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 Joseph Kelly [12/17/2008]

Bobbie Ames:

This is the interview of Joseph E. Kelly, also known as Joseph Lobit, L-o-b-i-t.

Patsy Kelly:

Right.

Joseph Kelly:

Joseph E. Lobit.

Bobbie Ames:

Hi, Joe. Are you ready for your interview?

Joseph Kelly:

Yes, ma'am.

Bobbie Ames:

Tell me who is here with us today.

Joseph Kelly:

Of course, you're here. My wife, Patsy.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Joseph Kelly:

Patsy Ruth Kelly.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Joseph Kelly:

And, of course, myself, Joseph E. Kelly, E. Lobit.

Bobbie Ames:

I really appreciate you all coming out here. I know it is a long way. Are you ready for your interview?

Joseph Kelly:

Yes, ma'am. I surely am.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. This is Bobbie Ames speaking. I am a court reporter. It is taken through the National Court Reporters Association for the Library of Congress. And we are happy that you and your wife came out and you are here today and ready to be interviewed as a veteran of World War II. Would you please state your full name?

Joseph Kelly:

My full name is Joseph E. Kelly.

Bobbie Ames:

And your birth date?

Joseph Kelly:

My birth date is January 23rd, 1924.

Bobbie Ames:

And will you tell me your dates of service?

Joseph Kelly:

I will have to look it up on some of my data. I --

Bobbie Ames:

What year did you join the Army?

Joseph Kelly:

It would have been '40 -- I am going to have to have my notes. I can't -- I have Parkinson's, and I can't, I can't hold a thought.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. You can get it later and we will put it on your form. What year did you get out of the service?

Joseph Kelly:

January the 30th, 1946.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Where were you born?

Joseph Kelly:

I was born in Phoenix, Arizona.

Bobbie Ames:

And what did your folks do for a living?

Joseph Kelly:

My adoptive father, Joseph E. Lobit, L-o-b-i-t, was a stockbroker.

Bobbie Ames:

And where were you on Pearl Harbor Day, Joe?

Joseph Kelly:

I was in the, in the Majestic Theater. I don't remember what I saw in the Majestic Theater. But when I came out, there was all kinds of excitement on the street.

Bobbie Ames:

Was that in Phoenix or in Houston?

Joseph Kelly:

That was Houston downtown.

Bobbie Ames:

Who were you with?

Joseph Kelly:

I was by myself.

Bobbie Ames:

What did you think, Joe?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, I was mad. It just went all over me. I was ready to spit in the gutter.

Bobbie Ames:

How old were you that day?

Joseph Kelly:

I must have been either 17 or 18. I would have to go back and count the years. I was a student at the University of Houston.

Bobbie Ames:

Were you still in high school?

Joseph Kelly:

I graduated from high school when I was 15 and a half.

Bobbie Ames:

What were you doing then?

Joseph Kelly:

I worked part time as an instrument man with a surveying crew. The surveying company was Hayes and Donovan.

Bobbie Ames:

What did your daddy think about Pearl Harbor?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, Joseph Lobit had died in 1930 -- '33, I would say, at Hermann Hospital.

Bobbie Ames:

Here in Houston?

Joseph Kelly:

Here in Houston. He -- it was at the tenth floor of the Hermann Hospital. He died of kidney disease, Bright's disease.

Bobbie Ames:

Bright's disease?

Joseph Kelly:

Bright's. I think B-r-i-g-h-t, something like that.

Bobbie Ames:

Your mother remarried?

Joseph Kelly:

She did. She married Donald S. Kelly, but this was several years later. It must have been four or five years. And she, she met him on a, on some sort of an oil transaction. She took me, and herself, of course, and went to live with her sister in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Bobbie Ames:

And your mother worked?

Joseph Kelly:

She never did really work. She was involved in society, if you please.

Bobbie Ames:

What did she think about Pearl Harbor?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, I thought we had been hit in the back of the head with something that we couldn't handle.

Bobbie Ames:

No. Your mother.

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, I don't know that -- I don't know that we ever discussed it.

Bobbie Ames:

How did you all wind up in Houston?

Joseph Kelly:

My great grandfather on the Lobit side was in business with, with a man by the name of Adoue. Adoue and Lobit in Galveston.

Bobbie Ames:

When did you join the -- did you join the service or were you drafted?

Joseph Kelly:

I was given a, a commission, if you please, or a commitment by the CIC about six months after Pearl Harbor. I don't have the exact time. And I -- it came as a shock to me. I was working at the University of Houston on a degree in petroleum engineering or geology.

Bobbie Ames:

You hadn't been thinking about joining the Army?

Joseph Kelly:

No, I hadn't. It was the last thing on my mind. I -- I was very much involved in my --

Bobbie Ames:

In education?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, in military things. I belonged to the Civilian Military -- CMTC, Civilian Military Training Corps.

Bobbie Ames:

How did the CIC find out about you, Joe?

Joseph Kelly:

I think they probably had my records from, from C -- CM -- I am having a Parkinson again.

Bobbie Ames:

How soon after they contacted you, did you sign up?

Joseph Kelly:

They pulled me. I didn't pull them. It was -- it was a well-handled situation. I came to the geology lab out at the University of Houston. There were two buildings out there in those days and a mud puddle in between the two buildings where the reflection pool was finally put in. And at the University of Houston I was, I guess, a junior hourswise in geology. I had been doubling up and tripling up. And I had a contract or commitment from the Texas Company to go to South America and work down there for two years and they would pay me what I thought was a fabulous salary and then guarantee me a job.

Bobbie Ames:

No, Joe. We can't do this. You got to answer the question, so we can move on. It is a long history we are going after. I asked you: How soon after they contacted you did you join or were you drafted?

Joseph Kelly:

Two men in suits came and told me that they, they wanted me. They told me what they wanted me for, that I was being recruited to the CIC.

Bobbie Ames:

And where were they from?

Joseph Kelly:

I don't know. The first -- the most covert operation that I was assigned to was a man by the name of Balta, and I reported to Atlanta, Georgia.

Bobbie Ames:

Were they from the government?

Joseph Kelly:

That was the forerunner of the CI

Joseph Kelly:

I guess they were part of the government.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. And so you were -- you joined the Army. Did they give you a choice, or they told you where you were going?

Joseph Kelly:

They had it set up.

Bobbie Ames:

So, when did you go?

Joseph Kelly:

Patsy, if you can hand me my discharge, I can read all these numbers off of it.

Patsy Kelly:

I don't know where it is.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. We will get that later. Where did you first go?

Joseph Kelly:

Fort Sam Houston.

Bobbie Ames:

How long were you from there?

Joseph Kelly:

About ten days.

