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The Citadel Oral History Program

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21.
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Leila Kikos, Interview by Rebecca Michaud, 18 March 2011
Leila Kikos, Interview by Rebecca Michaud, 18 March 2011 Leila Kikos was born Leila Elizabeth Bailey on President St. in Charleston, SC in 1923. She graduated from Memminger High School in 1940, after which she studied drafting at The Citadel and worked at the shipyards and for the War Department as a switchboard operator on Meeting St. After the formation of the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), Kikos consulted with her father and enlisted. She attended basic training at Hunter College in New York City. She was assigned to Washington, D.C. as a drafter. It was there that she met her husband Peter, a Marine studying bomb disposal at American University. After the war, she and her husband moved to Minneapolis briefly before returning to Charleston, where they operated a bakery.
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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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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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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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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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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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Sherrill Poulnot, Interview by Jack Bass, 21 October 2008
Sherrill Poulnot, Interview by Jack Bass, 21 October 2008 Poulnot was born on August 2, 1922, and was a member of The Citadel class of 1944. While most of his classmates went into the Army after their junior year, Poulnot decided to join the Navy in the fall of 1942. After his two years at The Citadel, he knew how to march and was appointed commander of his boot camp company. After boot camp in Virginia, he was sent to Quartermaster School in Newport, RI, he served three years in the Navy including combat tours in the Pacific. Poulnot reflects on mine sweeping operations at Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Saipan, and Tinian. Afterwards assigned to a destroyer, he took part in the battles for the Philippines and Okinawa. As a quartermaster, Poulnot was in charge of steering the ship to dodge incoming Japanese kamikazes. “You knew these guys were shooting at you and you knew they were trying to light on you like mosquitoes, and the name of the game was ‘stay the hell from under them,’ which we did successfully.” After the war, Poulnot enrolled in the College of Charleston, but he decided to apprentice as a Charleston Harbor pilot instead of getting a degree. He worked as a harbor pilot for forty-two years before retiring in 1987.
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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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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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Thomas J. Thorne, Interview by Jack Bass, 18 December 2008
Thomas J. Thorne, Interview by Jack Bass, 18 December 2008 Thomas Thorne was born in Savannah, GA, on July 17, 1918. He acquired his love of the military through his father, who was a major in the Georgia National Guard. He entered The Citadel in 1935, and a year after graduating, received a commission in November 1940 as a second lieutenant in the 76th Coast Artillery, a black unit with white officers. While on active duty he served for a time as the anti-aircraft officer for 16th Corps during the Battle of the Bulge when his commanding officer was relieved. For his service in WWII, he received the Distinguished Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal. Thorne recalls his decision to attend The Citadel and his thirty-five years in the Army Reserve. He discusses some memorable events of his service in WWII, including chance meetings with General Patton and with two armed SS men alone in the woods. After retiring from the Army Reserve in 1974, Thorne remained active in the Charleston, SC, community, serving as president of the Greater Charleston Chamber of Commerce and vice chairman of the Charleston Development Board.
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Timothy S. Street, Interview by Jack Bass, 27 October 2008
Timothy S. Street, Interview by Jack Bass, 27 October 2008 Timothy Street was born on December 9, 1923, in downtown Charleston, SC. As his father had done before him, he decided to attend The Citadel, entering in September of 1940. A member of the class of 1944, Street and all his classmates were called together to active duty in May 1943, prior to graduation. Prior to attending The Citadel, Street worked in his father’s steamship agency and stevedoring business, an experience that influenced his later decision to join the Navy. After months waiting to attend officer candidate school to receive an Army commission, he learned that the Seabees were looking for people with his background. He applied for and soon received a commission as a Navy ensign. Shortly after the Japanese surrender, Street’s unit was sent to support the First Marine Division in China during the repatriation of Japanese soldiers. He said of his service that “I want to stress the fact that I don't consider what I did amounted to much more than a hill of beans compared to my friends that were combat veterans.” After the war, Street returned to Charleston, completed his business degree at The Citadel, joined Street Brothers Shipping in the summer of 1947, and stayed until he retired 37 years later.
