Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with James W. Alspaugh, June 30, 1987

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00

KELLY: I'm Colonel Arthur L. Kelly, I'm in Glasgow, Kentucky in the home of James Alspaugh, am I pronouncing that right?

ALSPAUGH: Mm-hmm.

KELLY: Close enough?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Who . . . is a World War Two Veteran, entered the service in March of 1942, separated in October 1945, he had three purple hearts, two bronze stars, he . . . participated in the Normandy invasion, with the 82nd Airborne Division, he was in the glider . . . unit, and . . . landed. . . in Normandy up around Sainte Mere-Englise, and . . . then he was, participated in operation Market Garden, and his plane . . . glider was . . . the tow rope was hit and, 00:01:00separated it from the mother ship and force landed in, near, Amsterdam, was captured, and went to. . . a PW camp, at. . . Limburg, stayed there about a month and then he was involved in a 17-day interrogation where they were trying to get some information from him which he refused to give, and . . . then he went to. . . Stalag 780, down near Munich and was there until the . . . he think the 14th Armament Division, but in any event an armament division. . . all of the sudden appeared on the scene and . . . and rescued them. I . . . I'd like for you to . . . get into, start in England, a few days 00:02:00before the invasion and tell us what you were doing.

ALSPAUGH: Invasion of . . .

KELLY: Normandy.

ALSPAUGH: Normandy. Well, we knew we were hot, and we knew where we were going and . . . we knew exactly where, me just being a . . . enlisted man we didn't know a whole lot about it, but we were ready to go, cause we'd been trained all the years and . . . we were ready to go, and . . . we . . . and . . . I was fortunate in my thing, not, hitting the spot where they determined to have all the poles up. We didn't, we did not hit that spot, our spot was . . . fairly good.

KELLY: Before we land over there, let me take you off, can you remember . . . it was . . . what time of day when you took off? Night, it 00:03:00was about. . .

ALSPAUGH: Well, the . . . the . . . paratroopers had taken off. . . I'm gonna say . . . and they landed in there, most of them, before midnight, June the sixth.

KELLY: Yeah.

ALSPAUGH: But we came in next day.

KELLY: Next day.

ALSPAUGH: Oh we came in on the evening of June the sixth not, not the morning. And we came on in at . . .

KELLY: Daylight.

ALSPAUGH: In daylight, yeah. The paratroopers had jumped at, at dark.

KELLY: Did you all, did you know anything about how they were doing? Had you heard anything?

ALSPAUGH: No, we really didn't, we . . . we just knew that . . . they had troubled our canal down there, where . . .

KELLY: Before you took off, you knew that?

ALSPAUGH: No.

KELLY: No.

ALSPAUGH: But we found it out afterward, and . . .

KELLY: All right, and as you're taking off now . . . this, this is on 00:04:00June the 6th and it's day, daylight.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: And it's afternoon now.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: It's after the ground forces have landed also.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Okay, now . . . I'm, I . . . is that so, or?

ALSPAUGH: I don't know about . . .

KELLY: They landed . . .

ALSPAUGH: the ground forces, off of the boat, I don't know about them.

KELLY: They, they landed early that morning. On the 6th too.

ALSPAUGH: All right. Knew nothing about that.

KELLY: Okay.

ALSPAUGH: Didn't worry about it [chuckle] much.

KELLY: Now, had you heard anything at all from what was going on over there before you all took off?

ALSPAUGH: No.

KELLY: Didn't know a thing.

ALSPAUGH: No.

KELLY: You just knew that they'd gone.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Did you, would you watch them take off?

ALSPAUGH: No, we were not at the same airport they were.

KELLY: You were, you're a different air base.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Okay, all right. And, when, when that rope kind of jerks that glider first, on . . . in route to Normandy, do you know where you're going now?

ALSPAUGH: Well, we. . . Yeah, we knew where we was going.

KELLY: You knew you were going to France.

00:05:00

ALSPAUGH: Mmhmm.

KELLY: Did you know you were going to Normandy?

ALSPAUGH: No, I think-

KELLY: You didn't know, you didn't know

ALSPAUGH: the officers and everybody did, but I'd say officers and enlisted men are all two different things, in this war.

KELLY: All right, now, what went through your mind while you were crossing that channel?

ALSPAUGH: I remember, damn sure got sick, is . . . which happened all the time.

KELLY: You got airsick?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, and threw up, and they got in their helmets and all.

KELLY: Was it a rough ride?

ALSPAUGH: Well, it's always rough, and, everybody threw up in their helmets and one guy threw up, and then the next guy would [chuckle] and they'd follow on through.

KELLY: Did you get sick, too?

ALSPAUGH: No, I was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, and I was in those . . . taverns that Saturday night would puke all [chuckle] everything. And it never bothered me. [chuckle]

KELLY: Someone did, huh?

ALSPAUGH: When one guy pukes, well, the next guy does.

KELLY: And did it happen on you going over across the channel?

ALSPAUGH: Oh good gracious, yes.

KELLY: Most of them, a lot of them were sick at their stomachs?

00:06:00

ALSPAUGH: All puked in their helmets and then they had to put them on, puke and all.

KELLY: Were you, were you frightened by this, all this? On this route over there, were you, can you remember how you felt?

ALSPAUGH: I know I . . . and there was . . . really . . . no, I knew I was really frightened, but . . .

KELLY: You were trained and you were ready to go?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah. They had had about two years training . . .

KELLY: What'd you do while you were flying across there, took about an hour didn't it? Or so?

ALSPAUGH: I don't know, I don't . . .

KELLY: What did you do, while you were in route?

ALSPAUGH: Oh, I was . . . about half asleep, as usual. [Chuckle]

KELLY: Were you?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Were a lot of them sleeping?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, we's. . .

KELLY: Was there much talking going on, or?

ALSPAUGH: No.

KELLY: Any joking or kidding?

ALSPAUGH: No . . . not lots of joking or kidding.

KELLY: People's faces serious.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Saying prayers, anybody?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, I don't know, I . . . don't think any of us were much 00:07:00prayer-saying guys [chuckle]

KELLY: Is that right. You weren't worried about. . .

ALSPAUGH: No.

KELLY: You weren't worried too much and you weren't worried enough to be saying some prayers, anyway. Well, when they cut the . . . cut the rope, does that plane kind of . . . tinge can you feel it when they cut the rope?

ALSPAUGH: Wait, now that was Holland when they cut my rope.

KELLY: No, but I mean when the . . .

ALSPAUGH: Oh, cut loose, you mean.

KELLY: Cut loose, yeah.

ALSPAUGH: Oh, no . . . no, we knew what we were into, we'd trained . . .

KELLY: So the next time you were on the ground . . . all right, what happened as soon as you hit the ground?

ALSPAUGH: Well, he's trying on my mortar gunner, and we's trying to get our guns [chuckle] together and, so on.

KELLY: Get your equipment together.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, and . . .

KELLY: What kind of mortar did you have, an 81?

ALSPAUGH: 81 mortar.

KELLY: 81, okay.

ALSPAUGH: yeah.

KELLY: What was your job, in the crew?

ALSPAUGH: I'm a mortar, I'm a mortar gunner.

KELLY: The gunner. Okay . . . and . . . how long did it take you 00:08:00to get out of the plane then?

ALSPAUGH: Oh, we got out of there in a hurry. Out of the glider?

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: We got out in a hurry. I assure you of that.

KELLY: Can, can you kind of remember that? Do you remember . . .

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, we got out in a hurry.

KELLY: And then what'd you do?

ALSPAUGH: Well, we tried to . . . get with our leader and all, then find out where we was going . . . we were . . . not sure where we were landing there [chuckle] hanging. We were trying to get with our leader and get our whole outfit together.

KELLY: Mmhmm. You mean, people that were in other gliders, that . . .

ALSPAUGH: Yes, and we'd all try and get our outfits together.

KELLY: Are you talking about the platoon or company or . . .

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, the company and . . .

KELLY: Yeah.

ALSPAUGH: So on, and being an enlisted man, we was just worrying about 00:09:00our company.

KELLY: Yeah.

ALSPAUGH: In fact, we was just worrying about our . . . platoons. [Chuckle]

KELLY: How long did it take you to get together and get organized and . . . deployed?

ALSPAUGH: Well, not too long.

KELLY: Uh huh. Soon as, as soon as you did that what happened?

ALSPAUGH: Well then they started hitting us with everything they had.

KELLY: What'd they hit you with?

ALSPAUGH: 88's mostly.

KELLY: Immediately?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, immediately, yeah.

KELLY: Before you got out of the plane, or . . . after?

ALSPAUGH: No, after we got out, no, we . . .

KELLY: Had you dug in any by the time they hit you with 88's?

ALSPAUGH: No.

KELLY: You were on top of the ground?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, no we hadn't dug in then.

KELLY: Were the, were the . . . 88's coming . . . close to you?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, they known we were everywhere. And my particular battalion I got hurt worse than anybody in the world down there.

KELLY: In your platoon did anybody get hurt? With those 88's?

ALSPAUGH: I just, I got a picture of my buddy got killed right there, 00:10:00I'm kneeling at his grave there, I got a picture of it right there with Howard Engle.

KELLY: Within minutes after you got off?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, he got . . . he got killed right then. I'm kneeling at his grave over there in 1984 [chuckle]

KELLY: Is that right?

ALSPAUGH: Picture of it in there with Howard Engle, the best friend I had there.

KELLY: Was he in your squad or platoon?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah we were number one and two mortar gunners.

KELLY: In the same mortar.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Did, how soon was it . . . before he was killed? Same . . .

ALSPAUGH: No, it was . . .

KELLY: Same night or . . .

ALSPAUGH: It was . . . quite a while after we landed.

KELLY: Oh, okay.

ALSPAUGH: And they'd flooded that causeway.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And that's where our trouble started.

KELLY: Um . . . just in the first few minutes now after you get out, talk about that, tell me what you did and where you went.

ALSPAUGH: Just trying to get my mortar gun set up.

KELLY: After you got it set up, what'd you do?

ALSPAUGH: Well, we did the best we could and . . .

00:11:00

KELLY: Were you, were you, firing your mortars, almost immediately? Or . . .

ALSPAUGH: Well, just shortly afterwards, yes.

KELLY: And, and . . . were you taking anything besides the '88 millimeter?

ALSPAUGH: The 88's was hitting us worse than anything in the world.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And . . .

KELLY: What, what were you all doing? When you were getting shelled? Just hitting the ground? On, laying on the ground?

ALSPAUGH: We were trying to get our darn guns set up.

KELLY: Mmhmm. Did you see the . . . could you see the mo- the 88's that were shooting at you?

ALSPAUGH: No. No . . .

KELLY: Just the rounds. How long did that last? That . . .

