Skip to main content

Search the Special Collections and Archives Portal

Interview with John Joseph Brown, September 26, 2005


Download nts_000127.pdf (application/pdf; 267.49 KB)





Narrator affiliation: Radiological Safety Supervisor, Reynolds Electrical and Engineering Company (REECo)

Digital ID


Physical Identifier



Brown, John Joseph. Interview, 2005 September 26. MS-00818. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


This material is made available to facilitate private study, scholarship, or research. It may be protected by copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity rights, or other interests not owned by UNLV. Users are responsible for determining whether permissions are necessary from rights owners for any intended use and for obtaining all required permissions. Acknowledgement of the UNLV University Libraries is requested. For more information, please see the UNLV Special Collections policies on reproduction and use ( or contact us at

Standardized Rights Statement

Digital Provenance

Original archival records created digitally

Date Digitized



48 pages





Nevada Test Site Oral History Project University of Nevada, Las Vegas Interview with John Brown September 26, 2005 Las Vegas, Nevada Interview Conducted By Charlie Deitrich © 2007 by UNLV Libraries Oral history is a method of collecting historical information through recorded interviews conducted by an interviewer/ researcher with an interviewee/ narrator who possesses firsthand knowledge of historically significant events. The goal is to create an archive which adds relevant material to the existing historical record. Oral history recordings and transcripts are primary source material and do not represent the final, verified, or complete narrative of the events under discussion. Rather, oral history is a spoken remembrance or dialogue, reflecting the interviewee’s memories, points of view and personal opinions about events in response to the interviewer’s specific questions. Oral history interviews document each interviewee’s personal engagement with the history in question. They are unique records, reflecting the particular meaning the interviewee draws from her/ his individual life experience. Produced by: The Nevada Test Site Oral History Project Departments of History and Sociology University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 89154- 5020 Director and Editor Mary Palevsky Principal Investigators Robert Futrell, Dept. of Sociology Andrew Kirk, Dept. of History The material in the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project archive is based upon work supported by the U. S. Dept. of Energy under award number DEFG52- 03NV99203 and the U. S. Dept. of Education under award number P116Z040093. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these recordings and transcripts are those of project participants— oral history interviewees and/ or oral history interviewers— and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U. S. Department of Energy or the U. S. Department of Education. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with John Brown September 26, 2005 Conducted by Charlie Deitrich Table of Contents Introduction: Birth, family background, childhood memories of Great Depression 1 Marriage to wife Peggy, children and grandchildren 4 Memories of Great Depression in New York 7 Military service, U. S. Navy, World War II 12 Audience with Pope Pius XII 20 Recalls receiving news of dropping of atomic bombs on Japan 22 Retires from U. S. Navy, works as research technologist for Loveless Corporation 24 Works for REECo at NTS as radiation monitor 25 Training at NWTC Albuquerque NM and work at Lake Mead Base, NV 26 Work at NTS as radiation monitor ( continued) 28 Impressions of Las Vegas, NV in the 1960s 29 Details of work as a radiation monitor at NTS 34 Discusses Baneberry 37 Talks about possible cancer connection with work at NTS 38 Feelings about the Cold War 39 Work as supervisor in Area 5, NTS 40 Reflects on camaraderie among NTS workers 42 Discusses work and confidentiality at NTS 43 Perceptions of atomic weapons and testing 45 Conclusion: Revisits the NTS with friend and reflections on work 46 UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with John Brown September 26, 2005 in Las Vegas, NV Conducted by Charlie Deitrich [ 00: 00: 00] Begin Track 2, Disc 1. Charlie Deitrich: If you can state your full name, date and place of birth. John Brown: John Joseph Brown, born Brooklyn, New York June 6, 1924. Were you raised in Brooklyn? Up until the time I joined the Navy in 1941. What was it like growing up in Brooklyn? Pretty rough. It was during the Depression. Is that right? But there were no poor people. Nobody had anything. It was rough. There