Skip Navigation and Jump to Page Content    The Library of Congress >> American Folklife Center  
Veterans History Project (Library of Congress) ABOUT  
SEARCH/BROWSE  
HELP  
COPYRIGHT  
Home » Text Transcript

Interview with Donald J. Mark [June 2004]

Christopher R. Riley:

Well, thank you for allowing me to interview you today.

Christopher R. Riley:

I need to know your full name, rank, and date of birth.

Donald J. Mark:

Donald J. Mark

Christopher R. Riley:

. . .and your rank?

Donald J. Mark:

I was a sergeant, in the Marine Corp.

Christopher R. Riley:

. . .and your date of birth?

Donald J. Mark:

3/31/26

Christopher R. Riley:

What branch of service did you serve?

Donald J. Mark:

United States Marine Corps

Christopher R. Riley:

What was the name of the company you were in?

Donald J. Mark:

I was in a couple, but uh, I was in a couple, but I ended up in the second battalion, eleventh marines.

Christopher R. Riley:

How long were you in the service? (during WWII)

Donald J. Mark:

25 months in World War II

Christopher R. Riley:

How did you get involved in the WWII, by voluntary enlistment, drafts, etc?

Donald J. Mark:

I enlisted in the Marines.

Christopher R. Riley:

How old were you when you entered the war?

Donald J. Mark:

18

Christopher R. Riley:

What was the location of your first battle?

Donald J. Mark:

Okinawa

Christopher R. Riley:

Please describe the condition or state of affairs in the United States in relation to the world at that time.

Donald J. Mark:

Oh, the United States was at war with Japan, Italy, and Germany Riley, Christopher

Christopher R. Riley:

When and where was your first battle or engagement?

Donald J. Mark:

April 1, 1945, Okinawa

Christopher R. Riley:

Please describe the military tactics employed at the Battle of Okinawa.

Donald J. Mark:

The first Marine divisions, uh-- marched across the all, and cut it in half moved north, secured the northern part of the island, and then went south to relieve the army then secured the southern part of the island.

Christopher R. Riley:

What do you think helped you to survive the Battle of Okinawa or the war in general?

Donald J. Mark:

My mother’s prayers.

Christopher R. Riley:

Did you encounter any viral outbreaks?

Donald J. Mark:

What does that mean?

Christopher R. Riley:

Uh, you know like, diseases, colds, something like that.

Donald J. Mark:

Oh, I had malaria.

Christopher R. Riley:

Today, what do you remember the most about the war?

Donald J. Mark:

I guess when the atomic bomb was dropped, and we were training to go to Japan-- that probably saved a lot of lives.

Christopher R. Riley:

Did you ever meet Douglas MacArthur?

Donald J. Mark:

No

Christopher R. Riley:

What was the most disappointing situation that you encountered during the war?

Donald J. Mark:

Kinda give me a hint I don’t know how to answer that.

Christopher R. Riley:

Things that you expected that you wanted to happen, but did not happen.

Donald J. Mark:

Perhaps staying in China longer than I, would have liked after the war.

Christopher R. Riley:

Why were you required to stay in China?

Donald J. Mark:

The Marines were sent to China to make sure that the Japanese surrendered, and repatriate them back to Japan; which we did. We acted as a buffer between the naturalist and the communist in China.

Christopher R. Riley:

Ok, were there any prisoners of war?

Donald J. Mark:

From where? Riley, Christopher

Christopher R. Riley:

From Japan.

Donald J. Mark:

Japanese, uh-- didn’t surrender; we had very few prisoners in Okinawa.

Christopher R. Riley:

Ok, what is you current occupation?

Donald J. Mark:

I am a retired Supreme Court Judge for the State of New York.

Christopher R. Riley:

What is the most heroic activity of which you engaged or witnessed in the war?

Donald J. Mark:

I guess when we repealed the Benzie attack from Japanese soldiers.

Christopher R. Riley:

Can you please describe or expand that?

Donald J. Mark:

We were headed to the top of a hill, and the Japanese had kind of a Benzie attack at night, which we repealed.

Christopher R. Riley:

How many soldiers were involved?

Donald J. Mark:

I couldn’t give you an exact account, but the Marines were on one side and the Japanese on the other.

Christopher R. Riley:

Do you feel that the war positively or negatively affected your life?

Donald J. Mark:

Positively.

Christopher R. Riley:

How?

