Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Donald R. Norland
NORLAND: Patrol torpedo boat. As a matter of fact, this will remind you of what they were like. I brought this...
Q: Oh, yes. We have a picture here of these. If one wants to get a feel for this, a researcher can look at the photo of John F. Kennedy.
NORLAND: That recalls one of the first things that activated my sense of history. I was in the same PT squadron as John F. Kennedy but he had already been to the South Pacific and become something of a hero, and had returned to the training base at Melville, Rhode Island. I met him on a pier at Melville. This is a picture (I'm in the front row there somewhere) of the class I graduated with. He's not there, but I have that picture because it was about that time that I met him. It was an event.
I played football at Melville. And at the end of the season...I shouldn't say it that way, but we had a base commander who thought that a football team was very important for morale and esprit de corps, so I did not get sent to the Pacific until the football season was over. That was January of '45.
Q: This was very, very common, particularly in the Navy. Good boxers, good football teams, these were very, very important.
NORLAND: For morale. Anyway, this was Commander David I. Walsh III. Since you're from the East, you'll remember that David I. Walsh was the son of a senior senator from Massachusetts. So he had real clout.
Q: Oh, yes.
NORLAND: I was sent to the Pacific. After a thirty-day troop transport experience, I arrived in Leyte Gulf in late January 1945. Again, this was four months after the Leyte invasion, but MacArthur's tracks were still evident. And we moved around. Just picking up this folder, I came across a picture of the areas where, in convoy, my squadron, Squadron 7, went from Leyte Gulf around the southern tip of Cebu and to the island of Panay, where I participated in invasions—several, because this was a time of so-called island hopping. MacArthur was the commander in charge. Somewhere I have a picture of MacArthur visiting our PT boat.