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Interview with George Arthur Stewart, Jr. [n.d.]

Virginia Myler Collins:

Today we are at the home of George Arthur Stewart, Jr., at [address redacted] in Bend, Oregon. George was born on [birth date redacted], in Cleveland, Ohio. He married Agnes Emmerick in 1944 in St. Albans, New York, in the Naval Hospital there. They had children Kathleen, Richard, Barbara and Jimmy, all of whom are currently living in Ohio. Then on July 27, 1965, George married Ann Phillips in las Vegas, Nevada. She had three children - Sue, Peggy and Patty, making a large family of seven. He and Ann moved to Bend, about seven years ago. The interviewer is Virginia Myler Collins member of the Bend Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She will be called "Jinny" in this interview.

Virginia Myler Collins:

George, tell me about your younger years. Did you grow up in Cleveland?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Yes.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Where did you go to school?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

I went to a number of schools. I last went to Rhodes High School.

Virginia Myler Collins:

You graduated?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

I graduated from high school. In fact, I started college, but I graduated from high school. I went there until about three or four weeks into my senior year. I was riding back and forth from Brecksville, Ohio, which was about 20 some miles southeast of Cleveland.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Was it a small town?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Yeah. Our coach come to me one day, around that time three weeks or so into the senior year, told me I was ineligible to play football, which was my main topic really that was, my whole life was built around it.

Virginia Myler Collins:

So, you had been playing?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Oh yeah. I started when I was a freshman was it?

Virginia Myler Collins:

I see.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

And he apologized for it and that. So, I had to leave Rhodes and go to Brecksville High School, where I graduated there. We were very fortunate in the few games we had left that year we won the championship.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh. What position did you play?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

In the line. I played tackle.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Yeah?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Of course, the size of football players was a lot different then than what they are now.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Boy, I'll say.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

I was considered pretty large. In high school I weighed about 180 pounds.

Virginia Myler Collins:

That was pretty big back then.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Yeah. That's a long time ago. I was in college then. We were all seeing like they have, we called it an Indian summer. In December usually, this is December of '41, they have this Indian summer as they call it; it was just a couple of nice, real nice warm days. We were sitting outside listening to the radio on a Sunday morning, a bunch of us from school, just outside our dormitory. When the news, they broke in on the program and announced that they had just bombed Pearl Harbor.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Yeah.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

About six or seven of us, maybe more, I just forget, went to our professors the next day and told them, you know, that we were going ~own to try to enlist. Of course, we didn't know if we could or couldn't. We went downtown Cleveland to the Federal Building. Of course, I think, all of northern Ohio must've had the same idea because the place was really packed with young men at that time. They had a V12 program they called it, in the Navy, and the group that I was with, was all wanting to get into the Navy. I was the only one that didn't pass.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Didn't pass? How?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

I didn't pass the physical. My knee was partially swollen. Our last game was in naturally around Thanksgiving, that's only what about two weeks difference in time. So it was puffed a little bit. So, I didn't pass the naval physical. But I went across the hall. I was upset. I left there and went across the hall. Same doctors, same everybody.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Same doctor?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Sure, same doctor, Navy doctor.

Virginia Myler Collins:

But they had to go by whatever the standards were for the service I guess.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Nah.

Virginia Myler Collins:

The Navy had different standards?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

They had the Navy and the Marine Corps are one and the same, really.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Yeah.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Anyway, I walked across the hall. I didn't pass when I was on the Navy side. But I walked across, same doctor, same man. I passed the marine physical. Hardly any questions asked and I was gone, I was leaving. In three days, I left to go to Parris Island for training in the Marine Corps.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh, my!

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Parris Island, South Carolina. The rest of the men that went with me, they signed up and got into the V12 program all right. And they finished their term until June of that year. That would be June of '42.

Virginia Myler Collins:

So, they stayed in school?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

They stayed in school.

Virginia Myler Collins:

What is V12? What does that mean?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

It's a Navy program, to get into the Navy Air Wing. They all, most of them, ended up as pilots; some had been in Submarine Serv!ce. Anyway, they got the best of the deal. Well, I shouldn't say that. Let me change that. I had a good deal, I enjoyed the Marine Corps. I thought I was in pretty good shape at that time, just finishing football. Them days, you would wonder, after that, after the war, they had the two platoon system, you know. But them days, you started the game, you played both offense and defense and you stayed in there until it was over.

