Forrest J. Robinson

Forrest J. Robinson
Born: September 7, 1922 Died: March 1, 2012
Pastor to Madelyn (née Payne) Dunham’s parents, Rolla and Leona Payne

Forrest J. Robinson Interview

Interview ID: 05
Recorded: June 9, 2010
Location: In his home, Winfield, Kansas
Videographer: Steve Cless
Interviewer: Teresa Baumgartner

Interview Summary

Forrest J. Robinson was the pastor to Madelyn’s parents later in their lives, after they had moved from Augusta to Winfield. Although this is a longer interview, Forrest’s memories and thoughts on his war experiences, those stories and his thoughts are well worth the time. If short on time, a good place to start would be about 37 minutes into the interview. Following the interview, we ate lunch with Forrest in downtown Winfield, after which he went to the cemetery with us to see the Paynes’ burial sites and headstones.

Run Time: 1:25:06

Transcript/Finding Aid:

Finding Aid Notes

00.00-00. Camera, sound adjustments
00.05-10.24 Personal information: Forrest talks about childhood in Winfield, his entrance into the army in 1943, and his family.
10.25-19.30 Various occupations through life: Forrest had a gift and jewelry store, worked for Boeing, in the ministry, and in state government. He served as interim president of Southwestern College, and retired to Winfield, where he was born.
19.31-27.29 Life philosophy, family and family history: Forrest has been surprised by the variety in his life. He remembers being inventive as a boy; he has enjoyed carpentry, writing, poetry, and music. He talks about children, grandchildren and their accomplishments, and about his mother’s family and ancestry going back to founding of Maryland and the Mayflower.
27.30-37.49 About places: Forrest discusses Winfield attributing the success of the city to great leadership and its location. He describes notable landmarks and leaders in the community. He also talks a little about his church at Johnson, a tiny town in western Kansas.
37.50-45.44 About World War II experiences: Forrest served in the 104th infantry and fought at the Battle of the Bulge, crossed Remagen Bridge. He tells a compelling story his unit’s first view of a Concentration Camp. After sixty plus years, he began to speak about his experiences because of a recent tendency among some to minimize the holocaust.
45.45-50.41 Story from presentation at Raleigh, North Carolina: Forrest tells about a speaking engagement, and a Japanese audience member who asked forgiveness for Pearl Harbor. He describes his response and how the experience led him to an idea for a forgiveness pact between Japan and United States. He says too many of us think “the solution to human problems is ‘bang-bang-bang-bang’.” No, he says, “The solution is forgiveness and love.”
50.42-57.19 Story about taking a prisoner and “trading weapons”: Forrest received the surrender of 12 German soldiers who came out of woods. In processing the prisoners, he took a Smith & Wesson from a German officer whose father had taken it from an American soldier in World War I. Says Forrest, “We don’t solve international problems with war. We just end up trading weapons.”
57.20-59.09 Question about quandary of coming to realization of futility of war while still in armed services: Slight break and end of thought missing (possibly end of recording and change).
59.13-1.05.48 About the Paynes, Madelyn’s parents: Rolla and Leona Payne, Madelyn’s parents, were already in Winfield when Forrest came to serve the church in 1964. He remembers where the Paynes sat in church. Both were in poor health and he visited them in their home. When Leona died, he was unable to conduct her funeral, and he had transferred to a church in Wichita in 1968 before Rolla died. He also remembers which house they lived in.
1.06.03-1.14.20 One more war story and a moment of redemption: Forrest tells about the “mopping up” work after the war ended in Europe, and how amid the carillon music he happened to come weapon-to-weapon with a stray German soldier. He notes the outcome of their encounter as the moment he was healed/forgiven for the moment at the concentration camp when he cursed God. Forrest remembers coming home for training to invade Japan, and shares his thoughts on the destruction of the atomic bomb compared with the likelihood of the predicted 80 plus per cent mortality rate for invasion of Japan.
1.14-1.21.45 How Forrest would like to be remembered: As Forrest shares his final thoughts, he says of the dangers of military service, “You don’t do it to be heroic. You do it to be of service.”
1.21.46-1.24.25 After the interview there is brief footage of Forrest in profile, and of his grand piano.