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Interview with George Edward Wahlen [n.d.]

Unknown interviewer:

For the editor, just state your name, spell your last name and tell me where you're from.

George Edward Wahlen:

My name is George, E for Edward, Wahlen, W-A-H-L-E-N.

Unknown interviewer:

Okay. And where are you from?

George Edward Wahlen:

Bermuda.

Unknown interviewer:

Bermuda. And when you retired from the service, what was your rank?

George Edward Wahlen:

Well initially, I retired--left the Navy as a Pharmacist's Mate, Second Class. And I enlisted in the Army in 1948 and retired in 1969 as a Major in the Medical Service Corps.

Unknown interviewer:

Okay. Let's talk a little bit about growing up. Tell me about where you grew up and what your hobbies were, what you were busy doing as a child.

George Edward Wahlen:

I grew up in--part of the time was in Ogden, Utah--until I was about 12 years old and then we moved out into--west of Ogden into a little farm, and spent the rest of my time there.

Unknown interviewer:

Who did you look up to as a kid? Who were your heroes? Or who--who represented something you wanted to aspire to?

George Edward Wahlen:

Well, as I was growing up there was a young kid in Ogden, my hero then was my buddy's Dad who was--been a professional boxer. And he used to teach us how to box. So, as a young kid I--you need a lot of stamina and--I was a pretty good fighter, so I didn't walk away from anybody. My Dad always said he never wanted me to start a fight, but never wanted me to walk away from one. So, that was kind of the thoughts that I grew up with in school. And I pretty much stuck with that. I used to box a lot of amateur--til I was about 17, 18--even did some of that when I was in high school.

Unknown interviewer:

What made you enlist?

George Edward Wahlen:

Well, actually before I went in service, I dropped out of high school to go to a mechanic learner course up in Utah State--up in Logan, Utah. And then Pearl Harbor--I was looking for an apartment and didn't know what happened until I got up to school the next day. And then all the excitement then. And so anyhow--I had a six month course to go to and because of the war they reduced it to 3 months. But during that 3 month period, Air Corps Recruiting Sergeant offered us Sergeant if we'd enlist in the Air Corps. And when I was up at Logan, that was about--oh about 30 miles from home. And so, when he offered it, I was 17 years old at the time, so I took it down for my Dad to sign the papers. And he said--what do you think I let you quit high school for? To keep you out of the service. So, he wouldn't sign. And then, I had to finish school. I went to Hill Air Force Base--it was there--and worked there for a little over a year. And I was still 18, so I didn't dare--I was old enough I guess to enlist, but I didn't dare do that because of my Dad, so I volunteered for the draft--and hoped to go in the Air Corps. And they didn't need anybody in the Air Corps, so they said the Navy has airplanes. So, I enlisted in the Navy, hoping to get in--work with aircraft in the Navy.

Unknown interviewer:

Tell me about your training during basic and powers [??].

George Edward Wahlen:

