Interview with Richard A. Hamilton, May 17, 1985

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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KELLY: We're in Springfield, Kentucky. I'm with Dr. Richard Alexander Hamilton, who entered the US Navy in April of 1944 and was separated in February of 1946. He had completed medical school at the University of Louisville in 1939, and in his short period of service he was where there was a lot of unusual events of historical importance. He was in Iwo Jima, Okinawa. He was at Nagasaki, and he was in Tokyo Bay at the surrender ceremony. Dr. Hamilton, suppose you just start out with you entering the service, and we'll get on with it.

HAMILTON: Uh, on leaving Springfield, Kentucky, I was stationed at Glenwood Springs, a convalescent hospital in . . . in Glenwood, 00:01:00Colorado . . . Glenwood Springs, Colorado. This was a convalescent hospital that treated Pacific veterans, and I was the only non-Pacific veteran there at that time. I was there several weeks and was transferred to Seattle, Washington, where I underwent training to aboard the USS Mellette156, which was an attack transport vessel and had . . . was also equipped to handle casualties. Uh, I was transferred to Portland, where I . . . Portland, Oregon. I boarded the USS Mellette. We went on a cruise to . . . down to Southern California, and back from San Francisco we went to Honolulu. We arrived out there 00:02:00in February, and began our training for the invasion of . . . what I later found was to be the invasion of Iwo Jima. We trained there for a month or six weeks down at Maui, and then we were suddenly sent to sea on what I later found was to be the invasion of Iwo Jima.

KELLY: The transition between civilian and . . . and the military, and . . . and being a . . . a military doctor, what kind of training did you get, you know, on wearing the uniform and how to salute and what to do on board the ship and that sort of thing?

HAMILTON: Well, we were trained as far as . . . at the hospital at Glenwood Springs, uh, it was teaching us the diseases that occurred in 00:03:00the Pacific, malaria and some of the emotional problems that the men had. But out at Seattle it was mostly training of . . . with fire and what would happen if . . . in that way.

KELLY: On a . . . on a ship, you mean . . .

HAMILTON: On a ship if we had a fire and . . . and that kind of training. Uh, we went . . . underwent simulated training for casualties but we received so many more casualties than our simulated training qualified us for.

KELLY: In reality when you got to Iwo Jima?

HAMILTON: In reality when we had . . . when it happened.

KELLY: Well, when you . . . coming out . . . out of medical school in 1939, and you're gonna go in . . . in the service in '44, so you've been . . . you've been practicing as a doctor about five years, five years as a . . . as a doctor, do you . . . is that enough time for a doctor to have a . . . a good deal of confidence 00:04:00on his medical skills and . . .

HAMILTON: After five years of practice, it made you feel confident of handling most injury patients, and mostly it gave you the confidence of knowing what to do with those patients, the ones that you weren't capable of handling. You. . . but you knew the basic first aid of these people and knowing how to treat them and to transfer them to their proper . . . where they should be properly handled. Uh, now, that was of great aid to me, the . . . the practice that I'd had before I went into the service.

KELLY: So when you go on board, your medical skills are such that you can enter the battle zone and . . .

HAMILTON: I knew how . . . I . . . I knew how to handle a patient and the ones that should be referred to . . . to the facility that they needed to be referred to without too much delay or anything. We were able to get these people out of shock, and to get them where they 00:05:00could be transported to a facility that could take care of their . . . any medical problems they might have.

KELLY: So while you're at Hawaii, what kind of training are . . . are you gonna undergo?

HAMILTON: In Hawaii, our training was . . . mostly we were sent down to Maui, our . . . and we were taking Marines in, and they were actually hitting the beach, and we were simulating casualties back to the ship. And . . . but it was a double . . . our main purpose down there was to get these Marines on the beach.

KELLY: Marine training. It was . . . it was a training for both . . .

HAMILTON: Yes.

KELLY: . . . the Marines combat trains and . . .

HAMILTON: And then we were . . . we didn't leave . . . we . . . we had a . . . on our ship, we had a group . . . we had a unit that landed with the Marines.

KELLY: Medical unit.

00:06:00

HAMILTON: That . . . that was attached to the Na- . . . to the Navy, not to the Marine Corps exactly. And . . . but our training was to treat these people as they came back from the beach, the injured that were returned to us.

KELLY: How long did you undergo that training?

HAMILTON: Hmm?

KELLY: How long did you do that?

HAMILTON: We did that, I'd say, for a month or six weeks.

KELLY: And then was there other training besides this type training?

HAMILTON: Well, that was the principal part of the training that I went through, was . . . most of the training was to take care of casualties.

KELLY: Okay. Were . . . were you married at this time?

HAMILTON: Yes. Uh-huh.

KELLY: And I know that you had a big . . . you ran into some hometown friends and you were gonna have a big reunion. We'll talk about that a little later on . . .

HAMILTON: Okay.

KELLY: . . . toward the end of the thing. So, from Hawaii then, nothing unusual happened there until your next big event, and that's 00:07:00Iwo Jima, is that correct?

HAMILTON: That was Iwo Jima.

KELLY: Okay. Suppose you just kind of get on the ship and . . . and head for Iwo Jima and tell us about the . . . the whole experience.

HAMILTON: Uh, we . . . after we were . . . we headed for Iwo Jima we . . . were loaded with the 4th Marine Division and they had . . . had all kind of experience in fighting, previous things in the Pacific.

KELLY: They were veteran, real . . .

HAMILTON: They were veteran fighters of all the way, and we went to Iwo, they [inaudible].

KELLY: Go on over there, before we get to Iwo now . . . as we go, as you leave Hawaii, uh, when do you first know you're gonna go to Iwo Jima?

HAMILTON: Well, after we out of Honolulu, maybe two or three days, we knew where we were going.

KELLY: They tell you on the PAs that was on . . .

HAMILTON: They . . . they told us that, where we were going, to Iwo, that we were going then and that we would initially be there three days 00:08:00before the landing, and that the island would be bombarded heavily and . . . they told us . . . that's about all they told us, but the Marines that we were with were fully confident.

KELLY: Cocky.

HAMILTON: Cocky. Uh . . .

KELLY: Did you get . . .

HAMILTON: . . . loved to play cards. Loved to tell you the stories of previous . . .

KELLY: Experiences.

HAMILTON: . . . experiences they'd had. You felt very . . . you felt very good. There was no fear created in this, going into that. We arrived off of I . . . Iwo three days prior to the invasion. 00:09:00Uh, we saw the Navy lay off of there with tremendous force.

KELLY: The bombardment.

HAMILTON: Bombard and it . . . they were bombarding just constantly. We . . . we could see the haze of this island off there. Uh, then on the morning of D-Day . . .

KELLY: Before . . . before you go on D-Day and . . . and while you're sitting out there and you're . . . you're . . . you're taking this in, are you gonna be able to get on . . . on the deck and . . . and observe this pretty . . .

HAMILTON: We observed this [coughs] . . . we could observe this, we were off there and I thought they . . . they . . . they just . . . this is a little island. I'd say it wasn't over five or six miles long, maybe a couple of miles across.

KELLY: I think that's about the right dimensions that you gave.

HAMILTON: They were hitting this island with just one shell after 00:10:00another. And when you sit back up there, it reminded me that much of being at . . . up at Notre Dame, watching a football game.

KELLY: You mean, it was just something . . . it was a spectacular . . . a spectator event.

HAMILTON: Just a spec- . . . just a spec- . . . I had a spectator- like feeling, . . .

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: . . . I thought. We was up on a deck. We didn't see any opposition.

KELLY: Everything was going out, nothing coming in.

HAMILTON: Oh, well, that . . . we were pouring shell after shell and . . . and it must have been the whole United States Navy out there, pouring all kind of shells in there.

KELLY: Where . . . where was your ship in . . . in relation to the ships that were bombarding the island?

HAMILTON: We were in . . . well inside them. We were well inside them.

KELLY: They were shooting over your head?

HAMILTON: We were . . . I'd say we were sitting not over a mile off.

KELLY: They were shooting over your head then?

HAMILTON: Over our heads. We were not . . .

KELLY: Was . . . you . . . you looked back over your shoulder to 00:11:00see them fire . . .

HAMILTON: Uh-huh.

KELLY: And then you could look over in front of you and see the . . .

HAMILTON: Uh-huh. We were not over a mile out. Not over a mile.

KELLY: Were you hearing the . . . both the guns going off and the rounds hitting?

HAMILTON: And the rounds hitting. And . . .

KELLY: Could you hear the rounds coming over your head?

HAMILTON: Hear them coming over our head, [inaudible] and it was a sea of smoke.

KELLY: Both . . . where the . . . from the . . . from the firing?

HAMILTON: From . . . from the island and [inaudible] . . .

KELLY: And on the island too?

HAMILTON: . . . just a sea of smoke. There was no return fire.

KELLY: And . . . and what was going through your mind then? This is gonna be a piece of cake, or . . . ?

HAMILTON: I thought this . . . I thought this is gonna be a . . . really a piece of cake. This is . . . this . . . there can't be anybody living on this island.

KELLY: And this lasted what? An hour?

HAMILTON: Oh, this . . . this . . . that part lasted three days. We were out there, sitting out there three days.

KELLY: Just shooting three days?

HAMILTON: They were shooting three . . . They were really in a . . . then, uh, the thing that . . . on the morning of the 19th we had 00:12:00moved in to [inaudible] a half a mile. You could see, it just looked like it's just right across the street. Then these dive bombers came in and they literally set that island on fire. It looked like it was on fire. It just was bli- . . . It just looked like it was on fire.

KELLY: Where were those dive bombers coming from?

HAMILTON: They . . . they came from the . . .

KELLY: Carrier?

HAMILTON: . . . aircraft carriers.

KELLY: Could you see them taking off the aircraft carrier?

HAMILTON: We could see them taking off. Uh, well, I won't say we could see them taking off but we could see them approaching. They were lying out from us maybe, I don't know . . .

KELLY: Several miles.

HAMILTON: . . . several miles.

KELLY: When they . . . when it was . . . when the dive bombers came in, the . . . the formations, are you looking up in the sky and seeing hundreds of planes or are you just seeing the . . .

HAMILTON: You're seeing hundreds of planes. Hundreds.

KELLY: Just as far back as you could see, like a bunch of seagulls or 00:13:00ducks?

HAMILTON: That's right. Just coming in, they were just coming and dropping their thing and going on out, just going through. And . . .

KELLY: How long did that last?

HAMILTON: That lasted, I'll say, an hour. I'd say an hour and . . . when . . . I didn't think there could be a soldier living on the island. Didn't think . . .

KELLY: Well . . .

HAMILTON: . . . and I didn't know how . . . I . . . and then I literally realized how foolish I was.

KELLY: Right. When . . . when you were talking, where . . . when this was going on, did you have any Marine officer friends at that time that you were discussing this with?

HAMILTON: They were all there, ready to go.

KELLY: What . . . what . . . what were they saying about the . . . about the . . . the of- . . . what they [inaudible]?

HAMILTON: All of them, they were . . . at that time they had gotten tense, they had gotten . . . they had believed that they would be in trouble.

KELLY: They'd gotten tense.

HAMILTON: Yeah, they'd gotten tense. They thought . . . and these Marine officers says, "Don't let this fool you. These people are still there."

KELLY: You could see that? You could feel that?

00:14:00

HAMILTON: You could see that and you could feel that and they . . .

