GRAHAM: All Right. This is an interview with Raymond C. Kaquatosh, who servedwith the Marines during World War II and the Korean War, is that correct? [inaudible] This interview is being conducted at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King, Wisconsin on July 24th, 2012, and the interviewer is me, Molly Graham. And Raymond, I'm going to have you just introduce yourself. This is the first time I'm meeting you, and, um, I want to hear you describe yourself.
KAQUATOSH: Okay. Ah, my experiences in World War II began when I boarded atroopship for the South Pacific in 1943. We embarked aboard a ship from the 00:01:00French, it was called the Klipfontein [US-acquired Dutch ocean liner] in San Diego, bound for New Caledonia [French territory] in the South Pacific. My first experience with the war, World War II, was that aboard the Klipfontein. We were pursued by a Japanese submarine after about a week out. That trauma was the first experience of the frightening episodes in World War II. The fear of being blown out of the water prompted me to volunteer for a gun watch, and I was glad 00:02:00I did. We picked up a fish--that's Navy jargon for submarine--about a week out and we eluded it due to the fact that the Klipfontein could do about thirty-five 00:03:00knots and the submarine couldn't do that while submerged. However, during the night, in the dark hours, they could keep up with us. So, we zigzagged all across the Pacific--that was the first scary part of World War II. After being in the New Hebrides Islands for about a year and a half we embarked on a ship bound for Peleliu, which is five-hundred miles southeast of the Philippines; that island had to be taken before [General Douglas] MacArthur could return. So, 00:04:00with the help of the Marines, he was able to live up to his expectations of "I shall return," what he quote. However, the island of Peleliu was dubbed "the Green Inferno;" it was the bloodiest battle [September 15-November 27, 1944] that the Marines ever fought in World War II. 4,000 Marines were knocked out on the first week of fighting; the beaches were littered with the dead and the 00:05:00stench was unbearable--it made you wretch with every breath you took.
The Japanese were piled up like cordwood, and the average housefly was big as ahorsefly. They got that large from feasting on the dead, and they tried to eat the living. Prior to that we Marines lived on K-ration [breakfast-dinner-supper non-perishable packaged meals], C-ration; some of it was left over from World War I, but we had to eat it, or starve. Hunger knows no shame. Water was laced 00:06:00with chlorine, so bad that when you got up to your nose you could smell it before you drank it. There again, we had to drink it, or dehydrate. There was dehydrated potatoes, dehydrated milk, dehydrated eggs was our staple diet. I had to endure these, and being a full-blooded Menominee Indian, my temperament was, I sha--will never cry for a white man. However, my temperament changed when a close friend of mine was killed by shrapnel. It was embedded in his back. I couldn't save him and to this day I blame myself. The doctor scolded me because 00:07:00of the fact that I wasn't a doctor and there was nothing I could do and the doctors couldn't save him. That was the first time I shed a tear for a white man.
The second time I shed a tear for a white man was in January 1945 when I cameback from an overseas leave. I suffered a relapse of malaria fever; wound up in a hospital in Wausau, Wisconsin. St. Mary's hospital, where a dying priest prayed for me every night. After the first week, he died. They didn't inform me 00:08:00of his departure for fear of the fact that I had seen too many departures during the war. We lived from day to day during combat, never knowing who was going to be next. As a result of that we remained aloof, because if you'd become friends with someone and they were killed you would feel badly about it. So, we stayed aloof; tried not to be too friendly with someone. And the burials that I have made, all the men I have put in the ground, were countless. On the island of 00:09:00Peleliu they have a huge white cross erected on Bloody Nose Ridge. 500 Marines were killed taking that little piece of real estate. I wonder if it's still there. If it isn't, 500 Marines died for nothing. The Japanese were holed up in the caves and the mountains and they had access to just about any part of the island through tunnels. They'd break out anywhere, kill as many as eighty men, 00:10:00or a hundred, and then crawl back in their hole.
The one that got me had eighty Marines to his credit. When I got hit in theankle, they flew me back to Pearl Harbor. I recuperated there for two weeks, then went on leave in 1945. The atrocities which I had to endure during that time are indelible memories for which I am now suffering from posttraumatic stress. At that time, we called it combat fatigue, but they have a modern name for it now called posttraumatic stress and I am now suffering from that because 00:11:00of these indelible memories which I had to endure. Every month I go to Milwaukee to participate in group meetings. I have never told my wife of sixty years of what I endured. I prefer not to be referred to as a killer. The police force of 00:12:00the United States have what they call counseling for the policemen that kill a man, but the armed forces of the United States teaches you how to kill, but they do not teach you how to cope with it after. A nun at the St. Mary's hospital in Wausau in 1945 gave me some solace by telling me, and I quote, "I would have done the same thing you did, Corporal [knocking], and I would not give a hoot about those others," unquote [background voices]. The incident of viewing the mutilated bodies and dismembered bodies still haunt me to this day. I will be 00:13:00eighty-eight years old tomorrow, and because of my waning years I have to meet all those people that I put in the ground.
The Japanese were a formidable foe. Their motto was, I quote, "To die for theEmperor is to live forever," unquote. Therefore, they hesitated in surrendering; 00:14:00but because of the fact that some of the Marines in my outfit were mutilated when they were killed, dismembered, and put on display, and the colonel in our outfit said, "Take a look at these guys. There will be no Japanese prisoners taken on this island!" As a result, we Marines never took any. I still remember some of the atrocities that were inflicted upon my fellow Marines, but I never shed a tear for them.
