Limestone County Historical Commission
Limestone County Historical Commission

Tolbert Bain

Conducted by Logan Wilson

February 10, 2012


This is Logan Wilson; it’s February 10, 2012. I’m in the home of Mr.& Mrs. Tolbert Bain for the purpose of taking Mr. Bain’s oral history. The next voice that you hear will be that of Mr. Bain.

Mr. Bane: In thinking about of times past, my memory carries me back to 1942. 1942 was the year that I graduated from high school. It was also the year that I joined the Navy. So that started some strange events that I was not used to. Before I leave this point in time, I’d like to talk about part of our family lived out on the Teague Highway and the stock stayed out there and we was living in a brand new house up in town and somehow my father set the situation up where he would go get a team of mules and he’d work the garden patch, as we called it. When he got through with his team in the afternoon he had a system whereby he would turn ‘em loose and they’d go back out on the Teague Highway to where they ate and were pastured. That I do remember at this time.

There were other things that developed along about then, one of which was the fact that I up and joined the Navy for some strange reason. But I did. And that started a new adventure in my life. It started off with a trip to San Diego. After a training period in San Diego, I came back to Oklahoma and went to school there for several weeks. Ended up in Seattle, Washington, working on airplanes. This continued for awhile; finally I ended up aboard ship. Now this ship was an aircraft carrier and at this time its main purpose was to teach the pilots to land on the aircraft carrier. We tore up many airplanes doing that and finally ended up doing a mass production of this in Honolulu. Stayed there several months teaching these pilots how to land an airplane on a pitching carrier deck; some of them got very good at it, some of them did not succeed so well. But anyway we continued on and finally we ended up over in the Philippines.  The Philippines was a bad place to be at that time; we were under constant attack. We fought four battles out there and the fourth day of January, 1945, one of the camouflages got us. This plane crashed midship, caught fire; we managed to control it a little bit, but we did not have water. The bomb exploded somewhere midship and broke the main water line so we finally had to give it up. We proceeded with the invasion. Several months later, I had worked my way back to the United States. Stayed on another year and was discharged from the Navy. The things that I learned and did in the Navy carried me down to Texas A & I where I went to school and got my education. This I do remember. And I’m going to quit right there.

Mr. Wilson: What was the name of that ship?

Mr. Bane: ____________. Omni Bay is a bay in Alaska and that’s what the ship was used for.

Mr. Wilson: The ship was damaged but it did survive.

Mr. Bane: No, it did not survive. We did not have water. And it sat there and it burnt, and it burnt, and it burnt. And finally they said we could not fight it; we did not have water to fight the fire with.  So I let myself down into the water; pushed myself away from the ship; was picked up by another ship.

Mr. Wilson: Oh, my goodness.

Mr. Bane: These were things you had to do at the time under the circumstances.

Mr. Wilson: Terrible.

Mr. Bane: But anyway I’m very thankful that I was able to push myself away from the ship, drift out and get picked up. Other ships had placed their whale boats out. And the ship that I was on was still making a little headway and they would trail along behind and as people left the ship, they’d pick ‘em up. So that happened then, and I’m thankful I was able to get off it.

Mr. Wilson: Some of your shipmates probably didn’t make it.

Mr. Bane: Ninety-six men did not clear the ship.

Mr. Wilson: Did the ship sink on its own or did the Navy sink it?

Mr. Bane: This was an afternoon situation; it happened around five in the afternoon. And by time it got to be dark, it lit up the whole convoy. So one of the…I believe it was the destroyer Burns, went along side and put a torpedo in her and sank her. Continued the sinking.

Mr. Wilson: So the Navy scuttled it, then.

Mr. Bane: Navy scuttled it, yeah. I went on and made the invasion of the Philippines. And then I was put ashore and later on I got transportation back to the United States and only had a few months to serve after I returned and was discharged and everything and didn’t have too much to do so I went down and I went to Texas A&I at Kingsville, Texas, to get further educated. And that’s the way things happened to me at that particular time.

Mr. Wilson: What courses did you take down there?

Mr. Bane: Agriculture.

Mr. Wilson: Agriculture. Texas A&I Kingsville.

Mr. Bane: Texas A&I. Texas College of Arts and Industry.

Mr. Wilson: And you worked for the post office here in Mexia for a number of years.

Mr. Bane: I came back and did twenty-seven years for the post office; that right mother? Thirty-one.

Mr. Wilson: Thirty-one years for the post office.

Mr. Bane: But anyway it proved to be a mutual situation for Louise and I and we’re thankful that we were able to work for the post office and the things that it provided for us. It worked well for us.

Mr. Wilson: That’s good. That’s good. Mr. Bane, at the conclusion of each interview I always ask the same question. And so far I’ve always got, in one way or another, maybe words are different, the same answer. So I’m going to ask you that question.

Mr. Bane: I’m listening.

Mr. Wilson: Everybody else gives me the same answer, but maybe a little different words, but the same thing. This question: From your experiences and your life and you’ve had some tremendous experiences, if you could give the young people today some advice, what would it be?

Mr. Bane: Learn to work.

Mr. Wilson: Learn to work. Well, that makes it unanimous. Everybody I’ve talked to seems to think the same thing, some different words, but it’s always learn to work, get an education, take care of yourself and self-responsibility, accountability; learn to work. That’s fits right in with what everybody else has said.

Mr. Bane: OK . Maybe it would be helpful to some people.