ALSPAUGH: About an hour. Our darn . . . colonel got relieved of command and he was one of the best men in the army, I said, a West Point man. 'Cause he said we weren't advancing fast enough. And the regimental colonel, he . . . Colonel Carroll was our . . . 00:12:00battalion commander, and . . . they come back, back right when we relieves him of his command, and the damned old. . . colonel, or major, that was supposed to take us back refused command. And so we never had a commander back there. The one that was supposed to move it up, and Colonel Carroll refused his command. Right there.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And . . . he was a great trained officer. Supposed to be. But he refused command and we wound up [chuckle] with a captain taking over, battalion. And . . . that's what we wound up with.

KELLY: Mmhmm. So . . . say as you go on maybe an hour or two, what's happening?

ALSPAUGH: Well, we just kept . . . kept going . . .

KELLY: Did you . . .

ALSPAUGH: kept trying to move up that dang thing and we did.

00:13:00

KELLY: Where, what, where were you moving to . . . do you know? And . . .

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, we had that . . . we were moving on up to . . . our . . . our commanders. That Master Ridgeway . . . on up to his . . . place. We were trying, to all move up there to that place.

KELLY: Mmhmm. Okay, as time goes on now . . . are you going to come in contact with the . . . Germans? Are you going to see any Germans?

ALSPAUGH: Oh, yeah. We were sure in contact with all their guns on that field, we weren't close to them really . . .

KELLY: Uh huh.

ALSPAUGH: But they were close, I mean, you know [chuckle], they were . . .

KELLY: Hitting all around you . . .

ALSPAUGH: Hitting all over, everything we had.

00:14:00

KELLY: Well, did you all dig in there, or did you . . . were you . . . were you . . .

ALSPAUGH: No, we got on up and then we dug in, up near an old farmhouse up there.

KELLY: How, how far . . .

ALSPAUGH: And I visited that farmhouse when I was over there in '84.

KELLY: How far, how far was that farmhouse from where you landed?

ALSPAUGH: Oh, quite a ways.

KELLY: A mile or two?

ALSPAUGH: More than that. No . . .

KELLY: Well, did you have to fight your way to that, or did you just . . .

ALSPAUGH: Oh yeah, yeah.

KELLY: What were you fighting? What were you seeing? Were, were you seeing any Germans now or are you still just taking . . . fire from . . . indirect fire. 88's . . .

ALSPAUGH: Well . . .

KELLY: 88's . . . mortars and that sort of thing.

ALSPAUGH: Well, it was mostly indirect, we weren't seeing many Germans, but. . .

KELLY: Well now as you moved up that road going to that farmhouse where you were gonna kind of assemble, were you. . . moving along pretty fast or where you being stopped a lot?

ALSPAUGH: Well. . . Colonel Carroll. . . Colonel Lewis come back 00:15:00and relooved, relived Colonel Carroll, said we wasn't moving fast enough, but my dang battalion was losing all the men.

KELLY: Being down.

ALSPAUGH: And I think Colonel Carroll done his job, he was a West Point officer and a good man, I loved him.

KELLY: Yeah.

ALSPAUGH: But he got relieved of command right there. And then they put this . . . captain up there.

KELLY: Well, when you get to the farmhouse then what do you do?

ALSPAUGH: Well that darn farmhouse is . . . quite a thing . . . I, I went through it while we were over there in '84.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And they still had . . . some Schnapps to drink for us, right there in that same place.

KELLY: Is that right?

ALSPAUGH: And the boys were looking at the place where they dug in there, they dug in there, down at that farmhouse, they dug in there.

KELLY: Couldn't get in you there yourself, huh?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

00:16:00

KELLY: Uh . . . how long are you going to stay around that farmhouse there? Two or three days, a day, a night?

ALSPAUGH: I think it was about 2 days, I think we were right in there . . .

KELLY: Just in that one place. Now, are you going to be assaulted there, by German forces? Or just the indirect fire again? Or are you going to have any of that?

ALSPAUGH: Well we had a lot of . . . firing in there, but we moved on from there . . .

KELLY: All right, what kind of firing was you getting there? When you were there?

ALSPAUGH: We was getting everything they had, I don't care what it was [chuckle]

KELLY: Mortar and 88?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Were you getting anything . . . anything from tanks, or . . . any, any . . .

ALSPAUGH: Oh, I never saw a dang tank in there, no sir.

KELLY: Automatic weapons?

ALSPAUGH: I never saw a tank in there.

KELLY: Were you getting automatic weapons?

ALSPAUGH: We were getting automatic weapons . . . but still mostly those damned old 88's. [Chuckle] What we was getting.

KELLY: Those 88's are pretty tough, aren't they?

ALSPAUGH: Those were the toughest things we had in there.

KELLY: When, while you were there at the farmhouse, how close did you . . .

ALSPAUGH: Oh I wasn't right at farmhouse, Captain Peirce's outfit was 00:17:00. . . out there and . . . those guys went out and found their damned foxholes, out down side of us.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And . . .

KELLY: Were you getting any . . . how close did the closest round hit to you there, while you were in that area?

ALSPAUGH: Well they hit oh, everywhere. That's when Howard got killed. Right there . . . I was his mortaring man . . .

KELLY: How close were you to him when he got killed?

ALSPAUGH: Well I wasn't far. . . Geneva kept at me, could have been killed but . . . I stood up for him being married before we took off.

KELLY: Is that right?

ALSPAUGH: And he . . . got blown all to hell, and . . .

KELLY: What, what, where was he from?

ALSPAUGH: He was from Asheville, North Carolina.

KELLY: How close was he to you when he, when he got killed?

ALSPAUGH: Oh, 20 foot or something.

KELLY: Huh?

ALSPAUGH: 20 foot.

KELLY: 20 foot? Was this day or night?

00:18:00

ALSPAUGH: It was in the evening.

KELLY: Evening. Was this . . . this . . . 2 or 3 days after you had been there, or several days?

ALSPAUGH: It was the second day. It was on the 7th I guess it was.

KELLY: Did, did . . . when the round came in . . . were you pinned down at the time?

ALSPAUGH: Oh we were all pinned down, yeah.

KELLY: Were you in a foxhole?

ALSPAUGH: Well I was behind something . . . I was . . . a little lank there myself.

KELLY: Yeah, you had some cover.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: And, did you see when he got hit?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, I saw him . . . I saw his body blow.

KELLY: You saw him blown in to . . .

ALSPAUGH: Yes sir. We got his dog tags and . . . and sent them to Geneva.

KELLY: What . . . what, what was your . . . response, or reaction when you saw that, what happened, did you . . . were you still pinned down and couldn't do anything? Or did you go over there? Or . . .

ALSPAUGH: Trying to do that . . . I could have got . . . had the 00:19:00gunner up around the gun and we tried to get our guns going.

KELLY: You were, you were still trying to keep the gunmen . . .

ALSPAUGH: Yes.

KELLY: Were you all, were you firing missions at that time?

ALSPAUGH: Yes sir.

KELLY: You were firing . . . was it, were you involved in firing when he got killed?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah. With our mortars.

KELLY: Uh huh. What, what was he doing? Was he an ammunition man or something?

ALSPAUGH: No, no. He and I were in the mortar gunners.

KELLY: Uh huh.

ALSPAUGH: One and two gunners.

KELLY: Uh huh.

ALSPAUGH: I'm number one . . .

KELLY: Were you, were you right on the gun at the time? Sighting it and that . . .

ALSPAUGH: Well, me and him both . . . being number one and two gunner.

KELLY: Yeah. Well, I bet he must have been closer than 20 feet to you then, if he was a gunner.

ALSPAUGH: No . . .

KELLY: Or did he stay back or something?

ALSPAUGH: Time when it happened I think he was 20 foot from me.

KELLY: Yeah, yeah. What, what, what did that do for you? Was that the first friendly . . . casualty you'd seen up close and, and . . .

00:20:00

ALSPAUGH: Well . . . It hurt me bad, because I had one of the best buddies there and . . . just stood up for him to be married before it was over . . .

KELLY: Mmhmm. Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: He and Geneva.

KELLY: Mmhmm. Okay, then . . . does, does anybody come in there and do anything? Clean up the parts, pick him up or anything? Or . . .

ALSPAUGH: Oh yes, the medics were right there with anybody.

KELLY: Uh huh.

ALSPAUGH: The medics were the greatest in war.

KELLY: Yeah. So how long did you have to stay in that position?

ALSPAUGH: Well we moved on up . . . we moved on up and . . .

KELLY: You moved . . . shortly after that.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Shortly after he got killed.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: All right, where were you going now? Do you know?

ALSPAUGH: Well we were going up there on in to . . . Sainte Mere- Englise

KELLY: You were going towards Saint . . .

ALSPAUGH: And we were out from Sainte Mere-Englise where we landed.

KELLY: You, were you, do you, were you, going towards Sainte Mere- 00:21:00Englise Were you running into opposition? Were you, were you being fired at with . . . individual weapons and automatic weapons?

ALSPAUGH: Yes, they'd fire all over that place. And we got up there and . . . and got up there . . . we were . . . the 5-0 . . . 505 it was, that's what . . . boys that got landed in the trees and all that . . . we got on up there and . . .

KELLY: Mmhmm. 505. What what, what what was your unit, by the way?

ALSPAUGH: 325 Gliders.

KELLY: 325 Gliders?

ALSPAUGH: And that, the 505 C-Company that looted in . . . 505 C- Company looted in Sainte Mere-Englise.

KELLY: Mmhmm. When, when you got to Sainte Mere-Englise, what did you see?

ALSPAUGH: I never saw those bodies, on up there. No, we were out, on out from that I remember. So, [inaudible] [chuckle] these bodies hanging in trees.

00:22:00

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: But we knew about it.

KELLY: Had somebody told you about it already?

ALSPAUGH: Oh yeah.

KELLY: Already you'd heard about it.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, we'd all have heard about it.

KELLY: Had you heard about the fellow that was hung on the . . . on the . . .

ALSPAUGH: I knew him dear well.

KELLY: You did?

ALSPAUGH: John Steele, yes sir.

KELLY: You knew him?

ALSPAUGH: I knew him dear well.

KELLY: Did he get back from the war?

ALSPAUGH: Yes sir, John Steele died down in Courtbury hospital. I'm gonna say 10 years ago. I gotta have me . . . Bring me a beer Norm.

KELLY: Hanging on the . . . Steeple.

ALSPAUGH: You want another beer?

KELLY: No, I'm fine.

ALSPAUGH: And that Bob Murphy that jumped in there that shook his rattle to that woman is a dear friend of mine. Bob was a pathfinder. He's a dear friend of mine.

KELLY: Where did you know John Steele from?

ALSPAUGH: I just knew him from then on and then over in the reunion, 00:23:00he'd lost his voice. But he carried around a whistle with him, about every convention. We could hear John Steele blowing that thing to every convention after the war.

