Skip Navigation and Jump to Page Content    The Library of Congress >> American Folklife Center  
Veterans History Project (Library of Congress) ABOUT  
SEARCH/BROWSE  
HELP  
COPYRIGHT  
Home » Text Transcript

Interview with Dean E. Galles [8/12/2007]

Dean E. Galles:

All right. I'm Dean E. Galles.

Christin Seifert:

Perfect and we're good to go? Okay. Go ahead. Tell me about how you got in the service, that's a great place to start.

Dean E. Galles:

Well, my military career, if it was such, began at the age of 17, when I enrolled at the University of Montana at Missoula, and one of the required subjects, or courses, was the military science. And I was, that was required for two years for men only. I suppose now it would be men and women, but at that time it was just men. And after two years of the, that required course, you could advance onto advanced military science and go for another two years, and at the time of graduation be issued a commission as second lieutenant in the reserve. And you were required to serve one year of active duty. Of course, the one year, we never knew when it was and never heard anything about reenlisting or anything, but you just carried on for the W orId War II. But I graduated in 1941 from the University of Montana with a degree in business administration. And graduated on, it seemed to me like it was June 19th, 1941, and reported for duty on the 20th of June. And the first place I was assigned was Fort Ord, California, and the 7th Infantry Division had been activated and was in the process of filling ranks and getting fully established at Fort Ord. And so I entered there in '41, and at the time of Pearl Harbor, I can remember at 11 :30 in the morning, I was putting some polish on a car I had in the parking lot outside our quarters and the word came, and by that night, we were out on the Pacific Coast patrolling up and down, as there had been shells reported down around, I think it was St. Marie or someplace down the coast a ways. A Japanese submarine had evidently serviced and fired a shot into the United States. And anyway, we carried on this patrol for awhile, and our areas were pretty highly populated by Japanese people in, that lived there and worked and were good citizens, but you didn't know how far their loyalty would carry them. And there was quite a few, of course it was all black out at night in everyplace, and, but you could see berry (sp?) pistols being fired different places, and it was eerie in a way to think that they might be some kind of messages and instructions on where to land and what to do. So, we felt we were pretty important doing the patrolling, which the California coast is pretty hard to patrol on the exact beaches all up and down, and ... But anyway, that lasted for awhile, and then everything kind of subdued a little bit, and we went back to Fort Ord in our regular training and we were motorized. Our division was motorized, and we had a big maneuver that took us on up to Washing, to the state of Washington, and all, and it was mainly a big deal to figure out logistics, and how to keep the supply up and different things for mainly the higher echelons of military. But anyway, we got to see some country up there. And then we were, in 1942, we were, we went to the desert, Mohave Desert in California, and we trained there on mainly the, what the, our infantry units had was what they called a halftrack, which was half track, and they had two wheels to steer in the front and stuff, and they were armored and all that. And we trained with them for quite awhile, and our orders were we were, or the rumors were we were being prepared for North Africa to help General Patton. And after he did such a miraculous job in the, Africa became quieter, why they brought us in off of the desert training at, I think it was about February of 1943, or maybe it was January of '43, someplace in there, and we went back to Fort Ord in our regular garrison places. And then in March, we had orders to proceed to San Francisco, and we didn't know what we was going to do. But when we got to San Francisco, we entered a big warehouse there, and we just stripped down and turned in all our suntans, and they issued us long underwear and wool pants and some kind of semi-jackets. And still, we didn't know what our mission was or going to be, and then ...

Christin Seifert:

You just knew you were going somewhere cold.

Dean E. Galles:

We kind of anticipated that. So anyway, we, the ship that I was on, the name was Purita (sp?), and the Purita was a German built Danish ship. It was a round-bottom ship, and it had twin engines, big twin diesel engines in there, twin screws. And it was, its favorite deal was to kind of bobble in the water. With no keel on it, why it would go this way and that way, and it was quite an experience riding that ship. And the second day out of San Francisco, one of the engines quit. And they flew in parts, but we had to drop back, we couldn't keep back, keep up with the convoy, which was highly protected by cruisers and other types of ships. And they left a, one small vessel back with us, and we had to drop back and went full speed on one engme. But, and they flew parts in, and they repaired that engine, and within 24 hours it was hitting on all cylinders, and we proceeded on up and we caught up with the. .. Then, we found out that we were going to Attu, and we all said, where the heck is that? And so we got out some maps and started looking at them and found out where it was, and it was a long ways away.

Christin Seifert:

Yeah. Had you heard about what was going on in the area, or did you have rumors of---

Dean E. Galles:

No, we had no idea. We never, we didn't know that the Japanese occupied American soil in the Aleutian Island. We had no pre-information on that at all. It was so secretive. Anyway, we caught up with the convoy up at Cold Bay, up on the Aleutian chain, where we all kind of rendezvoused. And we went up into the Bering Sea, and with that round bottom, we really bounced around up there, and I don't know why there wasn't 100% seasick, but there was quite a few that couldn't handle it. Anyway, the battle plan for our division, the 320d Infantry, was to land two battalions at Massacre Bay, on the south side of Attu. The 3rd Battalion of the 320d was to land on the north side in the Holtz Bay area, and we were to proceed and meet someplace in the middle there someplace, and ...

Christin Seifert:

So it was like a pincher---

Dean E. Galles:

Pincher movement, yes. And our assignment, which was in the, going up the valley, well, I'm going to tell you this, that we climbed over the cargo nets to get in landing craft to make the landing at about 3: 00 in the morning, and then we rendezvoused out in the heavy fog. We couldn't see. I don't think we could see 25 yards. It was hard to see our little circle of about six boats that were circling there. And we circled and circled, and they were hoping that the weather would break, and that we could see where we were going and stuff. Finally, at 4:00 the next afternoon, they sent a seaplane that had a compass. None of our landing crafts had compass. We didn't know which was north or south or anything, so they sent this seaplane in, and it taxied on the water, and it got up within, oh, I'd say 100 yards of the beach, and then it veered off to the side, and we got the signal straight ahead, and we landed on the beach at Massacre Bay. And of course, the whole battle was, at that time, was being fought in the valley, and you know it's, all military strategy is that you have to have the high ground. And that's where the Japanese enjoyed just sniping at us all the time. They'd move up and down with the fog. And while we were fighting on Attu, we never did see the tops ofthe mountains. It was, would come up and down, and it was just perfect for them to move into the fog. But anyway, we moved up, kept moving up the valley, and, of course, we found out that, and we were so ill equipped, clothing wise. We had leather Blucher boots, and by being continually wet all the time, they just fell apart. And after about two weeks they, of fighting, they called us back to the beach, and they said, take your shoes and socks off, of what you've got left. I was so amazed. My feet were black with, I guess fungus or mold. Mold I suppose. And they said wipe all that off, and so we wiped that off, and they brought in 25-pound buckets of lard from the Navy, and said coat your feet with lard, put on dry socks, new boots, same kind of boots, and get going again. Well, this resulted in what they called immersion foot up there, which is a combination of frostbite and fungus. And some of the guys, when they would rub the mold off of their feet, it became infected and gangrene set in, and there was some amputations. And there was one or two, I'm sure, that died from gangrene, because they didn't know what it was, or, I mean it, they weren't aware of how they could combat it. Anyway, we were ready to go back into the battle, and so we went on up, and. .. But to get back to the uniform, the light jackets we had were just nothing for what we needed. We needed parkas, we needed shoepacs on our feet, and we needed something we could put up over our heads in the wind and the storms and stuff. And we never did have gloves, we had what they called wristlets, which was a wrist-type deal that had your fingers out, so you could fire and stuff, and stuff, but, and we could, we had pockets we could put our hands in. But, anyway, we were just not equipped for that. And there were units up in the Alaska Defense, and they had shoepacs, and they had parkas, and they had arctic sleeping bags. Now, we didn't have any arctic sleeping bags until, oh, 1'd say about two or three, a good two weeks after we were on the island. And they brought up these arctic sleeping bags which was a two-unit affair. You had the inner one that would zip up around and you had your head out. You had your outer one that would come up over your head, and we'd split them up, and then we'd, some nights, somebody had a sleeping bag, and the rest of them didn't, and we just had enough to barely get along, and so ...

