Scott Gottfredson Orrock Interview (Interview Regarding World War II ) by Deborah White 1994 My name is Deborah White and I’m interviewing my grandpa, Scott Gottfredson Orrock, on his experience in WWII for Mrs. Wight’s first period English class.  My grandpa was born in 1926 in Richfield, UT and is now sixty-eight years old. Deborah:  What was the condition of the nation before we entered the war? Scott:  We were not prepared at all.  There was one group of Americans who said we should stay out of the war and not spend money on war preparations.  President Roosevelt and others felt like we should do what we could to prepare because eventually we were for sure going to get into the war.  But the bottom line is that, prior to the war, we were not at all prepared. One example that I remember, to illustrate our lack of preparedness, the National Guard from the area of Utah where I lived went up into the Northwest to go on some maneuvers sometime during the summer prior to the war.  They had few tanks, if any at all, and so when they wanted to play like they had tanks in the maneuvers that they went through, they would put a big sign on the side of a truck saying “tank.” (laughter)  Those were the tanks we had to prepare and train with in preparation for the war. Deborah:  Where were you when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and what were your feelings? Scott:  I was visiting my friend and we were hanging out at his place, and I remember the exact spot where I was standing.  I was out under a little tree, just relaxing and enjoying the Sunday afternoon.  My friend’s mother came to the door and yelled out to us and said that the Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor.  I remember the first thing we said was, “Well they have committed suicide now, they’re not going to last a month.”  That was, of course, a very macho attitude for some young teenage warriors who had very little concept of what was going on and what was going to happen and what the consequences of this situation might become.  But anyway, we felt like it was almost a joke and it would be over in a little while. Deborah:  How old were you? Scott:  I was fifteen at the time. Deborah:  How did President Roosevelt respond to the bombing of Pearl Harbor? Scott:  I can remember that the very next day, when we all went to school, it was announced that the President of the United States was going to make an announcement, and so the whole high school student body gathered into this auditorium.  I can picture the stand, the stage, where the radio was sitting on a table.  We were all sitting there, waiting for the President to be announced, and when he was announced, he gave his famous speech, which has now become famous—his speech relative to the fact that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor on December the 7th, 1941: “…a date which would live in infamy.”  And then he went on to talk about the resolve of the American people and the fact that we would prevail.  It was great rallying speech and a great deal of patriotism was generated.  Many, many young men hurried down to the draft board, not in our high school, but in the community and all communities across America, to sign up to go fight the “Japs.”  There were a lot of patriotic songs that emerged almost immediately.  One of them, I remember, was made famous by a chaplain, “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.”  The song was, like, remember Pear Harbor, and of course most of us didn’t even know where Pearl Harbor was at the time.  (laughter)  But anyway, a great deal of patriotism was immediately generated and the people rallied around the President and the war effort, and we flew into action and became a very well prepared and a great military nation.  But it was the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, in a way it could’ve been a blessing in disguise, because it did generate a great deal of patriotism and a great resolve to go out into the Pacific and fight the Japanese. Deborah:  When the war began, there was rationing, and I was wondering what some of the things were. Scott:  Immediately, as an effort to mobilize to conduct the war effort, it became necessary to ration sugar, and gasoline, automobile tires.  In fact, they imposed a speed limit.  If I’m not mistaken, it was only thirty-five MPH.  That was primarily to preserve the tires that were made of inferior material at the time. Deborah:  Tell me about the boys who were being drafted. Scott:  I was fifteen at the time and not too worried about being drafted; in fact, I didn’t really expect it would happen. I thought it would be over by then.  But as time went on, as the war effort struggled ahead, you might say, pretty soon the young men from our community, along with the rest of the boys across the country, were being drafted. Every month, when the day came for our boys who had turned eighteen during the previous few months, they would go to Salt Lake to Fort Douglas to be inducted into the service.  The boys who were eligible at that time would go down to the train station.  