Okay, I went into the Navy--San Diego. And I remember it was 8 weeks--boot camp. And then San Diego and we'd march a lot and that sort of thing. I always remember--I didn't know anything much about marching and I was there a couple weeks and not doing very well. And so, the Chief had us out marching at night from 6 til 9, on the grinder. And one of my buddies who was marching behind me--he couldn't stay in step because I couldn't--so he's out there, too. So, he blamed me for--so anyhow--spent time there training to march--so that was the worst experience I had in boot camp. But anyhow, finally finished boot camp, I think as I recall it was 8 weeks. And then I found out I was assigned to go to school--Hospital Corps school. And of course, that's not what I wanted to go to. And I tried to get out of it. I talked to some Lieutenant Commander and he said there's not too much he could do about it. He says--talk to the Chief over there at the Corps school. See what he can do for you. I got over there and talked to him and he says--said I want to become an aircraft mechanic. That's what I been trained for. And he says well--he says--tell you what you do. You do good in this school, he says--I'll get you--try to get you what you want. So, I stayed up every night til midnight studying and finally graduated, fairly near the top of my class. And went in and reminded him what he told me. And he looked at me, kind of grinned and he said--we need you in the Hospital Corps. Then I knew I was pretty well stuck. Anyhow, I was assigned to the hospital in Balboa Park out in San Diego there. Worked there in the ward--in the stomach ward--carrying bedpans and doing the--not too nicer things. And I was kind of discouraged about that. Didn't think too much about it. But early--every month they give the test for a promotion. So, the first month I got promoted--Hospital Apprentice First Class. The next month I took the test and got promoted to Petty Officer Pharmacist's Mate, Third Class, which I had in less than 5 months in the Navy--and I was already a Petty Officer. And the thing--the worst thing that could apparently happen to a Corpsman, which I found out from the other Corpsmen, is--you get sent to the Marine Corps. Because the Marines don't have any medical people--the Navy supplies them. Or you get sent to sea, and those working on the war didn't want to do either one. So, they didn't want to be promoted, but when I went and took the test--they was again let me get ahead--[???]. So, after 3 months we was all promoted to Petty Officer, Third Class.

Unknown interviewer:

Would you tell me about your first assignment in which you saw action?

George Edward Wahlen:

Yeah, do you want me to lead up to that a little bit, though?

Unknown interviewer:

Sure.

George Edward Wahlen:

Okay. I remember the nurse is upset at me--was going to send me to the Marine Corps. I told her that she wasn't sending me anywhere. So, I went over the--and volunteered to go in the Marine Corps. And the next morning, I reported there to--with my bags all packed and everything and 14 of us went to the Marine Corps. With the Marine MP taking us there and 11 of them was--had regular uniforms on. So, and the other 2 had volunteered like I had. So, went out to Camp Pendleton [sp?]--8 weeks of field medical training.

Unknown interviewer:

Do you feel you'd made a mistake when you saw the other guys with the brig [sp?] uniform?

George Edward Wahlen:

No. I knew that's what was happening. Quite--troublemakers were the ones that were sent.

Unknown interviewer:

Okay.

George Edward Wahlen:

And--so anyhow, completed 8 weeks of field medical training and they taught you how to take care of people and the casualties. We went through all this combat type training--crawling under the barbed wire and all the other stuff. So anyhow--completed 8 weeks in there and then I was assigned to Camp Pendleton in California. So--that year in the 5th Marine Division for training when they were just activating that division. I remember the first day with the Marines. The company commander was putting his company together and said he wanted to take the company to kind of get them oriented to 120 mile force march at night. I remember I was a Senior Corpsman there, so he had me--I got the head of the column. And then every hour he'd take a 10 minute break and he had the columns spread out a little bit. He said--okay Doc, you go back and check with the other corpsmen and see how everybody is doing, which is one at the end of every platoon. And I would doubletime back and do that. And I doubletimed back to where he was and he'd say--okay, let's go. So, that was my first experience with the Marine Corps. And we got in--I supposedly--a lot of the Marines had blisters and everything. So, I ended up going myself--stayed up a couple hours taking care of blisters and--that morning, I was wondering whether I had done the right thing.

Unknown interviewer:

Okay--so you were eventually sent over--?

George Edward Wahlen:

We trained, as I said--Camp Pendleton for 6 months and then we scheduled--they sent us over to the Pacific and we thought we was going to hit Guam or Saipan [sp?]. Then out there aboard ship, they decided they didn't need us. So, we went on to Hawaii. And they got--to Hawaii and trained another 6 months there before we made the landing on Iwo Jima.

Unknown interviewer:

I see. Tell me about that. What was that like?

George Edward Wahlen:

Well, you have to--Pearl Harbor there in January of '45--and we's aboard ship for a little over 45 days down in the hold. I think we was down about 4 levels in the hold. I remember the first time they had a sub alert and they closed all the compartments and latches and there we was way down there. And the imagination--being stuck down there--if we get a torpedo we'd be done. So, I talked to my Lieutenant and I says--he'd had part of the platoon [?????]--I said--don't you think you need a Corpsman up there in case you get hurt? So, from then on--we'd have alerts--I'd go up there.

