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The Citadel Oral History Program

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Joseph Perry Goodson, Interview by Larry A. Grant, 4 May 2010
Joseph Perry Goodson, Interview by Larry A. Grant, 4 May 2010 Joseph Goodson was born on January 23, 1930, in McBee, South Carolina, and grew up in nearby Darlington. The only son of a widowed mother, enrolled in The Citadel following a campus visit to a friend who was a member of the Corps of Cadets. After graduation (1951), he joined the US Marine Corps with three classmates and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He completed the Officers’ Basic Course at Quantico, VA, and was assigned to an anti-aircraft artillery unit, the 2nd 90mm Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion at Camp Lejune, NC, in early 1952. Goodson planned to apply for flight training, but on the recommendation of his commanding officer was assigned to command an artillery battery in Korea. He reflects on his experience in Korea during the time just after the Armistice was signed in 1953. He also discusses his Marine career during the 1950s and a tour in Vietnam in 1968 during the Tet Offensive and the defense of Khe Sahn. Goodson also offers observations on life at The Citadel during the period between WWII and the Korean War and contemplates the impact attending The Citadel had on his life and career. Goodson returned to The Citadel in 1972 and spent the next three years as Commanding Officer of the NROTC Unit. He discusses the question of hazing in some cadet organizations during this period. After his retirement from the Marines in 1975, he stayed on in various administrative positions at The Citadel until 1990. He lives in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.
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John Vafides, Interview by Larry A. Grant, August 4, 2011
John Vafides, Interview by Larry A. Grant, August 4, 2011 Vafides was born in 1921 in Hull, MA. He was a member of The Citadel class of 1943. He attended The Citadel at the beginning of World War II, leaving in 1943 to serve in the US Army as a paratrooper. He returned to complete his studies after the war ended. He was assigned to duty as part of a bazooka team in the 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Co. H, and deployed with his unit in the 17th Airborne Division to England in late 1944. The Division was alerted for Operation Market Garden but did not participate. When the German attack against Allied forces began in mid-December 1944 in the Ardennes in what is known as the Battle of the Bulge, Vafides was in England undergoing training. His entire division was ordered to France and moved by air and then by truck into Belgium near Bastogne where it joined the fighting as part of Gen. Patton's Third Army. While engaged near Flamierge, Belgium, Vafides was wounded and taken captive by the Germans and sent to a POW camp in Germany. He returned to Allied control when his camp was liberated in early 1945 and returned home. After college Vafides worked as a teacher until his retirement.
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John Burrows, Interview by Jack Bass, 10 December 2008
John Burrows, Interview by Jack Bass, 10 December 2008 John Burrows was born in Saginaw, Michigan. An excellent student and athlete he graduated high school and received a full scholarship to go The Citadel. He entered in September of 1936 as a civil engineer major, and quickly became number one in his class academically. He also excelled in football, basketball and track, making all-state for basketball three years in a row, and remains in the Citadel Athletic Hall of Fame. Upon graduation from The Citadel in 1940 he received a regular army commission and joined the 61st Coast Artillery Regiment. From there he was eventually assigned to the air defense division of the Supreme Headquarters under General Eisenhower in London, and oversaw the then top-secret plan codenamed Operation Overlord. Burrows recalls his decision to enter The Citadel and his active duty in WWII. Although never in direct combat, his time on the Supreme Headquarters staff allowed him an insider's perspective on the planning for Operation Overlord and the European Theater. He discusses the US Army's ingenuity when it came to advances in weaponry, which were occurring in front of his eyes. He also discusses in detail the German surrender at Reims and how the US Army so effectively handled the multitude of issues surrounding the details of such an event. Upon returning from his service in the army, Burrows worked for a book publishing company before returning to Charleston take a job as Assistant Commandant at The Citadel. Audio with transcript.
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John Allison, Interview by Jack Bass, 6 October 2008
John Allison, Interview by Jack Bass, 6 October 2008 Colonel John Allison was born September 19, 1921 in Albany, Georgia. He entered the Citadel in September of 1939 and left at the end of his Junior year in 1942 to enter the Army Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet. During World War II he received three Distinguished Flying Crosses as a bomber pilot. He flew 59 combat missions as a B-24 pilot and five as a B-25 pilot during almost two years in the Pacific, including the bombing of Japan. After returning to the Citadel after the war, he graduated in 1947 and then rejoined what was then the Air Force, becoming a squadron commander in Vietnam. He currently lives in Charleston and is an avid golfer. Allison reflects on his decision to attend The Citadel and his combat experiences in both WWII and Vietnam. He discusses his training as an Army Air Corps pilot and subsequent World War II military experience as a bomber pilot in the Pacific theater. He also alludes to his post-WWII career during the Cold War, including flights to gather intelligence over Russia and Cuba. Audio with transcript.
