And how did you come to be in the military, sir?
Well, I got drafted. I was working for my Daddy doing carpentry all of the time and so I was deferred for two years, and so they sent mine back as Class A, and so I told my Daddy that I wouldn't try to get deferred anymore. I'll just go ahead on and enlist. So they sent me the rest of the information, and I had to go to Richmond. And from Richmond, I went to Ft. Meade, Maryland.
Why did they send you to Richmond first?
That's just where I had to go. It was like a headquarters, and then they sent me to Ft. Meade, Maryland, and I wasn't there long. Then they sent me to Seattle, Washington.
Do you recall the name of the base in Seattle where you were sent?
It was Fort Lewis, Washington.
How old were you in 1944 when you were drafted?
I was 22 yrs. old.
So you had been living in the area, helping your father do carpentry work at that time…
Esmont has always been my address; my home place is just four miles up the road where I was born and raised.
So you were living in Esmont…
Having joined the military fairly late in WWII, September 1944 - what can you tell me about the area at the time? You were a young man yourself, living here and working in the area…
I was working with my Daddy doing carpentry at various different places.
Did you notice any changes in the area due to the fact it was wartime.
Right much change. This place built up right much!
Did you have any friends, relative, or neighbors, who had gone to war before you did?
Well, I had three brothers that had gone to war.
What branch of the military were they in?
We were all in the Army.
Did they go in before you did?
Yes, they all went in before me because they were older.
Did they communicate to you any of feelings about the war that might have changed how you felt about you felt about going into the service?
Well, actually, since they were all in the Army, I did want to be different. And so when I worked out the questionnaire they gave me, I tried to get into the Navy. They asked me why I wanted to do that, and so I said, well, all of my brothers are in the Army. And the doctor said 'no', and well, actually I'm a little bit color-blind. I couldn't do colors so well, and I reckon that's why they didn't take me. But he said that I'd make a good soldier. And that was it!
OK, where were you inducted?
Well, I went to Richmond and then they put me on a bus to Ft. Meade, Md.
And you were inducted at Ft. Meade?
What was the purpose of your trip to Ft. Meade - why were you there?
I guess you would call it a replacement camp because from there they would send you wherever you had to go. And for me, that was Ft. Lewis, Washington.
Did you go through boot camp training at Ft. Lewis?
Yeah -they had everything right there.
What was that like for you, Sir? How did you find the experience of boot camp?
Well, it was really, really nice - I really liked it! After I finished my basic training, they gave me a 17-day delay-in-route, and so from there I came back home. Then I had to go on to California. And that's where they sent me overseas.
How did you like Ft. Lewis? What was the training like - what kinds of things did they have you do?
I loved it out there. They had the regular basic training. You'd get up every morning and had to run and do your exercise. One morning, I decided to take a short cut back to camp and got lost. That was a savvy thing. And when I got back, the Lieutenant, our Company Commander, had called an inspection. Oh, Lordy - I had my rifle all dirty. I knew it was dirty, and so I put it out there to be inspected, and he saw a little speck of dirt. He put the paper down where the bullet goes in and then looked down the barrel and then showed us everything on it, if there was anything in it. And he showed me a little speck of dirt. The 1Sgt said, "Hey, Boy…" "Yes, Sir?" "You're on extra duty." "Ok, sorry!" But he never did anything. He didn't do anything."
Well, that's good - you dodged that bullet…
I really liked the Army. To tell you the truth, it was good experience for a lot of the young men. As long as you were disciplined - that was the main thing: do what the man tells you.
After your 17-day leave, you went to California. Where did you go in California?
I went to San Francisco and went through the Golden Gate Bridge.
What did they have you do there?
Oh, I didn't stay there - that's where I shipped out. When I came off my 17-days of leave, I came on back through Ft. Lewis, but I didn't have to stop. I went on to California, and from California, I went right on the ship.
At this point, what did they train you to do specifically?
Well, I guess you would call it infantry training.
So in San Francisco, you boarded a ship? Do you recall the name of the ship?
I believe the ship was named 'Victory.'
And where they were sending you?
Well, you didn't know where you were going until you got there. But I went to the Philippine Islands.
That's a long ship ride!
Oh yes! We left the 19th of June and we finally saw land (the Philippines) on the 4th of July.
Oh yeah! … Was that the first time you'd ever been on a ship like that and what was it like for you?
