Samuel F. Danner
Samuel Danner was born in Macomb, Illinois, on October 29,1944. He grew up in Blandinsville, Illinois with his parents and two sisters. Influenced by those around him, he joined the Navy in the fall of 1962, serving for several years. Serving in the time of the Cold War, Danner was deployed in Vietnam. Receiving multiple promotions, he was able to achieve the rank of machinist mate 3rd class.
Transcript of Complete Interview
General Background Information
Interviewer (Allison Birt): I need you to record your full name, date of birth, and where you were born.
Interviewee (Samuel Danner): Samuel Fredrick Danner… October 29,1944… Macomb, Illinois.
Interviewer: Can you describe the community that you grew up in to me?
Interviewee: Well, I grew up in Blandinsville, Illinois and it was a small community and we my father farmed and I guess I went to school in Blandinsville, well went to a my first grade I went to a one room school and then we moved to the other side of Blandinsville then I went to town and the Blandinsville school in town.
Interviewer: So were your parents married or divorced when you were growing up?
Interviewee: They were married.
Interviewer: And do you have siblings?
Interviewee: I have 2 older sisters and then I’m the youngest one.
Interviewer: You’re ahead of me.
Interviewee: Well, yeah I remembered that question was coming.
Interviewer: Did you have contact with your other relatives, your grandparents or aunts or uncles?
Interviewee: Uh, I just knew one grandmother, the other grandmother and grandfather had passed away, and one grandfather I knew just, I can just barely remember him he died when I was real young, but I can just barely, but one grandmother I remember.
Interviewer: So since you said that your father farmed, um did you and your siblings or your mother contribute to the help of the farming to help support your family?
Interviewee: Oh yeah, we did we uh, of course mom had chickens and we milked and we had about an acre and something garden.
Interviewer: So you did both between the farming and the livestock?
Interviewee: Yeah, we had hogs and cattle and sheep
Interviewer: We have ducks at our house.
Interviewee: Oh do ya!
Interviewer: There not doing anything yet but we have them, um…So how would you describe your families’ economic situation when you were growing up?
Interviewee: Um, I would I don’t know for sure I think it was pretty good because we you know, we had a, we a, always had food on the table but of course we raised most of it.
Interviewer: Back then that was considered a good family situation, um.
Interviewer: Okay. So tell me about your family today…are you married?
Interviewee: Yes I am…I have
Interviewer: And you have two children?
Interviewer: And how many grandchildren?
Interviewee: I have six grandchildren, um four girls and two boys.
Interviewer: Are they all under 18 or?
Interviewee: Yeah the oldest one is 13 and the youngest one will be a year old the 24th of February
Interviewer: Fun. Fun. Fun.
Interviewer: And your educational background, you said you just went through high school.
Interviewee: Just high school.
Interviewer:So what other types of careers have you had throughout your life?
Interviewee: Well, after I got out of the navy I carpentered for about 4 years, uh I worked for Morton Buildings a couple years putting up pole buildings, than I worked for a contractor there in Blandinsville and we built uh three houses and did a lot of remodeling and stuff like that and then in 1970 I started farming I got a chance to start farming and I did that for 17 years.
Interviewer: Did you do that for yourself or?
Interviewee: Yes and uh then sometimes a drove a truck in the winter time and then when the I quit farming, why after I think 17 years why I drove a truck for a while, semi and for a guy there in Blandinsville we did mostly local stuff but I did travel to Indiana and uh Iowa and Missouri a then I got a job out to Western and I’ve been there ever since and that’s been about 20 years.
Interviewer: What do you do out at Western?
Interviewee: I am a store keeper, the physical plant has a little hardware store and I uh, work in it.
Interviewer: Okay, so now I’ll talk about your time in the military. So when did you join the services?
Interviewee: I joined in the fall of 1962; uh the year I graduated, I was 17 when I went in.
Interviewer: So you went in right after high school?
Interviewer: So what led you to join the services, your choice, drafted, family?
Interviewee: No, it was my choice.
Interviewer: Your choice.
Interviewee: Yeah, my choice, uh I guess one of the biggest reasons was that my one of my sister’s had just got married a couple years before that and right after they he was 23 years old and right after he got they got married then he got drafted and so I decided that well they wasn’t going to do that to me, after I was.
Interviewer: Rather have a choice than be forced?
Interviewee: Yeah, I would rather have a choice.
Interviewee: And so the reason I went, I will just go on here.
