Talking with Roger Boas
Q. What motivated you to write Battle Rattle?
A. Serving in World War II was the major event in my life. I wanted my family and family generations to come to know, through my eyes, about the awfulness of war.
Q. How did war change you?
A. I changed from being an ardent student of international affairs who viewed these affairs from afar, to being violently enraged at the Nazis while viewing them closely. My emotional stability was in good shape at the start of the war but was extremely unstable at war’s end due to PTSD.
Q. What was it like serving under the leadership of Army General George S. Patton?
A. He was inspiring, respected and worshipped by all who served under him. I had the honor and great fortune to encounter him a few times during the war and actually speak to him when he visited the hospital where I was recuperating from bronchitis.
Q. You speak of PTSD in your memoir. What were the challenges you faced in assimilating back into civilian life after your time at war?
A. Because of PTSD, I had lost the ability to focus and to make important life decisions. I had to re-learn how to perform these key activities and it took years.
Q. Over the course of your adult life, you returned to many of the cities and sites you visited as a forward observer in your tank battalion. What motivated you to take these trips?
A. I guess the war never totally left me. I needed to revisit some of the places that were etched in my memory. It was also important for me to come to terms with post-WWII Germany, which I did.
Q. One of the themes in your book concerns the great friendships you made during your training and subsequently in Europe. Why was it so important for you to visit the graves of some of your fallen comrades?
A. I have never been able to reconcile why I survived the war and so many others, including my friends, did not. I wanted to honor their memory, service, and sacrifice.
Q. What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment at this stage of your life? What are you most proud of?
A. Keeping the family’s finances safe and sound for our four great kids and six terrific grandchildren over the years. And proud, also, of ten years of productive work as San Francisco’s chief administrative officer.