problem with that?

Frank Braun:

We had a -- well, should I tell you about my arrival on the ship?

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. Yeah.

Frank Braun:

Okay. Well, there were hundreds of us coming onto the ship, unskilled, no -- nothing at all. So I got assigned to a crew that would each day -- this was for the first two weeks. We were in dry dock in San Pedro. And we would go all the way down to the bottom of the dry dock looking up at this enormous ship above us. And our duty was to get on ladders, giant step ladders with a wire brush in hand to scrape the residue off the propellers.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh, my goodness.

Frank Braun:

And I always thought, "Here I am, scraping the screws [laughter] of the Battleship Iowa." Well, you know, but with this little brush. These great big propellers. I don't know whether it was make work or did we really have to do that. But fortunately somebody on the ship -- that wasn't my permanent assignment. I was assigned to a deck crew. And we swabbed the decks when we weren't doing that, et cetera, et cetera. But that was only for a couple of weeks. And then I got called one day. I got reassigned. And I worked in the executive office.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh.

Frank Braun:

The personnel office, because they had discovered in my record that I had typing skills. So I spent the rest of my time on the Iowa sitting on a desk, typing, filing, et cetera, et cetera. I still had my duty watches and so on. And I can describe the duty watches. I was -- I was five decks below the main deck in turret number one. You know, there were 16-inch guns. There were one -- one, two, three -- three positions. There were nine 16-inch massive guns. And there -- in order to fuel those guns, to put the powder and ammunition in them, it was done manually in part by us. My duty station was to go down five decks below the main deck. And I think we actually had to lift these powder things into this trove.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh.

Frank Braun:

And of course we knew the war was over, of course. But this was -- our crime humor was if anything went wrong we would be the first to hit the bottom of the ocean, because we were five decks below.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. You were closest to the bottom.

Frank Braun:

And there was also -- there were these vary narrow escape carriages, two blunt things that you go up through or down through them to get to the duty station. And at every deck there was a closure. And of course what would happen in case of enemy action is in order to save the ship those would be closed and the men below would be sacrificed. Well, we could -- it was black humor to us. But not real.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah.

Frank Braun:

Because the war was over.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah.

Frank Braun:

Now, ironically that ship when it came back into service at one of our wars was off the Lebanese coast, or one of them. The Iowa was put in dry dock later or I mean in mothballs. But later it was brought back in one of our continuing wars, retrofitted. And there was an enormous explosion and, what was it; 50 men were killed in turret number one. Big investigation as to how that would happened -- had happened. Do you know the story to that?

Patricia Kuentz:

No, I don't know that story. I never heard it.

Frank Braun:

Well, the Navy alleges that there were two sailors. One of whom had an affectional relationship with another sailor. And there was some anger or disagreement among them. And he precipitated this accident. Now his family protested and said, "There's no confirming evidence of that happened." They were trying to protect their son's reputation. I don't know. But I read those news reports with great interest, because that had been my duty station.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. Yeah.

Frank Braun:

So we went to early in January we left the California coastline and went over to relieve the Missouri in Tokyo bay.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay. A. Add it was this very stormy crossing, except for that little shoreline going from San Francisco down to San Pedro within sight of the shore, I had not been at sea before. I had no sea sickness. But we were in terrific storms in the North Pacific.

Patricia Kuentz:

Big waves, big waves.

Frank Braun:

They were so bad that the some gunning placements, big metal things had been flattened on the deck.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh.

Frank Braun:

Well, we made it. We made it safely. It was an adventure. And then we got to Tokyo Bay, relieved the Missouri. And we were anchored off Tokyo for what we thought was going to be months and months and months. And it really -- I don't have that date. But I think we left there probably two to three months later and came back to the U.S.. Now, my brief experience in Japan at the end of World War II was another adventure. We were out at the Yukuska Naval Station in this estuary leading up to Tokyo when we got there in January of '46. Keep in mind the war ended in August of '45, the first war, winter of the war. Great anxiety, uncertainty. What would be the relationship between the conqueror and the conquered? And there was no train service. But we had the privilege of occasionally getting liberty for the day and going up to Tokyo. Well, of course I took it every time I could.

Patricia Kuentz:

Sure.

Frank Braun:

But we had to ride in an open boat in LST. And Tokyo Bay is cold in the wintertime. And there we were exposed. But I did it because I wanted to see Tokyo. And we had to ride in that for a couple of hours. That was at the beginning. Later the trains were running and then we could just take a short boat ride over to the shoreline and get the train in cars reserved for the occupiers from Yukuska into Tokyo. Well --

Patricia Kuentz:

How did you find Tokyo?

Frank Braun:

It was silence. I never had to my knowledge a conversation with a Japanese. There was a distance of course. Of course. Understandably.

Patricia Kuentz:

You were in uniform, I assume always?

Frank Braun:

Oh of course. In uniform. I remember one of the privileges we had.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah.

Frank Braun:

Have you heard of the famous Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel in Tokyo? It withstood the famous Earthquake.

Patricia Kuentz:

I've heard of it.

Frank Braun:

Well, it had been taken over by us, of course. It survived the war as well.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

It survived the famous earthquake and the war. And in one level, lower level of it, almost like a semi basement. There was a white tablecloth restaurant in which military -- occupying military personnel in the transient status could come in there and get a free sit down served meal.

Patricia Kuentz:

Is that right?

Frank Braun:

Now, we were out on the -- in the open water so to speak at Yukuska. We met the definition of that. So we'd always come by. Not that we did this often. But --

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah.