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Reamer L. Cockfield, Interview by Jack Bass, 15 September 2008
Reamer L. Cockfield, Interview by Jack Bass, 15 September 2008 Reamer Lorenzo Cockfield was born on December 2, 1924, in Johnsonville, SC and moved to Lake City shortly thereafter. He was a pre-med student in The Citadel class of 1945 and therefore was exempted from the draft. Nevertheless, Cockfield voluntarily enlisted in the Marine Corps in December of 1943. As a private first class, he served in combat operations in the Pacific Theater. After the war Cockfield led a highly successful life serving as a public school teacher, principal, superintendent and one term as mayor of Lake City. Cockfield reflects on his experience as a stretcher bearer for 30 days of continuous combat during The Battle of Iwo Jima. The stretcher bearers hauled ammunition, food, and medical supplies from battalion headquarters to company headquarters and often returned with a wounded marine on the stretcher. Cockfield was the only member of his original eight-man team to survive. "It was at that time that they replaced me and assigned me to the K Company of the Ninth Marines which was on the front lines and I was delighted to get on the front lines because it was a lot safer up there in a foxhole than where I had been moving around all of the time." Audio with transcript.
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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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A. Lee Chandler, Interview by Jack Bass, 26 October 2008
A. Lee Chandler, Interview by Jack Bass, 26 October 2008 Chandler discusses the decision to attend The Citadel and recalls that his family lacked the resources to send him to a North East or Ivy League School. Though he enrolled in ’39, he was forced to delay his education for financial reasons, and became part of the class of ’44. After attending OCS training he was commissioned as 2nd Lt. in the 271st Infantry, 69th Division and served with distinction in the European Theater during WWII. He recounts his combat experiences, including when he was injured in Germany along the Siegfried Line, an incident for which he received the Purple Heart. After returning from the war, Chandler began a civic and legal career, elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives, Circuit Judge, Associate Justice and eventually the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. He has remained active in his community, both through economic development boards as well as in his church. He currently presides as Deacon of his church in Mt. Pleasant, SC where he resides with his wife.
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Robert Kirksey, Interview by Jack Bass, 8 May 2009
Robert Kirksey, Interview by Jack Bass, 8 May 2009 Robert Kirksey was born in Aliceville, AL, in 1922. Although his family wanted him to attend school closer to home, Kirksey chose to attend The Citadel. He entered in the fall of 1940 without knowing a single person. Kirksey recalls his choice of The Citadel over Virginia Military Institute and his experiences during WWII. As a member of the class of 1944, he served in combat as an infantry lieutenant in Europe during WWII. He was wounded in action during an attack of the Siegfried Line in the fall on 1944, just inside the German border. For his actions he received the Purple Heart and a Silver Star. He notes that although it took a long time for training and preparation, his actual time in combat was very short. After the war, Kirksey returned to The Citadel to complete his final year and graduated in 1947 with a degree in political science. Afterwards, he returned home to Alabama where he became a lawyer and served for many years as probate judge of Pickens County. He later spent a year in Washington, DC, and one in Orangeburg, SC, as secretary to U.S. Rep. Hugo Sims.
