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Interview with William B. Long [10/10/2008]

Ryan Kyle:

What branch of service were you in?

William B. Long:

Well I was enlisted in the - I was in the National Guard and the armv and the Navy. All three of them.

Ryan Kyle:

All right. Were you enlisted or were you drafted?

William B. Long:

No, I enlisted.

Ryan Kyle:

Okay.

William B. Long:

In all three.

Ryan Kyle:

What were the time periods you were in each one?

William B. Long:

National Guard was August of 1937 to September 1940. And the Army was from July of 1942 to September 1944. And the Navy was from January 1945 to September 1946.

Ryan Kyle:

All right. What was the highest ranking you reached?

William B. Long:

Received. General. Navy.

Ryan Kyle:

All right. What units or divisions or types of ships were you in?

William B. Long:

Well in the National Guard I was in the 143rd infantry of the 36th division.

Ryan Kyle:

All right.

William B. Long:

And in the Army I was in the - it wasn't a numbered division type thing. I was in the medical administering corps. 2nd lieutenant from July of'42 to July of 1943. And then 1943 until September 1944 I was a PFC in the Army specialized training program.

Ryan Kyle:

AH right. What about in the Navy?

William B. Long:

In the Navy I was lieutenant J.G. in the dental corps of the Navy.

Ryan Kyle:

All right. You were just in W;orld War II. Were you in Korea or what? I ong: No, the National Guard was before World War II. And the Army and the Navy were after World War II,

Ryan Kyle:

All right. Where were you stationed?

William B. Long:

well in the National Guard I lived in Waco on base in Waco. We'd go to camp down in Palacios and Camp Bush and all the way to the national forest in la where they later built Camp Polk after the war started. Then when I started - I'll give this to you chronological then you can put it what you want and what you don't want in your schedule - in January of 1942, Pearl Harbor was December of 1941. In January of 1942 I went to down and volunteered for the Army air corp for pilot training and they turned me down because I was slightly near-sighted. I went to the Navy and did the same thing and they turned me down also. Then I was in Baylor, my major was pre-dental. So I went ahead and applied to dental school and got turned down by that branch. Then also before. well about a month after I wasn't accepted in the Army and Navy as a pilot trainer. I applied to the Army air force for ordinance officer. They I guess accepted me. I went out to the Army air force herein Waco and took a physical then I didn't hear from them. I got accepted and sworn in as a 2nd lieutenant in administration corps in July. Then about September I heard from the air force and I had to write them and tell them I was already in the service. That was the way that took place. Then I got accepted to dental school so that's where I went to dental school in the array program. My freshman year I was a 2nd lieutenant in the administrative corps. But sophomore year they decided that they were going to put all of us in active duty and in the special training program and in order to do that we had to resign our commission in the administrative corps and we were inducted as privates in the Army then sent back to dental school. So during the war, actually, I was in the Army, but I was also in dental school so when I graduated dental school, I went into the Navy as a dentist. Kind of confusing history, but that's the way that all took place.

Ryan Kyle:

Where did you go when you were in the Navy? Were you stationed anywhere outside the country?

William B. Long:

Well. I was stationed at the naval training center in San Diego, California for about six months and then they sent me to the Philippines and then I was there for about six months and then when that was over they sent me to Japan.

Ryan Kyle:

What'd you do while you were in Japan?

William B. Long:

Well J was a dentist attached to the 25lh infantry station of the Army.

Ryan Kyle:

How long were you stationed there?

William B. Long:

Nearly a year. I came home and went to Baylor's medical college in Houston and got my M.D. degree - got my hospital training and came here and practiced medicine here in Belton.

Ryan Kyle:

All right. What was your training and everything like as far as for the Army whenever you -

William B. Long:

Well we just had to do drills and stuff and all of the Army etiquette as far as officers and all that kind of stuff, which is all very new to the National Guard. Of course, there were guys who hadn't been in the service before war so they didn't know what was going on. All of that wasn't new for me because I had already been through all it.

