Albion Central School Veterans History Project – Interview Transcript
Interviewee: Roy B. McMurray
Interviewer: Michael Sanders
Place of Birth: Grafton, New York
Date of Interview: June 24, 2004
Date of Birth: January 13, 1915
Place of Residence: Albion, New York
War(s) in which Interviewee Served: World War II
Branch of Service or Wartime Activity: Army
Battalion, Regiment, Division, Unit, Ship, etc.: Eighth Division
Method of Induction: Enlisted
Service Dates: 1942 to March 16, 1944
Location of Military or civilian service: Arizona, Virginia, North Carolina, …
TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: Occasionally, poor sound quality made transcription difficult. In some parts, names may be misspelled. Words that were most likely to have been transcribed incorrectly are denoted by a question mark in brackets: [?].
Sanders: I’m interviewing for the Library of Congress. We’re in the Albion Middle School. And I just want to ask you some questions about your military experience and history and stuff. I’m Mike Sanders and I’m interviewing Roy McMurray. What did you do before you joined the service?
McMurray: I was working on a farm.
Sanders: And where was this at? Where were you living at the time?
McMurray: Down in….East Holley Road.
Sanders: Did you enlist in the…?
McMurray: Yeah, I enlisted.
Sanders: You enlisted?
Sanders: And which branch did you choose?
McMurray: I was in a medical outfit. Eighth Division.
Sanders: Was there a reason you chose that?
Sanders: What was the reason for choosing that one? That specific…?
McMurray: Well, they said that, when I enlisted, you could get into any branch of the service you wanted to get in. Yeah, I did that. Wanted to get into aviation mechanics, and I ended up in a medical outfit.
Sanders: Tell me about your first days in the service, or how did you get your civilian job? Like, your first days in the service…like your first couple that you remember.
McMurray: Well, I started out from in Fort Niagara. And we were up there for about a week and a half. Then went from there to Camp Lee, Virginia. Then I was there for the rest of my training. Then I went from there to Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
Sanders: do you remember where you were on the day Pearl Harbor was bombed?
McMurray: Yeah, I think I was still down in Fort Jackson. Because let’s see, I was in seven…I think I was in seven months before Pearl Harbor.
Sanders: What was your…like, did they tell you right away as soon as you heard? How long after it happened did you hear about it?
McMurray: Yeah, we heard it over the P.A. system.
Sanders: Was everybody’s reaction like, shocking?
McMurray: No, just, well, just seemed like just another day, then. Because we weren’t in it any. We had just all done maneuvers…I was in 12 different states on maneuvers.
Sanders: Do you remember when the war ended? Where you were at? What you were doing? When you found out that World War II was done?
McMurray: Well, we was….I was training for a medical outfit, taking first aid and all that sort of stuff. And then I got out of that because I didn’t like it and I went to cook and baker school. And I got a rating out of there and I went back and took up a mess sergeant school and got a rating out of that. Then I just, the rest of the time, I was in and I was…they didn’t give me no rating for it so I told them I wanted to get out of it and I got out and then I was in an ambulance division, as an ambulance driver. That’s where I ended up, as an ambulance driver.
Sanders: Did you like that better than the medical field you were doing before?
McMurray: Yeah, yeah. Because we was doing a lot of different things, then. [Chuckles.] Course, on maneuvers all the time, I was in…Missouri maneuvers, Tennessee maneuvers, and I ended up in Arizona maneuvers when I got out.
Sanders: Do you…what’s your most memorable experience from the war and all that?
McMurray: Well, the maneuvers, really, because we were more active in it, because when we were just back in base, we were just day-to-day operations then.
Sanders: Were you…were there many casualties of people you knew?
McMurray: No, no. There was, on these maneuvers, there was quite a few boys killed, but being in a medical outfit, we was seeing all that, see. …Go out on maneuvers and the first one we were out on, I was in… still in medical outfit and went out on maneuvers carrying people back, wounded back to the hospitals and that.
Sanders: When you weren’t doing your medical outfit, what did you do to pass time?
McMurray: Oh, not too much. Just played a little poker, stuff like that. [Chuckles.]
Sanders: What was the food like, when you…I mean, the food they gave you?
McMurray: Well, our food was pretty good…had pretty good meals. There was one or two meals I remember I was…I had to go on sick call. And then when I went down to the mess hall to have my meal, there wasn’t nobody in there… They’d all left and the meal…they couldn’t eat it. It was so bad they all went back to the barracks. [Chuckles.]
Sanders: How did you stay in touch with everybody back home, while you were out?
