Speaking to the Future:
Oral History Interview with
Conducted on May 1, 2003, recorded in Castle Rock, Colorado.
Veterans History Project
[Interview conducted] by Barbara A. Belt
Transcribed by Judy Zullo and Evelyn Kriek
Original transcript on deposit at
Douglas County History Research Center
Douglas County Libraries
Note: The transcript of this oral history is as accurate as possible. All text in brackets is not part of the oral history. It has been added for clarification purposes.
BEGIN TAPE 1 SIDE 1
BARBARA BELT: This is Thursday, May 1, 2003. We're in the Douglas County Building at 101 Third Street, Castle Rock 80134 [incorrect zipcode, it should be 80104]. We're interviewing the veteran Henry John Hiddinga. The last name is spelled H-I-D-D-I-N-G-A. Branch of Service is the U.S. Navy, enlisted service from December 1943 to December 1945. Served during World War II. Being interviewed by myself, Barbara Belt, at [removed]. I’m a volunteer for the Veterans History Project.
Good afternoon Henry! Lets start your interview today with the date and the place of your birth.
BELT: Okay, and what was --
HIDDINGA: I was raised on a farm.
BELT: On a farm!
HIDDINGA: And I helped my dad for a number of years milking cows and etc., and I enjoyed the farm very much. And then, World War II started, and in 1942, my dad suddenly passed away, and I still managed the farm and that’s why I was exempted from the draft.
BELT: So, you were exempted, because he died?
HIDDINGA: Yeah, because of the farm. And then I ran the farm for about a year.
BELT: Are you the only child?
HIDDINGA: No, I have two sisters.
BELT: So you’re the only male.
HIDDINGA: Yeah, I had two sisters, they were both older than I. They’re still living today, by the way, in New Jersey. And anyway, I had been taking flying lessons in preparation for hoping to get into the Air Force. And after the farm was sold, we moved back to the city to be near my two sisters so my mother would be a little more content, due to the fact that on the farm, we had no phone, believe it or not, back then. Going to the Air Force, I took the test, and I had been out of school for a number of years, and I only had about two years of high school, intending to be what we called back then and back there, a “gentlemen farmer.”
BELT: So how old are you about now?
HIDDINGA: About 20. So I went to the Air Force, took the test, talked to the man in charge, and he said “Henry, you just missed it by a couple of points.” But he said that anybody that fails the test can come back in a month and take the test again. So, I boned up and I went back and took the test again and I did very well. In fact, he announced, “Who’s Henry Hiddinga?” And I said, “Well, that’s me, sir.” He said, “Well, you got the highest grade in the class!” Now I’m a little bit independent, being a Dutchman, and --. By the way, my folks came from the Netherlands around 1913. And so, I had this appointment then with this captain. And by the way, when I was taking the test, with this finger missing because I lost it on the farm tractor, a brand new farm tractor, a 1941 Case. And I was home alone and I was experimenting with the tractor in preparation to get out into the fields and start putting it to work, and I got the finger caught in the power lift mechanism, and home alone, no phone on the farm and I was caught with my hand between a counter pin and the crank of the power lift and the shield. And so I had to hit the lever again in order to get my hand extricated, and when I hit the lever again, the hand came out but a tendon, a nine-inch tendon was torn out of my arm. So being a Christian, I did say a word of prayer, but if I needed help at anytime I need help now.
BELT: You’re by yourself?
HIDDINGA: Yeah, I was home all by myself on the farm, so I went up to the house and I poured half a bottle of iodine on it, then I wrapped it in a towel and then I heard a lady coming. We were about a mile off the highway and she had to go across a wooden bridge, and the wooden bridge went “kaplunk”, and I went out of the house and she took me to the doctor.
BELT: She drove you?
BELT: Did she drive you?
HIDDINGA: Yeah, she took me took me to the doctor, and then my folks came soon afterwards, she notified them.
BELT: So you’re father is living still when you lost your finger?
HIDDINGA: Yeah, my father's still living then. Anyway, the doctor said the finger should be amputated, and so, because it would have been stiff, see, without the tendon. So consequently I --
BELT: How old are you now?
HIDDINGA: About 20, 19 or 20, somewhere's around there. But now, so, I talked to the captain and he said “Too bad,” he says. “Amputated middle index finger, left hand.” He says, “You can be either a bombardier or a navigator.” And I said, “Well, I sure was hoping to be a fighter pilot. And maybe I’ll go home and think about it.” And I did. In the meantime, I had notified the draft board that I was on the farm.
BELT: Did you notify them that you had lost the finger?
HIDDINGA: No, anyway, they sent me a notice a couple months later, saying I was going to be drafted, so then I went to the induction place and took the test. And again, I tried to slip through without them catching this finger, but they caught it. So consequently, they said, “Well, we’re going to accept you anyway. Which branch of service do you want?”
BELT: So you were worried that they wouldn’t take you?
HIDDINGA : Yeah. So consequently, I said, “Well, my girlfriends all said, 'Take the Navy.'” So I went to the navel officer and I’ll never forget, he was a nice guy, and he said “Do you have any identifying marks on your back?” I said, “Sir, how do I know, I can’t tell!” He says, “Turn around.” So I turn around and he says, “You’ve got one, on your back.” And he says, “Why don’t you go over there and join the Marine Corps?” But anyhow, I said, “No, I think I’ll stay with the Navy. And he says “Well that’s okay” Anyhow I wound up then going to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station.
BELT: So they didn’t feel that you’re losing a finger was a problem at all, then ?
HIDDINGA: No, it was surprising, and yet, before that I did work on aircraft engines, by the way, and my boss told me he could get me accepted, but I said “ No, I think I’ll --”
BELT: So you’re right handed and you lost your left?
HIDDINGA: It’s fine, exactly, and so I arrived at Great Lakes Naval Training Station, and this is interesting. I did very little marching! Because I helped young ensigns get the slides organized in order for them to teach Aircraft Recognitioning. I got this opportunity because I had an almost perfect score in the Aircraft Recognitioning test. I wasn't very popular with my fellow sailors because I was in a warm building while they were marching in the cold Chicago weather. [Belt laughs] While there at boot camp, I was assigned to work in the PX [post exchange], making ice cream sodas and sundaes for the servicemen. I enjoyed that immensely and I gave the guys huge servings! And they always requested me to make their servings for them, but the management evidently saw what was going on and they took that fun assignment away from me.
BELT: This is on the base?
HIDDINGA: Yeah, this was on the base, right. Then after returning from boot leave which was February 1, 1944, we took a troop train to California. It took five days.
BELT: Where in California?
HIDDINGA: Shoemaker, the base there. I think it was a Marine base, but I never did really know.
BELT: Now, where is that close to in California?
HIDDINGA: San Francisco. Yeah. It took five days to get there, and we were stopped for two or three hours in the Sierra Nevada Mountain due to snow drifts. The guys really got excited when we arrived at our temporary base, which was Shoemaker, California. From there, we went to Treasure Island [Naval Station Treasure Island] for more training and then to Mare Island [Mare Island Naval Shipyard] May the 4th 1944.
BELT: During this, when your moving, what are you doing there?
HIDDINGA: Oh just classes, school, getting oriented.
BELT: So from one base they sent you to another base in California
HIDDINGA: From Shoemaker, which was only temporary though, we didn’t get any lessons there, we were only there two or three days and then we went from there to Treasure Island. There we spent, I would say probably, maybe a month and a half or so, six weeks.
BELT: So what are you doing during this, classes?
HIDDINGA: Learning navigation and seamanship of all sorts.
BELT: Do you like it?
HIDDINGA: Yes, I enjoyed it. It wasn't bad at all.
BELT: It wasn't hard for you?
HIDDINGA: No. I was kind of a country bumpkin you know. This is interesting, I never had KP [kitchen police] duty in the service! How do you like that?
BELT: Did good.
BELT: Now you’re assigned to this ship?
HIDDINGA: Yes, as a quartermaster.
BELT: Tell me about that job.
HIDDINGA: The quartermaster works with the navigator. He has to be able to handle compasses, the helm of the ship, flashing light, Morse code.
BELT: So these are what you're studying for, the studies from school?
BELT: So when you finish your classes, you’re promoted to a quartermaster or, is that a promotion?
HIDDINGA: Yes. First year is Seaman Second Class, and then you become Seaman First Class, which means three stripes on the sleeve, and a stripe I think on your shoulder, is no longer. That indicates Second Class, and the stripes on the sleeve are First Class.
HIDDINGA: No. In fact, the only people who that could come on the base would be maybe the parents, if there was an emergency. Otherwise no one was allowed.
BELT: So you just corresponded by letters to your mother.
HIDDINGA: Yes, and telephone.
BELT: What did they feel about you going into the Navy? Your mother. Was she happy about you getting into the service?
HIDDINGA: Oh yeah. Oh she was concerned, too. Because I could have been exempted, but she was concerned, too, after everything was sold, you know and like that. She was near her daughters. They used to call me “Sonny” back there. We were off of that farm maybe I don’t know, three or four months and she said, “Sonny, would you like to go back to the farm?” [Hiddinga laughs]
BELT: And did you?
HIDDINGA: No, I went into the service, then. I enjoyed the service, I really did!
BELT: That was the right decision, you felt?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. I enjoyed the camaraderie, and the fact that we had a responsibility. I was always deeply patriotic. In fact, I told people I’m so glad my folks came from Holland over to this county and settled, so I could be born over here. And I always appreciated our country. It’s a great one. Anyway, so we boarded our ship, the Gilmore, and we went on a shake down cruise.
