Over the 2012-2013 winter break, students at Irvine High were asked to interview a

person who lived during the World War II era. The idea was to gain an overview of the war’s

effects on people from all over the world. Students contacted relatives, family friends, and

organizations such as senior centers and veteran organizations in search of the story that they

would document, as well as the person who lived the tale.

Out of the 56 interviews collected, 19 are from the United States of America, 27 are from

East and Southeast Asia, 6 are from South Asia, and 2 are from the Middle East. We also have 1

from Peru and 1 from Africa. Each gives insight into the mind and experiences of an individual.

Taken together, they form a compendium of knowledge that, although short of comprehensive,

brings to clarity how the war defined an entire generation- the greatest generation.

United States of America

As Europe and Asia fell into bloody conflict, the United States hoped to remain aloof.

Yet this neutrality would time and time again prove to be but a dream as the nation was drawn

into the war on December 7, 1941. Pearl Harbor brought the war home, and having experienced

Japanese aggression first hand, Americans everywhere rallied against the Axis. After a decade of

despair brought on by the Great Depression, the war would serve to unify the country and arouse

a great spirit of patriotism.

USA Quotes

It was a totally different time…totally different concepts…and the war changed us, all

of us as a country so dramatically that it’s probably... the single most important event, I think…

that has ever happened the United States of America.”

Donald Cubbison (b. 1934), Hawaii

On Pearl Harbor

Yea. And my dad grabbed a, grabbed one of his helmets and started out the door…to

see what was going on. And I was concerned for him…so I actually followed. My mother was

shouting at me “Don’t you go out there!” but I followed my dad outside…and he was in the

trenches looking up at these planes. As they flew over-these Japanese zeros…we were in the

trench, together... A Japanese Zero, came directly over us, and actually fired at us. And after

everything happened and the Japanese Zeros finally peeled off and gone elsewhere I was able to

find one of the bullets the pilot fired at us… still have it… So it was a close call for me and my

dad. And the, the guy was, the zero pilot was so close was so, uh, close overhead that I was able

to see his face. There’s no doubt in my mind that I saw his face.”

Donald Cubbison (b. 1934), Hawaii

I remember everybody was all excited saying “Pearl Harbor, Pearl Harbor!” And they

were out there talking about it and I had a neighbor named Pearl Hower and I thought that it was

Pearl Hower.

Joan Coate (b. 1932), Ohio

I don't really think we ever thought of it as ending, it just seemed like it was just going to be our life.

Irene Figley (b. 1926), Michigan

It is a big joke until you hear the first bullet.

Andrew Benjock

Everybody was loyal to the United States. Everybody seemed to support the war. Everybody that we knew supported the war.”

Allen Coate (b. 1932), Indiana

We had to remake [the history textbooks]… they had to add that, you couldn't miss that.

Marylin Miller, Ohio

We were asleep when Japan hit us in Pearl Harbor… We had no idea. I mean, average kids, we weren't thinking about that.

Goldie Nannes, California

Before the war began, life was terrible.

Frank Puccilli, California

One goal. GOD BLESS AMERICA. YOU BET YOUR ASS. I was fighting for my country.

John Alleck, New York

Starving was as frequent as eating.

Sung Duk-hee, Korea

I was trained to be a kamikaze pilot. A suicide mission. Our planes only had enough fuel for a

one way trip to America… being a kamikaze was very honorable… after the pilot crashes, he is lifted by angels to heaven.

James Liang, Taiwan

“The only thing that [the Koreans] had good – that was first class&; was the brothels that the

Japanese officers went to.

Frank Puccilli, served in Korea

so proud of serving my country…we knew what we were doing was significant and we

valued it;it was an achievement!”

Frank Puccilli

This necklace on my neck has a bullet on it; I was with my friends&; something bright and

fast passed. It hit a water barrel behind us&;I kept it, and for more than 75 years I’ve tried to

find the origins of the bullet.

Lionel Lopes, served in the Marshall Islands

I thought it was preventive. I agreed with it;but you hate to think of anybody being killed;

Its the civilian aspect

John Vrba, served in Washington DC

;The Japanese entertained us with Banzai attacks… I worked very good with my amusement

center [a machine gun]. BURUHRUHRUH.

Andrew Benjock, served around Asia

And suddenly everyone started shooting... [we] asked what was happening and they told us

that we had finally dropped the bombs and the war was over. So that’s how they celebrated, by


Andrew Benjock

When the war was over, we just wanted to forget about it and move on doing our own personal


Barbara Green, Indiana

&The patriotism was very strong because the propaganda we had was strong.”

James Joseph King, Illinois

&The entire country was behind World War II, 100 percent.”

Donald Cubbison

&Certain things would affect you, but the majority of things didn’t. I mean your life went on.”

Lorraince Clary, Washington

&What I thought is that the war made me a much better man. It matured me.”

Dean Peterson, veteran in Europe