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THE WORLD WAR II MEMOIRS OF JOHN VOLLINGER

 

PREFACE

 

IN THE WRITING OF THIS EPIC I HAVE USED WORDS THAT ARE NOT PART OF MY EVERYDAY VOCABULARY. THEY ARE HOWEVER, AN ATTEMPT TO ACCURATELY PORTRAY THE EVENTS AND EXPRESSIONS OF THE TIME. IT IS  NOT MY PURPOSE TO OFFEND ANYONE BUT TO NOT USE THEM OR CHANGE THEM WOULD NOT BE HISTORICALLY CORRECT AND BORDER ON HYPOCRISY. PLEASE BE TOLERANT OF AN OLD MARINE AND LET ME TELL IT “MY WAY”

 

 

WORLD WAR TWO -- PACIFIC INTERLUDE OR MY THIRTY SEVEN MONTHS AND TWO WEEKS ON AUTOMATIC PILOT
                                                                                                                      
 
ENLISTMENT:
SUMMER-1942-TWENTY ONE YEARS OLD, WORKING AT HAMILTON PROPELLER IN THE FINAL ASSEMBLY DEPARTMENT AND EARNING ABOUT SIXTY DOLLARS PER WEEK. POSSESSOR OF A 1942 CHEVY DELUXE TWO TONE COUPE WITH WHITE WALLS. NO COMMITMENTS. LIFE WAS JUST A BOWL OF CHERRIES. THE WAR WAS EIGHT MONTHS OLD AND  FINALLY, WITH THE DRAFT BOARD BREATHING DOWN MY NECK, I RELUCTANTLY KISSED THE GIRLS GOODBYE, (THAT IS EXCEPT FOR A LITTLE GIRL ON BLISS STREET WHO WAS PREOCCUPIED WITH A NEW LOVE AT THE TIME) AND ENLISTED AT SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS. THEY GAVE US A VERY STRICT PHYSICAL AND THEN SLIPPED A DRESS BLUE JACKET, WHICH WAS SPLIT IN THE BACK TO AVOID BUTTONING AND UNBUTTONING, TOGETHER WITH DRESS CAP,  TOOK OUR PICTURES TO SEND HOME TO MOM AND THE LOCAL PAPER. I’M SURE THIS WAS TO ENCOURAGE OTHER KIDS TO ENLIST.  WHY THE MARINES?   
 
SOON AFTER PEARL HARBOR, HOLLYWOOD MADE A RECRUITERS DREAM MOVIE  TITLED “FROM THE HALLS OF MONTEZUMA” WHEREIN THEY SHOWED ALL THE RECRUITS IN DRESS BLUES, SOME OF THEM TALKING BACK TO THE D.I. AND OF COURSE PLENTY OF GOOD LOOKING CHICKS HANGING AROUND THE DRILL FIELD. AND NONE OF THE FOUL LANGUAGE OR HUMILIATION. WELL HERMAN PARADISE AND BRUD KINGHORN HAD SUCCUMBED TO THE PROPAGANDA,  ENLISTED,  AND WERE ON GUADALCANAL, WITH THE FIRST MARINE DIVISION FIGHTING FOR THEIR LIVES, OUT NUMBERED AND, FOR THE FIRST FEW WEEKS, ABANDONED BY THE NAVY  AND WE KNEW THEY NEEDED OUR HELP.      
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
 

John Vollinger at Camp Elliot, November, 1942

SAID GOODBYE TO POP AND MY SISTERS RUTH AND IRENE, WHO HAD DRIVEN US UP TO SPRINGFIELD. “SEE YOU IN A FEW WEEKS”  WE SAID AS WE PARTED.  HOW WRONG WE WERE. IT WOULD BE THIRTY  FOUR MONTHS BEFORE I WOULD SEE THEM AGAIN.  LEFT FOR PARRIS ISLAND SEPT. 13, ACCOMPANIED BY JIMMY FALCONE, HEINY GOMPERS AND ERNIE NICKERSON. A VERY SLOW AND  MISERABLE TRAIN RIDE DOWN THROUGH THE SOUTHERN PINEY WOODS AND SWAMPS OF THE CAROLINAS  WHICH SEEMED TO TAKE FOREVER. WE WERE MET AT PORT ROYAL BY VERY HOSTILE DRILL INSTRUCTORS WHO WERE   SURPRISED THAT THE RECRUITERS WOULD ENLIST THE DREGS OF THE EARTH  SUCH AS WE. THEN HERDED LIKE CATTLE ONTO OPEN STAKE BODIED TRUCKS. SHOULDER TO SHOULDER VERY TIGHTLY FOR A TERRIFYING RIDE TO PARRIS ISLAND.  WHAT WE DID NOT REALIZE AT THE TIME WAS THAT WE WERE ABOUT TO UNDERGO A “RITE OF PASSAGE” WHICH WOULD TRANSFORM US FROM BOYS TO MEN.  EVERYONE OF US WOULD BE AFFECTED IN A DIFFERENT WAY BUT WE WOULD ALL GO THROUGH A CHANGE. AND IT WOULD, IN MOST CASES, BE FOR THE BETTER.  FOR ME, LIFE WOULD NO LONGER BE A “BOWL OF CHERRIES” AS I HAD WRITTEN EARLIER, BUT I WOULD BE BROUGHT INTO SOME OF THE HARSH REALITIES OF MILITARY LIFE.  THE DEPRIVATIONS WHICH WE WERE ABOUT TO UNDERGO WOULD HAVE A VERY BENEFICIAL EFFECT ON OUR OUTLOOK ON LIFE. 

 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

           

PARRIS ISLAND

WHEN THE TRUCK CAME INTO PARRIS ISLAND WE WERE GREETED TO THE SIGHT OF HUNDREDS OF PLATOONS OF MARINES IN GREEN FATIGUES, DOING CLOSE ORDER DRILL ON A HUGE FIELD OF SAND, WEARING PITH HELMETS AND WITH THEIR PONCHOS DRAPED THROUGH THEIR WEB BELT IN THE REAR SO THAT IT SLAPPED THEIR BEHINDS AND MADE THEM LOOK LIKE THE SAD SACKS THAT THEY WERE. MUFFLED CALLS OF "YOU'LL BE SORRY" AS THE TRUCK ROLLED BY. THE RHYTHMIC CHANT OF THE D.I. CALLING CADENCE REMINDED US OF THE TOBACCO AUCTIONEER ON THE "LUCKY STRIKE HIT PARADE" OUR PLATOON WAS # 742.

THE FIRST ITEMS OF BUSINESS WERE A VERY SEVERE HAIRCUT, ISSUING OF CLOTHING, AND SUPPLIES WHICH TO OUR AMAZEMENT INCLUDED A GALVANIZED BUCKET, SCRUB BRUSH, AND A CLOTHESLINE. WE WERE ALSO GIVEN A RUBBER STAMP WITH OUR NAME AND AN INK PAD WE HAD TO STAMP OUR NAME ON ALL OF OUR CLOTHING AND THIS HAD TO BE DONE IN A PRESCRIBED PLACE. WHEN WE HAD INSPECTION OF OUR GEAR IT WAS FOLDED SO AS TO SHOW OUR NAME. THIS METHOD DISCOURAGED PILFERING. THEN ENDLESS LINES. FOR SHOTS AND INTENSE PHYSICAL EXAMINATIONS, AFTER WE HAD DONNED OUR NEW GREEN FATIGUES, NEW BOONDOCKERS, AND PITH HELMETS TOGETHER WITH OUR SHAVEN HEADS, WE LOOKED PRETTY PITIFUL. THEN THERE WAS AN AWKWARD ATTEMPT TO FORM UP IN A PLATOON. AS THE D.I. ATTEMPTED TO CREATE SOME KIND OF ORDER IT ALWAYS ENDED IN A CLUMSY FIASCO. AND IT WAS, OF COURSE, ALWAYS OUR FAULT. WHAT WE DID NOT KNOW WAS THAT THINGS WERE GOING AS PLANNED. THE PLAN WAS TO HAVE US FEEL AS THOUGH WE COULD NOT DO ANY THING RIGHT, THAT WE LOOKED STUPID AND WERE STUPID, AND WOULD MOST PROBABLY NEVER BECOME MARINES.. LET ME PUT IN THE WORDS OF THE D.I. "YOU ARE NOT MARINES. YOU ARE STUPID FUCKING CLOWNS! YOU ARE THE DREGS." THESE ADMONITIONS WERE ISSUED TO US AS A GROUP AND ALSO SELECTIVELY TO INDIVIDUALS."HEY, YOU SHITHEAD, YOU SMILE AGAIN IN RANKS AND I'LL BOOT YOU SO FAR UP YOUR FUCKING ASS THAT YOU' LL HAVE TO UNBUTTON YOUR FUCKING COLLAR TO FART." OF COURSE SOME OF THESE OFF BEAT EXPRESSIONS WERE SO COMICAL THEY WOULD CAUSE YOU TO SMILE AND THE ENTIRE SCENARIO WOULD BEGIN ALL OVER AGAIN. THE FIRST WEEK WAS CONSTANT CRITICISM AND DISGUST WITH US. CONSTANT METEING OUT OF PUNISHMENT. BOTH INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE. "YOUR SO FUCKING STUPID YOU COULDN'T POUR PISS OUT OF A BOOT IF THE DIRECTIONS WAS WRITTEN ON THE HEEL" AT SOME POINT IN TIME THEY SHOWED GRUESOME MOVIES OF WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO YOU'RE GENITALS IF YOU CONSORTED WITH LADIES OF THE NIGHT. OR EVEN ONE OF THE GALS YOU LEFT BEHIND. AMONG THE FIRST ITEMS OF INFORMATION THAT THEY REVEALED TO US WAS THAT WE WOULD MOST PROBABLY BE IN COMBAT WITHIN SIX MONTHS AND EVEN MORE PROBABLY DEAD WITHIN A YEAR. WELL THAT WAS NOT WHAT WE HAD IN MIND WHEN WE HAD ENLISTED. WE KNEW ALL ABOUT WAR AND FIGHTING BECAUSE WE HARDLY EVER MISSED A GOOD HOLLYWOOD MOVIE ON THE SUBJECT AND WE KNEW THAT A GOOD SOLDIER ALWAYS CAME HOME TO THE BEAUTIFUL GIRL AND LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER. ALSO IF HE HAPPENED TO GET WOUNDED SOMEONE WOULD LIGHT A CIGARETTE AND PUT IT IN HIS MOUTH FOR HIM AND SOON THEREAFTER HE WOULD GET WELL. UNFORTUNATELY, FOR MOST OF THE FELLOWS IN THE PLATOON, THE FORMER SITUATION BECAME REALITY. SIX WEEKS OF INTENSIVE AND HUMILIATING TRAINING. UP BEFORE DAWN AND CLOSE ORDER DRILL WHICH WAS BETTER KNOWN A "ORGANIZED GRAB ASS" AND MEMORIZING NECESSARY THINGS LIKE YOUR SERIAL NUMBER YOUR RIFLE SERIAL NUMBER. GENERAL ORDERS, HOW TO TAKE YOUR RIFLE APART AND PUT IT BACK TOGETHER AND NOT HAVE ANY PARTS LEFT OVER. YOU ALSO HAD TO LEARN A NEW WAY OF TALKING. THE FLOOR WAS THE DECK, THE CEILING THE OVERHEAD AND YOU WENT UP OR DOWN BY WAY OF THE LADDER, KITCHEN WAS THE GALLEY, TOILET THE HEAD. WHEN YOU WANTED A BEER YOU WENT TO THE SLOPCHUTE. YOUR BED OR BUNK WAS YOUR SACK, AND YOU HAD TO ACT AS THOUGH THIS WAS THE WAY YOU ALWAYS HAD TALKED, WITH A VERY NONCHALANT ATTITUDE. ONE WAY OF DESCRIBING A MARINE WAS THAT HE IS A PERSON THAT LOOKS LIKE A SOLDIER, TALKS LIKE A SAILOR AND THINKS LIKE A PERSON OF THE ROYAL FAMILY. OUR BARRACKS WERE QUONSET HUTS, WHICH CONSISTED OF CORRUGATED AND GALVANIZED SHEET METAL IN A SEMICIRCLE OVERHEAD. THERE WERE ABOUT TWENTY PEOPLE TO A HUT. THE BUNKS WERE METAL AND DOUBLE DECKERS. LOCKER BOXES OR FOOT LOCKERS HELD YOUR "GEAR" WHICH HAD TO BE STORED IN THE LOCKERS IN A PRESCRIBED MANNER. AFTER WE LEFT PARRIS ISLAND WE LEARNED TO KEEP OUR GEAR IN A "SEA BAG" THIS WAS A HEAVY DUTY CANVAS BAG ABOUT THREE FEET HIGH AND ABOUT EIGHTEEN INCHES IN DIAMETER WHICH COULD THEN BE SECURED WITH A PADLOCK. MILITARY LIFE TAUGHT US HOW LITTLE ONE CAN GET ALONG WITH, AND WHAT EXTRAORDINARY SPIRITUAL AND MENTAL FREEDOM AND PEACE SUCH SIMPLIFICATION CAN BRING. THIS MENTAL TRANQUILLITY OR CLARITY DID NOT OCCUR UNTIL WE WERE IN THE PACIFIC. TOO MANY THINGS WERE HAPPENING TOO FAST FOR THIS TO OCCUR THE FIRST FEW MONTHS IN THE SERVICE. THE SHOWERS AND HEAD WERE AT THE END OF THE DOUBLE ROW OF HUTS. WE SOON LEARNED THAT ONE OF THE PUNISHMENTS FOR INFRACTIONS WAS TO BE MADE TO SCRUB THE "DECK" OF THE SHOWER OR "HEAD" WITH YOUR TOOTHBRUSH. ANOTHER FORM OF PUNISHMENT WAS "RIDING THE RANGE" THIS CONSISTED OF CLIMBING ON TOP OF THE VERY LARGE CAST IRON RANGES IN THE GALLEY AND CLEANING THE SURFACE WITH LARGE PADS OF STEEL WOOL. AS THESE WERE STILL VERY WARM FROM THE COOKING AND PARRIS ISLAND IS IN THE SOUTHERN PORTION OF SOUTH CAROLINA, RIDING RANGE WAS NOT A VERY DESIRABLE OPERATION. ONE OF THE ITEMS ISSUED TO US WAS A PITH HELMET TO PROTECT US FROM THE SUN. A LARGE METAL MARINE CORPS EMBLEM WAS FASTEN IN THE CENTER FRONT OF THIS HELMET UNFORTUNATELY, THE THREADED PORTION OF THIS PROTRUDED ON THE INSIDE OF THE HELMET. IF YOU DID NOT HAVE YOUR HELMET "SQUARED AWAY", THAT IS TO SAY PERFECTLY STRAIGHT FORE AND AFT, THE D.I. WOULD DO IT FOR YOU AND THEN SLAM IT DOWN OVER YOUR EARS, WHICH PROCESS OBSCURED YOUR VISION AND THE PROTRUDING METAL WOULD SCRATCH YOUR FOREHEAD AND CAUSE BLOOD TO RUN DOWN YOUR NOSE. GOD HELP YOU IF YOU DECIDED TO CORRECT WHAT HE HAD DONE TO THE HELMET, SAY TO IMPROVE YOUR VISION OR TO WIPE THE BLOOD FROM YOUR NOSE. EITHER OF THESE CORRECTIVE ACTIONS WOULD RESULT IN THE PROCESS BEING REPEATED ONLY WITH A LOT MORE VIGOR ON THE PART OF THE D.I. ONE OF THE KIDS IN THE PLATOON WAS A STREETWISE BROOKLYN SMART ALEC. HE DECIDED HE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS BULLYING AROUND BY THE D.I. AND HE WASN'T GOING TO TAKE ANY MORE OF THIS CRAP. HE SHUFFLED OUT VERY SLOWLY WHEN THE ORDER TO FALL IN WAS GIVEN. WELL WE ALL HELD OUR COLLECTIVE BREATH TO SEE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN. THE D.I. TOLD US TO STRAIGHTEN HIM OUT PRONTO OR WE WOULD ALL BE IN THE SOUP. WELL WE TRIED TALK AND WHEN THAT FAILED WE DRAGGED, PUSHED AND SHOVED, WHICH RESULTED IN SCUFFLES AND FISTS. WHEN THAT FAILED THE D.I. GAVE HIM FIVE DAYS BREAD AND WATER IN THE BRIG. THIS RESULTED IN HIS BEING REASSIGNED TO ANOTHER PLATOON. WHEN HE GOT OUT, HE CAUGHT UP TO US AT THE RIFLE RANGE AND TOOK THE TROUBLE TO LOOK US UP AND APOLOGIZE FOR HIS BEHAVIOR, ADMITTING THAT HE WAS WRONG AND SHAKING EACH OF US BY THE HAND. I HAVE NEVER SEEN SUCH A QUICK CHANGE OF ATTITUDE IN MY LIFE. WE WERE GIVEN THE MANUAL FOR NAVY REGULATIONS, WHICH WAS REFERRED TO A "ROCKS AND SHOALS" OR IN OTHER WORDS WHAT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU IF YOU "SCREWED UP". FROM "OFFICE HOURS", CAPTAINS MAST OR DECK COURTS MARTIAL, TO GENERAL COURTS MARTIAL, WHERE THE PUNISHMENT COULD RANGE FROM CONFINEMENT TO BARRACKS FOR THE FORMER TO BEING SHOT FOR THE LATTER. ONE OF THE DAILY RITUALS WAS FIELD DAY OUT ON THE DRILL GROUNDS, WHICH CONSISTED OF PICKING UP EVERY MINUTE PARTICLE WHICH DID NOT BELONG THERE. DISCARDED CIGARETTE BUTTS WERE "FIELD STRIPPED", THAT IS THE PAPER TORN OPEN THE TOBACCO DISPERSED AND THE PAPER ROLLED INTO A TINY BALL, ALMOST INCONSPICUOUS. WHEN HE WOULD LINE US UP TO PERFORM THIS TASK HE INFORMED US THAT ALL HE WANTED TO SEE WAS ASSHOLES AND ELBOWS. HIS WAY OF SAYING THAT WE WERE TO BE VERY DILIGENT IN OUR TASK. ALSO WHEN HE BLEW HIS WHISTLE FOR US TO FALL OUT HE INFORMED US THAT HE WANTED US TO RAISE A CLOUD OF DUST THE WOULD NOT SETTLE FOR FIVE MINUTES AND WHEN IT DID HE WANTED US TO BE LINED UP LIKE THREE ROWS OF CORN AND COVERED OFF LIKE TWO CATS HAVING INTERCOURSE, EXCEPT OF COURSE HE USED ANOTHER WORD WHICH WAS THE FAVORITE ADJECTIVE OF THE MARINE CORPS. THE OBJECT OF ALL THIS DEGRADATION WAS TO BEAT YOU DOWN TO A MISERABLE NOTHING, FEELING STUPID AND WORTHLESS AND THEN BRING YOU BACK SLOWLY OVER THE COURSE OF TIME TO THE STATUS OF "MARINE". THE AGES OLD CEREMONY OF DIEING AND BEING "BORN AGAIN". WE COULD NOT REALIZE IT AT THE TIME BUT THAT WAS WHAT IT WAS ABOUT. AT THE END OF OUR TENURE ON PARRIS ISLAND WE COULD PERFORM THE MOST INTRICATE CLOSE ORDER DRILL AND DO THE "MANUAL OF ARMS" SIMULTANEOUSLY . AS I MENTIONED BEFORE, THE CLOSE ORDER DRILL WAS ON A FIELD OF SAND WHERE IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT TO MARCH. WHEN THE D.I. WOULD MARCH US TO WHERE THE BAND WAS PRACTICING AND WE WOULD DO THIS DRILL ON THE PAVEMENT TO MARTIAL MUSIC WE REALLY BEGAN TO FEEL A LOT OF PRIDE. WE WERE SENT TO THE RIFLE RANGE AT NEW RIVER ON MY TWENTY SECOND BIRTHDAY. WHILE WE WERE THERE WE GOT A TASTE OF WHAT COULD HAPPEN WHEN SEVERAL HUNDRED PEOPLE USED THE SAME HEAD. SEVERAL OF THE FELLOWS GOT THE "CRABS", TINY LITTLE INSECTS THAT BURROWED INTO THE SKIN AROUND YOUR GENITAL REGION. WE IMMEDIATELY SENT AN S.O.S. TO JOHNNY KOCUM FOR HELP. AND HE SENT US A BOX OF LOTION TO REPEL THESE CRITTERS. HOWEVER, IN THE MEANTIME WE FOUND THAT KEROSENE WOULD DO THE JOB, BUT OF COURSE IT HAD TO BE APPLIED WITH GREAT CARE, OR ELSE THERE WOULD BE A BURNING IN THE SENSITIVE AREA THAT WAS EXCRUCIATINGLY PAINFUL. WE WERE RELUCTANT TO TURN INTO SICK BAY WITH THIS, BUT I CAN'T RECALL THE REASON, IT MAY HAVE BEEN BECAUSE WE MIGHT HAVE BEEN SEPARATED FROM THE PLATOON. WE WERE ALREADY BEING "BONDED".. AS A FOOTNOTE, THIS CRAB LOTION CAME IN VERY HANDY WHEN WE GOT TO THE TROPICS AND WE NEEDED ANY ALCOHOLIC SOLUTION TO DRY OUR FEET AND EARS AND AS PREVENTIVE MEASURE TO GETTING JUNGLE ROT. ONE WEEK OF "SNAPPING IN" THAT IS, PRACTICING SIMULATED FIRING OF THE RIFLE FROM WHICH THE FIRING PIN HAD BEEN REMOVED. THEN ONE WEEK OF ACTUAL FIRING OF THE WEAPON IN ALL OF THE VARIOUS POSITIONS FROM A RANGE OF TWO HUNDRED, THREE HUNDRED AND FIVE HUNDRED YARDS. THE FIVE HUNDRED YARD RANGE WAS ALL DONE FROM THE PRONE POSITION AS IT WOULD BE VERY DIFFICULT TO HIT THE TARGET FROM ANY OTHER POSITION. THE TARGET WAS ON VERTICAL RUNNERS, SO AS YOU FIRED EACH ROUND, THE FELLOWS IN THE PITS WOULD PULL THE TARGET DOWN AND INDICATE TO YOU WHERE THE ROUND HAD HIT BY PUTTING A ROUND DISK IN THE TARGET AT THE POINT OF IMPACT SO THAT YOU COULD CORRECT YOUR WINDAGE OR ELEVATION. A MISS WAS INDICATED BY WAVING A RED FLAG WHICH WAS CALLED "MAGGIES DRAWERS" HOWEVER SEVERAL OF US MANAGED TO SHOOT EXPERT WHICH MEANT GETTING A MINIMUM SCORE OF THREE HUNDRED SIXTEEN OUT OF POSSIBLE THREE HUNDRED FORTY. THIS WAS DUE IN NO SMALL PART, TO THE COACHING OF TWO PEOPLE WHO WOULD TALK TO YOU WHILE YOU WERE LINING UP ON THE TARGET AND ENCOURAGE YOU TO SQUEEZE THE RIFLE AND HOLD IT STEADY. THIS COACHING WAS VERY HELPFUL AND WAS THE FIRST TIME IN "BOOT CAMP" THAT ANYONE OF A HIGHER RANK SPOKE TO YOU IN A DECENT TONE. THEY THEN SENT US BACK TO THE "SNAPPING IN" AREA FOR THE FORMATION OF WHAT WAS TO BECOME THE FIRST REPLACEMENT BATTALION. I REMEMBER THAT THE FELLOWS WERE SO HAPPY TO BE AT THE FINISH OF BOOT CAMP THAT ONE EVENING THEY CELEBRATED WITH BLANKET TOSSING. THIS WAS VERY DISASTROUS BECAUSE AS THEY GOT MORE AND MORE ENTHUSIASTIC AND TOSSED THE KIDS HIGHER AND HIGHER SOONER OR LATER THEY WOULD MISS THE BLANKET AND LAND ON THE HARD GROUND AND LIMP OFF MOANING AND GROANING. SOMEHOW THERE WOULD ALWAYS BE ANOTHER VOLUNTEER TO STEP FORWARD TO BE THE NEXT VICTIM. HERE WE MET OUR OFFICERS WHO WERE JUST OUT OF TRAINING AT QUANTICO, AND HAD BEEN THROUGH MUCH MORE INTENSIVE TRAINING THAN WE. OUR PLATOON DREW A VERY GUNG HO AND PLEASANT OFFICER BY THE NAME OF CHAUNCY CHAPMAN. THE SERGEANT-MAJOR WHO HAD BEEN ASSIGNED TO THIS OUTFIT WAS A VERY IMPRESSIVE INDIAN, "GUNNY JONES", VERY TALL AND ERECT. A REAL MARINE IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD. IMMEDIATELY AFTER FORMING UP WE BOARDED A PULLMAN TRAIN FOR THE WEST COAST. THE TRIP WEST WE RECEIVED NO LEAVE WHEN WE COMPLETED OUR "BOOT CAMP" TRAINING, AS HAD BEEN GIVEN TO THE OTHER KIDS WHO HAD ENLISTED. THE SITUATION IN THE PACIFIC WAS NOT GOOD AND THE MILITARY NEEDED ALL THE BODIES THEY COULD GET AS FAST AS THEY COULD GET THEM. TWO INCIDENTS STAND OUT AS VERY COMICAL ON THE TRIP TO THE WEST COAST. THE TRAIN WOULD MAKE OCCASIONAL STOPS IN VERY SMALL TOWNS. AS WE COULD NOT GET OFF THE TRAIN AND WANTED TREATS THAT HAD BEEN FORBIDDEN EVER SINCE WE ENLISTED, SMALL KIDS WOULD GREET THE TRAIN AND OFFER TO BUY THEM FOR US. THEY WOULD BE GIVEN MONEY AND TOLD WHAT TO PURCHASE AND THEN THEY WOULD TAKE OFF RUNNING TOWARDS THE STORE AND THEN KEEP ON RUNNING AND OUT OF SIGHT. THIS SCENARIO WAS REPEATED MANY TIMES ON THE TRIP AND NEVER FAILED TO PROVIDE A LOT OF AMUSEMENT FOR THE ONES WHO HAD NOT BEEN TAKEN. THEN THERE WAS THE STOP IN SWEETWATER TEXAS. TWO VERY YOUNG AND VOLUPTUOUS GALS GREETED THE TRAIN AND OF COURSE THE EXCHANGE OF CONVERSATION GOT RATHER RISQUÉ, WHICH DIDN'T BOTHER THEM AT ALL AND THE PROMISES MADE BY THESE YOUNG GALS TO US IF WE EVER CAME TO VISIT THEM IN SWEETWATER, MADE US WANT TO PUT THE WAR ON HOLD FOR A WHILE. THE TRIP WAS PURE LUXURY, CLEAN SHEETS MADE UP BY THE PORTERS AND DINING CARS WITH RATHER GOOD FOOD. THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME ANY OF US HAD ANY IDEA OF HOW BIG THIS COUNTRY IS. THE TRIP THROUGH THE PLAINS WAS VERY MONOTONOUS.

