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Interview with James T. Lingg on April 1, 2002

Adrian Matthews:

I am Adrian Matthews interviewing my grandfather in University Place, Washington on April 1st 2002. My grandfather is James T. Lingg, born September 22,1924. His address is 2536 Locust Ave. West, University Place, WA.

He served in World War 2 and Korea in the U. S. Army and retired with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer, W-2 pay grade, [the tape was turned off following the introduction to organize material for the interview, there was a slight problem with the pause button on the recorder]

Adrian Matthews:

When did you join the Army?

James T. Lingg:

I was inducted into the Army on January the 18th 1943.

Adrian Matthews:

How old were you?

James T. Lingg:

I was 18 years old.

Adrian Matthews:

Where were you trained?

James T. Lingg:

I was trained in Camp Hood, Texas.

Adrian Matthews:

What were you trained to be?

James T. Lingg:

I was trained to be a tank destroyer driver.

Adrian Matthews:

How long did you train?

James T. Lingg:

I trained for 13 weeks

Adrian Matthews:

When did you go overseas?

James T. Lingg:

I went overseas on January or I'm sorry I went overseas June 6, 1943

Adrian Matthews:

Okay. Where did you go overseas from?

James T. Lingg:

I went overseas from Newport News, Virginia

Adrian Matthews:

How did you get overseas?

James T. Lingg:

I went overseas on the USS West Point which was actually the Miss America as a peacetime vehicle.

Adrian Matthews:

Where did you go overseas?

James T. Lingg:

I landed in Casablanca, North Africa on the 13th of June 1943

Adrian Matthews:

What kind of unit were you in in North Africa?

James T. Lingg:

In North Africa I was only a replacement and a replacement does everything that nobody else wants to do, like shoveling sand onto the truck from the beach and hauling it up to the sand on the shore where we had our tents.

Adrian Matthews:

Where did you go from there?

James T. Lingg:

From there I was a Jeep driver and I drove a Jeep all the way across the top of North Africa to Bizerti.

Adrian Matthews:

What kind of transportation did you have to get to Sicily

James T. Lingg:

To get to Sicily I rode what they called a landing craft tank, they called it a LCT and it only took about 4 or 5 hours to get over there.

Adrian Matthews:

What did you do when you arrived in Sicily?

James T. Lingg:

When I arrived in Sicily I was a replacement yet and was assigned to the First Infantry Division Replacement Camp.

Adrian Matthews:

Who were you assigned to?

James T. Lingg:

At that point I really wasn't assigned to anybody yet. They sent me back to Africa on the USS Earl, which was a destroyer, for a hernia that I had occurred which was operated on and I from that point was returned back to the First Division to the replacement camps and I decided that I wanted to go back to the First Division so in the replacement camp we walked down to an airport and got us a flight back into Sicily and then hitchhiked our way back to the First Division replacement point.

Adrian Matthews:

What was a tank destroyer doing in the infantry?

James T. Lingg:

Ho ho that's a good question. In World War 2 the infantry were the boys that were taking the real beating, they were losing infantrymen off the line all the time from being wounded or being killed. So us replacements coming in for tank destroyers we weren't needed, we become infantrymen.

Adrian Matthews:

Where did you go after Sicily?

James T. Lingg:

After Sicily. I did no fighting in Sicily all I did was help guard some railroad yards and the railroad trains, the bridges. I had one three day pass into Palermo and then from that point we boarded the USS, uh Her Majesty's Ship the "Stratheden", which was an English ship and we rode that back from Sicily to England.

Adrian Matthews:

What did you do in England?

James T. Lingg:

In England we trained, getting prepared to make the invasion of France.

Adrian Matthews:

What kind of ship did you go to France in?

James T. Lingg:

Going to France we rode in an LCI, that's a Landing Craft Infantry, that hauls a Company of soldiers and is a very low riding ship, if it gets real bad, if the weather gets bad, it really bounces.

Adrian Matthews:

Where did you land in France?

James T. Lingg:

I landed on Easy Red on Omaha Beach.

Adrian Matthews:

When did you land in France?

James T. Lingg:

I landed in France in the afternoon of June 6,1944.

Adrian Matthews:

What did you do in France?

