Raymond Cooke
Raymond Cooke

Service Record

1944-1945 • Enlisted • Navy • California; Philippines; Pacific Theater • Lieutenant

Transcript

Thomas Healy:
You’re not — you’re not going to hear me at all, meaning in the — in the final —

Raymond Cooke:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
— phases, it’s going to be you talking. So some of the questions that I ask you, you’ll want to sort of put your own question in and then answer it so that people know, like — you know, “Where were you on December 7, 1941?” You know. And you’d say like, “December 7, 1941, I was — I was” — doing whatever or whatever. Or “I really remember December 7.” So that way, the audience knows what we’re talking about. Or were you — I’m just making this up. “Were you in the war of Europe?” Not “yes” or “no.” But “I was stationed in” — blup, or “I went to” — wherever, and you can tell your story, so then — okay?

Raymond Cooke:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
How we sound?

Unidentified Speaker:
Excellent.

Thomas Healy:
Okay. You ready?

Unidentified Speaker:
Yeah. Ready.

Thomas Healy:
Okay. I’m going to ask you three questions that you can answer in a story or however you want to do it, okay?

Raymond Cooke:
Mm-hmm.

Thomas Healy:
And let’s start out with your full name, and then spell your last name. Go ahead.

Raymond Cooke:
Raymond Jervis. That’s J-E-R-V-I-S. Cooke, C-O-O-K-E.

Thomas Healy:
Okay. Now, what — what was your birth date, where did you grow up, who were your parents, what did they do and if you had any brothers or sisters.

Raymond Cooke:
I was born —

Thomas Healy:
Wait till he gets —

Unidentified Speaker:
Mm-hmm.

Thomas Healy:
Okay.

Raymond Cooke:
I was born on July 28, 1920 in Wilmington, Delaware. My father had just recently returned from World War I, after the armistice, where he had been in the Army. Every time he’d been moved, he’d moved further west and ended up in Oklahoma. Mother had joined him out there. He was in command of a cavalry unit, real horses, in a Student Army Training Corps program in a teachers college in Oklahoma. But he had come back to Wilmington to continue his ministry, which had been interrupted by the war. Mother, before she married Dad, was a graduate of Goldey College and was the secretary to the executive for the Chamber of Commerce for Delaware at the time. But we were living with my grandparents while my father was getting his ministry moving again. He was then the assistant pastor at St. Paul’s Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Wilmington, Tenth and Jackson. About 13 months after that, we moved to Baltimore. Dad was able to get into the Baltimore conference and pursue the studies for his college degree which had been up — interrupted by the war. And I was five when he graduated from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. But my growing up was in Baltimore and went through — started in a kindergarten run by the Quakers. Then went to public school for a couple of years and went to Lutheran parochial school for several years because the neighborhoods we lived in were not the best neighborhoods. They were downtown Baltimore and declining neighborhoods, and the parochial school was directly across the street. And that was fine. Then we moved to another parish, and we went to public school again. By that time, they had been suggesting that I skip some grades. My mother was very much opposed to that. Dad also agreed with her. And so when the opportunity came to go to an accelerated junior high school, I accepted that. We — they approved it, and I did three years of junior high in two years, then went to Baltimore City College, which was an academic high school in Baltimore, and graduated there in 1937. And things were tight. Depression time. And we weren’t sure whether or not I could get into a college or not. In fact, my grades had not done too well after I’d done that accelerated program and got into — well, City College had 3600 boys. And you were just a sort of a dot in a great big mass of people. And although I played in the drum and bugle corps and was on the fencing squad, still I just was not challenged academically. So that summer, I went to CMTC, Citizens’ Military Training Corps, at Fort Meade. I had been in Boys’ Brigade in Baltimore, which was a military organization. We drilled with old World War I-type rifles and wore what we didn’t know then were Eisenhower jackets. And I had had good experience with that. And so when I got to CMTC as a 16-year-old, I became a corporal. And for a month, I played Army. Our instructors were World War I veterans, and we wore the old wrap leggings and sweat in the heat of Fort Meade that summer. But by fall, I had an opportunity to go to Washington College. And my aunt and uncle who lived in Chestertown asked me to come, invited me to come and live with them to be a live-in babysitter for their three children, to help with housework and yardwork and things like that. And I had a room on the third floor and began my college career at Washington College. During that period of time, I started my approach to the ministry by taking certain correspondence work, which brought me to a local preacher’s license when I was a sophomore at college. No — yeah. At the end of my freshman year, a local preacher’s license. And at the end of — how far you want me to go with this? Up through seminary? All right. At the end of my college in 1941, the war in Europe was pretty well under way. In fact, I think it was in the fall of 1939 that Hitler moved into Poland. And I found that distressing and with another colleague at college, filled out complete application for the U.S. Marine Corps and held it for a while because frankly, I didn’t know how I was going to be able to afford to go to seminary. And as a Christian, I prayed about it rather extensively. And I said, “Lord, if you want me to get to seminary, show me the way. And otherwise, I’m going in the Marine Corps.” And I didn’t get one scholarship to go to seminary; I got two. So I figured the Lord was making it pretty clear what he wanted me to do. So I was in seminary at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. And I was in my dormitory room on a Sunday morning, doing some studying and heard that and knew that it was time for me to get involved. And because I had already been admitted to probationary membership in the annual conference, the Wilmington conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church — I guess at that time, we still had not yet merged. And I wrote to my bishop, telling him what I wanted to do. And he wrote back and very good letter and said that he would hope that since I was in theological school, that I would complete my education and then go into service as a chaplain, which is what I did. Incidentally, he was killed during the war. He was on a visit to the troops in Europe, and his plane was shot down over the Atlantic, and so he was a casualty in the war before I finished seminary. And while I was in my senior year in seminary, I had put in my application for the Navy. And I graduated in the spring of 1944, and in July, I reported to active duty, Navy chaplain school.

