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Interview with Jake Cogan [Undated]

Martha Kounse:

How old were you when you enlisted?

Jake Cogan:

I was about twenty [years old]. We were a little young then and we really didn't know the consequences of war. I was drafted. If I can remember, August 2, 1942 was when I went in the service.

Martha Kounse:

When were you discharged?

Jake Cogan:

September 14, 1945.

Martha Kounse:

What is your date of birth?

Jake Cogan:

June 23, 1920.

Martha Kounse:

Mailing address?

Jake Cogan:

[address redacted].

Martha Kounse:

Where we you born?

Jake Cogan:

Franklin Furnace, OH [Scioto County, OH]

Martha Kounse:

What Branch were you in?

Jake Cogan:

The 16th 84th Combat Engineers, US Army, T-Corporal.

Martha Kounse:

Did you sustain any combat injuries?

Jake Cogan:

No.

Martha Kounse:

Did you get any medals or special..?

Jake Cogan:

Well, I got a few overseas in the combat area, but I was more or less. . See what a lot of people didn't realize at that time we didn't have a lot of television, did we? Things didn't get around, and our troops did different jobs. We had to them, if there weren't enough men here, we went there. I did some volunteering, which I wish I hadn't. That's the way it goes.

Martha Kounse:

What did you volunteer for?

Jake Cogan:

Motor boat torpedo, what we were watching for was one-man submarines in the Pacific. My good friend was with me a long time, a fellow by the name of Shope, we wanted to stay together when we volunteered, but they took me and not him. I was disappointed; I can understand that, though. Now you wonder where I went, don't you? I went to the Asiatic-Pacific; do you know where that is?

Martha Kounse:

Is it somewhere close to Japan?

Jake Cogan:

It is about as close as you can get. The Asiatic-Pacific was just a very few miles from Honshu, Japan. That was in Kiska and Aleut. Do you have a map? See where it says Rat Islands?

Martha Kounse:

It looks like it is close to Alaska.

Jake Cogan:

Well, right here is Japan and here we are right this way. You have the Bering Sea on one side and the Pacific Ocean here, and there's Japan proper. Japan had a lot of stuff in there, [illegible] they were on these islands; they got there before we did.

Martha Kounse:

The Japanese got to the Rat Islands?

Jake Cogan:

Yes, they were in Kiska and Aleut, they should be on this globe.

Martha Kounse:

That is where you were stationed? Why do they call them Rat Islands?

Jake Cogan:

Yes, I don't know, you see when you say Islands, there are big Islands and small Islands. Some of the Islands were small ones and the Japanese were looking forward to this for a good bit, and they were dug-in, just like they are in Afghanistan. That's what they did, and they were on their way to North America, if they just had time. A lot of people don't know that. It was on television a while back. I was on Anchitka Island, too. That was one of the biggest Islands in the Asiatic-Pacific.

Martha Kounse:

How long were you stationed there, on the Rat Islands?

Jake Cogan:

About two and a half years, I never got back until I got out, never had a vacation or a leave. Mostly, I did photography work there, it come close to being a second time.

Martha Kounse:

So you took pictures?

Jake Cogan:

You not supposed to have them yourself.

Martha Kounse:

Why not?

Jake Cogan:

You weren't allowed to have pictures, I can see the reasons. If something happened and you were captured, the pictures would go into the wrong hands, you see. And I did some aerial photography and if you would happen to go down, they didn't want you to have any pictures, other than what was on the 16mm camera.

Martha Kounse:

Some of us were talking about this, and someone said you would be considered a spy if they caught you with pictures you had taken.

Jake Cogan:

Yes, I don't know how they figured that.

Martha Kounse:

The reason we were talking about it, is because we had this gentleman that called us. His Father had just recently died, and his father made his son promise that he would never show the pictures to anyone until after he passed away. Now that his father has passed away, he is going to share his pictures with us. We were talking about the reasons his father didn't want the pictures shown.

Jake Cogan:

I had a few pictures, but they had to be with your camera. I tried to carry my own camera all the time. If they caught you with it, you may get a little time. Just before Nola Gay dropped the bomb, we had come back to the states, to Washington. When I went in, I went to Fort Knox, KY, then onto Camp Swift, Texas, then to Fort 4 Rosencrantz, California. From there, I went to Washington State, we went two places, Fort Lewis I think it was, I could be wrong.

Martha Kounse:

When the bomb was dropped on Japan what happened to you? Did that end the war for you?