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James A. Grimsley, Interview by Jack Bass, 2 October 2008
James A. Grimsley, Interview by Jack Bass, 2 October 2008 Major General James Alexander Grimsley was born in 1921 in Florence, South Carolina. After graduating from The Citadel in 1942 he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army. He served for thirty-three years and finished his Army career as the Director of Security Assistance Plans and Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Among his thirty-five major decorations are Two Silver Star medals for gallantry in Action; four Bronze Star medals for Valor; four Legion of Merit awards; and three Purple Heart medals. In September 1975, Grimsley accepted the position of Vice President of Administration and Finance at The Citadel and five years later was named the 16th President of the military college. Upon retiring in 1989, the Board of Visitors named him President Emeritus, a position held only by Generals Charles P. Summerall and Mark W. Clark. Grimsley, reflects on his decision to attend The Citadel and his combat experiences in Vietnam. He also discusses several of his major achievements as Citadel President. On transitioning from the Army to The Citadel, Grimsley observes that “it was made easier for me coming to The Citadel because it was a military college so there was a structure here that I understood. They just wore cadet uniforms and not army uniforms.” In an April 4-6, 2000 interview, a transcript of which is at the Citadel Archives and Museum, Grimsley detailed his active duty service during WWII.
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Ida Ostendorff, Interview by Rebecca Michaud, 1 March 2011
Ida Ostendorff, Interview by Rebecca Michaud, 1 March 2011 Ida Ostendorff was born in Gilbert, South Carolina. At the start of WWII she traveled to Washington D.C. where she passed a typing course and began work as a “government girl” working in the Judge Advocate General’s office. In 1942, upon turning 21 and meeting the minimum age requirement, she jointed the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). She completed her basic training at Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia, where she was trained to use a gas mask. She volunteered for an assignment overseas and traveled to New York City to embark on the Queen Elizabeth. She landed in Scotland on June 6, 1944, having no idea at the time that it was D-Day. She was then transported to her assignment at Stone Staffordshire, England. On her way there she remembers the commotion caused by the Normandy landings: “As we were going along, people were just waving wildly to us because they knew it was D-Day, but we didn’t know it.” She remained in England until the end of the war. She met her husband after the war when they both took the same French class. They were married for 61 years and have five children, several of whom have served in the military.
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Henry Rittenberg, Interview by Jack Bass, 28 November 2008
Henry Rittenberg, Interview by Jack Bass, 28 November 2008 Henry Rittenberg was born and raised in Charleston, SC, only a few blocks away from the Citadel campus. In 1934 after winning the City of Charleston Scholarship, he had the means to attend The Citadel and entered that fall semester. After repeatedly failing to pass the physical examination for various commissioning programs, he was accepted for the OCS Limited Service but found there were no vacancies. Afterwards, he was assigned to the coast artillery near Boston as an enlisted soldier. When coast artillery troops were taken for field artillery assignments in 1943, Rittenberg volunteered and was deployed to England, later serving as a forward observer. He took part in the crossing of the Rhine and the battle of the Ruhr pocket in which thousands of Germans were taken as prisoners of war. He was present at the Elbe River on VE Day, May 8, 1945, and returned home in February 1946. After working as a pharmacist, Rittenberg went to medical school, which he completed in 1955. He worked as a general practitioner until he retired. He was named a Distinguished Alumnus and received an honorary degree from the Citadel. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the AOA Medical Honor Society, and the Hebrew Orphan Society.
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Henry Berlin, Interview by Jack Bass, 31 October 2008
Henry Berlin, Interview by Jack Bass, 31 October 2008 Henry Berlin was born August 19, 1924, in Charleston and enrolled at The Citadel in 1941. After enlistment and training, Berlin eventually served as a radar operator on an LST during the early Normandy landings. After the war he studied law at the University of South Carolina for two years and returned to work at Berlin's clothing store on the corner of King and Broad Streets in Charleston, SC. Berlin details his brief but rebellious tenure at the Citadel before going on active duty in May 1942. He describes how this rebellious streak ended his naval officer training in Columbia, SC, and how he was shipped to Maryland for boot camp. He discusses how he eventually became a radar operator on an LST ferrying troops and material across the English Channel in the days and months after D-Day. He relates harrowing trips across the channel, being targeted by German artillery during the early landings on Normandy, and the loss of troops as they disembarked from the LST in rough seas. After V-E day he describes his return to the US, his trip through the Panama Canal and his arrival at Pearl Harbor just before V-J day. He also touches upon his immediate post-war life including law school, a brief stint playing semi-pro baseball and return to his father's clothing shop in Charleston. Audio with transcript.