Unidentified Speaker:
Excuse me to interrupt you. Please, a little water. Do me a favor; drink a little bit.

Raymond Cooke:
Good.

Thomas Healy:
Just put this under your seat and just keep — here. I’m going to leave the top off.

Raymond Cooke:
All right.

Thomas Healy:
So just put it under your seat. When you — Bill McLachlan. Anytime, you can just stop and pick it up and just do whatever you need to do.

Raymond Cooke:
All right.

Thomas Healy:
Okay. So — so you went — tell me — okay. You were going along with your story about the Navy. So you joined the Navy?

Raymond Cooke:
Mm-hmm.

Thomas Healy:
Tell me, you know, what you went to — did you have to go to boot camp, or did you go to OCS, or —

Raymond Cooke:
I’ll get into that then.

Thomas Healy:
Okay.

Raymond Cooke:
All right. I reported to the Navy chaplain school, which was then at College of William and Mary at — in Williamsburg, Virginia. Pardon me. And I had been brought into the Navy as a lieutenant junior grade, which was the acknowledgement of the additional education that I had. And some of the men who had had longer experience came in as senior lieutenants, but I went in because I was just out of seminary as a seminarian, which meant that Navy training school for me would be three months. If I had been out of seminary for a particularly long period of time, probably would have only been one month, but it was an amazingly helpful experience. We spent the first — probably the first six weeks in Naval indoctrination. The floor of the college was the deck, and the walls were the bulkheads, and the terminology was Navy terminology. And we were being thoroughly indoctrinated and not too happy if we slipped and went back to the old terminology. I learned about a white glove inspection. I had a portable typewriter with me that I kept in the back of my closet. Came back from one of my temporary duty assignments and had a demerit because they had gone into my closet, opened my portable typewriter and taken a white glove and wiped their fingers along the back of the typewriter and found dust. Well, that was a good lesson to learn. But the thing that helped particularly about the chaplain school was that we were given — after the basic orientation, we were given three two-week temporary duty assignments. My first temporary duty assignment was with the Seabees in a camp very close to Williamsburg. My second was with a boot camp at Bainbridge. And the third was with the Marines at Lejeune, down in New River, North Carolina. There were many advantages to this type training. One, we were on our own, transportation-wise, to get from point to point, to show that we knew how we could do that. And at — particularly at Bainbridge, we were given some of the seamanship training that the recruits were getting, which was helpful. Small boat handling, et cetera. At the Marine camp, we had opportunity to go out on a transport, come down into small landing craft and practice beach landings. Incidentally, the group that I was practicing beach landings with had been brought back from Guadalcanal where they had been engaged in that battle, and it was a rather hard experience for them. Some of them were getting flashbacks on the way in. But it was a good training. So by the time October came and I was ready to graduate from chaplain school, I felt I knew the Navy pretty well. And I’d had opportunity to practice chaplaincy in three very different settings: Seabees, boots and the Marines. And in these experiences, I’d had opportunities to preach, opportunities to counsel, opportunities to be with troops of varying kinds and to see chaplains actually doing their job and opportunity to feel that I was a part of a team.

Thomas Healy:
Okay. From there, when — did you get into battle at all?

Raymond Cooke:
No.

Thomas Healy:
No?

Raymond Cooke:
No.

