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, '03

Heather : Can you please describe for us your role in WWII?

 

Alfred 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.

HA: Did you see a lot of combat?

AD: 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!”

HA: How close were they?

AD (gestures to a chair about 10 feet away): About that far.

HA: What was your highest rank while you were in the army?

AD: Sergeant was my highest. My brother Clarence was a Staff Sergeant. He was in the marines.

HA: Where were you during the war?

AD: I was in Africa, Central Europe, Northern France, Sicily, and other places too.

 

HA: When did you enter WWII?

AD: July 1st, 1942.

HA: When were you discharged?

AD: 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.

Vida 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.

AD (laughing): Yes that was lucky.

HA: What honors did you receive?

AD: 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)

HA: Do you recall the day FDR died?

AD: 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.

Vida Dashnaw: I remember that day too. We were all so sad back home.

HA (speaking to VD): About how often did you hear from your husband?

VD: I got letters every couple of months, but we worried constantly.

HA: Ok, back to Uncle Ferd. What do you think of Truman’s decision to bomb?

AD: 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 alternative.

HA: How do you feel about the Japanese and the Germans today?

AD: 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.

HA: 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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