Frank Giaimo was born on April 18, 1926 in
Frank Giaimo was a soldier in the United States Army who fought to free the Philippine Islands by defeating the Japanese forces stationed there.
Q: When did you join the
A: I signed up for the draft at age 18 on April 18, 1944.
Q: Were you scared when you were drafted?
A: No, not really.
Q: What was your title?
A: I entered active duty as a Private and was discharged as a Sergeant First class and after returning home in 1946, I entered the Reserves until 1959 and was discharged as a Captain
Q: Where were you stationed after joining the military?
A: In September 1944 I was sent to
Q: What did you do throughout the course of your service?
A: I was a participant in the Libertarian of the Philippine
Islands. I fought in the Leyte
Campaign. General MacArthur promised
when he returned back to the Philippine Islands, the people there would be free
from Japanese rule. I also participated
in the Luzon Campaign near
Q: How long did you serve in active duty?
A: I served for 16 months
Q: How did you feel about President Roosevelt?
Q: Did you listen to his fireside chats?
A: Nah not really, my parents would listen to the radio.
Q: So you were in the army?
A: I was a ground soldier, a “dog-face, a rifleman in the infantry. It was our job to fight the enemy. They used to say “The infantry is the queen of battle”
Q: How many men were you with?
A: My unit was a company of 100 men divided into three platoons split into three squads of 10 men each.
Q: What kind of equipment did you have?
A: I carried an M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle that had a clip of 8 rounds. I had a pistol belt with a lot of holes, two canteens, because it was so hot and humid. I had a jungle aid kit on my left side, water purifications pills- if you encountered a stream you could fill your canteen put those pills in, wait an hour and drink it. I had a jungle knife, bayonet, and bandoliers, pockets with ammunition in them and crossed your chest, grenades, a poncho you carried between the pack and the small of your back, and I wore a steel helmet.
Q: What did you eat?
A: We had C rations which were tins with spaghetti, comfort items (gum, toilet paper, cigarettes) and K rations which were the size of cracker jack box that had things like cheese. Once in a while we had a hot meal, new clothes, etc.
Q: What did you wear?
A: We wore fatigues, (green pants and top and the helmet) We did have a laundry company with people in the rear, so every week or so, they’d bring up new clothing. The laundry company had mobile equipment like giant washers and dryers (commercial stuff).
Q: What did you do when you weren’t fighting?
A: We played cards. The popular saying during war was “Hurry up and wait.”
Q: So what were your conditions, geographically?
A: We were in a jungle, slept on the ground, formed a circle so if attacked, could respond from all sides. Every night we’d dig slit trenches that were 3,4,5 feet deep. Every night we’d take turns watching guard, if enemy attacked, you’d sound alarm and fight. I remember just shooting into the dark and hoping to hit someone. In the morning we’d go check to see how many were dead.
One night three of us were in this slit trench and the deal was one man would sit up for two hours while the others slept and after his shift ended he’d tap the next guy. So after my shift I tapped this guy and I pretended to go to sleep because I thought something fishy was going on and sure enough the guy just went on a tapped the next guy. Ok-now we had set up barbed wire all around our position, rigged grenades in the wire so if someone was walking the grenade would explode. Another night I asked that same guy that cheated out of watch duty how do I get back to camp because it was so dark. He sent me in the one direction and I heard a pop. Ok so when you hear that grenade pop you figure you have about 3-4 seconds before the grenade goes off. This is where my training kicked in so I hit the ground, the grenade goes off in a cone shape and I was at the base of the cone so I didn’t even get a concussion. I didn’t know if my turning in that #%@$ for skipping guard duty led me there on purpose but what but I thought, if he ever got in front of him he might get it.
Q: Was there a doctor in your unit?
A: Each unit had a medic, he was trained in the treatment of wounds
Q: Did you ever see any serious injuries?
A: One time I was detailed to carry a stretcher and we were advancing up a mountain and there was an explosion and they yelled for the stretcher, a soldier had been hit by a mortar and some shrapnel. The medic shot him up with morphine and they would tag serious injuries like that with the time and date and how much morphine they gave the injured so you wouldn’t overdose him. We headed back down the mountainous road, radioed back and I heard a Jeep outfitted to take stretchers and he was taken to field hospital (tents).
Q: Were you ever injured?
Q: What did you think about the Japanese soldiers?