ADVANCED TRAINING

WE ARRIVED AT CAMP ELLIOT, CALIFORNIA, WHICH WAS ABOUT TEN MILES NORTH OF SAN DIEGO, IN EARLY NOVEMBER, FOR SO-CALLED "ADVANCED TRAINING". THE BARRACKS THERE WERE VERY NEW TWO STORY WOODEN FRAME BUILDINGS. VERY CLEAN AND NEAT MESSHALLS. THERE WAS AN OUTFIT THERE WHICH HAD JUST COMPLETED ADVANCED TRAINING AND AS THEY NO LONGER NEEDED THEIR DRESS SHOES FOR GOING ON LIBERTY, THEY WERE VERY HAPPY TO SELL THEM TO US FOR A REASONABLE SUM. WE KIND OF FELT SORRY FOR THEM BECAUSE WE KNEW THEY WOULD BE IN THE THICK OF THE WAR WHILE WE WERE WEARING THEIR SHOES AND HAVING A GOOD TIME IN "DIEGO". SAN DIEGO WAS A VERY CROWDED TOWN FULL OF SERVICEMEN OF ALL BRANCHES. MARINES FOR SOME REASON WERE NOT TREATED VERY WELL, IN FACT MOST OF THE PLACES WOULD BE HAPPY TO HAVE YOU LEAVE. I THINK THAT THERE HAD BEEN SO MANY MARINES WHO WANTED TO SHOW THE WORLD THAT THEY WERE TOUGH OR TO HAVE ONE BIG BLAST BEFORE GOING OVERSEAS AND MADE REAL FOOLS OF THEMSELVES AND THE CORPS IN GENERAL WAS THE ONLY REASON THAT I COULD FIGURE OUT WHY THIS ATTITUDE SEEMED TO PREVAIL. OF COURSE IF YOU HAD COURAGE AND WANTED TO BE ADVENTUROUS THERE WAS THE LITTLE TOWN OF TIAJUANA JUST ACROSS THE BORDER WHERE EVERYTHING WAS AVAILABLE. IT DID NOT APPEAL TO ME, AND THE MEMORIES OF THE VD PICTURES AND LECTURES WERE STILL WITH US, SO I NEVER GOT TO SEE THIS WIDE OPEN TOWN. IF YOU WANTED TO TAKE A CHANCE ON GETTING INTO THE BRIG FOR BEING A.W.O.L, THERE WAS LOS ANGELES WHICH MEANT NO SLEEP BECAUSE IT WAS SO FAR NORTH. YOU HAD TO THUMB YOUR WAY UP AND BACK SO IT WAS RATHER RISKY. AN ALL DAY MANEUVER WITH COMBAT PACK AND RIFLE AFTER AN ALL NIGHT TRIP TO L.A. AND BACK WAS VERY EXHAUSTING. THANKSGIVING IN CAMP ELLIOT WAS MEMORABLE BECAUSE THEY RAN OUT OF TURKEY AND SERVED UP FRIED "HORSE COCK"{BALONEY} AS A REASONABLE SUBSTITUTE. WE LEFT THE MESS HALL AND WENT INTO TOWN FOR TURKEY AT A DINER WHERE WE GOT INTO A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION WITH SOME CIVILIANS WHO DID NOT LIKE MARINES. YOU JUST HAD TO WALK AWAY FROM THEIR INSULTS AND SCATHING COMMENTS. SOME OF THE FELLOWS GOT TATTOOS WHILE IN TOWN. ONE KID IN PARTICULAR HAD A HUGE MARINE CORPS BULLDOG WITH THE MOTTO "DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR". HE WAS PROUD OF THIS BUT THE LIEUTENANT REALLY CHEWED HIM OUT BY REMINDING HIM THAT HE WAS NOT GOING TO BE A CAREER MARINE AND THAT SOME DAY HE WOULD REGRET HAVING HIS BODY DISFIGURED LIKE THAT. SO NO MORE TATTOOS. THE POOR KID WAS REALLY CRESTFALLEN AS HE HAD BEEN SO PROUD OF THIS EXPENSIVE HANDIWORK..

SHAKEDOWN, SHORTARM AND SHIP OUT

DECEMBER 2, 1942 THE OUTFIT WE HAD BOUGHT OUR LIBERTY GEAR FROM BOARDED SHIP FOR OVERSEAS AND THE FIRST REPLACEMENT BATTALION WAS BOARDED WITH THEM, MUCH TO OUR CHAGRIN. WE HAD THE IDEA THAT ADVANCE TRAINING WOULD BE AT LEAST THREE MONTHS. HOWEVER, ADVANCED TRAINING WAS GOING TO BE HELD IN THE ISLANDS WHERE WE COULD KEEP OUR MIND ON WHAT WE WERE BEING TOLD INSTEAD OF PLANNING OUR NEXT LIBERTY. ABOUT TWO WEEKS PRIOR TO DEPARTURE, SCUTTLEBUTT WAS GIVING US HINTS ABOUT WHAT WAS ABOUT TO HAPPEN BUT WE REFUSED TO BELIEVE SUCH NONSENSE. WHEN THE HINTS GOT STRONGER WE DECIDED TO PLAY IT SAFE AND BE READY FOR ANY EVENTUALITY. IN MY CASE I DECIDED TO STOCK UP ON MEDICINAL GOODS. ON WHAT WAS MY LAST LIBERTY IN TOWN I PURCHASED TWO PINTS OF BLACKBERY BRANDY AND A ROLL OF ADHESIVE TAPE. I TAPED ONE BOTTLE TO MY LEG JUST ABOVE THE ANKLE WHERE IT WAS RELETIVELY INCONSPICUOUS. THE SECOND I PUT INSIDE MY BELT AT THE WAIST AND BUTTONED MY BLOUSE OVER IT. IT ALSO WAS INCONSPICUOUS IF I HELD MY BREATH. WHAT I HAD FORGOTTEN WAS THE M.P. WHO CHECKED PEOPLE LIKE MYSELF AS THEY TRIED TO BRING CONTRABAND INTO THE BARRACKS. WHEN I STEPPED OFF THE BUS I HELD MY BREATH AND LOOKED HIM IN THE FACE. HE HAD BEEN TAPPING EVERYONE IN THE REGION OF THE BELT BUCKLE WITH HIS BILLY CLUB AND, TO MY IMMENSE RELIEF, AS I PASSED HIM, HE TAPPED ME ON THE BUTT INSTEAD. A FINE EXAMPLE OF "SEMPER FI". THAT NIGHT, AS WE WERE SITTING IN THE BARRACKS, A SHOUT CAME FROM THE DOORWAY, "ALL HANDS, ATTENTION AND STAND CLEAR OF YOUR BUNKS". THIS WAS THE "SHAKEDOWN". AN INSPECTION OF SEA BAGS TO MAKE SURE YOU DID NOT HAVE ANY ILLICIT MATERIAL. I, OF COURSE, PANICKED AND PULLED THE TWO BOTTLES WHICH I HAD ENSCONCED IN MY SEA BAG AND THREW THEM INTO SOME DEBRIS UNDER MY SACK. THIS FLURRY OF ACTIVITY WAS NOT LOST ON ACE THE SERGEANT WHO GAVE MY SEABAG A VERY THOROUGH GOING OVER. HE DID NOT FIND ANYTHING AND AFTER A HALF HOUR OF SHAKEDOWN ALL WAS SECURED. THEN THE NEXT DAY WE HAD TO UNDERGO THE HUMILIATING EXAMINATION OF THE PENIS BY THE CORPSMAN, CALLED "SHORTARM" INSPECTION. THIS WAS TO CHECK EVERYONE TO DETERMINE IF THEY HAD ACQUIRED SOMETHING FROM ONE OF THE LOCAL FEM-FATALE WHILE ROMPING BETWEEN THE SHEETS. AS WE STARTED TO BOARD SHIP, AT THE BOTTOM OF THE LOADING RAMP WERE MEMBERS OF THE RED CROSS. AS WE WENT BY THEY HANDED US SMALL "DITTY BAGS" INSIDE WERE A PACK OF CARDS, CIGARETTES AND A "HOUSEWIFE", WHICH WAS A SEWING KIT WITH SMALL ROLLS OF THREAD IN VARIOUS COLORS AND ASSORTED NEEDLES. THE LATTER WAS, AS WE FOUND OUT, THE HANDIEST. AS WE NO LONGER HAD "MOM" TO PATCH AND MEND OUR CLOTHING WE WOULD HAVE TO DO IT OURSELVES, BUT THIS THOUGHT HAD NOT OCCURRED TO US YET AS ALL OF OUR CLOTHING WAS NEW. THE REQUIREMENT FOR THE "HOUSEWIFE" WOULD COME LATER ON. OUR SHIP WAS THE DAY STAR, A SMALL DANISH FREIGHTER CONVERTED INTO A TROOP SHIP, AND NOT A VERY GOOD JOB. I AM SURE THE OWNERS OF THIS SHIP WERE PAID VERY WELL FOR TRANSPORTING TROOPS. LATRINES WERE GALVANIZED SHEETMETAL TROUGHS ON THE DECK, THROUGH WHICH SEA WATER WAS CONSTANTLY PUMPED AND EXITED OVER THE SIDE. A TWO BY FOUR ON THE EDGE WHERE YOU COULD REST YOUR BUTT WHILE THE SALT WATER SPLASHED THE EXPOSED PORTION. THE MESS HALL WAS A DISASTER, ONE DECK BELOW THE GALLEY WHERE YOU GOT FOOD OF A VERY POOR QUALITY. WHEN YOU PICKED UP YOUR CHOW IN THE MESSHALL YOU HAD TO DESCEND A STEEP LADDER ON A ROLLING SHIP SO THAT THE PEOPLE AT THE LOWER END OF THE LADDER SOMETIMES GOT SMALL PORTIONS OF CHOW ON THEIR HEAD FROM THE PEOPLE ABOVE. SO MOST OF THE TIME, MEALS WOULD BE SKIPPED EXCEPT FOR THE NICE CRISP APPLES AND BOILED POTATOES WHICH WERE EDIBLE. OUR ESTEEMED PLATOON LEADER CHAUNCY CHAPMAN HEARD OF THE LOUSY CHOW AND MANAGED TO PURLOIN A ROASTED CHICKEN FROM THE OFFICERS MESS, GAVE IT TO OUR SERGEANT AND WE SPLIT IT UP AND HAD A GOOD MEAL. ACE, THE SERGEANT HAD TO SMUGGLE THIS CHICKEN OUT OF THE MESS HALL IN HIS SHIRT. OUR ESCORTS IN THIS CONVOY OF FOUR TROOPSHIPS, WERE A BLIMP, A CRUISER AND A DESTROYER. AFTER TWO DAYS THE BLIMP LEFT, AFTER A WEEK THE CRUISER DEPARTED BUT THE DESTROYER STAYED FOR THE ENTIRE TRIP, DARTING HERE AND THERE ALWAYS ON THE LOOKOUT FOR JAP SUBS. WHILE THE CRUISER WAS WITH US THEY WENT THROUGH A FANTASTIC MANEUVER EVERY MORNING AT DAWN. ON THE FANTAIL OF THIS SHIP WAS AN OLD BIPLANE, A GRUMMAN J2F "DUCK" THIS WAS MOUNTED ON A CATAPULT ABOUT TWICE THE LENGTH OF THE PLANE. THE PLANE WOULD REV UP TO FULL POWER AND THEN A FIVE INCH SHELL WOULD PROPEL THIS BABY OUT OF THE CATAPULT WITH A GREAT BLAST AND IT WOULD IMMEDIATELY DROP TOWARDS THE OCEAN AND THEN BARELY GAIN FLYING SPEED, ALWAYS A SPECTACULAR EVENT. THEN THIS PLANE WOULD THEN CRUISE OUT TO THE HORIZON LOOKING FOR SUBS. FOR ABOUT A HOUR OR SO. WHEN IT RETURNED ANOTHER BREATH TAKING EVENT WOULD OCCUR. . THE CRUISER WOULD MAKE A VERY SHARP TURN AND SEEMED TO FLATTEN OUT THE OCEAN SWELLS, WHICH WERE QUITE LARGE. THE PLANE WOULD LAND IN THIS VERY TEMPORARILY QUIET AREA AND THEN HAVE TO TAXI UP TO THE CRUISER WHEREUPON THEY WOULD LOWER THIS HUGE TACKLE BLOCK AND THE PILOT WOULD MANEUVER THE PLANE, WHICH HAD A LARGE ROUND CABLE IN THE WING, THIS WOULD CONNECT WITH THE GOOSENECK AND THEN THE PLANE WOULD BE HOISTED BACK ONTO THE CATAPULT. WE WERE SPELL BOUND AND VERY IMPRESSED WITH THIS DANGEROUS AND TRICKY MANEUVER WHICH REQUIRED VERY CLOSE COOPERATION ON THE PART OF THE PILOT, THE OBSERVER AND THE HELMSMAN OF THE CRUISER. THE CONVOY CONSTANTLY DID THE ZIG ZAG COURSE WHICH WAS SUPPOSED TO MAKE IT DIFFICULT FOR SUBS TO HIT WITH TORPEDOES. THE WAKE OF THE SHIP ON A MOONLIT NIGHT WAS QUITE IMPRESSIVE. A LONG CHAIN OF GLITTERING PHOSPHORESCENCE WHICH LOOKED LIKE A STRING OF SPARKING DIAMONDS. LAUNDRY WAS A SNAP, EVERY MARINE WAS ISSUED A LENGTH OF CLOTHESLINE, THIS WAS STRUNG THROUGH THE ARMS OF YOUR SHIRT OR LEGS OF YOUR PANTS AND TOSSED OVER THE SIDE, BEING CAREFUL TO KEEP IT UP TOWARDS THE BOW OF THE SHIP. ABOUT A HALF HOUR OF THIS SALT WATER LAUNDRY AND YOU WOULD HAUL IT BACK SPANKING CLEAN AND HANG IT UP TO DRY WHICH WOULD TAKE ABOUT AND HOUR WITH THE CONSTANT BREEZE AND DRY AIR.

SAMOA

AFTER THIRTEEN DAYS OF TRAVEL WE ARRIVED AT AMERICAN SAMOA, PAGO PAGO. GREETED WITH SHOUTS FROM THE SHORE "AI KAI MALINE" THIS WAS SAMOAN FOR "EAT SHIT MARINE, WHICH WAS WHAT THE JAPANESE WERE CALLING OUT TO THE MARINES ON GUADALCANAL. THIS WAS CONSIDERED HARDENING US FOR COMBAT. HERE WERE STATIONED A PORTION OF THE THIRD MARINES. THIS OUTFIT WAS STARTED IN SEPTEMBER OF FORTY TWO AND HAD BEEN BUILDING UP EVER SINCE. FORMING UP AND TRAINING FOR WHAT WOULD EVENTUALLY BE THE INVASION OF THE ISLAND OF BOUGAINVILLE. WE WERE ASSIGNED TO "C" COMPANY FIRST BATTALION. THE COMMANDING OFFICER WELCOMED US TO THE OUTFIT AND LAID DOWN A FEW RULES. AFTER APOLOGIZING FOR NOT HAVING BETTER QUARTERS, WHICH WERE TENTS, HE THEN TOLD US THAT THERE WOULD BE NO PROLONGED OR UNNECESSARY SWEARING. AND ANY ONE NOT COMPLYING WITH THIS ORDER WOULD BE SPENDING FIVE DAYS IN THE BRIG ON A DIET OF BREAD AND WATER. THIS WAS CERTAINLY AN EXPERIENCE WHICH WOULD CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE. WE WERE MUCH THE BETTER FOR IT AND WE WERE VERY PROUD TO BE IN AN OUTFIT THAT CERTAINLY WAS DIFFERENT. WE WERE ALSO TOLD THAT WE WERE TO WEAR OUR SHIRTS AND WITH THE SLEEVES FULL LENGTH TO PROTECT US FROM THE SUN. ANYONE REPORTING WITH A SUNBURN WOULD BE SUBJECT TO DISCIPLINARY ACTION. AGAIN A REMINDER THAT YOUR SOUL COULD BELONG TO JESUS BUT THE REST OF YOU BELONGS TO THE MARINE CORPS. THIS C.O. HAD US DO A LOT OF NIGHT WORK, FROM CHARTING A COURSE THROUGH THE BOONDOCKS WITH A COMPASS TAKING FREQUENT READINGS, TO REPULSING AN ATTACK ON THE AIRPORT BY JAPANESE RAIDERS, WITH FIXED BAYONETS. WE ENCOUNTERED SAMOAN MARINES WHICH REALLY BOGGLED OUR MIND. HERE WOULD COME A NATIVE WITH KHAKI COLORED LAVA LAVA WITH CORPORALS STRIPES ON THE LAVA LAVA. AS HE OUTRANKED YOU IT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN SMART TO LAUGH. WE WERE INTRODUCED TO THE REFRESHING DRINK OF FRESH COCONUT WHICH WAS VERY TASTY. THE DRINKING WATER WAS FROM LISTER BAGS, CANVAS WITH LITTLE PUSH SPIGOTS AROUND THE BOTTOM FROM WHICH YOU FILLED YOUR CANTEEN. THIS CONTAINED QUITE A BIT OF CHLORINE WHICH MADE IT VERY UNPALATABLE. IT RAINED ABOUT EVERY HALF HOUR IN SAMOA AND WE SOON LEARNED TO IGNORE THE BRIEF AND SOMETIMES NOT SO BRIEF SHOWERS. YOU WERE CONSTANTLY IN A DAMP CONDITION. IDEAL CONDITIONS FOR JUNGLE ROT WHICH WOULD OCCUR IN YOUR EARS OR FEET. EVERY ONE MADE SHOWER SLIPPERS OUT OF THEIR LIBERTY SHOES, WHICH CONSISTED OF CUTTING LARGE HOLES IN THEM TO LET THE WATER OUT . YOU DID NOT LET YOUR BARE FEET TOUCH THE GROUND AND THEN AFTER DRYING OUT AS MUCH AS YOU COULD UNDER THESE DAMP CONDITIONS YOU WOULD RINSE YOUR EARS AND TOES WITH ANY ALCOHOL SUCH AS AQUA VELVA. IT WAS WISE TO USE ALL THE PREVENTIVE MEASURES YOU COULD BECAUSE ONCE THIS JUNGLE ROT WAS ACQUIRED IT WAS DIFFICULT TO GET RID OF. BACK IN THE STATES, WHEN WE STOOD INSPECTION OF RIFLES, IF YOU HAPPENED TO LEAVE ANY OIL FROM THE CLEANING OF YOUR PIECE, IT WOULD BE CAUSE TO GET CHEWED OUT. NOW WITH THESE HUMID CONDITIONS IT WAS COMPULSORY TO LEAVE A LIGHT FILM OF OIL ON ALL METAL PARTS OF THE RIFLE TO PREVENT IT FROM BECOMING FERRIS OXIDE. BERT SAMPLES, A MOUNTAIN BOY FROM TENNESSEE WAS OUR SQUAD LEADER. A VERY PLEASANT KID WITH A FANTASTIC MEMORY FOR SONGS AND POEMS. HE WAS A RARE EXCEPTION BEING FROM A SMALL SOUTHERN TOWN AND NEVER DISPLAYED A DISLIKE FOR US YANKEE "NIGGERLOVERS" AS SOME OF THE BACKWOODS SOUTHERNERS HAD CALLED US. BERT HAD A GREAT FASCINATION FOR TRACER AMMUNITION AND WANTED TO USE IT WHEN HE GOT INTO COMBAT, EVEN THOUGH WE WERE TOLD NOT TO USE IT BECAUSE IT WOULD REVEAL YOUR POSITION. FOR ONCE I WAS GLAD I WAS UNDER SIX FEET TALL. THESE WERE THE GUYS THAT WERE SELECTED TO BE THE B.A.R. MEN THE HEAVY RIFLES THAT COULD FIRE UP TO THIRTY ROUNDS OF AMMO ON FULL AUTOMATIC. WE HAD VERY FINE OFFICERS WHO INSTRUCTED US ON CONCEALMENT IN FIELD OR OPEN WARFARE. ONE OF THE UNUSUAL THINGS ABOUT THE TROPICS WAS THAT ON THESE NIGHT MANEUVERS THE ROTTING WOOD ON THE GROUND EMITTED AN EERIE GLOW OF PHOSPHORESCENCE, A DULL GREENISH GLOW IN THE DARK. THIS WAS SOMETIMES USED IN NIGHT PATROLS. A PIECE OF THIS WOULD BE TIED ONTO THE COMBAT PACK SO THAT YOU COULD FOLLOW THE MAN IN FRONT OF YOU BY WATCHING THE SMALL GREEN GLOWING PIECE OF WOOD. IN THE DAYTIME THIS WAS NOT APPARENT. IT COULD ONLY BE SEEN IN THE ABSOLUTE DARKNESS. ONE THING I COULD NOT FIGURE OUT WAS, WHAT DID THE SQUAD LEADER USE TO GUIDE HIM IN THE DARK? ON ONE OF THESE NIGHT MANEUVERS WE HAD TO SCRAMBLE TO GET OFF THE ROAD AND TAKE COVER AND WHILE RUNNING FOR COVER I FELL FLAT ON MY FACE WITH MY RIFLE AND FIXED BAYONET UNDER ME. WELL YOU CAN IMAGINE THE FEELING WHEN I HEARD ANOTHER SERIES OF RAPID FOOTSTEPS COMING RIGHT IN BACK OF ME AND I JUST KNEW HIS BAYONET WAS GOING TO END WHERE IT WOULD FEEL VERY UNCOMFORTABLE FOR ME. WELL I GOT LUCKY AND HE FELL TO ONE SIDE OF ME. THIS FELLOW WAS RALPH MILLER FROM ALLENTOWN, PA. WE SPENT THE NEXT FEW MINUTES DISCUSSING THE WISDOM OF RUNNING AROUND IN THE DARK WITH A SHARP INSTRUMENT ATTACHED TO YOUR RIFLE. I MIGHT MENTION AT THIS TIME THAT OUR RIFLES WERE 1903 SPRINGFIELDS. THE GARANDS THAT WERE ISSUED TO US IN BOOT CAMP AND THAT WE HAD FIRED AT THE RANGE, WERE EXCHANGED FOR THE OLD SPRINGFIELD RIFLE. THE GARANDS WERE SEMIAUTOMATICS THAT FIRED EIGHT ROUNDS AND WITH THE LAST ROUND THE CLIP WOULD BE EJECTED AND THE BOLT WOULD REMAIN OPEN SO THAT YOU COULD INSERT THE NEXT EIGHT ROUND CLIP INTO THE MAGAZINE VERY QUICKLY. THE '03 HAD A FIVE ROUND CLIP AND WAS BOLT OPERATED. MUCH SLOWER RATE OF FIRE. HOWEVER THE EMPHASIS WAS ON MAKING EVERY ROUND COUNT, INSTEAD OF RATE OF FIRE.

