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Interview with William G. Adair [5/28/2010]

Kimberly Goodwin:

Good afternoon. Today is May 28, 2010. My name is Kim Goodwin of Court Reporting Institute of Dallas in Dallas, Texas with Mr. William G. Adair. Please state your name and address.

William G. Adair:

William Adair, 6255 West Northwest Highway, Apartment 204, Dallas, Texas 75225.

Kimberly Goodwin:

What branch of the service were you in?

William G. Adair:

I finished with the Army 4th Division.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Where were you living at the time?

William G. Adair:

Anniston, Alabama.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Is that where you were from?

William G. Adair:

No, my folks were living in Oklahoma City.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Did you pick the service branch you joined?

William G. Adair:

Yes, in college you picked. I picked infantry. That's what I chose.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Do you recall your first days in the service?

William G. Adair:

Ma'am, I recall everything I ever did in the service.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Would you like to tell us about your boot camp/training experience.

William G. Adair:

On active duty, I was a basket case. You were not a seasoned -- anyhow, we had in 1940 the old Army. For instance, my mess sergeant, my platoon sergeant, they knew how to train for an officer. I learned more from my first sergeant. He taught me without letting me know he was teaching me. This sounds kind of silly, all those people are -- salute you. Then I went to infantry school for three months. The school was located in Fort Benning, Georgia. That's where you learned how to be a lieutenant.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Did you serve in any wars?

William G. Adair:

I was in the Second World War three and a half years.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Where exactly did you go?

William G. Adair:

I was at Fort Benning, and then was sent to Philippines, General MacArthur. I was sent there to train troops.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Do you remember arriving there?

William G. Adair:

Oh, yes. It was exciting. I hadn't ever been to Mexico or Canada. It was hard to describe. I was on active duty with the Army for the regular Army. Here's the reason for it. A second lieutenant was making $140 a month. I'm 93 years old; forgive me. How long do I have for it to come back now when this happened. I was a prisoner of war. Man, your mind can go blank while you're talking. I used to laugh about my sister. She was 86. She was talking to her brother, and her subjects would change all of a sudden, crazy, and here I do the same thing.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Do you remember arriving, and what was it like?

William G. Adair:

Oh, yes. The Filipinos came onto the ship in Manila. I was on the ship with 1500 troops. People going to the Philippines like I was, we had 12 nurses. on board, dances every night. The boat trip was very exciting. I think we had 2300 officers, too. So we had a ball. Everybody got seasick, except for old Bill. I'm the only one on that whole boat who did not get seasick. We were trying to dance, had a jukebox, record player, and all of a sudden the jukebox went across the room. But everyone fought seasickness.

Kimberly Goodwin:

What was your job or assignment on board ship when you arrived?

William G. Adair:

I was assigned -- no one went overboard. I did not have an assignment until I got to the Philippines. They assigned me to the 2nd Philippines Scouts. They were the trained troops. We'd never seen a gun, and we had to train them.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Were there casualties in your unit?

William G. Adair:

Hell, yeah.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Did you see combat?

William G. Adair:

Yes. I was there training troops for weeks. We had to train. We finally got enough trained. The war started before we could train them to shoot guns. This was on Guyana Bay. The war had started. We had coconuts set up, put these boys back with five rounds of ammunition. That's all the training they had before we went into battle. We had no ammunition until the war started. That's how much training they had.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Okay.

William G. Adair:

That was your training in shooting guns. Rifles, automatic rifles, anything an enlisted man fired, we had to learn how to fire. So I -- that's what I was sent to the Philippines for, to train enlisted men. The sergeants and corporals trained. To train these Filipinos, we had four corporals from our regular Army, Philippine scouts, the regular Army, I had one man, the other month comes.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Were you a prisoner of war? You said you were.

William G. Adair:

I can talk for a month on that.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Tell me about your experience.

William G. Adair:

I was on Bataan, April 9, General King in charge surrendered to the Japanese. We were starving to death, walked down and killed almost all of us in two weeks or ten days, 16,000 Americans. And then have you heard of the Death March. That's covered in this book. That is going down in history as the worst thing any country did. They were fanatics. The Death March, how they treated us. Anything you read -- you can believe anything you read about it. Trust me, it happened. I... you cannot believe -- I am very fortunate to be alive. In my camp for three and a half years. We had 14 captains in one room. I'm the only one left. That's not typical, but not -- I think if you find 15 percent left, but that Death March caused most of it.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Tell me about when you became free --

William G. Adair:

Oh, boy. That, I like to talk about. We were up in the mountains on the mainland of Japan, spent three and a half years in Japan. We were up in the mountains. The Japanese learned we hadn't been there for six weeks when the war was over. We went crazy. Here's a good example of how nutty we got. They sent two nurses, about six people in a truck. They didn't know where we were. We were the last ones to be released. These people came in -- they came in with the nurses and doctors to make sure we were able to travel. When they got through, they were worn out. One of the doctors came to me, I was, captain, not in charge, the food finally, they dropped by parachute, couldn't land, had to drop us food to keep us from starving. One of the doctors came to me, can you get us food being dropped? Set free the day, we were on top of a mountain the Japanese had left the camp, no one knew where we were. This was September 6. The war was over August 6.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Tell me about the day you were freed.