KELLY: Well, what was kind of . . . what was . . . what was giving you that . . .

HAMILTON: Uh, I had a landing party, see. I . . . I had a . . . when our ship was a landing out there, I mean . . .

KELLY: The Navy personnel boat, the Marines.

HAMILTON: Navy personnel who went in . . .

KELLY: Right.

HAMILTON: . . . and took care of the casualties and sent them back. They had begun to got apprehensive. Then they went in. Our ship- our boats were . . . our boats were dropped over and our men went in. There wasn't a shot fired at them.

KELLY: All right. Let's kind . . . kind of descr- . . . are you watching them debark?

HAMILTON: I'm . . . I'm just standing right here watching them.

KELLY: All right. As they . . . as they debark what . . . what do you see when you look down that ship and . . . and how many of them are going down and, you know, just what does it look like? It's got to be busy, I know that, and what are they getting into and so forth.

HAMILTON: Well, you're looking at a bunch of people that are scared to death. I mean, they . . . they feel maybe . . . I mean, they 00:15:00. . . they know this is . . . somebody is gonna be shooting at me. They go down off that ship. Many of them are shaky. They are frightened. Uh, they seem well trained. They go in and they take those ships, and you see them go in and . . . no fire yet . . . you could see them . . . probably with binoculars you could see them go right in and land. And . . .

KELLY: Well, before we do this now . . . before we do this now, [coughs] . . . when they get off that ship, they're gonna get off . . . how are they gonna get off of it?

HAMILTON: Well, they . . . they go into . . . these . . . these boats are suspended along the sides.

KELLY: Right. That's the little landing craft . . .

HAMILTON: Little landing craft, and they . . .

KELLY: . . . infantry.

KELLY: . . . enter these boats and they drop down right into the water.

KELLY: Okay.

HAMILTON: And then they all start.

KELLY: Right. So, so . . .

HAMILTON: There're 22 boats on each ship.

KELLY: Are they gonna . . . are they gonna . . . are they gonna have . . . carrying the little boats, gonna take them in on a ship?

HAMILTON: The . . . they . . . these little boats take them in to the beach.

KELLY: The landing craft infantry that kind of looks . . .

HAMILTON: The landing craft, the little . . .

KELLY: . . . kind of a little shoebox-like thing.

00:16:00

HAMILTON: They're little boats that, I'll say, maybe [inaudible], oh, I don't know how many men.

KELLY: Twenty or thirty? Maybe more than that.

HAMILTON: [Inaudible] more than that.

KELLY: Yeah.

HAMILTON: Uh, okay, maybe 50 or 75.

KELLY: Yeah.

HAMILTON: And they in, and they . . . they take them in . . . their boats that were run in shallow water, where they can take them right up to the . . .

KELLY: The shore.

HAMILTON: . . . shore, and they jump off the front and go in and . . . and establish the beach.

KELLY: All right. As they were coming off that boat now, they're gonna be coming off nets. Are they gonna have any trouble getting . . . going . . . using . . . getting down on that net?

HAMILTON: They didn't have any trouble. They didn't have any trouble getting . . .

KELLY: Are you kind of looking at their face? Or are they looking . . . they . . . they're looking down, I guess.

HAMILTON: They're looking down and I'm . . . they're leaving me and they . . . they're leaving me, and I'm standing right here, just watching them get . . . get . . . get in this boat and drop right on down.

KELLY: Is there a lot of shouting, talking going on, or is it all kind of silent?

HAMILTON: They . . . it's all gotten pretty silent by then.

KELLY: No jokes.

HAMILTON: No jokes. They . . . they've . . .

KELLY: Serious.

HAMILTON: They're serious.

00:17:00

KELLY: Are they praying, some of them? Or can you tell, or do you know?

HAMILTON: I thought plenty of them were praying. I thought plenty of them had gotten . . . I thought . . . I thought when they really stepped over that . . . over that side, that many of them had forgotten the card games they're playing, all the banter that goes on . . .

KELLY: The laughing and kidding that was going on . . .

HAMILTON: [As they came up?]

KELLY: . . . as they came up there. All of a sudden H-hour is approaching and they're . . .

HAMILTON: These guys approach what they know is a fight to the finish.

KELLY: And then when they get in those little landing craft, the LCIs, they're gonna circle around your ship some before they head for the shore?

HAMILTON: No, they don't.

KELLY: They head right in.

HAMILTON: They go right straight in. When they . . . when they . . . when they dropped out over there, they dropped and they . . . they all . . . they [up, and the word goes?] . . . and they . . .

KELLY: How . . . how many were on your ship, you . . . you . . . do you figure?

HAMILTON: I'd figure 1500 Marines.

KELLY: Okay. How long did it take them to get . . . to get them off? 00:18:00We're talking about hours or minutes?

HAMILTON: Oh, not over ten minutes.

KELLY: Ten minutes, and they had 1500 off there?

HAMILTON: Ten . . . ten or fifteen minutes they had them off there.

KELLY: Is that right?

HAMILTON: They had them ready to go. They . . . they . . . they had them . . . they had them ready to go.

KELLY: They were organized.

HAMILTON: They were organized and ready to go.

KELLY: Okay. Then do you watch them . . . do you watch them depart, or is there any kind of . . . anything that . . . that's sending over you now? Are you . . . you . . .

HAMILTON: I'm not . . . I don't have to do anything until we get casualties.

KELLY: Are . . . are you . . . are you beginning to feel the tension though, and . . .

HAMILTON: I'm beginning to feel the tension, and I'm beginning to . . . I had felt that there couldn't be any problem over there.

KELLY: You still felt that way?

HAMILTON: I still felt that way when I went over.

KELLY: You thought the Marines didn't know what they were talking about when they told you . . .

HAMILTON: I thought they had . . . I thought they had . . . I didn't see how anybody could be living over there.

KELLY: You just seeing devastation, explosion, looked like the island was blown off the . . .

HAMILTON: Just blown off of the map. It just looked like the . . .

00:19:00

KELLY: And you were still confident.

HAMILTON: I was still confident. I never felt that was anything. And I saw them land. I saw them go in without any opposition.

KELLY: You're looking at them through binoculars?

HAMILTON: That's right, I'm . . . but I'm no farther . . .

KELLY: All right. Are you . . . are you kind of following your own troops?

HAMILTON: That's right, I'm following my own. But I'm no farther than . . . I'll say no farther than a quarter of a mile. No farther than it looked like this little rock.

KELLY: Yeah, with . . . with your binoculars . . .

HAMILTON: Yes.

KELLY: . . . it just looks like across the street, doesn't it?

HAMILTON: That's right, just across the street.

KELLY: Can . . . can . . . are you keeping up with your own troops? Are they the ones gonna come back to you?

HAMILTON: I'm keeping up with my own troops. That's right.

KELLY: And you, I mean . . .

HAMILTON: But we're all there together, [inaudible] . . .

KELLY: Yeah. And . . . and . . . and . . . and the medical people will evacuate them back to your ship.

HAMILTON: Yes.

KELLY: The ones that were on it, as they go ashore.

HAMILTON: We saw them go in. I could follow them all the way in and see them set up a spot to . . . to establish their spot of what they were gonna . . .

KELLY: Their . . .

HAMILTON: . . . [inaudible]

KELLY: . . . defensive position. Oh, you're talking about the medical people.

HAMILTON: And there hadn't been a shot fired.

KELLY: All right. This is what time of day now?

HAMILTON: Well . . .

00:20:00

KELLY: When they land.

HAMILTON: . . . this was at daybreak, I'll say.

KELLY: All right. Uh, then go on with what occurred.

HAMILTON: Well, it looked to me that . . . it looked like to me that we went in, set up our ba-, you know, it looked like [we knew?], got on the beach, and they started it after . . . I . . . I didn't . . . I couldn't see any shots or anything like that, any explosions on the island front, and they advanced maybe a hundred yards, and then all hell broke loose.

KELLY: You . . . do you see that?

HAMILTON: We could see that. All hell broke loose.

KELLY: And what went through your mind, just [inaudible] yourself the moment you saw that?

HAMILTON: That . . . that . . . that . . . these . . . that they were under . . . it looked like to me they were under a withering fire, that they were just . . .

KELLY: Gonna be wiped out.

HAMILTON: . . . just wiped out, just be pushed off there.

KELLY: So, what . . . what were you thinking then?

HAMILTON: I was thinking, well, I said, this is . . . this is . . . this is it.

KELLY: This is a disaster.

HAMILTON: They're gonna push us right back in the ocean. Then it wasn't 00:21:00any time till we got the casualties, beginning to get the casualties.

KELLY: Any time, you mean a half hour, an hour or . . . ?

HAMILTON: It . . . it wasn't . . . it . . . I will say it was not over 30 minutes that we began to get them, and . . .

KELLY: This is gonna be the first casualties that you've seen, combat casualties, right?

HAMILTON: That's right. And we . . .

KELLY: How many of you are there? How many doctors and nurses and so forth? Were the nurses out there . . .

HAMILTON: Uh, there were no, we didn't [cough: Kelly] have any nurses. We had 13 doctors. Uh, we had maybe 35 or 40 hospital personnel, what we call pharmacist's mates.

KELLY: Well trained?

HAMILTON: Trained to handle casualties. And . . . I don't know, we stayed in there ten days. And uh . . . we didn't have anything like 00:22:00the ability to take care of the pa- . . . the . . . people that we had come back to us. We didn't have the . . . we didn't have the facilities, uh . . .

KELLY: You . . . you were . . .

HAMILTON: We were . . . we didn't even dream that we was gonna get that kind of casualties!

KELLY: How many . . . how many casualties were you prepared to handle?

HAMILTON: I'd say maybe handle 50, at the most.

KELLY: With the facilities you had?

HAMILTON: With we had.

KELLY: And what're you gonna end up with before it's over?

HAMILTON: Three hundred or something like that.

KELLY: Three hundred.

HAMILTON: And all . . . just all at one time. Now, we stayed in there that night . . . we stayed in there. They with- . . . with-, pulled so many of these ships out, the type of ships we were . . . Oh, we stayed in there that . . . that first night. And they just . . . they just overran us with casualties! And we was . . . we stayed in there approximately ten days. And we worked night and day.

00:23:00

KELLY: [Clears throat] When you . . .

HAMILTON: All kind of injuries that we couldn't . . . and we had so much trouble getting them anywhere else, you know, back to more, you know, away from the . . . where you could handle a sick patient.

KELLY: I . . . I guess there was . . . there was an evacuation system in the Navy where you . . . you . . . you came . . . you . . . you were classified probably on the beach, I guess, . . .

HAMILTON: That's right.

KELLY: Then it came to you, and then further cla- . . . treated and further classified, and then some shipped back to . . . maybe a hospital ship, some distance back or so- . . .

HAMILTON: Yeah, that's right.

KELLY: That was the general plan. So, I mean, there's supposed to be . . . yours was sort of a . . . an intermediary station.

HAMILTON: That's right. We were supposed to . . . to give a, uh, what I'd call first aid. Other words, we were supposed to give aid . . .

KELLY: To save their life.

HAMILTON: . . . to [base?] and move him on back to where he could be treated for whatever he had. If he had a . . . a . . . [inaudible] or some- . . . So, we . . . we were . . . had way 00:24:00[inaudible] to handle.

