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Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Today is Thursday, May 23rd, 2002, and this is the beginning of an interview with Daniel T. Mihutaat his home at 16435 Parkwood in Middleburg Heights,Ohio.

Mr. Mihuta is 79 years old, having been born on March 20th, 1923. My name is Kaitlyn Mihuta, and I'll be the interviewer. Daniel T. Mihutais my grandfather and he is my dad's father. Papa, could you please state for the recording what war and branch did you serve in?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Okey-doke. World War II, United States Army.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Okay.

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Okay?

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

And what was your rank?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

I was a sergeant, what we call a buck sergeant, three stripes.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

And where did you serve?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

I served in United States for six months up in Portland, Oregon; Vancouver, Washington; Oakland,

California; and then got shipped to Guadalcanal. I was there for a year and a half, and for another year -- another year I went to the Philippine Islands to an island called Sebu City, Sebu City, which was the summer capital for the Philippines.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Where were you drafted or did -- Were you drafted or you enlist?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

No, I drafted in Amherst, Ohio, and the reason why I did not volunteer at that particular time, Grandma Mahula, my mother, had just come out of the sanitarium where she was there for three years with tuberculosis, and she wanted me around as long as I could stay. So I would have probably gone into the Air Force, that's where I wanted to go, but I waited until I was drafted.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

At the time of war, were you in any kind of relationship with a young lady or anything?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

No. No, I was just out of high school a couple years and, no, I had a girlfriend, but I -- no relationship of any serious nature.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Do you remember your first day?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

In the Army?

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Yeah.

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Yes. We went from Amherst, Ohio, on a train. We got down to Columbus, and my first day they woke us up at 3:00 in the morning and they took away our clothes and gave us Army clothes {coughs}-- excuse me, and none of my clothes fit me. They either gave me things too small or too big.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

How did you feel about that?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Went back and says, "Hey, give me the right size."

They says, "Well, you just take that now. You're going to get shipped to someplace, and then you can go to the quartermaster corp there and they'll fix you up with the proper sizes."

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Interesting. Tell me about your boot camp experiences.

Daniel T. Mihuta:

The boot camp was up in Vancouver, Washington State, and a lot of learning how to do close order drill. We learned -- went to the rifle range, learned how to shoot several different types of rifles. We went through a situation where we had to go under live fire, crawl under fences, through mud and so forth. It was pretty exciting when you hear the bullets flying over your head and knowing they were real.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Do you remember your instructors?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

No, I don't by name. Most of my instructors were regular Army men that were stationed there at the camp,

Camp Hathaway, but I don't remember their names now.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Do you remember if you liked them or not?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Oh, I did like them. They were hard, you know, barked at you a lot, but they were -- they were good.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Okay. Again, what war were you in?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

World War II, which started on December 7th, 1941.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Do you remember your first day like at war, not going but first day actually as a soldier?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

As a soldier? Well, I'll tell you, like I say, once I got given the wrong sized uniform and got shipped off to the camp in Washington State and I finally got my own clothes on that all fit me, the only thing that didn't fit me well and I -- and those are my shoes. And after doing close order drill, I ended up in the hospital because I had an infected foot because the shoe didn't fit me. You know what they did in the Army, which is interesting that you'd hear this, in the real case, if you want shoes to fit you, you get the right size shoes as you think you can, put on some heavy socks, and then walk in the water and get your feet and your shoes all wet, and you wear those for about two or three days without taking them off, and then when -- the shoes kind of molded around your feet.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

That's interesting too. Do you remember any of your jobs?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Yeah. What we were trained for -- My outfit was called the 492nd Port Battalion, and I was in a group called 29 -- 231st Port Company. Basically we were trained -- being trained how to load and unload cargo ships. And I was made -- because I had some schooling that they thought was good, I was made and called a super cargo. I was in charge of weights and measures, how to load a ship, where to put all the cargo so the ship would stay in balance when it went on water.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Do you -- Did you see any combat?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

