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Interview with George C. Ingalls [11/17/2016]

Rebecca Blair:

We're in Columbus, Georgia, at the CWA Union Hall conference room. The person being interviewed is George C. Ingalls; resides at [address redacted], Cataula, Georgia. His birth place was Tampa, Florida. On September the 14th, 1930, he was in the U.S. Army, and highest rank was -- I think it was Sergeant First Class. Do you remember if you -- Were you drafted or were you -- did you enlist?

George C. Ingalls:

I enlisted.

Rebecca Blair:

And where were you living at the time that you enlisted?

George C. Ingalls:

In Avon Park, Florida.

Rebecca Blair:

Okay. Why did you join?

George C. Ingalls:

To make a living.

Rebecca Blair:

Why did you pick the branch of service that you did?

George C. Ingalls:

Because I wasn't going to the Air Force. My brother was Air Force, and I didn't want to go.

Rebecca Blair:

Do you remember your first days in service?

George C. Ingalls:

Yes, very clearly.

Rebecca Blair:

What was it like?

George C. Ingalls:

Well, we went to Tampa, got off the Greyhound bus, went out to the Air Force base out there, McGuire -- McNeil, and they swore us in; and went right over, started washing dishes.

Rebecca Blair:

So can you tell me about your boot camp training experiences?

George C. Ingalls:

Yep. They put us on a train and shipped us to Fort Jackson, and they give us basic training in Fort Jackson. That's the first time I ever seen snow. I'll never forget that either.

Rebecca Blair:

Do you remember your -- do you remember your instructors and --

George C. Ingalls:

Yep. Sergeant Case was the platoon sergeant, led us through basic training.

Rebecca Blair:

And how did you get through it?

George C. Ingalls:

One step at a time, one day at a time.

Rebecca Blair:

And which war did you serve in?

George C. Ingalls:

The Korean War.

Rebecca Blair:

When did you go?

George C. Ingalls:

Well, they said from the start -- I went over to Korea and pulled occupation duty before the Korean War. We pulled the troops out of Korea and went to Hawaii. And the duty's great, so I extended a year. And in 1950, June the 27th, war broke out in Korea. They gathered us up and shipped us out, and we landed the 31st of July in Pusan Perimeter. From there, we went way up north, about 30 or 40 miles from the Manchurian border, and then we came back. Time marches on as you go, and in 1951 they set up rotation. And I was top on the list and I come home. That was in April.

Rebecca Blair:

And did you see combat?

George C. Ingalls:

Altogether, the first tour and second tour, I had a little over about 23 months of combat.

Rebecca Blair:

Were there many casualties in your unit?

George C. Ingalls:

Yes. The first part of the war, they were real -- it was heavy.

Rebecca Blair:

[Interview interrupted briefly.] Tell me about your most memorable experiences.

George C. Ingalls:

There was two stuck in my mind quite a bit. One was we pulled off the top of the hill and went down, got a little rest, and we started back up the hill. And this guy was supposed to go up with us, and he -- something happened. He was sick and he couldn't make it. We went up on the hill, and the guy that took his place got killed. And they brought his body down, and then he cracked up. And I don't know whether you seen Time, Army Times and Life magazine, the picture of this Sergeant First Class Chandler holding Chico like this {demonstrates}, rocking him, because he was cracked up. And I have that picture if you want it, but it's --

Rebecca Blair:

Okay. I'd love --

George C. Ingalls:

And the other one was, we got replacements. And I made up my mind that I wasn't going to be buddy with no replacements. I don't want to know them especially. He come in. He was there four days, and he got hit. So I made up myself to do my job and let the war go on.

Rebecca Blair:

Okay. Were you awarded any medals or citations?

George C. Ingalls:

Combat infantry badge was the badge that they give all of us for fighting in the infantry on the ground. And the other medals and stuff, they hand them out to you here and there, but you can get them most anyplace.

Rebecca Blair:

How did you stay in touch with your family during this time?

George C. Ingalls:

I didn't.

Rebecca Blair:

While you were over there, what was the food like?

George C. Ingalls:

Well, when I joined the army, they said we had three squares and a cot. You know, that's a place to sleep. Some of them times, them squares was far and long between. Especially, one I remember was Thanksgiving 1950. It was three days late getting to us. That answers that question.

Rebecca Blair:

So I don't guess -- The next one was, did you have plenty of supplies. You've already answered that. Did you feel a lot of pressure or stress during this?

George C. Ingalls:

Well, being a country boy, I don't know a whole lot about stress; you just did what you was told and move on back then. It's a little different nowadays.

Rebecca Blair:

Was there anything special that you did for luck?

George C. Ingalls:

Well, I wasn't very nosy about sticking my head up out of the hole unless somebody shot at me.

Rebecca Blair:

Did -- how were you entertained, or how did you entertain yourself?