The Severe Valley Creeper, which was the old train that went through Richfield, would come through about one o’clock in the afternoon.  The boys who were to go to be inducted would go down to the train station, and all of the high school kids, that is a good many of their fiends at least, would go down and wave goodbye.  Then we’d all have the opportunity of kissing the girls goodbye.  When my turn finally did come, and it did come a few years later, I can remember, as I was getting on the train, I reached out the window, and some of my buddies handed up some of the more popular girls in the school for me to kiss goodbye (laughter).  I remember two of them particularly that I kissed goodbye, and I’ve seen them from time to time in the last fifty or sixty years.  I remember that day, and I remember also that the girls, especially, would come back into the high school, and they would be late for school, usually the first class in the afternoon, and they would be mildly scolded by the teachers.  And as they would be sobbing, filling their handkerchiefs with tears and the Kleenex with tears, the teachers would make mild fun of them, saying that they were taking it all too seriously and that the boys would come back.  But as the war drug on, some of the boys didn’t some back (silence and tears).  And I remember that we started having memorial services for the boys that didn’t come back.  As you’d be walking down the streets, you would see, hanging in the window, little banners with, I think it was blue stars for families that had boys in the service.  If there were two stars, it meant they had two boys in the service, sometimes girls.  Sometimes we would see gold stars in the window.  That meant the star that represented the boys who had been killed in action were gold star.  So they started appearing in windows, too.  We became a little bit more serious about our thoughts about the war as the war went on and these things started to occur.  I guess like many young men in any war period, we felt very macho and indestructible, and it was all going to be over in a short while, and we were going to go out and lick them.  But as things went on, it became more serious; and as I became drafted into the army myself, I then began to worry about the course of the war and when I’d some back, and where would I be fighting, and what circumstances would I be fighting under.  I remember that the training period we, most of the men I trained with, dreaded the possibility of going to the Pacific and fighting the Japanese because of the horror stories that we heard about the hand-to-hand combat and the banzai attacks and all the things that would occur that were so frightening and horrifying.  Believe it or not, we saw the war in Germany and in France as a very massive operation, almost a gentleman’s war and conducted on a massive scale—great troops and tank and infantry operations, but still not the intense fear that we had as we contemplated the vicious war that might occur in the Pacific. Deborah:  What were the trains like that took you to be drafted? Scott:  Well, here again, as part of the preparation for taking care of all the military operations and training and movement of troops, they had to press into the service a lot of old Pullman cars and other kinds of rolling stock because of the scarcity of equipment.  And I remember, when I went from Fort Douglas to Camp Walters, Texas to begin my training, I rode on an old Pullman car that had recently been refurbished, and it had been done so recently that the paint on the window seal was still tacky.  I remember putting my elbow on the window seal, and it almost stuck there because of the tackiness of the paint (laughter). Also, as was the custom of the time, almost everybody smoked.  The cars were filled with smoke on the trip to Salt Lake City then to Camp Walters, Texas, which took several days.  Because we were not a high priority troop movement, we would be side-tracked very often while other more important military trains would pass by.  So it was a long trip, and the cars were filled with smoke, and most of the guys were playing poker or having other kinds of “bull sessions.”  But anyway, I dreaded the thought of being confined to those poorly air-conditioned old Pullmans.  Even though it was comfortable at night to sleep in the Pullman that was made up for us, it was still something I kind of dreaded.  At that time, the mess sergeant came from the cooking car and asked for a couple of volunteers to keep the wood stove stoked.  The cars were so old that the cooking equipment was wood fired stoves.  My job was to make sure the fires didn’t go out on the cook stoves.  And I laid there on a bench, with my head adjacent to the open sliding doors on the side of the kitchen car and enjoyed the fresh air.  As I recall, I had plenty of opportunity to eat fruit and relax and enjoy the scenery as I traveled through the mountains through Colorado, on down through Oklahoma and toward Texas.  