Unknown interviewer:

[LAUGHS] That was very clever of you. Okay. So, you landed at Iwo Jima.

George Edward Wahlen:

On the 19th of February, 1945. And our Lieutenant gave us briefings usually up on deck regularly. And of course, they was telling us about Iwo Jima and what to expect and how terrible it might be and everything. And I remember--I had not really been raised with any religion or anything but I'm in the church with some of the Marines, once in a while. I thought--I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do this, you know. I couldn't imagine me being a Corpsman--and when they had casualties, I was--my job was to go out and take care of them. And it concerned me and I think it was the first time I ever prayed in my life. And I--I figured if I ever--ever time I need help, this is when it is. So--my big concern was that one of those buddies of mine--I became very close to--their friends and close buddies and to think one of those guys died because I did not have what it--didn't go out and take care of them--that was my biggest concern then. I think that was more of a worry than getting killed or getting wounded or whatever--that I might have that to live with the rest of my life. And have this--I learned about the Marines and their motto is--sempre fideles [sp???]--faithful always--and this is the general attitude they had, too. And I used to think of that. [OFF-MIKE/OFF-TOPIC]

Unknown interviewer:

So how long were you on Iwo Jima before you saw action there?

George Edward Wahlen:

Oh, the day I landed. And I remember the day we was making a landing, my regiment supposedly be held in reserve. And I remember there aboard ship waiting to see what's going on. They had the loudspeaker on, explaining everything that's happening--about the landing and how they were doing. And initially, they let the Marines land there on the beach. No fires being shot, no casualties until they [????]. I mean--and the Japanese had the whole island--all [???] with their artillery and their mortars and everything--so they had a lot of them on the beach. And they opened up, and the casualties was tremendous. And so anyhow--about noon we got word that we was going to go in. And so, that afternoon--one or two o'clock--I don't remember the time--we boarded the landing boats, you know--with the opening in the front that came down. And so, anyhow--we's out there--went out circling around. We could see the shelling--hitting the island and everything. And I remember--we was all out looking to try to see what was happening, and all at once a shell hit right close to our landing boat and threw one over. And then from then on, everybody's down--not looking out. Finally--the landing boats--the group that we was in--finally came in in a calm. Cause there was an area, apparently, when they getting in and not getting fired upon. So, we went on in that way and fanned out at the beach. And I remember hitting the beach and another landing boat came down and we went out and hit the ground. And it was all this volcanic ash. So, it was really kind of deep. And I always remember hitting there and--not too far from my platoon leader--Lieutenant. One of the things I remember there, one of the platoon runners called over and said--Lieutenant, I lost my rifle coming out of the boat. And the Lieutenant said--well, there's plenty of casualties--plenty of dead out here, go find one. I always remember that. And the young Marine crawled over and turned a Marine over who was lying on his rifle--then hit right between the eyes and blood all over and--I always remember that. The young Marine crawling back there with his rifle just white as a sheet, the shock at seeing something like that. And--certainly understand that. But--and finally, we got word--they was going to move up to the center of the island. And we did. And everybody dug foxholes and--there--I remember when we dug in that ground the volcanic--not the volcanic--there was sulphur stuff in there. It kind of was warm. And I remember laying there in this foxhole and--the island was lit up like day, because of this--shooting off flares towards Mount Serebaji [sp?], so the Marines could see what was going on and everything. We could see firing into Mount Serebaji and you could see the tracers and everything going on there. And it's kind of an exciting experience and finally about two or three in the morning, I fell asleep. I didn't sleep too long. I heard something like--in my foxhole. It was a sizzling noise, I thought it was a mort--a grenade and I got around to find it and I couldn't find it. So, I realized it had been a grenade that went off and the next morning when I woke up, a big piece of shrapnel there that hit my hole and then I--

Unknown interviewer:

But it missed you?