George C. Ingalls:

Oh, we'd come on the back side of the hill as soon as they quit firing at us and spread out a poncho and play a little poker.

Rebecca Blair:

Did you have any entertainers that come over to you?

George C. Ingalls:

Oh, yeah, we had them. Bob Hope and Debbie Reynolds. I don't know whether you know her. She's a movie star, and she still comes sometimes to our conventions.

Rebecca Blair:

That's great.

George C. Ingalls:

Reunions. She says she's one of us.

Rebecca Blair:

How many times did you all see Bob Hope?

George C. Ingalls:

I saw him twice, the first tour of combat and the second tour of combat.

Rebecca Blair:

Oh. And where did you go on leave when you had leave?

George C. Ingalls:

We went to Japan. I ate as much as I could and slept as much as I could.

Rebecca Blair:

And where did you travel while you were in the service?

George C. Ingalls:

Well, I came back from Korea in 1951 on rotation, got married. They sent me back to Korea. I was over there in '52 and '53; '53, I was over there when the war ended and I come back. But that was a blessing, that last tour, because I was in the engineers. I was married and went to the engineers. And from there, I went from one Air Force base to another working on airstrips, then went to Germany twice. I'll tell you a little something. It was funny in a way to me, but Margie, my wife, don't like it. She came over. I got economy, you know, housing on the outside. And her and Carla come over, and I picked them up at Rhein-Main on a Saturday; Saturday. Sunday morning they called alert, and I kissed her and told her, "Be back in a couple of hours." I went to Lebanon for 90 days.

Rebecca Blair:

Oh.

George C. Ingalls:

Them couple of hours sort of added on.

Rebecca Blair:

What did she do?

George C. Ingalls:

She still don't like Germany.

Rebecca Blair:

Did she wait till you came back or --

George C. Ingalls:

Oh, yeah. Well, she couldn't go nowhere.

Rebecca Blair:

Oh, okay. What did you think of your fellow soldiers and officers?

George C. Ingalls:

They served truly. They was patriotic, and they did their job.

Rebecca Blair:

Do you recall the day that your service ended?

George C. Ingalls:

Yep, very clearly, out at Fort Benning, the only time that my mother ever come to see me in service. She came for my retirement. And my sister and brother came here.

Rebecca Blair:

What did you do in the days and weeks afterward?

George C. Ingalls:

Well, I tried several different jobs. I tried them for about a year and they didn't work too good. I went to school and -- under the GI Bill. And then they called me at Columbus Tech and asked me if I was interested in teaching. And I said I'd give it a lick, so I stayed for 20 years.

Rebecca Blair:

What did you teach?

George C. Ingalls:

Residential, commercial, industrial wiring.

Rebecca Blair:

Did you make any close friendships while you were in the service?

George C. Ingalls:

Yes, I did, several. There's -- they're getting thinner though. There's -- right now there's Tip Sword (ph) in Seattle, Washington. There's -- Harold Reynolds (ph) is in Missouri, and Glen Moody (ph) in Texas, and Sam in Tampa, Florida.

Rebecca Blair:

Okay.

George C. Ingalls:

And I met one more last month when we had our reunion in Hawaii.

Rebecca Blair:

Hadn't seen him since Korea?

George C. Ingalls:

'53.

Rebecca Blair:

Do you belong to any veterans organizations?

George C. Ingalls:

Fifth Regimental Combat Team Association and the VFW.

Rebecca Blair:

Okay. Did your military experiences influence your thinking about war or about the military in general? [Interview interrupted briefly.]

George C. Ingalls:

Do what now?

Rebecca Blair:

Your military experience influence your thinking about war or the military in general, is what the question is.

George C. Ingalls:

Well, sure. When you're in the middle of it, you have to think of it.

Rebecca Blair:

What kind of activities do you participate in and did -- or does your veterans organization have?

George C. Ingalls:

Well, we go on a reunion just to be together and talk, talk about old times and tell some stories I didn't even know. And I was there. But anyway, and the other, the VFW, they -- they do a lot of different activities for veterans too, like they run over to the hospital over in Tuskegee. They go twice a month to visit them in homes, and they do stuff like this.

Rebecca Blair:

Is there anything that you'd like to add that we haven't covered in this interview about your service?

George C. Ingalls:

No, just -- I was just a regular GI. I'll tell you a little funny one though. When I -- we used to just go by your first name and your last name. And they issued me supplies and they told me to initial them, so I put GI. And this big supply sergeant said, "Look, stupid, put your initials, like JW." So I put JW down. And then when they got out there, they're looking for JW. And then it dawned on them that it was me. Then we went around again. And I told him, I said, "You told me you knew I was a GI."

Rebecca Blair:

I want to ___+ participating in this interview. Thank you so much.

George C. Ingalls:

You're welcome.

 
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