Because to cry for a white man, in my Indian heritage, is indicative of the00:15:00frailty. I was ashamed when I cried for Bob. But as years go by I [inaudible] mellow; I know I have to meet these guys I put in the ground. How can I cope with it? I asked that question to my counselor in Milwaukee. He could not give 00:16:00me or assuage the predicament and the action that I performed in the line of duty. I hope the services that we Marines rendered will have some effect on the welfare and the livelihood of the American people. I volunteered when I was seventeen. Because I am an American Indian it was hard for me to assimilate into 00:17:00the society of the white man. But at the tender age of seventeen I was a hard nose. I didn't care what the white man thought of me; but during combat it brings out the good as well as the bad in everyone. I found then that the white 00:18:00man was no different than my Indian. They fought bravely, died with their eyes open looking right at me, and I honor them [voice breaks]. It's hard for me to remember them. I tenderly, carefully, wrapped them in a blanket, dug a hole, put them in the ground, because I knew they would do the same [voice breaks] for me. 00:19:00If the killing of a human being can save the freedom of our country, then it had to be done. I will end this statement to this young lady named Molly who came up here from Madison to interview me. I hope I lived up to her expectation. 00:20:00
GRAHAM: And that's all you want to say?
KAQUATOSH: [inaudible] I got to go.
KAQUATOSH: Full-blooded Menominee Indian, Neopit, Wisconsin. My mother was amedicine woman of high esteem. She cured my leg of TB of the bone. She had a cure for the cold, which she administered to me many times. She hated all white men. She was never to a doctor in her entire life. She was killed by an unknown 00:21:00assailant, who inflicted a head trauma to her. She lived by her code: never cry for a white man; and when I told her I did, she said I should be ashamed of myself, [inaudible] frailty of our tribe. I had to have a talk with my Creator to ask forgiveness and make an offering. My father was a educated man. He went to Carlisle University [Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Carlisle, Pennsylvania], and died at the tender age of thirty-two. He was a bookkeeper. The last chief of the Menominee tribe was named Kaquatosh, and I am a descendant of him. He was killed in 8, 19--1850, run over by a horse and buggy, and that 00:22:00was the last known chief of the Menominee. So, if I profess to be the relative or descendant of a chief it's written in the history book, the last chief of the Menominee was named Kaquatosh.
As a boy I grew up on the reservation, hunting and fishing because there was nowelfare and my father died when I was eight years old. And I was put in an orphanage where I survived. We used to hunt and fish for a living. In the 00:23:00summertime the fish in the Wolf River became somewhat contaminated--we couldn't eat the fish. They would have to go through the trout streams that fed into the Wolf River. We'd have to walk miles and miles for it. And there were other times we had a wood stove, kerosene lamp, no inside plumbing, but we endured. It made us stronger; because many times in the Marines I used that wisdom to survive. And now that I'm eighty-eight, going to be eighty-eight years old tomorrow, I 00:24:00can talk about some of the--but it still bothers me. I came to wolf--we Indians believe, when you die you can be reincarnated into any animal or bird which you deem proper. And a wolf came to my door a year after my father died, and we 00:25:00assumed that he had the spirit of my father. He saw me through two wars.
He lived to be eighteen years old. He was never to a vet. Because my motherbeing a medicine woman, she took care of him. He was shot once; I was shot once. He got hit by a car, I got hit by a car. We roamed the reservation, did our hunting and fishing; without his help we couldn't have survived. He helped catch partridges, rabbit, even porcupine. He could understand many words. When I 00:26:00talked to him, he used to hang his head as if he was listening intently and not missing a word. He waits in the happy hunting ground for me now, to show me around. I know not from whence he came, but where he went. We will meet again. It's only a matter of time. When the Great Spirit beckons I hope that I have the 00:27:00dignity to cope with my demise. Nostalgia they say is good for you sometime, but to me it's terrible. The men that I put in the ground I will to have to meet. All I can say is I did it in self-defense. I will have hold my head up high, but it's quite emotional for me to recall those events. I am a humble man. I 00:28:00appreciate what the government is doing for me, but I am 100 percent disabled through the service connection, and that's why I'm here at King. I have high regard for the staff here, the nurses and doctors who prescribe for me and with tender loving care administer at my aches and pains. I hope I will be able to thank every one of them before I leave. I sometimes get lonesome because I'm 00:29:00human. The doctor on Peleliu gave me these wily words of wisdom-- "You couldn't save Bob because you weren't a doctor. We doctors couldn't save him." And I was scolded. I asked the doctor point-blank, "Why is there rain on my face?" With these words of wisdom he said, and I quote, "Because, Corporal, you are human 00:30:00like the rest of us," unquote.
And that didn't help much. His name was Lieutenant Commander Morrison. He was agood man. I hope I was a good patient for him. He got me on an airplane [inaudible], the airplane for four hours; told the pilot that the Navy owed me a 00:31:00favor because I had been with a corpsman who was stabbed. But I don't want to talk about it, too painful.
GRAHAM: That's okay. I--
KAQUATOSH: So, we'll end this conversation--
KAQUATOSH: Is there anything else that you'd like to know?
GRAHAM: Well, I was curious about--Mary told me you were one of the last peoplewho can speak--
KAQUATOSH: Who now?
