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Harry Kaiser

World War II Veteran, Bronze Star Medal Recipient

World War II veteran Harry Kaiser fought in the Battle of the Bulge, including the defense of Bastogne, and waited until 2011 to receive his six medals, one of which was a Bronze Star.

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In 2011 Harry Kaiser’s World War II medals were finally issued to him. An Army corporal during the war, Kaiser served with the 60th Infantry Regiment attached to the 9th Armored Division, and saw combat during the Battle of the Bulge, including the defense of Bastogne, then across central Europe, and finally at the firefight over the Remagen Bridge.

It was at Remagen in March 1945 when the force of a German artillery shell blew him off a second-floor balcony, sending him crashing to the ground, dislocating a bone in his right leg. He spent the next six weeks in a French hospital, and by then, the war in Europe was coming to a close.

The six medals he was given when he was 90 years old included the Bronze Star.

His father – Harry William Kaiser – worked with some of the early aviation pioneers, among them Wiley Post, Charles Lindbergh, Howard Hughes, and Amelia Earhart, which put young Harry up close with these pioneers.

Harry’s first job was with North American Aviation, which later became Rockwell, from which he retired in 1986.

Full Interview Transcript

Chapter 01 - Introduction

In 2011 Harry Kaiser’s World War II medals were finally issued to him. An Army corporal during the war, Kaiser served with the 60th Infantry Regiment attached to the 9th Armored Division and saw combat during the Battle of the Bulge, including the defense of Bastogne, then across central Europe, and finally at the firefight over the Remagen Bridge.

It was at Remagen in March 1945 when the force of a German artillery shell blew him off a second-floor balcony, sending him crashing to the ground, dislocating a bone in his right leg. He spent the next six weeks in a French hospital, and by then, the war in Europe was coming to a close.

The six medals he was given when he was 90 years old included the Bronze Star.

Listen to Harry and his wife Patricia talk about the war years and how Harry came to know Amelia Earhart and observe Howard Hughes on the Oral history website and podcast

Chapter 02 - Amelia Earhart

John Erling (JE): My name is John Erling. Today's date is April 4th, 2011. Harry, would you state your full name

and your date of birth and your present age?

Henry Kaiser (HK): My name is Harry Kaiser, K-A-I-S-E-R. I was born November the 26th, 1920. I am 90. I'm sitting here, gray-haired 90.

JE: Yeah. Your wife, Patricia, is joining us in this conversation. So, Patricia, would you state your full name?

Patricia Kaiser (PK): My full name is Patricia Eileen Kaiser. I was born in 1924, August 11th, and I met Harry when I was 16 years old in 1938. We got married a year and a half later, and we've been married for 69 years.

JE: Wow.

HK: She's my first wife.

JE: Yeah. Is she your best wife?

PK: Sometimes, sometimes.

JE: And where are we recording this interview, Harry?

HK: In Collinsville. We have two and a half acres in Collinsville. This looks like that's where I'm going to end up.

JE: Yeah. Well, this is a good place to be. And then, Patricia, you grew up where?

PK: I was born in California. I was born four miles south of International Airport, which is very, very popular now. But in the 1930s, it used to be called LAX. That's a little bit of history. A lot of people don't know that LAX stands for Los Angeles International. But now it's one of the biggest airports in the world.

JE: Patricia is here to help us tell the story here of Harry, but she was very much a part of his years in the military. Harry, tell us where you were born.

HK: I was born in Columbus, Ohio. I was real lucky. My dad worked for NAT, airmail pilot, used to fly the mail. And it gets awful snowy in that country sometimes. But I was one proud son of a father who flew the mail. When the mail would come in on Sunday, the town would turn out to watch that airplane come in. I'm a kid, but I was the proudest kid in the air. All these people come up to see my dad come in and fly the mail.

JE: He was flying for the United States government then?

HK: NAT, yeah. They were flying the mail and they had the contract.

PK: It was an Oakland cockpit plane. And in a little small town, he would go close and throw the canvas or leather bag down full of mail. It was that many years ago.

HK: It was quite a scene to watch or even to remember.

JE: Yeah.

HK: Your eyeballs light up when you think, my God, that did happen, you know?

JE: Yeah. And what was your father's name?

HK: Harry William Kaiser.

JE: And then your mother's name?

HK: Evelyn Kaiser.

JE: The two of them met in Ohio?

HK: Yeah. My dad's father owned a brewery in Columbus. I'd never been to the brewery. I'd never met my grandfather.

JE: Your father then, what did he do for a living?

HK: Well, it went from flying to mechanical engine repair. He met quite a few people in this job. And he went around the country, different jobs continuously. I had a heck of a time going through school because I was always moving and trying to attend another school. It was hard. To retain the knowledge input that I was getting because it was so short a time.

JE: Because when you were elementary school and all, you were moving around.

HK: During his mechanical trait, he had met some celebrities such as Amelia Earhart, Lindbergh, Wiley Post.

PK: Howard Hughes.

HK: Well, yeah, Howard Hughes at a later date. Those things fall in line in later years.

PK: He worked for Amelia Earhart. He was her mechanic.

HK: He had done work. In fact, I got to fly. At that time, I must have been 10 years old. Dad had fixed me up a pair of overalls like the mechanics wore, which made me feel 10 feet tall. He used to take me out to the field on Saturday and Sunday, and I would work. He'd kind of tethered me around, showing me all the ropes. He made me part of his job. They were flying trimotor Stinsons, fabric-covered Stinsons at that time. I believe it was a Ludington Airline. Anyway, during this time, Amelia Earhart had come in and asked for a mechanic, and she had been introduced to Dad as their ace mechanic, and Dad had done a job for her.

JE: Where would that have been that she came in?

HK: This was in Newark Airport.

JE: In Newark, New Jersey?

HK: Newark, New Jersey.

JE: We should point out that Amelia Earhart was the first woman to receive the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross, which was awarded to her because she flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

PK: Right.

JE: She set many other records as well, and she joined the faculty of the world-famous Purdue University Aviation Department. Amelia Earhart was going to fly with your father?

HK: She had this Lockheed Vega, and she had Dad do some rework to the interior. There was no interior in the Vega. She showed up one day, and she said, “Hey, I'd like to fly the airplane and check it for balance.” She says, “Let's go.” So she and Dad got in the airplane, and she looked at me, and she says, She said, “Aren't you coming, Junior?”

“Uh, yeah. Where will I sit?” She said, “You'll have to sit on the stairs. There's a two-step between the cabin floor and the pilot floor.” So I had to sit on the step.

Well, Dad was in number two seat, and she was in number one seat. They took off and did their thing.

JE: I bet that was a noisy, noisy ride, wasn't it?