Christin Seifert:

I don't know how you can fight, if you don't---

Dean E. Galles:

Well, you know, that is the thing, it, you get so, I don't know how you say it, [inaudible] numb, but your brain just does not function properly, and you go along kind of half sleeping and half dreaming, if you're walking anyplace. And the other thing that came up on our, in the health department, was by sleeping on the cold wet ground all the time, the legs in our, or our groin became inflamed. The cords or the muscles, I don't know what it is. Anyway, it was so painful when you'd try to stand up in the morning, and it was like you was breaking loose stuff that had grown together or something. And I know the last assignment we had before the big counter attack was to go up onto Buffalo Ridge and secure this ridge that overlooked Chichagof Harbor that was the final destination of finishing the battle. And when we got these orders to move up to that ridge, there was, the majority of our guys had to crawl the first little bit. And once you get up and get going, then you could work it out pretty good. But this all developed because of the sleeping, or laying, on the cold wet ground.

Christin Seifert:

So this is how you started every morning?

Dean E. Galles:

Yes, yeah. And the guys wouldn't give up. But anyway, we, the final battle came on the 29th of May, when the Japanese took all their remaining people, which was around 1,200 I think, and they took them out of the hospital, and they used lots of Novo cain, not Novocain, there's another deadener that they used, and they got everybody doped up so they could move. And they become pretty wild. And I know up, I was on Buffalo Ridge, which was the most advanced position, and the group that came up to our place, they were all dressed in parkas. And I really thought, we kept getting word we were getting replacements. And when I saw these people with parkas coming up I thought, God, our replacements are coming. And so I walked right into them, and that's when I got engaged in hand-to-hand fighting, and I was bayoneted four times, once on the forehead, once on the wrist, and once in the ribs, and once through the thigh, and they came out the butt. And then all of a sudden they left me, but I, when I caught that one with my hand there, I decided, you know, this isn't working. So I got a headlock on the next guy, and I found out one thing there. The Japanese had a peculiar odor, and it wasn't a bacteria body type odor, it was more like this soap, or lotion, or something that they were using. It was, they, and I can, I'd know it today, if I ever saw it. The other thing that I learned, which I should have learned before, but didn't, was that the Japanese have a waddle to their walk, and ifI'd have been, you know, had all the facilities in gear and stuff, why I'd have noticed those aren't Americans those are Japs. And so I paid for my failure to recognize those things. But anyway, that group was annihilated up on our, up on the ridge, and I made my way back down the mountain, walked down the mountain and walked over to Engineer Hill and got on a FA trailer over there, which is the track trailer, and that just shakes you to death. And here I was, and I felt like my butt was falling out and stuff. But it was a ride. I wasn't walking. And I got back to the beach, and the field hospital back there sewed me up, and I never left the island, I ...

Christin Seifert:

How long were you in the field hospital?

Dean E. Galles:

It must have been about, only about two weeks I'd say, two or three weeks.

Christin Seifert:

Tell me it was warm. Tell me you were warm at night when you were sleeping and ...

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah, I was. I had a cot down there, and there was a tent, and we had a stove.

Christin Seifert:

That must have felt like heaven after what you'd been through.

Dean E. Galles:

One kind oflittle sideline was that word came in that one of the Navy ships was out in the harbor, and they would take anybody out to the ship, and they had some canned peaches. So man, I said, I got to go for this. And I had this arm in a cast trying to hold that thing together, and I climbed up the cargo net with that, with the cast on that arm and got over the rail and sat down to my peaches, and it was glorious.

Christin Seifert:

They must have tasted wonderful.

Dean E. Galles:

But you know the, another incident about the Purita, was that after we got off the ship, it was circling around, and in the fog it ran into a reef, and it split the bottom open. And they rammed it into the beach at Massacre Bay, in order to keep it from sinking. But all our stuff that we left onboard became soaked in diesel oil and seawater, and the stuff I've got now today still has that smell. I've painted it. I've put primer on it and did everything. Another item is that I acquired a Japanese medical chest made out of mahogany when I was up there, and I had a fellow in our company that was good with canvas, and he put canvas upholstering all over that bag and put my name on it, and it came back to me. And I took the canvas off, and there was a, our battalion medical officer was Captain Whitaker (sp?), and in 3rd Battalion, the medical officer was Captain Moodry (sp?). Both these guys graduated from a university in California in medical. The Japanese, head Japanese medical officer was also a graduate from that same school, and I have a document that shows a picture of those three in their school annual. And here they were fighting against each other.

Christin Seifert:

Patching up each other's guys.

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah. Anyway, this guy's, the Japanese doctor, he heard that there was a lot of tuberculosis in, from mines and things in Japan, so he, after he got his medical degree, he went back to Japan thinking he could help the public there. Well, they nabbed him as a traitor, since he was educated in the US. And the furthest away they could think, and the worst assignment was to be the medical officer on Attu, and so that's how he ended up there. Well, anyway, he had a daughter and, Laura, that was born in the United States, and he never saw his daughter. She never saw him. And she still resides in California, and I've corresponded with her. In fact, she went up, in 1993, they had a reunion up on Attu, a memorial. And she went up there and delivered the main memorial speech, and I got a copy of that, and, but she's quite a gal. But anyway, I asked her if she would be interested in getting that medical chest, since her dad was a medical officer. She said, oh, yes, if I can get it, I'll put it in the Japanese American Museum in Los Angeles. And I guess she did, because that, she said she did, and I've never been down to see it, but I would like to see it sometime, but I don't ever intend to go down there, but ...

Christin Seifert:

Well, if either Roy or I go down there, we'll take a picture of it. That's wonderful. How gracious of you to give it back to her. That was ...

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah. Anyway, it, I feel the same way about this battle fight, but that, well, after the battle ended, we went, kind of went back into a kind of training, but anyway we had to--

Christin Seifert:

Still up there?

