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Interview on experiences in World War II

View at Kansas Memory

Creator: Hoffman, Dean J.

Date: August 30, 2006

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 213550

Biographical sketch: At the age of seventeen, after graduating from Alden High School, Dean Hoffman joined the Navy. For boot camp he went to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station near Chicago, and said that Chicago was a great liberty town. You didn't have to pay for anything and he praised the USO as one of the best organizations he had ever seen. He also attended aviation mechanics school at the Navy pier in Chicago, radar school in Memphis, Tennessee; gunnery school at Purcell, Oklahoma; and then trained on a two-engine patrol bomber at Cape Canaveral, Florida. That was his first flying experience, which was exciting for a boy from the plains. By the time he returned from overseas he had accumulated over 900 flying hours. The twelve-hour flights were long but the plane had bunks and was big enough that you could get up and walk around. He called his plane a "Navy flying boat," it wasn't amphibious, you had to land and take off on the ocean. After a few days furlough he went to San Diego, then to Alameda, CA where he shipped out for Hawaii. He was stationed at Kaneohe Bay in Honolulu, Hawaii, and he said the whole bay was full of ships laying on their side. It was before they had raised the Arizona. Then they headed to the Marshall Islands, to Kwajalein and Eniwetok, and they also flew to Wake Island where the Marines were still bombing. They got orders to go to Saipan and were there when Iwo Jima was invaded. By March 4th they were anchored off the base of Mount Suribachi and he said when they flew over the island to make their landing pattern they could see the guys on the ground fighting by hand, and he was sure glad he was in the air. All night long they could hear the noise of the fighting going on, and when they went out on patrol one day there were many things drifting in the ocean - dead bodies, tanks, bottles, etc. They hit something that knocked the float off of the right side of the plane, making it almost impossible to land. The captain said that they had two choices - to try and land there, or fly back to Saipan to land. He decided the best choice was to try to land where they were, and told Dean that he wanted him and another guy named Crockett, to get out on the right wing and put their weight on it to hold the wing down when he landed and had slowed down enough. He said that he wasn't scared until he got back to the ship, where they gave them both a shot of whiskey and put them to bed. They returned to Eniwetok and finished their patrol duty and then returned to the States. While he was home on leave the bomb was dropped and they dissolved the squadron. Dean returned to Alden and was going to use the GI Bill for farm training, but land was hard to get hold of, so he took a test for a rural carrier and passed it, getting the job. He married his high school sweetheart, Ruth, and they have three children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He has been a member of the American Legion for 62 years and a member of the VFW for twelve years. There is a Rice County Memorial called the Eternal Flame and he is the United Way representative for it. It says, "All Gave Some and Some Gave All," and he feels like that "says it all."

Summary: Hoffman enlisted in the Navy in 1943 and served until 1946 in the PBM19 Squadron. Interviewed by Marian Poe on Aug 30, 2006, Hoffman 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 Rice County Historical Society (Lyons) 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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019-14-03-04  DVD 

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