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Interview with Carroll Allen [11/27/2005]

Jessica Crawford:

November 27,2005 and let's see...well, this is for the camera...I'm Jessica Crawford and you are?

Carroll Allen:

Carroll T. Allen; normally called "Tom".

Jessica Crawford:

So we'll go ahead and start the interview. Were you drafted or did you enlist?

Carroll Allen:

No, I enlisted.

Jessica Crawford:

How old were you when you went into the service?

Carroll Allen:

Seventeen.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes, wow, seventeen. Where were you living when you enlisted in the service?

Carroll Allen:

Well, basically at home. I was working part-time in a glass factory, but I was basically living at home.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes. Why did you enlist in the service?

Carroll Allen:

Well, I was anxious to do my part in the defense of the country.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes. Why did you pick the service branch you joined?

Carroll Allen:

Well, that's a little bit of an involved story because I was determined when I was sixteen when the war first started to be a fighter pilot.

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh.

Carroll Allen:

And I tried my best to pass the physical exam into the naval air force and was unable to do so.

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh.

Carroll Allen:

So then failing that I attempted to enlist in several other services and again I was rejected because of this same physical problem and one of them told me that...one of the recruit officers at the service...! think it was probably the Navy...said that I was badly needed in the U.S. Merchant Marine...

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

...and suggested I go to the recruiter there...

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

...and they almost immediately accepted me.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

And so that's how I enlisted in the Merchant Marine.

Jessica Crawford:

Okay. Do you recall your first days when you enlisted...

Carroll Allen:

Oh, yes.

Jessica Crawford:

...and what you did?

Carroll Allen:

Yes. (Laugh) Well, we went to the boot camp by railroad...

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

...from St. Louis. I left from St. Louis and went to Sheepshead Bay...should I be talking to the camera?

Jessica Crawford:

Oh, no. It's okay.

Carroll Allen:

Okay. And we went to Sheep head Bay in Brooklyn, New York, to the training facility there.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

The training facility of the U.S. Maritime Service, which is the training facility for the Merchant Marine.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

The first thing I remember there is the smell of sulfur, which I had never I had never smelled before in my life.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

And then the next few days were filled with things like getting all my hair cut off and trying to find some clothes that fit in the way of a uniform and being assigned to a barracks and a bunk...

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

...and all that kind of thing in which seemed like it went on forever, but it didn't, of course.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah. What was your training, like your boot camp experience?

Carroll Allen:

Oh, we were trained in all the phases of serving in the Merchant Marine which included boat drills, abandon ship-type drills...

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

...gun training from the cannon and 20mm cannon and all kinds of survival training. We did things like jumping off 40 foot towers...

Jessica Crawford:

Whoa!

Carroll Allen:

...an imitation of jumping over the side of a ship...

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

...and trying to avoid hitting other people who are going just before you and that kind of thing.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes. Wow, a 40 foot jump.

Carroll Allen:

And then we had regular survival courses that we went through...

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

...a good deal like a boot camp that anybody would have.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes. Do you remember your instructors at boot camp?

Carroll Allen:

Not really. I remember some of their physical characteristics, but I believe if I saw them again I wouldn't know them. (Laugh).

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah. How did you get through boot camp when you're first starting off in the service like that?

Carroll Allen:

Well, it was pretty much a shock...everything...but after the first week or so you kind of adapt to the routine or if you can call it a routine and we went to bed at about 9:00 at night and got up about 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...and did all kinds of things that I had never done before like polish the floors...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...and all that kind of good stuff. (Laugh).

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah. (Laugh). Now which wars or war did you serve in?

Carroll Allen:

World War II.

Jessica Crawford:

When you were in World War II...like where did you go during your.

Carroll Allen:

The trips?

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

Well, I made...I guess it would be five trips. They would have included the Admiralty Islands in the South Pacific and New Guinea and the Philippines and eventually to China... Okinawa... and then the Aleutian Islands of the north coast of the country and that's about all the different places that I went.

Jessica Crawford:

That's a lot of places...

Carroll Allen:

Yeah, it was and each one, each visit was with a new mission you might say, a delivery of cargo.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes. When you arrived at your first destination, what was that like?

Carroll Allen:

Well, it was an island, a relatively small island in the South Pacific. I would guess now...and this is a guess...that I would say 150 miles from New Guinea.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

And the Admiralty Islands were at that time a major naval base.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

The group of ships that I was on had towed sections of a dry dock so that ships in the specific naval ships...