George Edward Wahlen:

It missed me. And then--the next day we got word--we pulled up--we wasn't going to hit Mount Serebaji, which was to the south. We was going to go north, which I was glad to see that mountain there--it looked like it was an impossibility to get up there. Looked like all cliffs and it's not but any of it [?????]. North--and my platoon leader had a radio type advance on what [????]--placed all the platoon in a big circle so the Japanese could not infiltrate it. And we kind of stayed there with this firing going on--we get some mortar fire stuff--but--land there and just waiting to go farther north. And I remember the platoon leader was up checking the troops out and a sniper came out of a hole and shot him--hit in the chest. And as a Corpsman, of course, my job was to go take care of him--[?????] hit the chest and-- So anyhow got him--a bandage on it and everything. But he was partially conscious, so there was nothing too much to fear, I guess--got a stretcher and got him evacuated. And hadn't heard til later what happened to him--he later passed away. And my platoon sergeant then took over the platoon--he's an ex-Marine paratrooper, a big husky guy and tough and-- He was leading our platoon going north and as a Corpsman, we were told always not to come at the end of the platoon, kind of be in the middle because Corpsmen--Japanese had a habit of picking them out as well as the officer or the sergeants--get first, because there's a morale factor. Anyhow, the platoon sergeant had been going too far north and an artillery shell hit right behind him, through the side of him--and blew him actually in the air. And I was to him almost immediately and he had one leg blown off, part of his hand blown away and part of his face blown away. Of course, the treatment was get a tourniquet on his leg and his arm--give him a shot of morphine and bandage his face. And I was able to give him--evacuate right way--stretcher bearers were right behind us. Anyhow, and I'd later seen him in Guam--a few weeks later and he was able to survive. But--and then I tried to catch up with my platoon and I remember going up this hill and there's--still was getting some mortar fire and stuff. And I always remember crawling up the side was one of these Marines who had a flamethrower--crawled up the side of him to see where the rest of the platoon was. And about the time I got along side of him, two Japanese soldiers charged us. And he opened up to that flamethrower on both of them and they collapsed before they got to us. [INAUDIBLE] Well, I hated the Japanese pretty bad then--it's just kind of a terrible thing to see, too.

Unknown interviewer:

I can imagine.

George Edward Wahlen:

And then--so anyhow, still trying to catch up to my platoon. And I came across a Marine that was just laying down and groaning and moaning. And I stopped to see if I could help him--pulled his jacket off and he'd been hit in the stomach with machine gun fire. And what happened--I pulled that off--those intestines just flopped out. And which was an almost unimaginable thing to see. But the treatment for that sort of thing was put--make sure you get a wet bandage on it. So I had a big battle dressing and I wet it all down and covered it up and put some sulphur powder and stuff on it. Went from there, getting casualties on down the hill, so I went down to take care of them. And worked on them for--oh, two or three hours taking care of casualties and finally went and got them taken care of. And come back to see if they'd picked up the Marine, and they hadn't. So I was able to get stretcher bearers to take him back and get him evacuated. Anyhow, that was part of the--early part of the things I had seen.

Unknown interviewer:

Right. Let's talk specifically about what you earned the Medal for.

George Edward Wahlen:

The what?

Unknown interviewer:

The Medal of Honor. Specifically--let's talk about that action.

George Edward Wahlen:

Okay--well, we--had been taking care of casualties there and got quite a few evacuated. And then another second platoon that had had a bunch of casualties, and one of them what--had been the Corpsman, and he was up in an open area and they had 14 casualties there from mortar fire. So I crawled out and took care of 14 of them. And then treated them and helped get them evacuated. And that was part of that.

Unknown interviewer:

They were still mortaring when--time you were doing--?

