War on Their Minds
1971   Thomas F. McGillicuddy
Age in 1941: 22

Interview Team: John Berry and Matt Newton

Q: What is your name?

Mr. McGillicuddy: "Thomas Francis McGilicuddy because there was a Thomas Joseph McGilicuddy in the Navy."

Q: What was your age in 1941?

Mr. McGillicuddy: "In 1941, I was 22 years old."

Q: What is your place of birth and where were you raised?

Mr. McGillicuddy: "My place of birth was St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Brighton, Massachusetts and I was raised in Brighton, Massachusetts."

Q: To what extent were you aware of the happenings in Japan, Italy, and Germany during the 1930's?

Mr. McGillicuddy: Remotely conscious of it, not personally involved with anything on it, but as students in high school and college, we were aware of the black clouds in Europe and not so much in Asia but mostly in Europe being from the east coast."

Q: Explain how you first became aware of the dangers in Europe (Hitler) and Asia (Emperor Hirohito/War Minister Tojo)?

Mr. McGillicuddy: "Mostly in Europe because of Hitler. Hitler was running rampant in Europe in those days; there was very little opposition. The Japanese had invaded China and to me at that stage in life that was a million miles away across the Pacific Ocean, and was not anywhere near as the involvement with me as would be the European theatre."

Q: What was your reaction to the war in Europe (invasion of Poland, Battle of Britain fall 1940/ "Blitz")?
(Note: Question was poorly worded, hence could have been misunderstood.)

Mr. McGillicuddy: "Well of course Britain didn't fall, but then at that time we realized that there was a very severe question of whether Britain would fall or not. Ambassador Kennedy came back to President Roosevelt in those years and said "It's only a question of time before Great Britain falls to the Germans", and he was immediately relieved of his post because we didn't want that attitude in this country toward Hitler."
But my parents were born in Ireland and all my relatives were in Ireland, so I was a little more conscious let's say than the second or third generation Americans."

Q: What are your remembrances of the attack on Pearl Harbor?

Mr. McGillicuddy: "I can remember it as if it were yesterday. I was at school. I was at Harvard Business School and it was a Sunday, and I worked. I had to work six days a week and every other Sunday I took off and went home and had dinner with my parents who were only about 8 miles away from the school. However, that Sunday I was home for dinner and happened to turn on the radio and then got the message and the news."

Q: What were your feelings about the American declaration of war?

Mr. McGillicuddy: "Absolutely! There was no question. They had already declared war, all we were doing was formalizing the declaration for our part."

Q: Did these feelings change during or after the war? Explain.

Mr. McGillicuddy: "No. No way."

Q: Under what circumstances did you enter the armed forces (volunteer/draft)?

Mr. McGillicuddy: "One week after Pearl Harbor, the Navy came to school and all those who were interested volunteered for the Navy. I did at that time so that would probably be around the 15th, the 20th of December 1941. I took my physical and signed up for the Navy."

Q: Was joining the Navy your choice?

Mr. McGillicuddy: "Yes. Well, there was a choice but the Navy came. We had signed up. It would be interesting because it would be part of this general story. Being in graduate business school, the Navy wanted us to go supervise all the Navy production. The war production in the factories for the Navy, and we were supposed to use our expertise to facilitate and make sure that the Navy got the quality and the delivery times for the war materials. But when I got my orders that went out the window."

Q: What was it like saying good-bye to your loved ones? Where were you? How did you feel?

Mr. McGillicuddy: "Well I had never really been away from home. I mean I had never flown in those days. Very few people had been flying especially young people and students. And this was really my first departure from home, but you were so excited about going into war and being part of it. It wasn't until I was aboard a ship, sailing for the Pacific that all of a sudden you could feel like a tearing of a sheet, and that was when I became a man and no longer a boy at home. I knew I was on my own."

Q: What are your remembrances of boot camp?

Mr. McGillicuddy: "I was a directly commissioned officer. I never went to school. I did not know how to salute or how to receive a salute. In fact in Washington when I was a senior officer I used to say "hi skipper" and wave at him. He would say "McGilicuddy I'm going to send you to school and your going to learn how to salute", and he put me in for school and they said, "He can't. He's been in the Navy for 10 years, he can't go to school". So there was no boot camp."