Bobbie Ames:

And then where?

Joseph Kelly:

Camp McCall, North Carolina.

Bobbie Ames:

How do you spell McCall?

Joseph Kelly:

M-c-C-a-l-l.

Bobbie Ames:

And what did you do there? You already had your assigned M.O.S., right?

Joseph Kelly:

No. No, that was basic training. I spent 13 weeks in basic training.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. At McCall what -- that was boot camp?

Joseph Kelly:

Camp McCall was boot camp or basic training.

Bobbie Ames:

How long --

Joseph Kelly:

It lasted 13 weeks.

Bobbie Ames:

That's what I was going to ask you. From there, where?

Joseph Kelly:

I, I went immediately to the 13th Division. That would have been at Fort Bragg.

Bobbie Ames:

How long were you there?

Joseph Kelly:

I stayed in the 13th Division until my discharge.

Bobbie Ames:

I meant at Fort Bragg.

Joseph Kelly:

Oh.

Bobbie Ames:

How long were you there?

Joseph Kelly:

I would say a total of three months altogether.

Bobbie Ames:

And then from there, where?

Joseph Kelly:

I flew to Europe with Major Kale five times.

Bobbie Ames:

You went back and forth?

Joseph Kelly:

I sure did.

Bobbie Ames:

Why was that, Joe?

Joseph Kelly:

Because I was an operative of the CIC.

Bobbie Ames:

And where in Europe did you fly to the first time?

Joseph Kelly:

We went to Metz. This was after D Day.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. And you can't discuss what you did at Metz?

Joseph Kelly:

About my -- no, I would rather not. There is no, no point in it. It has been 60 years.

Bobbie Ames:

What can you discuss about your service?

Joseph Kelly:

Almost anything.

Bobbie Ames:

Well, then, like what? You flew back and forth with your commander?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, let me, let me explain very, very briefly, very quickly. I was for all practical purposes the body guard for Sam Kale, for Major Kale.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Joseph Kelly:

And I watched his back and his brief bag. And I never, never got deliberately more than 25 paces from behind him.

Bobbie Ames:

So, your service constituted mainly, like, an orderly for Kale?

Joseph Kelly:

No. Like a, like an expert with a, with a pistol or submachine gun to kill somebody that wanted to kill Kale.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh. And what did you do besides the five trips back and forth with him?

Joseph Kelly:

I made an airborne landing at Wesel. I jumped out of a 46. The stick was ten. The 46 was a new plane. Forty-seven was usually what was used.

Bobbie Ames:

But you jumped out of a 46?

Joseph Kelly:

They were -- there were a few of them that were assigned to the, to the Varsity operation, Varsity jump.

Bobbie Ames:

You jumped out of a 46, right?

Joseph Kelly:

I sure did.

Bobbie Ames:

And --

Joseph Kelly:

I jumped 21 times.

Bobbie Ames:

And what is a 46?

Joseph Kelly:

C-46 is a transport plane that is very similar to a C-47, the one that was used by parachute units.

Bobbie Ames:

And you were a paratrooper?

Joseph Kelly:

Yes. I was qualified as a, as a paratrooper, parachute training qualification.

Bobbie Ames:

And where did you do that? Where did you learn your paratrooping rituals?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, part of it came in, in, in -- prior to going to parachute school. I went to parachute school at Benning.

Bobbie Ames:

That's what I thought. That's where my husband was.

Joseph Kelly:

Right.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. But all 21 of your drops were from the C-46?

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, no. No. Just one. That was -- the machine hadn't even been invented until probably my second or third year in the service.

Bobbie Ames:

What machine?

Joseph Kelly:

The C-47, C-46.

Bobbie Ames:

All of the rest of the jumps were from the C-47?

Joseph Kelly:

C-47, yes.

Bobbie Ames:

Over what territories?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, I would say France, Germany, Belgium. A covert jump was, was a me and thee, with Sam Kale and myself.

Bobbie Ames:

What did you say, an "M and D"?

Joseph Kelly:

He and me.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Patsy Kelly:

"He and I."

Joseph Kelly:

He and I.

Bobbie Ames:

And what country was that over?

Joseph Kelly:

I would say Belgium.

Bobbie Ames:

Is that where the schrapnel happened?

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, no. This was at Wesel.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Joseph Kelly:

This was towards the end of the war.

Bobbie Ames:

How many men jumped when you and Kale jumped, just you and he?

Joseph Kelly:

I -- we, we -- oh, no, no. When he and I jumped on some, some of these covert operations, it was just, just he and I. And some, some cases, we had the free French and there were maybe 15 or 16 people.

Bobbie Ames:

Jumping with you?

Joseph Kelly:

Right. So, it's a mixed bag. And I would have a terrible time determining just exactly where the truth is because I don't remember.

Bobbie Ames:

Where did they get their training, do you know, the French?

Joseph Kelly:

I don't know. They probably didn't have any training. They were wild and crazy as if they would jump out of a plane without a parachute if you didn't give them a chute.

Bobbie Ames:

What made you say they were wild and crazy?

Joseph Kelly:

The way they acted.

Bobbie Ames:

Like, what?

Joseph Kelly:

Like a bunch of rabid dogs.

Bobbie Ames:

Is that admiration or disgust you are voicing?

Joseph Kelly:

No. That's -- that's -- in a way it is admiration. I would much prefer a Frenchman to an Englishman.

Bobbie Ames:

That's interesting. Were they ever drinking when they jumped?

Joseph Kelly:

I would say obviously. The drink of choice was eau de vie.

Bobbie Ames:

Was what?

Joseph Kelly:

Eau de vie. Water of life.

Bobbie Ames:

What is eau de vie?

Joseph Kelly:

Eau de vie is a, is a distilled brandy. Comes down to, to a real clear, whitish brandy that you don't drink very much of it before you don't know where you are.

Bobbie Ames:

Do you know how to spell it?

Joseph Kelly:

That's French. Eau de vie. Water, eau; de, d-e; vie, v-i-e, for life.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Joseph Kelly:

I would have to have a French dictionary. I --

Bobbie Ames:

But the Americans never imbibed, huh?

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, yeah. Of course.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh. No, no.

Joseph Kelly:

I have got a picture of an American that imbibed that I brought you.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. The French just jumped over France?

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, no. No. The problem is language. Interrogation or any, any movement to get anything going in a, in a covert fashion, you have got to be able to talk the language. So they speak with a Belgium accent and they speak French or they speak German.

Bobbie Ames:

Good.

Joseph Kelly:

And whatever --

Bobbie Ames:

Did you speak any of those?

Joseph Kelly:

Not, not so it was fit to print.

Bobbie Ames:

And these covert operations, were these Frenchmen considered covert operatives?