George Edward Wahlen:

Yeah, got some of that, yeah. And--then as far as what I was--I was part of the citation and I think later on--the next day or two we was advancing up a hill. And--Japanese machine gun opened up on the group. So, everybody hit the ground and just kind of laying there, trying to see where it was coming from. And finally, we got word to pull off the hill. But there was too casualties over on my right flank. So, my job was to go take care of them. So, I crawled out during this crazy firing and when I got out there, both of them had been killed outright. And so I started to crawl away and a grenade hit right the side of me. And of course, I was laying down and most of the blast went over, but part of it got me in the face. And the shock from that kind of knocked--temporarily knocked me unconscious. I laid there for a minute or two and kind of got my bearings back and I could feel the blood in this one eye--couldn't see out of it. So, I got a battle [?] out there and bandaged myself out--some Marine over on the other flank was calling for a Corpsman. And so I tried to crawl over to him and--grenades were laying around him. So, I couldn't get there. Now, this was not mentioned in my citation--about that--it's mentioned about me being wounded. So, I could see where they's coming from, so--I didn't have any grenades being a Corpsman, so I hollered for one of the Marines down the hill to throw me a grenade. So, a couple of them land--give me--so--I decided I'd crawl up the hill and see if I knock out that implacement [sp?], cause I couldn't get the Marine that was wounded. And I crawled up the hill--and I was crawling up the hill--I always remember, some of those grenades are lying behind me. And so, I was catching that in the back of my legs and my buttocks. I always remember it burned like the devil, but apparently didn't do too much damage. But I got up the hill and I got to where to where these grenades were coming from. And I--I crawled over there close to that and the--so I was going to lob the grenade into the hole. And so, I always remember I went to pull the ring out and the ring come off and the pin stayed in, which--overhead machine gun fire and I was laying there, you know--what do I do now? You know-- So anyhow, I got my knife out and straightened that pin out and pulled it off and--I always remember looking over in this hole--and this is a hole five or six feet across and maybe ten feet deep. And there's an interlocking tunnel and you hear these Japanese soldiers there throwing these grenades out at us as fast as they can. Well, I was so close to him when I seen him, I could have shot him with my--45, but now I had this unarmed grenade, so I didn't know what to do with it. So--I let the spoon flip off and counted to three and dropped it in the hole and it went off almost immediately. Then I--crawled down to take care of this Marine who was--laying all torn up--and tried to get him to--to crawl down the hill. Because he was a 200 pounder and--still getting that overhead machine gun fire. And he tried and he said--I can't move. I can't move, because it hurts--you know--apparently the leg is broke. So, finally a Marine crawled up there with a stretcher and we both crawled off that hill with this big Marine. And then later on, about--involving the citation--it was the last day I was on the island, which was the 13th. We'd been dug in and I'd heard where some Marines had--of course there'd been casualties. And I was up to looking--well, they told me one Marine as I remember--up looking for him. And I went by a big shellhole and there were 5 Marines in this big shellhole, you know--just kind of protective covering. And as I walked through--then our carrier--[????]--big mortar hit in that hole. And I was--oh, I don't know, maybe 10 feet or so from the hole or 15 feet. And so, I realized that the Marines--I heard them holler and so I went to stand up to get to them and fell down--I couldn't walk. And I looked down and my boot had been torn off. I'd been hit in the leg. And I later found out my leg had been broke. But--in the leg and my foot was all bloody. And so, I sit down and bandaged my--my leg up and give myself a shot of morphine. And crawled over to start taking care of these Marines. And one of the Marines, I remember, lost both legs and the others were all beat up. And I did get a tourniquet on the one Marine--tourniquets on the one Marine. And I start to treat the other--others and a couple other Corpsmen came up to help. And anyhow, they were working on them and somebody at the head of the line start hollering for a Corspman, so I crawled out about 50 yards and--he had been hit in the leg and the arm--and bandaged him up and we were able to crawl through a shellhole. And while we was doing this, these other Marines had gotten evacuation and later on this other Marine and I were evacuated. And-- END OF SIDE A START SIDE B

Unknown interviewer:

--hundreds of guys you were serving with--you were given the Medal of Honor. What distinguished you?

