An Interview with Eugene Vojir
Below is an interview that Mr. Vojir conducted for an elementary school book report.
Q. Did you play any sports when you were in the Navy?
A. No, not a thing. I did go out for the boxing team, but I guess they must’ve said no way for you, you know, to save my good looks. I do have what they called an iron man medal. So everybody on the ship had to get involved in some sport, so I was ballis on the sailboat. So that as about the size, well, I got, I'll show you the medals. I got, you know the sailing medal. Them guys were too rough to go ahead and play football or something like that, and I was just a little kid.
Q. What was your favorite sport to play?
A. Well, my favorite one was, I would say between football and baseball. They were just... I love those though and of course I showed you where I made the touchdown that time, didn't I? On the football field? I was an actor, too, once in high school. I told the teacher, you know, we had a senior play and I was picked to go and take part in it and I told the teacher, "You probably not see many more." I did go ahead. It was a success. We did a lot of swimming and skating and stuff like that.
Q. Were you drafted into World War Two, or did you just join the navy on your own?
A. Oh, no. That's another thing. Let me tell you about this navy business. All my life I wanted to become a sailor. If they were playing cowboys and Indian stuff, not me, I was a sailor. So, you had to be twenty-one years old to get into the Navy, but your parents could sign if you were a lower age. So when I was eighteen, "I want to go to the Navy, sign. "No, no." I become nineteen; I still want to go to the navy. "No, no." So towards the end of my nineteenth year, my folks say, "Okay, so I'll sign for you." So they did. I left on my birthday and I was twenty years old. I had one more year to go, so I made that point that they would sign for me. Well, another thing is they give you all the clothing and everything, so if you didn't like it when you went through the training station, you go ahead and you could get out. You didn't have to have your contract, but you had to pay for the uniform they gave you, so they could buy you out. So another thing about the training station is one day this guy comes up and says, "You're going to go boxing." "I don't know a thing about boxing." He say, "No, no, not today, but later on." So we did go ahead and we did go boxing. I did, in a long time around, I did win some of my battles, but I went up and I apologized to the guy, you know, for beating him and up, but the guy told me, "No, no, that's okay. Wait until you go in the shower room and you look in the mirror. I had a black eye; my nose was all over my face. So, after I graduated from the training station, I went home. My
mother looked at me and says, "What's the matter with ya?" "Ohhh, nothing." "What happened to your eye?" "Ohhh, nothing, nothing happened." "What happened to your nose?" "Ohhh, nothing, we just had a little boxing match." So she was going to get me right out of the service because it was too rough."
Q. You were in World War Two, right?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Can you tell me what happened?
A. What happened that particular day on Pearl Harbor? When the Japanese hit us?
Q. How long were you there, before they bombed you?
A. About three years.
Q. You had been there for three years?
A. Yeah, right. Actually, what happened is they went ahead and they moved the ships to Pearl Harbor. It was quite a number of battlewagons and of course I was married at the time, but I couldn't take mom with me because it wasn't a change of station, it was just six months. So after six months they give you an extension, which makes it a year. So this went on every six months. So then, we was about to leave Pearl Harbor, that was before the Japanese invasion there, and I was always with an admiral, see we would commander of a battle ship/ battle force and we always had an admiral with us. So the admiral was supposed to move from our ship to the
Colorado. So he went over to Colorado and he says, "No way," he didn't like the set up over there. So he came back to the "Wee Vee". That's why we were there on December 7th.
Q. Tell me what happened that morning.
A. Nothing happened, really.
Q. I think it did.
A. Well, we got newspapers on the ship, so we had newspapers. So this Henry Lacross was a store keeper, too. So, we went down to his storeroom. We were reading the newspaper and all of a sudden something happened out there. Torpedoes were hitting. So I told Henry, I said, "Close the storeroom and come on, we'll go to our battle stations."
