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Interview with Malcom C. McIver, May 3, 2003 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Malcom C. McIver, May 3, 2003
May 3, 2003
Interview with retired Lieutenant U.S. Navy Chaplain Malcolm McIver.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  McIver, Malcolm C. Interviewer:  Zarbock, Paul Date of Interview:  5/3/2003 Series:  Military Chaplains Length  55 minutes


Zarbock: Good afternoon. My name is Paul Zarbock a staff member with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Today is the 3rd of May in the year 2003 and we are we are continuing our uh...videotape project of military chaplains. It's a pleasure today to be with uh...Malcolm C. McIver uh...retired Navy chaplain. Good afternoon, sir.

McIver: Good afternoon, Paul.

Zarbock: It's a pleasure to be with you.

McIver: Thank you. We're delighted to have you in our home today.

Zarbock: Thank you. Pastor, would you tell me how did you what were the steps or what were the influencing conditions that led you into selecting the ministry as a profession?

McIver: Right. I'll be delighted to do that, Paul, but first let me express appreciation to you for coming let have me share some of my life experiences with you. As I mentioned earlier when I greeted you this afternoon, I'm 85 years old and this is the first time in my life that I've ever been invited to participate in a in a project like this and it's a bit embarrassing because you begin thinking about your life sometimes you, you hesitate because you might seem to be bragging. But, in any event, I'm glad to to turn to your question and share with you some of the memories that I have about uh...being uh...invited to partic... to consider ministry in my life.

Early on, I remember as a child my father uh...there were four boys and uh...and I know he would uh...early on he would turn to us, since I'm the eldest of the sons he would say uh..."This... Mac is going to be uh...the minister and the next son is uh...going to be a doctor and the next one the lawyer and the final one is going to be a businessman" and that uh...that did affect thoughts about ministry. Later, I was privileged be elected president of the Wilmington Presbytery, a youth organization composed of about 75 uh...different churches, youth representatives from those churches and then connections with being elected as president of the Presbytery Youth Council I was invited go to Davidson Conference uh...and go into the youth conference at Montreat uh...assembly grounds near Asheville, heard wonderful sermons and uh...and inspiring music and that also had an impact on my thoughts.

But what really triggered my uh...this vision I think happened in when I was 19 years of age. I had, had completed two and a half years of college and my father uh...was stricken with an acute attack of rheumatoid arthritis and I had to drop out of uhm...uh...Wake Forest University and come home and attempt to help run his lumber business. He was a lumber manufacturer here in Wilmington and uh...several months after I dropped out and began my work the... in the family business uh...the doctor said to me as he was leaving my father's room that "Son, I hate to tell you this but your father will not live through the night" and that was such a shocking uh...revelation to me that... that I, of course, did cry but I also spent a good bit of that night in prayer. And in a sense as a young person sort of bargained with the Lord, you know, you do this for me, I'll do that for you. As some of the Old Testament people, uh...prophets did. And I said "If you will help my father and will enable him to regain health, I will do anything you lead me to do." And I'm pleased to tell you, Paul, that father outlived that doctor by 15 years but that I did commit myself to the ministry uh...but just on a trial basis. And when I went to... finally went back and my father regained his health, was able to pick up his business and I went on and finished college and then uh...when I decided uh...

Zarbock: What year did you graduate from college?

McIver: Uh...I graduated in 1941 and I had... even though I had committed myself to the Lord, I really wanted to... to study law and I had taken a pre-law degree and so when I finally graduated I said, I remembered what my commitment to the Lord. I said, "I'm going to try the seminary for one year" and so I did not come under the care of Presbytery. I went just on a trial basis and they allowed me to do that. That's important for us to remember that September of 1941 we were not yet at war and uh...I enrolled at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky in 1941 and uh...went on into the theology and Bible and began looking at the seminary carefully. Then when Pearl Harbor came in December that point I said "Well, you know, this is really a place I can commit myself, not as a lawyer because none of the lawyers called in the Navy necessarily to just be lawyers. I want to be a chaplain in the Navy" and I became a member of the Chaplain Reserve Corps, finished seminary in 1944 and then uh...was uh...called uh...up for duty in December of 1944.

And uh...those were the days of uh...of excitement uh...uh...I had married after my first year in seminary and we had a young child uh...only 12 months old when I entered the Navy but wife was committed to this also. My uh...two younger brothers also were in the service. My second uh...son became a... an officer in the Marine, Merchant Marine Corps and uh...another brother uh...uh....enrolled as a Navy pilot. And, as I mentioned to you, Paul, he uh...uh...he was missing in action as of March the 15th, 1945 and his body's never been recovered.