KELLY: Just in dealing with this and getting into the details of it, when . . . when the first casualty comes to the ship are . . . are you gonna be looking at it and seeing the boat coming with the casualties? Or are you gonna get it over the PA set or . . . ?

HAMILTON: What would happen, we'd . . . there had been a casual- . . . like a . . . they'd see him on the beach, they would tag him and send him in. They'd maybe put a, slap a dressing on him and give him a ha- . . . hypodermic of morphine. He'd come to us for evaluation. Uh, we had fairly good facilities. We had x-ray, three surgeons, four or five general practitioners. We had enough people to give those 00:25:00people first aid and to do immediate surgery.

KELLY: Life-saving surgery.

HAMILTON: That's right. But mainly we were equipped to . . . to classify these patients . . .

KELLY: And get them out.

HAMILTON: . . . to get them out of shock, to transfer them somewhere else.

KELLY: Were . . . were you gonna be transferring some of them off during this ten days, or are they gonna . . . or are they gonna be coming in [inaudible]?

HAMILTON: Oh, all the time. We're gonna be transferring them immediately after we got them.

KELLY: Okay. So, I mean, but just getting them there and fixing them up so you could even transfer them was just gonna z-. . .

HAMILTON: [Inaudible]

KELLY: Overwhelming. Okay. So, so, when . . . when this thing starts kind of . . . When you start seeing these patients, I . . . I'm sure you've seen some car wrecks and things before you went in the . . .

HAMILTON: That's right.

KELLY: . . . in the Army, so you . . . you're . . . you've seen mangled . . . bodies and humanity and so forth. But is this gonna be some sort of a different experience for you? What's . . . what's your emotions, and . . . ?

HAMILTON: This is an entirely different experience for you. Uh, you see 00:26:00these people that are . . . I don't know, they're . . . most of them are literally scared to death. They hurt. It's all come sudden. They've . . . was no escaping. You have the feeling that . . . well, I can make this fellow comfortable till we can get him somewhere else, but hell, he's [inaudible], he's got his thigh or face blown off or he's got a leg blown off or . . . just all dreadful injuries. And . . .

KELLY: A . . . and he . . .

HAMILTON: . . . it's a right harrowing experience, and you see, it makes you re- . . . The only thing that . . . that made . . . made me realize what a lot of the training that they had done for us down there, and we need to realize, well, they . . . they had to 00:27:00do that, because with the people to . . . there just was no way of having people qualified to take care of the injuries they received so quick. Now, I forget the number of casualties we had at Iwo, but it was enormous. We had all kind of casualties.

KELLY: Just . . . if just frightened . . .

HAMILTON: And there's no way of taking care of that many people hurt at one time.

KELLY: Well, are . . . you're seeing fear in their face from fear of death, or is there some fear there because of the . . . the battle and that their battle may not be going well, or that he didn't do what he should've done? Or are you sensing any of these things, or . . . ?

HAMILTON: Well, what I saw in those . . .

KELLY: I mean, is . . . is . . .

HAMILTON: . . . ten days over there, we'd see . . . See, when you're bringing that many people in, you're bringing some people in that . . . that are not hurt, that are not . . . you know, not 00:28:00really physically hurt and so forth. And the idea of sending them back . . .

KELLY: Was hard for you to do.

HAMILTON: Hard for me to do, and . . . awfully hard for me to do. And awfully hard when you see them tremble, and the fear that they have of going back.

KELLY: Was there many of them in that category?

HAMILTON: A lot of them. Lot of them.

KELLY: How were, how . . .

HAMILTON: I forget what they call that, comback . . . combat . . .

KELLY: Combat fatigue?

HAMILTON: Combat fatigue, and . . . it . . . it's a [sadness?], it's a thing, it [hell, a?] wreck. But you had to [sign?] . . . you had to [sign?], . . .

KELLY: Did you . . . did you talk to some of those people?

HAMILTON: Yes.

KELLY: This combat fatigue, can you get into that a little bit?

HAMILTON: I don't know. They . . .

KELLY: You know, the stress of c- . . .

HAMILTON: . . . combat fatigue . . .

KELLY: . . . the stress of combat is what . . . I mean, the stress of the horror of it, I guess.

HAMILTON: The stress of the horror of going out here to be shot at and killed is a terrific emotional thing for some people. Now, the . . . 00:29:00they evacuated, they evacuated our . . . our uh . . . I told you we had a doctor trained to go on the beach and . . .

KELLY: Be with the . . .

HAMILTON: . . . and evaluate the patients.

KELLY: Right.

HAMILTON: And he had a . . . he . . . he had a certain number of pharmacist's mates and so forth. He came . . . when he came back, they . . . they brought him back, I'll say, after 36 hours out there, [where he dodged?] his group back. He says, "I'm never going back. I'm not going. Regardless of what happens, I'm not going back."

KELLY: It was just too over- . . .

HAMILTON: He says, "I'm not going ba-. . .

KELLY: . . . powering for him.

HAMILTON: . . . I'm not going back." And . . . of course, I . . . I . . . I never will forget what the executive officer said to me, he says, "If he doesn't go back," says, "you're gonna have to go 00:30:00back, go take his place." And I thought, well I said, "I haven't been trained in this [chuckle], in that [phase, at all?] [chuckle] . . ."

KELLY: Yeah. That kind of, that puts you in one . . .

HAMILTON: [inaudible]

KELLY: Yeah, you're gonna [go overtop?] this guy.

HAMILTON: I don't want to go back down there . . .

KELLY: Yeah.

HAMILTON: . . . This fellow was a . . . this . . . this doctor was a circuit judge's son from out in Arkansas, never will forget him.

KELLY: Well [clears throat] . . .

HAMILTON: Wasn't going back.

KELLY: Uh, [clears throat] the . . . are . . . are you getting any stories from these people, or are you too busy to talk to anybody?

HAMILTON: Well, . . .

KELLY: Are you getting little bits . . .

HAMILTON: . . . at that time, I . . .

KELLY: . . . Are you getting any picture of what's going on?

HAMILTON: Uh, at that time I was . . . I mean, I was too busy. We were too busy to talk to them. We . . . we worked constantly, all the time we were in there. And . . .

KELLY: So, you didn't have to time to pat them on the back and say, "You'll be all right"?

HAMILTON: . . . no, and everything. And you didn't have . . . 00:31:00have the time to really . . . to . . . to . . . to really . . . to really get to them much. I'll say this, these people that came on there that were . . . weren't hurt, the Navy had . . . some two-ounce bottles of brandy. I'll take it, give them a couple of those, it'd do more than all the damn medicine in the world.

KELLY: Is that right?

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm.

KELLY: Two things of brandy would relax them and . . .

HAMILTON: Relax them way more . . . I mean, in other words, they just couldn't rest or anything, just all . . . and if you give them a couple of bottles of that brandy, they were 2-ounce bottles. And you give them a couple of those.

KELLY: When those young boys came back with this combat fatigue, uh, would they . . . how soon would you be sending them back? I suppose it varied, but generally?

HAMILTON: Within . . . within 24 to 48 hours.

00:32:00

KELLY: And . . .

HAMILTON: And it made you sick.

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: It made you sick, ma-. They weren't able to go back. Now, the ones that were over there, all right, the ones that were there, . . .

KELLY: What percentages of the troops are this? Is this one percent or . . .

HAMILTON: Uh, uh, it would be a small percent, but those people that had that . . . had what I'd call combat fatigue or whatever it is, that just, they . . . they . . . they just couldn't do that.

KELLY: Their emotions were just . . .

HAMILTON: Their emotions just wouldn't let them do it.

KELLY: . . . overwhelmed. Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: Now, many of them went over there, I mean, many of the people that landed off that ship went over there and stayed, I guess, for . . .

KELLY: The whole duration, yeah.

HAMILTON: . . . two weeks, or maybe longer than that.

KELLY: Oh, yeah.

HAMILTON: And could . . . could stand it.

KELLY: Could cope with it.

HAMILTON: Could cope, but there were many others that couldn't.

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: I . . . I . . . I don't . . . I don't the answer to that.

KELLY: Well, you know, I've gotten into this with some people, but . . . especially . . . of course, Iwo Jima, you know, was such a 00:33:00. . . intense combat situation, and prolonged -- it lasted hours on that beachhead, you know -- but I, you know, I . . . I've . . . I've . . . I've run into them where . . . where they told me, you know, a lot of them wet their britches, were . . . were you . . . were you getting some of this, or? You know, just lose control of their facilities.

HAMILTON: What . . . what was that now?

KELLY: You know, where they were so frightened and . . . and so stressed that they'd lose control of their facilities, you know, they wet their britches and . . .

HAMILTON: Oh, sure. Oh, yeah.

KELLY: Were you seeing some of that?

HAMILTON: Oh, I saw all kind of that. Yes, all kind . . . I saw them get . . . oh, you . . . you . . .

KELLY: I'm not talking about [the wounded men?] now, I'm talking . . . I'm talking about the stress.

HAMILTON: You . . . grown men . . . you'd see grown men that just couldn't drink a glass of water, or couldn't . . . I mean, just . . . just like this, and you're talking about having them climb over that damn thing again and getting back in that damn boat!

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: And . . . and we had to send . . . we . . . we had no alternative! We had to send them back! And we didn't have any place for 00:34:00them, and . . . they had to send them back, and I guess they had to have them, because it . . . it was . . . it was a . . .

KELLY: To save . . . to save the day. It was a matter . . .

HAMILTON: See, it was a . . . a . . . it was a terrific battle. And I've often, si- , you know, after I had time to think about it: Here we are, with100,000 soldiers. There they are with 15,000. Here we are with a navy and dive bombers and everything in the world. We had them outmatched hundreds to one.

KELLY: Well, that's the advantage of . . . of the defensive position, you see. See, when . . . when you're dug in and . . . and you got your fields of fire and these Marines come on shore, you see, they . . . they're not dug in . . .

HAMILTON: They haven't a chance!

KELLY: So, so, the . . . your fire . . . the defenders' fire is so 00:35:00much more effective. Uh, Bill Voorheis . . . you know Bill Voorheis?

HAMILTON: Hmm?

KELLY: Laura Mae Clements's husband?

HAMILTON: How . . . what was that now?

KELLY: You know, Bill Voorheis.

HAMILTON: Bill . . .

KELLY: Laura Mae, Laura Mae Clements's husband.

HAMILTON: See, I . . . I don't know about it and he's . . .

KELLY: I . . . I . . . I think it was Iwo Jima, was where he got his wound. He was there one day. His . . . his combat experience was one day, and then . . . but, you know, while . . . while . . . at first, you know, he . . . he got wounded about three times, you know, he got knocked down and then he got wounded while he was laying there a couple other times and, you know, I guess, that was . . . the multiple wound was not an unusual thing either . . .

HAMILTON: Oh, they . . . they had everything. It . . . it was a . . . how to . . . to me, I . . . oh, I mean, I could see it. You . . . you . . . you could just . . . you could stand on this deck. And why they never fired at us, I don't know. They never 00:36:00fired at us, at all.

KELLY: They were busy with those troops. They were dealing with the . . .

HAMILTON: They . . . they . . . they . . . they never ma-. . . but you could walk right up on the . . . that deck, and just like exactly like at Notre Dame.

KELLY: Just like a game.

HAMILTON: And you could see our troops advancing. You could see them trying to advance, dig in, and you could see these people blow them off the map. And . . .

KELLY: What kind of . . . what kind of . . . you're gonna be there ten days now?

