War Veteran Interview, Bob McDonald’s World War II Story: If you have been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories here on WallBuilders Live. Today, we are interviewing Veteran Bob McDonald. 

Air Date: 07/15/2019

Guest: Bob McDonald

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.


Faith And The Culture


Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, always doing that from a Biblical, historical, and Constitutional perspective.

Veteran Stories

Today we’re somewhat sidetracking from those hot issues of the day, but not really. Part of what makes it possible for us to even discuss the hot issues of the day is the freedom that we enjoy and certainly that First Amendment freedom of speech. 

Therefore today is an opportunity to honor those who fought for and defended that freedom and made it possible for us to even enjoy it. 

As Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address, the way we honor them is to have an increased devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. 

We love getting to interview military veterans that were willing to pay that price, especially the WWII veterans. As we’re losing so many of them every day and to get to visit with these guys is just incredible. 

It’s a great honor on our program to get to do that. To bring those interviews to you, and bring these stories to life. 

We’ve got more of those available at our Web site today at Wallbuilderslive.com. But today we’re gonna get to share an interview that Tim Barton had with Bob McDonald.

Tim, tell us a little bit about him before we go to the interview.


Yeah, he’s a World War II veteran. One of the cool things about having this radio program is being able to interview some of these veterans and get their stories. 

Of course, World War II veterans are some of our favorite only because they were part of the greatest war in the history of the world. We pray that God spares us from ever having to have a war this severe again. 

But hearing some of their stories, and knowing how far we’ve come in technology and fighting a war, how different things are now.

Some Background about Bob

We’ll back up. He was in the Navy, and he actually was a gunner on his ship and had to operate the machine gun and actually had very little training when he was put in do battle, and had to figure out and was praying for God to help him. 

I mean really some cool moments in his story. It’s someone who saw combat action in WW II, who had to go through that and unfold some of what that experience was like. We get to relive that moment just a little bit as we hear him explain what life was like and what his story was in World War II.


Right, Tim. Let’s jump to that interview. We’re going to take a quick break. When we come back with Tim Barton with Bob McDonald. Stay with us folks, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live. 

We Want To Hear Your Vet Story


Hey friends! If you have been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories here on WallBuilders Live.  Once in a while, we get an opportunity to interview veterans that have served on those front lines that have made incredible sacrifices have amazing stories that we want to share with the American people. 

One of the very special things we get to do is interview World War II veterans. You’ve heard those interviews here on WallBuilders Live, from folks that were in the Band of Brothers, to folks like Edgar Harrell that survived the Indianapolis to so many other great stories you heard on WallBuilders Live. 

You have friends and family that also served.  If you have World War II veterans in your family that you would like to have their story shared here on WallBuilders Live, please e-mail us at [email protected]  Give us a brief summary of the story, and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live!

World War II Veteran – Bob McDonald


Welcome back to Wall Builders Live. This is Tim Barton, and I’m joined by a very special guest for us on the program today.

He’s a World War II veteran, Bob McDonald. Bob, thank you so much for agreeing to be on the show with us today.


You’re quite welcome, sir.

How Did You Get Involved In The War? 


Well, Bob, how did you get involved in the war? Was it from the beginning were you recruited out of college or high school? How did it start for you?


I was about like 75% of the boys in World War II. A great number of us were in high school. My brother came home and told my mother. He said I’ve joined the Navy. He had already graduated from high school. 

Well, I was in the next room, and I heard him say that, and I said well you’re not going without me. I was only in the tenth grade. 

So, I was like a whole bunch of boys. High school boys just bailed out of school they didn’t finish high school. Til war was over, and came home and got their diplomas.

 So that’s where we were at. My brother and I were very close, and so I couldn’t see him going to war without me. So I went down the next day, and I joined the Navy.


Now Bob to join the Navy at that point, did you have to have your parents sign paperwork for you since you were only a sophomore in high school?


I did. 

And my father is very cooperative. He had three sons in World War II. 




Yes. So that wasn’t uncommon. I saw families that were in the war. That’s how I got in the Navy. They sent me over to Orange, Texas where the Navy was building a new ship, and I wound up commissioning that new destroyer. 

I stayed on it the whole time until they decommissioned it after the war.  There was a war around the time when they got done with it in World War II.

Chasing German Submarines, Japan And The Panama Canal


Wow. And you all put out from Louisiana?


Yes. From then on they were chasing German submarines on the East Coast until about September of ’43. 

We wound up going through the Panama Canal. There’s a new crew there Birmingham we operate weather in the Pacific on General Douglas MacArthur went ashore. (I) Went back to the Philippines.  

