Interview of Jesse Batson Transcript Number 225

Good afternoon.  My name is Paul Zarbock, a staff member of UNCW’s Randall Library in Wilmington.  Today’s date is the 18th of September in the year of 2002.  We’re going to be interviewing today Mr. Jesse L. Batson.

INTERVIEWER:   Mr. Batson, when did you go into the military, where did you go into the military and why did you go into the military?

BATSON:   I went into the military to get away from the farm to be honest with you.  I had kind of restless nature.  I went into the Navy in April of 1934.  I went to boot camp in Norfolk, Virginia for 16 weeks.  It’s a far cry from what the boot camps are today.  From there, I went aboard the USS Idaho.

INTERVIEWER:   What was boot camp like?  Why do you say it was different?  What is the difference between boot camp then and boot camp now?  What happened in your boot camp?

BATSON:   I don’t know.  I haven’t been to a boot camp today, but I would imagine, I used to say to my grandson who was in the military and they do everything but take your parents up there in the room while you’re going to boot camp.  When you went to boot camp in the 30’s, I don’t care whether it was the Navy, the Marine Corps or the Army, it was a hell of a time for four months. 

INTERVIEWER:   For example, what happened?

BATSON:   Well I went to boot camp in Norfolk, Virginia from May through August of 1934.  We slept in hammocks.  You had no laundry facilities.  They’d march you to church on Sundays.  Now you talk about people going to church, you went to church whether you liked it or not.  They marched you up there and you didn't bitch about it either.  The first two or three weeks you were there, the impression they gave you was you didn't gripe about anything regardless of how bad it was.

So after my boot camp, I went aboard the USS Idaho, which was in the Navy yard at Portsmouth.  It was undergoing modernization.  The Idaho, Mississippi and New Mexico.

INTERVIEWER:   They were battleships.

BATSON:   Battleships.  It was the most modern ship in the Navy when I got aboard. No laundry facilities, no fresh water for showers. You slept in hammocks.  You had a bucket that was cleaner probably that the mess hall at the university.  It hung up on a hook and it was kept brightly shined and had a brass nameplate on it with your name.  We slept in hammocks.  Every morning at 5:30 and if you were not out of that hammock in 15 minutes and your hammock stowed away, the boatswain would come along and cut the lines on the end and dump you on the deck.

Now these are no exaggerations.  It was unbelievable compared to the present day Navy.  I told the chaplain up at Camp LeJeune, I said you could snap your fingers and the Navy would revert back to what I went through the first six years, you would have mutiny.

Aboard that ship, there were no dungarees, not even allowed your piece of clothing.  No ball-caps.  You had whites and blues.  If you had to paint the ship, you painted it white or blue depending on the weather.  If that uniform was spotted with paint, someone would come and say to get that jackass uniform off.  As I said, we had no laundry facilities.  We had to scrub our clothes in the morning and soak them overnight in the bucket of fresh water.  That’s all you got, one bucket of fresh water.

If you were up on the deck when they were scrubbing down, we scrubbed the decks down every morning, you could soak with the hose and rinse your clothes out and hang them on a line.  We had no clothespins (laughter).  There was a cord about so long and your uniforms had holes so you put that through the holes in your uniform and hang it up.

INTERVIEWER:   What about rainy days?

BATSON:   Well you just didn't do it on a rainy day.  You just had to wait until the weather cleared up (laughter).

INTERVIEWER:   But if you got paint on a uniform, how did you get the paint off the uniform?

BATSON:   Well you didn't.  We had no means of getting it off, you just had, I won’t use the expression we used, but you had to do away with that uniform if it was too badly blotched with paint.

INTERVIEWER:   And they would reissue you a new uniform?

BATSON:   Yeah, if you paid for it they would.  You got an initial clothing allowance when you enlisted.  That was all.

INTERVIEWER:   What was your salary by the way?  What were you being paid?