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Helen Rooks, Interview by Rebecca Michaud, 14 February 2011
Helen Rooks, Interview by Rebecca Michaud, 14 February 2011 Helen Rooks was born in Beaufort, South Carolina. She was the oldest of five children and her father worked as a lumberman, while her mother was a homemaker. Though she was initially interested in joining the Navy, a recruiter at the local courthouse convinced her to join the Coast Guard in 1943. Her time in the service began with a rough start when the train in which she was traveling struck a cow on the way to Miami. Upon arriving at her duty station, she worked as a yeoman with Air-Sea Rescue. At a hospital in Coral Gables, Florida, she worked in the burn unit. She recalls witnessing debris floating up onto the beach from battles with nearby German submarines. Rooks spent her off-hours enjoying the nightlife in Miami. She received a citation for being a charter member of the Women in the Military Service for America and was recognized for her service by Governor Olin Johnston. She was married to her husband Milton—a World War II veteran—for 53 years before his death in 1991.
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Gregory Crocker, Interview by Kerry Taylor, 9 December, 2008
Gregory Crocker, Interview by Kerry Taylor, 9 December, 2008 Gregory Crocker was born in Smithfield, Virginia. In this interview, Crocker talks about his family’s tradition of military service, its influence on his decision to attend The Citadel in 2004, and an unanticipated tour of duty in Afghanistan. During his first year, Crocker enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve, believing that the experience would make him a better officer. In August 2006, the Army notified Crocker that he would be ordered to Afghanistan in 2007. He chronicles his surprise at the news, his preparation, and duties during his time there. Some of his duties were routine, some unsavory. The more mundane work of patrolling and training is punctuated by a horrific cleanup following a suicide bombing at a school in Baghlan, Afghanistan. Crocker also reflects on the peculiarity of a visit home midway during his deployment when, in a 24-hour period, he went “from being in a combat zone to walking in Wal-Mart back in Virginia.” After a wearying trip, Crocker returned to the U.S. on May 13, 2008. He comments on the Army’s well-meaning if irksome effort to help soldiers readjust to life at home. “ . . . You just go to all these briefings, basically that says, don't hit your wife, don't commit suicide, don't drink and drive. But by the time you get out of them, you really just want to kill somebody. They're that monotonous. I mean, they try to do that, but you really just, all you want to do is just get home.” Asked if his return to student life at The Citadel was difficult, he says, “most people here are more receptive, just 'cause they know I was a veteran. So they really don't give me any crap.” Crocker admits that his combat experiences in Afghanistan caused him to reconsider his initial decision to attend The Citadel in search of a commission. After his experiences, he has decided to remain an enlisted soldier.
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Gladys Pinckney, Interview by Rebecca Michaud, 2 February 2011
Gladys Pinckney, Interview by Rebecca Michaud, 2 February 2011 Gladys Pinckney was born in Beaufort, South Carolina in 1915 and made the decision very early to become a nurse. She attended nursing school and was encouraged to become a Red Cross nurse. In 1941, she received a request from the War Department to serve as Second Lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps, and she reported to Fort Jackson two weeks later. She served at a number of medical facilities in France at the tail end of the war and in its aftermath. As a nurse with a specialty in anaesthesia, she took care of combat casualties and prisoners of war from all over Europe. When asked how she felt about taking care of German POW’s, she said, “Didn’t make any difference. When I took an oath, we vowed that we would take care of everybody who was committed to our care. That’s an oath we had to take.” Pinckney also served as a nurse in a MASH unit during the Korean War. She was asked to serve in Vietnam, but decided to retire due to health considerations. She is presently a resident of Columbia, South Carolina, where she volunteers at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and drives her own car.
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Gerald Meyerson, Interview by Jack Bass, 14 November 2008
Gerald Meyerson, Interview by Jack Bass, 14 November 2008 Gerald Meyerson was born in Spartanburg, SC, on December 19, 1921. After his sophomore year at The Citadel, he transferred to Duke University. While still at Duke as a first-year law school student, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and he enlisted in the Army Air Corps communications cadet program. He then returned and completed his law school exams while he waited to start the training program. As a communications officer, he later served in London and Paris. From there his unit coordinated communications with various Air Corps units in the European Theater of Operations. After the German surrender, he transferred to the Judge Advocate Generals Corps because he had attended law school. He worked there on minor cases for only a short time before returning to the United States. Meyerson reflects on his decisions both to enroll at and subsequently transfer from The Citadel. He also discusses his postwar career, initially as an attorney and subsequently as a men’s clothing merchant.