Thomas Healy:
Okay. Did you go overseas?

Raymond Cooke:
Oh, yes.

Thomas Healy:
Okay.

Raymond Cooke:
My first duty assignment —

Thomas Healy:
— one of —

Raymond Cooke:
— was after —

Unidentified Speaker:
Start again, please. There was overlapping with TJ. Just start again.

Raymond Cooke:
Okay. My first duty assignment from chaplain school — in fact, after chaplain school, I had five days’ leave and travel time. And I used that time to marry my sweetheart, who — we’d been going together for three or four years. She was in nurse training while I was in seminary. We’d been engaged for a year. And I called her from North Carolina and said, “See if you can get permission for us to get married during my leave.” And she went in to the superintendent of nurses at Delaware Hospital in Wilmington. And the superintendent said — the director of nurses said, “I’ve never given any permission, but I know the girls are going out and getting married anyway. And I know that you and Cooke have known each for a long time and this is not a wartime thing. Yes. You’ve got my permission, and I’ll give you the five days off, if you make it up at the end of your time.” So we were married and had a honeymoon in New York. I’ve still got the letter I had from the Taft Hotel telling me that my room was reserved and it would be 6 dollars a night. I can’t get those rates in New York anymore. But so then I went out. My assignment was to Port Hueneme, California, where I was assigned to the ACORN assembly and training detachment. And I was there from October until the following July. That was good duty. We were —

Thomas Healy:
Let me go back. Say October — what?

Raymond Cooke:
Of 1944.

Thomas Healy:
Okay.

Raymond Cooke:
And it was good duty. I again had wide variety of opportunities. ACORNs were small units that were trained to go in and reopen airports and airfields and build airfields. The Seabees were doing the building, but we were operating and maintaining them after the Marines and the Army had cleared the islands in the Pacific. We were pointed in the direction of the Pacific and the situation there. And so my duty at Port Hueneme, part of the time, was to help at the main base. And then I became port chaplain for the base, which meant I had a Jeep equipped with a footlocker with all kinds of supplies to take aboard ship, things that men on the ship might be able to use: letter paper, envelopes, playing cards, New Testaments, Bibles, magazines, books, things of that type. And every ship that came into the port, I visited and offered — was offered a chance to be available to the troops and made them aware of religious and counseling and other opportunities that were available on the base, if they were able to get ashore. That was good. Then I was sent to Port Magoo, part of this operation, where our units — we had lions and cubs and gropacs and other groups. A cub was for a small airport. A lion was for a large airport. These others were some port — establishment of port and operation of ports. And at Magoo, which is now the Cape Canaveral of the West Coast, we were a locked unit. Once a unit was established at Port Hueneme, it was waiting transportation, and they were estab — they were sent to Magoo. Once they went into Magoo and the gates shut, they were overseas. And it created an awful lot of morale problems. And I would come back to my Quonset sometimes from lunch and have a long line of men waiting to get in because I was the one person who, if necessary, could buck top administration and get them at least a hearing, or I could do things for them. For instance, they would like me to get on the phone and call their families. Not tell them where they were, but tell them that they would be hearing from them. Or if they had bills that had to be paid before they could go away, I was able to put a process of paying that in position for them. One officer came to me with a stack of letters. He said, “Chaplain,” he said, “my wife is going to be worried sick about me. Would you take these?” He said, “These are in order. Would you — I’ve written one for each of the days that I’ll probably be at sea getting to where we’re going. Would you mail one of these for me every day?” I did. Years later, I met his wife, and she said it was wonderful, that when she finally heard from him in a real letter, she had been having these letters every day, and she had not had the anxiety. And they appreciated it. It was things like that you could do. But these were some of the things we did there. On the — I had one opportunity during that time, my father, who had been with a hospital unit, Army, in Australia and then New Guinea, came back with kidney stones. And by the time that the