GRAHAM: Mary said you were one of the last people who can speak--
KAQUATOSH: Mary said you were--
GRAHAM: That you were the last people who can speak Menominee, the language.
GRAHAM: Because I was wondering if you can say something to me, in your native language.
KAQUATOSH: What do I have to say to you?
GRAHAM: Can you say something to me in Menominee?
KAQUATOSH: I would greet you by saying, "P?s?h." That means "Hello." "?neq n?p?"That'd be, "How are you?" And you would be a "Mokema," being a "white woman." 00:32:00And "wasakeu [sp??]," means "What's wrong with you?" or "Why are you here?" "Kanweuk [sp??]" would mean that you [inaudible], you really don't know. You are trying to evoke the sad part of my life so that it can be documented. I agreed to that because of the fact it might help someone else. Let it also be 00:33:00indicative of my characteristics and individuality of that of a Menominee Indian, of which I am called the "Little Hawk," or "N'ase kani" [sp??] in Menominee. In order to attain that name I had to starve for three days; forage my food in the forest; fight the mosquitoes off; until I started to hallucinate, and then I dreamed of food at first, but then I saw a hawk circling and 00:34:00circling. And then he dropped down, picked up a mouse, I knew then that I would be of the aviary clan. I looked at the sky with the fleecy white cloud--I knew that someday I would have wings. My pilot's certificate is 1001642; I tell it in my book. I tried to do what I think would behoove the image of my people, never 00:35:00to disparage that image. I am somewhat educated. I am a graduate of Wausau Senior High School,
the Milwaukee Area Technical College, the University of Wisconsin, theuniversity law school in Madison, Wisconsin, which I attended but couldn't afford it--I had to drop out. Nevertheless, I practiced law most of my life, did all my own legal work; but now I'm retired. I'm living the life of Reilly here 00:36:00at King [Wisconsin Veterans Home]. I'm trying to behoove the image of the American Indian. And you notice I said, "American Indian" not "Native American." "Native Americans" are people who are born in America, whether they are white or black or red, or Mongolian. If you're born in a country, you are a native of that country. I prefer to be called, what I am, an "American Indian." So with that in mind, this American Indian will bid you farewell. I hope I lived up to your expectation.
GRAHAM: Well, thank you so much. I think we're okay. [Break in recording] You00:37:00wanted to start by telling me about being chased by the submarine?
KAQUATOSH: What aspects of this interview are you interested in?
GRAHAM: I want to know what it was like to grow up Menominee--00:38:00
KAQUATOSH: On the reservation?
GRAHAM: Yup. I want to know about reservation school. I hear you have a storyabout John Dillinger.
KAQUATOSH: About what?
GRAHAM: John Dillinger.
KAQUATOSH: Oh, oh yeah. That's, that's going to come up at a later--I mean, inthe early years of my life, eight years old, but if you want to know the--what it's like to grow up on a Menominee reservation--if you want to start with that or whatever--you said want to know about my earlier life?
KAQUATOSH: Well, I am the "Little Hawk" of the Menominee tribe, and "LittleHawk" will now speak, and I will say to you, "P?s?h, Mokema [sp??]," meaning "Hello, White person." And, "?neq n?p?," "How are you? Those are Indian words that you use in greeting another person. When you first confront them you always say, "?neq n?p, nakeshen [sp??]," it means, "Hello. How are you? Where are you 00:39:00going?' Those are some of the words that you learn almost immediately when you are growing up. But you want to know what it's like to live on a reservation with your peers and not having any contact with the white people. I was born in 1924. My mother was Margaret Sullivan; my father was John L. Kaquatosh. And I was born without the aid of a physician. My mother was a great medicine woman 00:40:00who was never to a doctor in her entire life. She died, or I should say was killed by an unknown assailant, from a blunt trauma to her head. I t was caused by a person or persons to steal her 19-inch black and white television set in 1975.