Frank Braun:

You know, half a dozen times at the most. We would always have our sit down served meal on a white tablecloth restaurant in the famous Frank Lloyd Wright designed hotel in Tokyo. That's a memory that sticks with me.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. Sure. A. We went I remember to an evening performance one night, some theater. I can't remember the performance. But there were the -- the young Japanese girls sort of giggling behind the counters where they sold souvenirs and things. I remember walking the streets and buying a few little trinkets. I think I still have them around here. Sometimes we would go to Yukuska instead of Tokyo because of a shorter distance.

Patricia Kuentz:

Right.

Frank Braun:

We could have more time. We went to Yokohama. We saw the famous Buddha at -- in Yokohama or Yukuska. I used every opportunity I could to go ashore. Not that I had to take my turn, of course. We could not go whenever we wanted to.

Patricia Kuentz:

Right.

Frank Braun:

And then we received orders to go back to California and so returned to California, back to San Pedro.

Patricia Kuentz:

Now, how long were you in Japan?

Frank Braun:

You know?

Patricia Kuentz:

Remember? Several months probably.

Frank Braun:

Only several months only because we probably didn't get there until we were at Christmas and New Year's in California. We left early in January. I think two weeks. Ten days to two weeks to go across the North Pacific. And so we would have been there by the 15th or 20th in Japan. And I think certainly by the end of March or early April we were back.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

So we weren't there very long.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. You didn't stop at Hawaii though?

Frank Braun:

No way.

Patricia Kuentz:

The northern route?

Frank Braun:

Only the northern route. I saw nothing. And then we were in -- back in the Los Angeles area in that setting for a couple of weeks. And then we -- the Iowa was to be mothballed. And so we were sent up to the Bremerton Naval Station near Seattle, Washington. And that's where I spent the summer until I was released on my birthday on the 14th of August.

Patricia Kuentz:

It was your birthday; wasn't it? Yeah.

Frank Braun:

My 19th birthday. And I asked for separation. I don't remember why. Oh. We all -- we didn't want to ride the trains home as part of a big group. But so we faked it. I saw in here someplace where I filled out a form saying that I had been offered a job in the Seattle area. That was my excuse.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

And I got paid in cash. $35.00 or something like that. It's all in the thing. And I could book my own train ride home. And I sort of paralleled my feeling of independence that I wanted to do things on my own.

Patricia Kuentz:

Right. Right.

Frank Braun:

Instead of being a part of a group.

Patricia Kuentz:

Right. Was your brother still in the service at that time or was he out already?

Frank Braun:

No. He was home. He came home. There was a big celebration out in Osseo for the return veterans. I wasn't home yet. He was home. His picture is on that big photograph. Yes. He's on that. So he was home by summer sometime. I don't remember just when.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

Spring or summer. He came -- he was home.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

Now, let's see. What else? Something was going through my mind. I must tell you that I -- I looked upon the Navy as a learning experience, a travel experience, the friendly people I was with. I didn't create in life-long friends. I never -- rarely have I ever seen anybody from that whole group again. I did take it seriously. I wanted to qualify, if I could, for an advancement in rank. I had no -- I was not sent to a training school. The Navy never trained me. But I competed on again fleet-wide examinations to be a Yeoman Third Class. Well, I had test taking skills. I had been to the university. I had taken all these multiple choice questions. I -- it didn't bother me. I qualified. And I was advanced to Yeoman Third Class. I was a Petty Officer. And I have in some of this material the -- the list of six or eight of us on the ship who were all seamen first class working in offices who took the exams. And I think two of us passed it. So.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

I was this reservist, the only reservist. I felt sorry for the guys who were regular who didn't make it, because they would have to try again. I remember a guy named Kawalski (ph) passed it. He -- what office was he? Maybe he was in the same office. Anyway, it is immaterial. I do want to mention that on the record that I qualified for Yeoman Third Class and came home as a Petty Officer. I made the rank at the minimal possible time with no special training, but only a lot of self-study.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

And I did the same thing when we get to my second period of service when I -- during the Korean Conflict. I did the same thing. I qualified by state and fleet-wide examinations for a second class ranking. Again, I just got the books and studied them.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

It paid off.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. Yeah. Sounds like it. Well, when you got home then from the first period of enlistment what did you do? Let's talk about --

Frank Braun:

Well, I re-entered the university.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yes.

Frank Braun:

I came home.

Patricia Kuentz:

You came home in time?

Frank Braun:

Oh, yeah.

Patricia Kuentz:

Fall quarter; didn't you?

Frank Braun:

Oh yeah. Fall quarter wasn't until the 15th to 20th. I was home a few weeks farm Maple Grove enjoying it very much. I was a veteran home.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah.

Frank Braun:

And then of course I went back to the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis campos. At this time I looked for housing on the campus. And now the experience was totally different. My freshman year there were only nine thousand students on campus. And when I came back a year later, you know, that had probably more than tripled.

Patricia Kuentz:

I'm sure.

Frank Braun:

Almost quadrupled. Housing was very tight. And I did rent a room. Not on the dinky town area, but actually on a street route in north Minneapolis. And I had a rented room there I guess for the rest of the time till I got the degree, taking the street car to campos. Anyway, that's another story.

Patricia Kuentz:

Well, so did you -- but you didn't finish. Yeah. You didn't finish school before you went back in; right?

Frank Braun:

Oh, no. I always was searching for ways to -- not manipulate, but take advantage of what opportunities were there.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yes.

