Werner Schlaupitz
Werner Schlaupitz

Service Record

1943-1945 • Drafted • Army • 3rd Battalion, 34th Regiment, 24th Infantry Division • Pacific Theater • Sergeant

Transcript

Werner Schlaupitz:
Even in the infantry, you didn’t take too many — didn’t get too many pictures of it.

Thomas Healy:
Well, what — what I — I — I just — the Philippines — the Philippines was — that was at the end, right? When you went back after, the Philippines?

Werner Schlaupitz:
This is from Nagasaki — not Nagasaki, Matsuyama, Matsuyama, which is — oh, maybe 50 miles from Hiroshima, and then I was sent — After I was wounded and so forth, anyway, they — the warrant officer found out or saw that I was smart enough to do some adding, subtracting and dividing, so he put me in rations supply. And I was sent — they told me to set up a point, central point for rations, a distribution center, which then I — I went out and up toward the Hiroshima area. And they said, well, there’s no orders. I said, yeah, but then there wasn’t. You didn’t have — everything wasn’t documented.

Thomas Healy:
Well, the same — the same thing like George Welsh, who was born in Wilmington and went to St. Andrew’s and was the — one of the two guys that actually got up in Pearl Harbor. The only two planes that got up in — you know, against the Japs. They’ve denied them his Medal of Honor because he wasn’t ordered to do that. So —

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yeah. That — and unfortunately, that — like — it bothers me to a certain degree. You’re in a different generation. But I was down at the WWII Memorial, went down to visit it, and I sat and talked with a fellow that came back, a GI that came back from Iraq, was on leave. And he said, “Gee whiz. I’ve been over three — three months now. I’m home for two weeks, and I’ve got to go back. I’m only home for two weeks.” I said look — I guess a different caliber. We — we experienced different hardships, like I grew up during the Depression, and there was no welfare. There was no food stamps, no — no Medicare or Medicaid or this. What we did, we survived. You had to survive. You — We had a yard. I’m — say I’m an old coal miner. We had a — lived in a coal mining community. And there was no grass to mow. It was all garden. You know, you had tomatoes, potatoes, turnips and everything. You raised chickens and rabbits and — in the backyard. And that’s what you survived on. I think once a month, the Red Cross used to come around and give us 25-pound bag of flour. And clothes. See, now, the new trend where they have the long sleeves and that, you know? Hell, that was fashion back in the Depression because any clothes you got weren’t tailormade, weren’t tailor-fit, so you know, having — they were long-sleeve and you rolled them up or whatever. But we — we seemed to endure the hardships a lot better, seemed to have a survival instinct a little better than what they have now. I don’t know. Everything seems to be “You’ve got to help me. You’ve got to help me. I don’t want to do anything myself.” I went to college. I hitchhiked 17, 18 — 17 mile, one way. Went to school, worked till midnight, hitchhiked back home, stayed up till 4, 5 in the morning, did my homework, got back up around 7:00 and hitchhiked back to college. Now, I don’t see too many students doing that now. You’ve got over here at the Delaware State University beautiful apartments and — and we didn’t have that. We had to — we had to make our own do. We did what we had to do to survive. And I think we — like myself, I was born in Germany. I’m German-born. And the people that come around now and tell me about discrimination, I said, you don’t know what it is. You should have been a German during World War II here in the United States, and then you would have known what discrimination was. And nobody — You know, I’m an old coal miner. And I had the option of going into the service or getting a deferment. But I took the option of going into the service, not to stay home and — because I think if I would’ve probably stayed home — it might have been safer for me in the service. But anyway, I — I took my allegiance to the United States, and I think I contributed quite a bit to this country. And I did the best I could to serve this country. And that’s, I think, why I’m here today. I’m an old coal miner, and now I belong to a country club. I never, never dreamt working in a coal mine, I’d ever belong to a club and play golf, you know. No way. We — and talking about work, when I was in the coal mines, my father and I shoveled 30 ton — this is the God’s truth — 30 ton of coal every night, which is like a seven-hour shift. But during that period of seven hours, 30 tons, we shoveled. We had to drill 6-foot holes into the coal to put the dynamite in to blast it down. You had to set your timbers. You had to take down all the — the rock and the slate and above and everything. You did that all in approximately seven hours. And we were — what? 300 feet underground. And now, I — I was a construction manager. And if I would have asked somebody to lift 100-some pound, they’d say, “Oh, man, I need help. I need help.” So it’s just — I don’t know. It’s just a little different sense of values now than we had back — back then.

Thomas Healy:
Where were you construction manager? Who did you work for?

Werner Schlaupitz:
International Playtex.

Thomas Healy:
Oh, you did?

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
Because our family was the Helco Engineering and Construction.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Beg pardon.

Thomas Healy:
Helco Engineering from Wilmington.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
We built a lot of stuff down here. That was my family — my father. Our business.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Did you? Yeah. I was there from — I was there approximately 18 and a half years. I came there in 1970 and retired in ’88, latter part of ’88. And it was a good company, very good company to work for. But anyway, that — it was just a — a different appreciation of what you had to do years ago and what you have to do now. Although we walked to school, I think, when I was in grade school, we had to walk approximately, I’d say, about 2, 2 miles to school, and we —

Thomas Healy:
I think the media has a lot to do with it. I think people are — people see these shows and imagine this and imagine that and —

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yeah. I — and I see — right now, I live in a cul-de-sac. There’s 12 homes in our section. The bus — bus comes right down, picks the kids right up at the homes, you know. And that’s unfortunate, because they say it’s insecure to let them go to the end of the street to pick up the bus. And we walked — we walked, you know, say, 2 and a half miles to school. And we were young. Grade school, up to sixth grade, you know, we walked to school. And it’s unfortunate the way the values are now compared to what they were years ago. We never locked our homes.