BATSON:   The first four months was $21 a month.  Then it went up to $36.  From there on, your pay was according to what your rank was.  Seamen 2nd was $36.  Seamen 1st was $54, 3rd class petty officer $60, 2nd class petty officer $72, 1st class petty officer $84 and a chief petty officer, _____ we called it, was $99.  After a year if you did your job, you got permanent appointment and your pay became $126 a month.

INTERVIEWER:   How was the food by the way?

BATSON:   Well looking back during the great Depression, I thought it was great (laughter).  But we knew from one day to the next what we would have the next day.  In other words on Saturday mornings, we knew we’d have boiled eggs and beans.  I like boiled eggs and beans to this day.  On Fridays, we had fish and we used to say it was left over from World War I (laughter) because right after the meal was over, you could see all the mess cooks taking the fish up to the garbage chute.

Now speaking of that, the living conditions aboard that ship like I say, we slept in hammocks.  We scrubbed the decks down every morning.  I know you’ve been aboard the battleship North Carolina.  Then on Fridays, we had field day, what we called a field day.  The whole damn ship was really gone over and cleaned again.  We’d hose down the decks if you know what that is.  I’ve hosed down the deck when it was so damn cold, the sand would freeze in little piles.

Then we had on Fridays what we called lower deck inspections with white gloves and they meant business.  Down in the storerooms, all places, they reach up and if that white glove was dirty, when he come down, your ass was mud.  We had what we called mess cooks, KP, we fed 20 men. Table not quite this big, we’d sit 10 people and after the meal was over with, you fold the legs up and it went up in the overhead.

INTERVIEWER:   By the way, when you were in hammocks, how many high were you? 

BATSON:   There was just one, there was no hammock above you.  Fortunately there was room enough for everybody to have…there were 80 men in my division.  The petty officers, they were entitled to a cot, a folding cot.  Now the discipline was unbelievable.  You never spoke to an officer unless he spoke to you first.  This is actual facts.  You find any old sailor in the 30’s, on the capital ship we called them, some tugboat might have been a little different.  But in the battleships and the heavy cruisers, I know what it was like.

If you went into a port and were fortunate enough to tie up, and this occurred later when I was on destroyers, there were big, steel, you handled them in a white uniform.  No gloves unless you went and bought them and then the boatswain mate might call you a damn sissy because you were using a glove.  We had inspection every Saturday morning regardless of the weather.  If it was bad weather, it was held on the first deck down.  If it was good weather, it was on the topside.

Here would come the executive officer with a yeoman behind him with a little pad.  You would stand at attention.  They’d have you uncover like this, they’d look at your white hat, if you had any stains on it or hair or anything, throw it in the trash.  Then the yeoman with the executive officer, he had a straight edge, he’d pull your hair down and measure it.  You dropped your pants to see if you had on regulation underwear.  Pull up your sock to see if your socks were regulation.  Look at your fingernails.  I never got hurt on the system.  I knew what was expected of me and I did it.

In my 24 years in the Navy, I had a 4-0 record as far as conduct.  All of the stores, when we would provision ship, manual.  You didn't have a damn crane like they do now lifting your lunchbox aboard.  You throw that 100-pound sack of flour or whatever and up the gangway you would go.  You did have a block and tackle that you’d hook stuff on and let it down, but during maneuvers in battle conditions, exercises, most of the hatches were closed, you’d manhandle it.  So I spent four years on that thing.

INTERVIEWER:   What was your duty assignment?

BATSON:   Well the assignment was anything to keep you busy, but I would sit for hours and shine a piece of brass no larger than your _____.  You stayed busy.  Reveille was at 5:30, you had 15 minutes to stow your hammock.  They would get a pot of coffee, bring it down and a couple of racks of cups.  About 6:30, you’d be up on the deck working.  At 7:15, they would sound clear mess decks, which was 15 minutes prior to eating.

Now on the Idaho, surprisingly we sat down at the table with regular dinnerware and the mess cook, as I said, he fed 20 people.  If you had pork chops for dinner, which we usually did on Monday, he would ration that out.  He’d put one pork chop on each plate and we had what we called a mess captain, a single man at that table.  If there were any seconds, he got it (laughter). 

