Nov. 15, 2004
SWTJC Class Project
Val Verde County History
U.S. History 1301 Doug Braudaway
My name is Gabino Barrera I interviewed Garland T. Hill on his experiences in World War II. The interview took place at Mr. Hill’s home at 453 Boot Trail, in Del Rio, Texas, Val Verde County on Nov.12, 2004. The objective is to document personal experiences that Mr. Hill had in the War and after the War, when he came home to Del Rio, Texas.
GB: My name is Gabino Barrera, today is Nov. 12, 2004 and I am interviewing Garland Hill on his experience in World War II and the years after the War in Del Rio, Tx.
GB: Mr. Hill if you would give me your name.
GTH: Garland Terry Hill.
GB: O.K., where were you born please?
GTH: I was born 1000 E. Third Street, Del Rio, Tx.
GB: Did you have siblings?
GTH: Well, you want my birthday? I was born Aug. 17, 1923 and you want, you want Mom and Dad’s name too or not?
GB: Yes sir.
GTH: Cornell and Burness Hill C-O-R-N-E- double L and B-U-R-N-E-double S
GB: O.K., you went to school here in Del Rio?
GTH: I graduated from Del Rio High School in 1942.
GB: Huh, would you huh, tell me a little bit about how you came to go into the military?
GTH: I was drafted, in August of 1943. February 1943.
GB: Where did you go to boot camp?
GTH: Little Rock, AR. Camp Joseph T. Robinson
GB: After boot camp where did you
GTH: I went to, huh, Surgical Technician School in San Antonio, Tx.
GB: What was the first assignment that was given to you after…
GTH: Ashburn General Hospital A-S-H-B-U-R-N in McKinney, Tx. And that’s where I met her, my wife.
GB: O.K. and her name?
GTH: Sue Kirkland, Sue E. Kirkland doesn’t make any difference. K- I-R-K-L-A-N-D
GTH: I-R-K-L-A-N-D, Kirkland.
GB: O.K. and huh, when did you, huh, get sent to war?
GB: The year?
GTH: I spent two years at the hospital in McKinney, where she was, and, we got married June the eleventh in 1945.
GTH: And that, and that’s when I went overseas.
GB: Where did you go first?
GTH: To the Philippine Islands. I have a Philippine Liberation Ribbon, for the invasion of the Philippines.
GB: What was your experiences there in the Philippines?
GTH: I was building hospitals to taking back our wounded; I wasn’t doing medical work [laughing].
GB: Did you see any, huh, what’s considered action?
GTH: No, I was in the medics, I was coming up behind. I saw a lot of it, but I mean they weren’t shooting at me.
GB: What were some of the huh, injuries, that you saw? Huh, in particular huh, was it more huh towards the huh, bombing or actually being shot?
GTH: Well most of them were gun, just gunshot wounds in the Philippines, ‘cuz we were, you know, made a beach landing there.
GB: Did you tend to, to wounded soldiers?
GTH: Yes sir. Yeah, that was my job, but I didn’t do much of it after I got overseas. They said I have construction and Spanish they put me working outside.
GB: So you were fluent in Spanish?
GB: You knew Spanish pretty well to communicate with the natives there?
Yeah, right. No wait a minute they had a lot of Puerto Ricans in the Army and that’s who I was talking to, I had them working for me.
GB: O.K. Did you, when you were there, did you notice the huh, what was the general huh, atmosphere, were they happy that we were there? The natives, the people from
GTH: Extremely, the Japanese were very, very cruel to ‘em, and whenever General Yoasisa, he was in Baggio up in the capital, in the, in the resort, and whenever he surrendered, we had more trouble keeping the philippinos from killing him when they came down, than we had with them before. I mean they were, they were cruel to the philippinos, they were awfully bad to them.
GB: How long did it take to liberate the Philippine people?
GTH: We only stayed there, it was already the invasion when we went, and it didn’t take but a matter of a few months to liberate that, that was easy. And I was in downtown Manila at the U.S.O. Club when they dropped the Atomic Bomb.