REASSIGNMENT

ONE DAY IT WAS ANNOUNCED THAT WE WOULD HAVE INSPECTION OF 782 GEAR, WHICH WAS RIFLE, WEB BELT, BAYONET, CANTEEN AND FIRST AID KIT. SOME OF THE FELLOWS HAD MANAGED TO LOSE SOME OF THEIR GEAR ON THE TRIP OVER. SO THE ONES WHO HAD ALL THEIR GEAR WERE SHIPPED OUT AGAIN, SOME TO APIA, BRITISH SAMOA, WHICH WAS A FEW HUNDRED MILES CLOSER TO THE SOLOMONS, THIS WAS WHERE HEINY GOMPERS LEFT US. I BELIEVE HE WAS ASSIGNED TO THE 22ND MARINES, INFANTRY. AND SOME OF US TO WALLIS, FRENCH SAMOA, WHICH AGAIN WAS A FEW HUNDRED MILES CLOSER TO THE SOLOMONS. HOWEVER WE WERE STILL WELL OUT OF RANGE OF ANY JAPANESE PLANE. I BELIEVE THEIR CLOSEST FIELD WAS UP IN RABAUL. OUR INTREPID LEADER THE COMMANDING OFFICER OF THE FIRST REPLACEMENT BATTALION, WHO HAD BROUGHT US TO SAMOA, ALSO GAVE US A GREAT SENDOFF SPEECH IN WHICH HE BADE US GOODBYE AND GOODLUCK AND ALWAYS UPHOLD THE TRADITIONS OF THE CORPS ETC. ETC. WHEN WE DISEMBARKED AT WALLIS I WAS SHOCKED TO SEE A WORKING PARTY OF MARINES STARING AT US, VERY DIFFERENT FROM THE THIRD. IMMEDIATELY YOU COULD SEE THAT THIS WAS AN OUTFIT THAT SEEMINGLY HAD LITTLE PRIDE OR MORALE. THE RESULT OF HAVING A MARINE OUT FIT DOING WHAT IT WAS NOT TRAINED TO DO, THAT IS SIT AND WAIT FOR THE ENEMY TO COME TO THEM INSTEAD OF ATTACKING THEM. THE MARINES WERE OFFENSIVE INCLINED NOT DEFENSIVE. THE NEAREST JAPANESE WERE SEVERAL THOUSAND MILES TO THE NORTH AND HAD THEIR HANDS FULL ON GUADALCANAL, SO THERE WAS NO NEED FOR US TO BE OCCUPYING THIS DISEASE RIDDEN ISLAND, WHICH I MIGHT ADD WAS VERY POORLY STATIONED. MY FIRST ASSIGNMENT WAS TO A THIRTY CALIBER MACHINE GUN WHICH WAS SANDBAGGED IN UNDER A SMALL TREE RIGHT ON THE WATERS EDGE WHICH PROBABLY WOULD HAVE BEEN WHERE ANY OFFENSIVE FORCE WOULD HAVE PLACED ONE OF THEIR FIRST ROUNDS. WE WERE NOT MADE TO FEEL VERY WELCOME. THE OVERSEAS MARINES THAT GREETED US HAD DISDAIN FOR "BOOTS" SUCH AS WE AND THEN ON TOP OF THAT WE IMMEDIATELY GOT A CASE OF THE RUNS BECAUSE THE WATER WAS FROM A NATIVE WELL. AFTER ABOUT A COUPLE OF DAYS YOUR SYSTEM BUILT UP AN IMMUNITY TO THIS AND THEN HAD NO PROBLEM AFTER THAT. I WAS VERY CURIOUS ABOUT THE NATIVES ON THIS ISLAND AND MADE FRIENDS WITH ONE OF THEM. THEY WANTED TO DO YOUR LAUNDRY. AND THEN I WENT INTO THE NATIVE CATHEDRAL WHICH WAS JUST A FEW YARDS AWAY FROM THE GUN POSITION. THESE TWO ACTS OF OMISSION LABELED ME A "GOOKLOVER" THIS WAS A NO- NO IN THIS OUTFIT. THE WORD "GOOK" ALONE WAS A LABEL OF DERISION ON ANY ONE WITH A DARK SKIN. THE SAME PEOPLE WHO HAD SUCH DISLIKE FOR THESE DARK SKINNED NATIVES DID NOT MIND AT ALL TO TRADE A CAN OF "TINNY COW" OR "TINNY BEEF" FOR A LITTLE SEX. I COULD NEVER FATHOM THE ATTITUDE. THIS ISLAND HAD BEEN OCCUPIED BY THE MARINES AND SEABEES SINCE MAY TWENTY EIGHTH OF '42 AND THERE WERE A FEW BABIES IN THE NATIVE HUTS WITH WHITE SKINS. IF YOU WANT TO DO A LITTLE CALCULATING YOU WILL SEE THAT THERE WAS NO TIME LOST BETWEEN THE INVASION AND THE IMPREGNATION. AND THE NATIVES WOULD VERY PROUDLY TELL YOU WHICH ONES WERE FROM SAILORS AND WHICH ONES WERE FROM MARINES. THE WOMEN ON THIS ISLAND WERE VERY WELL COVERED, UNLIKE THE ONES IN THE HOLLYWOOD MOVIES WE HAD SEEN IN THE STATES. THEY ALSO WORE THEIR HAIR SHORT AND WOULD PUT LIME IN THE HAIR TO COLOR IT A SORT OF RED-ORANGE SO THEY WERE NOT THE LEAST BIT ATTRACTIVE. DISEASE WAS VERY PREVALENT ON THIS ISLAND. THE MOST CONSPICUOUS WAS ELEPHANTIASIS OR "MOO-MOO" AS THE NATIVES CALLED IT. THIS WAS TRANSMITTED BY MOSQUITOES AND RESULTED IN SWELLING OF THE EXTREMITIES AND TESTICLES, . VERY PAINFUL AND NOT CURABLE IN THE TROPICS. THE MARINES THAT GOT THIS WERE SENT BACK TO KLAMATH FALLS, OREGON, WHERE I BELIEVE MOST, IF NOT ALL FULLY RECOVERED. WE ALSO HAD DENGUE FEVER A VARIETY OF MALARIA AND TUBERCULOSIS ALSO WAS COMMON AMONGST THE NATIVES. SOME VARIATIONS OF VENEREAL DISEASES AND A LITTLE LEPROSY. THIS WAS A GODFORSAKEN ISLAND WHICH SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN NEGLECTED BY THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT UNDER WHOSE JURISDICTION IT WAS. THERE WERE HUGE CHURCHES BUILT OUT OF CORAL IN EVERY VILLAGE BUT ONLY ONE SMALL HOSPITAL AND I HEARD THAT THEY HAD ONE COW FOR SUPPLEMENTAL FEEDING FOR THE INFANTS. . ANOTHER INTERESTING ITEM WAS THE PRESENCE IN SOME OF THE VILLAGES, SMALL LITTLE SHACKS WITH THE NAME "BURNS-PHILLIPS". EVIDENTLY SOME ENTERPRISING ENGLISHMAN HAD A TRADE THROUGHOUT THE ISLANDS, WHEREBY HE SUPPLIED THE NATIVES WITH CLOTH AND STAPLES. THE WAR HAD CURTAILED THIS AND THEY WERE SHUT DOWN AT THIS TIME DUE TO THE FACT THAT TO SAIL INTO THESE WATERS WITH HIS LITTLE SAILING VESSEL COULD HAVE BEEN HAZARDOUS. THIS VESSEL DID STOP AT WALLIS LATER ON WHILE WE WERE THERE AND IT WAS A PRETTY LITTLE SHIP. JUST WHAT WE HAD SEEN IN HOLLYWOOD MOVIES. THE MAJOR TRADE ITEM IN THESE ISLANDS WAS COPRA, THE DRIED OUT MEAT OF THE COCOANUT WHICH HAD A HIGH OIL CONTENT . LATER ON IN LIFE I REFLECTED ON HOW NICE IT WOULD HAVE BEEN IF WE HAD DONE SOMETHING FOR THESE UNFORTUNATE ISLANDERS. LIKE HELPING THEM CURTAIL THE MOSQUITO PROBLEM OR WITH MEDICINES. BUT WE WERE TOO BUSY TRYING TO MAKE LIFE UNBEARABLE FOR THE JAPANESE SO THAT WE COULD NOT MAKE LIFE BEARABLE FOR THESE NEGLECTED ISLANDERS. AND MUCH LATER ON WE WOULD BECOME INVOLVED IN ANOTHER NEGLECTED COLONIAL POSSESSION OF THE FRENCH. THESE PEOPLE HAD BEEN PROMISED LIBERTY IF THEY WOULD HELP FIGHT THE JAPS BUT THEN AFTER THEY HAD DONE THIS AND ASKED FOR THE PROMISED REWARD, HARRY TRUMAN SAID,"FORGET IT" AND GAVE INDOCHINA BACK TO THE FRENCH WHO HAD SAT OUT THE WAR. WHAT WAS IT THE RECRUITING POSTERS HAD SAID? "YOU ARE FIGHTING TO MAKE THE WORLD FREE!!!"

FOX BATTERY

AFTER A SHORT SPELL AT THIS BEACH MACHINE GUN I WAS REASSIGNED TO A FIFTY CALIBER HEAVY MACHINE GUN OUTFIT ATTACHED TO A NINETY MILLIMETER AA BATTERY. THE TERM HEAVY IN THIS CASE MEANT THAT IT WAS WATER COOLED INSTEAD OF AIR-COOLED. THIS BATTERY WAS LOCATED RIGHT NEXT TO THE MAIN AIRPORT ON THE ISLAND. EVERY MORNING AT SUNRISE A SMALL O.S.2.U. SCOUT OBSERVATION PLANE, KNOWN AS THE "KINGFISHER", WOULD TAKE OFF AND PATROL THE NEARBY AREA FOR SUBS . WE ALSO HAD A COUPLE OF "DAUNTLESS" DIVE BOMBERS, S.B.D.'S. WHICH ALSO PATROLLED THE SURROUNDING WATERS FOR ENEMY SUBS. ONCE A WEEK THE MAILPLANE WOULD COME IN FROM SAMOA. THIS WAS THE BEAUTIFUL P.B.Y. CATALINA A VERY SLOW GRACEFUL PLANE THAT WAS WELL SUITED TO THE JOB OF SCOUTING AND PATROLLING FOR SUBS. ABOUT ONCE A MONTH WE WOULD BE VISITED BY A GROUP OF B24 BOMBERS ON THEIR WAY TO FORWARD AREAS. WE WOULD ALWAYS RUN DOWN TO MEET THESE PEOPLE FRESH FROM THE STATES TO CHAT WITH THEM AND SEE IF WE COULD SCROUNGE ANYTHING FROM THEM. WE WERE LIKE A BUNCH OF COUNTRY YOKELS RUNNING DOWN TO MEET THE LOCAL TRAIN. THE N.C.O. IN CHARGE OF THE MACHINE GUNS WAS SERGEANT BERRY, A TOUGH AND VERY "SALTY" MARINE WHO TREATED EVERY ONE WITH EQUAL DISDAIN. A TEXAN WITH A VERY POCKMARKED FACE, LOW TEXAS DRAWL AND SARCASTIC ATTITUDE. AFTER ALL WE WERE JUST CIVILIANS TO HIM AND HARDLY FIT TO BE CALLED MARINES. HE ASKED EACH OF US OUR NAMES AND WHERE WE WERE FROM AND MAYBE SOME OTHER PERTINENT INFORMATION. WHEN HE CAME TO ONE OF THE FELLOWS WHOSE NAME WAS ROGOWSKI HE ASKED HIM "WHAT IN THE HELL KIND OF A NAME IS THAT?" WHEN HE TOLD HIM IT WAS POLISH HE SAID "YOU LOOK LIKE A GODDAM JEW" WELL EVERY BODY LAUGHED, WHICH IS WHAT YOU DO WHEN THE SERGEANT SAYS SOMETHING HUMOROUS AND FROM THAT TIME ON HE WAS REFERRED TO AS "THE  JEW" THEN CAME BILL BROWN'S TURN. WHEN HE INFORMED THE SERGEANT THAT HIS NAME WAS BROWN, THE SERGEANT LOOKED HIM OVER AND SAID THAT HE HAD HEARD OF SOMEONE BY THE NAME OF "PEACHES" BROWNING AND WANTED TO KNOW IF HE WAS RELATED. WHEN HE WAS INFORMED THAT THERE WAS NONE, THE SERGEANT DECIDED THAT "PEACHES" WOULD DO FOR HIS NAME AND IT STUCK. I WAS GIVEN THE NICKNAME OF THE "HOOK" BECAUSE MY NOSE WAS A PROMINENT FEATURE. THIS NAME STUCK UNTIL SOME ONE SENT ME A COPY OF THE EAST HARTFORD GAZETTE WITH MY MARINE CORPS PICTURE IN IT AND UNDER THE PHOTO WAS A CAPTION STATING THAT "HANDSOME JOHN VOLLINGER WAS IN THE PACIFIC" FROM THEN ON I WAS REFERRED TO AS "HANDSOME JOHN" WE WERE IMMEDIATELY INFORMED THAT ONE OF US WOULD BE REQUIRED TO DO MESS DUTY IN THE GALLEY AND OF COURSE I GOT THE LOW CARD AND TOOK MY GEAR TO THE MESS TENT. HERE THERE WAS ANOTHER TEXAN, A MESS SERGEANT BY THE NICKNAME OF "LARD" HE WAS AT LEAST CIVIL AND DIDN'T CARE WHERE YOU CAME FROM AS LONG AS YOU DID YOUR JOB. HERE I ALSO MET DALE CARNES FROM OHIO, MARRIED, AND HAD A LITTLE GIRL WHOM HE WOULD TALK ABOUT QUITE FREQUENTLY. JOE FROSINA FROM NEW ORLEANS WHO WAS THE OFFICERS MESS WAITER, AND AFTER A COUPLE OF DAYS WE WERE JOINED BY A FELLOW JUST OUT THE BRIG AFTER DOING FIVE DAYS BREAD AND WATER FOR SLEEPING ON WATCH. HIS NAME WAS 'STU" A TALL VERY RUGGED LOOKING FELLOW WITH A HUGE HANDLE BAR MOUSTACHE. HE CAME INTO THE GALLEY WITH HIS SEABAG IN ONE HAND AND HIS 03 OVER HIS SHOULDER. HE WAS A VERY FRIENDLY GUY AND WE STRUCK IT OFF VERY WELL. MESS DUTY WAS A BREEZE AND WE ALL GOT ALONG VERY WELL. I REALLY DIDN'T RELISH GOING BACK TO THE MACHINE GUNS WHERE THE ATTITUDE WAS NOT THE LEAST FRIENDLY WITH THE SO CALLED OLD TIMERS THERE.. MOST OF THE NEW ARRIVALS GRADUALLY FITTED IN BUT I WAS ALWAYS AN OUTSIDER. MOSTLY BECAUSE I CONTINUED A FRIENDSHIP WITH A VERY PLEASANT NATIVE WHO TOOK MY LAUNDRY AND BROUGHT IT BACK VERY NEAT AND SCENTED WITH NATIVE BERRIES WHICH WERE SUPPOSED TO REPEL MOSQUITOES. THIS AGAIN WAS A "NO NO" BECAUSE YOU HAD TO DISTANCE YOURSELF FROM ANYTHING THE NATIVES DID. IF YOU WANTED TO FIT IN. AS I MENTIONED PREVIOUSLY THE NATIVES WERE ALWAYS REFERRED TO AS "GOOKS" AND ANYONE THAT DID NOT REFER TO THEM BY THIS TERMINOLOGY WOULD BE CONSIDERED A "GOOKLOVER". THE HUMOROUS PART OF THIS SITUATION WAS THAT MOST OF THEM HAD MORE INTELLIGENCE AND MANNER THAN SOME OF THE PEOPLE THAT HATED THEM SO. I AM SURE THAT THE OLD TIMERS RESENTED US BECAUSE THEY HAD THE HARD WORK OF DIGGING IN THE GUNS. THIS REQUIRED A LOT OF HEAVY MANUAL LABOR. DIGGING THE PITS TO HOLD THE AMMUNITION AND THEN SANDBAGING THE GUNS. THEN WE CAME IN WHEN THE WORK WAS COMPLETED WITH LITTLE TO DO EXCEPT CLEAN THE GUNS ABOUT ONCE A WEEK, STRIPPING THEM DOWN, WIPING THE PARTS OFF AND REOILING ALL THE PARTS. WE WOULD FIRE THE GUNS ABOUT ONCE A MONTH. AN OFFICER FROM SPECIAL WEAPONS WOULD COME OUT, SET THE GUN AT A CERTAIN ELEVATION AND AZMUTH AND FIRE ABOUT TWENTY OR THIRTY ROUNDS. WE HAD FREQUENT STOPPAGES WHICH HAD TO BE FROM MISALIGNED CARTRIDGES. DUE TO POOR LOADING OF THE BELTS. WE DID OUR OWN LOADING THE BELTS. I SENT AWAY TO THE GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE IN WASHINGTON FOR MANUALS ON THE FIFTY AND THIRTY CALIBER GUNS AND GOT TO BE MORE FAMILIAR WITH THE GUNS SO THAT WE COULD PREVENT THESE FAILURES. 

ONE DAY WHEN I HAD FINISHED MY CHORES IN THE GALLEY LARD CAME UP TO ME AND SAID "HOW WOULD YOU LIKE A DRINK OF WHISKY?" I WAS VERY WARY OF BEING TRAPPED INTO SOME JOKE, SO I REPLIED "DO YOU HAVE ONE?" HE DISAPPEARED AND CAME BACK WITH A WATER GLASS WITH A DOUBLE SHOT IN IT. I POLISHED IT OFF IN SHORT ORDER AND THANKED HIM IT REALLY WAS VERY GOOD QUALITY.. WHAT I FOUND OUT LATER WAS THAT HE SUPPLIED THE CORNMEAL AND SUGAR AND SOMEONE HAD A STILL HIDDEN IN THE BOONDOCKS AND THEY RAN OFF A VERY GOOD GRADE OF MOONSHINE. THIS WAS A VERY WELL KEPT SECRET AND YOU LEARNED NOT TO ASK ANY QUESTIONS. EVIDENTLY LARD COULD SEE I WAS NOT WELL SUITED TO THIS OUTFIT AND FIGURED I COULD USE SOME SUPPORT. HE REALLY WAS A PRETTY NICE FELLOW AND EVERYONE LIKED HIM. I MIGHT MENTION THE COOK AT THE MACHINE GUN WHERE I FIRST WAS STATIONED. A SHORT COMICAL SOUTHERNER ALWAYS READY WITH A WISECRACK. A REAL CHARACTER WHO WOULD BE A HIT ON TODAY'S TELEVISION SITCOMS. THERE WAS A FIELD PHONE IN THE GALLEY AND HE WOULD ALWAYS ANSWER IT BY SAYING, "MAISIE'S WHOREHOUSE TRUDY A TALKIN ACHA" THIS NEVER FAILED TO GET A CHUCKLE. HE HAD SOME OTHER QUAINT SOUTHERN ADJECTIVES AND EXPRESSION WHICH I HAVE FAILED TO RETAIN. MOST OF THESE REBELS WERE RATHER LAID BACK AND EASY GOING UNTIL THEY HEARD YOUR YANKEE ACCENT AND THEN THEY WOULD CLAM UP AND GIVE YOU THE TREATMENT BY POINTEDLY IGNORING YOU. THE LIEUTENANT IN CHARGE OF THE SECTION WAS ALSO A CHARACTER. HE WAS CONSTANTLY SINGING "BUFFALO GALS WON'T YOU COME OUT TONIGHT" AND THEN WHEN HE CAME NEAR ANY ONE HE WOULD ASK THEM IF THEY KNEW ANY ADDITIONAL VERSES. HE WAS OBVIOUSLY LOOKING FOR A DISCHARGE AND I THINK HE WAS A REAL PHONY. THIS OUTFIT SEEMED OVERBURDENED WITH MISFITS. THE BEST PART OF DOING MESS DUTY WAS A FULL NIGHT IN THE SACK AND NOT HAVING TO PULL A WATCH ON THE GUNS. THE FOOD WAS WHOLESOME BUT NOT PARTICULARLY TASTY. POTATOES, MILK AND EGGS WERE POWDERED. LARD'S SPECIALTY WHICH EVERYONE LOVED WERE HIS PANCAKES FOR BREAKFAST. WHEN YOU ARE COOKING FOR ABOUT SEVENTY-FIVE PEOPLE IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC YOU ARE BOUND TO DO A LOT OF SWEATING AND IT WAS FASCINATING TO SEE THE LITTLE DROPS OF SWEAT FALL OFF OF LARD'S NOSE AND CHIN AND DANCE AROUND IN THE PANCAKES OR JUST SIT IN THE BATTER UNTIL THEY WERE FLIPPED. NO DETERRENT. ANOTHER INTERESTING ITEM WAS THE BREAD FROM THE SEABEE BAKERY. IT LOOKED LIKE WHOLE WHEAT BREAD UNTIL UPON VERY CLOSE EXAMINATION YOU SAW THAT IT WAS LITTLE HARD SHELL BUGS CALLED COCONUT BUGS. THESE WERE SMALL ENOUGH TO GET THROUGH THE SCREENING AT THE BAKERY AND BELIEVE ME, THEY WERE IN THE BREAD BY THE HUNDREDS. YOU COULD NOT PICK THEM OUT OF THE SLICE OF BREAD AND STILL HAVE ANY BREAD LEFT. SO YOU JUST IGNORED THEM AND CRUNCHED THEM LIKE WHOLE WHEAT. ONE MORE STEP UP ON THE EDUCATION LADDER, WE WERE LEARNING FAST.. WE ALSO HAD NEW ZEALAND "GOAT" ONCE A WEEK. OF COURSE IT WAS SHEEP BUT IT SEEMED MORE APPROPRIATE TO CALL IT GOAT. PROBABLY A THROWBACK TO ANOTHER ISLANDER WHO ATE GOAT, ROBINSON CARUSO. LARD WOULD DISGUISE THE SHEEP IN A STEW CALLED SLUM WHICH WAS MOSTLY CANNED TOMATOES, KETCHUP AND VARIOUS VEGETABLES {CANNED}. THIS DISH WAS ALWAYS COMMENTED ON FOR ITS POOR QUALITY. THIS WAS THE ONLY FRESH MEAT WE HAD TO EAT. FISH WERE OFF LIMITS, WE WERE NOT TO CONSUME ANY NATIVE FOOD. BUT WE ALWAYS VIOLATED THIS BY PURCHASING BANANAS. AT SOME TIME WHEN WE WERE ON MESS DUTY A VERY GREAT TREAT ARRIVED. IT WAS IN THE FORM OF A CRATE OF EGGS. THIS WAS AN UNBELIEVABLE TREAT. WE WOULD ALL LINE UP AS LARD WAS FRYING THEM ON THE STOVE AND REALLY RELISH THEM. I THINK THAT WE HAD THESE FOR TWO MORNING BREAKFASTS. THEN MR. WILLIAMS DECIDED THAT THE REMAINDER WOULD BE FOR THE OFFICER'S ONLY. THEY CONTINUED TO ENJOY THEM FOR ABOUT ANOTHER FOUR OR FIVE DAYS. AS YOU WOULD ASSUME FATHER TIME BEGAN TO TAKE HIS TOLE AND THE EGGS ACQUIRED A DEFINITE FLAVOR IN THE TROPICS. I WELL REMEMBER JOE FROSCINA HESITATING TO TAKE THE LAST ONES OUT TO THE SMALL DINING AREA WHERE THE OFFICER'S ATE. THE ORDER FROM THESE EGGS WAS THAT BAD. LARD TOLD HIM TO TAKE THEM OUT AND TO OUR AMAZEMENT THEY WERE CONSUMED WITHOUT A COMMENT. ONE OF MY FAVORITE DIVERSIONS WAS DRIVING THE COMMANDING OFFICER'S JEEP DOWN TO THE SEABEE CAMP TO PICK UP FLAKE ICE FOR THE OFFICER' S SCOTCH. [ I HAD BEEN SELECTED FOR THIS BECAUSE I WAS ONE OF THE FEW PEOPLE IN THE OUTFIT TO HOLD A DRIVERS LICENSE.] ONE BOTTLE PER MONTH ISSUED TO THE OFFICERS. WHILE I WOULD BE WAITING FOR THE CHIPPED ICE TO ACCUMULATE, I WOULD LOOK THROUGH THE SCREEN AT THE SAILOR'S WORKING IN THE GALLEY AND IF YOU LOOKED SORROWFUL ENOUGH, THEY WOULD OCCASIONALLY PASS OUT A COUPLE OF HOT CROSS BUNS THAT WERE SO DELICIOUS. THEN THERE WAS THE WATER DETAIL. WE HAD A CATERPILLAR TRACTOR IN THE BATTERY AND WOULD HAVE TO HAUL WATER INTO CAMP FOR SHOWERS AND COOKING. THIS WAS HAULED IN A FIVE HUNDRED GALLON TRAILER. I WAS INSTRUCTED IN HOW TO OPERATE THIS MACHINE AND SHOWN THE ROUTE BY A VERY CHEERFUL MEXICAN-AMERICAN CALLED CHICO. HE ALSO PLAYED THE GUITAR AND SANG SONGS FOR OUR ENTERTAINMENT. "THE WABASH CANNONBALL", "YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE" AND "ROSE OF SAN ANTONE" WERE THE FAVORITES. THE C.O. OF FOX BATTERY WAS A VERY FINE FIRST LIEUTENANT BY THE NAME OF WILLIAMS, A GRADUATE OF THE NAVAL ACADEMY. HIS RIGHT HAND MAN WAS ALSO A VERY SNAPPY OFFICER BY THE NAME OF VAN OVERAN. HE HAD A NEAT HANDLEBAR MOUSTACHE AND IT WAS A PLEASURE TO SEE HIM SNAP THAT 03 RIFLE AROUND WHEN WE HAD INSPECTION OF THE TROOPS. HE WOULD SNAP THAT RIFLE OUT OF YOUR HANDS THROW THE BOLT OPEN AND SWING IT UP IN THE AIR WHICH CAUSED THE BOLT TO SLIDE OPEN FOR INSPECTION OF THE BARREL. THEN MORE SLAPPING OF THE LEATHER SLING AND RETURNED TO YOU WITH A QUICK THRUST TO PORT POSITION AND IF YOU DID NOT GET INTO THE SYNC OF THIS MANEUVER IT COULD BE A DISASTER. THE FIRST TIME I STOOD INSPECTION I COULD SEE THIS WAS GOING TO BE CLOSE COORDINATION AND I WAS READY FOR HIM. WHAT I DID NOT KNOW WAS THAT HE SAW I WAS A NEWCOMER AND DID NOT SLAP THE RIFLE AWAY FROM ME AS HE USUALLY DID. WHEN HE MADE HIS FIRST MOVE I DROPPED THE RIFLE AND THEN SAW HE WAS NOT GOING TO GRAB IT. SO THEN I TRIED TO ADJUST. THE RESULTING SITUATION MADE THE BOTH OF US SMILE SO THE NE XT TIME WE HAD INSPECTION WE WERE BOTH ON THE BALL, SO TO SPEAK. I DON'T REMEMBER THE LIEUTENANT WHO WAS IN CHARGE OF THE MACHINE GUNNERS BUT HE WAS SOME WHAT OF A MESS, NOT VERY NEAT AND WANTED TO BE BUDDY BUDDY WITH ALL OF THE MEN SO HE WAS A HAVEN FOR ALL THE BUTT KISSERS.