HIDDINGA: Well now, you’re getting a little bit probing here, because I got seasick soon afterward.
BELT: Did you? So your first time on the Gilmore, you’re a little bit, seasick?
HIDDINGA: Some of the old timers, see, what they did now. For instance, our Petty Officer, First Class Petty Officer kind of taught us things, too, and had us learn to be good quartermasters; by the way, one of the most important jobs of a quartermaster is keeping the ships log. And he stands watch on the officer’s deck. That’s how I got to know all the officers, see? But anyway, the old timers said, “Wait till we hit the potato patch.” Now maybe you haven’t heard about that, but the potato patch is just west of the Golden Gate Bridge, and it’s choppy, and the old timers would joke about us greenhorns, you know. As soon as we hit the potato patch, and sure enough, I got seasick.
BELT: That meant choppy water?
HIDDINGA: Yeah, and I got seasick.
BELT: Was really your first time out on the water, then, wasn't it?
HIDDINGA: Yeah, first time. Our commander, Commander Lacy, who was a fine Navy man from way back, he’s giving me about five or six orders. “Hiddinga” he said. “Yes, Sir. “I want you to do this, do that” you know? And I’m thinking, oh, man. I'm beginning to feel sick. I’ll never remember all these things. So I went over to the rail, just beyond the Golden Gate Bridge, and regurgitated. And two guys came running up the ladder, madder than hops, and they looked at me and said, “Are you the guy who puked on us?” And what could I say? I said, “Well, yeah, I couldn’t help it.” But I'm standing right next to Commander Lacy, and they were afraid to throw me overboard. They were good friends later. And Commander Lacy was very generous. He said, “Hiddinga, forget what I told you, go sit down somewheres, or lay down!” So that was quite an experience!
BELT: You remember that pretty clearly!
HIDDINGA: Yeah, and I was telling you before about getting a little bit in trouble having the wrong ID [identification] card.
BELT: Let's wait on that. You’re on this boat and your first time out--
HIDDINGA: No, that was before the boat.
BELT: Oh, before the boat.
HIDDINGA : Yeah, this was before that. And it's not a boat, it’s a ship.
BELT: Okay, a ship. I'm sorry.
HIDDINGA: Landlubbers call it a boat. Our ship was about 600 feet long, by the way, 90 feet wide, and 45 feet above the water. It was a good size ship. There was a machine shop, an ammunition dump, and a fuel dump. We re-supplied the fuel for all the submarines, for six submarines and we re-supplied them with torpedoes, and 30-caliber ammunition for their deck gun, and etc. So it was a floating machine shop, ammunition dump, fuel dump, and the whole works!
HIDDINGA: Yeah, that’s a good question! There were about 1200 of us crew members, and there were probably about, I’m not too sure about of that, but I would say about maybe 600 submarine men. We had quite a complement on board the ship. And we had to feed them and take good care of them. Then they stayed on our ship for rest and recuperation, if it were possible, we would take them over to the beach after a strike. You know submarine duty is rough duty. If you have any semblances of claustrophobia, don’t be a submarine man. This is what we had. We had submarine divisions 222 and 221, and they were a good bunch of fellows and I would stand watch with some of their officers, too.
BELT: So they were on the ship when you left San Francisco?
HIDDINGA: Some were, not all of them.
BELT: So were you going out for short trips when you left San Francisco? You went off --
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah.
BELT: Where were you going?
HIDDINGA: First we went on a shakedown cruise.
HIDDINGA: That’s to test the ship and the crew. See it’s a brand new ship. So we went down the coast to Catalina Island, and San Diego and stayed there for a couple of days, then we came back up to Mare Island, and then we refueled and took on everything we were supposed to take on in the way of food, fuel, and everything, and then we headed for Pearl Harbor. And we got to Pearl Harbor, and stayed there for a few days, and I got to have a Sunday at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, which was quite an experience, and did a little swimming there, too. Then we went from Pearl Harbor to the Marshall Islands. And on the way to the Marshall Islands we had a little bit of an experience.
BELT: What year are we talking about here?
HIDDINGA: This is 1944. Early 1944.
BELT: What'd you feel like when you’re in Pearl Harbor?
HIDDINGA: Well, it was quite touching. We saw some of the big guns of the Oklahoma. And we saw some of the wreckage, not much, it was pretty well cleared up, but nevertheless we saw the approximate place where the Arizona was. In fact, I think there was a buoy there as I recall, and etc. But they had it in pretty good shape when we finally arrived there. And now we’re headed for the Marshall Islands.
BELT: So only a couple days in Pearl Harbor?
HIDDINGA: At night. Yeah, it was our own convoy, and so I went to Captain Cone, who was a fine Captain, and reported to him because I happened to be on watch, and the Officer of the Deck told me to report to Captain Cone.
BELT: So you physically saw a convoy or did you know by radar they were there?
HIDDINGA: First it was radar, and when we got close enough that our visual lookout saw it. What they did, they turn on the destroyers that accompany the convoys and us as well, by the way. We were always accompanied by a destroyer, and they zigzagged and circled around us and all that stuff. And the destroyers that were zigzagging evidently saw us coming on their radar, too, see. So they took a chance and turned on their light. And anyhow, we altered course and then the convoy went through. It was a huge convoy. It took quite a while for it to go by. We finally arrived at Majuro Atoll, M-A-J-U-R-O, in the Marshall Islands; we were about five miles from the beach. The tide ebbed way out so the submarines, they did have to come in carefully though, because it was pretty well closed up.
HIDDINGA: Yeah, this is the first time, now, see. The submarines have been out on strikes. And we’re tied up, and they know where we are.
BELT: So this is a young man, sitting, on the ship, and you see the submarines submerging and coming toward you.
HIDDINGA: No, we were in the atoll, which was a huge bay sort of thing, and then they had just come through a channel, and they were on the surface, and they would just [ unclear] up in and then they would tie up along side of us.
BELT: What did you think of seeing something like that? Something most people never see?
HIDDINGA: It was great! In fact, one time, a submarine came along side, and tied up and they had a couple of Japanese prisoners. And we, of course, immediately gave them some oranges and all that, and treated them nicely. They were scared to death! They thought we were going to kill them, I think, you know. And, but any how, there's quite an experience to see these submarines pull up.
BELT: So the Japanese were picked up and placed on a submarine?
HIDDINGA: Well, what happened was, evidently their vessel was sunk by one of our submarines.
BELT: Oh, they were submarines, also.
HIDDINGA: Well, no, no.
HIDDINGA: Their ship was sunk.
BELT: Oh, okay.
HIDDINGA: And, and they’re floating, you know, on the water and so our submarine went, came along side and picked them up. Saved them. Saved their lives.
BELT: And they brought them to your ship.
HIDDINGA: Our ship, and we took care of them on our ship for a while, and then finally, they went to -- I don’t know where they went, to tell you the truth. I think they were put back on the submarine. If the submarine was badly damaged, or needed major repairs, they would go to Pearl Harbor, see? But if they were minor repairs, --
BELT: That’s what your ship did.
HIDDINGA: It happened on our ship.
BELT: Okay. Now minor repairs would be what? What kind of things?
HIDDINGA: Well, for instance, maybe, one of the engines needed tuning up. Or maybe some of the batteries were going bad. You see, submarines used batteries at night. And then during the day, they’d be on the surface running their diesel engines to recharge the batteries, see? But if something like that went wrong, or perhaps, if they had used up half their torpedoes, they would come into us and get more fuel. And that way, we’d replace their --
BELT: So you had a whole stack of torpedoes on your ship?
HIDDINGA: Torpedoes. Yeah. Right. We would replenish their torpedoes.
BELT: What about food, supplies? I mean --
HIDDINGA: Yeah. And food, too. Sure. And ah, medicinal --
HIDDINGA: By radio. By radio.
BELT: Okay. Wouldn't they worry about other people picking this up and saying “Hey, I'm coming up and I'll meet you.”?
HIDDINGA: Oh, I'm sure some of them would. And that's what we had to keep a real careful guard out all the time to protect our ship. And to protect them as well, you know.
BELT: Did you ever have planes flying overhead?
HIDDINGA: Of course, they had codes, you know. They had codes.
HIDDINGA: Yeah, we had lookouts all the time. And ah, what -- We were about five miles from Majuro Atoll, and that was an airbase .
BELT: Oh, that was a base?
HIDDINGA: Yeah, yeah. Some of our planes were there. We had Hellcats there and Dauntless's, dive bombers, and B-26s, and --
BELT: You had a runway there?
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah. A nice big runway.
HIDDINGA: That’s where I went and did a little flying, with special permission. Yeah, but anyhow, ah, yeah. So the submarines would come in, and the guys would be tired, you know, fatigued because of the pressures on submarine men are -- I admire them, let’s put it that way, see.
BELT: Yeah, yeah.
HIDDINGA: And they, they would go out for maybe a ninety-day strike, three months. And at night, they’d be surfaced, and they could come out, you know, and see the stars, and all that and breath some fresh air and stuff. And they’d replenish their battery supply by charging the batteries with the diesel motor. But then, as soon as daylight, you know, near daylight, they had to dive and stay away, see, otherwise the Japanese planes would see them.
HIDDINGA: Well, let’s see, there were --
BELT: A couple? Five?
HIDDINGA: There were several other ships in the, in the atoll with us.
BELT: Oh, and they were doing, doing the tendering of the submarines, also.
HIDDINGA: No, we were the only submarine tender.
BELT: Oh, you were. Okay. But there were other ships there in that cove?