One of the interesting things, though, as my father tried to deal with that uh...he uhm...he always believed that... that his son, Clifford, who was missing in action and uh...had flew a Navy, had flown a Navy Hellcat, he always believed that he was alive somewhere on one of the islands and someday he would be uh...returned uh...but was a great pleasure for me to uh...have the opportunity to serve my country and my Lord as a Navy chaplain and that's how I happened to be uh...quickly drawn into the chaplaincy through my uh...seminary

Zarbock: When you entered the Navy had you ever been on a ship?

McIver: Had never been on a ship, no. I never... I'd seen many, many beautiful ships but I... I never boarded a ship and that's one thing they taught us to do properly in chaplain school.

Zarbock: Well tell me how did you learn how to be a... how did you learn how to be a naval officer?

McIver: Well, the Navy the time uh...I had finished seminary in 1944 the Navy had established a very uh...uh...competent uh...program for... for training and educating uh...young ministers and older ministers to become Navy chaplains and this was done through the uh...through the Bureau of Naval Personnel. They organized a chaplain school at the College of William and Mary and uh....uh...more than 2,000 uh...ministers came through that program and at the height of the program I think there were about 2,500 navy... navy chaplains across... scattered across the uh...the world actually. Uh...the chaplain school was set up so that uh...those who were just out of seminary uh...they had to stay six weeks and those who had been in the ministry uh...for five years or more they only had to stay four weeks but during that four to six week period was extensive training. We were taught the uh...Navy regulations. We were taught how to... to... to muster up, to drill. We marched to our our meals and we even marched to church uh....we were introduced to the Navy ways of doing things and it was so interesting to me that one of those buildings that uh...the Navy rented from the College of William and Mary was commissioned as a ship and that ship uh...that building became a ship and the uh, Navy people came in from uh...from Norfolk and commissioned it as a ship and all of the uh...officers on uh...on that ship uh...were... were chaplains, were ministers. Our commanding officer was a chaplain. The executive officer and all of the officers were... that taught us were uh...were uh...were chaplains.

Zarbock: Pastor, excuse me, what was the... what was the name of the ship that didn't go anywhere?

McIver: Well, it was called I believe, I'm not sure how they named it, I think they called the ship the, uh, Chaplain's Training Course uh...I believe. I'm not sure of the... of the name of the ship but we were... we were strictly uh...uh...taught the Navy way. I remember the commanding officer uh...William Rafferty saying to us on the first day after welcoming us very cordially he said "We are so grateful for your commitment to the Lord and you've been taught all of the things you need to know about the Bible in seminary and so but I want you to know when you come here we're going to teach you how to do it the Navy way and we'll expect you to follow commands and do as you're instructed." And so, very early on we were... we were told that we would have to uh...we would have to obey commands and the chain of command was an important part of the... of the Navy. of the things that uh...that I remember so well is I was trying to a, very efficient and get, get onboard correctly. I was assigned a duty, to operate the switchboard uh...on the uh...on the ship and, and let me say this about the ship. We had... the second floor was a quarterdeck and the third floor was a captain's office and when we entered that second floor we'd have to salute and say "request permission to board the ship" just like you would have to do on a regular, on a regular ship. And I was assigned this day to the the switchboard and uh...the commanding officer called and he was so stern we were a bit afraid of him. We didn't ever want to cross uh...Chaplain Rafferty and Chaplain Rafferty called and just as he called somebody from the sick bay called and then I had the chaplain talking to the sick bay and the person calling Rafferty talking to the wrong person that he came out of the uh...out of his uh...the office and said, "Chaplain, you'll be dismissed for the day and report to me at eight o'clock in the morning for further instructions on the use, how to use this switchboard" and that stands in as a, as a special uh...memory.

Zarbock: But had you had any previous instruction on, on how to operate the switchboard?

McIver: Well they hadn't given me clear instructions.

Zarbock: They just said sit down and this is...

McIver: You're right and so he... he uh...forgave me because I had... they had just put me on the switchboard and not taught me much about it and so I think that the person responsible for training the switchboard operators was he...he got into very much difficulty on that.

Zarbock: So, it sounds like the commanding officer was a stern man but a fair man.

McIver: A stern man and a fair man and one... one that I really uh...came respect. Uh...after the six weeks program and, incidentally, we had to... we had to... to do the swimming and even in burning oil on a couple of occasions. We were given the obstacle course uh...I still have difficulty with my right knee going through the... as a result of the obstacle course and we were in pretty top physical shape when we finished up our six weeks program.

Zarbock: There was no weapons training though was there?