ship that was bringing him to San Francisco got there, I don’t know whether he’d passed the stones, but he was able to call me. And I was able to go up to San Francisco and spend a day with Dad. He was coming in. I had in my pocket my flimsy — my orders for going overseas. So Mother didn’t have two of us overseas at the same time. My orders came, and I was assigned to the Seventh Fleet. I learned something. I learned an awful lot in the Navy. For one thing, I learned to — that when they ask you where you wanted to be assigned, you don’t necessarily tell them where you want to be assigned. I was hoping to be assigned to a cruiser with a home port somewhere on the Atlantic coast. I got land duty in California and then got assigned to the Seventh Fleet. Great. Land-based in the Philippines. And so my sea duty basically consisted of transport from San Francisco to Leyte and then by landing craft from Leyte to Guin-on, Samar, and by plane from there to Manila, and then begins another story. On the transport going out, there were eight of us chaplains, so we rotated duties. I had a chance to preach on board ship at least once, maybe twice. And it was interesting because we met out on the deck, and the — if the ship was rolling particularly, you had a temporary portable altar set up, and you may have to have somebody on either side keep it from rolling over. But one — one thing I found exceedingly interesting, when we had the service, the deck around the hatch cover where we had the service was surrounded by men. And the Navy was pretty well segregated and not just by race, but by class. And a group of officers over here and a group of enlisted men over here and minorities, Filipinos and other minorities maybe, in another section. But when we had communion and they came across that hatch, they came on their knees, inching forward to get to the front where they would be receiving the communion. That group blended. So that as they came up there, we had people of all ranks and of all races that were available to us right there, receiving the communion, one after the other. Life aboard the transport was interesting. I was in a hold with 90 other officers. Not a very private place. Showers were great for the first two or three days, and then all we had was seawater. And it’s not very satisfactory to shower or shave with saltwater, but boy, it sure beats not having any water at all. We arrived in Leyte on the 6th of August, 1945. That date ought to mean something to you. That was when the first H-bomb was dropped — first atomic bomb, rather, was dropped on Hiroshima. And we didn’t know it then, but the war was coming very close to its conclusion. By the time I arrived in Manila, the second bomb had dropped on Nagasaki. And interestingly enough, when I reported to the senior chaplain’s office in Manila, I found that the senior chaplain there was the man who had been senior chaplain at Lejeune when I had my temporary duty with the Marines. Of the eight of us who reported in, he was the only one I — I was the only one he had ever seen before, ever knew. And so after he had outlined the vacancies that he had, he turned to me and said, “Chaplain Cooke,” he said, “I’ll give you first choice. What would you like to do? Where would you like to be assigned?” And I asked for duty with the submarine base at Subic Bay. It was in — at that time, in a forward area. There were 18 operating submarines, a sub tender and about 3,000 men on the base, and I would be the chaplain there. I went to bed that night, knowing that I was to catch a PT the following morning that would take me to Cavite and then around Corregidor and on up to Subic Bay where I would get to my new station. That night, I’d gone to sleep fairly early so I’d be fresh in the morning. There was a little Filipino nightclub just off side the base where I was on Rizal Boulevard in Manila. And it was pretty noisy, but I went to sleep with all the noise and all that. What woke me up sharply was when the noise stopped. Everything in that little bar next door quit. Somebody made an announcement and then cheers went up, and they started to play “God Bless America” and then “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” I knew something had happened. I got up and got dressed and went out to find out what it was and joined a group of thousands of Filipinos who went across the Pasig River on into old Manila and celebrated VE Day. That was false VE Day. It came a couple of days before the real one, but word had come out of Red Cross in Switzerland that the Japanese had surrendered. And so the next day when I got my PT boat, went up to Subic Bay, we knew that the war was very near over, and it was quite a relief.

