Interviewed By Steven F. Crane
12 March 2013
Oral History Program
Weber State University
Steven F. Crane
12 March 2013
Copyright © 2013 by Weber State University, Stewart Library
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Mueller, Arlo, an oral history by Steven F.
Crane, 12 March 2013, WSU Stewart Library
Oral History Program, University Archives,
Stewart Library, Weber State University,
March 12, 2013
Abstract: Arlo Mueller participated in an oral history interview with Steve Crane of
the Ogden Rotary Club on March 12, 2013 to share his experiences as a veteran
of the Marine Corps. Arlo voluntarily enlisted in the Marines in 1942 and served
in World War II with the Marine Air Squadron as a guard and an anti-aircraft
machine gun operator. After separating from the military in 1945, Arlo became a
member of the Ogden Fire Department from which he retired in 1968. He then
worked as a fire inspector at Hill Field (Hill Air Force Base) and retired in 1975.
SC: This is the fourth session of the 2013 Rotary Club and Weber State University
Veteran’s History project held March 12, 2013 at the George E. Whalen Ogden
Veteran’s Home. My name is Steve Crane, a member of the Ogden Rotary Club
and I will be conducting this interview. Also present are Stacie Gallagher from
Weber State University and my wife, Donna Crane. Our guest at this session is
Arlo Mueller and we will be talking about Mr. Mueller’s experiences in the military.
First, I would like to thank you very much for being here, we appreciate your time.
I would like to ask a few questions to start. I understand you were in the Marines
and your date of birth is May 4, 1922. You were in the Marines from 1942 to 1945
and your rank was Corporal. You say your position was to do anything you were
AM: I was trained with a 50 caliber machine gun for anti-aircraft fire and trained in the
aircraft identification. I was with the Marine Air Squadron. My job was guard duty
and it took a five man crew to run the machine gun. I had done just about
anything that needed done, but most of it was guard duty.
SC: How did you come to be in the Marines?
AM: The day after Pearl Harbor, my buddy and I went down to enlist in the Navy and
we got there and the line was about two blocks long and we had to get back to
work. So at about 11:00, we went to work and I didn’t join until later on.
SC: You said the Navy, but you ended up joining the Marines?
AM: Yes. We were going to join the Navy, but it was such a long line and we got tired
of waiting and went back to work and sometime later I joined the Marines.
SC: Where did you receive your training?
AM: San Diego.
SC: When you went overseas, where did you go? What were some of the locations
that you served?
AM: When I left boot camp, I was in the hospital and the platoon was graduating and I
was by myself. They sent me to North Lyre which was a Navy base and were
starting a brand new squadron now, so we were a charter member of the
checkerboard squadron. We left there and I went to school in Norman, Oklahoma
and they went to Cherry Point, South Carolina, which was a Marine boot camp.
We spent three months gathering other people to get the squadron formed. Then
we went to Hawaii for three months of training in Hawaii. That’s where I got my
experience with the 50 caliber machine gun. From San Diego, we were on a new
aircraft carrier Hornet, the old one got sunk. There were 6,000 men and 300
airplanes on this one ship. We slept on the deck on a cot underneath the wing of
the airplane. We had two meals a day. After we had our three months or so, we
got on another aircraft carrier and went to Espirito Santos, it was a staging point
for all the battles in the war in the Pacific. There was a big base there. We had
this crew of ground defense and these other guys to protect the pilots and I was
on guard duty. They sent this crew of 25 of us to Ulithi. Rabal is a Japanese base
comparable to the one that we left and they were given some trouble up around
Ulithi. Our squadron was supposed to go up and eliminate this problem. We got
there and the planes never showed up. They got sent to the Palawan Islands
owned by the British, they had some problems there. So, we had to turn around
and come back by an old merchant marine ship to go back to Espirito Santos. As
we came out, they had that submarine hatch closed and they opened that up to
let us and the merchant marine ship in front of us got torpedoed by a submarine
and we had to go 1000 miles all by ourselves. No escort or anything and this old
thing would only go ten miles an hour. It was going downhill and no light, no
noise or anything. It was a long way back.
SC: Which islands were you headed for?
AM: We went to Ulithi to get the planes to bomb the Japs in Rabal, then we’d come
back to Ulithi. Our planes never arrived, so we went back and regrouped. So, we
got all regrouped and the 1st of March, they put us aboard an LST, do you know
what that is?
SC: A landing craft?
AM: It’s a landing craft. We call it a “Long Slow Target.” It’s actually a landing ship for
tanks and stuff like that. So we started to load this LST and we got everything all
together and we just floated around out in the ocean waiting for the invasion of
Okinawa to get all our things together. In the China seas, the ground swells are
about 35 to 40 feet. I was sitting on my bunk and there was not much room
between the bunks, they were so crowded. All of a sudden, a guy came up and
starting beating the heck out of me and pounding on me. All I could do was reach
up and grab him around the waist. It’s a good thing I did that because his
appendix had ruptured and if I would have hit him or anything it would have killed
him. They took him to the galley, tied him down and took his appendix out when
the whole ship was floating around there. The L-day was April 1, 1945 for
SC: That was the invasion day?