Frank Braun:

I actually graduated from high school in '44. Had been in the Navy for that eleven months and ten days. And yet I graduated in 1948, on the Bachelor of Science Degree. Four years later out of high school I accomplished all of that Now, how did I could that? There was something you could take examinations for what were called general education development credits.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh, okay.

Frank Braun:

So I think I earned 30 or 40 credits like that. You know, not specifically assigned to a discipline, I believe, except something like general science or psychology or social science or something. And then I went to summer school a couple of terms. And everything -- it was like fitting together a puzzle, studying the requirements of the degree program, studying the course offering each term, fitting it all together. And so I found, "Oh. I think I'll graduate" in June of 1948 on schedule.

Patricia Kuentz:

Huh. That's pretty amazing.

Frank Braun:

Did the war bother? And also was now being subsidized by the GI bill.

Patricia Kuentz:

Well, I was just going to say I assume you used some of your benefits.

Frank Braun:

Oh, yes. I did to the max. Both terms. I used them to the max on both terms.

Patricia Kuentz:

Great. Great.

Frank Braun:

So then -- why I rushed through that degree I'll never know. Because -- oh. By the way, the military. I had joined -- rejoined the reserve in February of '47.

Patricia Kuentz:

And you did that because?

Frank Braun:

Because I had those -- those sort of party evenings. [laughter] Well, I had a cousin who was doing it. He picked me up where I lived in north Minneapolis. And he went to one assignment and I went to another assignment. He was a Chief Petty Officer. And I don't know. Of course it was income, added income, that I always had a part-time job, pulling together sources of money. And I continued that. I met some long -- then I did create long-term friends. And I do have three friends from that period, that naval reserve experience.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

To this day.

Patricia Kuentz:

Is that right? Huh.

Frank Braun:

So that's a different sorry.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah.

Frank Braun:

But now, I --

Patricia Kuentz:

So you finished with college. And then --

Frank Braun:

Oh, yeah. What did I do? I'm trained to be a social studies teacher in high school. I can teach in only one discipline. And I have no coaching skills. And no -- you know, I can't. So I applied unsuccessfully, repeatedly. And I got offered jobs that -- I did get offered several jobs. But they were in very remote areas of North Dakota or central Minnesota. One was -- I don't want to put on the record.

Patricia Kuentz:

That's fine. That's fine.

Frank Braun:

I rejected them because I thought I guess I couldn't see myself living in these remote little towns. And some of them weren't so remote. Villard, Minnesota was one. Buffalo, North Dakota was another. Way out in the -- in the far west of North Dakota they were building the Missouri River Project at the time. And little towns were disappearing under the waters. And I -- there were two towns of Vanish and Van Hook -- Sanish (ph) and Van Hook. I was offered a job I think in one of them. Of course it was soon to be inundated and would become -- the joke was the new name of the town relocated would be Vanish. I don't know whether it ever was. But I guess I just couldn't see that at that stage in my life. And also I had taken two summer training programs or duty assignments at the Naval Reserve.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

That introduced me to the East Coast. And I -- both of them were in Norfolk, Virginia. I was just -- they didn't know what to do with me there. I just sat in an office and did something, then used my weekends to go up Washington, D.C.. Well, one we were on a destroyer once out to sea for five days. And then we pulled into the New York -- to the Brooklyn Naval Yard for the weekend. And that was an nice experience. I was now seeing the New York harbor just as I had seen the San Francisco harbor via the Navy for the first time.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah.

Frank Braun:

And so I saw the two -- the major cities of the East coast briefly. Enough to know I wanted to see more of them. And okay. So I did two of those periods of -- those were two.

Patricia Kuentz:

Two week --

Frank Braun:

Two weeks.

Patricia Kuentz:

Stints.

Frank Braun:

Take the train to Norfolk. Then get the assignment. Once it was on the ship in the Atlantic. Horrible, dirty destroyer. I could -- I'm going to tell you a story about one of the officers on that. I don't know his name. But I'll let it be recorded. It was really a dysfunctional ship. It was not well run. It was dirty. I was assigned to the executive office because I had to -- and there were sort of strange people around. I didn't find it comfortable. It wasn't clean. It wasn't well run. 0h, God. Now, we got into the New York harbor. And we were scheduled, most of us. We took turns, rotated, who could go ashore. Of course, I was scheduled to go ashore. Thank God I could see New York City. But this captain of the ship did a penis inspection of all of the men going on the weekend. Can you imagine? There he sat. He had his corp. The men, including me. We would have to appear, stand in front of him, drop our trousers, and hold our penis out for him to inspect it.

Patricia Kuentz:

That's pretty warped.

Frank Braun:

I think it was perverse.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah.

Frank Braun:

For what? I mean, I -- that was before we went a shore. And if he thought somebody might have -- we would have some experiences that might show up on the penis.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah.

Frank Braun:

To inspect it upon return it wouldn't show up anyway that fast.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh, no.

Frank Braun:

But the whole atmosphere on that ship was just -- yuk -- terrible.

Patricia Kuentz:

You're right. That's creepy.

Frank Braun:

Yeah. Creepy. He also gave -- one thing. He gave me a very negative comment in my -- in my -- since I was back here in my -- I came back to naval reserve duty here. I was in the office. And I could see what kind of evaluation he gave me.

Patricia Kuentz:

Hmm.

Frank Braun:

And he gave me a very negative one. For what? I hadn't done anything. Whether I should have done something to get a better recommendation I don't know. Isn't that a horrible experience?

Patricia Kuentz:

Strange.

Frank Braun:

Well.

Patricia Kuentz:

The whole thing is strange.

Frank Braun:

Anyway, well then, where are we?