HK: That was one and only ride. When I met her, it was at a later time that I got my invitation to visit her house. She had brought another car. She brought a Franklin, a convertible Franklin, which was an air-cooled engine. There was some discrepancy with it, and she wanted to know, could Dad fix it?

He says, “Well, I'll have to leave it here and look at it when I can.” A few days gone by, and Dad says, “Hey, I got the car fixed. I'm going to drive it to Amelia's house”, which is in Rye, New York. “You want to come with me?”

I was elated. Yes. Anyway, I drove with Dad. Dad to Rye, New York, to deliver the Franklin. She came out and greeted us, and she says, “Hey, would you like to come spend a few days with us?” She says, “I have a stepson your age. They would have a ball.” Boy, I was 10 foot tall with this invitation. I'd come back a week later to make that visit.

JE: What do you remember about her house?

HK: Her house was a beautiful place. The neighborhood, I think, was associated in the movie business because they were, “Hey, don't forget. We got a movie Friday night, and you're coming,” meaning me. They took me over there, and they introduced me to everybody, and, oh, the houses were beautiful, a real lavish display of wealth.

JE: In Rye, New York.

HK: Yes.

JE: Her stepson, that was George Palmer Putnam.

HK: Yeah, we got together. We're not the best of association. It wasn't the age difference. It was the living difference. There was a difference between him and me.

JE: Your personalities were different.

HK: Personality. Right. But I was going to stay in the balance at that time. The thing was, okay, tonight is going to have the movie, so we went next door. We get in this room, and they show me an empty room in the house, and they set chairs up. Where's the screen? Well, the screen come up out of the floor. Well, I'll be darned. Isn't that something?

The next thing I know, my chair is raising up. They're bringing the projector. It come out of the floor. It came out of the floor, and they put me on the chair on top of it. And I was the guy they were waiting for. Everybody got to laugh. I'm scared to death. But I was a choice, and I played my part well.

JE: This would have been in the 1920s. 1930, actually, if you were 10 or 11 years old, it would have been in the early 30s that they had that kind of projection system, which is pretty advanced.

HK: I don't remember what the picture was, but I remember that I was a victim of their humor.

JE: Yeah. Yeah. It sounds like she was a pretty nice lady.

HK: Oh, she was. She was fantastic. He was rather reserved.

JE: Her husband?

HK: He had very little contact between us two. He and his son were close. While I was there and ready to leave, there was a party showed up. They had just got back in the United States.

Johnson, I believe they were some kind of expeditionary force. They had been playing Africa. And they had just come back from that. And they were staying. Got to stay a while with Amelia Earhart. That was when I was leaving. I believe her name was Johnson.

JE: So you have pleasant memories of that. Ten days did you stay there?

HK: Yes.

JE: Then sadly, it was during an attempt to make a flight of the globe in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electra that she disappeared over the Central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. There's been a lot of fascination with her life, wondering what happened. Do you remember hearing about that disappearance?

PK: Absolutely.

HK: Yes, we followed that as close as we could.

PK: Because with Dad being associated with her, he does not go along with the general idea that she was lost. He said she was too educated and too precise about keeping her plane. There was nothing wrong with her plane. He has passed on. But on his dying grave, he said “Amelia Earhart did not get lost.”

JE: So then what? What do you think happened to her? Do you agree with your father?

HK: She just ran out of fuel, I think.

JE: So she obviously crashed then, but we've never been able to find anything.

PK: No, no wreckage or anything.

JE: And you were about 15 or 16 years old when she disappeared in 1937.

PK: Yes, yeah.

JE: That was a sad day then, wasn't it?

HK: Yes, yes

Chapter 03 - Howard Hughes

John Erling (JE): Your father was also around Wiley Post.

Henry Kaiser (HK): I had no visual contact with him. One day I'm playing, and Dad came home. He threw something on the table. He says, “here, this is for you.” It was out of a tire. It's the air valve. And I'm, “Where did you get one?” He said, “I changed Lindbergh's tire today. Oh. I got this for you.”

JE: That's Charles Lindbergh. But about Wiley Post, he was around him, but you don't have any recollection.

HK: I knew he had contact with him, and he worked with him. I don't know whether he physically worked with him or verbally.

JE: Okay. Then let's talk about Charles Lindbergh. Did you ever see Charles Lindbergh?

HK: No.

JE: But you heard your father talk about him.

HK: No. Conversation with Dad. And as I said, the closest I got was the tire valve that came off of his airplane.

JE: There's a story about Howard Hughes. In 1947, you were in San Pedro, California, and you were guests of Howard Hughes.

Patricia Kaiser (PK): Right.

HK: This is when they were making their test flight, which we have a picture of everybody on board.

JE: We're talking about what they call the Spruce Goose.

PK: Yes, yes. His father built all eight engines for this Spruce Goose. And Howard Hughes would come out to the test stand in Culver City, which is near the ocean, but there's no residence over because the noise of testing the engines. Howard Hughes would come out 2, 3, 4 o'clock in the morning and go in and talk with Harry Sr.

HK: Hughes would come out at the test stand, and he'd have a date in the car. The date in the car had us sit there and sleep. And this is ours. I mean, it wasn't none of them 20-minute conversation.

PK: Your father bought those engines from the Navy? Is that what they did?

HK: Yeah. Dad mentioned he got the engines from the Navy and modified them. The Spruce Goose was officially known as the H-4 Hercules.

HK: Yeah.

JE: Which was, I guess, a flying boat, a wooden flying boat. And you were there to watch the tests.

HK: Beautiful sight.

JE: Was it very big?

HK: It was massive. You'd be amazed to see something that big airborne.

JE: And it actually did lift off.

HK: Yes. I'm in a boat watching it. As it came down, it made a beautiful approach to the water and landed beautiful.

JE: Patricia has brought out a picture of it. And there's your father, H. Kaiser, along with all these other crew people. That was November 2, 1947. There is a picture there of the Spruce Goose flying. They call it a wooden boat, but it does have wings, obviously, and it looks very much like a plane. How high did it go? 75, 80 feet into the air?

PK: 75, 80 feet. We were out in the harbor at San Pedro where it did the maiden flight. The water was so choppy. It was windy. And Mr. Kaiser, Harry's father, was standing behind Howard Hughes in the cockpit. Howard Hughes had his hands on the controls. And Harry's father stood in back of Howard Hughes.

And he was touching his shoulder when he wanted him to lift one wing and the other shoulder to stabilize. Then, after they got up to that height, the wings started vibrating. And Mr. Kaiser Sr. said, “hey, let's bring her down. Bring her down.” And Howard Hughes wanted to keep on going. Harry said, “no, the stress too much.” So they brought it down.