Virginia Myler Collins:

You had to be in pretty good shape.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Yeah. I found out the Marine Corps believed in conditioning. A lot of, not a lot, but a few people around us would pass right out, you know, in the training it was so rugged. I managed to graduate and finish the course, you know, the training.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Boot Camp.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Boot Camp. I went to - from there they shipped us to, well, Jacksonville, North Carolina. At Jacksonville, North Carolina right now is Camp LeJuene and Cherry Point. At that time, it was Tent City. All there was was tents and the mess hall was a bigger tent. Of course, things were moving pretty quick then, you know. Pearl Harbor then was only, you know, five or six weeks away, you know, ahead of us. From there we pulled a few maneuvers and got some more gear. At first, we didn't have anything. No rifles. After about a week or so in Jacksonville, trucks came in with crates. It was all World War I items and we cleaned them up. They were, you know, covered and caked in Cosmolene and things like that. We cleaned them up for ourselves, you know, so we'd have weapons. I ended up with a BAR, what they call a Browning Automatic, I ended up as a BAR man. After we did that, this included everything, the machine guns, the mortars and everything still in Cosmolene. We cleaned them all up for our whole outfit. Each outfit had to clean up their own, you know. We were issued the spats, like they had in World War I ?

Virginia Myler Collins:

That was your uniform?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Well, we had brown pants, and spats and flat Doughboy helmets. Before we left, well I'm getting ahead of myself. From there, we went to Virginia Beach. At that time there wasn't much on Virginia Beach. We pulled a number of landings, you know, with Higgins Boats. Of course, I think the only time the marines ever used them in World War II was at Guadalcanal. After that they had I~nding craft and stuff like that, which came out in 1943. We pulled a number of maneuvers and right after that left from there and we were transported to well, Newport News, I think it's Virginia, Newport News, Virginia. We boarded the Wakefield which was about the third largest passenger ship at the time, at that time. It was loaded with all our gear and everything. Before we went there, they issued us greens, more of a winter attire. I don't know if it was to fool people or what. We didn't get our khakis until after we were at sea, you know, later on. As a matter of fact, we were through the canal and down at New Zealand when we got the, you know, got all the - and had to leave all the greens there. Of course they had overcoats and things like that, which we didn't need in the islands.

Virginia Myler Collins:

No. Is this now late winter, early spring of 1943?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

This would be in February, March 'cause we left right after that, in April, and went down past Guantanamo Bay and through the Panama Canal. We went from there to New Zealand. Well, we had a Naval escort. At the time, the Coral Sea Battle was going on. When we got through the canal, the Panama Canal, the Coral Sea Battle was in progress, or getting ready or something - I just forget now. Our escort left us and went north. We went straight down south and came into New Zealand from the south. So, we went quite aways south, you know, to come up into New Zealand south. We were there - oh it wasn't too long, a couple of weeks or so, and the union there, the longshoreman's Union, would not work on certain holidays and weekends and certain things, and we had to get ready. We were as green as grass, too. We had to get ready to leave. So they had to unload the Wakefield, which was like the Mother Ship and put it on smaller ships, which were landing craft really, that we could go over the side in a cargo net into the Higgins Boats. So, they refused to work under certain conditions and that, so the Marine Corps put a ring around the harbor. We did our own unloading and everything else and left. From there we went into the Figis, north of New Zealand, and pulled a few maneuvers in the Figis. Shortly after that we headed for Guadalcanal, which was then in August or late July that we headed for Guadalcanal. Well, we were very fortunate. Some landed on Guadalcanal, like in the Ford Islands or different islands, and they had heavy resistance. On the main island, which is what t~ey wanted, the airport, at Guadalcanal. We landed at Guadalcanal, our outfit landed on Guadalcanal. There was no opposition whatsoever.