Joseph Kelly:

No.

Bobbie Ames:

They were just assistants?

Joseph Kelly:

They were -- they were the opposition or the --

Bobbie Ames:

Underground?

Joseph Kelly:

The underground, yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

Good. What about, on 21 drops, did you ever have machine fire, machine gunfire?

Joseph Kelly:

The only time I was ever fired on was at Wesel. And we got fired on by everything that was down there in Wesel.

Bobbie Ames:

Did any of the men in your group get killed?

Joseph Kelly:

Sam Kale. I say that. I don't know whether he got killed or not. Because as I looked up, I thought it took off his head. But I don't know.

Bobbie Ames:

Was it machine gun or what was it?

Joseph Kelly:

No. It was a mortar.

Bobbie Ames:

A mortar. How old was he, Joe?

Joseph Kelly:

I guess he was -- he would have been -- I was 19 or 20; 20. Twenty-one when I got out of the service. Sam would have been probably 30.

Bobbie Ames:

What rank was he then?

Joseph Kelly:

He was a major. He came out of West Point.

Bobbie Ames:

That's what I wanted to know.

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

You all had become friends?

Joseph Kelly:

He was -- he was transferred into -- I came into the division on a transfer that was arranged by the CIC. And he came in on orders from the -- wherever they get orders, to form new divisions. Thirteenth Division was formed.

Bobbie Ames:

No. All I asked was: Did you all become friends?

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. He -- he hired me.

Bobbie Ames:

How long did you serve together before he was killed?

Joseph Kelly:

About a month and -- 18 months.

Bobbie Ames:

Eighteen months. And you jumped together with him how many times?

Joseph Kelly:

I will say six or seven. I don't remember.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Were there any funny things that happened during those jumps, Joe, or silly things?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, not silly. Pitiful. I made a practice jump at -- I am going to say McCall. I don't know where I was. But anyway I made a practice jump. It was a night jump. And we, we had a, a bunch of little asphalt roads that went through the woods. And I thought the asphalt road that I was looking at was a creek, was water. And it looked like water, and so I did what you are not supposed to do. I got ready to cut myself out of my harness, and I reached for it with my foot, so that I would splash down into it and I wouldn't hurt myself. And anyway, it wasn't water. It was an asphalt road.

Bobbie Ames:

How did that feel?

Joseph Kelly:

That put me in the, in the hospital overnight.

Bobbie Ames:

I imagine it was a jolt.

Joseph Kelly:

It was a shock to my nervous system.

Bobbie Ames:

And you jumped so many times. My husband just jumped three times.

Joseph Kelly:

Well, you jump five times to qualify.

Bobbie Ames:

But I mean in Germany he jumped three times. So your faith was in the people who packed the parachutes, right?

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. I had to, I had to take whoever, whoever packed. Normally you pack your own and you go through a procedure where you have, you have an ID on the chute that you use. But I didn't have that luxury because of, of the constant turmoil. And --

Bobbie Ames:

It knocked the breath out of you when you landed on the road?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, I didn't get any tumble at all. And I just hit one, one leg, and I guess I must have twisted it and toppled. But, yeah, it didn't, it didn't knock the breath. It scared the you know what out of me.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah. Boy, it could have been a lot worse.

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, yeah. It could have broke my leg all the way up.

Bobbie Ames:

Where was the hospital?

Joseph Kelly:

McCall. Camp -- I keep saying Camp McCall. I am confused. And --

Bobbie Ames:

It doesn't matter. That's okay.

Joseph Kelly:

And you could ask me these questions 25 or 30 years ago and I could respond to you. But I'm --

Bobbie Ames:

I was busy having babies then.

Joseph Kelly:

Well, I was, I was busy trying to be a construction contractor.

Bobbie Ames:

Anything else that you can think of that was funny during the training or the jump?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, I remember one time we captured a cow and we roasted the beast on a, on a Bofour's barrel. Bofour's is a Swedish anti-aircraft gun. And the barrel is long and it has a muzzle break on it. And we chopped the muzzle break off and put the cow on the, on the barrel and then put a couple of Y's up to turn him like a barbecue pit. And it was real good cow.

Bobbie Ames:

What country was that?

Joseph Kelly:

That was France.

Bobbie Ames:

You didn't have enough C rations?

Joseph Kelly:

We, we got into -- D was my choice, and -- because I like chocolate.

Bobbie Ames:

I heard about that. How did you kill the poor cow?

Joseph Kelly:

Somebody cut its throat.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh.

Joseph Kelly:

We had all kinds of experts in how to cook a cow.

Bobbie Ames:

What -- I imagine. What kind of gun was that that you roasted her on, the barrel of a what?

Joseph Kelly:

Bofour's, B-o-f-o-u-r-s. It is a Swedish anti-aircraft gun.

Bobbie Ames:

How did you get hold of that?

Joseph Kelly:

I think it was probably a German weapon. I never did study a Bofour's. I don't know why that came to mind. I --

Bobbie Ames:

That's interesting.

Joseph Kelly:

I had a -- I had a -- I was the most overtrained soldier in, in the Army. I was trained and trained and trained.

Bobbie Ames:

In what?

Joseph Kelly:

Weapons.

Bobbie Ames:

Were you a marksman?

Joseph Kelly:

Expert in rifle, carbine, pistol.

Bobbie Ames:

That's one of the medals you should have told me when I was asking you. You got the expert medal?

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. I hadn't got it. They probably ran out of medals for that one, too.

Bobbie Ames:

On those jumps, did you ever wind up fighting on the ground, engaged on any of them?

Joseph Kelly:

At Metz I shot a man in the head with a rifle, with a carbine.

Bobbie Ames:

A German?

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

And --

Joseph Kelly:

And he was just coming, coming down to -- he heard me, and he was looking for me. And I was down the side of a bridge. And when he got even with me, I stood up and fired on him. And it -- that was the first one I ever did.

Bobbie Ames:

Did he have his gun drawn or his rifle?

Joseph Kelly:

He was carrying a, a Schmeisser submachine gun.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh. He was alone?

Joseph Kelly:

There were some more coming down across the bridge.

Bobbie Ames:

Did they hear you shoot him?

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

What did you do then?

Joseph Kelly:

I retreated.

Bobbie Ames:

Under the bridge or in the forest?

Joseph Kelly:

I kept going. I kept going down the road. And they stopped and made a, made a line at the bridge. I guess they thought we were coming in. I was -- wasn't anybody to come in. Nobody with me but Sam.

Bobbie Ames:

Sam saw you do that?

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

It was either you or him, right?