James T. Lingg:

In France my main mission of course was to be a rifleman and a scout. As a scout I was to draw enemy fire so that we could locate where they were at and eliminate them. At one time while I was there I had the occasion to call in mortor fire on a bunch of German soldiers. But while we were drawing that fire in, we managed to direct it too close to K Company and at that point I was called on the phone and told to stop immediately and I did and I remember now that actually the enemy was down in that close that if we hadn't of dropped it in there probably they would have overrun K Company.

Adrian Matthews:

Were you ever wounded?

James T. Lingg:

Yes, I was wounded both in the front in the chest and in the back when I tried to withdraw.

Adrian Matthews:

Were you a Prisoner of War?

James T. Lingg:

At the time I was wounded, I was on a scouting mission and yes the enemy corralled me at that time and took me back to where their front lines were at.

Adrian Matthews:

How did the German's treat you?

James T. Lingg:

How what?

Adrian Matthews:

How did the Germans treat you?

James T. Lingg:

The German's treated me very good. I remember now that these troops that had captured me were just plain German soldiers just like I was an American soldier and they put my own bandage on my wounds then they had to furnish the wound {bandage - bji)for my back, which they did.

Adrian Matthews:

What was the German Hospital like?

James T. Lingg:

What was what?

Adrian Matthews:

What was the German hospital like?

James T. Lingg:

Well, a German hospital was staffed by efficient people, they were using for nurses they had their nurses that were on telephone operators actually and they treated us very good at first. Then as we got further in to the point where we were getting to where they were going to remove us, and send us to Germany they brought the SS Troops in to watch in over us. They were very difficult to be around.

Adrian Matthews:

How did you escape?

James T. Lingg:

They moved us from the hospital on the 17∗ of June, July, August, of August down to the railroad yards and in the railroad yards they had 3 train or 3 coaches. Not coaches but box cars they filled up with prisoners. They allowed us out of the boxcar, one of the group at a time and I happened to be lucky enough to be outside on the ground when the FFI decided to throw a flreflght with the Germans and at that point I crawled down underneath the train and rejoined a German, uh American, I rejoined a French FFI soldier that I looked out under that train and I seen these jackboots and I thought that the Germans had me again.

Adrian Matthews:

What's an FFI?

James T. Lingg:

The FFI were the French Forces Interior which were the free Frenchmen fighting the Germans behind the lines.

Adrian Matthews:

What was the French Hospital like?

James T. Lingg:

Oh I liked the French Hospital. They used their nurses, they had brought them up from North Africa. The fathers had moved them out of North Africa the minute they heard the American's were landing there, they didn't want the American's to be around their daughters and they treated us very good and the French took one bullet out of my back that the German's had missed I felt that I had very good food, they fed us very good and when the American's finally got into France they gave us some-Red Gross boxes and I took the soap out of the Red Cross boxes and gave it to the girls because they hadn't had any decent soap. [The recorder was turned off while Mr. Lingg thought of more he wanted to say] One other thing that occurred when I was in the French Hospital, the German's bombed the city after they had withdrawn and left it as a open city and the bombs were very very close to our hospital. I was laying in bed in the same ward or same room as a young Canadian soldier who was damaged so bad he couldn't move out of the bed and at first I was so scared I ran to the door and was starting to go out the door and I realized that he couldn't come so I went back and got back in bed and we talked about what it was like back in our parts of the country while the German's were dropping bombs all around us. [Mr Lingg turned the recorder off to try and organize his thoughts] If my story is kind of rambling in the talk, you have to remember this was a long time ago. Also the German's were allowed to come into the hospitals and find out any of us were ambulatory to remove and take back to Germany. This was after they had made the Paris Agreement that they wouldn't destroy Paris if the French Forces didn't destroy them. And at this point I was very fortunate, the Red Cross Doctor that was with the team that checked us out decided that I was wounded bad enough that I couldn't be moved from the hospital and returned to the German train.

Adrian Matthews:

What's ambulatory?

James T. Lingg:

Ambulatory means that you are capable of walking for a reasonable amount or for a reasonable distance. What one person would declare ambulatory, another person wouldn't and thaf s what probably saved me from going out because the German's felt I was ambulatory enough but the French felt that I wasn't.

Adrian Matthews:

Was the urn What American Hospital were you in?

James T. Lingg:

I was in the 30th General Hospital on the Cherbourg Peninsula, I arrived there on about the 30th of August and didn't get out of there until sometime in October. It might have been the tail end of September 1944.