Yeah - well, it was right nice. I enjoyed the first part of it, but then after that you get that seasickness. Oh Lord, that's when you think you're going to die! The lieutenant would say, "All right, Soldier, come on!" He would blow the horn, and you would have to run up, put the life jacket on just in case of an emergency - if you had to ever abandon ship - put your life jacket on, hold your nose, and then reach back and catch the other part of your life jacket, and jump off the ship into the water. And then you just stayed down there and wait until someone came to pick you up. But I didn't have to do that part -- that was just in case of an emergency.
So you did get seasick on your trip?
Oh, yeah! I said, "Lord, I don't mind dying, but let's get it over!" That was just the worst feeling I ever would want!
Did a lot of the guys you were with get sick?
Oh yeah, and then as you went down to go to the galley, you had to line up. And the closer you got to the food, there would be people right ahead of you getting sick and going 'Oh, OHHHH…' And that done it - and of course, then you couldn't eat anything or you'd just throw it up.
I'll guess you were glad finally to get to the Philippines then…
Well, the way I felt then, dying would have been the easiest for me - I would have enjoyed it!
Were you concerned at all about submarine attacks - was that a threat to you?
They put us through exercises about what to do, just in case we were attacked. But we had two destroyers that went ahead of us. They called them 'submarine chasers.'
Why did they send you to the Philippines? What was your duty assignment there?
Well, at the time, the Japanese ran MacArthur out of the Philippines. So the reason they sent us over there was for the invasion. But what happened is that when they dropped that atomic bomb, that done it! (6 and 9 August 1945). We didn't have much to attack anymore!
That was early August 1945, and when you arrived in the Philippine Islands in July, they had been recaptured - is that correct?
So what was your assignment while you were there?
Well, they asked me to work in the motor pool. I drove a truck back and forth down into town to the ships where they would unload and load my truck up. Then you would go to an Army dump to drop your load off.
Is that what you did the entire time you were in the Philippines?
How many men were you working with to do that job?
Just me and myself. Then you were driving the truck and would come back in, and another driver would take over. A dispatcher would give you a ticket and you would take over. And if you came in and turned it over to another fellow, he would take it.
Did you enjoy that work much?
Oh yes, I just loved it because, you see, you weren't really doing anything.
It seems stress-free…
It was nice, and the people you worked with over there were nice and friendly.
How long were you in the Philippines?
I was in there from the 6th of September 1944 and came out of the Army in 1947. I think I was in the Army 27 months, and I think about 14 months of that I was overseas.
Did they have you reassigned at any point or did you just work the motor pool?
Well, I could have been because I had the authority - you go down and hang around the motor pool a lot, and although it wasn't my job, but you got bored doing nothing. So you'd go down and tinker around the motor pool. Finally, he told me: "Look, Boy, you come over and work in the motor pool here until I'm ready to go home. You got a chance to make a rating here right quick!" No, I didn't want to fool with that - I wanted to get in a truck and drive back and forth. But if I'd gotten in the motor pool, in less than no time I would have made Sergeant.
When were you discharged?
I was discharged in 1947. I had three stripes and a T, which was called a Technical Sergeant. The trade that I was doing was as an automobile mechanic - that's what I signed out as when I got out of the service. I was a T4 when I was discharged.
Were you happy to be leaving the Philippines?
Well, I liked the country all right, but you always wanted to go home. Actually, while I was there, I wasn't really doing anything. When I first got there, I didn't have anything to do, just laid up there in a tent. And I soon got tired of that - not having anything to do. But then, the time came for you to go home and you're always glad to know you're on your way home.
That's more than understandable. So you shipped back to the United States. Was the boat ride back anymore enjoyable?
Oh NOOO, it was just the same. You get that seasickness the first two or three days… You'd be lying down up on the rail, and the sailors would be way up on that boom pole, chipping paint off. And I asked myself, how could they do that? But I guess they were used to it. That ship would be going up like that and down….
I'm sure you were glad that you didn't actually end up in the Navy then…
Oh, you are SOOOO right! I was so glad that I didn't! Because they would throw you in the water if you told them you didn't know how to swim. And I certainly didn't know how to swim. Of course, I'm quite sure they had somebody to pull you out of the water…
When you shipped back to the U.S., where did you land?
I came back to Ft. Bragg in North California - from California I took the train to Ft. Bragg. That was where I was discharged.
What were your feelings about the train travel across the country?
Oh, I really liked that! I loved that because I came back through Wyoming and South Dakota - which gave me a chance to see the Presidents at Mt. Rushmore. And I got to see St. Louis - the Gateway to the West.