Thomas Healy:
Well, I still think that — I think that one of the — I think they still should have kept up and still need to do now a draft. I wish that every kid that got out of high school basically had to go into the service for two years.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
And they don’t have to have — see, everybody — everybody thinks that — when I was going to Vietnam, you know, in that same era, everybody thought that, oh, yeah. You go in and you’re immediately in the front line over there. They don’t understand there’s plenty of other jobs to do, plenty of backup jobs to do. And — and — and if you didn’t, you know, particularly want to go over there — not that you wouldn’t have a shot at going over there, but it was difficult to go over there unless you were drafted right into some infantry unit or something else.

Werner Schlaupitz:
See, I was — unfortunately — you said you had a choice. When I went — I went into the service, we took an I

Thomas Healy:
We had to take an IQ exam at Fort Meade, it was. And later on, the United States government was short of qualified engineers, professional engineers. My IQ was sufficient to go to college, and during World War II, they had what they called ASTP, Army Special Ed. Training program. I was set up, I was interviewed, and my scores were good enough to go to college, but each night prior to shipment — it was on three shipments. Each night prior to shipment, I was sent to G2, which was intelligence. I don’t know what it — what — it was intelligence at that time, G2. Quizzed about my German birth, my German relatives, my family history and so forth. I never got to go to college. I was on three shipments and then was always turned down on account of my heritage, and that’s why I wound up as a rifleman over in the AJA Pacific Theater. So I looked forward to that, too, and tried to serve in other ways. I thought, well, with my knowledge of the German language, I would — I would — could have served better as an interpreter. I could have, you know — I think I could have served the government much better as an interpreter, but that didn’t work out. But I think I did my bit with the Army. I have — if you look at my record, I have a Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Presidential Citation with — with a cluster and many more accolades that — it shows that — that even though I wasn’t born in this country, I took my allegiance to this country, and I think I served it pretty well.

Thomas Healy:
He wasn’t born in this country, either. He’s from Germany.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Is he?

Unidentified Speaker:
Yep. Sprechen auf Deutsch?

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yeah. Nicht so viel. Ich habe viel vergessen. I came from Kotzenau (sp?), which is now Poland. That’s a — remember Russia took — Russia took part of Poland, and then they said, “Okay, for what we took of you, Poland, we’re going to give you part of Germany,” so they took the eastern part of Germany, which is where I was born. And I went over there. My brother and I went and visited our birthplace approximately five — seven years ago. And very few people in that section now speak German because the Russians banned it. They said when they went to school, all the children had to learn Russian. And if you spoke German, you were — you were subject to some sort of a punishment. And we found a couple of old people, elderly, that still spoke German. And when we went over where I was born, the apartment is still — still there. My — my grandfather’s house is still there. And when they built a house over there, it was built to stand, although it wasn’t — you know, it wasn’t subject to a lot of bombardment or anything. It was more rural. What part of Germany are you from?

Unidentified Speaker:
Wiesbaden.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Where? Wiesbaden?

Unidentified Speaker:
Wiesbaden. Close to Frankfurt at the Rhine River.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yeah. Frankfurt. My cousin lived in Frankfurt. We went there and I visited her. She’s passed away. And then I have two cousins that live in — in Munich and the other one in Konig — Konigswinter?. So they come over here. They come over here two years ago for a vacation. And they enjoyed it. I took them around —

Unidentified Speaker:
How old were you when you left Germany?

Werner Schlaupitz:
Beg pardon?

Unidentified Speaker:
How old were you when you left —

Werner Schlaupitz:
I was four years old.

Unidentified Speaker:
Four years?

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yeah. I was fairly young when we — and we came through Hoboken instead of — everybody — because my daughter-in-law went up to Ellis Island and looked up our heritage to try to — you know, to see where — put the name in the computer and everything. And it came up that our name didn’t show up in the computer. But then — I didn’t remember this. My brother, who was one year older than I am, he said, “Well, Werner, we came through Hoboken, New Jersey. We didn’t come through Staten Island, you know, up through New York.” So that was another port which accepted immigrants. And I wasn’t aware of that either. But most people aren’t. And I still have my German birth certificate. Talking about — after — during World War II, prior to going in the service, I thought, well, I’d try to get a job in a defense plant, being German-born. They said, “Well, okay. Show me, you know” — I had to show my birth certificate. I took the German birth certificate up. And they said, “Well, we can’t read German.” They said, “So we don’t know who you are.” And I could not get a — that’s why I went to the coal mines. I couldn’t get a — couldn’t get a job in the defense — defense industry due to my heritage. And finally went to the coal mines and worked there with my dad.

Thomas Healy:
Okay. Here’s what I would like you to do is just — you’re living in Dover now, right?

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yes, sir.

Thomas Healy:
So just — just state your full name and — just state your full name and “Dover, Delaware.” Just say, “Dover, Delaware.”

Werner Schlaupitz:
Okay.

