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Interview on experiences in World War II

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Creator: Kearney, E. Dale

Date: March 14, 2007

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 211720

Biographical sketch: Dale Kearney grew up during the Great Depression and was attending high school in Humansville, Missouri when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He enlisted in the Marines in 1942 and was sent to San Diego for basic training. He described basic training as "Hell" and that "they developed your body, your mind and your muscles." Being a Marine meant something and still does to him today. After completing basic training he shipped out on a troop ship carrying about four thousand troops and headed to Honolulu. The group was then divided by calling out names on the roster as the troops were lined up and one group was sent to Midway and the other group made the second landing on Guadalcanal. He was put on the M-7 Director which was a ninety millimeter anti aircraft gun that was really a computer because radar would pick up the target and their scopes would identify it. For this he trained on the beach of Midway as this was after the Battle of Midway and the troops were reinforcements for Marines that had been transferred to Wake Island. That group of marines were either killed or taken prisoners when the Japanese took over the island. He described the Gooney Birds on the island and how they would cover the runways so the planes would have to buzz the runway a couple of times before they could land. Mr. Kearney's major recommended him for flight training and he took the examination and was the only one to pass it; but he and 3 other Marines were sent to take an empty oil tanker back to San Pedro, California. After that he was given a 30 day leave. On his return instead of being sent to flight training he was transferred to Tinian Island where the B 29's were taking off and making raids on Japan. He described the field where there were as many as seven hundred and fifty at one time and the four runways used, and what condition they were in when they came back from a raid. They were usually out of gas and many had injured personnel. In looking back Mr. Kearney felt that the defeat of Japan on Midway was the turning point in the war. When they got news that the Japanese had surrendered he was loading a ship with bombs and he said the crew just stopped and wouldn't do anything. He stayed on Tinian until his enlistment was up in 1946, then came back to San Francisco on the U.S.S. Wichita and from there he went to the Great Lakes Naval Station where he got his discharge. After his return he and his wife were owners of a Ben Franklin store and later had a Pier One franchise in Lawrence and Topeka. They later sold both stores back to the company.

Summary: Kearney enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942 and served until 1946 in the 65th Battalion, Midway Defenders. Interviewed by Brian Grubbs on Mar 14, 2007, Kearney 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 community institutions receiving grants. The transcript of the interview is presented here; the original video copy of the interview is available through the Watkins Community Museum of History (Lawrence) and through the Kansas State Historical Society.

Space Required/Quantity: Video

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

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019-14-05-03  Mini DV Tape 

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