World War II Central Illinois Stories

Oral History Interview: Ralph Rinehart of Decatur


Ralph Reinhart grew up in the Midwest and until becoming a part of World War II, had never seen the ocean or been in a ship. After going through basic training and learning on a cannon and other artillery from WWI, he was sent to Australia where he served with a boat company in a variety of positions, from deck hand to tug boat skipper. The company moved through the South Pacific islands following a number of major battles, securing the areas and moving equipment. Reinhart kept a journal so he would remember his time in the service and the men with whom he served. He speaks movingly of being lucky enough to live through the war and returning with 300 men he calls friends.