GB: What was the huh, the reaction of the people around there after, and our own people, after that happened because I know…
GTH: Well, the thing is, nobody knew what an Atomic Bomb was…
GTH: It was dropped in secret, and it was about twenty minutes before they come and told us what they did, it really, really happened, and then, I got on the ship and stayed five days and then we invaded Japan, we already had it planned and I was on the boat five days and then I made a Beach Landing in Japan, but it was not opposed, but, then I stayed six months in Japan, in occupation.
GB: They had already surrendered?
GTH: Oh yeah, they, they surrendered, yeah when that Atomic Bomb went off that was…
GB: It crippled them?
GTH: They dropped the second one on Nagasaki but they already, they had less than sixteen rounds of ammunition per man and no gasoline and no food left when we got there, they were starving, it was…
GB: Do you remember where you were at, after the, for the second bombing? In Nagasaki?
GTH: I was already, I think I was on the ship by that time, but it was just a few days…
GB: Back to back?
GTH: Yeah, just a few days…
GB: And you were there for another six months in Japan?
GTH: Huh’ha I stayed six months in Japan.
GB: What was the, huh, what was the reaction of the people there?
GTH: They loved us.
GB: Did they?
GTH: We had no problem whatsoever, we was only there a matter of two weeks, ‘til we slung all of our rifles under the bunks, now the first three graders like me, we carried arms, sidearms, and everything, but the regular soldiers, no weapons, no nothing, no problems, no shootin’, no, it was completely, they were extremely happy to have us there, there was no problem whatsoever, it was great! If I hadn’t of been married, I would’ve stayed another term over there.
GB: Is that right?
GTH: Yes sir, I mean, it was good people, real honest and real hard working. I really did admire ‘em they really did good, now I had no problem with them.
GB: And your huh, your tour, your tour ended in Japan? And you were brought, you were sent back to the states?
GTH: Whenever I got enough points, time, and grade and everything else, they ship you back home see? And I came back home in February of ’46 I did three years and sixteen days in the military. And I was a Staff Sergeant when I got out.
GB: And did you huh, how long was it before huh, they processed you out? After you…
GTH: They process you the minute you hit the, the huh…
GTH: Stateside, they start, that’s what they bring you back for, so, it’s just a matter of a few days ‘till they check you over and do your teeth, and check your eyes, and try to get you to reenlist, and get all your stuff, just a matter of a few days. Yeah.
GB: And after huh, you did, huh, get out of the military you came straight.
GTH: Came back to home, I’ve been here ever since. I haven’t even been to the Sonora Caverns [GB laughs] I’m home.
GB: O.K. [laughter] Now huh, after your military career what did, what was it that you did?
GTH: Well I started teaching, Veterans in the Val Verde County Veterans Vocational School. I started teaching adults, Veterans. And I taught, Veterans for fourteen years.
GB: Who were your pupils, mainly?
GB: Your pupils were mainly Veterans, but…
GTH: All of ‘em had to be Veterans, yeah.
GB: O.K. There was all kinds, uh, Hispanics, uh…
GTH: It didn’t make any difference…Cowboys, everything the whole works. And then I stayed out six-and-a-half years with T.L. (his older brother) building houses, for C and L Lumber Co.
GB: And just for the uh…
GTH: And then…
GB: The record, T.L. is your brother.
GB: He is older than you?
GTH: T.L.’s two years older than me, yeah, it’s called Mud Creek Construction Co. is what it was.
GTH: And then Gaby, they built the new High School that we have now.
GTH: And they came and got me, and I went up there and taught building trades for fifteen years. And I retired there in May of 1983, with twenty-nine years of school teaching.
GB: Hum, going back a little bit, to uh, when you came back from your military career. How did you see Del Rio? Uh, compared to when you left? Did you see a big change; did the War change Del Rio in any way?
GTH: Well, just before I left, I was the first person on Laughlin Air Force Base. I cut the fence to go in to build Laughlin, before the War. Whenever, I mean, the War was already on, but I was the first person on Laughlin Air Force Base and before, I, I didn’t even get to see it finished, ‘cuz they got me in the Service before all of it… my Daddy ran the Post Engineers and Jack (another older brother) worked for them, and uh. When I came, it was ready to, almost ready to close again, see, after that.