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George Orvin, Interview by Jack Bass, 9 December 2008
George Orvin, Interview by Jack Bass, 9 December 2008 Orvin was born and raised near The Citadel in Charleston, SC. He decided to go to The Citadel and entered in September 1939. In his senior year at The Citadel he began medical school at the Medical College of Charleston as part of a government program to increase the number of doctors in the Medical Corps during WWII. After graduating from medical school in May 1946 he went straight into the Army Air Corps as a flight surgeon trainee but was discharged due to a hearing impairment after a physical examination revealed scars on his ear drums. After his discharge Orvin interned in New York City before returning home to Charleston and opening a general practice in 1948, which he ran for ten years. During this time he realized he enjoyed listening to patients and helping them with their problems. He trained in psychiatry, founded two hospitals specializing in the treatment of adolescents, and joined the Medical University faculty in Charleston. Orvin discusses his time at The Citadel and his fond memories of the years he spent there. His love for his alma mater inspired him to create the Brigadier Club in 1948, which continues to raise money for Citadel Athletics.
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George K. Webb, Interview by Jack Bass, 13 November 2008
George K. Webb, Interview by Jack Bass, 13 November 2008 Webb was born November 30, 1919, and grew up in Portsmouth, OH. After high school, he attended Kentucky Military Institute to prepare for enrollment at Virginia Military Institute, but after reading an article about The Citadel in National Geographic magazine he applied for admission in 1939 and was accepted. He became battalion commander for Padgett Thomas Barracks and lettered on The Citadel rifle team. With the rest of his class, he missed final summer ROTC camp in 1942 because the camps were filled with Army recruits. After graduation in 1943, Webb was assigned to officer candidate school at Fort Benning, GA, graduating first in his class. In November 1943 he was commission and assigned to the infantry school cadre, remaining there nine months until sent to the 174th Infantry regiment at Camp Chafee, AR. Two months later he was shipped to Europe as an individual replacement officer and was assigned as a platoon leader in C Company, 48th Armored Infantry Battalion, 7th Armored Division, in charge of roughly 40 men. Immediately sent into combat, he became acting company commander six days after joining the unit, because he was the only remaining officer. After a month in combat, he received a battlefield promotion to first lieutenant and was awarded a Silver Star medal for valor and later received a Purple Heart. Webb said that a first hand account of a war scene cannot be conveyed verbally. “If you could smell it, if you could feel it, if you could taste the food, if you could hear the noises—it’s a very all-encompassing experience.” He continued, “The most horrendous smell I ever smelt was later in the Bulge when I opened the door to a house, and a German soldier had been laying there for two or three days, and the stench was such that your stomach involuntarily vomited.” After being wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, he was treated at a hospital in Paris. Six weeks later he was back in action as a platoon leader, often sleeping in a foxhole in the snow. After the war, Webb returned to Ohio and ran a lumber company for a while, but in 1951 he returned to military service, including a tour in Korea near the end of the war there and two tours in Vietnam. He also served two tours at The Citadel, as tactical officer for several years in the 1950s and as commandant of cadets for six months. After retiring from the Army in 1973, he returned to Charleston, where his wife had grown up, operated an charter fishing business for fifteen years.
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G. Edward Haynsworth, 13 October 2008
G. Edward Haynsworth, 13 October 2008 Bishop G. Edward Haynsworth explains his strong family connections to The Citadel. His father and two brothers were Citadel graduates, and he said his grandfather was credited with firing the first shot at the Star of the West in 1861. His decision to apply, he said, was “relatively simple.” He was called with his entire class of 1944 to active duty in 1943 at the end of his junior year. Within a year he had been commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and shipped to the European theater with the 84th Infantry Division. He describes his combat duty in WWII, including being wounded on November 29, 1944 during an action against the Germans near Aachen. He and his platoon came under attack while advancing, and he was shot through the arm and returned to England for medical care. After returning to The Citadel to complete his English degree, Haynsworth attended the School of Theology at the University of the South. Haynsworth asserts that his wartime experiences confirmed his desire to go to divinity school. Since then, Haynsworth, has traveled the world as a Christian missionary, helping to establish churches in Central and South America as well as in Asia.
