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Interview on experiences in World War II

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Creator: Medaris, William

Date: September 12, 2007

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 215540

Biographical sketch: When William Medaris was growing up his father worked as a farm hand and his mother worked for S.S. Kresge Company as the fountain manager. He attended school in Hannibal, Missouri and as soon as he graduated he was drafted into the Marine Corps. Sixty-three men went to Saint Louis, Missouri to go into the Navy but a Marine guy came out and said, "I need three guys out of this group for the Marines." He and his friend volunteered and the other guy that was standing there was chosen and that was how the Marines got their three. For basic training he was sent to San Diego, California, where he spent twelve weeks. The food and accommodations were great and he also had his buddy Mahoney, from Hannibal, Missouri there, too. Then they were sent to Camp Pendleton, at Oceanside, CA, where the signal company needed a switchboard operator for the telephone. He had three years experience working on the switchboard at the Mark Twain Hotel in Hannibal, so he got the job, and that was his assignment for the rest of his career in the Marines. In September he went to Honolulu and in the middle of January was put on a small boat (there were about 250 Marines aboard) and headed for Iwo Jima. He was in a group of seventeen men that were late getting on board, and as there was only accommodations for two hundred, they had to sleep on the top deck for the entire 33 day journey. Food on board ship was good and he never did get seasick. On the way to Iwo Jima they stopped at Eniwetok, Guam, and Saipan but he never got off the ship as they were a supply ship and waited while cargo was being unloaded. They arrived at Iwo Jima on February nineteenth but didn't go in until February 23rd. While waiting to go ashore they could hear all the fighting going on and see the aerial combat. When they finally went ashore the first thing they did was dig foxholes; they were about a mile from Mount Suribachi and saw the flag being raised as they got off the ship. In the foxholes with them they had the switchboard and telephones. They stayed on Iwo Jima until the middle of March and then headed back to Hilo, where they stayed until the peace treaty was signed. On September 22, 1945 they arrived in Sasebo, Japan, where his duties were the switchboard center and switch runners. In June they returned to San Francisco, and then he was sent to Great Lakes, where he was discharged. When he got home he went to work for the Kresge Company and also attended Hannibal-LaGrange College for two years. He was also a member of the Missouri National Guard and took care of the armory and the captain's book. His career was laying out the Kresge stores, which later became K-Mart, and while in Wichita he met his wife of thirty years. He also has one daughter.

Summary: Medaris was inducted into the Marine Corps in 1943 and served until 1946 in the Fifth Marine Division. Interviewed by Nancy Porter on Sep 12, 2007, Medaris 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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019-14-05-04  Mini DV Tape 

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