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Herbert A. Butt oral history interview

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Material Information

Title:
Herbert A. Butt oral history interview
Series Title:
Concentration camp liberators oral history project
Uniform Title:
Holocaust & genocide studies oral history projects
Physical Description:
1 sound file (58 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
Language:
English
Creator:
Butt, Herbert A., 1923-
Hirsh, Michael, 1943-
University of South Florida Libraries -- Holocaust & Genocide Studies Center
University of South Florida -- Library. -- Special & Digital Collections. -- Oral History Program
Publisher:
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Concentration camps -- History -- Germany   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Concentration camps -- Germany   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Concentration camps -- Liberation   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Atrocities   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Veterans -- United States   ( lcsh )
Veterans -- Interviews -- United States   ( lcsh )
Genocide   ( lcsh )
Crimes against humanity   ( lcsh )
Genre:
Oral history   ( local )
Online audio   ( local )
Oral history.   ( local )
Online audio.   ( local )
interview   ( marcgt )

Notes

Summary:
This is an oral history interview with Holocaust concentration camp liberator Herbert A. Butt. Butt was a private first class in the 42nd Infantry Division, which liberated Dachau on April 29, 1945. The division arrived in Europe in December 1944 and was organized into Task Force Linden, participating in the Battle of the Bulge, the Rhineland Campaign, and the Central Europe Campaign. While on their way to Munich, they were redirected to Dachau, along with the 45th Infantry Division. Butt speaks about entering Dachau, describing the camp and the prisoners, and sharing his reactions to it. He speaks about Dachau in schools, and has been the national secretary of the Rainbow Division Veterans Memorial Foundation.
Venue:
Interview conducted February 14, 2008.
Preferred Citation:
The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust (New York: Bantam Books, 2010) and Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project, University of South Florida Libraries, ©2010 Michael Hirsh.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by Michael Hirsh.
General Note:
This interview was conducted as research for The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust, published by Bantam/Random House in March 2010, and is ©2010 Michael Hirsh. All rights reserved.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 021795402
oclc - 586098139
usfldc doi - C65-00015
usfldc handle - c65.15
System ID:
SFS0022074:00001


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Full Text

PAGE 1

COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 201, University of South Florida. All rights, reserved. This oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrighted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.


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Interview conducted February 14, 2008.
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This is an oral history interview with Holocaust concentration camp liberator Herbert A. Butt. Butt was a private first class in the 42nd Infantry Division, which liberated Dachau on April 29, 1945. The division arrived in Europe in December 1944 and was organized into Task Force Linden, participating in the Battle of the Bulge, the Rhineland Campaign, and the Central Europe Campaign. While on their way to Munich, they were redirected to Dachau, along with the 45th Infantry Division. Butt speaks about entering Dachau, describing the camp and the prisoners, and sharing his reactions to it. He speaks about Dachau in schools, and has been the national secretary of the Rainbow Division Veterans Memorial Foundation.
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The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust (New York: Bantam Books, 2010) and Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project, University of South Florida Libraries, 2010 Michael Hirsh.
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xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript
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text Michael Hirsh: Formalities first. If you could give me your name and spell it for me.
1
00:00:5.0
Herbert A. Butt: Herbert, H-e-r-b-e-r-t, middle initial A, last name Butt, B-u-t-t.
2
00:00:13.4
MH: And your date of birth?
3
00:00:15.0
HB: 3-28-23 [March 38, 1923].
4
00:00:17.3
MH: And what unit were you in?
5
00:00:19.7
HB: Company A, 222nd Infantry, 42nd Rainbow Division.
6
00:00:24.8
MH: When did you go into the service?
7
00:00:27.5
HB: April 15, 1943.
8
00:00:30.8
MH: Thats two days after my birthday.
9
00:00:33.0
HB: No foolin. It was about a week before Easter.
10
00:00:38.0
MH: Yeah, and you were living where at the time?
11
00:00:40.5
HB: Kansas City, Missouri.
12
00:00:47.5
MH: You had just gotten out of high school?
13
00:00:52.6
HB: Oh, heavens, no. Id been working at North American.
14
00:00:56.1
MH: North American Aviation?
15
00:00:57.2
HB: Aviation.
16
00:00:57.8
MH: Doing what?
17
00:00:58.5
HB: Hydraulic lead man.
18
00:01:0.6
MH: So, you were drafted?
19
00:01:2.8
HB: Afraid so.
20
00:01:4.1
MH: Thats how I felt.
21
00:01:5.7
HB: (laughs)
22
00:01:7.2
MH: And whered they send you to basic training?
23
00:01:10.0
HB: Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri, Air Force.
24
00:01:14.9
MH: Air Force? So, howd you end up in the 42nd?
25
00:01:18.7
HB: Well, thats a long story, but I started out Air Force basic, and if you really want to know the circumstance, youre asking, the government had seniorities established, and at the time I went through basic, they had Officers Candidate School, Army Specialized Training Program, or Glenn Miller Band, which would be Air Force Band. And I primarily struck out as item two and three, ASTP or the Air Force, and ASTP had more priority, so I went to ASTP.
26
00:02:1.0
MH: Which meant that once you finished basic, they sent you where?
27
00:02:4.7
HB: First to Grinnell, Iowa, to a staging area, then to Fargo, North Dakota, to North Dakota Agricultural College.
28
00:02:12.7
MH: One of the other guys was up there, too.
29
00:02:16.8
HB: Oh, yeah, there are several of us from here.
30
00:02:18.8
MH: Then they shut that program down.
31
00:02:21.4
HB: Shot it down.
32
00:02:22.9
MH: Shot it down. And then what?
33
00:02:24.5
HB: Thats when I went to Gruber, to Rainbow Division Camp Gruber, Oklahoma.
