Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Oral history interview with Gilman Lincoln, WPT Wisconsin World War II Stories

Wisconsin Veterans Museum


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Please Note: Due to the set-up of this video recording, the voice of the interviewer is hard to hear. The transcript reflects the best attempt to represent what is said.

Transcribed Interview:

DERKS: So, why don't you start with what you wanted to say, about apologizing.

LINCOLN : I'll start out this way: I'd like to apologize to my people, because a veteran--we hold our veterans very highly. Yes, I guess I earned a little part of it, but in due respect for what they went through, the many battles they have seen, I have heard them talk and tell about it. I did not see things like that, 00:01:00so, in my own language, I would like to apologize to my people and to the true warriors that were ahead of me [apologizes in Ho-Chunk]. Thank you. I was just 00:02:00apologizing to my people that there's a lot more deserving to be sitting here and giving this interview than me. Out of respect for them, I will do my best. Well, way back in 1941, I was going to a school at the Indian school in Neillsville. I can remember them saying that the United States was at war. "What is war? What was war? What is war?" Really, I didn't know anything about it. We heard the President: "We're gonna ask to declare war on Japan." Japan, what is 00:03:00Japan? You know, all this stuff was so new to me, or what would you say? Well, I really didn't--I guess many of us were that way. What is war? Well, the time went on. A lot of our Ho-Chunk young lads at the time volunteered to go in that--what was that--the 32nd Division, I think it was, up there in [Eau] Claire County. And the boys and that were--the men folks that served in World War I were also in that 32nd Division. So, the boys were volunteering--I don't like 00:04:00the word "boys"--the men folks were volunteering to go into Service. As I think back to that time--my goodness, you know--my people weren't even citizens of the United States at that time, and they were willing to defend it. They didn't wait to be drafted, or anything. That was--it's their homeland; this is where their family was. I guess that was their ways of protecting it. I mean, I'm thinking about this--how many years later? But I can remember the boys--again, I said "the boys." Well, I guess they were young fellas--boys at the time. They were getting ready to go to someplace in basic training. I think they, if I remember correctly, it was down in Louisiana or some place. And, they had a parade then 00:05:00in the streets of Neillsville, down by the armory. Some of the non-Indians that were in the National Guard--I don't know if we had National Guards at the time yet or not--but there were some--some of them were in uniform. But, because of the fact that our military wasn't anywhere near what it is today, they were short of uniforms-- and here our boys, our Ho-Chunk boys, were marching with 'em, in their civilian clothes. But to us, to me--how would you say--they were marching off to war; and, I really envied them. I mean, I can see myself hikin' down the sidewalk, alongside 'em, following the parade. I was real proud of 00:06:00them. Well, then, as time went on, and some of them come back. Before going overseas, they'd come home on furlough--and boy! I'd-- I don't know how to express it--but to me, seein' them in uniform did somethin' to me; I wanted to be that. I distinctly remember Roy Garvin comin' back; from what I understand, he was in the Coral Sea battle, and he was wounded. But he come back, and had a Navy uniform on him--'bout the very first time I can remember ever seeing a Navy uniform. But whatever--they were soldiers, they were warriors, and I just envied them. I was wishing that, as a matter of fact. I guess a lot of the youngsters like me were feelin' that way, because we went back to the boarding school, and was marching around the sidewalks, and somebody would call 'em cadence like we 00:07:00saw them doin' up there on the streets, but we was livin' that part when-- Well, as time goes on, I left the Indian School; I went back up to Adams. My grandma, my grandmother, passed away in 1939, and I was comin' back there to-- 'Cause there was a boarding school, I come back to for-- I Ieft there when I was in--I don't know, before the 8th grade--only I went back up to Adams, the very first time I ever went to a school other than the Indian School. Wow, what an experience. I was the only Indian in the whole school, but they were nice--they were good to me. A little ahead of my story. I was--I lost my mom