Veterans Interview: Dennis Boyd talks with Lt. Colonel Frans Doelman, a 31-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, at Patriot’s Landing in DuPont, Washington. He also interviewed his two daughters.
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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
And now back to answers for elders as we honor our military veterans. Careage is the proud sponsor of our veteran segment hosted by former Seattle Seahawk Dennis Boyd. Good morning, this is Dennis Boyd for answers for elders. We are down at Patriots Landing and Dupont Washington today with Lieutenant Colonel Franz Dolman. Colonel, thank you very much for joining us. Colonel Dolman, you have an amazing story to tell and it starts at the age of nine or ten when you were in the Netherlands. Can you tell us where things started for you? Jobo and Java? I was my understanding that it was you were living in the Netherlands and you left there to go to Indonesia. My father. We were ready in Europe, in France, in niche if my father want to get away from to the whole thing was to go get from here to Java. But with that messed it was an existence you didn’t know if you’re going to make it. So leaving Europe was a gamble. It was a gamble of my father’s fee and that he wanted to get away from there and it was earlier enough. I think it was early, late thirty nine or early forty. I’m not sure. My father went to Java, but he didn’t know the Japanese. We’re going to be there right and the Japanese have three days and they over and everybody compliments the food. Okay. They were very disciplined with their soldiers and as a story, I could tell you about my mom’s my father’s wings, and we’re told you get them at the end of the war and they had to move to things around for two years and a year later we got released and then they were still there. My mom got them back. Now that’s amazing for how disciplined that they were. So when Japan had overtaken Java and the early part of our I guess it was forty one thousand nineteen, forty a one thousand nine hundred and forty four, forty four, okay, I take it. With and then what happened to you and your family? Well, our family, they put all the white pinned humans in a separate camp, you know, and we went out working in the fields every every day, almost and also other things. No food. You don’t know. The space I had was maybe to say that side that couch a little couch. It’s not a two foot by six foot space there by foot space. Yes, and and the problem was the lice were really driving nuts after a while. So we went on life’s hunts. And then they were also a lot of mosquitoes or the Japanese in flies, and the Japanese said, well, tell you what, will give you a small amount of sugar for a hundred flies if you deliver those you know, see a liquor beach. You’re tongue with bobby, wipe up all the sugar that you had, and my brother and I would we receive to you have the pole of a hundred and then you go and get it turned in by it. Whoever I was controlling it was not a Japan guy sitting there. And so when you were tell me what it was like. You know, I guess you were working agricultural then when you were as a peeling mostly, could I have a twin brother and my advantage of the whole seriously just things. Hans and I were always together, my haunts, my twin brother, and so you know, that’s that helped a lot to have both of the most of the kids in. You know, they could be ten and a half and then we’ve have nobody to take care of. Nobody talked to him. Morty joy said, your brother. Yeah, so I was lucky. Yeah, I consider it lucky. How did you find out the world the warhead was over? There were Dutch there been rumors in our secret radio, and then, not the maybe did a couple days, a week later, or whatever too, Dutch airplanes flew over and top pamphlets on the on the prison camp, all five of them. Those, to the best of all knowledge, it was five large camps that I know. They were right about some arm. This is Java, the center some arm, which is a very busy business port for ships. But what happened a little bit later, this is a little subject, but we wanted to get from to America. So getting to America we got on board a ship, okay, freight freighter, and there were two families from this family, my family that to you, my mother Johana, and another family. But we were supposed to go into San Francisco but the storm was so bad he was afraid he would roll and he didn’t have any cargo because they didn’t have any cardboard. Did have limited cargo to give away and did this ship did not have the power to just get cargo. So anyway, so they dropped us off at in Washington here. So you were you made it out. It sounds like almost like you were almost a bit of not a stowaway, but you kind of got on this ship by the skinny, your teeth here and a ship that happened to be heading east to the US. Yeah, he shifted is landing. So how did you end up in the Air Force? And the Air Force? Well, I saw these soldiers, these guys getting in the draft were still in effect right, and I had decided I would not period. I would not go and be an army guy, just too I don’t want to get killed. Better after being on a Japanese so I’ve worked on getting my education and I had a flat passed a flying tests, I’d passed to navigate, a test I thought past at passed all these challenges of say, and they I finished four and a half years of college. So