Segment 1


William Blanckenburg’s name has German roots. Blanckenburg had an upper middle class upbringing, but they struggled during the Depression. Blanckenburg was born and raised in Berkeley, California. His dad’s parents were full German and his mother’s family had roots in Maryland and Virginia and eventually Missouri. Both of Blanckenburg’s parents were born in Missouri. His mom and dad met in Woodland, California. His father was a successful lawyer and was able to put three of Blanckenburg’s siblings through college. It was not until many years later that Blanckenburg was able to fully appreciate what his family did. Blanckenburg led a typical life and he actually met Dr. Richard Lyons. [Annotators Note: Dr. Lyons was a battalion surgeon on Iwo Jima and was interviewed on the same trip as Mr. Blanckenburg.] Blanckenburg had a typical upbringing. He was a history major in college and liked military history. The Civil War was his pet subject and he has read a lot about it. Blanckenburg could see war coming when he was in college. He knew that if there was a war he would be in it. Blanckenburg thought that it would be a fight for survival because Hitler had worldwide aspirations. The Japanese brought us into war on 7 December [Annotators Note: 7 December 1941]. Blanckenburg signed up for a volunteer officers’ training course. After basic training they were to go to Officer Candidate School. Blanckenburg had been practicing law for three years before the war started. He thought that being the cream of the crop would cause him to rise up, but he ended up being an infantry soldier lugging a rifle and bayonet. Blanckenburg went through the basic training for the volunteer officers’ school. They were told that since they had enough second lieutenants they had to go home and wait for the draft. There were 28 guys and 27 went home, but Blanckenburg stayed in. He was sent all over the United States as just another soldier. Blanckenburg found out about Pearl Harbor on that Sunday morning. He heard about it at a local store. Blanckenburg knew they were in it now. They knew Hitler had to be stopped and someone had to do it. Western Europe was not able to accomplish that. From the time Blanckenburg was eight years old he wanted to be a lawyer. He wanted to be proficient in country law. Meanwhile, Blanckenburg had a girlfriend that he had met at University High School in Oakland. Most people that went there went on to college. Blanckenburg was originally separated from the girl, but she ended up disliking the guy she ended up with and went back to Blanckenburg. They were married in 1938 and they decided to wait on children until after the war.


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