Donald J. Mark:

Well, I ended up with a GI bill, and I was able to go to a college, and law school.

Christopher R. Riley:

Oh, that was nice

Donald J. Mark:

It worked out very well.

Christopher R. Riley:

Is there any thing specifically you would like to have included in this interview? . . . in the museum?

Donald J. Mark:

Well, I grew in a time when patriotism was, uh-- virtue, and uh-- and there weren’t many people who were trying or dodging the drafts. People were enlisting; they wanted to fight for their country . . .and it was a good time.

Christopher R. Riley:

Is there any word of advice to upcoming soldiers.

Donald J. Mark:

Just train as well as you can, to be as prepared as you can for combat.

Christopher R. Riley:

Is there anything else you would have changed in life during that time.

Donald J. Mark:

Uh, what do you mean by that? Riley, Christopher

Christopher R. Riley:

Is there anything else that you would like to have changed during that time of war, if you could have changed it?

Donald J. Mark:

No

Christopher R. Riley:

Well, that concludes the interview. Thank you. . . Riley, Christopher

Donald J. Mark:

. . . Oh, you asked about some violent acts, and I thought about the time I was on perimeter defense. And, well, I was connected to another Marine, by telephone, he said to me “Mark check out, uh, 10 o’clock there-- looks like there’s Japanese solider out there.” So I’m watching this figure walking, and all of a sudden three Japanese soldiers almost stepped on top of me, I hadn’t seen them approaching me, So I fired two shots at each one, I had 8 rounds in my rifle, I fried each one real fast, they thought they had hit a machine gun nest.

Christopher R. Riley:

Ok!

Donald J. Mark:

I thought you would like that story a little bit better than the attack.

Christopher R. Riley:

Yes sir, thank you. Do you have any other ones?

Donald J. Mark:

Yeah, the attack I told you about, when they came up a hill, we killed about ten Japanese soldiers.

Christopher R. Riley:

Yes sir, you told me about that one.

Donald J. Mark:

Yeah.

Christopher R. Riley:

So, uh, like uh, what about your wounds.

Donald J. Mark:

Oh, yeah, one time I was, uh, blown through the air, I was hit by an artillery shell--I was blown through the air and ended up with shivers of shrapnel in my rear end.

Christopher R. Riley:

Ok,

Donald J. Mark:

. . . but it didn’t hurt

Christopher R. Riley:

Ok, where was that?

Donald J. Mark:

Okinawa,

Christopher R. Riley:

Ok.

Donald J. Mark:

Have you ever heard of the story that says, “you never hear the one that hits you, because the artillery shell travels faster than sound?”

Christopher R. Riley:

Yes, sir Riley, Christopher

Donald J. Mark:

I never heard this, I was flying through the air and I was watching my other marines running, they heard it, they were running. The line came closer to me, so I didn’t hear it, so I was flying through the air. And uh, then I started having bumps on my rear end, it lasted for weeks

Christopher R. Riley:

Euh.

Donald J. Mark:

And they started pulling shrapnel out of my rear end, but that eventually subsided. It wasn’t a real serious one.

Christopher R. Riley:

Did anyone else get injured along side of you?

Donald J. Mark:

No, I was the only one.

Christopher R. Riley:

Oh.

Donald J. Mark:

I guess I was in the wrong place.

Christopher R. Riley:

How long were you in the hospital?

Donald J. Mark:

I wasn’t in the hospital for that. I just kept going to the sick bay. And they kept on pulling out the shivers of shrapnel. But actually after that I was cured. I had a fungus infection in my feet, I was in the hospital for 35 days.

Christopher R. Riley:

Oh, ok. Did you have any broken bones?

Donald J. Mark:

No.

Christopher R. Riley:

Well, that was good.

Donald J. Mark:

Ha, ha, yeah

Christopher R. Riley:

How high in the air did you go, do you know?

Donald J. Mark:

No.

Christopher R. Riley:

Ok

Donald J. Mark:

I went awfully high though, because I could see the Marines below running for cover.

Christopher R. Riley:

Oh-- was in the night or in the day?

Donald J. Mark:

It was just at dusk.

Christopher R. Riley:

Oh, ok. How often did you go to sleep?

Donald J. Mark:

We slept, uh-- it was called “half on, half off”, we slept half of the night and watched half of the night. Riley, Christopher

Christopher R. Riley:

Oh, okay. How did you eat?