A; With the Japs there was “No quarter” meaning we just never expected surrender. Their philosophy was you were alive or you were dead because they considered prisoners to be the lowers form of man. If you were taken prisoner, you weren’t a soldier or a fighter. There were very seldom any prisoners because they just wouldn’t give in. It was just “fight to the end” and that was it. A Japanese soldier was taught that it was an honor to die for the emperor while Americans were instilled with more of a duty to succeed and pull through for the country.
Q: Were there POW’s?
A: When the Geneva Convention was held to discuss the rules of war, the Japs either didn’t come or just never abided by the Geneva Convention’s decisions as far as treatment of prisoners was concerned.
Q: So there were POW’s?
A: Ever hear of the Death March?
A: Ok, the Death March was when the Americans and Filipinos were defeated in early part of war, and the Japs marched Am and F prisoners to prison camps under barbarous conditions (no water no food), if you fell out of line they killed you. We never expected they would take that many, 70,000-80,000, on the Batan peninsula. The Japs shot and killed any Filipinos tried to aid the POWs.
Q: So tell me any memorable stories that you remember.
Christina, you see in WWII they tried to mix up men that lived close to each
other into different units overseas [so if a tragedy occurred and a unit was
significantly wiped out one town wouldn’t wake have to suffer all that
sadness]. I went to high school with Warren Cummings in
Saving a Life
Hey one time I was driving in the car with your Grandma and Aunt Jane and Jane asked “dad, how many Japs did you kill” and I said “Well I don’t know How many Japs I killed but I do know about the one I saved.” My Corporal said “here kid shoot this Jap” and there was this emaciated soldier wearing horn-rimmed glasses and just a loin cloth. I didn’t’ want to shoot him so I said to my Corporal, “ You shoot him.” The Corporal then told me to take the prisoner to Battalion Headquarters. The man in charge there said “ why didn’t you shoot him?” I said that “ I was ordered to take him here.” You see Christina, even in defenseless, no gun, no clothes even and I just couldn’t do it.
Playing Cards and Dodging Fire
One day we were sitting in these abandoned Philippine hits playing cards and you could see out into a mountain, you could see an explosion so we all jumped into our fox holes and slit trenches. Then firing stopped and started so they sent in an A-26 Marauder and shot rockets and bombs into the cave, dynamite, went after them with a flame thrower, a hose of gasoline that was ignited, and took care of the shooter.
Eerie Arrival in
When we were sent to Japan, we came ashore in landing craft and to fool the Japanese they would send the soldiers all around to kind of announce our presence. I remember this one day, it was dusk and there wasn’t a soul to be seen, no men, women, or children, not even any dogs or cats on the streets. It was a real eerie feeling of the people watching behind the blinds. We marched to a military airport and slept in the hangars there for about a week.
The Unburied Dead
I had buddied up with this guy, he was a Vet, and one day he said” Come with me” and we went scouting (looking for the enemy) and encountered some Japanese dead and he just went in there and looked for stuff in their pockets. You see the Japanese just left their dead laying around, but I couldn’t do that. I was new and searching through the pockets, I couldn’t stomach that.
Q: Tell me about being stationed in
A: We ere the first troops to land in
A: Well I probably would have been dead.
A: I like to say I was sent home “by convenience of the government”
A: Well there was a Point System consisting of time spent overseas, decorations received= if you had a certain amount of points, they sent you home.
A: Well you have to experience it, you hear shells screaming in, you can’t get close enough to the ground, just laying there holing nothing hits you.
A: There were Chaplin (army Priests) and religious services when there was a chance for various denominations.
A: Sure, it was called V-mail like on peeve of paper folded over and they would photograph them and reproduced it and send it to the address in the states. The mail was censored too, for location and what was going on. I would write “ I’m somewhere in the Pacific.” We weren’t allowed to pinpoint locations.
A: You know through a command structure, the division regiment battalion company got them.
Good Conduct Medal
Q: What was it like when you came home?
A: After I came home I noticed that because the Americans didn’t really have and damage done to their homeland they just took the war in stride. It was kind of like I’d never gone.
Q: What effect if any did our involvement have on your life?
A: “World War II took two years away from my life. I would have gone to college two or three years earlier. When I came out of it, I was 20 years old, you say you feel indestructible-overall it was a good experience. The GI Bill paid for my tuition to college and my books. I got $75 each month for college expenses.”