when I was 00:08:00just a baby. My dad went back to Nebraska when I was about, oh, five years old, and I was raised by my grandmother, Draninga was her Indian name. My uncle Abel--I mean, they raised me. They always told me to respect the older people--anybody that was older than I am. And, I try to live by that; I think it's a good life trad-- That's about one of the best traditions they'd ever taught to us was respect. Try to keep that going. I tell my kids, "It don't hurt. Remember to say 'Thank you,' say 'Please,' say 'Sir," 'Mister', 'Missus'." I've been telling them that, and I still keep telling them that as old as they are now. Well, I know--I used to be kind of angry at my brother-in-law, because my kids--my neighbor kids--were out there playin,' and he'd have me working on 00:09:00an engine--gas engine, or fixing tires, somethin'. I was really angry at him, you know, because he worked on a railroad, he had a lot of friends--a lot of farmer friends--he made a homemade tractor for them. He made me help him as a mechanic doing mechanic work so-- but little did I know what I would learn in there was going to help me through my, my lifetime. Well, anyway, I got mad at him, angry at him, and I left. I must have been about--oh, I don't know--fourteen years old, I left. I went to Madison. What was I going to do down there? I didn't even know anybody down there, but--I don't even really know how we got to Madison! That was a long time, but--I wound up finding my half-brother. He was working on construction there, and he said, "Why don't you 00:10:00come and ask for a job?" "Sure, I'll try anything," you know. [Laughs] I'm sure Fritz Construction Company in Madison at that time--I'm sure they must've knew I was just a kid, but a kid that needed help--so they hired me. Later on, I went to work for Findorff--what was it--J. H. Findorff [J.H. Findorff & Son]; I guess they're still there yet. Now that I think about it, it must have been out of the goodness of their heart that they hired me. I don't know if the Child Labor Law was going on at that time, or whatever. Yes, I can remember my first pay day--wow. I think the laborers were getting something like eighty-five cents an hour at that time. To me, that was big money, man. Well anyways, I seen a lot of 00:11:00military people around Madison--Truax Field was there, radio school or-- I don't know what was goin' on, but I seen quite a few soldiers wandering around--and I just wish I could be one of them. Well, when I was fourteen--1943, I think it was--I had a friend, Ernie Garvin; he was from around here. Him and I went to Indian School together, and I told him--I said, "Hey, let's enlist in the Service." He said, "You're too young; they won't take you." "Well, that's what I want you for," I said. "You can help me--say that I'm telling the truth, whatever." "Well, you're gonna have to have your birth certificate." "Oh, I wasn't born in no hospital," I says. "We can always tell 'em that they--tell 'em 00:12:00somethin'." Well, I finally convinced him we should go. Well, we were in Madison--he was going to come back here. He said, "When I come back, we'll go enlist." Well, that son-of-a-gun--he never did go back, go back up there. I guess he fell in love with a shy young Indian gal up here or somethin', because he never did go back to Madison, so-- I wish I knew just how old I was. I must have been about fourteen, fifteen years old; I went, and enlisted. And I walked up to the post office there in Madison--as a matter of fact, that building is still there--had the Marines, Army, and Navy. Walked up there, and I remember that guy in the Marine office [unintelligible] "Hey, kid, what're you up to?" 00:13:00Well, I guess, he knows what I am--I better get out of here. Went over to the Army--and then, "Hello there young feller; you wanna join up?" And that sailor was standing over there--and hey, I liked his uniform a lot better. This Army fella--he had a necktie on. Geez, I never ever did like neckties--I still don't! That Navy guy, he had that angle way down here, well, we'll go to him. Well--by gum, you know, he was good to me--talked to me, and took my name down and everything, and-- but he was really hesitant because I didn't have no birth certificate. I told him, I said, "My mom died when I was a little fellow," and I said "I was bounced around"--I done a whole bunch of lyin'. But he gave me a chance, but they somehow-- I got as far as Milwaukee, and they found out. I don't know if my half-sister or somebody found out, and they got--they kicked me 00:14:00home then. Well, I got a train ride out of the deal anyway. Felt kinda bad about it. Well, I went back to workin' around