AM: Yes. It was a very easy landing. I thought, “Gee, this is a cakewalk.” They didn’t
get into any trouble on the third day and the Japanese never put an opposition
for landing, but they had ten years to build caves. I called them killing fields. They
had everything zero-in on this little valley and let these guys walk into it. Our
planes came in about April 6, 1945 and we didn’t know it, but up on the mountain
across the way there was a 6-inch German Naval gun on railroad tracks that had
everything zeroed-in for twenty miles around where we were at. He shelled us for
about two months. We called him “Pistol Pete.” One day, he took a pot shot at a
battleship in the bay and it blew him out of the hill with a 14-inch shell after about
SC: The battleship fired back at him and took him out?
AM: Yes, he got too cocky I guess. We said, “They got “Pistol Pete” last night.
SC: How long were you on Okinawa?
AM: Three months. We left just a few days before it was over and I had my 18 months
in and I was on my way home. This army started shooting artillery and saying,
“The war is over, the war over.” They jerked us off of the ship and took the
occupation troops to Japan. We unloaded beer for about two weeks until we got
a new ship. It was a converted luxury liner and there were thousands of people
on that ship. I had the best duty of my whole career on that ship. They gave me a
belt and I’d walk the nurse’s quarters and keep the officers off.
SC: Keep the officers away from the nurses?
AM: Yes. We’d keep the officers away from the nurses and walk the corridors where
there were 45 of them.
SC: Were you on any other islands other than Okinawa?
AM: We had been through almost all the others on the ship, but we never actually had
any battle or anything.
SC: How close contact did you come with the enemy?
AM: Well, I don’t want to talk too much about what actually happened. When I came
in here I had a monkey on my back, and now I’ve got an angel on my shoulder.
So, I’d rather not go into any details that happened. My wife is the only one that
knew that I was this way until I told the doctor in here about what my problems
SC: Were you ever wounded yourself?
AM: No, thank God. I had a lot of fun. Well, it wasn’t fun either, but –
SC: Did you make some close friends in the Marines?
AM: It’s funny, the guys from the East Coast were hard to get acquainted with. The
Westerners were really easy to get acquainted with. If you’d make a friend with
one of those guys you had a real friend. The guys from different parts of the
country were different.
SC: Have you remained close with any of your Marine friends?
AM: No. There was one guy I kept for a while, but I haven’t contacted any of the
others at all. Our Lieutenant disappeared when we went ashore. We didn’t know
what happened to him. Two years after the war, I was just reading a magazine
article that said, “True War Stories.” It told about this doctor from Oregon that had
to put sandbags on the operating table with this guy that had a live 20mm round
in his thigh because he didn’t want to explode. He had to put his arms in
sandbags to operate on this Marine. I found out that it was our Lieutenant
Stevens. It’s strange, you know.
SC: What have you done since your service?
AM: When I came home on my 30 day leave, my uncle worked in the fire department
and I stopped by to talk to him. He said, “There’s going to be an opening here,
what are you waiting for?” So, I put in my application. When I came back on the
train the next day I took the test and about a year later I got hired. I retired from
the Ogden Fire Department in 1968 and I went to Hill Field and retired from Hill
Field in 1975 as a fire inspector.
SC: So you’ve been a fireman and a fire inspector in your life? Do you have children?
AM: I have one son. He’s 66 years old.
SC: Where is he living?
AM: He lives in West Point. We’ve been going to the Golden Corral for breakfast
every morning for about seven years.
SC: Is that right?
AM: Yes, and they know us. We go at 10:30 a.m. and have breakfast and stay for a
couple hours and talk.
SC: How many grandchildren?
AM: My son has three children and the one son had two and the other one has four
and had another one yesterday, so I’ve got seven.
SC: Has your wife passed away or is she still with you?
AM: She passed away with Alzheimer’s. I took care of her for about three years and I
couldn’t go any further so we put her in a rest home and she died two weeks
SC: Arlo, thank you for being with us. Is there anything else you would like to share
with us that you think we ought to know about your life and your experiences?
AM: I lived in South Ogden for forty years and for thirty years I’ve been to every
council meeting in South Ogden. I videotape their meetings and all kinds of stuff.
They didn’t like me too well, but I kept them on the straight and narrow. I took
one mayor to the grand jury.
SC: You did?
AM: Yes, I was a nice fellow.
SC: Sometimes we need citizens to keep track of our elected officials, don’t we?
AM: That’s true. I could say a lot of stuff, but we won’t go into it.
SC: Well, thank you for being here. It’s been a wonderful experience getting to know
you and I just want to thank you for your service. My generation is the next
generation from yours. My dad served in the World War II and we really
appreciate what you did for us. I think the world is a better place for what you did.
DC: I hope when I’m 90 years old, I’m in as good a shape as you.
SC: I hope she’s here when she’s ninety years old.
AM: Yes. I never smoked and I never drank and I worked hard. That’s why I enjoy it
here. This is all I own right here is that pair of pants and I’m just as happy. No
pressure or anything. I’m enjoying it.
SC: Sometimes, the simple life is the best.
AM: I’ve never wanted to be the mayor or the president or anything. I just want to be
left alone and be me.
SC: Well, thank you for coming. We sure do appreciate you.
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