Thomas Healy:
So how long did you stay there after the war, and what went on then?

Raymond Cooke:
I was there — I went there in September of ’45, and I was there till the following April. And that was very interesting duty. I had opportunities to go out once or twice with submarines. And one day, we lay on the bottom of the China Sea for an hour or two while a friendly destroyer was looking for us as part of their training exercise. And I was instructed as to how to use a Momsen lung. I had — when I was with — at Magoo, I had been up several times in small planes wearing parachutes and had been instructed as to how to use a parachute. Often lay in bed at night and went through the procedures that you’d have to do. And to choose between them, the parachute won every time. The idea of getting that Momsen lung out and coming out from a sub, submerged deep in the ocean never did appeal to me, but it would sure be a good way to save your life if you had to. But one of the nice things that happened to me while I was in the Philippines at this base, the chaplain that I followed had been given permission by the base commander to serve as minister of a small Filipino church about 25 miles away in a barrio or village north of where we were. Incidentally, we were up there in an area where you could see seven smoking volcanoes most every day. We were just north of Bataan Peninsula. So the commander asked if I’d be interested, and he gave his permission, and I served for about eight months as pastor of a small Filipino church. We’d go up on Sunday afternoons and — after my base service and would take some of the GIs with me, some of the sailors, formed a little choir. We went up, and they also enjoyed meeting some of the Filipino girls. And I learned after three or four weeks that the congregation, who greeted me at the door and told me, thanked me and things — only the young people could speak any English. And after I left, the young people would take the older folks back into the little chapel and tell them what I’d said. So then I started going down Friday night, carrying an outline of my message so that the teenagers would be able to have complete message to give to this — Also had opportunity then to experience some Filipino life. I was entertained in the homes of some of the people, was entertained at a luau up on the mountains near the time I was leaving with a good genuine pig roast where we sat on the ground around banana leaves and that was our tablecloth and had Filipino cooking. I found that helpful. On the base itself, my duties increased as we got farther away from the end of the war because more and more of our people were coming home and those of us who were there had to pick up responsibilities that they left. When I arrived there, I was the chaplain, which put me in charge of the chapel, put me in charge of the welfare and recreation program. I had a yeoman assigned to me, who handled the library and my correspondence and other things. I had a chief petty officer and 10 or 12 enlisted men who ran my recreational program. I had two pools, natural pools, nine — seven or eight ball diamonds and such scattered around our base area. And then the education officer left, and I was made education officer. I was then — by then, a senior lieutenant. I had a JG on my staff, assigned to me, who had been a school principal in New England before he came into the service. And then shortly after that, the legal officer came home, and I was made the legal officer and was given a seaman first as my legal assistant. He was an attorney from Texas, who not only was practicing before the Texas courts, but the Supreme Court in Washington. And he was an excellent assistant. The fact that he’d been drafted, he hadn’t gotten any rank at all, and he was still a seaman first, and — but I knew that my legal work was pretty well cared for. Then I was also liaison with the USO and the Red Cross. So I had quite a few people reporting to me, and it was excellent training in administration. And I had one interesting experience that might be noteworthy. The headquarters for the submarines had moved from Subic at the end of the war up to Japan. And the admiral was there, but we had a commodore. That’s a Navy rank that is used mainly in wartime. It’s a lower level rear admiral in peacetime. But our commodore, who lived — was assigned to our base, called one day — well, in fact, he called my commander, the commander who was the captain of our base, and asked if I could be given an assignment. Well, not asked. He said he wanted me to be given an assignment. The commodore asked me to go down to Bagac, which was a little community down on the China Sea coast on the coast of Bataan Peninsula, to do an investigation to see if a Filipino steward mate in Japan would be eligible to go home on emergency leave. So I went down first by Jeep across — down and across the Bataan Peninsula, over much of the territory of the Bataan Death March, and finally came within probably a mile or two of the little village I was trying to reach. And my two-path, two-lane road disappeared and became one for a caribou. And I didn’t have a caribou. I had a 18-year-old aide with me who was carrying a carbine, and he was pretty well scared to death, knowing that there were still Japanese hiding up in that area, that — in fact, some of them didn’t surrender for 30 years after the war ended. Anyhow, we had to turn around and come back. The next day, we went down by landing craft and found the village. And when we came in, everybody disappeared from the beach. My coxswain of the boat didn’t want to go up on the beach for fear he’d broach and wouldn’t be able to get off, and we were too far from base to have good communication to get help, so the only way to do it was to strip down, go over the side. They handed me my rolled-up clothes. And with my clothes over my head, I went to the beach, put on my clothes, went across a monkey bridge into this town of Bagac. And they knew I was coming. They weren’t sure what I was coming for. But I had an opportunity to interview the family. Had to go back the same way to the boat. Get on board. And it was a long trip, but it was very interesting, and was able to assure the commodore — and through him, the admiral — that this man deserved emergency leave. But we had — it was good experience. We had 18 operating submarines, and we had a submarine tender there. Most of the time, they provided a lot of additional support to the boats. A submarine is not a ship. It’s a boat. And we had services on Sunday mornings. We had other religious services. We had lots of opportunities for counseling. And I was kept quite busy, but enjoyed it very much. They told me in chaplain school that a few of us would get invitations to become regular Navy. And I was rather thrilled when I got my invitation. When I found out that that would mean that I’d have to stay 18 more months in the Philippines before I could have any family with me — because it was not suitable at that time so close after the war to have families there. And I had a bride at home and a new daughter that I hadn’t seen, and the idea of staying over there 18 more months didn’t appeal to me a bit. And I don’t think she would have been happy as a full-time Navy wife. Her parents were getting older. She was an only child. I had a sibling, a sister, but my family was more used to moving about and traveling, but — So I decided not to become regular Navy, but I did decide I wanted to stay with the Navy as long as I could.

Thomas Healy:
So when did you come home?

Raymond Cooke:
Came home in April of ’45. I hitchhiked home.

Thomas Healy:
’46.

Raymond Cooke:
’46. Thank you.

Thomas Healy:
Right?

Raymond Cooke:
That’s right. Right.