Sanders: Like, when you were back…when you were there, how did you stay in touch with everybody that was back home?
McMurray: Just sent letters, is all. I came home on leave just…just once while I was in there.
Sanders: Was that on a holiday?
McMurray: Yeah. I was down in the…oh, boy, let’s see…yeah, I was still in Fort Jackson, I think. And I hitchhiked home from there. I had seven days and I hitchhiked home.
Sanders: How did you celebrate holidays while you were on the base?
McMurray: Well, we went to the movies most of the time and when we had…we could go off the base…a young lad and myself, we always went off together…and we’d go to town and have a steak supper.
Sanders: Did you learn a lot of good skills and lessons? While you were in there, did you learn a lot of good skills and lessons?
McMurray: Well, yeah, I learned all first aid and that while I was in there. And that’s about it. That and when I was going to school for cook and bakers and that. That’s all I did.
Sanders: So when did you, exactly…around the time…did you get out of the service? Like around…do you remember the year?
McMurray: What did I work at?
Sanders: No, like when you left. What year was it? When you left the service?
McMurray: Oh, I don’t know…I don’t remember…
Sanders: Remember that?
Sanders: What did you do after the service? After you got out?
McMurray: I was driving gas truck for…Howard’s [?] in Albion, there. Then there I went and I was driving for Robinson…Jim Robinson. Then I quit there and I went to work in the garage down there on Bank Street. I was in there for 17 years.
Sanders: While you were in the service, did you make any friends? A lot of close friends?
McMurray: Oh, yeah, yeah. Quite a few guys that I was writing to when I came back and that. We always had nice guys together, working together and working…
Sanders: Do you still talk to any of them, if they’re still alive?
McMurray: No, nope. None of them are…
Sanders: Did anybody from around our area…was in the same unit as you? Or that you seen while you were there?
McMurray: No, nope. Well, I seen a couple three of them when we was out on…let’s see, was we on maneuvers or? We went…I, no, I met…I can’t remember their names now, but I met them during a picture show. And that’s the only ones that I even seen all the while I was in there that I knew, that was from around here.
Sanders: So, what you did in the service, did that…did you do anything after…related to that, when you got out, like in a job…
McMurray: No, nope.
Sanders: Was there a reason for that…like you wanted something new, or did you just…?
McMurray: I just didn’t want to do it. As I say when I went into the garage down there…well, when I drove for the town of Albion, truck for two years before I went into the garage. And then when I left the garage, I went from there down to GE in Brockport…
Sanders: Did your experiences contribute to your thinking about the war and military service? Like, how did your experiences contribute to your thinking? Did it reflect how…your views on the war?
Sanders: Are you a member of a service organization for veterans?
McMurray: Yeah, I’m on the Legion and…let’s see…that’s the only one. American Legion. I go to the Vet’s Club, but I don’t…I’m not a member there.
Sanders: When did you become a member at the Legion? When did you become a member at the Legion.
McMurray: Right after I come home.
Sanders: Was there a reason for you joining that? Was there a reason for you joining the Legion?
McMurray: No, no…I just wanted to join.
Sanders: Do you attend any reunions?
Sanders: During the war, were you ever fearful of anything…or it wasn’t close enough to you…?
McMurray: No…no, I wasn’t close enough to any of that. Course, I was out on maneuvers and that, but there wasn’t anything that was really scary.
Sanders: So, you said you were in the medical field and you dealt with people with injuries and stuff at home…on the home front?
McMurray: No, I didn’t.
Sanders: Oh. What would be a typical day…do you remember a typical day, what you would do on a daily basis?
McMurray: In the service, you mean?
McMurray: Well, when I was still learning how to…with the medical outfit, we’d have classes in the morning and then the afternoon, every day. Learning how to administer the pain killer and stuff like that. Wrap up the wounds…
Sanders: What was your reason for joining the service in general? Why did you want to go into the area?
McMurray: Well, [chuckling] I didn’t really…I had a real good friend, named Max Hedges [Hegeson?], and we see him down here in Albion one day, one Sunday. We were sitting in Revelas’ having ice cream and he said, “I dare you to do what I’m going to do tomorrow.” We had been friends for a long time and I says, “I’d dare do anything that you’re going to do.” So he says, “I’m going to go up and volunteer,” he said, “for the draft.” And that’s how I ended up… And after I found out, it had been about eight months before my number would have come up for the draft.
Sanders: So you were going to be drafted anyways, even if you didn’t go in?
