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Interview with Luther Adams [12/12/2008]

Bobbie Ames:

We are here to do your interview for the National Veterans' Project filed in the Library of Congress. I am Bobbie Ames, and I am doing this through the National Court Reporters Association. We're here at my home in Pasadena, Texas. Would you state your presence, Mr. Simmons?

Jim Simmons:

I am Jim Simmons. I drove over here with Mr. Adams.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Mr. Adams, would you state your full name, please?

Luther Adams:

Luther L. Adams.

Bobbie Ames:

And the "L" stands for Lois?

Luther Adams:

Right.

Bobbie Ames:

Where were you born, Mr. Adams?

Luther Adams:

North Zulch, Texas.

Bobbie Ames:

And what date?

Luther Adams:

October 24, 1920.

Bobbie Ames:

Were you born in a hospital or at home?

Luther Adams:

Home.

Bobbie Ames:

What did your father do for a living in North Zulch?

Luther Adams:

He was a rural mail carrier.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Do you remember where you were on Pearl Harbor Day?

Luther Adams:

Yes, very much so. I was in North Zulch. I was working in Houston, but I had gone to North Zulch for the weekend. My brother and I were going back to Houston. We did not know of the Pearl Harbor until we got back to Conroe about 4:00 o'clock on Sunday afternoon. And the filling station attendant told us that Pearl Harbor had been attacked, and our first question was, "Where is Pearl Harbor?"

Bobbie Ames:

What did you think when you found out?

Luther Adams:

We thought all hell had broken loose.

Bobbie Ames:

What did your parents think or what comments did they make, if any?

Luther Adams:

Talked to my parents that night from Houston. And they were really upset because two of my brothers were eight and nine years older than I was and they were in draft age. And I had just completed four years of ROTC training in Texas A and M. Graduated the previous spring. And I had completed all of my ROTC training, but I hadn't received my commission because I wasn't 21 years old at the time.

Bobbie Ames:

How old were you on Pearl Harbor Day?

Luther Adams:

Twenty years old.

Bobbie Ames:

What kind of work were you doing?

Luther Adams:

I was working in Port City Stockyards in Houston, Texas.

Bobbie Ames:

Doing what?

Luther Adams:

Chasing cattle and selling cattle.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you enjoy that?

Luther Adams:

Yes, very much so.

Bobbie Ames:

What was your life goal at that point?

Luther Adams:

Ranching.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you join immediately or how soon after Pearl Harbor did you join?

Luther Adams:

I was -- I got my commission the next spring and sat at home until I got orders to report to Fort Riley, Kansas.

Bobbie Ames:

You enlisted?

Luther Adams:

No. I was -- I got orders to report. I had my commission at that time.

Bobbie Ames:

You were drafted?

Luther Adams:

No. They sent my -- me my orders. The draft board at Madison County marked me off as far as drafting was concerned because I had my commission.

Bobbie Ames:

All right. How did you get to Kansas?

Luther Adams:

On the Rock Island Railroad.

Bobbie Ames:

How long were you there?

Luther Adams:

About six months.

Bobbie Ames:

What was the base name there in Kansas?

Luther Adams:

Fort Riley, Kansas.

Bobbie Ames:

Where did you go from there?

Luther Adams:

Went to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.

Bobbie Ames:

What was your M.O.S., your field of interest in the Army?

Luther Adams:

I was second lieutenant in, in a combat unit, Troop G of the 7th Calvary Regiment.

Bobbie Ames:

And did you have any special training?

Luther Adams:

Yes. It was all special training, ROTC training.

Bobbie Ames:

In the Army did you have any special training other than combat readiness?

Luther Adams:

No.

Bobbie Ames:

Where did you go from Fort Bliss?

Luther Adams:

Went to Camp Stoneman, California on the way to Australia.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. How long were you at Camp Stoneman?

Luther Adams:

About three weeks.

Bobbie Ames:

And did you go to Australia on a troopship, a destroyer or what?

Luther Adams:

Went over there on a troopship, 6,000 of us, on the USS Monterey. That was a Matson liner.

Bobbie Ames:

And how was the trip over?

Luther Adams:

Well, we made it over there in record time. It took us about eight days, I think it was, to get to Brisbane, Australia. We saw one ship on the way over there, but they didn't see us. The only thing we -- the only way we could tell it was another ship, we saw their smoke. And we went the opposite direction from them. We didn't know whether it was a friendly ship or a war ship or what it was.

Bobbie Ames:

Had you ever been on a ship before?

Luther Adams:

Not before that.

Bobbie Ames:

Did any of the men get seasick?

Luther Adams:

Lots of them did.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you?

Luther Adams:

No.

Bobbie Ames:

Were the officers quartered separate from the enlisted men?

Luther Adams:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

How was the food?

Luther Adams:

Very good. We had very good food because they were still operating in peacetime. They had all the crew, peacetime crew, on there. And we ate in the main dining room, all the officers did. The troops ate in crews quarters.

Bobbie Ames:

And the troops had good food, also?

Luther Adams:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

And you arrived in Brisbane?

Luther Adams:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

Of what month and year?

Luther Adams:

In July of 1942.

Bobbie Ames:

And did you have hot water on the ship coming over?

Luther Adams:

Absolutely.

Bobbie Ames:

And what about the sleeping quarters? Two men to a room or what?

Luther Adams:

It was two officers to the room. The men had troops quarters. They had six bunks from the floor to the ceiling.

Bobbie Ames:

Right.

Luther Adams:

And they were about two feet apart, between the, the -- they were hanging cots, actually, is what they were.

Bobbie Ames:

Right. I got their descriptions. You are the first officer I have had that went over on a ship and I was more interested in your quarters. I had a lot of enlisted men. A lot of the officers flew over.

Luther Adams:

Well, we didn't have that chance. We went over with the troops.

Bobbie Ames:

That flying was not great. They had to lean back against the fuselage.