Virginia Myler Collins:

That's where the airport was?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Yeah. Mostly the people there were, the Japs there, were construction workers, you know. There was a few of the, what would you call, infantry, Japanese Imperial Forces, there but not many. When we came in, we went in under the overhead fire of the Navy. When we hit the beach the firing stopped, you know. We were going up on the beach and no opposition at all, but it was a total surprise. Their rifles were still stacked back in their areas, their bivouac areas. They were eating breakfast.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh, I see.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

So, naturally, they just took off, headed for the hills, in other words.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Were these just guards that were there?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

The Japs that were there were mostly construction hands that worked on the airport. They were getting ready; the primary purpose of us going to Guadalcanal was to stop the Jap invasion. The Japs were going closer and closer to Australia and New Zealand. When we went there, we were to stop them - that was our job. Of course, we didn't know it at the time, but we did stop them. History proved we stopped them. That was the first American offense of the war anywhere, you know. Well, we were, as I said earlier, we were as green as grass, most of us. We pulled a number of maneuvers to practice hitting the beach, which we hit a beach that was literally nobody there.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Yeah, nobody shooting back at you.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

We immediately set up a perimeter, you know, with the officers and they set up certain areas, put up a perimeter around this airport that was under construction. Then they brought the Sea bees in, which I remember one group was the Sixth Seabees, they brought them in. If it wasn't for the equipment that the Japs had that they used, the only thing that we brought with us was what we carried on our backs. The flotilla, or the armada of ships, your first job is to unload ammunition. Then you get xeverything has a priority, and your food and that was d?wn the list a ways. Well, we got a lot of ammunition off, you know. We worked that whole day after we set up a perimeter unloading them small boats ahead of run it in. That night they had, or the following day, anyway within a day or so, they had a big sea battle out there. The Navy suffered one of its worst defeats. Our Navy, they lost four heavy cruisers and some other ships. Some of our people went out in the Higgins Boats we had and picked them up in the water. Most of them perished though because. You remember the Sullivan Brothers?

Virginia Myler Collins:

Yes.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

They were in that one ship. Anyway, the rest of the flotilla, or the Armada of ships, took off and went back toward the Figis because they had no support; the cruisers and part of the destroyers were gone.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Well, had the Japanese, though, moved into a hole? There wasn't anybody there when you landed except these few people working?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Well, there was a few, you know, a few thousand, but...

Virginia Myler Collins:

On the airport. But now Japan sent big boats huh?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Well, we held approximately 3 percent of Guadalcanal, that was all. We set the perimeter up around the airport. The airport was within that area, that 3 percent. The rest of it, you know, that's 97 percent of the island, was still there. They used to come in, what they called, I can't remember the name, but they used to come down a gap from Rabaul with destroyers at night and bring troops. They'd then unload them and we could see some of the unloading going on during the day from high points, until they got enough people up at that point to organize an offense against us. Well, this went on for months, you know. They were trying to get us off that island. Japan really put a lot into it; they lost a lot of ships. The bay there was called Iron Bottom Bay because so many ships were sunk. That was off Savo, Island of Savo. We held our own. Then, in the middle of September was the big one. They got enough men, relanded enough men, or brought in enough people where they came after us. I forget the dates now, it was in September, the middle of September. We were on the flank of the Raiders which was a regiment of Marines and that's where the Japs happened to hit. They were right back of Henderson Field. We was on their flank, their right flank, really. We lost 21, 22 men killed and a bunch wounded that night also. The Raiders took an awful beating. They lost a lot of men. They had a lot of hand to hand combat, you know. We had some, but not like they had because they were among them, there was so many of them. The next day, when they backed off finally, they couldn't break our lines and they couldn't get through. According to history, which is right there, there were some estimated 3500 Japs on the hillside and around that area that were dead, you know. The Japs had removed most of their injured and wounded and that the next day. There were a few small skirmishes that went on off and on, you know, scouting and stuff like that, which you'd run into groups of them. That was one of their biggest thrusts up to that time, in September, which was a month after, a little less, about a month after we got there. Then, in October, of '42, General Vandegrift wanted to enlarge the perimeter.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Was it still at about 3 percent?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

That's all we ever held, yeah, 3 percent of the island. General Vandegrift, for protection and that, wanted to enlarge the perimeter, move our lines. By then a lot of replacements had come in. The Americal division, the Army Americal Division, had come in and we were a little larger in numbers. So, we started that push. But, before that, when the ships left, in August, after we had hit, they took all our food supplies. We had no food .. ,.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh, no!