The combat? No. When we got to Guadalcanal, the island was still in battle, considered in battle. Most of the Japanese at that particular time had been chased into the mountains, and many others were pulled out and went up to some further islands up north, but none there. The only combat that we would say was ordered to us is that we were loading one ship called the USS

Serpents. I closed the ship up at noon, and about 2:00 in the afternoon they said they found some more ammunition that they needed to load in the ship, and they went and did that. At midnight, that ship blew up and 250 fellows were killed. One man got off alive.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Tell me, what were a couple of your most memorable experiences?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Oh, golly. Just meeting and being with a whole bunch of guys from different parts of the country. There were northerners and there were southerners and there were hillbillies and there were cowboys and we even had an outfit some American Indians. And so we -- It was a great time getting to know all of each other, so that was always very memorable. And since I like to travel, going someplace new in the world was also important to me.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Were you awarded any medals?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Yes. We -- When we left that area, we got a star that represented the Solomon Islands, and then when we got to the Philippines, those islands were still being -- were in fight, we got a medal from the -- another star which represented we were in a battle zone of the Philippine Islands. Then, of course, I got a good conduct medal when I retired because I wasn't in any trouble.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

How did you feel when you got them? Did you feel --

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Oh, just proud that we were serving our country, and so that kind of felt nice, yes.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Okay. What were your feelings during the war?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

You know, it's kind of interesting you ask that, because I didn't get homesick. A lot of guys got homesick because it was the first time they were away.

When we -- When I was still in high school, my dad traveled and we went to Detroit and New York, so being away from my parents and my mother being away from us for -- because of tuberculosis, there was no real case of homesickness. But there was one time on Guadalcanal, this is jungle area, we went back in the jungle with our rifles because we heard there was some boar, like wild pigs, and we were going to go shoot a pig and see if we can cook it. And we went back in the jungle, and when

we got back in there, we ran across a farm that was a British farm, because Guadalcanal was the homegrown area for Palmolive Soap Company. It was a British company.

d this was a big plantation, and we got in there and there was some apple trees and pear trees, and it was just the right time of the year and the leaves were falling off the trees. They were turned yellow and red.

d I always loved the fall. When you're in the jungle, everything was green; but when these leaves start to fall off the tree, I started to cry, because I love the fall. And that's the one time I got real homesick.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Oh, yeah. But did you stay in touch with your family?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

All the time.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

How did -- Letters?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Well, mama's a good letter writer, and so I probably wrote a letter every other day to mom, and then I had about five or six other people I kept writing to. We didn't have lights at the time in the jungle there, we used candles, and would write letters; or, if you could, you'd write them in the daytime but most of the time in the daytime we were working.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Did your family ever send you anything?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Yes. Grandma -- We didn't have any fresh food there.

Everything was -- that we ate came canned, and after a

while you got real sick of canned food. I told my mother would she please send me some fresh eggs, hard- boiled eggs. And there is a way to do that. My mother would boil them and dip them into a solution called glass wax, and it would seal the egg so it wouldn't go bad. So she would send me hard-boiled eggs, and sometimes they came whole, sometimes they came all crushed, but she would send me things like that. She sent me a radio, because later on we had a radio station in Guadalcanal, and I asked for a radio.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Speaking of the food, what was the main food like?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

After the what we call K-rations where just you ate out of a little square box, they had canned food in it and so forth, but after we were on the island for a while, then Australia started to feed us. All the people who were real south in the South Pacific were fed by Australia, and the Australian soldiers who were north got fed by the Americans, and the one thing that we got from Australia was, baa, lamb. We had lamb every meal.