there, and finally again-- maybe I was sixteen years--well, at least, as a matter of fact [unintelligible], hey; no, I was fifteen--that's right--because at sixteen, you can get a driver's license. So at fifteen, I went up there to get a driver's license. I told them I was sixteen years old, and I had a heck of a time figuring out what year to say--because, like I said, I never did finish eighth grade [laughs]. Oh my gosh--whatever--I got my driver's license anyway. So, armed with that, I went and enlisted again. Well, again, they caught me. So, now that I think about it, 00:15:00it was kind of funny [chuckles]. Finally, they finally took me. Got a uniform when I was in Great Lakes--well, that was with a whole bunch of guys from Milwaukee. We got to Great Lakes, and everybody went across to the main side--and here they kept me there. They said I was flat-footed. Well, I have got a very low arch, and they kept me--they had to go take a, what do you call--a physical? And everyday, geez, they took me up there running around barefooted, steppin' on a wet spot, then in the powder--they had me climb and jump, and jumpin' down--I bet you no pair of feet ever had the attention that mine did. 00:16:00Finally, I got tired of it and I told them--I said, "Look, I got a hell of a lot more to walk on than you guys have." Because, you know, the reason I-- I wanted to go so bad, and I was scared they were gonna kick me out again; and then--I'll be danged--they shipped me over there to the main side, and I got into boot camp. I met the instructor and boy, he could holler--holler real good. But that didn't bother me; I just enjoyed that. And here, I had the uniform on and out there marching-- But you know, at boot camp, I wanted the real thing. I wanted out of there. Heck, I can do anything like that--I wanted out of there. And, 00:17:00they told us to go read the--what do they call it--bulletin board, I guess they call it--what was going on when I was there. Here they needed--what the heck did they call them? Armed guard. The Merchant Marine ships couldn't carry guns on their ships because they were civilians, so they had put Navy personnel on there to man the guns, and they was looking for volunteers. I volunteered for Armed Guard School that was in Farragut, in North Dakota or something, I don't know. I don't remember--it was someplace. I volunteered for it and--I'll be danged--a couple days later they called me and said that I was being shipped out, to get all my gear ready. At that time, we had to be sleeping in hammocks [unintelligible]. Everything had to be rolled--all our clothes were rolled and 00:18:00put in a sea bag and wrapped in a hammock. I don't think I could do it anymore, but--blankets, you name it--everything was all wrapped up in there. Here they come after me--I had go down to the drill hall. Now what am I gonna do down there? I thought I was being shipped out. Here I got shot--and I got shot [gestures to both upper arms, one after the other]. I had to take all my shots at one cladder [sp] because you have to take so many shots while you was in boot camp, and I was leaving early. I took them all. Oh my gosh, by the time I got back to the barracks, I couldn't lift my arm. They've hollered for me, had a Jeep waiting for me, I had to get out there. My buddies--they carried my sea bag out there, and they helped me aboard the Jeep--and I was leaving Great Lakes. Oh my gosh--that's been a long time ago. Well, they put me on a train--there were 00:19:00no planes, no flying--it was all trains, troop trains. You know, just being on a troop train gave me a real good feeling. I'm with the military now. I was real proud of my uniform. Hey and I asked, "Where in the heck is this?" I thought we was heading out west someplace. Smoly hokes, here we was out in Pennsylvania. I said, "Hey, I'm going the wrong way." I didn't know where in the heck I was going! That's how dumb I was. I suppose they give me all my orders, but I never read 'em. Hell, I'm just going along with what they tell me to do, so here I wound up in Rhode Island--um, Camp Endicott. So, I gotta think of these 00:20:00places--it's a little foggy up here. Well, anyway-- Well, this is what an Armed Guard School looks like. Here, it was a "C-B." Seabees? Yeah, a Construction Battalion. And I went in, and here they were--to me, they were all old men. The youngest one must have been maybe in their middle twenties, but there were guys that were in their thirties, forties. I saw them as old men--but they were all tradesmen-- carpenters, plumbers, mechanics. Every one of them--though we was in Basic Training, they only had that [unintelligible] Petty Officers. I was the