Ryan Kyle:

Did you ever earn any medals or special awards?

William B. Long:

No, none other than just the service medals. Never did see any combat. Just kind of the way things went. I volunteered for the marines and I was not accepted there so I was sent to the Philippines so if I would have heard several different things I would have seen combat but saw that instead.

Ryan Kyle:

How did you do as far as rank in your class in medical school and everything?

William B. Long:

My rank in medical school was the top part of the middle third.

Ryan Kyle:

All right. Got any memories or anything that stand out? Any stories or anything that stand out that you can think of more than others? Just anything you can think about.

William B. Long:

Well I guess the most vivid memories I have are when I visited the Hiroshima. It was about sixteen months after I got off. I got some pictures here. (Reaches down to get a stack of pictures.) This is a little memorial thing right about where the bomb dropped. And there was a bridge just about across the river there in Hiroshima about a block away and the bridge went across the river this way and then about half the way across it had another bridge coming off the side so it sort of formed a "Y" and the aerial picture of it was very distinct because there was no other bridges across that river. That was the only- one they had. So that was the aiming point for the bomb. So I stood on the bridge, it was damaged but not destroyed. I'd imagine y'all have probably seen this building in Hiroshima, this frame dome where this metal thing could just sit there. Have y'all ever seen that picture?

Caitlin Barganier:

No, I haven't.

Ryan Kyle:

That's the one that got destroyed?

William B. Long:

That was the building that was right at the center of the blast. It still remained an upright position but was horrifically damaged. It has a large frame dome on the top and the only thing that was left was the skeleton of the metal springs. That was the most photographed area of Hiroshima I guess. I stood on that bridge and took pictures then I took my wife back over there in about 1990 I guess it was. and we went to Korea and we went to Japan and where I was stationed. Then we went on down to Hiroshima. Of course it's been rebuilt. I stood on that bridge of that same building. But anyway, they've made a peace pot. It's really interesting to see what they've done. See there's a museum there showing the same thing.

Caitlin Barganier:

Did you take ail these pictures?

William B. Long:

Yeah. I took them all.

Caitlin Barganier:

Those are ail the ones that you've taken?

William B. Long:

Yeah, uh huh. I had them developed in Japan.

Caitlin Barganier:

Oh man.

William B. Long:

When we visited down there, they didn't have most of the streets cleared of debris and we got in one street care line. That was the only transportation they had. And I went out to one of the hospitals there and there were still patients in the hospital that had radiation problems and also the flash burns on their back. And the Japanese had very thick pigment in their skin and people that have a lot of thick pigment tend to form heavy- scars that are called colloids. You may have seen them on some black people where they get cut or something. The scars raise up real high. A lot of the Japanese that I saw in the hospital had these raised colloids on the surface of the skin. Whether they had gotten flash burns from the bombs - I talked to a nurse that was down there and he wasn't even close enough to be injured. There's a picture of a street garage. There's the Martha Stewart, building where we lived. That was a building that we went up on top. We climbed the stairs on the side and that's where I took some of these shots that I'm showing. Oh there's a preacher out in from of the church. He wasn't in the cities. He was out in the suburbs.

Ryan Kyle:

How was it walking around there after the city - with the city being -

William B. Long:

Well, you didn't see many people in the streets. There was a few people around. There was no danger. Very isolated I guess would be the word. Oh here's a picture of that deal there. Anyway. I guess the Hiroshima trip. Then we went up to Torregadar' in Manila Bay.2 When the Japanese invaded the Philippines American troops retreated down to the town peninsula. The bay came like this with Manila and Corregidor sat right there in the center and the town peninsula came about two or three miles across Corregidor and Manila. American troops retreated down there. And then when they could, they'd go to Corregidor and it was fortified. Before the Japs got down there and - surrendered. But anyway, I got off the Corregidor. They had their own guns. So those two areas I guess. And then the camp where I was in the Philippines there was tent city. I got some pictures of that here. Here's a picture of- coming out of his officer tent.