William G. Adair:

They had two doctors, two nurses, and a news reporter, and wanted to check us to make sure we were able to travel. So one of the doctors came in. The B-29's dropped food and juice to take care of us. One of the doctors came in and asked for some juice. He wanted to get the nurses drunk on alcohol. My point is, after we gave him fruit juice, he gave us just two or three drops, got everyone drunk. We were all drunk. I was skunk-drunk. Somebody decided we needed to have a war dance like the Indians have, so I go down to the commanding colonel, say we want to build a bonfire. We could use the pole if we wanted to so we decided to hang a Japanese officer in effigy. He nearly had a heart attack. We got some of his clothes and stuffed them, hanged him up in this bonfire. Anyhow, that was one of the ...

Kimberly Goodwin:

Were you awarded any medals or citation?

William G. Adair:

I was awarded the Bronze Star for making the Death March, for surviving the Death March. Congress decided we needed a medal for making the Death March.

Kimberly Goodwin:

How did you stay in touch with your family?

William G. Adair:

There was not much staying in touch. I was single. They got two or three letters from me. They didn't know for eight months if I was alive.

Kimberly Goodwin:

What was the food like?

William G. Adair:

What food? Honey, we didn't have anything but rice for three and a half years. We had a soup, water, carrot-top vegetable. And don't say, How did you live? We didn't even have enough rice.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Did you have plenty of supplies?

William G. Adair:

What kind of supplies? Clothes?

Kimberly Goodwin:

I guess previous to being -- did you feel pressure or stress? What type of stress did you feel while you were a prisoner?

William G. Adair:

I didn't have any stress. Stress, I think, died. People gave up. Here's an example. The first camp after the Death March, a guy got down and out, wouldn't eat. If you didn't eat for two or three days, you died. He just gave up. I talked to him: You can't do that; you're going to die. But he just could not. He lost his desire to live. It was that bad.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Was there anything you did that kept the stress away?

William G. Adair:

Glad you asked. Ready for this? I played poker. We read books, forced into... they wanted to volunteer us, but anyhow, we didn't... I lost my train of thought.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Do you recall any particularly unusual event?

William G. Adair:

If you lost your sense of humor, you died. We had a good building. We were pretty good for prisoners of war, but still better that some people, I keep.

Kimberly Goodwin:

That's okay.

William G. Adair:

(Humorous) On Sunday, in this camp they let us put on a play of some sort. We had about 600 British. Those people put on shows that you would not believe. We had nothing to dress up in, but the Red Cross would send some stuff, make them look different from men, but anyhow, to us it was funny. Here's an example. One man did a Peter Sellers, Deadpan. This man was an excellent actor. Guess what. He became after the war. Each and every Sunday, one of the Americans put on the show, then the British some kind of entertainment. That kept us from dying. It helped a lot.

Kimberly Goodwin:

What did you think of your officers or fellow soldiers?

William G. Adair:

What did I think of them? Everything; lives over in prison camp.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Did you keep a personal diary?

William G. Adair:

No. Lots of guys did. Lots of guys did. A lot of camps burned them. They didn't want a chance.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Do you recall the day your service ended?

William G. Adair:

Very well, I was in seven years in the service. In 1947, I was discharged in July. I thought very seriously of regular Army.

Kimberly Goodwin:

What did you do in the days and weeks after the war?

William G. Adair:

Though I already had a college education, I was offered a job. I went down to check it out. I was 29 years, 30 by then. Young people in that school were so young to a 30-year-old, not a normal. I couldn't take the youth again. I was only a kid myself.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Did you continue any of your relationships in the Army?

William G. Adair:

Oh, yes. My wife and I decided to have a reunion, and we had a list of people. We ended up with 62 couples in Dallas, and from then on.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Wonderful. Are you a disabled veteran?

William G. Adair:

D.A.V.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Would you like to tell me about your disability.

William G. Adair:

Congress in 1982 passed a law that all prisoners of war were 100 percent disabled if the D.A.V. were prisoners and could prove of what happened to us. I could have had two arms took off, so that law made us all 100 percent disabled.

Kimberly Goodwin:

How did your military experience affect your life?

William G. Adair:

I am a flag-waver.

Kimberly Goodwin:

What kinds of activities does your association have?

William G. Adair:

It's not a meeting place. It's an organization that takes care of all the veterans. Here's an example. When they wanted me to have an examination in 1982, to be disabled, so I went to the D.A.V., and they took care of us, and they had me 100 percent within two months. I had a buddy who took 15 years, but he finally got to 100 percent.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Is there anything that you would like our younger generation to know about World War II that you served in?

William G. Adair:

Believe anything that you read about the Death March. We were in a school talking about it. Those kids had not even heard about the Death March, and it hasn't been put in our history books. It's a shame, because our people should know.

Kimberly Goodwin:

Is there anything else you would like to add that we haven't covered?

William G. Adair:

No. (End of interview.)

 
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