Interviewee: The reason I went in the Navy was because my other brother-in-law had been in the Navy and then we had a, three neighbors that they had been in the Navy.
Interviewer: You were somewhat familiar with, [Interviewee: Yeah]the Navy.
Interviewee: Yeah and they talked about it.
Interviewer: I think when people personally choose a lot of it has to do with family that’s been there or did your recruiter have any involvement on your decision to join the military?
Interviewee: No, not really because I went to see him and you know I uh, had decided that was what I was going to do so right out of high school.
Interviewer: He just pointed you in the right direction on what to do?
Interviewer: So what rank did you achieve or should I say highest rank did you achieve when you was in the service?
Interviewee: I was a machinist mate 3rd class which was an E4
Interviewer: I was gonna say that would be E? I know the E’s.So would that be your military occupational specialty, then?
Interviewer: And did you have more than one when you were in there.
Interviewer: Okay…so let’s talk about um, your 1st deployment that you had.
Interviewee: Well, I don’t know whether if it was a deployment, we went, after I got out of basic training in January, I went aboard a destroyer for when I got out of basic training I had, I already had orders to go to Class A machinist mate school in the Great Lakes, but I didn’t go there I was supposed to go there until June, so they put me on a destroyer out of San Diego for six months.
Interviewer: So they were occupying your time for 6 months (ha ha).
Interviewee: Yeah.And we never went anywhere to speak of, we would go out to sea for 2 or 3 weeks and then come back in and that’s about all we did, played war games sometimes
Interviewer: Okay….so um, when you were in Great Lakes, then so, did your machinist schooling there?
Interviewer: And then after that you shipped out again?
Interviewee: Yes and then I got stationed in Mayport, Florida on another destroyer.
Interviewer: And that the one that you were like…
Interviewee: Yes, W. C. Lawe For a couple years like almost 3 years, well from…yeah…64 to 66.
Interviewer: My history is rough.Was there any active wars at the time when you were in the service?
Interviewee: Well there was a, I don’t know whether you would call this, well when I was in basic training is when the Cuban Crisis was going on, so I was in the service then and um…when that was going on and of course the Vietnam War was going on.
Interviewer: Which was still going on after you were discharged right?
Interviewee: Oh yeah, yeah. And yeah I got extended 4 months when I was, see I was supposed to get out in October of 65
Interviewer: Can you tell me a little bit about your experience just on the ship in general when you were down in Mayport?
Interviewee: Well I don’t know, I didn’t have a lot of experiences there, but we, that summer of 64 we went up to Annapolis and they was I don’t know how many 10 or 12 ships and we picked up midshipman and then we took them overseas we went to uh, Germany and uh, we stopped at got into the Baltic Sea we went to the Kiel Canal and to the Baltic Sea and went to Flensburg, Germany and Stockholm, Sweden and then when we come back through why we stopped at Rotterdam, Holland and then we come back and dropped the midshipman off.
Interviewer:So when you were over there did you see any active warfare I guess?
Interviewee:No, it, most of that
Interviewer: You were one of the lucky ones.
Interviewer: Okay…Did you receive any promotions or awards while you were in the service?
Interviewee: Well the promotion was I went from.
Interviewer: Your rankings.
Interviewee: Yeah…the fireman cause after you got out of boot camp, you was a fireman recruit and you went to fireman and then MM3.
Interviewer: Actually went through 4 promotions right? Cause you start out E1.
Interviewee: Yeah…and we went, than out of boot camp you go to E2, than E3 and I went to E4.
Interviewer: Okay, uh.
Interviewee: I don’t know how much you want to know about that, now see we come back and the I was in the, we got an expeditionary medal for being in the Dominican Republic, they had a civil war down there and we went there we was down there twice and so that.
Interviewer: So that you were awarded for being part of that?
Interviewee: Yeah, then I don’t know what all this, but when we went back to the Med, why we went down we was in the med, when we went to the Suez Canal and the Red Sea and was in the Indian Ocean for a while and we crossed the equator and that’s not anything, big deal but it is a ceremony they have a big ceremony and when you cross the equator.
Interviewer: I would think if you are in the service it would be a big deal to you.
Interviewer: It might not matter to somebody that don’t know what you talking about.
Interviewee: Yeah. Yeah, cause a lot of people don’t, but if anybody was in the Navy why than they’ll ask me every once in a while.
Interviewer: I think they are just kind of searching for anything you are willing to tell us about, cause there is so many, stuff about the different wars and about the different branches that just nobody knows anything about.
