World War II Interview

May 31, 2011
By cfrank BRONZE, Hartville, Ohio
cfrank BRONZE, Hartville, Ohio
4 articles 4 photos 0 comments

How old were you when World War II occurred, and what happened to you during this event?
“Well, the Untied States had just gone to war after the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. So, in December of 1941, the United States went to war against Japan. Who were the allies with Japan, I don’t even remember? Italy and Germany. And, I wasn’t born at that time, but in February of 1942, a few months later, I was born, and I don’t remember anything, but I hear stories from my mother about how so many of her relatives, her brothers, her husband, and friends that they knew went to war – were called to action. And I remember them talking about the Canteen, that was in Alliance, where all the service men who came home for awhile met at the Canteen, and they got reduced food. It was just a place for them to hang out. When I was little, I think my mom had to go take her dads, her husband’s place – that would be my dad – in his business. He worked as a riveter, at Galanos in Alliance. And she became Rosie the Riveter. And she took his place, so she was a boss, she did not know how to be a boss, but the women had to take the men’s jobs because the men were going to war.

What emotions do you remember going through your mind when this happened?
“When it was happening, I had no idea. It meant nothing to me; my life was just what I knew because I was a little kid. I do remember living with a single mom. And my mom cried a lot. I do remember that. I also remember that I used to take advantage of the situation. Which was – and the reason I know that is my dad and mom exchanged letters. He was stationed in Texas and California, and then eventually he went over to the island of Luzon, where Manila is located. But, in their exchange of letters they would say pretty much what a brat I was. So I guess I needed a dad there to calm me down.”

What was your father’s name, and what position did he hold in the U.S. Army?
“My dad’s name William Earl McKimm. They called him Billy. I called him Daddy Bill. He had – he was a private, first class in the Army. He had been drafted. So he really wasn’t expecting to go, but in some of the letters that he wrote, he indicated he really liked his life as a soldier, and thought that he might make a career out of it.”

How did this incident affect the rest of your life?
“Totally changed my life! I have no idea what my life would have been like if I had had my biological dad with me. It could of taken a total turn, and been better or worse. I have no idea. I lived with what I had and made the best of it. And I think everything turned out okay and I am happy. One advantage that I had that maybe that I would not have had if my dad had been still living is I got to take his place going to college. If someone died in the military, one of their children was aloud to take their place in going to college. So, my college was paid for by the US government. Otherwise, I might not have been able to go to college.”

What do you remember about your father as a friend, person, mentor, and father?
“Absolutely nothing! The only memory I have of him is pictures of when he came home from – I think he had been in Texas and California. Once he went to Manila, he never came back. But, holding me on his shoulder, and just holding me. I have pictures of that and that’s the only memory I have.”

Are you more at ease with this situation because he died fighting for our country?
“Well, I am not in favor of fighting at all. And, sometimes I think we get into situations that maybe people would not die if we just stayed out of them. However, this is the decision that the United States government had lived – had decided on. And since we are US citizens, we have to support our country. And a lot of men died, and many of families changed, many women had to raise their children by themselves. It was very hard on families in the United States, if a member of their family was in the military. I do not like fighting. I can’t see that is the answer to situations and problems.”

What artifacts do you have from your father, and what do they mean to you now?
“Oh, my dad received, posthumously, the Purple Heart for valor. When he was on the island of Luzon, he was leading a group of men into a Japanese camp. And, he personally took down the first two men – first two Japanese people in a hut. And, then the people he was leading took over the hut, and from there, they were going to another hut and he was leading them again. But this time he got shot. He was shot through the stomach, and that was it. He also has a letter from Douglas MacArthur, which, I am told, is a pretty neat thing to have. So, I have – my sister has the Purple Heart, and I have the letter. And then my mom and my grandmother kept the letters that they had written back and forth, so I kind of have a feel for what he was like and just things that were happening back in the day. It is pretty cool.”

Would you consider this event one the most important event to happen in your lifetime?
“Well, I don’t know if I could call it the most important event in my lifetime because I have had a lot of terms in my life that have changed it. So I would have to say this is an event that had an affect on my life, but I don’t know if it was the most important one.”

The author's comments:
I wanted to know about my great-grandfather, so I took the time to interview my grandmother about her father. He died three days after the war ended, still fighting because the news of the war ending had not reached him yet. My grandma was a very young child at the time, but this event clearly affected her life. I wanted to get this down on paper before she did not remember or something happened, and it is very insightful into his life as my grandmother knows it.

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