McIver: No, there was no weapons training because chaplains are non-combatants uh...and uh...uh...never issued arms. We were strictly instructed on these. We were to be the... we were to provide morale. We will sort of be the cheerleaders know and... and keep uh...the uh...the crew and the officers them inspiration and as morale officers and uh...that... that was... that was the way we were going to make our contribution the cause. One of the things that was so exciting at the end of the four, uh, the four to six weeks you always wondered where you were going to be assigned and of course some of the older officers uh...and more experienced officers got the more experienced jobs. Uh...and nobody knew until the graduation day where they would... where they would be assigned and uh...fortunately for me I had been assigned to work with the uh...the senior chaplain on my two weeks field assignment. I had been assigned to work with my field chaplain uhm...Francis Sayer at the Norfolk operating base in Norfolk and he was the grandson of Woodrow Wilson and so...

Zarbock: And what was... what was his name?

McIver: Francis B. Sayer.

Zarbock: How do you spell that?

McIver: S,E,Y,E,R, Francis B. Sayer, S,A,Y,E,R. And uh...uh...I had good connections with him. We established rapport quickly and he... he allowed me to preach the sermon, the second Sunday I was with them, and so evidently. I got a fairly good report from Chaplain Sayer and I think because of that I was assigned to the 3rd Naval District in New York City and I was there for five uh...months uh...serving the Veteran's Hospital on Staten Island and I was also assigned to the the Coast Guard operating facility on George Street and also assigned to one of the piers where the Navy ships docked in.

Zarbock: Now you're... you're married at this time.

McIver: That's right and so those were the three, I had three different assignments but I would always... on Sunday mornings at the worship services were at uh...the uh...Coast Guard station on... at St. George on Staten Island.

Zarbock: Was your wife living with you in New York?

McIver: She was... she was able to come and we were fortunate in finding an apartment and lived on Staten Island uh...and uh...I was there for six months. And it's interesting how I then finally got my assignment to the ship. The person who was assigning me is my yeoman Neil Keaton, a wonderful young man and we had such a... a close working relationship. He was uh...just a second-class petty officer but he was the one that would... would be the... do the things that I requested him to do to set up for worship and to see that I got transportation and all. Well, Neil uh...Keaton, Neil Keaton was assigned uh...the H.L. Scott, a troop transport and uhm...after he had been aboard that ship for awhile working with uh...with a Roman Catholic chaplain, the Roman Catholic chaplain was assigned to another ship and... and so Neil Keaton said to the commanding officer "Hey, we've got a chaplain back in Staten Island. He does all these things" and he gave me a good recommendation and uh...that captain worked through the Bureau of Naval Personnel and would you believe that I was... I was assigned to that ship to go back to war with... with uh...with Neil Keaton. And you had a second-class yeoman using his influence to get me to work with him again. And so in October of uh...of 1945 I was uh...I boarded the uh...the H.L. Scott, AP 136, General H.L. Scott. And I was just checking on General Scott uh...this morning, Paul, before you came to... to bring up to memory my memory about this man. He was uh...uh...uh...his name was Hugh Lenox Scott and he was in 1917 uh...the commanding officer of the uh...uh...of the uhm, school. What is that called? West Point, West Point.

Zarbock: West Point.

McIver: He was a West Point uh...uh...general and did many things. He was a governor of Cuba for a while and was a very influential man. And so when uh...launching all of these ships they had so many ones to name that they tried to pick out the key people, so HL Scott was really one of the key people in the first the revolutionary, in the uh...Spanish-American War and in the uh...and in the first World War but that ship was a wonderful ship. We had uh...253 crewmembers was ship about 580 feet long and 72 feet of beam uh...and was my duty aboard ship to be the be the chaplain, the chief of morale officer. I was responsible for divine worship. I was responsible for... for visiting uh...the sick people. We had a... we had a 50-bed hospital aboard the ship and uh...we were designed to carry uh...uh...3,000 troops from the states to the various places in the... in the South Pacific. And that was a wonderful opportunity to to have... to be able to serve on that ship and we were so... became so closely uh...uh...related to... to the fellow officers as well as to many of the crewmen.

And, Paul, let me tell you the one thing I thought was important when I boarded the ship that I determined that I would become a crew chaplain. We had learned in chaplain school that uh...and were cautioned to be careful about how we uh...managed our lives aboard ship. Uh...the chaplain is the only officer aboard ship that can go into the captain's cabin without the executive office's permission and so the chaplain has to be very careful when he goes to see the captain of the ship because the executive officer might think he's going to talk about me. So, you tell the executive officer what you'll be talking to the captain about. But they taught us in chaplain school that many of the officers become officer chaplains so they spend most of their time with the officers in the ward room and uh...and, of course, the officers have their own mess. The officers uh...don't eat with the crew and so you have to be careful to separate yourselves. The chaplain has to be careful to separate himself from the officers so that the crew will know that he is their chaplain as well as the officer chaplain. And so early on I decided that I would really be a crew chaplain and I went and had Mass many times with the crew in their quarters.

