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John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
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“Wouldn't you like to be assigned to Yank? We're just putting this together as an army publication.” I turned him down.

I said “To tell you the truth, I really want to be in the combat side of this; I don't want to be in the public relations side in any sense.” I thought -- erroneously as it turned out -- that Yank was sort of the easy way out and that it wasn't the kind of thing I wanted to do.

From Benning, I was assigned to a training battalion in Arkansas and then eventually put into the intelligence end with the Office of Strategic Services [OSS] --


Yeah. There's some mention of that.


-- after another year or two. And that's when I had my two years overseas experience. Although I did get, in my overseas experience in OSS, into a little bit of really active combat involving shooting at close quarters and so forth, which was what I really wanted. I guess that if I'd accepted the newspaper press assignment that I turned down, I might have had an even more active war, but I didn't know that at the time. At the time, it seemed to me it would be a job I just didn't want to take; I didn't want to be working during the war behind a desk if I could possibly avoid it. I was of course wrong about the desk: many newspaper men in the Army ended up right in the front lines. But that only developed much later.

So in the war I did successfully avoid newspaper or public relations work. I didn't even want to go into OSS because I thought that sounded too esoteric. I really wanted to be in

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