Carrol D. Madsen
U.S. Navy — Radio Operator 3rd Class
LCI 788, LST 628
World War II (January 1944 – January 1946)
Carrol D. Madsen, born on March 24, 1918, spent the beginning of his life on a farm in West Concord Minnesota. His teacher lived with Madsen’s family and would take him and his brother to school in wagon pulled by horses. Once they got to the school, which only had six students from the 1st to the 8th grade, she turned the horses around and they would go home by themselves. He lived there with no running water and no electricity for 6 years. Madsen then moved to Sausalito, California where his father abandoned his farming career to become a police for the Golden Gate Ferry. Madsen went through South School, the Central School, and eventually went to Tamalpias High School where he played varsity lightweight football for two years, varsity baseball for three years, and was the student body president. He also met his future wife in high school. With 40 dollars between them the high school sweethearts got married in 1940 and had a son one year later.
After graduating he realized that a higher education wasn’t the right thing to do at this time, so Madsen and his friend went into San Francisco to see if they could get a job. Madsen worked at the PG&E on Market Street, making $42.50 a month. By the end of his two years there, he got up to $100.00 a month. He got an offer to go back to Sausalito and work for the Building Alone Association, and after a lot of thought, he did.
When the United States got involved in World War 2 in 1941, Madsen was given a 1 month notice to move out of his home in Pine Point, Sausalito because they were going to make it a shipyard. At that time it was the Great Depression and Madsen wasn’t making much money. He said, “It wasn’t like today. Today everybody gets payed for everything,” So with the encouragement from his boss, he left the building he was working in to work at the shipyard. For the first week on the shipyard, he labored, for the second and thirds weeks, he drove trucks, and by the end of his first month, Madsen was running the biggest cranes at the shipyard.
After working for a few years on the shipyard, in 1944, Madsen felt that it was his duty to go into the service. Madsen had 4 greats who served in the American Revolution and his grandfather served in the Civil War. With quite the family history in the military, Madsen and his brother both joined the military and fought during World War 2. He thought he would go into the Navy and work in a navy shipyard. But as he says he got “fooled” and found himself aboard a Landing Craft Infantry ship, an ocean away from his wife and 3 year old son. His son would eventually enter the military as well.
Before that, Madsen went to basic training in San Diego, and on to radio school. After graduating from radio school, he had two weeks in Shoemaker, California before being deployed overseas. He was assigned to be a radio operator on LCI 786. His ship went to Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Ulithi, the Philippine Islands, Okinawa, and just about every island out in the Pacific. They went around to every island with the idea in their minds that if they didn’t win, they were going to be in deep trouble, so everyone aboard worked well together. Madsen especially found motivation in doing his best, because if he didn’t, he wouldn’t be coming home. He had a deal with one of his many friends aboard the ship, that if one of them didn’t make it, the other would go tell their family in person.
He kept a journal and wrote in it just about every day while he was in the service. He wrote about what he did, how everyone was and on D-Day, while Madsen was in Okinawa, the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki in Japan. It is in his journal that everyone around him was very, very happy when they heard the news. He said, “If they hadn’t dropped the bomb, then I wouldn’t be sitting here today.”
Aboard the LCI 786, Madsen worked as a radio operator for just over a year. After the atomic bomb was dropped, Madsen was moved back to the Philippine Islands on LST 628, and was one of the first LSTs to go into Japan. From Japan Madsen was released and arrived home under the golden gate bridge on the 31st of December 1945.
Madsen thinks that people today, specifically young people need to be educated on what actually happened during World War 2, and what the soldiers, airmen, and marines like Madsen had to go through. People need to remember that, “We won the war. And if we hadn’t we wouldn’t be speaking English,” We need to remember all of the people who sacrificed so much to preserve our freedom, and our nation. He believes it would be a good thing for kids to experience and find out what it’s like to serve in the military. Overall, Madsen’s advice is to believe in our government, honor it, salute the flag, and if not, then we’re a lost cause.
Madsen took two months off of work upon his return home, then went to Hamilton Field to work in construction for a couple of years. Later, Madsen got into the contracting business and he and his friend started an excavation company, and got to be one of the biggest in Marin County. While his friend retired after 11 years, Madsen kept working and finally quit after 25 years.
As a founding member of the Marin Country Club, Carrol D. Madsen, at age 99, finally got a hole in one after having shot an 85 for the day and trying for more than 50 years. At 99 years old, he still works out at the gym once a week and maintains a very healthy lifestyle. Needless to say, Madsen has found the secret to longevity.
Interview Conducted by Cassidy Bruner on May 13, 2017