Fresh meat, but lamb. And the guys, as soon as we go to eat, they'd say, "Baa, baa, more -- more lamb." But I didn't mind it, I liked lamb.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

After that did it take a while to eat -- to eat lamb again?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Well, I'll tell you what, no. Our cooks didn't know

how to prepare lamb real well. They prepared it with the fat lining on the skin and it made the lamb taste real strong. But after a while, some of our cooks learned how to take that fat part off and the lamb tasted better.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Did you feel a lot of stress during your time?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

No, not much; I think probably when the ship blew up and we lost two men from my tent and I lost a boy friend from Lorraine, Ohio. And after the war, I went and visited two or three of the different parents of the boys that were lost. But, no, the stress -- The islands as much as Guadalcanal, it still is beautiful, and there are a lot of nice green palm trees and beautiful ocean, we'd go swimming, fishing whenever we could. So I didn't have the stress except, like I say, when we had to go look for fellows that were killed.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

What were some of the first changes in your life after the war started?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Well, the first big change coming back on the boat, they explained to us about the G.I. bill, which was a situation the government had set up for us that we could get free schooling for the number of years we were in the Army. So when I got back, my brother and mother already had me enrolled in Baldwin-Wallace College, and so I went through college for four years and two years

on my master's degree free on my G.I. bill, which is a nice way to -- for fellows even nowadays to join the Army and they earn credits so that when they come out they have their college paid for.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

How did people entertain themselves?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Overseas?

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Um-hmm.

Daniel T. Mihuta:

We had a couple guys really played guitar. I sang a lot. I made a lot of signs, I was a sign painter too, I did that. I didn't do so much art there that way, but swimming, of course, we had a nice beach, and a lot of reading. We'd have people send us all kinds of books because every time you got some time you'd read.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

What did you do while on leave?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Well, on Guadalcanal, no leave. You were there and you were stuck there. But when we were still in the States we'd go to Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco,

California, and they had great big nice USOs, dances, with a lot of the girls from town, go to movies and stage shows, yeah.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Do you recall any particularly humorous or unusual events?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Oh, golly. I'll tell you what, everything was funny after a while. You had to laugh at everything. I think probably the funniest thing was that we had one guy was a cowboy.

d the Japanese had used donkeys to pull their carts around with ammunition in it, and when the Japanese left the island, the donkeys went wild. Well, this one friend of mine, cowboy, he caught a donkey and the donkey was kind of wild so he kind of worked on it until he got it tamed. And then whenever he'd go anyplace on the island, he'd say, "Come on, go along."

Well, I'd sit on the donkey, but he'd sit on the back, but where did I have to sit but on the donkey's back hips. And the donkey would go, and by the time I'd get done I'd get off the donkey and I couldn't walk. It was sort of like you got beat up with his hips going back and forth. That was the funniest thing between me and this guy. But the USO came in and we had boxing matches, they give us stuff, and they brought baseballs and footballs and we played sports with different other outfits that were around. So we had some real good times like that.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Were there any pranks you pulled on someone else?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Yeah. {Coughs} -- excuse me. If you -- If it was raining and you were in a tent and your buddy was asleep, the water was not coming into the tent; but if you went to his bunk where he was sleeping and reach up and touch the tent right above him, when you'd touch the bottom of the tent that would be a spot where the tent would leak.

d so while your buddy was sleeping, you'd go up there and you'd touch the spot and then all of a sudden the drops come down and fall on him while he was sleeping. Guys get real mad about this, but that was one of the pranks we used to do.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Did anyone do any other ones to you, did you get any pulled on you?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Oh, golly. Not so much on me. They were pretty good to me. I was their boss for a while. I had 22 men under me, so they didn't want to pull too many things on me.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Did you keep a personal diary?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

No, but, you know, in all the letters I sent home to Grandma Mihuta, my mother, I kept a diary in the letters; and when we got back home, mom had this great big box of all the different things. And then when I got home, at that moment I just decided, well, the war was over and we just burned the letters, I didn't keep it. I wish now that I had not done that, because I'd like to go back and maybe read some of the things I may have said at the time. I remember I said one thing to my mother, I said, "Guadalcanal's been kind of a hellhole for the war, but when you don't think of that, it's a beautiful island." You see the palm trees and the mountains in the back and all, so it's kind of a nice vacation kind of a place.

d one guy read that in the paper, my mother gave him the newspaper and they printed it in the newspaper. There was another guy on Guadalcanal who didn't know I was there, and his mother sent him the article that I had written, so he looked me up and he came in our tent, the area, "Mihuta! Mihuta!"