Dean E. Galles:

Still on Attu. We had, they got us pyramidal tents, which would sleep eight people, with a stove in the middle and a chimney up the. .. And, but we had to dig them into the ground, because the stakes we put in to hold them, the ground wasn't solid enough to hold the stakes, and the wind why they'd, the tents would all crater. So we dug them in the ground, in about three feet of ground, and on the side hills, and they withstood then. And we had a few that got overheated and burned and stuff, because you would try to fire up your oil, they were heated by oil. Anyway, but anyway, I was, after I pretty well recovered, I was transferred from H Company in 2nd Battalion, to take command of the D Company in the 1 st Battalion. And I carried on that assignment for the next two campaigns.

Christin Seifert:

So what was the mission there? Still, you were---

Dean E. Galles:

Well, we were just training. And, well the first thing that happened when I was first up there, we had a Colonel Logy (sp?) who was a, kind of a soldier of fortune. He'd been in the foreign wars and all that, and he was observing one of our training missions, and I'll be darned if a sergeant in my company didn't fire and shoot him through the leg. And he said, that's okay, I haven't been hit in that leg before. He really was nice about it, but it was a tragedy almost, and the sergeant got demoted down to a corporal, but he soon became sergeant again. But that was a great greeting as taking command of that and having to go through that fiasco. Anyway, we stayed up on Attu until August. We landed up there in May, and we left in August. And again, we didn't know where we were going, but we thought for sure, well, we're headed back to the states. We're going to rest up back there. And they said, oh, no, no, no, you're experienced now. So you got further chores to do, and so we headed for Hawaii. And we landed at Pearl Harbor, which I don't know, they found a berth in there someplace for us to land. And we rode the Sugar Cane Train up to Schofield Barracks, which is kind of in the middle of the island of Oahu, and we were put out into a red dusk tent area out there. We had tents that were built up on about two feet of, two feet above the ground, and we bordered a pineapple field, but they said don't touch a pineapple. That is almost death to steal pineapples in Hawaii, so never touched them, we didn't. But anyway, it was a real enjoyable service, and we were in Hawaii for almost a year, except for the Quadulan Campaign in the Marshall Islands. We went out, and that was a short campaign. And we left February of' 44, or we made the landing on February of' 44, and we fought for about a week there and secured the island. But as far as the preparation for landing on Quadulan, this maneuver, or this assignment was conducted by Admiral Nimitz. And Admiral Nimitz believed in a lot of softening, a lot of bombardment, pre-landing stuff, so you could, they gave us a schedule of what was going on. The high-level bombers went over at two days before and for so long, and then the dive bombers, or the dive bombers and strafing came in, and they fired, and then the cruisers came in, and they fired and fired, and all the ... It, you just can't imagine an island existing and people living, but there were people alive when we landed there. In fact, there was a dozen or more Korean that were all dressed in white, and they came out of a bunker, and they weren't injured, but they were kind of slave labor in Quadulan. And, but anyway, our last assignment there was to pick up any body parts that we could find. And I know we had some sheet metal, and we'd pick up feet and arms and stuff, and it wasn't a good, and it all smelled, you know, just horrible. But then we loaded back, and we weren't away from Hawaii very long, and we went back there. And our next assignment, we were loaded on ships, and it must have been about in August of 1944, and we maneuvered around out in the ocean. We were floating reserve for Iwo Jima, and we were, then they thought we was going to go someplace else. And we finally ended up going to Leyte in the Philippines, and we landed on there October 20t\ 1944, so that MacArthur could say, I have returned. And we spent from October, until about the next February, I think it was. The Japanese were moving all the time in, on the Philippines, and they were trying to consolidate units, so that we'd have infiltration at night through our lines. They were trying to get through our lines, and so we didn't have any peaceful moments and never had a bed all that time. And we ended up over at Ormoc Bay and ...

Christin Seifert:

Again, you were land based at this point. You weren't sitting on the ships---

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, we were on land. In fact, we had an assignment down there in the Philippines that lasted about a month, where we were taken down to Panaon Island, which is the south end of Leyte, between Leyte and oh, it's a big island, Mindanao. And there's a strait that goes through there that the, our PT boats were going through for night attacks, and we had to be, they had to be assured that the strait was not occupied and hazardous for gunfire or anything coming from the sides. So we were stationed on a point there, and the strait, when the tide would go in and go out, it was like a river, it was flowing so fast. But anyway, these PT boats would come through in the early part of the evening, and they'd run up and make their raids, and a lot of times they'd come back, and they'd be limping in on one engine and guys wounded and stuff, and they'd run into some fire up there. Well, we stayed on that assignment for about 30 days, and then we loaded on ...

Christin Seifert:

Was there a lot of fighting for you guys there? The battle was, what the PT boats are for---

Dean E. Galles:

No, we were not disturbed. Now, on Panaon Island, there were no activity, but we didn't know. We posted our guards and our parameter and stuff there, and we were prepared somewhat to, for any encounters, but the only thing we had was sometimes the Betty bombers, the Japanese bombers, would have a bomb left, and they'd drop it near us, but they never hit anything, but they, just another one ofthose incidents. But over in, we loaded on these landing craft infantry, I think, landing craft infantry. It, anyway, it was made to hold quite a few people. Well, we had to load all our men and ammunition, and there was supplies on it, and God, the freeboard on it was only about six inches to keep from going underwater. But we were so overloaded, it was terrible. But there was my first chance to observe a radar in action. It had a radar on it, and you could see the hand sweeping around, and they could, and we went up in blackout, and when we got up so far, there was lights on the beach that signaling the dot dash and all that crap. And so we landed there. And we, it was near the town of Ormoc, and we stayed around there for quite awhile, but all the time we were there, the Japanese were infiltrating from this side to the other side. And I found out just not too long ago, in reading a Japanese documentary, that the Japanese have better night eyesight than the Americans. And they, and we sort of knew that, because they could do things at night that we couldn't do. And so we finally got some concertina wire that we put out at night, which is rolls of barbed wire and stuff, and we'd put that out. And we used trip wires. We'd hook a hand grenade up to a stake and hook the wire to the pin, and it would fire when it was tripped, but it gave, I don't know, three minutes, or three seconds or five seconds warning, so they had time to get out of there. Except some of the water buffalo never made it out in time, so we got a water buffalo now and then that came through. Yeah. I had the opportunity down there, while we was down there to go up in an artillery observation plane, a little Piper Cub. And I had, we had to leave all equipment and stuff on the ground, because it didn't have capacity to carry a lot of weight. But anyway, they wanted somebody that knew where our lines were, and so I went up on that plane, and we circled and circled, and I got so dizzy and so confused, I didn't know where our lines were. But we did spot some fires up on, quite a ways up on the ridge, and we figured they were Japanese. So the pilot called in a fire order, and I think they were 105 Howitzers, but anyway, they said, gee, that's a lot of range for us, and they never could reach them. They fired a few rounds, and we saw where they landed, and they was short. So anyway, we gave that and came back to the airport and landed. But anyway, we was on the Philippines. Well, I got real, a friend of mine, good friend of mine and I, well, there was three of us, that we went together, and we decided we wanted to have some fried chicken. So we got a Filipino down there that had a chicken that was a fighting cock, and, no, no, I'm saving it for my daughter's wedding and can't. We finally talked him into parting with it. And we had some, at that time, we had some, I think they were called 10-in-l rations, and in there was some bacon. So we got some bacon grease, and got that chicken all dressed out and put it in there, and I'll tell you, it, I never ate anything so tough in my life. But we enjoyed it. And shortly after that, I come down with the dengue fever, which is a mosquito carrying, but it's different, a little different from malaria, in that malaria is hard to get rid of, but this is just a kind of more or less a one time shot. But anyway, you just ache, and you got fever, and you can't walk and you, that, and then that developed into yellow jaundice. So I was in the hospital on the Philippines there, and I had a bed and it had mosquito netting around it, and they issued one can of beer a day for all the patients. It was warm, but that's the way they drink it in England, I guess, so.