As a child of a medicine woman my birth was aided by a second mother, sometimes00:41:00referred to as a mid-wife. She had to be instructed for any eventuality which might occur during childbirth. The second mother, in case my mother died, the second mother would take me in and raise me. In the event that I didn't breathe--which was in my case--the second mother was told immediately to render another slap on my behind, only a little bit more forceful. I didn't breathe, 00:42:00and my mother sang a song to the Breath-maker. She spoke fluent Menominee, and all the songs she knew were sung in Menominee; asking the Breath-maker to permit me to breath, and her request was honored, and I began to breath; and she fed me immediately from her left breast, because to feed me from her right breast other than from her heart would not be pleasing to the Breath-maker. In other words, we adhere to all the action and the rules of her childbirth method. A shaman 00:43:00offered to assist, but my mother declined his offer because she knew all the signs, all the songs. The offerings, the afterbirth--which had to be buried immediately for fear that if any animal consume that I would have some repercussion later on in my life. So, it was disposed of immediately. After that, there was an offering, which is made for the Great Spirit or the 00:44:00Breath-maker in my case was there had to be some sort of expression of gratitude-- because with my hesitation to breath at birth, that had to be recognized and dealt with immediately. So, there was some cedar boughs that my mother instructed the second mother to burn the cedar boughs and walk around her and myself, and the smoke was waved at me as well as my mother to ward off any evil spirits which might be trying to cause us discomfort. 00:45:00
After I was born I was placed in a cradle which was decorated with Indianornaments made by my mother and the cradle had a hoop on it, which is sometimes referred to as a roll bar--as they say in automobiles that they use now--they put a hoop on it so that in case you roll over you won't get hurt; but in my case, my cradle, if I turned it upside down, I would still be able to breath. Indian mothers think of everything. And when you're able to reach up and hit some of the trinkets to make them chime, or rattle--that's what the roll bar is 00:46:00used for. As you grow older you become familiar with all the necessities to keep you alive and not be disastrous. Learning how to swim at an early age is very important because so many times you hear about some children drowning. That doesn't happen in our society; you are learned and taught how to swim at an early age. I lived near the Wolf River in an area called Crow's Nest. That area 00:47:00was known, close to the cemetery, known as a witches' traveling entrance to the town of Neopit. There are many evil entities that exist in the Menominee nation, but they are now ignored. But I lived on a witches' trail, and I viewed many evil entities that crossed the path of our home. However, being an Indian I had to learn the tactics of survival; if I should ever become lost, how to survive 00:48:00in the forest--and that was what was called my mother's church. She was confronted by some nuns who wanted to know why she didn't go to church. She blatantly told them that "my church is right here--those are the forest; Mother Earth is at my feet, Father Sky is above me, all around me are living things--trees; and trees, like people, have to have nutrients and water, and if it doesn't have either one it dies. They live a lot longer than people, nevertheless they still wither and die." Without the aid of anyone, and my 00:49:00mother's contention was that that was her church, and she never set foot in a Catholic church. However, she taught me never to blaspheme against anyone's religion; whichever they honor--the Great Spirit--they do it in a manner in which they deem proper; and I have never, ever condemned anyone's beliefs, because my mother taught me that it is disrespectable to the Great Spirit. 00:50:00
And growing up on the reservation you have to have knowledge that is instilledupon you as a youth how to survive in a forest; also in the wintertime, you cover yourself up with snow, so you won't freeze to death. Wolf's do the same thing; they burrow into the snow and they survive the bitter cold.
For this young Indian boy, I viewed the white men and the white children as thefragilities of humanity because they were not educated in survival. I was taught 00:51:00never to cry for a white man. I grew up with that temperament and it helped me survive World War II. Now never to cry for a white man had its reason, and the reason was that my mother taught me that the white man took away our land, pushed us unto reservation, and even then, they still try to take the land away from us. People don't own land; you might think of it as your own when you stake your claim on it, but--with my mother's instruction--you're only here for a 00:52:00little while and your gone forever. Life, according to the wisdom of my mother, is like a circle--it has no beginning, and it has no end. The buffalo eats the grass; we eat the buffalo; we go back to Mother Earth; she welcomes us back everything that she puts forward she takes back. As an avid believer of the culture of my people, I don't believe in some of the tactics which were 00:53:00instilled upon me at the time to hate all white man. I soon learned in war that wartime brings out the best of you, or the worst. When you live day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute, never knowing who is next, you become aloof--you want no association with each other. The reason for that is because you don't want to be friendly with someone and then feel devastated when he gets killed. And being in a war, like I said, brings out the best in you. When my friend Bob got killed from shrapnel embedded in his back, I couldn't save him, and this bothered me 00:54:00for all of my life, and I hated myself for not being able to save him. However, I was scolded by the Navy doctors on Peleliu, November 1944, that they as doctors could not save him, and they were doctors, and me being a corporal in the Marines, should not have blamed himself for something that he could not prevent. Although I nursed him for two weeks, took care of him, gave him water, even shared my beer ration with him--which the first time I had beer in three months-- 00:55:00