34
00:02:36.4
MH: Then you shipped over with the 42nd? (coughs)
35
00:02:40.5
HB: Cheap cigarettes will do it every time.
36
00:02:48.1
MH: I know; its the cigars. And you were infantryman?
37
00:02:54.7
HB: Mm-hm.
38
00:02:55.4
MH: Carrying what kind of weapon?
39
00:02:56.5
HB: Well, I was a BAR [Browning Automatic Rifle] instructor at Gruber, and they had a funny way of processing me. Maybe I was a screw-up, rather than the proper termand I had a 4055 MOS [Military Occupational Specialty], which is clerk typist. So, got down to Gruber and spent some time as a BAR instructor, and I had a chance to go into 222nd personnel office, and after there, three or four months and just about ready to go overseas, I went back to the rifle company. And they used me as a runner, whatever they hell they wanted, but they kept me in the platoon and in the company. And the two of us, a guy named Remsbecker from St. Louis and I were the two runners that we had, and we went overseas together. And come along with a little bullshit as we go along with it. Whos transcribing this?
40
00:04:30.0
MH: A woman whos used to hearing bad words.
41
00:04:33.9
HB: Okay. We had
42
00:04:36.3
MH: Her name is Kathy. Say hello to Kathy.
43
00:04:39.7
HB: Hello, Kathy! Never dated a Katherine.
44
00:04:44.4
But weI made the statement one time that Remsbecker, as runner, was as far down and as far forward in the hold of that ship, and I was a bunk above him, and he was the first man killed in the company, so consequently, I feel I led the division overseas, and I dont know if you ever caught up with Colonel [Carlyle] Woelfer, and he heard my statement, and he said, Oh, no, thats not right. Thats my feelings. So, we went overseas then, and went to that area
45
00:05:31.1
MH: You landed in Marseilles?
46
00:05:32.8
HB: I was trying to think. The hills outside of Marseilles, the staging area, and then we went up towards north of Strasbourg, and we were stuck out on an OP [outpost] at Ingersheim [France]. And at that time, I think we ran from those bastards about ten days, two weeks, and I know we were pulled back at least twenty miles and went back in the line. And these guys that showed up in pictures of the 182nd Airborne, we relieved elements of that at one time, so they werent all what they were cracked up to be. We were pulled out in January, the last of January, early February, and picked up replacements and went back in the line, early March, and then they moved us into Wingen and Waldhambach [France].
47
00:06:49.9
MH: This is 1944.
48
00:06:50.6
HB: Yeah. And we jumped off in the attack, and stayed with all the way through until May 29th, I think, is the date that we went into Dachau.
49
00:07:11.3
MH: Now youre into 1945. April 29.
50
00:07:15.0
HB: Yes.
51
00:07:15.3
MH: Before we get to Dachau, did you know about the concentration camps?
52
00:07:21.5
HB: Didnt really recognize it. Not knowledgeable. I think this guy Remsbecker we talked about, he seemed to know about it, but I didnt recognize it.
53
00:07:32.0
MH: In the divisions march through France and Germany, did you ever run into any of the smaller camps or
54
00:07:38.2
HB: Uh-uh, we never did.
55
00:07:39.3
MH: So the first time you ever facedgo ahead.
56
00:07:43.9
HB: I know at the time that we hadthere was an article, we had a Norwegian people, elements of one of the officers liberatedif I had a book, I could show you in the book what it was talking about, but it turned out to be a womans prison camp or some such thing, and they liberated them. And they came here for a reunion. So, somewhere in the records, if it meant much to you, why, you could get [Dee] Eberhart; has probably as good a memory as any.
Dee Eberhart was also interviewed for the Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project. The DOI for his interview is C65-00035.
He could probably dig it up. And I know in the book, theres pictures of the camp or the hotel or whatever the place is. That, to me, was about the only knowledgeable information relative to PWprison camps as such.
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00:08:54.8
MH: So what led up in the days or the week before Dachau, what led up to that for you?
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00:09:0.5
HB: Trying to keep myself alive and dry and warm. There in December and all, we were running, didnt always havehell, after the town of Ingersheim, I didnt even have an overcoat. We just lived on what we had. So, as far as shoepacks, I had shoepacks and changed my socks regularly. Had a professional fighter in the company, and as soon as we got into snow and all, he took his shoes and sock off every night and waded in the snow. Dont know what we did, but he lasted about three days and he went out with trench foot, and he never did come back in the company that Im aware of. But I wouldve thought a professional fighter had some guts about him, more than I had as awhat I was, PFC [private first class], poor civilian.
59
00:10:6.1
MH: (laughs) PFC, poorcivilian. Yes. So tell me about as youre coming to Dachau. What were the orders you had?
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00:10:18.6
HB: Well, really, as far as I was concerned, the firstthe 222nd was in regimental, or Italian reserve, I think, at the time, and we got the word somewhere along about 1:30, two oclock to load up, and we got the instructions that we were going into Dachau. Well, what the hell and who iswhat is Dachau?
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00:10:49.3
MH: This is in the afternoon of April 29.
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00:10:52.3
HB: So, we moved in then, and I think F or G, whoever was there early, was gone. And they told us toI dont know about the other platoons, but there was a guy from Cedar Rapids [Iowa] that I knew, we came down for meetings in Kansas City, and Ive got a picture of Dachau. If Id known this was coming up, I couldve brought you a picture of the camp of Dachau, and it was on April 29th.
63
00:11:26.7
MH: That you took?
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00:11:27.5
HB: No, Air Force took, and I took it to my handy-dandy copy company. Ive got a big sheet like this, cut and spliced.
65
00:11:37.3
MH: Oh, the aerial? Yeah, Ive seen that.