George Edward Wahlen:

Well, I don't know--I don't know what distinction--any different than any of the rest of the Marines were making frontal attacks and they were getting wounded. And--as far as I can think back--they did all of what was expected of them and I just tried to do what was expected of me. And I think the one thing--think just a matter of commitment--just the worry that--the thought if one of these people died and I didn't do my job, how would I live with that the rest of my life? And I think that was one of the big things--thoughts that was in my mind.

Unknown interviewer:

How--close were you to the people in your unit?

George Edward Wahlen:

Very close. As a Navy--as a Corpsman, the Marines always did treat me very well. Very good to me. Of course, even during all the training I did all that was possible to keep up with them. And being a Navy man, initially, some of the Marines would kind of kid you about being Navy--but after I'd been with them a while, I'd always remind them that I was a Corpsman and if I could do it you could do it, you know? And I'd always hike at the end of the platoon and I remember my platoon leader told me one time--he says--Doc, he said--I think you could do a better job keeping this platoon going than I do. [LAUGHS] But I--I did think a lot of the Marines and we were very close friends.

Unknown interviewer:

Tell me what the Medal of Honor means to you.

George Edward Wahlen:

Well--well, what the Medal means to me--I always feel that I shouldn't--certainly do anything to disgrace it, for sure. And sometimes I wish I'd thought I'd been better off I hadn't had it--called on to speak, you know--so many times--over the years--it got a little easier. And--

Unknown interviewer:

What's the reaction when people have--when they find out you're a recipient?

George Edward Wahlen:

Well, they're all very gracious and--think you had a great guy and that kind of--[?????] sometimes because I'm just normal. And--

Unknown interviewer:

Did it change your life at all?

George Edward Wahlen:

Well, in some respects it did, because--I got out of the Navy and went to school a couple of years. And then an Army recruiter got talking to me and offered me a good grade to come back in the Army. And it was basically because I was a Medal of Honor recipient. And I would have gone in the Navy or back in the Marines. But you know, he offered me a better grade, so--I went in. I did enjoy the Army, too. And I just--so enjoy service people, I guess. They're pretty much all the same. It's an extremely big--big family. And they're always very supportive. And back when I finally retired, I kind of felt I didn't belong--[???].

Unknown interviewer:

That's funny. Could you tell me--what, you know, do you have kids?

George Edward Wahlen:

I have five.

Unknown interviewer:

You have five kids. What do you tell your kids and what will you tell your grandkids about the Medal of Honor, when they ask--if they ask?

George Edward Wahlen:

Of course I tell them what it's given for and then I tell them that I just did what I felt was right. And continue to do that. And they're growing up always trying to do the right thing. Because you always have a conscience that you got to live with. That's important.

Unknown interviewer:

Is that the biggest lesson that we should learn as a country? What should we learn from the Medal of Honor recipients?

George Edward Wahlen:

Well, not really. Well, I'm not really sure--but I think commitment, love your country--love--if you're in the service, certainly--love the people you're--you're part of. Can't quite tell you much more than that, I guess.

Unknown interviewer:

How would you rank the Medal in terms of the milestones in your life? If you looked at your life as a whole, how--where would receiving the Medal of Honor stand in your--?

George Edward Wahlen:

Well, it's certainly the greatest accomplishment that I ever did. And--I think it's important that--only be proud of it, but don't do anything to disgrace it, either. And I tried--tried to do that. I've worked with Veterans organizations and done lobbying for different things for Veterans--in the state. I could never--imagine myself lobbying--state representative for things that I lobbied for the State Veterans Nursing Home--State Veterans Cemetery. And it's kind of a--one of the things that I think Veterans groups have had me lobbying and get on my case. They say--well, these people have a harder time saying no to you because you're a Medal of Honor recipient. And so, it was kind of surprising that they would listen to me [?????].