GTH: but uh, Del Rio grew from about, eight thousand before the War, to what it is now, people returning that’s been stationed at Laughlin and liked the town and the people and our, our way of life here. And that, I mean, and it’s, it’s growing in leaps and bounds right now, but it grew from that, mainly on the San Felipe Springs, I mean, of course good people, but, the water and the hunting; and the freedom and the honesty, and I think, just, just people got out of the Service they went, and they’d be back in two weeks.
Mr. Hill speaks to his wife]
GB: Did you see the people in Del Rio appreciative of what you uh, what you and the rest of the military had accomplished? GTH: Oh! The old, the old timers really were, yeah, oh, yeah, great, uhuh. Yeah we had, we had uh, like, Bob Robertson, he put in the Veterans School for us for nothing, he bought the barracks and set them up for us, and everything else, for the Veterans, they, they really did appreciate us and help us.
GB: That’s good.
GTH: Yeah! It was uh, the town was really, was really nice when we came back, it really was, in fact, every night for about a year, all the veterans in town, would be in Villa Acuna at night, couples and everything, and it was absolutely wonderful, the people over there, it was, it was the, you couldn’t tell one side of the border from the other and it was absolutely wonderful it was a great year, but then, as the town grew, it kind of started changing over there, and that Administration changed. But General Quinones and all them were absolutely fantastic people.
GTH: Yeah, and Mike Garza’s daddy was the mayor, and it was a different world, and I mean absolutely…
GB: You were celebrities…
GTH: They treated everybody nice, but then it got bad, I didn’t go across twice in thirty years.
GTH: [Laughing] that was for my…
GB: I don’t blame you.
GTH: Class Reunion, [laughter] and when, when Nelda got married, that’s the only two. Now I’m going to get my drugs, I’m going regular again now, ‘cuz they got so high over here.
GTH: Mexico has been absolutely great.
GB: Now, uh.
GTH: There’s something that a lot of people don’t know. The Mexican people joined the Army, from Mexico. Mexican Citizens, didn’t speak a word of English, but they sent them early every morning, to class, and they learned extremely fast, and then they went to a regular base, and when they got out of the Army, they were, all they had to do was go apply and they became Citizens automatically they didn’t have to go through nothing. And that’s where we got some of the wonderful people that we have. It was that way, a lot of my students were from Mexico, and that’s the way they become Citizens.
GTH: You come back, go in that Army and come out like that…
GB: So that the Army…
GTH: They, they really learned and they were, they’re first class, I mean it.
GB: That’s great, so the Army gave them a chance to…
GTH: A real chance…
GB: … fight for the U.S.
GTH: …right, for the, to become a U.S, Citizen for serving in the Service. A lot of people don’t realize that but it was.
GB: Yeah, I’ve never heard of that actually.
GTH: Uhuh [confirmation], that’s the way they got’em, sure did! We had so many Indians and everything, locals, that they never spoke any English at all. Lots of people, but they had those classes early every morning, before anybody else went to work in the Army.
GB: Yes sir.
GTH: And they taught ‘em English. And everybody helped them, it was a great time in your life to, you know, everybody shared and helped son, it really, that’s the way the Americans won it, with togetherness.
GB: Peace! Hum, did you? I know that recently they’ve had movies on the Navajo Talkers, which were the Code Talkers.
GB: Did you have any experience with…
GTH: No, nuhu…
GB: …any of those folks?
GTH: No, nuhu…
GB: Did you hear of, about them, when you were in the military?
GTH: Well, not, the main thing that, not in the. They used the Indians for communication, because the Japanese couldn’t understand them. They could tap the wires, but they weren’t gonna…
GB: It didn’t matter.
GTH: They used them everywhere in the War. Yeah, you know, the Indian tribes, yeah, they sure did. They came in real, real great.
GB: It didn’t matter if they tapped in, because they couldn’t decipher…
GTH: They couldn’t understand it; we didn’t worry about it, so, yeah.
GB: [laughter] That’s great, I understand that huh, somebody had quoted a general, huh, a Japanese General, huh, that once said that it sounded like the person was talking underwater.