youngest one there. Taking that boot, [unintelligible] them poor guys--they suffered, running us, bayonet practice, and all this and that. To me, I was so 00:21:00happy--I had the real gun in my hand. I was having a hell of a--whoops--I was having a good time, and so a lot of these guys were just--oh, they were just all pooped out. Well, then, I read the bulletin board again. There was a trucking outfit--I don't remember what the number of the Battalion was--[that] was going to Europe, and that's where I wanted to go because my half-brother Frank Willis and Chris were all in Europe. I wanted to go over there, so I volunteered for that. Here, I had to go to truck driving school before I could get in there. "How do I--where do I go for the truck driving school?"--and they told me, so I went out there. Heck, I could drive truck before [unintelligible] working for my dad's construction company, and driving was one of my jobs. Well, I got out of 00:22:00that school just as quick as I could, 'cause I--and here the drafts had already left. Oh boy; so, I didn't make that one. I don't know. I had several different jobs around there. As a matter of fact, I even went with the Shore Patrol--we took troop trains across to California, [and] come back on a civilian train. I was really seeing the country then, boy--well, I was really enjoying myself, like they say; took another one over there. Here they gave us clothing--they gave us different clothing. The guys were saying, "You could always tell where you're going by the clothes they give you." They gave us some fall weather gear and heavy clothes, yeah. "Hey maybe I'm going to Europe now." I wound up in the 00:23:00Pacific. [Laughs] Yes, I took Marine training and that. I had all kinds of training, but I looked in my records. None of that showed up in there, my going to truck driving school. What else was there? Oh, a stevedore. I went to several different schools trying to get into one of them drafts but never made it. Well, whatever. I got in that Seabee outfit there and-- There--remember how I was saying that my brother-in-law made me do mechanic work while the kids were playing? I had to--we would fix on a tractor or some damaged piece of land? That 00:24:00really helped me because I could do all that and the heavy equipment. And I just love to run heavy equipment--because, you know, that was some big Cats that pulled drag line. Boy, I could run anything--and they gave us a chance to do that. Well, they finally loaded us. They took me out to--oh boy--Treasure Island. Yes, I was being shipped out. They wouldn't tell you where you was going. But we had all kinds of room. All I knew is we was going out in the South Pacific. We was out about three days and--they announced over the P.A. system on 00:25:00our ship, "Now hear this, now hear this. We are now in the enemy waters. If anybody falls overboard, we cannot and we will not stop for you. We'll drop you some supplies and hope somebody can stop and pick you up." And I realized, "Hey-- this is for real! I'm too dang young--I should be in school." No kidding, that's--the officer would say when you had problems, go see the chaplain, and I wanted to. I could just about imagine them turning the ship around for Gilman Lincoln, take him back to shore, he's too young for this stuff. I was never was--I had found out what being lonesome, sad, was. Boy, I felt like crying. And I happened to think, "What the heck am I, chicken? Am I scared?" Yes, I was 00:26:00scared. And I realized what was really going on then. Well, to heck with that, I volunteered for it, dang it. I may as well make the best of it, so I, I got over that. One of you guys showed me that book about the Navy, seeing that rough seas and stuff. Man, the boys were, lot of the guys were seasick. I never got seasick. Like I said, I made up my mind to enjoy it and I did. I guess maybe that's why. First island I ever saw was Pearl Harbor. Wow, an island, you know--somethin' new. Went aboard, and I was-- We got on the island, and I was expecting to see the Japanese coming out from behind that palm tree, and here was a nice little city. That was my experience, but-- We stayed in Pearl Harbor, 00:27:00I don't know, I don't remember how long. It wasn't very long and--they loaded us up again, and still didn't know where we was going. We got rammed just before we even got out of the harbor. Took us back in. I got on the--what they used to call a Baby Aircraft Carrier. Not these great big ones--they made some regular cargo ship like, put a flight deck on them because they were really hard-up for-- They call them Baby Aircraft Carriers. Now, they load us on one of them, and we took off.