HIDDINGA: Yeah, not many. Maybe a destroyer or so. And, and I do know a Coast Guard ship was in there for a while, too. They would stop off there temporarily. And ah, then they would move on. But it was an established base, naval base, as well as an air base. See, ah, we had taken that back, I guess, sometime, I don’t know, in 1943 or so or ’44 . But anyway, ah, so we replenished the needs of the submarines and then they would leave again.
BELT: What was the island like? I mean, where would everybody go?
HIDDINGA: It was a long, it was a long sort of horseshoe-shaped island, see, and we were kind of inside the horseshoe. Okay? And --
BELT: Natives on the island? Natives?
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah. There were some natives. Yeah. And, and we ah, we had a place set aside for men to go over, on the beach. And of course, they had to take boats, you know. And it was quite a run, but they would get over on the beach and they could swim, and they could have more like the submarine men now. We saw to it that they had lots of steaks and all the good food, and they would have a big picnic over there soon after a ninety-day strike or a run, or whatever, whatever it was. And they would be over there on the beach and they’d have a party.
BELT: I heard that submariners were taken care of very well.
HIDDINGA: Very well. They had better food.
BELT: They had good food. Right, I’ve heard that.
HIDDINGA: Yeah. They had better food, than us. And some, some of our crewmen [Hiddinga chuckles] would grump about it, but hey, they deserved it.
BELT: Well, if they would have steaks and stuff, wouldn’t you on your ship have steaks?
HIDDINGA: No, we’d have liver or mutton.
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah. Yeah. But it was good food. It wasn't bad.
BELT: It doesn’t sound good to me.
HIDDINGA: Yeah. [Belt laughs]. It wasn't bad, really. But anyhow, so we were at the Marshall Islands about four months. And I don’t know if you want me to into the details. I’ve got the names of the pilots that I flew with and --
BELT: Say a couple of the names.
HIDDINGA: And the flights they made. Ah, let’s see --
BELT: You're in the Marshall Islands doing the same thing, you mean? The same ship, doing the same thing in the Marshall Islands? Tending submarines?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. That’s right. That’s the only ship I was assigned to. And so I stayed, we were happy to stay with the ship and take care of the guys. Ah --
BELT: What was the Marshall Islands like? Is that different than --?
HIDDINGA: Well, they were long and strung out and of course, we only saw the Majuro Atoll ones. There were some more, too, but ah, and the thing of it is, a lot of times our men liked --
BELT: So the Majuro Atoll is part of the Marshall Islands? I didn't realize that. Okay.
BELT: I see. All right, I didn’t understand that.
HIDDINGA: And what happened was we bypassed some of the Japanese on some of these islands, and then what we had to do, was to keep them from getting re-supplied with, you know, from a submarine or a ship or a airplane.
BELT: How would you do that?
HIDDINGA: So our guys would pock-mark the runway of the island where the Japs [Japanese] were and then --
BELT: With machine, with guns?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. And then, if we saw a ship coming in to re-supply them with food, we’d try to sink the ship, see, with the submarine or with one, one of our airplanes.
BELT: Would you, did that happen, that you had to do, do that?
HIDDINGA: I didn’t do any of that, no.
HIDDINGA: I just flew out on surveillance , but ah, what we had to do, see, was to make prisoners of the Japanese on those islands. And it worked very well. Worked very well, because finally they were beat into submission, you know.
BELT: No food? No supplies?
HIDDINGA: No food, no water.
BELT: They’d give up.
BELT: Mille, Mille?
HIDDINGA: Yeah, M-I-L-L-E. We patrolled Mille Island one day, ah, with Captain ah, let’s see, Hastings, with the U.S. Marine Corps. And he was a very nice fellow, in fact, all these fellows were nice. And what happened was, my navigator knew I liked, Commander Lacey knew I liked flying. And so he gave me the privilege, and I mean a privilege of riding the mail boat over to Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands early in the morning so that I could go to the gunner’s shack and ask one of the gunners if they would like a day off. And they’d say, “Sure.” And they’d give me their parachute, and they would tell me to meet Captain Hastings by his Douglas Dauntless at say, 7 o’clock or whatever it was.
BELT: This is an airplane?
HIDDINGA: Yeah, and tell him, tell him that I was going to fly with him.
HIDDINGA: And so I would go there, and I’d salute him, the officer, the pilot. He would say, “Oh, you’re going to take gunner so-and-so’s place.“ “Yes, sir, if you don’t mind.” He says, then he would ask me, “Do you know how to operate these 30 caliber twin machine guns?” You know, which I did, to a great extent.
BELT: How did you know that?
HIDDINGA: Oh, we took some gunnery lessons, by the way.
HIDDINGA: With 20 millimeters, especially. But the 30 calibers, twins, were okay, too. You just, you've got to charge them, and then you’re all set to go, see? And so then we would go flying and this one, one pilot took me over Mille Island in other to keep the Japanese who were captives there, so to speak, from getting re-supplied, see, with food and like that. And then another time, I went with a pilot --
BELT: Wait a minute. Now let’s stop right there. You’re going with this guy and how long, how long are you in the air?
HIDDINGA: Oh, they’d take about four or five hours.
BELT: Four or five hours. You’d take off and you’d fly in the Islands.
HIDDINGA: Yeah, yeah.
BELT: Anything that approaches the island, you're going to shot at?
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah. Yeah. And, well, ah, this is what amazed me, Barbara, about the South Pacific. It was absolutely amazing to me. We would fly over the water; it was just as clear as a bell. And you could see shallow ground just below the surface of the water in places, and it was unbelievable.
BELT: So crystal clear?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. You could look down and you would see maybe, the makings of an island for, in the future. Right near the surface of the water, and then in other places, it was so deep you couldn’t see bottom, say. But it was amazing to me how clear it was. And it was calm. If I really had to record the condition of the ocean while we were out in it, and we would call them swells, and we would grade them by ten, nine, eight, five, you know, seven, six, five and so on like that, see. And the South Pacific was so ah, so placid, so to speak, and it was really nice. But anyway --
BELT: Coming from the farm, and seeing this, it must have been --
HIDDINGA: It was quite an experience. It was a real experience. In fact, I, I flew for about seven hours in a Dauntless, no, in a Catalina airboat, and we flew for a long time, too, again.
BELT: An airboat would, it lands in the water and --?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. And all we were doing; we were looking for ships, submarines, and like that would try to come into these islands, see, that were bypassed. I took a friend with me, by the way, whose name was Charlie Sisk [sp?], and he lived in Indianapolis. And ah, we rode the mail boat early in the morning and they said, “Well , a Catalina is going to go off for about seven hours, if you want to--”
BELT: A water boat?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. The flying boat, and if you want to ride in that, that will be fine. So we said, “Yeah, we’ll take it.”
BELT: So how many people are on this airplane?
HIDDINGA: Well, it had a starboard gunner, which was what I was, and it had a port gunner, my friend was doing that. Then it had a pilot, copilot, navigator, radioman, so there were several of us on board that was --
BELT: You were strictly in charge of shooting those guns.
HIDDINGA: [Hiddinga chuckles] Yeah. If we had to, we would have.
BELT: If you had to.
BELT: And did you have to?
HIDDINGA: They were 50 caliber. Yeah. In fact, they were heavier than the Dauntless. The Dauntless had 30 caliber.
BELT: Did you have to cut, do that at one point of your flights? Did it ever happen?
HIDDINGA: No. I wish it had, but it never did.
BELT: Never did happen.
HIDDINGA: No. Never did.
BELT: But you would go and you would just fly around?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. And, the interesting thing is when we came back to Majuro Atoll, the air base, we looked down and we saw our mail boat, our means of transportation back to our ship, going back to the ship. And here we're still in the air circling, and ready to land. And this is interesting. And so my friend, Sisk, Charlie Sisk [sp?], who was a radar man, by the way on board the Gilmore, he said, “What are we going to do?” “We missed our boat.” I said, “Well, we’ll work it out. Don’t worry about it.” So --
BELT: Is that cause you’re, you’re flying around longer than you were supposed to or what?
HIDDINGA: I suppose. Yeah.
BELT: Probably out longer?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. We were out a little longer than, the mail boat, of course, wouldn’t wait for us. You know what I mean.
HIDDINGA: So they just headed back to the ship, and we’re still in the air. We’re coming around for a landing, but it just so happened, that ah, a singing actress came to Majuro Atoll, and I’m not sure who she was. Anyhow, ah, you know, there was a show for the men, and we were, we went to the show. And then after the show, we saw a Coast Guard boat by the beach there, getting its crew back. You know, just a couple, three or four guys, and so I went over to the young officers, saluted, “Sir,” I said, “we’re from the Howard W. Gilmore, about five miles out. Are you by any chance going to go past or near there?” “Oh, yeah.” he says. “You want a ride back?”
BELT: Well, how far was the ship away from the land? Was it close?
HIDDINGA: About, about five miles.
BELT: Five miles.
HIDDINGA: Yeah. Water, see.
BELT: Oh, my.
HIDDINGA: So he says, “Sure, we’ll bring you back.” So anyhow, we got in his boat and now we were tootling along, you know, cruising way out, coming near our ship and the Officer of the Deck always would shout, “Boat ahoy,” see. I mean, after all , this is war time.