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

...would have a place to be repaired.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

Up until that time there was no such place. They had to come all the way back to the United States or at least to Hawaii...

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

...in order to do that, which was very time consuming and so on, but this dry dock wasn't just together; it folded. It was made of cement. It was huge.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

And we could put it up to a cruiser in this thing and a...and the island itself...it was pretty primitive at that time...

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

...but they had a lot of armed forces there, our armed forces at that time.

Jessica Crawford:

What was like your personal job that you needed to do?

Carroll Allen:

I was trained to be a radio officer, a communications officer on the various ships that I served on and I went to a specialized school to do that...

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

...out of boot camp. I don't know how much more you want to know about that, but I could...

Jessica Crawford:

Well, if you want to elaborate on that...

Carroll Allen:

Well, towards the end of boot camp...

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

...which lasted the better part of two months they offered to everyone the opportunity to go to specialized schools out of boot camp.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

And I considered going into cadet training at Kings Point in New York, but that amounted to going to school for the next two to three years...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...which I wasn't keen to do. I wanted to get in the thick of it...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...so I decided to go to yet another opportunity which was radio communications training.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

And so I took the entrance exam and did an aptitude test to see if I could learn Morse Code which of course I did not know.

Jessica Crawford:

(Laugh).

Carroll Allen:

And I passed all those and so I decided to do that.

Jessica Crawford:

Okay. That's cool.

Carroll Allen:

And then we went from there to Huntington, Long Island, the preliminary school for that. We were there for about two months and then we went to Gallups Island in Boston which was a little island in the middle of the harbor and took advanced radio training there...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...and how to repair them and all of that kind of thing...electronics training.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

And that went on for about four months.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah. Wow, four months.

Carroll Allen:

So I graduated from that training and was ready to start going to sea then in about March of 1944.

Jessica Crawford:

Okay. While you were over during the war did you see any actual combat?

Carroll Allen:

I saw some, but our ship was not actually engaged in any.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

But it was all around me when we were delivering ammunition to the Philippines. We were anchored just off the shore and you could see...I mean the Japs bombed numerous ships in the harbor area and our men were just about maybe 500 yards...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...over on the beach...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...fighting.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

And so I saw some, but we weren't involved in it I'm happy to say.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah. What were a couple of your most memorable experiences over there?

Carroll Allen:

Hmmm...

Jessica Crawford:

Or one?

Carroll Allen:

Well...

Jessica Crawford:

In particular...

Carroll Allen:

The experience of tugging those dry dock sections for the...some between 40 and 50 days...

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

...which is a long time to be at sea and moving in a war zone and moving at about three knots, which is very slow...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...you're really just a sitting duck...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...for any submarine attack or anything like that. But anyway, the experience of moving them all the way down to the Admiralty Islands is certainly something I'll never forget.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

The next probably most memorable experience was well the action in the Philippines, the actual observance of moving ammunition from our ship to the men ashore that were using it.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

That certainly was an experience I'll never forget either. Then we were in a couple of storms during various ships which were rather noteworthy and pretty severe.

Jessica Crawford:

Really?

Carroll Allen:

And I guess that about covers the most memorable experiences.

Jessica Crawford:

Were you awarded any metals or citations while you were...?

Carroll Allen:

Well, I don't know that I would call them metals or citations. I got service ribbons...

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh.

Carroll Allen:

...which you know in effect say that I served in various war zones...

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh.

Carroll Allen:

...and then the liberation of the Philippine Islands.

Jessica Crawford:

While you were there how did you stay in touch with your family? Did you write letters?

Carroll Allen:

I wrote letters, yeah. And we got delivery of mail occasionally...

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh.

Carroll Allen:

...like every few weeks maybe...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...depending on where we were.

Jessica Crawford:

So was the delivery slow?

Carroll Allen:

Very slow.

Jessica Crawford:

Very slow?

Carroll Allen:

But I did get mail.

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh.

Carroll Allen:

And I think most everyone got mail.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah. What was the food like while you were there?

Carroll Allen:

On the ships it was...I thought excellent.

Jessica Crawford:

Really?

Carroll Allen:

Yes. I was very happy with the food for the most part. There was nothing fancy about it, but it was good.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

And on a ship you don't have that much to take away from the quality of food. (Laugh).

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah, yeah. So you always had enough food?