Interviewer: Okay…so the conflict with what did you say the Cuban…
Interviewee: Dominic Republic.
Interviewer: The 1st war you said on.
Interviewee: Oh…Cuban Crisis, the 13 days that.
Interviewer: Let’s start with that one…what do you remember about that?
Interviewee: Well, I tell you what I don’t really remember to much about it because we were in boot camp, we was pretty much.
Interviewee: Pretty isolated…yeah…from the outside world.
Interviewer: Okay…so let’s talk about the Vietnam War. You have to remember something about that. For instance, what did you think about it?
Interviewee: Well I didn’t think that we were doing it right in there I mean I don’t think.
Interviewer: Did you think it was necessary?
Interviewee: I think if we were there than it was necessary, but we should of did a lot more you know, I think we should of tried to win it instead of messing around.
Interviewer: I know it was definitely one of the more impacted wars, for sure.
Thoughts about Modern Military
Interviewer: Do you think that, um, from the start now you’re out of the service by the time it was over so you have somewhat of a military and civilian aspect to look at this…Do you think that it changed over time or from the start to the end?
Interviewee: Yeah I do, because uh, and I think the biggest thing was the news people the way they reacted and the people that you know burned the draft cards and everything now I didn’t get into a lot of that uh, but they was sometimes, why you would tell somebody that you had been in the service, and they just kind of would walk away from ya know they didn’t wanna.
Interviewee: Yeah…they didn’t wanna, I wasn’t involved in this of course the end of the war cause when I was in they always wanted you to travel in your uniform and toward the end of it they got to telling everyone to travel in civilian clothes because they were sometimes, they were treated real bad if they was in uniform but.
Interviewer: You would think it would be the other way around you would think you would be respected.
Interviewer: So in that aspect what do you think civilians thought about the war?
Interviewee: Well some of them didn’t think too much about it, I guess…and nobody like I said there was a lot of draft dodgers’ and stuff.
Interviewer: So more on the fear aspect you think then?
Interviewer: So you think more so that people were more afraid of being having sent over there?
Interviewee: Yeah…I think so.
Interviewer: And afraid of the conflict you might have encountered, think now you would react different, I mean…Now PTSD is really bad that they worry about Afghanistan wars and stuff but of course I have a psychology degree and I think that they don’t do their job there either or I wouldn’t see some of the stuff I do.
Interviewee: And of course that’s another thing they never thought about anybody coming back from Vietnam and doing that so you know they never tried to help.
Interviewer: Not that the mind is any different now, than it was then, but.
Interviewer: So therefore, the military has changed in general from when you were in the service, until like now?
Interviewer: Cause I know my friend that’s in the Navy suffered from PTSD from the Afghanistan war and he went through therapy and he still sees a therapist and it’s been 3 years that he was over there. He’s been over more than once but at that specific time it had been 3 years ago and he is out of the service and still has trouble so it tells you there that they have come a long ways but still have some work to do there.
Interviewee: I could understand why he would have trouble.
Interviewer: Okay…so you weren’t active in the conflict do you know anybody that was active? We will just redirect this question.
Interviewee: Oh yeah, I got a, some of my classmates were over there.
Interviewer: So have they shared some of their experiences with you?
Interviewer: Any of them get wounded that you know of?
Interviewee: No. I don’t think that, no they didn’t one of them was a helicopter pilot and the other was just in the Army, but they was there, and so and they don’t talk too much about the actual fighting, but.
Interviewer: Most veterans don’t.
Interviewee: And I mean, and I know, and I know that when they do, it well, I don’t know if there not telling everything.
Interviewer: Well, I’m sure it is bothersome and I’m sure there were some things that they were forced to do that they weren’t proud of.Uh, what was your motivation, uh while even though you weren’t active that doesn’t mean at some time or another you didn’t have a thought that they were going to send your ship over there…So what was your motivation and not just want to be like the civilians and get out of dodge and not besides going a-wall and how that would reflect?
Interviewee: Um…my motivation, huh, I guess, I don’t, I don’t really understand that.
Interviewer: I guess it’s just mostly why was your reasoning to stay at that point?
Interviewee: Oh, yeah well that wasn’t an option. I mean that was a bad deal you didn’t want to do that.
Interviewer: Well, yeah but some people did that.
Interviewee: Oh, I know it, a I don’t know I don’t, I suppose the question is commitment…I just, you know it was the thing to do.
Interviewer: You just made the commitment and just stuck with it.