Christin Seifert:

You didn't tum it down, did you?

Dean E. Galles:

Oh, I sure didn't. No, no. Anyway, I got out in time to make the final preparation for going to Okinawa.

Christin Seifert:

You were probably still weak though, weren't you?

Dean E. Galles:

I was weak, and I got new shoes, and they were one size smaller than they should have been. They didn't have the right size. But anyway, it was tolerable, and we got ready and we loaded on the LSTs, which are pretty much designed to carry, I think about a, well, several companies of infantry, along with quite a lot of equipment. And they had a door on the front that would open up, and they'd open up and the ramp would drop down. And by this time, we were making, using what they called alligators to proceed into the beach. And these were, looked like a tank, only they had kind of cups on the tread, and that, and when the tread would rotate, it would maneuver them into shore. And the first, we had them on Quadulan, too, but the ones we had in Quadulan, we had to climb out over the side, and that's a pretty hazardous, so they finally developed one that would, you could unload from the rear. And so we road them in, but if you didn't watch the rolls of the sea, and that alligator would come out of that hole, and there was no water for quite a ways down. They had a tendency to nose down and just keep going, and, but we didn't have that problem. I only know of one or two that ever did that. But anyway, that's how we landed there, and, you know, of the three landings, four landings that we made, the only one that had any kind of hostile was the Quadulan. The rest of them, it was just moving in, there was no gunfire, no, for awhile after we got in. The same way on Okinawa, we landed at Kadena Airfield there, and proceeded in over the airport there, and there was no resistance there at all. And the Marines were on our left, and our ih Division was on the right, and we moved across the island with very little resistance at all. But on the airport there, we could see these suicide glider planes that were made, they were loaded with human bond. They would pilot, take them up as a glider, and just, they'd have their targets, and they'd just sacrifice themselves and go in. It was a great honor they thought. But there were several of them parked on the airport, but otherwise, there was no Japanese planes or anything.

Christin Seifert:

You must have felt that the tide was in the allies' favor then, didn't you, sInce your ...

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah. Oh, yes. Well, we were, we had momentum up all over, because we'd taken Iwo Jima and that was a tough one, and we'd taken the Philippines back, and we were moving back into, where we were crowding the Japanese back. But anyway, we got across the island, and we were, the Marines turned to the left, and we turned to the right, which I guess, I think left was north and right was south, I think. I think we landed on the other side, but, and I'm not real sure on that. But anyway, we turned to the right and started moving up, and there was a higher ridge up there that was wooded, and then there was rice paddies and cane fields down where most of, where our unit, my unit was, and ...

Christin Seifert:

Okay. Where were we? Oh, Okinawa.

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah, Okinawa, and we were moving to our right, whichever direction that was, I should have checked it out before I came, but I didn't. And anyway, we were moving down that, kind of in the lowlands down there, there was a spot of cane field here and rice paddies there, but the unit on our, we lost contact with the unit our right, which had little heavier going, in that they had the higher ground and there was more resistance.

Christin Seifert:

Was it still jungle there?

Dean E. Galles:

No, not so much, no. It was, these cane fields and things were out and open, and over there was more like kind of country like the, well, the mountains down here, kind of low hills that were wooded and stuff. Anyway, I was up in the front, and I was looking through my field glasses, which was a bad thing to do. Trying to pick up our unit on our right, and so I held up everybody, and said, let's wait and see. And when I had my field glasses out and was leaning on the, well, I was kind of laying down on this ditch bank and looking through the field glasses, and offto my right, and this bullet hit my shoulder, and it kind of cratered me to that side, leaned into it more or less. But it broke this arm completely below the joint, but it damaged, just wiped out that joint completely. And then, I took three or four more bullets, kind of almost [inaudible] my arm. As I rolled to the right, and the last one I remember came through my helmet as I laid with my head back, and it came through the helmet and went down my neck, head and neck, just nicked the skull and came out the front over the top of my body, so. And so, [inaudible] I probably was passed out for a little bit then, when I had that blow, but that hitting the helmet is a tremendous blow, I mean it, if you can imagine having a washtub on your head and someone hits it with a hammer or a sledge or something. Anyway, that's all I can remember, it was a real loud noise, and, of course, it broke my eardrum. And the guy over next to me, and I can't tell you what his name is right now, and he said, did it get you? And I thought a minute and I, yeah, I think so. So, medic, he called for a medic, and they came up there with a stretcher. And I got on the stretcher, and that machine gun opened up again, so they dropped me right out in the middle of that rice paddy, and they scurried for cover, so I climbed off of that [inaudible] and jumped in a ditch there and got my feet wet. But, and then, I walked on back a little bit, and they retrieved their stretcher, and I got back on it, and they carried me out. Yeah.

Christin Seifert:

Hitchhiking on a stretcher, huh?

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah.

Christin Seifert:

Had you lost a lot of blood at that point?

Dean E. Galles:

You know, in all the wounds that I had, the bayonet, I bled very little. They sent my underwear home, for some reason, I packed it up and put it with my stuff, and I got it home, and this one on the rib, there was blood spot about the size of a dollar. And I don't know what on the wrist was, and the one on the forehead, I know it, blood came down my forehead and everything and my face. And the one in the leg, never hit an artery or anything. It never hit the bone, I don't think.

Christin Seifert:

For somebody who'd been shot so many times, you were pretty lucky.

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah, right. And the same way with the multiple bullet wounds on, I never bled. Where I did bleed was in the chest, and I had so much blood in my chest that I couldn't breathe, and that was real. But, you know, none of my wounds were painful. I didn't, I didn't hurt anyplace when I was wounded, whether it was the bayonet or the, well, and the shell fragment down on the Leyte in the Philippines, I just went over to the aid station, they pulled a fragment out of my knee and put a Band-Aid on it, and away I went again. So that was really minor, but I never did bleed, and the only broken bones I had was the arm, the shoulder was just annihilated, and the ribs that were broken. And they show up on the X-rays as fused together now, so. But I have, and the bullet that remains in my chest, it used to kind of twist on me, you know, like I'd get a charley horse in it or something. And, but lately, it has ceased to do that, and I think what has happened is it has grown a bunch of growth around the bullet, and it just stays in that one place.

Christin Seifert:

Where'd you get this one?