Q: What special skills were you taught in the Navy?

Mr. McGillicuddy: "Well I think survival, but the special skills we developed were our own skills by the work we did and we'll follow up on that. I ended up knowing more about the Japanese Navy than I did the American Navy with my type of work. So I was really an expert in the Japanese Navy not the American Navy."

Q: How did your faith impact your thoughts of the war?

Mr. McGillicuddy: Religion never was a factor. Color was a factor in the Navy because the Philippinos and the blacks were always at the lower levels. I mean they were the mess stewards and everything else. As far as religion is concerned you must remember that I went directly overseas so I had no background on that part at all, and over there everyone was fighting for survival they weren't worrying about what church you went to or if you went to church."

Q: What was your specific role in the armed forces?

Mr. McGillicuddy: "You got an hour? Do you want to save that question? Do you want to go through them? Why don't you defer that question or do you want to go through it now?"
(Question deferred)

Q: Please describe operations or battles in which you were involved.

Mr. McGillicuddy: "Well actually I was in headquarters, and I was never in battle. I'm a firm believer that the only heroes of World War II were people that were killed. I mean, to me those are the real heroes. The survivors did heroic things but they were not the real heroes. That's my personal opinion. And you must go back because I am very prejudiced in certain respects. You must remember that when I went overseas as, I said as a civilian, I became an officer heading for war in a space of 48 hours. When I heard that all the Marines on Anaweetock and Wake that were captured by the Japanese and had to kneel down and were beheaded by the Japanese. And that was their custom. There were no prisoners. They did no accept prisoners. The Japanese were trained not to be prisoners, and if they were they were cowards in the Japanese mind. So everyone they captured at that time in the war, they knelt them down and they just chopped their heads off."

Q: What did you miss most about the United States?

Mr. McGillicuddy: "About the United States? I missed everything about the United States. It's a complete transfer of your life. I mean it's like going from white to black. It's not a question of being gray or anything else. My first tour of duty was in New Zealand and the people there were wonderful. I mean they treated us like we were rescuing them, because if the Americans had not arrived at that time Australia and New Zealand would have been taken over by the Japanese. So they welcomed us as saviors. And they were wonderful, wonderful people. They were just like Americans. I'd put it this way the New Zealander's were just like the Midwesterner's in America, who are a very direct people at least in my time they were direct. There was no finesse about them. They either liked you or didn't like you and they made no bones about it. And they were very down to earth and very plain. Remember those people they didn't have refrigerators. They didn't pasteurize milk. They were 25 years behind America in those years and of course we brought them up in one short year to our standards of living."

Q: What was your attitude toward the Japanese or Germans on a personal level?

Mr. McGillicuddy: "Well I spent from 1940 probably through 1980 not so much with the Germans because I was not involved with that war. But I thought the only good Jap was a dead Jap. I mean that's the way I came out of World War II. You must remember, my remembrances are colored by the fact that when I went overseas, we were on a passenger ship, and there were 3,500 Marines aboard and they were going to make a first offensive invasion of World War II in the Pacific. I met most of the second and first lieutenants in the Marine Corps who were my age and of course being 3 weeks on the ship we got to know them very well. They were local, a lot from Holy Cross, my college, Boston College, and Boston University especially. The mortality rate on those officers in the first operation they were in was between 85% and 90% killed. So less than 15% lived through their first battle. So that's what colored my attitude, partially. There were other things too."

Q: Have you maintained contact with any persons in your unit? If so, why do you maintain that friendship?

Mr. McGillicuddy: "Yes, we had a very small unit, and I am the sole survivor of the officers. There is maybe one more officer that I haven't been in contact with… We were five officers that went overseas together and we were in a band and we were very intimate close friends all through our lives."

Q: Did you lose any friends or family during the war?