Interviewee: Yeah…and my ship I was on after I got off of it, a couple years after I got off it, why they did send it to Vietnam so if I’d stayed in I’d a probably been there too, but they, but it do go over there
Interviewer: So therefore, some of the people that you were in with probably ended up going over there?
Interviewer: So your ship was deployed? Just not with you on it.
Interviewee: Yeah, over there.
Interviewer: So how do you deal, of how are you dealing with the aftermath now? I mean you were impacted by the war. Maybe not as personal as some other people but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t affected future decisions in your life or?
Interviewee: Well, I don’t know whether it’s made any difference in the decisions I made in life after I got out but, I know I really uh, and maybe it did to cause I really thought that it was really bad that nobody cared, you know about it and I really liked the deal that there having over in Afghanistan because the people are getting credit when they come home for what they did and that’s good.
Interviewer: It just shows how 50 years stuff can change within a branch or branches.
Interviewee: Oh, yeah.
Interviewer: Huh, so you weren’t deployed, so what ended your military time?
Interviewee: What ended it? My enlistment was up.
Interviewer: You just decided not to re-enlist?
Interviewee: Yeah. I just didn’t want to re-enlist and I didn’t think, I did and but now I wished I would have stayed in, you know it’s one of those things that.
Interviewer: So at that time what would it, would you say was your reason for not wanting to enlist compared to now if you had to do over, you probably would have?
Interviewee: Uh, I think the biggest thing that I didn’t re-enlist was because I really wanted to come home and farm and I thought that was what I wanted to do and that’s why I got out cause I thought I would come home and do that.
Interviewer: You did it for 17 years, so.
Interviewer: So you had to liked it some.
Interviewer: Okay…So looking back on your time what would you say you would be most proud of?
Interviewee: Oh, I don’t know. I guess just proud to know I was in and that I got to see half of the world. I mean we.
Interviewer: Just the experiences in its own self?
Interviewee: Yeah, uh, cause I uh, you know most people never get to go overseas and I was over there twice.
Interviewer: Yeah, I’ve been to Taiwan, Mexico and it the extent of it outside America and I’m afraid to fly so that probably won’t change.
Interviewee: Yeah, well I was in Guantanamo Bay, we was down there for 30 days in there and of course we was, we got to go, we was in San Juan, Puerto Rico a couple times and we was in San Domino, Jamaica once and you know we go to.
Interviewer: That one thing I have heard from a lot of people. People being in the service say just getting to see the world is one of the best things about joining.
Interviewee: Oh, yeah.
Interviewer: They say it’s free vacation with work.
Interviewee: I mean, yeah, cause we got to a you know, I been in the Naples, Italy and Beirut, Lebanon which I would never go back to I mean, that was the that’s not a very good place I don’t think and of course like I said we got to go through the Suez Canal you know, we went through that and the Red Sea and that’s all big that’s kind of a big deal because you know, I remember you know we talked about that in school and of course uh, religion and the Red Sea was you now, Moses went through that and that was kind of neat to realize that, hey I’ve been there.
Interviewer: Yeah, a story to tell your grandchildren.
Interviewer: So, okay, so what do you think would have been different if you wouldn’t of joined the military? Probably would have started farming sooner, I imagine.
Interviewee: Well, probably, and I don’t, I don’t well yeah well, I would of probably but then I would have been drafted you know w so I would have ended up in the military anyway, somehow or another
Interviewer: Yeah, you just probably wouldn’t have got to be in the branch you wanted or on a big ship doing what you wanted to do.
Interviewer: You might have been on the positive side.
Interviewee: Oh, yeah.
Interviewer: Mostly just from experience and being able to say.
Interviewee: Yeah, and of course the only thing that I think that was bad about it was that you know I went in when I was 17 and that is well I got home sick for a while, you and, you did, I did for probably a year or so after because it’s just you now it’s pretty tough to just.
Interviewer: Up and leave everything…Yeah, I mean, especially when you go like 8 weeks of basic and you don’t see nobody or talk to anybody except other people just like you and there is a lot of home sick going on then.
Interviewer: Would you encourage your children or grandchildren to join the military?
Interviewee: I don’t know whether I would encourage em…but if they wanted to go than I would then.
Interviewer: Um…Do you remain in contact with other veterans you talked about other people that you know that were..
Interviewee: No…I never have I did get in contact with one guy about 4 or 5 years ago.
Interviewer: But through the VFW and the American Legion, do you have veterans that you socialize with through there.
Interviewee: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: Some were in the Navy as well as, some that were in Vietnam too.