Thomas Healy:
And tell me, “I was born in — whatever. My parents did — whatever. We came over.” Tell me the whole story.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Okay. Yes. My name, real name is Werner Herman Schlaupitz, and when I got my citizenship papers, I changed it to Warner, W-A-R, instead of W-E-R. And I currently reside in Dover, Delaware. I was born in Kotzenau (sp?), Germany, on April the 8th in 1923. We migrated — we — my family migrated to the United States in 1927. My father came first, and he settled in Michigan. And then my mother and my brother and I, we arrived later. We settled in Michigan, Dearborn, Michigan, where my dad worked in the automotive industry. Then from there, from Michigan, we came down to Pennsylvania, where my father became engaged in the coal mining industry, where — the whole clan with my dad and his three brothers, we all moved down to near Washington, Pennsylvania, and worked in the coal mining industry. And from there, they — they continued. They worked in the coal mines in Washington, Pennsylvania, out in Muse, Pennsylvania, and that’s where — in Muse, Pennsylvania, I went into the mines after graduation from high school in 1941 and worked in the mines for the years up until World War II started. And at that point in time, I had the option of taking a deferment for working in a coal mine, because it was considered very essential industry, or going into the service. I elected to go into the service, as I was German-born and I wanted to show my allegiance to this country by serving in the service of the United States. And it is with great pride and respect in that, that I have the opportunity to discuss this for future generations to see what happened during the era and during World War II. And I came to Dover. I have worked in — after — after service, I took advantage of the GI Bill, and I went to college. And I graduated from Washington Jefferson College in 1950 with three majors. One of them was in an education, one of them was in industrial management, and I had a minor in Spanish. But after college, I went to work in the merchandising field, which didn’t — I didn’t care for. I was there for two years. And then I went to work for RCA in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania; worked there for approximately eight years. And there, I went to the glass industry. And then I went to Boeing. From the glass industry, I went to Boeing Aircraft, and I worked for Boeing Aircraft for approximately nine years. And after Boeing Aircraft, I came to Dover to work for International Playtex, and I stayed with them for 18 — 18 and a half years and retired from there as a facilities manager.

Thomas Healy:
Okay. Do you remember Pearl Harbor Day? Do you remember December —

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yes. I remember Pearl Harbor Day, and the reason I remember quite vividly, because we lived in a coal mining town, and the nearest movie was 3 miles away. And at that point in time, we didn’t have automobiles. We used to walk. And I recall walking home from the movie, and when we got — and at that time, we got home, and somebody said, you know, Pearl Harbor was bombed. And I remember that because we — we walked those 3 miles from the — the movie in Canonsburg. And it didn’t — at that point in time, well, you were a little young and the impact wasn’t great enough, but as the months passed, then the impact was felt within the family. And as I say, I worked in — I went to work in the coal mines right after high school, so —

Thomas Healy:
You were still in high school at Pearl Harbor? Pearl Harbor?

Werner Schlaupitz:
No. I was out of high school. Out of high school. Yeah. Because — yeah. I graduated in 1940. I graduated in ’41. So it was just right after — right after graduation.

Thomas Healy:
What did your family say about the service and about — when you told them that “Maybe I’d really like to go into the service”?

Werner Schlaupitz:
Well, my fa — my — my father served in World War I on the German side, and he sat down with me and explained to me the horrors of war, what can happen. And although I — I realized, it sank in that the — a lot of discomfort and — can be — happen while you’re serving. But I elected to go in, into the service, anyway. And my mother — I can still vividly recall, when — when I went to the service, when they took you to the camp with — a lot of us draftees went on a bus. And my mother ran alongside the bus. And I was near — near the window. And she tried to maintain pace with the bus, not so — she could only go so far, but she was very, very distraught, and naturally it was very emotional feeling for me at that time because I can still remember the tears rolling down my eyes because that was — when — When you were an immigrant and you weren’t that world-wise, so you lived more within your family. And you’re sort of apprehensive of what — you know, hey, what’s going to happen in the future. And so my mother and father were — were very — since Dad — Dad served in the infantry in World War I on the German side, he was well aware of what — what some of the problems were.

Unidentified Speaker:
Could you get the mic up? Do me a favor, drink a little water. You sound a little dry.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Thank you.

Thomas Healy:
So go ahead along with — You rolling?

Unidentified Speaker:
Yes.

Thomas Healy:
— where, you know, you went in, and you went to boot camp, and you went to — how you got where you got into the — into the melee.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Okay. Well, I was inducted into Fort Meade, Maryland, went through the indoctrination there, all the testing and so forth. And then we were sent to Fort Benning, where we went through the infantry training. And then from Fort Benning, we went to Louisiana. And I joined the Blackhawk Division for maneuvers. And there — during — during maneuvers, there was a very unusual incident happened. During — while I was out on maneuvers, my mother passed away, and that’s when I got an emergency furlough. That was the only leave I had. I had five days’ emergency furlough to come home to bury my mother. During that five-day leave of absence, something happened to all my clothing, so the Army sent it all home. Now, I’m back en route back to camp, excuse me, and the — and the bandage — all my clothing is en route home. So my father got — got all the clothing. He thought that the Army was sending my belongings home, that I had been killed. So he — being a good German, he consumed some beer for a while because he was very distraught and thinking I was killed. And that — and he was under that impression for quite a few weeks because I didn’t write a letter for — till I got back and went back on maneuvers. And then I wrote a letter home stating the fact, you know, that I was on maneuvers and so forth. And this then eased his fears. Now, from maneuvers in Louisiana and Texas, we went to Pittsburgh, California, where we embarked on a troop ship and went to New Guinea. We landed at Hollandia in New Guinea. And one of the incidents I remember in New Guinea is when we were there, we were only there for a few days. They sent us out on patrol into the jungle. And being — the first incident, being out there in the jungle at night, you had a hammock. You had hammocks, which had the mosquito netting. And you had your rifle slung underneath. Well, when you put your hammock up in the jungle, there were — don’t forget, we’re out at night on a patrol. And all of a sudden, you hear a lot of rustling going on in the area. And you ever try to get out of a zipped-in hammock to get your rifle slung underneath in just in a fraction of a second time; it’s almost impossible. Anyway, by the time — by the time I tumbled out and everything, got my rifle and looked around, and what had happened that the wild pigs had come into the camp area or bivouac area and rummaged through the food and the empty cans that we had thrown out. And that — that was my first experience of what I thought was combat, and I’ll tell you that was a — experience that’ll — with me for the rest of my life. Then from Hollandia, we went down to Bougainville, also, which was a — a very — that’s where — the Australians had a very heavy casualty battle down in Bougainville. And then from there, from New Guinea, I was a replacement for the 24th Infantry Division, and we went into the Philippine Islands. I landed on Leyte Island, Tacloban Beach, and I was in the first wave, the first wave of troops going back to the Philippines. And you see these movies, you know, where it’s so haphazard, but I’ll tell you one thing. On the landing barge, when you’re going in for a landing, we were under extensive small arms fire. You could hear all the bullets and that, hitting the sides of the landing craft. And unfortunately now, we’re to the point where the atheists are trying to get religion out of everything. But I can tell you one thing. When you’re on a landing barge, going in for a landing, and the bullets are hitting the side, there wasn’t one person — I never saw one GI on that barge not blessing himself, kneeling and praying or praying to God, his God, or — or on — to his religion for some safekeeping going into the beach. And religion played a very, very important part in — I would say in all of our soldiers’ lives because everyone prior to battle would bless themselves, kneel and pray, look up to God and pray and hope for a safe — a safe journey or a safe return. And unfortunately now, we’ve put religion on a side burner and saying it shouldn’t be discussed or — or portrayed in — in public places. But back then, religion was a very, very integral part of every man’s life.