Now, when he died, I couldn't take it anymore. That was the first time that Icried for a white man. The second time I cried for a white man was when a dying priest prayed for me. He was dying of cancer; after two weeks he died, and I couldn't take it anymore--I had become emotional to the point where the bough broke, and the cradle fell. I had it. With the training that I had as a youth on the Menominee Reservation, hunting and fishing we couldn't have done it without, because there was no welfare, public assistance of any sort. I was born and 00:56:00raised in a home with no electricity and no inside plumbing. The illumination at night was from a kerosene lamp. The heat was generated by a wood stove. A pot-bellied stove was in the front room, from Acme Company in Chicago. Kitchen stove was also of cast-iron, and that was where our cooking and hot water, and the reservoir was kept. It was about a mile and a half from Neopit that I had to 00:57:00walk to and from school when I was able. But many times, when a heavy snow fell I couldn't go to school for days and days until the roads were opened up; and the fear of encountering any wild animal during the winter was quite frightening. Wolves roamed the reservation, and other animals that would cause you to be fearful of them. Therefore, I always carried a stick of some sort with an end on it that was come to a point or whittled to a point so that if I 00:58:00encountered something I would be able to stab it. The harsh living on the reservation was not what you would call something that was favored. In the summertime you cannot fish in the Wolf River because of the fact that fish seem to be contaminated and they develop spots on their gills, and they are recommended not to be eaten. However, in the wintertime, what we call ice-fishing, and we must go catch as many fish as we could to live on. Not having any wealth or anything, we had to hunt and fish for everything; and as a young man growing up I became quite the hunter as well as a fisherman, I knew 00:59:00all of the fishing spots. And the town of Neopit was a logging, had a logging mill, and the kids in town were able to benefit from that because their fathers worked in the mill. But my father died when I was eight years old, and that's when the poverty set in. My mother couldn't work. I had two older brothers that were always out of work; they refused to pitch in. And that's the way of life of a youth growing up in the late Twenties, early Thirties. 01:00:00
However there are some experiences with the white man that are indelible. Toname one, was John Dillinger. John was one of the most charming men, and respectful men, that I have ever met to this day. My mother hated all men, except John Dillinger. Her exact words, and I remember it like it was happening right now, she said, "That's one damn nice white man." One day I came home from 01:01:00school, it was in the fall, I think it was 1933, I scurried home because a chill in the air made me seek the comfort of the big pot-bellied stove in my front room. As I closed the door of our home I noticed a black, shiny automobile entering our driveway; it turned out to be, I believe, a 1933 Ford. And, as an Indian, we're always suspicious of white men. My brother noticed a car coming in 01:02:00and hollered to my other brother, "There's some white men coming in. Get the gun! So, we got the shotgun. My second oldest brother stood behind the curtain. And a young, young man rapped on the door, and with these words he said, "Could I come in? I'd like to talk to you." My brother wouldn't let him do it--my oldest brother he says, "What do you want?" He says, "I'd like to talk to you about getting some sleep. Would you like to earn twenty dollars?" With that, my brother opened the door wide and said, "Come on in." His first question was, 01:03:00"Are you armed?" and the guy [??] said, no. My brother told him, he says, "My other brother's right here behind that curtain. He has a twelve-gauge shotgun aimed at you, because we don't trust people." The guy says, "Hey," and he [inaudible] backward [??], "I mean no harm. All I want to do is get some sleep because we've been travelling from Chicago, and we need rest." My brother, "For twenty dollars you just bought yourself some protection for the night." I still remember the guy saying, "We don't need that much sleep. We just want to catch a few winks and then we'll be on our way." With that, my brother waved him over into, ah, the back of the house so he wouldn't be able to be recognized from the 01:04:00Highway 47 which ran in front of our home. As a curious young lad--I think I was about eight years old--I went out and I peered in the back seat. And I saw some pistols, Thompson submachine gun, shotgun, rifle and a whole bunch of weapons; and I ran back to my brother, and I said, "Hey, those guys are armed. They got a lot of guns in the back." He says, "Don't worry about it. They just want some rest." He said, "Look out for cars," and I remember a man who lived across the street.
His father named Waukau; I think Michael Waukau. He had a son named Willie.01:05:00Willie was a Navy veteran, and he lived with his father once in a while, and he called out to my brother, he says, "Tom, is everything all right?" My brother called back at him, "Yeah, everything's okay, just my uncle from Chicago." With that assurance, that was it. And I didn't know John Dillinger's name; and he told my brother, or asked my brother, "Think he'll call the cops?" My brother says, "No, [inaudible] I'll wake you up. My little brother here will be the look-out for you. Something happens he'll take you out to the back trail and 01:06:00show you how to escape to another outlet." John said, Thanks, but he went out and slept in the car. A few hours later he came in stretching the arms and yawning. My mother had prepared them some scrambled eggs, Indian-fried bread--which I always liked--and a pot of coffee was on the stove but made from spring water. And my mother was quite interested in the conversation, and John 01:07:00would call her, Ma'am. 01:08:00
[Phone rings at 1 hour 7 minutes. Conversation ensues, ends 1 hour 11 minutes.]01:11:0001:10:0001:09:00
KAQUATOSH: Okay, where was I now? Oh yeah, John Dillinger. John Dillingertreated most people with respect; as a result, he treated my mother as if she were a, shall I say an elegant person--he used the adage, Ma'am; in fact, when he met her he shook her hand and he bowed. That's something that never happened to my mother, or it's the first time I ever seen someone bow when they shook your hand. With that respect, my mother immediately became fascinated by this, shall I say, gentlemanly manner exhibited at the time. She immediately offered 01:12:00him another cup of coffee, which he readily accepted; there again, "Thanks, Ma'am." At the end of the meal he said words to this effect-- "For your sterling service, Ma'am, would you kindly accept this ten-dollar bill?" My mother said "Yes, as there's more, we have more food here," she said. He said, "Well, I'd like to take a piece of that bread." So, she wrapped it up and gave it to him and he took it with him; and I remember the last time they were driving out of the driveway I saw the taillights go on brightly when they stepped on the brakes before they entered the Highway 47--and with my mother's compliments, and these 01:13:00exact words, "That's one damn nice white man." And my brother said, "I believe they're heading for the Little Bo. "Bo" means "Bohemia;" they call it [??] "Little Bohemia." Not too long after that I heard they had a shoot-out there, and they still have bullet holes in the building where they had that shoot-out. Dillinger was more like a Robin Hood of the time; he was regarded as someone that respected you, and he hated policemen [phone rings] and most [phone rings] most people 01:14:00
[Phone rings, conversation ensues 1 hour 14 minutes, ends 1 hour 18 minutes.]01:18:0001:17:0001:16:0001:15:00
KAQUATOSH: Okay, John Dillinger.
GRAHAM: Little Bohemia. Little Bohemia. Bohemia? Little Bohemia?