HIDDINGA: And you don’t know who’s going to try to sneak in and sink the ship, see. So he shouted, “Boat ahoy,” and the young Coast Guard officer, he said, “What should I tell him?” Well, see, quartermasters knew all the boat calls. So I said, “Since you’re a commissioned officer,” I tell him, “The United States Coast Guard.” So, he shouted back, “United States Coast Guard.” And then our Officer of the Deck on our ship shouted back, “What’s your business?” And he said, “I have two of your crewmen.” And ah, then the Officer of the Deck said, “Are they officers or crewmen, crewmen? Well, take them to the after gang,” see. So we went to the after gang and got off the boat. And --
BELT: So if you'd been an officer, you would have gone to a different part of the -- [Belt laughs]
HIDDINGA: That’s right. But anyhow, later, Commander Scott, Lieutenant Commander Scott, I stood watch with him, and he said, “Hiddinga, we had a funny thing happen the other night. Two guys were AWOL [absent without leave], and the Coast Guard boat brought them in. Do you know who they were?” [Hiddinga chuckles].
BELT: So, they were saying you were AWOL? Was he kidding?
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah. If you missed roll call. Yeah.
BELT: So, you were listed as AWOL?
HIDDINGA: No, not really.
BELT: Oh, oh.
HIDDINGA: We got back in time. We made it.
BELT: Oh, you got back in time. So, he was kidding you?
HIDDINGA: Before lights out, see.
BELT: He was kidding you. He was kidding you.
HIDDINGA: Yeah, so we were okay. But I joked with him about that. I said, ”I have no idea who that would have been.” [Belt chuckles]. He looked at me, and he says, “Yeah?”
BELT: How many times did you go on these flights?
HIDDINGA: Ah, five times.
BELT: Five times. Yeah.
HIDDINGA: One time we went out in a Dauntless dive bomber, which had three depth charges, by the way, underneath it, but we went way out for about seven hours on it, in fog. The fog was real low. And I thought, “Oh, man, we’ll never find that island out here in the South Pacific,” you know. And ah, I said, “Lord, I don’t know about this.” And the pilot was letting me do a little flying, and he was working hard on his navigation. And you know, he said, “I’ll take over.”
BELT: Is there just the two of you on that, at that time?
HIDDINGA: Yeah, just two in the Dauntless.
HIDDINGA: And that’s all it could hold. Just two of us. And anyhow, he said, “Well, I’ll take over now.” And he took over the controls, and to my amazement, he hit the airstrip perfectly, in all that fog. Yeah. Right. So, anyhow, I enjoyed very much --
BELT: You were going to mention the pilots' names. Why don’t you do that?
HIDDINGA: Okay. I flew with Lieutenant Roseberg [sp?], 11/16/44, in a Catalina. That was the Catalina. Then on 11/27/1944, I flew in a B-26, but I didn’t get the young pilot’s name, but that was a thrill. Then on 12/24/1944, I flew in a sub screen, in a Dauntless, with Lieutenant Bailey, and then in 1/5/1945, this is the one I was just talking about, the Dauntless patrol island watch with Captain Hastings, and then also a patrol over Mille Island, and I flew with Lieutenant Bernard. Now, I have --
BELT: What a wonderful thing for you to be able to do this.
BELT: What a wonderful thing.
HIDDINGA: Oh, I enjoyed it! I enjoyed it.
BELT: How many Navy guys get to go up in a plane?
HIDDINGA: Not many at all, because -- Now if you were home, you could bum rides, like maybe from even Pearl Harbor to --
BELT: But you didn’t bum a ride?
HIDDINGA: No, no.
BELT: You, you had a job.
BELT: You had a job.
HIDDINGA: Yeah. And I enjoyed it. And when I had to do --
HIDDINGA: Yeah. Yeah, Commander Lacey. In fact, like I mentioned before, I was a Christian , and when I would write letters home, I was always writing optimistic letters and everything was fine. And some of the officers would, I’d stand watch with, you see, and some of the officers would say, “Hiddinga, that’s a nice letter you sent your Mother.”
BELT: They were censoring your letters?
HIDDINGA: Now I say this humbly, but they were good judges of character.
BELT: [Belt laughs] But they were also censoring. [laughter from both].
HIDDINGA: You see, that’s it. They were censoring the letters, see. And so they had to read them all the time.
BELT: And they said they were nice letters.
HIDDINGA: But some of the fellows were really nice about that and then they’d would compliment me on the letters. And some of the officers, like Officer Towner, of course, this is getting ahead of myself, but one time, he was going to take a group of fellows over on the beach, to Subic City. This is while we were stationed at Subic Bay.
BELT: Now where that?
HIDDINGA: And he --
BELT: This is after you leave the Marshall Islands?
BELT: Okay., so you are ahead of yourself. Okay.
HIDDINGA: And he asked me if I would help him there. Now here’s what happened. After we left the Marshall Islands,we --
BELT: Your ship gets orders. It’s time to move on, then?
BELT: Got restocked?
HIDDINGA: Stayed there for, to restock and everything else, refuel, replenish our needs and then we went to Brisbane, Australia. And that was a nice experience.
BELT: When did you know you’re were going to Australia? Did they tell you?
HIDDINGA: No, no. You really don’t know.
BELT: Okay. That’s right.
HIDDINGA: Once in a while, there would be scuttlebutt [rumor or gossip].
BELT: Uh-huh. Yeah.
HIDDINGA: And you'd have an idea.
BELT: So they’d tell you report back to the ship, you don’t know where you’re going?
HIDDINGA: No. And you, you just go. And you couldn’t write in any of your letters either where you were or any of that stuff, see. They had to be very, very careful. And, so we, we wound up down by Brisbane, Australia.
BELT: Why do you think they sent you to Australia?
HIDDINGA: Because I think we were going to get a load of mutton for the ship’s food. And also, to bring stuff there. In other words, our ship was so big, we could haul cargo to and from.
HIDDINGA: See? And anyhow, going up the Brisbane River, I was privileged as a quartermaster again, to stand out on that little platform, and take what they call soundings. Now, they were depth soundings. You had to throw out a line quite a ways out ahead with a big lead weight on it.
BELT: And you’re looking for submarines, I take it?
HIDDINGA: Right to the ground.
BELT: Looking for submarines, I take it?
BELT: Yes. Okay.
HIDDINGA: And so you had to keep check on the depth of the river, see? And, and I enjoyed that. And then --
BELT: You could enjoy that?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. And then after we got down --
BELT: How many hours would you do that, I mean?
HIDDINGA: Well, we were on the river with a river pilot, too, by the way. Ah, we were on the river maybe an hour or so to get up to Brisbane, see? And then we tied up, and immediately, I’ll never forget that, the Australians brought fresh milk to the ship. It was the first fresh milk we had a long time, see. And we enjoyed that. And then myself --
BELT: It’s funny that you remember that?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. Being a diary farmer. [both chuckle].
BELT: Ah, there you go. [Belt chuckles]
HIDDINGA: But, but then myself and our bugler, his name was Obie, O’Brien. He was a nice guy. He and I went on liberty. And we went, and --
BELT: At Brisbane?
HIDDINGA: Back then, you could get a meal I think for something like a dollar, with everything. Now, you know, in Australia. Oh, yeah.
BELT: So you get liberty from the ship and you go in to eat dinner and to restaurants.
HIDDINGA: Yeah. [chuckle from Hiddinga]. And then, we stayed at a hotel that night, just the two of us, and the mosquitoes kept us awake all night. The screens were not very good on the hotel. The mosquitoes came --
HIDDINGA: Overnight, if you had liberty.
HIDDINGA: And what they did was, see, they had had port and starboard liberty. And ah, for instance, I usually was starboard, the right. And ah, yeah, you could stay overnight. You could go out and eat and go to a theatre if you wanted to, or whatever.
BELT: Did you like, like Brisbane, I mean, going from the islands? Now you’re in Brisbane. What did you think of that?
HIDDINGA: It was a very nice town. Very nice town, and the people were friendly, congenial. And, then so O’Brien and I, our ship’s bugler, we ah, went back to the ship that way. We’re only there maybe a couple of days. In fact, --
BELT: Is that all?
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah.
BELT: But you got liberty right away, didn’t you?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. Well, see, I think two nights. Like starboard goes one night and then port the next night. Then, see, I think we took off the third day, in other words. And --
BELT: And the ship’s all loaded and ready to go?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. See, they load all night long, see.
HIDDINGA: Our ship had big cranes on it, you know, to take heavy stuff on board, and, and then after three days, we headed up the coast and we stopped at Humbolt [sp?] for a while and ah, and brought some supplies there. Whatever they were, I don’t know. And then, from there, we went over what, as I recall , we went over the Coral Sea, where the [USS] Lexington [aircraft carrier, sank May 8, 1942 during Battle of the Coral Sea], I think, went down.
BELT: We’ll stop there for a minute.
END OF RECORDING FOR TAPE 1, SIDE 1
SEVERAL MINUTES BEFORE CONVERSATION BEGINS ON SIDE 2
HIDDINGA: And so we went over the Coral Sea where the Lexington went down, and there was a momentary --
BELT: Tell me about the Lexington?
HIDDINGA: period of silence. It was an aircraft carrier, and it took a beating. And it was badly damaged, and the Japs just wouldn’t, the enemy, just wouldn’t give up, you know. They kept hammering the thing, and hammering it, and it finally went down.
BELT: So when you saw the Lexington, you could actually see something after --?
HIDDINGA: No, no.
BELT: Oh, I see. Okay.
HIDDINGA: Too deep. It was just the approximate area, see? Navigationally, and ah, so there was a moment of silence as we went over the approximate area. And then, we finally arrived in Subic Bay, in the Philippines. And the same thing, as in the Marshalls, we tied up, oh --
BELT: In a cove, again?
HIDDINGA: In a cove, right. It’s a good way to put it. And, we anchored there and immediately we started getting submarines along side again. See, they were in need of --
BELT: Help, huh?