Adrian Matthews:

Did you receive any awards?

James T. Lingg:

Yes, I had one award, that was the Bronze Star for a little engagement we'd had in France but at the time it was awarded to me I was a Prisoner of War so it was going to be awarded to my Mother if I was later discovered to be dead. I didn't even know of the award until many, many moons later I was on an ROTC assignment for the army and in this assignment they said that the Combat Infantry Badge could get the Bronze Star so we applied for the Bronze Star with my Combat Infantry Badge and it came back that I had a cluster. Well then we had to go back and find out what the cluster was for. Well the cluster was for the Bronze Star award, for the, uh for having won the uh [Mr Lingg turned the recorder off to give himself time to think of the word he was searching for] the Combat Infantry Badge, but the original Bronze Star was awarded for a little engagement that we had had many, many months before so that was the only award I had really.

Adrian Matthews:

Where did you go from the hospital?

James T. Lingg:

From the 30th General Hospital, I went to the 2nd Replacement Camp, or I guess the 19th Replacement Camp, one of the two in France [Mr. Lingg turned the recorder off to think of the name of the town he was in] in Ste. Fontainebleau.

Adrian Matthews:

Where were you assigned from the Replacement Camp?

James T. Lingg:

At the replacement camp, I was reassigned out of the infantry into the anti aircraft and I joined the 787 AW Battalion in Section 8. That was sometime in October or November of 1944.

Adrian Matthews:

What was your job?

James T. Lingg:

My job, I was a gunner on a Quad-50 which is a frailer mounted 4 machine guns 50 caliber and they fire at the cross, the target, at 200 yards out and I never even got to shoot it.

Adrian Matthews:

What was your job? Uh. Where were you when the war ended?

James T. Lingg:

When the war ended. We were at Riems, France making sure that the German plane that was coming in that was bringing in the people for the surrender was not fired upon.

Adrian Matthews:

How did you feel?

James T. Lingg:

Very elated, wonderful, I had enough points so I didn't have to go to the Pacific to fight and my war days were over.

Adrian Matthews:

How did you come home?

James T. Lingg:

I came home on, oh lefs see, it was a Liberty Ship, I can't even remember the name of it now but it was a very, very bad ship to ride. But it was a wonderful trip to make.

Adrian Matthews:

Where were you discharged?

James T. Lingg:

I was discharged at Ft. Douglas, Utah in lets see, June the, uh no not June, December the 13th 1945 [The recorder was turned off for a short rest break]

Adrian Matthews:

Were you in the Korean War?

James T. Lingg:

Yes I managed to get into the Korean War, I had reenlisted and got in in time to go to Korea.

Adrian Matthews:

When did you go to Korea?

James T. Lingg:

I went to Korea on April of 1952

Adrian Matthews:

What kind of transportation did you take?

James T. Lingg:

I flew both into Japan and into Korea.

Adrian Matthews:

Who were you assigned to in Korea?

James T. Lingg:

I was assigned to Company A of the 27th Infantry, a part of the 25th Division

Adrian Matthews:

What was your job?

James T. Lingg:

My job was being a Unit Administrator which entailed all these additional duties as Mess Officer, Supply Officer and Pay Officer

Adrian Matthews:

Where were you in Korea?

James T. Lingg:

I served at times in the different places like the Mundong Ni Valley, Satae Ri Valley, the Chorwon area on the Iron Triangle.

Adrian Matthews:

How long did you stay in Korea?

James T. Lingg:

I stayed in Korea 11 months

Adrian Matthews:

How did you get home?

James T. Lingg:

I came home on the USS Black [The recorder was turned off for Mr. Lingg to decide if he wanted to add more to that statement, he did not]

Adrian Matthews:

How did you stay in touch with your family?

James T. Lingg:

In the days of the war we had what you call V-Mail and we used to take and write a letter on the V-Mail and then they sent it back to the people here in this part of the country, I don't really know how it worked but that was the only way that we really had of keeping in touch. We were not allowed to make telephone phone calls of that nature.

Adrian Matthews:

What was the food like?

James T. Lingg:

What?

Adrian Matthews:

What was the food like?

James T. Lingg:

I thought the food was very good. I uh, remember this was back right after depression days and we had lived on a lot of very poor food up to the point of where we went into the service.

Adrian Matthews:

Did you have plenty of supplies?