JE: That's the only flight, too, of the Spruce Goose.

PK: That was the only flight. That was the only flight. Something that a lot of people don't know, they had it mothballed there at San Pedro. They built a hangar for it. The plane was made out of plywood. Really, truly, all was. And so it started to absorb the seawater because it was in the water.

What they did, Harry's father told us, and the public didn't know, to bring it up out of the water, they put millions and millions of ping pong balls inside to lift it.

JE: To bring it up.

PK: Keep it up out of the water.

HK: Ping pong balls.

JE: Keep it floating, right.

HK: I never saw him.

JE: But you saw Howard Hughes.

HK: Yeah.

JE: Because you were-

HK: There again, there's a distance shot. There's no conversation. No, hi, my name is. No physical contact.

JE: But you remember seeing he was a handsome man, wasn't he?

HK: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

PK: On big contracts, he would sign his name. But on the list that he would come in to check the motors as Mr. Kaiser Sr. was working, on the sheets that I did this, I did that. But Howard Hughes only signed HH. He never signed Howard Hughes. So we have a couple. We've given them to our grandchildren. Papers signed by HH.

HK: Dad said he never carried money. Everybody he knew, hey, pay the bill. I'll pay you later.

JE: Despite the fact that he was one of the wealthiest people in the entire world.

HK: Well, he'd been hit on several times, I guess, and he made his mind up that he wasn't going to carry any money.

JE: He was in the film business.

PK: Yes.

JE: He made controversial films like The Racket, Hell's Angels, Scarface, The Outlaw. But he was one of the most influential aviators in history.

PK: He was involved very, very much with Katharine Hepburn for many, many years.

JE: Yes. And then he acquired and he expanded Trans World Airlines, which would later merge with American Airlines. And then we know he got rather eccentric in his behavior.

PK: In Las Vegas. Yeah. He did.

JE: Yeah. Any other memories of that day of seeing him?

HK: He made a very favorable remark about the Constellation aircraft. I have ridden in it and I have to agree, it was one heck of a good airplane. It caught me.

JE: Well, that's a nice memory. You were there the day the Spruce Goose flew. It's one and only.

HK: Oh, I'll never forget it. Yeah. Even I was seasick. I'll still never forget it.

JE: Because you were out in a boat yourself.

HK: Yes. I am not a sailor.

PK: As soon as the plane landed. And everybody debarked. The Queen Mary was right there on the water. And of course, the Spruce Goose came in on the water. Harry's father got off the plane and we all had lunch on the Queen Mary. So this is how come we have all this. It was so fresh in his memory because he just got off the flight.

Harry Kaiser, Sr. came and had lunch with us on the Queen Mary. This is where we got all this fresh information about the flight. And then telling Howard Hughes, left, up, bring her up, bring her down, etc.

JE: Howard Hughes didn't come to the lunch.

PK: No, no, no. But everybody that worked on the plane, he invited the whole families. He paid for the whole thing. We took over the whole Queen Mary. Yeah. He gave us a wonderful day there.

JE: That's a great memory, isn't it?

HK: Yes. Yes, it is.

Chapter 04 - Battle of the Bulge

John Erling (JE): You served in World War II.

Henry Kaiser (HK): Hey, I remember that.

JE: With the 60th Infantry Regiment attached to the 9th Armored Division.

HK: Right.

JE: Of course, December 7th, 1941. You remember that day. Where were you when you heard about the bombing?

Patricia Kaiser (PK): Tijuana, Mexico.

HK: That's right. We went down to TJ to buy something. We would get a huaraches, real cheap there. And we had left Tijuana, and there was a tremendous roadblock.

PK: This is kind of funny.

HK: The police was checking everybody now that was coming out of the Mexico area. The border. Well, the Japs had bombed Pearl Harbor. And they were looking for Japanese people that they thought might be escaping to hide somewhere. They checked all of us. I mean, it took a long time to make that trip along the coast back home to Manhattan Beach. It scared us, really.

JE: And that was on December 7th, 1941.

PK: We didn't know about it because we were driving in the car and we didn't have a radio. We had a clunky car. And why I giggled a minute ago was when they stopped us at the border, I have dark hair, and I had real, real long hair. And living at the ocean, I was real brown. And they thought I was a Mexican, a green-eyed Mexican. Anyway, they were questioning me. They thought I was trying to get out of Mexico. I'll always remember that, being taken for a Mexican.

JE: Were you drafted or did you volunteer right away?

HK: I was drafted. I had a good job. I was working in North American Aviation, which is right at the airport, LAX Airport. I had a good job, and I was getting deferments. I guess I run out of time. It was my turn to go.

JE: Where did you go for your basic training?

HK: I went to Anniston, Alabama, from World War I. It's still a facility. They knew what they were doing. I remember a remark made by one of our incoming sergeants. “We're going to teach you, as an infantryman, what the people that you were replacing didn't know or shouldn't know. We are going to make you smarter than those guys that are over there now that you're replacing.”

That's a slick way to let you know that we're going to get a good training.

JE: You were married at this point, weren't you?

PK: We were married. Our child was eight months old when he left to go overseas.

JE: And you were how old?

PK: I was 18.

JE: And then, Harry, you were 21 when you went away to the war.

PK: Right.

JE: You saw combat in some major battles, didn't you?

HK: You hit a point. Yes, sir. Traveling there was a trial for me. I am not a sailor-type person.

And we were 10 days on the water. Have you ever been sick for 10 days? I have. To comb your hair is a problem because you don't have enough strength left because you're busy heaving.

JE: You were seasick.

HK: I was seasick. And two of those 10 days, we hadn't even left the dock yet.

JE: Where were you headed then on the boat?

HK: To England. This is a little humor. All the piers are loaded with boats. They're unloading. So we're going to have to offload you on a landing craft and then take the landing craft in. So that means you'll be going down a rope descent ladder down the side of the different tiers of the boat. I wasn't up on the top of it, but I was down in the middle.

Well, on this short run, they decided that we're going to make a chute. Now, I don't come down the ladder. I'm going down a chute into the boat. Well, I probably don't weigh 140 pounds. When you come down a chute, there's two guys at the end that grab your arm to catch you. Neither one of them caught me. I hit the side wall of that boat. I mean, my eyeball went into full feather. Didn't knock me out, but it made me a little irritated at the people that were supposed to catch me. That was the start of my European.

JE: Wow. Eventually, then, you were involved in the Battle of the Bulge.

HK: Yes, sir. And that was a beaut.

JE: We should say at the beginning here that this was a major German offensive. It was launched toward the end of World War II through the forest in Belgium. Also, France and Luxembourg were on the western front of this. The Germans' goal for these operations was to split. The British and American allied line in half, capturing Antwerp, Belgium, and then proceed to encircle and destroy four allied armies.