HIDDINGA: fuel, and things like that.
BELT: And mutton? [Belt laughs]
HIDDINGA: Yeah, steaks. [Beltlaughs]. And ah, while we were in the Philippines -- Now we were in the Marshalls about four months, in the Philippines about five months.
BELT: Oh, I thought -- You stayed there? You just waited for the submarines to come up and --?
HIDDINGA: Exactly. We just stayed there. That was their home base, so to speak. And they could come to us, now. And we could take care of them, whatever they needed. We were about 50 miles from Manila. And we were probably a couple of miles or so from Subic City, which was the little native town. Real small, primitive native town. And, anyway, we spent a good deal of time there. But here’s an amazing thing that happened to me there. One day, the signalman looked me up, and said, “Hey, Henry, you got a message from a ship coming in Subic Bay.” I says, “Come on, what are you talking about? Only captains get messages.” And they said, “No, we’re serious. Some guy named George Wack [sp?] wants to come and see you.” Well, he was my old buddy from High Bridge, New Jersey. That’s where I originated, New Jersey, see? So, I told them and “He’s waiting to hear from you.” “Well, tell him to come on over.” So, anyway, sure enough, about an hour later, here comes a small boat along side of our big ship, you know, fairly big ship, and there’s my friend, George Wack [sp?]. And so we’re on board the ship there, talking on our ship --
BELT: He knew you were there because you were corresponding with each other?
HIDDINGA: No. We were, no --
BELT: How did he know you were there?
HIDDINGA: I don’t know. Well, he knew I was on the Gilmore. And see, his ship was, I think, an LST [landing ship, tank]. Not a very big one.
BELT: So he was in the Navy also.
HIDDINGA: And he, they’re a little more informal with the small ships, and, and the captain, you know, was a good friend of my friend, and George knew, somehow or another, that the Gilmore was in Subic Bay. And so he asked the captain, “Hey, can I send a message to the Gilmore and ask if I can go over there and can I have a small boat to go over there to see him, my friend?” [Hiddinga chuckles]. And sure enough --
BELT: Pretty nice privilege?
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah. So anyhow, we had a great time over there visiting, but I was always amazed that I actually got a blinking light message.
BELT: Well, did you see him again after that?
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah. In fact, I saw him about a year and a half, no, two years ago in March. Ah, I flew back to New Jersey and had a nice visit with him.
BELT: Again, huh?
HIDDINGA: And the funny part of it is, I visited, I bumped into him at Stapleton Airport [in operation in Denver, Colorado from 1925 to 1995], about maybe about 10 years ago.
BELT: Just ran into him?
HIDDINGA: Yeah, I was bringing my, my sister and her daughter back to the airport at Stapleton, and we’re sitting there, and here my friend, George, is sitting with his wife, waiting to fly back to New Jersey, where my, on the same flight as my sister and her daughter.
BELT: That’s amazing.
HIDDINGA: Isn’t that amazing! So, I saw George at Subic Bay in 1945, and now I see him probably about 1985 or so, or ’83 .
BELT: When he came, came on your ship, how long did he stay? A couple of hours?
BELT: A couple of hours.
HIDDINGA: Yeah. He stayed a couple of hours.
BELT: And he got back on his little boat and went back over?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. And then he went back to his ship. Yeah.
BELT: My goodness.
HIDDINGA: Wasn’t that something?
HIDDINGA : And, while we were there in Subic Bay, one night we got a general alarm. Everybody was called to general quarters, because there were 38 Japanese “Bettys” [Mitsubishi G4M, twin engine medium type bomber] supposedly coming over to --
BELT: Bettys, meaning airplanes?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. Japanese bombers.
BELT: Bombers. Okay.
HIDDINGA: And they’re going to fly over and of course, there’s quite a few of us ships in Subic Bay, and they would have had a turkey shoot, see?
HIDDINGA: And they were on the way over toward us, as far as we know. But the P-38 pilots and the Corsair pilots, Navy pilots, intercepted them and shot them all down. Yeah. So, after we were in general quarters for about --
BELT: Where, the plane that shot them down, where would it have been based?
HIDDINGA: Oh, they were based somewheres near, not too far away.
BELT: So, they made out the call and they just sent re-enforcements?
BELT: They had to protect you guys.
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah.
BELT: Yeah. So you were, you’re taking care of --
BELT: submarines. They’ve got a lot at stake.
BELT: The submarines could be --
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah. They could of sunk our ship and the submarines and everything.
BELT: Yeah. So, the people were watching your ships.
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And ah --
BELT: So, how did you hear that they were coming? You heard that they were coming and then you heard that they were shot down.
HIDDINGA: We got a, we got a message, radio message.
BELT: And they told you what happened?
HIDDINGA: So, we went to general quarters. We had all our guns ready, and cocked and all ready to shoot. And all of our ships, I don’t know how many were in there. Maybe a dozen or so, I’m not sure how many. There might have been more. Anyhow, we went --
BELT: It would have been horrible.
HIDDINGA: We were ready. Oh, yeah. They’d have had a turkey shoot, if they had dropped bombs on us. But, the P-38s, of course, and the Corsairs were a lot faster than the Bettys, Japanese Bettys, bombers. And they intercepted them and shot them down before they got even near us. That was a good deal.
HIDDINGA: [Hiddinga chuckles] We were glad for the flyboys.
BELT: Yeah. Were you, so everybody was assigned, went to their posts to, I mean --?
HIDDINGA: Well, my post was usually the after engine steering room, in case our ship got hit and the steering went out, up above. I could still steer it in the after engine steering room because I would have to listen, of course; I couldn’t see a thing. I would have to listen to the commands given. And, and the way that the helm --
BELT: You weren’t assigned to gunning, gunners at this point?
HIDDINGA: No, no. No.
BELT: Only on the airplane?
HIDDINGA: No. Ah --
BELT: On the airplane, you were a gunner, but you didn’t have anything to do with the guns, with the guns, on, on the ship?
HIDDINGA: Nothing to do with the guns on the ship. The gunners mates maintained the guns and they knew all about the guns, and they knew how to load them, like the five inch cannons, ah, they would have powder bags, and of course, the big slug, itself. And, you know….
BELT: How do you think they knew that the, the Japanese were coming in? I mean, how did they --
HIDDINGA: Well, they evidently got it on radar somewheres.
BELT: Ahh. So you don’t know where that came from either, probably.
HIDDINGA: No, we don’t know exactly how that -- Because the Philippines have quite a few mountainous areas, and we were in this Subic Bay, and there was a huge mountain, you know.
BELT: Yeah. Probably the submarines were taking care of you.
BELT: They might have.
HIDDINGA: Yeah. Well, we would have been a choice target, you know, if they could have. Because our submarines were really doing a good job, sinking their ships, and ah, anyhow, we were grateful for the flyboys to, to do their job. And, and ah, they ah, after they succeeded, you know, in stopping the bombers from coming in, they kind of, the next day did some aerobatics over us, you know. [laughter from Hiddinga]. I would loved to have done that, but -- [laughter from Belt]. I look back now, I probably would have gotten sick. That’s for sure.
HIDDINGA: Yeah, I did. I got sick once more on the way back to Pearl Harbor. And, ah, I had a tough time. And my first class petty officer, he was a nice guy. He came to me. He says, “Hiddinga, you’re faking it. I don’t think you’re sick.” And ah, “I’m going to give you an order.” I says, “Rodriquez, if you give me an order, you’re going over the side.” [laughter from both] He took off.
BELT: He could tell you weren't feeling good then?
HIDDINGA: But ah, he was a good guy. In fact, ah, I brought up the Grand Central Station when I got a packet. I’ll tell you about that now. After we left Subic Bay, I don’t --
BELT: So you were there you said five months?
BELT: Five months.
HIDDINGA: Five months.
BELT: And you’re leaving?
HIDDINGA: And after we left Subic Bay, I don’t know what direction we were heading in. All I know is, we came out of Subic Bay, and we were headed somewheres. And we kind of thought; the scuttlebutt was we were getting closer to Japan. But anyhow, I, I, see, we worked kind of with the radiomen, too, up on the bridge. See, being a quartermaster. And anyway, we’re on the way and we’re not sure where we’re going, no idea. But the radioman said, “We just dropped a bomb on Hiroshima.”
BELT: That’s where you heard it?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. And ah, ah --
BELT: The radioman told you, not the officers?
HIDDINGA: Well, the officers heard it, too.
HIDDINGA: I’m sure they heard it, too, first. Anyhow, then they told us that. And soon after that, we made a, practically a U-turn it seemed to me. And we headed for Pearl Harbor. And then, a day or so later, you know, they dropped one on Nagasaki. But we were ready for a slaughtering, there’s no doubt. Working our way towards Japan, see?
HIDDINGA: And, and now these two bombs, ah, took care of the problem very nicely.
BELT: What, what was your feelings when you heard that a nuclear bomb had --
HIDDINGA: Elation! Elation.
BELT: On the ship was elation?
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And ah --
BELT: No qualms about it?
HIDDINGA: No. No qualms at all. I mean, after all, ah, you know that’s where a lot of people misinterpret scripture, holy scripture about the Bible. Ah, you see, God puts a premium on the soul, not the body. The body is the problem, see? And so consequently, ah, ah, the Christian that really believes in the Bible has a different perspective, see? Like God in the Old Testament, you know, he told the Israelis “Wipe Jordan out; I’ll help you.” See?
BELT: So, what do people think about -- Yeah, but a nuclear bomb. What, I mean, did you realize what this meant? Do you think really, at that point, realized what this meant?