As I said, port and starboard liberty every other day or every other weekend, when my son was born in 1937, I got to go home from 4:00 to midnight.  I had to be back aboard ship at midnight.  Saturday morning I had duty for 48 hours and couldn't go see him or my wife.  At 8:00 Monday morning, the damn ship went to sea.  So on Friday when we got back in, I had duty.  Fortunately I had that weekend off, from Saturday morning to midnight Sunday.

INTERVIEWER:   Where were you stationed?  Was this Norfolk?

BATSON:   No, no, San Pedro, California, when all this was going on.

INTERVIEWER:   Where was your wife from?

BATSON:   She was from Woodland, California.

INTERVIEWER:   How did you meet her?

BATSON:   Just on the beach.  I’ve been married 66 years to the same woman (laughter).  I said about liberty, if you came up the gangway 1/10th of a second after curfew, you were AWOL.  The commanding officer of that ship had the authority to restrict you one day, one week, one year or whatever until he found time to hold what we call mast to try you for being AWOL on liberty.  Now he was God all mighty.  Now I’m not exaggerating, I’m telling you the actual fact.  In those days, a leading seaman had more authority over me than the Chief of Naval Operations has today because the Chief of Naval Operations literally cannot punish me without taking me to Mast or a court martial.

In those days a leading seaman, especially a 3rd class boatswain’s mate, we called them coxswain in those days, if he said to me that day, “Batson, do you rate liberty today?”, I said, “Yeah, I hope I do”.  He’d say, “No, you don’t, you’re not going ashore today because you didn't do what I told you to do”.  That was it, you had no recourse.  Now that happened to me two or three times, but it didn't go on my record.  It can only go on your record if you went before the captain or the executive officer.

Now I was in a 14-inch turret for a gun station.  Down below if I remember correctly the ammunition, the shells had to come up the hoist, I believe five or six decks, but we used to go and fire that three gun turret in 59 seconds from the time that shell left there to get here.  So when World War II started, we had some mighty efficient gun crews.  It was a damn good thing we did. 

About the uniforms, you had whites and blues.  That was it, no ballcaps, no dungarees.  When we worked in the Navy yard for overhaul or to paint the ship, they allowed us to have dungarees because we painted the ships, not civilians.  As the water receded in the dry dock, we were on little pontoons scraping the paint as the water went down.  Later we were on stages painting it.  The band out there was playing The Man on the Flying Trapeze (laughter). 

From there, from the Idaho, my next ship was the USS Mason 191, which was being recommissioned in Philadelphia, a holdover from World War I.  When we went to sea, no refrigeration.  The living conditions on that thing, it was four tiers high, little mattresses about so.  The man who had the bottom bunk, the lockers were, foot lockers we called them, the man who had that bottom bunk, if I came down there and he was sleeping in after having a 12/4 for example or if it was during reveille and I wanted to get in my locker, he had to get up. 

The toilet facilities, we called it the head, they just had a damn trough and some seats.  One of the tricks that you’d do to some guy in the head, we’d light a piece of toilet paper and throw it in that trough you know.

INTERVIEWER:   Let me ask you something.  Did you ask to be transferred from the battleship to a destroyer?

BATSON:   No, I was just in the receiving ship and got assignment, got reassigned.

INTERVIEWER:   Now what year is this?

BATSON:   This was in ’39.

INTERVIEWER:   Now what was your original enlistment?  How long did you enlist for?

BATSON:   Four years.  They did have what they call a minority enlistment.  Some guy that was not 21, he could enlist at 18 and do three years.

INTERVIEWER:   But you went in for four?

