Interview with a WWII Covert Operative

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Interview with a WWII Covert Operative

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STEVE: Jonathan, how and when did you become a US Army covert operative?

JONATHAN: I started in December of 1939. I purchased a soda shop that went out of business from a local bank. It was on North High Street, across the street from the Ohio State University campus. A professor from the university came in and wanted to rent my back room for several evenings in December. I assumed it was for a Christmas party. It was for a party alright, but it wasn’t a Christmas party.

STEVE: What kind of party was it?

JONATHAN: It was for a Communist Party meeting.

STEVE: Seriously?

JONATHAN: As a heart attack. I didn’t find this out until the first meeting. I was bringing food into the room and overheard some of the propaganda this professor was spouting. This guy was talking against our constitution and our republic.

STEVE: Did you throw them out?

JONATHAN: No, I had just opened, and I needed the money.

STEVE: What did you do?

JONATHAN: I called the Secret Service and told them what was going on.

STEVE: Did they come out and talk to you?

JONATHAN: Not for several weeks. Hell, I thought they forgot about me, or worse thought I was a wacko. When they did come, they asked me about what I heard.

STEVE: So, two Secret Service agents came to talk to you?

JONATHAN: No, not Secret Service. One was from the FBI, and one was from Army CID.

STEVE: What is Army CIP?

JONATHAN: Central Intelligence Division.

STEVE: What happened next?

JONATHAN: Well, after they asked about what I had heard in the meeting, they asked if they could install a recording device in my shop and record the sessions. I told them, yes.

STEVE: Did they come back after every meeting and collect the recordings?

JONATHAN: Oh no. They taught me how to change the tapes. They didn’t come back for three weeks. When they did, they took the ones that were recorded on and gave me new tapes.

STEVE: How long did this go on?

JONATHAN: Until the end of February 1940. One day they came in collected the recordings and took all the equipment away.

STEVE: It couldn’t have ended there. What happened next?

JONATHAN: I didn’t see anyone for two months. Then one day an Army CID guy shows up and asks me if I would like to serve my country. I said sure. Three weeks later I met the guy at the Fort Hayes Army Post on Cleveland Avenue. He told me that Army CID wanted to train me in clandestine operations. Hell, he had copies of my high school transcripts; I had straight A’s all through school. He said that President Roosevelt knew that war with Germany was imminent and the US would need highly trained operatives when we went to war.

STEVE: How often did you train?

JONATHAN: I trained every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening. I was trained in hand to hand combat and some martial arts fighting that some Englishman taught. I received training in damn near every type of weapon the army used. I became so proficient with a handgun that I could draw and shoot out a flame from twenty feet.

STEVE: How long did this go on?

JONATHAN: After eighteen months, I was so good at everything they made me an instructor, and I began training other guys that the army brought in.

STEVE: Did they pay you?

JONATHAN: Oh, hell no. That was part of my initial agreement, no pay. They said there couldn’t be a paper trail on me or any of the trainees what-so-ever. They must have been keeping all of this from Congress.

STEVE: How long did you do this?

JONATHAN: Until August of 1942, when I was drafted finally and sent to counterintelligence school.

Steve: When were you finally deployed?

JONATHAN: I deployed, along with 44 other highly trained operatives in January 1944. I went to the China, Burma and India Theater of Operations. I don’t know where any of the other went, but after the war was over, I was told of the 44, only two of us survived.

STEVE: That’s an incredible story.

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