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00:11:40.7
HB: And one of it is
67
00:11:44.0
MH: But take meyou get orders to go up there. Youre in a Jeep?
68
00:11:49.3
HB: No, hell no.
69
00:11:51.4
MH: Youre in trucks?
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00:11:51.6
HB: Truck.
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00:11:52.3
MH: Its a convoy?
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00:11:55.2
HB: Yeah, I think there was a couple, three trucks, our company. We were down by that time. We wereyou might even get two platoons on a truck. And hell, mightve been twenty guys in a platoon by that time, and they moved us up. And we got there about three, four oclock. Time was incidental, didnt really know what the hell the score was.
73
00:12:25.6
MH: When did the smell first hit you?
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00:12:27.5
HB: About the timesee, now, youre going to have to transcribe this and add to it. The area where that railroad track was, lets say, this way. (indicates location) And there was a parking area, and the front gates were over here.
75
00:12:42.6
MH: Is the railroad track inside the gates or outside?
76
00:12:46.0
HB: We never did go down by truck into the gates. This is on top; the area up on top was thewhere that railroad train was with all the dead bodies in it. And then at us, we were told we could do whatever we wanted. But we were to be back by 4:30, 5:00, and to make ourselves known to where we were around the camp but stay out of the camp and the area of up here. The camp was down here, and the main gate was down here.
77
00:13:22.7
We got in, and wandered down this way to the gate and visited. We could see the camp this way, and since we were toldwe were all buck-ass privates, we didnt violate anything. And we didnt go into the camp, because they told us to stay out. So, we could walk down this way. There wasthe moat was over here, and the moat was over here, and the crematory was here. And Im not so sure. I dont think there was a moat down this way.
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00:13:57.9
MH: Wheres the train?
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00:14:2.2
HB: Whereabouts are you?
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00:14:3.8
MH: If the moats here
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00:14:6.6
HB: On the east side or the west sideokay, coming into the camp and into this areaBack off over in this area was where all of theThats why that map wouldve helped. This way, coming alongput your railroad in here. And therell be a moat down here and a moat down this way. Now, this is high ground. And you come down around this way, and that train didnt go much beyond here. It was about so far and then stopped.
82
00:14:46.3
MH: The train came in this way.
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00:14:49.1
HB: Yes, and the camp was in this area, here. And Olson and whatever the boy was and I went walking
84
00:15:0.6
MH: Did you walk past it?
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00:15:3.2
HB: Oh, sure, we walked in
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00:15:4.4
MH: Tell me about walking past the train.
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00:15:6.5
HB: Well, its just a batch of bodies, and by that time, it wasnt like youd never seen a dead person before. You didnt have your body that youd slept with the night before killed and youd just seen him, and thats the last thing. Its done. Theres nothing you can do about it now. At least in my wayof course, Im awfully tenderhearted right now. I can cry at the drop of a hat. But at that time, that was it. You didnt get excited anymore. It was dead, and it was those lousy bastards, didnt deserve any better than that.
88
00:15:40.6
See, they had been loaded onthis was another batch of political prisoners, like Dachau prisoners were. They werent combat people, and as a result, they were there, and you came and went. And in our case, we came in, and then we went walking. They told us to reconnoiter the area, blah, blah, you know, Army term, and find out where you are, and see whats going on. So, Olson and I came down this way, and it was down in here would be the main gate, in that area right there.
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00:16:12.9
MH: The main gates here?
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00:16:13.6
HB: Yeah, down there, and here, in this areathis, all down here, was starting of the billets that were in there. And there were probably two rows of them as far as I can tell.
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00:16:28.2
MH: Did you go through the main gate?
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00:16:30.0
HB: No, hell nooh, we went through the main gate into the camp area, and weve gotNational has got pictures of this main gate and the prisoners hanging around. Youve possibly have seen those.
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00:16:41.4
MH: Ive seen pictures. But you walked in through the main gate. You have American Army guys guarding the main gate?
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00:16:51.1
HB: Uh-huh. They were there. Yeah, because we werethen we came down this way, on the outside ofyou were no longer inside the camp area itself, here. And we wereI guess youd say we were on the outside of the barbed wire in this area, when I stop to think about it, because we walked all the way down this way, and we got to this area. This was the crematory, in this area, and flowers, beautiful flowers, and they were fertilized real well. And how would you say it? As I can remember, and its only been a week or two, you understand, but in finding out later that we went into this area, and the crematory, and we looked in and saw the bodies stacked up and all that jazz.
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00:17:47.4
MH: But youre in your early twenties. You have to be reacting to this when you see it. Youve never seen anything like this.
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HB: Yeah.
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MH: I mean, war is one thing; this has to be something else.
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00:18:1.1
HB: Oh, yes. You just couldnt understand how people could do this sort of thing. And, like we were doing in this area, here, find out later on, here was a mound in here, maybe as far as from here to the wall, and it was higher than the rest of the area. I found out since then that thats where prisoners, they werent dying fast enough, so they made them kneel on that, and theyd shoot them, and that was that area. Then theyd drag them off and bury them or throw them in. They couldnt get them in because they were burning them as fast as they could.
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00:18:31.4
But I got the smell. In Kansas City, there was a stockyards area between Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas, and it was a stink that you noticed as you drove by. And I wasmy dentist was in ASTP; he was a medic at the time I was in. I said something to him about the smell, and thats when he came up with the name of it. Ive had it written down for years of what that smell was, and that wasit just plain stunk, just like the stockyards did, in those old days, and made the statement that, or we made. I made the statement later that I couldnt see how people could live in that area.
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00:19:22.3
And I understandhere again, hearsaywhile we were there, we moved out the next morning, but that night or the next morning, they brought people in from the city of Dachau itself, and took them through. And they didnt know that anything like that was going on.
101
00:19:43.1
MH: They never smelled a thing.