Joseph Kelly:

That's the, that's the way I saw it.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah. And you got back safely to your lines that day?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, there wasn't -- Sam and I had a -- he had an obligation that he was trying to make. And I was going along to take care of him, and I got separated from him and got in front of him instead of behind him. And I don't really recall most of what happened that day. But we broke that off. I have got something that would be of interest, I think, to you. I saw the atomic test explosion at Alamogordo.

Bobbie Ames:

And where is -- excuse my ignorance. Where is Alamogordo?

Joseph Kelly:

Alamogordo is in New Mexico.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Joseph Kelly:

They --

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. What did you think of that? Fantastic?

Joseph Kelly:

Oh.

Bobbie Ames:

Humongous?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, it shocked the fire out of me. I didn't have -- I had no idea what was going on. And Sam and I and one other man were involved. We were sent there.

Bobbie Ames:

To witness that?

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. The other man that -- out of, out of a G-2 Unit was Calvin Dickey. And Calvin was a corporal. He was like a nerd. You know, he, he would be the guy that could play the computer for you.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah.

Joseph Kelly:

And --

Bobbie Ames:

He was part of the covert operations?

Joseph Kelly:

He was, he was an intelligent NCO, two stripes. He was a corporal.

Bobbie Ames:

And witnessing this was part of covert operations?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, they wanted to send a Geiger counter with us. And Calvin came to learn something about the Geiger while he was there and to take it -- take charge of it.

Bobbie Ames:

Did it work? Did you get the information you needed?

Joseph Kelly:

We took the Geiger back to Wesel.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you get the information you needed?

Joseph Kelly:

He was trained.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you get the information they sent the Geiger over there for?

Joseph Kelly:

We think we did. We got, we got heavy water at Wesel.

Bobbie Ames:

How many people do you think witnessed the A-bomb test?

Joseph Kelly:

I would say about 45.

Bobbie Ames:

Where were you when the A-bomb was dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima?

Joseph Kelly:

I was apparently in Germany. After I got wounded, my next recollection was, was coming, coming awake and I had scabies and I was on a ship. And --

Bobbie Ames:

Headed home or --

Joseph Kelly:

I thought we were headed for Japan. And somebody -- I was sick. And somebody said that we wouldn't be going to Japan that they had dropped a big bomb on Japan.

Bobbie Ames:

What did you think about that?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, I knew that ended it. Because the British had been trying to keep from being atom bombed or atomic bombed.

Bobbie Ames:

By the Germans?

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. The Germans about the 12th to 15th of July had, had actually been able to put a buzz bomb or a B1 or B2, B2, and the buzz bomb went into London. And that was the first time. This was almost immediately after, after Major Kale picked me up and we became kind of a team, an officer and an enlisted man. I had to do other things. I had to hold his coat and all the rest of the stuff.

Bobbie Ames:

Like an orderly but also a body guard.

Joseph Kelly:

Well, I was a highly trained orderly.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you suspect when you heard about the big bomb being dropped on Hiroshima that it was the A bomb?

Joseph Kelly:

I knew it was.

Bobbie Ames:

You knew it was. Did you suspect before that, that something similar was coming, once you had witnessed it?

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, I knew it had to happen. I knew it. Yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

It was just a matter of when?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, the Germans were doing everything they could to put one on England.

Bobbie Ames:

It was a close race, in other words?

Joseph Kelly:

If England had received their bomb and it went off in London or anywhere on the, on the British Isles, the war would have ended. The Germans would have won and everybody would have quit.

Bobbie Ames:

I heard that most of their scientists, the German scientists, had been recruited from other countries. Did you understand that to be the case?

Joseph Kelly:

I knew that to be the case.

Bobbie Ames:

From where mostly?

Joseph Kelly:

Sweden. I used to have names, but I don't remember the names anymore.

Bobbie Ames:

I took one sailor's interview that saw the A-bomb being loaded on the Indianapolis.

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, really?

Bobbie Ames:

Yes. They had given all the boys a five-day pass to go home and see their mothers. That was why. They knew that the Japanese were going to be targeting the Indianapolis and they did. And they lost almost all of them. Where were you when the war ended? Or VE Day, where were you on VE Day?

Joseph Kelly:

I was in Le Havre, France, and -- sitting on a ship that was going to go to somewhere. And as it turns out, it came back to the United States.

Bobbie Ames:

What was the name of it, do you remember?

Joseph Kelly:

No, I don't.

Bobbie Ames:

Well, tell me about the day you got injured, Joe.

Joseph Kelly:

That was, that was the, the Wesel jump. That was the 23rd of July -- August. August. August 23rd.

Bobbie Ames:

1945 or --

Joseph Kelly:

Forty --

Bobbie Ames:

-- four?

Joseph Kelly:

No. It would have been August of '45.

Bobbie Ames:

That's what I thought.

Joseph Kelly:

Because the war ended within, within a month.

Bobbie Ames:

And that was when you were coming down from the plane that --

Joseph Kelly:

No. No. We had been on the ground for several hours.

Bobbie Ames:

Well, you said the same day the major got killed.

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. He got hit with a mortar.

Bobbie Ames:

So he was on the ground when he got hit?

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, yeah. We were all on the ground.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh, okay.

Joseph Kelly:

We had a -- we had two sticks of ten.

Bobbie Ames:

What is that?

Joseph Kelly:

Ten men sitting in a row on one side; stand up and look up; and you go out the door as a stick. And ten would be a little, a little fat. It was better to go eight or go seven, but just so you will have more room.

Bobbie Ames:

I don't understand what you are saying. What is that for?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, in the, in the plane you have a row of seats --

Bobbie Ames:

Oh.

Joseph Kelly:

-- on each side. And man number one, two, three, four, five...

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. I was asking you on the ground the day you got injured.

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. I jumped, and about two and a half or three hours after I got on the ground, we were moving towards what could be the site of atomic energy, of heavy water. Heavy water is nothing more than water that has been used as a cooling element for, for, for an atomic pile, where you get into critical mass and you are going to have an explosion or a release of energy.

Bobbie Ames:

And who would have created that water?

Joseph Kelly:

The Germans.

Bobbie Ames:

And where was it coming from?

Joseph Kelly:

Wesel.

Bobbie Ames:

And what in Wesel, a factory?

Joseph Kelly:

It looked like a factory. It looked like they had had some kind of concealed submarine fins. And I don't know how they got their submarines or where, what they were. I just don't know anything about it.

Bobbie Ames:

But it was from testing and experiments?

Joseph Kelly:

They were the, the allies, the first Allied Airborne Army, which was British and American. And they even had some French in it. And they were trying to circumvent the, the atomic bombing of England. And they had come -- if you look at a globe of the world, you are not very far from England when you are up there at the head waters of the Rhine. All you got to do is just lob over and it is an easy shot. And it was well within the range of the B1 and B2 rockets. But they never did fire those rockets. They never could get, they never could get the B2 into England. They were firing the B -- the buzz bomb is what -- they used it originally as a terror weapon.