I WAS ASSIGNED TO GUN FOUR.. THEN THERE WAS BRUCE WHO WAS ALSO ON THE SAME GUN AS I, WAS A NICE KID WHO WAS CONVINCED THAT HE WAS GOING CRAZY IN THE TROPICS. HE KEPT ASKING NEW ARRIVALS IF THEY THOUGHT HE WAS ACTING WEIRD. OF COURSE EVERYONE ASSURED HIM THAT THEY CONSIDERED HIM NORMAL, WHICH OF COURSE WAS A LIE. JOHNNY ROGOWSKI HOWEVER WHEN HE WAS ASKED BY BRUCE IF HE THOUGHT HE WAS O.K. HE TOLD HIM THAT HE THOUGHT HE WAS CRAZY AS A LOON AND GOOFY AS HELL.. FROM THEN ON HIS NAME WAS CRAZY OR GOOFY. THIS ANNOYED HIM BUT HE ALSO CEASED THE QUESTIONING. ONE OF THE UNWRITTEN REQUIREMENTS WHEN YOU WERE OVERSEAS WAS THAT YOU BE GIVEN AN APPROPRIATE NICKNAME, ONE THAT WOULD HOPEFULLY PROVOKE HUMOR FOR ALL AT YOUR EXPENSE.. NO ONE WANTED TO STAND WATCH WITH BRUCE BECAUSE OF HIS UNUSUAL BEHAVIOR SO WHO DO YOU THINK VOLUNTEERED TO STAND WATCH WITH HIM? A TYPICAL NIGHT ON WATCH WITH BRUCE WOULD BE A FEW MINUTES OF CONVERSATION ABOUT THINGS IN GENERAL, THE WAR OR HOW THINGS WERE BACK STATESIDE. THEN EVENTUALLY THE CONVERSATION WOULD PETER OUT AND SILENCE WOULD SET IN AFTER A PERIOD OF TIME HE WOULD LEAVE THE GUN AND DISAPPEAR. AFTER A SHORT TIME HE WOULD RETURN WITH A LARGE CAN OF VIENNA SAUSAGES, WHICH HE WOULD PROCEED TO OPEN AND DEVOUR RATHER NOISILY. WHEN THEY WERE ALMOST GONE HE WOULD ASK IF I WOULD LIKE SOME AND I WOULD EAT A FEW AND THEN HE WOULD PROCEED TO FINISH THE REST. THESE WERE RATHER LARGE SAUSAGES AND THE CAN WAS AT LEAST QUART SIZE SO IT WAS QUITE A LARGE SNACK. THIS WAS A TYPICAL NIGHT ON WATCH WITH BRUCE. HE NEVER SEEMED TO GET TIRED OF EATING SUCH A LARGE QUANTITY OF SAUSAGES AND HE NEVER GOT CAUGHT STEALING THEM FROM THE GALLEY. AT HEART HE WAS A NICE FELLOW AND ONCE IN A WHILE WE WOULD GET A PAIR OF BOXING GLOVES FROM THE BATTERY SUPPLY TENT AND GO A FEW ROUNDS TOGETHER. HE WAS A VERY POWERFUL FELLOW AND IF I WOULD HAPPEN TO LAND A GOOD ONE HE WOULD BECOME VERY ANNOYED. ANOTHER GUN CAPTAIN WAS A FELLOW FROM NEW JERSEY AND A REAL SNOB. VERY AFFECTED AND CONTINUALLY INFORMING THE REST OF US THE CORRECT MANNER OF EATING AND BEHAVING. LETTING EVERYONE KNOW BY HIS ATTITUDE THAT HE WAS TOO GOOD FOR THE REST OF US AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN MADE AN OFFICER. AS A RESULT HE ACQUIRED THE NICKNAME OF "EMILY POST" BUT THEN THIS WAS CHANGED TO "THE MADAM". THIS CAUSED HIM GREAT CONSTERNATION BUT THE NAME STUCK. ANOTHER MACHINE GUNNER WAS A VERY MEEK AND MILD FELLOW FROM TEXAS BY THE NAME OF HANCOCK. HE TOO WAS TOTALLY DISMAYED AND CONSTANTLY COMPLAINED ABOUT EVERYTHING. COMING INTO THE FIFTIES ABOUT THE SAME TIME THAT I DID WAS MILT FISHER, BILL BROWN, BILL DECKER AND TONY LIBASCI.

THE NINETY MILLIMETER BATTERY FIRST SERGEANT WAS A VERY PLEASANT FELLOW BY THE NAME OF LARSEN.. HE WAS A FIRST RATE TOP SERGEANT WHO TREATED EVERYONE EQUALLY, NO ROOM FOR BROWN NOSERS.. ALSO MET A SALTY OLD TIMER FROM MERIDEN BY THE NAME OF SULLIVAN WHO HAD A PROBLEM WITH ALCOHOL. HE COULD NOT KEEP A RANK WHEN HE WAS ANY PLACE WHERE HE COULD OBTAIN ALCOHOL. WHEN HE WAS OVERSEAS, HOWEVER HE WAS A PLEASANT FELLOW AND A GOOD MARINE WHO DID THINGS BY THE MANUAL WITHOUT BEING G.I. OR OVERBEARING. THE BATTERY HAD A RADAR AND WE WERE VERY IMPRESSED WITH THIS NEW DEVICE WHICH COULD DETECT INCOMING AIRCRAFT. IT HAD A HUGE ANTENNA AND WAS MANUALLY OPERATED WITH VERY SMALL SCOPES IN FRONT OF THE TWO OPERATORS. THIS WAS COMPLETELY OUT IN THE OPEN, TOTALLY UNLIKE THE LATER ONES WE HAD ON OKINAWA, WHICH WERE COMPLETELY ENCLOSED AND AUTOMATICALLY OPERATED AND WOULD LOCK ON TO THE NEAREST TARGET.

THE N.C.O. IN CHARGE OF THE RADAR HAD A VERY INTERESTING DIVERSION. HE HAD ACCESS TO BLOCKS OF DYNAMITE AND FUSES AND HE WOULD TAKE A PACK OF THESE DOWN TO THE NATIVE VILLAGE . HE AND A COUPLE OF NATIVES WOULD SAIL OUT TO THE EDGE OF THE BREAKERS AND TOSS A BLOCK OF THE EXPLOSIVE INTO THE WATER AND IT WOULD STUN THE FISH. THE NATIVES WOULD DIVE IN AND TOSS THEM INTO THE CRAFT BEFORE THEY WOULD RECOVER. SOME OF THESE FISH WERE VERY EXOTIC AND I WOULD BE APPREHENSIVE THAT SOME OF THEM MIGHT BE POISONOUS. I DID NOT PARTAKE OF THIS FRESH FISH. SOME TIMES THE NATIVES WOULD TAKE A BITE OUT OF THEM WHILE FISHING. THAT WAS REALLY FRESH FISH.

THE NATIVES ON THIS ISLAND PRACTICED "KICK FIGHTING". INSTEAD OF USING THEIR FISTS WHILE FIGHTING THEY USED THEIR FEET INSTEAD. AT SOME POINT IN TIME WHILE WE WERE THERE SOME NATIVE SOLDIERS WERE SENT OVER FROM NEW CALEDONIA. THEY WERE VERY STOCKY AND MUSCULAR. REAL TOUGH SPECIMENS. OF COURSE THEY DID WHAT ANY SOLDIER WOULD DO AND STARTED TO COZY UP TO THE " FAFINES" (SINGLE GIRL). ONE OF THEM HAPPENED TO SELECT A "WAHINE" ( A GAL WHO WAS MARRIED) AND GOT INTO A SET TO WITH THE HUSBAND AND HIT HIM SO HARD WITH HIS FOOT THAT HE BROKE HIS NECK AND KILLED HIM. I HAD SEEN A DEMONSTRATION OF THIS TYPE OF FIGHTING AND WAS QUITE IMPRESSED WITH HOW DEADLY IT COULD BE.

ONE OF THE INTERESTING FOODS THE NATIVES USED WAS THE MANIOC ROOT.. THIS WAS A LARGE BLACK ROOT, SORT OF IN THE SHAPE OF A SWEET POTATO. WHEN RAW IT WAS POISONOUS TO HUMANS ALTHOUGH THE HORSES WOULD NIBBLE ON IT WITH NO ILL EFFECTS. THIS WOULD BE GRATED VERY FINE AND IT PRODUCED A WHITE MILKY FLUID THAT WAS DRIED AND THE FLOUR FROM THIS WOULD BE USED TO COOK A SORT OF A PANCAKE. WHEN IT WAS COOKED IT LOST IT'S POISONOUS QUALITY. PIGS WERE VERY PREVALENT ON THE ISLAND AND WANDERED ABOUT QUITE FREELY. ON SPECIAL OCCASIONS ONE WOULD BE BUTCHERED AND COOKED UP IN A PIT, NATIVE STYLE. I WAS AMAZED AT HOW LITTLE THEY WERE COOKED, ALMOST RAW AND COULD NOT FIGURE OUT WHY THEY DID NOT GET SICK FROM THIS UNDERCOOKED PORK.

RECREATION

ONE DAY A NATIVE CAME THROUGH THE BATTERY WITH A SMALL HORSE AND OFFERED TO LET ME RENT IT FOR FIVE DOLLARS A MONTH. I TOOK I HIM UP ON THE OFFER. I HAD TO MAKE A BRIDLE AND REINS FOR HIM OUT OF CLOTHESLINE ROPE AND THEN GET FRIENDLY WITH HIM. HE EVIDENTLY DID NOT LIKE MARINES. HOWEVER I SOON CHANGED HIS ATTITUDE WITH BANANAS DIPPED IN SUGAR AND SCRATCHING HIS BACK SHOWED HIM WE WERE PALS. HE WAS A VERY RESPONSIVE HORSE TO ANY COMMAND. AND WOULD PREFER TO JUMP OVER ANY OBSTACLE INSTEAD OF GOING AROUND. THE DRAINAGE DITCH FROM THE AIRFIELD MADE A GOOD TRAIL RIDE. ONE DAY CHICO ASKED IF HE COULD TAKE HIM FOR A RIDE. OF COURSE WE WANTED TO SEE WHAT A CABALLERO COULD DO AND WE ALL GATHERED ROUND TO OBSERVE. FIRST THING HE RODE HIM THROUGH THE BATTERY AND REMOVED ALL THE CLOTHES LINES. THEN WHEN HE ATTEMPTED TO TURN HIM AROUND HE SLIDE RIGHT OFF HIS BACK. AGAINST MY ADVICE, HE HAD PUT HIS WOOLEN BLANKET ON FOR A SADDLE AND THIS MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR HIM TO SLIDE OFF WITH THE GREATEST OF EASE. THE ONLY WAY TO RIDE THIS HORSE WAS BAREBACK. THIS EVENT CAUSED GREAT HILARITY FOR THE NEXT FEW DAYS BUT CHICO WAS VERY GOOD-NATURED AND TOOK THE RIBBING VERY WELL. THE GATHERING IN THE CHOW LINE WAS WHERE EVERYONE EXCHANGED GOSSIP AND SCUTTLEBUTT ONE FELLOW IN PARTICULAR STANDS OUT. HE WOULD HOLD HIS CANTEEN CUP UP TO HIS FACE LIKE THE NEWS CAMERA MEN , MAKE BELIEVE HE WAS GRINDING A MOVIETONE CAMERA AND INTERVIEW THE PEOPLE IN THE CHOW LINE. EVERYONE ENJOYED THIS SESSION AND WOULD THROW IN COMMENTS TO ASSIST HIM. THE SHOWERS WERE COLD WATER OF COURSE AND EVEN ON A VERY HOT DAY WOULD MAKE YOU SHIVER AND YELP WHEN THAT STREAM OF WATER HIT YOU. WE HAD A RECONNAISSANCE VEHICLE IN THE BATTERY WITH AN ASSIGNED DRIVER WHOSE NAME WAS REEVES, ANOTHER TEXAN. HE WAS AN EASY GOING FELLOW AND OF COURSE HE WAS ALWAYS REFERRED TO AS "RECON REEVES".

"ANDY" MOST OF THE TIME OPERATED THE CATERPILLAR TRACTOR FOR THE MOST PART AND HE WAS VERY JEALOUS OF ANYONE ELSE WHO DROVE IT. I REMEMBER ONE ATTEMPT BY ANDY TO CURTAIL THE USE OF THIS BY ANYONE ELSE LEAD TO A VERY HUMOROUS INCIDENT. THE CAT HAD TO BE CRANKED BY HAND IN ORDER TO START IT. THERE WAS A SWITCH SO THAT IT STARTED ON GASOLINE AND THEN WHEN THE ENGINE WARMED UP YOU WOULD SWITCH OVER TO DIESEL. WELL ANDY HAD AN IDEA THAT WAS NOT VERY WELL THOUGHT OUT. ONE DAY WHEN HE FINISHED WHATEVER HE HAD TO DO WITH THE CAT HE PLACED THE CRANK ON THE GROUND RAN THE CAT ON TOP OF IT AND SHUT THE ENGINE OFF. NEXT MORNING ANDY HAD TO GO TO THE SUPPLY TENT, RUN BY A FELLOW NAMED BOWSER, AND DRAW A SHOVEL IN ORDER TO DIG OUT THE HAND CRANK. THIS PROVIDED MANY HOURS OF ENTERTAINMENT FOR FOX BATTERY. ONE OTHER THING THAT MADE ANDY OUT TO BE QUITE A CHARACTER WAS THAT SOMEWHERE HE HAD ACQUIRED A PAIR OF WOMEN SILK UNDERPANTS AND THERE IN THE MIDST OF HIS LAUNDRY WOULD BE THESE UNDER PANTS WAVING IN THE BREEZE. I DON'T RECALL THAT ANYONE QUESTIONED HIM ON THIS I THINK IT WAS LEFT TO THE INDIVIDUAL TO ARRIVE AT HIS OWN SURMISE.

WE HAD TWO YOUNG KIDS IN THE BATTERY THAT WERE UNQUESTIONABLY UNDER AGE. ONE WAS A FELLOW FROM KENOSHA, WISCONSIN. I DON'T RECALL HIS REAL NAME BUT I DO REMEMBER HIS NICKNAME, "BUBBLEBUTT" HE WAS ALWAYS CHEERFUL AND HAD A READY SMILE FOR EVERYONE. HE RAN ONE OF THE TRAVERSE WHEELS ON THE NINETY. THE RANGE SECTION WAS OF COURSE THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE BATTERY. LIEUTENANT WILLIAMS AS I SAID WAS A VERY FINE OFFICER AND REALLY KNEW HIS BUSINESS. THE GUNS, THANKS TO THE RANGE SECTION WERE SO ACCURATE THAT THEY WOULD FREQUENTLY KNOCK THE SLEEVE, TOWED BY THE TARGET PLANE, DOWN ON THE FIRST BURST. REMEMBER, THIS WAS IN THE DAYS WHEN THE FUSE OF THE SHELL WAS MANUALLY "CUT" TO GO OFF. CUTTING THE FUSE MEANT YOU HAD TO KNOW IN ADVANCE HOW LONG IT WOULD TAKE FOR THE PROJECTILE TO ARRIVE AT THE TARGET. A VERY COMPLICATED SET OF PROBLEMS HAD TO BE SOLVED SIMULTANEOUSLY IN ORDER TO ACCOMPLISH A HIT ON THE TARGET. BY THE TIME WE GOT TO OKINAWA WE HAD PROXIMITY FUSES THAT SET THE SHELL OFF AUTOMATICALLY WHEN IT WAS IN THE VICINITY OF THE TARGET.

MOVIES WERE SHOWN WEEKLY AT THE END OF THE RUNWAY WHERE THERE WAS A LARGE SCREEN AND PROJECTION ROOM. ALL IN THE OPEN OF COURSE SO WE WOULD HIKE DOWN, SIT ON OUR PONCHO AND WAIT FOR DARK AND THE MOSQUITOES TO SET IN. MOST OF THE MOVIES WERE QUITE ANCIENT BUT IT WAS BETTER THAN NOTHING. I MIGHT MENTION THAT WHENEVER YOU WENT LEFT THE BATTERY AREA YOU WERE REQUIRED TO TAKE YOUR RILE AND AMMO WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES. IN THE EIGHT MONTHS WE WERE ON WALLEESEE I RECALL ONLY ONE U.S.O. SHOW CONSISTING OF TWO OLD VAUDEVILLE GUYS THAT TOLD DIRTY JOKES WHILE JUGGLING. BACK IN THE STATES THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN BOOTED OFF THE STAGE BUT WE WANTED ENTERTAINMENT IN ANY FORM. MOST OF THE ENTERTAINMENT WAS SELF INFLICTED. WE HAD GROUP SINGING AND JUST GENERAL FOOLING AROUND. THE FAVORITE OF COURSE WAS THE OLD "WABASH CANNONBALL". WE ALSO FOUND OUT THAT THE WORDS TO THE MARINE HYMN SUITED THIS MELODY. RECON REEVES WOULD SING "EL RANCHO GRANDE" IN SPANISH. CHICO WOULD SOMETIMES PLAY HIS GUITAR AND SING SONGS IN SPANISH. THE FAVORITE SUBJECTS FOR SHOOTING THE BREEZE WERE ABOUT THE THINGS WHICH WERE UNOBTAINABLE. GIRLS WERE NUMBER ONE AND ICE-CREAM SODAS A CLOSE SECOND MAYBE COCA-COLA, MOM'S COOKING WAS ANOTHER ONE AND WE WOULD CALL OUT OUR FAVORITE MEAL AND VERY CAREFULLY TELL HOW IT WAS PREPARED AND HOW DELICIOUS IT TASTED. THE COMPETITION TO BEST EACH OTHER WITH DELICIOUS MEALS WENT ON AND ON. HAIR CUTS WERE ADMINISTERED BY THE LOCAL SELF APPOINTED BARBER IN THE BATTERY. ANY ONE WHO FELT HE HAD THE TALENT COULD BE THE BATTERY BARBER I TOOK A CHANCE AT IT FOR A WHILE AND NEVER HAD ANY COMPLAINTS. OF COURSE THE QUALITY DID NOT RANK HIGH, JUST AS LONG AS IT WAS FAIRLY PRESENTABLE. BEER RATION, WHEN IT WAS AVAILABLE, WAS TWO BOTTLES PER WEEK. MOSTLY YOU LOANED YOUR BEER RATION OUT SO THAT WHEN IT WAS PAYBACK TIME YOU COULD HAVE ENOUGH TO GET A BUZZ ON.

AT SOME POINT IN TIME I WAS TOLD THAT I WAS GOING TO BE THE P.X. STEWARD FOR THE BATTERY. I HAVE NO IDEA HOW THIS SELECTION WAS MADE BUT I WAS HAPPY TO HAVE SOMETHING TO DO EVEN IF IT ONLY ENTAILED A FEW HOURS A WEEK AND A SMALL AMOUNT OF RECORD KEEPING. A LIEUTENANT AND I WOULD GO TO THE MAIN P.X. STOREHOUSE ON THE ISLAND AND BRING BACK SUPPLIES WHICH THEY HAD TO OFFER. THIS INCLUDED, CIGARETTES, CIGARS, AQUAVELVA, CANDY AND VARIOUS OTHER ITEMS WHICH WERE VERY SCARCE. A RECORD WOULD BE MADE OF WHAT EACH PERSON HAD
SELECTED AND THEN THIS WOULD BE TALLIED UP AT THE END OF THE MONTH ON PAYDAY. THIS JOB LASTED FOR ABOUT A YEAR. I REMEMBER THE LAST TIME WE WENT TO DRAW SUPPLIES ON APAMAMA, IN A TENT WHERE WE WENT TO DRAW THE SUPPLIES, THERE WAS A PRETTY YOUNG GIRL SITTING ON A COT IN THE TENT WATCHING THE GOINGS ON WITH GREAT INTEREST. WHEN I WALKED IN WITH THE LIEUTENANT, SHE PATTED THE SEAT NEXT TO HER AND SAID, "WON'T YOU SIT DOWN?" I WAS DUMBFOUNDED AT HER PERFECT ENGLISH AND TRYING TO BE SO COURTEOUS. BESIDES BEING SO ATTRACTIVE AND, IN THE NATIVE FASHION, EXPOSED BREASTS. SHE REALLY HAD ME IN A DILEMMA. SO I SAT DOWN AND THEN LOOKED TO THE LIEUTENANT FOR FURTHER HELP. HE JUST SMIRKED AND WENT ABOUT HIS BUSINESS. WHEN WE HAD COMPLETED OUR TRANSACTION I GOT UP, SAID GOODBYE TO HER AND LEFT. {BACK TO WALLEESEE} ON ONE OCCASION THREE OF THE FELLOWS IN THE TENT WITH ME WENT OUT ON A SCROUNGING PARTY AND CAME BACK WITH SUFFICIENT LUMBER TO BUILD PLATFORMS NEXT TO THEIR COTS SO THEY COULD KEEP THEIR SHOES AND FEET OFF OF THE GROUND. I DON'T KNOW WHERE THEY OBTAINED IT BUT ONE DAY WHILE I WAS IN THE TENT ALL ALONE, READING OR WRITING LETTERS, THESE THREE RANKING OFFICERS CAME INTO THE TENT AND VERY SERIOUSLY STUDIED THE PLATFORMS AND THEN LEFT. SOON AFTER THE THREE KIDS WHO HAD ACQUIRED THE LUMBER WERE GIVEN A DECK COURT-MARTIAL AND RECEIVED THE CUSTOMARY FIVE DAYS CAKE AND WINE. OF COURSE THIS WAS RIDICULOUS BECAUSE THE BRIG WAS AN EMPTY TENT IN THE BATTERY AND THE GUARD WAS ONE OF US SO AFTER DARK WE WOULD THROW SNACKS INTO THE TENT AND THEY PROBABLY ATE BETTER THAN WE DID.