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00:19:45.4
HB: Well, they said that they didnt. Well, Christ, I know whats happened. Its just like you get something of your own that you get to wherewell, in your own house. Lets sayI dont keep a cat, but Ive spent some time with Rainbow at some guys visiting, and the house stunk. Well, since then, Ive found out it was their kitty litter and the cats that they had and all. And you just get accustomed to stuff like that, and thats what we were getting accustomed to when we were there. But it still stunk, and it still upset the stomach and all.
103
00:20:20.3
MH: When you were going in the camp, there was no more shooting.
104
00:20:24.3
HB: No.
105
00:20:25.8
MH: Was there any shooting at all when you came up to the camp?
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00:20:27.5
HB: No, no. See, we came in as a reserve company and F and G, I think, were the two troops that moved in. Where we were in this area here, I think, they came in over here in this area. Now, this was a shop area over here. They pushed us to go into this thing of people saying that there was no Dachau and there was no
107
00:21:0.1
MH: Holocaust.
108
00:21:2.3
HB: Im glad, because I hope you dont get like this at my age.
109
00:21:6.4
MH: Im already there.
110
00:21:7.2
HB: (laughs)
111
00:21:8.5
112
00:21:10.1
HB: No, I didnt. (laughs)
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00:21:12.2
MH: Oh, thats right, you were
114
00:21:13.3
HB: That wasntI know what happened that far back.
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00:21:17.0
MH: Oh, I see.
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00:21:18.6
HB: But we had things that went on. I know the thing that has, and early on, I could break down just bigger than shit. Outside the crematory, and was what they called shoes that they had. Some of them was blocks with some stuff on it, and they made em take their shoes off before they went in to take their shower, and I can rememberand the thing that stuck with me the longest was all of those shoes that laid there from these prisoners outside, and they were all killed, gassed, whatever you want to call it. And that vision, I can see that almost to this day. The smell I could probably identify, but that just was something that jarred my whole preserves. Here I was, a swinging teenager, no, that
117
00:22:34.7
MH: Just seeing this pile of shoes.
118
00:22:36.7
HB: It would be about table-high, that sort of thing. All discarded shoes or what they called shoes. They werent shoes like we would have. It would be whatever theyclogs or whatever they had. We crawled on TDs the next morning and headed for Munich.
119
00:22:54.9
MH: TDs?
120
00:22:56.5
HB: Youre as bad as a damn reporter from one of the radio that time we went intotank destroyer!
121
00:23:6.8
MH: Tank destroyer, right.
122
00:23:7.7
HB: Gee, whiz, you mustve been a long time back.
123
00:23:10.7
MH: We didnt have those things.
124
00:23:14.2
HB: You probably didnt know there was a difference between tanks and TDs. TDs didnt have tops on their turrets.
125
00:23:20.6
MH: Okay. Did they have a big gun?
126
00:23:25.6
HB: Later on. When we first went into combat, we got in the early ones, and I think they only had 70mm on those tank destroyers. In fact, I had a guy who turned out to be my barber, and he was National Guard, I guess, and when everything started, he went in right away. In fact, he was having to clean the horses up before they could eat their chow, because they had horses, still, that early. And 70s was what they had, and later on, just like the 20th Armored came in, they had 90mm, which was pretty good. We went into a little town, the tank sergeant says, Well, dont shoot this one up. Were supposed to stay here the night, so come along and put that 90mm, You ever see this? Put that 90mm on a house and just fired right through it. That 90mm is a killer.
127
00:24:33.4
MH: Back to Dachau, were the ovens still going when you were there?
128
00:24:38.3
HB: No, theyd run out of gas the day or two before, so there were not. There were people still in the ovens.
129
00:24:44.6
MH: They were coal fired, right?
130
00:24:46.0
HB: No, they were
131
00:24:48.4
MH: I thought they were coal fired.
132
00:24:49.8
HB: It was a fuel oil of some sort. Gas or something, because they had run out of gas the day or two before we got there.
133
00:24:56.9
MH: But there were people still in the ovens?
134
00:24:58.5
HB: No, I think they weretheyd burned them up as much asand drug em out. We didnt stay around. We knew what was there. Youre trying to get real nosy and, hell, I didnt have sense enough to be that nosy.
135
00:25:9.9
MH: Did you ever have physical contact with the prisoners?
136
00:25:14.0
HB: Uh-uh, no way.
137
00:25:15.9
MH: The wire was between you and the prisoners?
138
00:25:18.1
HB: Now, our company, our A Company didnt do it, but early on, there were those that were in thatin fact, there was a guy that turned out to have joined my MO-KAN [Missouri-Kansas] Chapter in Kansas City that had been in, the lieutenant who was involved in the early-on occupation of Dachau. Now, they went inin my files, Ive got letters from [Walter] Fellenz, who was regimental commander, and [Donald] Downard and somebody else, one of the other officers, that had actually went in, had to make their reports to National, to headquarters. So, Ive got copies of their reports.
139
00:26:15.5
MH: I think their reports are in the book, the Dachau report.
140
00:26:20.0
HB: Dont be too sure. I dont think thats the real reports.
141
00:26:22.2
MH: What impact did this have on you?
142
00:26:27.5
HB: Well, Ive been quoted as saying that, The thing to see is mans inhumanity to man. Thats about the way I could look at it, as not being a writer. I damned near flunked English. So, picturesque speaking, I cant do, or writing.
143
00:26:49.5
MH: Was there an immediate impact on you? Let me tell you something about
144
00:26:56.8
HB: Im trying to think here.
