Oral History Interview: Bob Spitze of Urbana
Bob Spitze joined the Navy at age 21 after going through ROTC training in college. Soon after going through the Navy training program, he came back home and got married, only to then be shipped off to war. He was aboard an LST, which was a transport ship that often carried military vehicles like tanks and jeeps, or military personnel. Many of these ships were manufactured in Seneca, Ill., where the crews and officers would get aboard and travel down the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, out to the ocean. This is exactly what Spitze did. While in the Pacific, he participated in the occupation of both Iwo Jima and Okinawa, two small Japanese islands. At Iwo Jima, Spitze says, he was witness to the great tragedy of the battle, and the final American victory when soldiers raised the American flag. For Spitze, World War II brought attention to the fact that we live in a global community. Now an economics professor at the U of I, he recognizes that the war was a result of certain global and national economic systems that allowed greed and the hunger for power to take hold of both economic markets and governments. But Spitze believes that we can ultimately recognize the importance of our global community and live at peace with one another. He and his wife have been educators ever since World War II, participating in educational efforts, not only in the U.S., but also in European countries during the reconstruction phase that followed the devastation brought about by the war.