So you arrived in Ft. Bragg where you were discharged - did they have you do anything there before you were discharged?
No, I didn't have to do anything there. Then they shipped us back to Charlottesville from Ft. Bragg by train.
What was it like to get home?
Well, you were glad to get home, but then still it was sort of lonesome because you were used to all those fellas and all of that whooping and hollering - but everyone kind of understood one another. So although you were glad to get out of the military, you missed it. But then not long after, I married this little woman sitting over here-that cut out the loneliness.
Let me ask you to quickly backtrack to your day-to-day life in the Philippines where you were driving trucks around. What were your living accommodations like there?
As for myself, I enjoyed it. The weather was nice - and we lived in tents. I'm glad there wasn't any cold weather. The only thing was that every so often we expected a storm, and they instructed you to secure your tent. Then the Filipinos lived in these huts, and I didn't see them make any preparations to secure their huts, but then it might not have helped anyway.
How many men shared your tent?
Well, there were 4 men on each side - so about 8 men per tent.
Just basic cots?
Now the Philippine Islands hadn't been liberated all that long when you arrived. Were there any major installations there that could be used?
What I saw were a lot of buildings that had been bombed - it looked like half of them were blown off. I expect the U.S. had done most of that when they recaptured the islands. They had blown the place up to get the Japanese out.
What was the food like over there?
Canned rations - of course you would have that anywhere.
Did you have much interaction with the local people?
No, to tell you the truth, I got along with all of them just fine. We had a Filipino boy who used to hang around our tent. Then we had a tent that you would go down to it and let the ladies wash your clothes. You'd put your clothes in the tent and the local ladies would wash them. To tell you the truth, you'd be surprised what they charged you for washing those clothes. They'd wash all of those clothes for 50 cents, and, of course, you always gave them more than that because you felt sorry for them. And you see them go down there to the water and beat them in the water with stones. But they got the clothes nice and clean.
So by and large, all of your interactions with local Filipino people were very positive?
Oh, yes, they were very nice. I didn't have any problems whatsoever- I got along with them just fine.
All of them were pretty glad to be liberated?
So those were two types of people you met?
Yes. Sometimes we'd go up to get a truckload of Japanese POWs to work on the base. But they always gave you a rifle. You'd get a bunch of guys in the truck and they'd be standing as close to you in the back of the truck as I am to you now. One POW caught my rifle and helped me into the truck. Well, they weren't going to do anything to him -- the Americans were pretty good to the POWs they captured. They didn't do any dirt to them - certainly not that I saw.
That's good to hear. So what kind of work did they have the POWs do in the camp?
They had the POWs load the trucks. We'd go to the ship, and I'd back my truck out onto the dock. They would either unload it or load it up. I remember one time when those fellows started wrestling each other and throwing one another into the water. That was nothing to them - they could swim. Then they looked at me, and I said, "Oh-oh --- man, don't you come near me!" I didn't know the first licking about swimming. But they didn't bother me. I thought thank God that they didn't because if they'd grabbed me and threw me in there, I reckoned they would have drowned me.
So what else can you tell me about basic daily life in the camps? We've discussed food a little bit, and we've discussed accommodations. What were your interactions like with your fellow soldiers? Did you get along with everyone pretty well?
Oh, yeah, I never had any problems. You wouldn't think it with those guys living together there, and they got along very well together.
So you made some close friends there?
When you were serving, did you run into anyone from this area?
Well, I met a man from Ivy named Ivery Delt (sp?). But I have never had a chance to contact him since I've been out. I don't know what ever happened to him, but he left from over there along about the time I did.
I had a brother, Joe, there, too - he wasn't in the same company but he was about half a mile away. I could walk down there to where his tent was and sit down and talk. And he could walk up to my tent.
So he was stationed right near you?
Yeah, and we were on the same base, but just in different outfits.
What was he doing?
Well, before Joe went overseas, they were building roads. They built that Alaskan highway up there before he went overseas. But over in the Philippines, they weren't doing much.
That's a pretty fascinating story - I'm sure he (Joe) has some pretty fascinating stories about that!
Were you homesick at all?
Once or twice. See you could walk from one end of the island to the other. When I first went overseas, I was on Palawan Island. After that I went to Leyte, and I could just drive up there and park the cab on the beach. I saw an old airplane - I don't know whether it was shot down or not - just lying out in the water. I remember going out there and fooling around and look around. But in the evening, the water would rise, and, man, I started backtracking. I thought I wouldn't make it because I can't swim! But, thank the Lord, I made it through.
