Prewar Life and Drafted

Combat in the Pacific

Postwar and Reflections


Abraham Sacks was born in September 1919 in London, England with one younger sister. He arrived in New York [Annotator's Note: New York, New York] on the Olympic [Annotator's Note: RMS Olympic] on 26 June 1928. His father was a kosher [Annotator's Note: food that is sold, cooked, or eaten that satisfies Jewish dietary law] butcher who supported his family through the Great Depression [Annotator's Note: the Great Depression was a global economic depression that lasted from 1929 through 1939 in the United States]. He assimilated easily into American life because he could speak English. All his friends called him "Limey" since he was from England. He walked to school every day and played baseball with the neighbor kids. He lived in the Bronx [Annotator's Note: the Bronx is one of the five boroughs in New York, New York] and Brooklyn [Annotator's Note: Brooklyn is one of the five boroughs in New York, New York]. When he was 17 and graduated from high school, he found a job as a bartender. In August 1941, he was drafted, and went to Camp Wheeler near Macon, Georgia for basic training. He and his parents were very nonchalant about his draft. Sacks packed his bag and left home to begin his service training. After a quick orientation at Camp Upton on Long Island [Annotator's Note: now Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York], he was given a train ticket and sent to Camp Wheeler. As he completed his basic training, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor [Annotator's Note: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941]. Sacks adjusted to his new surroundings at camp even though the mountain area of Georgia was cold. After the Pearl Harbor attack, one of Sacks' fellow trainees killed himself. Sacks was with the 5th Infantry Division and was immediately deployed to the Panama Canal Zone in December 1941. He was shipped out from New Orleans [Annotator's Note: New Orleans, Louisiana]. He remained in Panama for one year and then was transferred to the 158th Infantry Regiment. While in Panama, part of his duties were to guard the Canal from possible sabotage. He also helped test jungle equipment in South American terrain. [Annotator's Note: Sacks asks the interviewer to get a book at 0:14:38.000.] The quarters he lived in and food the military provided were adequate to Sacks. The locals were very friendly to the Americans.


In December 1942, Abraham Sacks [Annotator's Note: with the 158th Infantry Regiment (Separate)] was transferred from the Panama Canal Zone to Brisbane, Australia. The passage on the Liberty ship [Annotator's Note: a class of quickly produced cargo ship] took 20 days to cross the ocean due to them zigzagging [Annotator's Note: a naval anti-submarine maneuver]. While at the Canal, he took part in comprehensive jungle training which helped him during combat later. Sacks was promoted to sergeant after arriving in Australia and was leader of his own squad. They trained more mostly in the mountain region. The mosquitoes were a nuisance. Sacks contracted malaria [Annotator's Note: mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite] while he was in Panama and was treated with quinine [Annotator's Note: medication used to treat malaria and babesiosis]. In mid-March [Annotator's Note: March 1943] Sack's regiment received orders to move in echelons to Port Moresby, New Guinea. From there they moved to Milne Bay [Annotator's Note: in New Guinea in late May 1943] and then to New Britain [Annotator's Note: New Britain, Papua New Guinea] in July 1944. While in Panama, Sacks went on 30-mile hikes almost every day, and more of the same in Australia. He also practiced with his weapons. His trip to Moresby took about 10 days, and he was given duty to man a gun on deck. When he was in combat on New Britain, he never saw a Japanese soldier because they always retreated. When the enemy did come out, they blew a horn and charged at them, so the Americans shot them. They never took a prisoner. After combat in New Britain, his regiment was sent to Sarmi [Annotator's Note: now Sarmi, Indonesia]. Sacks was always wet and felt disgusting due to the jungle terrain. His regiment landed on the beaches on Higgins boats [Annotator's Note: Landing Craft Vehicle, Personnel or LCVP; also known as the Higgins boat] and LCIs [Annotator's Note: Landing Craft Infantry]. They met with minimal resistance and killed Japanese marines. As they traveled through the terrain, his regiment was faced with heavy combat. His squad was pinned down by machine gun fire, and Sacks communicated with a small tank squad to knock out the enemy fire. When the combat ended for that day, about a dozen Americans had been killed in his regiment. Sacks came down with malaria again and was sent to the hospital behind the front lines. There was a horrible storm and Sacks was sent back to his unit after a doctor was killed as a result. [Annotator's Note: Video break at 0:29:10.000.] After combat in Sarmi, Sacks' regiment was sent to Noemfoor [Annotator's Note: now Numfoor, Palau, West New Guinea, Indonesia] making a similar amphibious invasion, then took the airport on the island. [Annotator's Note: A woman interrupts interview at 0:30:50.000]. Sacks saw combat before being seriously injured while running from a Japanese artillery barrage. He was sent to San Diego [Annotator's Note: San Diego, California] where he spent the rest of the war recovering starting in January 1945.


After being discharged from the army after the war, Abraham Sacks returned home and reunited with his parents after three years. In February 1945, he met his wife, Dottie, and married in September of the same year. He worked in a restaurant until 1951. [Annotator's Note: Sacks stops interview because he is hot. When video resumes, an air conditioner can be heard in the background.] He had a hard time adjusting to civilian life but eventually used the G.I. Bill [Annotator's Note: the G.I. Bill, or Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, was enacted by the United States Congress to aid United States veterans of World War 2 in transitioning back to civilian life and included financial aid for education, mortgages, business starts and unemployment] to buy a house in 1951. He worked in the real estate industry until the late 1960s. He then worked for JFK Airport [Annotator's Note: John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York] cargo shipping division until his retirement in 2000. He worked part time for the City University of New York [Annotator's Note: in New York, New York] until his final retirement in 2015. His most memorable experience of World War 2 was seeing two trucks of injured Americans on the beach in New Guinea. After his experience of World War 2, Sacks is happy to wake up in the morning and just be alive. He has some health issues now. [Annotator's Note: Sacks pauses interview at 0:41:31.000.] He appreciates every hour he is on the planet. He enjoyed raising a family. His experience of war was wet and miserable. America is the greatest country in the world and there is no place like it. Most people do not appreciate America. There should be institutions like the National WWII Museum [Annotator's Note: The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana], and they should continue to teach World War 2 to future generations. We need to value the United States and uphold what it stands for. He is thankful for his service for his country. He is proud to have defended and protected his country. It was privilege that was given to him, and he fulfilled his duty.

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