McMurray: Oh, yeah, I’d have been drafted anyways, if I hadn’t of volunteered, probably. Course, well, I don’t know…I might have been able to get out but I didn’t…never tried to. I know a lot of guys that claimed they were doing this and doing that and got out of the draft instead of going in.
Sanders: Did you enjoy your time while you were in there?
McMurray: Oh, yeah, I had a good time…in fact, I would have stayed in if they hadn’t kicked me out on a medical discharge.
Sanders: What age did you think you went…approximately did you go in at? Like, right after high school, or…?
McMurray: Well, I never went to high school. Let’s see, I was probably…I wouldn’t even have a…around 25. Somewhere in there.
Sanders: Were you in there like for ….how long? How many years do you think you were in the service?
McMurray: Three years.
Sanders: Three years?
McMurray: Yes. And I was in the medical outfit all the time. We were running medical things and….
Sanders: Were you close friends with anybody that saw any combat? Like there was over across seas?
Sanders: What did you do for recreation besides poker and movies and stuff?
McMurray: Just go to the movies. Go to town for….sometimes, a movie in town, but most of the time we’d just go to town, my buddy and I’d go to town and have a steak dinner and just go back… Just hang around the base is all. We didn’t play any baseball or anything like that.
Sanders: Well, did a lot of guys play baseball?
McMurray: No, I didn’t.
Sanders: I mean did anybody else that you knew?
McMurray: Yeah, some of them did, but I didn’t get into it any.
Sanders: Do you remember, after you got out of the service, the first couple of days when you got back home, what you did?
McMurray: No, I don’t remember.
Sanders: What did your family think of your going in the service.
McMurray: They didn’t do to much to say about it. My father had passed away. All I had was my mother, is all. And my oldest brother, that was all. Well, the rest of the boys, they were working around Albion and that.
Sanders: Were they happ…were they fine with it, like, “yeah”?
McMurray: Fine, yeah. Yeah. Right.
Sanders: So back around that time, a lot of parents didn’t mind their children doing that? Like 18 to 25, they didn’t mind their kids going off into the service?
McMurray: No. [Coughs.] Excuse me. I just told my mother I was going to go and just went and go.
Sanders: Was she happy when you got…when you were back home, when you were out of the service?
McMurray: Yeah. Yeah.
Sanders: So how many different states were you… did you get to visit while in the service.
McMurray: I was in 12 different states.
Sanders: Twelve different states? That had to be pretty exciting. View different things…
McMurray: Missouri. Tennessee. I was in North Carolina, South Carolina. Arizona. In fact, I was discharged when I was there in Arizona. Can’t remember the rest of them.
Sanders: You got to see quite a bit of the States, though…around the United States. You got to see a lot of the…you got to see a lot of the States, then, while you were out in the military.
McMurray: Oh, yeah. Twelve different states that I would never have been in if I had not.
Sanders: That had to be pretty exciting.
McMurray: I had a good time when I was in there. I had a good time when I was in there.
Sanders: What was the attitude of a lot of people you were working with on a daily basis about the war? Did they speak a lot about it? And their views?
McMurray: Some of them would; not too much, no. Never said too much about it.
Sanders: So, your work after the war…did you get married after you got out of the service, after the war was done and everything?
McMurray: I was out about 6 or 8 years before I got married. We’ve been married 60 years.
Sanders: You got married before the service or after?
Sanders: Who did you write to back home? You said you wrote to…
McMurray: Just my mother is all.
Sanders: Just your mother.
McMurray: Yup, just my mother.
Sanders: No friends, or your brother?
McMurray: No, no, just my mother.
Sanders: How many…how often did you write her?
McMurray: Oh, about every couple three weeks.
Sanders: Probably took a while to get to her from wherever you were stationed at the time. Because sometimes you were out in Arizona. When you came back home, where did you live?
McMurray: Out here where….there where that propane place is. There was a small house there where my mother lived. That’s where she was living when I came home.
Sanders: Oh, so she moved while you were there?
McMurray: Of course, I directly went and worked by the months for my boarding.
Sanders: So she moved while you were in the service?
McMurray: Yeah. I worked for a farmer over in Elba [New York] and one down on East Holley Road before I went into the garage to work…or driving gas truck for Jim Robinson and Ferris [?]. I was there working for the town of Albion for a couple years before I went into the garage work.
Sanders: When you got out of the service, was the war still going on?
McMurray: Oh, yeah.
Sanders: It was still going on? So you got out before it…
McMurray: I got out before…yeah.
Sanders: But when you got in, it was before the war started?