Q. What was your battle station?
A. It was the powder room of all places. I was the scuttleman in the powder room. Well, I'll tell you what the scuttleman does. We had the bags of powder, real big. And they have what they call a door there, a scuttle. So, my job was to open it from the inside and put these bags in there one at a time, and when I close it from the inside, I rang a little bell and the guy from the outside would open it and take the powder out and it went back and fourth. They called me a scuttleman. So, getting back to where we were. We was down in the store room. So actually, you had to go back aft and cut over and go to the port side, from the port side to the starboard side because there was so many people, they'd get tangled up, so we had a drill or something. We had to go across and come back. You know go across, you know what I'm saying? It's like a one way street. Facing forward was port: blue light; starboard: red light, running light. So anyway what happened, I went and was going down this big old hatch, I mean it ways a ton and something. The guy says, "No, you better not," because we were about to be sunk or something. We won't go ahead and use any powder on the big guns, we'll just wait here awhile. And I don't know what
happened, all of a sudden I got up by sickbay, which is like a hospital. Then all of a sudden of what I remember, see, I was in terrible shock about this time, I went up on deck and went across. And I walked from the bow right into the motor launch and they were taking us to the hospital
ship. So, I'm back there and there's one guy who's leaning all over us, so I grabbed around, you know I figured he was injured or something. So, everybody got out of the boat and it was my turn. So the guy up there on the hospital ship says, "Come on up, come on up, "and I said, "How about this fella?" And the guy says, "No, leave him, he's dead, "and I went up.
So I got up and man, was I full of oil, I must've swallowed a gallon of it. So, I got up there and they gave me a shot, what do they call it, a morphine shot. And this place that I was in, it was beautiful. "Oh, my stomach, Ohhh." You know what happens when they give you morphine?
Q. You throw up?
A. Yeah, it went all over the place. The guy says, "Don't worry about it, don't worry about it." So, then I went into this, you know, where they keep all these fellas that were all shot up, and they was going to put me in a bunk and I said, "No, no, no, I don't need a bunk." Laying there on
the deck, everybody come around and throw a towel over me. So, finally did get up to a bunk. So, I figured, there's nothing wrong with me, I'm in this bunk, I don't know why. So, I started out of the bunk and that was it, I went all the way down to the deck, so they threw me back in the
bunk. But I was only over there for over night, like a camper. So, then I got back to what I think they call a Mother Craven Center, where they had movies and stuff and all the ships had tables where you go ahead and check in. That's when I got back to the "Wee Vee": I stayed there for the longest time again. It must've been three years. So, you know, I was working in dispersing and we were making out all these accounts. Everything was gone on the ship. So, what are we going to do now? We'll get some pay records and make them up. So, here we go, we made new records up and the captain, he was from the old Navy and they'd done this before
what they called reconstruction accounts. So, they made out new accounts that went back to Washington, eventually and they put the two accounts together because they could tell every quarter we haven't put in returns to the. So, that's how, and then the reconstruction would give you a new account.
Q. Why did you move to Seattle, Washington?
A. Why? That's a good question. I was on this crazy ship and I never had the last idea of coming to Seattle. The ship I was on Alaska and they were due to go up to Alaska, and let's get back to the training station here. So, first they were going to make a drummer out of me, I said, "No, I'll stay with my company." So, then when I got ready to graduate, he says, "Well, you
don't have to go to sea, you're going to work in the fire department." I says, "No, way, I want to see the world, I want to go on a ship." And I came all the way around, all the way around the cape, all the way to Virginia. So, I figured, well, I think I'll have to go to Liberty there. I was always afraid I'd get lost, you know, going to a strange place and stuff like that. So, okay, I went ashore and I came back, well, it was dark, so I went back to the ship. So, I got on the ship, saluted the officer of the day and went down to the living quarters. I got to my bunk, and guess what, there was a guy sleeping in there. Man, so you know, I didn't want to go ahead and wake the guy up, so I went back to the officer of the day, and I told him, you know, "There's some fella sleeping in my bunk." So, he said, "What ship you on?" So, I told him, The "Wee Vee." Low and behold he says, "They're tied up in back of us." So, I had got on the wrong ship. That was the first time, you know. Well, that was an experience. Oh, Lord, that was something.
Copyright ©2000-2021 USSWestVirginia.org. All rights reserved.