Patricia Kuentz:

So going back in the -- during the Korean Conflict is where I'm headed.

Frank Braun:

Oh. Now we're headed for that. The Korean experience. Okay. It is now Fall of 1948. I didn't get a teaching job of my choice. What did I do? I retreated to the university.

Patricia Kuentz:

[Laughter]

Frank Braun:

I started additional study. I wanted to add another teaching field like the field of English. And I also started some graduate work in the field of education. So that's how I spent then the year '48, '49. But during that year I made some network contacts. And I was an applicant then for a teaching job in South Dakota. And I secured that.

Patricia Kuentz:

Auh.

Frank Braun:

And I shifted fields. I became an elementary teacher. Even though in South Dakota if you were licensed for high school at that time, which I could be easily, you were automatically licensed or certified to teach everything, quote, below, end quote of that.

Patricia Kuentz:

I see.

Frank Braun:

So I met a person who was taking a new job at South Dakota as a administrator of a elementary school program. And he hired me. And so I went. I taught the first year of 1949, '50 in sixth grade. Another totally new experience for me. Demanding. Very good experience.

Patricia Kuentz:

And you were away from home?

Frank Braun:

Oh, yeah. Well, of course now -- oh. Away from Minneapolis. That's true. Totally new crowd. And then I came back to take a few summer school courses in the summer of 1950. And then the Korean war started. Now that's where as I told you before the machine started. I thought, "It's not my war." I have been in a war.

Patricia Kuentz:

Auh.

Frank Braun:

And then I found out in the fall as I returned to the South Dakota school system to teach in my second year. And I got a notice that I was 1-A with selective service. I couldn't understand. How can this be? But as I explained to you before and I'll put it on record now. In order to be exempt from recall to be subject to selective service you had to have a full 12 months of active duty during certain prescribed dates. I had only 11 months and ten days. Therefore, I was -- had nothing to argue about. I was scheduled to take my physical examination and to be drafted into some sort of military service. My superintendent wanted me to stay for the whole year. And I remember sitting in his office as he telephoned Washington D.C. on my behalf, telephoned Senator Carl Mont (ph) from South Dakota at the time. They were long time good friends. And I heard him say, "Carl. Carl, I've got a young teacher here." [Laughter].

Patricia Kuentz:

[laughter] "And we went him to stay with us for the whole year. And he's just gotten his orders to report for duty. What can you do for us?" I found out that Carl Mont couldn't do anything.

Patricia Kuentz:

And so did your principal. Oh dear. [laughter]

Frank Braun:

I was amused by that. But what happened was very soon I got orders to be recalled to the Navy. And then if you had been in a reserve unit that the selective service relinguished its control over you.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh, okay.

Frank Braun:

So everything happened very quickly. My orders to go to take a physical examination to go into selective service were rescinded. And I was turned over to the Navy.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

And they wanted me to go on active duty in January of '51. And what I did then I wrote to the Navy and to explain that I was in on a contract to teach this and asked if I could be -- my activation could be deferred for six months until the 15th of June. And they approved it. So therefore I finished my second year of teaching without any problem.

Patricia Kuentz:

Even without Senator Mont's help.

Frank Braun:

Played no role. [Laughter]. Well, then, I was finishing off my Master's Degree. I had a couple of papers to finish that year. I was very busy. I finished all my course work and on summers and so on. And I was rushing to get those papers and get them into the city and three plan B papers and get -- make arrangements to meet with the professors and get them reviewed. And it all came to pass. And then I was called back to active on the 18th of June. My Navy orders said the 15th of June. Commencement was to be held on like the 16th or something.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh.

Frank Braun:

And again, I requested the Navy if I could have a three-day extension so I could attend commencement. And they gave it to me. Wasn't that accommodating?

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh. Very.

Frank Braun:

Twice they were accommodating.

Patricia Kuentz:

Very.

Frank Braun:

So I have positive feelings about that. Then I did have to enter active service on the 18th of June, 1951. And I went by train. Probably alone if -- I'm not sure there was anybody else, because there weren't that many people being recalled to the Navy at that time. I went to Chicago. And then had assignments to go out the Great Lakes Naval Training Station where I was to be processed and wait for orders, which took a couple of weeks. I was there. And my orders were to be as assigned to the naval receiving station at Norfolk, Virginia.

Patricia Kuentz:

Auh.

Frank Braun:

So then I went by train again to Norfolk. I had been there you see -- mosquito -- twice before. So this was familiar territory. I knew a little -- knew the base a little bit. So it was like coming home in a sense.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

And there I spent from let's say in June of '91 or '51 until October of '52. Now, what did I do? We were in the process -- the Navy was in the process still of recalling people to active duty. Although we were just about ready to downsize that whole operation, because by '51 the initial effort to reactivate the Navy and the ships I think had been taken care of. And they were soon going to release some reservists. But I was there while they were still recalling reservists. And as part of requirement reservists called back to active duty had to be acquainted with the new Uniform Code of Military Justice. And this is the mechanism they used. The Navy had -- had readers, had read this long, tedious, boring, legalistic, Uniform Code of Military Justice. Had read it, transcribed it, had put it onto long playing records. For about three hours the reservists, the recalled reservists, would have to sit there and listen to the code being read to them. And my job was to change the records. I heard that -- that day after day.

Patricia Kuentz:

Can you recite it?

Frank Braun:

[Laughter] End of side one.

Patricia Kuentz:

Your illustrious playing of the phonograph record.