HAMILTON: I was there ten days.

KELLY: What kind of rest are you all gonna get during that ten days?

HAMILTON: They had a . . .

KELLY: I mean, sometime . . . somewhere along the line you got to lay your head down some . . .

HAMILTON: Well, very little.

KELLY: How . . . how long . . . how much can you go without collapsing?

HAMILTON: What . . . you can go much farther than you think, and I had had a good training for it. Uh, I had done an internship in a city hospital where I worked 48 hours all the time, uh, or many stretches of 48 hours, and I would learn to sleep . . . lie down, sleep . . .

00:37:00

KELLY: Catnaps?

HAMILTON: . . . any time.

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: And I could do it out there too.

KELLY: So, how much of a catnap . . .

HAMILTON: And we'd catnap . . .

KELLY: . . . did you have . . . did you have to have to help you?

HAMILTON: . . . and we'd catnap . . . we'd . . . we . . . we would take . . . he'd take us out of there for four hours, say, and then many times we could catnap for an hour. And . . . well, he'd take us out of there for four hours.

KELLY: Four hours a day or four . . .

HAMILTON: Uh, maybe four hours a day or four hours and . . . but never longer than four hours at a time. And . . .

KELLY: And . . . and then some time between casualties . . .

HAMILTON: And some time between them, could you rest an hour.

KELLY: Uh . . .

HAMILTON: You'd rest an hour, and we'd . . . between ourselves, we would . . . and it got to the point of where these pharmacist's mates could do it. They could do . . . they . . . they knew how to carry on, but they were trained well.

KELLY: They were getting more training . . .

HAMILTON: Yeah.

KELLY: . . . in the ten days than . . .

HAMILTON: And they were carrying on and . . . and . . .

KELLY: . . . than some people would get in a year . . .

00:38:00

HAMILTON: That's right.

KELLY: . . . in medical school, weren't they?

HAMILTON: That's right. And so . . . but it was the only time that I was ever busy, [busier than when?] I was in the Navy.

KELLY: Well, as far as that . . . that overwork load, that . . . that saturation or whatever you want to call it, c- . . . does a ten-minute nap do you any good in those kind of situations?

HAMILTON: Do what?

KELLY: Would a ten-minute map . . . nap do you any good in those kind of situations?

HAMILTON: I don't think so.

KELLY: It'd have to be an hour to do you any good.

HAMILTON: That's right.

KELLY: And then that wouldn't be a whole lot, would it?

HAMILTON: Well, an hour'll do a whole lot for you.

KELLY: Will it?

HAMILTON: And lying down any length of time, I'll correct myself on that, lying down any length of time, for five or ten minutes, and dropping to sleep will do a lot for you. Will do a lot for you. And it . . . it . . . you can learn to . . . a person can learn to 00:39:00go to sleep under any circumstances.

KELLY: Right in the middle of disaster.

HAMILTON: Right in the middle of it. And they can get up and . . . and go on and . . . and function. Uh, it was a . . . it . . . I don't know, it's an experience that takes you some time to get over, but it . . . it didn't seem to last that long actually while you were there.

KELLY: Because you were so . . . time flying because you were just busy [inaudible].

HAMILTON: That's right, and . . .

KELLY: Yeah.

HAMILTON: . . . and you just saw so many people in bad shape . . .

KELLY: That you couldn't feel sorry for yourself.

HAMILTON: No, you couldn't.

KELLY: Well, ten days now, are they . . . they're gonna move your ship out and move somebody else in, or what's gonna happen?

HAMILTON: They moved us out. And another one. By then they had it . . .

KELLY: Under control.

HAMILTON: They had it under control.

KELLY: Where . . . where are you gonna go now?

00:40:00

HAMILTON: Hmm?

KELLY: Where are you gonna go from here?

HAMILTON: Uh, we went from there to Saipan.

KELLY: You mean, just right on to Saipan?

HAMILTON: Yeah, well, that's . . . when we moved out of there . . . when . . . when we moved out, we moved right on . . . we . . . we moved back to Saipan.

KELLY: Did you go pick up some troops to take to Saipan, or did you just . . .

HAMILTON: No, we moved right back on to Saipan and we had . . . the pa- . . . the ty- . . . the patients that we could take care of, we moved on back to Saipan. And . . .

KELLY: Was Saipan sort of an evacuation hospital, area or something?

HAMILTON: That's right, mm-hmm.

KELLY: You . . . did you go back there and pick up duty as a . . .

HAMILTON: We went back there in, to Saipan, we didn't come back anymore to Iwo. We were . . . after that initial landing, we took those troops in. When we unloaded our troops and . . . and finished our duty there, we . . . we didn't evacuate anything, any troops. We just evacuated patients.

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: And we moved on back to Saipan, but we never went back to Iwo 00:41:00with troops again.

KELLY: Right. What . . . what'd you do in Saipan?

HAMILTON: Uh, we started back. They gave us a rest period.

KELLY: At Saipan?

HAMILTON: At Saipan. They gave us a rest period and we went to . . .

KELLY: What'd they do for you there, for to rest? If you're gonna rest, what kind of facilities did they have for you?

HAMILTON: Well, [coughs] we could go acro-. . . go on . . . go on board, go over there, and we could . . . the . . . all the pharmacist's mates, all the . . . the personnel, uh, we would go over there and have a beer party.

KELLY: Swim and . . .

HAMILTON: Swim . . . uh, no, we didn't get to use their facilities like that. But we could go over there and have a party.

KELLY: So, generally just kind of a . . . a comradey beer drinking, beer buddies.

HAMILTON: That's right, a beer-drinking party. That's about what it turned out to be, and some . . . you know, some sandwi- . . . you know, some food . . .

KELLY: Some food and . . .

HAMILTON: . . . and things like that and . . .

00:42:00

KELLY: Were you able to unwind pretty quickly?

HAMILTON: Pretty . . . pretty quickly. Now, we had . . . now, we had [inaudible] . . . we went to the . . . that . . . then we moved down to what, a place called Mogmog. And they had a . . . there was just facilities for entertainment.

KELLY: Officers' club? Officers' club?

HAMILTON: Yes, but not in the sense that . . .

KELLY: That you'd have . . . find around a base on . . .

HAMILTON: No, no, not in that sense. And . . . but all of our . . .

KELLY: But, I mean, was it . . .

HAMILTON: . . . all of our men could go down there, all the . . . the pharmacists and all the naval men could go down there, and they . . . they could have beer and so forth. There'd be . . . there'd be a certain few. . . certain women there, I mean, that were . . .

KELLY: Nurses and . . .

HAMILTON: . . . nurses and so forth.

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: Uh. . .

KELLY: Movies? Did they have movies and baseball equipment, that sort 00:43:00of thing?

HAMILTON: Yes, they have . . . they'd have some baseball equipment and so forth. I was under . . . I had the misfortune of being under a very poor . . . the ship that I was on, we were very persecuted.

KELLY: Didn't have a good captain, is that what you're saying?

HAMILTON: [Inaudible] captain, executive officer.

KELLY: Inexperienced or just . . .

HAMILTON: They were both crazy.

KELLY: Really?

HAMILTON: They . . . they didn't get caught while we was on there, but they did, and when we were in Tokyo Bay for the surrender, Admiral Turner came . . . came aboard our ship and dismissed the executive officer and the . . . and the captain.

KELLY: Were they regular Navy or . . . ?

HAMILTON: They were . . . both . . . one of them, the captain was a . . . was a old merchant marine . . .

00:44:00

KELLY: Wait just a second, let me . . . let me change here.

[End of Tape 1, Side 1]

[Begin of Tape 1, Side 2]

KELLY: Dr. Hamilton, you were talking about the . . . the problem you had with the . . . with the skipper of your ship and the executive officer and . . . when we had to change that.

HAMILTON: Okay. I'll tell you about that because it . . . it was unusual. I mean, this is not crybaby stuff. Uh, the commanding officer of our ship was a merchant marine captain, and the executive officer was a . . . warrant officer from the Navy, who had been in the Navy for years and was made a . . . during the war, major lieutenant. Well, when we boarded the ship, these people, we went down [to Long?] Beach, on the cruise and everything, they wouldn't let any 00:45:00of the navy personnel, officers or anybody else, go ashore! [Inaudible] ship, we . . . we were down to [Long?] Beach, and they wouldn't . . . they wouldn't let you go ashore, at all.

KELLY: Why not?

HAMILTON: I don't know!

KELLY: Scared that you might go AWOL or something?

HAMILTON: Well, I don't know. They just . . . they wouldn't let us. So, we moved up to San Francisco. I was out . . . I was out in San Francisco Bay four or five days! And they didn't . . . they wouldn't let a single soul off of our ship.

KELLY: Well, you know, usually the Navy is . . .

HAMILTON: The Navy . . .

KELLY: . . . wants to get them ashore, get unwound . . .

HAMILTON: . . . wants to get them ashore, get them [all the time?]!

KELLY: . . . and get them off on dry land.

HAMILTON: And so we had . . . we had . . . that's . . . that's the kind of thing we . . . we contended with.

KELLY: How long did it last?

HAMILTON: A- . . . a- . . . that lasted all the time.

KELLY: I mean, this was a . . . you had this . . . you had this skipper from . . . see, you went . . . you went to Iwo Jima around February, so you're talking about February through . . .

00:46:00

HAMILTON: I'm talking about when I got on the ship.

KELLY: . . . February of '44 up until '45, so you . . .

HAMILTON: That was the time we were staying in . . . at Pearl Harbor.

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: That was the time I was out there. That was the time where we first got down. I asked him when I was out at Saipan. One day the thing came up, [somebody?] said . . . said, "Paul Hamilton, a cousin of yours, is on a such . . . such and such a ship." So, I went up and asked the exec if I could go see him. Well, he fi-. . . he did . . . he finally permitted me to go and I went over there and see Paul. But anyway . . .

KELLY: What was Paul on?

HAMILTON: Hmm?

KELLY: Well, what . . . was he on another ship?

HAMILTON: He was on another ship out at Saipan. And he knew . . . he knew I was on the AP-156, see; he saw me over there. And so, he did let me do that. But we'd go down, we would go maybe to Saipan or Guam 00:47:00or . . . and we got very little . . . he wouldn't let . . .

KELLY: No shore leave.

HAMILTON: No shore leave at all [coughs]. So, when the war was over, we happened to go . . . we were at Manila, and picked up correspondents to take to Tokyo Bay for the surrender. We were . . . as I told you, I was one of the ships that went in there, Tokyo Bay. We went in there, he put all these Navy . . . all these correspondents on there from the Christian Science Monitor, all these big papers, well, hell, he wouldn't even let them come up on deck!

KELLY: He was tough, huh?

HAMILTON: He wouldn't let them come up on the deck!

KELLY: He wasn't very smart, was he?

HAMILTON: And . . . and . . . and when we got to Tokyo Bay, uh, then . . . I . . . I stuck an article. . . I mean I, one of the things I, only thing I brought down, I stuck an article saying of 00:48:00what this officer wrote . . . I mean, what this correspondent wrote about the . . . being on the ship, and what uh . . .

KELLY: Conditions were?

HAMILTON: And what the conditions were. So, anyway, when we got in Tokyo Har- . . . uh, Tokyo Bay, while the surrender was going on, uh, Admiral Turner came aboard our ship to uh . . .

KELLY: Relieve . . .