Well, we shipped out of there and heading out, didn't have no idea where we were 00:28:00going. We had just gone out there. We were hearing about all these sea battles they were havin' and all the islands where we were going, wondering which one we're gonna land on. Finally, they said there was-- They sighted an island, and we got closer, and I thought, "Hell, is this where we were gettin' off?" I kept looking around for enemy planes. I didn't see none. Well, I don't know really what I was, what I was-- I was expecting that we was goin' to war. Now, I guess we was--in a way. Well, I'm sorry I'm having a heck of a time remembering them islands. I think one of the islands was Eniwetok that we went into. It was already in American hands then. My goodness, I was going to be there fighting for these little places? Half of that, to me, looked like half of it was island, 00:29:00the other half was cemetery. Speed limit at fifteen miles an hour, you only see a couple trucks out there. Going to another island, I thought the same way--was a wreck; "Oh my god, I can't think of that." We stayed there a coupla days and start cleaning up--and then they loaded me up again, and kinda got me out of there and--just on the move all the time. Well, I guess you call it island hoppin'--never stayed in one place too long. And like I said, I would been a very lucky guy all my life. The guys were fightin'--seein' some bad times--combat and everything, and here I was wandering looking for it, I guess. I wasn't really looking for it, I was wondering, "Maybe this time it's going to 00:30:00be it." I never saw it. I was there when they have to clean up--cleaned it up, and they have to move to another one. And I remember one little island. My goodness, that thing wasn't any bigger than--from where we're sittin' here--maybe out to the Highway 54. About that big of an area--a French frigate island. There was a Quonset hut up there, and--I don't know what the heck they had that Jeep there for. But they said that was kind of a relay--a relay station for a radio. They took some supplies in there, and then we went on again and-- Well, anyway, they said we was in Manus. Oh--we got to Okinawa. I guess they 00:31:00went on the April Fools Day, and I don't know what day that we was in there, but real quiet when we went in there. There was [unintelligible]. We stayed there a couple, three days or--it didn't seem very long--we was out of there again. Then they said they was headin' for the Philippines. Holy smokers-- where's that? Well, we got there in Manus, and there were rumors going on that they were going to Japan mainland. They were gonna attack it. Wow. Well, I was really doing some thinkin' then, now. Well, "Gilman, you asked for it; it look like you're gonna get it now." And, all of a sudden again, they told me, pack my gear, they're shipping me out. [Laughs] Always shipping me out. Maybe I just didn't belong, I 00:32:00guess. I don't know. Maybe that was the good Lord's way of takin' care of me. Boy, they put me aboard a ship again--and, uh-oh, now it was a troop ship. Maybe that time to go into Japan is at now. Well, I wasn't goin' to lose no sleep over it, because my Uncle Abel--and I say Uncle Abel all the time; he was one heck of a good gentlemen--told me about everything, about life, everything imaginable. I still go by his-- He's a good man. I remember when I came home on boot leave--I 00:33:00even forgot that part--but he told me, he says, "[Indian expression/nickname], you asked for this. There's going to be a lot of problems, but always remember--you volunteered, you asked for it--so make the best of it." Well, when you translate the two different languages, you lose a lot of it, but that's what it amounted to, you know? So again, got that same old feeling. Well, whatever happens, I ask for it, I'm getting it. Boy, it seems like-- We traveled for I don't know how long. And finally somebody said, "Hey there's an island over there. There's land over there." And naturally, everybody went over there to see it. Just about that time, over that PA system, "Now hear this, Now hear this. Good news. Japan has surrendered." Yay! Oh, everybody's just so happy and--wow. 00:34:00Forgot all about the island. I remember the chaplain of the ship was saying a prayer. Then, it was--must have been the evening, towards the evening, sunset--because somebody, I don't know who [it] was, a commander of the ship or somebody, said, "Everybody look to the West--lord, look at the sunset." The sun went down low, and there was two rays of light like--like a "V." I always remembered that. Then I heard somebody say "V-J Day," and how fitting that sight 00:35:00was. Well, I come back to Guam on V-J Day. And we come into the