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Interview on experiences in World War II

View at Kansas Memory

Creator: Markel, Verne

Date: February 22, 2007

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 211410

Biographical sketch: In February 1944 Verne Markel was drafted into the Infantry and sent to Camp Roberts, California for basic training. After a short furlough he went to Vancouver, Washington and then shipped out to Honolulu about a week later where he received more training. He was in Saipan for about a month and that is where he joined the 77th Infantry Division as a replacement. They were involved in "mop-up operations" which he described as making sure all the Japanese were out and gathering up all equipment that belonged to the United States. From there the division went to Okinawa where they were to clean out the island as it was needed for airbases for our planes. Ernie Pyle came to the Pacific after the war ended in Europe and joined up with the 77th and he was only about two hundred yards away from him when he was shot and killed. Verne was wounded by shrapnel when an artillery shell landed at the edge of his foxhole and exploded, also damaging his hearing for about a week. The medics fixed him up and he stayed with the division as they fought their way north. On May 28th he was hit by two bullets in the back and was flown to a hospital on Guam where he stayed for six weeks. It was during his hospital stay that Japan surrendered and when he was released, instead of being sent to join his outfit, he was shipped back to Saipan were he drove a truck hauling supplies for about a month. Along with several others he volunteered to help round up the Japanese on some islands that had been bypassed, they didn't offer much resistance he said. He returned to the U.S. on the aircraft carrier Independence and was sent to Denver to be discharged. His feet and legs swelled up so he was put in the hospital in Denver for three or four weeks and was discharged in March of 1946. For his injuries he was awarded two Purple Hearts. Verne talked about what digging a foxhole was like and how when it rained it was impossible to stay dry. He said you would usually spend the day in the foxhole and advance mostly at night, you were always starved for sleep. When he was wounded he said he didn't know if they put him out or not because it was a day or two later before he woke up. He also tells about when they had time off before going to Okinawa he would play poker and won enough to buy a new car and a new tractor. After his discharge he returned to farming at Ingalls, KS. In reflecting on World War II he said we had a reason to go after them because we were attacked first, but in Vietnam, Korea, and Iraq we weren't. Two of his three sons went to Vietnam and one of them was killed in the conflict.

Summary: Markel was drafted into the Army (Infantry) in 1944 and served until 1946 in the 77th Infantry Division. Interviewed by Joyce Suellentrop on Feb 22, 2007, Markel talked about military experiences in the Second World War. The 2005 Kansas Legislature passed a bill funding the WWII Veterans Oral History grant program. This transcript is from one of the nine community institutions that received these grants. The transcript from the interview is presented here; the original audio copy of the interview is available through the Gray County Veterans Memorial & Archives and through the Kansas State Historical Society.

Space Required/Quantity: Audio

Title (Main title): Interview on experiences in World War II

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019-14-04-08  Cassette Audio Tape 

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