HAMILTON: . . . look at these findings.

KELLY: Look at what?

HAMILTON: Look at the findings that they had, you know . . .

KELLY: They had an investigation.

HAMILTON: . . . the . . . these charges. To investigate these charges.

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: Admiral Turner came on with two or three officers. And I can see him now, see him in the bow of the ship back there. And he got up to leave, and as he was leaving to go off the ship, if . . . our communications officer, who was a fellow by the name of David Suskind -- I don't know whether you've ever . . . know him or not, . . .

KELLY: Hmm.

HAMILTON: . . . know who he is. David Suskind is now a outstanding 00:49:00person, a . . . a television man up in New York. And he's outsta-, he has his own show and everything, he's outstanding. And David Suskind handed him these charges, and Admiral Turner [inaudible] went back up and he read these charges. He got up, took and dismissed the, uh, executive officer and the captain of the ship, and brought on a Naval Academy captain and a naval capt- . . . Academy executive officer while we were on that ship. And that [chuckle] . . . that . . . they replaced them right there in Tokyo Bay.

KELLY: Right there in Tokyo Bay, right while the big surrender was going on.

HAMILTON: Yeah, uh-huh.

KELLY: Yeah. Well, did . . . of course, you weren't gonna be on a ship much after that, were you?

HAMILTON: Well, we would've been on the ship very much after that, too; 00:50:00we would've been coming back to the States, hauling troops.

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: Back and forth. I mean haul . . . hauling . . . making hauls back . . .

KELLY: Casualties?

HAMILTON: Ca-, I mean, not only casualties, but by then we would be . . . KELLY: Troops.

HAMILTON: See, we could handle . . . we could carry quite a few . . . we were a transport ship.

KELLY: Right.

HAMILTON: And we would . . . by that time, see, they would . . . we would only have been [handling ours?]. And I'll tell you another experience I had in the Navy. Uh, we . . . at, when they dropped the bomb, we were sent to Nagasaki. And at the time of surrender, you know, had . . . they had a kind of an invasion, and I was . . . we went in . . . we landed at Nagasaki, and I . . . that was . . . I've never had an experience like that.

KELLY: This is . . .

HAMILTON: I went aboard. I went [to shore?].

KELLY: This is gonna be when? When are we talking about, now, are we talking about August, September '45?

00:51:00

HAMILTON: That was in August of '45. See, that was that time that they dropped the bomb.

KELLY: They dropped it about August the 7th, the first one, and then the second one was the 14th or something like that.

HAMILTON: Yeah. Well, we went, and they dropped the first one at Nagasaki and then the next one in Hiroshima, and we landed at Nagasaki. Not . . .

KELLY: You mean, right there itself, right . . .

HAMILTON: . . . not right . . . north of Nagasaki. We didn't . . . I don't [inaudible] [where it was exposed?], but we . . . we landed right north of Nagasaki.

KELLY: How . . . how long was this after the bomb had been dropped?

HAMILTON: Uh, a very short time.

KELLY: You're talking about two, three weeks, a month?

HAMILTON: Two or three weeks. No longer than that.

KELLY: All right, go ahead.

HAMILTON: And we . . . we landed in there, and that was an experience that made me remorseful. To me, the most difficult experience I had in the . . . while I was in the service.

KELLY: Or ever in your life, I guess.

HAMILTON: And in . . . and ever in life, because when the people would see me, they'd run.

00:52:00

KELLY: The Japanese?

HAMILTON: The children would run.

KELLY: Are . . . are . . . are you talking about the casualties from the . . .

HAMILTON: No, I'm [inaudible]. . .

KELLY: . . . the victims, are you talking about . . .?

HAMILTON: See, we landed up there, and this was a kind of a naval base we landed into.

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: But . . .

KELLY: They're frightened by your . . .

HAMILTON: . . . they . . . when they saw us . . .

KELLY: Scared to death.

HAMILTON: Scared, and literally scared to death. Literally . . .

KELLY: Just horrified.

HAMILTON: Horrified.

KELLY: I mean, just taking off like a . . .

HAMILTON: And it was a frightening experience to me. I mean, they just take off, just took off. And I remember I said to this interpreter and I said to her, I said, "Why? What's the matter? Why . . . why are these people so frightened of us?" She says . . . she only said one thing to me, "Remember the bomb." And they were really frightened.

KELLY: Now, how far were they from the bomb?

HAMILTON: Uh, I don't know, maybe . . .

KELLY: Ten miles?

HAMILTON: . . . twenty-five miles.

KELLY: Twenty-five miles?

00:53:00

HAMILTON: Something like that. [Was north and down?]. It was . . . we landed . . . Na- . . . the bomb was . . . was dropped in Nagasaki, and we were just north of Na- . . . we were . . . went in just north of Nagasaki.

KELLY: Are you gonna get to go down and see the site?

HAMILTON: No, we didn't . . . we didn't get to go anywhere.

KELLY: Do you get to see any of the casualties or anything?

HAMILTON: Nothing at all.

KELLY: Well, what kind of information are you getting from this . . .

HAMILTON: I don't know. We was . . . what they were getting in there, I don't know. We went in there and we went in the store . . .

KELLY: Were you getting any kind of information about the . . . about the bomb at all?

HAMILTON: Oh, I didn't see anyth- . . . I couldn't see anything about the bomb. We never got in that close.

KELLY: Do . . . well, how . . . what did you know . . . you knew it was a . . . an unusual . . . ?

HAMILTON: We knew it was an unusual bomb, but I didn't know it was a . . . a . . . a . . .

KELLY: Of the nature that it was.

HAMILTON: . . . radioactive or anything like that. Mm-mmm, I didn't know that.

KELLY: Never did get any of that.

HAMILTON: No.

KELLY: How long did you stay there?

HAMILTON: I don't remember exactly. I wonder how long we were there? We were there . . .

KELLY: Are you talking about months or weeks?

HAMILTON: I'd say a week or something like that.

00:54:00

KELLY: Just a short period of time.

HAMILTON: Just a short period of time, and then we moved on . . . then we moved on to Tokyo Bay. But . . . now, our . . . I'm not exactly sure where we were there. I thought we went to Nagasaki before we went to Tokyo Harbor for the treat- . . . uh, for the . . . for the . . .

KELLY: For the surrender?

HAMILTON: . . . surrender, but I'm not sure about that.

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: Though I . . . that stands out in my mind . . . two things stand out in my mind. I had a lot of contact, so that stands out, of the fear those people had of me. Uh . . .

KELLY: Well, well, you know, it . . . it may . . . it had such a jolt on you . . . Are you talking about them knocking things down to get out of your way, you know, they . . . they were so frightened like . . . like a . . .

HAMILTON: Just . . . just . . . they just literally . . .

KELLY: . . . like some kind of a cat running from a dog or something, you know, where you're gonna . . .

HAMILTON: Exactly. Made you feel right . . . made you feel right bad.

KELLY: How long did . . . how long did it take them to get over this? 00:55:00Was this . . . did this last a whole week . . . ?

HAMILTON: Uh, while we was there they . . . the kids never got over it.

KELLY: Never got over it.

HAMILTON: [Never?]. The people that were in charge there, they treated us, you know, I mean, they treated . . . I don't say treated you [coarsely?], but they . . . they were courteous. They didn't . . .

KELLY: Was there some interreaction with the . . . with the Japanese civilians there, while you were there that week?

HAMILTON: No, I wasn't . . . these were . . . these people were . . . were . . .

KELLY: Administrators and things like that, that were . . .?

HAMILTON: Yes. They were some people [in the ad-?]. The only other thing I . . .

KELLY: Well, are you getting to talk to any of those people at all [through your tour?]?

HAMILTON: I never got to talk to them much.

KELLY: Okay. You were gonna say . . . something else there. I . . . I interrupted you.

HAMILTON: The only other thing that I . . . that stuck . . . still stands in my mind about the US Marine Corps. Of course, I was with the US Marine Corps quite a bit and, of course, you know, we'd all be taking a few drinks and . . . and this, you know what I'm saying. 00:56:00And they'd . . . and that . . . that outfit . . . that . . . US Marine Corps was as tough as they come, and these officers, these young kids, 22 or -3 or -4 or -5 years old, they'd tell you, well, we're down here on this island, and damn these people in this cave with both [asked them?], they don't come out, and they started out of there and they shoot them down with these [chuckle] damn flame throwers, you know, and they'd just tell you that, they . . . and . . .

KELLY: Yeah, there wasn't any humanity between . . .

HAMILTON: Was no humanity at all in war.

KELLY: Right. Right.

HAMILTON: There's no humanity in war at all.

KELLY: Right.

HAMILTON: And our side is just as guilty. Would . . . would . . . they would reciprocate just the same way the Japanese did.

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: And we . . . and that was kind of frightening to me.

KELLY: Yeah, I . . . I guess, you know, with the . . . with the Japanese, people didn't . . . didn't . . . couldn't consider them 00:57:00huma- . . . humans, did they? I think more so with the Japs . . . Japanese than they did with the Germans.

HAMILTON: Uh-uh.

KELLY: I mean, there were . . . I'm running in some instances, you know, where they . . . where there was a sort of revenge-type shooting of somebody, you know.

HAMILTON: Uh-huh.

KELLY: Of course, the Japanese usually didn't surrender, you know.

HAMILTON: They just didn't surrender.

KELLY: And . . . and . . . and, you know, Forest Grider told me about an incident where he and . . . and . . . he'd seen one of those banzai, whatever they call them, charges, you know. And . . . and, you know, the . . . the fanaticism in the Japanese fighter, you know . . . you know, fight to the bitter end, su- . . . was such that [clears throat] . . . and you know, booby-trapping themselves and, you know . . .

HAMILTON: [All about that?]

KELLY: . . . committing suicide just to get you . . . Uh, so, you know, he . . . he was walking along and -- and this was at Iwo Jima -- they'd only cap- . . . they'd captured maybe three or four, and they had them kind of down in a little pit with a wire fence around it. He and his friend was walking by, and his friend just shot them. 00:58:00It horrified him . . . well, it didn't horrify him, is what I'm [inaudible] to say, no, it didn't horrify him. But, you know, he thought, well, you know, it's not so good, I . . . I wouldn't do it myself, but he . . . he didn't think enough about it to tell anybody or anything, you know.

HAMILTON: Yeah, sure.

KELLY: So, he said, you know, you just didn't consider them a human being.

HAMILTON: I . . . I . . . you know, like at Saipan. Hell, Saipan had been taken for months and months when we were there. Hell, there were all kinds of damn suicidal people around you. On Saipan, you look back in the hills and so forth, they'd all come out and . . . and uh . . . but they . . . you know, the Japanese, without that, of course, I'll say this: I've never had any feeling, if we hadn't dropped that bomb, we never would've whipped them.

KELLY: They're tough, aren't they?

HAMILTON: They never would've whipped them.

KELLY: Yeah.

HAMILTON: If we . . . we'd have been fighting without that bomb, we'd have still been fighting on that home island of Japan. We'd . . .

KELLY: [Clears throat]

HAMILTON: . . . because they . . . they would've been barricaded 00:59:00in there so damn . . . they never would have given up.

KELLY: You know, I . . .

HAMILTON: . . . and that's something that just absolutely, literally destroyed them.