Carroll Allen:

Yeah.

Jessica Crawford:

There was never a problem with that?

Carroll Allen:

No, there was never a problem.

Jessica Crawford:

Well, that's good.

Carroll Allen:

Yeah.

Jessica Crawford:

Well, I mean since you were basically on a supply ship I'm assuming you always had plenty of supplies.

Carroll Allen:

That's right.

Jessica Crawford:

And...

Carroll Allen:

Well, of course the supplies we were carrying were all military. They weren't eatable by any means, but the ships were well stocked before we left.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

And they had refrigeration...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...and so there was no hindrance to having decent meals during the voyage.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah. Was there a lot of like pressure and stress while you were trying to get your mission done?

Carroll Allen:

Well, at various times there certainly was. Yeah. We were carrying 11,000 tons of ammunition and I saw ships at a distance hit with torpedoes that went up in one big flash...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...and we were carrying similar type cargo. And so when you see something like that it tends to cause a little tension. (Laugh).

Jessica Crawford:

(Laugh). Was there anything that you did for like good luck before you would...something you would think of?

Carroll Allen:

No, I don't recall that there was.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

I guess, no. I don't think so.

Jessica Crawford:

You were on the ship for a long time while you were moving the docks?

Carroll Allen:

Well, the way the Merchant Marine and the Maritime Service which operated the ships, the Maritime Commission, you would be assigned to a ship...

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh.

Carroll Allen:

...then when it came back from the voyage, whenever that was, then you would usually have the opportunity of staying if you wanted to.

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh.

Carroll Allen:

If you didn't then you were reassigned to another ship.

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh.

Carroll Allen:

And in between times you had the ship for yourself. There was no assistance in doing that of any kind.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

So it was like a series of in effect jobs that you would try to compare to a civilian.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

Yeah.

Jessica Crawford:

How did you guys entertain yourselves while you were...?

Carroll Allen:

Well, I think most everybody played a lot of cards. They did a lot of reading, of course. And that was pretty much it. (Laugh).

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

And sit around and talk and tell lies I suppose. (Laugh).

Jessica Crawford:

(Laugh). Were there any entertainers or anything?

Carroll Allen:

No.

Jessica Crawford:

Did you ever see any of that type stuff?

Carroll Allen:

No. We were almost never ashore.

Jessica Crawford:

Oh, yeah.

Carroll Allen:

We were always at sea. But occasionally when we got to shore there might be a USO show. It seems to me on one occasion in the Philippines we did see part of a USO show.

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh. What did you do when you were like on leave? I guess when you...was there was a time when you had free time to do something other than...

Carroll Allen:

You mean off the ship?

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh. Was there a time...

Carroll Allen:

Like leave?

Jessica Crawford:

Was there like a time when you had that?

Carroll Allen:

Well, like I said we didn't get...we didn't receive leave in the sense that so many days per unit of time served like the military did, at least to some degree. We had time in between voyages at which time you could do pretty much as you pleased.

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh.

Carroll Allen:

So most everybody did that and many, probably most, went home if they could...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...and they had enough time and they had the money.

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh.

Carroll Allen:

They would go home...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

... between voyages.

Jessica Crawford:

Did you ever go home?

Carroll Allen:

I did once. Yeah.

Jessica Crawford:

How old were you when you went home?

Carroll Allen:

Well...

Jessica Crawford:

Were you still...

Carroll Allen:

I would have been by that time...I would have probably been 19.

Jessica Crawford:

Nineteen? So two years had passed by then?

Carroll Allen:

Well...yeah, yeah. I think so. I went home at Christmas I remember and I'm trying to remember what Christmas it was. I think it was probably when I was 18 still. My birthday's in November. Well, I don't know. I'd have to figure that out.

Jessica Crawford:

Okay.

Carroll Allen:

It was about the first Christmas. It worked out that I did get to go home after I was out of training.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

And that would have been 1944, the Christmas of 1944.

Jessica Crawford:

Okay. Do you recall any particularly humorous or unusual things that happened?

Carroll Allen:

Well, a lot of small stuff, but probably the most humorous thing that happened on the ships...we were going across the Equator the first time. They had a "ceremony" they called it (laugh) where they threatened to what they called "keel haul," all of the people who have never crossed the Equator. "Keel hauling" is an old term from way back in the sailing boat days where they would tie a rope to a man's ankles and one to his wrists and circle the ship with him...