Yes, you get homesick, sure you would. All of the boys wanted to come home, but you were sort of in a position where it didn't stick with you because you have so many guys who are close friends. So you would be joking and carrying on - somebody was always doing something to you all the time. So that kind of keeps your mind occupied.
I'm sure it also helped to have your brother close by, didn't it?
Yeah, that made a difference, too. But they soon shipped him out, too. And that was the end of that.
Did you have any communication with your friends and family back home?
No, I don't think I wrote to anybody. I was just a little country boy that grew up by a mountain, and other than going to church, I really didn't have anybody to write to back home other than Mama.
Did you get any Red Cross packages or CARE packages?
I can't remember now.
Mrs. Boling: You would get a few from his mom. They didn't have CARE packages from outside people then. Your family would send things but there wasn't such things as CARE packages.
What else can you tell me about life there? Do you recall any particularly funny or unusual events that occurred while you were in the Philippines?
I can't think of any right off, because we stuck so close around the Islands, and there wasn't anywhere you could go. They had a U.S. club up there and sometimes they would have entertainment from the States. So you'd go up there, and there'd be 3 women and about fifty men.
The Lieutenant, our Company Commander, called me up there. I went in and jumped to attention - and gave him that salute. He said, "Now Boling, you came in the other night at 2 o'clock."
And I said, "Who me?"
"No sir, I'm sorry!"
"Well, that's what you signed when you came in through the gate."
"I tell you what I'll do sir: let me sign my name and you compare the writing."
So after that, I never heard anything else about it!
That was quick thinking on your part - to stay out of trouble!
I only had one mishap that I guess I would say I did wrong in the Philippines. I brought the truck in. I told the dispatcher that we wanted to go to the show. The sergeant said, "If you hadn't been such a good old so-and-so, I wouldn't do this. But you take the truck and go on."
So I went up to the theater where they were having the show. And you always have some devil that is going to lead you off to do wrong. So this guy up there wanted to see some girl, and I think it was some woman who was married. So I went down there and parked. I was just sitting in the truck waiting. All of a sudden I heard these loud bangs. I thought "Oh, Lord, what in the world is going to happen now?"
So I got out the other side of the truck. The MP hollered, "Soldier, come on over here." So I played dumb and asked, "What's going on -- what happened?" And so I explained it to him, and so we went on back to camp.
The Provost Marshall said, "Now you give your testimony about what happened. He's trying to trick you. So you say such-and-such a thing."
And I said, "Now I didn't say that!" Then I straightened it out and said how it happened. So he read my testimony back to me and asked if that's the way it happened. "Yes," I said, "that's the way it happened." And I signed my name to it.
A couple of days later, our sergeant said, "Hey, Boling - you're on extra duty." "OK," I said. But he never gave me anything to do. So I didn't do any extra duty.
Is there anything else that you can think to tell me about other incidents like that?
No, I think that's about all. Of course, you go through the same sickness coming back on the ship. The first 2-3 days of sickness before it wears off….
My parents always raised me to be a good little boy wherever I was at. So I never got in trouble or anything. That's one good thing.
So after you came back to the States, you went to Ft. Bragg and were discharged…
Yes. After I was discharged, I went on back home. Not long after that, I got married in 1955. And that's where I've been ever since. Then I built a house here and got a job up there at Nydrie Farm, working for the Van Cliefs.
What kind of work did you do there?
I worked around horses then. I did most all of the shoeing because my being small in size, it makes the horse look big. They didn't want any great big guy to show a horse, because it makes the horse look too small. So the old fellow that I'd been working around for years taught me what to do. And I go so that I was about as good as he was.
I worked at Nydrie around 32 years. Then I retired.
Did you join any veterans' organizations or try to keep in touch with any of your friends after the service?
So what's your general feeling about your service, Sir…do you think overall that it was a positive experience?
Yes, I'm glad that I went, and I wouldn't take anything for going. You have so many privileges that you have that you offer you after you get out of the service. Like the GI Bill which helps you out a whole lot.
Did you take advantage of the GI Bill after your service, Sir?
No. I really didn't have to.
Are there any final points that you'd like to add or things that you'd like to discuss?
No, I believe that's about all.
All right, Sir, thank you very much - I really appreciate all of your information.
You are quite welcome!
Frank W. Boling, Sr., in Esmont, 2008