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

... other than what we carried on our backs.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Yeah.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Luckily, we captured a Japanese warehouse that was there and it had rice ...

Virginia Myler Collins:

That's it, rice?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

... and dried fish.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh, good.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

So, we were on a -and before that I used to love rice pudding, I do now again. At that time, we had rice, that's all we had.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Dried fish and rice every day?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Well, I never ate any of the dried fish. We ca,ught lizards that were about three or four feet long. We'd catch them and cut the tail off and fry up the tail section, you know, which is good. It actually tastes like chicken, really.

Virginia Myler Collins:

I've heard that.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

That's the only meat we really had. Until the, oh, sometime in September, when the Americal Division came in and some of the others came in they brought supply ships. Our Navy regrouped and came back. But for the first two or three weeks we had nothing, you know.

Virginia Myler Collins:

You must've lost weight.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

The average Marine lost 20 to 30 pounds ...

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh, my gosh!

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

... over the four months we were there, four and a half months. That's all in the history books, you know.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Yeah, I know.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Yeah, we got a forced diet, you know.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Yeah. What about fresh water?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Well, there was plenty of fresh water. It rains all the time. I think it rains 24 hours a day.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

We were always wrinkled from water. We had plenty of water. We always, in our survivor kits and that, we had bottles of iodine. Even when we got it out of a stream that's running full, we'd take a cup - of a canteen cup of water and we would put a couple drops of iodine and that purified it. It also, well the taste wasn't that bad, we were pretty thirsty at times. In the first part of August, we started organizing to expand out. Or, I mean October, not August, the first part of October. Two months to the day I was wounded. I was a point man. A point man is the one who leads a group, you know. There was two of us. A fellow by the name of Whittington, from Indiana, and we both got it. A shell, a short round, or one of their rounds we're not sure, anyway - it hit in the trees above us and came straight down, you know, and then exploded: The trees deflected it. It was in the afternoon on the ih of October. Whit was hurt pretty bad, he had a lot of concussion and that and they took him first, you know, back. I could hobble, somewhat, I was, you know, wounded in the right leg. They assigned a man to me to make sure I got back, you know, to help two or three others, but they put one guy in charge. He left us, after he got back a little ways. Then it started darkness and the line started backing up a little bit, to clear areas for protection. He left us and I stayed there overnight.

Virginia Myler Collins:

By yourself?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

By myself.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

But, you know, you're afraid to even breathe, you know.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Well, yeah - and you don't know if anybody's coming back for you or not.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

No, you don't.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

So, the next morning they regrouped, the Marines regrouped, and they took the area again. A man by the name of .. , I can't think of his name now. Anyway, he was a police lieutenant later on in life, with the Cleveland Police Department.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh!

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Lou ...

Virginia Myler Collins:

Sergeant Lou?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

No ... Lou (Cope) got a couple of guys and they helped me, get me back to the line. Then, I was given some shots, you know, an intravenous and stuff. But that didn't happen until the next day. Anyway, I waited a couple of days. I was flown out of there to Espirit de Santo, south of Guadalcanal. By then, they had the airport running and in good shape, you know.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Now. Had the Americans finished this runway or. .. ?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

No. The Americans finished the airport. We took over and the Seabees came in, they brought the Seabees in, and they finished the airport. But the only equipment they had at that time, in the first part of August and that, was what they had captured. The trucks and that was all Japanese gear. But anyway, because the only thing that we took in, up until the Navy regrouped and came back, some weeks later was what we carried in our packs, you know. Well, then as I said earlier, they tried. The Japs had organized a pretty big offensive. They'd got some 30 or 40,000 men and tried to push us off, but we held. Now, in the landing craft that we had, we had the, the Higgins Boats, but the vessels were mostly manned by the Coast Guard.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Because the Navy, well the Navy was still growing, and everything was still under the process and they had to stop them at that point because they were coming and they'd been bombing within a few days there, a week or so, sometime in late August, they'd be set up to bomb Australia and New Zealand, see. So we had to stop them. Well, I wasn't there then. Our division was relieved and sent back to Australia for Rand R. That was in December, mid-December of '42.

