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Interview with Norman Hagerman [08/01/2001]

Martha Kounse:

Do you have any pictures?

Norman Hagerman:

Yes I had one in Naples, me and three buddies. That all that's here what I reported in and no time lost. I was always a good boy, I didn't court marshaled or anything like that. I did what they told me to do and didn't ask questions.

Leo Martin:

Norman worked at the Huntington Publishing Company in the composing room. Down at the bottom of some of the ads we used to have termites, put termites in each corner. Norman was always losing those termites, and would ask me to help him hunt those termites.

Norman Hagerman:

That picture was when I was in Naples, Italy.

Leo Martin:

I was in Naples.

Norman Hagerman:

You were in Anzio weren't you, Leo?

Leo Martin:

Yea.

Norman Hagerman:

I thought you were, Leo.

Leo Martin:

I wasn't there fighting, I went through there.

Norman Hagerman:

We landed about 5:00 in the morning on Anzio. This picture is by myself, that is where we had a seven day rest period and we came back with that lion in that picture.

Martha Kounse:

Do you know who the guys are that are in this picture?

Norman Hagerman:

Luther Harding from South Carolina, in the back. Then I was second and Joseph Elkins from Wisconsin and Fred Petrucci of Colorado. "These are the names of my buddies here" written on back. Taken in Naples, Italy (no date on that but would have been about 1944, - Norman speaking to Leo) were you over there when Mt. Vesuvius erupted?

Leo Martin:

Yea.

Norman Hagerman:

I was in the hospital there when that erupted.

Martha Kounse:

The next picture?

Norman Hagerman:

That is just me in the same spot (Naples, Italy).

Leo Martin:

Do you remember where that big wall used to be in Naples, up above Naples? That is where they had us.

Norman Hagerman:

We were up there, a big wall up there, a cemetery, like. A-bomb had hit in the front of it and the (?) had come off and you could see the honeycomb of dead people I don't know how many years they had been dead, you could see the skeletons in there. We get a grape arbor and the grapes, man I tell you! y--

Martha Kounse:

Did you receive a Purple Heart? (I took a picture of this)

Norman Hagerman:

Yes.

Martha Kounse:

You were wounded in action in Italy?

Norman Hagerman:

Yes.

Martha Kounse:

Do you remember what your first days were like in the service?

Norman Hagerman:

Very well, I was homesick for awhile.

Martha Kounse:

Where was your boot training?

Norman Hagerman:

Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Martha Kounse:

Where did you go after boot camp?

Norman Hagerman:

We had a seven day furlough to come home, and then we went overseas. In thirteen weeks we were gone.

Leo Martin:

We went on desert maneuvers into California.

Norman Hagerman:

We took fifteen days zigzagging across and landed at Lorraine, North Africa.

Leo Martin:

We cut past Casablanca. We took off from down there to Naples.

Norman Hagerman:

We went on up there, pass there. We left Loraine, North Africa on up to Naples. We were in replacement in North Africa in replacement camp, and when they needed replacements that is where I was at and joined the 3rd Division, Co. I.

Martha Kounse:

Do you remember any instructors? (S)

Norman Hagerman:

Yes, just one. Captain Bodie, was 22 years old that was when we were in Anzio.

Martha Kounse:

When you left boot camp and came back home, where did you go then?

Norman Hagerman:

We went to New York City that is where we embarked from. We got to see the Statue of Liberty. When we were coming back we were really glad to see it. When we came back on the first of June that's when we left Italy, Naples. That's after we came back from Anzio Beach head when we landed up there. We thought we were going to Normandy, you know after they invaded? We didn't know it but we were on our way home instead of going there. I had just came out of the hospital the second time we come back from Anzio that's when they sent us home, we thought we were going to Anzio.

Martha Kounse:

How long were you overseas all together?