KELLY: Well . . . he was, he was caught in the steeple of the church at Sainte Mere-Englise and then he pretended like he was dead, and that, didn't that, wasn't that the . . .

ALSPAUGH: Right.

KELLY: the story . . .

ALSPAUGH: He was hit. He was hit.

KELLY: Where was he hit?

ALSPAUGH: In the leg, I think.

KELLY: In the leg?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Was he bleeding, or . . . ?

ALSPAUGH: I don't know that, I wasn't there.

KELLY: He was down by the time you got there.

ALSPAUGH: Oh yeah.

KELLY: How long did he hang there, do you know?

ALSPAUGH: No, but they still got a paratroop hanging on that church.

KELLY: Now?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah. And . . . a guy came to me, we went to church there, in '84 when I was over there. And we . . . Us eighty-second guys paid for the, that window, big 82nd window in that church it's a Catholic church . . .

00:24:00

KELLY: Yeah.

ALSPAUGH: And then we paid for the organ, new organ. And one of them guys come to me leaves . . .

KELLY: Why would you want to do . . .

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, sir all of us chipped in. We chipped in twenty- something thousand dollars for. . . Sergeant [Yolk] when he got in that trouble. You know, with income tax?

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: We chipped in, they passed the hat, twenty-something thousand bucks. There that tells how close we are.

KELLY: Yeah.

ALSPAUGH: But that . . .

KELLY: 82nd association, you're talking about.

ALSPAUGH: Right.

KELLY: Yeah. Well, on, on this John Steele thing, and, and the . . . hanging on the steeple, have they got that marked some way? Is there something . . .

ALSPAUGH: There's still a paratrooper hanging up there today.

KELLY: Do you mean a . . . a . . .

ALSPAUGH: Today, yes sir. A dummy up there.

KELLY: A dummy?

ALSPAUGH: On that church.

KELLY: In '84 it was hanging there.

ALSPAUGH: Huh?

KELLY: Was it, in '84 it was still hanging there?

ALSPAUGH: Yes, still there today today though.

KELLY: Is that right?

ALSPAUGH: Yes sir.

KELLY: So . . . did you see John Steele after that and talk to him?

00:25:00

ALSPAUGH: Oh, I knew John Steele and knew the guy who wrote "A Bridge Too Far". . . Ryan . . . wrote "A Bridge Too Far," and he wrote "The Longest Day." I knew him like a book, the other . . .

KELLY: Where'd you know John Ryan from?

ALSPAUGH: Cornelius Ryan? The one that wrote those books?

KELLY: Yeah.

ALSPAUGH: He'd come to my convention.

KELLY: He's come to your convention.

ALSPAUGH: Yes sir.

KELLY: That's where you met him.

ALSPAUGH: Yes sir.

KELLY: Well, on the. . .

ALSPAUGH: Before I met John Steele too, I didn't meet him during that . . .

KELLY: You didn't know John Steele before the . . .

ALSPAUGH: No, no.

KELLY: You'd met him afterwards . . .

ALSPAUGH: No, he, he's C-Company, he's with, he's with, that boy that writes "The Static Line" that we get every month, a newspaper.

KELLY: Uh huh.

ALSPAUGH: He was with him.

KELLY: Uh huh.

ALSPAUGH: C-Company.

KELLY: Did you ever talk . . .

ALSPAUGH: 505.

KELLY: Did you ever talk to John Steele about that incident?

ALSPAUGH: Yes, I did.

KELLY: Do you remember some of the things he said about it?

ALSPAUGH: Well, John was never a braggart about anything, no sir; he was 00:26:00one of the nicest guys I ever knew.

KELLY: Did he, did he get hit after he . . . was hanging there? Or he was hit coming down?

ALSPAUGH: He got hit . . . at . . . about the same time I guess. He got hit in the leg.

KELLY: Well when that, when that parachute was caught like that, did that kind of . . . batter him against the wall pretty heavy? Or do you know? Did he say?

ALSPAUGH: Well, it didn't hurt him.

KELLY: Ah, it didn't hurt him.

ALSPAUGH: I don't think so.

KELLY: How long did he hang there, do you know?

ALSPAUGH: Oh, it wasn't too long . . . I mean . . .

KELLY: Less than a day?

ALSPAUGH: Oh, yeah, yeah, way less than a day, yeah.

KELLY: Okay. All right . . . What else happened to you there around Sainte Mere-Englise? Were you all still in . . . in foxholes there that, when you got up there and still . . .

00:27:00

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, we didn't do too awful bad after.

KELLY: After the . . .

ALSPAUGH: That whole thing, no.

KELLY: So actually, well, how long was it that, that you were having a lot of trouble with the 88's and mortars and that sort of thing? After you got to Sainte Mere-Englise That's about the end of it?

ALSPAUGH: Well . . .

KELLY: Or was there some more?

ALSPAUGH: We had quite a . . . bunch of days in there, off and on. Off and on then.

KELLY: You mean after that.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah. Off and on. We . . . peaceful at one time and . . .

KELLY: Being attacked?

ALSPAUGH: Then, counter-attacked then . . .

KELLY: Well, can, do you, were you involved in a counter-attack where they were attacking your position and you were seeing the Germans?

ALSPAUGH: Well, mind you I'm a mortar man, that's back behind the rifle line. And . . . as far as seeing a lot of Germans, I didn't.

00:28:00

KELLY: Yeah. Did you see any PW's? German PW's or . . .

ALSPAUGH: No, we didn't see any PW's at that time, and . . .

KELLY: What, what stands out in your memory about that . . . experience, the Normandy thing?

ALSPAUGH: Well the only thing I know is going back to England, we went back to our old camp at Camp at Leicester, England, which was, we loved. Leicester, England. That was our original camp and . . . we went back to . . . Leicester, England . . . July the . . . 18th I think it was there.

KELLY: What was that like, going back over there?

ALSPAUGH: Oh, lovely boy, we, we loved Leicester, England, like a book. [Chuckle] And they love us over there today.

KELLY: Did you see any civilians that you knew? When you went back?

ALSPAUGH: Well, a lot of them said we did but . . . I don't know. 00:29:00But, they loved us. Leicester and . . . we have a . . . hairdresser over there that's head of the . . . 82nd . . . they got a whole big bunch of 82nd people over there . . . in all that country, and we got a hairdresser, I think, named Weld, I believe it is . . . that went on and made that tour all with us.

KELLY: Is that right?

ALSPAUGH: And, yeah they loves Leicester and one of my boys married a girl over there, and they lived over there and he joined me, I entertained him while we were at Leicester.

KELLY: Mmhmm, when you went back to Normandy, did you go to, you say you went back to that house where you . . . was up there when your . . . friend got killed. Did any civilians come out and talk to you, or . . .

ALSPAUGH: All of them. Yeah, boy that, the man who owned that house . 00:30:00. . had just died about two weeks before we got there.

KELLY: Is that right?

ALSPAUGH: But all his grandchildren and everything . . .

KELLY: Was, was he there at the time? At the house?

ALSPAUGH: He was there at the house, at that time.

KELLY: In the cellar or something?

ALSPAUGH: Well, I don't know what he did, but . . . his grandchildren they brought, us boys out Schnapps and stuff they had made, you know. Just to . . .

KELLY: Were you getting Schnapps while the battle was going on? They'd bring you Schnapps while the battle was going on?

ALSPAUGH: [chuckle] No, no, no.

KELLY: No, this is after you went back in '84.

ALSPAUGH: They just brought it when we, when we were in '84.

KELLY: Yeah. Yeah. Did you get to . . . talk to any civilians? See any civilians while you were in, in Normandy or after the . . . your glider landed?

ALSPAUGH: Well . . .

KELLY: Or were most of them in cellars and hidden away or . . .

ALSPAUGH: Well, I got disgusted most when we'd . . . went into Cherbourg I don't know which outfit landed up in there at Sarrebourg but . . . a funny thing I heard one of them darn English guys, one 00:31:00of those French guys said . . . "They bombed that house out here at Sarrebourg, and wasn't no German or anybody in it." And they were fussing about our air force, bombing Sarrebourg, Sarrebourg was bombed pretty bad, and . . . they said there wasn't any Germans in the thing or anything and they got kind of provoked about the whole thing . . .

KELLY: Did you tell him off? [Chuckle]

ALSPAUGH: Well I said, "I told the guys to come over and bomb and trying to win that war for us and . . .

KELLY: Yeah.

ALSPAUGH: . . . They couldn't help cause somebody was in there." Or something, but . . .

KELLY: Yeah. Well, how long were you going to stay in that Normandy area?

ALSPAUGH: Well we were in on back, on . . . July 17th.

KELLY: July 17th

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, back to Leicester, England again.

00:32:00

KELLY: Uh huh, Uh huh. Did . . . did you have any other problems after Sainte Mere-Englise any other unusual event occur or happen or . . .

ALSPAUGH: No, no.

KELLY: Oh.

ALSPAUGH: No, we got on back, and . . .

KELLY: Uh huh.

ALSPAUGH: Got ready for the Holland invasion.

KELLY: Okay.

ALSPAUGH: That's what we was doing, we was . . . went back and . . . in fact, we were going back to . . . jump in Belgium. And Patton drove his tank right through our drop zone, we were already going to Belgium. And . . . Patton drove his tanks right through our [chuckle] drop zone, so . . . that was called off. So then we were still sitting there, and then they got this big . . .

KELLY: Market Garden.

ALSPAUGH: Market Garden thing, the British did, not us, the British did.

KELLY: Right. And then . . . and you were, so you were on a glider and you were coming from England and they'd already parachuted in there 00:33:00and . . . two or three days later you were crossing up . . .

ALSPAUGH: Not two or three, it was a whole week later.

KELLY: A week later.

ALSPAUGH: When they got. . .

KELLY: And . . . you were being towed in a glider. Gonna land over there.

ALSPAUGH: At Giesbeek.

KELLY: At where?

ALSPAUGH: Giesbeek.

KELLY: Giesbeek. And where was that close to?

ALSPAUGH: Near Arnhem up there.

KELLY: All right, and . . . what was it that cut that rope? Your . . .

ALSPAUGH: The flak, we just hit a . . .

KELLY: flak?

ALSPAUGH: Solid field of flak, boy that had their guns ready for us, they were waiting on us, they knew we were coming.

KELLY: When that flak started coming up . . .

ALSPAUGH: Oh hell.

KELLY: Tell me about that. You can't . . .

ALSPAUGH: Well we were about 900 feet and . . . that damn flak, they was shooting us with pistols and everything else, a guy got, shot me right up . . . up his butt, they were right setting next to me, I expect with a pistol. And . . .

KELLY: You were 900 feet above the ground?

ALSPAUGH: 900 feet I think is all we were.

00:34:00

KELLY: Uh huh. And . . . so there was a guy that was injured right next to you by a small arms of some sort?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Did it hurt him bad, or?