GB: Because it, there was no way, they couldn’t figure out…
GTH: They didn’t know [laughing]…
GB: …what he was saying.
GB: O.K. Mr. Hill can you tell me a little bit about your family and their experiences, huh…
GB: In Del Rio?
GTH: All the, all my four kids are born here in Del Rio, and huh, there all married now, I have nine grandkids and six great-grandkids now.
GB: How many great-grandkids were they?
GTH: I got nine grandkids and six great-grandkids.
GB: Six great… Uh, going back to your brothers and sister.
GTH: Three brothers and three sisters.
GB: Three brothers, how many sisters, one sister right?
GB: Three sisters.
GTH: Huhu [confirmation] Three brothers and three sisters. All of them are still alive except Menard.
GB: O.K. I don’t, I don’t recall Menard.
GTH: He was my oldest brother, he passed away at sixty-seven years old, he died before mom and dad.
GB: Oh, O.K. umm, can you give me the names of your siblings?
GTH: Uh, Melody, M-E-L-O-D-Y, Melody J., J-James yeah, Melody James.
GTH: Janis, Dale.
GTH: Janis Dale Hill, yeah, yeah, Rocky Ray Hill, and Sandy Clagg, C-L-A-G-G, and that’s my four kids.
GB: O.K., did any of them pursue a military career?
GTH: No, Nuhu.
GB: Now huh, going back to your military days, what was the huh, the Veterans huh, Hospital, what type of service did you get from them?
GTH: Surgery, yeah.
GTH: I was a Surgical Technician in the Army.
GB: O.K. but, huh, after, after the fact that you went to the military, you still, you got veterans, huh, benefits?
GTH: Huhu [confirmation]
GB: O.K. were they huh…
GTH: But they, but they’ve dwindled, I had service connected disabilities on an accident on my face, I got blown-up and everything, but they’ve cut’em all out after about twenty years, I don’t get anything, that will take care of me anymore.
GTH: I can’t get into the Veterans Hospital because I make too much money, and it’s gotten very, very bad, for…
GTH: Well, there’s so many of us.
GB: O.K. now, huh, you speak of injuries that you obtained in the military.
GTH: Well nothing, nothing great, just my face…
GTH: …from a fall, and they operated on it and it changed my looks a little.
GTH: But, I got blown up but I didn’t have any permanent damage, I got a bullet in my hand.
GB: How did that happen?
GTH: I don’t know, never did, wanted to find, it, it’s still in there.
GTH: Yeah, so I don’t know how. It’s been in there.
GTH: But, with all the explosions, blown-up, hit, and everything, I never got hurt.
GB: That’s great
GTH: I mean, I got knocked down a lot of times, but I was always back, behind the line, picking-up you know, I wasn’t …
GTH: They wasn’t shootin’ right down our neck at me.
GTH: Yeah, so I had a good Tour of Duty.
GB: That’s good.
GTH: I saw, saw everything, and did everything, and huh, really.
GB: O.K. hum, you were telling me about your military career, you made two beach landings; one was in huh, where?
GTH: One in the Philippines, in the Philippine Liberation.
GB: O.K. the other one was in Japan?
GTH: Right, we were on the boat when they surrendered, and we went ahead and made the landing that we had planned, but with no opposition. So that was, it was pretty bad, ‘cuz the beachhead was too soft, but…
GB: You said it was five days after the…
GB: …the bombing?
GTH: …I was on the boat five days before we moved.
GTH: See, I don’t know if, it’s been so long now, I forget what the actual days were.
GTH: But I was on the boat five days, ‘cuz I got sick every time.
GB: [laughter] O.K.
GTH: And then it took, we had to go from there to, since I, I don’t know what days were what, but…
GB: Where in Japan did you land? Do you remember?
GTH: Well, I was stationed in Cobi, we, I don’t know the name of the beach or the town, we landed, but I was stationed in Cobi, and I was living in the Dido Export building you saw, that D-I-D-O Export building in Cobi, Japan.
GB: D-I-D-O Export Building.
GTH: That’s one they left standing [laughter].