Luther Adams:

Right.

Bobbie Ames:

It was very uncomfortable. What did you do once you got to Brisbane?

Luther Adams:

We did all the training there and we trained for about three weeks. Then we went on maneuvers out in the, what the Australians call the Outback Country. And that was on big ranches, what they called stations.

Bobbie Ames:

What did they ranch mostly?

Luther Adams:

Cattle and sheep.

Bobbie Ames:

Right. Did you see any interesting sights during that three-week training?

Luther Adams:

Absolutely. Brisbane was a very picturesque city. And they had four, I think it was four city parks and they were all just topnotch parks. They had all the native animals of New Zealand -- Australia in there, kangaroo and wallabies. And they had a big bird sanctuary there, birds that I had never seen or heard of, but they were interesting.

Bobbie Ames:

How did the Australians receive you?

Luther Adams:

They were very nice. Australians were more like Texans than anyplace that I had ever been in the world.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you encounter any New Zealanders or did you go to New Zealand later?

Luther Adams:

We encountered quite a few New Zealanders. They were training there in Australia. But there were very few Australian men of draft age, because most of the middle-aged men and boys had gone to Great Britain or to North Africa to fight the Nazis back in those days. And about the only men that were left in Australia were young boys or old men.

Bobbie Ames:

That's interesting. Where did you go after the three weeks?

Luther Adams:

We stayed there in Brisbane. And we stayed in Brisbane for about six months.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh.

Luther Adams:

And at the end of that six weeks, I had applied for a two-weeks vacation in Sydney. I wanted to go to Sydney. I had heard so much about it. And the day that I was supposed to leave on that vacation was the day we loaded on a ship to go to New Guinea.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. You said six weeks this time and before you said six months. Was it six weeks or six months?

Luther Adams:

I was in Brisbane about six months.

Bobbie Ames:

Thank you. And how long -- what kind of ship to New Guinea?

Luther Adams:

It was a Liberty Ship.

Bobbie Ames:

How many men, do you think?

Luther Adams:

The ship that I was on was about two hundred men.

Bobbie Ames:

And was it a troopship or a destroyer or --

Luther Adams:

It was a troopship.

Bobbie Ames:

And did it have an escort or anything?

Luther Adams:

We were in a convoy. We went to Townsville, Australia from Brisbane on that ship and had to wait there over Christmas for a convoy to arrive from the U.S. And they had four destroyers that escorted us from Townsville to Oro Bay, New Guinea.

Bobbie Ames:

Oro Bay?

Luther Adams:

That's on the north coast of New Guinea.

Bobbie Ames:

How long did that take?

Luther Adams:

Took about a week.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. How about docking in New Guinea? Was that a problem?

Luther Adams:

No. They -- we had to unload off that ship onto the lighters to get to shore.

Bobbie Ames:

What was --

Luther Adams:

Because there was no, no docks at Oro Bay, New Guinea.

Bobbie Ames:

Where were your quarters? Where were you quartered in New Guinea? How far inland or --

Luther Adams:

Right on the coastline.

Bobbie Ames:

Tents?

Luther Adams:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

How many men to a tent?

Luther Adams:

Two officers to the tent. Four men, enlisted men, to the tent.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you encounter many people who contracted malaria?

Luther Adams:

We practically all had malaria. We were taking Atabrine. But I had a serious case of malaria. I turned just as yellow as anything you can imagine. And I had to take Atabrine all the time I was oversees.

Bobbie Ames:

That's the report I am getting from all the veterans who were there.

Luther Adams:

Oh, yeah. I had --

Bobbie Ames:

Was there a --

Luther Adams:

I had a serious attack after I got out of the Army when I got back from overseas and went back in the Army for a month because I was in the hospital in Temple, Texas.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you encounter any of the New Guinea natives?

Luther Adams:

Oh, yes. Lots of them.

Bobbie Ames:

Was their dress different?

Luther Adams:

Very much so.

Bobbie Ames:

Native dress? What was it like?

Luther Adams:

Very scanty.

Bobbie Ames:

Men and women?

Luther Adams:

Men and women.

Bobbie Ames:

Did they do any bartering or trading with you all?

Luther Adams:

They would trade any time any way. Any time you wanted coconuts or wanted to eat a coconut, well, you would give them a cigarette and they would climb the nearest coconut tree and cut the coconuts down out of the tree for you.

Bobbie Ames:

Would they break it open for you?

Luther Adams:

Absolutely.

Bobbie Ames:

That's the hard part.

Luther Adams:

That was the hard part.

Bobbie Ames:

I know. Was there a hospital in New Guinea and in Oro Bay?

Luther Adams:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

A good hospital?

Luther Adams:

A good hospital. It was a general hospital. The Army, U.S. Army Hospital.

Bobbie Ames:

Staffed by American nurses?

Luther Adams:

Right.

Bobbie Ames:

I took one of their interviews, a neighbor. She was -- she contracted -- she was a nurse. She contracted malaria, also.

Luther Adams:

I bet she did.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah.

Luther Adams:

I had a -- I had malaria all the time I was overseas. And any time I quit taking Atabrine, man, about ten days to two weeks after I quit taking it, I would get sicker than a horse.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah. I understand it was mostly in New Guinea. The rest of the Solomon Islands there wasn't that much of a malaria scare.

Luther Adams:

Well, that was, that was malaria. We had it. After we contracted it one time, you know, we had to keep taking Atabrine.

Bobbie Ames:

Exactly.

Luther Adams:

Boy, it would knock the starch out of you. In fact, one of my best friends, a captain, died of malaria in the Philippines. And that was his struggle. Atabrine didn't act on his particular case.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you ever go out in the jungle?

Luther Adams:

Lots of times.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you see any animals?

Luther Adams:

Lots of them.

Bobbie Ames:

What type animals?