BATSON:   Yes and I reenlisted.  When I reenlisted, I enlisted for six.  They had four and six enlistments.  Now the Mason was one of the _____ destroyers.  We took it up to Nova Scotia and turned it over to the English in 1940.  Then I went back to Norfolk, Virginia for reassignment and was reassigned to another World War I destroyer, the Biddle 151.  Lo and behold, there came about 90% reserves aboard.  The whole crew 90% reserves and they sent me over to the receiving ship, which was the USS Oklahoma.

While there, I looked at the bulletin board one day, I was a 3rd class gunnery mate, and they said they wanted gunner’s mates to change to aviation ordinance and I put in for it and got it.  Boy, I’m telling you I thought I had struck heaven (laughter).  I was doing port starboard duty when we were in port and at sea I was doing four hours on watch and six off.

Now you know a lot of people don’t know this, but prior to World War II in 1940 and 1941 before the war started, technically we were at war with Germany.  I say that because we were patrolling down in the south Atlantic all the way down to the coast of  South America and we had orders if we saw a German sub, to sink it if possible.

INTERVIEWER:   Before the war officially started?

BATSON:   Yeah.  A lot of things, you know, coming out today even publicly that was going on then that we didn't know about.  As I said, we turned the Mason over to the English.  Then we came back to Norfolk, Virginia and I got assigned to the Biddle.  I was only there a few months and the reserve crew took it over.  So I got into naval aviation.  That was the pretty wise.  I thought I had really struck a goldmine.

INTERVIEWER:   Where did you end up, in Pensacola?

BATSON:   No, no, I was never in Pensacola.  I was in Norfolk with the PBY’s and in Hawaii with the PBY’s.  In 1941, when the war started, we had a detachment in Bermuda.  We were operating ______, Bermuda and Norfolk, Virginia.  In about a week’s time, they let us aboard a Navy transport and ended up down in South America.  We found out we had the wrong orders and everything else.  So they brought us back to Norfolk, put us on a train, went to Alameda, California and from there to Ford Island, Hawaii. 

INTERVIEWER:   The year is now what?

BATSON:   This all happened in the course of a month after the war started, ’41 and early ’42.  So we were still with PBY’s.

INTERVIEWER:   What was your assignment on a PBY?

BATSON:   My assignment on a PBY was what we called a waist gunner.  It had two 50-caliber machine guns and that was my station.  The strangest thing about it was about our Navy, if the guy who was manning that machine gun happened to be an aviation mechanic or radio operator or whatever and you had a jamb, they called for the ordinance man because they were not taught anything about malfunctions on the machine guns.

INTERVIEWER:   They probably couldn't even figure out the headspace.

BATSON:   Well that’s right, they couldn't.  So that was in BT-54 and in late November of ’42, I was at Barbers Point, Hawaii and we got a squadron of B-24’s, liberators we called them.  The first squadron the Navy ever got, we got them and nobody knew a damn thing about the turrets including myself.  So they sent me back to Chicago in late November in ’42.

INTERVIEWER:   From Hawaii?

BATSON:   Yeah, to a turret school.  You know, trying to be a good student and everything, I made chief petty officer while I was there.  I ended up as an instructor instead of going back.  I was kept NAT Center, NATTC, they still have it today, at Memphis, Tennessee.  They kept me and sent me in Memphis to a machine gun malfunction range to teach these kids how to clear malfunctions in the 30-calibers, 50-calibers and 20mm.

I stayed there a year and from there I went to Jacksonville, Florida, to the turret school, stayed there a year.  Couldn't get out of there.  Once you got in that center, it was kind of a standing joke, but it’s true, if you were doing your job, they kept you as long as they possibly could. 

In late ’44, I got out of there and got a set of orders to San Diego, California to an outfit which was Camp Miramar which is part of Camp Pendleton today I believe.  So I knocked around there a while and the war ended while I was there.  So my participation in World War II was in this squadron in Honolulu that participated in the Battle of Midway.