The chaplain was the only officer aboard ship that could go in the crew quarters without permission of the executive officer. So, the chaplain really had the run of the ship and the Navy had designed it that way so that he could be of maximum help to the the members of the... of the crew, both officers and crew alike. So, I established a very close tie with many of the crew members and uh...they were loyal in attending worship. We had uh...uh...because I... because of my pastoral care to them they really came to church. And I remember so well that uh...that I was always careful in visiting the crew. I learned early on that the uh...that on the ship uh...the people that work in the engine room, called the black gang, and the cooks who work inside, the black gang and the cooks work inside and not topside, they sort of come together in a sort of a fraternity, the inside people. And uh...the cooks would uh...would make T-bone steaks for the uh...for the black gang in the engine room and serve at eleven o'clock on, on Wednesday evening, on Wednesday nights. So, I usually made my rounds see the black gang on Wednesday nights when they were serving steak from the... from the ship's crew but that was a wonderful way they... they had that put together.

And then the boatswain mates and those that served topside they sort of had their own uh...their own as well. Uh...but I... I did... I did enjoy that and uh...and divine worship uh...the thing, one of the things that frustrated me in divine worship was uhm...when the uhm...when you... when the chaplain, everybody was seated and just before you began the service of worship, "let us worship God" and the uh...the captain's uh...marine orderly would come in and say "attention on deck" and everybody would have to stand so the captain was the last one to come aboard, come into the service of worship. I always wanted to... to protest this to the... to the captain but it was such a part of the... of the routine on the ship that you hesitated to do that but that always bothered me. But I must say that the captain was there every Sunday that I preached and so that meant that the officers were there, so he was the leader and helped a great deal in that way.

One of the interesting things I remember though as I uh...was sharing with you the close tie with the uh...with the crew and one of the uh...the... the scariest things that happened I think to me uh...while we were sea was uhm...uh...two o'clock in the morning the... the bell sounded and the number uh...eight boat crew was commanded to man the boats and usually when... when that happens the chaplain tries to be there to see what's going on. And it was reported that uh...there was a man missing and they thought that he had probably gone over, slipped overboard. Uh...there was a strict rule on... on all the ships that you never throw any trash or any garbage off of the side of the ship. You always go to the fantail, the... the end of the ship and throw it on... at the back of the ship and they had watchers out to... to watch for anybody that might fall over the sides. Anyway, this... the man on... on watch on the... on the flying bridge thought he saw someone fall overboard. Actually it had been probably trash but they thought a man had fallen overboard and so the boat crew was commanded to go to search for that person. And so there were eight members of the boat crew. So, I was there. They said, "Chaplain, come go with us" and I said, "Well, you know, I don't know. I don't, I haven't much experience on this boat" and I was about ready to... to do that though but just as we were going to be ready to let the boat down they said they'd done a double check. They had checked all the members of the crew and that everybody onboard was safe. And I said, whew, I'm glad I don't have to go on that... on that lifeboat to try to find a man fallen overboard.

Zarbock: What was... what was the sea like at that time?

McIver: Well, it was a fairly choppy sea that night and uh...that made it a little more difficult.

Zarbock: And where are you in the Atlantic or?

McIver: No, we were in the Pacific Ocean between and uh...Shanghai, China. The ship uh...this was in November of '45 and we were taking uh...a load of uh...of Chinese troops back to Shanghai, China and to pick up some of our troops and bring them back. This was after the VE Day.

Zarbock: Where had you picked up the Chinese soldiers?

McIver: We had picked them up in New York City. Uh...our ship was uh...home port was Seattle, Washington but we had been before I boarded the ship it had been in the... in the Mediterranean for six months and they came to New York to pick up the Chinese, 2,000 or more Chinese troops that had been training in this country and we went through the Suez Canal and onto Japan. And you know some of those Chinese people might have really been uh...there in the... helping the North Koreans in the Korean War. We had trained those guys and uh...that's always been a uh...a puzzle for me as to how, you know, we... we sometimes uh...make mistakes don't we? Some of those Chinese officers that my ship carried back home might have participated in the Korean War.

Zarbock: When you were hauling troops did the military uh...officers, the troop officers would they... would they mess with the uh...crew officers or were they... did they have their own mess?

McIver: They had their own mess. Uh...when we... when we loaded our ship with 3,000 troops soon as... before we left the docks the uh...the army was in control of all these troops and where they were going to stay aboard ship and so on. But when we... when we left the dock the captain of the ship decided where everybody was going to be. And so uhm...uh...uh...the officer, the ship's officers of course had their own mess and uh...the ship's crew had their own mess. The army officers had their own mess and the army troops had their own mess. And we had the ship loaded with troops so we only served them two meals a day and know about that uh...I think uh...breakfast started at maybe 5:30 in the morning for four hours and then at 3:00 in the afternoon for four hours and usually the enlisted men had to stand up to eat on the ship. But the ship's crew now they could... they were seated and the officers of the ship of course had a luxurious mess hall with Filipinos waiting on... on us and we can see some of the... some of uh...enlisted men uh...from the army looking in through our porthole watching us eat uh...on beautifully appointed tables with tablecloths and china and these people... and I'm sure that gave them some pause. But you have to remember the ship was our home and so we had uh...we had several advantages.