Dean E. Galles:

This one, this bullet was, the bullet was taken out of my shoulder in the, at the field hospital in Guam. And I had one other bullet that was intact, a good bullet, this one shows a dented nose on it, which evidently, the bone caused it, but I can't understand a bone being that hard, but then, it, and it could have possibly been a ricochet or something that went in there. But, and the other bullet that they took a second bullet out in Hawaii at 14ih General Hospital, right in Honolulu, and they left one bullet in. And, let's see ...

Christin Seifert:

So you're still carrying a souvenir?

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah, I've got a souvenir there. I had something else I was going to, I forgot it.

Christin Seifert:

It just wasn't worth the, to go get it, it wasn't---

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah, they said they'd have to, at that time, they said they'd have to cut out a rib in order to get it. Now, I don't understand that, but to me, it looked like they could have had a strong magnet and just, I don't know, and ...

Christin Seifert:

How long were you in the hospital there?

Dean E. Galles:

Well, when I left Guam on a hospital ship and rode the ship into Hawaii, and that's where I passed the bullet that went into my stomach. And, oh, I know what I was, the, when I left Guam, I was in what they call a spica cast. I had, this shoulder was out like this, and it was a body, full body cast down to the waist here. They were trying to save this arm, is what they were trying to do. But, anyway, I carried that, and even when they, when I got to Hawaii, they put the spica cast back on again in Hawaii, and I carried that until I got to McCaw General Hospital at Walla Walla. But anyway, my route was, I didn't stay too long at the I 47th in Hawaii, and we were on a C-54 transport heading for Hamilton Field, California. And we got almost halfway across, and they said, we're hitting a headwind. We're not going to be able to make it on fuel. So they went back to Hawaii and got another weather report and tried it again the next day, and we made it to Hamilton Field. And I was there overnight, at, they had a kind of a hospital, or waiting room, or something that I stayed in over there. And then I flew to McCaw General Hospital in Walla Walla, and I was there for about two or three months. I think my final hospital was Madigan General Hospital in Tacoma, Fort Lewis. And that's where I spent the final time, but while I was at McCaw General Hospital, the head physician there was Dr. Richard Chapel, who was a, quite an outstanding Billings physician. And he lived in Billings, and I knew him before I went in the service.

Christin Seifert:

That was a piece of home, wasn't it?

Dean E. Galles:

So, it was. And he was real good acquaintance to know there, but it's a small world when you get these guys like that.

Christin Seifert:

Was anybody in your family able to come see you in Walla Walla, or out at Fort Lewis, or---

Dean E. Galles:

No, my mother finally came shortly before Christmas, and I don't know how she got there. The only way you can get into Walla Walla is, well, I don't know either, whether you can fly in there or not.

Christin Seifert:

[inaudible] way to get there, huh?

Dean E. Galles:

But, anyway, I'm pretty sure she took a bus in there, and I got to see her. And I got to go home over Christmas, but I was, I had been reduced to an arm cast when I went home for Christmas in ' 45. And that arm cast was on there to try to stretch the, when that bone in the arm was broken it had shortened up, and this arm is still three quarters of an inch shorter than the other arm.

Christin Seifert:

They must have been worried about just saving it for a long time, weren't they?

Dean E. Galles:

They were, between all those bullets that went in around the backside and then the one that went in here. And, you know, I've had orthopedic doctors that have practically insisted I get a new joint. But I had quite a lot of trouble with it. I've still got a floating bone in there that's about the size of a dime, and it still floats, but it doesn't get in the way anymore. But it used to lock up, and God, but I didn't want anybody to touch it, to help me, or anything, you know. Don't touch it. And it's still there they said, but, anyway, I never had the joint replaced, because if I can move it like this, and for a long time I couldn't touch the top of my head at all. And I got a hold of this Julia Clemens (sp?) who is a homeopathy doctor, and she had what they called an osteotrace pill. And I took, she said, now, it's going to hurt when you first take it, because the first action is to clean out the joint, and it's painful when it's cleaning out. Well, I took it, those pills, and that's been about, oh, I'd bet you 20 years ago I started on that, and I started gaining movement and everything, and I have very little pain. I do sleep with my arm propped up at night, because I can't, ifit gets in close, it gets into a position that's uncomfortable. But, you know, how you can go through those things and come out smiling, I don't know. Something had to happen.

Christin Seifert:

Why don't you tell me about these?

Dean E. Galles:

Well, this is a leaflet that was dropped on Attu. They were trying to get prisoners, so they could interrogate the prisoners and find out what's going on early in the battle. And we were so conscientious in our job up there, anything that looked like a Japanese, did not survive. And so they pleaded with us, or gave us orders, actually, to take prisoners. Well, we finally got one prisoner and sent him back, and they interrogated him, and whether they found out anything that they didn't know, I don't know.

Christin Seifert:

Okay, and you've got another. You've got this that you want to talk about. I want to hear about where you got that and what you're trying to do with it right now.

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah. This is what we called, I don't know whether that was the Japanese official name for it or not, but we called it a Japanese battle flag. And this is a flag that was carried by quite a few, probably the majority of the Japanese soldiers that were on Attu. And on this is the soldier's name, and it was a kind of well-wishing greetings, be brave, do your job well, fight for the emperor, and good luck, and all that stuff. And so I acquired this off of one of the fellows at, on Attu, and what I'm trying to do is to locate some of the ancestors of this soldier that carried this flag, but I'm not having any success at all. They figured out what the name of the soldier is, and he was from a little town in Japan, and I think it's I-i-I-t-o, Iilto, or Elito, or something like that. And it's right near Nagano, which was where the Olympic Game, winter Olympic Games were, so it's up in the mountains there, and he was really qualified to serve where he did in the cold and on Attu. But, I have traced it down, I've had a professor from University of Ottawa by the name of Galen Perras, P-e-r-r-a-s, that was our historian on the documentary that was filmed on Attu, in September of2005, which I went on. And he's been trying desperately to find somebody that we could return it to. But between the privacy laws in Japan, and all the government stuff, it's practically impossible to really do a thorough job on it, but I would still like to see a descendent, a grandson, a great-grandson, or somebody of that soldier have that flag. But it's looking pretty dim to getting that accomplished, so until then, I'll just hang onto it.

Christin Seifert:

Until you can find where it rightfully belongs?

Dean E. Galles:

Yep.

Christin Seifert:

So, History Channel did a video on the Attu days.

Dean E. Galles:

Yes, in September of 2005, the History Channel, I was contacted by a production company that works with the History Channel. It's an A&E television production. And one of their interns called me on the phone, and I don't know how they got my name or who gave it to them or anything, and asked me if I'd be interested in returning to Attu for a documentary on the battle of Attu. And this was in July of2005. Now, I turned them down. I said, I don't think I'm able to go. And in the meantime, I found out that they had gone to a reunion in Minnesota of an engineer group and asked any of them if they would go. And their answer was hell, no. I'd never go back to that place. And I kind of agreed with it a little bit, but anyway, it intrigued me. But anyway, I was up in Helena in August. I had an eye appointment at Fort Harrison, and my son, youngest son lives there. And I was talking with him on it, and he says, you know, he says, I think you ought to go. And he said, I think you can make it. So I kind of set my mind that I was going to see if I could still get on the schedule. And I had my appointment up at Fort Harrison at, I think it was 9:00, and I got out of there at, oh, it was about 11 :00 I think, but I knew I had to get back by 3:00 in order to catch anybody before 5:00 in, back East. So I got on the phone, and I called this producer who I'd talk to after this intern did, and I turned her down, too. Anyway, I got a hold of her, and I said, did you find anybody to make the trip to Alaska or to the Aleutians? She said, no. She said, well, I told her, I said, well, you know, I kind of have reconsidered, and I'd kind of like to find out some more about it. And she said, you know, we waited. We were hoping you'd call back.