Mr. McGillicuddy: I lost a lot. Being the age of 22, my college people went to war. I probably lost 15 -20 % of my college class. Not so many from the grad school were killed during the war because functions in the war were more like mine, probably more administrative or command or things like that. The devastation was considerable.

Q: What was your most memorable experience of the war?

Mr. McGillicuddy: This is probably… I don't know if you boys have seen Pearl Harbor or if you saw Tom Brokaw's film the other night [with National Geographic on Pearl Harbor]? The most wonderful naval accomplishment in the history of time was the attack on Pearl Harbor. Now you must remember that from the American point of view we are looking at the devastation that was caused in the people that were killed. There were over a thousand in that ship memorial at Pearl Harbor. But Admiral Yamamoto from Japan when they the decided to go to war, took 30 ships 350 planes in 1941 from Japan to Pearl Harbor, without being detected by a plane another ship or a fishing vessel. He had that planned to the minute. I don't know how much came out in the movie, which I will see, but he was mathematical whiz. Everything he did was timed to the minute. Those planes took off in waves and everything was perfect and they were trained, and it was more or less what must be done in war. You take human element out, you take individual capabilities of a person out, and they go by the rules and that's exactly what he did. We in America don't look from that end of it. Now I had a skipper who spent a lot of time in Japan, he was a Chinese linguist that's why; he was our skipper for the work that we did. That's the background for the most memorable moment. But the fact of it was in 1943, this admiral is now going out on inspection in the Gudalcanal area and was being a perfectionist on time. We had deciphered and decoded all the messages from Japan in other words, I knew more about the Navy because I didn't have any American navy, but I had all the Japanese war plans and battle plans and everything else. He was going on an inspection tour and we knew four weeks before he was going. They sent the message to us from Washington and asked if we received it and we said yes, and we kicked it back and we said this is a high level, up and beyond our admiral, how far has it gone back? And it went back to Commander in Chief Admiral Nimitz, who was in charge of the whole Pacific Fleet for the Navy and he sent it back to what we call CINTAC, and he sent it back to Commitz, who was the Commander in Chief in Washington. The Commander in Chief in Washington sent it to the Secretary of the Navy, right under the President, and he said, "well is this going to be an act of war if we shoot this man down knowing he is coming, or is it going to be an execution?" It went right up to the White House and President Roosevelt determined it would become action Peacock and it came right down to us. They said you make sure Admiral Halsey gets the message and takes appropriate action. Appropriate action of course was that they got a special group of sixteen planes and they trained them and they knew four weeks in advance exactly what time. Now his plane had to land at 0800, not 0801, it had to be 0800. So the planes took off and they had to fly two or three hundred feet above sea level. And they had to fly two or three hundred miles off their course and their target and then make a big circuitous route so that nobody would know that they were out there doing anything. Then they had a cover above them of fighter planes and he came in with five planes and twenty zeros, fighter planes, to protect him and they sent the attack planes in and they shot him down. So they executed actually Admiral Yamamoto, who planned Pearl Harbor? We sent the message to Washington scratch the Peacock the thing is over. That to me was the number one item because from then on the Japanese Navy just fell apart. We owned the Pacific Ocean. From then it was just a question of cleaning them up.

Q: Did you participate in a welcome home celebration?

Mr. McGillicuddy: No, no I figured I had never been in the trenches. Oh, I had a welcome home celebration with the family, and my mother looked at me and said, "where's all your hair?" I said "I left it out in the Islands." (Laughter)

Q: What was it like seeing your family and friends again?

Mr. McGillicuddy: Wonderful, oh, absolutely wonderful, it was terrific. I was a family of seven children, it was a big family and we were a very close family unit. Four of us were in the service, two girls and two boys.

Q: Were you aware of the internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans in detention camps in America?

