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Kenneth Erger Oral History

Identifier: OHP 193

Scope and Contents

Kenneth Erger served aboard Intrepid as a fire controlman third class during World War II, from 1944 to 1946. He began his interview by discussing his childhood in Iowa and describing life growing up on a farm. Erger then explained his decision to join the Navy and described boot camp before stating that he went aboard Intrepid while the ship was in San Francisco. He noted the ship’s shakedown after being repaired from a torpedo strike and also recounted the arrival of the air group and the training that occurred before departing for the Pacific Theater. The interview then shifted to Erger’s job as a fire controlman on a gun director, as he discussed both his duties as a fire controlman and the off-duty work and details he was assigned. At this time Erger also noted some aspects of life aboard ship, such as the injuries that occurred as sailors ran through hatches during general quarters, and on a lighter note, his division’s basketball team, the geedunk stand, and stories of liberty in California. The interview then returned to the topic of duties aboard ship, and Erger discussed the operation of a gun director and described the atmosphere when the ship was under attack. He specifically recalled two attacks, one which resulted in gun tub 10 being struck by a kamikaze, and another kamikaze attack that left him burned and in sick bay. Erger also noted the recovery of pilots who were forced to ditch, as well as the ice cream ransom that Intrepid paid to the destroyers who recovered the pilots. This then led to a brief discussion on resupplying at sea. The interview then shifted to the home front, as Erger recalled one particular return home when he met his future wife, Ginger. He described this visit and stated that after their initial meeting, he and Ginger continuously wrote to one another for the duration of the war. As the interview returned to Intrepid, Erger discussed additional details regarding life aboard ship. He recalled the chaplain and Sunday Mass, the quality of food, jumping out of your bunk during general quarters, and experiencing two typhoons. After two more stories relating to liberty, one involving shore patrol duty, and another recounting liberty in Japan after the war had ended, Erger spoke about life after the war. He discussed returning home and attending college, marrying Ginger and starting a family, and working in insurance for 40 years. Erger then ended his interview by reflecting on both the war and his life after the war.


  • April 11, 2019



11 Files

28 Sheets

Language of Materials



David Dzendzel
November 12, 2019
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Online Archives Repository

One Intrepid Square
W. 46th Street and 12th Avenue
New York NY 10036-4103 United States