Virginia Myler Collins:

And you were still on the ... ?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

But I was in the hospital.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Were you on Espirit de Santos at that time?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Well, I went from Espirit de Santos, which is in the New Hebrides, they sent me to New Zealand ...

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh, I see.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

To ...

Virginia Myler Collins:

To Australia?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

To Brisbane, Australia. Then, I rejoined my outfit which was in Melbourne, Australia, a short time later. But then there we - the first part of, when they returned the division to Australia, naturally they had to regroup and bring more men in because they lost a lot of men, helluva bunch, almost 1700 died, you know, in that invasion. They reinforced the outfit and sent us; then a few months later, we went up to New Guinea, which is north of Australia. And being one of the older people, when we landed on Guadalcanal, I was 20 years old. We pulled a lot of maneuvers up in New Guinea. We went around the south side of it, thinking there was somebody there, which was a false alarm. But it was a nice boat trip, you know. And, then we, over Christmas of '43, we landed in Cape Gloucester.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Where is that?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

It's in New Britain Islands, south of Rabaul. We landed on the south. Then we landed there the day before Christmas. They called it 'green hell' because it was swamps and just a mess. Then I got hit there, later, and that ended my Marine career. The first time, I was laid up about two months with my leg. Of course, when they took us back there, they naturally, I guess damned near every one of them had dysentery, malaria, and I had fungus in both ears. So, they finally got us all well again and shipped us north to that invasion in '43. Of course, that was the end of my career then.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Tell me about being hit that time.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Well at that time, I was taking a 37 millimeter cannon. The shells were canisters like shotgun shells full of pellets. So four of us, being one of the bigger guys, four of us pushed that cannon up a hill. The crew helped of course. Kept firing those canisters ahead of us and that's how we took ... the leaves off the trees, those canister shells. And we took the hill. Then, that night, they came back. Sometime late, after midnight, sometime in the early morning and tried to take it back.

Virginia Myler Collins:

The Japanese?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Yeah.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Okay.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

We held them off. I had a fella that I was with. I was facing the front because I had an automatic weapon and he was behind me, cause when they'd come over so many of them, he didn't get them at first, those that got through he took care of, you know. Late that morning, a little after dawn, a shell hit another shell and hit him and me both and went through my right arm. It - well my arm was no good to me, in fact it knocked the bone out and everything else. At one time, they were going to take it off, you know. I just took the shirt and buttoned it, you know, to hold the arm up. And he got a wound in the hip, and I helped him back, you know. We hobbled back. After that they, of course, by the time we got back down there, I had passed out almost to the aid station in the rear. I was on a stretcher and they were feeding me blood and stuff, you know.

Virginia Myler Collins:

You must've lost an awful lot of blood.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

I was bleeding pretty bad, yeah. At any rate, they patched it up temporarily you know. I mean it was probably the wrong tier, but it was not there. They stopped the bleeding and tried to make me comfortable and that. In occasions like that you take morphine, we carried morphine in packets, you know. Anyway, they took me back to New Guinea, where we had started the landing initially. And in New Guinea, they had a field hospital there. And at that time, Penicillin had just come into being. The only one using the Penicillin was the service.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Sure.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

I think that's what saved my arm. You know, they washed it out every day, cleaned the wound. I don't know how many shots I had. For about 18 months, I was getting them every three hours, you know.

Virginia Myler Collins:

18 months?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Because, well, see when I got hit, I didn't realize it at the time, but I had Osteomyelitis, a bone infection.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

And that occurred when I got hit, see. Of course, they found that out, on New Guinea and that's when they started the shots. And this was the first part of, be about the 12th or 13th of January 1944. Well, I was put on a hospital ship then. They tried to put in a - when I got in the hospital ship, they had me in a temporary rig until I got on the hospital ship. Then they put my arm into one of them airplane casts, you know. They cut a door in the top and one in the bottom, for dressing, you know, and taking care of the wound. But because of the infection, the Osteomyelitis, they couldn't do any operating. They didn't operate until April, or I have a record of that too, 'til April or so. Oh, it's in that book you have.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh, okay.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

They couldn't do any operating because they were afraid of spreading the infection.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Sure.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

But they kept working on it every day. And I got back to Pleasanton, California, from on a hospital ship. We came into 'Frisco and then we went to Pleasanton, California, another Naval hospital. And from there I was shipped to St. Albans, New York, by train. I was there until I was discharged the ih of April 1946. So I spent 27 months in the hospital altogether with the two wounds.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh, my goodness!

