Alfred ’Ferd’ Dashnaw
On May 23rd,
2001, I interviewed my great-uncle, Alfred ’Ferd’ Dashnaw, about his role in
WWII, and about his feelings today.
Heather : Can you please
describe for us your role in WWII?
Dashnaw: For the most part, I was a French Interpreter. All I had to do was tell
my officers what the French said, and vice-versa. I was in the Infantry too.
Did you see a lot of combat?
Hell yes. I remember once, I was running from the jeep into a foxhole, because
the Germans surprised us, and because it was such a surprise, I had to leave my
gun behind. The Germans were shooting at us as fast as they could, and I yelled
at them, “ You son of a bitch, I don’t even have a goddamn gun!”
How close were they?
(gestures to a chair about 10 feet away): About that far.
What was your highest rank while you were in the army?
Sergeant was my highest. My brother Clarence was a Staff Sergeant. He was in the
Where were you during the war?
I was in Africa, Central Europe, Northern France, Sicily, and other places too.
When did you enter WWII?
July 1st, 1942.
When were you discharged?
December 15th, 1945. I remember the day I was discharged. When I got
to Albany, I didn’t wait for the train because it was too goddamn slow. I took
the bus instead, and they dropped me off at the Glens Falls police station.
Christ, that place died at midnight! I went in to get a ride, but no one would
bring me, because they knew I was a serviceman, and it wouldn’t cost me
anything. I was just going to walk, but I called home instead.
Dashnaw (wife): I remember that. I brought Little Alfred with me, and
since he had been so young when Ferd left, I was so scared that he wouldn’t
recognize him, but thank God, when we got there he said, “ There’s my
daddy!” We were so happy he remembered him.
(laughing): Yes that was lucky.
What honors did you receive?
I got seven battle stars, a couple other ones…they’re listed on my discharge
sheet, and a good conduct one…which is funny. I remember this one time, we
were under heavy German fire, and we jumped into a foxhole. The officer in
charge said to me, “ Are they still firing, Dashnaw?” I replied to him, “
Go stick your head up there and see, sir!”
He couldn’t say anything to me though, because I said ‘sir’. (Laughing)
Do you recall the day FDR died?
Hell yes that was such a sad day. We were all crying, and everyone was
heartbroken. The mood was just so depressed, even more so than usual.
Dashnaw: I remember that day too. We were all so sad back home.
(speaking to VD): About how often did you hear from your husband?
I got letters every couple of months, but we worried constantly.
Ok, back to Uncle Ferd. What do you think of Truman’s decision to bomb?
Best goddamn decision he ever made! It was either them or us. I’m afraid of
what would have happened if we hadn’t done that. I feel sorry for the
civilians and even the soldiers, but I don’t think there was another
How do you feel about the Japanese and the Germans today?
I do not hold a grudge at all. The past is the past, and while I greatly see the
value in remembering WWII, and those who died with it, I do not see any reason
to hold grudges against them.
Do you have trouble watching documentaries on war?
AD: No! I love them. I drive Vida nuts because I watch them all the time.
interview conducted on 5-23-2001 and transcribed by Heather, '03
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Copyright © 2001,2007 by Matthew A Rozell and Hudson Falls CSD. All rights reserved.