Robert C. Daniels

Author / Adjunct History Professor


Interview conducted as part of research for the writing of World War II in Mid-America

Howard Boyle  © Copyright 2005

Interview by Robert C. Daniels

Dan Boyle was interviewed at the Union-Congregational Church in Waupun at 9:00 A.M. on 2 December 2005.  The interview lasted 19.25 minutes.  Unlike the other interviews, Dan’s interview was related to his father, Howard Boyle, who had served in the U.S. Navy during the war and had passed away on 14 October 1991.


What is your full name?  Daniel Moore Boyle.

Moore?  Moore, two O’s.

With an E on the end of it?  Yes.

B O Y L E.  Yeah.

Okay, now this interview is basically about your father.  Can I interview you first?  Sure, sure.

Where were you born?  Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In a house or in a hospital?  In a hospital.

Okay, and when were you born?  Five, fifteen, fifty-five (15 May 1955).   By the way, my dad’s PT boat was five, five, five (555) (he laughs).

Who were your parents?  Howard Boyle Jr. and Elizabeth Anne Jagdfeld.

And how do you spell her last name?  J A G D F E L D, I believe.

J A D E…  J A G D F E L D.

Okay.  Do you have any brothers or sisters?  Yeah, there’s eleven of us altogether, Irish-Catholic.

Wow, so you had thirteen in the family?  Yeah, including the folks, yeah.

Where did you go to school?  I went to Catholic parochial, public high school, I graduated from UW Oshkosh with an English degree.

And where did you go to high school at, where did you graduate from high school?  From Beaver Dam High School, 1973.

When did you graduate from college?  In 1980.

Did you serve in the military?  No.

Did any of your brothers or sisters?  No.

Okay, let’s cover your dad then.  Okay.

His name is Howard H. Boyle, Jr.?  Yes.

Where was he born and when?  In Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, in 1923, July 2nd.  I’m sorry, July 21st.  I’m sorry, I meant 1921.

July 21st.  No, it’s July 2nd, 1921.  I’m sorry about that.

It’s Okay, I have a hard time remembering when my birthday is, much less my father’s.

What was his parent’s name?  John T. Boyle.  No, no, I am sorry, that was his grandfather.  His parent’s name was Howard H. Boyle.  His father was John Boyle.  They had a big Midwest phone company—the biggest in the Midwest—that John Boyle and Henry Boyle started.  So my dad was second generation, sort of wealthy, you know.  But his dad got a…, for a birthday present he got $100,000 and a brand new house, to give you an idea what kinda….  So they were well to do back then.  So his education…, they were able to afford to send him back east for a good education.

And his mother’s name was?  Winfred Sullivan.

Did she come from around here?  I really don’t know where she’s from.  All I know is that she was a college graduate.  You know, it was kinda rare for back then. 

So I imagine the Depression didn’t hit them too hard then?  No, because, you know, they were flourishing during that.  But my dad’s father lost all his wealth.  He got ripped off by an investor, so his wealth was gone through, you know, in the process of his life.

But they, he grew up in Fond du Lac?  He grew up in Fond du Lac.  He got married, we lived in Milwaukee, and then we moved to Beaver Dam.

You said your father to…, I imagine he graduated from Fond du Lac High School, or a high school in Fond du Lac.  Yes.

Do you know the year by chance?  Let’s see.  All I could do is the math.  From ‘21…, it was usually eighteen so I would have to say ‘39.

Then he went to college.  And where did he go to college?  He went to college at Holy Cross and graduated from there.  I got a school book from there.  From there he went to midshipman school in Columbia, New York.  From there he graduated as an ensign (looks at his notes) and then he was sent to Melville, Rhode Island—PT Boat School.  And the two choices back then were submarine or PT boat, those were the highest schools you could get in.  And submarine was number one and PT boat was number two.  But that’s my recollection of his description of that, and his choice.

Do you know when he went into the midshipman’s course?  The material I have here, you can determine it if you analyze it.  But not off hand, I don’t know that.

Okay.  Do you know why he went in?  Well, we were at war, and so he enlisted.  But he went to officer school.  You know, wanted to fight for the country.  Oh, he was a good swimmer.  He had a cottage at the lake, so he liked water sports and stuff.

What was his rank?  Lieutenant.  What’s higher than a lieutenant?

Lieutenant commander.  Yeah, he was a commander of the PT boat, a fleet, a squadron.

Did he retire from the military?  Yes.  Right after the war he went on to teach college, and then he went to law school, became a lawyer.

Could you give us a rundown of what he did in the military, in the Navy during the war?  I don’t really…, let’s see…, I’ll give you just a rough idea of what I know, which isn’t very detailed. 

His first commission he was a captain of the PT boat, he was only a captain, I think, at that time.  And he was sent to Africa, the Mediterranean, and the South Pacific, was his first tour.  And then his second tour was off the coast of France around Corsica.  

He had to go in to see a port, if they could get in, have access to a port.  But it was mined.  So his mission was to go in there and find a path trying to clear the mines.  And his boat subsequently got blown up by a mine during that process. 

And then from there he was…, he led a squadron of PT boats down to Florida for the film They Were Expendable, and so he was there for full time.  To this day when we watch that movie, “Those are my arms,” you know (he motions driving a boat with his hands and arms), when you see the guys steering the boats through the bombs blowing up.

So they filmed that movie in Florida?  Yeah, that was in Florida that it was filmed.  And I have the script of that movie with me, so. 