Forcing the Western allies to negotiate a peace treaty, which did not happen, of course. So that's setting the stage.

HK: That was the coldest place in the world. We had what they called combat boots, which were leather. Good boots for what we've been up to now. But in that cold weather. Our feet were freezing. So the army decided, hey, we'll fix that. So they came up with a rubber boot with a thick felt liner. Hey, these are ideal.

Your feet sweat in them, and you're back to the freeze zone again. So what was our helpful item turned out to be a problem item. So it was the coldest place I can remember.

JE: Where were you then during the Battle of the Bulge? Can you tell us what you were doing?

HK: Well, the first day, I remember, we brought you to this area so you can be acquainted to overhead shell fire. He no sooner got the words out of his mouth when this overhead shell fire came in direct. And that cost me four of my friends.

We're standing talking. And in that conversation, four of them got hit. I didn't get nothing. I felt the concussion. I felt the thrust. But I also saw them go down. And this is the first day. We haven't been there long enough. We haven't even been introduced to the war.

JE: How did that make you feel, these four around you, and you were kept alive?

HK: Not being physically a fighter, I'm mad. But how mad can a person that is not an abusive person be? Mentally, I was really teed off at the German people. I hated them all from that moment on. But what they have just done to the people I took training with.

JE: You were there just a few hours when that happened.

HK: Oh, yeah.

JE: So tell us the next succeeding days, what you did and what happened.

HK: I can remember praying a lot. We went to an area that the Germans were throwing artillery to. And they could control what level that it would ignite. They found out that if they let the projectile fall, they could kill more of us. I had tears running down my eyes. I was so scared.

Because there were so many guys. And here I'm not getting hit. And I'm not seeing anything to fire at. But we got to go from point A to point B, because that's where we're going to make our assembly area. And just getting to that is where it costs us a lot of people.

JE: We should point out this all started December 16th and went through January 25 of 1945. So obviously you were in the coldest times of the year there.

HK: Yeah. As you get in these towns, we take houses. You got a house that's got three, four bedrooms. Each group would take a room, upstairs and downstairs. Well, it got so cold that we run out of wood. And we started burning the stairs. There is some humor in this, because the guys upstairs were teed up. How are we going to get down? And we didn't give a darn. But we were burning the stairs to keep warm.

JE: The Germans kind of surprised. And they realized that section there, there was heavy overcast weather, they say, which grounded the Allies' superior air force.

But then the reinforcements came along, including General George Patton's.

HK: Yes, this is where I ended up in the armored division, in Patton's 9th Armored Division.

JE: Did you see General Patton?

HK: I've seen him from a distance.

JE: You were in his armored division.

HK: He had a background, talk-wise, through the group. But hey, this guy, this guy. This guy is the guy to be with. Because he has done all these things in a pace. His history shows that he can do it. And we're with the guy that's going to do it. So we were all elated. I mean, our attitudes reflected it.

JE: It made you feel good.

HK: Hey, it made us feel, hey, you're a true soldier. You're a winning soldier.

JE: Well, then the weather conditions improved, which permitted the attacks on the Germans and their supply lines. That sealed their fate completely. And that's when they lost that battle. Tell us some more action that you saw then, being a part of George Patton's armored division.

HK: I don't remember the names of the towns. As I say, years have cost me memory loss.

JE: Well, let's talk about Bastogne. Because you were there in the siege of Bastogne. And that was the engagement between American and German forces as part of the larger Battle of the Bulge. The goal of the German offensive was the harbor at Antwerp. In order to reach it before the Allies could regroup and bring their air power to bear, German mechanized forces had to seize the roadways through eastern Belgium. Because all seven main roads in the mountain range all converged on Bastogne, control of the crossroads was vital to the German attack.

HK: This is where their bombs were more effective, because it ricocheted off of the trees.

And they found out that they were letting the bombs off too soon, or the artillery, fusing it. So they changed it to where it had come closest. And I mean to tell you, we showed the effect of it.

We had to get out of there. We finally made it. I remember crying. And I can remember praying and asking for help. And I'm seeing guys pray as much as me. And they didn't make it, but I'm lucky. I'm still going. And my mind is, boy, did I make the right decision. Yes. Your mind is working all the time.

JE: With all this artillery overhead, you weren't able to be doing any actual fighting. I mean, the Germans weren't there.

HK: You're getting from point A to point B. This is the region you're traversing. You've got to get there. You don't know where you can get there. It wasn't wise to use mobile equipment where we were at at the time.

JE: So you walked many miles?

HK: Yeah. I don't know how many miles it was, but it was a long way.

Chapter 05 - Siege of Bastogne

John Erling (JE): So then you remember being in Bastogne?

Henry Kaiser (HK): I remember being there.

JE: The Germans left there. They were severely defeated and lost of men and equipment.

For the Americans, there were about 500,000 to 840,000 men, and they had some 70,000 to 89,000 casualties, including 19,000 killed.

HK: I remember there what they had done. As an infantryman, just in the Army, they're all private. But all of a sudden, I'm seeing staff sergeants, corporals. They brought everybody from the backfield, the supporting groups. They got them out of their offices. They put rifles in their hands.

These people all were sergeants, corporals, staff sergeants, majors, and all of a sudden they got weapons. They don't have the background of using the weapon that we had, but they knew how to use it. Seeing them right next to you, it was hard for me. They brought the office force up now.

JE: The Battle of the Bulge was the largest and it was the bloodiest battle fought in World War II. And you were there and survived all that.

HK: Yeah. That was the worst of the war.

JE: I'm just thinking about simple things like sleeping. Were you afraid to go to sleep?

HK: Yeah. Most of the time we'd find fields with haystacks. And we found that you can really sleep in there. We made our way to one town. And the first house, we went into it with nobody in the house. And we decided to go down the basement. We'll bed down here. One of us will stay a while and guard. And then the other one will trade off.

We both fell asleep. All of a sudden there was a thud. It was late at night, maybe early morning. A thud. We looked around, couldn't find anything. And then through the cement wall was this nose of a shell that had gone in there and didn't detonate. You want to see two guys. Thank God. Again, we've been saved.

JE: Wow.

HK: The shell come in and just penetrated the wall. You could just see the end of it sticking out. It's the kind that you hear about, you know. But you never see. But I saw it.

JE: You escaped death many, many, many times.

HK: Yeah. Nobody's going to believe this. You've been drinking. No, they're going to have to believe it. We saw it.

JE: These German houses were empty because.

HK: Yeah, yeah. They had already left.

JE: Because the war was on and they knew that Americans were coming.