KELLY: Yeah. Yeah, I . . . I . . . I . . . I never had any problem with the . . . with the decision to drop it. I thought it was, you know, because they had . . . you know, they had . . . they had . . . the . . . those children and . . . and . . . and the natives, you know, they were all told, you know, to fight to the bitter end.

HAMILTON: That's right.

KELLY: And, you know, you, the . . . the Americans were painted as brutal to them, so they were naturally afraid of you. And they would have fought like you say, I believe.

HAMILTON: I think they would, yeah.

KELLY: [Clears throat] Well, let's . . . do we . . . let's, maybe let's while we're on . . . at Japan, maybe we ought to just go ahead and do the s- . . . the surrender. What . . . what did you see of that?

HAMILTON: Well, all I can say is that I was in the harbor when they had to surrender.

KELLY: Did you see the USS Missouri, you s- . . .?

HAMILTON: And we could . . . we were lying off there where we could 01:00:00see the . . . the ship. I forget the name of the ship, but the . . .

KELLY: Missouri.

HAMILTON: Missouri.

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: But we were lying right there, well we were right there in the harbor when . . . when it was going on. And . . .

KELLY: Are . . . are you getting in . . .

HAMILTON: . . . we took the correspondents in there, and they went from our ship to the Missouri. But we weren't . . . actually a part . . . you know, in other words we were . . .

KELLY: Part of the formation.

HAMILTON: . . . formation of it. [Inaudible]

KELLY: Right. Well, did . . . were you feeling anything . . . ?

HAMILTON: I was feeling a lot of pride of being there and being . . . that this was over and that . . .

KELLY: We've won and we can go home.

HAMILTON: We've won, all that.

KELLY: So, so, I mean there's a lot of euphoria, I guess, or . . .

HAMILTON: That's right.

KELLY: . . . the troops' morale is exceedingly high, and there's a lot of . . .

HAMILTON: And we just . . .

KELLY: . . . good feelings . . .

HAMILTON: . . . everything's just . . .

KELLY: . . . laughter and . . .

HAMILTON: . . . everything's just . . . well, we . . . we've done whipped them, and that's . . .

KELLY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: And so those were the, as . . . as I say, out of the 01:01:00Pacific, I think I saw . . . I was pretty fortunate in seeing . . . I mean I was in some of the important things, Iwo, at . . .

KELLY: Okinawa.

HAMILTON: . . . in Okinawa.

KELLY: Yeah.

HAMILTON: Now, we . . . down there, that was . . .

KELLY: I'll come back to that in just a minute. I want to do a little more on the . . . on the harbor in Tokyo Bay while you're there. [Clears throat] Are . . . are you . . . you . . . are . . . listening to the radio and getting reports on what's going on, or are you just kind of observing what's going on out in the . . . ?

HAMILTON: Uh, we . . . we are hearing . . . the reports I can get on the radio and so forth out there, I mean, was just a combat . . . it was a talk between our people that were landing and coming back.

KELLY: [You mean, done?] by reporters?

HAMILTON: Uh, no. Uh, you mean at the . . . at Tokyo . . .

KELLY: Right, in the Tokyo Bay.

HAMILTON: I . . . I was . . . we were hearing it on the radio.

KELLY: You were hearing it on the radio?

01:02:00

HAMILTON: Yes sir.

KELLY: Was it very formal and . . .

HAMILTON: And that would . . . that would be from our . . .

KELLY: . . . were . . . were you hearing McArthur . . . were you . . .

HAMILTON: . . . be from our ships that were out there would be giving us reports on it, see, of all . . . just like it'd be here at home.

KELLY: It just . . . it gives a reporter's report. You . . . it wasn't live, in other words, you weren't . . .

HAMILTON: Oh, no, it wasn't live.

KELLY: You weren't hearing General McArthur saying . . .

HAMILTON: Oh, no. Oh, no.

KELLY: "Will you step forward and . . ."

HAMILTON: No.

KELLY: . . . that big . . . did you ever see General McArthur?

HAMILTON: No.

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: I saw Admiral Turner, was the highest ranking officer I saw.

KELLY: Mm-hmm. How long did that last? How long did you stay there?

HAMILTON: On our ship?

KELLY: No, in the bay.

HAMILTON: Uh, I don't know exactly how long that lasted.

KELLY: Week, two, or days?

HAMILTON: I would think several days. Now, it may not have lasted that long.

KELLY: Didn't get to go ashore?

HAMILTON: Mm-mmm. No, we didn't get to go ashore.

KELLY: Okay. Uh, when the war actually . . . when it . . . when they dropped the bomb, where were you when they dropped the bomb? Do you remember?

HAMILTON: Uh, we . . . when they dropped that bomb, we were between 01:03:00two points. Now, I . . . I don't know exactly where . . . it seems like to me we were, were between . . .

KELLY: It was after Okinawa.

HAMILTON: Huh?

KELLY: It was after Okinawa.

HAMILTON: It was after Okinawa . . .

KELLY: At J- . . . [that'd be in?] June '45.

HAMILTON: . . . and we . . . we were . . . I would say . . . af- . . . after they dropped the bomb . . .

KELLY: There were some ships . . .

HAMILTON: . . . we were . . .

KELLY: . . . there's some . . .

HAMILTON: . . . we were between maybe Saipan and . . . and Manila.

KELLY: Mm-hmm. There . . . there were some ships, you know, that were moving back to pick up troops in preparation for this . . . for the invasion, you know.

HAMILTON: Uh-huh. Well, that's what I feel like we w- . . . I feel like we was on the way to Manila when they dropped that bomb.

KELLY: Were you there . . . going back to Manila to pick up troops, or do you know?

HAMILTON: To pick up troops.

KELLY: You . . . I mean you were, in fact, doing that.

HAMILTON: Yes, that's right.

KELLY: Yeah, you . . .

HAMILTON: Then they diverted us, then . . . see, all that happened pretty fast in there.

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: After they dropped the bomb, . . .

KELLY: Where'd you hear about that? What'd you hear? What'd you all know?

01:04:00

HAMILTON: Well, I . . . I don't remember exactly, except that we'd dropped this bomb and . . .

KELLY: Is that . . . you're gonna get that on a little piece of . . . in the news bulletin that . . .

HAMILTON: The news bulletin that they . . .

KELLY: . . . publish, or are you gonna hear it on the . . . the captain gonna announce it on the PA set?

HAMILTON: That's the way we'd get it, is the captain would announce it, and . . . and we never had a whole lot of information on that.

KELLY: But you didn't know . . . you . . . you knew a big bomb had been dropped.

HAMILTON: Had been . . . been dropped and . . .

KELLY: You didn't know it was radioactive.

HAMILTON: Then we knew we were going . . . we were diverted to Manila to pick up correspondents. And now that . . . that . . .

KELLY: That got your attention.

HAMILTON: There must not been much difference in there, because we were at sea when we were . . . were diverted to Manila and we picked up those correspondents to take them to Tokyo Bay. And so that all came . . . and I'm kind of mixed up on when I went to Nagasaki.

KELLY: Well, we'll try . . . we'll fit that in as we go. Uh, you 01:05:00. . . where are you gonna be when they . . . when they say the war's over? Do you remember that?

HAMILTON: When the . . . when they say the war's over?

KELLY: Mm-hmm. V-J Day. En route to Manila?

HAMILTON: Uh, I'd say we was en route to Manila.

KELLY: What was the reaction on that ship?

HAMILTON: Oh, just really euphoria, and everybody was just reacting with . . . just everybody was happy and . . .

KELLY: Was there any tossing of hats in the air and screaming, or singing, or jumping, or shouting, or . . . ?

HAMILTON: I don't know whether there was much of that or not. I don't . . .

KELLY: Mm-hmm. Just an awfully good feeling. People were kind of separated. It wasn't kind of a . . . it wasn't a . . . an atmosphere where you would throw your hat in the air.

HAMILTON: No, no. Uh-uh, no. And we . . .

KELLY: I mean there wasn't any drinking because you couldn't . . . there wasn't any booze or anything to drink.

HAMILTON: No booze on there.

KELLY: There was on land, I can tell you that.

HAMILTON: Mm-mmm, no booze on there.

KELLY: Now, now . . .

HAMILTON: And I had . . . now, now, we . . . when . . . they 01:06:00. . . they . . . like a [Pharisee?] on the ship, there was no drinking on the ship. But they would take us, as I told you, they . . . we could . . . we'd have periods of . . . where we'd go ashore and spend an afternoon.

KELLY: Mm-hmm. And usually there was some pretty heavy drinking at that . . . [there was social drinking?].

HAMILTON: Was pretty heavy drinking, all beer.

KELLY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. You know, I've talked to s- . . . different people in different situations, the . . . those bomber crews, you know, were catching the devil over Germany. And from s- . . . I just talked to a few, so I don't have a good feel for it, but apparently, you know, they would . . . to deal with it, you know, they . . . they generally turned to the bottle . . . turned to the alcohol more than they did to the church or to some . . . some other . . .

HAMILTON: Uh-huh. Oh, sure. Yeah. Yeah.

KELLY: . . . just to . . . to ward off that stress.

HAMILTON: To ward off, es- . . . escape and . . .

01:07:00

KELLY: Unwind, escape and so on. Well, [clears throat] any . . . anything else you remember about the surrender? That ought to . . .

HAMILTON: I don't remember . . . only thing I can remember about the surrender is that we were there at . . . we . . . we took these correspondents to Tokyo Bay, and they went to . . . from there they'd go to the ship or wherever they were assigned or . . . but how long I was there, I don't recall.

KELLY: Did . . . did you . . . did you . . .

HAMILTON: Now, it seems like to me we was there about a week because while we was there is when Admiral Turner came aboard our ship.

KELLY: Enough time for him to come aboard and read the crew [inaudible] . . .

HAMILTON: We had to be there several days.

KELLY: Yeah.

HAMILTON: Now, I don't remember . . . uh . . . we were bound, I think, to have gone to Nagasaki before we went to Tokyo Bay.

KELLY: You might have.

HAMILTON: I believe we did.

KELLY: Yeah.

HAMILTON: And . . . and I don't know how long we stayed there but . 01:08:00. . now, we may have been heading back from Nagasaki to Saipan when . . .

KELLY: I . . . I'll help you with that date in a few minutes. I . . .

HAMILTON: . . . when we were going [inaudible].

KELLY: I'll get our book.

HAMILTON: How long there was between the bombing and the surrender, I'm not sure.

KELLY: All right. I've got it over here, and we'll get it in just a minute.

HAMILTON: Okay.

KELLY: [Clears throat] Did you get to have any interchange or talk with those correspondents before . . .

HAMILTON: Yes. Oh, yes.

KELLY: . . . before the surrender and after the surrender?

HAMILTON: Yes, uh-huh.

KELLY: Were . . . were you . . .

HAMILTON: Before, I mean, I had . . .

KELLY: Do . . . do you recall any kind of conversation where you learned some little bit of information that was . . . got your attention that you recall?

HAMILTON: No.

KELLY: Nothing unusual?

HAMILTON: Nothing unusual.

KELLY: Were . . . were these correspondents, that were war correspondents, been there throughout the war? Are they . . .

HAMILTON: They'd been there throughout the war.

KELLY: Mm-hmm. Okay. Uh, let's go to Okinawa then.