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Ernest F. Hollings, Interview by Jack Bass, 18 September 2008
Ernest F. Hollings, Interview by Jack Bass, 18 September 2008 Ernest F. Hollings was born on January 1, 1922. A Charleston native and World War II veteran, Hollings graduated from The Citadel in 1942. He served as Governor of South Carolina (1959-1963) and represented the state in the United States Senate (1966-2005). He is credited with enhancing the state’s system of public education and expanding its industrial base through the establishment a network of technical education centers and the State Development Board. During his tenure in the Senate, he was instrumental in envisioning and developing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In this interview, Hollings credits The Citadel for preparing him for WWII and life as a politician. He recounts the state’s “embarrassing” treatment of returning African-American veterans after WWII. Hollings also asserts that the establishment of the state sales tax improved public schools. Drawing upon his life in public service, Hollings reflects on contemporary political problems, including the economy, the war in Iraq, the current state of politics, and the press. For a full account of his experiences in WWII, see Hollings’s interview with H.W. White, a transcript of which is located in The Citadel Archives.
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Elma England, Interview by Rebecca Michaud, 14 March 2011
Elma England, Interview by Rebecca Michaud, 14 March 2011 Elma England was raised in Grover, SC sixty miles from Charleston. During the war she moved to Charleston to work in the Charleston Navy Yard as a welder. At the shipyard, England worked on the USS Tidewater and she was on board during the destroyer’s ceremonial launch on 30 June 1945. As someone who had worked her whole life, she found it easy to make the adjustment to working at the shipyard. She was laid off after the war and went to work for the phone company.
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Deuward G. F. Bultman, Interview by Larry A. Grant, 14 January 2011
Deuward G. F. Bultman, Interview by Larry A. Grant, 14 January 2011 Deuward Bultman was born in 1925 in Sumter, SC. In this interview, he discusses his family roots in Germany, their business in Sumter, and longstanding connections to The Citadel. He enrolled in the fall of 1942, and enlisted a few months later before going on active duty in June of 1943. His WWII flying career consisted primarily of flight training for B-17 and B-29 aircraft. He was released from active duty in December 1945 before attending the University of North Carolina where he graduated with a degree in commerce in 1948. He was in the US Air Force reserve before returning to active service during the Korean War. Bultman also discusses the Cold War and recalls a near accident he had at Langley Airbase in Virginia. He has worked as an accountant for more than fifty years.
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Clarence Renneker, Interview by Jack Bass, 1 December 2008
Clarence Renneker, Interview by Jack Bass, 1 December 2008 Clarence A. Renneker Jr. grew up in Orangeburg, SC, and enrolled at The Citadel in 1939. His brother-in-law, a graduate from the school, influenced his decision. He majored in business and graduated from The Citadel in May of 1943. Renneker was sent to Ft. Benning, GA, where he completed OCS and was commissioned. He was then assigned for a time to the 80th Infantry division. After training in the southwest, he was shipped overseas in June 1944 as an “excess officer.” After arriving in England, he was assigned to the 118th Infantry after speaking with the regiment’s executive officer by chance in a barbershop. The Regimental executive officer was Citadel graduate Colonel Caldwell Barron, Jr. As an officer in the 118th division, Renneker helped run training schools around England, and later in France, he helped train replacement troops from other branches as riflemen by teaching them map reading skills, to shoot and care for their rifles, and other basic infantry skills before they were sent to the front lines. After the surrender was signed in Germany, Renneker helped coordinate the post-war return of soldiers to the United States. In June 1946, he returned home to his wife and eventually took over his father’s clothing store in Orangeburg. He is retired and living in Mt. Pleasant with his wife.
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Burnet R. Maybank, Jr., Interview by Jack Bass, 23 October 2008
Burnet R. Maybank, Jr., Interview by Jack Bass, 23 October 2008 Burnet Maybank entered The Citadel in September 1941 at the urging of his father, who had agreed to fund his college expenses so long as he attended The Citadel. He reflects on his decision to enter the Citadel and his tour of duty in WWII. In September 1942 Maybank joined the Army Air Corps and served as a B-17 bomber pilot flying on around thirty-seven missions in the European Theater of WWII. Maybank discusses some of his most memorable missions, including flying over the Normandy beaches a few days after D-Day in 1944, in some of the earliest bombing missions over Berlin, a mission against a “secret” facility in Denmark. He tells of a fellow Citadel cadet’s plane, Bill Daniel’s, going down in the North Sea. For his war service he was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation, the Air Medal, and the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war years he returned home to become a lawyer and later lieutenant governor of South Carolina. Maybank resides in Charleston.
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