145
00:26:57.6
MH: Kathy can stop transcribing for a moment. In Vietnam, I had done a story on a medic that was a conscious objector; it was the first time anybody had ever done a story like that. I came three weeks later to show him the story and he was dead. He had gone out on a squad and the entire squadron had been executed. And I went into what I call reporter mode, where you just turn off all the emotion and its just the facts. Now you can turn the transcribing back on. Is that the kind of thing that happened to you when youre seeing all this?
146
00:27:34.1
HB: Oh, sure.
147
00:27:35.0
MH: You turn off the emotions?
148
00:27:36.8
HB: Its just like in combat. Didnt ever actually go into this hand-to-hand bayonet and that sort of thing, but to be honest, I had a little prayer. I said, Lord, is this my day to get a mattress cover or clean sheets? And come along at night and get settling down, Thanks, Lord, I didnt make it today. Maybe youll have a chance tomorrow. Something like that was the way I got through.
149
00:28:12.8
MH: The mattress cover was the body bag.
150
00:28:14.9
HB: Yes, thats what we had then.
151
00:28:16.4
MH: Did you each carry your own? Somebody told me
152
00:28:17.8
HB: Hell, no.
153
00:28:18.8
MH: Somebody told me you each carried a mattress cover.
154
00:28:22.5
HB: I got news for you, and letsIll just tell you whatWe went out on an OP at Christmastime, and thats when Remsbecker got hit, and I was at headquarters, because I was the runner and he was the one assigned to the unit, the platoon. He was there, and I was at headquarters. So, they came in and said, Remsbeckers dead. Get your ass in gear; youre going down to the platoon. Okay, fine. And I never saw Remsbecker after that, but they tell me he had two or three slugs in his chest. So, that was Remsbecker.
155
00:29:6.7
Well, we went on that OP; so, in other words, the main line of resistance was here. We were in a railroad station here, and our guys were out here, dug in, that far out, so we were an OP to the OP.
156
00:29:23.0
MH: What is that, like 200 yards, more than that?
157
00:29:24.3
HB: Somewhere like that. And they had an 88. Those son of a bitches were good. The road went out this way and around here, and theyd bring in a tank or TD or 88, and theyd lay in there and fire on us. We lost a second platoon sergeant, first company platoon sergeant; was a direct hit from an 88. They could put that in your back pocket. So, youIm losing it from where Im thinking, but we were there, and got run off, and they pulled us back, where the lieutenant says, Lets pull back, so we pulled back. Cowboy that he was, he started shooting and carrying on, and were supposed to have been pulled back without any noise.
158
00:30:22.7
So, at that time, we had a field jacket and a field jacket liner and a knit cap and an ammunition belt and a shelter half, and in our case, a shelter half was wrapped aroundyou folded it up and put it over your belt, and it slapped you on the ass as you ran. And I think we had two first aid packs, by that time. I think they had those on our belly, because so many guys were getting killed and landed on their back, and thats where the first aid pack was, so they had it doing that way, and they could get to them quicker if they needed it. And I think we had shoepacks and gloves. When we had gone out on our OP, I never understand, we had our full bagcome on, come on, what you carried all your stuff in.
159
00:31:32.3
MH: Rucksack?
160
00:31:32.9
HB: Well, I think for us it was a bag.
161
00:31:37.6
MH: Duffel bag?
162
00:31:41.5
HB: Something like that. Im running out of words.
163
00:31:45.4
MH: Its okay, Ill make them up.
164
00:31:47.4
HB: Im sorry. Barracks bag, thank you; youre a lot of help. (laughs) But we had everything I owned in there; family pictures, stationery, my extra uniform and all was in that barracks bag. And we left them in the railroad station, which was the OP, and I think we hadnt been shot up that bad yet. I guess it was twenty, twenty-five off, still scattered up and down. Three or four, couple machine gunners and a couple of mortar people. Powers decided to pull back, and thats when we shot up the things like a bunch of cowboys, and we pulled back.
165
00:32:41.4
Well, there was our barracks bags and everything, so the company commander was smart. He says, Get your ass in gear and go down in the morning and get them. So, thats what we did. But I got looking, and some of the others looked, and there was little things under the barracks bags that I didnt put under mine. So, we never bothered with a thing; we just left em.
166
00:33:11.0
MH: They had booby traps?
167
00:33:12.0
HB: I think thatswe never found out. I never did hear anymore, but I felt that that was a booby trap that they had done to those. So, we pulled back, went back inside the main line of resistance, and Imtime gets fuzzy for me right in that. I dont know if we ran combat patrols, but I was working out of headquarters by that time, and I had to know where all the platoons were, and I can remember taking a second John to pay the troops.  Shelling and all that sort of crap.
168
00:33:52.9
MH: You recited that prayer for me before.
169
00:33:56.0
HB: Thats my own personal
170
00:33:57.8
MH: And you began to tear up when you said that. It brings back
171
00:34:1.5
HB: Yes.
172
00:34:5.1
MH: Sixty-five years later, it still hurts.
173
00:34:10.1
HB: When I think about Remsbecker.
174
00:34:12.7
MH: Were you a religious person?
175
00:34:19.2
HB: I was confirmed, and I was married in church. I wasnt what I would callI had to go to church.
176
00:34:26.6
MH: Which church?
177
00:34:27.6
HB: St. Pauls Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.
178
00:34:30.6
MH: And when you came back from the war, how were you about religion?
179
00:34:36.4
HB: I went. I think Sundays meant for church, however you want to term it that way. I am not a good church worker as one of the guys whos gung-ho and works real good. My wife told me one time, when I was dissatisfied with the way things were going, she said, Well, you know what you can do? You can join the voters meeting and go to the voters meeting and change things. If not, sit there and keep your mouth shut.
180
00:35:10.4
MH: But had what you seen in the war, especially in a place like Dachau, didnt change your view of God at all?
181
00:35:19.0
HB: No, no. Hell, no.
182
00:35:20.6
MH: Why not?