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

And, I was in the service 54 months ...

Virginia Myler Collins:

Half the time.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

... two and a half years, you know. They did a pretty good job, I think now. With what different doctors have examined me. The last group was in '02. 'Cause I got upset with, and I didn't go back, from 1948 or '50, to the vets at all, you know. If I had to see anything done with the arm, I would have the doctors send the reports to the Veteran's Administration. Of course, I was on the road a lot, then I was traveling a lot.

Virginia Myler Collins:

So what did you do after the service? Did you go back to school? Well, you got married in 1944.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

I got married. And I had wanted very much, for my whole life, to just play football. And when I was at college I was - I majored in Mathematics. In my mind, there was coaching. 'Course that went out the window when I got. .. 1 say it went out the window ... that was my fault. It went out the window because I was bothered by the fact that I couldn't do what I had planned my whole life, basically. But anyway I - my father got me a job, he was in the plumbers and pipefitters. It was tough for awhile, it was really one handed, you know, but I made it. I lost a lot of time after I got out of the service, because the osteo would come back or the Malaria would come back. I got out in April and in June they had a city exam for a mechanical license in Cleveland. The exam was in June, and if you missed that, you didn't get another exam until after summer vacation, 'til next year or next September. But anyway, I made the exam and I made, and I passed the exam and I got through it and got my first certificate in June of '46.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Now you say mechanical. Was that, to do what?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Well, it was plumbing and air conditioning and heating, you know, in general just mechanical piping. I worked in the business then and became foreman and that, which was lucky, you know, because of my arm. My last encounter with the Veteran's was in the first part of 1950. My arm, every once in awhile would just get up like a balloon ...

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

... you know, from the infection. I went to the New York VA hospital, it was just, you know, just cubicles, small. Anyway, I went there because my arm was swelling up and I used to go there for shots I had to go get because of malaria and everything. I had to go there every so often. I went there and the one doctor wouldn't examine me, he was getting ready to go home. So, another doctor stepped in, anyway they found two pieces of bone still in there.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh, fragments?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Yeah, fragments, that had caused - first they cut it. The day I went there it was puffed up and they had to cut the shirt off and then the hot spot, I called it a hot spot Pthey lanced it and that's when they saw - but they wouldn't do any more 'til they got the infection down. Then they went and they found two fragments that was causing the problem. Actually, from that time on, which was in early '50s, I had very little trouble with it except that I'd tire and it bothered me because, you know, I only had partial use, but I used it all the time. So, but the company I was with ...

Virginia Myler Collins:

Do you remember the name of the company?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Morris and Knudsen.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh yeah, okay.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

MK they called it.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Uh, huh.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

I went to school different times, went to a number of seminars, they were pretty good at, they were - welding, and different things like that. So my resume, I was trying to become a mechanical superintendent. MK, Washington, they helped and they sent me to school and sent me to different seminars and I finally got the credits I needed for mechanical engineering. Really, they used to kid me that a mechanical engineer made less than a superintendent.

Virginia Myler Collins:

It was probably true.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

I was a mechanical superintendent and they kept, "You better knock it off George or we're going to cut your pay," which they never did. Of course, I always had good job.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Well, you told me your father was also a ... "

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

He never got into that part of it. He was, he got me started, you know.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Now, did you live in Cleveland, when you got back from the war?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

I lived in Cleveland for awhile. Then Cleveland work slowed down and quite a bit and the Local had a call in for some people and a superintendent for a company in Indiana, where I met Ann. The company was doing a job in California.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh, I see.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

So, I applied and got the job and went to California.

Virginia Myler Collins:

What area, where in California?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Domingus.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Domingus. I don't know where that is.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

It's near L.A.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Anyway, there was nothing there then. We had all the underground: sewers, water, everything and then we built 2500 homes. So, it was good, you know. I was on that for almost a year. And a man by the name of ... anyway, he was running that company, that part of it and he was in Hawaii at the time and he was going back and forth. He wanted me to go to Hawaii with him I remember. I had just met Ann. My folks had come there, my father had come there. I put him to work. He'd come from Ohio to California. So, I couldn't just pack up and head for Hawaii.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Yeah.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

So I stayed there and eventually I got where I wanted and finished a couple of more schools, you know and things like that and became a mechanical superintendent.