harbor, they unload us in a hurry and they took us up in their, what they call X Area. And everybody was just celebrating or dancing on the roads and every place. Wow, what a happy day that was. And beer was flowing freely, and food. We got settled in that X Area--that area they took us in. So, we joined in the festivities, and a lot of the guys had picked up some instruments some place and they were having a dance over here, and food over here, and beer over here, and I just--oh, just 00:36:00one heck of a celebration that war was over. The next morning, orders come out that we handed in all our weapons. Any weapons that was issued to us--we had to hand them in; alright. But they said we could keep our--our little huntin' knives. Right during that day, here they said somebody got shot, got killed. Got shot? The Japanese that were on the island when the United States took the island of Guam over in Saipan--there was a lot of Japanese there that did not want to believe that their motherland had surrendered. And they were comin' in 00:37:00and they were--they were raising all kinds of hell with our troops--and there was no way we could fight back. At night, they'd sneak in there and steal food. A lot of the boys were killed that night when the Japanese come in there, and-- I think they call them renegades. Renegades they were. Even during the day, they had--they had guns, and we didn't. We had-- [were] supposed to survey for a "roof maggot;" it's what they call on this, see, through the jungles. There were nine of us guys out there on this survey crew. One guy had a thirty carbine 00:38:00rifle [a United States Carbine, Caliber .30, M1], and the other guy had a forty-five pistol [Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911A1]. A couple times they--we--got shot at, and boy, it was every man for himself. I didn't know how fast I could run [laughs]. It's funny now, but at that time I-- I'll tell you again, right at the time that it was happening, I wasn't scared. I was wondering, "Where in the hell are they at?" Oh, excuse my language. I wanted to see a Japanese. I don't know what I was going to do after I saw him. I could hear that gunfire--I kept looking around--and never saw him. And, I still don't know how the heck we got out of there without anybody getting hurt. And they 00:39:00assigned me to guard duty. Yeah--nice going; I didn't like that because that meant I'd be tied down for-- I was thinking that I had guard duty on the gates or something--but no; we had to guard the Japanese prisoners of war that were still on the-- And I got to see my first Jap--Japanese. I don't know what I was expecting. Here's a human being, got arms and legs just like I have, looks a little difference in color, kind of squint-eyed and awful long hair but--just a human being. Tell you the truth, ain't that awful? I didn't know what the heck a Japanese looked like. I don't know what. Same way with a German. I don't know 00:40:00what they're--because I did see some German prisoners of war when I was in Rhode Island. I was kind of surprised to see it was just another white guy coming down here [laughs]. Well anyways-- Same way with the Japanese; I didn't know what I was expecting, but-- Man, there was one time I remember we was over there surveying for that road when a machine gunfire opened up. Everybody just scattered, laid there, and finally our Chief Petty Officer says, "Anybody volunteer to go get some help?" Just him talking, and they start opening fire again and--well, I guess I have to tell this-- I was laying behind a fallen palm 00:41:00tree and I can't-- Like I said, I wasn't really scared, and I could hear a drum. Like we use. I listened--I didn't hear anybody sing, but I could hear that drum. Boy, just something come over me and I knew we was going to make it. And I hollered back, "Yeah," I says, "I'll go." He says, "Get back to that Jeep," he says, "There's a--that radio--turn it on; tell 'em we're up here." And here this--Joe Lee was his name. He was from-- I don't remember, but he was a real good friend of mine; he was always with me. He says, "I'll go with you, Gim." We 00:42:00started crawling out of there, nothing happened, and figured we'd crawled long enough, so I says, "Well, let's make a run for it," and got up and ran like-- Nothing happened; I often wondered. I wish I could have got up right then, after I heard that drum. I could have got up and we all could have walked out of there. That old man upstairs was taking care of us. Well anyway, all this was going on. Finally, I got a letter from my uncle, Melford Green. He was here in Black River, lived here, and he'd come home and he got a letter from his dad. He said he got discharged, and he heard that I was