Unknown interviewer:

That's good. A couple more questions. I need to ask you where--where did you learn about--that you had received--where were you when you learned that you had received the Medal of Honor?

George Edward Wahlen:

I was in the Navy Hospital, recuperating from my leg. And I got word that I was being sent back to Washington. And back during that time, there was a lot of patriotic things going on--bond drives and different things--that was in October, 1945. So, nobody told me that I was going to get the Medal of Honor. However, I had already received two Navy crosses, prior--in the hospital there for the action. And apparently, word got back to Washington and they decided to give me the Medal of Honor. But anyway--I was back there a couple of days and finally reported in to the Navy building when I was supposed to at nine o'clock in the morning. And some Navy commander said--where have you been? We've been looking all over for you. And I says--well, my orders said to report here at nine am this morning, here I am. So, then they told me I was to get the Medal of Honor.

Unknown interviewer:

Who actually awarded you the Medal of Honor?

George Edward Wahlen:

President Truman.

Unknown interviewer:

And you were with a group of people, or--?

George Edward Wahlen:

There was 14 of us at the time. And 11 were Marines, and there 3 Navy people. I was a Corpsman and Bob Bush was also a Corpsman, from Okinawa. And Commander George Street was a submarine commander, as I remember.

Unknown interviewer:

And did Mister--President Truman say something to you--that you can remember?

George Edward Wahlen:

Yeah--I do remember. And of course--a young enlisted man--you know, seeing all those officers and generals and admirals and everybody all there and everything going on and the President of the United States, I thought--oh my--[???]--what am I going to do? But anyhow, I wasn't the first one called up there, but finally when I reported to him, I was the first Navy Corpsman to receive a Medal, I guess, during World War II. Living, at least. And when I reported to him, he says--give me a big smile and he says--sure glad to see a pill pusher finally made it up here. Of course, he'd been in the Army and he'd known some of the--known [??????]--seen medics and stuff.

Unknown interviewer:

Right. How did you feel at that time?

George Edward Wahlen:

Well, it was really quite exciting, I think--getting the Medal of Honor. It was kind of--almost unimaginable that it could happen to me.

Unknown interviewer:

What--was your family there?

George Edward Wahlen:

Yes, my mother and Dad was there. And--for some reason they'd been notified--and my two aunts and uncles were there. And I never even knew it.

Unknown interviewer:

Oh, that's funny. I'm going to ask you--a few more questions. And--we're exactly one year from September 11th at the time of this filming. Do you have any thoughts about that and about anything?

George Edward Wahlen:

Yeah--been thinking about it for a whole year. I think--the terrible that could happen in the United States. That such cowardly people could do such a thing as that. And--very supportive of President Bush when he said--want to get them all. And I think the war on terrorism is going to last for a while. It's not going to be easy--but I really believe it will.

Unknown interviewer:

Do you think the US is up to the challenge?

George Edward Wahlen:

I think it's up to the challenge. I really do. And our service people today, I'm sure, are not any different than they was during World War II.

Unknown interviewer:

Does the country need heroes now more than ever?

George Edward Wahlen:

Yeah, I--well, I think they just need competitive people, yes--to--our values and what we stand for in our country.

Unknown interviewer:

If--do you speak with kids?

George Edward Wahlen:

I've--speaking--at the schools, yes.

Unknown interviewer:

What do you say to them about the country and their value--and our values?

George Edward Wahlen:

Just talk to them how important the values are in this country--and what we really have. I've lived in several foreign countries and really realized how grateful you are when you're living in the United States. After you've lived with different people--we just don't realize what we have as Americans--until you get out of the country.

Unknown interviewer:

Is there anything else that you'd like to say that I haven't asked you?

George Edward Wahlen:

No, I think you've covered everything. But I appreciate the opportunity to at least--

Unknown interviewer:

Oh, thank you for taking the time. Appreciate it. [End of Interview]

 
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  October 26, 2011
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