Thomas Healy:
You know, we’ll probably have to cut this section out. I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Oh. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And it is unfortunate. Off the — anyway, religion was a very, very important part of our life. Very — you never saw — you never heard any blasphemy about God.

Thomas Healy:
Well, they — they had a thing, I saw the other day. They had some interesting facts about the Ten Commandments. And apparently right over at the pinnacle of the — of the eave of the roof, the roof structure, at the United States Supreme Court was apparently Moses holding the Ten Commandments. You’re talking about religion in public places, and that’s just —

Werner Schlaupitz:
Getting it — yeah. Getting it out. Yeah. There’s a — and the inscription, too, above one of the government buildings where they want to remove. And I don’t know.

Thomas Healy:
How about our bills? “In God We Trust”?

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yeah. Yeah. And — I don’t know. I’d say — unfortunately, I don’t know where we’re heading, you know. It’s — it’s unfortunate. We — we were a very homogeneous, heterogeneous society years ago. Everybody bonded together. Now, everybody’s going in different directions. Everybody wants their own little piece, their own little recognition, and not — not for the good of the country or for — I’d say for the country. For the people here. Everybody wants their own little segment. “This is what I want. This is — I don’t want you doing this. I want this. I want this to be universal. You don’t have any opinions. You can’t have any separate beliefs than we have.” Look — look at the — at the Muslims in France. Nobody’s allowed to wear headscarves, right, in school. Over there in France, the Muslims protested and everything and created such a havoc that they — they — they had to wear their headscarves because it’s for their religion. And the other religious people couldn’t wear headscarves. The Muslims are permitted to do that. I don’t know. Well, whatever.

Thomas Healy:
I know. Well, I’m a little bit generation different than you, but —

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
— I feel the same way. So continue on. So you — you landed at the Philippines.

Werner Schlaupitz:
We landed —

Thomas Healy:
Coming in on the bar — on the landing crafts.

Werner Schlaupitz:
We went in. And we secured the beach. It wasn’t — after we secured the beach, I think it was the second day, that McArthur came. And I was approximately 50 feet from McArthur when he came back, walked ashore and said, “I have returned,” and then went back to his ship. And when — and it was quite — quite a battle, and some people don’t believe it, but I witnessed it. We had — we suffered quite a number of casualties, quite a number of casualties on the landing. And during the heat of the battle, you had the bodies. And I can still vividly remember the bulldozer coming up, making a trench. We placed all the bodies — not me; I didn’t — grave registration placed all — because I was on the beach there fighting — placed all the bodies in it, removed the dog tags, covered them back up, covered the bodies back up. And it’s — a lot of the military people don’t believe that, but I witnessed that because — I can understand it because when you have all the casualties, there was no way to evacuate them that soon, and in that hot sun, they would deteriorate. And also this kept — kept the Japanese from knowing what casualties were inflicted. So went through that. I went through the complete invasion there, and the — the incidents I remember very vividly were how we got the — got the Presidential Citation with the cluster. We were engaged in a fierce battle for approximately 70, 72 days. I was up in the front lines for 72 consecutive days. And one of the last battles we had was on a ridge. And don’t forget now, I’m with — I’m with you. You’re with your fellow man, fellow soldier, for months or days or weeks, and you’re doing pretty well. And we took the — we took the ridge, but we weren’t able to go back to recoup, recover the dead. Now, we had to go back. We had to go back with fellow people of the company, the platoon, and recover the dead. And I can remember just the one GI that I had known — you’re — don’t forget, a body’s out in the hot sun for days. We had to go back and recover them. And how you recovered them, you laid your poncho down, and you got your trench shovel, and you took the parts of the body, moved them onto the poncho, because they’ve been in there, and they’ve decomposed. I can remember this friend of mine. I had to put his body on a poncho. And while I’m moving the body on, the head became — it was decomposed, and the head came — rolled off, so you had to go get the head and put it back on the poncho. Those are vivid memories that you’ll never — that are etched in your mind for as long as you live. I will never forget those. And the other incident was when I was on Corregidor, when I invaded Corregidor, as the paratroopers were landing — and they were — had a very short area. As they were coming down, you could watch them fall helpless in — in the harnesses. They were coming down as they were being shot. And it was — coin a phrase, like shooting fish in a barrel. The paratroopers were coming down en masse, and the Japanese were down below. And the paratroopers did — had just a very, very small area to land in. And quite a number of them missed the island. And I could remember seeing them shot, being shot, while they’re bub — you know, bobbing in the sea. And I was fortunate, very fortunate. I was on the first — first landing, and I ran across the beach. The beach was mined very, very heavily. And somehow or another, I managed to get across the beach and get in about 50 yards and dive into a — it was a land — one of the landmine holes. And unfortunately, I jumped in, and there was just the top portion of one of my fellow — fellow man, fellow soldiers in there. He evidently stepped on the mine and had the bottom part of his body blown off. And — but that was my salvation because we were in tremendous crossfire from the Japanese and yet couldn’t — no way to get out of that for — for that period of time. So we — I went through the whole complete battle of Corregidor, and then Corregidor is where I received the Silver Star for bravery in action. As I was a squad leader and we had to take — cross a railroad track going into the Malinta Hill Tunnel. A lot of people don’t remember that, but that’s where McArthur had had his offices, the big — big tunnel. We had to cross that and try to secure the entrance to the tunnel because there was a lot of fire coming out of it. And we crossed that, and I lost a few people. And I raced back and forth against the machine gunfire and got my — got my people back and put fire — kept firing into the tunnel to — to hold back the Japanese fire. But that was — and I was there, and that was when they — after we captured the island, they had truckloads coming down, bringing the dead down from the paratroopers that landed on top. And the flies on Corregidor were so heavy that if you had a cracker with a piece of jelly on it, eating those — your K ration — by the time you got it to your mouth, it was filled with flies, and you — you ingested quite a number of flies, which they said was high in protein so that helped, but it was a very unsanitary condition, and they had to come in and desanitize the whole island.