HIDDINGA: No, we weren’t fully aware. All we knew was a huge bomb had --
HIDDINGA: had been dropped, see. We didn’t know all the details.
BELT: Uh-huh. So, all of a sudden, you are turning around and going back to Pearl Harbor? And before you hit Pearl Harbor, the second bomb dropped?
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah. Before. Oh, yeah. We had, we were still not far from the Philippines when the second one went off.
BELT: So you were going back, you are not tendering any of the submarines at all? You’re going straight back to Pearl Harbor?
HIDDINGA: Seventeen submarines joined us on the way to Peal Harbor. Yeah.
HIDDINGA: Yeah, and if, ah --
BELT: Now that’s interesting, isn't it?
HIDDINGA: We were accompanied by a destroyer. And we were in such a hurry to get back to Pearl Harbor, the destroyer radioed us and said, “Slow down; we’re running low on fuel.” [noise as if microphone was moved].
BELT: Is that right?
HIDDINGA: And by the way, that’s why I felt called to the ministry, because ah, I had some fellows come to see me instead of the chaplain. The chaplain was a good guy, but they felt freer with me because I was not an officer, see? And so they would come and look me up. And ah, if they got a “Dear John” letter, or if they were homesick, or lonely, I would talk to them and counsel them. And then --
BELT: This was the beginning of your ministry, then?
HIDDINGA: Yeah, and then myself and a fellow named Christopherson [sp?] from Minnesota, we started a Bible study on board the ship, and we had about 50 guys coming to it. And we were --
BELT: So your faith was really important to you at this time in your life?
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah. Very, very much so. In fact, when I was on the train headed for California, I was reading my Bible. And I had guys who wanted to go with me on liberty, because they knew they wouldn’t get in any trouble. And we would have more fun. One time five guys went with me on liberty in, in, ah, Mare Island, while we were in Mare Island, but Vallejo [California] or Valley Jo, was right across the river, the Mare river from us. And they guys, you know, would go up and not do a very nice thing. They would drink a lot, you know. Go up the street and then come back down. Well, these guys one night, I had about four guys with me and they said, “We want to go with you on liberty.” I said, “Well, that’s okay.” And so, ah, I said, “You know, I’m not going to drink that slop.” “Oh, no, we don’t worry about that.”
BELT: So, you didn’t drink at all?
HIDDINGA: And yeah. And so anyhow, ah, we, ah, rented a cab, and we took a cab to Sacramento, and we ate there and we sight, we did a lot of sightseeing, see? And then we came back, and they said, “Now listen, we did everything you wanted to do. Now, we want to go in and have one beer.“ I said, “Well, go ahead, if you want to. I’ll wait for you out here.” “Nah, you’re going in with us.” So they put a, they dragged me in, not really, but I walked in with them. But anyhow, we got into the bar, and it was jammed packed, and ah --
BELT: Military people?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. And a scantily-clad woman comes over to me, you know, and says, “What do you want, sailor?” I said, “I want a glass of milk.” [laughter from Hiddinga]. I had more fun. And the guys almost flipped. And I said, “Oh, give me a Coke.” And she says, “You dummy, we don’t have that here.” I said, “I know. Just give me a --”
BELT: Did they have Coke or milk?
HIDDINGA: Coke. They had Coke. Yeah. [laughter from Belt] But I want to know. I had a lot of fun. But that’s why I felt called to the ministry, see? I helped a lot of guys. In fact, one good friend came to me, and I had talked to him about the Bible, about the Lord. And ah, ah, he came to me early one morning, no, he came to me one day and he was saying, “Early tomorrow morning, I’m leaving on my submarine.” And we had a good time. We talked, you know, and joshed a little bit, and then he left early in the morning. See, they would leave at night away from our ship, you know, just kinda sneak off. And anyway, we got word about two days later that his submarine went down. And I think, I’m almost positive it was the Tang.
BELT: “Went down” meant meaning what?
BELT: Okay. By the Japanese or --?
HIDDINGA: No. That’s the irony of the whole thing. The submarine, Tang was sunk by one of its own torpedoes. People don’t realize is that the torpedoes back then were made to circle if they missed their target, they were made to circle back because they didn’t want those things out there drifting in the ocean. Blowing up their own ships.
BELT: That makes sense.
HIDDINGA: So, the submarine, the, the torpedo circled around and came back and it hit the stern of the Tang and sunk it, and it went down vertically. And that’s the word we got from the radioman, who said, “Did you know that the Tang went down while --
BELT: The Tang?
HIDDINGA: T-A-N-G. And it went down vertically. The stern was blown off. See, when that torpedo, see, circled around, it hit the stern of the submarine and sank it. So my friend went down with that.
BELT : Wow.
HIDDINGA: Yeah. That’s a pretty, notorious story, the Tang, the experience of the Tang. It’s too bad it ever happened. But anyhow, now, we leave Subic Bay and we stop at Pearl Harbor for just a short period of time. Then we go to San Diego and stop for a short period of time. Then we go down the coast --
BELT: So you’re still getting supplies and re-stocking?
HIDDINGA: No, no. Well, whatever we need.
BELT: Okay. Oh.
HIDDINGA: As a ship, for our own crew.
HIDDINGA: See, the submarines are all in Pearl Harbor now. They followed us in.
BELT: Into Pearl Harbor, and you lost the convoy. You lost the submarines.
HIDDINGA: Now, we’re on our own. Because we have an objective. And the objective, I might as well tell you now, ah, was to be in the Hudson River for Navy da. Ah, October, let’s see, I’ve got it written here, October the 17th, 1945, when President Truman was going to go by, and observe all the Navy ships in that area. And our ship was to be one of them, see? So --
BELT: They told you what you’re going to do?
HIDDINGA: No, they didn’t tell us. We still didn’t know. But anyway, we get to the Panama Canal and then we stopped in Panama City for a short time and that’s where I bought a Gruen watch, ah, I remember. And then we got back on board ship, and we went up the coast and stopped at Norfolk, Virginia. And then we went, and this is amazing. We went down the Hudson River to Staten Island, and tied up about 40 miles from my home.
BELT: Oh, my gosh.
HIDDINGA: How do you like that?
BELT: Wow. Getting homesick now?
HIDDINGA: [Hiddinga chuckles]. So, well, I got all excited about that, you know. And, and I did have one embarrassing thing. A young lady that I had forgotten; she came to see me right after we tied up. And she was very attractive.
BELT: She knew that you were on that ship?
HIDDINGA: Yeah, she knew I was coming in. See, what they did back then, they had a list of ships that were coming in now.
BELT: Posting, posting it?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. Posted, see.
BELT: So did your Mom know?
HIDDINGA: I was so embarrassed. No. She didn’t know.
BELT: She didn’t know.
HIDDINGA: I was so embarrassed. I didn’t recognize her, and all the guys, “Wow, you dummy,” you know. [laughter from Hiddinga]. But anyhow, I went right home on a bus, and I got my car and I drove back. This Pontiac that you saw on the picture there. And then, now I’m being discharged, because I had my Mother as a dependent, and so I had enough points, see?
BELT: Oh. Okay. You’re on the point system. Okay.
HIDDINGA: So, I could have stayed another month with the Navy, but I don’t know why. But anyhow, I took the discharge, and we were discharged at Lido Beach in Long Island, New York. But my friend, Rudolph Rodriquez, the first class petty officer, quartermaster, he asked me, “Henry,” he said, “Would you mind bringing me to Grand Central Station.” “No,” I said. “I’ll bring you.” So I brought him to Grand Central Station.So he could go home to Albuquerque [New Mexico]. He lives in Albuquerque, see? But anyhow, so I was in the service then, only just not even, well yeah, just a little over two years. Isn’t that something?
BELT: So you’re -- All this time were you, were you getting letters? I mean from your mother?
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah.
BELT: And from your sister?
HIDDINGA: Oh yeah. Sure.
BELT: You’d get letters and --?
HIDDINGA: I didn’t write much, though.And it didn’t, I was kind of a funny guy.
BELT: So your Mom hadn’t seen for two years?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. Two years. Well, no, I was home on liberty though, let’s see, on boot leave in January of ’44 .So that would have actually be about what? Maybe six to eighteen, nineteen, twenty months say. Twenty-one months. Yeah.
HIDDINGA: The Howard W. Gilmore?.
HIDDINGA: Okay. The reason why --
BELT: It was a brand new ship. You got on the first commissioning of this ship. Okay.
HIDDINGA: Yeah. Right. It was brand new, and it was given the name of Howard W. Gilmore, because it was named after a submarine commander, who was a very valiant man. And he was on board the submarine, the Growler, near the coast of Japan. And, he was being attacked by a Japanese gun boat and he was fighting very valiantly, and he even rammed it at 17 knots. I’m assuming, in fact, I’m sure that the Japanese gun boat sank. But in the meantime, he was mortally wounded, and he is laying or staggering around or whatever on the deck of the submarine, because it's surfaced. And he told his other crew members to get down in the sub, and then --
BELT: Cause they're being attacked again?
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah. They’re being attacked again. See, while the last minute gunfire, I would say.Anyhow, he’s being shot at to beat the band, so he sent his crew, what few was up on deck, down in through the conning tower, down into the submarine, and then he shouted, “Take her down.” And so they submerged the submarine, and even though it was quite badly damaged, it still managed to survive and get to where it could be repaired. Evidently, back to Pearl Harbor. But anyway, he was washed overboard, and he was lost. But he was a brave man; he was good man; a good captain. And, or commander of a submarine. In fact, --
HIDDINGA: Our ship?
