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Interview on experiences in World War II

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Creator: Jaeger, Robert

Date: October 11, 2006

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 212304

Biographical sketch: Robert Jaeger was still in high school when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, graduating in 1943. Even though he was drafted, he got to choose which branch of service he wanted to be in and chose the Navy. His basic training was at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois and then he was sent to the University of Wisconsin in Madison for radio operator training. While waiting to be assigned to a ship he spent time at Treasure Island in San Francisco and then was put on a communications ship and headed for Pearl Harbor. After a couple of weeks there he was put on a Liberty Ship, the "Arthur A. Penn", and went to the Marshall Islands. He said that he was all over the South Pacific and still not assigned to a ship so he had done all kinds of different jobs; kitchen duty, painting, transferring food from one ship to another, etc. Finally, he was assigned to the U.S.S. Argonne which was an AD(destroyer tender) that had been transformed into a communications ship. There were a lot of radio-men working eight hour shifts, 24 hours a day and he said that he enjoyed it, but sometimes he would be afraid he would mess up a letter and send the fleet in the wrong direction. One night the static was very bad and it was almost impossible to take down Morse Code, so he "screwed up the message." The officer on watch was upset with him but a fellow defended him regarding the static and he "got off the hook." They were in Eniwitok, which is a short distance from Japan, when the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. After the Japanese signed the surrender on September 2, 1945 he went to Tokyo Bay and they were anchored outside the city of Yokosuka. He got shore leave and went into Tokyo several times but never went to Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Japanese people treated him well, an elderly couple even offered him a cup of tea. Robert says he felt very lucky to get through the war without being hit by a torpedo or an airplane. He headed back home and arrived in San Francisco on June 3, 1946 and was discharged at Norman, Oklahoma on June 11, 1946. Using the G.I. Bill he attended Kansas University in Lawrence but never completed his degree. Being a printer before he went into the service he started working part-time in the Kansas University printing office and ended up staying there for forty years.

Summary: Jaeger was inducted into the Navy in 1943 and served until 1946 on the U.S.S. Argonne;. Interviewed by Deborah Pye on Oct 11, 2006, Jaeger 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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