Thomas Healy:
What — what was the division and battalion and the company and all that you were in?

Werner Schlaupitz:
Okay. It was 24th Infantry Division, 34th Regiment. It was Company

Werner Schlaupitz:
And K — I think we were K — K — K Platoon, if I remember correctly. I don’t remember the —

Thomas Healy:
So when you finished — where did you get hurt?

Werner Schlaupitz:
I got — I got hit with a — when we were — after I got — we were — took the entrance to — we couldn’t take the entrance, secure the entrance to the tunnel, so we went around and up on topside, got up the mountain. And we were going to go — come down, go up around and then come down. While we were ascending the hill, ascending the hill, the Japanese, during the night — wasn’t aware of it — had infiltrated in behind us, and they dropped mortar shells on us. And I was hit with a mortar shell, and I was hit in the upper part of my body, my head. And the lower part of the body is — and underneath my legs. And it became quite a — quite a joke. I got — I got shrapnel in the rear, too, you know. So it — it was a — And funny part of it is when I come down to the aide station, they said, “Well, sit down. Take it easy for a while,” right, you know. But I got wounded there, and I had shrapnel, and I went to the hospital. I was in the hospital, I think, for a few weeks. And then — and then I — after — after the hospital, I was sent back — sent back to the front — to the front lines. And we went from Corregidor [inaudible], and I sec — helped secure, resecure that peninsula. But Corregidor was a very — I — sometimes I wonder why we did what we did because it was a small island. We controlled the water. We controlled the air. We controlled all the land around it. There were no — no resources on that island. No water, no food, nothing. And I think in a few weeks or so, we could have starved the Japanese out of it or made them surrenderer, but I think — if I can recall the statistics, we lost about 5,000, 5,000 men in securing the island. I may be wrong on those numbers, but I think it’s about that — that many. And then I went through the complete Philippine campaign, and we were ready — I was — then we were loading up, getting ready to invade Japan, the homeland in Japan, when the surrender came. And that’s why — we were already pretty well loaded up. That’s why we was one of the first troops in Japan.

Thomas Healy:
So then you went into Japan and pretty much were there till the end of the war?

Werner Schlaupitz:
This is correct. This is correct.

Thomas Healy:
By the end of your —

Werner Schlaupitz:
End of my — because I was discharged — yeah. We had points. There was a point system. And I had so many points for being in the — overseas and so many points for being in combat and so forth and so on. And I was sent back home. But one thing about — I will say one thing in Japan. When we occupied Japan, in relationship to what is happening in Iraq now, the Japanese people, when we were there, were very courteous. There was no backlash against Americans. There was no — no problem. What I mean, there was no — you know, there was no great animosity displayed. They may have kept it inside, but there was no — The civilians, you know, didn’t — at first, they eyed us, looked at us and shied away from us because I think they were accustomed to Japanese atrocities in other lands, and they probably thought that when we invaded Japan, we would commit the same atrocities upon them. But there was no — I cannot remember of any GIs, with no — no atrocities committed to any of the civilians, to my knowledge, and I don’t think there’s ever been any on record. I haven’t read any. And they seemed to — we seemed to mingle. After a while, we seemed to mingle.

Thomas Healy:
If you were passing — I mean, if you had a few statements to make about what you could pass on to other generations, what would you say?

Werner Schlaupitz:
I’d say other generation, we — do not — do not look at all the movies and that that glorify war. See if there’s any better diplomatic way of settling issues. And I think the last — the last resort would have to be go to war because there’s so many — If you look at it, who are the people that are engaged in war? Mostly youths. The younger — younger generations. And if you look at it, how much talent or how much life is lost in solving a problem that may have been — could have been solved diplomatically or just by time, it may have gone away? Do not jump at any conclusion and say armed force is the solution to all problems. And also I think the other thing is respect your country. Respect your country a lot more. We — I don’t think — me, being a foreigner, I — I don’t throw paper on the ground. I clean up. I make sure everything is nice. And I do respect this land and this country. And I think we all should do the same — same. It’s — Work together, live together, and strive to make this the epitome of — of the country that the most people will enjoy living in.