Perhaps not Oklahoma, but at least through Colorado and New Mexico, probably, and on to Texas. Deborah:  Where did you go to be trained, and what was your training experience like? Scott:  I went to Camp Walters, which was a relatively newly-built training center for infantry.  The training was kind of standard—learning how to march, hike and shoot different kinds of weapons.  I went in in February, and near the end of my training in May, my father passed away.  I was sent home on emergency furlough.  I actually had a hard time completing my military training because every time something would take me home, either emergency furlough to help on the farm, because of my father passing away, to his funeral, or for whatever purpose I was sent home, I would be set back a month or so in my training cycle.  So it took me a long time to finish my training, and in the meantime, most of the people who would have been trained previous to me or with the cycle that I was originally supposed to be with, had been sent to the Philippines.  This was before the war ended, and so what happened to them I don’t know, whether any of them were lost in battle or whether they went to Japan later on for the occupation forces I don’t know, but I never left the States.My military experience, even though had a lot of emotion, a lot of intensity, a lot of feeling, and a lot of discomfort in the process of being trained, I didn’t have the experience of really suffering through battle in the war.  However, I did get wounded during part of my training.  I was involved in an exercise where they were shooting 105-millimeter artillery shells over our head, and one of them exploded kind of close to us, and a piece of shrapnel, about an inch in diameter, hit me in the leg and made a gash in my leg.  It was kind of a glancing blow, and it didn’t go into my leg, but it did penetrate the surface and cause quite a bit of bleeding, which was really a mixed blessing; even though it was kind of uncomfortable to receive this wound, I didn’t have to hike back twenty miles to camp (laughter).  After the exercise was over, I had to ride in the ambulance.  This incident required that I come back another time to finish my training exercise, but the next group behind me was another month or so.  So I had several experiences that prolonged my training for several months, which, as I look back at it now, was probably a blessing, because who knows what might have happened if I would’ve gone into the service at the appropriate time. Something I forgot to mention—it was probably a blessing, as I look back now, that I spent two years in the first grade.  That meant that I turned eighteen before my senior year in high school.  Ordinarily, I would’ve been drafted six months before I really was, and that would’ve put me in the war six months earlier.  So again, who knows what might have happened. Actually, I was in the army just long enough to earn enough credit, as far as the GI Bill was concerned, to pay for my education.  After my training, which again was prolonged because of these incidents I mentioned, the war was over by the time I finally finished.  I was sent to Fort Benning to wait to be discharged, and during that time, I worked on different projects in the Officer Candidate Training School, where I would serve as a radio operator of a demolition expert.  One of the fun jobs I had was placing quarter pound charges of TNT in little holes surrounded by barbed wire, and the troops in their training programs would run through these fields, and I would have a console with a keyboard where I would set off these charges of dynamite, which would simulate artillery shootings.  So, whenever you see a movie now, and it involves artillery shells or mortar shells being dropped into an area where there’s a groups of soldiers, whether running through the fields or crawling on their bellies through the field, you can see all these charges going on, you know that somebody sitting up on the hillside is pressing buttons to detonate these charges that simulate artillery shells.  That was a fun job I had and a variety of jobs I had while I was waiting to be discharged from the service. Deborah:  What did you do while the others trained, since you had already gone through training? Scott:  One of the things I didn’t mention was that every time I would be set back a month or so in my training, I would be housed with a group of fellows who were being trained.  While they were out doing their training to catch up where I was, I would spend most of my time sleeping in, which is a very unusual thing in the army.  And then after a while, going over to the service club to read the paper and to be brought up-to-date on what was happening in the world, and read a few books and loaf around until it was time to come back for supper.  This became boring after a while, so I went over to the supply sergeant and told him that I was told to report to him to help him out, which was not true, but I wanted to do something other than just laying around all the time.  Plus the fact the World Series was on at that time, and the only radio in the area was in the supply room.  And so that would give me a chance to listen to the World Series.  