Mr. McGillicuddy: Yes, and actually I had very mixed emotions. I just changed my feelings about that in the last ten years because on a trip to Europe I met a very wonderful Japanese lady who was third generation American, and I'm first generation American, and she's Japanese and I'm of Irish descent. I'm American, but I'm of Irish descent. I kept looking at her and I kept saying, her family has been in this country a couple of generations longer than my family has, and she spent three or four years in a box car. I have very mixed emotions on that. But, I also understand that the government had no way at that time to discern who was a real American and who was an American with Japanese leanings. Because don't forget that at the time of Pearl Harbor these people, second generation here, were feeding information to Japan about everything going on at Pearl Harbor so it was impossible to determine right from wrong at that time. It was grossly unfair to those people, that didn't justify what was done, no question.

Q: Did Americans whom you knew ever note the irony of racial segregation at home and in the armed forces while fighting intolerance abroad?

Mr. McGillicuddy: I was never involved with anything, anything involving racial segregation.

Q: What was your reaction to the German atrocities towards the Jews?

Mr. McGillicuddy: Awful absolutely disgraceful. I think it's a poison that that will live through several more generations. It's just a terrible thing. I'm a Catholic and I think the Catholic Church is still apologizing for the fact that, not that they did anything pro-German, but that they didn't do enough anti-German. But you know, on the other side of the coin, is that there were a lot of things done that nobody knows. I went to Holy Cross College in Worcester. A million dollars was given to Holy Cross by a very rich Jewish person connected with Robert Kraft of the Patriots in some way, now I don't know how close. He gave the million dollars because the Jesuit priests funneled him out of East Germany and got him into this country and the Jesuits teach at Holy Cross. That was the payback, when he died, he left a million bucks to them for getting him out of Germany.

Q: How did you view President Franklin D. Roosevelt's leadership during the war?

Mr. McGillicuddy: He was the Commander in Chief. The President is the Commander in Chief and I thought that he did an excellent job. I do think that some of the people around him were a little liberal, he was a liberal president, and some of the people were a little more liberal than we as Bostonians would accept. But, other than that, he galvanized the country in action, which was what we needed. He was like a quarterback who said, "ok gang lets go we've got to beat those guys," and he was the leader and pushed it.

Q: How did you react when you heard the news of FDR's death?

Mr. McGillicuddy: Oh, well we were stunned. It didn't really affect the war that greatly, because the war was practically won, I mean in the Pacific. Now, I don't know really about the European end of it. In the Pacific, the Japanese were beaten. But you must remember that in the closed society in Japan that after they were in a battle and they were severally beaten, the prisoners, not the prisoners, but the people that survived and went back to Japan were segregated. They were not allowed to go home, they were segregated and sent to an island so that they were isolated, this was done so that they couldn't go home and tell the people how badly they were being beaten. The people in Japan never knew what was going on in the war they never got the straight story.

Q: What was you opinion of President Truman's wartime leadership?

Mr. McGillicuddy: He was fantastic. He dropped the atomic bomb and I have no mixed feelings about that. Because at that time we were going to invade Japan and in the invasion of Japan the estimated casualties of that were between five hundred and six hundred thousand people. When you measure that there is no way you can compare that's loss of life and everything. When they estimate that, all their estimates were always on the down side the actual fatalities would have been much more

Q: At the end of the war did you anticipate future wars or did it seem to you that countries would find other means of settling conflicts?

Mr. McGillicuddy: I hoped and prayed that there would be other means. I just knew that when politics and religion, religious wars are the worst, because that's when both sides get killed. That's what you have now between the Palestinians and the Israelis and the depth of feeling there is so great. It is amazing to me that people in Europe or over there cannot get along, and they come over to this country for a year or two and then they're friends. Now, how can you be enemies in one place and come over here and be friends. That's why were the greatest country in the world.

Q: What are the lessons of World War II?

Mr. McGillicuddy: Well, the lesson I learned in World War II, because we haven't won a war since, is that when you go in a war you finish it. You go in a war 100% or don't do it at all. When you go in there, you wipe it up. I mean we didn't do it in Iraq, Saddam Hussain is in power in Iraq. If we had turned toward Baghdad and made a move toward Baghdad, he had a plane there waiting for him to take him out of the country, that's how close he came. But the President decided that enough was enough and he stopped. It is for history to decide if he was right or wrong. I say he was wrong. But I'm not in a position to say or in any position of power

Q: What do you think of today's generation of younger Americans?