And then from there he was sent back to the South Pacific, and, you know, the details are sketchy from here.  I don’t believe he saw more action, and then the war ended and he subsequently….

When he went back to the South Pacific was he with PT boats again?  Yes, because that was his only mission in the Navy.  As far as I know, you know, because I don’t have hard core fact of his naval record. 

After the war, what did he do?  Ah, this is kinda sketchy too.  My mother is eighty-two, so, you know, it’s not really easy to get information.  But I am pretty sure this is how it went.  They were married…, she lived up in Minnesota at the time, although she was from Fond du Lac.  They grew up like two blocks away from each other.  And…, but he went to Minnesota, he taught college there for a couple of years.  Then he came down to Marquette ((University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin), went to law school, taught and went to law school at the same time, and started having kids.  Became a lawyer down there with Brooke-Tibbs. 

We moved to Beaver Dam in 1963, and then he ran for office a few times.  He ran for senator, attorney general, supreme court justice.  Let’s see…, court of appeals, and lastly ran for a circuit court in Dodge County.  And most of his elections were very close.  One he got 49.5 percent of the votes.  But he was never elected.

He never gave up, though?  No, he didn’t (he laughs).  And he authored a few books, too:  police manuals; arrest, search, and seizure; and Wisconsin safe place law.  

He and your mother had 11 kids?  Yes.

When was the oldest one born?  I believe it was ‘48, they married in ‘46.  And, let’s see, when was the last one?  She’s like thirty-eight or thirty-nine, I believe she was born in ‘66, was the last one.

And you are in the middle some place?  Yes, I am ‘55.  I am pretty much in the middle.

I take it he passed on?  Yeah, he passed away.  Let’s see, October 14th, 1991.

What do you do for a living?  I am a concrete contractor.  I’ve been in business in Beaver Dam for about twenty-two years now.  Went to school, tried to get into law school.  My grades were not quite good enough.  Paid my way through college by working concrete.  And so I just went into business myself.

What do your brothers and sisters do?  Are they in the area or are they scattered?  Most of them are pretty much in the area now.  My oldest sister worked for the government on computers.  She’s retired now.  The next one, Peter, he was…, he’s dead now, he died in ‘89.  He had cluster headaches.  But what he was successful in was he was a glass blower.  And then he turned his glass blowing to sugar blowing, which was a medium that you could do everything like you could do with glass.  You could cover it, flavor it, make sculptures.  And so he was on television.  He’s written a book…, Good Morning America…, just kind of show how you blow gla…, blow sugar.  And then you can eat it when you are done, you know.  It’s a big hit in the culinary field now.  But he pretty much broke the ice on that. 

But my other brother, Timmy, he works for International Paper Company.  He runs a paper company in Fond du Lac. Michael works up in Appleton in a printing factory.  I am next.  My sister Katie lives up in Eagle River (Wisconsin).  She’s single right now.  But they had two kids, or three kids, I am sorry.  Molly lives is Minnesota right now, she’s single, battling cancer.  Meagan is a charge nurse in Fond du Lac.  

Let’s see, who is next?  Mora is down in Moline (Illinois), she’s a flight attendant for American, and she’s got one child.  And the youngest, Bridget, just graduated from nursing college.  She’s been married to a lawyer and really didn’t have to, but in the last five years she just went to school methodically and deliberately, got her nursing degree, and now she is a part time nurse.

Wow, quite a family!  Yeah

Is there anything else?  I am sorry…  Yeah, I was just gonna try to say there’s an address I got here of a fellow hero.  Like my dad…, when the boat got blown up two of them jumped out into the ocean to save one of them, him and this Carmine Gullo. 

And I got another story, there are two stories, one you haven’t written…, one you haven’t read.  The first was written at to his officers.  And the second, this other story, was written to his parents.  So there’s more of personal effect in this other one.  But in the other one he explains how he jumped into the water to save a guy, he and another guy, and that they were battling a current that seemed unattainable to get back to the ship.  And he said just through some force of nature he was able to overcome the distance, and, you know, he made it sound quite heroic.  But adrenaline or something kicked in and they were able to make it back.  His son was—who was Tom Gullo’s—my sister Suzy’s been communicating with, and she gets the information, his side of the war.  But they were always buddies because, you know, they went through that together.  Like, well, I guess you read it in that report, you know, they had to bucket off water to keep the boat floated up all night, so it was….  Here’s a living guy that might be able to tell you more, so I got his email, his computer address here.  

Oh, and then, one other story I wanted to tell you was when he was in Columbia going to midshipman school, he came home, or he came back to a hotel one night, he must be living in a hotel, and the doorman, he asked the doorman, it’s like six (o’clock) in the morning, and he asked where the closest Catholic Church was because it was Saturday night, he had to go.  He was a pretty faithful Catholic.  And the doorman shook his head.  He said, “Mister, I have been asked every question in the world.  Where is the track, where is the bars, where is the whore house?  But I‘ve never been asked where is the nearest Catholic Church.”  But…, and throughout his whole life like he went to church just about every day, you know, throughout his whole life.  But he was always a deliberate religious guy.  But those were the two special stories that I had to tell you.

His heritage is Irish?  Yes.

And his wife was Irish also?  Oh, yeah, yup.  When I was…, when I graduated from college I had some extra money so I went over to Ireland, hitch-hiked through like for three weeks.  He was real happy and interested to hear about the whole ordeal.

Is there anything else you can think of?  No, other than just showing you stuff, seeing what you can see that, you know, you can benefit from.


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