Luther Adams:

Well, all kinds of birds that you find along the equator. And we got to the Philippines and we saw a lot of monkeys. In fact, the monkeys were a big help to us. We got over there, and in one, one particular area, this flock of monkeys -- I guess you call them flocks -- at night they would be around our camp and they would chatter all night long. As long as they were chattering, that was fine.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah.

Luther Adams:

I mean, you slept like a log.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah.

Luther Adams:

If they ever got quiet, you better get your rifle and cock it.

Bobbie Ames:

Right.

Luther Adams:

Because Japs were very close.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you have sentries posted?

Luther Adams:

Absolutely, every night.

Bobbie Ames:

How many were your group?

Luther Adams:

Well, we would usually have at least half a dozen men stay awake all night.

Bobbie Ames:

What was your training during that time? What were you getting ready for?

Luther Adams:

For landings.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. What was your next landing?

Luther Adams:

Well, we landed Oro Bay. That was a, I would say, a peaceful landing. Because we were taking over from the 31st Infantry Division.

Bobbie Ames:

No, I mean after New Guinea.

Luther Adams:

Admiralty Islands.

Bobbie Ames:

That's part of the Solomon chain?

Luther Adams:

It's south, south of the Solomon chain.

Bobbie Ames:

Were Japs inhabiting Admiralty Island?

Luther Adams:

Pardon me?

Bobbie Ames:

Were Japs in Admiralty Island?

Luther Adams:

There was a reported 6,000 Japanese Imperial Marines in the Admiralty Islands. And we had one division land there, the 5th Calvary Division landed there, and they nearly got wiped off the map. And we were at Oro Bay, and they put us on destroyers one afternoon and we got to Oro Bay the next morning about 10:00 o'clock. That was about 350 miles from Oro Bay.

Bobbie Ames:

You got to where? You said you got to Oro Bay. You got to where?

Luther Adams:

We got to the Admiralty Islands.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Were you like reinforcements?

Luther Adams:

Yes. We had to go in and help the 5th Calvary Regiment because they were getting smeared.

Bobbie Ames:

Were they the first in or were the Marines the first in?

Luther Adams:

No. Fifth Calvary was the first in.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. And then did you go in?

Luther Adams:

We went in. And we completed that Admiralty Islands Campaign in about six weeks.

Bobbie Ames:

Had the 5th Calvary already dug some fox holes for you all?

Luther Adams:

Right.

Bobbie Ames:

And a lot of your men -- what do you call those boats you go in on, PT boats or land --

Luther Adams:

Infantry landing craft --

Bobbie Ames:

And tell me about that day when you actually went up and landed on the beach.

Luther Adams:

Well, we landed there on those PT -- I mean, on those landing crafts from the destroyers. And we -- they were Australian destroyers, because that was the quickest way we could get there. The 5th Calvary was about to get shoved off in the water and they were in bad shape. And we had to go in and reinforce the 5th Calvary.

Bobbie Ames:

And your particular job was -- you were in charge of how many men?

Luther Adams:

About two hundred in the troops.

Bobbie Ames:

And your rank at that time?

Luther Adams:

Captain.

Bobbie Ames:

And did you push the Japs back, the Jap Marines?

Luther Adams:

We annihilated all the Japs that we could find.

Bobbie Ames:

You took over their bunkers and everything?

Luther Adams:

Right.

Bobbie Ames:

And then what?

Luther Adams:

We stayed there about four months in training there, getting ready for the Philippine landing.

Bobbie Ames:

Just further training of what you already did well?

Luther Adams:

Right.

Bobbie Ames:

And then you went to the Philippines --

Luther Adams:

Right.

Bobbie Ames:

-- on what kind of ship?

Luther Adams:

On a troop landing craft. Well, the funniest thing -- (Telephone ringing.)

Bobbie Ames:

Wait just a minute. (Brief break.)

Bobbie Ames:

We took a break and we are coming back on here now.

Bobbie Ames:

We were talking about getting ready to go to the Philippines Invasion. That was when MacArthur had left and you all were trying to retake the Philippines?

Luther Adams:

We made a landing there in -- MR. ADAMS: Are you on? Got it on?

Jim Simmons:

Yeah.

Luther Adams:

Made a landing on Leyte Island. And at that time I was supply officer for the regiment. And the troops first landed about 8:00 o'clock in the morning after the bombardment by the Navy. They were shooting over our heads.

Bobbie Ames:

Well, was there fighting going on on Leyte Island?

Luther Adams:

Was there what?

Bobbie Ames:

Fighting going on.

Luther Adams:

Oh, yes.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Luther Adams:

And the Air Corps had bombed a 10-mile strip along the coastline there that was five divisions that landed there. The 1st Calvary Division was the center division of the five divisions. And as soon as they got through bombing and the Navy quit shelling the shoreline, our men went in. And I was -- with supplies, landed in behind them. And I was the only one that had a Jeep. I had a Jeep and a trailer there loaded with ammunition. I landed there about 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon. I was -- I had five men with me. And we landed there, and about 30 minutes after I landed, General MacArthur and all of his entourage came in. And this general came up and says, "Captain, we need your Jeep." Says, "General MacArthur wants to go into Tacloban," which was the capital of Leyte. Said, "We will have to use your Jeep." And what could I, a captain, say to a general, except, "There is the Jeep."

Bobbie Ames:

Was that when the Philippine means was being retaken? MacArthur had been driven out and he was coming back?

Luther Adams:

Coming back in. He -- his famous statement was, "I shall return."

Bobbie Ames:

I heard about that.

Luther Adams:

And so he came in. He had four full generals with him. And they made two landings there in about 30 minutes. All these photographers standing on the shoreline taking pictures of him. He waded in water up to his knees. And I was told that back in the States that was a picture that came back to the States.

Bobbie Ames:

I was told he did it six or seven different times because --

Luther Adams:

He did. He came in and they took pictures of him. And they weren't satisfied with that. So they went back on the landing ship, and here he came in again. And they took pictures for 30 or 45 minutes.

