Interview with Donald Smith Henry, April 10, 2017
Project: Kentucky Honor Flight Veterans Oral History Project
Interview SummaryDonald Smith Henry talks about his awareness of military leaders and which ones he considered his heroes. He talks about wanting to be a railroad engineer as a child. Henry talks about his talents and abilities he learned growing up on a farm including mechanics for repairing farm equipment and veterinary skills for treating animals. Henry talks about what he gained from his education and talks about his desire to play football at the University of Illinois. He talks about the experience of receiving his draft notice and why he chose to enlist in the Navy instead of the Army. He talks about traveling to Louisville to be sworn in.
Henry discusses his family's feelings regarding patriotism and talks about his father's political views, especially in regard to the New Deal social programs created by FDR during the Great Depression. He talks about his brothers' military service, including the brother who was killed in action during World War II. He describes the process of first learning his brother was missing in action and later learning he had been killed in action. Henry talks about how his brief ROTC training lead to him becoming a leader in his company. He tells a story about the difficulty of disciplining the other recruits when they were kicking rocks at an African American recruit. He talks about whether he had doubts about the outcome of the war or for his own safety. Henry talks about whether he smoke or drank before entering the Navy and whether those habits were impacted after joining. He talks about whether he got any tattoos while enlisted.
He talks about his impressions of California, where his company went to boot camp and prepared their ship before shipping out. He talks about the train ride to California, including the crowded conditions and the fights between different branches of the military. Henry talks about his first impressions of boot camp in San Diego, and talks about the types of training they received. He talks about how the recruits were expected to keep their clothes and barracks neat, and the demerits they would receive if they did not pass inspection. He talks about the lessons that were instilled at boot camp, and talks about the leadership of the chiefs as well as his own leadership role.
Henry talks about the ritual of shaving heads the first time a recruit passed over the equator. He talks about how much the recruits were paid. He talks about the duty of shore patrol and talks about breaking up a fight while on patrol. He describes a recruit who was disobedient. Henry talks more about the integration of the Navy and whether he witnessed any discrimination. He discusses the truth of the saying "swearing like a sailor." Henry discusses the types, quantities, and quality of the food they were served on the ship. He talks about how the recruits would handle seasickness, what they would eat on holidays, and whether he lost weight due to the demanding work he performed. He describes the work in the fire rooms and boiler rooms. Henry talks more about the types of training they received in boot camp, including classes on math and mechanics. He talks about learning his duties in the boiler room, and later moving to the fire room. He describes how the ship operates using steam, turbines, and other processes to move the ship. He discusses the differences between his destroyer class ship and other classes active during the Korean War. He also discusses the differences between the ships active during the Korean War and those used in the current day.
Interview LC SubjectUnited States. Navy--Boiler technicians Korean War, 1950-1953 United States. Navy--Recruiting, enlistment, etc. United States. Navy--Job descriptions. Basic training (Military education) United States. Navy--Drill and tactics. United States. Navy--Physical training. United States. Navy--Barracks and quarters. United States. Navy--Boats. United States. Navy--Shore patrol Military discipline. Naval discipline. United States. Navy--Supplies and stores. United States. Navy. United States. Navy--Weapons systems.
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Interview UsageInterviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
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Henry, Donald Smith Interview by Jeffrey Suchanek. 10 Apr. 2017. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Henry, D.S. (2017, April 10). Interview by J. Suchanek. Kentucky Honor Flight Veterans Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Henry, Donald Smith, interview by Jeffrey Suchanek. April 10, 2017, Kentucky Honor Flight Veterans Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
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