Jake Cogan:

No, not for us, we still had duties to do here in the states. I went to a Camp in California and we were put into duties to downsize our equipment. When I say downsize, we tried to send it to one company or another to see if they needed it, breaking things apart. Everything that was turned in to another company, most of them didn't want it, you had to make out 40/11 pages of what it was.

Martha Kounse:

I wonder what they did with all those documents.

Jake Cogan:

I don't know. What gets me, I would have liked to have a jeep when I came home and I couldn't get one. We took thousands of instruments, from kitchen utensils, (stainless steel) to full jeeps [now this is in the states] they took mine sweepers out in the desert and dug deep holes and we dumped jeeps, all kinds of motor pools in there. Utensils for your kitchens, mess halls, you name it, we got rid of it that way. Later on, before that, we were on an island, I forget which one. We were getting ready to go to another one; we were about eight foot out in the Pacific Ocean, solid rock. You drove your vehicle up to this cliff, you got out of it, I'd come up behind you and shoved it over. We did that, even earth moving equipment, everything like that. I wish I had photographed it.

Martha Kounse:

This was in the deserts of California?

Jake Cogan:

No, this was in the Pacific, in the Rat Islands. When we left there, we had to get rid of the equipment. They didn't want to bring nothing back. Oh I would have loved to have one, a nice jeep. You never heard that?

Martha Kounse:

No, I did have one guy that said they dumped ammunition in the ocean.

Jake Cogan:

Yes, we dropped ammunition in the ocean, sunk it all down. It's in the ocean, the brass would be good. With me, I did several things in the Army. At that time, you did what they wanted you to do. It's just like, a foreman out there, you have to do this or you are going over here. A lot of nice fellas with me, most of them are passed away now.

Martha Kounse:

You were a combat engineer?

Jake Cogan:

We learned how to blow up bridges with tetrotal(?). That was a high explosive then. Here's a little tale, I like to tell this tales. I was working with my son, cutting down a tree, [tape skipped]. See that peninsula right there?

Martha Kounse:

Right along side of Mexico?

Jake Cogan:

Yes, we oriented our 16 inch guns on Mexico, Torinota Motel in Mexico.

Martha Kounse:

My dad was the spotter on the 105 Howitzer.

Jake Cogan:

This was a 16 inch gun, a disappearing gun. What is a disappearing gun? It has a barrel, an opening about that big, when it fires, it is on hydraulics. It rises up on hydraulics goes over the wall, fires and when it fires it goes back down in a hole. You have to have ear plugs. I didn't actually shoot them. You would pull a lanyuard [?] to fire it. I think that is the right word. You could stand back beside it, like this, and you could see it fire, you could see the bullet, the projectile. They weren't movable, they were there permanent. I don't want to make this too interesting, [laughing]. Something you won't forget, a lot of people doesn't know the sacrifice the fellas went through. Nowadays they really don't show the real thing on television, then you saw it, you were there.

Martha Kounse:

Are they still living?

Jake Cogan:

No, they died. My one brother was shot twenty-six times and lived. His whole stomach was shot out, when he got home... Well, what he told me, we compared war stories and he had it worst.

Martha Kounse:

What were their names?

Jake Cogan:

Charles and Walter. He lived a long time, he would have to drink, now can you imagine this, a gallon a day of mineral oil for his stomach to react, that is what he had to do. He told me what happen, and I know a fella who was along with him, who is still living. When he was shot, they took him into the base in station (?), and the way they did then, it wasn't too modem. You would just set up anything, and your medical equipment was shipped in by helicopter or truck, if it got through. They would take you in a tent that had two ends in it, two doors one here and one here. You would come in this door injured, and if they thought you could make it and they were in a hurry, they would work on you. If they didn't think you were going to make it, they sent you out on the grass on the other side. He went in, they looked at him and they said, "No he isn't going to make it, take him out to die." They went out later, and he was kicking, he was alive and they brought him back in, and worked on him and shipped him back to Germany. Not Germany, another place they had taken him.

Martha Kounse:

Where was he shot, what country?

Jake Cogan:

He landed in Normandy; I think the first or second wave in Normandy. The first day they couldn't get in, because it was too rough.

Martha Kounse:

Do you remember his unit or anything? I would like to add him to our list.

Jake Cogan:

I probably have it, I have his uniform and everything. Walter, they were both older than me. [tape skipped] Can you enlarge this [talking about pictures] [tape skips again, then goes blank].

 
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  October 26, 2011
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