how many years did you fly as a navigator? Then I had active duty at thirteen years and then eighteen years of reserves, but the reserves, no one for the one was like being on active duty with your own regular outfits, because we both active duty side and the reserves had the same amount of information. Factor reserves had been flying already for takes three to five years. Knew a lot more about what the happening, what they happened very experienced goose. As a part of my interview with Franz, I had the opportunity to interview his two daughters, Chris and Cathy. Chris had to say this about Franz’s time in the Air Force Reserve and his Vietnam experience. I don’t know was about three or four years ago, someone one of my dad’s underlying said France, you really should pursue a disability with the Va. You know, you were flying see one hundred and forty one s during the Vietnam years in and out of Vietnam, and my father has certain disabilities that are that have that predisposed diseases that are linked with Agent Orange and other things, and for veterans that are of that age group it’s very difficult to get through that process and so I I checked into it and through that I learned a lot about the VA process. It’s it’s harder than doing taxes. I believe and so we kept at it and worked at it. But you know, as my sister and my brother and I, we lived through those years, but we’re in old enough to understand it and I’m sure it was terrifying for my mom, my dad too, but my mom raising three children at that age. But what I learned was that for six and a half, seven years, my dad was flying in there as a reservist, taking cargo in and bringing bringing stuff back, you know, once or twice a month for six, six and a half years. And the reservist typically are the older, more experienced flyers because they’ve done their active duty time. Their look too as the leaders. The active duty flyers are the younger set, and so the more experienced flyers are really the ones that are the leaders on the crews. And so I when I was working through this VA process, there’s not a lot of records because that was all. You know. They well, they would take off. Yeah, they take off from a cord and they might go to Yakoda or they might go to Alaska and in mid air they would change. They would give them their orders because it was all secret and they had to keep it. They had to keep his secret. At the time and so it was hard to get flight orders to prove, you know, to prove that they were boots on the ground and Vietnam. But I as as an adult child now learned a lot about what my father went through and my mom as well. But it was it was very, very interesting to learn how much time was actually spent supporting Vietnam and at first it was a lot of cargo and then towards the end working mercy missions to evacuate signed. My father told me stories about needing to get certain individuals out of the country who were desperate because they had a heart conditioner, because they had, you know, a certain situation, and very, very interesting. One of the compelling stories that I was able to corroborate was actually because of a an air force archivist. was able to corroborate stories about some of the missions that were flown and it was just very, very interesting for me to learn this as an adult. Cathy wanted to read this from one of Franz’s writings. I’ll read an excerpt from a paper that my father wrote in documenting his Poe w experience and the three years that he spent in camp. He went through and he kind of wrote down his story. In addition to that, as children he would come into our history classes in high school and he talked about that POW experience of being captive and what he went through as a child and what he had to endure. And then he always ended, he ended talking to those classes about also trying to relate that to his experience in joining the military now, and I’ll read just very quickly what he wrote, because it basically it is the same thing he would say to the class. We came to the United States in one thousand nine hundred and forty six and now I am serving in the US Air Force. Looking back after all three years, I can only thank God above who has given me the opportunity to dedicate myself to the country that believes in an individual. I’ve seen the folly of war, the cruel, the useless destruction it causes, the lives that it destroys and forever mutilates. I know the value of this country and those unspoken ideals that exist. This is why today I am ready to sacrifice my life, to kill if necessary, just to keep and preserve our America’s freedom. And I think that’s really well said and that always stuck with me and want to talk to people that you know. He’d say that, being here in the United States, the freedom that we have in this country is worth dying for, and you only know that after you’ve had to give up everything, and as he did for three years as a child. I want to thank retired Lieutenant Colonel Franz Dolman of the US Air Force for his years of service and his two daughters, Chris and Cathy, for joining me today on answers for elders. This has been a special honoring veterans. Presentation of answers for elders brought to you by Careage. For more information about Careage, the website is Careage.com.
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Originally published January 20, 2018
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