was nobody that had transportation. All of the kids, we went to parochial school. And we didn’t have welfare in those days but they had what they called Home Relief. You got a free meal at lunchtime at school. And there were six of us. My father died when I was about nine. I don’t know what else to say except for the fact that it was pretty rough during the Depression, but the whole country was suffering at that time. Tell me about your parents. What are your parents’ names? My mother’s maiden name was Margaret Bree and her people were all born in Ireland. My grandmother was born in the north of Ireland. On my mother’s side, the people were born in the north, and my father’s people were all born in the south of Ireland; my grandparents were born in County Cork in southern Ireland. And they all immigrated to this country in the 1800s. And my father went into the Army. He fought in the Cuban insurrection. That’s the Spanish- American War? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 2 Well, I don’t like to use the Spanish- American name. All I remember is the Cuban insurrection. And let’s see, I don’t know what else except for the fact that they were all raised in Brooklyn. In those days, it was what they called parishes, like they have in Louisiana now. All of the immigrants lived together. It was all the Irish together, the Italians together, and that type of thing. And I went to a parochial school in Brooklyn, and went to high school. Left there when I was fifteen, at the invitation of the teacher, and I never went back. Then I enlisted in 1941. I borrowed a quarter to get to the recruiting station. And I found a home, so I stayed for twenty- two years. Went to sea in February ’ 42. First ship I was on was torpedoed in ’ 43. It sunk off Bizerte [ Tunisia] in North Africa. And come back to the States and went on board a destroyer escort and went back out to sea, and in ’ 44 we sunk a German sub. We got three battle stars on that ship. And then, well, when V- E Day went, we went through the [ Panama] Canal and went off to the South Pacific. Went through Halmahera, Inodnesia, Morotai, Dutch East Indies, all of that, you know, island- hopping, and we made it out there in time for the invasion of Lingayan Gulf in the Philippines. I don’t know, somebody said, what was it like? I said you went away as a seventeen- year- old kid and came back as a twenty- one- year- old man. Anyway, this is what— That’s good. Did you mention your father’s name? John. What was growing up in Brooklyn during the Depression like? What’d you do? Did you have any hobbies or—? No, went to work when I was a kid. Well, I worked for a guy, what we used to call a peddler. I don’t know whether you know what that term is. He drove a truck around with vegetables on it [ 00: 05: 00] and we used to sell the vegetables to people. You go along the street yelling UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 3 “ Peddler!” And then they’d come out and they’d buy potatoes or something. And I got $ 3.50 a week but I worked from six until noon, went to school from, oh, somewhere around one o’clock till three, and then got off and I worked till six again. I got $ 3.50 week, and had to give Mom $ 3.00 because there was the six of us, plus I had a brother that had Down’s syndrome. We all went to work. So I went to work, I guess, well, [ for all] intents and purposes when I was about nine, and then I got a job as a-- sounds ridiculous— chicken plucker. It was in the kosher meat market. I got ten cents for each chicken that I pulled the feathers out after this rabbi killed it in a kosher rite, whatever they do, you know. And then I worked at a skating rink, outdoor ice- skating rink, in the wintertime, cleaning the snow from the skates off the ice. Did that up until the time I went into the Navy. And I went I worked in the Navy, I was a seaman, worked the seamanship, cargo handling, rigging, Shore Patrol, I don’t know, just about general- service- type thing. Tell me about your brothers and sisters. I had an older brother. His name was Eugene. He died, oh, I forget how old he was. He died of cancer, I think it was. But he went on to get his teaching degree and lived in a place called New Paltz, New York. Married a wonderful lady. Her name was Edna Segal. She came from Brooklyn. And they had two children, Pamela— she still lives up there— and Paul, he went on and got his doctorate; now he’s— I forget exactly what he— like administrative— I’m trying to think of what Paul does. It’s OK. But anyway, they still live in a place called New Paltz, New York. And I had my brother Bill; Billy was the one that had this Down’s syndrome. He died when he was about eighteen years old. And I had a brother Gerry, or Gerard. He went on and became— he was an electrician but he UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 4 was also in a place called Baldwin on Long Island, New York. He passed away when he was seventy- three. I like to call him my kid brother. He was three years younger than me. And he was a volunteer fireman for forty- nine years there. And his boys are all in the Baldwin Fire Department now. In fact they all worked that 9/ 11 fire. Is that right? [ Rudolf] Giuliani asked them to volunteer, so they did. They were non- paid, you know. And then my sister Arlene, she had Cathy, Peggy, Donald, and Lawrence. She had four children. She passed away. She went in for a gall bladder operation and they botched it. Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Yeah. Anyway, my brother- in- law George, he’s still alive. He lives in Florida, down in Punta Gordo or someplace down there. And I have my sister Peggy, Margaret Anne. She lives in [ 00: 10: 00] Park Forest, Illinois now. She’s eighty- four or eighty- five years old now. She raised five children, I think it was. See, I can’t put these— I’d have to sit down and write all this stuff out, you know, it’s— No, it’s OK. I was just, you know, just it sounds like you were a close family. Oh, very close. Very close. In fact, every time, even during the war, I got home a few times. Convoys would pull into New York and stuff. I always made it a point to get together with the family. It’s nice. There was no friction at all, like you see in most families. And let’s see, there was Billy, Gerry, me, Eugene, Alene, and Peggy, and that was it. And then I went on and I married that lovely lady out there, Peggy, in 1953. We’ve got fifty- two years together that she put up with me. And we had Michael, Jimmy, Danny, Jackie, and Elizabeth. Jimmy passed away when he was thirty- two. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 5 And Danny and Jackie and Elizabeth and Michael are still here in Las Vegas. We have six grandchildren here. Oh, that’s great. And we just acquired a new, I guess, grandson- in- law. We went to a party last Saturday night, a wedding party. And I have another granddaughter getting married in November. So I guess the brood’s going to keep increasing. My son Michael, he’s an auto parts store manager, I don’t know which one it is, downtown here. And my son Dan is a locksmith over at the university. My daughter Jackie is a nurse for twenty- five years now. She inserts catheters in heart patients. She’s over at this new hospital that they put in there; I forget the name. Elizabeth is a stay- at- home mom. She has two wonderful little girls, Josi and Julia; they’re eleven and nine, in that age bracket. Michael has Megan— she’s twenty- six now, I think— and Blair and Sean, their three children. And Danny, he married a lady, Kim, who had two children, and he just became a grandpa I guess— one of Kim’s girls just had a beautiful little baby girl. I guess that just about covers the family, the immediate family here. So you had a close family and you lived in, was it like an Irish community in Brooklyn, is that right, primarily Irish? Yeah, it was all Irish, mostly. Well, almost all of them. So that seems like a fairly— not only was it a close- knit family, but it sounds like a close- knit neighborhood, too. Yes. We had my cousins. We lived on East 49th Street. Like I say, this would be Church Avenue and this would be Snyder Avenue. This is on East 49th Street, and they were 48— it was different than Vegas. The streets had the same name all the way through or number all the way through. And my cousins lived on East 38th Street. You know what I mean? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 6 OK. And they were all raised before there— well, they used to have an area off Eastern Parkway called St. Matthew’s Parish, and we used to call it Over the Lane— they brought expressions from the old country, you know— and as things got a little bit better they spread out. But see, when the immigrants all come off the ships to Ellis Island, they all settled together for security is really what [ 00: 15: 00] it was, which is typical of everybody else in this country. And then they moved— well I don’t know how to say it— into St. Catherine’s Parish. And when you used to say to somebody, “ Where do come from?” they didn’t say, I came from here. Now they say “ I came from Flatbush,” where the Brooklyn Dodgers used to play. In those days you’d say, “ I’m St. Catherine’s,” or “ Holy Cross,” something like— it was all— the majority of them were Irish. And later on a lot of Italian families moved in. But we never had any problems. The most you ever did is get in a fist fight, something like that. They didn’t do like they do now, settle it with guns. I don’t know what