Jessica Crawford:

Oh, yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...clear down underneath the ship on the other side and usually that was a pretty painful experience because the ships rapidly became covered in barnacles and so it was very rough and very sharp. And of course, they didn't do that...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...on any of the ships I was on, but they threatened to do it.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

It was all a part of what you might say "initiation". And it was both irritating and I guess kind of exciting. (Laugh). That was probably the most humorous thing that happened that I can think of offhand anyway.

Jessica Crawford:

Even though this isn't humorous, I remember you telling the story about your appendix...

Carroll Allen:

Oh, yeah.

Jessica Crawford:

...when you first went over.

Carroll Allen:

Yeah.

Jessica Crawford:

What was the whole story with that?

Carroll Allen:

Well, let's see...that would have been in 1945 in the Philippines and we were...well, I had been feeling bad like for a day or so and then we left port. I forget now, but I think our destination was probably back to the Philippines on some other part of the island. We picked up cargo in one place and moved it to others and that kind of thing. Anyway, we hadn't even cleared port until I was desperately ill. It was just so bad I couldn't hardly stand it.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

And so they turned around and went back, anchored and took me ashore.

Jessica Crawford:

Really.

Carroll Allen:

And this was about 2:00 in the morning. I laid in an Army Field Hospital the rest of the night continually ill (laugh) and then early the next morning a little Philippine doctor operated on me for appendicitis and they didn't succeed in getting it out before it burst. So I spent the next...as a result I had a terrible infection in my abdomen and I spent the next...oh, I forget exactly, but it was pretty close to a month in the hospital, in a field hospital. In the meanwhile my ship went off and by the time I was finally discharged from the hospital...the only thing that saved my life there I think was the advent of penicillin which was essentially new at that time.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

They me shots of penicillin about every two hours, 24 hours a day and finally they got the infection under control. Well, anyway, by the time I was discharged from the hospital my ship was in Okinawa at that particular point in time and so I flew there and rejoined the ship.

Jessica Crawford:

Oh, okay. They didn't send you on with the next ship or anything? They flew you over to your original...?

Carroll Allen:

I went to the ship that I had been on and had taken me ashore. Yes.

Jessica Crawford:

Did you guys play any prangs on each other while you were over there?

Carroll Allen:

Oh, yeah. Oh, sure. Nothing really dramatic. Probably the most dramatic was in training school where every once in a while we would what they call "short sheet." They're probably still doing it. (Laugh).

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

We would "short sheet" other people. You know how that works. (Laugh).

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

And we got a big kick out of that, of course, and then a lot of little stuff, but that was probably the most major prank that you play on someone. You could get away with that and your supervisors, your superiors wouldn't find out about it usually.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah. Do you have any photographs of when you were in the service?

Carroll Allen:

Well, photographs were pretty much prohibited on the ships.

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh.

Carroll Allen:

I made one voyage after the war and I did take some pictures of that and I do have some at home of the ship and of my friend that's on there and we went to Germany...from New York City to Germany. So I do have a few pictures from that era. Then, of course, I have my class photograph from radio training.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

There are about 50 guys all grouped together in uniform.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah. Were you pretty good friends with some of the guys?

Carroll Allen:

Oh, yeah. Sure. I had about four. I'd say that over the years I had about four...what I would call close friends.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah. Do you still keep in touch with any of them or...?

Carroll Allen:

Well, I tried to but we've...I know one of them has passed...has died...and one of the others for some reason...one of the fellows I was most close to, I guess, I lost touch with him and I have tried and tried to find him, but I haven't gotten any closer.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

And the other two I never was that close that we kept in frequent touch, but I am still in contact with one of them.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah. Do you remember the day that your service ended or it was completely over kind of thing?

Carroll Allen:

I don't know that I can say that I remember the day, but I remember certainly within a few days because I was discharged from the last and final voyage in New York City in March of 1946. I remember that...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

... and I headed home.

Jessica Crawford:

How old were you when you went...

Carroll Allen:

At that time I was 20.

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh. So you just went home as soon as you were discharged?

Carroll Allen:

Yes. (Laugh).

Jessica Crawford:

How long had you been away from your family at that point?

Carroll Allen:

Well, a number of months. I think probably at least a year. I'd have to go back and try to figure out when I last crossed the country. Usually when I crossed from one coast to the other I would stop in Illinois, which is sort of in the middle of the country.

Jessica Crawford:

Yes.