"Yeah." And I saw this guy, he says, "So this is heaven, huh? So this is a wonderful place?" Because he had been in a real bad battle, so he thought I was a little crazy for thinking that the islands were pretty.

But I think because that's what an art person does, I think, I'm an art person, and I could be someplace that's real bad and I can think it's pretty sometimes.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Yeah, that's good. What did you think about the enemy?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

The contact I had with the enemy was in the Philippine Islands when we were -- the airplanes came across and dropped leaflets in the mountains to let the Japanese know that the war was over, and yet they were afraid to come down. They thought the war was still going, because they were taught they had to fight to the end, until they would die. But then a lot of us had to go and try and round them up and let them know that the war was over, that Japan had suspended -- you know. But they were very quiet, and -- when you get real close to them.

We had to give them clothes and gym shoes and everything because a lot of them were without that. And when you looked at them, you didn't talk to them so much but you just looked at them, and it just made you kind of sick to think that, you know, these are some guys you could have been killing and they were just as human as we were. So I was glad to see a lot of them being sent home, that they didn't die during the war.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

How did you feel about the war news from the television or radio?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Well, you know what they would do for us, we were in the Pacific, they would send movies over from the European warfare, and every week they'd show us all the movies of what was happening in Africa and Germany and everything. And then our people, our people in the Pacific would send their movies to Europe so the other soldiers could see what we were doing, you know. But we just kept waiting for the day that all this would be over, and I remember so -- with such surprise when they said an atomic bomb was dropped on Japan. It was the size of a golf ball and killed so many, you know, thousands of people and the war would soon be over.

Because a lot of us were thinking that, as the war progressed, we'd have to go to Japan and fight in Japan.

We were hoping the war would end before then, and it did.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

How did you feel about the antiwar protests?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

The ones of the antiwar protests of the Vietnamese kids were doing because we were in Vietnam. I was in real sympathy for those kids, because that was a terrible, terrible war, a lot worse than ours, because they're not -- they weren't going to win and they were having to fight against civilians. They didn't know about people carrying bombs on them and so forth. That was a real bad war, so -- I went along with the war protesters. I just wanted to see all the war stopped.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Did you think it was right for America to be at war at that time?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

In World War I and II, yes. In Vietnam, there I -- I didn't think we belonged there. I didn't think we belonged there.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Did you change your views over the span of the war?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

In regard to our war, no. World War II was really to -- because the Japanese were the aggressor. We had to get Japan back where they belonged and all. But, no, that was a war that had to be fought. The wars that follow that I think were questionable.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Have you visited any memorials or participated in any like commemorations of the war?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Yes. In fact, 40 years after I was on Guadalcanal my

boss in California sent me to China and down to Thailand, and then I went down to a place called Jakarta in Indonesia, Bali, and then I went to Australia and New Zealand, and from there I flew back to Guadalcanal to visit the island 40 years after we were there and to look up some of the graves of some of the fellows that were killed, and of course it was all -- it turned out to be a whole jungle. I couldn't even find where the graveyard was. But a native took me into the jungle and showed me that, about 20 years after the war was over, that the Army had come through, the government come through and vacated the whole cemetery and marked the packages and so forth and shipped all the boys home to be buried back home. So I did go there, and then I saw -- we didn't have a memorial up there, but the Japanese had a memorial up for their people, but it was kind of interesting. The Japanese memorial said, "To all those men who died fighting for their country," and didn't care whether it was American or Japanese. It was kind of a nice thought, I thought.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

What effect did the war have on your physical health, if it did?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Oh, I -- we had to take a lot of pills so we wouldn't get malaria, but that didn't affect us too much. The word was out that if you took these pills you would come

home and you would be sterile and you would never be able to have a baby. So what the guys would do, they give us the pills and the guys would pretend like they took it in their mouth and they'd go past their mouth and not take them. They were a pill that turned the ground real yellow. And the thing is, the officers got on that, and the medical people, and then they stood -- we had to stand with our mouth open wide and they threw it in our mouth and gave us a drink of water, make sure we drank, because they didn't want any of us to get malaria. So I remember I had to do part of that too.