Bobbie Ames:

What is that really, the buzz bomb?

Joseph Kelly:

It is a rocket that has a compartment in the front end of it to put explosives in. And you could blow up -- it covers a bomb. So you fire it very carefully and aim it. And it lobs up and over and comes down on English soil. And the thing that makes it come down on English soil is the amount of fuel that you very carefully miter into it. And once you get the fuel into it, it will go until it runs out of fuel. Well, when it runs out of fuel, it will fall like a rock.

Bobbie Ames:

What kind of fuel would that be, Joe?

Joseph Kelly:

Rocket fuel. The same, the same thing that von Braun gave to our space program.

Bobbie Ames:

Are those obsolete now?

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, yeah. Yeah. That would, that would be like a, like a muzzle loader as compared to a deer rifle.

Bobbie Ames:

Now, awhile ago when you said the French, the British and the American troops, when you speak of the American troops in that outfit, are you speaking of the 82nd and the 101st?

Joseph Kelly:

No.

Bobbie Ames:

What are you speaking of?

Joseph Kelly:

The, the 17th Airborne.

Bobbie Ames:

That's American?

Joseph Kelly:

Yes, ma'am.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Joseph Kelly:

There were five divisions.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Joseph Kelly:

And the 17th was, was quickly cut down and sent home. They were sent home.

Bobbie Ames:

Why?

Joseph Kelly:

I think because there was -- we had the bloodiest day for American troops of the war at Wesel. And I think they, they didn't want to acknowledge -- we put -- I guess we had maybe 22,000 people, and they had about 85,000 people. And we, we attacked in broad daylight at about 10:00 o'clock, 9:00 o'clock in the morning. And it was a clear day. And it was, it was a mess.

Bobbie Ames:

Did that operation have a name?

Joseph Kelly:

Varsity.

Bobbie Ames:

Right. You told me that earlier. Who was the general in charge of that?

Joseph Kelly:

Viscount Montgomery, an Englishman.

Bobbie Ames:

Those, those 85 or 90,000 they had, they were all Germans?

Joseph Kelly:

I would say yes. I don't -- I never -- nobody ever asked me that before. I don't know.

Bobbie Ames:

What part of Germany is Wesel?

Joseph Kelly:

It is almost to Holland. The jump they made at Market Garden in Holland was maybe a hundred and fifty miles from Wesel.

Bobbie Ames:

Who made that jump?

Joseph Kelly:

That was the 82nd.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. And did the Germans have paratroopers also jumping in that Varsity operation?

Joseph Kelly:

No.

Bobbie Ames:

No?

Joseph Kelly:

No, not there.

Bobbie Ames:

They didn't --

Joseph Kelly:

Not that I know of.

Bobbie Ames:

They didn't --

Joseph Kelly:

We were trying to, trying to make it difficult for them to reinforce with armor. And we were setting booby traps on the road. Then once we got down -- I jumped with a, with a demo belt. Demolition belt has, has about, I guess, seven or eight pounds of nitrous starch in it. And the buckle is a, a foldout buckle that protects, so it won't explode --

Bobbie Ames:

Good.

Joseph Kelly:

-- against your stomach.

Bobbie Ames:

Good.

Joseph Kelly:

And the buckle has caps, ignition, so you can set up.

Bobbie Ames:

How were you dressed on those jumps? Did you have special-issue glasses?

Joseph Kelly:

Just a jumpsuit.

Bobbie Ames:

How about glasses? Any protective goggles or anything?

Joseph Kelly:

No.

Bobbie Ames:

What about head gear?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, I had a -- I had the head strap.

Bobbie Ames:

A head --

Joseph Kelly:

Wasn't anything different from -- it was, it was just like it had always been.

Bobbie Ames:

A chinstrap on a helmet or --

Joseph Kelly:

On a --

Bobbie Ames:

Bulletproof, or as much bulletproof as they had back then?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, you had a liner, and the liner was all set up with -- the helmet went down on the liner. I don't know how to describe it.

Bobbie Ames:

That's fine. Jim said in all three of his jumps in Germany one-third of the men were killed in the air by machine gunfire.

Joseph Kelly:

That's right.

Bobbie Ames:

Is that right in your jumps, too?

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. Because there was a horrible partner in the act, and that horrible partner was the Air Force. They were doing everything they could to, to help and get the guys out, but there wasn't enough joint training. And once you, once you lower the airspeed of a, of a transport plane, and slow it down, you got a guy with anti-aircraft gun, either, either the anti-aircraft cannons or this, this rifle fire machine guns.

Bobbie Ames:

Waiting for you?

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. Once you fell down, you've become more and more of a sitting duck.

Bobbie Ames:

Right. Right. By took the men out, you are talking about out of the plane into the air?

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. There is a static line that goes, that goes from the back of the plane to the front. And there is, there is the lights up at the front behind the pilot's compartment. And so you get caution, and then there is stand-up, and hook-up, and out the door. And the door is gone usually. So you've got a blizzard -- or not a blizzard. If it is cold, it is a blizzard. And anybody in his right mind that jumps out of an airplane and says he is not scared is a fool.

Bobbie Ames:

I bet a lot of prayers were said.

Joseph Kelly:

Well, I didn't know how to pray in those days, but I learned.

Bobbie Ames:

Did your faith help you, though, and see you through?

Joseph Kelly:

I didn't -- I didn't know what faith was.

Bobbie Ames:

But you learned later?

Joseph Kelly:

It took me about ten years.

Bobbie Ames:

That's all right. You got it.

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, yeah. I'm a Baptist preacher.

Bobbie Ames:

You told me that on the phone. I said, "You won't like me. I cuss like a sailor." And you said, "So do I."

Joseph Kelly:

So do I.

Bobbie Ames:

I told 20 people that, Joe. Were most of the jumps made during the day or at night?

Joseph Kelly:

Night jump was always, was always a special occasion. Because you couldn't see what you were doing, and you would land on a barbed-wire fence or, or little shrub grass and something no more in diameter than maybe my two fingers sticking up in the air. And you land on that thing --

Bobbie Ames:

That hurt.

Joseph Kelly:

-- you'd hurt yourself.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah.

Joseph Kelly:

And you wouldn't hit it at all if you, if you had some light.

Bobbie Ames:

But that day of the Varsity operation when we lost so many men, you jumped during the daylight?

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. This was a, this was a British commitment. Because it had to do with how long it took them to tow-in. We towed in out of, out of sight. It was a martialing area that we had just out of Paris.