McMurray: Yeah, I was in seven months before Pearl Harbor.
Sanders: Did you notice any change of attitude when Pearl Harbor happened? Like in the guys around? Did their attitude…
McMurray: No, not really. No, no. The people that I knew didn’t seem to…
Sanders: What did your family think of it in the letters they wrote to you?
McMurray: They never said much about it.
Sanders: Never wrote much about the war?
McMurray: No, no. [Pause.] …It’s pretty hard for me to remember all the stuff, you know? My mind is trying to…going off yonder.
Sanders: So, while you were in the service…did…with the friends you made and stuff, how many…
McMurray: Yeah, just this one fella that I chummed around with, and he was the only one I wrote to after I got out. Max Hedges [Hegeson?], never wrote to him or anything.
Sanders: What branch did he go in?
McMurray: He was in a medical outfit, too. Yeah, same thing as I was.
Sanders: But when you guys got out, you didn’t write to him again?
McMurray: I…didn’t see him too much after he got out. I don’t remember what he was working at, either. He got…I know he got into a car accident and was awful bad…he couldn’t do nothing.
Sanders: Where was the one guy from that you were really close with?
McMurray: He was…pardon?
Sanders: The one guy you said you were really good friends with, where was…what state was he from?
McMurray: Indiana. I went down to see him twice after I got out of the service and then after I got married, we went down to see him.
Sanders: He stayed in the service longer?
McMurray: Yeah, yeah, he was… I don’t know…I don’t remember when he did get out. Well, he didn’t…you see, he didn’t get out until after the war was over with.
Sanders: He was in the same outfit as you?
Sanders: Did the same things as you did? Classes and shifts?
McMurray: Yeah, was in the medical outfit.
Sanders: So, after your classes and stuff, did you do training there? Did you go out and do some training on the stuff that you learned?
McMurray: Some, yeah. We had classes on it all the time. It was about 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the afternoon. And all the rest we had our own time.
Sanders: What kind of stuff did they teach you besides first aid? Did they teach you to…I’m not too good with medical stuff, so I don’t know…to help people if they are injured? Is that like what you were…
McMurray: No, I didn’t do too much with… [trails off]
Sanders: You said that you were discharged in Arizona…that’s when you got out?
McMurray: No….oh, yeah, yeah.
Sanders: But if you could have, you would have stayed in a lot longer?
McMurray: Yeah. Yeah, because I was having a good time in there. We went from working 10, 12 hours on a farm all the time and then go in there and only work eight hours a day and the rest of the time was all yours…
Sanders: Different style of life?
McMurray: Yeah. [Laughs.]
Sanders: Did what you learned in the service, did it get you any good lessons for when you got out, like order and stuff?
McMurray: Nope, no.
Sanders: So, you said you were in the Legion. Do you still, today, go if they have a little reunion of all the veterans, do you go to them still, today?
McMurray: Yeah, more or less, yeah. I belong to the Legion and I’ve done quite a lot of stuff in the Legion.
Sanders: So, you say your friend Max…when he got in the service, what was the reason for him getting in the service?
McMurray: I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s that…he just…just that one day. Yeah, just that one day, he made up his mind, I guess he was gonna go and… He was…he was working on a farm, of course, too.
Sanders: And then he dared you to go and you went?
McMurray: Yeah. Just took off and went.
Sanders: When did your buddy that you were really close with during the service, when did you guys finally lose touch?
McMurray: Pardon, what was it?
Sanders: Like, you said your buddy from Indiana, when you were in the service. When did you guys lose touch? Stop talking to each other?
McMurray: Well, I don’t know. We just hung around together, really.
Sanders: Were there…where did you serve, mostly, …like most of the time you spent? Most of your service time, where did you spend it at?
McMurray: Where did I spend it at? Just in the 12 different states, is all.
Sanders: Was there any state you stayed in for a really long period of time, or were they each like…?
McMurray: No, we just hung around when we… Most of the time when I wasn’t doing anything, I was just playing poker and that. Of course, one…let’s see, it was in South Carolina. We’d…there was four small lakes around the camp down there and we’d, my buddy and I’d go swimming in back and hung around…spend about three, four hours thrashing around in the water.
Sanders: So it all a good experience, everything you did there. You think it was a really good experience and you’re glad you did it?
McMurray: Yeah, I enjoyed it. Yeah.
Sanders: Well, that’s all the questions that I have about the service, unless you want to say anything…
McMurray: Well, I’m glad you’re…to do it for you. I haven’t got any more.
Sanders: Well, thank you for your time. Thank you for your time.