KAQUATOSH: Oh yes. As I recall there was a shoot-out at Little Bohemia. The wordgot around quite a bit because John Dillinger used the reservation as sort of a sanctuary because the local police and the state police could not go on the 01:19:00reservation or didn't have any authority on them because every reservation is like a little nation all by itself. So, he had a few girlfriends there in Neopit, in Keshena; one of them was Evelyn Frechette, one of them was, um, oh, I think her name was Lands, she lived about a block from me: she was a attractive woman, but quite snooty, and she seemed to be talking down her nose at you as if you were a degenerate, and I, I didn't appreciate her. And there's another one that lived in Neopit, her name was Vivian. I knew Vivian, but I don't want to 01:20:00reveal her last name for fear that her relatives might not appreciate it. However, it's a known fact all of the people around the reservation knew Evelyn Frechette, and I knew Evelyn; she was a very nice person, and she went around to different circuses and give her rendition of her acquaintance with John Dillinger.
But like I said, John Dillinger was most respectable by the American Indians inNeopit. Note that I said, American Indians not Native American, I hate that term. Every person born in this country is a native American, so I prefer being called an American Indian. That was my brief encounter with John Dillinger, and, like I said, I was saddened when I heard that he was killed not long after that 01:21:00in that theatre in Chicago, betrayed by a woman in red. He might have been a fugitive, but he treated the Indians with great respect, and I was just sort of honored to have the acquaintance with him; and he mussed my hair up as he was leaving and walked out the door, and my brief encounter with him was favorable--left an indelible memory; and when I hear about him now it brings back that memories of a pleasant encounter in my young life. What else would you like to--
GRAHAM: Maybe we'll fast forward a little bit, and you can talk about how youentered the service--what was going on in your life, and what led you to--did 01:22:00you enlist, or were you drafted--how did that happen?
KAQUATOSH: Okay. I signed up for the Marines when I was seventeen, against mymother's disgusting attitude toward the white man; she said, "That's not your war. Stay out of it." Those were her exact words. However, a lot of men were being drafted; and when they hit eighteen most of them went in the army, and I regarded the army as something that was forced upon you, and I didn't want to be forced in it. The Marines are supposed to hold high esteem from other branches of service. The Navy is supposed to be the second one, and the Army last, 01:23:00because you can transfer from the Navy into the Army, but you can't transfer from the Army into the Navy. And as a Marine you can pick your choice if you want to transfer into the Navy or the Army. So, I held great respect for the Marines, and I wanted to be one. So, I didn't sign up for it, I volunteered in Milwaukee, and the Marine Corps sent me back with some papers to have my mother sign them, and she was reluctant in doing so because she didn't want me going to the war. So, I copied her signature [chuckles] and I mailed them back and gave my address as in Baraboo, Wisconsin; and, low and behold, they contacted me not 01:24:00too long after that, and they said that they would investigate me, as, when I stated that I was feared my mother would hear about it and I would be in a little hot water. But they never did; and when they contacted me they said I should report into Milwaukee, and I did. As the Navy doctors there examined me, or doctors, I think they were Army or Navy, I forgot, and they wanted me to change my mind about the branch of service. They said, You want to go in the Marines, are you sure? I assured them that I wanted to go into the Marines, so they stamped my approval, and they called me back; not long after that that I 01:25:00was accepted, and I should go back for a physical examination. So that's how I got into the Marines. After boot training in San Diego, California, we were ready to ship out, and I still remember that day.
It was on a Dutch ship, called the Klipfontein; and it was mandated by Indianpersonnel from India, and they were the most, shall I say, people that had utter disregard for the troops. They were Indian sailors, and they cooked with high spices of food that when you went by the galley you almost must gag. They looked 01:26:00at us [??]; they performed their duty. But my first taste of war came after we were at sea for a week or two: I heard over the radio, we have a 'fish' on our tail, meaning that we had a submarine. With that in mind, knowing that we could be blown out of the water at any minute, I volunteered for gun watch, that if the ship got torpedoed at least I'd be able to swim awhile. So I volunteered for gun watch; and the food was horrible, and, also, the odor reeked the air of 01:27:00people who had regurgitated their food because of being seasick. When we hit rough water that constantly happened that people would get sick and they would regurgitate their food. As a result, I kept volunteering for gun watch. I slept in the crew's quarters and was also able to eat with the crew, which was better food. What happened [??] it took us about two weeks to get to New Caledonia. Went through in [??] New Caledonia, I viewed my first native with red hair. They were of Negroid type it seemed like, but nevertheless they had red hair. I was kind of surprised to see a native with red hair: I think they dyed it. Then we 01:28:00went on to the New Hebrides Islands [South Pacific Ocean] where I was stationed on an island called Efate. Stayed there for almost a year before we went into action.