Most of the torpedoes launched at the Battle of Midway were incorrectly set.  My plane dropped a torpedo against the Japanese carrier, but the incorrect settings on the torpedo, it just went under the damn thing.  I had a chance to read in the last couple of years a long article about that, how the torpedoes were malfunctioning and so forth.  So as I said, I left there to turret school.  Then I went back to Hawaii to PB4Y we called them, privateers we called them, a four engine aircraft made by Consolidated.

We used to fly air sea rescues out of there to Midway Island over to Christmas Island which is English owned.  Then in ’47, they sent us to Guam.

INTERVIEWER:   Is your wife with you?

BATSON:   No, she was in Hawaii at the time.  She stayed in Hawaii.  But we went out to Guam for six or seven months and we would go from Guam, the squadron would send planes to Okinawa, China, to the Philippines, but the home base of the squadron was in Guam.  We had 12 planes and we would send out detachments.  One of the most tragic things I ever saw in the Navy was in the Philippines. 

We were there, three planes, and every time we’d go anywhere, we’d leave at midnight.  So we were all gathering around the three planes on the airstrip and our commanding officer and executive officer had been up to the Officers’ Club and they were a guest of the station commanding officer who was a captain.  So we take off at midnight going back to Okinawa.

They came down to the planes, the officers, with this group of Navy officers including the commanding officer and his daughter, his only child.  And as she was saying goodbye to some of the officers, hugging and all, turned around and walked between two propellers and of course it scattered her all over the station.  The only child that man had.  See I’ll never forget that. 

Of course on that particular base, I lost one of the best friends I ever had in the Navy.  We were sitting up playing cards at about 2 or 3:00 in the morning and he was…we used to fly what we called typhoon reconnaissance, they call them hurricanes here…but they were taking off about 3:00 in the morning.  He was a chief ordinance as well as myself.  He tried to talk me into going with him, you know, and I almost went.  They hadn’t been gone 30 minutes and they crashed into a mountain.  There were 21 men on that plane.

Of course they all burned beyond recognition.  I say to my wife sometimes, that’s part of life. 

INTERVIEWER:   When the young woman walked into the propeller, was her father there?  Did he see it?

BATSON:   Yes, her father was there.


BATSON:   He was a Navy captain and our commanding officer, we called him captain, but he was a commander.  So when I left Hawaii in ’49, I had been there three years, I had 73 days leave so I had a pickup truck and took a leisurely trip across the United States.

INTERVIEWER:   Your wife is with you?

BATSON:   Oh yes and my son.  She was in Hawaii three years and it was a real paradise in ’46 to ’49.  There were only two hotels there.  Now incidentally, in Hawaii, I got a week’s R&R we called it and the berth was in the Royal Hawaii.  The first night I was there, I woke up and someone was just chewing the hell out of me.  I cut the light on, you could see the bedbugs going up the walls.  Honest to God truth. 

I went down to the first floor and got the MP, he didn't believe it.  I said he should come up there and look.  He did.  So naturally I got another room and strange as it may seem, the other one didn't have a one.  But that one room was saturated with bedbugs. 

When I left there and came back to the States, I went to Norfolk, Virginia, after that 73 days on the road.  I reported there to PDM squadron, you know what they are.  They replaced the PBY’s.

INTERVIEWER:   They were bigger, weren’t they?

BATSON:   Bigger, they were larger, yes, but they weren’t a better aircraft by any means.  So I stayed in that squadron for a while.  I got shore duty in Norfolk for two years.  While there, I operated a skeet range and a pistol range, munitions to the squadrons.  That’s part of why I’m wearing these things today.

After two years shore duty, I went to the recommissioning detail for the USS Lake Champlain, CDA-39, small carrier.  So I think it was, I believe it was about May of ’52, we went to Korea.  We operated in Korean waters about nine months.  Day or night, weather permitting, now they talk about the most dangerous job in the world, there’s a lot of them, but I don’t believe there’s any any more dangerous than a carrier flight deck at night operation and no lights.