Bobbie Ames:

You saw them do that?

Luther Adams:

I saw -- stood on the shore and watched them do that.

Bobbie Ames:

How many times did he take the picture over and over that you saw?

Luther Adams:

I saw two times.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. What did you do after that?

Luther Adams:

This general said, "We need your Jeep." Said, "We are going into Tacloban," which was on the opposite side of the island, about five miles across the island. And so General MacArthur took my Jeep and Jeep driver and two generals and they got in that Jeep and started to Tacloban. They got about a mile down the road, a little old, narrow road, just wide enough for one vehicle. And snipers, Jap snipers, opened up. And that Jeep driver was a private. It scared him so, he pulled off in the ditch and got stuck. And we had to get two platoons of combat soldiers to go up there and lift that Jeep up and get it back on the road.

Bobbie Ames:

The snipers sniping all the time?

Luther Adams:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you say earlier the Jeep had ammunition on it?

Luther Adams:

The trailer did.

Bobbie Ames:

Was the trailer still on the Jeep?

Luther Adams:

No.

Bobbie Ames:

Good.

Luther Adams:

It was back where I was on the shore.

Bobbie Ames:

What did it have in it?

Luther Adams:

It had ammunition.

Bobbie Ames:

What kind?

Luther Adams:

Small arms ammunition.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Did you get your Jeep back?

Luther Adams:

I finally got it back. He didn't go into Tacloban. When the snipers opened up, he said, "We got to send some messages." Says, "Let's go back to the shoreline." And he never did go any further.

Bobbie Ames:

I guess not. It is a wonder he didn't get killed then.

Luther Adams:

Well, he got shot at, anyway.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you meet him face to face, shake his hand or anything?

Luther Adams:

I saw him. I didn't speak to him.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. What happened in that Philippine Invasion at Leyte, Luke?

Luther Adams:

Well, the thing was that we had taken an airstrip there, a Jap airstrip. And the second day that we were there, well, about, oh, about noon the second day, it was two B54 four-motor planes came in with Japanese reinforcements. And fortunately we had the whole airstrip under control then, and all the Japanese were annihilated, frankly.

Bobbie Ames:

On the plane?

Luther Adams:

On the plane, as they got off the plane.

Bobbie Ames:

Is that -- and the B54, is that the same as our B54s?

Luther Adams:

No. They were more a transport type plane, four-motor transport planes.

Bobbie Ames:

But they were called B54s?

Luther Adams:

I don't know what they called them.

Bobbie Ames:

Awhile ago you said --

Luther Adams:

They were about that size --

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Luther Adams:

-- as a B54.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. And as they got off the plane, they got them?

Luther Adams:

Yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

What condition was the airstrip in when you all got there?

Luther Adams:

It was in pretty good condition. They had placed a lot of 2,000-pound bombs along the edges of the airstrip. We had one medium tank that ran over one of those bombs. And it had just wiped the, one side of the -- the track on one side of the, the thing off. I mean, just blew it off.

Bobbie Ames:

The airstrip?

Luther Adams:

No. Off the --

Bobbie Ames:

Tank?

Luther Adams:

-- tank.

Bobbie Ames:

Were men killed?

Luther Adams:

No men were killed. It was, I think, eight men, four inside the tank and four on top of the tank. And they had all been severely hurt.

Bobbie Ames:

Two-thousand-pound bombs?

Luther Adams:

Yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah, I have taken them all the way from 100 to 1,000, but never 2,000-pound.

Luther Adams:

Well, they had buried these 2,000-pound bombs. They were about, about 12 or 14 inches in diameter and about four feet long.

Bobbie Ames:

The Japanese buried them?

Luther Adams:

They had buried them with the nose up. And when this tank ran over the nose of that one bomb, it had just blown the track completely off.

Bobbie Ames:

And it was camouflaged? It was set up to hurt you all?

Luther Adams:

Yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

The Japanese knew you were coming?

Luther Adams:

Right.

Bobbie Ames:

There was nobody to go ahead and look for those kind of things?

Luther Adams:

Nope.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh, that's.... Okay. Was that the last approach the Japanese made for Leyte?

Luther Adams:

That was the last time that they had tried to make any kind of reinforcement, reinforcing their ground forces.

Bobbie Ames:

Did the Americans improve on the airstrip and widen it?

Luther Adams:

Oh, yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

Repair it and all?

Luther Adams:

They improved on it. They found several more bombs. I have forgotten how many, but they had them all lined up on the side of the airstrip.

Bobbie Ames:

Kind of what they call IEDs now in Iraq, huh?

Luther Adams:

Yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

My helper's grandson was killed in May.

Luther Adams:

Oh, is that right?

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah. Okay. The next military action was in the Philippines?

Luther Adams:

Yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

You all moved from --

Luther Adams:

We moved, we moved up Leyte about 40 miles into a town up there by the name of -- I can't call the name of it right now. But, anyway, we moved up about 40 miles because Japs were trying to reinforce their forces from up in that area. And so we went, made the second landing on Leyte up there. And third or fourth day that -- after we had made that landing, here came a typhoon.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh, my.

Luther Adams:

I had, had five landing craft under my command at that time. And we were having -- I was sending three landing craft back to Tacloban every other day. And the odd days it would be two landing craft that came up with -- that would come up with supplies. And they were just rotating those five landing craft.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. We have to clear something up. You said the first landing where you ran into MacArthur was Leyte landing.

Luther Adams:

Right.

Bobbie Ames:

Then Tacloban, and then now you are saying Leyte again on the third one.

Luther Adams:

That's right.

Bobbie Ames:

You went back to Leyte?

Luther Adams:

Well, it was all Leyte Island.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Luther Adams:

But it was about 40 miles apart.

Bobbie Ames:

Was it on the coast, all of it on the coast?