Thomas Healy:
If you were doing this all over again, not at your age, but back years and years ago, if this was now again, would you — would you do the same thing that you did before?

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yes. I would do the same thing because — the reason I would do that is I think it was unfortunate that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, which was a flagrant violation of human rights. And I would go through and I would do the same thing as I did before, to help keep this country secure and safe and make it a good place to live. I would give up my life. I almost did, but I would give it up to secure the country.

Thomas Healy:
What do you think about the homeland security now? I mean, what — after 9/11, what’s your feelings about —

Werner Schlaupitz:
Well, I think homeland security — I think what we’re — we’re caught up in the — in the legal, liberal rights. I do not believe that we are treating the terrorists — we’re giving them too many liberals. There’s too many drawbacks, too many opposing, opposite — too much opposition to extracting information or detaining suspected terrorists. I think we’re kind of easy on — not the word “easy,” but I — I think we should be a little — a little sterner on it. A little more security, following their movements. We have so many immigrants in this country that we don’t know where they go, what they do. And I think that the homeland security should have more jurisdiction on following the movements of the people that migrate to this country and the — First of all, the illegal immigrants should not be allowed to stay here. They should be deported and come back through the normal channels. I think all the illegal immigrants coming in is one of the forces that’s going to be a downfall to this country.

Thomas Healy:
Now, what — you looking back, how did — how did you feel about — I mean, did you feel a real sense of discrimination as a German when — being here in the United States? I mean, what was that feeling?

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yes. There was — there was a tremendous — and we used to experience cabbages being thrown through our windows, rocks thrown on our porch. It — and “You doggone Nazi,” and — and there was a lot of discrimination, a tremendous amount. As I stated, I could not get a job in a defense industry. I could not. And when I was in the service, there was discrimination there because I had the qualifications to go to college and I never got the opportunity to go because of my German heritage. So the discrimination was there. And after the war, after the war, we — we had — and for me to — to — to get out into society and — and profess — we were required — and this is — we were required after — after the war to get a small photostatic copy of your — of your discharges. This — we were — we were required to carry this around with us, and this is a photo — small photostatic copy that we were required to carry that gives you all your information of your discharge and when you were discharged and so forth. This was a requirement. And I carried this with me, and I still have it. And — but after — after the war, too, there was — was discrimination.

Thomas Healy:
Did it frustrate you?

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yes. I was very frustrated, very frustrated. Because I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t — the biggest disappointment was when I was in the service, you know, I had the qualification, why — me being a loyal service person, turned down to get a — an education through the government, and they — and they — you know, they were looking for people with — to go to college, to enter the engineering field. And I qualified for that, but I was never sent, and I was always sent up to G2, intelligence, to discuss my German heritage. And that was very frustrating, very stressful, and sometimes it made you feel like, boy, you’re trying to do the best you can for your country, but your country’s not doing their best for you.

Thomas Healy:
Well, it had to — it had to be — it seems like here you — here you were literally there. You know, you were — you came in at four and basically 13 years later, you were already — Now, were you a citizen yet? Did you — when did you —

Werner Schlaupitz:
No. I got my citizenship papers in 19 — 1949. I graduated from college in 1950, so I thought I’d better get my citizenship papers in 19 — it was 1949. I got my — my papers in Washington, Pennsylvania.

Thomas Healy:
Did your mom and dad ever become a citizen?

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yeah. That’s the difference. My mother and father — the difference, they went to school at night to learn the English language. They learned. They went to school. When we came here, we didn’t say, “Hey, you have to publish this in German. We don’t understand it. I want it in German.” The immigrants back at that time were proud to come to this country, were honored to be here, and they wanted to adopt the — the customs and be — be integrated into — into the society here. And not just my parents, but I can remember the Italian immigrants that lived in the coal mining town and other immigrants, that they went to school at night to get their citizenship papers and to —

Thomas Healy:
Were the — were the — were the Italians — the — the Italian-born, like yourself, were they discriminated since —

Werner Schlaupitz:
No, no.

Thomas Healy:
— was in the war?

Werner Schlaupitz:
No. They — there was not — no discrimination against the Italians. I don’t recall that. Maybe I was too myopic in looking at ourself, but I don’t recall any of the Italians. And I say this truthfully. I do not recall. No. That’s a good point. I never thought about it, but there was no discrimination against the Italians.

Thomas Healy:
Now, were there German interment camps?

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yes.

Thomas Healy:
There were?

Werner Schlaupitz:
There were German interment camps. And on television, I’d say approximately a year ago, a year ago, there was a documentary, and I wasn’t aware of that, you know, they kept the Germans interred on — what’s that prison out at San Francisco?

Thomas Healy:
Alcatraz?

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yeah. They had them interred there for a year or so after they released all the Japanese. It was on television and on The History Channel. And I wasn’t aware of that, that they had interment camps for the Germans, and they — they kept them — kept them interred at a much later date than when they let — let the Japanese go.

Thomas Healy:
Now, back east, there wasn’t any interment camps?

Werner Schlaupitz:
No. Not to my knowledge. Not to my knowledge. I don’t know — not to my knowledge. I don’t know anyone except what I saw, you know, on television.

Thomas Healy:
So me sitting here right now, the only thing I can recall are the Japanese interment camps. And until you just brought this up, I never even thought about it.