We were headed for Peleliu--Peleliu, Palau--that's located on a small islandabout 500 miles southeast of the Philippines; and on the way there, before we got there, I thought we heard thunder--that's what it sounded like--but it was some ship trying to blast each other out of the water, and then finally we saw 01:29:00the smoke coming out of the island of Peleliu--and that's where my experience of war came in. I was really amazed at the job that the Navy was doing. They blasted that little island which only about six miles long but was the most fortified island I believe that the Japanese had ever erected. They had caves with elevators in them, and had tunnels throughout the island that they could travel through these tunnels and come out, the snipers: and the sniper that shot me was credited with eighty Marines that he had killed, and he kept track by 01:30:00putting a notch on his rifle; and also--in his cave--they finally smoked him out with a flamethrower, but he'd come out in the daytime, go back into his cave; and that was only part of the war--
The most devastating part of the war on the island of Peleliu was that on abeachhead on a 1st Marine Division hit; 4,000 Marines suffered 4,000 casualties in the first week of fighting. Almost wiped out part of the 1st Division, and it didn't let up. I hit the beach after we boarded a weasel [World War II tracked 01:31:00vehicle, built specifically for snow] from the destroyer I was on, climbed down the rope ladder; and the man behind me--or below me--was a second lieutenant. He was kind of a demanding second lieutenant; like all second lieutenants are, they demanded respect. And I first encountered him before I went over the rope ladder. He said, "You didn't stand at attention when you approached me, Corporal!" I said, "I didn't see your emblem, Lieutenant. "Well, you see them now!" I said, "Yes, sir!" "You didn't render a salute!" I said, "Sir, I had my arms full. I couldn't salute with a rifle in my right hand, and a pack in my 01:32:00left hand." So, I put down the rifle and I saluted him. He went over the side first. I was crawling down the rope ladder, and I followed him; and a ship was approached by a weasel, that's an amphibious vehicle; that it was bobbing up with the waves, it would come up and then go back down, so you had to time your jump into it by waiting for the waves to let it go down or up. In this case, when it came up closest to me, that's when I was going to jump into it.
But my second lieutenant friend jumped in or tried to--let's put it that01:33:00way--but his legs hung off the side of it and the weasel came up and crushed him against the ship and broke one of his legs. So, I jumped in the next--when the weasel came up, and he was lying on the floor of that little weasel. So, I took his leg and I tried to straighten it out for him and I put his pack underneath it so it wouldn't be in a grotesque manner with it hanging over to the side of him; and he said, "Thanks, Corporal." Then I knew that war makes you a different man. When he was so intent on making me recognize his senior status as an 01:34:00officer before we boarded that weasel, his attitude changed when I went to the aid of him and fixed up his foot, or his leg so it wouldn't pain him so much. So, they took us into the beach, and I'm anticipating the worst. I kept looking ahead, hear the crack of a rifle, sometimes you hear the whiz of a bullet go near you at that distance and think maybe it's a bee flying around you, but it wasn't. No bee could have survived that invasion. So, they took the second lieutenant friend back to the ship. And I told him, I said, "You'll be in good 01:35:00hands if you get there. Nice knowing you, Lieutenant." And he reached out and he shook my hand. Bringing out the better part of people engaged in war; which brings out strange bedfellows.
Once we got on the ground, they told us to keep our heads down. They took us intoward the base, and I was running from the weasel to catch up with the rest of the guys. I tripped and stumbled--came face to face with a skull. Then I knew that we were in the midst of war; and the stench was unbearable. It made you want to retch with every breath. The decomposition of human flesh is not equaled 01:36:00by any animal that I have ever smelled in my life. It was nauseating, but we had to breathe. The water reeked of chlorine before you even got to drink it. Chlorine had to be put in there because of the fact it would kill all of the bacteria; and you had to drink it or die of thirst. That was the beginning of the taste of war. We got to our base that night. I experienced an episode which is similar to the Fourth of July that you see the fireworks. A flare was shot 01:37:00up, and it turned our area all--it looked like it was daytime. It would float down to earth; every few minutes they would shoot up a flare. You could hear the rattle of a machine gun, watch the tracers fly into the caves from the Ridge, we call it Bloody Nose Ridge. We put up a huge white cloth on it because 500 Marines were killed taking that little expensive piece of real estate. This didn't go on for a night or two, it went on all while I was on Peleliu until I got hit.
Prejudice is not uncommon--it's in the most educated people as well as the01:38:00non-educated people, the rich and the famous as well as the poor. Being a full-blooded Indian I was ridiculed a lot of times. They called me "Chief." Said, "Ugh," when they wanted to talk to me. And I was sort of singled out, "We need some volunteers. You, you, and the Indian." I got more mess duty than anyone else. I got more grave detail than anyone else, because I was an Indian. That sort of encouraged me to hate all white men--like my mother said, never cry for them. But I soon found out that those white men were no different from an 01:39:00Indian when it came to fighting. They die without whimpering; sometimes you don't even know that they were dead, except they were looking straight at you. And I always believed that people died, seeing a movie, that they'd close their eyes, but they didn't. They would be looking right at you, and they were dead. You didn't want to become friends with them, because if you did, when they got killed then it would affect you, mentally. Therefore, you stayed aloof. This went on all through the part while I was on the island of Peleliu until they 01:40:00needed some volunteers to go pick up some oil drums. Well the airplane needed some volunteers. "You, you, and the Indian."
Our time was up, and we were scheduled to come back home, and nobody wanted toexpose themselves to any rifle [??] fire, enemy fire--let's put it that way--for fear of being killed. Therefore, the slightest bang, or pop on a rifle, you hit the deck. And this is what happened. We were going to get some oil drums, and nobody would get up on the top to push them off because they were being exposed 01:41:00to sniper fire. Somebody said, "I'm not getting up there." I'm not getting up there. Two other guys with me; they said, "Ray, you're in charge of the detail--you get up there. Push the oil drums off--we need three of them." My answer to that was, "Okay, you dirty S.O.B's, I'll get up there, but you better be ready when I push them off." With that comment, I crawled up on top of the oil pile, oil drum pile, they were piled two or three high. I pushed off two of 'em, and I got the third one, pushed that off, and I stood up, and I felt a 01:42:00sting in my right foot, ankle--and where's the pop of the rifle? When you hear the pop of the rifle it's too late. I felt the sting, and then we heard the pop, and everybody ducked for cover. Well, I stood up, my ankle kicked out from under me. Then I fell on top of the oil drum. I was hit. Sick bay, here I come.
