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Philip Korthanke video interview on experiences in World War II (transcript)

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Creator: Korthanke, Philip

Date: October 2, 2007

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 218607

Biographical sketch: When Philip Korthanke graduated from high school in 1945 he was given a deferment to help his father with the planting because he already had two brothers in the service. In high school a group of boys, including Philip, would go to the National Guard Armory and take ROTC training, which helped him when he got to boot camp. When they were inducted most requested the Navy, but didn't get what they wanted, he was just lucky as the guy in front of him and the guy behind him both were sent to the Army. When he arrived in San Diego for basic training and got off the train the newspaper boys were hollering on the street, "The war is over! The war is over!" He said he thought they'd put him back on the train and send him home, but they kept him for a year. Basic training lasted for six weeks, then he got a short leave, and returned to go to fireman's school. That only lasted for a week until the ship came in and he was put on the USS Meriweather APA 203, as a replacement. (APA stands for Amphibious Personnel Attack) The ship went to Leyte in the Philippines to bring soldiers home. He remembers that they celebrated two Christmases that year when they hit the International Date Line on the 25th of December. Philip spent most of his time in the engine room keeping the boilers fired up to make steam that ran the engines so he wasn't up where he could see out very much. However, he said when he was on deck you could see for a hundred miles and it was "nothing but water." When they got to Leyte the Filipino people came out in little boats to meet them and wanted you to throw coins over the side; they would dive in after them. They brought the troops back to San Francisco Bay and then went to Pearl Harbor for more troops. He got an eight-hour liberty at Pearl Harbor and walked around on the beach; the harbor was all cleaned up by that time and you couldn't see any destruction. Again they returned to San Francisco and then went to Mare Island to prepare to mothball the ship, which amounts to cleaning it up and then spraying it with preservatives so it won't rust. "It was a very dirty job," he said. In August 1946 he was discharged, returned to Kansas and in the spring he went into partnership with his brother farming. Then he decided to go back to California and attend diesel school using the GI Bill. He also used the GI Bill to learn to fly and got his private pilot's license. Their ship has reunions from time to time but mostly he just has one buddy that he keeps in contact with that lives in Oklahoma. Because he spent his time in the engine room he didn't see very many people so didn't develop a bond with them. Philip joined the American Legion but said that he never was at ease handling a gun so he didn't feel equal with the Army guys that did. He does take advantage of the VA for his health checkups and looks back on his service in the Navy as a positive experience. Philip and his wife have five children.

Summary: Philip Korthanke was inducted into the Navy in 1945 and served until 1946 on the USS Meriweather APA 203(amphibious personnel attack vessel. He did his basic training in San Diego and was then assigned to to Meriweather. He worked in the engine room of the ship. Since the war was essentially over, the ship went to the Philippines to bring soldiers back to the U.S. He used the GI Bill to attend diesel mechanic school in California and also used it to learn to fly an small airplane. He was born near Robinson, Kansas on February 13, 1927 and graduated from Hiawatha High School in May 1945. He was interviewed by Suzette McCord-Rogers on Oct 2, 2007. 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 Doniphan County Historical Society (Troy) and through the Kansas State Historical Society.

Space Required/Quantity: Video

Title (Main title): Philip Korthanke video interview on experiences in World War II (transcript)

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019-14-03-05  DVD 
019-14-04-08  Cassette Audio Tape 

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