Segment 1


George Bernard Griffenhagen was in Plzen, Czechoslovakia on VE Day, 8 May 1945. Griffenhagen was born in Portland, Oregon on 9 June 1924 and grew up in Fresno, California. His family was hit hard by the depression. When the depression hit he was still a youngster and does not have any personal experiences of the time. Griffenhagen had one sister who was five years younger than him. He attended Fresno High School and was very active in the theatrical productions there. The high school annual [Annotators Note: year book] was filled with autographs all pertaining to World War 2. In June of 1942 the United States was already well into the war. Pearl Harbor was in 1941. It was pretty obvious that many of the boys would be in military service soon. Griffenhagen graduated from high school in June 1942. His draft number was very low so he expected to be drafted anytime. There was a sense of patriotism in the country. Everybody felt that they should not sit around and wait but that they should get out there and do something. Griffenhagen’s father had served as a combat engineer in World War 1 so Griffenhagen thought that if it was good for his father it was good for him. In order to get a choice of the type of unit he would be assigned to, Griffenhagen enlisted in the US Army on 15 December 1942. Griffenhagen will never forget the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was in Fresno, California. When they got the first word of the Pearl Harbor attack Griffenhagen’s friend, who delivered news papers for the Fresno Bee, came to his house and asked him to help out. An extra edition was coming out and Griffenhagen and his friend were to go out to the main road leading in from the mountains and sell news papers to the people coming home from the mountains. They sold the papers until they ran out of them. Hearing of the attack was shocking but not totally unexpected. It was assumed that the Japanese would do something but no one knew when or where. Griffenhagen enlisted in the army and selected the combat engineers because that is what his dad did. Griffenhagen was inducted in Los Angeles then put on a train to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Fort Leonard Wood was one of only two main training bases for combat engineers. The other was in Northern Virginia. Griffenhagen was at Fort Leonard Wood for three months. During his training he had the opportunity to apply for Officers Candidate School. He also qualified to apply for the ASTP [Annotators Note: ASTP is Army Specialized Training Program]. During the last week of basic training he was called before a board. It was the first time he had ever seen three majors sitting together in one place. The board informed him that he could go to either OCS or ASTP. Griffenhagen selected ASTP and was told that he would be going to a base in Oregon.


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