Zarbock: Was there any time when any uhm...fights or some uh...moments of anguish, difficulty while hauling the troops?

McIver: While the ship... no, we... we never did have much uh...uh...problems with uh...with fights in our midst. There wasn't much room, of course, on the ship to move about and I think that sort of segregated them.

Zarbock: So, military discipline.

McIver: Yeah, the military discipline was pretty much at rule and there were no really uh...serious fights or anything like that.

Zarbock: What were... what were your duties uh...during the time that you were hauling... hauling troops? You had... you had worship service.

McIver: Yes.

Zarbock: And what other obligations came your way?

McIver: Oh, well I had uh...I was responsible of course for divine worship and I was responsible also for seeing that uh...there was special prayer groups for the Roman Catholic troops and also uh...I had an opportunity to minister with the Jewish people who were aboard, so there... I had Protestant divine worship and then I did not serve Communion to the Roman Catholics but I did have prayers with them and, of course, I did also have Old Testament lessons uh...and prayers uh...with the... with the uh...with the Jewish uh...troops but that was my primary responsibility to lead divine worship. And the Bureau of Naval Personnel and its... and its uh...uh...requirements uh...of the captain of the ship, the captain is responsible for seeing to it that divine worship is uh...offered and if there's no chaplain aboard the captain does that or the executive officer or one of the other officers leads... leads a worship service. There's always divine worship aboard the ship and he has his own book that he can use to follow when this chaplain is not aboard. And, of course, uh...on destroyers and some of the smaller ships there are uh...there are no assigned chaplains aboard those ships and they only get uh...have uh...communion when they come ashore and then a chaplain would be assigned to several destroyers administer uh...the sacraments to them.

Zarbock: Pastor, what would you do for music?

McIver: What would I do for music?

Zarbock: Yes.

McIver: Well we had a musician aboard assigned to me and we had a portable organ that was a neat uh...piece of equipment and uh...I had a yeoman and a... a musician uh...that was assigned for the services and we sang hymns and this was one of the great parts of our worship singing some of the great hymns of the Church, some of the gospel hymns. They really enjoyed... enjoyed that. I also had Bible study for... for them. It was volunteer for them to come. I had some especially for the Jewish troops as well as uh...for our own crew. a... as a morale officer was my responsibility to uh...I felt it was my responsibility to get to know as many of them by name and to hear their... hear them share with me some about their family that they had left behind and to give them support and encouragement. Some of them were already with marital difficulties and would share those things with me and we would map out strategy of what they might do when they go back and connect again with their spouses. Uhm...the army had its own recreational people aboard so I did not have any responsibility for the recreation. They had their own uh...own special officers to help in that... in that regard.

Zarbock: What...

McIver: I also was responsible for the library and uh...for the books and suggest certain books to read on... on a number of different subjects and that was always a very exciting thing to do because when they were off duty they had time to do a lot of reading aboard ship.

Zarbock: Would you uhm...would you feel comfortable in describing your life as a lot of things on your plate?

McIver: Uh...describe what there Paul?

Zarbock: Describe your life as having a lot of things on your plate?

McIver: Have a lot of things on my plate, yes. On the navy ship I would... I would certainly say... say that. I had uh...I had to be very careful, as I mentioned, about relationship to the executive officer and the captain. Uh...there was some tension between those two men and uh...and also uhm...some of the marines who were aboard that were responsible for the of the ship and the marine bodyguards uh...the Captain was pretty hard on some of those young men. Uh...the Captain of the ship I mentioned he is uh...the king of the ship when that... when you... when you uh...leave the dock. He had five people that were his personal servants. He always had a... a bodyguard standing at his door. When he left his cabin that bodyguard was, the Marine was right behind him. He had his own mess, his own cook. He had his own officer, a yeoman. He had his own orderly for cleaning his cabin and just for the Captain and they really... the Navy really takes care of their commanding officers.

And so, some of my uh...the things on my plate had to do with trying to keep uh...some sense of uhm...of uhm...of calmness there between the officers that were squabbling about little things that didn't make a lot of difference. So, I spent a good bit of time in counseling uh...the officers as well as... as members of the crew. And, as I also mentioned, the... the cooks and the uh...the gang was sort of a fraternity. Some of the times the people in the... topside didn't think they were getting as good a food as the cooks would give to the... to the black gang and it's interesting how uh...unhappy about the food uh...was a part of the thing. So you have to try to sort of level it out and keep a, an even keel and uh...and work through some of the frustrations and the hostilities that emerge. And living in such small quarters uh...there was a lot uh...a lot of uh...tension.