else I can tell you on that. How do you think growing up in the Depression kind of shaped you as an adult? Pretty rough. It was pretty rough. Even to this day, if somebody gives me some lip, I’m ready to go. Was that from the Depression or from the Navy? Oh, I think it was both. You see, it’s hard to— it’s the type of people. I don’t know how to say it. We weren’t mean, but by the same token— like even to this day, put it this way, I’ll hold the door open for you when you come by, but I expect you to say thank you, and if you don’t, then I’m going to tell you what to do with yourself. And that’s the way I am. I’m the same way. She [ my wife] keeps saying to me, One of these days, somebody’s going to beat you up. It’s happened before. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 7 Did growing up in an era that, you didn’t have much, did that kind of shape you, too? I mean just, you know— We didn’t have anything. In fact, I remember one kid, Bobby Harms, I envied him because he had a wagon and we used to have to go— well, the ice house was on 53rd Street, and we used to be able to get a cake of ice for a dime and then take it and bring it all the way home and put it in the icebox. We didn’t have such a thing as a refrigerator in those days. And Bobby Harms had a new wagon. I envied that. The kind of wagon that you pull behind you, right, so you could put the ice in the wagon? Yeah. Like you walked, it was probably about six blocks. It was a little bit smaller by the time you got home but it was the facts of life and I think it cost a dime for it. I don’t want to cry, but when I joined the Navy, the clothes I had on, my guidance counselor in high school gave them to me because my clothes were rags— gave me the suit that her husband was going to throw away because the rags I had on, you know. Wow. Yeah. But that was— it was rough, with six kids, no money coming in. My grandmother was a housekeeper. I keep going back to the old days. Most of the Irish immigrants, the Catholics, were servants in people’s houses. They’re no different than right now, what people say about the people from— Hispanics doing those menial jobs. Granny was a housekeeper for a family that had a couple of bucks, and then my mother took care of her house, and we moved into that house. We all lived off the money that Granny made. She worked for a lady called Mrs. Brashear. And, well, to give you an example, you know the weather back there gets pretty severe at times. In fact the last time I was back there in a snowstorm was December 26, 1946. We had twenty- six inches in twenty- four hours. I remember when the soles on our shoes wore through, UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 8 we’d put a piece of cardboard in there to keep from walking on the ground. And in the snow, that [ 00: 20: 00] cardboard would get soaking wet. But you didn’t have any buses. And they had a streetcar, but you had to have a nickel to ride it. In fact I have a friend of mine, he’s still alive, God bless him, back there. He was out here to visit me for our fiftieth wedding anniversary. He came from Florida. And we used to hitchhike. They had what they called a trolley car. Are you familiar with that? Yes. They get their power from the wire. And what we used to do was we’d hitchhike on the back of the trolley car, and when we wanted to get off, we’d pull the one off the trolley and it’d stop and the conductor would come out and he’s trying to get our butt, but he couldn’t. You know we were kids and we could run. I don’t know. I sound like I’m complaining. I don’t mean it. We had a good life. We did the best we could with what we had, but I also believe that that’s what molded the kids that went to war. I think you’re right. They didn’t get mollycoddled. They weren’t babied. And I was seventeen years old and was in combat. Now I hear, Well, he’s only twenty- one years old and he killed his mother; give him time off for good behavior. It’s a different type of people. It’s a completely different generation. It is. You said you were asked to leave high school by one of your teachers? Well, almost. What happened? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 9 Well, one of the kids called him a sonofa— It’s OK. Sonofabitch. And I stood up and says, Yeah, and I agree with him. So he said get out, and I never went back. And when I went down to join the Navy, I was seventeen, see, and I had to get permission from my mother. And so she checked my school record, and I hadn’t been there since I was fifteen. And they’d sent her my school record because I wanted to join the Navy. And I went down to enlist that day, the day I was seventeen, June 6, 1941, and they rejected me because I bit my fingernails. That was before the war. And the doctor said to me, he said, If you let them grow for two weeks, I’ll let you enlist. And I went back in two weeks and I have never bitten them since. They gave me a chit for a meal at a restaurant in New York when I enlisted, and I went down there and they had frankfurters and beans. And they said you could have all you wanted. So I had a nickel left over. I borrowed a quarter to get to the recruiting station. I called this lady that lived two doors down from us called Aunt Belle. Mrs. Turner was her name. See, we called a lot of people “ aunt” and “ uncle,” you know, a family- type deal even though they weren’t related to us. And I called Aunt Belle and she walked two doors down and got Mom and Mom came to the phone. And I said, Mom, my belly’s full. And I stayed for twenty- two years. Wow. I don’t know whether this is what you are interested in or not but it’s the story of the old man’s life, I guess. Yeah, and I want to talk to you about your experience in the Navy but before we do that, I wanted to ask you a couple of things. Growing up in the Depression, what were your feelings of FDR [ Franklin Delano Roosevelt]? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 10 Never thought about him, to tell you the truth. I think it was survival. We didn’t have time for that crap, you know what I mean? Maybe the people who could sit around and relax. We had friends of ours, this same Mrs. Turner, Uncle George, they had enough money that they had a cabin in the Bear Mountains in the New York, that they used to go up there on vacation. He worked for the Post Office Department, see? Well, people like him might’ve thought something about it. Because by the time I got about five or six hours in the morning and about four or five hours in [ 00: 25: 00] the evening, plus the fact that I went to school…. And when I was in grammar school we had nuns, and you would do your lessons or else you wished you did. And then when I got to high school I had pretty much freedom. It’s no different than nowadays. The teachers are scared of the kids. So I never thought about politics. Survival, I guess, was our main theme in those days. That’s about it, as far as I know. And just because I’m a Dodger fan and you grew up in Brooklyn, are you a Dodger fan? Did you like the Dodgers, growing up? Not so much anymore, because I remember Pee Wee Reese out in center field and stuff like that, but see, I don’t look at sports as sports anymore. It’s whoever has the most money can buy the best players. You know, this stuff like [ Barry] Bonds and all this, steroids, it’s hypocrisy. But when you were a kid in the thirties, did you follow the Dodgers? Yeah. You ever go to Ebbets Field? Once. Really? Didn’t have the money. It was funny. Yeah, well, I could walk to Ebbets Field. It’s right off Flatbush Avenue there. And of course in those days you could walk through the streets of UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 11 Brooklyn, too. You wouldn’t do it nowadays. Yeah, I remember Duke Snider and Pee Wee Reese and that stuff. In fact my father, the little bit I remember about him and I don’t remember much, he liked to play baseball. He had a catcher’s mitt and, you know. But we really never had time to do anything. I did a lot of ice skating because I worked at the ice skating rink. It was an outdoors rink. And I did a lot of bicycle riding because of the fact that I had a paper route, delivering. And I delivered the papers, so I got to ride the bicycle pretty well. And that’s just about it, really. So what led you to— why the Navy? What led you to wanting to join the Navy? Get away. I’ll be honest with you, I wanted a decent life. In 1941 there was no war and it didn’t look like there was going to get any better. All of the men were out of work. They were just starting to go back because a lot of it was they started production to the Lend- Lease. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with that or not. Yes. We were sending our stuff, like we used to say, you lend it to them and they lease it back to us. But the country itself was against the war. In fact, I still think they manufactured it but that’s history. Like this thing over there now [ the Iraq war]. But I guess the main thing was that I had a desire to go to sea. So it wasn’t just to get away. It was specifically the Navy to go to sea. Oh, yeah, I wasn’t going to join those dogfaces. No, I didn’t want to be a soldier. I lived with them in a foxhole for a time in 1943 and they had a dirty life. What about your childhood do you think kind of led you to being attracted to the sea? Well, right there we had the Atlantic Ocean. We used to be able to go swimming in the Atlantic Ocean out at Reese Park at Rockaway. And I just, I don’t know, I just