Some of my guys didn't want to take the pills.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Did it have any effects on your mental --

Daniel T. Mihuta:

It just turned your body yellow. Your eyes were yellow, your whole body was yellow, but it didn't affect any of our healths.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

What about mentally, were you --

Daniel T. Mihuta:

No. The mental problems came back from the boys when we unloaded the ships, like I was saying. We unloaded food and clothing and all kinds of tanks and trucks, airplanes. When we unloaded the hospital ships, we saw the guys were coming back from battle, a lot of them were close to -- some of them were insane, some of them -- so seeing them changed our attitude about war too.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Did you ever worry that the US might not win, did it ever cross your mind?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

No, that never crossed my mind. I think as soon as -- See, Guadalcanal was the last island before Australia and New Zealand, so the Japanese had come down all the way through about 10, 20 different islands; and when they got to Guadalcanal, the next thing was to go into Australia, so Guadalcanal was the last island. And as soon as they lost in Guadalcanal and they started to go back up towards Japan, I knew we were going to win, just didn't know how long it was going to take, and that we didn't want to go into Japan.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Did any of your friends get married during the wartime?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

No. The fellows that -- When we first got in the Army, some of them were already married and their wives came out to the west coast and stayed with them until we shipped across; but once we shipped out to Guadalcanal and Philippine Islands, no one then married. One fellow, I think, wanted to marry a Filipino girl, but the Army wasn't too strong on letting him do that. They said, "Go home, see your family first, and if you still want to marry her, you come back on your own."

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Do you remember the day your service ended?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Yeah. Yeah, my service, there were two important days.

One was that big -- when the atomic bomb went off, and I think it was only one week later, it happened to be on my mother's birthday, August 15th, Japan surrendered and we knew now we were going to go home.

The Army came through and said, "Would you like to reenlist? We need to have people go to China and Burma, some places," but most of us all said no, we want to go home. And so August, and then we sailed for home on Christmas Day, December 25th, on a ship. We came right on back, and then we were shipped to a place called Camp ____________in Indiana where they gave us winter uniforms, because it was winter now. We were coming from a hot climate, so they had to bundle us all up, put our stripes on, and dressed us up and sent us off, they gave you so much money to buy a ticket on the train, and I came home. It's kind of funny, I'm coming from Indiana and the train came right through Amherst where I lived, but the train wasn't going to stop until it got to Cleveland. So as I came by, I saw my house and I waved real quickly, of course nobody was watching, then went into Cleveland, got off the train, and then took a bus home to Amherst.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

How did you feel when you arrived at home?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Do you know, not only was it good, but the thing is, there was another disappointing thing. I got off the

bus about three miles, four miles from my house, and I had my duffel bag and all my stuff, and I thought, because I had been in the war, had my uniform, that I'd hitchhike home. I wanted to surprise my folks. But I walked a half mile, nobody would pick me up. Finally one man picked me up and took me about a mile, and then the last two miles, walking down the road and the weather was cold, it must have been around zero, and I was really cold, nobody would give me a ride. And I remember saying to myself, "You know, you guys, we've been away for three years fighting a war, how come none of you give me a ride?" So I walked the last two miles to my house. It was kind of funny. It's almost as if they knew I was coming down the road, because they were standing in the front window, and when they saw me {laughing} -- pardon me, dear, they come around and my father, the first thing he says, "You damned fool, why didn't you call us?" I says, "Well, I was going to surprise you." And then what I did, even though I was home and I had all my friends in Amherst and places, I got in the house and I stayed there for about three or four days. I didn't want anybody to know I was home.