Frank Braun:

It was incredibly boring. The poor men had to sit there. And there was -- nothing was air conditioned. And the summer in Norfolk is hot and humid.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. The humidity is awful there. Frank Braun:: There they sat. They couldn't smoke. They had -- they couldn't read. They had to sit. And I was a disciplinarian. Although they were so cowed that I didn't have to do much discipline. Well, that was my morning hours. Then my afternoon hours were free. So that was rather nice.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh my gosh.

Frank Braun:

(Laughter). That was the summer. I would really went into a funk because I was so depressed.

Patricia Kuentz:

Depressed?

Frank Braun:

Well, what am I doing?

Patricia Kuentz:

It was so boring.

Frank Braun:

The semi-topical weather. The only place that was conditioned on the base was the library. I spent a lot of time in the library. I went to movies. One week I saw I think eight movies in seven days.

Patricia Kuentz:

[laughter]

Frank Braun:

Because there were various theaters on the base. And the schedule would keep changing.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh.

Frank Braun:

And so you could go to see movies. They were air conditioned also.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

But, you know, I made friends. I finally decided, "Well, Frank. This is crazy. You're here for an indefinite period of time." And I still am in contact with two people from that time.

Patricia Kuentz:

Is that right? What part of the county were they from?

Frank Braun:

One from Massachusetts. We had women working in our office too. So women. Sandy was from Sacramento, California. Al was from Scarsdale, New York. Gil is from Marblehead, Massachusetts. Sadly one is now dead. And the other, Gil is retired in Florida. And then we even had a reunion back in 19 -- 1989 or '90 back in Norfolk.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh, my gosh

Frank Braun:

Then, well, my work took me sometimes on to Norfolk. I even went on a Navy exploration trip. The Navy invited us, certain faculty members to come and learn about the Navy so we could transfer that information to our students. And we went to the Norfolk Training Station. And we actually ate in the same dining hall where I had eaten.

Patricia Kuentz:

I'll be darned.

Frank Braun:

Unbelievable.

Patricia Kuentz:

Did it still look the same?

Frank Braun:

No. No. Totally changed. Air conditioned and food courts and all that sort of thing. Nothing. But it was the building was the same on the outside.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. Yeah.

Frank Braun:

Well, anyway, now at end of that summer it was a miserable summer. But I did meet some -- finally met some people that we became a social group from the Navy. I didn't know any off base people. But then we were no longer bringing in people for active duty in the Navy. We now transitioned to terminating them, to releasing them. Then I worked in the discharge office on a long kind of assembly line of processing these files and folders of checking and double checking. And we just had a splendid group of people.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. Each person had something to check?

Frank Braun:

I mean, yeah. Yeah. Yes. We just -- and I remember we had so much fun about this. Lively conversations. And Al was particularly good. He was a Yale graduate in literature and had a very comprehensive background on everything. Smoked excessively. Sadly died of cancer. Sandy was tremendous. And then her good friend Lois, Lois Scoonover (ph) was the kid sister of a child movie star named Gloria Jean.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh, my God.

Frank Braun:

That goes back to the Jane Withers, Deanna Durbin days.

Patricia Kuentz:

I don't know them. But Gloria Jean. Huh.

Frank Braun:

Well, Lois was real live. We just had a tremendous social group then. What a difference in the Navy.

Patricia Kuentz:

That's right.

Frank Braun:

And I used my time to take my leaves to go up to explore Virginia, historic Virginia and Washington D.C..

Patricia Kuentz:

Williamsburg.

Frank Braun:

I had my bicycle with me. I bicycled to Williamsburg. I was the only adult with a bicycle on the Navy base.

Patricia Kuentz:

[laughter]

Frank Braun:

And I kept it in my barracks so I wouldn't worry about it being stolen. But when I would re-enter, come into the naval base all the guards, the marine guards would also -- they always had sarcastic comments about me. Because the thing to do of course was to have a car.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yes.

Frank Braun:

And I instead I had a bicycle. They thought I was a freak.

Patricia Kuentz:

But a car was a lot more expensive. That's for sure.

Frank Braun:

Oh, yeah. But it was -- very few of us had cars. I mean, in my circle of friends. We didn't have any money. We were just, you know, entry level people.

Patricia Kuentz:

Right.

Frank Braun:

Well, anyway, I served on that assignment then until the 15th of October, 1952. And then I was released inactive duty and came back to Minnesota, started -- did a part-time job at Daytone's Department Store through the Christmas rush. And then started graduate school. This was not the doctoral program at University of Minnesota.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay. Now, let's -- we'll go to that in just a little bit. Let's talk a little bit about what life was like. You talked quite a bit about it. Things like how did you stay in touch with your family while you were gone?

Frank Braun:

Letters. I don't think I ever placed a telephone call.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

Always letters.

Patricia Kuentz:

And then you heard from them by letter too?

Frank Braun:

Oh, sure. Yes

Patricia Kuentz:

Who wrote to you?

Frank Braun:

My mother wrote to me. My mother was a very good letter writer. So she wrote to me. Who else from Minnesota would write to me?

Patricia Kuentz:

Did you have any buddies. Did you and your brother write?

Frank Braun:

No. My brother and I never corresponded.

Patricia Kuentz:

You heard about him through your mom?

Frank Braun:

Through my mother. Sure. Oh, I guess I had a cousin who was also gone in the Navy about the time I did. I had also -- well, then from my naval reserve friends I had two of those. They had taken different assignments. One was actually on a ship just off the coast of Korea for a long time. And yeah. We corresponded. That was by letter exchange.

Patricia Kuentz:

Still have the mosquitoes back here.