on Guam, so he got my address 00:43:00from some place. Here, we was-- All the work we were doing around there--he was an MA at the main gate. I was going by him every day and never saw him. Well anyway, he said that Merlin Red Cloud, Mr. Red Cloud's younger brother, was there. He's on Guam. Well, Guam is a pretty big island. I just got to go lookin' [for] one guy out there, and I have a heck of a time. Well, what I did, because I was a Petty Officer, a Third Class Petty Officer, I could get a Jeep to-- I tried to find out every Seabee outfit that was out there, and I'd go in there and over the PA system, I'd holler for Merlin Red Cloud. I don't know how long I done that. By that time, we was working-- working on the airstrip up there in Agana, rebuilding them. I was hauling asphalt, driving an asphalt truck. Got 00:44:00back to the tent one evening and there was a bunch of mail on my cot, and here one of them says Enders Island. So I opened that up and here was Merlin, writin' me a letter. CBMU [Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit] outfit up there--right by the gravel pit where our asphalt plant was. I went up there, and sure enough, it was him. Oh boy. We had a-- He was in a CBMU outfit, that was a real small outfit, but it was real good. They let him-- We'd spend our days together; he rode with me when I was hauling asphalt. We chummed around together; we were looking the island over, and-- Like I said, I could get a Jeep. I drove--we drove all over, even places we wasn't supposed to. I don't 00:45:00know how long we had together-- By that time, there was a point system set up, like the Army had, for discharge. I heard about it. I think I was too young-- combat service, I think, it was so much, so many points. I didn't have any. "Oh," I said, "the heck with it." I started reading the bulletin boards again. There was an outfit [that] was goin' to-- They were going to fix that Burma Road, so I volunteered for that. But a couple weeks--"Well, Gilman, load up again,"--yeah, here we go again. Well, in the meantime, Merlin come back before, before that time. He tried to transfer over to be with me--but here they shipped 00:46:00him out; he got a discharge. Well anyway, I got on the ship and, "Well, I'll see some more country." From what I understood, I didn't know where the Burma Road was, but it was on a big dry land, you know, and I was kind of anxious for that. To tell you the truth, like I say, I can't remember dates or how long or what. We was on this ship there, and somebody or other said, "Land ho," and sure enough, you could see another one. Here was Pearl Harbor-- Burma Road in Pearl Harbor? Come on! We got there, and I asked--"Well, what's--" "Oh, you guys--you're all goin' back stateside. You know, really, I was kind of disappointed at the time--because, like I said, I didn't have no real parents. I 00:47:00could just think about it. It must be terrible for the guy that had parents--fathers and mothers. Them guys that had families, married--must have been terrible for them. Must have been terrible for their parents now because-- I have sons now; I have grandsons that are in Service. My sons are all out now. They were in Vietnam and stuff. It was pretty rough sittin' back here. I wanted to be with them, but at that time, they didn't want--they didn't want an old fogie over there, I guess. My grandsons are--I got a couple of grandsons that are in the service now. Pretty rough thinking about them, what they're up to. I got back to Pearl Harbor. Well, I kinda settled in now, I'm going home. Good. I 00:48:00was happy about it. They give us-- Oh, wait a minute--I'm way ahead of myself. I was on Bikini when I first left Guam. That's where, that's where-- I went to Bikini, where they had that atomic bomb test. "Hey this is gonna be alright, I wanna see that big bomb go off." Boy, we worked our butt off putting up Quonset huts, and towers, and I don't know what all [unintelligible]. I was on a-- There was a separate little island on that Bikini atoll. I was on Aoman Island. That island-- When that, the high tide was in, you could take a baseball bat like that, and throw it across the island--it wasn't much longer. I don't know how many--how long I spent on it; that's why I'm like this [laughs]--rock happy. But 00:49:00then that's when I volunteered for that Burma Road bit. They loaded me up now. That was a couple of weeks before they were, ah--couple, three weeks before--they were going to drop the bomb. So I didn't get to see that. Here I had come back to Pearl Harbor. They gave us a party for all the ones that was on Bikini. That's about the first time I really, really saw a bikini [laughs]. Well, I came back to 'Frisco, and I came back home, and