We did not have the air protection they have today.  You see all these, I watch them myself, they have these new nuclear carriers.  Everybody has radio communication.  Well we didn't have that.  If you had any protection, it was cotton in your ears and a night operation, you didn't let anyone interfere with somebody saying, “Batson, get the hell out of the way.  You’re going to get killed here in a minute”. 

I was responsible for supplying all the aircraft aboard the ship with their munitions, bringing it up from what we called the storerooms.  I’ve seen those bombs come up there waiting to be loaded aboard the aircraft.  I was not responsible for loading them, I was responsible for getting them up there.  I’ve seen those jets turn around, night operations, and that jet blast would get on that bomb and it would get so hot, you could spit on it and it would sizzle.

They were mostly TNT so it was awful hard to detonate.  You had to have a detonator to set them off.  Just plain heat, unless it was extreme, would not do it.  But it was a scary situation.  Of course we figured the most dangerous thing on an aircraft was gasoline which it was. 

So after two years aboard the Lake Champlain, I was assigned to another PDM squadron right there in Norfolk, BT-49.  Stayed in that a couple of years and then in 1956, I was reassigned to a VAH squadron, VAH-3, in Jacksonville, Florida.  It was the first twin jet aircraft the Navy acquired, A3D’s.  I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one or not.  I think they still use them for photographic outfits here and there.

It was a nuclear weapons carrying plane.  My last six years in the Navy, I was in a nuclear weapons type program.  The Lake Champlain as I say went to Korea and then later I went aboard the FDR, Roosevelt.  I was not assigned to the ship itself.  I was attached to a squadron that went aboard in what we called a Med cruise.  They still have them.  In fact, the squadrons today, they spend about 6-8 months aboard a Med cruise aboard a ship.  Then they come back to their home base for maybe a year.

INTERVIEWER:   What are they called Med cruise?

BATSON:   Well that’s primarily where the operated, the Mediterranean.  I went to Greece so much, I thought I was a citizen (laughter).  Have you ever been to Greece?


BATSON:   If somebody told you to go to Greece and find a wooden door on a house and they’d give you a million bucks, you wouldn’t get it.  Everything was marble.  I don’t remember seeing a wooden house in Greece.  In the countryside, I think I did see a few, but in Athens itself, there just wasn’t any.  We were just disgusted with Greece we went there so often.  Of course we got to see some of the islands like Corfu and some of the others.

So after that, I came back to, this was in ’57 and early ’58, in ’58 we returned to the States and I went to the Naval hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, for an operation and while I was there, going back to report to my squadron, the tested my hearing and sent me before a survey board.  This was in ’59 and as a result, I ended up with a medical disability because of my hearing problem.

Now I know I’ve been rambling on and going through this pretty fast, but is there anything that you care to ask me, feel free to do so and I’ll certainly answer it if I possibly can.

INTERVIEWER:   Question number one.  All the time you spent in the Navy, what was the best thing about the Navy?  Question number two, all the time you spent in the Navy, what was the worst thing about the Navy?

BATSON:   Well the worst thing to me, as I said before, was those World War I destroyers.  As I said before we started the interview, if a sailor is bad, don’t send him to hell.  Just put him on one of those.  It was terrible living conditions.  You’re operating down in the south Atlantic all the way down the coast of Venezuela and we were reporting to San Juan, Puerto Rico, is where we were operating out of.  Now in those days, as I said, there was our uniforms, only blues and whites.  Now people squawk about fingerprinting today.  For many, many years in the Navy, me and thousands of others, we never got paid without fingerprinting your pay receipt and having an officer initial it.

INTERVIEWER:   What was so bad about the destroyer?  Was it the cramped conditions?

BATSON:   It was the living conditions.  If the sea was rough, they couldn't cook anything.  We were down in the ______ Straits for a whole week one time, look on a map and you’ll know where that is.  That thing didn't row under 45 degrees for a solid week so we had no refrigeration.  Like I said, you would go into port and buy fresh supplies.  So before that week was out, the bread was getting moldy and they started trimming it.  You’d end up with a little piece about that big and the center didn't have no mold on it.  Kick the weasels out of it (laughter). 