It was kind of a big change all of a sudden from being warm, in a warm climate, and all my buddies now scattered off in different directions, and I just wanted

to stay home in the house, get warm, and then slowly start to talk to my mother and father, because they were so full of questions, and I wasn't quite ready to talk, you know.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

That's understandable. But what were some of the things that you did in the days after you --

Daniel T. Mihuta:

After I got home? Then, well, some kids heard I was home, and they -- we had a candy kitchen in the restaurant, and they all got together and said, "Come on," so three or four, me and two or three other people that came back from the war, we all went over there and had sandwiches and ice cream sodas. And it was kind of interesting, the kids did not ask -- all the girls that we had in high school and the people, fellows who didn't go in the Army, they didn't ask much about the war.

They -- Just glad you're home. We talked about the things we did in high school and laughed a lot.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Did you go -- You did go back to school, then, after the war?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Yeah.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

For how long?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

My mother and brother had me enrolled in Baldwin-Wallace College; and so I was home only about 12, 15 days, and the second semester at Baldwin-Wallace College started so I went right smack to college. And that was interesting.

I was -- I don't know if I was ready to learn at that time. I knew I wanted to learn, but the thing is, I just had to get used to being home.

It was kind of funny seeing houses and everything. When you weren't around for, you know, two and a half years, it was kind of different.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Did you make any close friends while you were --

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Oh, yes, oh, yes. I was -- I become the best man of two of my buddies, and one of them was a best man at my wedding. And we'd go to ball games together in Cleveland after the war, and some of us who came back and knew about each other, then, we decided the important thing for us to do was to go visit the boys that were in the Army with us who were killed, and so we'd go and visit their parents and let them know what happened, because most of the time they were listed as missing in action, because they never could find their body. And so we did that. But, yeah, I kept friendships. And right now I'll be going to my 27th Army reunion. We've been getting together for 27 years, and we get together, we tell lies, we talk about the war and we tell bigger lies about what happened. We had a lot of good times.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

So you did continue -- Do you remember any of their names?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Yeah. The most important one was Albert Kavosic (ph), who -- he was in the tent next to me, but he was from Cleveland, Ohio, and he was -- I was his best man and he was my best man. But the thing, when I went in,

I was kind of skinny and about 130 pounds, kind of a weakling. I had never been in any major sports. My brother was and everything like that. And he decided to toughen me up. And so there was boxing gloves, and he'd say, "Put the gloves on," and he would beat the heck out of me until I would get mad, then I'd swing like crazy at him and he'd laugh and we'd dodge and so forth. Then we'd wrestle and he'd just about kill me and everything.

But there was one thing I was always grateful for him, because after that I seemed to like body contact. I mean, I could see where guys like to play football or something where they have good body contact. But I was kind of, like I say, thin, skinny guy and he was very muscular. He dropped me a round good. When I'd get real mad, he would never let me go. I found myself getting real good and tough.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

So what did you go on to do as a career after the war?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Well, when we were in the Philippine Islands, and all the Filipino people went up in the islands to get away from the war, when we would have our lunchtime or

dinnertime, we'd get our food and there would be a line of maybe a hundred, 200 children around our tents waiting for our garbage. And I decided -- Sometimes we didn't even eat, but we'd have meat, potatoes, beans, jello. We'd come out, I'd eat a little bit, go out, and these kids were standing there with empty cans, we'd pour our garbage into the cans. And I decided then, when I got back I was going to become a social worker.

I wanted to work with people who didn't have much food or clothing or maybe poor. But having seen all those kids, that's what I thought I wanted to do. But when I got into college, I majored in psychology so I would be trained, but at the same time I found myself doing a lot of artwork for the college, making signs and posters and stuff. And art was always a part of my life ever since I was a little kid, so the thing is, I slowly started to take a major in psychology but a minor in art. And then when I was ready to graduate, I decided at that point I think I want to do art full-time. I said I could still be good with kids and so forth. So that's what happened.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

So did that take off for you?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Pardon?