James T. Lingg:

Oh yes, yes there was no problem on getting things we had {this sentence was not finished - bjQ}

Adrian Matthews:

Did you feel pressure or stress?

James T. Lingg:

No, should of I?

Adrian Matthews:

How did folks entertain themselves?

James T. Lingg:

Huh?

Adrian Matthews:

How did folks entertain themselves?

James T. Lingg:

Entertainment? I don't remember getting anybody to entertain me. We used to play cards and we used to get in fights once in a while in the barracks and things like that. That was our entertainment.

Adrian Matthews:

Were there entertainers?

James T. Lingg:

What?

Adrian Matthews:

Were there entertainers?

James T. Lingg:

Yes, they did, they had people come overseas to entertain us. I was very unfortunate, every time they were over there to entertain us, I was in trouble with somebody and I was either digging a hole, filling a hole or doing something other than going to the entertainment. I did get to go to "This is the Army Mr. Jones" and it was a wonderful, wonderful production. It was all male soldiers and they had males dressed like females and they looked just like the girls back home.

Adrian Matthews:

Do you recall any particularly humorous or unusual event?

James T. Lingg:

What?

Adrian Matthews:

Do you recall any particularly humourous or unusual event?

James T. Lingg:

Humorous? Yeah like I said I dug a lot of holes. Jack C, the gentleman that was my platoon sergeant could tell you that I was the best hole digger in the Company and some of the humorous things that would happen would be that they would be looking for somebody to do something and who do you ttiink would be smiling there in the ranks? Your grandpa. One of the things they didn't understand was why I smiled all the time.

Adrian Matthews:

What did you think of fellow officers or soldiers? What did you think of officers or fellow soldiers?

James T. Lingg:

Well, I got along good with everybody really. I talk about digging holes and things like that but you know it was necessary, we had kitchens we had to dig holes for to throw the garbage in, we had latrines that had to be dug so it was natural that you were going to do a lot of digging. Plus foxholes and just general life you had a shovel in your hand an awful lot.

Adrian Matthews:

Did you keep a personal diary?

James T. Lingg:

No we were not allowed to carry any nature uh thing of that nature, we were not allowed to have a camera, we were not allowed to carry any kind of papers on our possession that might tell the enemy anything at all.

Adrian Matthews:

Do you recall the day your service ended?

James T. Lingg:

Yeah, I'm trying to think you know, and I realize that a lot of time went by but the day my service ended actually was a retirement day for me. I retired from Fort Lewis, Washington in 1963 in December and to me, it was a great day. I'd served my time and now I'm living to this date and they've been paying me all this time so I like, I think it was a great great thing to have happen.

Adrian Matthews:

What did you do in the days and weeks afterwards?

James T. Lingg:

Well, when I got out I went to work for Sears and Roebuck first as a stock boy, then as a salesman, and then as a manager of the Paint Department and I managed, the uh, I managed quite a few things, I was Assistant Manager out at the Lakewood Store and I think back, Sears and Roebuck treated me very well.

Adrian Matthews:

Did you make any close friendships while In the service?

[Mr Lingg was having some trouble hearing and understanding the questions, the reorder was turned off to give him time to think about the question and decide how to answer.]

James T. Lingg:

Yes I made a lot of close friendships while in the service. I continued these relationships with the fact that I got to going to the Division reunions and even after 50 years of being away from each other it was just like we'd never been away at all. The same stories that I told we had our grandma,your grandma, she would sit and listen to what they had to say about stories I had told about and she said you know it sounds just like you guys were reading a book. Thats how close our friendship really was. The people that I was so dose to have died now. We all reach the end of the road eventually. And then this is the bad part. I still have some friends but not the real dose friends that I had.

Adrian Matthews:

How long did you continue these relationships?

James T. Lingg:

fifty some years fifty-two, fifty-three years

Adrian Matthews:

Did you join a veteran's organization?

James T. Lingg:

I joined quite a few of them as a life member, member at large

Adrian Matthews:

What did you do, uh. What did you go on to do as a career after the war?

James T. Lingg:

We covered that

Adrian Matthews:

Did your military experience influence you thinking about war or about the military in general?

James T. Lingg:

If I could say anything on that I would only say that it taught me to believe in what I do and that might have influenced me in that deal, but the military in general is a wonderful organization.

Adrian Matthews:

Thanks for this interview and your memories

 
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