Luther Adams:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Then what?

Luther Adams:

And then we went on up, after that landing, went on up to the north end of Leyte and cleared out all the Japs.

Bobbie Ames:

They were pretty well entrenched by that time, huh?

Luther Adams:

Oh, yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

And what were they, mostly in fox holes or bunkers or --

Luther Adams:

Fox holes, most of them.

Bobbie Ames:

How many, you think?

Luther Adams:

Oh, I don't know. We would run into a lot of them.

Bobbie Ames:

Dozens or hundreds?

Luther Adams:

Hundreds. Because it was a big valley up there. This stream came down, and I guess this valley was, oh, maybe five miles in diameter there, right on the north coast. And it was a very fertile valley, and that's where the Japs were getting their supplies from. Their food was coming from this valley.

Bobbie Ames:

From?

Luther Adams:

From the Filipinos.

Bobbie Ames:

They -- some of the Filipinos sympathized with the Japs?

Luther Adams:

No. They were forced to sympathize with them.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. So Farmers --

Luther Adams:

Rice.

Bobbie Ames:

-- supplied them. And what were mostly in the fox holes, riflemen or machine guns, or both?

Luther Adams:

Both.

Bobbie Ames:

So, how did our men make an inroad into this well-entrenched valley? With flame throwers, with machine guns, with snipers, with what?

Luther Adams:

Machine guns and snipers. And we had assistance from the Air Corps. The Naval Air Corps would come in and we would set off smoke bombs and we would tell them -- we had Naval Air Corps observers with us, radio contact direct with the Navy. And we would mark these areas with the smoke bombs, and then they would come in and drop anti-personnel bombs. You know, it would explode about four feet above the ground.

Bobbie Ames:

What poundage were they?

Luther Adams:

They were anywhere from 5- to 25-pound bombs. Shrapnel, shrapnel bombs mainly.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. And what kind of planes were the naval fighters flying over with?

Luther Adams:

Oh, what did they call them? They were single-engine Navy light bombers.

Bobbie Ames:

Like P-38s or --

Luther Adams:

Well, they were smaller than a P-38, actually.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Luther Adams:

Single-engine.

Bobbie Ames:

So the naval ships were offshore at Leyte?

Luther Adams:

They were offshore Leyte, flying over the island to where we were.

Bobbie Ames:

Did that valley have a name?

Luther Adams:

Ormoc Valley.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Luther Adams:

O-r--m--o-c.

Bobbie Ames:

What was the Filipinos' relationship with the Americans? Much different, huh?

Luther Adams:

Oh, absolutely. They were looking forward to us coming in. And they were -- they had arms hid out and they were of very much assistance.

Bobbie Ames:

Now, their arms, were they first class like from -- American supplied or --

Luther Adams:

They were American supplied before the war.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Luther Adams:

And they had hidden them out.

Bobbie Ames:

Great. Did you -- you met the Filipino underground several times?

Luther Adams:

Oh, absolutely. They were a big help.

Bobbie Ames:

Were they mostly men, or any women in there?

Luther Adams:

There were men and women.

Bobbie Ames:

Very good. What age mostly?

Luther Adams:

I would say in their 30s and early 40s.

Bobbie Ames:

Right. And they had officers just like you all did?

Luther Adams:

Yeah. They were officers that were in the Filipino Army prior to the war. And they were -- a lot of them were American trained back prior to the war.

Bobbie Ames:

Well organized, huh?

Luther Adams:

Absolutely.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah. I have been there, to the Philippines.

Luther Adams:

That's a great country.

Bobbie Ames:

Yes, it is.

Luther Adams:

I liked Filipinos.

Bobbie Ames:

It has always been an American ally.

Luther Adams:

Yeah. We ran into a lot of Communist guerillas in the Philippines, especially when we got to Luzon. After the Leyte Campaign, we went to Luzon. And we got a lot of, a lot of the former Filipino enlisted men and officers. In fact, I had a couple of lieutenants and a major on Luzon that stayed with my troop for, oh, about two months. They were a lot of help.

Bobbie Ames:

Didn't some of those later get compensated by the United States Government?

Luther Adams:

Yeah. I was told that they did.

Bobbie Ames:

I read an article recently where a Filipino helped an officer and he was killed doing so, and the officer survived and became a war hero. His name was Carrington. And the United States Government gave his whole family a pension for the rest of their life.

Luther Adams:

Yeah. Right.

Bobbie Ames:

He was from Louisiana. And in Luzon, the same thing, you hit the beach?

Luther Adams:

Right. We didn't know -- I will take that back. We landed after the initial landing on Luzon. We went in safely. And it was about a week before we went into combat on Luzon. But we made a mad dash for Manila. And we had to get there because the Army Ranger force was dropping into Manila on a certain day before daylight.

Bobbie Ames:

Paratroopers?

Luther Adams:

Paratroopers. And we had to get there by daylight to help those guys. Because they were right in the big middle of Jap concentration there in Manila. It was about 65,000 American and Filipino refugees in Santo Tomas University. And we had to get there to help those parachute boys. And we did. We made it. But it was hell getting there.

Bobbie Ames:

I imagine. When you say they were in the university, they were captives?

Luther Adams:

They were captives, and they were housed in the Santo Tomas University. And you won't believe this, but about four years ago or five years ago, I forgot which, at Jim and my church in Houston, there was a lady and her husband came to our church on one Wednesday night at prayer meeting. And she made a talk in prayer meeting, telling about she was a little girl, eight years old when we took Manila back from the Japs. And she was telling about all of the things that they went through as captives of the Japanese. And she was just overcome by the fact that I had been in that group that had come in there, you know, and relieved them there in the University.

Bobbie Ames:

And so these -- you said 65,000 dollars people were at Santo Tomas?

Luther Adams:

65,000.

Bobbie Ames:

And you released them?

Luther Adams:

We released them.