Christin Seifert:

Well, it makes a stronger story to have somebody who's there.

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah.

Christin Seifert:

And when you can put a face on it---

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah.

Christin Seifert:

---it makes it real.

Dean E. Galles:

Oh, yeah.

Christin Seifert:

You can go see it.

Dean E. Galles:

And I think they did a tremendous job on this. The production is that the History Channel put out is the Alaska's Bloodiest Battle. And the name itself is kind of attractive, but it ...

Christin Seifert:

Were you the only one that ended up going up there then?

Dean E. Galles:

I was the only one that ended up going there, and it was, I think it amounted to 4,000 miles all the way out. I flew from Billings to Salt Lake City alone. At there, I met the associate producer, Megan, and she flew with me to Anchorage and onto Kodiak. We stayed in Kodiak two nights. But anyway, she had the chore oflugging the fancy camera along, because they didn't want to check it. They thought we got to have, know where it is and all that stuff. So I helped her with that stuff, and ...

Christin Seifert:

At the time you were 85 years old?

Dean E. Galles:

Eighty-five, yeah. And we stayed two nights in Kodiak, kind of getting the whole crew together, and actually, there was seven of us. There was, the producer was Andy Ames, the associate producer was Megan, and God bless her, I can't think of her last name right off. Then there was Gordy Waterman, the cameraman, there was Nick Korns (sp?), the audio man, and then the historian was Galen Perras, and myself. There was one more that was in there.

Christin Seifert:

Somebody doing lighting?

Dean E. Galles:

Two, four, five, six. Anyway, they offered to fly my wife, Lillian, to Anchorage, but they said that's as far as she could go, because on our return trip from Attu to Anchorage, it would be on a plane where there's only room for seven. And so that would kind of put the kibosh on that. But they also, I asked them if my son could fly to Anchorage then, and they said, yeah, we'll pay his round-trip ticket to Anchorage, and he can stay with you the night, one night when you're in Anchorage at the Captain Hook Hotel. And so Kevin, my son, got to fly up there, and he flew up there a couple days early. And he stayed at a Super 8, a little cheaper than the other one. But anyway, he got a chance to go out to visit some good friends of his that were out on an island.

Christin Seifert:

Nice.

Dean E. Galles:

Just off of Anchorage there, and then he rented a car, and he did some sightseeing up there. And I got back to, well, anyway the, we filmed Wednesday, we left, I left Billings on Monday, got to Kodiak and stayed there Monday and Tuesday. Then Wednesday, we got on the Coast Guard C-130 Hercules that makes a supply run to Attu every two weeks. And they have room for some passengers and some, a lot of freight and stuff, and ...

Christin Seifert:

What was it like being back?

Dean E. Galles:

Well it was---

Christin Seifert:

You never got to see it the first time, you were all---

Dean E. Galles:

No, you didn't really. It was an eerie feeling, because, you know, there's no trees, and the mountains were beautiful this time. The valley was just as dismal and with the tundra, and, you know, when we were fighting up there, we thought we could use Jeeps, you know, out in the valley and stuff and different motorized stuff. But, you know, tundra grows on top of the water, and it's just grass, and you make one pass with a Jeep across there, and you might make it for a ways, but all of a sudden you go through tundra and you're on, you're flooded. So they found out that the only things that could work up there was the D6, D4 Caterpillars. And they, down below the water was a good gravel base, and so they made channels up there and ran these tractors up there, but other motorized equipment was just worthless. They devised and brought out in this documentary the fantastic means of getting supplies up the mountains by using winches, and they hauled a lot of our, well, all our supplies up by cable and stuff, and ...

Christin Seifert:

You must be proud of that movie then, aren't you?

Dean E. Galles:

I really am. It was, I just, I haven't looked at it for quite awhile, but then it was, I thought the production was just, I thought I was the worst part of it. But the Coast Guard really treated us royally, and you asked me how I felt up there, well, I felt so eerie, I asked the commander at the Coast Guard station there, there's 20 some people stay up there a year at a time, they're stationed out there, and they don't get off. But anyway, the Coast Guard station at Kodiak, or at Attu, is vital to sea and air communication. It acts as a point for a triangle or something, and they use it extensively in that manner. That's why they want to keep an installation on the island. And that's the, really the only live installation there is on the whole island. And the Air Force has a, some kind of a station up on Engineer Hill, or near Engineer Hill, and they maintain it once a year or something. They say they come in there and it's a kind of a brick building, a small building that houses some kind of instruments or something. But anyway, in having that eerie feeling on Attu, when I returned there, after the first night, I went to the commander and asked him, I said, what kind of security do you have here, supposing that they would have somebody out walking around the building or posted out someplace, and at least an observation place in the building on 24 hours a day. We don't have any, he says. We don't anticipate anything coming in here. We've got, they've got two dogs. Their name was Adak and Tennessee, and they're watch dogs. And they, he said, they've never bitten any guests or anybody here, but he said, they just don't like being friendly. And a few of the guys would start to pet them or something, and [barking noise], you know, and so they backed off from that. But anyway, they said, they're their watchman there. And I kind of agreed with it. Felt a little better about it, but I took a sleeping pill every night up there. I couldn't sleep unless I did. But we had good bunks, good quarters, good food for the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard fed their crews early, we got in after that.

Christin Seifert:

But looking back, that was their in entrance [inaudible] to North America.

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah. Now, we were only, I think 750 miles from Japan or Russia, up on Attu. But it's a bleak island, and we were scheduled to come back Saturday, that Saturday, leave in the morning, and sure enough on Friday, here comes a storm. And it blew and it rained. The rain was just horizontal up there and it howled all night.

Christin Seifert:

Did you [inaudible] wet and cold up there before?

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah. Anyway, it blew all Friday, and they did some filming indoors in the rec room up there, interviews with the historian. That historian was just magnificent. I just got a lot of respect for him. But anyway, Saturday morning, it was still howling like mad, and then we found out that the plane they were going to send down for us had been rerouted to Houston and on a different source, and that they didn't have anything to send for us. But they were looking and they were going to try and everything, so. Along in the afternoon, mid-afternoon, they notified us that they had located this Cessna Citation, and I understand that there's quite a few different sizes of the Cessna Citation, but this was a seven passenger, six passenger actually, and then there was a little seat for the stewardess, or whatever, pilot and copilot. They located that, but they had a capacity, weight capacity of 1,500 pounds, so that meant that after we weighed the bodies and weighted the cameras, stuff we had to get on there, why we had to really trim down our bags. And so they said each one can carry just overnight stuff. So that's what I did. I, luckily, when I was at Kodiak, I bought a little bag, because they bought me a pair of shoepacs in Kodiak. They said, you need these.