HK: Them leaving their houses was also a happy time for us because we got a chance to loot. Is the word, I think. Where you went in and you took what you thought you wanted or what you needed or ate. One thing was good about the Germans. They all like booze. And they're.

Downstairs had a good supply. Usually not the cheap stuff either, was all good booze.

We have a routine. Two guys go together. They go to the first house. They check the thing over. If everything's okay, they'd make a signal back to the second team and they pass you and they go to the next house. And that's how we clean out the place. Well, I wasn't assigned to the first. But we got no signal back. From the couple that went in there. “So Kaiser, you and we'd go in here and find out. They may have got taken. Be careful.”

So we go in there. There they are. Now stairs. I mean, they're really putting it away. They're so discerning. We forget. The next 10 minutes. I thought was the firing squad because the lieutenant came in and he saw the four of us down there. He said, “If there wasn't a war on. I shoot all four of you.” Anyway, we had our exposure to the booze. And from now on was all war again.

JE: Did you ever go hungry days without eating?

HK: No. When we take prisoners, we used to exchange sardines with the Germans because they get a better brand of sardines and we did. They were prisoners and we're checking their mess kits.


JE: You are around the German prisoners.

HK: Yeah, we usually send a section back from our combat area. Maybe a quarter mile, maybe a mile, which would be our company headquarters. And usually if we had any prisoners, we had a stockade. We kept back there. If they wanted to go eat, we go back there to eat, which brings up a story where I just I'm going back to the headquarters. I'm going to eat.

So I went back there and I'm standing in line at the chow line and in comes artillery. Well, I took a dive and I landed on top of somebody and I told him in words that were not pure. “Get your ass down” because mine is sticking up. You turned around and his cross on his helmet. It was the chaplain. And I’m all, “God, I'm going to go to hell.” Sure enough. I'm going to make it after that one. We used to keep everybody at a central point.

JE: After a while, you just lived with the possibility you're going to die. So you didn't you just didn't even think about it?

HK: But I keep coming up with the word luck. I love it because it's what I had. I had luck when I met my wife. I met the most beautiful woman in the world. She was no millionaire. Her dad didn't have a lot of money. They didn't have a big house. Neither did we but I started there. I got a job in the factory. I had luck. I was making money.

JE: The war is not over with yet. The defense of Bastogne that all moved on and it ended January 25th. So finally, there was the bridge at Remagen.

Patricia Kaiser (PK): I want to ask one question that I don't know. When was it? You had the flamethrower?

HK: This is one of those humorous-

PK: Where were you at that time?

HK: I don't know. I don't remember. Wherever it was that Germans had emplacements on a hill and they had embrasures where they were inside this ground surface covered-

PK: Their bunkers.

HK: Yeah. Anyway, they were firing at us. They were getting some favorable hits, but we had a flamethrower. A flamethrower doesn't carry a gun. He doesn't carry a weapon other than the butane tank. So he has to have protection. I was it. I babysit him for quite a few battles. And all of a sudden he gets hit. Well, nobody knows how to run a flamethrower. “Hey, you're the closest thing to the flamethrower. You take the flamethrower.” Okay.

So I got the flamethrower now. And I got me an assistant to save my life. If I need saving.

So we're coming to this embrasure and the lieutenant says I'm going around the back with a group and he says “What I want you to do with that flamethrower, I want you to get that shot right through the area where they put their guns when that goes in.” He says “I'm coming in on both sides and we're going to load it with hand grenades.” I waited. I think with four or five minutes.

Now, I have used it before and I got pretty good with it. But I blew my record. You're shooting from the hip. Like it’s so your aim is what's up here. I went over the doggone thing. He came back around the corner. His pants was on fire. And he said that “If there wasn't a war on, I’d shoot you.”

Anyway, he got his projectiles into the thing and we cleared the gun. But boy, he was mad at me. But I can see why though. My first round. Oh, I had done some previous shooting and I was very effective with it. I had learned pretty fast.

JE: But so a flamethrower that was a flame-

HK: Yeah, you don't have anything to aim with, with you. You just from your use of that thing. You know, what angle of attack you're going to have.

JE: But it would start a fire, then, wherever-

HK: Yes,it is hot. Finally, I got rid of that thing. Somebody new came to the company and they taught him how to do it.

JE: With your soldier friends around you being killed. Do you have any recollection of actually killing any Germans yourself?

HK: No. No, I can't. I can't even feel proud.

JE: Well, you were distant from them because you're always-

HK: I wouldn't know if I hit them and anybody I've put bayonets on I have never got combat with them other than in training.

JE: It was never face-to-face or hand-to-hand combat.

HK: No.

JE: You were in the armored tanks and then firing from a distance.

Chapter 06 - Leg Injury

John Erling (JE): So then we come to the Remagen Bridge. This was a railway bridge across the river Rhine in Germany that connected the villages of Remagen and Erpel between two lines of hills flanking the river, and this was a key bridge.

The bridge was notable for its capture on March 7th and 8th of 1945 by American forces during the Second World War, which allowed the allies to establish a bridgehead across the Rhine. The bridge capture was an important strategic event because it was the only remaining bridge over the Rhine River into Germany's heartland and was also strong enough that the allies could cross immediately with tanks and trunks full of supplies. Tell us what you remember about that battle in the capture of the bridge at Remagen.

Henry Kaiser (HK): Another armored outfit ahead of us was taking a bridge. Our assignment was to give them support. There's a town to the left side of the bridge. This town is where we went in. I was chasing somebody, and I lost them going into this town, and I got to where they had taken telephone poles and dropped a bunch in the ground.

Any mobile equipment we had, we couldn't get past him. And this is where I had to stop, and I lost this guy that I was chasing.

JE: You were chasing a German?

HK: Yeah, I was on foot. And when he went into this house, I couldn't see where he went because I could see all these logs that they had put in the ground. So to look over that, I got myself on top of the roof, a little patio they had over the door, probably 8-10 feet high.

And while I was up there looking for him, the artillery round came in near me. The concussion picked me up and planted me down. And when I came down, my leg buckled. I thought I broke it because I couldn't move. I looked at it, nothing came up to the skin, but my leg was distorted.

And I reached down. I guess I must have pushed it back in joint. But my God, all of a sudden, it swelled up, and it started turning black immediately. But I couldn't move. I couldn't go any further. And there was nobody with me, nobody around me. I was not with another soldier. Finally, they found me. We're afraid the Germans are going to counter-attack. “So what are we going to do? Well, I'm not going to carry you around.”

About a hundred yards down, there was an American tank that had been hit. It was out of service. It was right near an area coming off of the river. He said, "We'll put you in that tank." And they carried me and put me in it.I was there in case the Germans counter-attacked. I was to be the guy that saves their life because I could see the Germans first. Thank God they never showed up. They had to pick me up to take me down there, and I felt like a kid.