183
00:35:21.3
HB: Ah, its there. And Hes there. Sure, in my case, I probably have a better feeling because I got through it. I lived. I knowalways ended up with, at night youd always say, Thanks, God, or, Thanks, Lord, for looking after me today.
184
00:35:46.9
MH: When you came back, did you have nightmares?
185
00:35:51.3
HB: Sure.
186
00:35:53.0
MH: When did they start?
187
00:35:53.9
HB: They started overseas!
188
00:35:56.2
MH: How long did they continue?
189
00:36:0.4
HB: I dont know. I cant remember, but I know that the shoe pile bothered me for a long time.
190
00:36:15.5
MH: When do you think they stopped?
191
00:36:18.1
HB: Maybe when I quit worrying and thinking about things. I dont know. It justits just the way it goes. I just never gave it a thought. Never figured Id have to talk to somebody like you about that.
192
00:36:33.4
MH: For which I apologize but not sincerely.
193
00:36:36.0
HB: I know that. (laughs) I did the same thing with the Holocaust people at one of the reunions, had one of the gals from the Holocaust saysI still get periodic, from the Holocaust
194
00:36:56.0
MH: The museum, you mean?
195
00:36:57.0
HB: Yeah.
196
00:36:57.6
MH: In Washington?
197
00:36:58.4
HB: Yes. See, Ive been there and such, but I was oh, I guess you could say Remsbecker and Mel and Glenn and I
198
00:37:12.1
MH: What was the second name? Remsbecker ?
199
00:37:13.9
HB: Remsbecker.
200
00:37:14.7
MH: And its R-e-m-s-b-e-c-k-e-r?
201
00:37:16.8
HB: Hes from St. Louis. He was my sleeping buddy, and Olson, Glenn A. Olson, I can remember that.
202
00:37:22.7
MH: O-l-s-o-n or e-n?
203
00:37:25.1
HB: O-n. I think he was Norwegian. And there was a couple other guys around, but the three of usWell, there was Craft, that brings up a good subject. Craft and, come on come onMichelle was in for awhile, but
204
00:37:51.1
MH: Kraft with a K?
205
00:37:53.3
HB: No, C. Im trying to think. You got me off on what I was thinking about. It was Craft, Remsbecker, and Olsoncome on, come on, Miesenheimer.
206
00:38:13.2
MH: Miesenheimer.
207
00:38:13.9
HB: Now you spell that one.
208
00:38:15.4
MH: M-e-i-s-e-n
209
00:38:16.8
HB: M-i-e
210
00:38:18.2
MH: M-i-e
211
00:38:18.9
HB: Youre trying to get your own religion into this, and its not gonna work.
212
00:38:22.6
MH: Sorry. M-i-e-
213
00:38:23.8
HB: S-e-n-h-e-i-m-e-r. He was a barber from Alabama, I think. He lastedhe made staff sergeant. I didntI wasnt good enough. I never ever got above PFC because I wasnt a good soldier.
214
00:38:47.3
MH: What does that mean?
215
00:38:49.3
HB: In my estimation, I wasnt one of these guys thatd jump up and say, Lets go! Id wait until somebodyd say, Butt, get your ass in gear, lets go.
216
00:38:56.8
MH: Did you take a lot of crap because of your name?
217
00:38:59.6
HB: No, no.
218
00:39:1.1
MH: Your name is Butt, B-u-t-t.
219
00:39:4.2
HB: Yes.
220
00:39:4.8
MH: And you took no crap because of the name.
221
00:39:6.0
HB: No, no.
222
00:39:6.8
MH: How big were you in the war?
223
00:39:8.2
HB: I probably weighed, when I went into the service, about 135 pounds, and after the war was over and I came home, living as personnel office, not doing a hell of a lot, I probably weighted 140, [1]45, [1]50. What do I weigh now?
224
00:39:27.1
MH: I dont know, 140.
225
00:39:30.4
HB: Hell, no, Im probably up to 180 now, [1]75.
226
00:39:34.4
MH: But nobody gave you grief with your name.
227
00:39:37.9
HB: No.
228
00:39:38.5
MH: What was your nickname over there? Or theyd just call you Butt?
229
00:39:42.2
HB: Yeah, or some of themsomewhere, I was working at North American, and I had a squad leader that I was Cotton or Whitey, because I was awfully blond-headed.
230
00:39:58.5
MH: So, you were blond over there?
231
00:39:59.8
HB: What hair I had. Miesenheimer and I got drunk and along with some of the others, and before we shipped overseas, he took the clippers and went (makes noise), so I went all the time overseas. I guess about two or three months before we were ready to go home, decided to let my hair grow, and thats when it came out. I used to be curly, but it didnt when I was overseas.
232
00:40:25.3
MH: So, you hadthe nightmares over there, they continued back here.
233
00:40:29.8
HB: For a while.
234
00:40:30.8
MH: When did they stop, in the 1950s?
235
00:40:33.2
HB: I dont know. I never paid any attention. Its just something you had or you didnt have.
236
00:40:38.9
MH: And you had no other symptoms. You didnt come down with what we know as post-traumatic stress disorder?
237
00:40:47.0
HB: Oh, hell, no, but I did have battle fatigue.
238
00:40:49.0
MH: Excuse me, sir, same-same. Tell me about battle fatigue.
239
00:40:56.5
HB: Oh, we got pinned down; we were in a jump-off in the Harz Mountains the 15th of March, and we took off and
240
00:41:11.1
MH: This is 1940 ?
241
00:41:13.0
HB: Forty-four [1944].
242
00:41:13.6
MH: Forty-four {1944] if you are in the Harz Mountains.