Christin Seifert:

And you said, yes.

Dean E. Galles:

So, and they were wonderful.

Christin Seifert:

I needed them 40 years ago.

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah, why didn't I have them there? But anyway, I had them, and I knew that I didn't, wasn't going to have room for them and the stuff, so I bought this little bag, and sure enough, it came in real handy, because I could really trim down my weight and get it all into there. And they said, the, your luggage will be leaving Kodiak on the next supply plane, which was going to be like another 10 days, I think, or something like that. Anyway, it was in twooweek intervals when we got there and when they left. And then it'll come FedEx to Billings. Sure enough, it was right on the ball, and they fulfilled all their, but, you know, that Alaska country, Aleutians and everything, everybody has to be so versatile in accepting changes by, caused by weather and just ordinary things up there. It just, and we had such a good crew that was with us that they just took it in stride. I was able to call Lillian from up there. In fact, I got myself in trouble once, when I forgot that she told she, Friday, she was going out to play bridge in the afternoon, and I was trying to get a hold of her, and, well, it's not like her to leave for this long. And so Megan was trying and trying to get her, finally, she got a hold of her about 5:00, I think, in the afternoon, and I felt awful stupid. But, anyway, they were so accommodating. I sure got a lot of respect for the Coast Guard. They are just a magnificent group to, they were so accommodating, and quite a number of times they'd say, well what do you think? They'd ask me, what do you want to do? In fact, when I went up there, I wanted to go back up to Buffalo Ridge. That was my goal, and they knew it. And on the way in, when we were going in, the pilot circled Buffalo Ridge about three times and says, there it is down there. Well, it didn't look near the same from the air, but it did, when I got up to Engineer Hill and looked down and saw Buffalo Ridge, I said, that's it down there. I knew it. And, but anyway, they were so accommodating and just catered to us all the time, and ...

Christin Seifert:

You're glad you did it.

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah. And the food they put out was good. Their kitchen was open all the time, you know, you could go up there and get milk and juice, stuff, and the only---

Christin Seifert:

You didn't volunteer to spend a year up there though, did you?

Dean E. Galles:

Oh, no, I wouldn't want that. And they told us right off the bat, said, don't drink the water out of the tap. It's contaminated with ...

Christin Seifert:

Giardia?

Dean E. Galles:

What?

Christin Seifert:

Giardia or ...

Dean E. Galles:

No, it's contaminated with a real poison. And we could use it to shower and stuff, but they said don't drink it, and they had treated water up in the mess hall, or the ...

Christin Seifert:

So do you read about Attu? Do you read about Leyte? Do you, are you one of those that devours books about the places you've been?

Dean E. Galles:

No. No, I'm not. I have trouble reading. I have read most of the book that this Galen Perras, the historian wrote. And he goes back to 1860, about how when the Russians were making expeditions to the Aleutian Islands, and they killed off all the seals, and they wanted the furs and all that. But, and the Japanese were interested in it, and it was kind of a three-way battle for interests in the Aleutian Chain.

Christin Seifert:

Did they find out when the Japanese soldiers had landed there in World War II? How long had they been ...

Dean E. Galles:

Well, they landed there in 1942, so they hadn't been there but maybe a year, a little over a year. In fact, they had occupied it, I think it was twice, and they pulled out, because the weather was so fierce and everything. But they put on their main installation at Kiska. And then after Attu was taken, we were supposed to go to Kiska, and my particular unit wasn't in on the landing there, but there was Canadians and Americans that landed on Kiska, and they found out that they had evacuated the place by submarine, and they didn't know. I tell you, the intelligence on the whole area up there is so unknown. The maps they gave us never showed the tops of the mountains. They was all coastal. They had all the coves and everything pretty well lined out there and the valleys, but as far as how high the mountains were, and that was a hazard to the American pilots, because I took a patrol up there one time, up on the side of a mountain, we were trying to figure out how we could subdue the snipers up there. And so I took a patrol up, and we went on up into the fog, and there was a Navy plane that had just nosed into the side of the mountain. It was pretty well intact, but the pilot was still in there. And I noticed that his wrist, he evidently had his hand on the throttle or something, and when he crashed, he broke open his joint there, and his joint was showing there. But anyway, while we was on that patrol, an interesting thing. We, I had 13 men with me, and we set up kind of a line up there that was facing on up the mountain. And then we were in the fog there, we were counting the men, and it turned out we had 14 in our line. And so the sergeant went down the line, and when he got down on the end one, of them picked up and ran. He should have shot him, but he didn't.

Christin Seifert:

Oh, my.

Dean E. Galles:

So.

Christin Seifert:

That close?

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah. I had an interesting incident happen not too long ago. I went with my son and his wife to Victoria, BC. And up there, they have the famous gardens up there, and we were in the gardens, and in the Japanese section of the garden, there was a Japanese fellow sitting on a bench, and he was quite elderly. Well, not really. He was, I'd 45,50, something. But anyway, he had glasses on, and I looked at him, and I said, that's the guy I had the headlock on. It looked just like him. And I had a flashback on that.

Christin Seifert:

Wow.

Dean E. Galles:

I did. I should have gone over and talked to him, but. .. And then when we signed out over there, I noticed there was three signatures above ours, and they had where they were from, Okinawa. So I figured they can't be very far away, so I spotted three girls that were Oriental, and I went over, I said, are you from Okinawa? And I said, they said, yeah. And they talked good English and everything. They were college students, and I told them, well, you know, I didn't know, we tore up their country so bad with the bombing and strafing. You don't know whether the natives are going to feel that we were intruders or not, so I was a little bit cautious on talking to them, and I said, well you know I was there on the landing at Kadena Airfield. You were there on the landing at Kadena? They hugged me, all three of them. They had to get pictures of me with them, and they were real delightful.

Christin Seifert:

That told you it was okay.

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah, yeah. They said, we were so glad to get rid of the Japanese rule, because they were taking their men and ...

Christin Seifert:

But even these college girls knew that?

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah.

Christin Seifert:

That's great.

Dean E. Galles:

And, but that was interesting. It, I don't know, it kind of shook me up a little bit, and [inaudible] good.

Christin Seifert:

That's great. That's wonderful that they're appreciative.

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah. Yep.

Christin Seifert:

Makes it worthwhile.

Dean E. Galles:

Yep.

Christin Seifert:

You were doing good work.

Dean E. Galles:

Well, I don't know about that, you know. I think that's the one thing, you sort of feel, in some ways, you feel a little guilty. I feel a little guilty in a way. I came back, and I've been able to enjoy. .. I'll be all right in a minute.

Christin Seifert:

Yeah, that's fine. You have a good life here? You know, that's something we hear a lot is that you go on, and you live your life, and you have your kids and, but there's always a part of you that remembers those that didn't.

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah.

Christin Seifert:

That weren't able to.

Dean E. Galles:

Right.

Christin Seifert:

Or even people, native peoples that, you know, their whole life was decimated, but ...