Interviewee: Yeah, some were in Korea, you know during the Korean War there’s not too many WW II veterans left, but there is still a few.
Interviewer: Is being a veteran an important part of your identity?
Interviewee: I think so, uh it’s just, yeah.
Interviewer: I mean. Do you think it has impacted on the person that you are today and the way that you look at things?
Interviewee: Yeah. I think so.
Interviewer: Like you have more insight than let’s say I would, not having experienced it.
Interviewee: Yeah. I think so.
Interviewer: I mean. I am not a veteran and I would think that you would feel that way.Okay. There have been a lot of changes in the military, women serving, um the talk of illegal immigrants receiving citizenship through joining the military, and homosexuals being allowed to serve…Do you have an opinion on any of these topics?Well there were women serving when you served I’m sure.
Interviewee: Oh Yeah but,
Interviewer: They were probably mostly nurses.
Interviewee: Yeah and clerical people and there wasn’t any women on ships and now there are uh, so uh, I don’t see anything wrong with that but.
Interviewer: With all three or just the women?
Interviewee: Just the women.
Interviewer: On illegal immigrants?
Interviewee: Well I’m not sure cause well I’m I don’t know how to say this but I …some of the illegal immigrants get a little more than what I think they should so.
Interviewer: That’s plenty fair. So granting them citizenship for just being in the military is another unfair way?
Interviewer: And then what about homosexuals being allowed to serve?
Interviewee: I don’t know, I don’t think it would bother me, but it might.
Interviewer: I mean…as a whole person you see them as the same?
Interviewee: The conflict of interest is it all males in a barracks or all females.
Interviewer: Which is where a lot of people have problems with women in the service?
Interviewee: Right because of mostly barrack purposes or they,
Interviewer: Just think women are inferior period.
Interviewee: Yeah there are some people that do that but…
Interviewer: Okay…thinking about your life as a whole tells me something that has provided you with the greatest satisfaction!
Overall and Evaluation
Interviewee: Oh, I guess the greatest satisfaction would be my wife, my kids, and grandkids. I mean, I don’t know and that’s just in order but.
Interviewer: That would have been my answer.
Interviewee: But right now I think my grandkids are the most important thing in my life right now.
Interviewer: Overall, has the world changed since you were young?
Interviewee: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: In many ways?
Interviewee: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: Is there anything that you want to talk about? Your life in general or your time in the service or your family? Anything that you want to talk about that we haven’t discussed or you want to elaborate more on?
Interviewee: Uh Boy, I don’t know. There wasn’t much, uh when I mentioned we crossed the equator just things like that we was in that we did you know that was a and a..
Interviewer: Ok, let me as you this…When you were on the ship in Mayport, when you were actually out were you transporting stuff to go overseas?
Interviewee: Some of the time.
Interviewer: Were you out there watching.
Interviewee: Kind of.
Interviewer: What was your ship doing as far as their part to the war?
Interviewee: Uh, we were just would play war games and the ship that I was on they had taken it and revamped from a destroyer, basically it was still a destroyer but they put at that point in time about the best sonar on it and we were basically an anti-submarine ship.
Interviewer: So you were more like Intel then?
Interviewee: Yeah I don’t, but we would basically seek and destroy submarines
Interviewer: Ok. I see what you’re saying.
Interviewee: And we had a, they took a, and put a couple remote control helicopters on there they made a little flight deck and we had, well they call them drones now but we had a couple of remote control helicopters that carried two torpedoes a piece and they could go out I think two or three miles.
Interviewer: Did you practice that?
Interviewer: Did you actually get to blow some submarines up?
Interviewee: No we didn’t blow any submarines up.
Interviewer: You weren’t near enemy activity.
Interviewee: Right. We were just playing the games and learning how to do that.
Interviewee: Yeah. Simulation, a than we did that highly necessary and then we were also a lot of the times we would operate with a carrier because when a carrier is out to sea they have to have like 6 or 7 or 8 or 10 ships and submarines with it and the carrier and when there a launching planes and bringing planes back in why there is always 4 or 5 destroyers around the carrier to protect the carrier from anybody that, is anybody shot a torpedo at the carrier, why that was part of the job of the destroyer to intercept that torpedo before it got to the.
Interviewer: So you would definitely say what you were being trained at was highly necessary?
Interviewee: Yeah. So.
Interviewer: Anything else you can think of?
Interviewee: Well I don’t think so I will probably think of something important
Interviewer: You still have my e-mail, you can always e-mail me…by the way this is important…so that I can put it in your bibliography.