HAMILTON: Well, we . . . by the time I went to Okinawa, I had plenty 01:09:00of fear. [Chuckle] I didn't think I . . . I had . . . I . . . by then I knew there wasn't any . . . I . . . I had a feeling, here we are at Iwo. We . . . this is a little place, now we're getting closer, it's gonna be tougher. And I . . . I was hoping that I didn't . . . that they would . . . wouldn't decide to train me to go off to that damn shore.

KELLY: You knew . . . you knew enough the war situation to know that the shore duty with the Marines was not the best duty.

HAMILTON: Not the best duty in the world. So, we went to . . . now, when we went to . . . to this invasion, we knew, we were told, that . . . that we weren't going to land.

01:10:00

KELLY: Keep on talking.

HAMILTON: Unless . . . unless there was a change in plans and the way the thing went up north, that we were to be a diversionary force. That the . . . the big landing was to occur in the north, and we were to . . . we felt that they thought that we were gonna attack Naha.

KELLY: Naha, that's another island?

HAMILTON: No, Naha is on Okinawa. It's the southern part of Okinawa. So, what we did is we made diversionary . . . we would . . . every day we would . . . our . . . we would unload our ships and we would head for the beach with these Marines. But when they got in a certain [ran away?], they'd turn around and come back. Well, it made you a sitting duck. I can see these damn . . . now, they never hit us. The Mellette never was hit. But I can see these damn bombers come 01:11:00in there now. And I got smoking full pack of cigarettes a day. I can see the . . . see those . . .

KELLY: Kamikaze?

HAMILTON: Yeah, they're coming at you. And I can see them shooting at . . . I mean, just standing there, this . . . these anti-aircraft weren't just [just . . . no?]. They're coming right square at you. And . . . and [full well?] out there in front of you.

KELLY: The war is real . . . real for you now.

HAMILTON: Yes, that was . . . it was real . . .

KELLY: And no more spectating.

HAMILTON: That's right. It wasn't more spectating down there.

KELLY: All right. And, of course, this is gonna go on all . . . for all the Navy, you know . . .

HAMILTON: Yeah.

KELLY: . . . wherever they were. How . . . how . . . I kind of want get to . . . into some of the details. This is a diversionary action to distract the Japanese of where the main attack's gonna be.

HAMILTON: That's right.

KELLY: And . . . and you're gonna go down there and . . . for several days? You're gonna . . . you're gonna make false runs at . . .

HAMILTON: False runs in . . .

KELLY: . . . different places.

HAMILTON: That's right.

KELLY: And you're gonna get right up to, close to the shore, and then turn around and come back.

01:12:00

HAMILTON: Turn around, come back.

KELLY: Then . . . and then this is where you're gonna get attacked by the kamikazes.

HAMILTON: That's right, mm-hmm.

KELLY: All right. Your ship, the AP what?

HAMILTON: On- . . . uh, one-five-six, . . .

KELLY: One-five-six.

HAMILTON: USS Mellette.

KELLY: Are they gonna come right at your ship?

HAMILTON: They're gonna come right at it, and the only thing that kept . . .

KELLY: Is this gonna be the first day, second day, third day or . . . ?

HAMILTON: Every day.

KELLY: All right.

HAMILTON: And . . .

KELLY: The first day that . . . the first one you see, just describe that thing to me.

HAMILTON: The first one I see . . .

KELLY: And how do you know it's kam- . . .

HAMILTON: . . . I can see the Rising Sun. I . . .

KELLY: Oh, you mean on the shi- . . . on the airplane?

HAMILTON: You . . . you could see the Rising Sun, that emblem, the Rising Sun . . .

KELLY: Right.

HAMILTON: . . . on that . . . that plane. And that damn plane coming right square at you, just . . . just spitting that . . . those bullets right out of his nose.

KELLY: You're seeing the tracers?

HAMILTON: They're seeing the tracers, [inaudible].

KELLY: Are they hitting around your ship?

HAMILTON: They're hitting around the ship, . . .

KELLY: On it?

HAMILTON: . . . on the ship. I mean, and they . . . none of them ever actually hit our ship.

KELLY: Where are . . .

HAMILTON: . . . but they . . . they looked so close.

KELLY: Well, I . . . yeah. Let's just take that first plane, now, 01:13:00and . . . and . . . and you experience it. Are you . . . you gonna be seeing it? The first one that comes at you?

HAMILTON: I see the first one comes at us.

KELLY: You on deck?

HAMILTON: I'm on deck and . . .

KELLY: And ho- . . . are you gonna g- . . . be alerted by general quarters or . . . ?

HAMILTON: I'm alerted, and we go in general quarters and so forth.

KELLY: All right, well, one . . .

HAMILTON: But still . . .

KELLY: Why are you on top of the deck if you're in general quarters?

HAMILTON: Well, [when I?] . . . still, we had been there. We'd . . . I'd come . . . we'd c-. . . we had a privilege of coming up. I had come up and leave that post and come up on the . . . on the deck, because we had all of our . . . and . . . I would see that. I would come up and see . . . I would see the actual . . . I could come up there and see that. Whether the executive officers thought I'd ever should be up there, I don't know, but I'd come up there and see it.

KELLY: Why did you go up and look at it?

HAMILTON: Because I just wanted to see what it was doing [chuckle] up there. I wanted to see what was happening!

KELLY: Yeah. Curiosity and . . . and . . .

01:14:00

HAMILTON: Well, it wasn't the curiosity, but I just . . .

KELLY: . . . and concern. Yeah.

HAMILTON: . . . you know, when you're down there . . .

KELLY: Yeah, I mean, you [inaudible].

HAMILTON: . . . when you are down in . . . in the part of the ship I was, see, my . . . our particular thing is to take care of casualties. And we didn't have . . . in a positio- . . . a thing like this, we didn't have anything we were gonna do, particularly, . . .

KELLY: Right.

HAMILTON: . . . except to take care of our . . .

KELLY: Own casualties.

HAMILTON: . . . sickbay and so forth.

KELLY: Yeah.

HAMILTON: It wasn't a . . . it wouldn't be like a man . . . a . . . an outfit that was up in the . . .

KELLY: Right. Right.

HAMILTON: . . . in the . . . anti-. . . anti-aircraft guns, . . .

KELLY: Yeah, the w-. . .

HAMILTON: . . . so forth, and our maintenance for engineering and fire and so forth like that. We didn't have that much specific duties.

KELLY: Yeah, the worst thing you can do in an attack is do nothing, isn't it?

HAMILTON: It sure is. And we . . . we . . .

KELLY: As far as the fear factor is concerned.

HAMILTON: Now, we . . . we weren't down in there, and you just couldn't stay down in there!

KELLY: So, so, so, you . . . you're on general alert and you . . . you go topside. How far out is that plane gonna . . . the first 01:15:00one gonna be when you see him?

HAMILTON: Well, I guess he was out there two or three hundred yards, maybe two hundred or something. But it looked like he was . . . it looked like he was twenty yards away from you. He looked like he was right on you.

KELLY: You . . . are you able to see the pilot?

HAMILTON: Uh, I have . . .

KELLY: Shoot . . . see him shoot?

HAMILTON: . . . only seen the pilot when he went over you, when he . . . when he came in and then cut off.

KELLY: You mean, he . . . he . . . he veered away?

HAMILTON: It was . . . veered away.

KELLY: He changed his mind. He . . .

HAMILTON: He changed his mind.

KELLY: . . . he didn't do . . .

HAMILTON: Veered . . . veered away.

KELLY: Was . . . was this a kamikaze plane, or was this another type of plane?

HAMILTON: Well, it was another type of plane, I guess.

KELLY: All right.

HAMILTON: The kamikaze plane, . . .

KELLY: He'd come at you.

HAMILTON: . . . I have seen . . . I ha- . . . I . . . I never . . . they never . . . any of them hit us, but in our . . . in our flotilla, they hit three or four. And I have seen them hit them, and they come right in. I saw one hit, just came right in.

KELLY: How . . . how far away was he?

HAMILTON: He . . . I'd say not over a hundred yards.

KELLY: Hitting the other ship?

01:16:00

HAMILTON: Hitting another ship. We were that closed in to each other. We were . . . these ships would be . . .

KELLY: Well, w- . . .

HAMILTON: . . . maybe not a hundred yards. I'll say two to three hundred yards apart.

KELLY: Oh, yeah, it'd be much more than a hundred yards, but it just . . .

HAMILTON: Yeah.

KELLY: . . . it was just right next door.

HAMILTON: It . . . it just looked like it was right next to you.

KELLY: Yeah.

HAMILTON: Because on the ocean . . .

KELLY: Well, when it hit that ship . . . well, let's go ahead and do the first one all the way through. The . . . the first one . . . did the first one veer off, or did they knock him down?

HAMILTON: Uh, the . . . the first one I've ever seen, they knocked him down. And they knocked a lot of them down.

KELLY: The . . . well, they had that VT fuse then that was . . . or that proximity fuse that was getting them, that was . . . that was a new thing, it was more effective. I guess maybe they were using that at that time.

HAMILTON: Uh-huh.

KELLY: Well, when . . . when [clears throat] . . . I . . . I'm just . . . can . . . can you -- it was 40 years ago -- can you recall that first plane that was coming at you, and your feelings? Or do you mix it up with some of the other ones?

HAMILTON: I was scared to death. I . . . yeah, I can see that dude now. I could see that plane coming now, coming at us. I can see it 01:17:00coming, . . .

KELLY: Are . . . are . . .

HAMILTON: . . . and it looked like to me he was coming right straight at us. And I . . . I have seen on two occasions of those planes coming at us, looked like they . . . they were shot down. And then other planes, on two other occasions I could see these planes hit other ships. And when they hit them it just like looked like all . . . that they'd exploded, that the fire . . . the ship exploded. But it wouldn't damage the ship that much. Other words, they would hit that ship and explode, but that ship would still be there smoking and . . . and . . . and still being able to, . . .

KELLY: Maneuver.

HAMILTON: . . . you know, to float.

KELLY: Mm-hmm. Float and move.

HAMILTON: Yeah.

KELLY: Uh, . . .

HAMILTON: But it . . . it gave you a . . .

KELLY: They came at you . . . they came at you two times, is that what you're saying?

HAMILTON: Uh-huh, yes.

KELLY: I mean where . . . and you were looking at it.

HAMILTON: In . . . in my flotilla, not at us. Yeah.

KELLY: Well, I mean, you . . . did . . . did . . .

01:18:00

HAMILTON: We were never hit.

KELLY: Did one ever . . . I'm not talking about a hit, now, I'm talking about coming at you . . . coming at your . . . your ship, coming towards you. Or you weren't sure he was coming towards you?

HAMILTON: I thought he was coming towards [chuckle].

KELLY: As far as you were concerned he was coming.

HAMILTON: [Chuckle] He's coming towards me, he [chuckle] . . .

KELLY: And . . . and . . . and then they knocked him down a little ways out front.

HAMILTON: Knock him down a little ways out front.

KELLY: What . . . what happened when they knocked him down? I mean, what . . . what kind of a . . . what was go- . . . happened? Did the plane just blow up, or . . . ?

HAMILTON: The . . . the plane just bl- . . . just disintegrated.

KELLY: Didn't see anything but just little scraps.

HAMILTON: Just disintegrated. That . . . that plane was just disintegrated.

KELLY: Were they shooting at it with a .44 or the 5-point-something, or the 20?

HAMILTON: I don't know what they were shooting with.

KELLY: Uh-huh. Did you . . . did you know anything about the guns at all?