ALSPAUGH: Well I don't know whether he lived or not, I never knew, his name was Bryson and I never knew whether he lived or not.

KELLY: Uh huh.

ALSPAUGH: I didn't know whether any of the lived or . . .

KELLY: Well as the flak was going off around you, was it shaking the plane or . . . were you hearing it? Could you hear it go off? Did you experience . . .

ALSPAUGH: Hell, they were hitting our planes and gliders and everything else. And I was scared shitless. [Chuckle]

KELLY: Can you describe that fear?

ALSPAUGH: Oh, I was just . . . I was scared shitless [chuckle].

KELLY: Were you shaking?

ALSPAUGH: I was shaking and everything else, yes sir.

KELLY: White?

ALSPAUGH: I guess I was, anything . . .

KELLY: Can, can you describe the, the looks on the faces of your peers there?

ALSPAUGH: I never looked at any of them, I didn't look to see what, who was getting shot, and . . . not.

KELLY: About how long did that last?

00:35:00

ALSPAUGH: God, it seemed like . . . 6 months [chuckle]. It was only a matter, I guess, of . . . maybe 2 or 3 minutes or something like that . . .

KELLY: Uh huh.

ALSPAUGH: But the sky was black with flak. All over.

KELLY: Well if you looked out to the right, you were seeing puffs?

ALSPAUGH: Oh everywhere, everywhere in the world . . .

KELLY: Could you see out of that glider? Could you see out?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, you could see out of that glider.

KELLY: There was windows around there for you to . . .

ALSPAUGH: Yes sir.

KELLY: On the left and the right?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: On the front and the back?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Could you see all the way around it?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Were you seeing flak all the way around it?

ALSPAUGH: Oh, everywhere. It was black.

KELLY: How close was it getting to you?

ALSPAUGH: Oh right on us, hitting us and everything.

KELLY: Was it, moving the plane?

ALSPAUGH: Oh we'd get hit and jump and . . .

KELLY: I mean make the plane . . . jump up and down? You say you . . .

ALSPAUGH: The plane, I don't know. I'm not at the plane; I'm at my glider.

KELLY: I meant the glider. Would the explosion get close enough to . . 00:36:00. knock the screen over?

ALSPAUGH: Oh hell, it was knocking part of it off and everything else.

KELLY: What kind of noises were you hearing?

ALSPAUGH: Just bangs all over. Out the windows and everywhere.

KELLY: Explosions.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: And then you hear . . .

ALSPAUGH: And there the flak . . .

KELLY: You'd hear the flak . . .

ALSPAUGH: The flak gun, yeah.

KELLY: Would you hear the . . . would you hear the . . . fragments hit the plane?

ALSPAUGH: As it comes in psssssht [knock] pshhhhew pshew.

KELLY: You mean, whistling through the air? The flak . . .

ALSPAUGH: Buzzing through the air, yeah.

KELLY: Were they coming through to, through the plane into the plane? Into the glider?

ALSPAUGH: [inaudible] They were hitting everywhere.

KELLY: But were they penetrating coming through the . . . the . . .

ALSPAUGH: Well I'd say that's the only thing I remember, flash, he was . . . he was sitting next to me and then he got shot right through the tail.

KELLY: Uh huh. Did. . .

ALSPAUGH: Bullet come right up through him here.

KELLY: Did it knock him over, did he fall over unconscious or . . .

ALSPAUGH: Well, he was battling . . . I was deciding what to 00:37:00[inaudible] for myself when I heard

KELLY: You were too busy to take too much, pay too much attention to him. Were you sitting down at the time? You weren't . . .

ALSPAUGH: Oh yes, we were sitting.

KELLY: And buckled in?

ALSPAUGH: I guess we was strapped in, I don't remember whether they had belts or not.

KELLY: You usually did, didn't you? Or did you?

ALSPAUGH: I don't . . . know if we did or didn't. I don't think we had seatbelts.

KELLY: You might not have.

ALSPAUGH: Might not. I know we tied our . . . equipment on just so so, cause, so it wouldn't bang.

KELLY: Mmhmm. Mmhmm. Umm . . . when that rope was cut . . . were you, did you know it had been cut?

ALSPAUGH: Sure I did. He, he jerked it loose so it wouldn't backlash into our glider.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: He said the . . . glider pilot Smitty said, "If that thing hit us, boy it'd tear us all to pieces." So . . . He jerked it loose, 00:38:00he had a release up here. And tow rope loose somewhere else. Didn't come back in the . . . See, that's a tremendous backlash when the . . . if a tow rope come back into us, we would have had it.

KELLY: So, so, your pilot released it at . . . at his . . .

ALSPAUGH: The glider pilot Smitty.

KELLY: Did he see it . . . pop?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: He'd have to be fast to do it.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, yeah.

OTHER VOICE: Can I tell you something, now this was at the . . .

[Tape cuts off]

[Tape comes back on]

KELLY: So the, the pilot . . . saw the rope snap, and if he hadn't have released it, it would have whiplashed back

ALSPAUGH: Yes.

KELLY: and then, done damage to the plane.

ALSPAUGH: Yep.

KELLY: And he released it, and . . . what was his name, the pilot?

ALSPAUGH: Smitty.

KELLY: And . . .

ALSPAUGH: Smitty.

KELLY: What was he, lieutenant? Captain? Or . . .

ALSPAUGH: No, they were warrant officers.

KELLY: Warrant officer. Where's he from?

ALSPAUGH: And I've never been able to find him, he's from Texas.

KELLY: What was his first name, do you know?

ALSPAUGH: No.

KELLY: Just called him Smitty.

ALSPAUGH: I put him in for silver star for it, cause when we landed, when we crashed, our glider, boy he was the bravest soldier in the 00:39:00whole damn bunch of us [chuckle] Come out of there with a burp gun, he'd got in France somewhere, and he came out of that burp gun and . . . [noise] he was the bravest soldier of any one of us. And he was a glider pilot. Warrant officer.

KELLY: Came out fighting and . . . you mean after you landed . . .

ALSPAUGH: You're damn right boy, he was . . . we had a hedge row afor-afor so long determined, he came out of there fighting, and I put him in for a silver star, but I never heard anything more about it.

KELLY: Did . . . after you landed there, right in the . . . in the . . . midst of Germans, they were, they took the glider under fire and you all under fire immediately?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Or almost immediately?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah. Yeah, we just crashed that thing right into a little gully, a little ditch, he did a good job and we got in that ditch, is what saved the rest of us.

KELLY: Did he get, did he do that deliberately to try to get . . .

ALSPAUGH: Oh yeah.

KELLY: That was part of his . . .

ALSPAUGH: I yelled at him, "Dive the damn thing." We . . . we were . 00:40:00. . they were disputing whether to try to go on and make our landing zone, after our rope was cut, and to me it was too damn far.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And, it was a long way.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And . . . I, when the [?] got shot and all, I yelled to dive it. And . . . he did. And, harden they backs up and run [chuckle]. Harden they backs up and went with him.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: I . . . back over where I was to dive it

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: and, we did.

KELLY: Mmhmm. All right, so you, you, you end up in a ditch there and that's what saves you from the, from the automatic weapons' fire, that . . . the . . .

ALSPAUGH: I think it saved a whole bunch of us.

KELLY: All right. And then he came out with his . . .

ALSPAUGH: Bullet gun.

KELLY: Bullet gun, did you have a weapon when you came out?

ALSPAUGH: Well, I'm, my damn [warran], I was equipped with a, with a [pear saw] and a gunner and the mortar with a pistol, but I hadn't 00:41:00handed them one too [chuckle].

KELLY: Did you all fight there for a while?

ALSPAUGH: Yes we did.

KELLY: How long did you fight?

ALSPAUGH: Well, not long, I looked up the ditch . . . and Andy Dalbert, big Italian, had a white handkerchief, and we weren't allowed white handkerchiefs in that war, all the way through, we had . . . [?] but it's that damn white handkerchief come up there, Andy Delbert had it underneath his rifle, and he surrendered it.

KELLY: And that was the end of it?

ALSPAUGH: That was the end of it. That German come up and I got hit, though, and I lost most of my blood, but . . .

KELLY: Where had you been, where did you get hit?

ALSPAUGH: Right there.

KELLY: In your finger.

ALSPAUGH: Mmhmm. Then in there.

KELLY: You, you've said you had three purple hearts, well where, where did you get hit while you were in Normandy? Did you get one while you were in Normandy?

ALSPAUGH: I got, I got two there and one where I when I was in prison camp.

00:42:00

KELLY: Well where, one in Normandy, and one, one when you landed there . . . you got hit there, right? Or, did you get hit by flak or by . . . automatic weapons from the ground troops.

ALSPAUGH: And that, that was . . . some kind of flak or something got me and . . .

OTHER VOICE: Now, Jim, excuse me you got hit all with flak in your ears, and you nearly died and didn't have any medical attention whatsoever.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

OTHER VOICE: In the prison camp, Christmas, you couldn't even eat cause your ears were . . . and they never sent him to a doctor or . . .

KELLY: From flak.

OTHER VOICE: Flak, and around his ears, and he . . .

KELLY: Okay. All right now . . .

ALSPAUGH: No, the ears. [?] good though.

KELLY: Uh . . .

ALSPAUGH: [?]

KELLY: When you . . . when you give up . . . well, when you land there and you're kind of fighting, and you've got a few minutes, are you doing any thinking? Or are just too busy. . .

ALSPAUGH: Well, I'm gonna tell you something 'bout that afterwards. 00:43:00Andy Male was right beside me, and Andy says, "Jim, well, we jumped with three days rations in our pocket" is what we did, you know, with . . .

KELLY: Mmhmm

ALSPAUGH: Paratroopers and glide . . . three days ra . . . Andy Male was laying there inside of that ditch with me, before . . . we saw Andy Dalbert . . . surrender us, you know. And he said, "Jim, we haven't got rations for three days." [Chuckle] And that was a . . . something [?] and when we got liberated . . . and Andy came back to my camp, he said, "Jim, we gonna have to go home to sleep with the old lady and eat that fried chicken."

KELLY: [chuckle]

ALSPAUGH: But . . .

KELLY: Thinking about food.

ALSPAUGH: some of the comedy that happened . . .

KELLY: All right now, now on your, on your thoughts while you were there before you surrender. What's going on in your, through your mind? How old are you are . . . how old are you?

00:44:00

ALSPAUGH: I'm 71 now.

KELLY: No, then. When you were in that ditch there . . .

ALSPAUGH: Twenty . . .

KELLY: About to be captured . . .

ALSPAUGH: 28?

KELLY: 28.

ALSPAUGH: But . . .

KELLY: Did you remember what's going on within your mind?