SOME OF THE EARLY ARRIVALS ON WALLEESEE HAD CONTRACTED WITH THE NATIVES TO BUILD THEM A NATIVE "FALE" WHICH HAD A COCOANUT LEAF THATCHED ROOF , AND A WOODEN DECK. VERY COMFORTABLE QUARTERS COMPARED WITH THE PYRAMIDAL TENTS THAT MOST OF THE FELLOWS LIVED IN. WHEN SOME OF THE EARLY ARRIVERS WERE SENT HOME OR WERE TRANSFERRED SOMEONE WOULD BE GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO FILL THERE SPOT IN THE FALE. I WAS ONE OF THE LUCKY ONES AND WAS VERY HAPPY TO TRANSFER TO THIS HEIGHT OF LUXURY. VERY SPACIOUS AND ALSO A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF PRESTIGE.

THE ISLAND HAD TO BE CONSTANTLY RESUPPLIED WITH OIL AMMUNITION AND FUEL SO THERE WERE CONSTANT WORKING PARTIES. THERE WAS NO DOCK ON THIS ISLAND AND THE SUPPLIES HAD TO BE FERRIED IN ON HUGE BARGES POWERED BY VERY LARGE OUTBOARD MOTORS. ONCE A SUPPLY SHIP CAME IN IT HAD TO BE UNLOADED AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE SO THE WORKING PARTIES WERE AROUND THE CLOCK, IN HEAT OF THE DAY AND THUNDERSTORMS AT NIGHT. PUSHING AN EIGHTY GALLON DRUM OF OIL, SLIPPERY WITH MUD, UP A SHARPLY INCLINED RAMP INTO THE BACK OF A TRUCK, WAS QUITE AN EFFORT IN ITSELF. WE FOUND OUT THAT WE COULD FALL ASLEEP ON A TWO BY SIX IN THE MIDDLE OF A TROPICAL DOWNPOUR, WHEN THERE WAS A LULL IN THE INCOMING SHIPMENT. ONE OF THE INEQUITIES IN THIS OUTFIT WAS THE WAY THE WORKING PARTIES WERE ASSIGNED. BECAUSE WE WERE IN SPECIAL WEAPONS AND ATTACHED TO FOX BATTERY, WE DID NOT HAVE TO GO ON AS MANY WORKING PARTIES AS THE NINETY MILLIMETER PEOPLE. THIS CAUSED QUITE A BIT OF RESENTMENT ON THEIR PART. SOMEBODY IN HIGHER COMMAND REALLY SCREWED UP ON THIS ONE AS IT WAS TRULY NOT FAIR AND LED TO FURTHER DETERIORATION OF MORALE WHICH WAS NOT OF THE BEST IN THE FIRST PLACE.

AS YOU MIGHT SURMISE, BETWEEN THE HEAT CAUSING US TO SWEAT A LOT AND THE MUD WE WORKED IN, OUR CLOTHING REQUIRED FREQUENT LAUNDERING. THIS WAS PERFORMED BY US INDIVIDUALLY. NO NEARBY LAUNDRY. THE WASHING MACHINE WAS A CUT DOWN GASOLINE DRUM AND WE WOULD PUT IN A FEW GALLONS OF WATER, CUT UP HALF A BAR OF SOAP AND BOIL IT FOR ABOUT FIFTEEN OR TWENTY MINUTES. GIVE IT A RINSE AND THEN HANG IT OUT ON THE LINE NEARBY. WHEN THE CLOTHING WAS DRY WE WOULD FOLD THE PANTS AND SHIRTS VERY CAREFULLY AND PUT THEM BETWEEN THE CANVAS ON THE COT AND THE PAD THAT WAS USED AS A MATTRESS AND WHEN WE WOULD RELAX ON THE COT WE WERE "DOING OUR IRONING". THIS WAS AN ALTERNATE TO HAVING ONE OF THE NATIVE FAMILIES DO YOUR LAUNDRY. THEY WOULD REQUIRE YOU TO FURNISH A BAR OF SOAP AND ONE OR TWO DOLLARS. THEY WOULD BRING IT BACK NEATLY FOLDED AND SCENTED WITH SOME HERB OR BERRY THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO REPEL THE MOSQUITOES. SOME TIMES THEY WOULD DECORATE YOUR SHIRT WITH YOUR NAME NEATLY EMBROIDERED OVER THE POCKET IN NATIVE SPELLING. THIS WAS VERY TABOO AMONGST SOME OF THE SOUTHERNERS.

QUEEN ANN SCOTCH

I DO RECALL ONE MEMORABLE WORKING PARTY. A LOAD OF THE INFAMOUS NEW ZEALAND GOAT CAME IN AND I WAS ONE OF THE WORKING PARTY ASSIGNED TO PERFORM THIS CHORE. THE FROZEN CARCASSES WERE SHIPPED IN ON REFRIGERATED TUNA BOATS THAT HAD BEEN CONFISCATED BY THE NAVY FOR THIS PURPOSE. THEY WERE CALLED "YIPPIE BOATS" FROM THE NAVY DESIGNATION OF Y.P. OR YARD PATROL. IT WAS A RELIEF FROM THE HEAT TO GO DOWN INTO THIS VERY COLD HOLD OF THE BOAT AND HEAVE UP THESE STIFF CARCASSES OF SHEEP STACKED UP LIKE CORD WOOD. WE WERE WORKING OUR WAY UP FORWARD WHEN A BUNCH OF THESE CARCASSES ROLLED DOWN AND EXPOSED SEVERAL CASES OF QUEEN ANN SCOTCH STACKED UP IN THE BOW. IT WAS AS THOUGH GOD HAD DELIVERED MANNA FROM HEAVEN. NO ONE HAD SAID WE WERE TO UNLOAD SCOTCH, SO WE ASSUMED THAT THIS WAS TO CONTINUE ON TO SAMOA FOR THE UPPER ECHELON OFFICERS THERE. I HAD A PENKNIFE AND SLIT A CORNER OF A CASE OPEN AND REMOVED A TISSUE WRAPPED BOTTLE WHICH WE PROMPTLY CONSUMED AND THEN RETURNED TO IT'S PLACE IN THE CASE. NO SOONER HAD THIS OPERATION BEEN PERFORMED THAN ONE OF THE OFFICERS IN CHARGE OF THE WORKING PARTY YELLED DOWN, " SEND UP THAT WHISKY" THE VISION OF A GENERAL COURT-MARTIAL ENTERED OUR HEADS. WE MANAGED TO ESCAPE DETECTION SOMEHOW AND HEAVED A SIGH OF RELIEF WHEN WE RETURNED TO THE BATTERY UNSCATHED.

STUZINSKY

BEFORE I GO ANY FURTHER I WANT TO TELL YOU ABOUT "STU" WHO DID MESS DUTY IN THE GALLEY WITH ME IN JANUARY OF 1943. AFTER WE DID OUR HITCH OF COURSE HE WENT TO THE NINETIES AND I WENT BACK TO THE MACHINE GUN. SO WE ENCOUNTERED EACH OTHER ONLY IN THE CHOW LINE. AT SOME PERIOD OF TIME HE MANAGED TO GET TRANSFERRED TO SOME OTHER OUTFIT ON THE ISLAND AND EVERYONE LOST TOUCH WITH HIM EXCEPT FOR AN OCCASIONAL REPORT THAT HE HAD GOTTEN INTO SOME KIND OF TROUBLE AND WAS GIVEN BRIG TIME AGAIN. WHILE WE WERE DOING DUTY TOGETHER IN THE MESS HALL HE CONFIDED TO ME THAT HE WAS IN LOVE WITH A GIRL BACK IN WYOMING WHERE HE CAME FROM AND THAT SHE WAS IN LOVE WITH HIM. THE PROBLEM WAS, THAT SHE WAS MARRIED TO A FELLOW WHOM SHE WAS NOT IN LOVE WITH. HE HAD PLANS TO GO BACK AND DO AWAY WITH THE HUSBAND SO THAT THEY COULD LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER.. THIS WAS SO FAR OUT THAT I JUST LISTENED TO HIM AND MADE NO COMMENT. THIS CONDITION MUST HAVE PREYED ON HIS MIND AND TOGETHER WITH THE RAISIN JACK AND BOONDOCK BOOZE HE WAS DRINKING PUT HIM OVER THE EDGE. ONE DAY SOME OF HIS FORMER BUDDIES HEARD THAT HE WAS BEING TAKEN OFF THE ISLAND AND WENT DOWN TO SEE HIM OFF. THE STORY THEY CAME BACK WITH WAS UNBELIEVABLE. THEY HAD HIM IN A STRAIGHTJACKET AND HE DID NOT OR COULD NOT RECOGNIZE THEM AND GLARED AT THEM WITH THE MOST INTENSE HATRED. IT WAS QUITE A SHOCK BECAUSE HE WAS A VERY LIKABLE FELLOW SOMETHING LIKE A FREDERICK REMINGTON COWBOY IN MARINE CORPS KHAKI. .SO MANY STORIES . SO MANY TRAGEDIES.

THE VISITOR

ONE DAY IN JULY OR AUGUST OF 43 IT WAS ANNOUNCED TO THE ENTIRE ISLAND THAT ON A CERTAIN DAY IN THE FOLLOWING WEEK THAT THERE WOULD BE NO WORKING PARTIES. EVERYONE WAS TO WEAR CLEAN KHAKI AND REMAIN IN THEIR QUARTERS ALL DAY LONG. THE REASON FOR THIS WEIRD ORDER WAS THAT ELEANOR, THE WIFE OF THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF WAS COMING AS A PART OF HER TOUR OF THE PACIFIC. THIS CAUSED QUITE A STIR IN THE OUTFIT AND A LOT OF DISCUSSION ON THE WISDOM OF THIS ACTIVITY ON HER PART. ON THE MORNING OF THE DESIGNATED DAY, WE GATHERED BY THE EDGE OF OUR BATTERY, WHICH, AS I MENTIONED, ADJOINED THE AIRFIELD AND SURE ENOUGH A FLOTILLA OF AIRCRAFT ESCORTED BY SEVERAL GRUMMAN F4F  "WILDCATS" ALL OF WHICH HAD HUGE ACES PAINTED ON THE FUSELAGE CAME INTO THE AIRFIELD. WELL WE WAITED ALL DAY LONG FOR A GLIMPSE OF THIS FAMOUS WOMAN BUT EVIDENTLY SHE HAD OTHER THINGS TO INSPECT BECAUSE WE NEVER EVEN GOT A GLIMPSE OF HER. AT THAT TIME WE HAD NO WAY OF KNOWING WHAT A GREAT PERS0N SHE WAS. MOSTLY SHE WAS HELD UP TO RIDICULE WHICH WAS BASED ON IGNORANCE AND MISINFORMATION. ANOTHER VISITOR WE USED TO ENJOY VIA THE AIRWAVES WAS TOKYO ROSE SHE SPOKE EXCELLENT ENGLISH AND PLAYED ALL OF OUR FAVORITE SONGS, WHICH WAS MORE THAN OUR SIDE DID. SHE ALSO KNEW WHERE WE WERE AND EVERY TIME WE MOVED SHE WELCOMED US TO OUR NEW ISLAND. THIS MADE US SO DISGUSTED. WE COULD NOT TELL THE FOLKS BACK HOME WHERE WE WERE BUT TOKYO ROSE KNEW. LETS CALL THIS "MILITARY INTELLIGENCE"

IFF

ANY FORCE, WHETHER IT BE AN AIRCRAFT OR SHIP HAD TO APPROACH THE ISLAND FROM A CERTAIN DIRECTION AND GO THROUGH SOME KIND OF A MANEUVER TO PROVE THAT THEY WERE A FRIENDLY FORCE. THIS IS WHAT THE TERM I.F.F. MEANT IDENTIFICATION OF FRIENDLY FORCE. RADIO TRANSMISSION WHILE, IT WOULD SEEM TO SUFFICE, WE KNEW THAT SOME OF THE JAPANESE COULD SPEAK ENGLISH VERY WELL AND WOULD GIVE DECEPTIVE ORDERS AS THEY HAD DONE ON GUADALCANAL. ON WALLEESEE WE HAD AN OUTPOST, A LITTLE ISLET CALLED NUKUFUTU WHERE WE HAD VERY PRIMITIVE LIVING QUARTERS FOR TWO OR THREE PEOPLE TO BE STATIONED FOR A WEEK AT A TIME. THEY HAD A RADIO AND WERE TOLD THE IFF FOR THE DAY OR WEEK AND WHENEVER AN AIRCRAFT APPROACHED THEY WOULD HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS MANEUVER THEN THEY WOULD BE CLEARED TO LAND. ONCE IN AWHILE BECAUSE OF IMPENDING WEATHER OR BECAUSE THE PILOT WOULD FORGET WHAT THE IFF FOR THE DAY WAS OR MAYBE JUST SICK OF GOING THROUGH THIS RIDICULOUS EXERCISE, HE WOULD SAY "TO HELL WITH THIS CRAP" AND COME RIGHT IN. AS A RESULT GENERAL QUARTERS WOULD BE SOUNDED AND THE GUNS MANNED.. AS I MENTIONED WE WERE SO FAR FROM THE NEAREST JAPANESE FORCE, AND ALSO BECAUSE THEY WERE NOW BEING BEATEN BACK, THERE WAS NO WAY THAT THEY WOULD HAVE, OR COULD HAVE LAUNCHED AN ATTACK AGAINST US. HOWEVER, WHENEVER WE HAD TO GO TO GENERAL QUARTERS IT WAS ALWAYS WITH THE FOND HOPE THAT MAYBE IT WAS FOR REAL AND WE WOULD GET A SHOT AT THE JAPS. IT NEVER HAPPENED ON WALLEESEE. I WAS PRIVILEGED ON ONE OCCASION TO BE ALLOWED TO ACCOMPANY THE FELLOWS THAT WERE GOING TO RELIEVE THE PEOPLE ON THIS OUT POST. WE HAD TO GO DOWN TO ONE OF THE VILLAGES AND WE WERE MET THERE BY ONE OF THE PROMINENT CHIEFS. WE LOADED UP A NATIVE OUTRIGGER AND PADDLED OUT FROM THE BEACH AND THEN SET SAIL FOR THE LITTLE OUTPOST. IT WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE TO SKIM OVER THE WAVES IN THIS TRIM LITTLE CRAFT. WHEN WE GOT TO THE ISLAND WE THREW SOME COCOANUTS INTO THE WATER AND HAD A LITTLE TARGET PRACTICE WITH OUR RIFLES. AND THE BATTERY COMMUNICATIONS MAN LET ME TRY OUT HIS FORTY FIVE PISTOL ON THESE TARGETS. A VERY DIFFICULT WEAPON TO FIRE WITH ANY ACCURACY IF YOU WERE NOT USED TO IT. JUST PRIOR TO LEAVING FOR THE GILBERT WE WERE REINFORCED BY A GROUP OF NEW REPLACEMENTS. THE FELLOW I REMEMBER MOST VIVIDLY FROM THIS GROUP WAS JACK TRUSTY. HE WAS A LITTLE ON THE HEAVY SIDE WITH A CHUBBY FACE ALWAYS SMILING SO HE IMMEDIATELY ACQUIRED THE NAME OF "SPANKY" THIS WAS THE NAME OF THE LITTLE CHUBBY KID IN THE "OUR GANG " COMEDIES. JACK AND I SHARED THE LOVE OF SINGING AND JAZZ. THE FAVORITE SONG THAT WE WOULD VOCALIZE TOGETHER WAS "PAPER DOLL" THE WAY THE INK SPOTS SANG IT. HE ALSO WAS VERY GOOD AT DRUMMING AND WOULD USE ANYTHING TO SIMULATE A DRUM AND WOULD GET INTO SOME VERY ACTIVE "JAM SESSIONS". THERE WERE SOME SERIOUS POKER PLAYERS IN THIS OUTFIT. "MOON" MULLINS AND A SERGEANT BY THE NAME OF KILGORE. I LEARNED TO PLAY POKER FROM THEM THE THE HARD WAY, BY LOSING SEVERAL MONTHS WAGES BEFORE I FINALLY CAUGHT ON TO THE TECHNIQUE. SOME OF THESE GAMES WOULD BEGIN IN THE EARLY EVENING AND CONTINUE IN THE MESSHALL RIGHT UP UNTIL BREAKFAST. IT WAS ALWAYS FIVE CARD DRAW POKER AND NO WILD CARDS, POT LIMIT. THIS COULD RUN A POT UP TO A HUNDRED DOLLARS IN SHORT ORDER. THIS WAS IMPRESSIVE BECAUSE IT STARTED OFF MILDLY ENOUGH WITH A "TWO BIT" ANTE. THEN YOU COULD OPEN FOR WHATEVER AMOUNT WAS IN THE

"POT"

ONE OF THE BEST TIMES WAS WHEN THE FIRST SERGEANT WOULD ANNOUNCE "MAIL CALL" . WE EAGERLY LOOKED FORWARD TO LETTERS FROM HOME AND IT WAS VERY UPLIFTING TO RECEIVE THESE ITEMS. OF COURSE THE ONES THAT RECEIVED MORE THAN THE AVERAGE, WHICH WAS ABOUT TWO OR THREE LETTERS, WOULD BE SCORNED AS "MAIL HOGS". EACH PERSON WOULD SECLUDE HIMSELF WHILE READING THESE VERY PRIVATE LETTERS AND THEN SECRET THEM AWAY IN SOME SMALL STORAGE AREA. I ENDED UP WITH A TWO YEAR SUPPLY AND THEN RELUCTANTLY HAD TO DISCARD THEM. PHILLIP STILLMAN NEVER RECEIVED MUCH MAIL AND WE FOUND OUT THAT HE DID NOT WRITE HOME. ONE DAY THE CHAPLAIN CAME TO ASCERTAIN WHY HE DID NOT AS HIS FOLKS WERE WONDERING IF SOMETHING HAD HAPPENED TO HIM. THE STRANGE PART OF THIS SITUATION WAS THAT HE WOULD ENJOY READING OTHER PEOPLES MAIL AND IT WAS HILARIOUS TO HEAR HIM DO THIS AS HE COULD CHANGE THE TONE OF THE LETTER BY CERTAIN INFLECTIONS OF HIS VOICE. OF COURSE PICTURES WERE EAGERLY SOUGHT OUT AND DISPLAYED TO EVERY ONE AND VERY DETAILED DESCRIPTIONS OF THE PEOPLE IN THE PHOTOS. MORE ESPECIALLY IF IT WERE THE GIRLFRIEND.