Norman Hagerman:

Not too long, I imagine almost a year. I wasn't in too long, thirteen weeks in basic training, and then we headed overseas. When I got wounded, I came back to the hospital when Mt. Vesuvius erupted. I think Leo saw that over there. Did you see the smoke coming out? Did you get to go to Pompeii City (city of sin)?

Leo Martin:

Yea.

Norman Hagerman:

First time it erupted, it was way back there when the lava covered... ?

Leo Martin:

1400 wasn't it?

Norman Hagerman:

Something like that, it was the first time it erupted since then. We got to go on leave before we went to Anzio and we got to go to through the city.

Leo Martin:

Naples was a dirty city, wasn't it?

Norman Hagerman:

Oh yea, the back streets, and on both sides they sold peanuts and everything else.

Leo Martin:

Saw kids begging, they would sing a song for you wouldn't they? They would sing, "Don't fence me in."

Norman Hagerman:

Over there the colored people were the ones that told the girls they were radio Americas, night fighters. We had a little bit of fun at times, other times it wasn't so good.

Leo Martin:

I wouldn't want to do it again.

Norman Hagerman:

I would like to go back over there now and see the places we were.

Leo Martin:

You wouldn't know the place.

Norman Hagerman:

Oh no. You weren't in Infantry were you?

Leo Martin:

No I was in Field Artillery.

Norman Hagerman:

Artillery. We traveled all the way through Naples on up to Mt. (?), big mountain up there. We were going down one side of the mountain and the Germans were going up the other side and we could hear them talking.

Leo Martin:

They watched you're every move.

Norman Hagerman:

- When we got to Anzio, we had a high elevation on the mountains and we were down low and in the daytime you couldn't move. You had to move at night.

Leo Martin:

That's the way it was in Italy.

Martha Kounse:

You were in the Infantry?

Norman Hagerman:

Yes.

Leo Martin:

Those boys had fox holes to jump in, but we didn't. We didn't have anything to jump in. We had a mortar barrage on Easter Sunday about 10:30 and I was away from the building that had sandbags. The rest of the guys got in it, but I couldn't so I had to jump in the ammunition dump. If one of those mdips had hit one of those ammunition dumps, I would have been killed.

Norman Hagerman:

I was on guard duty when I was wounded on Mussolini Canal, I don't know if you were that far up or not.

Leo Martin:

Was that on Naples?

Norman Hagerman:

That was in Anglo, Mussolini Canal. They said if you heard a shell coming in that isn't going to hit you. But if you can't hear them, that is when it gets you. That is what happened, that morning I was on guard duty and it hit me. There was one guy on the other side of me, I think he was killed. I got hit in the leg, powder bums like, sharpie.

Leo Martin:

Those SS's were worst weren't they? If they heard them coming, you better hit the ground.

Martha Kounse:

What was your job duty?

Norman Hagerman:

I was the company runner for awhile, I carried the radio.

Martha Kounse:

Is that what a company runner does?

Norman Hagerman:

He goes back and forth from one platoon to another. You couldn't use radios a lot of times the Germans would pick up the sounds off them.

Martha Kounse:

Did you see any combat?

Norman Hagerman:

Yes.

Leo Martin:

You just get 10% disability, don't you?

Norman Hagerman:

Yes.

Leo Martin:

That is what I get, too.

Norman Hagerman:

Well, I got 50% when I came out, but I went on the job training with the GI Bill with the newspaper. I wasn't making too bad, but then they cut me. I didn't fight it, I should have. I am going to start going back out to the Veteran's.

Martha Kounse:

Were there many casualties in your unit?

Norman Hagerman:

Yes there were quite a few, I don't remember how many.

Martha Kounse:

How often did you get letters from home?

Norman Hagerman:

I got letters from her (my wife) quite often, about two or three a month. It took so long to get to us and they had to be censored when they sent them out and when they came in.

Martha Kounse:

What was the food like?

Norman Hagerman:

Out of the can, spam and C rations. Old Chelsea cigarettes

Leo Martin:

Old Gold, Chesterfield, had four in a pack.