INTERVIEWER:   What was the best thing about the Navy in your experience?

BATSON:   Well the camaraderie, I really enjoyed it.  Have no complaints about it.  I thoroughly enjoyed.  I’d highly recommend it to anybody, but as I said to start with, it’s a far cry…I don’t know whether I’d want to be in the Navy today or not having known what I do know.  As I said to start with, there was no social relationship between the officers and the enlisted. 

If you were a seaman, you didn't even associate with a third class petty officer.  He didn't associate with a second class.  Second class didn't associate with the first class.  There were some rare cases, but it was not open.  If you went ashore on liberty, we call liberty, you didn't see some seaman hanging around a ____ neck, that close to him you know.  You spoke to an officer, he spoke to you first. 

The quarters aboard ship, it was almost unbelievable, to think of someone going down to an officer’s cabin without permission.  The first damn thing they’d ask you is if you had permission to see them and you had to get that from a petty officer which in most cases, was a first class boatswain’s mate.  I enjoyed it.

INTERVIEWER:   Question number three.  What did you learn, look right into the camera and pretend you’re talking to your grandchildren, now tell them what did you learn from being in a two wars?

BATSON:   I learned to appreciate my country a lot more than I did before.  I’m telling you even today as modern as the modern world is, there is no place in my opinion that you can go and live that you don’t have to give up something that you have here.  I don’t care if its England or Germany or whatever and I’ve been to all of those countries and I’ve been retired for 43 years.  But there’s nothing like the USA and how in God’s name can anybody do some of the things they’re doing today and have been doing for a long, long time, nothing new, just coming out.  I call them failures, really what they are, plotting against their own country.

I say they ought to send them back to Russia or wherever the hell they came from.  Even again going back to Germany, France, England, Greece, of all the places I’ve ever been, I like Spain the best.  I don’t know how it is today.  I haven’t been there in 44 years.

INTERVIEWER:   The final question.  Does anybody really win a war? 

BATSON:   I don’t think so.  I don’t think anybody wins, there’s no way you can win.  I’m a little concerned about what’s happening right now.  Of course you know we aren’t privilege to a lot of things that initiate an invasion.  The old expression, my country right or wrong, but even our country can be wrong sometimes, but it’s still my country and I’ll defend it as long as I can.  But we do make errors and they make a lot of them we don’t know about that has significant consequences down the road. 

Well anything else you want to ask me?

INTERVIEWER:   Anything else you’ve got to say, Mr. Batson?  What else do you have to say?

BATSON:   Well I could probably tell you a lot of other things.  As I said several times, the Navy in my experience was a far cry from what we’ve got today.  I’m not opposed to some of the changes in the Navy, but some of them have been really serious and the consequences are not made publicly, a lot of them.  I still say that a woman has no damn place aboard a combat ship. 

Now I had a WAVE, they came in the Navy in I believe it was ’44 or ’45, I had one work for me in Jacksonville, Florida.  She was a real good woman.  She was a lot of help to me, but there was no fraternization period.  But I was talking to a nephew of mine who spent four years aboard one of the new carriers. He’s telling me about having to put up with women on there.  There’s no way in my estimation that a woman can meet the standards physically that the men meet. 

Now you take bomb loading which I was responsible for, we had hoist, electric and manual, but if the bomb weighed less than 500 pounds, we manhandled it.  We had a little dolly thing, a bomb cradle, and you’d get four men on there, usually only four men.  Of course on PD, M’s and PBY’s and some of the other bombers, you couldn't manhandle it.  You could put that bomb in that rack from the deck.  We used to call them hernia bars (laughter) cause a lot of sailors got hernias including myself, two of them.  I’m not saying it was due to that, but it was partly due to it, no doubt about it.

INTERVIEWER:   The PBY was a good aircraft.

BATSON:   Wonderful airplane.

INTERVIEWER:   You know what, you’re a wonderful sailor.  Thank you.