ALSPAUGH: It was funny about how that thing come about, about . . . praying or not. You mentioned that.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: I've never . . . said much prayer or anything, I always tried to be a good Christian, but when we got out of there, this boy's dead now, Andy . . . Andy Schwatkey. Asked me, he did, now, Andy said, "Jim, did you pray?" I said, "Andy, I sure felt like it, but I never prayed before, and I didn't think that was any type time for me to be praying." [Chuckle]

00:45:00

KELLY: You didn't think that'd be right . . .

ALSPAUGH: I never will forget that.

KELLY: You didn't think that'd be right to . . . to start at that particular point?

ALSPAUGH: No, and I didn't pray then for the Lord to save me, no, I didn't.

KELLY: All right . . . let me turn this over, and then we'll take that up again.

[End of Tape 1, Side 1]

[Beginning of Tape 2, Side 2]

KELLY: Jim, we were talking about . . . your . . . being shot down by, by the ack-acker or whatever, and . . . you were about to be captured. I'm trying to . . . capture from you, your feelings . . 00:46:00. as you're in that ditch, with a . . . shot down glider, and . . . or . . . that was, made a forced landing there, just . . . continue on with your story.

ALSPAUGH: Well, whatever what I said, but.

KELLY: How, how long did you, how long did you . . . kind of, resist, or . . . how long was it before you were captured?

ALSPAUGH: Well we'd . . . fire . . . one [?] and two . . . [Oreg] and they'd, I guess. But . . . and looked up the . . . ravine and here was Andy, Andy Dalbert waving his rifle with a white flag on it.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: and Sergeant Aback right beside him and Sergeant, Sergeant Aback was the one that won the Silver Star in France, and a brave . . 00:47:00. bravest soldier they ever had and Andy was there with him, so.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: We honored it and walked on up there and, of course, I'd lost all my blood. And . . .

KELLY: You, you were bleeding pretty bad then.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah. I got hit . . .

KELLY: From your wound in your hand.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: That's from ack-ack do you think?

ALSPAUGH: I don't know where I got it . . .

KELLY: Did you get that wound before you, before the plane crashed or after the plane crashed, or do you know?

ALSPAUGH: I don't know when I got it; I didn't even know I was bleeding.

KELLY: Mmhmm. Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: But anyway, when I got up there and I looked up and this . . . real fine-looking German soldier, blonde guy says, "For you the war is over." [Chuckle]

KELLY: In English?

ALSPAUGH: That's all I remember.

KELLY: In English?

ALSPAUGH: In English.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: Said, "For you the war is over."

KELLY: Okay. And then what happened?

ALSPAUGH: Then they took us on up there on the . . . at the German . . . army command post up there and . . . trying to talk to us, 00:48:00you know. And . . .

KELLY: This is near Amsterdam, right?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, I think it was 40, 50 mile up in Amsterdam, I don't know just where it was.

KELLY: All right.

ALSPAUGH: And . . .

KELLY: And what happened there?

ALSPAUGH: Then they took us into a little . . .

KELLY: Okay, well how many of you are there now? 30? 20?

ALSPAUGH: No, there was . . . I think 14 of us there in the end. I'm gonna say there was . . . 10 of us.

KELLY: 4 of them . . .

ALSPAUGH: No, I don't know what happened to Price or whatnot. But when we got up there, then they took us . . . that night over into a school building and spent a little time there.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And we were . . . laid out on the floor in there. From then on they took us there on up to Amsterdam

KELLY: Took you to Amsterdam

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

00:49:00

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And . . . we were there, and we were living on that darn boxcar and . . . no food or water on that thing. And . . .

KELLY: A foot of water in the boxcar?

ALSPAUGH: No food or water.

KELLY: Oh, no food or water.

ALSPAUGH: And . . . that's when I about died of thirst.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And when we got out of there, got out of that boxcar, they ran for a . . . hydrant . . . oh, maybe from here to the end of my porch out there and . . . boy they was shooting at me and everything but I didn't give a damn [chuckle] I wanted that water, a little spigot thing come up like we used to have in my yard, you know. There . . .

KELLY: How long did you go without water?

ALSPAUGH: Oh we, about a week without any food or water in there.

KELLY: Without any food or water?

ALSPAUGH: No.

KELLY: How many people were in that, in that boxcar?

ALSPAUGH: All those British were in there with us.

KELLY: About how many are you talking about? You, was it, was it packed in there tight?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Were you all sitting on the floor?

00:50:00

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: No seats. Just a boxcar.

ALSPAUGH: Oh no, no seats. It was a boxcar.

KELLY: Was this . . . what, what time of year is this? Is this summer, isn't it?

ALSPAUGH: That's in September . . . that's about the September the 25th.

KELLY: Mmhmm. Still, still warm then, hot. Was it warm or hot? Or was it . . .

ALSPAUGH: Well we had our . . . we had our long johns on, I had my on the time I was captured.

KELLY: You did?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Well . . . that, what at that, thirst . . . I, I'm, I, I know that thirst is a terrible ordeal.

ALSPAUGH: Worse than eating.

KELLY: Can you, can you kind of describe your . . . what that was doing to you and . . . and . . .

ALSPAUGH: There is no death in the world like thirst. I don't care what everybody says.

KELLY: Mmhmm. Cause it's constant with you . . . all the time.

ALSPAUGH: We tried to . . . it rained, and we tried to get our handkerchiefs out the boxcar, you know. And they thought we was signaling our . . . planes, you know. And . . .

00:51:00

KELLY: Mmhmm. Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And we couldn't do that even.

KELLY: Were you catching some water with your handkerchief?

ALSPAUGH: Well, we trying to, but they thought we were signaling the . . .

KELLY: They made you put . . .

ALSPAUGH: plane.

KELLY: it back in there, huh?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Did they have one or two guards in that boxcar with you?

ALSPAUGH: Oh they had a bunch of guards all over there.

KELLY: In that boxcar or on the outside?

ALSPAUGH: Oh outside, and . . .

KELLY: Well . . . on, on that thirst. How many days did you go without water?

ALSPAUGH: Well I think we went about a week without food and water on that thing. Laying in that boxcar. At Amsterdam.

KELLY: Did you have a canteen of water originally?

ALSPAUGH: Well I don't know, but . . . might had, but . . . they went without . . .

KELLY: Was anybody getting water at all?

ALSPAUGH: No, no, the water . . .

KELLY: Well what, what, what were you . . . what were you all doing . . . were you threatening to jump off or jump out? Or . . . could you have jumped out? Or . . .

00:52:00

ALSPAUGH: Well the . . . the Holland Red Cross . . . had people down there trying to get us food and water, but Germans wouldn't let them.

KELLY: Where? In Amsterdam?

ALSPAUGH: In Amsterdam, yeah.

KELLY: Did you sit in Amsterdam for a week?

ALSPAUGH: No, we were there, I guess, close to a week in that damn boxcar.

KELLY: Right there in that one place, it wasn't moving.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah. No.

KELLY: Just sitting there?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Were you all . . . raising Cain with the Germans or anything?

ALSPAUGH: Well we were all just sitting there doing the same thing, we couldn't do anything.

KELLY: Was anybody, saying get us some water or were you all hollering for water or . . .

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, oh hell yes. We was yelling for water.

KELLY: Well . . . I'm trying to capture . . . you know, just exactly what it would be like if I walked up on that car and overheard what was going on. Was there constant . . . hollering for water? Were you all saying "Water" or . . .

ALSPAUGH: Oh yes, and then . . . Holland Red Cross was trying to get us water.

KELLY: Kind of describe what you were hollering and saying and . . . and so on. Were you all beating against the side?

00:53:00

ALSPAUGH: Well we were doing everything, beating against the side and everything else, yeah.

KELLY: Constantly? Or . . .

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, constantly.

KELLY: And hollering. Just . . . describe it for me please. Help me . . . understand.

ALSPAUGH: No, we were just . . . fanatic for water, we could do without the food but you can't do without that water. No way.

KELLY: All right, tell me what you were doing now.

ALSPAUGH: We were just banging and yelling everything and . . . I said this . . . big part on that boxcar with me were British. You know, the German, the British airborne now, they lost their . . . lost their whole outfit, there.

KELLY: Mmhmm. Yeah.

ALSPAUGH: And . . . me and Andy and there was jus t . . . my little bunch was American.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And . . . we were just yelling for some . . .

KELLY: Were you yelling . . . constantly?

00:54:00

ALSPAUGH: Wasser, Wasser, Wasser. That was German for water, yeah.

KELLY: Were you all kind of saying that in unisons? Or were you. . .

ALSPAUGH: Oh yeah, we were. . .

KELLY: I mean, was it all coming out at together,

ALSPAUGH: Oh yeah.

KELLY: you know, "Wasser Wasser."

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, wasser.

KELLY: And what were the guards saying? Shaking their heads? Or . . . saying "quiet"? Or . . . making any noises?

ALSPAUGH: No, they was just . . . nothing, they . . . let us sit there.

KELLY: Can you describe that feeling . . . that . . . you know, how your throat felt and . . .

ALSPAUGH: Well, I know when I come off that boxcar when they stopped it, there was a water spigot about from here to the . . . end of this door.

KELLY: 20 feet.

ALSPAUGH: And I got out of there and damn Germans were firing every shot over at me but I went to that spigot and I got my water. I didn't give a damn whether they shot me or whether they didn't.

KELLY: You mean . . .

ALSPAUGH: But wasn't any water spigots, you know . . .

KELLY: What you were saying is that you, you were . . . it was such 00:55:00a . . . a force that was driving you . . . to drink, even if it meant death.

ALSPAUGH: That's right, I didn't care whether they shot me or whether they didn't, I went to that water spigot. Was jerked back.

KELLY: After you start drinking, did they continue shooting, or did they . . .

ALSPAUGH: They kept pumping all around, but I still didn't care whether they shot me or whether they didn't.

KELLY: How long . . .

ALSPAUGH: I got my water.

KELLY: How long did, did you drink from the fountain?

ALSPAUGH: I don't know how long, but . . .

KELLY: They must not have been trying to hit you . . .

ALSPAUGH: Oh no, they weren't trying to hit me; they were just trying to. . .

KELLY: Scare you.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Was the others doing it too?

ALSPAUGH: No, I was the one to hit that, I don't know what the rest of them did, but . . . I hit that water spigot. And I didn't care what . . . anybody . . . went on.

KELLY: Well did you, how, how long did you, did it take you to get your fill?

ALSPAUGH: I don't know that.

KELLY: Was it a long time, I mean were you really . . .

ALSPAUGH: Oh, oh, I. . . I got my fill.

KELLY: Was it. . .

ALSPAUGH: Before I got up.

KELLY: The water fountain, what kind of spigot . . .

00:56:00

ALSPAUGH: Just one of these little things that had pipes coming out in your yard, you used to have . . . to . . . put the hose on or . . .

KELLY: Did, did you have to turn it on?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, I did.

KELLY: Yeah.

ALSPAUGH: We had them here out to the front yard. And all.