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Bernard Warshaw, Interview by Jack Bass, 1 October 2008
Bernard Warshaw, Interview by Jack Bass, 1 October 2008 Warshaw was born on October 27, 1920. From an early age, he wanted to go to college at The Citadel. When his high school record seemed likely to derail his hope, direct appeal to Gen. Summerall got him in. After overcoming some early problems, Warshaw settled down and graduated in 1942. He received orders on graduation day to report on June 10, 1942, for active duty and soon was assigned to the 433rd automatic weapons battalion, an anti-aircraft unit. Shipped to Casablanca, on the Moroccan Atlantic coast, his unit was assigned a training and support mission until the July-August 1943 invasion of Sicily. After the conquest of Sicily, his unit joined the Allied invasion of Italy and advanced to the Cassino front where the attack stalled. Withdrawn from the Cassino front and sent to the Anzio beachhead, he was able to visit Rome after the breakout for one evening. Withdrawn once again, Warshaw’s unit left Italy to join the invasion of southern France, fighting from there into Germany. Warshaw was promoted to first lieutenant and to captain as the war progressed, but when asked he said that he had absolutely no interest in staying in the Army. The morning after the capture of the Dachau concentration camp, Warshaw’s colonel took him to see the camp. There they found the odor was such that “we could hardly stand it . . . piles and piles of bodies.” He opened one of camp’s four ovens where “Bones were still smoldering,” and the colonel handed him a camera and told him to take pictures, some of which are archived at the Jewish Heritage Collection at the College of Charleston. A retired merchant of men’s clothing, he resides in his home town of Walterboro, SC.
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Vincent Adams, Interview by Jack Bass, 22 September 2008
Vincent Adams, Interview by Jack Bass, 22 September 2008 A native of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Adams recalls his WWII experiences and decision to enlist in the Navy as a seventeen year-old. Adams was assigned to the USS Duchess, which primarily served as an attack transport carrier. His most vivid combat experiences came in off-loading troops during the battle of Okinawa in the spring of 1945. Although stationed in the boiler room of the transport, he went topside during part of the unloading and helped carry one of the wounded men aboard ship. After returning home from the war he graduated from The Citadel (1950) and capitalized on his entrepreneurial spirit, founding his own blueprint business as well as Charleston Yacht Sales until he retired from his real estate business, which his daughters continue to run in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.
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Arthur M. Swanson, Interview by Jack Bass, 14 October 2008
Arthur M. Swanson, Interview by Jack Bass, 14 October 2008 Arthur Swanson entered The Citadel in 1941 at the urging of his father whose friend had assured him it was a school that would instill discipline. After two years pursuing an English degree, he went on active duty in July 1943. Assigned to an anti-aircraft unit, he applied for pilot training but was selected to become a navigator. Before he could complete the course, he was reassigned to an infantry unit because of a shortage of young officers. He recalls this abrupt change of plans. “I ended up in Northern California from the comforts of the Air Force to the rigors of the infantry in the Eighty Ninth Division.” In December 1944, he embarked for Europe, landed at Le Havre, and entered the fighting in Luxembourg, moving from there into Germany. He received the Combat Infantry Badge and the Bronze Star for his efforts in Germany with his regiment—the 355th Infantry. He returned from the war in 1946, but visited Europe again before graduating from The Citadel in 1948. Shortly after graduation he began his accidental career in banking, eventually retiring as President of the South Carolina National Bank in 1985. He continues to hold an office at the South Carolina Bank and Trust Company and plays golf regularly.
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William F. Ladson, Interview by Kerry Taylor, 13 May 2009
William F. Ladson, Interview by Kerry Taylor, 13 May 2009 William Ladson was born in Moultrie, GA, on October 10, 1915. He chose to enter The Citadel in 1932 but returned home after two years to help his father run the family business, which was strained due to the Depression. He eventually returned to school and graduated in 1938 with a degree in engineering. He entered the Army Reserve in 1940 as part of the Coast Artillery and, due to his background and degree in engineering, worked stateside as part of the engineer corps during WWII. Ladson recalls his decision to attend The Citadel and his experiences during WWII and the Korean War. Anxious to go overseas, he eventually went to Korea after the Korean War broke out. There he was executive officer and commanding officer of combat engineers in direct support of the frontline troops. He retired from the army in 1965, and his engineering background led him to take a job as city manager of Cocoa Beach, FL. He maintains strong ties to his alma mater, recently attending his class reunion and speaking to a class of Citadel Cadets.