I was losing land and Solomon Islands and New Guinea and the rest of the islands.  We saw the islands one at a time. We took them back one by one from the Japanese plural to the coast of Japan. 

We were really close to Japan when the Japanese surrendered. We hardly believed it, but we were just past north to accept the surrender of a brand new submarine. A big modern submarine the Japanese had just commissioned, the I14. She carries three airplanes. This was kept secret even after WW II until maybe not too many years ago.

Japanese Submarine Carried Planes


Now, this is a submarine that carried airplanes? 




Bob, I feel like we’re getting classified information right now. This is so cool. So, there are submarines that were carrying planes which certainly the Japanese had to have some kind of specific target in mind for these.


Yes. They wound up carrying troops into these lands at night. But the original intention, as I understood, was to go down into South America to the country on the south side of the Panama Canal. Come back around and blow up the Panama Canal. 

So they were going to have five of these submarines that would have 15 airplanes. Yes, they were gonna blow up the Panama Canal. 




But they didn’t get to because — That was really interesting. I think it was a beautiful submarine.

If there is such a way. It was coated with rubber so we couldn’t pick it up on the sonar then. They observed not a lot of observation.


So, this was stealth technology than on this submarine.


Oh yeah, and they were well built.


So it really does make me even more grateful and thank God for that. The surrender of the Japanese when it happened because it sounds like there could have been a lot more devastation than there already was.

There Were A Lot Of Ships Being Sunk


Oh yeah. See, a remarkable part of the whole thing was,  the United States was building these destroyers. It became a destroyer war towards the end because the Japanese recognize this. They turned on the destroyers really concentrated on safety. 

Of course, they gave us a hard time in the Pacific. But they were building these destroyers so fast that the Japanese one naval just sink them.

We just produced the Japanese and the Germans in every way.


 That a lot of ships though. That’s a lot of labor and intensive work to get that done.


Well, they were sinking a lot of them to the Germans were. Japanese didn’t have that much success with sinking our ships.

I Was A Machine Gunner


Well, Bob, what was your job on your destroyer? What was it that you did?

Bob: I was a machine gunner.

I run a 20-millimeter anti-aircraft gun. That was my battle station. Which I shot a lot of. 

There’s one thing out of the war I learned. I like to look back. 

Christmas In San Franciso

It was when we’ve just taken this Philippines. We shot our 5-inch guns out.  We had come into San Francisco to Gainsborough and to get some other work done. 

It was on Christmas Day. My brother, he came in, but he was in a hotel in San Francisco, and when we pulled into the harbor and hooked up to the dock, he called me on the phone, and that was on Christmas Day. 

We were walking down the street on Christmas morning, and it was real quiet.  

There was no traffic or noise. This car drove up beside us. And this little boy got out, and he came over, and he said would you like to go home with us and have a Christmas dinner. 

It those things that you remember that was really really important.

Chris and I, we went, and we had a nice Christmas of a nice family of people. 


And this was a family you didn’t know.


No, I had no idea who they were.


Wow. They just wanted you to join them for Christmas.


Yes. He was about seven years old, I guess. He was a little guy, and his dad was driving a big car. He was very successful.

Boy From Papua New Guinea

There was another thing I remembered so well was an island off the coast of New Guinea we went there one day for a couple of hours. 

And it was a small twelve-year-old boy. These guys were primitive. I mean, real primitive natives. 

He would climb a coconut tree and get you a coconut for 10 cents. 

I asked him one day. I said, what are you going to do with all of the dimes? He had a little leather pouch he was just putting them in. That’s all he wanted was dimes. I said, what are you going to do with those dimes?  

He said I’m going to go to America. I thought, oh Lord, I don’t know how you’re going to do that. I didn’t rebuke him or anything. 

I couldn’t see how he was going to get to America from New Guinea. 

But time has a way of entering problems sometimes that we can’t foresee. 

There was one day I was in church on Sunday morning.  I looked over to the side of the church. There was a church in boy over there sitting all by himself. This was just a couple of years ago. 

I never saw him before, so I got up, and I went over and asked him, I said what is your name? He told me an answer only from you should pop in New Guinea. 

I was about five generations away from this boy I was talking to from New Guinea. 

He was going to college studying to be a doctor so he can go back and serve his people.




Now, these are interesting and see how life goes on in a mysterious way. That was an interesting thing. 



Life After The War

Well, Bob, what did you do after the war?


I came home. I was supposed to get married. 

I was engaged to a girl, but it took us six months to get home after the war was over. 

By the time I got home, she’d done married another guy. 


Oh no. 


So I joined. I went back on the east coast of Baltimore and joined the Merchant Marine and sailed for a year. 

I got settled down because I’ve been in so much activity. 