Thomas Healy:
Okay. You were — okay.

Raymond Cooke:
Right.

Thomas Healy:
April — where did you land? Where did you — when you came home, you —

Raymond Cooke:
San Francisco.

Thomas Healy:
Okay.

Raymond Cooke:
I hitchhiked home. I got my orders, went over to another officer, and I went over to Olongapo where we were to get transport. And they said, “Now, it may be several days.” Said, “We have a ship that’s leaving this afternoon, but no time for you to make that one.” I said, “Why not?” Anyway, I said, “Can I get to talk to somebody?” They got me a small boat and a coxswain. I went out to the ship and met — somebody, somebody — probably executive officer, and said, “Do you have a chaplain aboard?” “No.” Said, “Could you use a chaplain?” “Yes, indeed. We could.” I said, “Well” — I happened to know that the other officer who was with me, a Jewish officer, played the piano. I said, “And how about a pianist?” Ended up — he said, “Well, now, can you get ready and get your paperwork done and get back here by the time we sail?” They told me the time they sail. I said, “I’ll try.” And I went back, and they did my paperwork very quickly. And the two of us went in a landing craft personnel, small one, with our gear, sea chests and other kits. And by the time we got there, the ship was leaving. It was under way. And we pulled alongside of it. They dropped the rope ladder and climbed up the rope ladder on the side. They hoisted the gear aboard, and we were under way. So I was the chaplain of the ship on the way home. They gave me an office and a yeoman. And my Jewish officer friend played the portable organ every time we had a service. And I had a good ride home and was doing my duty all the way home. Arrived in San Francisco. When we pulled in to sight of land, of course a cheer went up when we went under the Golden Gate Bridge and pulled up to the dock. And the Marine Corps band there playing “Sentimental Journey Home.” Been one of my favorite tunes ever since.

Thomas Healy:
So you hitchhiked back. Now, your wife and child were where?

Raymond Cooke:
In Cordova, Maryland. Talbot County near Easton. And she was a graduate nurse. She had been — till our daughter was born. She had been doing some private duty nursing. And fortunately, I knew — I knew she was being well cared for. She was with her mother and father. And I had known — I had heard from her the night before I left San Francisco on the transport that she had gotten home safely, had talked to her doctor, discovered she was pregnant. We suspected that she was. And so I went overseas knowing that she was home and well cared for.

Thomas Healy:
Then did you move back — how did you get back to Delaware?

Raymond Cooke:
Well, I waited a day or two for transportation. Cleared San Francisco, 12th Naval District. And they put me on a train. I came across the country to Philadelphia and was processed out in Philadelphia, put on terminal leave and went by train from Philadelphia down to Cordova. And decided, as I say, to stay in the service, so I was in the reserves. Came back in time for my annual conference, and we were assigned to our first parish together.

Thomas Healy:
Where was that?

Raymond Cooke:
Trappe, Maryland.

Thomas Healy:
Okay. Then how long did it take you to get back into Delaware?

Raymond Cooke:
Oh, three or four years, I would assume. Let’s see. I was at Trappe for two years. I had lost a lot of time in the — while I was away in the service. My colleagues had all been moving up in difficulty of responsibilities. And at — I was at Trappe for two years and then went to Centreville and from Centreville came to Seaford, Delaware in 1950.

Thomas Healy:
How long were you in Centreville?

Raymond Cooke:
Two years.

Thomas Healy:
Back in the early ’50s?

Raymond Cooke:
No. ’48 and ’49.

Thomas Healy:
Okay.

Raymond Cooke:
In 1950, I came to St. John’s Church in Seaford, and —

Thomas Healy:
Been here ever since?

Raymond Cooke:
No. No. I was at — seven years then. Then I was pastor at Trinity Church, Salisbury. I hoped to have a long pastorate there, but our bishop had other things in mind and in 1959, appointed me the district superintendent in Wilmington for the Wilmington district, which included most of Newcastle County and all of Cecil County, Maryland. And I had a six-year term, which is the length of our superintendent’s term. So in yearly increments, but can be as long as six years. Then I was —

Thomas Healy:
Where was — where was your office in Wilmington?

Raymond Cooke:
1212 Delaware Avenue.

Thomas Healy:
Right at the church?

Raymond Cooke:
No. No. It was the Council of Churches office building there. Delaware Avenue.

Thomas Healy:
Delaware and — by where Luther Towers is or someplace now?

Raymond Cooke:
Further — yeah. Mm-hmm. See, I’m trying to think what it would have been near. But — yeah. It was a little farther out than Luther Towers.

