Town: Clermont

Branch of service and rank: Army, sergeant (four stripes), World War II

Enlisted or drafted? I was drafted in 1943, one month after high school. I went to Great Lakes and the recruiter said, "You're in the navy." And I said, "I don't want to be in the navy. I get seasick looking at Lake Michigan." So he changed me to the army.

What did you do in the service? I was in infantry.

Why was your job was important? I had a role to play as a soldier, and we had an enemy that was terrible. Get rid of Hitler and his entourage and try to salvage peace. We tried to make sure that none of them made it out alive.

What is your most important memory from service? We were in Austria. We went to a camp — it was a Holocaust camp. As we came up, I saw three or four prisoners in striped striped prison clothes, and they were emaciated. As we went to the camp, a sergeant said, "We've got to get those guys out." We asked "Where?" He said, "The box cars." We opened up the cars and they (people) were stacked up. They had died on the way. I don't know how many were dead, but most of them were. They wanted food, they wanted water, they wanted anything, but we were told if we gave them food, they'll die right right in front of us. All we could do was liberate the camp. The medics came in to help the people that were still alive. It was pretty brutal. The idea that you could come into a place like that, with bodies stacked up like firewood, it was darned hard to swallow.

What did you like least about service? The part I liked least of service was probably the regimentation, adhering to the rules. The Army had a book of rules.

What would you like people to understand about war? It would be wise for people to realize that societies have to get together and work out common problems to maintain peace. You can't be going to war. If you do, you're back in the same mess as before.