Virginia Myler Collins:

You got what you wanted.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

I got what I wanted.

Virginia Myler Collins:

And you told me one time that you worked up until when?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Well, I always had a job, I could get a job, and I worked up until three months beyond my 80th birthday.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh, my goodness!

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

But I loved to work, I enjoyed the people, some of it wasn't always the best, you know, but it was a good job.

Virginia Myler Collins:

I was thinking about what you were talking about during the war and on Guadalcanal and eating rice, only rice, for two months ...

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

No, no, for about two to three weeks.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Oh, okay. Well, 20 pounds in two to three weeks.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Well, I have some, right there, in that book there, it tells how General Vandegrift said the troops there lost 20 to 30 pounds over this trip.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Do you think that being raised kind of in the depression helped you that way?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

I really believe that growing up in the Depression and not having the things that we should have maybe, or, at that time we didn't miss them, we didn't have them. But I started work when I was twelve years old, ten years old. I believe, and Ann will tell you, I was a workaholic. I believed in working, believed in doing it right, I believed in eight for eight, eight hours paid for eight hours work ...

Virginia Myler Collins:

Yeah.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

... no if ands or buts. And, I think that was one reason I worked as long as I did.

Virginia Myler Collins:

It was a different time wasn't it; the work ethic was so good?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Oh, the ethics, the work ethics, and the people ethics, you know, everybody had pride in what they did. And everybody was - everybody worked together. No, this helped a great deal in the service for me. It did, a great deal.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Don't you think too that back then, you didn't expect a hand out, you wanted a hand up? You wanted -just give me a job.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Yeah, it was the other way around. You wer~ always helping people and nowadays they want - people want you to help them. This is true and it isn't for everybody I don't want, our generation, this one, you know, if you read the papers, how they have trouble getting them to work and things like that, but this isn't all of them.

Virginia Myler Collins:

No.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

But, back then, you didn't think anything of it. Somebody'd tell you to do something you didn't say, "Well, that's not my job" or something, you went and did it. There was no yardstick, you know, measuring stick for what you should or shouldn't do. I think growing up at that time was good for me. I believe and this is the way I've felt all along that we need a draft that takes the boys when they get out of high school, if they don't go to college, put them two years in the service and then discharge them, of course. But I believe, I think that the regimentation and that part of it grooms them for later on. It really helps a great deal. And, I'm serious when I say that. I believe it whole heartedly.

Virginia Myler Collins:

They need to do something that's a contribution to the country.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Well, I think so. Well, you know, when I went down to enlist, like I said earlier, you thought that the group you were with was gonna be the only ones there, but when you got there you found out that men in Ohio had showed up, you know, at the Cleveland Federal Building.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Yeah. I think that, from my talking with Veterans, that was true no matter what state you were in.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Yeah, they all were there. They all went to do something. Now you've gotta hunt them, or offer them a few thousand dollars to enlist and things like that. But we lived in a different time or ethics were different. I think Tom Brokaw expressed it in The Greatest Generation probably as well as anybody.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Yeah. Weill sure want to thank you for an interview.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

You're welcome.

Virginia Myler Collins:

It was wonderful meeting you and your wife Ann. This will get copied. A tape will be copied and it will all get typed out. You'll get a copy of the tape, a copy of the transcription. Did you have any pictures or documents, you want to send along to Washington?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

Most of it, you know, when I grew up very few people had cameras. And in the service, during the war, pictures of like the rice lines when we were standing in line to get rice, I got it out of that book.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Yeah.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

You know.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Do you have a graduation picture? When you graduated from high school? Something like that?

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

I got pictures in that book that you've got.

Virginia Myler Collins:

All right. Thank you.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

You look in there and you'll see some pictures.

Virginia Myler Collins:

Okay, George. Thank you.

George Arthur Stewart, Jr.:

You're welcome. [End of Tape]

 
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