Bobbie Ames:

Very good. You mentioned the Communist guerillas. At that time they were sympathizers of the Americans, weren't they?

Luther Adams:

They were sympathizers, not of the Japanese or not of the Americans. They were thinking for themselves. And they were hangovers from the Communists that had helped the Japanese when they made the initial landings in the Philippines.

Bobbie Ames:

And then what? They turned or what?

Luther Adams:

They stayed in the -- I understand they are still there, in the jungles.

Bobbie Ames:

So, what was their job, or what were they trying to do once they let the Japanese in there?

Luther Adams:

They were trying to, to take the land for themselves.

Bobbie Ames:

The Communist guerillas?

Luther Adams:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

The private landowners' land?

Luther Adams:

Yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

Where were Marcus and his wife or their predecessors when they took over Manila, when the Japs took over Manila?

Luther Adams:

Where were who?

Bobbie Ames:

Where did they go, the royalty, the Philippine royalty?

Luther Adams:

Oh. They -- the Philippine royalty -- well, MacArthur and his family and entourage --

Bobbie Ames:

No, not him. The Filipinos.

Luther Adams:

The Filipinos disappeared into the jungles.

Bobbie Ames:

The president and the, and the high officials from the palace?

Luther Adams:

I understand they did.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Where did you go from Manila and releasing them?

Luther Adams:

We released them, and all of a sudden, the Army brass realized that they didn't know what was happening to the water supply of Manila. And the water supply was coming from about 15 miles north of Manila on a river up there. There was a big filtration plant there and that's where they pumped all their domestic water, from there to the city. And we had to go up there.

Bobbie Ames:

Find out what was wrong?

Luther Adams:

What was wrong.

Bobbie Ames:

Do you remember the name of the river?

Luther Adams:

No, I don't.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Did you find out what was wrong?

Luther Adams:

Well, they had -- the Japanese had supposedly taken over the water supply. And they could have poisoned it or done anything to that water supply, except we went in there before they thought about that. Our Army brass thought about it, and we had to make a mad dash up there. And that's where I got my Silver Star.

Bobbie Ames:

What did you do?

Luther Adams:

We had to take the surrounding hills around this water filtration plant, and we got blasted. One night I lost one man killed and about seven men wounded. But I held the hill where I had gotten to the day before. The next morning I had reinforcements from my regiment. They were there at daylight, and we got out of there and established a strong point on the top of this hill overlooking this water plant. And from then on, everything was pretty good.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you ever actually fire weapons?

Luther Adams:

Lots of them.

Bobbie Ames:

I bet. And you got a Silver Star, how commendable. Did you lose many of your men there?

Luther Adams:

I lost one man killed and five wounded.

Bobbie Ames:

How about in the valley before?

Luther Adams:

No, I didn't lose any men. I had some men that were slightly wounded but not seriously.

Bobbie Ames:

And they got to Manila to good care?

Luther Adams:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

Where did you go from the water filtration plant? Then, after that, sentries were put around?

Luther Adams:

Well, I went to the -- we had a general hospital set up in Manila, and I had a bad case of malaria. And I went to this general hospital for two weeks and just took quinine. They -- any time you went in the hospital with malaria, they gave you strictly quinine, no Atabrine. And it would, it would kill it.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you go home from there?

Luther Adams:

No. Went over to Tokyo, because the atom bomb was dropped shortly thereafter.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. You went after the atom bomb was dropped?

Luther Adams:

Right. After the second one.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you see Hiroshima or Nagasaki?

Luther Adams:

No. I just went to Tokyo. The day the peace treaty was signed, I was floating in Tokyo Bay with 200 men. It was the only dry landing that I made during the whole Pacific War. And we landed at the regular steamship docks there, climbed out on a ladder.

Bobbie Ames:

What kind of reception did you receive in Tokyo?

Luther Adams:

Well, it was very quiet, gladly. Scared to death. Because right across the street from the docks, there was this street parallel to the docks. Is probably 20 people deep and just as far as you could see up and down that street was Japanese.

Bobbie Ames:

Civilians?

Luther Adams:

Civilians.

Bobbie Ames:

They weren't talking?

Luther Adams:

They weren't talking. And they weren't saying a word. Neither were we. We were scared, believe me.

Bobbie Ames:

Sure. Sure. During your tour over there in the Pacific, Luke, what -- did you ever go on R and R?

Luther Adams:

No. Well, I take that back. I went on R and R in the Admiralty Islands. Because before we left Brisbane, I had made application for R and R in Sydney and it was approved. But before -- the day that I was supposed to leave to go on R and R was the day that we loaded on the ship --

Bobbie Ames:

Right. You told me.

Luther Adams:

-- to go to, to New Guinea.

Bobbie Ames:

That's one of the few places I missed that I wanted to go. I wanted to see Ayers Rock.

Luther Adams:

I saw Ayers Rock from a distance.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah. I went to 58 countries.

Luther Adams:

Really. That's great.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah. So after Tokyo -- what did you think about the atom bombs?

Luther Adams:

Well, frankly, it was a relief when the second one was dropped. We realized after the second one what it meant. Because we had our orders already in a book about that thick (indicating), what we were to do when we made a landing in Japan.

Bobbie Ames:

Right.

Luther Adams:

The 1st Calvary Division was to be the center division of a five-division landing on Japan proper.

Bobbie Ames:

Right.

Luther Adams:

And so we boarded transports in southern Luzon to go to Tokyo. And we knew then it was going to be a peaceful landing, because we had been told, and this entourage of Japanese had met MacArthur in Manila, and that they had agreed to sign a peace treaty on a certain date in Tokyo Bay.

Bobbie Ames:

When did you -- what did you do in Tokyo?

Luther Adams:

We occupied the main industries and the military points. And when we first got there, we lived for about two weeks in warehouses on the docks in Yokohama. At the end of two weeks we moved into Tokyo and set up camp there in a big park that they had. It was -- well, we had about 18,000 men in this park. All in pyramidal tents.