Caitlin Barganier:

Who is that guy?

William B. Long:

Beg your pardon?

Caitlin Barganier:

Who is that guy?

William B. Long:

General MacArthur. He was in charge of the Army men - was in charge. And this is just all the tents. Anyway, when the Americans went down to the town peninsula, some C53 of them got out to Corregidor our neighbors here, the Japanese and the captains - they made them walk from Batan over to a railroad line that ran north and south on the reserve, and up at the northern part of it was Camp O'Donnell. I know it was a tent city. Well that's where I was stationed when I was in the Philippines. Camp O'Donnell. Anyways, they walked them from the Batan peninsula. 700 miles, over to this railroad line and put them on bus cars and sent them north to Camp O'Donnell so that's where the Batan head march prisoners were. And that's where I was. So I guess those three were all memories.

Ryan Kyle:

So you never were a prisoner of war or anything like that?

William B. Long:

Oh no.

Ryan Kyle:

You never had any injuries?

William B. Long:

No, no broken bones. I was very fortunate I guess. I just never did see any combat.

Ryan Kyle:

All right. Anything else you want to share with us?

William B. Long:

Well no except back then all of us guys of that age group were extremely patriotic because all of us were volunteers and we just volunteered then. They started the draft back in 1940 I believe is when we signed up because I was in the National Guard at the time so everybody was around i 8. Just get registered, so I signed up for the draft. The deal at that time was. everybody was going to have to go in for years training. That was before the war. So I was in the National Guard and my enlistment time was in three year periods. The National Guard was in October and I had to finish it if I started it. I told my folks I was going to go in as a sergeant, but I went it as a p-private so I'd have to go anyway. So they just said to go on and don't re-enlist. I had to sign up every two year period to stay in. then I started volunteering after the war started - Army aircraft. I was in the service for the easy end of it. I missed a lot of the bad stuff that a lot of the guys did. Everybody was drunk.

Ryan Kyle:

What'd you think about the war? When it started? When it progressed? When it finally came to an end?

William B. Long:

Well I thought that we had been attacked by the Japanese, which we had. Germany was overruning these countries over in Europe. And obviously something had to be done to stop those two countries from overrunning them. So everybody wanted to get in and get it over with. I don't know of anybody back then that was against dropping the atomic bomb on the peninsula. I never talked to a single person. Of course you talk to people now that think differently. Back then we knew that if we hadn't of dropped it we probably would have lost a lot of land and lives. I think there are a few people that thought we should have stayed out, but there was very for and between.

Ryan Kyle:

Well those are really all the questions we have. Anything else you want to add to it?

William B. Long:

Well no, I don't guess. Except for I think that at that point and time, there was no controversy. A lot of men were trying to start their career. If you look back on Korea and Vietnam and other wars, I think everybody has questions in their mind as to if we did the right thing or not, but there wasn't anybody questioning about World War II. Let's see, a lot of people have their differences. A lot of complexity. Looks like they had to in the end. Of all the other conflicts we've been in. I think Vietnam was the least necessary, but that's my opinion. I think Lyndon Johnson - from Texas - He had dead people and all sorts of madness. I never did like the guy because I thought he was a real prick, and I still think he is. He's the one that got us into Vietnam. That's about it.

Ryan Kyle:

Sounds good. Is that it?

William B. Long:

Well. I guess so. I enjoyed this.

Caitlin Barganier:

Thank you for taking the time to do this with us, Mr. Long.

William B. Long:

You're welcome.

Ryan Kyle:

I guess if we have any other questions we'll be giving you a call back.

William B. Long:

Okay.

Ryan Kyle:

Thank you, sir.

William B. Long:

I hope you do good on your deal here.

Caitlin Barganier:

Us too. Thank you.

Ryan Kyle:

Thank you. Take care.

Caitlin Barganier:

Yes, take care.

William B. Long:

I'll try. Have a good rest of the day.

Caitlin Barganier:

You too, Mr. Long.

 
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