WE SHIP OUT

IN OCTOBER OF 43 AN ARMY AA OUTFIT CAME IN TO RELIEVE US AS THE SCUTTLEBUTT WAS THAT WE WERE HEADING NORTH. THIS TURNED OUT TO BE THE INVASION OF THE GILBERT ISLANDS. THIS ARMY OUTFIT HAD BEEN OVERSEAS FOR A YEAR AND A HALF AND WAS THE MOST UNDISCIPLINED AND ROWDY OUTFIT I EVER SAW. THEY HAD NO RESPECT FOR OFFICERS, DIRTY FOR THE MOST PART AND QUARRELING AMONGST THEMSELVES. THEY REALLY WERE IMPRESSED BY THE ACCURACY OF OUR FIRING OF THE GUNS. THEY WERE SO BAD THAT THEY COULD NOT HIT THE SLEEVE AT ALL AND WE WERE HITTING THE SLEEVE WITH THE FIRST BURST. BY THIS TIME WE HAD RECEIVED NEW WEAPONS IN THE FORM OF TWENTY AND FORTY MILLIMETER GUNS, THESE WERE ASSIGNED TO SPECIAL WEAPONS GROUP SO SOME OF THE OLDER MACHINE GUNNERS WERE ASSIGNED TO THEM. WE STAYED WITH THE FIFTIES. I COULD NOT FIGURE OUT WHY THESE POOR FELLOWS WERE NOT SENT BACK HOME FOR LEAVE. THERE WAS NO REASON TO CONTINUE TO OCCUPY THIS GODFORSAKEN ISLAND. ANY FOOL COULD SEE THE JAPS WERE ON THE DEFENSIVE AND THIS WAS WELL OUTSIDE OF ANY ACTIVE PERIMETER. BUT THIS WAS ONE MORE EXAMPLE OF SO CALLED MILITARY INTELLIGENCE. ON ONE OF THE WORKING PARTIES WHICH I WAS ASSIGNED TO, WHILE UNLOADING A TWENTY MILLIMETER GUN ON THE SIDE OF THE CRATE WHICH CONTAINED THE GUN, WRITTEN IN BEAUTIFUL PEN, WAS THE NAME, DOROTHY SMITH, WEST ALEXANDRIA, OHIO. WELL, I SURMISED THAT DOROTHY HAD BEEN WRITTEN TO BY EVERY PERSON WHO HAD SEEN THAT CRATE. SO I DID NOT BOTHER TO WRITE. FOR A YEAR AND A HALF.[TO BE CONTINUED IN KAUAI] ABOUT THE FIRST PART OF NOVEMBER 43 WE BOARDED AN LST FOR THE TRIP NORTH. AN LST WAS LARGE ENOUGH TO HOLD A BATTALION OF MARINES WITH ALL EQUIPMENT AND STILL ONLY DRAW THREE FEET OF WATER. ON THE TRIP NORTH WE ENCOUNTERED A VERY HEAVY TROPICAL STORM AND THAT THING ROLLED UNTIL I THOUGHT FOR SURE WE WERE GOING TO DEEP SIX IT. I THINK IT TOOK US ABOUT A WEEK TO MAKE THE TRIP TO THE ISLAND OF APAMAMA, WHICH WAS A VERY BEAUTIFUL ATOLL ABOUT FIFTY MILES SOUTH OF TARAWA. THE ISLAND HAD BEEN OCCUPIED BY TWENTY FIVE JAPANESE MARINES ONLY ONE OF WHOM WAS KILLED BY HOSTILE FIRE. THE REST WERE KILLED BY THE COMMANDING OFFICER WHO THEM SHOT HIMSELF. SOMEHOW ONE MARINE HAD BEEN KILLED DURING THE OCCUPATION OF APAMAMA PROBABLY BY FRIENDLY FIRE. ONE MARINE GOT A HERNIA. I DON'T THINK THERE WAS AN INVASION IN THE PACIFIC WHICH RECEIVED SO FEW CASUALTIES. WE SET UP THE NINETIES IN A LITTLE CLEARING AND THEY TOLD US TO USE OUR OWN DISCRETION AS TO WHERE TO PLACE THE FIFTIES. SO WE HIKED UP THE BEACH ABOUT TWO HUNDRED YARDS AND STAKED OUT OUR CLAIM IN A COCONUT GROVE ON THE BEACH, BUT WELL CONCEALED. AS I WAS HIKING UP THE BEACH WITH A FIFTY CALIBER READY BOX, [250 ROUNDS] WAS HOT AND SWEATY AN OLD NATIVE COME UP TO ME PUT HIS HAND ON MY SHOULDER AND SAID "YOU POOR BOY, AND SUCH A YOUNG BOY TOO." I WAS AMAZED AT HIS SYMPATHY AND HIS EXCELLENT ENGLISH. HIS GERMAN FATHER HAD SETTLED HERE AND MARRIED A NATIVE. THIS FELLOW HAD TO BE OVER FIFTY YEARS OLD AND A VERY HANDSOME FELLOW. HIS WIFE WAS DEAD AND WAS BURIED NEARBY. THIS ISLAND WAS UNDER BRITISH CONTROL AND THE NATIVES WERE SENT TO SCHOOL TO TARAWA . THEY WERE MORAL AND CLEAN. ONE OF THE INTERESTING ASPECTS OF LIFE ON THIS ISLAND WAS THAT THE GIRLS DID NOT WEAR ANY CLOTHING ABOVE THE WAIST. AND OF COURSE WE THOUGHT THAT THIS WAS MUCH BETTER THAT DOROTHY LAMOUR AND HER SARONG. BUT THIS DID NOT MEAN THAT THERE WAS ANY FLAUNTING OF THEMSELVES THIS WAS THEIR CUSTOM FOR MANY AGES BACK AND THE SO CALLED MISSIONARIES HAD NOT CONVINCED THEM THAT THEY SHOULD CHANGE THEIR WAYS. HOWEVER THERE WAS A COMICAL SIDE TO THE EFFORT OF THE LOCAL BIBLE THUMPERS WHO DECIDED THAT THEY SHOULD COVER UP THE GIRLS WHILE THE MILITARY WAS OCCUPYING THE ISLAND. THEY SOMEHOW CONNED THE NAVY TO SUPPLY A LARGE AMOUNT OF SKIVVY SHIRTS AND GAVE ONE TO EACH OF THE GIRLS, AND SUGGESTED THAT THEY SHOULD WEAR THEM. AND SOME OF THEM DID WEAR THEM---SLUNG OVER THEIR SHOULDER. THEY HAD LONG BLACK HAIR AND BEAUTIFUL TEETH. SOME OF THEM WERE VERY ATTRACTIVE BUT EVERYONE WAS TOLD IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS TO BACK OFF BECAUSE IF THE MILITARY DIDN'T PUNISH THEM FOR HANKY PANKY THE NATIVE LAWS WOULD. THE NATIVE PUNISHMENT FOR PREMARITAL SEX EVEN AMONGST THE NATIVES WAS THE MALE WOULD EITHER BE PUSHED OUT TO SEA ON THE OUT GOING RIP TIDE OR BE LEFT TO STARVE TO DEATH TIED TO A TREE ON ONE OF THE LITTLE ISLETS. EVERYONE SEEMED TO HOLD THE LINE EXCEPT ONE OF THE SERGEANTS IN THE BATTALION MUST HAVE STEPPED OVER THE LINE BECAUSE ONE MORNING HE WAS FOUND WITH HIS HEAD ALMOST COMPLETELY SEVERED AND THE MILITARY RULED THAT IT MUST HAVE BEEN DONE BY A MAVERICK JAP WHO THEY MUST HAVE OVERLOOKED ON THE ISLAND WHICH EVERYONE KNEW WAS A CROCK. ALL THE JAPS HAD BEEN ACCOUNTED FOR. IT WAS NOT WORTH GETTING INTO A CONTROVERSY WITH THE NATIVES. WHILE WE WERE CLEARING OUT A SITE FOR OUR MACHINE GUN, WE HAD TO BURN A LARGE AMOUNT OF PALM BRANCHES WHICH MADE A NICE BED OF COALS. THIS OLD NATIVE, NOT THE GERMAN, BUT ANOTHER, CAME BY THE GUN AND LAID A BEAUTIFUL FISH ON THE COALS AND WENT ON HIS WAY. AFTER ABOUT THREE MINUTES WE FLIPPED IT OVER AND A SHORT WHILE AFTER THAT WE DINED ON ONE OF THE BEST MEALS WE HAD IN THE PACIFIC WE KNEW THAT THIS WAS GOING TO GREAT DUTY ON THIS ISLAND.. I CONTINUED MY FRIENDSHIP WITH THIS OLD BOY EVEN THOUGH WE COULD NOT CONVERSE. HE DID NOT SPEAK ANY ENGLISH AND GILBERTESE WAS TOTALLY DIFFERENT THAN SAMOAN, WHICH WE HAD LEARNED ENOUGH OF ON WALLEESEE TO GET BY ON. HE SHOWED ME HOW TO CATCH SMALL OCTOPUS ON THE REEF. HIS EQUIPMENT WAS A STOUT PIECE OF WIRE WITH A WOODEN HANDLE. WE WOULD GO OUT ON THE REEF IN WATER ABOUT ONE FOOT IN DEPTH AND SLOWLY OBSERVE THE SMALL HOLES IN THE CORAL. iT SEEMS THAT THE OCTOPUS CAN DRAG SMALL PIECES OF CORAL IN FRONT OF THE HOLE OR CREVACE AND CONCEAL IT THAT WAY. SOMEHOW HE COULD DETECT THIS ARRANGEMENT AND WOULD PULL THE PIECES AWAY AT WHICH TIME THE OCTOPUS WOULD EXPEL WATER OUT SIMILAR TO A WATER FAUCET TURNED ON. THEN HE WOULD AGITATE THE CREATURE UNTIL HE EXPELLED THE INK WHICH THEY RETAIN FOR PROTECTION. AFTER IT WAS SUFFICIENTLY AGITATED HE WOULD REACH INTO THE HOLE AND GRASP THE TENTACLE AND THEY WOULD SLIDE UP HIS ARM AND THEN WHEN THE OCTOPUS HAD A GRIP ON HIS ARM AND HE HAD A GRIP ON THE OCTOPUS HE COULD THEN PULL IT FROM THE HOLE. HE WOULD THEN TURN IT UPSIDE DOWN AND STRIKE IT WITH THE HANDLE . THE OCTOPUS HAS A BEAK SIMILAR TO A PARROT AND THE BRAIN IS IN BACK OF THIS BEAK SO THE BLOW WAS QUICKLY FATAL. IT WAS INTERESTING TO SEE HOW HE HAD TO PEAL THE TENTACLES FROM HIS ARM AND SEE HOW IT LEFT LITTLE CIRCULAR MARKS WHERE THE SUCTION CUPS GRASPED HIS ARM. I TRIED IT ONCE BUT THE FEELING WAS SO WEIRD I GOT THE CHILLS EVEN THOUGH THE WEATHER WAS QUITE WARM. HE ALSO SHOWED ME THE DEADLY SAC NEXT TO THE SPINE OF THE BLOW FISH WHICH WOULD KILL ANYONE IF CONSUMED. THIS OLD TIMER HAD SKIN THAT LOOKED LIKE SOMETHING YOU COULD USE TO COVER A CHAIR SEAT. HE WAS THE KINDLIEST PERSON YOU WOULD WANT TO MEET. I'M SORRY THAT I DID NOT TAKE HIM UP ON THE INVITATION TO DINE ON THE OCTOPUS WE CAUGHT. THE FLESH WAS SIMILAR TO FROGS LEGS. I WAS SOMEWHAT APPREHENSIVE THAT HE MIGHT HAVE A GOOD-LOOKING GRANDDAUGHTER AND I COULD HAVE ENDED UP LIKE THE SERGEANT. THE INVASION OF THE GILBERTS TOOK PLACE IN LATE NOVEMBER SO WE HAD CHRISTMAS ON APAMAMA. I REMEMBER A SMALL GROUP OF NATIVES STOPPED BY OUR TENT WHILE WE WERE SINGING CHRISTMAS SONGS WHICH WE DID QUITE LUSTILY AND AFTER THEY HAD POLITELY LISTENED TO US. THEY WERE INVITED TO RECIPROCATE WHICH THEY DID MUCH TO OUR CHAGRIN. WE HAD BEEN BELLOWING THESE SONGS OUT LIKE THEY WERE BAR ROOM BALLADS, THEY NOW DID THE IDENTICAL SONGS IN NATIVE TONGUE AND BEAUTIFUL HARMONY IN A VERY SOFT TONE. WE HAD A LOT TO LEARN FROM THESE "PRIMITIVE PEOPLE" WHO WERE REFERRED TO BY THE DEROGATORY TERM OF "GOOKS".

THE AVERAGE ELEVATION OF THIS ISLAND WAS ABOUT FOUR OR FIVE FEET ABOVE SEA LEVEL. VERY LITTLE TOP SOIL. TO OVERCOME THIS SO THAT THEY COULD GROW ROOTED FOOD SUCH AS TARO THEY DUG PITS ABOUT THREE OF FOUR FEET DEEP AND FILLED THEM WITH COMPOST IN WHICH CONDITIONS THEY THRIVED. THEY ALSO DID SOMETHING THAT I DO NOT RECALL BEING DONE ON ANY OTHER ISLAND. THEY WOULD CLIMB THE COCOANUT TREES WHEN THEY WERE IN BLOSSOM AND TIE THE BLOSSOM INTO A SMALL CLUMP THEN CUT OFF THE TIPS, HANG A COCOANUT SHELL UNDER THIS AND THE SAP FROM THIS CUT BLOSSOM WOULD GATHER IN THE SHELL. THIS WAS ACCUMULATED AND THEN LIKE OUR MAPLE SAP, IT WOULD BE BOILED DOWN UNTIL IT WAS THE CONSISTENCY OF THIN MOLASSES. IT HAD A VERY DELICATE TASTE BUT WAS EXTREMELY LABOR INTENSIVE, WHICH PROBABLY WAS THE REASON IT WAS NOT DONE ON THE OTHER ISLANDS. IF YOU HAVE EVER TASTED THE STARCHY NATIVE FOODS SUCH AS BREADFRUIT ON THESE ISLANDS WITH THEIR BLAND TASTE YOU CAN APPRECIATE WHY THIS DELICIOUS FLAVORING WAS HELPFUL.

THE 95th SEABEES DID A REMARKABLE JOB ON APAMAMA. THEY CLEARED A HUGE SWATH OF COCONUT TREES, SCOOPED AWAY THE TOP SOIL AND LAID DOWN A BEAUTIFUL RUNWAY FOR THE PLANES. EIGHT THOUSAND FEET IN LENGTH. THIS WAS TOPPED OFF WITH CORAL WHICH HAD BEEN SCRAPPED FROM THE REEF ON THE SEAWARD SIDE OF THE ISLAND. PUTTING AN AIRSTRIP OF THIS SIZE ON THIS ISLAND WAS NO EASY MATTER, THE ISLAND WAS CRESCENT SHAPED SO THE AIRSTRIP TOUCHED THE SEAWARD SIDE AT EACH END AND THE LAGOON SIDE AT THE MIDPOINT. IT HAD TO BE CONSTANTLY WETTED DOWN WITH SEA WATER. WE WERE TOLD THAT THE CORAL WOULD GROW TOGETHER WITH THE APPLICATION OF SEA WATER BUT OF COURSE THIS WAS NOT TRUE. THIS FIELD WAS COMPLETED ON DECEMBER 10th THIRTEEN DAYS AFTER THE INVASION. IT WAS GIVEN THE NAME OF O'HARE FIELD AFTER A FAMOUS CARRIER PILOT WHO WAS KILLED ON THIS INVASION. THE JAPANESE WOULD COME DOWN ON OCCASION TO BOMB US BUT ALWAYS STAYED ABOVE THE RANGE OF THE NINETIES WHICH WAS ABOUT TWENTY THOUSAND FEET SO WE NEVER GOT A CHANCE TO PROVE OUR ACCURACY. THE AIRFORCE SENT UP A NIGHT FIGHTER BUT THIS DID NOT WORK OUT EITHER. IT CERTAINLY WAS NO PROBLEM FOR THE JAP BOMBERS TO LAY A STRING OF BOMBS ON THE AIRSTRIP. ONE OF OUR FIFTY CALIBER GUNS TOOK A DIRECT HIT AND WIPED THE GUN AND CREW OUT. I'M SURE THIS PURE WHITE CORAL STRIP STOOD OUT BEAUTIFULLY AT THIRTY THOUSAND FEET UP ON THESE MOONLIT NIGHTS. WE KNEW EARLY IN THE MORNING WHAT TIME THEY WOULD BE COMING OVER AT NIGHT AND I AM SURE THAT THIS WAS DUE TO THE GREAT CODE BREAKING THAT WAS GOING ON AT THIS TIME. SCUTTLEBUTT WAS GIVING THE CREDIT TO COASTWATCHERS, BUT IT WAS A DIFFERENT GAME IN THE MARSHALLS AND GILBERTS THAN IN THE  SOLOMONS WHERE THE COAST WATCHERS DID PLAY A MAJOR EFFORT IN EARLY WARNING TO THE NAVY AND TROOPS ON GUADALCANAL AND ENABLED THEM TO HAVE AN ADVANTAGE OVER THE TIRED PILOTS OF THE JAPANESE NAVY. THAT HAD TO MAKE THE TRIP FROM RABAUL TO HENDERSON FIELD ON GUADALCANAL AND THEN RETURN AFTER FIGHTING . DURING AN INVASION THERE IS TOTAL CONFUSION. ONE OF THE OFFICERS IN OUR BATTERY TOOK FULL ADVANTAGE OF THIS AND WOULD TAKE A TRUCK AND A FEW VOLUNTEERS AND PICK UP PRACTICALLY ANYTHING ON THE BEACH .. WE HAD TWO GASOLINE POWERED REFRIGERATED WALK IN BOXES AND THEN WENT BACK AND STOCKED THEM WITH FOOD. THIS WAS DISCOVERED BY THE POWERS IN CHARGE BUT THE ONLY PUNISHMENT METED OUT WAS TO RELINQUISH ONE OF THE BOXES. ONE OF THE FELLOWS IN THE BATTERY WHO SHALL REMAINED UNNAMED STOLE A BOX OF COLT 45 AUTOMATICS AND THERE WAS QUITE A COMMOTION ABOUT THIS BUT HE NEVER WAS FOUND OUT BY THE UPPER ECHELON ALTHOUGH EVERYONE IN THE BATTERY KNEW WHO IT WAS. THE ARMY FIGHTER GROUP STATIONED ON THE ISLAND HAD THE ONLY MOVIE ON THE ISLAND SO WE WERE ALLOWED TO ATTEND BUT ONLY A LIMITED NUMBER AND ONLY WHEN THERE WOULD NOT BE NOTICE OF A RAID. ONE THE ENTERPRISING FELLOWS ON THE ISLAND WAS THE SERVICEMAN ATTACHED TO AN OUTFIT THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO PHOTOGRAPH ENEMY INSTALLATIONS. WELL ON APAMAMA THERE WERE FAR MORE INTERESTING SUBJECTS TO PHOTOGRAPH THAN THE ENEMY. THIS FELLOW WENT AROUND AND GOT THE YOUNG GIRLS TO POSE FOR HIM AND RAN OFF SETS OF PHOTOGRAPHS OF THESE YOUNG TOPLESS GALS AND OFFERED THEM FOR FIVE DOLLARS A SET. NEEDLESS TO SAY HE WAS SOLD OUT MOST OF THE TIME. I STILL HAVE A SET OF PHOTOGRAPHS IN MY POSSESSION ANY TIME SOMEONE WANTS TO SEE HOW RUGGED A TIME WE HAD IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC UNDER COMBAT CONDITIONS. THESE YOUNG GALS, I AM SURE ENJOYED THE ATTENTION THEY GOT FROM THESE CIVILIZED, GODFEARING CHRISTIAN YOUNG BOYS. UNTIL WE GOT THERE I'M SURE THEY RARELY GOT A SECOND GLANCE EVEN FROM THE JAPANESE MARINES WHO HAD KEPT TO THEMSELVES ON A SMALL ATOLL AWAY FROM THE MAIN ISLAND. EVEN IN JAPAN NUDITY IS NOT REGARDED AS AN ITEM TO BE GREETED WITH
SMIRKS, COMMENTS, GIGGLES, AND STARES AS WE HAD DONE. ONE DAY WE HAD INSPECTION AND EVERYBODY FELL OUT WITH COMBAT PACK RIFLE ETC. CAPT. WILLIAMS CAME DOWN THE LINE WITH THE USUAL QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CORPS IN GENERAL. WHEN HE CAME TO PAT MADONNA HE ASKED HIM IF HE KNEW THE NAME OF THE MARINE CORPS COMMANDANT. OF COURSE WE ALL KNEW IT WAS THE HERO OF GUADALCANAL GENERAL VANDERGRIFT. SO PAT REPLIED, "VANDERGRIFT SIR" UPON HEARING THIS REPLY CAPT WILLIAMS ASKED VERY MILDLY, "IS HE A FRIEND OF YOURS?" WHEREUPON PAT REALIZED HIS MISTAKE AND SAID "MAJOR GENERAL VANDERGRIFT, SIR". EVERYBODY IN THE OUTFIT JUST CRACKED UP OVER THIS INCLUDING CAPT. WILLIAMS WHO WAS GENERALLY NOT INCLINED TO HUMOR.

THE CASE OF THE PURLOINED OFFICERS TURKEY

AS I MENTIONED BEFORE, THERE WAS QUITE A BIT OF ORGANIZED THIEVERY GOING ON AS A RESULT OF MASS CONFUSION DURING AN INVASION. AMONG THE ITEMS WERE SEVERAL CASES OF CANNED TURKEY. THE CANS WERE ABOUT A QUART IN SIZE. WE ALL DINED VERY WELL ON THIS UNTIL THE SUPPLIES GOT LOW AND THEN CAPTAIN WILLIAMS, CITING EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE, INFORMED THE COOK THAT THE REMAINING TURKEY WOULD BE SET ASIDE FOR THE OFFICERS MESS. ONE NIGHT AS I WAS RETURNING FROM THE AIR FORCE MOVIES, I GOT A LOUD STAGE WHISPER FROM THE BOONDOCKS AND THE PUMP MAN ON OUR GUN ASKED ME TO TAKE AN ITEM BACK TO THE GUN WITH ME. IT WAS A WOODEN CRATE. WHEN I ARRIVED BACK AT THE GUN AND DROPPED IT DOWN AND LOOKED AT IT THERE WAS A CASE OF CANNED TURKEY. WELL THIS WAS QUITE A DILEMMA. DO I TAKE IT BACK AND SAY "YOU SHOULDN'T DO THAT?' DIDN'T MAKE MUCH SENSE TO DO THAT. SO WE HID IT IN THE BOONDOCKS AND CLAMMED UP. THE NEXT DAY OR SO AND VERY OFFICIAL NOTICE APPEARED ON THE BULLETIN BOARD TELLING US WHAT WE ALREADY KNEW. THAT A CASE OF TURKEY HAD BEEN STOLEN FROM THE OFFICERS MESS AND THEN IT GAVE US INFORMATION THAT WE DIDN'T KNOW, THAT IF IT WAS NOT RETURNED IMMEDIATELY THAT THE GUILTY PARTY OR PARTIES WOULD BE GIVEN A SUMMARY COURT-MARTIAL. WELL WE HAD NEVER HEARD OF ANYONE GETTING A SUMMARY COURT-MARTIAL. PLENTY OF DECK BUT NO SUMMARIES. THIS WAS SERIOUS BUSINESS. WE DID NOT HAVE TO HAVE A CONFERENCE TO DECIDE WHAT TO DO. WE WOULD STAND OUR GROUND AND SWEAT IT OUT. NO ONE IN HIS RIGHT MIND WOULD HAVE TAKEN THE CASE BACK TO THE GALLEY. IF YOU WERE CAUGHT WHILE RETURNING IT THERE WOULD STILL BE SOME PUNISHMENT FROM THE OFFICERS AND HUMILIATION FOR BEING SO STUPID ON THE PART OF COMRADES IN ARMS. WELL WE WAITED ABOUT THREE WEEKS AND THEN SEVERAL THINGS HAPPENED SIMULTANEOUSLY. I WAS ON A WORKING PARTY AT THE BEACH UNLOADING AN LCM AND HAD FINISHED THE LAST BIT OF CARGO ON THE LCM. WE HAD LOADED THIS ONTO A RECONNAISSANCE TRUCK AND AS THE TIDE HAD COME IN AND I DID NOT WANT TO GET WET IN THE SURF, I DECIDED TO RIDE THE TRUCK OFF THE RAMP. THE TRUCK TOOK QUITE A DROP IN THE SURF AND THE RESULTING JOLT KNOCKED ME RIGHT OFF THE TAILGATE AND INTO THE SURF. THE OFFICER OF THE BEACH HAPPENED TO SEE THIS A CAME OVER AND TOLD ME THAT I COULD SECURE FROM THE WORKING PARTY AND HE WOULD HAVE ME TAKEN BACK TO THE BATTERY. I THANKED HIM AND ASKED IF I COULD TAKE BACK A CRATE OF THE FRESH POTATOES THAT WERE FLOATING AROUND IN THE LAGOON. THESE HAD BEEN SPILLED OUT OF A CARGO NET AND WERE DECLARED UNSANITARY AND WERE ABANDONED. SO I WALKED OUT TO ABOUT MY NECK HIGH IN THE WATER AND PULLED IN A CRATE AND TOOK THEM BACK TO THE GUN, NOT THE MESS HALL. WE PLACED THE CRATE IN THE SURF WHERE IT GOT A THORO WASHING. WELL WE GOT TOGETHER WITH THE RANGE SECTION WHO HAD SCROUNGED A LARGE BOX OF COCOA AND SOME COOKING OIL. THEN WE REMEMBERED THAT NO ONE WOULD EAT THE CHEESE IN THE "K" RATIONS. WHEN COLD, IT WAS SIMILAR TO WAX AND THERE WERE SEVERAL CANS OF THIS CANNED CHEESE LAYING AROUND. WELL AFTER LIGHTS OUT WE WOULD SLICE UP THE POTATOES AND FRY THEM IN THE OIL WITH THE CHEESE, WHICH WHEN MELTED, WAS VERY PALATABLE, MAKE A POT OF COCOA AND THEN ADD THE CANNED TURKEY. THIS MADE A MEAL THE OFFICERS WOULD LOVE TO HAVE PARTAKEN OF. WE CONGRATULATED OURSELVES AFTER EVERYONE OF THESE GOURMET DELIGHTS. AND BEST OF ALL NEVER GOT CAUGHT WITH THE EVIDENCE. THERE WAS A UNSEEN BADGE OF HONOR THAT YOU WORE WHEN YOU COULD OUT SMART THE OFFICERS, ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. IT CERTAINLY PAID TO HAVE THIS GUN SO FAR UP THE BEACH AWAY FROM THE MAIN BATTERY. 

RAISINJACK

AS I MENTIONED BEFORE THE RESIDENT FIGHTER GROUP ON THE ISLAND HAD THE ONLY MOVIE ON THE ISLAND. ONE NIGHT WHEN I WAS RETURNING FROM THIS MOVIE AND RETURNING TO THE MACHINE GUN, AS I WAS PASSING THROUGH THE BATTERY THERE WAS ONLY ONE TENT WITH A LIGHT ON SO I DECIDED TO CHECK IT OUT AND SEE WHAT THEY WERE UP TO, MAYBE A GOOD POKER GAME WHICH WAS ONE OF THE REGULAR PASTIMES. WHEN I ENTERED THE TENT I WAS GREETED WITH A VERY CORDIAL RECEPTION BUT TO MY AMAZEMENT INSTEAD OF A POKER GAME IT WAS THE OPENING OF A KEG OF RAISIN JACK WHICH USUALLY WAS A VERY SOLEMN AND PRIVATE CEREMONY. TO MY SURPRISE THEY IMMEDIATELY INQUIRED IF I WOULD LIKE TO PARTAKE OF SOME OF THE REFRESHMENT WHICH OF COURSE I ACCEPTED. THEY THEN INQUIRED OF MY OPINION OF THE QUALITY OF THE BREW AND I ASSURED THEM THAT IT WAS BETTER THAN THE AVERAGE RUN OF THE MILL RAISINJACK. WHEREUPON THEY PROMPTLY PASSED OUT TO ALL, WHO PROFFERED THEIR CUPS, A SIZABLE PORTION OF THE BREW THAT MAKES US ALL CONGENIAL AND FRIENDLY AND AN ESCAPE FROM THE DAILY DRUDGE. WE ENDED THE EVENING BY SINGING THE OLD SONGS AND MAKING CLEVER REMARKS ABOUT EVERYTHING IN GENERAL AND CONCLUDED BY HITTING THE SACK AT A VERY LATE HOUR. NOW COMES THE CLINCHER. SEVERAL MONTHS LATER AT ANOTHER ONE OF THESE SESSIONS ONE OF THE PARTICIPANTS AT THIS PARTY INFORMED ME THAT PRIOR TO MY ARRIVAL AT THE TENT THAT THEY HAD OPENED THE JUG OF RAISINJACK AND TO THEIR DISMAY THEY FOUND THAT A COCONUT RAT HAD IMBIBED TO HEAVILY ON THE RAISIN JACK AND HAD FALLEN INTO THE SAME AND DROWNED. THEY PULLED HIM OUT AND WERE DISCUSSING WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE PRESENT SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES WHEN I SHOWED UP. THEY WANTED AN UNBIASED OPINION ON THE EFFECT OF THE INTERACTION OF RAISINJACK AND COCONUT RATS. AND YOU KNOW "THE REST OF THE STORY".