Bobbie Ames:

What kind of tents?

Luther Adams:

Pyramidal.

Bobbie Ames:

What does that mean?

Luther Adams:

They're these six-man tents. And we had half the division in this park. And a hurricane -- tornado -- tornado, not a tornado. What do they call them over there?

Jim Simmons:

A typhoon?

Unidentified Speaker:

No.

Bobbie Ames:

Earthquake?

Unidentified Speaker:

No. Like a, like a storm.

Jim Simmons:

Like a hurricane?

Unidentified Speaker:

Well, whatever -- they don't call them hurricanes in the Pacific.

Jim Simmons:

Thought they called them typhoons.

Bobbie Ames:

They do. Tsunami?

Unidentified Speaker:

No. Tsunami is from an earthquake.

Bobbie Ames:

Downspout?

Luther Adams:

No.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh, it doesn't matter. We got to go on.

Luther Adams:

Well, anyway, they're, they're the same thing as a hurricane.

Bobbie Ames:

A twister, maybe?

Luther Adams:

No.

Bobbie Ames:

When you say you took over the main industries, the troops did, what do you consider the main industries?

Luther Adams:

Arms factories, munition factories, canning factories.

Bobbie Ames:

Canning?

Luther Adams:

Canning. You know, food canning factories.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Luther Adams:

And electrical, where they made electric motors. And just any major industry, we would take those over. Let's see. One time my troop had five different industries. Electrical, food canning, ammunitions, and -- I don't remember. Anyway, basic industries, mainly.

Bobbie Ames:

Where were you on VE Day, Victory in Europe, and how did you hear about it?

Luther Adams:

I was in southern Luzon in a general hospital with malaria.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you know from that the war was going to be winding down quickly, or not until the atom bombs fell?

Luther Adams:

No, we didn't know it was going to be winding down. All we heard was that troops from Europe was going to be sent to the Pacific. Maybe we would get some relief.

Bobbie Ames:

Good.

Luther Adams:

And that's all we knew.

Bobbie Ames:

Where did you go from Tokyo and Yokohama?

Luther Adams:

Went back to San Francisco.

Bobbie Ames:

What did you think when you got off -- were you -- did you come by ship?

Luther Adams:

Yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

Was it easier coming back than it was going over?

Luther Adams:

Came by ship, General Weigel. It was a troopship.

Bobbie Ames:

General Weigel?

Luther Adams:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

And was it easier coming back than it was going over?

Luther Adams:

Yeah. Except about four days, we made what was considered a great circle route from Tokyo up near the Aleutian Islands. We were supposed to come into Seattle. We got within about 200 miles of the Aleutian Islands, and they found out that there was a storm between where we were and the Aleutian Islands, and we headed due south for about 200 miles and then came due east into San Francisco. We didn't get to come into Seattle. I wanted to come into Seattle, because I had never been there. And we came back into San Francisco, from which we had started 32 months before.

Bobbie Ames:

How far are the Aleutian Islands from Seattle?

Luther Adams:

Oh, gosh. I don't know. Aleutian Islands about halfway between Tokyo and Seattle.

Bobbie Ames:

What did you think when you hit American soil?

Luther Adams:

Thank God, I'm back on solid land.

Bobbie Ames:

Any of the guys get down and kiss the ground?

Luther Adams:

Absolutely.

Bobbie Ames:

What do you think about war now, Luke?

Luther Adams:

Well, we're going to have it whether we like it or not. We better get ready for it. Because we are in the Third World War, I think, right now.

Bobbie Ames:

I do, too. Do you remember anything funny that happened during your service or silly or really unusual? I know there were lots of sad things.

Luther Adams:

Well, one of the funniest things, when we were in Brisbane, Australia, we had cleared out this big area for the whole division in one area. And it -- the front gate of this area we had cleared out for the division, Australians had come in there and set up a tent, put wood tables down there, and sold Australian beer. And my first sergeant and one of the platoon sergeants went in there one night. They were drinking beer and they had been in there for a while. And these two Australian soldiers came in and they were about as big as my sergeants were. And my first sergeant told these Australians, said, "That's the toughest man in the American Army." Well, he just shouldn't have said that because this Australian says, "Well, I will find out how tough he is." He got up and walked over and got that platoon sergeant by the tie, stood him up like that (indicating) and hit him right on the nose. And the old boy didn't know he was going to get hit or why he got hit.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah.

Luther Adams:

So they were best of friends, had been for 20 years in regular Army. And we made an auxiliary landing in the Admiralty Islands. And we were on foot, of course, when we landed. And it was Jap snipers up in the top of these coconut trees. And we got about halfway across the island, and I looked over and another sergeant was under a coconut tree. And he looked over at me, and I was about 20 feet away from him. He said, "Captain, I been hit in the back." Says, "I am bleeding to death." And so I said, "Well, just stay there just a minute." So I crawled over where he was. And I reached down and got his shirttail, lifted it up. Just about that time something hit me back of the head, down my neck. And I reached back there and looked at my hand. And it wasn't blood. It was coconut juice that was dripping down where somebody had shot a coconut up there and that coconut juice was dripping down. And it was going down his shirt collar.

Bobbie Ames:

Why didn't you all just open your mouth?

Luther Adams:

If he had opened his mouth, he would have got a mouthful of coconut juice.

Bobbie Ames:

That is funny.

Luther Adams:

And I just died laughing, and I thought he was going to shoot me right there for laughing at him.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you make any lifelong friends?

Luther Adams:

Yeah. But I hadn't kept up with them.

Bobbie Ames:

Any of them come to visit you after the war?

Luther Adams:

A couple of them.

Bobbie Ames:

Good. Did you join -- go ahead.

Luther Adams:

One lives up near Huntsville. I have talked to him on the telephone, but I have never seen him in -- since 1945.