Frank Braun:

Oh, you know, I found that I had left the screen door open to the porch. And sometimes either the screens to the porch aren't tight or if I have a the garage door open.

Patricia Kuentz:

Almost got it.

Frank Braun:

They come in that way. Anyway I just closed it. But we probably have mosquitoes around.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah.

Frank Braun:

Yeah. I don't remember having a lot of correspondence.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

And I did all the handwriting. Did I ever -- no. I probably not. I probably used the office typewriter to write to people. Yeah. I think so.

Patricia Kuentz:

Did anybody keep the letters? Did your mom keep the letters and that sort of thing?

Frank Braun:

I don't think so. I don't have them in the house. And pretty much when we closed up the farm house and my mother where she had been living after my dad died pretty much a lot of that stuff came to me here. I haven't found any of that.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay. I was just curious. And did you feel like both times you were in the Navy that you had the kind of supplies that you needed when you needed them?

Frank Braun:

I guess we must have. I don't remember. [Laughter]

Patricia Kuentz:

You don't remember that you didn't?

Frank Braun:

I think there were enough typewriter ribbons.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. That would have been your supplies. That is right. And the food was good or decent?

Frank Braun:

You know, I never had high expectations. And it didn't make any difference to me. I do remember once on the Battleship Iowa I was the Yeoman accompanying the Captain as he, you know, inspected the ship.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

The entourage. And we were in the -- in or close to the big galley where the enlisted men ate. And he was interviewing one of the chief men there about the menus and the food and all of that, all of these tense but routine sorts of things. And suddenly he turns to me and says, "Well, and what do you think of the food on this ship?"

Patricia Kuentz:

0h, gosh. [Laughter]

Frank Braun:

And, you know, I'm sure I said something like if I can remember the words something like, "It's always adequate. There's always plenty of food." It looks -- I don't -- did I -- I can't remember. I hope I didn't say what I'm afraid I said. Something about a comparison between what it looked like and what it tasted like.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh.

Frank Braun:

And one of them was not positive. And I can't remember which it was. I was so uncomfortable. And then I felt so embarrassed afterwards at what I said. How did that come across? And I was fearful that the, you know, the man in charge. We were on the same ship together.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. Right.

Frank Braun:

Would he come to me and berate me? Now I must have said -- whatever I said must have been satisfactory, because he never came and criticized me.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

But I -- I mean, I really didn't have any contact with top level officers, even being in the executive office, the highest level officer we ever saw was a not even a commissioned officer. Mr. Comcanon (ph) was a Warrant Officer.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

A warrant which was below commission status. We never had any contact with say a lieutenant or commander. Never.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. Yeah.

Frank Braun:

It was a big operation. Three thousand people on the ship. And your circle of friends were around where you worked. Maybe your duty station and where you -- people you went with on liberty on the off shore. On shore.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh. Yeah. Now, you talked about the entertainment when you were on the east coast during the Korean Conflict. The movies whatever what was your entertainment on the ship when you had some off time? Did you play cards or dominos or anything of that stuff?

Frank Braun:

We had some movies once in a while in the mess hall. I can't remember what they were. Oh. And we once were visited by some starlet. Now who was she? I think it was -- I have her picture someplace. Everybody got pictures of her. Wasn't there a starlet named Janet Leigh? Or --

Patricia Kuentz:

There was a Janet Leigh.

Frank Braun:

I must be mixed up. Well, that was Vivian Leigh who played the role of Scarlet O'Hara.

Patricia Kuentz:

Right.

Frank Braun:

That was not Vivian Leigh. No. No. But I think there was a Janet Lee. She came and sashayed through the mess hall one time. Now, that wasn't entertainment. But I don't remember what we did. I think we were kept busy working and duty stations. I don't know.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay. [laughter] What did you think of your officers and your fellow soldiers?

Frank Braun:

Well, the fellow workmen. Peers.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yes.

Frank Braun:

I don't know. I think they were all cordial and friendly. I don't remember having any hostility or having any fights, arguments. I don't think I was ever disciplined in any way. I guess I didn't do anything wrong. The officers we worked with were -- well, the person who was in charge of our office on the Iowa was a very nice -- George Hanna (ph) was his name. 0h, gosh. That name comes back. A Navy Chief. I saw him later on the University of Minnesota campus.

Patricia Kuentz:

Just ran into him?

Frank Braun:

No. I saw his picture in Minnesota Daily one day. He was on -- nearing the end of his naval career. It was a long naval career. And one of his last -- near his last assignment was as part of the Navel ROTC on the campus.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh. For heaven's sake.

Frank Braun:

He was being interviewed for his memories of World War II. And I saw that picture. I thought, "My gosh." See. I stated I was on faculty at the university after I finished my graduate work. So I don't remember when this happened. Something important. There was a historic events. Maybe the history of Pearl Harbor or something like that. He was being interviewed. Well, I quickly went over, sought him out and to refresh our meeting. But I mean there was no a -- different cordiality came of it. It was more significant for me than for him.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. Yeah.

Frank Braun:

I didn't have anything. The officers in Norfolk -- distant, aloof. We had no connections.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

And the immediate superior was like a -- we did have a chief who was head of the -- the administrative, the section. But he drank a lot of coffee and worked a lot of crossword puzzles. We didn't work very hard.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah [laughter]. So that's about that.

Frank Braun:

We were a boring backwater.

Patricia Kuentz:

[laughter] Well, that's not a bad place to be actually. Did you keep up a diary of any kind?

Frank Braun:

No.

Patricia Kuentz:

Never did?