Mr. McGillicuddy: What do I think of them? They're my grandchildren, I love you guys, I think that you're the greatest guys in the world.

Q: Do you think that we're the same as your generation?

Mr. McGillicuddy: Yes and no. I'll tell you one thing; you guys are a lot more savvy as high school seniors, probably than I was in college. You're out in the world more. My world at my time was the Boston area. Chicago was out west, and I'm not talking as an individual, Chicago was some place out west. You know what's going on in the world. Everything is there, television, cell phones, the Internet, what's going on in China today. They know what's going on, you can't conceal it in China. The most wonderful thing that opened up China is that they just punch out in the Internet and they know everything that's going on. The government can shut down the papers but they can't shut down the news. You guys are much more savvy.

Q: Do you have any parting advice for the youth today?

Mr. McGillicuddy: No. To me if this country got in trouble I'm sure you guys would do just like we did. Just like you've gone to play football or basketball or baseball you go out there to beat the enemy and I mean, that's it. That's the way I play golf today. I mean you're the enemy and I'll be a very nice guy on the golf course, but I may be five up and four holes to play but other than that no way, you go all the way.
…I had one of the greatest bosses in the world; my boss was Admiral Bull Halsey. Now just to show you what kind of a guy he is with Roosevelt and Truman with him at various stages of his life. We were getting whaled by the Japanese in 1942. Now you must remember that this country was not prepared for World War II grossly unprepared. I'm in school on Friday, I put my Navy Uniform on Saturday morning, I went to New York to visit my sister and her husband who was killed in the war, I was glad I visited him. And Sunday I went down to Norfolk Virginia. Now that's the farthest I've ever been away from home in my life. I stay at the YMCA. 10:00 am Monday morning I report to the United States Navy, I'm an officer in the Navy. 10:15 am while's he's talking to me, my Lieutenant Commander comes in, two and a half stripes. He says, "Commander go down to Pier 14." I go down to Pier 14 and I go aboard ship and I'm gone for three years. I don't have any life insurance, I don't have a pay record, I got nothing. This is war. Monday morning I'm aboard ship with 3,500 marines headed for New Zealand to take part in Guadacanal; and I mean that's what I tell you its like somebody took a newspaper and tore it in half and that's when I grew up. I became an adult at that moment of time. When we got there I got drafted into communications intelligence. There were five thousand people in Washington; they were the mathematical wizards of the time. There was no such thing as computers but they had little machines, which would do multiplication and things like that. They would figure out and they had figured out a way to decipher the Japanese codes. We ended up in World War II deciphering the messages quicker than the recipients they were sending the messages to could do it, because we were more sophisticated than they were. I spent the whole war overseas doing that.
Admiral Bull Halsey, at three o'clock in the morning, I'd be on watch, now remember I had been in the Navy six or seven months and I'd be in the jeep going out to, believe it or not, to the Japanese house in New Caledonia. I would be shaking him up and saying Admiral Burke, he was Captain Burke then, is up in the slot and is going after the last Japanese ship he says he's going to sink every one of them before he comes home. I said, six o'clock in the morning he's going to be seen by the Japanese, they're going to come out and bomb him. He says, "well go back and tell him to send out all available air cover 'cause I got to get that guy back." I would go back and do it. We had terrible responsibility at that time. I never realized until I got to in Melbourne, Australia and we would be originating messages, but by that time we were old timers, we had been in the Navy for a year.
There was a Lt. Commander. A regular Navy man out of the Academy there. And he said, "well what do you guys do", well the Japanese are coming down in the slot and they have four destroyers and we have twenty merchant ships and, we've got to send that to the enemy, and he says "you can do that". I said "we do it because we've got to we can't let them get into Guadacanal." The Japanese at that time probably had four times the resources that we did but this guy weighed about 150 pounds and he'd say, "we've got destroyers don't we, and we'd say yes but they've got battle ships and heavy cruisers." He'd say, "we're American destroyers" this is like you going out to play basketball against Shaq O'Neil. He'd just say, "go get 'em" and this Burke would say O.K. lets go. We used to send the war correspondents out, they'd come home they'd be whiter than that table, they'd say, "these guys are crazy." But that's what stemmed. Guadalcanal was the first offensive move of World War II. In the Pacific and our admiral at that time Admiral Gormly begged not to due it because he says "we can land there, we can take the Island, but we cannot sustain the forces, we cannot have the ships to bring in supplies to them. The Japanese had trucks about 800 miles away and we're trying to supply from the West Coast and they would supplies go down. We sent the message down that the Japanese were coming down one night. Just to tell you how bad war is... they had no air cover because we had pummeled their air forces and they were coming down alone which would be like you and I fighting somebody with our bare fists, and they've got guns. There were over twenty ships in that group, there were probably thirty thousand Japanese. They sank every ship. We figured no survivors, no survivors! I'm talking about 25 — 30 thousand lives in one night. I mean that's what war is, that bad, that tough. So I say war is a last resort