HIDDINGA: You know, it was in Charlottesville, North Carolina, I don’t know, about ten years ago.
BELT: Was it?
HIDDINGA: I was tempted to go down there and see it. I would love to see the logbook, because I wrote, you know, for about what? Twenty months? I wrote, or 18 months, I wrote in that logbook. And, the logbook gives us a good account as to what and where the ship was and etc. And all the conditions under which it operated and functioned, and where it had been, and so on. I was, I was thinking about going down to see it, but things just didn’t work out. My wife’s health isn’t of the best, and, so consequently, we didn’t get there. Now, I heard, well in this information that you have there, some of it is a duplicate, by the way. But anyhow, in that information, there is a drive on to save the Gilmore because they're thinking of scraping it.
BELT: So you don’t know whatever happened, really?
HIDDINGA: No. I don’t know whatever happened to it. I don’t know where it is; it's in mothballs somewhere. But I don’t know what happened to it. But it has a lot of fond memories for me. And then I wrote in conclusion down here, let’s see here, oh, let’s see. “I have great memories of a great experience on a great ship for a great country.” And then I was discharged December 19, 1945, and went to school and became a preacher. And I keep telling people; it wasn’t because of the Navy that I decided to go into preaching. Don’t let it reflect on the Navy. [Hiddinga chuckles]
BELT: But definitely, the Navy definitely had an impact on you.
BELT: This is aboard ship?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. And I didn’t know him really that well. But he looked me up, and so I sat down with him, and I said, “Now you want, you want the Lord to answer a prayer on behalf of you and your wife and family?” He had two children at that time. He said, “Yeah.” I said, “Well, first, you have to start at home plate and accept Christ as your Saviour.” And he said, “Well, I’m ready to do that.” And he did. He prayed a prayer after me, you know, and accepted the Lord as his Saviour. Now, I said, “We’re going pray about your problems, with your wife and family.” And we did.
BELT: Now you’re doing this ministering aboard the ship?
HIDDINGA: Aboard ship. Yeah. And, about a month later, you know, it took quite a while for letters to come back and forth, you know. They’re about a month late. About a month later, so he came up to the bridge and he is waving the letter. [chuckle from Hiddinga]. I’ll never forget it. He says, “The Lord doesn’t answer prayer.” And he says, “Hey, where are you?” I said, “Over here.” And he showed me the letter, and his wife was really remorseful that she even thought of getting involved with a soldier. We call them “dog faces,” but don’t tell. [chuckle from Hiddinga]. No, I admire the soldiers, too. But anyway, so that’s one experience I had. And, well since then, well I had other experiences, too. Fellows would come and sit down and talk to me about the Bible, you know, and what do you think of it. And I usually tried to be very factual about these things, and I used to tell them, “Well now, you know, this earth rotates every 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 32 seconds.” I says, “Now are you trying to tell me that happened by accident?” And then I tell them about the tides of the ocean, and I say, “They come in right to the minute. Twelve hours.”
BELT: Did you, when you were aboard the ship, did you know at that time that you wanted to be a minister? I mean --
HIDDINGA: No. No.
HIDDINGA: No. I enjoyed being a farmer, and working.
BELT: So on the ship, that wasn’t your feelings, I going to be a chaplain or I’m going to be a minister? You didn’t --
HIDDINGA: It was still the [ unclear]. Yeah. You know, I began to think along those lines. And yet, when I got out of the service, I thought I would like to get a General Motors franchise. Be a car dealer. And maybe, preach a little on the side. [chuckle from Hiddinga]. Yeah.
BELT: Is there anything else that you would like to add to this tape, Henry?
HIDDINGA: Well, I, I, I --
BELT: Any memories we haven’t talked about?
HIDDINGA: I appreciate very much the GI Bill. I could now go to school, and I finished my college training, and in the meantime, well, then my wife, I married my wife in Wheaton. I went to Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois. And Wheaton Academy, by the way. I finished, you know, the prep school first, because I didn’t feel capable of going to a college, because I didn’t have that much pre-schooling, and training, see? And then, I met my wife there at Wheaton and then we got married. And then she contracted tuberculosis, and I quit the ministry. I said, “Well, you know, I, I have, that’s alright with me.” I went out and got a job, you know, quit school and everything. And out of a blue sky, a fellow called me up, a preacher. “Hey, we want you to come and preach in our church.” “Hey, what are you talking about? I haven’t done much preaching.” He says, “Well, I have been praying about it and feel that you're the guy to preach in our church.” I said, “Well, you’d better pray about it some more.” [chuckle from Hiddinga]. And he called me up the next night, and he said, “More than ever,” he says. “I feel that you are the guy to come and be our pastor in our church.”So what could I do? Then, at that time, I only had two years of college. But I was ordained, and then I finished school later. You know, had further training. Grace College and Seminary, down in Winona Lake, Indiana.
BELT: Do you have children?
HIDDINGA: But I never thought I would be a preacher. But oh yeah, I, the Navy, I enjoyed the camaraderie.
BELT: Did you and your wife have children?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. Yeah, I had two children. My son has a Ph.D. and he’s a scientist, a molecular biologist, at Mayo's Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. And my daughter, she’s a schoolteacher, and she married a Presbyterian minister, and she is now in Cottonwood, Arizona. But she was out in Akron, Colorado for 14 years. But now they’re down there in Cottonwood, Arizona. Yeah.
BELT: Well, it sounds like you’ve had a nice life.
BELT: How do you spell that?
HIDDINGA: S-C-H-W-E-R-I-N. Schwerin. I’ll never forget him. He knew that I was, took a stand, you know, to be a pretty decent fellow. Honest, and so on. And with integrity. And I’m being discharged off the Gilmore at Staten Island. Well, before the fellows could leave, an officer had to check their sea bag. Rightly so, because you know, binoculars and all that stuff could be missing, you know? And so Ensign Schwerin came to me and he says, “Oh, Hiddinga,” he says, “You wouldn’t steal a flea. Sign my name on your tag.” And I’ve still got the sea bag at home with the tag on it and my writing with his name. Isn’t that something?
BELT: Oh, that’s nice.
HIDDINGA: Isn’t that something?
BELT: That’s nice.
HIDDINGA: And Commander Lacey was a great fellow, too. In fact, he and I, here I am a quartermaster at best, third class, although I took the second class test and passed it. But I never was there long enough to get it. The stripe, you know, what I mean.But anyhow, Commander Lacey and I, believe it or not, once in a while, we would stand and talk by the rail, and he would tell me about his daughter. She flew in WATS, Woman’s Air Transport Service [possibly referring to Women's Airforce Service Pilots – WASPs]. In other words, she would pick up a new airplane somewhere in the country and fly it to the East Coast in preparation to fly it over, or to the West Coast.
BELT: Oh, back then, that was really an accomplishment.
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah. That was a real accomplishment. He would tell me about that. And he recommended me a couple of times for a V-5 flight training in the Naval. But I don’t think he knew I had this missing. This finger missing. I really don’t think so. Because I always managed, you know, to --
HIDDINGA: You haven’t seen it either, to speak of. I have always managed to kind of keep it somewhat concealed, see? But oh, yeah, he was a swell fellow. And ah --
BELT: So you have kept in contact with him, some people, over the years? No.
HIDDINGA: No. I wish I had.
HIDDINGA: I wished I'd kept in contact with a number of officers. In fact, I’ve got a list of them here. I just jotted them down, oh, three o’clock this morning, I think. Ah, ah, I just jotted them down: Lieutenant Scott, Commander Lacey, Lieutenant Schwerin, Lieutenant Junior Grade Towner, Lieutenant Junior Grade Froslone, Carpenterlich [sp?]; they were all good --
BELT: Froslone: How do you spell that?
HIDDINGA: F-R-O-S-L-O-N-E. He was a swell guy.
BELT: On, these were all people who were on your ship.
HIDDINGA: Yeah. They were officers.
BELT: Officers? On your ship. Okay.
HIDDINGA: On our ship. Yeah. And they treated me like, and I treated them -- [chuckle from Hiddinga]. You mean I have to salute. No. [chuckle from Hiddinga]. But --
BELT: But to let you go on, to take the little boat across and get on those airplanes. I mean that is amazing, that he let you do that.
HIDDINGA. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, Porter, who was the mailman when I first came, he said, “You can’t ride this boat, you know. It's strictly for the mail.” You know. So that involved the mailman himself, --
BELT: You’re right; you’re right.
HIDDINGA: and a coxswain. And the coxswain drove the boat, see. And he says, “You can’t ride in this boat, Hiddinga.” I said, “Well, Commander Lacey gave me a note permitting me to.” So I showed it to him, and “Yeah, okay.”
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah. That’s another reason I think why Commander Lacey kind of liked me, because I was so honest with him. See, in preparation to board our ship for commissioning day, we thought we had an advantage. Commander Lacey, our navigator, had an office, sort of like a warehouse office, right across from the ship, and we thought, “Boy, we’re going to beat everybody out.” We’ll bring all our stuff down, the day before, see. And then, the next day, all we had to do go across the street from the ship, pick up our sea bag and go in, on board. So anyhow, like a dummy, I left my ID card, which you’ve got there by the way, don't loose it.
BELT: That’s the one.
BELT: That’s the one.
