Can you start by telling us your name?  Jack Paul Crooks

And how old are you? 75

Can you tell us a little bit about what you did in World War 2? Yeah I drove an ambulance around Germany and tried to fit enough of people into a matchbox to send home to mother or to sow thingsback on or into them.

What was BASIC training like? What wasnt it like I trained over in Ft Jackson or ‘the frying pan’ as they called it and it was more like Hell than Hell itself. 100 degrees plus humidity 60 pounds of gear miles of running and not as much babying as this century gets, yeah id say we had it pretty F***ing rough.

What made you join? Well everyone joined at that time and you were a coward if you didn’t plus i needed something to help me through college to.

What was it like in Germany? Well it was different, i had learned to speak German so i was set but the scenery there was beyond beautiful if you didn’t count the war torn ground and the burning or bombed out villages. Another thing was it was always freezing in Germany and let me tell you my ambulance got in trouble a number of times for making the thing spin in the mud and ice but it was really fun to do if you didnt have anything to do.

So what was the most common thing to see as an ambulance driver? Well the most  injurys were either gunshot or shrapnel wound although the most common thing was we had to operate a lot on infections because if you get a scratch and slog through miles of mud it is never really beneficial, especially with all the chemicals and metal and blood.

What was the most common thing to die from over in Germany? Well besides gunshots the most common thing was sickness because here you are in a foriegn place and your immune system is adapted to another enviroment entirely and add all the stressors, yes a lot of good people died from simple colds or the flu.

The most uncommon? The FUBAR ( F”d up beyond any recognition) cases. If someone got to close to a grenade or survived a tank or mine blast (shivers) well we would have to patch them up and some resembled ground beef more than a human. the worst one was this guy that had a grenade go off in front of him…pretty much anything from the stomach down was hanging out of this kid, he survived 8 hours of surgery only to get his head blown clean off by a sniper 6 months later.

Was there anything else? STD’s beleive it or not When we liberated France the boys went and celebrated and let me tell you i never want to hear the words ‘the clap’ or ‘ghonereah’ again.

Well thank you for your time and we greatly appreciate your story.

 -Edited by Cory Goff-


The person I interviewed for my Living History project was Mr. John Becket, who is a philosophy teacher at Piedmont Technical College. Mr. Becket is from Missouri and was only 3 when WWII began and 8 when it ended, but still has memories of the war. His father was a Major, and second in command, of the Missouri State Guard. His step father also worked in General Macarthur’s office in Japan during and after the war. He was very knowledgeable on life during WWII and the war in general. He was also a pleasure to interview.

Q: In what ways did the sart of the war effect you and your family?

A: “My fater was a major in the Missouri State Guard before the war began and when the war started we had to move to Jefferson City. I remember my father’s office there, it was right across from the state capital bulding. Eventually the state guard was abolished though and my father then joined the air force where he was a photographer.”

Q: What are some of the memories you have of your father’s service in the military during the war?

A: “I remember traveling on the military trains with my mother to go and visit my father, because if you had a member of your family in the military the rides on the military train were free. Plus the roads back then wern’t good anyway, in fact I didn’t see a four lane road for the first time untill years after the war ended, so it was just easier for us to take the train. I remember the soldiers on it were always real nice to me on the train, and looking back now its hard to believe those same men were going off to fight in the war and many never came back.”

Q: How did rationing effect your family?

A: “I remember alot of things being rationed like shoes and gas. I also remember my mother reusing lard, even though it was real easy to get cause it was a by product of killing a pig, but still my mom always kept ours. But we were pretty well off because we had a garden. Still meat, beef, was always hard to come by and in Missouri we ate alot of rabbit during the war because rabbit meat wasnt rationed.”

Q: How did you feel about Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

A: “You know alot of people still say today we should of never droped those bombs over there in Japan, but I believe it saved alot of american lives. As a matter of fact my father had just finished officer school the same day they droped the bombs and he was going to be deployed to Japan, so they could have very well saved his life”

Q: What is the one thing that you remember more then anything else from growing up during the war the?

A: “One thing that I do remember growing up during the war, probaly more then anything else, were the flags people would hang up in the windows of their houses, and for every star the flag had on it that meant that household had someone in the military. A red star meant you had someone fighting in the war, but a gold star meant you had a family member killed in the war and it was very dispiriting to ride through a neighborhood after the war and see all the windows that had gold stars hanging up in them.”

Neill McMillan