KELLY: When you were drinking from it, were you able to just put your mouth on it . . .

ALSPAUGH: Oh I just stuck my head under it and went on. [Chuckle]

KELLY: Upside down, and opened your mouth.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Just let the . . . run out the side of your mouth and all the place and everywhere else.

ALSPAUGH: Went everywhere I guess, but. I got my water.

KELLY: And then . . . once you drank your fill did it make you sick or anything? Or. . .

ALSPAUGH: No. No.

KELLY: Did that satisfy you then?

ALSPAUGH: I was all right.

KELLY: That relaxed you?

ALSPAUGH: I went back and they quit shooting at me and I went back.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: I don't know whether the rest of them got their water or anything, at the time though.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: But I got mine out of that darn water spigot. Used to have one down in your front yard, no?

00:57:00

KELLY: Well, was this . . . the train had moved some space, some distance down now?

ALSPAUGH: The train had moved some distance down, yeah.

KELLY: Very far? Or just a little ways?

ALSPAUGH: I don't . . . know that, I know that's when our war planes . . . strafed the thing.

KELLY: When you got the water, did you go back into the car?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: All right, and you were going to get strafed now, did you say?

ALSPAUGH: Well I think we got strafed before that.

KELLY: In the boxcar?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah. In the bullet, we were in the front car, and the bullets hit right over. And . . .

KELLY: You mean . . .

ALSPAUGH: Eddie Myers said that was the hardest foxhole I ever . . . tried to dig. And I laughed [chuckle]

KELLY: You mean, he was trying to dig? He was . . .

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, the bullets was . . . safe, they were in the first boxcar behind the engine.

KELLY: Did the boxcar have a, they have a cover overhead?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, a regular boxcar.

KELLY: Yeah. It had. . .

ALSPAUGH: But they splattered it with bullets, our plane, fighter plane come down strafing it.

00:58:00

KELLY: Yeah.

ALSPAUGH: And they hit right over top our head.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And Andy . . . stood up and said, "damn hardest foxhole I ever tried to . . . dig." And I laughed about it. [Chuckle]

KELLY: Yeah, it would be funny. When, when they hit, did you all hit the . . .

ALSPAUGH: Oh we were flat on the floor, yes sir.

KELLY: Yeah. Yeah. How long did that last?

ALSPAUGH: Well it was just one strafing, or . . . I guess they made . . . a couple strafing, they was trying to knock out the engine.

KELLY: Yeah.

ALSPAUGH: Not us.

KELLY: Yeah.

ALSPAUGH: They didn't know we was on there, then.

KELLY: Now . . . talking about degrees of fear, or levels of fear . . . what was the most frightening experience for you up till now, was the . . . the boxcar instant . . . or the flak, or the moment of capture . . . what, what was most fearful . . .

ALSPAUGH: The most fearful thing I had was dying of thirst. I don't 00:59:00care what . . . I could go without eating.

KELLY: Well were you . . .

ALSPAUGH: Dying of thirst.

KELLY: Were you afraid that you were going to die?

ALSPAUGH: Well, of thirst.

KELLY: Were, but were you afraid that you were going to die?

ALSPAUGH: I thought I was, yes sir. That's the worst feeling I had was that thirst.

KELLY: Was that constant and . . . continuous?

ALSPAUGH: Oh yeah.

KELLY: Were you able to sleep with, with that . . . after so many days without water?

ALSPAUGH: Well, I don't know I guess we slept all right . . .

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: But that thirst was the worst thing that I've had in my life.

KELLY: Well when you were sleeping, being that thirsty, were you dreaming about water or anything?

ALSPAUGH: I don't know that.

KELLY: Did you ever kind of, go out of your head and see water or . . . feel water or. . .

ALSPAUGH: No.

KELLY: Did you hear water?

ALSPAUGH: No.

KELLY: No.

ALSPAUGH: No, but I knew I could do without anything better than I could with thirst. I'm don't care if it was bullets or what.

KELLY: Mmhmm. Okay, now . . . You, you . . . stay on that train, 01:00:00anything else happen between that and the first camp that you go to which is . . .

ALSPAUGH: No, they took us clear on in to . . .

KELLY: Limburd?

ALSPAUGH: Oh this is in Limburd, that's right. [?]

KELLY: Now that's Lim, L-I-M burd, is that right?

ALSPAUGH: L-I-M-B-U-R-D, Limburd.

KELLY: All right. Um . . . and that's in kind of western part of . . . Germany.

ALSPAUGH: It's in the western part over there.

KELLY: It's not too far from where you were originally there, was it?

ALSPAUGH: Well, it's quite a ways from Stalag 7-A at Mossburg.

KELLY: Well, I know, but . . .

ALSPAUGH: Well . . .

KELLY: When you were captured, that wasn't too far . . .

ALSPAUGH: No, I don't think it was too far.

KELLY: Yeah, it was just a little bit east of Belgium there, I believe, somewhere along in there. I'm looking to try and find the map. Any, in any event, what happened to you when you got there at the camp?

ALSPAUGH: Limburd?

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: I was about as mad as anybody in the world.

KELLY: What were you mad about?

ALSPAUGH: We had a first sergeant . . . from . . . either my 82nd 01:01:00or the 101st that was . . . in command, and boy he had control of everything. He was living like king, he had the women and everything, red coffee pots and everything, and . . .

KELLY: Wasn't sharing it?

ALSPAUGH: Huh?

KELLY: Wasn't sharing it with you all?

ALSPAUGH: Ah, hell. He was the king bee there and I think he got court- martialed or never got home from it anyway, but . . . anyway, he were out of my airborne,

KELLY: Uh huh.

ALSPAUGH: Paratrooper. But anyway, we finally got out of there, and Sergeant Aback and I had to go 17 days on that . . . integration thing, and . . . if you spoke, if you didn't speak, within 30 days they said you just . . . disintegrate. So Sergeant Aback and I went in there and came back, and he's still a friend of mine, he's up in 01:02:00Michigan, and . . . that's when they commended to him, won, win the silver star in France. So we got on back from there . . . and . . . when, when we . . . got out . . .

KELLY: Let, Let me, let me talk to you a little more about that interrogation. During that interrogation period, what kind of . . . where were you being kept?

ALSPAUGH: We was just in there, in, little individual rooms, each one of them hot and cold. One little room.

KELLY: But you were, in isolation? Separated . . .

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: from the rest of them . . .

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, and, and it had marks on the wall and they were in English . . . if you mark on the wall your number of days, you're dead. Or you're . . . you're . . . what was that word?

KELLY: How big was that little room?

ALSPAUGH: You had a little room . . . I had . . . big enough for a bunk in it, I'm gonna say that wide.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And . . .

01:03:00

KELLY: About 4 feet wide and about . . . a little longer than you are.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: The bunk, what kind of bunk was that?

ALSPAUGH: It was just a regular, like an old army bunk.

KELLY: Did it have a mattress, or was it a . . .

ALSPAUGH: It had a little mattress on it, yeah.

KELLY: All right . . . How, how, how many times would they interrogate you during the day? One time? Two times? Day and night? Or . . .

ALSPAUGH: No, wasn't over twice.

KELLY: Twice a day?

ALSPAUGH: Wasn't over twice, I think it was one time . . . one . . .

KELLY: And, when, when they took you in to be interrogated, who was interrogating you? A German captain? Sergeant? Or . . .

ALSPAUGH: A . . . uh . . . I think it was mostly . . . sergeants, that carried out by . . .

KELLY: What, what were they saying to you? Were they speaking in good English?

ALSPAUGH: Oh yes, yeah it was pretty good.

KELLY: What, what were they saying to you?

ALSPAUGH: Well . . .

KELLY: What did they ask you?

ALSPAUGH: They kept . . . saying that . . . they weren't satisfied with what they knew about the airborne invasion, in Holland. And they 01:04:00were going to find out from us one way or the other. And . . .

KELLY: What did they ask you, what questions? What unit you were from?

ALSPAUGH: Well, they kept asking what outfit you with, I said my, told them my outfit, I'm . . . one of them in, in . . . said, "where were you gonna land?" And I said, "well now look, I'm just a little old private, and . . . I don't . . . know whether they change our . . . drop zone . . ." you know, I says, "We was a week late getting in there." And I said, "They change our route going every day and I didn't pay any attention, I'm not an officer, and I just set back there doing what . . . what my little platoon was doing."

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And . . . really I guess . . . at the time I didn't even 01:05:00know exactly where we were going to land, because they changed it every day on us in that airport, see.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And . . . I really didn't even know where we was going to land.

KELLY: Mmhmm. When he was in there, interrogating you, interviewing you, were, was he being mean? Nasty?

ALSPAUGH: No, no. No way.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: No, they were . . . English-speaking guys and . . . they were . . .

KELLY: All right, from there then you move on to . . .

ALSPAUGH: Now I'll tell you one thing about it though, when we went from camp Limburd to that interrogation guy, I was with a whole crew of air force guys in their whole . . . jump unit, you know, their big thing, and boy when we'd go through . . . that little town, we went through couple city, little town, boy they was spittin' and doing everything and they were air force guys, but too good with us.

01:06:00

KELLY: You were mad . . .

ALSPAUGH: At the guard.

KELLY: when the . . .

ALSPAUGH: they had them bombers, and . . . and they didn't, didn't with us.

KELLY: Did they do that quite a bit?

ALSPAUGH: Oh they . . . they spit all over there, they got their air force [?].

KELLY: They were furious, is that what, would they be?

ALSPAUGH: With the air force guys, but see they didn't bother us, when they backed in we were right in . . .

KELLY: Would they doing anything besides spitting at them?

ALSPAUGH: Oh just, everything.

KELLY: Kicking them on the shins or anything?

ALSPAUGH: They were usually nasty, yeah.

KELLY: Saying things to them?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: In English?

ALSPAUGH: Air, Air Force guys, English, German, I don't know what.

KELLY: What'd you think about that?

ALSPAUGH: Well I was glad that . . . I, I thought they hated us spare troopers just as bad as anybody, but they didn't . . . treat us . . . along the way, there at . . .

KELLY: Their anger was . . . was aimed at the . . .

ALSPAUGH: It was the one that was bombing them.

KELLY: At the ones that'd bombed them.

ALSPAUGH: That's right.

KELLY: Did, did that make you think about that? Did you think that maybe we shouldn't have bombed them or anything like that?

ALSPAUGH: No sir, no sir. No way.

KELLY: Did you get the feeling they were . . . wrong in . . . in mistreating

01:07:00

ALSPAUGH: No sir.

KELLY: the air force? Did you think they were wrong in mistreating the air force like that?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, I did, yes, I did.

KELLY: Did that make you mad?

ALSPAUGH: Yes, it did.

KELLY: Did you . . .

ALSPAUGH: Very truly.

KELLY: Did you say anything or do anything?

