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Oral history interview with John N. Harbilas. Interview conducted by Jabez Coggan IV and Rafael Cruz at Westminster Towers, 70 W Lucerne Cir, Orlando, FL on November 9, 2018.


1:21 Talked about where he was born and when; 1:55 Talked about graduating high school; 2:10 Talked about his brother military career; 2:40 Talked about brother being his hero/John Starts military career; 3:00 Talks about his start of joining the Army Air Corp; 3:49 Stated when he was called into active duty; 4:07 Pilot/ Reclassification tail gunner; 4:45 Talked about volunteering for the Post band; 4:55 Reclassified again to go to B-29 mechanics school; 6:00 Talked about his friend/ reenlistments; 6:35 Orders to go to Germany as a Trombonist/ 686th Air Force Band; 7:00 Talked about his station in Germany/ Band duties explain; 8:24 Reenlistment no ended career after his first reenlistment; 9:31 Coming home; 9:45 Horticulture Degree/Florist Career; 11:05 Talked about Becoming a Teacher/ Getting Married; 11:48 Moving to Orlando/ Interviewing for First teaching job; 12:11 Talked about first teaching job; 12:45 Getting into School Administration; 13:19 Became assistant and then Principal of Robert E. Lee Middle School; 13:57 Become Principal at Several Elementary school in his career; 14:14 Retried School 1991 talked more about teaching career; 15:10 Talked more about his experience in Germany; 16:36 No combat but heard and talked about it; 17:05 Glenn Miller Music/ Talked about Glen Miller More; 17:52 Music Career; 19:13 Free time while on duty; 20:10 Type of food in Germany; 21:30 Military Service Shaping Teaching Career/ Be on Time; 23:48 His Kids; 30:30 Hobbies after military service golf; 32:27 Hobbies after military service clock repair; 34:15 More Hobbies; 34:58 Favorite Music; 36:33 Friends in contact after service; 37:59 Feel about his service; 39:40 His siblings; 40:57 His Parents; 49:44 Technology and grandkids; 52:28 Picture he brought explains what each one is; 56:32 Switzerland trip vs. his duty in Germany; 1:01:30 He Thanks us/ Closing statement.

Date of Birth


Place of Birth

Holoke (Mass.)




White - Non Hispanic

Home State


War or Conflict

World War II



Begin/End date of Service - 1st



Entrance into Service


Branch of Service

U.S. Air Force

Unit of Service

686th Air Force band

Location of Service

Wiesbaden (Germany)

Highest Rank

Private First Class; PFC

Prisoner of War


Service Related Injury







See interview for details.


Post military band, replacement of Glenn Miller Members from England.

City of Birth


Country of Birth

United States


Coggan, Jabez; Cruz, Rafael

Interview Date

Fall 1-8-2019

Location of Interview

Westminster Towers, Orlando, Florida


Harbilas, John N.; World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal Narratives; United States. Air Force

Collection Description

Contains logs, audio and video recordings of interviews with Central Florida's veterans as part of a history class project for the students at the University of Central Florida (UCF). The UCF Community Veterans History Project(CVHP) started in fall 2010. It collects, preserves, and makes accessible to the public the experiences of Central Florida's veterans so that future generations will better understand the realities of conflict. It is a collaborative endeavor supported by multiple departments and offices at UCF. The veterans' histories are archived and made digitally available through the UCF library and selected materials are contributed to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.

Contributor Affiliation / Organization

RICHES University of Central Florida


Coggan, Jabez; Cruz, Rafael

Length of Interview

63 Minutes


Department of History, University of Central Florida


Video; MovingImage


All rights are held by the respective holding institution. This material is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. For permission to reproduce and/or for copyright information contact Special Collections and University Archives, University of Central Florida Libraries, (407) 823-2576. http://library.ucf.edu/about/departments/special-collections-university-archives/


University of Central Florida Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives

Contributing Project

UCF Community Veterans History Project

Document Type