However, as luck would have it, about that time, they got a whole new shipment of rifles that needed to be cleaned and put together, and it was a messy job, and I had to do it, although it wasn’t so bad.  But it was a little bit messier and more work than just handing out linen and fresh bedding to troops on a regular basis. Deborah:  What were the other soldiers’ attitudes like? Scott:  As the time approached for us to go over seas and finish our training, the fellows had a lot of fear and anxiety.  I guess that would be one of the primary feelings that existed among the fellows.  We took our training quite seriously.  There was a lot of fear over what was going to happen.  There was also a very intense feeling of patriotism and the attitude that America could do no wrong, and we were there to do our bit and do our best.  And I think the main thing was that we took it quite seriously and with quite a bit of anxiety over what was going to happen. Deborah:  Were there any prejudice feelings among the men? Scott:  It’s interesting that as I look back, and I compare the conditions then with the conditions now, we just seem to take for granted the way things were.  For example, I didn’t really think of it at the time, I was hardly aware of the fact that there were no blacks that were in any fighting units in WWII.  The blacks were considered not able to be first class pilots or infantry men.  They were considered to be truck drivers and garbage collectors.  The Japanese people, the young men who joined the service and volunteered, although there were some drafted, the American Military Operation was afraid to integrate them and to put them in with other groups, outfits and fight along with most of the white guys, and so they were put in units of their own.  In fact, the 442 nd  Combat Team, and there was one other I can’t remember.  Anyway, the 442 nd  Regimental Combat Team was one of the most decorated regiments in the whole army.  They proved their faithfulness and their loyalty.  While I was in Georgia, the fact that there were restrooms designated black and white is something I hardly paid attention to.  The fact that the blacks had to sit at the back of the bus is something I hardly paid any attention to.  Now we have had so many experiences with Martin Luther King and other movements, which have called attention to the prejudices and the segregation problems.  The changes that are taking place are really quite dramatic when you think how we used to take for granted the prejudices that existed.I remember one time, when I was in Fort Benning, Georgia, waiting to be discharged, as I was riding out into the field to do my regular work with a group of guys in the back of a truck.  It was a Monday morning, and the guys were joking about what they had done in town over the weekend, their parties, their drinking and carousing, and whatever else.  One guy told the group, as they were driving down the highway, they saw a black man walking along the edge of the road, and he swung the door open of his car and hit the man and knocked him off into the bar pit.  And he was laughing about it, with no more feeling than if he had just been out shooting rabbits along the side of the highway.  Those were things that many people just took for granted, and although I couldn’t believe my ears and that human beings could really be that way, the general feeling existed among so many people was that certain people were hardly human and not fit to have the same blessings that others had. Deborah:  Did you have any girls waiting for you at home? Scott:  I had a girlfriend that I had gone with the last couple of years in high school.  I thought that I was going to marry her, that the time would come when we would.  In fact, most of the guys that had been training from Utah went to Camp Roberts, California.  It was assumed that I would, but it turned out I had to spend an extra week in Fort Douglas being processed, and I wasn’t sent to Camp Roberts, I was sent to Texas.  In the meantime, this girlfriend that I had, left her very good job in Salt Lake City and went to California to live with her sister near the Post, hoping she would be close by where I would be.  She got a job there, and when I got my first emergency furlough, she quit her job and came back to Utah to be with me.  So she was very faithful and waited for me and followed around wherever she could.  However, when I finally went to Fort Benning, Georgia, she was starting to become discouraged about waiting for me.  I think she thought that I wasn’t as devoted to her as she was to me.  So for some reason, we just kind of drifted apart.  However, a couple of months before I was discharged, I came home on a furlough and met the girl who finally became my wife.  And during that period of time, I wrote to her a few times, and I don’t remember if she ever wrote to me.  After I was discharged and came home, I started to date her and dated quite seriously, which, in a way, was kind of a mistake because I was getting ready to go on a mission for the LDS Church.  So I went on a mission in January.  So between October and January, I courted her quite vigorously.  