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George Whitewater video interview on experiences in World War II (transcript)

View at Kansas Memory

Creator: Whitewater, George

Date: February 22, 2007

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 218623

Biographical sketch: George Whitewater was born and raised on the Kickapoo Reservation and joined the 114th Cavalry, Troop 5, after he finished high school. It was comprised of all Native Americans and later he joined the U.S. Army and was in the 127th Field Artillery, Battery E. which was all Native Americans also. He started out at Fort Riley but was sent to many places including Red Lake, MN, Arkansas and Louisiana, the Carolinas and California. At Camp Farragut they were training the Marines how to use the artillery and he said it didn't set very well with them. When he was watching the guys jumping off the towers he said he would never do that, "and in three weeks I was jumping!" In the South Pacific they helped the Marines take Port Moresby, then went to the south end of New Guinea and fought all the way to the east coast of New Guinea. A lot of times they went without eating, one time it was nine days before they got food, but he carried three canteens of water. Sometimes the planes tried to fly over and drop them food but the wind blew it to the enemies instead. Whitewater described himself as "a loner." He wouldn't participate when they would have devotions before they went on a mission and told the chaplain that "I have my religion, too." They always jumped at night after a lot of the men got killed when they tried jumping in the daytime, using a smoke screen for cover. A couple of times he narrowly missed being killed. In South Carolina he was on an overnight pass when a guy asked him to jump for him that night. He refused, even though the guy offered him $200 if he would do it, and the next morning the Captain told him that the plane blew up on take off and killed all the jumpers. When they got to Corregidor the plane was only 400 feet above the ground when they jumped and a lot of them got killed when they hit the ground. He hit an open field and was OK. There was another time when he was told to take five men and set up on the southeast side of the route, so they were in a bomb crater getting their machine guns ready. A runner came and told him he was wanted at headquarters so he left and went to headquarters, only was gone for 30 or 40 minutes, and when he came back all the men were dead. The Japanese had stolen their ammunition and killed them. Whitewater feels like the ceremony that was held for him before he went to Australia helped to protect him. On his last mission to Penai he didn't tighten his right leg strap like he should have and was injured. He just got out of the hospital on Leyte Island when he heard that the war was over. When he returned he had bad dreams for a while until "they smoked me," and made him War Chief. The only benefits he drew was the $20 a week for 52 weeks that the veterans were eligible for, but he went to work before he used it all up. For 30 years he worked at Tinker Air Force Base at Oklahoma City and was responsible for getting the water fountains and restrooms changed. In the beginning there were fountains and restrooms for colored and whites only. Whitewater is the father of five daughters and currently lives back on the Kickapoo Reservation.

Summary: George Whitewater enlisted in the United States Army in 1939 and served until 1945 in the 114th Cavalry, Troop 5; and later in the 127th Field Artillery, Battery E. 35th Div. He became a paratrooper (503rd Parachute) and served in the South Pacific. He was born on the Kickapoo Reservation in Kansas on December 13, 1919. He is 100% Native American (Kickapoo). He worked at Tinker Aif Force Base in Oklahoma for 30 years before returning to Horton, Kansas, to live. He was interviewed by Debra Dee White Eye on Feb 22, 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): George Whitewater video interview on experiences in World War II (transcript)

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019-14-04-02  DVD 
019-14-04-14  Cassette Audio Tape 

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