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah, I've been, like down in the Philippines, I was standing beside a guy down there, and he was six foot eight inches. He was a foot taller than I was almost, not quite. But anyway, we were standing on this ridge, and one bullet fired, and I saw it hit his fatigue right on his heart, and he just laid over and died.

Christin Seifert:

That fast?

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah, yep. He was a good friend of mine, and I, but anyway ...

Christin Seifert:

It's, well, it's, it's---

Dean E. Galles:

But I do, I just, I don't know why, in a way, it, I took a beating, but I don't know how else to say, but nothing was real vital, nothing. The most vital thing was when that bullet went in my stomach, I guess, I don't know, but ...

Christin Seifert:

Considering three times, you ran into at Attu, you'd ran into at Leyte, you'd gotten shrapnel there, and you got Okinawa.

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, and ...

Christin Seifert:

I think you were supposed to live through this war.

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah, I guess. I don't know, it just was meant to be, I guess, and, you know, there's, our ranks are shrinking so much that there's hardly any of us. We have a reunion, and I think this last reunion there was, let's see, just five of us there. And now, we're having another reunion in September, but I told them I didn't, I wasn't going to make it, and ...

Christin Seifert:

Is that the one down in Helena?

Dean E. Galles:

No, this would be in Portland this year. And I know the one guy that we had that has set these things up year after year, he's just gone way bad, and he's in a nursing home, and he can't make it, and I just ...

Christin Seifert:

Kind of the heart of it.

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah. In the same way, I've had opportunities to go back to Fort Ord, which was my Army love, I guess you might say, as far as quarters and activities down there. And we had so many nice places to go in Monterey and Pebble Beach and quite a few of those other resorts around there. And Fort Ord has been abandoned as far as the military. The Navy has taken over some of it, but they said there isn't anything left of what the Fort Ord was in '43.

Christin Seifert:

You'd hate to go back to see that---

Dean E. Galles:

And I said, I don't want to go back. I want to remember it like I remember it.

Christin Seifert:

You never went back to Okinawa either or went back to the Philippines?

Dean E. Galles:

No, no.

Christin Seifert:

Or went to any reunions in any of those?

Dean E. Galles:

I've been back to Hawaii twice, and that was a shock.

Christin Seifert:

Did you get some pineapple this time?

Dean E. Galles:

No. Yeah, we sent some home, too. But anyway, what really got me, we stayed at the Moana Hotel, which was considered the Army hotel in '43. The Navy hotel was the, gee, what was that, the blue, the Hawaiian?

Christin Seifert:

Royal Hawaiian?

Dean E. Galles:

Royal Hawaiian, yeah. That was the Navy. And we didn't trespass on each other's property there. But anyway, we stayed at the Moana Hotel in, I don't know, this has been probably 30 years ago, and across from the Moana Hotel, inland, is kind of a flea market or souvenir stands and all that. And the Japanese people in there were so, they just outnumbered everybody. In fact, at the hotel, when we'd come down for breakfast, they had a breakfast that was part of their, whatever they had to ...

Christin Seifert:

The accommodations?

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah, their accommodation. And they would really pack it in on the breakfast, and figure, I don't think they ate the rest of the day, but it was ... And Japan was flying in plane loads of workers that were taking time off, you know, and enjoying it. And then we went up to the big cemetery there. What the heck is it? I don't know.

Christin Seifert:

Does Schofield Barracks still stand?

Dean E. Galles:

Yeah. Well, I think so. Yeah, we went by there one time, I know.

Christin Seifert:

But there's an American cemetery there, too?

Dean E. Galles:

But I'm sure it's active, because they had brick buildings and everything up there. And, but anyway, the Japanese people really got to me there. And for two days, Lillian says, what's wrong with you? And I couldn't tell her. I didn't know. But it was, and then we got away from, we got away from Waikiki there, and everything straightened out. I enjoyed the rest of the trip. But when we were---

Christin Seifert:

You [inaudible] know when that war's going to come up and grab you, do you?

Dean E. Galles:

No, you really don't, and you never, you never ever forget the real bad parts, and all you can do is kind of keep them in tow. And, but when you get flashbacks, it's kind of tough. But I think that we don't have the stress syndrome that the guys are going through now or in Vietnam, but ...

Christin Seifert:

Do you talk about it much with other people?

Dean E. Galles:

No, not too much. In fact, I don't think my kids knew I had a Purple Heart until in the 1990s, because I never talked about it at home. I never, didn't mention anything about my service, just kept to myself. And I know I had a brother-in-law, and he was a coxswain on a landing craft, and he got shot through the arm, and I wished I'd have visited more with him and shared his thoughts as well as sharing my thought. But we never talked. And I was kind of clammed up for so many years, until in the '90s, and then I started trying to remember some of the minor things, you know, and that's tough to do, but ...

Christin Seifert:

What prompted you then to start thinking about it?

Dean E. Galles:

I don't really know what it is. The, I think it was the fact that this one fellow, Ed Blasius (sp?), was a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart here in Billings, and he, I got talking with him, and he said, come on, you join this. So I joined the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and after that, I joined the Legion, and I joined the VFW, and I just started associating with some of the guys. And we always, I don't know if you want to use this or not, but during the battles, we, when so many surrendered off of Corregidor and different military installations, when the Japanese just overran them, we in the service, in these landing groups that I was in, we kind of wondered if those surrenders were necessary. If they couldn't have fought a little harder, made our job a little easier if they'd a put up a little more lasting resistance. And so I had a little trouble getting, feeling good around the POW s, and now, I just admire them. I just have got my good friends, Ben Steele and Art Kline and Bill Arnold. They're three guys here in Billings, and I just think the world of them. And how they can still be alive---

Christin Seifert:

[inaudible].

Dean E. Galles:

I, yeah, I think they had much tougher ordeal than I did.

Christin Seifert:

So it's good that you did get to come into the fold later and hear their stories.

Dean E. Galles:

That's right. I think that has gained me a lot. And I, but we did wonder if, why didn't they fight a little more and take a few more casualties out of the Japanese, and wondered but ...

Christin Seifert:

You don't think so anymore.

Dean E. Galles:

No, not a bit.

Christin Seifert:

Do you have anything in common with the guys who were fighting in Europe?

Dean E. Galles:

You know, not a great deal.

Christin Seifert:

It's like two different wars.

Dean E. Galles:

They were just two different wars. It could have been in different times, but, you know, I still admire the United States. The people that went to bat back home in production providing the stuff we needed. They did a tremendous job of putting out airplanes, landing crafts, rifles, everything. It just, somebody was the real good, and I don't think it was one person, it had to be a lot of people that set priorities and got things organized. But there was some, in reading about the Aleutian Islands that Galen Perras wrote, there was lots of jealousy in the Alaska command and same way in Hawaii, I think. When Pearl Harbor hit, why they discovered some things that shouldn't have been going on that people were enjoying life too much or something, and they weren't taking care of what they should have done. But it, well, it's just ...

Christin Seifert:

It's human nature.

Dean E. Galles:

Human nature.

Christin Seifert:

A lot of people did a lot of good work.

Dean E. Galles:

Yes, yep, yep.

Christin Seifert:

You're the first one that's talked about the people back home contributing. That was good. That's a perfect place to stop, I think.

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