Thomas Healy:
Yeah. It’s before you get to Kelly’s Logan House in there — was on —

Raymond Cooke:
Oh, yeah.

Thomas Healy:
Yeah.

Raymond Cooke:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
Yeah. Right there probably where the memorial statue is almost, where the —

Raymond Cooke:
Columbus statue?

Thomas Healy:
No. That was on — that’s on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Raymond Cooke:
That’s Pennsylvania Avenue.

Thomas Healy:
The one —

Raymond Cooke:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
— the World War II —

Raymond Cooke:
Probably.

Thomas Healy:
— the memorial right there.

Raymond Cooke:
Yeah. There was a large apartment house —

Thomas Healy:
Right —

Raymond Cooke:
— near — very near where we were.

Thomas Healy:
Right.

Raymond Cooke:
But — and that was very close to where I was born. I was born at ten-something Delaware Avenue in Dr. Jones’ private hospital. And so I was — those years later, I was about three blocks from where I was born.

Thomas Healy:
There you go. Okay. In sort of conclusion, what — what — what do you — what would you like the future generations to come to know and remember about World War II?

Raymond Cooke:
I would hope that future generations would remember the way in which America united in their efforts to make the world safe for democracy, if you will. They — civilians and military did Herculean tasks to turn out the things that were needed, to pursue the war. They suffered casualties at home and abroad. They sacrificed. When I remember the time before I went into the service and saw what was happening here — I served a church in Wilmington at Kingswood Church down at 13th and Claymont for a couple of years in that period while I was in seminary. And I saw the women and the men working in the factories and in the shipyards. And people who were in my church — in fact, I held also a small church at Delaware City, and people who were in the military there, who were — I found out later pretty much what they’d been doing, but I didn’t have any idea at that time. But they were — they were dedicated people from all over the country who were willing to set aside the plans of their lives to concentrate on getting victory. And I just wish that Americans in the future could come to the same unity of spirit and desire to achieve high ideals, without having to have a war to make it necessary.

Thomas Healy:
Okay. Um, what — let me ask you one more question about the World War II process, education-wise in the schools. I mean, it’s a subject that — I’ve always — because I was born in ’45 and maybe I was closer to it, but I think it’s a subject that’s not really — hasn’t been expanded on or delved into or it’s just broad-brushed. Tell me about edu — World War II, the subject of World War II, the history of World War II, involved in the education system.

Raymond Cooke:
You mean at that time?

Thomas Healy:
No, no, no, no. Now.

Raymond Cooke:
Oh, now.

Thomas Healy:
In other words, we feel — I feel there should be a bigger emphasis in the education of World War II and that process.

Raymond Cooke:
I wish I could answer that better. I remember at the end of World War I, when I was coming along in school, we heard about — great deal about it, and we heard a great deal about it through our parents, who were involved in it. My children heard a great deal about World War II. Not one of them has gone into the military. They came along at a time when — the Korean War didn’t get the attention that World War II did. The Vietnamese War soured everybody on military. I was a pastor at Newark United Methodist Church during a lot of the Vietnam War. And the University of Delaware students who were a part of my congregation were antiwar, antimilitary, pacificist, extremely so, and didn’t want to hear a whole lot about World War II. Then later, when I was president of Wesley College, we were too busy doing other things at that time. I was president there from ’77 to ’83. And I don’t think they taught any courses that involved — I imagine that history courses at some time touched on what was involved and the issues and the outcome, but I think the Vietnam War pretty well soured that. This present situation is not getting the same problem that I think the Vietnam veterans have gotten. I think these veterans in this war and the one that took place 10 years ago in the same area, the ones returning have been better received and their work more appreciated. The World War II veterans were lionized, and much has been written, much has been said about it. But I don’t think that the young people who grew up in the last 20, 30 years have had much exposure to it.

Thomas Healy:
That’s what I felt. I felt, though, that the — here again, I was just born at the end of the war, but in the readings and the history and the listening and the watching, the — there hasn’t been that kind of movement in the country until, I think, September the 11th. And I think the September 11 set a whole new tone and started people thinking a lot of ways. What I have a problem with is, just like you said, it was the giving up of things, and it was the — everybody sacrificing, you know, down to shoes, to their tires, to their fuel, to their bread, to their — daily, daily, just basic life. And now I think is sacrifice having a regular cup of coffee versus a cappuccino? You know, God forbid we’d have to give up our Starbucks or our brouhaha cappuccinos for a week to maybe put $5 into the coffers to make more tanks or missiles or whatever else.