Zarbock: Yeah, that's one thing about a ship. You can't go home at night.

McIver: That's right you can't. That's exactly right. And uh...the duties are so strict uh...and the Navy, of course, uh...I guess more so than the army, I don't now about the Air Force but uh...that ship just has to be absolutely spotless clean and the captain comes and does his weekly inspection and so a lot of time on the ship it's keeping everything shipshape and clean. Getting ready for the captain's inspection.

Zarbock: How many trips did you take on... on the troop ship?

McIver: Well, we made three trips while I... I was aboard, one to uh...Shanghai, China and uh...two to Korea. We were in and out of those uh...places uh...bringing in uh...uh...bringing in uh...our troops. You see, Paul, I did my service uh...I was not aboard ship until October, '45 and VE Day had just uh...VJ Day had just taken place, so uh...we did not have uh...any uh...any uh...dangers in terms of war things. The only danger we had were floating mines in the... in the various harbors that we... we were in and uh...had to be very careful about those. That's the other thing. The men uh...on... on watch on the flying bridge had to be alert to spotting the uh...any floating mines and we destroyed a number of those. They were uh...they were many of them out there that the Russians had laid out as well as the Germans.

Zarbock: Of the three voyages were they... did they have more things in common or were they absolutely distinct from each other?

McIver: You, uh, you mean the crew?

Zarbock: Uh...anything, the crew, the morale, the uh...the attitude?

McIver: Well, yes I'll tell you always the attitude when we brought troops back, Paul, was uh...such a significant difference between the group of uh...troops that you're loading up to go for the first time. They were griping about everything on the ship, having to stand up and doing all of the... the things, no where... no where to go or nothing to keep them occupied. And coming back they were whistling all the time. They were happy. Nothing was wrong. This food is so good. And was uh...altogether different from the uh...uh...from the troops that were going over, so there was... always coming home was a lot easier than going... than going over.

One of the interesting things that I had though is we crossed the International Date Line on one occasion and in eight days I had two Sundays and had to have worship two days in a row but that was in order to stay with the calendar. But we still went back when we... when we uh...cross the dateline, it became Sunday again, we used the Sunday uh...log on the ship and the program was exactly the same as it it was the day before.

Zarbock: Let me take you back to the crew. Was the same captain on all three voyages?

McIver: Yeah, we were fortunate in keeping the same commanding officer and the same executive officer and that made it a lot easier uh...for me and for the crew and uh...not have to get used to... to another command. You sort of learn, you know, how to... to work... work with the captain and... and the executive officers uh...which are the two most important uh...people on the ship.

Zarbock: Did you have a... a private office where people could come to you?

McIver: Uh...yes, I did. I had a very... a very uh...excellent uh...officer's uh...quarters and I was so impressed myself when I was uh...taken to my uh...stateroom aboard... aboard ship. I had my own private room. Uh...I had own safe in my room. Uh...the end of the day I would put my shoes and dirty clothes out and the next morning shoes would be polished the... the ship's crew. They just took care of the officer's like that, almost too much so. I was embarrassed to... to have all of that care. Of course the captain, as I mentioned, had five people waiting on him but we had... we had pretty... pretty good life aboard ship.

Zarbock: How long did you spend in the Navy sir?

McIver: I was in the Navy almost two years from December of '44 to June of uh...about 18 months.

Zarbock: And you were crossing the Pacific on all three of these?

McIver: Yes, all those times I was in the Pacific that's right.

Zarbock: Where was your wife and...

McIver: Except... except I boarded the uh...the H.L. Scott in New York, as I mentioned, and we came through the Panama Canal to take the... the uh...Chinese troops back to uh...back to China and then the rest of the time was in the Pacific.

Zarbock: I guess I'll never forget you telling me about picking up Chinese troops in New York.

McIver: Right.

Zarbock: And taking them to China.

McIver: And, you know, the other thing that you'll remember, you don't ever want to be on a ship with uh...with 2,500 uh...Chinese troops because there was so much garlic on that ship. That ship smelled like garlic for about three weeks after we had had them disembark. The Chinese do eat a lot of garlic.

The other thing I want to mention though is how careful the supply officer on the ship is to be sure that everything is put together and in good order and uh...not only the food and the ice cream that we had aboard and all that sort of thing but we even had Santa Claus suits that were put aboard for... for Christmas and Christmas trees and Christmas decorations. Uh...we had uh...Christmas aboard ship and uh...the Christmas of 1945 and uh...that was such a... a pleasure for the men to... to have the Christmas tree decorated and to sort of help them uh...uh...make them feel more like they were at home.