Werner Schlaupitz:
It was on — it was on — it was a documentary on — on television, and I was surprised. I — I was really surprised when I saw it. And it showed — gave you the pictures, you know. It was a regular documentary on the German interment camp at Alcatraz. And I don’t — I’m not aware. I’m not cognizant of any interment camps located in the United States. That was the first one that I was aware of.

Thomas Healy:
Interesting. Pascal?

Unidentified Speaker:
Okay.

Werner Schlaupitz:
See, you — you don’t find — you — you hear a lot about the Japanese division, the Japanese people fighting in the United States, but you never heard too much about the Germans fighting in the United States. And I do not know the statistics of how many German nationals, but I’m sure there were some. My — my — my cousins, which were my age, one of them, he — he was also in the United States Army.

Thomas Healy:
Oh, what you’re saying is you never heard — you don’t hear too much about the Japanese that went in —

Werner Schlaupitz:
No. I didn’t hear too much about the Japanese that went into the United States — the Germans that went into the United States Army.

Thomas Healy:
Well, the Germans — you know, it was very funny — I mean not funny, but didn’t they — didn’t the United States bring in a bunch of the German engineers and — and —

Werner Schlaupitz:
After World War II, they — they brought in —

Thomas Healy:
But not during the war? Wasn’t there a bunch that came over during the war that —

Werner Schlaupitz:
There was quite a number. And then what they did, they — what they — I’ll use the word they — they extradited them from Germany and brought them — Wernher Von Braun, you know, the great rocket. They brought — brought him over. They didn’t want the Russians to get him, and they recruited — they recruited a lot of the German engineers and brought them over — brought them over to the United States.

Unidentified Speaker:
[inaudible] the beginning of the Cold War was real wonderful German [inaudible] engineers. [inaudible] could have had a different fate if he would have been used for —

Werner Schlaupitz:
Well, my brother has a doctorate in material and sciences, and he’s on — he’s on retainer. He was. He’s retired now. On retainer for the German government. He went over to — was it in Dusseldorf? What’s that — Eis — what’s the university up there? Ei — Eisen —

Unidentified Speaker:
Was it Dusseldorf or in —

Werner Schlaupitz:
No. Up around Dusseldorf. Anyway, he was on retainer, and I went with him. We went to the college over there, and he gave a lecture.

Thomas Healy:
Now, what you didn’t tell me about is when — when the landing craft brought you up there, and you left, and you established the beachhead, and you got closer contact, you didn’t tell us about your hand-to-hand combat.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yeah. We got into — well, when we got off the — landed on the beach, and we naturally had to — had to move inwards and secure more of the land. As we were going in, we — we had one incident where we were crossing a creek. And the Japanese were buried — buried — dug in, into the creek, not on the opposite side, but on the — on the side from which you were approaching. And once we got to the creek, they came out from their positions because we were moving, say, south, and they were — instead of being on the south side of the — of the creek, they were on the north side. So we weren’t aware of that. We were looking for them to be on the opposite side. So anyway, when we came to the creek, they came out from their hideouts and that. And we got into hand-to- hand combat. And that was — that was a little bit of a horrifying experience because there, you — and I recall — I can see the Japanese, you know, coming at you, and I used the — we always went with a bayonet also, used a bayonet and then had to shoot. And also in my mind, when we were on Corregidor, very unfortunate. We had a group of approximately like seven — seven Japanese approaching us with — with white flags. And today in my mind, it’s still etched in my mind. I can still see them walking up there with their — almost naked except with a G-string on with a white flag on a pole and approaching our position. And naturally we were always told — or not always told, but the — it was said that they — you can never trust them because they have a grenade under their armpits and so forth and so on. And I can remember that contingency approaching us. And as they got near our position, we shot every one of them and killed every one. And that, to me, is still etched in my mind with — an unnecessary thing. Now I look at it as being unnecessary, but back then, in the heat of battle, you don’t care. You’re there to save your own life. But we went — had the hand-to-hand combat there, and we had hand-to-hand combat in the jungle. One other time, we were — we were sit — we were dug in for the night. And during the night, they tried to infiltrate — infiltrate the position. And you get — you get involved with them. And if you had to have hand-to-hand combat on Corregidor, we had hand-to-hand combat. I can remember down on the lower portion of the island, as we were moving through, that night, they had infiltrated into the area. And as we came through, they came out, and we had to — and they were — they were — they were good. We had to get involved in hand-to-hand combat. And unfortunately — or for — un — fortunate for us, we had superiority in — in numbers. So the — we outnumbered them, and we were saved. We were saved. They — they didn’t fare too well. And it’s — it’s very difficult, very difficult, to — to really speak about these incidents. As I mentioned, I gave a talk at the Air Force leadership school one time about all the combat experiences we had. And it’s very painstaking because you’re older now and you look back and see the lives you’ve lost or the lives you’ve taken, and I — it’s sometime difficult to absorb that feeling and say, well, you know, it’s just an enemy life, but it’s still another human life. And you become more passionate — compassionate, I guess, as you get older. In the heat of battle, everything goes. And I — I — I think it’s very improper in Iraq where they want to court-martial that soldier that — that shot — shot the fellow, the — what he thought was an insurgent in the building there where — you — when you’re in the heat of battle, whoever’s there is the enemy, and you look for your own life. You save your life. And you don’t have the great compassion for the enemy’s life. I think we’re — we’re looking — this — I think the pendulum is swinging a little too far to the — to the left on that, trying to court-martial a soldier for shooting somebody that may — may not have been an enemy, but he certainly looked like he was one.