WE SHIP OUT

IN JANUARY OF 1944 WE LOADED UP OUR GEAR TO SHIP OUT AND LEAVE THIS LOVELY ISLAND. I CAN'T REMEMBER MUCH ABOUT THE SHIP WE BOARDED OR ANYTHING ABOUT THE TRIP NORTH BUT THE DESTINATION WAS THE ISLAND OF KAUAI, THE GARDEN ISLAND OF THE HAWAIIANS. THE WESTERN MOST OF THE GROUP. ALTHOUGH WE DIDN'T APPRECIATE IT AT THE TIME THIS ISLAND HAD A LOT OF UNSPOILED BEAUTY. THERE WAS NO CATERING TO TOURISTS AT THIS TIME. THE ONLY HOTEL WAS IN THE MAIN TOWN OF LIHUE AND WAS LIKE AN OVERSIZED BUNGALOW. WE WERE LOCATED IN AN AREA BETWEEN THE TOWNS OF KAPAA AND LIHUE WHICH LATER TURNED OUT TO BE THE APPROXIMATE SITE OF AN ANCIENT BURIAL GROUND WHICH CAUSED MUCH TURMOIL WITH THE NATIVES. THE POPULATION WAS A MIXTURE OF JAPANESE, PHILIPPINOS, CHINESE AND NATIVE HAWAIIANS. I BELIEVE THE JAPANESE WERE THE DOMINANT RACE .. THEY CERTAINLY HID THEIR DAUGHTERS BECAUSE OF THE LARGE NUMBERS OF MARINES. THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO FRATERNIZATION. THERE WAS A FAIRLY LARGE U.S.O. NEAR THE TOWN OF LIHUE WHERE OCCASIONAL DANCES WOULD BE HELD BUT THIS WAS FRUSTRATING BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF FEMALES. MOST OF US WOULD JUST STAND AROUND FEELING VERY STUPID AND DUMB BECAUSE WE HAD NO WAY TO HAVE A GOOD TIME UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES. OH HOW WE LONGED FOR THE STATESIDE GIRLS. ESPECIALLY THE ONES WE WERE CORRESPONDING WITH AND IN MY CASE IT WAS THAT LITTLE GAL ON BLISS STREET WHO SIGNED HER LETTERS WITH THE BEAUTIFUL ENDING "ALWAYS, ROSEMARIE" AND I REALLY BELIEVED THAT AND SOMEHOW THAT BEAUTIFUL BELIEF BECAME REALITY. THE HIGH COMMAND SAID THAT WE WERE THERE FOR REORGANIZATION. THIS MEANT THAT THEY CHANGED THE NAME OF THE OUTFIT FROM EIGHTH DEFENSE BATTALION TO EIGHTH ANTI AIRCRAFT ARTILLERY BATTALION. I WILL HAVE TO ADMIT THAT WE DID DO SOME EXTENDED ORDER DRILL. THIS USUALLY MEANT CLIMBING A NEARBY, RATHER STEEP HILL OR MOUNTAIN DEPENDING WHAT PART OF THE COUNTRY YOU WERE FROM. THE FELLOWS FROM THE WEST WOULD RIDICULE US IF WE CALLED IT A MOUNTAIN. ANYWAY WHEN WE GOT THROUGH WITH THIS BABY WITH OUR COMBAT PACKS, RIFLE, CANTEEN AND GAS MASKS WE WOULD BE HUFFING AND PUFFING. THIS, IN NO SMALL PART, WAS DO TO THE EFFECT OF A LOT OF SMOKING OF CIGARETTES, WHICH WERE FIVE CENTS A PACK. ALMOST EVERYONE IN THE OUTFIT SMOKED QUITE A BIT. I MENTIONED THAT WE WENT BOONDOCKING WITH OUR COMBAT PACKS. THIS WAS A RATHER SMALL PACK THAT HELD CLOTHING AND TOILET ITEMS FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS. THE HEAVY ORDER PACK WAS AN ADDITIONAL PACK WHICH HUNG BELOW THIS AND HELD ADDITIONAL SUPPLIES. THIS WAS WHEN YOU WOULD BE AWAY FROM BASE FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME. THE WEIGHT OF THE HEAVY ORDER PACK WAS ABOUT FIFTY POUNDS. THEN THERE WAS AMMO AND WATER IN THE CANTEEN, RIFLE AND 782 GEAR SO IT WAS NOT FUN TO GO A LONG DISTANCE WITH THIS EQUIPMENT. ALSO YOU HAD YOUR BLANKETS, PONCHO AND SHELTER HALF ROLLED UP AND FASTENED ON TOP OF THE COMBAT PACK. TO CLIMB OVER THE SIDE OF A SHIP AND DESCEND DOWN A ROPE NET INTO A LANDING CRAFT WHICH WAS BOBBING UP AND DOWN WAS A VERY TRICKY TASK AND GENERALLY CAUSED MANY INJURIES BEFORE YOU EVEN GOT AWAY FROM THE SHIP. AND THEN TO TOP IT ALL OFF THE CRAFT HAD TO CIRCLE FOR QUITE A WHILE UNTIL THEY COULD FORM UP TO GO INTO THE ISLAND. BY THIS TIME YOU WOULD BE SO SEASICK, A ROUND BETWEEN THE EYES TO PUT YOU OUT OF YOUR MISERY WOULD BE WELCOME. I HAD A COMICAL TENTMATE, CARL FELL. WHENEVER WE WOULD BE CLEANING OUR RIFLES FOR INSPECTION HE WOULD REMARK THAT IN THE NEXT WAR HE WAS GOING TO JOIN THE SALVATION ARMY AND "HELP FIND JESUS". THEN HE ALSO VOWED THAT HE WAS GOING TO BUY AN '03 AFTER THE WAR WAS OVER AND PLANT IT IN A FLOWER POT, WATER IT EVERY DAY AND WATCH IT RUST AWAY. HE WAS A COMICAL FELLOW WHO PROVIDED US WITH NEEDED COMIC RELIEF. POOR CARL COULD NOT HANDLE BEER VERY WELL AND GOT INTO SEVERAL SCRAPES WHICH LANDED HIM IN THE BRIG. HIS NEMESIS WAS A HUGE M.P. WHO HAD RECENTLY BECOME PART OF THE EIGHTH. HE WAS A HUGE FELLOW WITH A BULLDOG LIKE FACE AND EVERYONE FEARED HIM. HE WAS YOUR QUINTESSENTIAL M.P. HOLLYWOOD COULD NOT HAVE DONE A BETTER CASTING JOB. HE BUSTED CARL A FEW TIMES ON MINOR CHARGES AND CARL HATED HIM WITH A PASSION.

I VERY WELL REMEMBER ONE DAY THE SERGEANT-MAJOR OF THE OUT FIT REQUESTED MY PRESENCE AT HEADQUARTERS. I MADE A QUICK MENTAL REVIEW OF ALL THE THINGS THAT I DID IN THE RECENT PASS THAT WOULD MERIT THIS, BUT COULD NOT RECALL ANYTHING SO I WENT WITH GREAT TREPIDATION. GREATLY RELIEVED WHEN HE GREETED ME CORDIALLY AND HAD A PROPOSITION. HE ASKED ME IF I COULD OPERATE A TYPEWRITER? TO WHICH I REPLIED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE. HE THEN TOLD ME THAT IF I WOULD TRANSFER TO HEADQUARTERS THAT HE WOULD MAKE ME A CORPORAL RIGHT AWAY AND SERGEANT WITHIN SIX MONTHS. AS I WAS ABOUT TO REPLY MY CAPTAIN BURST INTO THE TENT AND LACED INTO THE SERGEANT-MAJOR AND INQUIRED WHAT DID HE THINK HE WAS DOING CALLING ONE OF HIS MEN TO HEADQUARTERS WITHOUT GOING THROUGH CHANNELS, MEANING HIM. THE CAPTAIN THEN TOLD ME TO COME WITH HIM AND TOOK ME BACK TO THE BATTERY BUT ON THE WAY HE TOLD ME THAT IF I WANTED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS OFFER I COULD, BUT THAT HE WAS JUST PISSED THAT THE SERGEANT NEGLECTED TO INFORM HIM. I DECLINED THE OFFER FOR TWO REASONS; I HAD BEEN WITH THE MACHINE GUNNERS FOR SO LONG THERE WAS SOME KIND OF CAMARADERIE AND SECONDLY THE PEOPLE AT HEADQUARTERS WERE REGARDED WITH A LOT OF DISDAIN AND WERE REFERRED TO AS OFFICE CLOWNS. THEY ALSO KEPT A LOT OF RANK THERE AS WAS EVIDENCED AS TO HOW I COULD MAKE SERGEANT WITH SUCH EASE IN SO LITTLE TIME. IF YOU WANTED EXCITEMENT YOU COULD TAKE A TOUR OF THE PINEAPPLE FACTORY, OR THE SUGARCANE REFINERY. OUTSIDE OF THAT THERE WASN'T A HECK OF A LOT OF THINGS TO DO. SPEAKING OF SUGAR CANE IT WAS INTERESTING TO WATCH THE SUGAR CANE HARVEST. WHILE IT WAS GROWING, IT WAS IRRIGATED FROM THE LITTLE RETAINING PONDS WHICH WERE SCATTERED AROUND THE MOUNTAINSIDE. THE RUNOFF FROM THE MOUNTAIN WAS STORED IN THESE SMALL HOLDING PONDS AND RELEASED AS NECESSARY. WHEN IT WAS TIME TO HARVEST THE CANE, THE WATER WOULD BE SHUT OFF FROM THE FIELDS AND THE LEAVES WOULD TURN BROWN AND DRY UP. THEN THE SENSATIONAL PART. THE FIELDS WOULD BE SET AFIRE AND THE BLACK SMOKE FROM THESE LARGE FIRES WAS IMPRESSIVE. AFTER THE BURNING, BULLDOZERS WITH LARGE FORKS WOULD GATHER THE CANE IN LARGE CLUMPS. THEN A HUGE CRANE WOULD LOAD THE CANE INTO SMALL STAKE BODY CARS. THESE CARS WERE BROUGHT INTO THE FIELD ON A VERY NARROW GAUGE MOVEABLE RAILROAD TRACK. THIS WAS LIKE THE TOONERVILLE TROLLEY. A VERY SMALL STEAM ENGINE AND IT WOULD HUFF AND PUFF IT 'S WAY THROUGH THE FIELDS AND THEN HAUL A LARGE TRAIN OF THESE LITTLE CARS TO THE REFINERY, WHERE THE CANE WOULD BE WASHED CRUSHED AND COOKED. WHEN IT LEFT THE REFINERY IT WAS IN THE FORM OF LARGE CARAMEL COLORED CRYSTALS. THE FINISH REFINING WAS DONE SOMEPLACE ELSE. THE SUGAR FROM THE CANE WAS ALSO USED IN THE COOKING OF THE PINEAPPLES AT THE CANNING PLANTS.

ONE NIGHT WHEN I HAD ANSWERED ALL OF MY MAIL AND NOT MUCH ELSE TO DO, I RECALLED THE TWENTY MILLIMETER GUN CRATE WITH DOROTHY SMITH'S ADDRESS ON IT. I TOOK A SHEET OF PAPER AND WROTE "DEAR DOROTHY HAVE NOT HEARD FROM YOU IN A LONG TIME. PLEASE WRITE" SIGNED IT AND SENT IT OFF. TO MY GREAT SURPRISED I RECEIVED AN ANSWER IN THE FORM OF A THREE PAGE LETTER, FROM A MARJORIE LANE, WHO WAS ATTENDING COLLEGE IN OBERLIN, OHIO. THIS LED TO AN EXCHANGE OF LETTERS AND PHOTOS, UNTIL THE END OF THE WAR. VERY DELIGHTFUL LETTERS AND EXCHANGE OF LIGHT HEARTED COMMUNICATION. I BADE HER GOODBYE WITH THE END OF HOSTILITIES, AND EXPRESSED MY GRATITUDE FOR THE LETTERS. IN THE SUMMER OF NINETEEN FORTY-SIX, ABOUT SIX MONTHS AFTER ROSEMARIE AND HAD MARRIED WE CAME HOME ONE NIGHT AND ATTACHED TO THE SCREEN DOOR WAS A NOTE FROM A MARJORIE LANE BIXBY EXPRESSING DISAPPOINTMENT THAT SHE HAD MISSED US. SHE WAS VISITING FRIENDS IN WETHERSFIELD AND UPON MY INVITATION SHE RETURNED TO OUR HOUSE AND WE VISITED FOR A FEW HOURS. IT WAS AN AMAZING OCCURRENCE. FROM AN ADDRESS ON A GUN CRATE IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC TO THE CULMINATION OF FACE TO FACE MEETING IN EAST HARTFORD. ROSEMARIE WAS A LITTLE FROSTY WITH HER GREETING OF "MIDGE". I DON'T KNOW WHY, ESPECIALLY AS "MIDGE HAD MARRIED A MARINE WHO HAD BEEN ATTENDING COLLEGE IN OHIO. I SHOULD MENTION ONE TREAT ON THE ISLAND OF KAUAI. YEARS BACK ONE OF THE DOMINANT FAMILIES THOUGHT IT WOULD BE GOOD IDEA TO RAISE WHITEFACE CATTLE FOR BEEF IN THE ISLANDS. SO THEY IMPORTED SOME PRIZE CATTLE AND THEY THRIVED. THE ONLY PROBLEM ASIANS DID NOT EAT VERY MUCH MEAT. SO THERE WAS A SURPLUS OF MEAT ON THE ISLAND AND NO MARKET. WHEN WE GOT THERE, WE WOULD GO INTO THE LOCAL RESTAURANT AND ORDER A BATTLE BREAKFAST, WHICH CONSISTED OF TWO OR THREE SOFT FRIED EGGS ON TOP OF A HUGE SLAB OF STEAK. WE SURE HELPED THEM WITH THEIR SURPLUS OF BEEF. OCCASIONALLY THERE WOULD BE A PHILIPPINO FESTIVAL WHERE THEY WOULD HAVE COCKFIGHTS AND SELL NATIVE DELICACIES. THERE WAS ONE BAWDY HOUSE ON THE ISLAND BUT THE LADIES WERE HUGE OVERSIZED MOMMAS THAT WERE EASY PASS UP. THE SALVATION ARMY HAD A FEW PLACES ON THE ISLAND THAT WOULD SERVE COFFEE AND DONUTS AND MAKE YOU FEEL WELCOME. WHICH WAS MORE THAN THE RED CROSS DID. IT WAS A YEAR THAT WAS WASTED IN IDLENESS AND FRUSTRATION. WE DID CONTINUE TO FIRE THE NINETIES, THE FIFTIES AND OCCASIONALLY THE THIRTY CALIBER MACHINE GUN. THESE WERE THE WATER COOLED BROWNINGS OF WORLD WAR ONE VINTAGE. A VERY CUMBERSOME WEAPON. ESPECIALLY WHEN WE HAD TO GO THROUGH LANDING EXERCISES WITH THEM. WE ALSO DID SOME WORK ON USING THE NINETIES AS FIELD GUNS. WE NEVER GOT TO USE THEM AS SUCH ON OKINAWA. WHEN WE FIRED THE FIFTIES AT THE SLEEVE, THE SLEEVE WAS TOWED BY A YELLOW B26 WHICH WAS FLOWN BY WOMEN PILOTS. NOT THAT WE COULD SEE THEM BUT THIS IS WHAT WE WERE TOLD. WE ALSO FIRED THE FIFTIES AT DRONES WHICH WERE LARGE MODEL PLANES RADIO CONTROLLED. AND WE WERE ALSO TOLD MAKE SURE YOU DON'T SHOOT IT DOWN, IT COST TOO DAMN MUCH MONEY. THE FELLOWS THAT HAD TWENTY FOUR MONTHS OVERSEAS WERE SENT HOME FOR R. AND R. BUT SOON AFTER WASHINGTON DECREED THAT NO ONE GOES HOME BECAUSE OF LENGTH OF OVERSEAS DUTY. ANYONE OUT HERE WAS HERE FOR THE DURATION, WE SEEMED TO BE PERPETUALLY JINXED. THE ONLY COMPENSATION WAS THAT AT LEAST WE WERE NOT PART OF THE TERRA FIRMA ON SOME GODFORSAKEN SHORE SUCH AS TARAWA. BITCHING WAS A NATURAL PART OF MILITARY LIFE THERE WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING TO GRIPE ABOUT. HARDLY ANYONE LOOKED ON THE PLUS SIDE OF THE COIN. WHEN WE FIRED THE NINETIES WE HAD TO GO TO A RANGE WHICH WAS LOCATED AWAY FROM ANY OF THE DENSELY POPULATED AREAS. THERE WAS A SERGEANT IN CHARGE OF THIS AREA WHO WAS HAPPY TO HAVE US STATIONED THERE FOR A WEEK AS HE ENJOYED PLAYING POKER. HE WAS ALSO QUITE ECCENTRIC AND ALWAYS WORE HIS PISTOL, EVEN OFF DUTY. ONE NIGHT WHEN HE HAD BEEN LOOSING MOST OF HIS MONEY WHEN AT THE END OF THE BETTING AND RAISING HE HAD TO SHOW HIS HAND. HE DECLARED THAT HE HAD A PAIR OF DUECES AND A ".45". HE WON THE POT. ONE DAY THE BATTERY SERGEANT ANNOUNCED THAT ANYONE THAT WANTED TO GO TO ORDINANCE SCHOOL SHOULD REPORT TO HIM. LIKE A FOOL I FELL FOR THIS AND VOLUNTEERED. WHAT HAD NOT CROSSED MY BRAIN THAT A FEW DAYS PREVIOUSLY AN AMMO DUMP HAD CAUGHT ON FIRE AND MADE QUITE A SHOW WHEN IT WENT UP. THEN WE PROMPTLY FORGOT ABOUT IT. THE SO CALLED "ORDINANCE SCHOOL" CONSISTED OF DUMMIES LIKE ME LOADING ALL THE LIVE AMMO THAT HAD NOT EXPLODED INTO RECON TRUCKS THAT HAD A BED OF SAND IN THE BOTTOM AND THEN HAULING IT DOWN TO NAWILLIWILLI AND PUTTING INTO AN LCT AND DUMPING IT INTO THE PACIFIC. I DID GET SELECTED TO BE ON A SURVEY TEAM. THIS WAS A VERY INTERESTING COURSE IN SURVEYING. WE LEARNED HOW TO OPERATE A TRANSIT AND MAKE THE VERY ACCURATE MEASUREMENTS NECESSARY FOR SURVEYS. AND THEN TO COMPUTE OUR TRIANGULATIONS AND TRAVERSES. THIS WAS FASCINATING FOR ME AND ALSO FRUSTRATING AS I HAD NOT HAD ALGEBRA IN HIGH WHICH WAS NECESSARY TO COMPUTE THE MEASUREMENTS AND ANGLES. THIS EXPERIENCE WAS VERY HELPFUL IN LATER LIFE WHEN I WENT INTO CONSTRUCTION. ANY EXPERIENCE IN LIFE IS HELPFUL.