liked it, I guess. I’ve UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 12 always liked to be outdoors. In fact right now I spend most of my time either sitting out in the front or the back if I’m not doing something. You can tell by the look of me. And so you do finally join the Navy, and was it the summer of ’ 41? [ 00: 30: 00] June ’ 41. Actually I went down June 6 and they rejected me as I told you, and two weeks later, June 24, I went down and the doctor said, All right, you can enlist, because I didn’t bite my fingernails for the two weeks. So I had to wait around, and I did it. And like I say, my first enlistment was up in June of 1945, and I was sure I was going to get killed, so I extended my enlistment for two years so Mom would get some more money. That was, I think, $ 1,500 or something like that. And then they fooled me. The war ended, so I still had time to do, and so what they did is they transferred me— I had forty- two months’ credit for being overseas when the war started, and the people with the most credits were the ones that got discharged first. So they sent me back to Lido Beach, Long Beach, New York, and I went in there and they said, You can’t get out, you just reenlisted. And I says, They sent me here. I didn’t know what was the reason. So I reenlisted after that and kept going. What made you certain that you were going to get killed? Well, first of all, that first ship I was on got torpedoed; we lost 10 percent of our kids. And well, one of the jobs I had, I was a gun captain on a five- inch .38, and we had hedgehogs— they were rockets— on the fo’c’sle [ forecastle], and when we were antiaircraft, we manned the five- inch .38, and if it was for antisubmarine we manned the hedgehogs, and I was gun captain because I was a petty officer in those days. And May 29 of ’ 44, we were at with the USS Block Island, the USS Barr, the— Jesus Christ, I have to go all the way back now. The Buckley rammed a sub and they had a little bit of hand- to- hand combat. The Germans was trying to save their life. The sailors, we want to keep ours going. And the Block Island got torpedoed and she went down. We UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 13 picked up a bunch of their survivors. In fact there was one person who had to be sewn in canvas for burial. My rate at that time, I was a Boatswain’s Mate, and that was seamanship. And they put this guy on a table and we laid a piece of canvas there and I had to take a stitch all the way around him, you know, and we put him on a board and slid him over the side. And the 29th of May one of the other destroyer escorts made contact with a submarine and we picked up the contact and I fired the hedgehogs and got three direct hits, no survivors. You know, I don’t know what to say. That’s got to feel good, though, right? I mean what does that feel like, to get the three direct hits? When you got the three direct hits, what did that feel like? I said to my pointer, a fellow by the name of Red Campbell, I have a picture of him inside there, I said, I just killed eighty- five of them bastards. It was us or them. So anyway, after V- E Day, that’s when we went, as I said before, we went down through the Canal. Everything that could float went through the Canal. OK. We’ll stop the tape real quick. [ Pause] [ 00: 34: 39] End Track 2, Disc 1. [ 00: 00: 00] Begin Track 3, Disc 1. So before we get too far, I wanted just to ask you, what was your boot camp experience like? How long did that last? It was eight weeks. So you were out by what, early fall? No, it was June. I went right to boot camp in Newport, Rhode Island from the recruiting station. Didn’t go back home. In fact it brings back memories. We rode a train up to Newport, Rhode Island from New York. I got in there and we all lined up and they started issuing us clothes, and UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 14 they give us a big cardboard box for everything you owned. And I said to this man, he was a petty officer, I didn’t know what he was at the time, I said, Do I have to send these home? He said, Why, don’t you want them? I says, No. And I threw them right in the trash, everything I owned. They was rags, you know. It wasn’t dirty, don’t get me wrong, but then again we didn’t have fancy washing machines. My mother washed by hand. You know the old washerwoman with the washboard? So I threw all of those things away. And when they issued me my uniforms, we went through eight weeks of training in Newport, Rhode Island, and then I was transferred. At the end of boot camp, I was sent right down to a place called Opa- locka in Florida, which was a naval air station back in those days. Did you have any sense of what you wanted to do for the Navy? Not that I know of. It