GB: O.K. uh.
GTH: That’s where I, that was Headquarters Detachment 108th Medical Battalion. That was Headquarters Company, 108th Medical Battalion 1-0-8, Thirty-third Infantry. That’s where I was at; I was in the Thirty-third Infantry.
GB: O.K. huh, the huh, sleeping quarters and all that, what condition were they in?
GB: What condition was that motel in, or that building that you were…
GTH: Oh, Good! They didn’t, in other words they fire bombed, Japan, after the Atomic Bomb just to make them surrender, and they left the Banks, and some of the buildings were owned by Foreign Companies. They just went in and wiped out the others, and it was in excellent shape, yeah, it was a five-story building, as you saw…
GTH: …in good shape, it had elevators and the whole works. And we had good, good huh, everybody in Japan had good living quarters. In fact some of the cities, like Keota was a Shrine City, it wasn’t bombed at all, they never bombed it, they didn’t want to get a Religious War started.
GTH: So, we had Companies over there, and I was there everyday, I was a Battalion Supply Sergeant, I didn’t do medic in the, over there.
GTH: ‘Cuz I was, I could do the, I had a good education, I could do the fractions, I could do the figuring, so I was a Battalion Supply Sergeant. And I went to all of these places everyday. I went to the Japanese Mint one a week, took all the gold and silver, collected all the hardware, military, I had a wonderful tour of duty in Japan.
GTH: Six months everyday, I had drivers, and picked up everything and, that was a going, I was a wheeler-dealer in Japan.
GB: Haha[laughter], now huh, do you recall how far you were from any of the huh, huh, what they called huh, where the Atomic Bombs were dropped, do you recall?
GTH: No, they offered to take me over, but I don’t fly on airplanes and they flew everybody over all the time, so I didn’t go.
GB: So you had friends that actually…
GTH: Oh, everybody, they took everybody in Japan and flew them over and showed them the Atomic Bomb, they wanted to, they took all of the soldiers, free! Anybody that wanted to go. But I don’t, I don’t fly.
GB: If God would’ve wanted you to fly he would’ve have given you wings, right? [laughter]
GTH: And I get sick on the boats, but I still don’t fly.
GTH: I’m not afraid I guess, but I just, I still haven’t flown.
GB: Wow! That’s wild how, huh, at that time we were so innocent and ignorant to the fact of the Atomic, huh, the power of Atomic energy, unreal.
GTH: When the Bomb went off, and they stopped the U.S.O. dead in its tracks in Manila, downtown, and said atomic bomb, what? Everybody just looked at everybody and said, “What’s an Atomic Bomb?”
GB: What is that?
GTH: Had no idea, never even heard about it ‘cuz it was built in different places in the United States, assembled over there, and most people don’t know this, the ship that delivered it, was sunk and sharks ate all of the people on it. It’s a different story but that happened.
GTH: But they, about thirty minutes later they had some kind of a e-mail deal going on over there, I think it was called something else though, and showed what was the mushroom and all of that, but you still couldn’t see what happened on the ground. So, we didn’t know that for, for a good while.
GB: For a while? What did your friends that actually flew over it; I’m sure they explained to you what they saw?
GTH: Well they had pictures of it everywhere.
GB: Do you recall any of that stuff?
GTH: Well it’s just total destruction. It just melted everything.
GB: Ground zero.
GTH: I mean it’s nothing, just like, disintegrated. I mean, the heat was so, you can’t imagine how hot it was.
GTH: It just, it just melted it all. Yeah.
GB: Bad deal.
GTH: They had photographers everywhere you went, on everything, on your landings, they take the, they have a Company photographer.
GB: The Army does?
GTH: Everybody does.
GTH: These were taken by, not just ours. The military, Navy, everybody, and they all…
GB: Assembled a group of them?
GTH: And that’s a collection of the Philippines there…
GTH: ‘Cuz that’s where we were, going up and down the Island there.
GB: This ends the interview with Garland Terry Hill, about his experiences in World War II and the years after the war here in Del Rio, Texas. Also available is a collection of military photographs of the Philippine Liberation Campaign.