ALSPAUGH: Why, yes. I put them right with me, I mean, they were the same soldiers we were . . .

KELLY: Uh huh. You didn't like it either?

ALSPAUGH: No.

KELLY: What was the air force troopers' reaction to all this? Were they hanging their head in shame? Or . . .

ALSPAUGH: No, no, no sir, they were brave, good soldiers, every one of them, and . . . I . . . was with them, the whole group.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: Good soldiers.

KELLY: Mmhmm

ALSPAUGH: Brave as hell.

KELLY: All right . . . Anything else? We ought to get on here about that experience of interrogation?

ALSPAUGH: No. No, we got on back. And when we were in that damn camp at Limburd, I said this . . . this first sergeant . . . we got back and . . . when me and Aback got back, Sergeant Aback and I got 01:08:00back to camp . . . they gave us a dang Red Cross parcel.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And soon we got in that thing and laid down, course we went right to sleep, damned if they didn't steal my Red Cross Parcel. Our soldiers did. So, mine and Aback's Red Cross parcel these parcels like that were worth, worth a million dollars. I got a letter in there . . . I sent my mama, she went down and made a big contribution to the Red Cross over there, and . . . but the Red Cross parcel worth a million dollars, and they stole mine and Aback's too, we come in and we were just completely . . . gone, you know.

KELLY: Do you know that for sure it was the Americans? Or . . .

ALSPAUGH: Oh none but American soldiers was in that camp Limburd, soldiers . . .

KELLY: Was a lot of that going on? Or . . .

ALSPAUGH: I don't know, but . . . Me and Aback come in and we were 01:09:00completely zonked.

KELLY: [inaudible] incident, incident you had, where that occurred?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: Mmhmm. Well, let's go on to the other camp. How are you going to get to the . . . to Stalag 7-A.

ALSPAUGH: Well we went . . .

KELLY: Near Munich.

ALSPAUGH: We went by train, straight on in there from . . . to 7-A.

KELLY: Did. . . How long did that take you?

ALSPAUGH: I have no idea.

KELLY: Did you have trouble . . . getting water and food on that . . .

ALSPAUGH: No, no, we . . . did all right. The only time without water was up there at Amsterdam.

KELLY: Okay, now 7-A you're going to get to 7-A, this is going to be . . . you're going to be . . . this is gonna be around November, isn't it? Maybe.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, or . . .

KELLY: In December?

ALSPAUGH: No, it wasn't December, no.

KELLY: Getting cold now?

ALSPAUGH: No, it wasn't cold . . .

KELLY: When you're in there.

ALSPAUGH: No.

KELLY: Okay. When you get to 7-A now, what's it going to be like?

01:10:00

ALSPAUGH: Well, doing just fine, now. I was a . . . [little ses air] private, and the officers and . . . noncoms couldn't work, so they took us out of camp, to go work on the . . . bombed-out railroads and houses at Munich.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: Took us by railroad each day. Well . . . in December, I got caught for sabotage [chuckle] down at the goddamn [chuckle] [inaudible].

KELLY: What'd you do?

ALSPAUGH: I was sabotaging the railroads, putting sand in the boxcars . . . actually, what I got caught at was . . .

KELLY: I mean what, what, putting them in the boxcar, you mean in the brakes or something?

ALSPAUGH: No, right under the wheel some railroad guy, but what happened, I was up there, and . . . we were in the dang . . . air raid shower at noon; they bombed us every day at noon. And . . . I got caught actually for burning their mail . . . bags, all official 01:11:00mail bags for getting . . . cookies, and that . . . but when they examined me, I had all sand in my damn jump jacket [chuckle] and which I still had my jump jacket, and I got caught . . . I'd been putting sand in the box cars, but I got caught for them damn cookie thing, and then when they found that sand bag in there, well I was under the death sentence from then on out December. Oh, and I remember the death sentence, in that prison camp. The only English-speaking person in there, from December clear on to the end of the war in April 29, and . . . I couldn't speak English [chuckle] when I got out of the goddamn thing, they'd laugh at me talking when I got home, but I . . . spoke, not, there wasn't an English-speaking person in my jail.

01:12:00

KELLY: You mean after, after they caught you sabotaging the train they, they took you out of one camp and put you in another camp?

ALSPAUGH: They put me in a damn jail.

KELLY: Oh, put you in jail.

ALSPAUGH: In the prison camp, in 7-A, first building that you go into that damn thing.

KELLY: Put you in prison camp.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, in the jail.

KELLY: About when was this?

ALSPAUGH: That was December.

KELLY: December.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: First of December or last of December?

ALSPAUGH: Now I don't know that.

KELLY: In the jail, who was in there?

ALSPAUGH: Just English, or just . . . French . . .

KELLY: French.

ALSPAUGH: Serbs, Poles.

KELLY: Serbs, Poles,

ALSPAUGH: and, and Czechs.

KELLY: and Czechs.

ALSPAUGH: And Russians.

KELLY: And Russians.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah. Russians, Poles, Serbs . . .

KELLY: All right, did you, did you manage to, to learn how to communicate with those guys?

ALSPAUGH: I, we all spoke German.

KELLY: You, did you speak German before?

ALSPAUGH: No, [chuckle] I did then, everybody spoke German in that thing.

KELLY: All right, do you remember any of the conversations, do you, remember . . .

ALSPAUGH: Oh hell yes.

KELLY: Tell me some of the, some of the conversations, some of the things you learned about Poland, about Russia, about . . .

01:13:00

ALSPAUGH: Oh well I learned a whole lot about the Russians.

KELLY: What'd you learn?

ALSPAUGH: Well. . . they were cutting my damn bed, we didn't have any . . . any wood to cook our little thing . . . the Poles were bringing in some lentil beans and trying to cook . . . back in these little . . . tin tin cans that made little fire, and they were cutting my damn bed. Every time we didn't have no wood, but our, our, our bunks were wood, see?

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And I came in there and . . . they were cutting my dang . . . bed.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: See, there were other spots in there where we walk around the prison, the fence out there, you know, every day. Every day they was cutting my damn bed. And these Russians were doing it. Staying in there for some reason or other, and I came in there one day and I caught them. And . . . they jumped on me, the Russians. And I 01:14:00says, "Marcos not afraid of Russians, no way." And . . . so I got in a big fight with them and this Andy, that I said, singling out two Frenchman, saved my damn life, but I thanked everybody at that day of the week. Kidding old American.

KELLY: How many, how many of them was there?

ALSPAUGH: Oh there was a whole slew of Russians, but we had a bunch of French. And this Andy, that I sent cigarettes to over there, Andy got the French and come back and saved my life from fighting the Russian, but I wasn't scared of them . . .

KELLY: How many, how many were you fighting at the time?

ALSPAUGH: Well, God dang, a whole pile of them, there was a pile of them over there. The Russians.

KELLY: How many, how many is a pile?

ALSPAUGH: About, about, oh hell . . . 50.

KELLY: And you were fighting 50 by yourself?

ALSPAUGH: No, yeah, but the French had . . . more than that in there.

01:15:00

KELLY: Well how long did that fight last?

ALSPAUGH: Well when old Andy, Andy got his French boys, my buddy . . .

KELLY: Uh huh.

ALSPAUGH: Got the French up there and they, they pulled me out of it, but I said, "Americans aren't afraid of you damn Russians." [Chuckle] And that's what I told him.

KELLY: Did they bully you up any, and mash your nose or, knock your . . .

ALSPAUGH: Well, the French saved me.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: Andy saved me.

KELLY: Uh huh. Uh huh. Well, did, did you have any conversations with any of the Russians, learn anything about their . . .

ALSPAUGH: Yes sir I did. I learned one thing. That they're like a goddamn big bunch of babies, we give them all that stuff, they were, beforehand, just a little bunch of people, but when we like, like little kids, if I got the big stick I'm the big stick, but they gave them their, all of our stuff, you know, and they got to be the big stick. I told her when I came back, in five years we gonna be fighting Russians. 01:16:00She'll tell you that, and that's when we did. Five years. After that because I knew that when they got our equipment and everything, I knew damn well we got, I told her, and everybody disagreed with me, five years when . . . it started at Korea when Russians started, I told her in five years we gonna fight the Russians. Didn't I though.

KELLY: Were you all, were the Russians, were you . . . hostile? You . . .

ALSPAUGH: No, no, it was just that we gave them all our stuff and that made them feel so damn big.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: That's the whole thing of it.

KELLY: When they felt like they could . . . [inaudible]

ALSPAUGH: They thought when we sent them all that stuff over there they could rip everybody.

KELLY: Well, Um . . . are you, have you been sentenced to death?

ALSPAUGH: I was sentenced to death, yes, court-martialed in the, under the trial, civilian that . . . my, my, sabotage to the civilians, not military.

KELLY: Yeah, you went before civilian court?

01:17:00

ALSPAUGH: Yes sir, right in Munich.

KELLY: And they sentenced you to death.

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: What, What reaction, what was your reaction . . .

ALSPAUGH: Well I came back to camp and I tried to hang myself, truthfully, with a tent rope. In this damn, but see, in that jail,

KELLY: What. ..

ALSPAUGH: Every day they come in there to get you,

KELLY: Well what . . .

ALSPAUGH: Who you were and take you out, and I thought I'd go in Dachau or Buchenwald, two death camps.

KELLY: Where?

ALSPAUGH: Dachau and Buchenwald was two death camps, where they made us . . . lampshade and I thought I was going there.

KELLY: Did you know . . .

ALSPAUGH: The American sergeant

KELLY: Did you know? . . .Well, that's what . . .

ALSPAUGH: told me they couldn't do anything for me.

KELLY: Let, let me ask you a question. Did, did you know about Dachau while you were in that prison?

ALSPAUGH: You're goddamn right, I learned right there I didn't know about the . . .

KELLY: Who told, who told you about it?

ALSPAUGH: Well . . .

KELLY: You mean when you . . .

ALSPAUGH: The French commander Andy's buddy, the French mayor we called him, he was the mayor, told me that . . . and then the American 01:18:00sergeant who was in charge of our camp come in and sent me two D-bars and a map, going to Switzerland, there . . . an Italian had failed to swim the . . . the swift cold water, and I'm a world . . . I was in the world swimming thing and, and the Pole Mary, club Mary, I was in the world swimming championship, myself, I knew I could make that, I had that map sewed on me, and I had two chocolate D-bars that . . . that this sergeant got me in there that had them sewed in my jump jacket. And when they took me to trial, that's when I was supposed to try to . . . to escape.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: When they took me to trial at Munich I had five damn guards with me.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: On that French train they kept, a lovely train, I had two sitting over there, two here, and one here at the side, I couldn't any 01:19:00more escape than the man on the moon. But . . . I damn sure . . . thought I'd try.

KELLY: When they, when they . . . when they tried you, did they speak English to you?

ALSPAUGH: They was the best [?] I had a big judge with a rope and he looked exactly like . . .