Bobbie Ames:

Had what?

Joseph Kelly:

Martialing area south of Paris.

Bobbie Ames:

"Marshland," is that one word?

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. This is where we -- where the troops all came and got ready and loaded up and got on the planes and assignments were made and everything was -- this is a -- this is putting the, putting the key in the lock and then turning it.

Bobbie Ames:

How do you spell martial?

Joseph Kelly:

M-a-r-s-h-a-l-l. Martialing.

Bobbie Ames:

Martial?

Joseph Kelly:

Like you pull, pull all the troops together.

Bobbie Ames:

Martialing, m-a-r-t-i-a-l-i-n-g. "La Guerre"?

Joseph Kelly:

No, not --

Bobbie Ames:

You said martialing --

Joseph Kelly:

No like a marshall that --

Bobbie Ames:

No. You said "martial La Guerre." What was the "La Guerre"? Am I hearing things?

Joseph Kelly:

You must be.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah?

Joseph Kelly:

If I said that, I don't know what it means.

Bobbie Ames:

You said north of Paris. So, where north of Paris?

Joseph Kelly:

I don't know that there is a town.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Joseph Kelly:

It was -- it was -- we used it on a number of occasions. We even used it on a, on a mission that was aborted.

Bobbie Ames:

Joe, I am sure you saw lots of acts of heroism and strength, but is there anything that comes to mind that you really relish?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, not really. I don't --

Bobbie Ames:

The day you --

Joseph Kelly:

I don't have anything that stands out.

Bobbie Ames:

The day "Gall" was killed, you didn't see his body. Did they retrieve his body? Your major.

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, I don't have any idea.

Bobbie Ames:

But --

Joseph Kelly:

Because I got hit in the same shell.

Bobbie Ames:

The same what, the same shell?

Joseph Kelly:

Same mortar round.

Bobbie Ames:

Anybody else? That's two men.

Joseph Kelly:

There must have been three or -- they were too close together. And we were going down the side of a road.

Bobbie Ames:

Walking?

Joseph Kelly:

Walking. Walking towards the -- it would be towards the north, going towards Holland.

Bobbie Ames:

And it hit you in the left knee?

Joseph Kelly:

No. Shin, right here (indicating).

Bobbie Ames:

And that was the same leg you landed hard on the asphalt?

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. But I'm -- I've always been right-handed, and that's, that's the one you reach out. Now, why I got hit was a --

Bobbie Ames:

Did you --

Joseph Kelly:

I don't have a --

Patsy Kelly:

He has a scar.

Joseph Kelly:

Here's the scar (indicating).

Bobbie Ames:

You went to the hospital?

Joseph Kelly:

They picked me up on a -- and took me to an aid, an aid station. And the medic in charge of the station -- I was out. It knocked me out.

Bobbie Ames:

Must have been quite a blow.

Joseph Kelly:

Well --

Bobbie Ames:

Did you hear the noise?

Joseph Kelly:

Heard the noise and saw the light. And --

Bobbie Ames:

I imagine you were very upset from your friend being killed?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, it was right in front of me. Probably 15 or 20 feet.

Bobbie Ames:

And you will remember that always.

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah, I do. Yeah. I looked for Sam for --

Patsy Kelly:

You didn't remember it until after you got the medicine.

Joseph Kelly:

Well, that's -- that's true.

Joseph Kelly:

My wife is telling me something that I need to tell you.

Bobbie Ames:

Say it again, Patsy.

Patsy Kelly:

He didn't remember. I have never heard these war stories before.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah?

Patsy Kelly:

He never talked about it. But after they put him on medicine for his Parkinson's, it brought his memory back. I am hearing things I have never heard.

Bobbie Ames:

That's what everybody tells me. That's why these interviews are so much better than writing it out.

Patsy Kelly:

Right.

Bobbie Ames:

Because it brings back their --

Patsy Kelly:

And they are just dumbfounded.

Bobbie Ames:

It is just really a precious experience.

Patsy Kelly:

He told me that he thought that Sam Kale's head was blown off right in front of him when his memory came back. Had been for years, he said Sam Kale was still alive. Didn't come back to him he was killed in front of him and that he was injured until after they put him on medicine.

Joseph Kelly:

Somebody at that Aid station said, "Don't worry, Sarge. You are not hurt bad. And you will get a -- you will get five points and a heart."

Bobbie Ames:

Did you?

Joseph Kelly:

No.

Bobbie Ames:

He was just pumping you up, wasn't he?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, he was nervous. He had a lot of business up there.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you have -- you don't get a check every month?

Joseph Kelly:

No.

Patsy Kelly:

Lord, no.

Bobbie Ames:

My husband's back was full of schrapnel. They took him to England five times and bandaged him up and sent him right back. And he got a check for a hundred and thirty-eight dollars his whole life.

Joseph Kelly:

I was making 78 dollars as a, as a sergeant.

Patsy Kelly:

Because he was with the CIA, they changed his name.

Bobbie Ames:

I figured that was why when he said that. I have had a couple of friends tell me stuff.

Patsy Kelly:

That was the only thing was why they changed it. So he's got nothing. He has a blank record in the military after all that service, you know.

Bobbie Ames:

I tell you. My friends told me some things that I thought were unbelievable.

Patsy Kelly:

It's pretty unbelievable about him, too.

Bobbie Ames:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

Joe, were any of the men hurt when, when "Gall" died?

Joseph Kelly:

Yes. I don't -- I don't know who that -- who got hit around him.

Bobbie Ames:

I am sorry, I keep saying "Gall." It is Kale.

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. Kale, Sam Kale.

Bobbie Ames:

And he was from what city and state?

Joseph Kelly:

I don't know.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Joseph Kelly:

I really don't know.

Bobbie Ames:

He had a family?

Joseph Kelly:

I don't know that, either.

Patsy Kelly:

You told me he was from Oklahoma. I don't know whether he was or not, whether you remembered right.

Joseph Kelly:

Well, I don't remember. I never did have any, any of that kind of comradeship.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you have any chance for R. and R. the whole time you were in?

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. They sent me to Southern France, to Monte Carlo.

Bobbie Ames:

I have been there. And what did you do there?

Joseph Kelly:

Drank, chased girls.

Bobbie Ames:

How do you like that.

Patsy Kelly:

I don't care. He don't know who I was then.

Joseph Kelly:

That's a terrible thing to put on the tape.

Bobbie Ames:

I don't care. I like it, you know. One man said "I. and I." And I said, "What's that?" And he said, "I am not going to tell you."

Patsy Kelly:

As long as he didn't chase them after he met me, it is okay. What he did before is okay.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. I am going to ask you about the trip back, Joe. You left on a ship, right?