I had these dream at night and stuff. By the time I got home, I got settled down. At forty-seven, my wife, of course, I met her. We’ve been married 71 years. 

Martial Advice


Wow. Well, Bob, that’s that’s a goal that I think every young couple, and actually, many who are maybe halfway there are looking going 71 years. That’s something that we would love to have in our life. 

Do you have any advice?

I’m a young man who’s married. Do you have any advice for me? How do you do it for 71 years? What’s the key to success?


Don’t argue. Don’t argue about any subjects at all.  When the voice becomes to a certain level, you just walk away. 

You don’t argue, and you consider. Is it as importantly you are? Your opinions have to cooperate to make a –You just have to be a good man and suck it up and walk away.


So humility and teamwork.


Teamwork. You’ve got to have an objective. Two people working together, and planning your way through life can live a long time together, but you have to work together. 

The one plan I had is – I wanted a home. I wanted my own home. My own family. 


Bob, thank you so much for taking the time to share part of your story and your experiences with us.

We are so grateful. Not just that you would take time and share with us, but we’re grateful for for the sacrifice that you paid. 

We are so grateful for our military veterans, and for our current military who are paying the price so we can enjoy the blessings and benefits, we enjoy in America. And so Bob, we want to say from our program, from our show, from our listeners, thank you for your life and the price you paid to help us be free.

I Was A Tin Can Sailor


Well, you know I never really expected anything. 

I was making a sacrifice and never went beyond my duty. I felt compelled. I didn’t feel like I was doing a heroic job.

It was a job we had, and we all felt the same way. I was a tin can sailor. Sometimes when you have the time, there are books on the shelves of your library about tin can sailors. And if you want to live a life like a sailor or an active sailor, you just get on a tin can, and I’ll guarantee you, your life all will be fulfilled.


Bob, one of the things we appreciate so much about your generation, you mentioned that you really just want to be a servant and that’s something that we see with so many veterans. Especially World War II veterans, they didn’t think they were trying to be any kind of hero. 

They were just doing what they thought needed to be done, but that attitude helped make America such a unique place because of what you guys did. 

And so again, we just want to say thank you for what you did. And again thank you for being on the show today. We sure appreciate it.


Well, you’re more than welcome. Glad to do it. And I that will be my little gift today to mankind.


Well, Bob, thank you for being with us today. We sure appreciate it. Everybody else if you hang on we will be back in just a minute with David Barton and Rick Green.

Bring A Speaker To Your Area


Hey, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders.  And, as you’ve had the opportunity to listen to WallBuilders Live, you’ve probably heard a wealth of information about our nation, about our spiritual heritage, about the religious liberties, and about all the things that make America exceptional. 

And, you might be thinking, “As incredible as this information is, I wish there were a way that I could get one of the WallBuilders guys to come to my area and share with my group.”

Whether it be a church, whether it be a Christian school, or public school, or some political event, or activity, if you’re interested in having a WallBuilders speaker come to your area, you can get on our website at www.WallBuilders.com and there’s a tab for scheduling. If you click on that tab, you’ll notice there’s a list of information from speakers bio’s, to events that are already going on. And, there’s a section where you can request an event, to bring this information about who we are, where we came from, our religious liberties, and freedoms. Go to the WallBuilders website and Bring a speaker to your area..


Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Back now David Barton, Rick Green and Tim Barton.

Tim, what a cool honor to get to interview Mr. McDonald. Getting those stories firsthand, and once again for us to learn what the sacrifices were that made it possible for us even to be sitting here on this program talking about these things today.

What An Honor To Talk To Him


Yeah, it really is so cool to hear part of his story, what he went through, and even some practical advice that he has along the way, but absolutely an honor to talk to him.


Yeah, it was a lot of fun to hear him. Sixteen years-old when he went to war. There was a lot of high school guys that went to war, and they came back after the war and got their high school degree. 

We go, oh my gosh we don’t quite think like that today, and he talked about entire families in the war. There were a couple of things that just really surprised me. 

I mean, he talked about how they were there and took the surrender of that Japanese submarine with three planes on the submarine. 

There Was A Film About It – Across The Pacific

You got planes on the submarine? That took me back to a World War II movie. A World War II movie by Humphrey Bogart it’s called Across the Pacific, and they were filming that in 1941. It was being filmed to show the Japanese were going to attack, and they brought their planes in unexpectedly, it was a big surprise. 

It was against an American base on a Pacific island. And as they were filming that, Pearl Harbor happened. It’s like, oh my gosh, that’s what we were just filming so we can’t do a movie about that. 

So they said all right let’s do the movie. Let’s change it, and the Japanese are going to bring planes to attack the Panama Canal. Which is exactly what he said. 