Carroll Allen:

In fact I can't remember exactly when I was home last.

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh.

Carroll Allen:

But I think it was the Christmas that I mentioned before.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

So I didn't have a lot of visits home.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah. What did you do in the days and weeks after you were discharged?

Carroll Allen:

Well, I was so happy to be back that I immediately started helping my father, who was a farmer, with getting the spring crops ready. (Laugh). So I did a lot of plowing and thrashing. And then I went clothes shopping and finally got some civilian clothes.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

And then I registered for college and started school in the fall.

Jessica Crawford:

Was your education supported by the G.I. bill?

Carroll Allen:

Oh, no...not at all. We didn't get any of the benefits that the G.I. bill provided.

Jessica Crawford:

Why not?

Carroll Allen:

Well, it is a long and somewhat complex story that even I now do not understand it. The President of the country, Roosevelt, then Truman, who became President, Eisenhower and Nemitz, MacArthur, everyone of them were highly in favor of the Merchant Marine being included in the G.I. bill and Roosevelt said so specifically, but when he died for some reason or other there was resistance in the military apparently against it...why I can't imagine, but apparently there was and they were able to sway enough political influence to prevent it. I didn't know that at the time, but of course the use of the Merchant Marine was...that's a story in and of itself...the military had no way of transporting personnel and material to Europe and to Asia. It all had to come from some force that we didn't even have...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...when the war started. So somehow or other they originated the U.S. Maritime Commission which in turn became responsible for sort of taking over the commercial shipping interests of the country and converting them to military use under the control of and the administration of the federal government. But of course they didn't have...we didn't have very many ships so they had to build the ships. They built thousands during the war and I was on one of those recently constructed ships. And they had no people to man the ships.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

And for some reason which I've never...again, never understood, they didn't want to use the people who were being constricted in the military to do that. They wanted to use some other source of people. So that's where the Maritime Commission used the...originated the U.S. Maritime Service, which was the training facility. So all during the war... during the early part of the war the fatality rate in Merchant Marine was very high...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...extremely high...so high that I've heard...now I can't vouch for the truth of this, but I've heard that they wanted to keep it a secret otherwise nobody would volunteer to do this. You see, they were all volunteers, all of them. And we had people who actually were 70 years of age and clear down to 16 years of age in that.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

And all of them volunteers. So they didn't want it known how dangerous it was. There were literally hundreds of ships being sunk in the early years of the war. So that was...I've heard...one of the reasons why they didn't give it any publicity in the sense that the military services got publicity like big bulletin boards and so forth...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...of "Join the Army" and...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah, I've seen those. Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...so forth and we didn't get that kind of thing and maybe that's one reason. I don't know. Then, of course, later., .now I'm rambling, I guess...but later there with resistance from the military and for some reason or other we thought we were overpaid for what we were doing, which is kind of ridiculous because that's been researched considerably and that simply was not true. By the time you add a military man's salary or pay and all the benefits that come with it including the G.I. bill the pay is certainly no more...our pay was certainly no more than their pay by no means and with the benefits that they reaped after the war were so much greater than anything we had...in fact, we didn't have any...there is very little comparison. And even now after all these years they are still trying to get some sort of compensation for those years. Whether that will happen or not...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

So we didn't get any college or any insurance or any of that kind of thing at all...benefits for the families or anything like that.

Jessica Crawford:

So you were paid for all of your schooling yourself?

Carroll Allen:

Oh, yeah.

Jessica Crawford:

Or your family?

Carroll Allen:

Right. I worked my way through a good deal of college.

Jessica Crawford:

What did you go to college for?

Carroll Allen:

What did I go for?

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh. I mean, what did you major in?

Carroll Allen:

Well, life sciences. Originally I intended to teach physiology. That's what I wanted to do...general physiology in some small college someplace. That's what I had in mind originally. And later when I had a growing family in school I decided that I couldn't afford that any longer and I had to get a job, so I applied for a naval commission and the F.B.I, at the same time and the F.B.I, came through first. (Laugh). So I spent the next 25 years in the F.B.I.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah, 25 years in the F.B.I. That's along time. That's a good career in the F.B.I.

Carroll Allen:

And then I retired and went into business for myself with two other retirees and we did that for the next 17 years after that.

Jessica Crawford:

What did you do in your...

Carroll Allen:

After retirement?

Jessica Crawford:

Uh-huh.