243
00:41:14.8
HB:  I hadby that time wed picked up another BAR man, and he was a big boy, about like you were before you got too good to eatin, and he was married and had a youngster at home. And I liked him; he was a nice fella. And we jumped off in the attack on the 15th. How well have you gotten into Germany? Would you know a firebreak if I talked a firebreak, what it was?
244
00:41:43.9
MH: No, go ahead.
245
00:41:45.6
HB: In those days, the government had forest and right here, probably, it was little stuff, and the trees got bigger. And as those people went in, they were supposed to go out and get a small tree. Theyd cut one down and put it in the ground, for the one. Well, the firebreak, naturally, would be trees here, and then it would just thin out. Youd come into it, and this guy Miesenheimerno, I guess it was Foss. I was working as assistant squad leader at that time, playing at it, not really enjoying it. And he says, Check my shell as you come by. I had been working with him, BAR, trying to train him a little bit, what little I knew, and I got to him, and he was in a good BAR position. Have you ever fired a BAR, an old one?
246
00:42:48.9
MH: No.
247
00:42:49.8
HB: You were supposed to have your weapon on your shoulder in a line with your hips and your feet spread out, and your weapon firing that way. Division commander came in one day when I was a BAR instructor, and he says, Your man in the right firing position? I said, Yes, sir. He says, Arm and shoulder and hips dont line up, and I said, No, sir. He said, Why not? I said, Theres a rock right down there, and he cant dig it up. Its too big, we cant dig it, so we shifted his position to move around it. Oh. He walked off and left. But my commander ate my ass out the next day for not talking back but just giving it to him the way it was.
248
00:43:34.1
But I tried to, what little I knew. I didnt want to pack the damn thing, but I lifted the helmet on Mitchel, and they were waiting for him, because his round was right in the middle of his forehead. Sniper was waiting for him. Waiting until we went across that openthat was Mitchel, that was my boy. Since then, Ive heard from his daughter.
249
00:43:58.8
MH: M-i-c-h
250
00:43:59.8
HB: I think its M-i-t-c-h-e-l, as I remember.
251
00:44:6.4
MH: When you came back, in your adult life, have you ever run into anti-Semites?
252
00:44:18.3
HB: Sure. Its common.
253
00:44:21.2
MH: How do you deal with it, considering what you saw over there?
254
00:44:24.5
HB: You didnt like it, but I was never a fighter. And if youre going to resent something and stand, youre going to have to back it up, and I quit backing it up. Just slough it off and go to something else. Give it up. See, I grew up with a father that was from South Carolina, so you get used to how you feel about the blacks and that sort of thing, so that falls in the same category. You shouldnt, but it does.
255
00:45:1.6
MH: What about the people who deny that the whole Holocaust happened?
256
00:45:5.8
HB: Thats a batch of shit, and Ive stood up for that.
257
00:45:8.9
MH: Can I quote you?
258
00:45:9.8
HB: Sure!
259
00:45:10.7
MH: Where have you stood up for that? Tell me about it.
260
00:45:13.3
HB: Its around, and some of the schoolsbecause Ive been invited and they were getting in conversation with the kids in schoolthat it didnt happen. Well, that was part of the reason I was working with that. As I say, Ive conducted, oh, maybe four or five, six, discussions, took my map of Dachau and a book and talked about it.
261
00:45:45.5
MH: Do the kids believe it?
262
00:45:49.2
HB: Well, I never had anybody tell me I was a batch of shit to my face.
263
00:45:54.9
MH: Do you worry that after your generation is gone, the people who say, It didnt happen, are going to win?
264
00:46:5.4
MH: No, I just think were gonna have to do something to get some more of these strong feelings in the kids: patriotism and that sort of thing. Its just likeI could cry when I hear Taps, and the young people arent like that yet.
265
00:46:34.7
MH: They dont know it. In a way, I hope they dont have to find out.
266
00:46:40.5
HB: Well, its just like Dachau or even standing in a damn hole in the ground, trying to keep your feet warm. You hope they dont ever have to do that, either. But some of us have got to do it, and I sure as hell was one them that did. (laughs)
267
00:47:3.7
MH: Do you have kids?
268
00:47:4.8
HB: Yes. My wife and I adopted a boy and a girl.
269
00:47:8.9
MH: At what point, if ever, did you tell them about what youd seen?
270
00:47:12.6
HB: Oh, any time wesomething went on, we talked about it, and they were aware that I was there. And they knew that I went to Legion meetings. And after my wife got involved with Rainbow, about the time the kids were old enough that we thought we could leave them alone, we went inin fact, my wife was auxiliary president when she died. That was aboutI guess its just about that time. Oh, I know I went into being secretary at that time because it helped paynow I have to pay for my own hotel room here, but the transportation, traffic, Ive got a budget allowance for that. So, they knew that I was in. My daughter is fifty, now, I guess, and she knows Im fairly patriotic. Got a flagpole at the house.
271
00:48:32.1
MH: Are you one of the people who went back to Dachau?
272
00:48:37.3
HB: Yeah.
273
00:48:38.0
MH: When did you go? For the fiftieth [anniversary]?
274
00:48:41.2
HB: Yes.
275
00:48:42.0
MH: What caused you to go back?
276
00:48:44.9
HB: Well, partly tolets see, was Laura alive at that time? We had gone to Oberammergau [Germany], she and I, with a tour, three or four years earlier, and then this trip to Dachau, and it was going into Munich area, and I ended up the war at, as the German called it at that time, waswe were in a little town calleddont go away.
277
00:49:25.1
MH: Im waiting; its okay.
278
00:49:27.7
HB: Can you work out to make a hamburger or something?
279
00:49:32.5
MH: No, but I can go, bam, bam, bam, bump, bump, bump, bump.
