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Collection Jack D. Chase
WVM ID Number OH 1567
Object Name Oral History
Title Oral History Interview with Jack D. Chase, Stephen E. Ambrose WWII Oral History Class Project, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Date 1996
Event World War II
Narrator's Name Jack D. Chase
Interviewer's Name Jack R. Chase
Description In this oral history interview, Jack D. Chase, an Oconomowoc, Wisconsin native, discusses his World War II service with the 746th Tank Battalion and the 104th Infantry Regiment, 26th Division in the European Theater.

Chase touches on basic training at Fort Knox (Kentucky), preparing tanks for shipment, and volunteering for opportunities such as being the general’s tank driver in parade and placement in an armor demonstration unit. Shipped overseas in 1943 as a tank driver, he mentions beach patrol in Iceland, practicing in Ireland, and preparing for D-Day in Plymouth (England). Chase details landing on Omaha Beach on D+2: rumors prior to deployment, driving waterproofed Sherman tanks onto the beach, pulling an asphalt-making machine, and doing hedgerow busting. He states his tank was hit outside a small town and two crewmen were killed. After bringing back another tank from England, he speaks of moving across France, capturing some German deserters, having two more tanks destroyed in combat, and jumping into the Moselle River after his tank was destroyed on a pontoon bridge. Chase relates being unhappy with reassignment to the 501st Heavy Maintenance Tank Company, so he volunteered for the infantry, where he quickly rose to the rank of platoon sergeant due to high casualty rates. He speaks of being sent into combat near Wiltz (Luxembourg) as relief during Battle of the Bulge and being lightly wounded by shrapnel. Chase details combat in the Saar Basin: being unable to understand the strategy regarding a bridge there, having difficulty with infiltration by German troops dressed as civilians, and blowing up a match factory chimney. In Fraulautern, he talks about stepping into the street to help a Solomon, a wounded friend, getting wounded when a shell exploded behind him, and being evacuated by a Red Cross jeep. He characterizes Solomon, who was a born a Polish Jew, served in the Army as an interpreter, and died of his wounds. Chase comments on friendships he developed, high casualties in his tank unit, and the frequent occurrence of frostbite in his infantry unit. He reflects on his reasons for enlisting. He discusses his feelings towards German soldiers and prisoners of war, taking large numbers of Germans prisoner, and trying to prevent the murder of German POWs despite having seen the aftermath of the Malmedy Massacre. Chase talks about having to shoot a couple prisoners before being taken as prisoner himself for five days. Soon after D-Day, he recalls seeing a liberated female labor battalion and feeding them at his mess hall. Chase contrasts American and German tanks and other aspects of their militaries, and he reflects on low morale during winter combat. He comments on digging foxholes, throwing away gasmasks, meeting General Patton, and generally getting along with his officers. Chase discusses racial prejudice in the Army and describes two incidents when he worked with African-American soldiers. He reflects on the adequacy of his training.

After being wounded, he speaks of brief stays in European hospitals, getting sumac poisoning, shipping back to the States aboard the Queen Mary, and eventually ending up at Percy Jones Hospital in Battle Creek (Michigan). Chase details feeling like a hero during his homecoming and attending the University of Wyoming using the GI Bill and disability payments. He explains dreams he used to have about the war but states he is pretty well settled down now.
Extent and Medium of Description Transcript: 16 pgs.
(Transcript only)
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Biographical Record Chase, Jack D.