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Interview on experiences in World War II

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Creator: Goodman, Grant

Date: April 5, 2007

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 213275

Biographical sketch: As a young boy, Grant Goodman was an avid reader; he and his parents would take turns reading books (each reading a chapter and passing it around) such as "Lost Horizon" and "Oil for the Lamps of China." His uncle was a great traveler and he would bring him stamps from China, Japan and Manchuria which made him even more interested in those countries. After graduating from high school in Cleveland, Ohio he applied to Princeton University and was accepted at both the university and what was called "School of Public and International Affairs." In January of 1943 a notice was put up on the bulletin board telling about the Army Intensive Japanese Language School and he and four of his fellow classmates applied. The interviews were to be held in March, so in the interim Professor Hinti arranged for Mr. Shirato, who taught Japanese at Columbia in New York, to come three times a week to give them Japanese language instruction. Grant was one of three students that was accepted from the interview and was told to go home and enlist in the Army and he would be sent to Ann Arbor, to the University of Michigan, where the Army Intensive Japanese Language School was located. He did what they told him to do but wasn't sent to Ann Arbor, instead he went to Camp Perry, Ohio. Even though he was only a private, he "made a fuss," and in ten days was sent to Ann Arbor for the training. There were about a hundred people in the class, Ph.D.s, lawyers, university professors, and eighteen-year-olds like himself. He said that the camaraderie and interaction was so stimulating that he has never been able to recreate it since. At the end of the year they were sent to Fort McClellan, Alabama for two months of infantry training, which Grant said was very difficult for him as he was not very agile. Then they were moved to Fort Snelling, Minnesota for a military intelligence service language school (M.I.S.L.S.), which was very rigorous. They carried military Japanese dictionaries and had to intercept radio broadcasts and learn the order of battle of the Japanese military. The training was so rigorous that there were several suicides, but he said that it didn't seem to affect him like that. At the completion of six months at the Military Intelligence Service Language School he was commissioned second lieutenant, moved to Minneapolis and got a room in the YMCA. He then got his orders to go overseas and shipped out to Pittsburg, California, near San Francisco. They boarded the troop transport "General Sherman" and on his trip to the Pacific he learned to play bridge. Grant comments that his "Army experience was wonderful, that he loved every minute of it." When they reached the atoll of Ulithi in the Caroline Islands, he said it had the most beautiful blue lagoons he had ever seen, and that there were probably three or four hundred ships sitting there. After a couple of days they went to Manila in the Philippines and he was immediately assigned to A.T.I.S.(the Allied Translator and Interpreter Section). It was located at a grandstand that had once been the Santa Ana racetrack, and they were on the ground level and General MacArthur and his staff were upstairs under the grandstand. Working along with graduates from the Navy, British, New Zealand, Australian and Canadian language schools, their job was: " A) translating captured Japanese documents -- the war was still on, and B) interrogating Japanese prisoners of war." There weren't many Japanese prisoners, he said, because the Japanese were told never to be taken prisoner- to die first, and secondly, because our guys killed every Japanese they saw. Part of his job was to go to the units and explain to them how important it was to take prisoners. At Manila they had a couple of hundred prisoners, mostly young recruits, who just wanted to survive and go home. Shortly after the surrender took place on September 2, 1945, he sailed from the Philippines to Japan, arriving in Tokyo Bay October 1, 1945 and was there in the occupation for a year. Coming ashore in Yokohama, he said it was flat as far as you could see, everything was bombed to the ground. It wasn't only from the atomic bomb but also from the "carpet bombing" done by the B-29s. He talked about General MacArthur and how he was "committed to the idea of democratizing the Japanese." How MacArthur wrote the constitution for them in February of 1946 and it still has not been amended. Dr. Goodman said that he had a lot of contact with the Japanese civilians because he employed a couple of hundred of them as translators in one of his projects at A.T.I.S. They were always bringing him presents and they seemed to revere the Americans, always "thanking them for getting rid of the wartime regime and wartime horrors." When his military time was up he returned to the States and resumed his undergraduate education at Princeton in February of 1947. After receiving his B.A. in June of 1948 he returned to the University of Michigan to enter their Center for Japanese Studies, receiving his M.A. in 1949 and his Ph.D. in history in 1955. In 1955 he returned to Japan, and in the last 50 years he has been there about thirty times, the last time in 1999. He said that his experience in the military was unique and it coincided with his personal interests, but many didn't have that kind of experience.

Summary: Goodman enlisted in the United States Army in 1943 and served until 1946 in the Military Intelligence. Interviewed by Deb Pye on Apr 5, 2007, Goodman 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.

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

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019-14-05-03  Mini DV Tape (2) 

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