Joseph Kelly:

I woke up -- I say, "I woke up." I wasn't unconscious and carried around on a pallet. I just simply didn't have any, any recollection. I don't have any memory. I have got a blind spot. And when I started coming out of my blind spot on the, on the ship, I know I was in Le Havre and we, we were -- I don't know what the ship looked like. I was in the hold. We came back, and I don't know where we landed.

Bobbie Ames:

You were --

Joseph Kelly:

I have got about six months that I don't know what I was doing.

Bobbie Ames:

You don't -- you weren't in the hospital bay; you were in the hold. Was it a troopship?

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, yeah, it was a troopship.

Bobbie Ames:

How many men?

Joseph Kelly:

There must have been -- it looked like 40 or 50.

Patsy Kelly:

This is the part he doesn't remember.

Bobbie Ames:

Men?

Joseph Kelly:

In the area where I was.

Bobbie Ames:

No, I am talking about on the ship.

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, I didn't get to -- I didn't -- I was, I was sick.

Bobbie Ames:

How long did it take to get home?

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, Lord. I guess it must have been about the same -- this ship was supposed to, to go to Japan.

Bobbie Ames:

Right. You told me.

Joseph Kelly:

But --

Bobbie Ames:

Were you on a bunk? Were you getting well on a bunk or in the hospital bay or what?

Joseph Kelly:

I don't know.

Bobbie Ames:

You don't remember. What about the food? Do you remember anything about that?

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. They had -- it was greasy and you stayed sick at your stomach all the time.

Bobbie Ames:

You don't know where you landed, right?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, I wound up at, at Camp McCall. And this is, this is where I, I was sending Patsy flowers after I met her, from there. I have six months that I don't know what I was doing. It is just blacked out.

Bobbie Ames:

You met Patsy at Camp McCall?

Joseph Kelly:

No. No, I met her at Post 52 in Houston.

Patsy Kelly:

American Legion Hall.

Bobbie Ames:

After you got out of the service?

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, no. I was still in.

Patsy Kelly:

He came home on leave.

Joseph Kelly:

This was -- this was my first leave. And --

Bobbie Ames:

What was Patsy doing at the American Legion Hall?

Joseph Kelly:

Probably drinking beer.

Patsy Kelly:

Oh, Joe. I love to dance. The commander of the post took me over there. He carried four of us girls every Saturday night, because he ran it. He was an old man. And he took us back to our apartment room and took us, bought us breakfast. We didn't leave with the sailors or soldiers or anything. He picked us up and he saw that we got back home safely.

Bobbie Ames:

Aren't you lucky?

Joseph Kelly:

I was pretty lucky.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah.

Patsy Kelly:

And I met Joe. He came over with -- he was home on leave and he came over there with his parents. And he asked me to dance, and he had two left feet. And so we, we tried one dance and I decided we better just sit down at the table and talk to him.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you ever teach him to dance?

Patsy Kelly:

He never learned how to dance.

Bobbie Ames:

Why would you fool with him?

Patsy Kelly:

I don't know. Because I loved it.

Bobbie Ames:

I know. I do, too.

Bobbie Ames:

So you married her after the war?

Patsy Kelly:

Yes.

Joseph Kelly:

We got married --

Patsy Kelly:

Six months.

Joseph Kelly:

-- six months after I got discharged.

Bobbie Ames:

Where was that?

Patsy Kelly:

Here in Houston.

Joseph Kelly:

Here in Houston at --

Patsy Kelly:

At St. Paul Methodist Church.

Bobbie Ames:

I love that church. They had a dance every Sunday for years and years.

Patsy Kelly:

Ma'am?

Bobbie Ames:

They had a dance every Sunday there for years and years.

Patsy Kelly:

Where is that? At the Methodist church?

Bobbie Ames:

At St. Paul's.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Did you join any military organizations when you got out?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, I joined the American Legion.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Joseph Kelly:

There was an American Legion Post 77 that was in the, in the Village, fairly close to where Pat and I lived. And my, my adoptive father, Donald Kelly, had already -- had joined that as a veteran of World War I.

Patsy Kelly:

That's why we were there. We weren't members.

Bobbie Ames:

Good. He was in World War I?

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. He was in the Navy.

Bobbie Ames:

How long did he live?

Joseph Kelly:

Gosh, Patsy. Help me. I can't remember when he died.

Patsy Kelly:

I remember we were married in March. Joe was a pretty good -- our daughter was pretty old.

Joseph Kelly:

Must have been 25 or 30 years after World War II ended.

Bobbie Ames:

So you all had children and --

Patsy Kelly:

One daughter.

Joseph Kelly:

Just one daughter.

Bobbie Ames:

And she is alright? She turned out well?

Patsy Kelly:

Oh, yeah.

Joseph Kelly:

She's, she's kind of pushy and hard-headed.

Patsy Kelly:

Stubborn with her daddy.

Joseph Kelly:

That's the best kind.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you go to any reunions, Joe?

Joseph Kelly:

I have never been to a reunion.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. And --

Patsy Kelly:

(Showing picture.) That's the nurse with us.

Bobbie Ames:

Where is the girl? Where is the daughter?

Joseph Kelly:

That's her. She's out in Sharpstown. She's in the picture.

Bobbie Ames:

Where? Oh.

Patsy Kelly:

Up here (indicating). That's her.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh. I thought you said that was the nurse. What's her name?

Patsy Kelly:

Well, the nurse is a black lady right here (indicating).

Joseph Kelly:

My daughter?

Bobbie Ames:

Uh-huh.

Joseph Kelly:

Margie Jo.

Bobbie Ames:

Do you have any grandchildren?

Joseph Kelly:

We have --

Patsy Kelly:

Four grand children --

Joseph Kelly:

-- four grand children.

Patsy Kelly:

-- four great grandchildren. We have two grandchildren. She has a daughter and a son, and her daughter has two, two boys and an adopted son.

Bobbie Ames:

That's nice.

Patsy Kelly:

And my grandson has a daughter.

Bobbie Ames:

Joe, what did you do for work when you got out of the service?

Joseph Kelly:

Started a construction company.

Bobbie Ames:

What was the name of it?

Joseph Kelly:

Kelly and Son.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh. You didn't have a son.

Joseph Kelly:

I was the son to Kelly.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh. Great. So your dad started it with you?

Joseph Kelly:

Right. My adoptive father. I called him my father.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Good. And how long did it last?

Joseph Kelly:

About three years.

Bobbie Ames:

And then what?

Joseph Kelly:

Ran out of money and ran out of credit and took bankruptcy.

Bobbie Ames:

Like so many other small businesses, huh?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, we didn't have any idea what we were doing. He, he knew some things, and I knew some things.