Zarbock: And you had a special Christmas service I assume?

McIver: Oh, yes, had special Christmas service, sang the carols and also. And one of our real stout petty officers put on the Santa Claus suit and we had the stockings and the candy. Now supply officers had put all that together and uh...and had not... not... they didn't forget anything. They made life so much more enjoyable for the troops.

Zarbock: Chaplain, I'm going to ask you something I've asked all other interviewees. Here it comes. Were you ever ordered or was it ever suggested or was there any reference made to you that would violate your ethic or your morality? Did any command officer ever say do this and you thought it was wrong?

McIver: No, Paul. One of the things that impressed me so about the uh...about the uh...the uh...organization of the... of the Navy and the way things are done on ship the chaplain has his uh...has his responsibilities and they understand that. The commanding officers understand it and there's never any attempt to curtail the captain or the chaplain's uh...responsibilities as a morale officer, as a person to provide pastoral care for his people. And when you speak to the commanding officer about the deeds of some of the men they are open to that and's just been a joy. I've never had any... any uh...reprimand or any difficulty with commanding officers to curtail my responsibility as a chaplain.

Zarbock: No other chaplain, no other chaplain has ever said "I was interfered with at all." Now some have said some of the... in other branches have said, "Well, there would be a commanding officer who was indifferent."

McIver: Right.

Zarbock: To uhm...uh...spiritual life or religious life but they weren't hostile. It was like "Well go do"...

McIver: That's right.

Zarbock: "Go do your job and I'm going to go do mine."

McIver: And our commanding officer I don't know really how deeply committed he was to the church or to his own faith but I can tell you that he was... he was there... he was the last one to come uh...into the service, as I mentioned, but he was there every Sunday and that made it tremendously more uh...made it much easier for me to do my work because I had his cooperation.

Zarbock: The person on top sets the tone.

McIver: That's right and the second day, the third day I was aboard ship uh...I had one of the greatest honors uh...that early on was to be invited to the captain's cabin to have... to have dinner with him and only the two of us and uh...that was a very impressive uh...time and I... I quickly learned that he was going to cooperate with me and he expected me to do my duty but he wanted to know... he wanted me to know that I had his support. But having learned what I learned in chaplain school I very quickly the next day made an appointment with the executive officer to go tell him what happened when I was with the captain that night. But I had such a good relationship with the uh...with the executive officer. It was joy to work with him.

Zarbock: What was most difficult, difficult thing about uh...your chaplaincy, the period when you were a chaplain? What was... what was the hardest thing on you either personally or as you look back on... on it sort of perhaps with sorrow?

McIver: Well, I'll tell you, Paul, the thing that uh...quickly comes to my mind was the uh...irresponsibility of some of the uh...officers toward the crew and toward the enlisted men uh...especially these officers that were so immature and emotionally immature would be very, very, very, very hard uh...on uh...on some crewmembers and I would see this and hear it. And I did not hesitate, not before the crew but uh...but to bring the officer off to one side to tell him what I heard and to uh...and to ask him, you know, not to do that, not to... not to swear at any more of the troops. That's really forbidden anyway. Oh, and one time I said to the... to the uh...lieutenant who was doing this that I would... I would have him put on report uh...because a chaplain of that ship I was not... I was not... I could not tolerate that. So, I guess that was one of the most difficult things, that and some of the tensions that were between the captain and the executive officer that we worked through.

Zarbock: What was the origin of that tension?

McIver: Well, I think uh...I think the uh...our captain uh...thought the executive officer maybe was trying to pick up some of his responsibilities as captain and making some decisions that ought to be cleared with the captain and the poor... the poor executive officer was very intimidated by this and it... it made it really hard for him to do his work uh...I'm not sure what kind of report the uh...the captain, you know, gave to that exec but in some ways I blame the captain for that because he was a very stern, hard uh...very uh...opinionated and uh...and uh...hard person in some ways. But those two... those two things were the things that I think were probably the most difficult for me.

Zarbock: Where did you go for emotional support?

McIver: You know we didn't have uhm...uh...any really place to go and I think that's one of the uh...the things that the present Chaplain's Organization have set up, you know. didn't see many other chaplains. Uh...many people were saying "Did you know chaplain so and so" to me and I would say "Well, no, I didn't... I only saw three or four chaplains the whole time I was in the Navy because they were scattered out and in all the other places." And I suppose what we had to draw on that was the uh...uh...what we had learned in... in seminary and our own personal commitment to our faith to have our private time and to uh...have our uh...have our own devotionals uh...which... which supported and sustained me.