Donald J. Mark:

We ate rations; they were called “C” rations and, uh-- “B” rations.

Christopher R. Riley:

And they are like the letter “C” and the letter “B”?

Donald J. Mark:

“C” were in cans and “B” were in a box.

Christopher R. Riley:

Oh, okay. Were there hot meals or cold?

Donald J. Mark:

Cold.

Christopher R. Riley:

Okay, were there any hot meals at all?

Donald J. Mark:

Uh--sometimes, at the back of the lines or when we went to a rest area for a couple of days, were they gave us, what they call 10:1 rations, which were a lot better rations than.. . We use to put, uh, sand or dirt, in uh “C” rations cup, and put gasoline in there and light it, used that as a heater.

Christopher R. Riley:

Did you like, eat any wild berries or anything like that?

Donald J. Mark:

At one time when they could not. . . , during the rainy season they could not drop food to us. We were eating, uh, small tomatoes, fields, farmer’s fields

Christopher R. Riley:

How did you get to Okinawa,. . . like boat, plane?

Donald J. Mark:

We went, we had, uh, I was in the 1st Marine division, we had 3 practice landing on Guadacanal. And then we went, uh, from Guadalcanal to Okinawa. It took us 35 days on a LST.

Christopher R. Riley:

Ok what is a LS. . .

Donald J. Mark:

LST stands for (L)anding (S)hip (T)ank.

Christopher R. Riley:

Oh, ok! Do you know what kind of LST it was?

Donald J. Mark:

I think all it was a LST.

Christopher R. Riley:

Oh, okay.

Donald J. Mark:

Were there plenty of artilleries with you?

Christopher R. Riley:

Not on the ship, no.

Donald J. Mark:

It was just troops and tanks.

Christopher R. Riley:

How did you get more ammunition? Riley, Christopher

Donald J. Mark:

They brought it up to the front lines.

Christopher R. Riley:

Oh, ok. Did you have plenty of ammunition?

Donald J. Mark:

Yep!

Christopher R. Riley:

Oh, ok, that was good.

Donald J. Mark:

We didn’t run out of that.

Christopher R. Riley:

Did the U.S. government support you good?

Donald J. Mark:

Oh, yeah.

Christopher R. Riley:

Ok, well, uh-- How were you remembered, I mean, received back at home?

Donald J. Mark:

Well, there weren’t any parades or anything, because I did not comeback until, well, after Okinawa. I think I told you I went to China for 10 months.

Christopher R. Riley:

Yes, sir.

Donald J. Mark:

So, I didn’t come home, for ten, the war was over for about 10 months before I came home.

Christopher R. Riley:

Oh, okay.

Donald J. Mark:

There wasn’t a parade or anything. My parents were sure glad to see me.

Christopher R. Riley:

Did you have a family while you were at war? I mean like married?

Donald J. Mark:

No, no, I was only 18.

Christopher R. Riley:

Oh, yeah, I remember now.

Donald J. Mark:

I had my mother, father, and 2 sisters, they wrote to me.

Christopher R. Riley:

Do you feel that the WWII veterans were treated better than the Vietnam veterans?

Donald J. Mark:

Definitely!

Christopher R. Riley:

Okay. How (why).

Donald J. Mark:

Probably was the war, that the country was prepared, the country wanted to fight WWII, because we were attacked, at Peril Harbor. In Vietnam the country was not behind the Vietnam vets. It was a war that, uh-- the country did not want, completely different story from WWI. Riley, Christopher

Christopher R. Riley:

Compared to WWI veterans?

Donald J. Mark:

That was a good war too.

Christopher R. Riley:

Okay.

Donald J. Mark:

I mean I think, because of the. . . , because we were fighting, weren’t attacked, but we were fighting for something.

Christopher R. Riley:

How was WWI compared to WWII veterans, which one was better or greater, treated when they got back home?

Donald J. Mark:

That’s kinda, probably about the same answer.

Christopher R. Riley:

Oh.

Donald J. Mark:

I wasn’t around for WWI, because my father was in WWI, and they were treated well.

Christopher R. Riley:

That was good, ok, well. Thank you very much.

Donald J. Mark:

If you need anymore I will be here.

Christopher R. Riley:

Ok

Donald J. Mark:

Good luck, Christopher.

Christopher R. Riley:

Thank you, good bye.

Donald J. Mark:

Good bye!

 
Home » Text Transcript
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us