They were going to do to those planes. So back in 1941 1942, we were doing World War II movies about the Japanese attack in Panama Canal.

I was thinking, why would Japanese do that? And if you consider that once we had defeated Europe, and we brought all that Navy across to the west to the Pacific island; how do you get there?

Well, if we don’t go through the Panama Canal, you got to go all the way down around the Cape down to the South Pole almost to get there which would have given the Japanese much more time. 

So it makes perfect sense that they would have done that but to be able to attach three planes to submarines. I mean that’s just kind of unbelievable technology. And look at what they did. 

Inviting Someone Home For Dinner Is Not What We Do In Today”€™s Culture

I was struck by the fact that he was out and a boy stopped him and said do you want to come home and 

Christmas dinner with us?


Which is such a cool thought. When we look at modern culture, this is not a normal thought for modern culture. 

I can’t imagine walking down the street, someone rolling down the windows and saying, hey would you like to come and have Christmas dinner with us. 

That’s not a normal thing today. 

I wasn’t alive back then, I don’t know if it’s normal back then or not. But the fact that then he and his brother are invited to go eat dinner with the family? What an amazing moment.


Yeah. And I wonder if there’s anything that would unify us to that point today. Where we would reach out to a stranger, and say hey we’re so unified as a country and as a nation on this that we want to just do something to bless you. 

And Tim you mentioned it, It’s hard for this generation to imagine. 

We Never Locked Our Doors

I’m going to pull a generational card here for just a moment get my white hair going.

I’m going to go back to when I was a school principal. This is in the 80s. In the 1980s, when I was a principal he was a teacher. 

When he was growing up in Illinois, he talked about how they never ever locked the door on their house because when people were driving through the country at night, they need a place to stay. 

They would just walk in somebody’s house and stay there, and he said many times they would go downstairs, and they would see people lying on the couch. 

They would get them up, get them breakfast, and get them back on the road. 

For us to even imagine something like that. At the time, he told me that he was in his thirties. 

So we’re talking about somebody that you know it’s in my generation kind of a person, but that was common. 

I do not remember ever locking doors growing up. Ever. At any point in time for any reason. That is so different from anything we do today.


So we’re talking the 50s and 60s. 


We’re talking the 50s. 


It’s roughly when that was going on. 


That’s right. 


And how different America looks since then. Just moments that we don’t often think about, what life would have been like for these guys? What training would have been like?

But as we’ve had some of these interviews with veterans, and they talk about how they went through two-weeks of boot camp or two-weeks of basic training, and then they sent us overseas. 

Our Military Looks So Different Today

It was just such a different world and climate than what the military looks like today.

 For him to be a boy in respects, right? Certainly, we could argue, no. He’s just a young man at 16 17 18. When he was along this journey but for most respects, we’d say no, that’s a kid who has not the proper training. Who’s put behind this gun, and said OK go shoot down planes as we are under attack. 

It’s such a different idea from how we conduct warfare today. But again, why we love having done these interviews and hearing some of their details.

His Marital Advice Is Still Relevant Today


Well, you were talking too about how he even gave advice, and I thought his advice on marriage was really good; don’t argue. It takes two to argue. 

If there’s a raised voice, walk away. You’re just not as important as you think you are. 

You know that that’s the right perspective. I don’t have to win the fights. I mean, it’s just marriage together and keeping it whole and keeping the peace. 

That was really good advice. It is good advice for any generation. Gosh, how long he’s been married. That advice has worked really really well. So he just had a lot of great things to share.

I was even thinking about when you asked him you did.  And he said well, there was nothing special to what I did. It’s just my duty. This is what I was supposed to do.

They Stepped Up And We Are Enjoying The Fruits Of Their Sacrifice

We look back and say, what a great sacrifice they made. They look at and say, what sacrifice?

This is what we were supposed (to do). We just stepped up, and that’s a great lesson too.

Don’t look at the cost per se, in that sense, just step up and do what you’re supposed to do. It blesses


And multiple generations too if you think about it.

I mean, here we are, two generations later? Three generations later? 

And we’re still enjoying the benefit of what he was willing to do and obviously so many others as well.

Warrior Heroes CD

We have some of those stories available on our website. If you go to WallBuilders.com and look in the CD section. There’s a CD called Warrior Heroes by land, by air, and by sea. It’s got tons of these great stories.

So we’ve had the chance to bring to WallBuilders Live, and to our audience. We’d love to bring you more of these stories. 

So be sure and continue listening to WallBuilders Live. 

Go to our website today at Wallbuilderslive.com. Be sure to click on that donate button, and make your contribution as a listener supported program.

It’s you our listeners that make this possible. We sure appreciate you. 

Thanks so much for listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.