Mr. Wilson: At least it’s unanimous. Everybody feels the same way you do about it. I think a lot of people are disappointed these days that so many young people shy away from work. Yes, ma’am. They want to take the easy way out and I would guess that that never occurred to you or Mr. Bane, did it? No. It never occurred to you to go on welfare or take the easy way out. You’ve worked all your lives and you been a good citizen. We appreciate this ??family??.

Mr. Bane: Louise and I were living out at Forest Glade; spent the biggest part of our married life out there. Things were getting to where we were going to have to move. We came to look at this old house we’re sitting in right now. And the one thing I remember about this house is just across the street over there next to the barn there’s an airplane crash.

Mr. Wilson: That happened after you moved here, didn’t it?

Mr. Bane: No.

Mr. Wilson: Before?

Mr. Bane: Before. This was a long time ago. This was an old bi-plane. And, I can’t remember the man’s name—but one man was killed and one man survived it. But it was just across the street over there where the plane hit. He was coming in—that used to be the old airport across the road over there. And it just so happened that he was coming in for a landing and he stalled out for some reason; I don’t know…I wasn’t watching him. I have in my handling…I was an aircraft mechanic in the Navy and I helped  these people and I have seen some planes come in for a landing and get too slow and stall out and crash and these people kill themselves. But I don’t know what happened on this plane; that may not have been what made this plane particular one crash, but it did. I think about it every time…I walk a whole lot now a days and when I’m out there walking down the road, I think about that, every time I walk pass that place.  I’m thinking back to things that have happened to me in the past and that happened to come to mind.

Mr. Wilson: About what year was that—you said it was a bi-plane.

Mr. Bane: 1938, ’39 somewhere along in there. Memory’s not real good on most of this stuff now a days.

Mr. Wilson: You were just a teenager then, weren’t you?

Mr. Bane: When I was in the Navy I experienced one thing that a lot of people have not experienced. But I was on a carrier, standing on the flight deck and I’m looking out across the bay and all of a sudden I see the bow on this ship just kind of shake like that and the next thing I knew it was nothing but a black column of smoke and it was a whole ship exploding. And you set here bringing back memories now. But I remember that. That ship just lay there and exploded. For whatever reason, I do not know that, but it did. How do you know because it carried with it several other ships and a lot of small boats were sunk with this explosion.  And it took up the whole bay when it did that.

Mr. Wilson: Was that in the Philippines?

Mr. Bane: No, it was back up in one of the islands, I can’t remember which one it was, but it was back up in one of the islands and it was the Mount Hood was the name of the ship, if I’m remembering correctly. That happened at that time and that’s been awhile ago.

Mr. Wilson: It seems like from what you said it was destroyed almost instantly.

Mr. Bane: It was. It was destroyed in one big explosion. For whatever reason it happened. The Mount Hood was an ammunition ship and that’s what they were doing, they were taking ammunition off the ship and going to other ships. We were back in and we were replenishing our supply of ammunition. And that’s what happened at that time. I just happened to remember that.

Mr. Wilson: I mentioned a couple of battles my uncle was in; I remember him talking about  Ironbottom Sound, you seem to know something about that.

Mr. Bane: Ironbottom Bay. It was in Guadalcanal; right off Guadalcanal if memory is serving me right. That’s been awhile ago. Ironbottom Bay.

Mr. Wilson: Because so many ships were on the bottom.

Mr. Bane: Because so many ships went down with it, yeah.

Mr. Wilson: I mentioned Midway, too. You seem to know something about that.

Mr. Bane: I didn’t get to Midway. I passed it a time or two but most of mine was island hopping. We made four island landings before we got to the Philippines and we in our ship did not make it to the Philippines. We were in the _______ Sea when that happened. Sitting here trying to recall those things that happened to us. It’s a little bit hard; I can’t come up with anything. Nothing comes to mind right at the moment but that I remember happening.

Mr. Wilson: The people of America at that time, I am told, got behind the war effort completely.

Mr. Bane: I think they were completely behind us, you are correct. There were a lot of people working toward ending the war. And with an attitude like that, it worked.

Mr. Wilson: Do you think we have that attitude today?

Mr. Bane: We still have a good attitude.

Mr. Wilson: Good.

Mr. Bane: The people who are off making war for us are a pretty good group. You just stop and read the articles and see what’s taking place, they’re pretty well in command. Makes you feel good.

Mr. Wilson: Yes sir, it does, doesn’t it. We sure appreciate your service. I don’t know whether people tell you that from time to time, but your service is appreciated.

Mr. Bane: I wear my ship’s cap whenever the opportunity presents itself and from time to time somebody just walks up and shakes my hand and says thank you.

Mr. Wilson: Is that right?

Mr. Bane: Yeah. Fact is it so happens this week that I was over in Waco and we were having lunch at one of the cafes over there and there were three men that were wearing military caps like I wear and I shook their hands and thanked them and they thanked me.

Mr. Wilson: Really?

Mr. Bane: Yeah.

Mr. Wilson: That’s good.

Mr. Bane: So things are still working fairly well for us and I’m happy to say we’re still in control.

Mr. Wilson: Yes, sir, it seems we are. Mainly thanks to men such as yourself. I do thank you for your time.

Mr. Bane: Okay. Hope it served your purpose.

Mr. Wilson: Yes, sir, it did and I want to thank you for your time.



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