Raymond Cooke:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
And I don’t think we have that same — I mean, where does it — I don’t know. Maybe it’s because — I think the news media has a lot to do with it and everybody’s views. It’s not — it’s not — it’s the — a lot of people don’t understand that the broadcast guy has to say certain things, but it’s his views and it’s her views and it’s whatever. And the general population, I don’t think — they think, “Oh, that’s right. That’s correct. That’s whatever.” It may be far from the truth. But I think a lot of that’s out there. I think slow is better. I think slow news is better because by the time — you think about the way they release these things today. They’ll come back and they’ll say, “Well, we were mistaken about it. There was only four killed. We had 80 killed.” And of course, the first message is, “Oh, there’s 80 killed,” and whatever. All of a sudden, it was five. And everybody panics. And I think the media has a lot to do with it. I think the — My kids are close to it. I’ve got six, and I’ve got — my oldest is 37, and my youngest is 17. And actually, my 17-year-old is more of the rah-rah-ree than the — than my older kids were. And like I told — I was talking yesterday. When I got back from Vietnam, not that I spent any time in the trenches over there, but I was in and out on Westpac flights and stuff with the Navy. And I was just gung-ho military and started working for Associated Press as a — as a news photographer and actually were — I was in Delaware, down at the University of Delaware, covering — if you remember there, they had the marches and the strikes and stuff on campus and all that. Until probably about six or eight months later, all of a sudden, I turned the other way and said, “You know, this is wrong. Stuff is going on. Stuff we never understood or heard or whatever.” And I made statements then, it’s like — my oldest son then, my only son then, but my oldest son. I said, you know, if I had to drive him to Canada myself versus another Vietnam, I would —

Raymond Cooke:
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
— and I wasn’t raised that way. I didn’t feel that way. Now my son now, the 17-year-old, I don’t have that feeling about this war. Maybe it’s because of 9/11. He doesn’t have that feeling of this war.

Raymond Cooke:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
Maybe that was it. Maybe the Pearl Harbor was the 9/11.

Raymond Cooke:
Well, to me, the thing that really gripped me was the — Hitler’s troops moving into Poland. I mean, that — that was, to me, before Pearl Harbor, my principal image of the war. I mean, here’s Hitler running roughshod over everybody. And who’s doing anything about it? I mean, America wasn’t interested. We bailed Europe out before. And it was only Pearl Harbor that brought us in. We had been doing a lot. We’d given them 25 destroyers to England, and we had — we were sending supplies and all the rest. But —

Thomas Healy:
How do you — Pascal and I talk about this a lot, especially with the — with the concentration camps and stuff. How do you get the numbers of people that Hitler had under him? I can see a few handful of thieves and whatever — highbinders and thieves, as my dad used to say. How do you get the thousands and thousands of men that did their jobs in the concentration camp to not have any feelings for — I mean how? That’s what I — that’s what amazes me about the whole concentration camp thing.

Raymond Cooke:
Well, I think he was a hypnotic character, and I think that the — after World — I think World War I set the stage for Hitler. I’m inclined to think that the peace terms were harsh and the condemnation was rather general of the German people, and I think they were looking for somebody who would tell them they were all right, that they were better and that even better than anybody else in the world. And he — he just ran this enthusiasm up. And you see — I don’t know German. I studied French, but — and Latin and Greek, but I mean, German? No. But you see pictures of him lecturing or exhorting his throngs. And I mean, it was just a hypnotic thing. They went right with him. And the man was crazy, but he was crazy in a way that they liked, and they liked to listen to what he was promising. A thousand years of peace under him. Not even live that long, but —

Thomas Healy:
Right. Do you want to do the side profile?

Unidentified Speaker:
Yeah. Let’s do that.

Thomas Healy:
Okay. What I want you to do is turn your chair —

Unidentified Speaker:
You need to get the water.

Thomas Healy:
I’ll get the water. You can have some more of that, if you want it.

Raymond Cooke:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
You can take that with you, too.

Raymond Cooke:
All right.

Thomas Healy:
Let me turn you around. I’m going to — you’re going to face basically the light. You’re going to just face — face this way. There you go. Right like that.

Raymond Cooke:
All right.

Thomas Healy:
How’s that? We’re not going to say anything. I can talk, but you can’t.

Raymond Cooke:
All right.

Thomas Healy:
Just look at the — look into the light. Okay.

Unidentified Speaker:
Thank you.

Thomas Healy:
Thank you. Were you involved with Aldersgate Methodist Church?

Raymond Cooke:
I was superintendent.

Thomas Healy:
Because that’s where you might have known my dad. (Conclusion of interview.)

 

View Entry in Library of Congress
  • tags :