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Collection Fred Bonzelet
WVM ID Number OH 547
Object Name Oral History
Title Oral History Interview with Fred Bonzelet
Date 2004
Event World War II
Narrator's Name Fred Bonzelet
Interviewer's Name John Driscoll
Description In this oral history interview, Fred Bonzelet, a Madison, Wisconsin resident, discusses his service as a Squadron Ordnance Sergeant with the 33rd Fighter Squadron of the Army Air Corps in Iceland and Europe during World War II.

Bonzelet states he worked for Badger Ordnance before World War II broke out. He was inducted into the Army Air Corps at Fort Snelling (Minnesota). He touches upon his boot camp and training, which took him to the Mojave Desert (California), Oregon, and Massachusetts. Bonzelet describes his deployment to Iceland with the 33rd Fighter Squadron. The seas were choppy and the convoy had to evade German submarines. Once in Iceland, Bonzelet's duties included transporting supplies and manning the store. He briefly describes interactions with the Stukas, a group of ethnic Norwegians living in Iceland.

After Iceland, Bonzelet was transferred to England and assigned to an infantry unit where he underwent more training. He mentions ironically that he was recruited into the Medical Corps, despite a lack of medical training, because the Army needed more medics. Bonzelet describes how he was shot in the leg while transporting a stretcher on the frontlines in France. He was sent back to a hospital in England to recover. Bonzelet spends much time describing the wounds and behavior of the other patients. Following his discharge from the hospital and a brief stay in a replacement depot, Bonzelet was put in charge of an Ordnance shop in Germany where he supervised German prisoners. Bonzelet states he spoke German and often served as an interpreter when his commanding officers needed to read maps and get directions in Germany. He touches upon interactions between the German POWs working in the Ordnance store and the Americans.

After a total of three years in the Army without any leave or visits home, Bonzelet was discharged on points and mustered out at Fort Sheridan (Wisconsin). Following the war, he worked as a carpenter, construction worker, bartender, and employee in an atomic plant in Washington. He states he joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion but never paraded with them. Bonzelet received a ten percent disability benefit from the V.A. and earned a Purple Heart for his leg wound. Throughout the interview, he describes relations between Noncommissioned Officers and Commissioned Officers, and he tells several stories of men who were unfit for service being drafted to fill Army quotas. He also speaks somewhat dismissively about the record-keeping he was required to do of munitions storage stocks in the Ordnance store. Finally, Bonzelet reflects upon the benefits and dangers of his time in the Army.
Extent and Medium of Description Analog audio recording: 1 audio cassette (approx. 40 minutes)
Transcript: 16 pgs.
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Biographical Record Bonzelet, Fred