Q: At what point did the Japanese code get broken in the Pacific?

Mr. McGillicuddy: The Japanese code was broken before the war. The Winds messages that came out, and I just don't know; I'll tell you this, it's never been publicized. All of us, we worked seven days a week I mean we had no days off. What we did was double up every week and then the third week we got a day off because we'd done sixteen hours in twenty-four so we got a day off. Here we are twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, and all of a sudden ending up in the hospital with just exhaustion. But, before the war the Winds messages came out and we knew that something was afoot how bad we didn't know and even the people that were delivering the messages in Washington, the Japanese people didn't know. The people that I worked at the desk with, like you, broke into the Japanese embassy over the weekend when they weren't working. And they went in there and they had locksmiths and everything. They opened up all the Japanese safes and everything and took everything out to see what they could find, to see if they could find anything about war and to see if the Japanese had been training and that the war was coming. But they didn't have any documents around so that we really didn't get them

Q: So none of the codes that we intercepted before Pearl Harbor implied that Pearl Harbor was the destination?

Mr. McGillicuddy: No, there was never any indication from what we got. In fact there never was. Because remember when they declared war, the effort was a token. They had some real warlords there that wanted to fight a war and Yammamoto knew that he just had one shot at winning the war "we've got to go to Pearl Harbor and destroy the fleet and that'll be our one shot. It will take America two years to rebuild and in the meantime in those two years we'll have Australia and New Zealand and it'll be such a big war that we'd never be able to get through it." But they didn't know about the hydrogen bomb, which my wife worked on by the way, in MIT. Oh yeah, she got an award on that but she didn't know what she was doing, calibrating and things of that nature and then she went to work on Atomic cocktails for medicine. But it was very sophisticated; we were not sophisticated. We could have won the war at Midway. Now you could imagine me, here I am right out of school now the next week I'm sailing down the east coast, where all the German submarines are sinking ships left and right. We had a cruiser and four destroyers to bring us down to the canal and we got out the other side of the canal and we had one destroyer and then the next day we had nothing. We were a single ship, a passenger ship, sailing into the Pacific and the Battle of Midway's going on. We knew we had broken the code, we knew everything. What they were going to do, they were going to make believe to go into the Aleutians, get us to fall for that, and then once our fleet was out of the way they were going to come back in and this was going to be the act to follow and of course we knew it. The unfortunate part was we weren't trained, we weren't trained even in Guadacanal. I mean the Army air force, I may sound like an old Navy man, but the Army pilots were bombing a ship from ten thousand feet, well, I mean the ship is this big and there trying to hit it with bombs, they were bombing the ocean. When there were no Japanese planes there they should have dropped way down but they didn't know they would have said this is what you do and they just did it. We didn't know how to fight a war.