was all a new experience for me. I was content. It didn’t make any difference to me what I did. I did everything from cleaning the toilets to mess cooking. We called it “ captain of the head” in the Navy, in charge of all little vessels. So what’s your first assignment? I was what they call a plane captain. It’s a glorified janitor, really. We had, what do you call it, old fighter planes, those ones like, oh, we had some with shotgun starters, others that you pulled around by hand to start them. We had one that you put a boot on the prop and then a bunch of guys took a strain on a bungee cord and they let it go and spun it over and they went all the way up to seventy- five miles an hour, some of those things in those days. And I volunteered to fly as a rear gunner in an open- cockpit dive bomber. You know Snoopy with the swivel guns? Yeah. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 15 When the pilot dropped a bomb, you swiveled around to see where it hit. Everything was ancient. So you actually did that? You were actually the gunner in a—? I enjoyed it. I often tell people how smart I was. I was a mental giant, believe it or not. Here we’re flying with a guy that’s a kid and he’s got a leather helmet to protect his head. He didn’t know what he was doing and we volunteered to fly with him. But we stayed there until the day that Pearl Harbor happened. And I was in my bunk and I heard, they come over the PA [ public address] system and said that Pearl Harbor was bombed and I said to one of the guys next to me, I says, Where the hell is Pearl Harbor? I didn’t even know what it was. And it changed. The Navy changed immediately. I went to sea in February of ’ 42, and I sound like I’m blowing my own horn but I guess I had leadership qualities because I went right up. I made what they called coxswain. I ran a whaleboat and I had a couple of men working for me. I was responsible for seamanship. I don’t know whether you want to talk about the duties I had the in the Navy or whatever. Well, yeah, anything you want to talk about, but I was just curious, was there any sense before Pearl Harbor that there was trouble on the horizon? [ 00: 05: 00] If there was, I don’t remember it. I was too busy enjoying myself. What was your emotional reaction to Pearl Harbor? I didn’t have any. No, I don’t have any. The only time I get excited is when some sonofabitch cuts me off in traffic. I didn’t think about it, to tell you the truth. See, I’ve had surgery and everything else. It doesn’t even bother me. I don’t think about that stuff. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. When we declared war on Japan, do you have any thoughts on that? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 16 The war with Japan? Well, when FDR declares war, when the United States declares war on Japan, what are your thoughts on that? It’s all part of the job. Them yellow bastards is all I thought of, and especially in those days we were exposed to an awful lot of, I don’t know what you call it, propaganda and so on and so forth. That’s when we saw the pictures of the Jews, the German treatment of them. Then there was one, I don’t know whether it was a newsreel or what, showing Japanese throwing babies up in the air and catching them on their bayonets. It was awful hard to try to— even to this day, I’m not prejudiced, I don’t care what your background is, that’s your business— but it’s awful hard to accept the fact that people could do this to people. I see the pictures now of these kids in Uganda and those places with flies eating on their face and I’m seeing them people in charge, they’re living like kings. Or like today I see where our illustrious leader [ George W. Bush] says save gasoline and he’s flying around the country in a jet, wasting thousands of gallons of fuel, for political purposes. I shouldn’t— I don’t want to get into politics. But it’s the way I feel. I don’t drive my car any more than I have to now. I can afford to buy the gas, but I don���t want to because I don’t think it’s right. I’ve got my sprinklers set down to what the Water District says. Anyway, I’m getting away from the story. So we’re in February of ’ 42 and this is when you ship off? Yeah, it was fun. I was stationed in Miami and in February of ’ 42 a ship come in, PC- 496. Didn’t have a name. It was a PC, which was a patrol craft. It was a 173- footer, and they had just put her in commission in a place called Letham Smith Shipbuilding Company in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. So anyway, she pulled into this pier, Pier Two, at a sub chaser training center in Miami, and I was going through sub chaser training at that time because as soon as the war UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Projec