Thomas Healy:
That first hand-to-hand, did you feel — I mean, I know it happened in milliseconds. But I mean, did you feel that you were ready for that? I mean, were you —

Werner Schlaupitz:
No. No. You — it’s a surprise. It’s — it’s — you don’t — at least I didn’t. You know, you don’t mentally condition yourself, say, “Well, I’m going in and stab that fellow,” or “I’m going to go in and kill that fellow.” You — it happens when you’re there. It’s — it’s a reflex. It’s a reflex that happens. I don’t know. That’s me. Once — when you came face to face with the fellow and then it was him or you. And then you realize, hey, you know, it’s — it’s — you’ve got to save your life. But to mentally say, “Well, I’m going out and kill — kill somebody,” while you’re in a — going into battle, I don’t know. I don’t think so. You think more preserving — preservation of your own life first, and then second of all, of taking care of the enemy second. But you don’t — at least I didn’t — go in and say, “Hey, I’m going to go get this — go get this guy and going to kill him.”

Thomas Healy:
Did your training — did your training help you at that moment?

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yes. Yes. Your training does help you. We went through bayonet training, a lot of bayonet training, and con — you know, close contact training. We went through that at — while I was at Fort Benning, Georgia, we went through that training. It did help. It does prepare you for that event. But like I say, when — when all of a sudden you see this gentleman — you know, you’re sitting there waiting. You’re tense. But you don’t look forward for that incident to happen, if I — if I can say that. You know, if — when it happens, it’s there, but you don’t sit there hoping and waiting, you know, hoping that — for it to happen. You’re tense. When you’re in the jungle, you’re walking through. You’re tense. You’re looking around. You’re — if you see something moving, yes, you shoot and that. But you don’t go in, say, “Oh, I’m going to look for this — for this fellow or this enemy and shoot him.” If you run across him and it sort of — it’s — it means your safety, yes, you do it.

Thomas Healy:
Pascal? Has he pretty much covered everything?

Unidentified Speaker:
Yeah. Let’s do a — it’s good when he just looks like this. Just a question. There’s a movie. What is it called? The Thin Red Line or The Thin Blue Line?

Thomas Healy:
Red. Thin Red Line.

Unidentified Speaker:
Thin Red Line. Did you see that movie?

Werner Schlaupitz:
What —

Thomas Healy:
The Thin Red Line.

Werner Schlaupitz:
What?

Unidentified Speaker:
There’s a movie that came out the same year as Saving Private Ryan.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Oh. Oh. Ryan. Yeah, that.

Thomas Healy:
No. The other one. The Thin Red Line.

Werner Schlaupitz:
I don’t —

Unidentified Speaker:
Just when you described the — the 53 battles or 58 days of battle, and you went up in the mountain creek, and they show this. It’s a — it’s a movie which came out.

Thomas Healy:
It’s Mel Gibson. Isn’t it Mel Gibson?

Werner Schlaupitz:
I don’t — I don’t remember that one.

Unidentified Speaker:
[Inaudible]

Thomas Healy:
I don’t know.

Werner Schlaupitz:
I don’t —

Unidentified Speaker:
I thought it was a tremendous movie.

Werner Schlaupitz:
I don’t remember that. I’ve never — I don’t remember The Thin Red Line. I don’t — I thought, you know, Private Ryan — on my — people that weren’t in the service asked me how authentic it was, and I said, well, the beach and — the landings were authentic, but this was Hollywood when you go out and put things on a tank and —

Thomas Healy:
Well, if it — my — two or three of the gentlemen yesterday that had landed at Normandy said the same thing. They said that it was probably the most real thing that they’ve ever produced is that beach landing in Private Ryan.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yeah. But when it gets into the city and puts these dynamite things on tanks and that, that’s Hollywood. That’s Hollywood. That — that, I smiled.

Thomas Healy:
Well, the ladies — we interviewed some lady pilots. And apparently Jane Russell had made a movie about the — the women pilots and stuff.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
And they were saying how ridiculous it was. But that’s Hollywood. You want to just have him look —

Unidentified Speaker:
Yeah, yeah.

Thomas Healy:
You’re going to look straight at the cam — At the camera or at me?

Unidentified Speaker:
At you is good because it’s good lighting. The blue eyes are [inaudible].

Thomas Healy:
Hold on a second. I’ve got to go get this other gentleman. Face — just look at this seat here. Okay. Here we go.

Unidentified Speaker:
As if TJ would be still sitting here. Just —

Werner Schlaupitz:
?Ich kann nicht horen hier.?

Unidentified Speaker:
We just need that — just — you not — just a still photo, so to say, but we’re filming through this camera.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Oh, okay.

Unidentified Speaker:
So just keep looking over here. Thank you.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yeah. You — you still — you still have a little — how long have you been here in the United States?

Unidentified Speaker:
Eight years.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Eight years?

Unidentified Speaker:
Mm-hmm. Our daughter is German and American. She has dual citizenship.

Werner Schlaupitz:
See, my children — my children are first — first generation American, American-born, same as my brother. Where — you live in Dover here or —

Unidentified Speaker:
I live in Westchester, Pennsylvania.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Westchester? Oh, that’s where my daughter went to college, up in Westchester, and I used to leave in Media.

Thomas Healy:
Is she a teacher?

Werner Schlaupitz:
She went to Westchester — no. She — she works for the church now. She works for Holy Cross. She — she went there, went to school, but she didn’t get into teaching.

Unidentified Speaker:
Just for about 30 seconds, just remain quiet, please.

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yeah. I get the — I — it sort of sometimes upsets —

Thomas Healy:
Have you been to Germany?

Werner Schlaupitz:
Beg your pardon?

Thomas Healy:
Have you been back to Germany?

Werner Schlaupitz:
Yes. Yeah. It was about seven years — seven, eight years ago, my brother and I went back. And I’ve been back twice — (Conclusion of interview.)

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