HAMILTON: I didn't know anything about the guns. I looked at the guns, I really didn't know. I don't recall that, you know, the . . . the . . . uh . . .

KELLY: Well, did you hear the n-. . .

HAMILTON: . . . antiaircraft guns, or . . .

KELLY: . . . did you hear the noise from . . . while you're there? You . . . did you hear them shooting, you know, making . . . making all that noise?

HAMILTON: Oh, shoo- . . . just shaking, and the actual anticraft . . . antiaircraft gun is an . . . is a fairly small-caliber gun.

01:19:00

KELLY: Right. Yeah, the one on that ship, of yours.

HAMILTON: Uh, yes, it was a 20.

KELLY: 20 millimeter probably, or 40 millimeter.

HAMILTON: Uh-huh.

KELLY: Well, when . . . when you saw it hit that . . . you saw two instances where it hit ships right in your immediate vicinity, in your flotilla.

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm, that's right.

KELLY: Uh, and then that was sort of . . . what shocked you was the fact that there were . . . you see that big ball of fire?

HAMILTON: See that big ball of fire, and just realize how close he could really have gotten to you. Because some of these ships . . . I mean, the ones that I saw hit weren't, but I know that some of these . . . the . . . the planes hit the ship and it'd blow . . . and it . . .

KELLY: Yeah, if he hit in a bad place, he hit in a fuel tank or . . .

HAMILTON: It . . . it . . . it would . . . the ship . . . whole ship would explode!

KELLY: Go down almost immediately.

HAMILTON: Yes, uh-huh.

KELLY: You didn't ever see any of those?

HAMILTON: I didn't see that.

KELLY: Okay. And . . . and in Okinawa, are you gonna . . . are you gonna continue down there most of the time? How long are you gonna stay there? You gonna stay there until the war . . . I mean the . . .

HAMILTON: I don't remember . . . I . . .

KELLY: [Coughs]

HAMILTON: I would say that we were down there 19 days.

01:20:00

KELLY: Nineteen days. Was there anything . . . any . . . any other unusual event that occurred while you were there? Did you hear about Ernie Pyle being killed in action?

HAMILTON: No.

KELLY: Did you . . . did you ever know of him while you were in the Navy? Did you all read any of his materials?

HAMILTON: I . . . I know . . . well, I read about him, but . . . I knew about Ernie Pyle, but I never did see him, I never did . . . never did know anything about him.

KELLY: And didn't . . . didn't get the message that he'd been killed in action.

HAMILTON: Mm-mmm. I never know.

KELLY: Well, what . . . what else do you remember of your World War II experiences that were unusual or . . . ?

HAMILTON: Oh, I . . .

KELLY: Would you classify it as good experience for you?

HAMILTON: It was a good experience for me because it was something I felt like I had to do. All my friends had gone and, of course, we were 01:21:00critical [inaudible], wasn't any doctors here. But . . .

KELLY: Your daddy was a doctor.

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm.

KELLY: And his name was . . .

HAMILTON: That's right.

KELLY: What was his name?

HAMILTON: Uh, Frank.

KELLY: That's Dr. Frank Hamilton.

HAMILTON: Dr. Frank Hamilton.

KELLY: Yeah, I remember him.

HAMILTON: Uh, but to me the war . . . uh . . . uh . . . it was something I felt like I had to do. I felt that I got to see a lot of it.

KELLY: And you're glad you got . . . got to see it.

HAMILTON: I . . . I got to see a lot of [what was gonna?] be in there.

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: I got to see about . . . I was . . . I got to see a whole lot of the Pacific warfare in a short time. And, of course, . . .

KELLY: And you didn't experience fear to any great degree except at Okinawa.

HAMILTON: At Okinawa, [was the only time?].

KELLY: And then . . . then you . . . you felt it at the max. I mean, you . . . you felt the th- . . . your life being threatened to the max.

HAMILTON: That's right. That's right.

KELLY: And that's an unusual feeling, isn't it?

HAMILTON: That's right. Unusual feeling and . . . but otherwise I . 01:22:00. . I didn't . . . I don't have any regrets about the . . . my time in the service.

KELLY: Did . . . did you learn anything [inaudible]?

HAMILTON: Uh, I see . . . now . . . you know, hindsight, you look back. At the time I thought that the Navy was very bumblesome and didn't acco-. . . but then when you look back, they did a pretty good job too.

KELLY: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

HAMILTON: They . . . they did a pretty good job too because [inaudible] you have these difficult circumstances.

KELLY: That's right. Yeah, when you think about mobilizing ten million men and . . . and producing those ships and training those crews and doing all those different tasks that they have to do . . .

HAMILTON: That's right. And you got people that are not trained and . . . and so forth, so it was a . . .

KELLY: Did . . . did you learn anything in medicine from the experience? Or did something you'd already had, and nothing new?

01:23:00

HAMILTON: No, I don't think as far as the . . . as far as the medical experience I . . . I was learning much. Uh, I learned that you cannot prepare. Uh, it's impossible sometimes to prepare for what you're gonna run into. They . . . they misstated it terrifically.

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: And . . .

KELLY: But nevertheless, what you did helped you some, though, didn't it?

HAMILTON: Helped me some. That helped me some. But we . . . we were . . . we didn't . . . weren't able to give those casualties, uh, they were just . . . they just got so many more casualties than they counted on getting.

KELLY: Of course, that was one of the toughest situations they'd been in as far as the medical evacuations, I guess, the casualty situation, you know.

HAMILTON: Uh-huh. Yes, I guess Iwo was about as I . . . I . . . I guess that was about as tough a situation as they'd ever been in.

KELLY: Mm-hmm. Well, let's go to Hawaii and . . . and talk about 01:24:00that meeting where you run into "Skeets" Kelly. Did you run into him, or did he run into you?

HAMILTON: Well . . .

KELLY: Who saw whom first?

HAMILTON: Uh, I don't remember. I don't remember. Now, Paul was there.

KELLY: Who?

HAMILTON: Paul Hamilton. That's, you know . . .

KELLY: Was in Hawaii?

HAMILTON: He was in Hawaii, yes, Paul . . . you know, you know Paul . . .

KELLY: Yeah, I know Paul.

HAMILTON: . . . lives up there with "Skeets."

KELLY: Yes. Mm-hmm.

HAMILTON: He was there. "Skeets" was there. Now, the Simms boys were all there, both . . . two of them.

KELLY: Right. Brothers.

HAMILTON: Uh, brothers were there.

KELLY: C.A. Milburn.

HAMILTON: Uh-huh, yes. There was a . . .

KELLY: Forest Grider.

HAMILTON: . . . there was a whole [inaudible] lot of us were out there at just about the same time.

KELLY: Right.

HAMILTON: But we didn't get together!

KELLY: Yeah, you were going to, though, . . .

HAMILTON: Yeah.

KELLY: . . . they were organizing one that night.

HAMILTON: Mm-hmm.

KELLY: Did . . . did you know that . . . were . . . had . . . had you planned to meet "Skeets" that night at seven o'clock at a certain place?

HAMILTON: Yeah. Yeah. I'd planned on . . . I . . . I'd planned on meet- . . . oh, we were all gonna meet, see.

KELLY: Right.

HAMILTON: And then they pull us out of there.

KELLY: That's right. "Skeets" was the only one that was there. "Skeets" waited, nobody showed up, see.

01:25:00

HAMILTON: Uh-huh.

KELLY: You know, he's looking at his watch. He . . . he got there at seven o'clock and he kept looking at his watch, and it was 10 o'clock before he left. Somebody finally came by and told him . . .

HAMILTON: Uh-huh.

KELLY: . . . that . . . so, "Skeets," you know, when he bumped into you, it was the first time he'd seen anybody from Springfield for . . .

HAMILTON: Uh-huh.

KELLY: . . . and "Skeets" had been through quite a bit by that time.

HAMILTON: Oh, yeah.

KELLY: . . . and, so, you know, it's kind of a lonely feeling, see somebody from hometown makes you feel real good. Uh, [clears throat] he was telling me -- I interviewed him the other night -- that, you know, that it was a . . . it was a really exciting thing to see you. I think he saw you walking down the street.

HAMILTON: That's right.

KELLY: He might . . . he might have recognized you from the back, I don't know. But anyway, had you seen any of the others while you were in Hawaii? Had you . . . had you seen the Simms boys or Paul Hamilton?

HAMILTON: I saw the Simms boys, Paul Hubert.

KELLY: Did you?

HAMILTON: Yeah.

HAMILTON: I saw them while I was in Hawaii.

KELLY: Okay.

HAMILTON: Now . . . while I was in Hawaii, we didn't have a lot of freedom there.

KELLY: How many . . . how many days were you there? Weeks?

01:26:00

HAMILTON: I don't remember. We were down there at Maui . . .

KELLY: You didn't get to go . . . did you get to go on Honolulu or . . . on leave?

HAMILTON: Uh, not much.

KELLY: Some.

HAMILTON: Just a little, very little. Very little. As I say, this . . . this . . . we just happened to have [a nut?]. He wouldn't let us off there.

KELLY: So, you . . . you . . . you talked to S- . . . you talked to "Skeets" on the street there, . . .

HAMILTON: That's right.

KELLY: . . . for a few minutes . . .

HAMILTON: I . . .

KELLY: . . . and . . . and made a date to meet him that night.

HAMILTON: That night. I saw Paul Hubert.

KELLY: You . . . you went and contacted Paul Hubert and said, "Let's go see him . . ." ?

HAMILTON: Yeah. Uh-huh, that's right.

KELLY: Was this afternoon or morning?

HAMILTON: I forget. I forget. You know, a lot of that . . . now, you know "Skeets" can sit down and tell you everything about . . .

KELLY: About the incident.

HAMILTON: Everything about all the time he was out there.

KELLY: Yeah.

HAMILTON: Well, you know, a lot of that with me is gone.

KELLY: Yeah.

HAMILTON: I . . . I just . . .

KELLY: Yeah, you never talk about it anymore.

HAMILTON: No, I never have talked about it anymore.

KELLY: Yeah. Yeah.

HAMILTON: And it's just a thing that I've sort of forgotten.

01:27:00

KELLY: Yeah.

HAMILTON: And I've . . . that's why I get mixed up on the . . .

KELLY: On the dates.

HAMILTON: Because for the life of me I cannot think.

KELLY: Whether you were there . . .

HAMILTON: Whe- . . .

KELLY: . . . before . . .

HAMILTON: . . . whether I was up at uh . . . Nagasaki, or how much I was up . . . how long I was up there before I was at Tokyo Bay.

KELLY: Well, we're just about to run out of tape. We can get another tape. Is . . . is this . . . is there anything else that we ought to record?

HAMILTON: I don't know anything else to tell you. I . . . I . . . I've told you about all I know.

KELLY: Well, I . . . I sure appreciate your sharing this with me and . . . and for posterity and . . . you . . . you married . . . Who did you marry?

HAMILTON: I married Evelyn Patterson from Chattanooga.

KELLY: And . . . and you have how many children?

HAMILTON: Two.

KELLY: And they're boys, girls?

HAMILTON: I . . . I have Sally and then I have Dick.

KELLY: And are their . . . they're not in Springfield?

HAMILTON: Uh, no. Sally's . . . works for the state. She's head of [inaudible] Program. She's got . . . Sally's got a good job at the 01:28:00state. And Dick is up at Eastern.

KELLY: On the faculty?

[End of Interview]