here, this--that was a hard part for me. My people, the Ho Chunks, they uphold their warriors very highly--and rightly so. I do, I feel just the way they do but-- Them guys, the 00:50:00real veterans--they really had it rough. They saw battle. I didn't get to see none of that, but I got the same treatment [when] I got home. I felt so out-of-place. I didn't deserve it; I still believe that. The ones that saw combat--some saw hand-to-hand combat-- It's terrible. I saw a lot of them boys. So [clears throat] the heroes' welcome they give me, I didn't deserve. And I said-- I told them so. But again, I'll say it in my language, [speaks his 00:51:00language]: "I follow the footpaths of the boys that were ahead of me in the war." Again my uncle Abel told me, "Well, I tell you what--" After I talk to uncle Abel, that made me a little better, feel better, because some of the boys I was going to school with--had been in school with-- I had come back, and they were just going to Service. He said I shouldn't feel that way, because I was willing to do what the other boys were doing; it was just that I was lucky enough I didn't get to see that. Well, that offered me a little consolation to the way I was feeling, but still, even today, it bothers a me. Today, they ask a 00:52:00veteran to speak someplace; now, here I am. That's why I was apologizing to my people. There's somebody else out there that should have been here. But then again, I'd look at 'em. They were older than me too; they are older than me. But, thank God we have them here. They're still here. I'm mighty proud of them-- mighty proud that I could follow their footsteps.

DERKS: Tell me, how did the Ho-Chunk honor their Veterans?

LINCOLN : Well, they uphold them very highly. They put 'em on a special pedestal, like. When-- They are used at a funeral, at wakes. They are used to 00:53:00be--carry the flag, the colors, at the Powwows. At any kind of gathering, a Veteran is there. He's asked to say a few words. He's used all over. Most everything--anything that we do--a Veteran has a certain place to sit. They are honored by being fed first and-- Whatever honor they can bestow upon them, they do. That's why I say, I stay away from that. I don't-- I kind of avoid the 00:54:00Powwows, because the ones that have been really in combat, I just let them-- When there's nobody else there, when there are no other Veterans there, I try to fill in for them, but I never volunteer for anything; I never say, "Let me do this. I know what it is, I've been there." I just can't get myself to do that [laughs]. Like I said, this is a surprise to me that they said they couldn't find anybody right away quick--so that's, that's why I'm here. That's why I'm apologizing to the Veterans here, that-- But, I was mighty proud of my uniform. I was mighty proud that I got to serve. It was hard for me to see my sons go to 00:55:00Vietnam. Yes, I tried to go. And Okinawa's--not Okinawa, but what do you call that, um--

DERKS: Korea?

LINCOLN : That other war, that police duty-- I volunteered for that, but I had already had a family started at that time. I didn't make it then. So, then, I guess that's what the boys are going through now. I even volunteered for civilian workers in that Desert Storm, but I was too dang old--

DERKS: The percentage--the number of Ho-Chunk, and all Native Americans that 00:56:00volunteered for World War II--was higher than any other group. Why do you think that is?

LINCOLN : Like I said, it's an honor to be a Veteran, a [Ho Chunk word for 'veteran']. World War II back-- Well, the Veteran has always been held up high because they saw a duty to protect what was theirs, and they done it without hesitation. That had been brought along--even up to today. As much as I don't want my children to go, I encourage them to go. They learn about life then, they know how precious life is. They know how to respect it--appreciate what we got. 00:57:00Everybody kind of got a different feeling about it. Some people make fun of-- make a joke out of, "Hey he's real gung ho about this--oh, and about that--" I think that-- I don't think that any of the Ho-Chunks have volunteered for personal LINCOLN ory. It's a job--protect their homeland, protect the ones--the children, the women folks, the old people. They're doing their part to protect our homeland. By myself, like I said, I was real proud to see the boys out there 00:58:00marching off to war and--because I didn't know what war was. All I seen is, that they was having a duty to do, and they were doing it, and I seen old World War I Veterans telling the boys goodbye, and then to give them instructions and that, and I was wishing that I could be given instructions by them, you know.

[End of Interview]