Norman Hagerman:

We used to take the C Rations, hash and beans and put them together in our helmets and cook them.

Leo Martin:

We used that steel helmet for everything.

Norman Hagerman:

Oh yes.

Leo Martin:

Baths, sit on them, used it for pillows, too. (V

Norman Hagerman:

It rained over there about every day, and we would dig our fox holes and bales of hay and put it down in there and it would get so high we would have to dig it again to make it work.

Leo Martin:

We would dig our foxholes with our helmets.

Norman Hagerman:

Yes.

Leo Martin:

I slept in water many times, with just my head sticking out. Mud, Oh!!n

Norman Hagerman:

That's the reason they give us all those shots when we went into the service.

Leo Martin:

We would be bogged up from September to April. We couldn't move at all, we would just fire a shot every now and then. They would fire a shot at us.

Norman Hagerman:

One thing we hated to hear was a tank; we knew we would get artillery shells coming in when the tanks were close.

Leo Martin:

We got a call that there were four tanks coming in our directions and to be willing to fire at will but the Infantry knocked two of them out and the rest of them retreated. If it wasn't for them, they would probably have wiped us out.

Martha Kounse:

How did you entertain yourselves?

Norman Hagerman:

No not much of nothing, really, just tried to stay alive.

Leo Martin:

I never did see Bob Hope over there, did you?

Norman Hagerman:

I don't think he was in our area, no.

Leo Martin:

I saw Joe Lewis, he came into the Hospital, General Hospital in Rome. He came in there to see us.

Norman Hagerman:

I would have like to go to Rome, I was sent back before we made the push to Rome.

Martha Kounse:

You never got to go to Rome?

Norman Hagerman:

No.

Martha Kounse:

Did you get to go to the movies?

Norman Hagerman:

No, we never did. While I was in Arkansas because they had fish and I hate fish. We had to either to go to PX or go to Arkansas, down town. That's when the colored people couldn't walk on the sidewalks. We had seven days to do what we wanted to and we didn't have to report in during our seven days when we were in Naples. We had seven days rest after we come off the front line, that's when those pictures were taken.

Martha Kounse:

Do you recall any pranks?

Norman Hagerman:

When they short sheet you. They would come in at night and take your sheet and when your feet down in the bed. That is when I was in boot camp in Arkansas. We had one ole boy that drove for one of the mobsters in Chicago; he was a lot older than us. He wanted to go with us so bad when we went overseas, they made him stay back. Chester Grybas was his name. I used to have his picture, I know don't what happened to it, he was from Chicago. He was around the mafia there in Chicago, he cried like a baby when we left him and he didn't get to go with us. He didn't get to go; he was too old I guess.

Leo Martin:

Anyone over 30 years didn't serve overseas.

Martha Kounse:

What did you think of your fellow soldiers and Officers?

Norman Hagerman:

Well, wasn't too bad, we had a Captain that was young, he was pretty nice, and a Luiet. was pretty good. The Captain was 22 and after he was made, I think, Major at 22 years of age. His father was the Editor or something in California.

Martha Kounse:

Do you remember where you were when your service ended?

Norman Hagerman:

Fort Story, Va. We got to go to Virginia Beach while I was there.

Martha Kounse:

Do you remember where you were when Pearl Harbor was bombed?

Norman Hagerman:

No, we have a neighbor up here, he was a cook in the Navy and he was there when it was bombing, John Landers. My daughter sits with his wife; she is an invalid, 867-3791. He was on a ship there when they bombed Pearl Harbor.

Martha Kounse:

Did you use the GI Bill?

Norman Hagerman:

Yes, that's how I got on at the Huntington Publishing Co. for about 20 years.

Martha Kounse:

Do you make any friendships that you kept in contact?

Norman Hagerman:

Chester from Chicago and the three guys in the pictures I took. I have lost contact with them.

Martha Kounse:

Is there anything you would like to add?

Norman Hagerman:

No, that is about it.

 
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