So, my mission was completed--we got the oil drums. Someone else had to drive.They got me back to the base. The corpsman loaded me on the jeep; took me to a tent hospital. With my foot still bleeding, a man named Cominsky, Francis 01:43:00Cominsky, cut the shoelaces off my shoe; at the time I was hit, and my ankle was bleeding; and before that--something else [??] happened during war that makes you laugh. In order to pull me out of the line of fire, Cominsky [chuckles] grabbed my ankle that I was hit on. And I--"Not that, you dumb [pause] Polish"--I called him a Polack--I said, "My other ankle!" He grabbed my other foot. He said, "Sorry, Ray." We both laughed at that. And then away [??] to the hospital. Still had my .45 strapped on, two clips of ammo and a bag [??] on my 01:44:00duty belt. We had to go past some sniper fire on our way there. I was glad I had my .45 strapped on in case I got thrown out of the jeep, and I almost did when we hit a bump; I bounced up and I thought I was going to go right out of that jeep, and I told the corpsman to slow down. Well, like I say, in the midst of war something always funny happens that makes you laugh. They flew me back to Pearl Harbor; but there was a lot of incidents happened at the hospital. A lot of those guys were being bayonetted because the Japs would get through the lines at night and go into the hospitals and they wouldn't use their rifles to shoot 'em, they used them to bayonet the patient because without the rifle fire you 01:45:00didn't know what was going on; and they didn't have any guards outside of the tent but somehow they managed to pull the soft-shoe routine and slip through past the corpsman.
And at the end of the tent the corpsman had a lamp. It was a Coleman lamp thatwas made of some sort of gas, but you had to pump it up--had to show 'em light brightly for a little while, then you had to pump it up again and make it go with the pressure on. And he was usually the first one to get killed, or [inaudible] in the hospital; and one of them got bayonetted while I was there, so you were always thankful that he would get it first. You never know who's going to be next when you're right in the midst of war. I did this--thanked the 01:46:00man upstairs for letting you live one more day, and that's the way it is in wartime. You don't want to become friends with anyone. You just want to stay aloof. And that's what I did. They flew me back to Pearl Harbor. I viewed all the ships that were in the harbor; Arizona, with the mast still sticking up with a flag on it. Hickam Field seemed to be all repaired; they bombed that out. And the hospital, the Navy hospital there in Pearl Harbor, I was there for two weeks trying to learn how to walk on my fractured right ankle. And they put me aboard ship and I was transported back to San Francisco; viewed the Golden Gate Bridge, 01:47:00we went under it--and then went over it when we were transferred from the Mare Island back to El Toro Marine Base; and we had lady drivers, something I didn't anticipate, so I hoped that they were safe drivers and they turned out to be [chuckles] all right, I'm kind of amazed at that. And I had a thirty-day furlough; went back to El Toro; and I was going to go into, I think it was, Kwajalein--the Marines didn't--that was the next battle after Peleliu--Okinawa, and then Iwo Jima. So, I was scheduled to go back. I was on twenty-four-hour 01:48:00alert to go back. And they found out I had been shot, and I had malaria twice. With a relapse of malaria--I was still recuperating from it after a thirty-day leave--I was in the hospital in Wausau, Wisconsin, St. Mary's Hospital, and then that's when I went back to the Marine base in El Toro. They said that I had enough action that they would let me off, and that's what happened; that was the end of my war experience in World War II. Then I heard about Iwo Jima and all the other battles, and I was so thankful I didn't have to go back into those and I thank the man upstairs for that. That concludes my story-- 01:49:00
GRAHAM: Ok. Um, I had questions, sort of about, you know, the years betweenWorld War II and going into the Korean War; and meeting your wife; and [inaudible] the rest of your story.
KAQUATOSH: You want to hear about that?
GRAHAM: Yeah. We don't have to do it today. We've been talking for over an hour.I can come back again. It's not like I don't know how to get here.
KAQUATOSH: Sure. We can talk about it.
GRAHAM: Next time?
KAQUATOSH: Next time. Yeah.
GRAHAM: Okay. All right. We'll pick up after World War II. And go from there.
KAQUATOSH: Yeah. From World War II? The assimilation of an Indian into the whiteman's society wasn't easy. You'll find that prejudice is not uncommon in all factions of life, for the educated or uneducated, there's still prejudice. For 01:50:00instance, the black man was referred to with the n word, and now they're getting a break.
They cannot express discrimination against the black man. As a result, it hasbenefited the Indian also. So, I'm sort of in between that and the prejudice which was perpetrated upon the American Indian. I missed out on a lot of jobs because I was Indian. Things like that. You'll always find prejudice, but most generally it's in the uneducated. As you become educated, you become more, shall 01:51:00I say, intelligent in dealing with the people that, who are no different than you are--they're human beings, so they should be regarded as such. But another nice woman in--when I was going to high school, I went back to high school after World War II--but, that's a different story.
GRAHAM: Okay. For next time?
KAQUATOSH: Next time we'll delve into that.