Bobbie Ames:

Is he still alive?

Luther Adams:

As far as I know, right now he is.

Bobbie Ames:

How great. Did you join any V.F.W. or military operations or go to any reunions?

Luther Adams:

The 1st Calvary Division has an organization called the 1st Calvary Division Organization. I joined that while I was overseas, but I have never made any meetings since I left there.

Bobbie Ames:

Any reunions? No reunions at all?

Luther Adams:

No, I have never made a reunion.

Bobbie Ames:

Then what did you do? Were you discharged pretty quickly?

Luther Adams:

I stayed in the reserves for 17 years.

Bobbie Ames:

And you retired as what?

Luther Adams:

Captain.

Bobbie Ames:

Captain. And, but what did you do with your business life, your professional life?

Luther Adams:

I was in industrial construction. I retired from Brown and Root in 1985. We were building two naval bases over in the Persian Gulf.

Bobbie Ames:

You went over there?

Luther Adams:

In Iran, by the way.

Bobbie Ames:

You went there?

Luther Adams:

No. I never did go over there.

Bobbie Ames:

You stayed here?

Luther Adams:

I stayed here and bought material and shipped over there.

Bobbie Ames:

So you stayed in Houston. How did you get to Houston?

Luther Adams:

Well, I came back there. My wife was living in Houston while I was in the service.

Bobbie Ames:

You married before you went in the service?

Luther Adams:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

And where -- you met her in Houston?

Luther Adams:

No. She was a high school sweetheart.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh, how sweet.

Luther Adams:

I left -- I married her in 1942.

Bobbie Ames:

And what high school was that?

Luther Adams:

North Zulch.

Bobbie Ames:

Right. Do you have children?

Luther Adams:

Got two daughters.

Bobbie Ames:

And they turned out well?

Luther Adams:

Oh, yes. Got four grand kids.

Bobbie Ames:

That's great. Would you like to tell me the most tragic thing that happened or the scaredest you were during your service?

Luther Adams:

Well, I was scared a lot of times. One time from snipers. But I had an orderly and a messenger that stayed with me constantly. And west of Manila was what was called the Sawdust River. I don't know what the real name of the river was. But the Japs had occupied this area where there was an old sawmill there. And we went in there and took that sawmill back from them. But the Japs had dug holes all over this hill. The river went halfway around this hill. And they had what they called spider holes. They had to dig a hole about so big around (indicating) and squat down in there. And then you walk by there. They would move this trash off the top of it and get up and start shooting at you.

Bobbie Ames:

Right. Just like in the movies, huh?

Luther Adams:

Right.

Bobbie Ames:

Not a fox hole, just a little hole to crouch down in?

Luther Adams:

Yes. A hole about that big around (indicating) and about three or four feet deep.

Bobbie Ames:

And you saw that happen?

Luther Adams:

And they would pop up out of there and they would shoot at you and duck back in there.

Bobbie Ames:

Almost like a ground sniper?

Luther Adams:

Yeah. Well, that's what it was, was a ground sniper.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you, did you meet anybody in that Corregidor sadness or anyone who knew stories about it?

Luther Adams:

No, I didn't know anything. We visited Corregidor while we were in the middle of it. That was all.

Bobbie Ames:

That was before all this happened or after?

Luther Adams:

Well, it was after we took Manila back.

Bobbie Ames:

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Jim Simmons:

Tell the story of how you got wounded.

Luther Adams:

Oh, okay. We were trying to get into Manila, and my troop's job was to retake this railroad that connected Manila with the outlying district. And we was going down the railroad and it crossed a river. And the Filipinos had blown the bridge across this river. It was a railroad bridge. And we got up there one night and we was getting ready to cross over. And it was so late in the afternoon until I was afraid to try to cross that evening before dark. And I said, "Well, we will just camp on this side of the river tonight." And so I was talking to my first sergeant and executive officer. And there was two rounds, mortar rounds, that the Japs threw at us. And we were standing up in the middle of the river. Hadn't had any firing at us at all. And one of these rounds went off and that's when the shrapnel hit me in the knee. If it had hit sideways, it would have gone right into my knee. It hit flat and I just had a blister there about that big around (indicating), standing up about a half an inch.

Bobbie Ames:

How long did that blister last?

Luther Adams:

About three days.

Jim Simmons:

It knocked you down, though.

Luther Adams:

And that's when I got my Purple Heart.

Bobbie Ames:

It knocked you down in the water?

Jim Simmons:

He was -- it was a railroad track.

Luther Adams:

I was standing in the middle of the railroad track.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh, okay. You said in the middle of the river awhile ago.

Luther Adams:

It knocked both feet out from under me.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Luther Adams:

I hit right flat of my back.

Bobbie Ames:

Did anybody get killed?

Luther Adams:

No. That was the only two rounds that the Japs threw at us.

Bobbie Ames:

They always aim for the officers if they can discern which ones are officers, don't they?

Luther Adams:

They, they aim for the officers first only if they can tell.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah. Do you remember the name of that river?

Luther Adams:

No.

Bobbie Ames:

Do they have a lot of rivers in, in the Philippines?

Luther Adams:

Yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

And but the fresh water river that supplied Manila --

Luther Adams:

Fresh water, yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

-- you don't remember the name of that yet?

Luther Adams:

No.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. One man I asked the other day what the scaredest he ever was, and you know what he said? "The day I got drafted."

Luther Adams:

Oh.

Bobbie Ames:

I laughed. (Discussion off the record.)

Bobbie Ames:

We are almost through. Luke, I appreciate you coming out here and giving your interview. I think you are just precious, and I am going to type this up and you will get it in about a month or six weeks.

Luther Adams:

Okay.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Luther Adams:

I will be looking forward to it.

Bobbie Ames:

It will have your picture on it.

Luther Adams:

I enjoyed it. Thank you so much.

 
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