Frank Braun:

Sadly I wish -- well, I think it was certain times you were -- wartime we were not encouraged to. Although by the time I went in all of that was changing.

Patricia Kuentz:

Right.

Frank Braun:

But I never did anyway. I didn't keep a personal diary.

Patricia Kuentz:

Did you ever join any veterans' organizations?

Frank Braun:

Not yet. I haven't yet. No. I've been tempted to. My father and my brother were very active in the American Legion. My mother and father's social life in Maple Grove and Osseo a large part of it was the veterans organization, the American Legion. My dad had been Commander. And my mother was active in the auxiliary. And our summer -- summer events, 4th of July, Memorial Day, Armistice Day were social events with their friends.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

So and then my brother succeeded in the same role. And he was also Commander of the Osseo post. I on the other hand wanted nothing to do with it. I was in my college years. I became very antagonistic to conservative viewpoints, political views, social views of the American Legion. And said I wanted no part. And my father respected that put no pressure on me.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

So I've never joined.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. And but you said you thought -- you had thought about it now or?

Frank Braun:

Well, the only time I thought about it was two years ago. I spend my winters in Mexico or Central America. And I was in Guatemala and in Antigua. It is a magnificent old colonial city. And I happened to meet there members of the American Legion.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh. There.

Frank Braun:

There is a Guatemala post.

Patricia Kuentz:

Huh.

Frank Braun:

And so I would go for coffee with the guys.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

On every morning in some little cafe. The guys would meet there. And they're -- I met some interesting people. And there -- they serve -- they do a marvelous job. I did not join, although they wanted me to join. It's only $20.00 a year. If I move to Guatemala or spend some time there I definitely would because they are a good resource in case you need help or assistance. But I do make a contribution. It's more than the $20.00. I send them $50.00 a year for their scholarship program because they have -- they have both helping to feed starving children and helping to make it possible for some of the indigenous people there to stay in school. They do very good work. So that's how I was motivated to do that. I have no opposition with the American Legion in its community activities, its sponsorship of sports and patriotism, although that's a little heavy for me. But, you know, their youth programs, I have no problem with that. But the -- their political viewpoints I have always been at cross purposes with. Therefore, I would never take membership. And now I may change. If I go to Guatemala and spend any time I'll give them $20.00 and take membership.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

That's where I stand.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh. Let's see talk now a little more about your career. You mentioned that after you got your Ph.D. --

Frank Braun:

Uh-huh.

Patricia Kuentz:

You then did you start working at the university right away?

Frank Braun:

Oh, yes. Yes. I never left the university.

Patricia Kuentz:

Was that right [laughter]?

Frank Braun:

I -- a position came available while I want finishing the doctorate for assistance professorship of college of education and working in student services. And so I took that and stayed on. I never thought it would be -- it was a temporary at the time. I never thought it would be permanent. But it did become permanent. And I saw some advantages to staying on at the University of Minnesota. And later I did some teaching. I and two other faculty members initiated a program, graduate program in international development education which paralleled my interest in education and Third World countries. I did a great deal of travel and study and led student groups and so on.

Patricia Kuentz:

Oh my.

Frank Braun:

Different parts of the world. It sort of started with my interest in education in the socialist countries of eastern Europe. I'd been also -- I'd been a student at the free University of Berlin and Germany for a year back in the 50's on a University of Minnesota student exchange program.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

There are many opportunities that I had at the university. And I then was interested in the study of education in the centrally planned, socialist or communist countries of eastern Europe. Particularly in eastern Europe and Soviet Union. And I used to travel with Gerald Reed (ph) from Kent State University. And we took student or teachers to visit educational institutions in the Soviet Union. I went with him twice. And then I led the program twice. So in the period from '69 to -- to the late '70s. I think I made six trips to the Soviet Union. That was my special interest at that time. And well, then I got interested --

Patricia Kuentz:

That was still Cold War days?

Frank Braun:

Oh, yes. Yes. As I -- my last year '85 and '86 Gorbachev was in power. I haven't been there now since '86. Then I got interested in education in the developing countries of Africa. And so my interest focused on Kenya and Tanzania. And I spent a sabbatical in part of the time in that part of the world. And then I was also took -- I was faculty mentor for a group of students going to Kenya working in rural areas shortly before I retired. And now in retirement -- well, there were other interests too. I got interested in China and Thailand. Anyway, then in retirement now I had -- I've taken part in the short term peace corp type programs in villages around the world. Twice in Kenya as team leader. Once in Tanzania as a member of the group. Once in Belize as a member of the group. And then also twice as team leader on Navajo reservation in New Mexico. So these are short term, you know, get your hands dirty doing work in generally in rural villages

Patricia Kuentz:

Few weeks at a time?

Frank Braun:

The African ones were three weeks. The Belize was two weeks. And the Navajo, the Navajo was eight or nine days each.

Patricia Kuentz:

How long have you been retired?

Frank Braun:

Ten years.

Patricia Kuentz:

Is that right?

Frank Braun:

Yeah. So and now I've developed an interest in Mexico and Central America and South America. Until January of '99 I had never been to Mexico. I can't understand that.

Patricia Kuentz:

[laughter]

Frank Braun:

So finally I went with an Oxford college group looking at human rights issues in Chiapas. The Zaptistas. And then I went back with -- took their group, human rights issues in Guatemala a few years ago. And then I got on elder hostels and intern hostel programs, and my own independent travel there. So it's become my current focus of where I like to go. So.

Patricia Kuentz:

That's great.