JE: How long were you in that tank?

HK: Overnight. Probably 10 hours.

JE: Were you in terrific pain?

HK: Oh, I was scared to death because I couldn't move in case somebody came. I couldn't change position or relocate myself or nothing. All I had was the capability to turret, being able to move the gun. And I had plenty of ammunition. I was scared.

Patricia Kaiser (PK): He asked if you were in a lot of pain.

HK: Yes, I got that. That pain stayed with me quite a while.

JE: You were in all that pain, and your leg was injured, but you were still capable of firing that weapon on that tank.

PK: Right.

JE: Even though you were in that condition.

HK: Right.

PK: That's why we want the Purple Heart.

JE: She's showing...

HK: When I came down, they took me to the medic. And the doctor says, "Hey, I can't handle that." And he says, they flew me to 82nd Airborne, which is a paratroop outfit, which is a lot of leg problems. It took quite a while to get there, went by Jeep.

JE: How many days went by from the time you were injured to the time you finally got medical attention? How many days would that have been?

HK: Oh, probably three. But it turned black. But as I say, the bone didn't come out. What I saw, I pushed back in, and it actually died. It hurt, but I got it back in place. They took me to this hospital in France. I have this picture of it. The doctor looked at it, and he said, "By God, you're lucky." He said, "It just dislocated. It isn't broken." But it took a long time.

JE: Did you ever wonder whether you were going to be able to save that leg?

HK: My problems now, I've got with legs, are not associated with the injury. I've been ripped open up both legs, through to the groin and here, down to here on my arteries.

JE: Why?

HK: Cholesterol.

JE: Certainly through all this, you must have thought, "My luck has run out."

HK: No. I'm lucky. I'm still lucky.

JE: So even though you were in that tank, waiting for medical attention.

HK: There's a story here. These are airborne paratroopers. Now, during the days in the hospital, they're hobbling along. Barely making it. Night comes. The windows go up. Down the side of the building they go with a five-gallon can. And they come back 20 minutes later loaded with beer. This is the place to be. I hope I'm able to stay here a while.

JE: And where was that hospital?

HK: It was either 82nd Airborne or 104th. I don't know which one it was. It was in Belgium.

JE: Okay. How long were you there in the hospital?

HK: About five weeks.

JE: Patricia, through all of this, you wouldn't have heard about it for quite some time.

PK: I got a telegram. I got a job at a gas station. Because women worked everywhere at that time. They delivered the telegram to a Texaco gas station where they knew I worked. It did not say what kind of an injury my husband had.

It said 395-905-86. His serial number was wounded. And details later. Ten days I did not know whether he lost an arm, a leg, a head injury or anything. And thank God it was very minor to what it could have been.

JE: Somewhat minor, yes. But through those ten days you had no idea. That had to have been a long ten days.

PK: Well, it was a long two and a half years.

HK: You noticed in my medals I don't have a Purple Heart. Can I make that a Purple Heart? The doctor at the hospital says, “Son, there's nothing I could do. If that would have broken the skin,” he said, “we would have had a chance.”

JE: What would have to happen before you could receive a Purple Heart?

HK: It would just go through my skin. That bone, if it had come out through the skin and showed itself. He said to me honestly, at the hospital, he says, "Of all my experience, and I've had a lot of experience with bones." He says, "I don't think I can sell them. Not a Purple Heart." And he was right. I've been fighting that all these years. They're still trying to get it.

JE: Patricia, how did you find out then ten days later, did another telegram come?

PK: No, he started writing to me in the hospital. We wrote every day. He sent many, many pictures that were taken of Harry when he was wounded at the hospital. And he had written on the back the date and where it was at. I thought it was Epernay, France. But that proved with these pictures that he was really wounded.

JE: Where is Harry on this?

PK: This is Harry.

HK: That guy on the end, Indian? Yeah. We were in basic together. And we ended up in the war together. He was from an Indian reservation in Washington. And they worked trees. He spent all his life up there. After the war, he went back to the reservation. He was working on trees. His first job, he was topping a tree. And it slipped. Broke his back.

JE: Oh, my. So did I ask you then, how long were you in the hospital?

PK: Five weeks.

JE: Five weeks. And then what happened to you? Where did you go then?

HK: Back to my outfit. It was a mess.

PK: He already had enough points to come home.

HK: They're starting to send people home. But I couldn't go home because I didn't have no paperwork. This hospital that I was in had my paperwork. They went back to the United States. And they went back with my paperwork. All these guys were going home. And they transferred me from one outfit to another. Just to keep me, I guess. And progressively, I did an awful lot of guard duty.

Chapter 07 - Back to California

John Erling (JE): Well, that was in March of 1945. And then in June of ‘45, the war was over. When did you get back to the United States?

Patricia Kaiser (PK): On George Washington's birthday, 1946.

Henry Kaiser (HK): MacArthur is in San Pedro. And when I got drafted, Mickey Rooney was already there. He had gotten drafted also. And he and I were in San Pedro. So I'm going to come back home.

JE: San Pedro, California.

HK: Yeah. Come back home. I ended up in San Pedro. And it was getting late at night. There was some new recruits getting ready to go to Europe. I had a pocket full of frags. I says, "Here. This will get you started. I'm heading home to my baby."

I get out on Highway 1, the highway along the beach. I got my barracks bag on. I'm riding, this guy stops real quick. He's in a soldier outfit. And he's, "Welcome home. Where are you going?" "Home. Where are you going?" "Three-quarter mile.” “Where do you live?" I says, "Manhattan Beach."

He put the brakes on. I says, "What's the matter?" He says, "The other way, son." I was going the wrong way. I'd been gone two years. They moved the damn place. Anyway, I thought that was funny.

JE: Did you see Mickey Rooney?

HK: Yes. He got into some kind of entertainment for the troops.

PK: But the day you were there, he said, the other soldiers were picking on Mickey Rooney. And they were making him pick up cigarette butts and raking and do that kind of stuff.

HK: They were making–

JE: They were picking on him.

HK: …you could see they were really working him because he was…

PK: A movie star.

JE: This was in basic training now.

PK: Yeah, yeah. That was before you went.

JE: It was before you went.

HK: Yeah, before I went to basic training. He and I got drafted at the same time.

PK: Same day.

JE: Okay. It was the first days of being drafted.

PK: Yes.

JE: And they made Mickey Rooney do everything.

HK: Yeah, I agree.

JE: So how did he take that?

HK: Well, I guess he took it good because he was smart enough to know, "Hey, I got to live with it." That's him as I would.

