Looking at the displays in the World War II History Museum brought back memories for the veterans from the Robert J. Dole VA Transitional Living Center who took a tour of the facility Tuesday.
Among those visiting was Robert Long who.
He was stationed in Ethiopia with the Army medical corp for about 2 1/2 years during his time in the service from 1965 to 1969.
He said in Ethiopia it was 70 to 90 degrees year round unless they went to the Red Sea where it was 130 degrees in the shade.
“I got to tour Ethiopia,” he said.
During his time there, Long also shot a 400-pound warthog. He said the man he was with cut its head off and gutted it, then they carried it back to the Landrover about five clicks with it on a pole between the two of them, just like you would see in the movies.
He didn’t get to eat this one though because he said when they are that big and they are roasted they are as tough as leather. They do grind it up with other things and make it into sausage. Long said he did eat wart hog during his time there though.
He also taught sign language, something he did when he wasn’t on duty.
“I had a school for the hearing impaired,” he said. “After I would do my duty on post I would go downtown where I had 30 students.”
He used photos of items to teach his students different words in sign language.
“Over there it was a disgrace to have a deaf in the family, so they kept them in the huts,” he said.
Long knew a missionary in Ethiopia and he let Long use his church for the school.
After almost two years of teaching, the school closed when Long returned to the United States because there was no one to take it over. The Stars and Strips magazine did a feature on Long about his work.
“I was going to be a missionary to the deaf,” he said.
When he decided this he bought a book on sign language and began teaching himself signs. Since then he has interpreted for a number of people, including the Cathedral Quartet, Jerry Crowler and more. Now he teaches deaf at the Dole Center sign language.
“I have taught about 3,000 people roughly, to communication,” he said.
When he returned, Long was at Fort Devins in Massachusetts, where he worked with the Army Security Agency.
“My office was a vault with file cabinets from confidential to top secret,” he said. “We intercepted messages and sent them down the line.”
Page 2 of 2 - He said they couldn’t even get into the building without a picture badge and they did not discuss their work outside of the building.
Looking around the museum, Long said it was beautiful.
“It brings back some of what I have read,” he said. “I have read some true stories of survivors in the pacific and some of the atrocities the Germans did.
“Seeing some of the actual equipment, it brings back some of what I had as a kid and even when I was in the Army we had the mess kit, flashlight, stretcher,” he said.
In addition to his service, Long had a cousin who flew in World War II, as well as an uncle in the Pacific during World War II.
“A lot of this kind of brings back some memories,” he said.
Another veteran visiting was Douglas Jackson, who served in the Navy from 1973 to 1979. He was a petty officer second class. He served on a med cruise, then went to the West Coast.
Jackson served as a sonar technician.
He got interested in this line of work after seeing a television show about sonar.
He too was enjoying the museum.
“It’s pretty neat,” he said. “I saw a gun over there I toted in boot camp.”
After visiting the museum, the veterans enjoyed lunch at Pizza Hut before returning to Wichita.