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Cecil Stecher video interview on experiences in World War II (transcript)

View at Kansas Memory

Creator: Stecher, Cecil L.

Date: June 12, 2007

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 214670

Biographical sketch: Cecil Stecher grew up on a farm near Baldwin, KS, and at the age of seventeen enlisted as an aviation cadet in the Navy. They wouldn't take you until you were eighteen and he said there were so many of them that they were put on hold. Because he joined as an aviation cadet he didn't have to go to boot camp. He chose to go to ordinance school and spent eighteen weeks in training at Norman, Oklahoma, then went to gunnery school for six weeks in Miami, Florida. Radar was just coming into use while he was at Norman, OK, and he had only two weeks training on it. In 1944 he transferred to an air crew and was a gunner on a torpedo bomber, which he described as being very slow and heavy. Each torpedo weighted 2200 pounds and they dropped two of them in practice. His job was to strafe the ship after the torpedo was dropped and to call out the altitudes; the pilot was supposed to pull up at 2500 feet. This one time he didn't pull out and they were still going down at 1500 feet before the pilot finally pulled out. It was one of many close calls that happened to him. There were three people on the plane, the pilot, radioman, and himself; and five planes in a squadron. He spent a lot of time in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but of all the places he was stationed, Corpus Christi was his favorite. It was a town of sixty thousand people and he said there were a hundred thousand sailors there. On May 2, 1946 he received his discharge at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Chicago. His father met him at Ellettsville, Illinois, where his sister lived, and they returned to Kansas. After a semester at Pittsburg State College, his father asked him why he didn't start farming and since he didn't like school anyway, that is what he did. In April 1947 he got married and he and his wife have three daughters. Cecil said, "My dad was in World War I; my brother and I was in World War II; my two son-in-laws were in Vietnam. You have to fight to keep your freedom."

Summary: Cecil Stecher enlisted in the Navy in 1943 and served until 1946. He was a Navy Air cadet and trained as a torpedo bomber. He was born June 14, 1925, near Baldwin, Kansas. He attended grade school at Spring Creek and Prairie City and graduated from Baldwin High School. He worked at the Sunflower Ordinance Works in DeSoto before joining the Navy. Interviewed by Deborah Pye on Jun 12, 2007, Stecher 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): Cecil Stecher video interview on experiences in World War II (transcript)

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019-14-05-06  Mini DV Tape 

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