JE: Yeah. You finally made it home in the right direction, came home to your bride, and that had to be a wonderful day too.

HK: Oh, yeah.

JE: And then you saw your firstborn who you hadn't seen in three years.

PK: Right.

JE: Talk about that, both of you. What a joyous day that was.

PK: Well, it was so emotional because I had no place to live. I was living in the back of a garage no bigger than a clothes closet with the baby. We had no money. We bought the car with the little bit of money I saved.

HK: I almost feel ashamed that I'm coming home and the gal I haven't given anything to. We had no home. Her father had built this addition so at least she'd have a place to stay while I was gone. And if I made it back, I could take it from there. I owe her more. I owe her more for what she went through than anything I know of. God has given me the privilege of saying, "Do it, Dad. Do it for her. She's entitled to it."

JE: Well, both of you fought the war. You both did.

PK: Yeah.

JE: Patricia, you were at home.

PK: And I was not able to join the USO like all my girlfriends. They weren't married or they sent Dear John letters to their husbands. So they went to the USO in Hollywood. Where we lived was not far from Hollywood. Every weekend, they would go up and dance with the soldiers and this and that. I didn't go one time.

I could have left my baby with somebody. But we were too much in love and the respect. All these girls dated the guys. They weren't supposed to do that. You're supposed to dance and have a drink with them and give them a good time. But after you left the ballroom or whatever, the soldiers were supposed to go their way. And the girls were not supposed to get together with them.

I didn't want to get involved. So I never once went. We just loved each other. And I respected what he was doing. I'll be honest with you. My doctor told us our second baby was born nine months and 20 minutes after he came home from over there. So yes, we were happy. We were happy.

JE: That's cute.

PK: From there, we kind of climbed uphill because he got his job back. North American said, any of the boys that had to go overseas, they'd have a job when they came back. When he came back, he was a janitor. But he took it.

JE: Where was that?

PK: Englewood, California.

HK: I went back to North American. They were still making airplanes. They decided to try to make a commercial ship now, get out of the military. And they said, "We're going to make one we're going to call a Navy YON, which is a four-place job." And I got a job in the assembly line there.

On the Navy YON, I was installing hydraulic lines in the nose wheel well. This guy in a suit comes, "Hey, Harry, would you get out of the nose wheel well? I want to show Mr. Stewart, Jimmy Stewart, the movie star, come looking at one of our airplanes." I got a chance to see him and meet him. But just a matter of minutes.

The guys you work with, they've been in the war. This other guy I work with was rather large. He had a real bad walk. And I asked him, I said, "What in the hell happened to you?" He says, "A jet bayoneted him right in the groin." And he says, "I've never been able to walk right since." These guys didn't mind telling what happened to him.

This other guy, he had lost a leg. He had been a Marine. And he was talking about down in San Diego, they had gotten drunk and got in an accident. And he says, "The car's on the side. One of the other cars stopped to try to help us. And the guy's trying to help get me out of the front seat." I said, "Wait a minute. What's the matter?" He says, "I want to get my leg." His leg had come loose. He says, "The guy fainted." He was trying to help him.

JE: Patricia, you brought these pictures out.

PK: This is right after he went overseas. We had this little Austin Healey.

HK: American Austin.

PK: It ran for three weeks. And then it broke down. Being by myself, I couldn't fix it. So from then on, I had to fix it. And then it broke down. The next two years, I walked. But I was 20 years old here.

JE: Yeah.

PK: And we already had our first child.

JE: That's a nice picture. Nice looking lady.

PK: This is why they thought I was a Mexican, because of my dark, long hair.

HK: Well, being at the beach, we both enjoyed the sun.

JE: Yeah. And then there's the picture of Harry.

PK: I think he was 24 there.

JE: It's easy to see why you were attracted to her.

HK: I had the most beautiful girl in the world.

PK: I didn't know I was pretty. I had an inferiority complex. I'm a depression child.

HK: All of her girlfriends were fat and ugly.

JE: Tell me how you get to Oklahoma.

HK: I went back to the company, North American. Progressively, we started getting more business. And I got assigned to different projects. And they said, "Hey, we got a piece of Oklahoma. We're running a factory at the airport. And we're going to start another business. We're going to branch out of the company there. We're starting on space, space stuff. Are you interested?" “Yes, I'm ready.” Well, here again, we got a house there we built.

We built. She and I. Ten years. Payday to payday. It was ours. I didn't make monthly payments on it.

PK: One week, we'd buy a couple windows. Another week, we'd buy bags of cement. It took us 18 years. It was a two-story house. We built it ourselves. We only hired somebody to put a chimney in there, a fireplace, because we didn't know how to do that. And to plaster the outside.

JE: Where was this house being built?

PK: Manhattan Beach. And we lived there for 40 years. Well, 38 years.

HK: My first daughter and her husband, after the war, he was in occupation in Germany. In fact, the license on that van out there is a license off of the car they had in Germany. She was born in Kaiserslautern, Germany. He was in the army of occupation. She went with him, and she got pregnant over there.

PK: Our name is Kaiser, and our grandchild was born in Kaiserslautern.

JE: Oh.

Chapter 08 - Bronze Star Medal

John Erling (JE): You're 40 years in California. How do you get to Oklahoma?

Patricia Kaiser (PK): Okay, we've been here twice. We've been transferred here twice. So the first time...

Henry Kaiser (HK): I came back on the space provision. They were building components for the space article. Through the years, the company changed hands. It was sold again to Rockwell. They had a repair depot in St. Louis. Things were getting kind of here, so I said, “I'll get the hell out.” “So you'd be interested?” “Yeah.” So we went to St. Louis. I had a beautiful place.

And I didn't live near the airport where the factory was. There was a mobile factory in Kansas. It was near a river, but it's about 35 miles. I had to drive every day. I was repairing a bunch of these North American Sabreliner aircraft, the T-39s that the Army had bought. And they were using most of the T-39s in the islands, in the Pacific.

And corrosion was horrible. So they were flying the stuff back to us, and I had to replace all of the stuff that was corroding. That's what was doing that.

PK: That was St. Louis, Missouri.

HK: Yeah.

JE: So how do you get to Oklahoma? When did you come to Oklahoma?

PK: 30 years ago, because we moved from St. Louis to here.

JE: Okay, so you came from St. Louis here to Tulsa.

HK: Yeah. We used to live at 31st and Memorial the first time. The second time we come back, a friend of ours lived up here in Owasso, in a mobile home. And I said, “hey, find me a house.” Anyway, we came down from St. Louis, and they brought us down into here. We saw this place.

PK: We saw that creek. We have a creek in our backyard. We can go fishing.