Carroll Allen:

It was a corporate security organization. You might say we did security research for corporations for the most part. We would review their entire situation at a corporate facility of some sort and write a report suggesting what they could do to improve their security...

Jessica Crawford:

Oh, okay.

Carroll Allen:

...both communication-wise and physical-wise.

Jessica Crawford:

Okay. That's cool. Since you were in the military did it influence positive things about how you think about war or military careers in general?

Carroll Allen:

Yes. I think it convinced me as a young person the tragedy of war which certainly is obvious to everyone. It is necessary and justified when you have to defend your country to do it.

Jessica Crawford:

So are you in support of war?

Carroll Allen:

Oh, yeah, from that point of view.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

As long as it is a defensive action.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

Sure.

Jessica Crawford:

Are there any reunions that you go to or went to?

Carroll Allen:

Well, no. Well, we have had some in the communications field, people who...I could have gone, but I haven't gone to any of them.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah. How did the service in general and the experiences you had affect who you are?

Carroll Allen:

Well, that's a tough question. I guess the experience that I had personally added to my experience that I later used in my work in the F.B.I, in a technical end area. I think that's probably the biggest influence was the training I received and then used. Of course, it developed a lifelong interest in boating (laugh) and everything connected with boating, but that's from a recreational point of view, I guess.

Jessica Crawford:

Is there anything else you would like to add that we haven't gone over or talked about yet?

Carroll Allen:

Well, the only thing I would add would be to make the public and the country aware of the essential nature and contribution that the Merchant Marine makes to any defensive action.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

The military would have been totally helpless, hopeless...

Jessica Crawford:

True.

Carroll Allen:

...without what we were doing. We carried most of the men over there and back. We supplied them with everything that they used while they were there, almost with no exceptions. So they really wouldn't have been able to even go.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah, because you were basically like their lifeline.

Carroll Allen:

Yeah, completely and yet we got no recognition for it hardly at all. Strange.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah, because you brought them...

Carroll Allen:

And we were all volunteers and they were all, for the most part, draftees...

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...not that that's any criticism of them, but that was nevertheless the case.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah. Because you basically brought them everything...

Carroll Allen:

Yeah.

Jessica Crawford:

...from ammunition to food to supplies.

Carroll Allen:

Everything, yeah, including the ships...not the ships...all the ammunition, airplanes, tanks, amphibious vehicles, you name it...cannon, machine guns and everything that goes with it.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah. If one of the ships hadn't have shown up what would they have done?

Carroll Allen:

Of course, I assume they had others coming all the time. There was a constant flow. But the loss of the ships in the early parts...you see, one out of every 26 people in the Merchant Marine were killed. That's the highest casualty rate in any of the services. We had no people sitting around cooking food at a boot camp back in the States.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

What I'm trying to say is that almost everyone in the service was in a danger zone...almost everybody.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

There were I suppose some of the ships did nothing but run... well, even along the coastline in the United States we had hundreds of ships sunk within site of the beach on the East Coast of the United States.

Jessica Crawford:

Really?

Carroll Allen:

Oh, yeah. You didn't have to be overseas, so to speak, to be killed.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

And many were killed.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

The German submarine fleet concentrated on our shoreline in effect when they could and sunk...I don't know...I don't know the numbers, but a large number of ships off the coast. So almost, like I said, almost everybody that was on Merchant Marine ship was in danger.

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

And I don't think...I certain wasn't aware of the degree of danger when I enlisted (laugh).

Jessica Crawford:

Yeah.

Carroll Allen:

Now whether it would have made any difference, I don't know. I doubt that it would have, but I don't know whether it would have or not. But that's the reason...very likely the reason they didn't propagate that...

Jessica Crawford:

Well, yeah.

Carroll Allen:

...that information.

Jessica Crawford:

Well, yeah, I mean who would want to know that (laugh).

Carroll Allen:

Yeah, right.

Jessica Crawford:

I suppose...if that is all that...unless you would like to add anything else...would you like to add anything else?

Carroll Allen:

No, I think that pretty well covers it.

Jessica Crawford:

Okay. Well, I guess this concludes the interview then.

Carroll Allen:

All right.

Jessica Crawford:

So thank you for letting me interview you.

Carroll Allen:

Thank you for being interested.

Jessica Crawford:

No problem...but I am interested in it and it was interesting to hear all that. But thank you for letting me do this.

Carroll Allen:

You're welcome.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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