Frank Braun:

I didn't go to Mexico. Since January of '99 I have been there six times. I don't understand why I didn't go way back in the 50's or 60's when it was so accessible to go there. I never did. But my interest was not in Hispanic things.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah.

Frank Braun:

-- things.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah.

Frank Braun:

I did spend two summers in Spain. But I was leading trips then for the America Youth Hostel organization. We used to camp and bicycle and did all of that for -- those were summer trips. I did that I think six or eight times. Then I worked with the American Field Service for two summers. You know, I have a whole compendium of all of these organizations that I have been with because I like group travel. Now I travel with seniors. [laughter]

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh. And you've got to be one of the younger ones in that group too.

Frank Braun:

Well, I'm getting older.

Patricia Kuentz:

I guess we all are.

Frank Braun:

I used to be when I started going with elder hostel I was among the younger ones. And now [laughter] it doesn't take very long.

Patricia Kuentz:

[laughter] Now, this will be a question that maybe makes you think just a little bit. I have three or four left.

Frank Braun:

Okay.

Patricia Kuentz:

Did your military experience kind of influence your thinking about war or about the military in general do you think?

Frank Braun:

Well, I came out of the family of very patriotic people. I mean, my father was in the first World War. My mother's brother was in the first World War, was in France, was gassed in France. And so we had a long standing positive feelings about the need to serve.

Patricia Kuentz:

Right.

Frank Braun:

And the willingness to serve. There have been no conscientious objectors. Everyone, cousins, distant relatives. It's no -- very few people, if any, have made a career of the service. But when the time has come they have all served. No. I haven't had any negative feelings until very recently about our use of military power. Well, I study Central America with all of our incursions down there. They -- but in general I don't -- well, we have now a volunteer service instead of a -- instead of everybody serves. So it is a little different thing.

Patricia Kuentz:

It's a very different military now.

Frank Braun:

I haven't really -- I don't have any great, strong feelings, I guess.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

Certainly I came out of it. I came out of it, a culture where, yes, we were in wars. And you serve. It's taken for granted that when my time would come that I would go in the military service, of course.

Patricia Kuentz:

Do your part.

Frank Braun:

Yeah.

Patricia Kuentz:

How do you think that your military experience, your military service affected your life?

Frank Braun:

Well, of course it subsidized my study.

Patricia Kuentz:

There you go.

Frank Braun:

I had long term GI bill. I got all of it for my service in World War II at the end and then for the Korean War. You know, major, major subsidization of my study. No question.

Patricia Kuentz:

Do you think you would have done all of it?

Frank Braun:

It would have been hard. It would have been hard to do it on my own.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay.

Frank Braun:

It could have been done. I don't know. That's a good question. Other benefits of being a veteran I don't think I have taken advantage of any of them.

Patricia Kuentz:

You didn't use your VA benefit to -- a VA loan to buy a house or anything?

Frank Braun:

No. By the time I bought a house I got a conventional mortgage. I never used a -- I don't think I ever used a military hospital or VA hospital. Well, I've been in good health. So I haven't needed it.

Patricia Kuentz:

Right.

Frank Braun:

No.

Patricia Kuentz:

Okay. Okay. Really I'm done with my questions. Is there anything that we haven't covered in the interview here that you think you might want to have on tape about -- you don't have to have anything. But just in case we missed something.

Frank Braun:

Well if -- let me think. I don't know. I don't think I really have anything. I'm trying to review quickly the --

Patricia Kuentz:

Your experience.

Frank Braun:

-- assignments the experiences. And it helped me to travel, to get out of Minnesota. Here I always stayed in Minnesota. I leave and come back, leave and come back.

Patricia Kuentz:

It's still always home.

Frank Braun:

Yes. But it did permit me to do a lot of traveling in both coasts before I was 21 years old and to Japan.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

And I've always being interested in utilizing every -- every opportunity to learn and to study and visits and stand in awe when I'm at the Lincoln Memorial and Washington or at -- well, many places. I seek those out when I go there. And those were memorable experiences. There is no question about it. And it is something that my background did not permit me. My family -- we were farmers. We didn't take vacations. We never left the farm. I doubt that I -- until I went in the Navy -- I'm trying to think of how many times might I have slept someplace other than my own home. We never went anywhere. I never went anywhere. Camp? That was out of the question. We never did anything like that. We -- all of our family was around here. There was no reason to take a vacation someplace.

Patricia Kuentz:

To go see them. Yeah.

Frank Braun:

I think -- you know, we might have taken a trip to -- oh, maybe northern Minnesota. But I don't think it was Duluth. It seems to me there were some little towns up in there where we might have slept. Probably -- I never slept away from home. I never went to stay with grandparents. They were just a few miles away. Once in a while cousins at Robbinsdale might be overnight. Very few.

Patricia Kuentz:

Uh-huh.

Frank Braun:

I suspect on two hands would be the number of nights I might have slept out of my own bed. [laughter]

Patricia Kuentz:

So and the service gave you plenty of time to sleep out of your own bed.

Frank Braun:

And there was no adjustment problem at all. I don't remember that.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah.

Frank Braun:

I always slept well. I never got into any fights or quarrels. I guess -- I don't have any memories of that.

Patricia Kuentz:

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Well, Frank, thanks very much --

Frank Braun:

Okay.

Patricia Kuentz:

-- for agreeing to be taped at the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. I've enjoyed getting to know you.

Frank Braun:

Yes. Thank you.

Patricia Kuentz:

Thank you.

Frank Braun:

You're a good interviewer.

Patricia Kuentz:

Thanks. Bye-bye.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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