HIDDINGA: I left my ID card in my sea bag, locked in Commander Lacey’s office. Now, I have to get over on the beach to a tailor and have a seaman’s stripe put on my jumper. Otherwise I’m out of uniform. And the guy scared me, you know, he said, “You need a seaman’s stripe put on.” I said, “Well, how am I going to do that?” “Tailors over in Vallejo.” I said, “How am I going to get over there? My ID card is locked in Commander Lacey’s office in my sea bag.” And a fellow named Henke, I’ll never forget him, H-E-N-K-E, he was a southern boy, and he and I used to wrestle a little, you know, and fisticuff a little bit. And a lot of these southern boys were like that, and I was kind of like that, too. And anyhow, Henke heard my plight. He says, “Borrow mine.” See, we were --
BELT: Borrow my ID?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. He says, “You can borrow my ID card.” And we looked a little bit alike, not much, but a little bit. Blond, you know, and stuff. So, I says, “You sure?” And he says, “Yeah.” He says, “Borrow my card.” “Okay.” So here I go down through the dock to get on the boat to cross the Mare River into Vallejo. Someone called it Valley Jo, but we called it Vallejo. So, there’s all these Marines, you know, checking the sailors. So I step up to the Marine, and you know, a big fellow. And I step up to the Marine and I show him my ID card. [chuckle from Hddinga]. And it’s not really mine, see. And he --
BELT: You’re probably sweating ‘cause you’re so honest. [laughter from Belt].
HIDDINGA: [Hiddinga chuckles] And he looks at it, “Okay.” So I go over on the beach, and I go to a tailor and I get the stripe put on. Okay Now, I thought, since I’m over here, I might just as well walk the sidewalk a little bit and do a little sightseeing. I’m all by myself. So, I’m walking along, and I’ve got my sailor hat cocked back, and my cuffs rolled up. A big shore patrolman [naval military police], actually two of them, come up along side of me with their club, you know, and they tap me on the shoulder. “Hey, sailor, straighten your hat, and roll down your cuffs.” I said, “Okay.” But I’m taking my time. I’m walking again, you know, and I’m --
BELT: Why did they want you to roll down your cuffs?
HIDDINGA: Well, you’re out of uniform.
BELT: Oh, you weren’t dressed, you’re still --
HIDDINGA: I wasn’t, I was in uniform.
BELT: Oh. But not dressed.
HIDDINGA: But not proper.
BELT: Oh, okay.
HIDDINGA: See? You got to have your cuffs down and buttoned.
HIDDINGA: See, to be in uniform, see? And hat squared, see? Well, anyhow, I’m taking my time. Well, they don’t like that. And they come along again, “Hey, sailor, we told you to straighten out your hat, and roll down your cuffs.” I said, “Well, I am.” I knew I was in trouble now, because I’ve got the wrong ID card. I said, “Well, I’m doing it.” “Nah, you’re going in with us.” So, they flagged down the paddy wagon [vehicle used to transport arrested people] and I get in the paddy wagon, and I get booked in the brig [jail], in Vallejo, California. And the guy looked at me, “What are you doing here?” You know, because I never drank a drop in my life. I says, “Oh,” I said, “I did a dumb thing. I didn’t have my hat straight and my cuffs rolled down, and I got the wrong ID card.” “Oh, yeah, you are in trouble!”
BELT: So when the MPs [military police] pulled the shore, the longshoreman, they’re not called MP s, they’re called longshoremen?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. Shore Patrol.
BELT: Shore, Shore Patrol. Okay. So he asked for your ID at that point.
BELT: And he could tell that it wasn’t you?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. Oh, yeah.
BELT: Okay. So that’s why he called the paddy wagon, not because you didn’t do your cuffs right?
BELT: You had the wrong ID.
HIDDINGA: Yeah. That’s why he called the paddy wagon, too. I mean, that would compound the problem.
HIDDINGA: See? And, I told him even before I showed it to them, I said, “Oh, I’m in trouble.” He says, “What do you mean?” I said, “I’ve got the wrong ID card.” [Hiddinga chuckles]. I told him before he even saw it. Well, now I’m in the, the clink, see, in the brig, and there are two or three drunken guys in there, you know. One of them looked at me: “What the heck are you doing here?” He used stronger language. And, and ah, I says, “Ah,” I says, “I know it’s my own fault.” Well, by about one or two o’clock in the morning then, I go before the --
BELT: This is before you’re getting on your first ship, and getting on it for the first time to go on a --?
HIDDINGA: No, we were already assigned. No, you’re right. It’s before.
HIDDINGA: You’re right, because I had to get the stripe.
BELT: You had never been on a ship.
HIDDINGA: No. I hadn’t been on the ship yet.
BELT: Way to start your career, right?
BELT: [Belt laughs]. Being thrown in the brig.
HIDDINGA: So, anyhow, I get back to the barracks, and the next day, they put me down as a PAL. Prisoner at large.
BELT: Because you don’t show up for the ship. Is that why?
HIDDINGA: Well, now we’re on the ship.
BELT: Oh, you’re on the ship.
HIDDINGA: Yeah. See, the next day. So now, we’re on the ship, and they’re --
BELT: So, how did you get released?
HIDDINGA: Well, that night, they let me go back to the base.
BELT: Oh, that night they let you go. Oh, okay.
HIDDINGA: Yeah. I went back to the base.
BELT: So they didn’t keep you overnight.
HIDDINGA: And then, I’m a prisoner at large. And they passed the word, you know. “Henry Hiddinga, prisoner at large, report to the officer’s deck, the quarterdeck.” And anyway, I finally I had to go to captain's mast [form of military discipline used to administratively discipline troops]. And, Commander Lacey thought it might be a good idea if I didn’t tell the captain where my ID card was. Well, I thought about it, and I’m thinking, the captain says, “Well, what happened?” And I explained to him about the stripe, going over on the beach, not having the cuffs down, the hat squared, and like that. And then, he came to the 64 dollar question: I said, “I had the wrong ID card.” And he said, “Where was yours?” And I said, “Well, sir, the kindness of Commander Lacey, it was in my sea bag, in his office, in preparation to go on board ship the next day.” “Case dismissed.” Nothing ever came of it.
HIDDINGA: But I [chuckle from Hiddinga] had that experience.
BELT: We’re almost at the very end.
BELT: Is there anything else you’d like to add to this tape.
HIDDINGA: Well, let’s see.
BELT: That was a great story, anyway.
HIDDINGA: Well, as I say, Commander Lacey knew that here was somebody with integrity. And some of the others, too, the other officers. And well, to tell you the honest to goodness truth, I don’t know if I should tell you this. But one time, ah, you can delete if you --
BELT: Oh, boy, just so we -- I want to make sure you get it in before I cut you off, so go ahead.
HIDDINGA: Well, one time the fellows, the quartermasters, they were all good buddies by the way. And they said, “Henry, are you going to release Rodriquez at, 3:30 tomorrow morning.” Quarter of four. And I said, “Yeah, I got to release Rod.” “Well, he’s going to pull rank on you and call you about 3 o’clock.” See? “And don’t, don’t release, you know, don’t go accepting according to regulation, relieve him at a quarter of four, not 3:30.” See? Well, like a dummy, I went along with them. And Rodriquez got mad and socked me in the jaw.
BELT: He hit you?
HIDDINGA: Yeah, so I socked him back. And he fell down and hurt his head. He had seventeen stitches because he hit his head. Seven stitches. He hit his head on the faucet of the hot water tank in the head, you know, in the bathroom.
BELT: Aboard ship?
HIDDINGA: We call that the head on board ship, see? And so, I had a witness, see? Somebody hit me first, see? So then you're in the clear, see? Well, anyhow, I go down to the officer’s deck, the quarterdeck, and the Officer of the Deck said, “What happened to you?” I said, “Oh, Rodriquez and I had a little fracas.” “Are you going to write it down in your logbook?” I says, “No, I’d rather not.” “Good,” he says, “Let’s just drop it.” And then --
BELT: So that’s something could have been in the logbook forever. [chuckle from Belt].
HIDDINGA: Oh, yeah. And then Commander Lacey came to me the next day. He said, “Hiddinga, what happened to you and Rod?” I said, “Oh, we had a little disagreement.” He says, “Are you going to press charges?” I said, “No.” I said, “As far as I’m concerned, we’re still friends.” “Oh, good,” he says, “That’s just great.” But see, he could have, I could have broke him, you know, from first class to second, or so, but Rod was a good guy. Although, he had another fight with a signalman, too. He had a temper, see? Quick temper, see? But anyhow, to make a long story short, that’s what I meant when I said I got by with a couple of things in the Navy that I shouldn’t have really gotten by with. But the guys were good, you know what I mean. And they were practical, and common sense type of fellows. And, --
BELT: And it’s obvious that Lacey liked you?
HIDDINGA: Yeah. [laughter from Hiddinga]. Yeah, I think so. And I liked them, too.
BELT: Well, I want to thank you for your interview.
HIDDINGA: Well, you’re welcome. I hope I said something that might be of interest.
BELT: It was very interesting. Thank you very much.
HIDDINGA: I, like I say, I lived sort of a solitary life on the farm, and I always had friends, but I was kind of a quiet low-key type. But now, I’m with the American Legion, by the way, and tomorrow I’ve got to preach in Fort Logan. Ah, I offer my services there for the veterans that are dying. There are so many dying now. And Monday, I’ve got two funerals in Fort Logan, through the Honor Guard. Now, the Honor Guard, well, what I did, Monday, I preached a sermon, short one. I've got to keep it short. And at the cemetery, Fort Logan, no, twice I did that. And then I had to run up two funerals Monday and then, I run over to the Honor Guard, and we shoot the rifles, you know, five of us, on command.
BELT: That’s nice.
HIDDINGA: So I donate my time to the Honor Guard, and the American Legion.
INTERVIEW ENDS IN MID-CONVERSATION
END TAPE 1 SIDE 2