280
00:49:36.3
HB: We were in a little town called Anif [Austria], just outside of Salzburg, and we were going in there. We didnt get to see too much of Dachau when we were there, but Laura was there, and somewhere down the line, weve got pictures of her being at Dachau. We went to Munich, and I rented a car at Munich. We were staying overnight, and we went out to Anif to see whats going on, and didnt get in.
281
00:50:23.0
Then, when we went back for this last one, the last time, I went over by myselfno, I took Mona with me, a cousin, and we went back. I even got into the house I stayed in after the war was over. See, after hostilities were over, about two days, they pulled me back in the office after the damned shootin war was over. They pulled me back into the office so I could work in the office. So, I was there until I came home
282
00:50:56.9
MH: When did you come home?
283
00:50:58.3
HB: In April of forty-three [1943].
284
00:51:1.3
285
00:51:5.0
HB: Six [1946].
286
00:51:6.9
MH: So, youve been to Dachauback more than once?
287
00:51:9.4
HB: Twice. Went over one time as part of Oberammergau, it wasntbut when the actual tour was, of Dachau, we didnt see anything much at that time.
288
00:51:22.2
MH: When you went back as a tourist, did it recall what youd seen?
289
00:51:31.4
HB: Oh, yeah, youd see it but
290
00:51:33.6
MH: Or is it so cleaned up that it doesnt do anything?
291
00:51:35.7
HB: Yeah, it doesnt matter at that time. It wasnt like it was when we went in. Well, hell, we didnt ever go in. We went around it when we were fiddle-fooling around, looking.
292
00:51:49.9
MH: You clean that up nicely.
293
00:51:52.6
HB: Well, you want it the other way? (both laugh)
294
00:51:56.1
MH: Ive never heard the expression fiddle-fooling, but thats okay.
295
00:52:1.6
HB: Okay. Well, Im not gonna come up with a four-letter word just for your benefit, but just forwhat is this, Kitty? Kathy. Just for Kathys benefit; shes heard the word, probably.
296
00:52:13.7
MH: Yes, she has. Anything else you want to tell me?
297
00:52:18.7
HB: Well, it depends. What do you want to talk about?
298
00:52:23.1
MH: What was your career, whatd you finally work on?
299
00:52:29.7
HB: I worked in fabricating, manufacturing. I worked for years with Pittman Manufacturing, which is a truck, crane, and aerial platform manufacturing.
300
00:52:43.4
MH: What is that?
301
00:52:44.3
HB: Truck, crane and aerial platform manufacturing. You have somebody that digs your holes to put your poles on. I was with Pittman when they first came up with what they called a digger derrick, and stayed in that industry until they ran me off. They went down the tubes. I didnt have any retirement income, so I was one of those that didnt come out smelling like a rose.
302
00:53:20.7
MH: Were you wounded at all?
303
00:53:24.0
HB: No, just that two or three days on battle fatigue.
304
00:53:28.1
MH: Decorations?
305
00:53:31.4
HB: Got a Bronze Star for heroic survival
306
00:53:40.8
MH: Valor?
307
00:53:41.5
HB: Yeah something like that, and because I got the combat badge in our war. If you rated a combat badge, you also rated a Bronze Star.
308
00:53:50.7
MH: Such a deal!
309
00:53:52.4
HB: Yeah, after you already got a star, then you get a cluster. So, Ive got a Bronze Star and cluster as a result. Wasnt smart enough to get it when I could take advantage of it and come home early.
310
00:54:5.9
MH: Anything else you think of?
311
00:54:10.0
HB: Yeah, I just wish to hell Id been a good soldier instead of a screw-up. I am, in my estimation, because
312
00:54:17.9
MH: You did your job.
313
00:54:22.8
HB: Well, thats what we were sent over there for. Youre supposed to protect your ass so you didnt get it shot off. That was second.
314
00:54:30.1
MH: The advice I got when I went to Vietnam was, Dont be a hero.
315
00:54:34.1
HB: Oh hell that wasthats just plain old knowledge; you should know that.
316
00:54:39.5
MH: But what I didnt say at lunch is that toward the end of my tour, I started doing dumb things because I didnt think Id done enough.
317
00:54:47.0
HB: Oh, no, I never was that way. No way. I didnt take any chances. I watched what I did. If youre just looking to bullshit, had an NCO [noncommissioned officer] club (inaudible) just outside of Anif and going up there, and had a three-quarter ton. Had his lady friend with him, and it was a batch of us. In my day, the bed was probably about as far as from here to the other side of the table, and maybe three or four guys down each side. Everybody was pretty well drunked up enough, so I squatted down between the legs of the guy from the office Id known a long time.
318
00:55:42.4
That truck driver was going along, and he was impressing his lady friend. Its one of those cases where you could feel, hed flip the wheel this way and rocked it a little bit, flipped it this way a little bit. About that time, he went this way, and I was sitting there, and we were going that way, and I told my boy, I said, Were going over. And sure as shit, we went over. Because I was squatting down between his legs, he ended up with a broken pelvis, and I got nothin!
319
00:56:12.6
MH: Its bizarre to survive the war and get screwed up in something like that.
320
00:56:20.8
HB: Oh, heavens yes. No, you wonder about it. Getting pinned down and(announcement in the background) Weve already been in the kitty. Hell, the trouble is we drink like wethere was 100 of us here, and youre only paying for about ten. What else you want to know?
321
00:56:54.6
MH: Thats about it. You pretty much done it.
322
00:56:57.9
HB: I had fun in service, especially until I got overseas and got the shit scared out of me.
323
00:57:7.0
MH: Thank you for what you did.
324
00:57:12.9
HB: Well, thats part of the fun of being able to look back on it. I told myself Id look up Remsbeckers family, and I never have done it. Still got this damn thing going?
325
00:57:34.4
MH: Yes I do.
326
00:57:35.2
HB: Turn it off.