She was quite young at the time.  She was only eighteen, or I mean sixteen, when I went on my mission.  I was twenty.  She didn’t promise to wait, but she did promise that she wouldn’t be married during that time.  However, I did come back from my mission, and we continued to court and then we got married. Deborah:  Did you ever lose any friends in the war? Scott:  Most of the fellows I was thinking about when I made reference to the memorial services and so on, most of the guys from my home town that were killed in the war were three or four years older than I was, maybe older.  So I lost no buddies of close friends.  But there were several from our community who were killed in the war—some that I knew fairly well, even though they were older, but I didn’t lose any close buddies. There were some real fine young men in my community, as well as other communities, who were killed in the war.  I suppose one that meant the most to me, even though he was considerably older than me, was my bishop, who was an officer in the National Guard.  And since the National Guard was called up fairly early in 1941, he was sent to the Philippines, and he was captured there and was in the Death March.  He did eventually die.  I don’t know if he died during the Death March or in the prison camp in Japan, but he was one that I guess I was closest to of all the people I knew.  But there were a lot of beautiful, fine, young gentleman that never did come back.  I was fortunate enough to not lose any close friends. Deborah:  Were there any prison camps in or near Richfield? Scott: In Salina, which is about twenty miles away from Richfield, there was a prisoner-of-war camp.  If I’m not mistaken, the prisoners that were there were Italians.  They would be taken in trucks out to the farms to work on the farms to help the farm labor.  They were paid a certain amount of money, and they were well-treated, for the most part, and were not particularly feared or caused any particular worry among the communities there.  In fact, some of us who had prisoners of war working on our farms became quite friendly with them because they were citizens of their country, just like we are citizens of our country, and saw no particular problem with them, although there was one unfortunate accident or incident that occurred in Salina.  I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but learned later that one of the men in one of the guard towers kind of went berserk.  I don’t know what triggered it, whether he just had other frustrating experiences happen or something else happened.  But anyway, he just opened fire with his machine gun and killed several prisoners of war while they were inside the barbed wire fence, and I don’t know what happened to him, and I don’t know what precipitated the thing. Deborah:  What were your feelings about the situation in Germany? Scott:  As I indicated before, we saw the Japanese as a vicious, less-than-human type of creature.  The Germans we saw as civilized, Christians, and citizens of their country doing what they thought they had to do.  We were not at all aware of the Holocaust that was occurring.  And of course, many of the German people were not aware of what was happening.  In fact, many of them refused to believe what was happening.  And of course, as you know, many people in this country would like to insist that the Holocaust never occurred, although there is ample evidence that it did; and it’s an extremely sad blotch on our civilization that such things could occur, that six million people could be systematically exterminated.  So I had no awareness of it at the time, as most of the world did not have awareness.  It’s a shocking thing to learn that it did happen, even though we weren’t aware of it until it was over. Deborah:  Where were you, and what were your feelings when the war was over? Scott:  I can remember where I was on the day that the war with Japan was ended.  Of course, a few days before the war ended, the bombs had been dropped, and we knew that it would perhaps be ending pretty soon.  The atomic bombs were a mystery to us.  So many things that happened in the war were a mystery to most people, thinking of the atrocities, thinking of the atomic bomb and the reasons for dropping, the arguments against dropping it.  I do remember though, during this time, that there was a great feeling of relief.  I knew now that I would not have to be involved in any kind of fighting.  And relative to the atomic bomb, most of us thought, regarding the bomb was the unleashing of nuclear power, that it was going to be an almost unlimited, almost free source of power.  We knew that it would be available to generate electricity, although we didn’t know at the time the possible dangers and extreme expense, as it turned out to be an extremely expensive, cumbersome source of power; whereas at the time, when we first heard about it, we thought it was going to be almost without cost and almost unlimited.  But we have, obviously, become considerably more sophisticated and aware of all its benefits and potential horrors.