Uh...I was like, kind of like uhm...Martin Luther uh...the great Lutheran uh...reformer. Uh...Martin Luther said one time that he couldn't possibly do everything he had to do in a 24-hour period unless he spent two hours in prayer and meditation each day. Well I don't spend that much time in prayer and meditation each day but that's always been important part of... of my uh...ministering life to have uh...special quiet time and prayer time.

Zarbock: See, new, new in this project I suddenly am more and more aware that the chaplain frequently had no chaplain to serve him.

McIver: Right. That's correct.

Zarbock: Or her now.

McIver: No, that's correct. You didn't... you didn't get any pastoral care from other people.

Zarbock: I... I uh...

McIver: You got a little bit of that as you formed deep friendships aboard.

Zarbock: Yeah, yeah.

McIver: I was a good friend of the doctor and the dentist aboard our ship fortunately and we had some very close relationships but you don't really have anywhere to get pastoral prayer uh...pastoral care.

Zarbock: I was... I interviewed a Navy chaplain who was assigned to the Marines.

McIver: Right.

Zarbock: And he said several of the invasions they would bury over 200 young Marines a day.

McIver: Right.

Zarbock: And he said he would go back to his tent and just simply look at... at the canvas. Uh...with all of the feelings that would go with a funeral, here are 200 young men.

McIver: Right.

Zarbock: That had been blown to bits and... and...

McIver: Well, I'll tell you it... as you hear deeply the frustrations and uh...and stress uh...from situations that people share with you it does diminish your level.

Zarbock: Yeah, who protects the chaplain?

McIver: (interrupts) So you do have to have uh...some time apart and I tried to guard that aboard.

Zarbock: Good.

McIver: Let me tell you another one... another amusing experience that took place uh...with me. The other thing about the chaplain is that he served communion of course and we served wine and we had our... the supply officer always see to it that we had enough wine aboard. Well we were in... made our trip to Shanghai, some of the uh...Army officers from another ship came aboard uh...they didn't... one of the smallest ships uh...that they were on and uh...they wanted to buy some of my wine from me and I said "You better not let me know your name man. My wine's not for sale and so don't think you're going to con this chaplain into taking my wine supply. I need it for communion." That was one of the amusing things that happened to me.

Zarbock: But, pastor, you've never lost your sense of humor have you?

McIver: I did not. That was one of the... one of the blessings that uh...that the Lord has given me that I... I'm able to see the light side and... and best of all to laugh at myself and that has uh...enabled me to... to manage uh...because uh...laughter and amusement is one of the best of the best morale builders you can have.

Zarbock: Yes. have children?

McIver: Yes, we do have children. I have two children. I have a son who is a Presbyterian minister serving uh...Oak Hills Parish and Church in San Antonio. He has three daughters and uh...I have a daughter uh...who lives in Richmond, Virginia. She's with the General Electric people and uh...she has two children.

Zarbock: So you have five grandchildren?

McIver: I have five grandchildren that's right.

Zarbock: All right, pastor, I'm going to... I should have mentioned this before the tape. Because of this technology you will never be a day older than you are today.

McIver: All right.

Zarbock: You know this will always maintain you at this age.

McIver: All right.

Zarbock: I... I uhm...often think about president, sometimes think about President Kennedy and I think of him as being a man of 40. Well he'd be... he'd be in his late 70s or he'd be in his 80s by now.

McIver: Right.

Zarbock: But you won't... because of the videotape this is the age you will be, so would you look right into the... into the camera and address your grandchildren and in a... and tell them what have you learned from all of the life experiences that you've had that you wish them to know?

McIver: For my own family?

Zarbock: Yes.

McIver: For my own family. (pauses) Well, I will be uh...86 years of age on September the 2nd uh...of this year and I look into the camera I'm remembering uh...the uh...the blessings the Lord has given me and uh...two wonderful children and five grandchildren and I'm... I'm grateful for the uh...the longevity of life but most of all for the privilege I've had to know the Lord and to be be uh...called to... to serve him and I... I would hope uh...that the thing that I'm remembering now that impresses me so much is uh...the promise that he's given us uh...when we reach our dying day, our death date the Lord has promised us that his house has a room for each one of us. And I'm remembering what Jesus said to his disciples uh..."Let not your heart be troubled. Ye who believe in God believe also in me. In my father's house are many rooms" uh...and there's a room for each one of us. And at this point of my life I'm grateful for the promise of resurrection and look forward to the time when we will all be united in His heavenly place. Thanks be to God for resurrection.

Zarbock: Chaplain, in conclusion, I don't... I have no idea what sort of lawyer you would have made but I think you've been one wonderful chaplain.

McIver: Thank you, Paul.

Zarbock: May the Lord be with you.

McIver: 'ppreciate that.

#### End of Tape ####

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