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

The art career, did that --

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Yeah, that took off for me, and I got hired right

ay out of college in Medina, where I met your grandma,

Barbara, and I met her in a little theater, again, doing art. And then I came to Parma and stayed in art the whole time, and then art took me into television, you know, I do television shows for kids around the country.

So, yeah, it all worked out. But it started way back when I was in about the third grade. I was -- a teacher gave me a chalkboard and said, "You're so good at art, you have to put a picture there every week." So I would go and draw a picture on the -- on that board, and so art was always there. And psychology was something that was temporarily taking its place, but really when you work with children anyway, you're using your psychology with them, so it wasn't a waste of time.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

When you were in the war, did you think you ever wanted to get married after?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

No. You know, grandma teases me about this, but the thing is, when I got back, because I had traveled a little bit, I wanted to stay a bachelor for a while and travel around the world. I didn't know what I was going to do, but I was going to travel around the world. So all the way through college I had four or five different girlfriends, but I just, no, I'm not going to get married. And then I went to teach in Medina, and I met your grandma and that was {gestures} -- that was it. It just so happens that way. So we got married.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

And had a family?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

And had a family, David and Laura. And I wish I had more children. I really would have liked to have had four or five of them. When we got a boy and a girl, we said, well, that's good enough.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Did your military experience influence your thinking about the war or military in general as of nowadays?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Yeah. I have a feeling that I've -- that a lot of kids who come out of high school are not quite ready always to go to college. I was ready because I came from after three years of being in the Army, so I was ready to go to college; but a lot of kids who graduate from high school a lot of times are not really ready to go to college. They want some time. And the Netherlands have it and Belgium has it and a few other countries in Europe where they wanted to give the kids one or two years to travel the world, and they get real good airline passes and stuff. I've always thought that that ought to be the thing in the United States too, where the kids would go ahead, maybe serve one year in the military. It wouldn't be in a fighting military, but in a disciplinary thing, send them to other parts of the world so they can meet other people, and then come back and decide now college is a good idea.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

How did your service and experiences affect your life?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

It just gave me a lot of good buddies and a lot of good memories and made me proud that I was one of the guys that, like they say over here, helped preserve our democracy.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Is there one thought about your wartime experience that you want to share with future generations?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Yeah. Instead of fighting, let's try real hard to find another way to do it. If kids could find some way to get this world working together instead of fighting,

I'd like to see war stopped. I know there's been wars for generations and generations, and there will always be squabbles; but it just kills me when I read over here where a 16 year old girl carries a bomb on her body over in Israel or in that area and kills another girl who's only 17 years old by blowing each other apart. Here's two lives lost, and why, you know. So I really would like to see future generations decide that there's another way to settle conflict other than fighting and killing each other.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Is there anything you would like to add that we have not covered in this interview?

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Oh, when that ship blew up and I was on it only four hours earlier, it was a ship that was being loaded with

rial depth charges. Those are bombs that you drop in the water and they sink down in the water and then they explode when they hit another ship and sink it. When that ship blew up and all those guys were lost, you know, I just -- just felt that what a loss of life, because I knew so many of them. And war just had to be something we had to stop, and it's not stopped, it's still going on all over the world. But somewhere along the line we've got to work harder to find some way to make it work that people don't kill each other, that there's another way to solve it. And that's why I think, when I say have the kids from high school go all over the world and be with Germans and French and Chinese and get to know each other, I don't think that you would find China would be your enemy, then, if you lived there for a year, nor would any other place in the world. And also find out why some people are poor, what don't they have that you want -- that you'd like them to have, and there would be a lot more sharing. The Peace Corp tried to do that. But just think if you went down and had to live for a year with a real family who just was scraping along and you'd come back and you had so much, how you'd feel about the rest of the world. And once the world gets to feeling that way about each other, I think we can stop war.

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Okay.

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Okay?

Kaitlyn Mihuta:

Thank you for your time, papa.

Daniel T. Mihuta:

Okay, Katie. I hope I did you -- I did you well.

Okay?

 
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  October 26, 2011
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