Bobbie Ames:

At least he had the guts to try.

Joseph Kelly:

Well, we, we, we went into pipeline construction.

Bobbie Ames:

How long did that last?

Joseph Kelly:

Just the two years, two or three years.

Bobbie Ames:

And then what?

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, I stayed in construction for, I guess, years. I had a ditching machine. All of our equipment that we had in Kelly and Son was painted green. And we had a ditching machine that I salvaged out of our bankruptcy. And I made a deal with a guy over in Beaumont to have the machine hauled over there and cut ditch. And I took a day or two of, of vacation or something and went over and ran the machine.

Bobbie Ames:

And what did you do for work after that?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, that's what I was getting to. I got sick.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh.

Joseph Kelly:

And I just got terribly sick. Turned the machine sideways and left it there. Got in my pickup and came back. I didn't know what was wrong with me. But I barely remember getting back to Houston.

Bobbie Ames:

How old were you then?

Joseph Kelly:

When I had the polio.

Patsy Kelly:

Margie was -- Margie was two or three.

Bobbie Ames:

You had polio?

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah, that's what I had.

Bobbie Ames:

What year was that? '48, '47, '46?

Joseph Kelly:

It was the -- it was the year before they discovered the Salk vaccine.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah. Here in Houston.

Patsy Kelly:

It was near '49 or '50, because Margie was --

Joseph Kelly:

We lived on Arbor Street.

Bobbie Ames:

It was around my neighborhood.

Patsy Kelly:

Yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

My girlfriend got it. I lived on Elvera right there on Broadway.

Patsy Kelly:

We were terrified that he was going to be paralyzed and we were terrified our daughter was going to get it, too.

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. I couldn't -- I stayed in bed for a long time. I had to walk on a, on a cane for about six months. But it destroyed my equilibrium and I couldn't climb up on a bulldozer or a ditching machine. I couldn't, I couldn't stay in my, in my profession.

Bobbie Ames:

I know that --

Joseph Kelly:

Had to change over.

Bobbie Ames:

I know that hurt. So, what did you go into?

Joseph Kelly:

I became a construction machinery salesman for Beck Engineering.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. And did you -- were you left with any infirmities from the polio --

Joseph Kelly:

No.

Bobbie Ames:

-- post polio?

Joseph Kelly:

Yes.

Patsy Kelly:

Weakness.

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah. I didn't know I had post polio because I got better and better and better. And I had no idea I still had any, any risk. And I began to, to have a tremor, just like my Parkinson's.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah.

Joseph Kelly:

And --

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah. One of my clients had to retire at 60, a lawyer, from the post polio. And it, it killed his heart, because he just couldn't, he just couldn't do it anymore. He was dragging his leg.

Joseph Kelly:

It really, it really impacts you hard.

Bobbie Ames:

Joe, what do you think about war now?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, war has to be avoided. Except for the -- to completely decimate the human race, there is no way to have war with, with atomic weapons available to -- and they are available now to every Tom, Dick and Harry. I think, I think this is the end. In fact, I know this is the end. My estimate of how long it is going to last, until 2012.

Bobbie Ames:

Is there anything else you would like to add about anything funny or silly or sad? Because it is really, really interesting talking with you. I learned 15 things I didn't know, Joe. I think you were, you were picked for the CIC because they saw something there. And I understand they changed your name from Lobit --

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

-- to Kelly when you were discharged. That's all right. You just --

Joseph Kelly:

I got this here where -- changing my name. That was filed here in Houston. I was still in Germany.

Patsy Kelly:

While he was in Germany, wasn't it, honey. Have you got a headache?

Joseph Kelly:

Huh? Say what, honey?

Patsy Kelly:

But then he got no benefits or anything, you know, for all that effort.

Joseph Kelly:

Yeah, I have got a -- I have got something real silly I want to add to your tape.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Joseph Kelly:

Here is something that this just worries the fire out of me.

Patsy Kelly:

What is it?

Joseph Kelly:

I have got the original left. That is the only document I have got that, that I came back with. I don't know -- I had it rolled up in a little ball in a shaving kit.

Bobbie Ames:

And you had nothing -- you had nothing to do with glider flights before?

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, they, they qualified me, certified me for glider, because they wanted me to be available for gliders. I was qualified to jump and glide. And I guess I made 16 or 17, maybe 18. But this order that, that I -- they, they certified me under was signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And I --

Bobbie Ames:

Where was your glider training? Where?

Joseph Kelly:

Camp McCall, North Carolina.

Bobbie Ames:

That should be fun.

Joseph Kelly:

Well, had no wheels. They were just skids. But I've, I've piloted one as a copilot. And we had a -- we had one occasion when we were going to attack, airborne assault, on Bucharest Garden. And we, we had to -- we put up the sand, the sand box and played in the sand and built all kinds of stuff and planned. And they had a double tent. You couldn't -- the head of the inner sanctum tent, unless they checked you off. Because they had this double, triple security. And --

Bobbie Ames:

They had -- there were two-men gliders, all of them?

Joseph Kelly:

Oh, no.

Bobbie Ames:

Some one-man gliders?

Joseph Kelly:

No. They were -- this would carry 15 or 16 men.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh, that's very interesting.

Joseph Kelly:

It's a Waco CG 4

Bobbie Ames:

Do you remember the stories about the gliders coming over Washington and Oregon into Northern California, the Japanese gliders, and nobody believed it and they were dropping these bombs manually? Do you remember those stories?

Joseph Kelly:

I don't remember that. I guess maybe I was, I was over there and then I wasn't aware of that kind of stuff.

Bobbie Ames:

No. Since then they have mentioned it several times and they didn't want to scare the people to death so they didn't publicize it. Okay. It was called a CG what?

Joseph Kelly:

CG 4, Cargo glider 4 and A, capital

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Is there anything else you want to add about your service or since then or any thoughts you have I would like to hear?

Joseph Kelly:

Well, I feel that I, I was left in the lurch. I was, I was used and then dumped.

Bobbie Ames:

Not compensated?

Joseph Kelly:

I feel like I got left out. And it came as a terrible shock to me to be told to change my name.

Bobbie Ames:

I would have gotten an attorney and done something about it.

Joseph Kelly:

Well, I didn't have a -- I didn't have the ability to do that. I had a top secret security clearance. And I was talking to a lieutenant colonel, the chief of staff G-2, and he is the one that told me.

Bobbie Ames:

Told you what?

Joseph Kelly:

Told me to change my name from Lobit to Kelly.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Well, better not go into it anymore. I want to thank you and your wife for coming out here. I think you are just precious people, and to come all that way and so easy when other people didn't find it so easy. But I appreciate meeting you and I won't forget you.

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