Q: We had one veteran who was convinced that we knew about Pearl Harbor before the War before the war began because of our code breaking abilities. There is some evidence that he sighted in support of that… [Note: could not finish question before A began]

Mr. McGillicuddy: I know what he says. But let me tell you my best friend just died in California and when he was in Washington he ended up at Bethesda Naval Hospital. He ended up there with a Commander Cramer. Commander Cramer delivered the Winds messages to the White House a week or ten days before Pearl Harbor. There was enough in there to tell us that we had to be on alert. I mean Short, and Kimmel and Douglas McArthur; they all got the same message. Two got court marshaled but McArthur didn't. I mean hows that, so there are rivalries and things. This fellow was in the Bethesda Naval Hospital for a year and he was being programmed to appear before Congress, "you will be court marshaled, you will lose your pension if you do not say what we tell you to say." So when he appeared before Congress, he did not tell the truth. I mean this fellow used to sit around, we were both doing the same work they were, and there was no one in the hospital they could talk to but they could talk to each other for security reasons, so they did. He never ever said that there was anything in there that, the thing that made the Japanese go to war was the same thing that made us go to war against Iraq, Oil! It was oil. Where are we now, what's the big problem now, oil. We went to war to protect the Mid East for oil not that we loved those people, and Roosevelt shut them off from the oil in Southeast Asia and Japan was shut down. They couldn't even run their Navy without oil. Within forty-eight hours the meeting was to go to war. What happened in between, they got a couple of good breaks. The funny part was, as I said to you the only good Jap is a dead Jap and it probably didn't last five to ten years. But my skipper he was in Japan before the war and he got to know a lot of the Japanese Navy people he knew the Admirals in the Japanese fleet now he had been a t cocktail parties with them and had been socially friendly with them. And when my skipper died his sister sent me all the letters from the Japanese admirals in Japan that were sent to her telling her how much they liked and admired him. And I never knew and in fact today I just pulled them out and I read them and I realized. After the war, my Skipper went to Japan and visited with the enemy, the leaders of the Japanese Navy who he knew before the war. They were all broke, their families were… they lost the war, they were disgraced they were not accepted by the Japanese any more and he. In fact, Admiral Burke got a letter in here for having the Americans donate money to help the old Japanese Navy officers after the war; and here I am saying there's no good Jap and throw them in the ocean. But their thinking was different. You know to me, when you fight the enemy you want to win the game and I just carried that along further in life, I haven't now, but I did.
As I said, here you had a twenty-eight year navy veteran tied up in a chair and I thought there was no career in that, but we did get a unit commendation. Our biggest problem during the war was that every day after work the guys would get together and talk about what was going on in the war and what they did all day and we could never open out mouths and pretty soon we got ostracized. We were a bunch of queer birds that they don't talk about anything that they do and stuff like that. But then we came back to Washington they put a bulletin out. The problem was there was space between the knowledge and the execution early in the war the most important thing we did was to blunt the Japanese offensive. We had several big naval battles. One of them we told them the Japanese were coming and they didn't believe us, and we lost five cruisers. And boy did we get it then, wow, I though we were going to go to jail, because they said how come we lost five cruisers you know three days before they were coming. I said we told them but they didn't believe us, so there was a little bit of a space. You couldn't tell them where you got the information. The thing that we did that worked out the best, think about this, we knew where every ship was going in the Navy. We knew where the oil tankers were going we couldn't attack the Naval vessels, because they all had destroyers and submarines, we would know where the convoys were. We had their positions, we used to send out twelve-o'clock they'll be here, three o'clock they'll be here, six-o'clock they'll be there. They finally sent a message out the submarines "for god sake don't sink them at 12:01, pretty soon they'll know that there's something phony you know, wait an hour or two. That way the Japanese ships they lost everything, they were cleaned out, they really were and especially after the first year or two. But don't forget that it was a Japanese carrier they launched, you know how big carriers are, what did they have about five thousand men aboard them now. The Japanese carriers they'd build the hull and then they'd launch it then they'd put in the engines and everything else and they'd launch the carrier, and the Submarine is waiting there, and we sunk the damn thing. It was built, went out in the harbor and somebody went "bong, bong" with torpedoes and the damn thing was sunk. But we lost a lot of submarines in that.


Hear Mr. McGillicuddy reflect on his work in the Pacific Theater's intelligence office. (Quicktime)