JE: You were with Rockwell then. It was North American Aviation, and then it became Rockwell.

Then you came from St. Louis here to Tulsa to work for Rockwell 30 years ago, which became Boeing.

PK: Yes.

HK: I had forgot about that change.

JE: You retired from Rockwell, though, and then it became Boeing after you left. So you've been in Oklahoma now for 30 years or better.

PK: Yeah.

JE: You really didn't receive any medals for your time served in the military.

HK: What you saw is what I got. That thing was never a big item to me. The only thing I had in Europe was the one that said that I'd been in three battles and that blue rifle. Oh, I had a good conduct medal. The only thing that has any value, too, is a Bond star.

JE: She's going to bring it here, and we'll look at it, and we'll take a picture of it, too. I'm holding this in this box.

HK: And my name is etched on the back. Nobody can say I bought it at the PX.

JE: In the middle, then, is, of course, the Bronze Star Medal. And we might mention this medal is an individual military decoration that is awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service. And when awarded for bravery, it is the fourth highest combat award of the U.S. Armed Forces and the ninth highest military award in the order of precedence of U.S. military decorations.

And it all came from that time when you were injured, your leg was injured, and you were in that tank. And they said, “now fire this thing if you need to,” even though you were still in an injured condition. And they gave you that bronze medal for that. And they should have a long time ago. And let's give credit here. Your son-in-law, Don Weber, and grandson, Reiner Vaughn Weber, both still living in California.

PK: Yes.

JE: They worked for about three years writing letter after letter until the medals were finally issued.

HK: They thought a hell of a lot of me, and God love them.

JE: Why do you think it took so long for this to catch up to you?

HK: Because I never probably asked for them. But I have talked to a few people and said, “you've got to really harass them.” That's not my form.

JE: Well, Don and Reiner did that, didn't they? They did the harassment.

PK: Yes. My son-in-law worked at Berkeley College, and he knows very influential people, professors. He talked to them about the situation, and they all advised him how to go about this.

And they got it going.

JE: You had to have eyewitnesses to what happened to you. So they had to go back to the soldiers who were there when the accident occurred. I mean, there has to be a collaboration of this.

HK: Well, there was nobody. There was nobody. Nobody with me.

PK: The things that clicked it was the pictures that we sent. These pictures on the back of the pictures. He had written the dates, where he was at, and this and that. My son-in-law, he has most of them. I sent the pictures to him three, four years ago. So he started having copies made and telling about the pictures and showed what was written on the back. And that proved that he was wounded in the year he was there and where he was at.

JE: What were the pictures of? That he sent?

PK: Him being in the Army and being wounded in the hospital, recovering, and word of mouth.

JE: Right. Word of mouth had to help too, right?

PK: Yes, definitely.

HK: When we were talking about humorous things, when I came home, my neighbor, “Hey, can I come over?” “Yeah, why?” He says, “Well, I want to show you something.” He's got 10 loaves of bread. Well, he was in the Army also, and he was up in Northern California. They sent him to Baker's school. “How come you bought so much bread?”

He says, “That's the only way I know how to make it. And that's the way the Army taught me. You know anybody we can give it to?”

He says, up there while he was at the station, “Red Skelton was in the same outfit.” He says, “Harry,” and I’m laughing. “It retreated at night. Five thousand men out in line, affected and retreated. There's one guy steps out to see that the other four thousand are in line – Red Skelton.” He says, “I'm the only personality that went in as a private and came out as a private.”

JE: Speaking of that, what was your rank when you came out?

HK: I came out as a T5, and I wouldn't have got that, except they kept transferring from one outfit to another. I had a lot of guard duty because they keep transferring me to a new outfit.

And I'd end up having to pull guard. So this one outfit I went to, new outfit, had just come to the States. It was after the war, and they came with a bunch of mobile equipment.

Graders, plows, all type of four-wheel jobs. And they had a guy who was doing a lot of welding. I said, “Hey, teach me how to weld, and I'll stay here until they discharge me.”

So they taught me how to weld, and that made me a T5 category. Why? Because I was a welder. So that's how I got the T5.

JE: T5. That's also known as what?

HK: T5 is a corporal. It's a professional corporal. Like a person who runs a typewriter, they become a T article.

JE: So through all your service in these various battles, you didn't get...

HK: No merit. No merit.

JE: No promotion at all?

HK: No, no promotion. The war was faster than the promotions.

JE: I see.

HK: I wasn't that good, apparently.

JE: No.

HK: I was lucky. That was enough.

JE: It was.

HK: I didn't need anything else.

JE: What is that that you have right there?

HK: This is my discharge.

JE: Enlisted Record and Report of Separation. Honorable Discharge. Date of entry was June 20th, 1944. There it is. Well, I just want you to know that it's been my honor to talk to both of you. In service of our country. Too many of these stories are lost and forgotten. And the younger generations that will listen to this will be reminded of how hard this, the greatest generation, worked to preserve our freedoms here in the United States.

HK: They have to have a care.

JE: Well, we can only hope that those who listen, who are students, for generations to come that will never know us, they'll read books. But to hear you tell, both of you tell this in your own voice, is very, very impressive. And I'm sure it will be a lasting memory for them.

HK: Well, I hope to accomplish what we intended to do.

JE: Yeah, we did.

PK: Well, I would like to say it's been a pleasure talking to you because you seem truly interested and caring. And it brought many memories back to me that it was yesterday, but it was 60-some years back. And we're still together and happy. We are meant to be together.

JE: Yes.

PK: I don't mean to go and get real sentimental here, but to have somebody of your age listen to us, thank you.

JE: Absolutely.

PK: Thank you. You did so well.

JE: My pleasure. I am honored to be here to talk to you both because you really gave a lot. And I like to keep saying you're both soldiers. Both of you did this.

PK: Thank you. I appreciate that.

JE: You bet.

PK: Yeah.

JE: Harry, thank you.

HK: Well, it's been my pleasure.

Production Notes

Harry Kaiser

Program Credits:
Harry Kaiser — Interviewee
John Erling — Interviewer
Mel Myers — Announcer

Honest Media
Mel Myers — Audio Editor

TurtlePie Solutions Website Team

Date Created: April 4, 2011

Date Published: February 8, 2024

Notes: Recorded by John Erling in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Digital Audio Sound Recording, Non-Music.

Tags:Amelia Earhart, Wily Post, Charles Lindbergh, Howard Hughes, Medals, WWII, Bronze Star, Battle of the Bulge, Rockwell, California, George Patton

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Cite This Work

Harry Kaiser. "Harry Kaiser: World War II Veteran, Bronze Star Medal Recipient" Voices of Oklahoma, February 8, 2024,, Accessed June 21, 2024