KELLY: [microphone sounds] Keep on talking . . .

ALSPAUGH: Lionel Barrymore, you know, movies.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And I, they looked just exactly like him, and they . . . I think, I got to be my own lawyer, and I had a . . .

KELLY: You got to be? Do you mean you wanted to be? Or you . . .

ALSPAUGH: Well . . .

KELLY: Had to be?

ALSPAUGH: I guess I had to be, but . . . I had . . . glued two pieces of paper together, before the trail, and . . . I showed them the map of the railroad at Munich going clear on out there . . . where the [?] that guy saw me with the sand, I know that, he was a 01:20:00Gestapo man. But I had this thing, and I glued it together, and I . . . think I convinced the court . . . that I wasn't down on that railroad during that sand blasting thing, and . . . I was up there working on a . . . bombed-out house, which I had been the day before I'd been working on that damn house, up at . . . But the guards who arrested me were not in there, and they called for them, but, and my [?] place with me he had to be in court and in the [?] you know and it just . . . but the guards were not in there. Well, they postponed my trial, and I went back, and the next time that they were going to take me to trial, they came into the prison camp, and got me by out halfway, here come a guy with a bicycle, I hadn't bombed the [Kapoot] 01:21:00I hadn't bombed [Kapoot] and the British, bombed every night, and they bombed the railroads out, so I never got my trail finished up there. That was my whole thing.

KELLY: Well how did you get this business that you were sentenced to death then?

ALSPAUGH: That was my trial.

KELLY: I mean . . . are you, are you, the judge didn't say that you're sentenced to death, was it just a known fact that if you sabotaged it you'd be sentenced to death, is that what you're saying?

ALSPAUGH: That's right. That's right.

KELLY: Is that what it was . . .

ALSPAUGH: The death sentence, is what he said.

KELLY: Who said this to you?

ALSPAUGH: The judge, at that trial in Munich.

KELLY: He said, what did he say, did he say you were guilty or did he say when you come back, or . . . ? I mean, don't, I'm not following you here, because you said, you know, your, your trial wasn't finished. You were supposed to go back.

ALSPAUGH: And, but he said, that's the death sentence on that. The trial wasn't finished, I mean . . . come back, but he said that's 01:22:00the death sentence on that.

KELLY: On, on that. . .

ALSPAUGH: On the charge.

KELLY: On that charge, that's . . .

ALSPAUGH: That's right.

KELLY: Yeah, okay.

ALSPAUGH: And so I went back and . . .

KELLY: What'd they . . .

ALSPAUGH: was gonna have another trial.

KELLY: They bombed the railroads out and you couldn't get back.

ALSPAUGH: Never got back.

KELLY: Never took you back again.

ALSPAUGH: Never got back, it was already . . .

KELLY: When, when was this . . . suicide . . .

ALSPAUGH: Oh hell, that was in the . . .

KELLY: Was that after you talked to . . .

ALSPAUGH: Yeah, that was probably in . . .

KELLY: Was this after he had talked to you, the judge?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah. And one of the American sergeants come in and said, "Jim, we can't do a damn thing for you." That's what finished me, when he came in there. And gave me D-bars and told me to escape my trail, and . . . [?]

KELLY: That, that demoralized you . . . completely.

ALSPAUGH: No, I was . . .

KELLY: Well what, let me get just a little more on this business of, of Dachau. When did you learn about Dachau being there . . .

ALSPAUGH: Not until I was in that damn jail, I didn't know anything 01:23:00about it.

KELLY: This was before you went to the, to the trial. Or after.

ALSPAUGH: No, it wasn't. It's the time, I'm gonna say, yeah.

KELLY: You were put in jail and then took to the trial or taken to the trial and then put in jail? Or do you remember?

ALSPAUGH: Well, I learned about Dachau after I went to that trial, yeah, and he said that's the death sentence. That's when I learned about Dachau and Buchenwald and . . .

KELLY: All right, well who told you about it? The French commandant?

ALSPAUGH: Oh yeah, yeah, Andy, Andy's buddy. The mayor, come, and he knew about it.

KELLY: Who, who is this mayor, are you talking about the . . . German . . .

ALSPAUGH: The mayor, he was the head of the French, and we called him "mayor" Mayyar.

KELLY: But he was a, he was a French soldier?

ALSPAUGH: Yes sir, Andy's buddy.

KELLY: All right, and he told you, what about Dachau?

ALSPAUGH: Well he said, "Jim, when you go there, that's the end of you." The mayor, we called him the mayyar.

01:24:00

KELLY: Now what else did he tell you about it?

ALSPAUGH: He said, "Well, Jim, that's the end of you when you go up there."

KELLY: That's all he told you about it.

ALSPAUGH: That's what he said about Dachau and Buchenwald.

KELLY: Did you know at that time that they were . . . killing the Jews . . .

ALSPAUGH: Well, that's when I learned they were making lampshades out of all that . . . See, every one of these guys that went out of that jail went to Dachau or Buchenwald, was tried, everybody in my jail was tried for something.

KELLY: All right, how did this guy know about it? How'd this French guy know about it?

ALSPAUGH: Well he'd done [?] about it.

KELLY: How'd he know, though?

ALSPAUGH: I don't know that.

KELLY: Did he tell you about the lampshades too?

ALSPAUGH: Yes sir.

KELLY: What else did he . . .

ALSPAUGH: Making lampshades out . . .

KELLY: What else did he tell you? Did he tell you about the ovens and the gassing and all that?

ALSPAUGH: No, no he just said that . . .

KELLY: He told you about the lampshades, he said that's the end of it, did he tell you about the gas chambers?

ALSPAUGH: No, I don't remember anything about lamp, I remember about 01:25:00lampshades and . . .

KELLY: You remember that though?

ALSPAUGH: Oh I sure do, I don't . . . about gassings and . . .

KELLY: All right, so then . . . are you gonna be fed pretty well while you're in jail there, and taken care of other than . . . these other problems?

ALSPAUGH: Hell no, I got nothing but bread and water. I didn't get my Red Cross parcel or nothing in that thing. I was just on drinking bread and water.

KELLY: Until. . .

ALSPAUGH: in that jail the whole time.

KELLY: Until the . . . well, that's about five months then, isn't it?

ALSPAUGH: Damn right it's five months.

KELLY: How much. . .

ALSPAUGH: And not speaking English then.

KELLY: How much weight did you lose?

ALSPAUGH: I weighed 137 pounds when I got [chuckle] onto that scale.

KELLY: How much did you weigh when you went in there?

ALSPAUGH: About 100 . . . same I am today, 195.

KELLY: Well did, is that all you got? Or did you manage to steal a little something?

ALSPAUGH: No, they got nothing there

KELLY: Bread and water.

ALSPAUGH: in that damn thing. Bread and water.

KELLY: And that's from December to May.

ALSPAUGH: To April 29th.

KELLY: Is April 29th. . .

ALSPAUGH: Bring me a beer Norma, you want another beer?

01:26:00

KELLY: No, no thank you.

ALSPAUGH: Huh?

KELLY: April 29th when they came through there.

ALSPAUGH: April 29th. Bring me a beer, hon.

KELLY: All right.

NORMA ALSPAUGH: Can I tell him one thing?

KELLY: Yeah.

NORMA ALSPAUGH: You might as well just go and tell the truth.

ALSPAUGH: And that, I sent cigarettes to, we got a cat . . . that . . . see . . . outside of our . . . camp, over here on that side was a, a Miller, who was a captain of the air force, I, I, I, these French had about everything up there, and I was sewing everything over there, some colonel, American colonel, got captured and wanted a sheep, and by God I found, [?] French. And I was so . . . [chuckle] [inaudible] And they saw me [?] And I got caught at it, and . . . anyway . . . Well, I forgot what I was going to say . . .

KELLY: You were about to . . .

ALSPAUGH: Anyway, they caught me . . . and they, they didn't, they 01:27:00didn't . . . hit me with anything but rifle butts. They never did hit me with anything but rifle butts, that was the . . . Geneva convention, you can hit them with, you hit with rifle butts and I have . . . but I staid was . . . Miller, Captain Miller of the air force was . . . he was, some colonel got captured wanted a sheep.

KELLY: Well you, you were talking about, your wife reminded you that you ate a cat and rat. While you were in that prison.

ALSPAUGH: Well, one thing I didn't say about Andy and I, just that . . . Andy, Andy was a dear friend, I got his picture in there in his dress, and I got another one in Paris and didn't take it with me.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: But he saved my life with those Russians, Andy did.

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: He got the Mayor and

KELLY: Yeah.

ALSPAUGH: all of them but . . . I didn't take that damn picture, and I got in Paris and . . . put it well, drunk up, and . . . I said 01:28:00where you all, they find me at my Andy, where the hell is, that was his last name, but, I got though, in there on a picture I got a picture of Andy, I sent him cigarettes over there.

KELLY: How did you get that, eat that cat? And where did you get the cat?

ALSPAUGH: Well, what, what happened between me and the Americans over there, was a, a big wide barbed wire fence, you know, and gas going up, man, there was cats in there, and mice, you know what I mean, well me and old Andy, got a goddamn cord, and dangled it down out of the prison camp wall there, and that cat come up to it, and Andy digged that thing in there, and I cracked the cat . . . [chuckle] And, we got it. We drug it up through our wall, and we . . . cooked it, and the thing we didn't have any wood, was the trouble, me and Andy climbed up in that . . . loft and . . . Germans finally caught us at that, they'd come 01:29:00in and we'd cut the whole rafters out and everything, up, that went up through there and cut the rafters and everything to get wood, you know?

KELLY: Mmhmm.

ALSPAUGH: And . . .

KELLY: You cooked that cat.

ALSPAUGH: Me and old Andy cooked that damn cat.

KELLY: Let, I'm about to run out of tape; let me get some information here. Who did you marry?

ALSPAUGH: Huh?

KELLY: What was your wife's maiden name, full name?

ALSPAUGH: Norma Browning.

KELLY: And you have a child?

ALSPAUGH: Yeah.

KELLY: What's the child's name?

ALSPAUGH: Dona.

KELLY: And . . . when you came back you went to college and you were an accountant? Were an accountant? You're retired now.

ALSPAUGH: I, I had my card full and went in the Army.

KELLY: Yeah.

ALSPAUGH: I didn't go to school, I . . .

KELLY: Yeah, and . . . your health, you've had a health problem recently, or?

ALSPAUGH: Oh I've had a health problem all the way through.

KELLY: Yeah.

ALSPAUGH: My back, mainly. I got my back hurt when we crashed over there.

KELLY: Yeah. Yeah.

ALSPAUGH: But I . . .

KELLY: Anyway, the 14th Armament Division came through and released you 01:30:00and you got back home. I want to thank you for . . .

ALSPAUGH: Well, the most . . .

[End of Interview]