WE DEPART

IN FEBRUARY OF NINETEEN FORTY-FIVE WE LEFT THE HARBOR OF NAWILLIWILLI NEAR THE TOWN OF LIHUE. WE WERE ON A NEW TRANSPORT, AN A.P.A. THIS WAS A BEAUTY THAT TRANSPORTED US IN STYLE, HOT SHOWERS, GOOD CHOW , CLOSE QUARTERS THOUGH AND HEAVILY ARMED. I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER A SENTIMENTAL EXPERIENCE, THE EVENING PRIOR TO DEPARTURE. I WAS ON DECK AND VERY FEW PEOPLE WERE ON DECK AT THIS TIME. IT WAS SUNSET AND MUSIC WAS COMING FROM THE SHIP'S LOUDSPEAKER. SUDDENLY THE MUSIC OF THAT BEAUTIFUL TUNE "STARDUST" CAME OVER THE SPEAKER. I'M NOT SURE WHO DID THE VOCAL ON THIS, BUT IT WAS DONE BEAUTIFULLY AND THAT GIRL ON BLISS STREET CAME INTO MY THOUGHTS AND IT WAS JUST VERY SENTIMENTAL . I CAN REMEMBER THE ENTIRE SONG TO THIS DAY. BACK TO THE A.P.A., THIS LITTLE BABY WAS TAKING US TO A GREAT ADVENTURE. WE WERE FINALLY GOING TO FIND OUT THE GREAT SECRET OF COMBAT. THE OFFICERS INFORMED US THAT WE COULD PURCHASE INVASION CURRENCY, SO I BOUGHT FIFTY DOLLARS WORTH, THINKING THAT THERE MIGHT BE A BIG CITY THERE WHERE WE COULD PURCHASE SOMETHING. THAT WAS A NATURAL ASSUMPTION. WHY ELSE WOULD THEY SELL US INVASION CURRENCY? THIS CAME PRETTY CLOSE TO GRAND LARCENY AS THERE WAS NO WAY YOU COULD USE THIS SCRIPT ON OKINAWA. AND AS IT TURNED OUT, I NEVER COULD REDEEM THIS WORTHLESS PAPER. IF YOU HAVE READ THE BOOK "TENNOZAN" YOU MAY RECALL THAT ONE OF THE MARINE CORPS TOP BRASS DECLARED THAT IF HIS MEN WERE OLD ENOUGH TO FIGHT THEY WERE OLD ENOUGH TO FUCK. HE ARRANGED TO HAVE A "HOUSE OF ILL REPUTE" SET UP SOMEWHERE ON THE MOTOBU PENINSULA. THIS WAS THE PURPOSE OF THE SCRIPT WITH WHICH THE GIRLS WERE PAID. LATER ON WHEN THE MARINES WENT SOUTH AND THE ARMY CAME NORTH, THE ARMY BRASS PROMPTLY SHUT THE HOUSE DOWN AND WHEN THE MARINES HEARD ABOUT THIS THEY PROMPTLY DECLARED THAT "THE ARMY COULDN'T EVEN RUN A WHOREHOUSE". OUR FIRST STOP WAS PEARL HARBOR WHERE THE DEVASTATION, EVEN THOUGH THREE YEARS HAD PASSED, WAS STILL EVIDENT. THERE WE TOOK ON FUEL, AMMO AND SUPPLIES. NO SHORE LEAVE BECAUSE OUR STAY WAS VERY SHORT. WE DEPARTED FOR A STAGING AREA AT THE ISLAND OF ULITHI WHERE THE SEA WAS COVERED FROM HORIZON TO HORIZON WITH SHIPS OF EVERY TYPE. THIS WAS ONLY A SMALL PART OF THE FORCE THAT WAS TO INVADE THE ISLAND OF OKINAWA. THERE WERE SO MANY TROOPS INVOLVED IN THIS INVASION THAT THERE WAS A WAITING LINE. ABOARD SHIP I HAD READ THE BOOK "THE ROBE" THERE WAS A YOUNG JEWISH KID WHO BECAME INTERESTED IN THE STORY SO I GAVE IT TO HIM. A FEW DAYS LATER HE WENT UP TO THE CAPTAIN OF THE SHIP AND ANNOUNCED THAT HE WAS JESUS CHRIST AND HE HAD DECIDED TO END THE WAR AND THAT THE CAPTAIN SHOULD IMMEDIATELY TAKE THE SHIP TO CALIFORNIA. WELL THEY PUT HIM IN THE BRIG AND HE INSISTED THAT THE KIDS THAT BROUGHT CHOW TO HIM APPROACH ON THEIR KNEES. I'M GUESSING THAT HE DECIDED THAT HE WOULD LIKE TO NOT GO THE OKINAWA. WE NEVER FOUND OUT WHAT EVENTUALLY HAPPENED TO HIM BUT I THINK HE ALSO DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE INVASION. WE ARRIVED THERE ON THE FIFTEENTH OF APRIL. "L" DAY WAS APRIL FIRST AND ALSO HAPPENED TO BE EASTER SUNDAY. WHILE WE WERE WAITING TO COME ASHORE TWO JAPANESE KAMIKAZES TRIED TO MAKE A RUN FOR US BUT WERE PROMPTLY SPLASHED DOWN BY FIGHTERS FROM THE CARRIERS OFFSHORE. WE FINALLY MADE IT TO THE SMALL TOWN OF NAGO, IN THE NECK OF THE MOTOBU PENINSULA WHERE WE WERE TREATED TO A RINGSIDE SEAT TO WATCH THE NEW HELLDIVER BOMBERS RAISE HELL WITH THE FORTY THOUSAND JAPANESE TROOPS THAT WERE BOTTLED UP THERE BY THE MARINES. WE TEMPORARILY SET UP IN A NEARBY AREA WHERE WE MET SOME OF THE PITIFUL CIVILIANS THAT WERE CAUGHT UP IN THIS TERRIBLE BATTLE. ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS THAT CAUGHT OUR ATTENTION WAS HOW THE OKINOWANS TREATED THEIR DEAD.. AFTER DECOMPOSITION HAD OCCURRED IN THE DECEASED, THEY WOULD INTER THEIR BONES IN A JAR AND ON SPECIAL OCCASIONS WOULD RINSE OR WASH THESE BONES IN WINE. THESE JARS WERE KEPT IN CRYPTS ALONG SIDE THE ROAD AND WERE VERY ORNAMENTAL. HOWEVER THEY ALSO MADE VERY GOOD HIDING PLACES FOR THE JAPANESE WHO HAD LESS REGARD FOR THESE PEOPLE THAN WE DID, SO THESE REVERED PLACES WERE SUBJECT TO DESTRUCTION AND IRREVERENCE BY BOTH SIDES OF THIS CONFLICT. SOME OF THE FELLOWS WOULD PUT A SKULL ON A STICK AND PUT A JAPANESE CAP ON IT TOGETHER WITH A PAIR OF GLASSES SO THAT IT RESEMBLED TOJO. WE WERE SUBJECTED TO NIGHTLY RAIDS BY THE JAPS WHO DID VERY LITTLE DAMAGE. AFTER A PERIOD OF TIME WE WERE REASSIGNED TO BOLO POINT WHICH OVERLOOKED YANTON AIRFIELD. THIS WOULD BE OUR HOME FOR THE REST OF THE TIME ON OKINAWA. AROUND THE AREA WERE SIGNS OF THE BATTLES THAT HAD TAKEN PLACE PRIOR TO OUR ARRIVAL. AN ENGINE FROM A JAP FIGHTER AND AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SLOPE WAS HIS BODY ALMOST COMPLETELY SUBMERGED IN THE MUCK OF A RICE PADDY. ANOTHER INTERESTING DEVICE WAS A TYPE OF BOMB WE HAD NOT SEEN OR HEARD OF. THIS CONSISTED OF A LARGE METAL SHELL THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO OPEN UP WHILE DESCENDING AND WHIRL OUT LITTLE BOMBLETS WHICH WERE SUPPOSED TO EXPLODE ON CONTACT WITH THE GROUND. THIS WAS AN ANTIPERSONNEL DEVICE WHICH APPEARED TO HAVE BEEN DESIGNED BY A JAPANESE RUBE GOLDBERG. I SUPPOSED IT WAS THE EQUIVALENT OF OUR ANTI-PERSONNEL BOMB CALLED A "DAISYCUTTER" WHICH HAD A LONG PROTRUDING ROD ON THE POINT WHICH CAUSED IT TO DETONATE ABOUT TWO FEET ABOVE THE GROUND SENDING SHRAPNEL IN ALL DIRECTIONS. DEFINITELY DANGEROUS TO ANYONE CURIOUS ENOUGH TO STICK HIS HEAD OUT OF THE FOXHOLE TO SEE WHAT WAS GOING ON. THE CIVILIANS HAD ALL FLED TO THE HILLS AND ABANDONED THEIR PITIFULLY FEW POSSESSIONS. SOME OF THE FELLOWS ACQUIRED STRAW MATS BEAUTIFUL WOVEN ABOUT TWO INCHES THICK AND VERY COMFORTABLE. THIS LASTED ABOUT ONE NIGHT, AS THEY WERE LOADED WITH LICE. WE WERE WARNED NOT TO EAT ANY VEGETABLES BECAUSE OF THE PRACTICE OF THE NATIVES USING "NIGHT SOIL" TO FERTILIZE THEIR GARDENS. WHEN SOME OF THE NATIVES BEGAN TO DRIFT IN, CONQUERING THEIR FEAR OF THE AMERICANS, WE WOULD SHARE OUR RATIONS WITH THEM AND THEY WERE A BUNCH OF HAPPY CAMPERS WHEN THEY SAW WE WERE NOT GOING TO TORTURE THEM AS THE JAPS HAD INFORMED THEM. ONE OF THE CORPORALS IN THE BATTERY WHO SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS, HAD JOINED OUR OUTFIT JUST BEFORE LEAVING KAUAI,. HE WAS A BIG MOUTH AND HE AND I DIDN'T GET ALONG. ALL THE WAY TO OKINAWA HE WAS TELLING WHAT HE WAS GOING TO DO WHEN HE FOUND SOME JAPS. WHAT WE DIDN'T KNOW WAS THAT HE WAS SCARED TO DEATH, BECAUSE WHEN WE DISEMBARKED AT OUR FIRST SETUP HE DUG A FOXHOLE AND WOULD NOT COME OUT EVEN TO EAT CHOW AND JUST LAID THERE SCARED TO DEATH. EVERYONE WAS ASHAMED TO EVEN SPEAK TO HIM. I DON'T RECALL WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO HIM. ONE OF THE ITEMS ON THIS ISLAND THAT WAS INTERESTING WAS A LARGE AMMO DUMP WITH A GOODLY SUPPLY OF VERY LARGE BOMBS. NEARBY WAS ANOTHER DUMP WITH QUITE A FEW DRUMS OF GASOLINE. STAMPED ON THE COVER, STILL LEGIBLE WAS THE GOOD OLD TEXACO STAR. WE HAD TO ASSUME THAT THESE WERE CAPTURED SUPPLIES FROM THE PHILIPPINES THAT THE AMERICAN TROOPS THERE HAD NEGLECTED, OR WERE UNABLE, TO DESTROY BEFORE RETREATING TO CORREGIDOR. ONE DAY WHEN I WAS CLEANING MY MACHINE GUN A VERY OLD NATIVE WOMEN APPEARED ABOUT FIFTY YARDS IN FRONT OF ME WITH WHAT APPEARED TO BE A LAUNDRY BASKET FULL OF HER POSSESSIONS. SHE WAS ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED, PROBABLY CONVINCED THAT I WAS GOING TO SHOOT HER. SHE TRIED TO BALANCE THE LARGE BASKET AND HOLD HER HANDS UP AT THE SAME TIME, ALL THE WHILE SPEAKING VERY RAPIDLY IN A QUAVERING VOICE. I WAS JUST DUMBFOUNDED. NOT KNOWING WHAT TO DO AS THE MARINES DID NOT HAVE TRAINING FOR A SITUATION LIKE THIS, I JUST STARED AT THIS PITIFUL SPECTACLE AND ALLOWED HER TO PROCEED TO WHEREVER SHE WAS BOUND. A LIEUTENANT RUSHED UP TO ME A CHEWED ME OUT FOR NOT SHOOTING HER AS SHE VERY WELL MIGHT HAVE HAD A GRENADE IN THE BASKET AND BLOWN US ALL TO HELL. THIS WAS A DISTINCT POSSIBILITY AND MANY INSTANCES LIKE THIS HAD HAPPENED ON SAIPAN. WELL I'M GLAD THAT I SCREWED UP AGAIN BECAUSE THE OLD GAL WAS HARMLESS AND AS IT TURNED OUT SHE ALSO NEEDED MEDICAL ATTENTION. WE WERE SUBJECTED TO REGULAR VISITS FROM THE JAPANESE AIRFORCE WHICH KEPT US UP ALL NIGHT, NOT DOING MUCH DAMAGE AND THEN WORKING PARTIES ALL DAY. THE EXCITEMENT OF THIS KEPT THE ADRENALINE FLOWING AT A HIGH RATE. WE WERE ALSO INFORMED THAT THERE WERE ABOUT TWO HUNDRED "DISORGANIZED" JAPS IN THE AREA BUT TO LEAVE THEM ALONE AND THEY WOULD NOT BE HOSTILE. WHICH WAS ALLRIGHT BY US BUT HOW DO YOU TELL A HOSTILE FROM A "NIP" THAT WANTED TO GET HOME TO MAMMASAN? THEN OF COURSE THE COMEDIANS IN THE OUTFIT PICKED UP ON THAT AND REMARKED THAT WE HAD THREE THOUSAND DISORGANIZED MARINES. GORDON FISH CAME ACROSS ONE BADLY WOUNDED JAP WHO INDICATED BY SIGNS THAT HE HAD HAD ENOUGH OF WAR. GORDON THREW A PACKAGE OF "K" RATIONS TO HIM AND KEPT GOING. IT WAS NOT A REMOTE POSSIBILITY THAT THE JAP COULD HAVE HAD A GRENADE ON HIM READY TO FIRE. CAUTION WAS ADVISED AT ALL TIMES. TONY LIBASCI AND I HAD TO GO OUT ON SOME KIND OF SEARCHING PARTY ONE DAY AND WE HAD TO GO OUT WITH THE "CAT", WHICH WAS OPERATED BY WHO ELSE, ANDY. I DON'T RECALL WHAT WE WERE SUPPOSED TO DO BUT THE MAIN THING WAS THAT ANDY MANAGED TO GET THE DAMN THING STUCK IN A WET SPOT AND THEN HE HAD TO HIKE BACK TO THE BATTERY TO GET ANOTHER CAT TO PULL THE FIRST ONE OUT. WELL WE WAITED AND WAITED AND SOON TIME DRAGGED INTO NIGHT FALL. TO TOP IT OFF WE HAD LEFT THE BATTERY WITHOUT OUR RIFLES. VERY DUMB, THEN THE USUAL AIR RAID SOUNDED AND WE STARTED DISCUSSING WHAT TO DO IF A PATROL OF JAPS FOUND US. THERE WAS A CAVE NEARBY WITH SOME SIXTY MILLIMETER MORTAR SHELLS BUT NO MORTAR. WE FIGURED OUT THAT IF WE PULLED THE PIN FROM THE FRONT, BANGED IT ON THE OTHER END ON A ROCK THAT IT COULD THEN BE USED AS A HAND GRENADE. THIS WAS TRUE. FORTUNATELY WE DID NOT HAVE TO RESORT TO THIS AS ANDY CAME BACK ABOUT NINE O'CLOCK, WE PULLED THE CAT OUT AND RETURNED UNSCATHED. I THINK ONE OF THE REASONS WE DID NOT ENCOUNTER ANY PATROLS WAS THAT WE HAD BUILT A SMALL FIRE TO GUIDE ANDY BACK, BUT THEN AFTER WE GOT IT GOING WE DUCKED INTO THE CAVE SO AS NOT TO BE SEEN IN THE FIRELIGHT. I HAVE TO TELL YOU ABOUT ANOTHER ITEM REGARDING ANDY. WE FREQUENTLY HAD SCHOOLING ABOUT THE NINETY MILLIMETER GUNS. THE CLASSES WOULD BE HELD IN THE GUN PIT AND EVERYONE WOULD SIT ON THE SANDBAGGED PERIMETER. ANDY WOULD TAKE A GRENADE OUT OF HIS POCKET, WHILE THIS INSTRUCTOR WAS TALKING, AND START TO DIDDLE WITH IT. THIS WOULD GET SOME ATTENTION AND THEN HE WOULD PULL THE PIN AND "ACCIDENTALLY" DROP IT. WELL OF COURSE WHEN EVERYONE HEARD THE SNAP OF THE FUSE GOING OFF THEY KNEW THEY HAD ABOUT FIVE SECONDS TO GET OUT OF THERE. WHAT THEY DIDN'T KNOW IS THAT HE HAD TAKEN THE CAP OFF AND DUMPED OUT THE EXPLOSIVE POWDER AND HE WOULD SIT THERE CHUCKLING AS THEY DUCKED FOR COVER. ONE DAY HE PULLED THIS STUNT ON A BUNCH OF NEWCOMERS AND WHAT HE DIDN'T KNOW IS THAT SOME TIMES THIS POWDER CAKED UP AND ADHERED TO THE CASING AND HE GOT THE SURPRISED OF THE DAY WHEN THIS BABY WHUMPED OFF WITH A PRETTY GOOD BANG. NOT AS MUCH AS WITH A FULL CHARGE BUT ENOUGH TO CURE HIM OF THIS LITTLE AMUSEMENT.

WE WERE EXPOSED TO TWO NEW ITEMS ON OKINAWA. FIRST THERE WAS ATABRINE. THIS WAS A NEW PILL WHICH WAS ADMINISTERED BY THE CORPSMAN. IT WAS A DETERRENT TO GETTING MALARIA. IT WAS A VERY SMALL, BITTER PILL COLORED A BRIGHT YELLOW AND TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE TOOK IT, IT WAS POPPED INTO YOUR MOUTH BY THE CORPSMAN, BEFORE CHOW AND YOU HAD TO SHOW HIM THAT YOU HAD SWALLOWED IT. IN SOME OF THE FELLOWS IT CAUSED THEM TO LOOK AS IF THEY HAD JAUNDICE. 

ANOTHER NEW ITEM WAS SOMETHING CALLED DDT THIS WAS A NEW MIRACLE CHEMICAL WHICH KILLED MOSQUITOES. IT WAS SPRAYED FROM SPECIALLY RIGGED C47 PLANES, OVER THE RICE PADDIES AND ANY OTHER AREA THAT MIGHT BREED MOSQUITOES. ONE OF THE FELLOWS WHO HAD ACQUIRED SOME LICE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA TO USE THIS NEW CHEMICAL TO GET RID OF THEM. NO ONE TOLD HIM THAT IT WAS TO BE DILUTED AND HE PUT IT ON HIS BODY FULL STRENGTH AND WAS TAKEN OFF THE ISLAND LOOKING LIKE A BOILED LOBSTER. I HOPE HE SURVIVED.

ONE OF THE FELLOWS WANTED TO KILL A JAP BEFORE GOING HOME, SO CONTRARY TO ORDERS TO STAY PUT HE STRODE OUT LIKE LANCELOT SEEKING ADVENTURE AND SURE ENOUGH HE GOT INTO A FIREFIGHT WITH A PATROL OF JAPS. THE END RESULT WAS NO JAP BUT INSTEAD A ROUND FROM A JAP RIFLE THROUGH THE FOOT. WELL WHEN HE WENT TO SICKBAY FOR MEDICAL ATTENTION HE TOLD THEM HE HAD STEPPED ON A SPIKE, WHICH THEY KNEW WAS A CROCK BUT LUCKILY FOR HIM THEY DID NOT REPORT THE WOUND AS I WOULD HAVE MEANT A COURTS-MARTIAL FOR DISOBEYING ORDERS. WE WENT THROUGH THE USUAL TRIPS WITH THE SIX BY SIX BATTERY TRUCK, SCROUNGING FOR WHATEVER. WE FOUND SOME NICE TIMBERS ABOUT TWENTY FEET LONG WHICH WERE TO HAVE BEEN USED BY THE ENGINEERS TO BUILD BRIDGES WE TOOK THEM TO A SEABEE SAWMILL AND HAD THEM RESAWN INTO FRAMING LUMBER AND BOARDS SO THAT OUR TENTS NOW HAD DECKS AND SIDES. WE WERE LIVING IN THE LAP OF LUXURY. IT WAS WHILE DECKER AND I WERE WORKING ON THE DOOR THAT I MANAGED TO BREAK MY NOSE. DECKER HAD FRAMED THE DOORWAY AND I WAS HANGING THE SCREEN DOOR. I WAS HOLDING ON THE DOOR FRAME HEADER WHEN IT CAME LOOSE AND I PULLED IT RIGHT INTO MY NOSE. DECKER HAD NEGLECTED TO NAIL IT INTO PLACE. WELL, I WENT DOWN TO THE NAVY SICK BAY WHERE A DOCTOR SET IT AND SHOVED SOME COTTON THAT HAD BEEN IMMERSED IN A LIQUID THAT SHRANK THE TISSUES INTO PLACE. IT FELT AS THOUGH HE SHOVED INTO THE BACK OF MY HEAD. HE THAN PUT A HUGE SPLINT ON EITHER SIDE OF THE NOSE AND SENT ME ON MY WAY. IT WAS THREE DAYS OF LAUGHTER ON THE PART OF THE BATTERY AND HUMILIATION ON MY PART. I FINALLY TOOK IT OFF, BUT THAT HAPPENED TO BE THE DAY WHEN THE CAPTAIN CALLED FOR A BATTERY INSPECTION. WHEN HE CAME UP TO ME HE CAREFULLY EXAMINED MY NOSE AND REPORTED THAT MY NOSE HAD PASSED INSPECTION.

ON THESE SCROUNGING PARTIES WE WOULD OCCASIONALLY PASS A TRUCK ON THE ROAD THAT HAD A LOAD OF DEAD MARINES ON IT, BELIEVE ME THAT WOULD CAUSE A DEFINITE PAUSE IN THE USUAL BANTER AMONGST US. WE ALSO SAW THE FIRST PRISONERS OF WAR. THEY WERE IN A LARGE WIRE ENCLOSURE SURROUNDED BY TANKS WITH THE MUZZLES AND MACHINE GUNS DEPRESSED AND POINTING AT THEM AT POINT BLANK RANGE. THEY HAD ONLY A SMALL LOINCLOTH. AND SITTING ON THEIR HAUNCHES. I'M SURE IT WAS DIFFICULT TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MALE OKINOWAN CIVILIAN AND A JAPANESE SOLDIER. ALTHOUGH THE JAPANESE SOLDIERS FOR THE MOST PART WERE STILL WILLING TO DIE FOR THE EMPEROR, A FEW WERE BEGINNING TO THINK THAT IT MIGHT BE A GOOD IDEA TO GO HOME IN ONE PIECE EVEN IF IT MEANT DISGRACE TO THEM AND TO THE FAMILY.

THERE WERE A LARGE NUMBER OF GOATS ON THE ISLAND, AT LEAST WHERE WE WERE. AT NIGHT THEY WOULD CALL TO EACH OTHER IN A LOW PITIFUL BLEAT THAT SOUNDED VERY CLOSE TO AN INFANT CRYING. AND WITH ALL THE DISPERSED CIVILIANS AROUND WE WERE CONTINUALLY GETTING UP TO CHECK OUT CIVILIAN FROM GOAT. WE ALSO WENT OUT ONE DAY ON A SCOUTING PARTY NOT TO FIND JAPS, BUT FOOD. WE CAME ACROSS A LARGE SOW WITH SEVEN PIGLETS. WE ROUNDED UP FIVE AND THEN SHE DECIDED THAT THAT WAS ENOUGH AND STOPPED RUNNING AND CHARGED US. WITH HER TWO FOOT LONG JAWS THAT COULD HAVE SNAPPED A LEG OR AN ARM WITH EASE AND WITH OUR LOW VELOCITY CARBINES I DON'T THINK THEY WOULD HAVE STOPPED A WILD SOW HER SIZE SO WE TOOK OFF BACK TO THE BATTERY WITH OUR POTENTIAL BACON. A PEN WAS BUILT TO HOLD THEM AND THEY WERE FED SCRAPS FROM THE GALLEY. THEY EVENTUALLY BECAME OUR FAREWELL DINNER ON OKINAWA.. AS I MENTIONED, WE WERE VISITED NIGHTLY BY THE JAPS BUT FOR THE MOST PART THEY WERE RELATIVELY HARMLESS AND DID LITTLE DAMAGE WITH TWO NOTABLE EXCEPTIONS. ONE WAS THE SO CALLED "GIERETSU" RAID ON THE NIGHT OF MAY TWENTY FOURTH. THEY DID THE STANDARD MANEUVER OF COMING IN HIGH AND OUT OF RANGE FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS AND THEN TWELVE OBSOLETE BOMBERS CAME IN FROM SEVERAL DIRECTIONS IN PAIRS. TWO CAME IN OVER BOLO POINT AND ONE CRASHED NEXT TO US WITH A HUGE EXPLOSION AND THIS ILLUMINATED HIS COMPANION WHICH WAS SIGHTED BY BILL DECKER. WE SHOT A BURST OF FIFTEEN ROUNDS AND THEN HAD TO STOP FIRING BECAUSE WE WERE COMING TO CLOSE TO HITTING A FORTY MILLIMETER GUN IN THE VALLEY BELOW US. HOWEVER OUR TRACERS TRACKED HIM FOR THE OTHER GUNS AND THEY ALSO OPENED UP ON HIM, BUT IN SPITE OF THAT, HE STILL MANAGED TO LAND HIS SHOT UP, OBSOLETE, TWIN ENGINE BOMBER ON YONTAN AND THE SURVIVING COMMANDOS MANAGED TO JUMP OUT AND DO SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGE TO TWENTY SEVEN PLANES PARKED THERE READY TO GO OUT ON A MISSION THE NEXT DAY. THIS HAD TO BE ONE OF THE MOST SENSATIONAL PIECES OF PILOTING IN THE PACIFIC. THIS GUY FLEW AT LEAST THREE HUNDRED FIFTY MILES AT WAVETOP HEIGHT TO A DARKENED ISLAND, CAME OVER A VERY HIGH POSITION AND THEN HAD TO DROP SEVERAL HUNDRED FEET AND DO A ONE EIGHTY TO COME IN ON THE FIELD. THE NEXT MORNING AT DAYLIGHT WE HURRIED DOWN TO SEE THE BABY THAT CRASHED ON THE HILLTOP NEXT TO THE BATTERY THE COMMANDOS WERE SPILLED OUT ON THE GROUND IN FRONT OF THE AIRCRAFT WITH LITTLE APPARENT PHYSICAL DAMAGE, THEY HAD THE APPEARANCE AS THOUGH THEY WERE SLEEPING ON THE GROUND. THEY HAD NEW UNIFORMS, SHOES AND RATIONS OF DRIED FISH. ONE SMALL ITEM, ONE OF THEM WAS DISCOVERED TO HAVE A CONDOM ON HIS PERSON SO THERE WERE ALL KINDS OF SCENARIOS THAT WERE CONJURED UP ABOUT HIS MOTIVES AND WHAT HE WANTED TO DO FOR THE EMPEROR. GORDON FISH WAS ONE OF THE FIRST ON THE SCENE AND HE PICKED UP A NICE NAMBU LIGHT MACHINE GUN WHICH WAS INTERESTING BUT COULD NOT BE BROUGHT HOME AS A SOUVENIR. KELLY HOWEVER PICKED UP A PISTOL WHICH HE EVENTUALLY SOLD TO A SOLDIER ON THE SHIP COMING HOME, AS HE NEEDED THE MONEY FOR LIBERTY IN THE STATES. THE EXPLOSIVE DEVICES THEY HAD WERE AMAZING IN THEIR PRIMITIVENESS. MOST OF THESE WERE CHARGES OF EXPLOSIVES IN GOURDS. WE DID NOT DARE TOUCH ANY ON THEM FOR FEAR THEY WOULD EXPLODE WITH ANY MOVEMENT AS THEY HAD SURVIVED THE CRASH AND SUBSEQUENT FIRE. THE PILOT AND COPILOT WHO WERE TRAPPED IN THE PLANE WERE CHARRED TO A CRISP AND FROZEN IN THE POSITION THEY ASSUMED TO PROTECT THEMSELVES ON IMPACT. THEIR ARMS WERE HELD IN FRONT OF THEIR HEAD. IT WAS A VERY EERIE SCENE. THE CASUALTIES ON OUR SIDE ON AT THE FIELD WERE TWO PEOPLE KILLED AND EIGHTEEN WOUNDED, PROBABLY BY SO CALLED FRIENDLY FIRE. MY LIEUTENANT TOLD ME THE NEXT MORNING THAT OUR GUN WAS GOING TO BE GIVEN CREDIT FOR SHOOTING DOWN THE PLANE THAT LANDED ON YONTAN, BUT THEN A FEW OURS LATER HE SAID THAT THE OTHER GUNS WANTED THE CREDIT SO NO ONE WAS GIVEN CREDIT. IN ALL HONESTY I THINK WHAT APPEARED TO BE HIS GOING DOWN AFTER MY BURST WAS HIS DESCENT TO COME IN ON THE FIELD. THIS WAS THE ONLY ATTEMPT TO DO DAMAGE WITH COMMANDOS, BUT THE KAMIKAZE RAIDS CONTINUED WITH DEVASTATING EFFECT. WE HAD A PERFECT VIEW OF THE OCEAN FROM OUR PERCH ON BOLO POINT AND SAW SOME OF NAVY SHIPS GET HIT. IT WAS FRUSTRATING NOT TO BE ABLE TO ASSIST THEM.. ONE OF THE INTERESTING THINGS TO DO WAS TO LISTEN IN ON THE RADIO CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN THE SPOTTER PLANES AND THE CRUISERS OFF SHORE. THE SPOTTERS, IN SMALL TAYLOR CRAFT TYPE PLANES WHO WERE HOVERING OVER THE BATTLE AREA WOULD GIVE CORRECTIVE AZIMUTH OR ELEVATION CHANGES UNTIL HE WOULD SIGNAL "NO CHANGE" "NO CHANGE" AND THEN YOU KNEW THAT THE CRUISER WOULD OPEN UP WITH ALL HE HAD ON THAT TARGET. ALTHOUGH WE COULD NOT SEE IT WE WOULD CHEER THEM ON VERY LUSTILY WHEN WE HEARD THAT GREAT PHRASE "NO CHANGE NO CHANGE" I WOULD ALSO INFORM THAT THESE NAVY GUYS OFFSHORE ALSO KEPT THE BATTLEFIELD ILLUMINATED ALL NIGHT. NO SNEAKING AROUND BY THE JAPS AS HAD BEEN DONE ON SOME OF THE OTHER ISLANDS. AS SOON AS ONE FLARE DIED OUT YOU COULD SEE ANOTHER COME STREAKING THROUGH THE NIGHT SKY AND THEN BURST INTO A GREAT WHITE LIGHT AND SUSPEND THERE FOR ABOUT FIVE MINUTES AND AS SOON AS THAT ONE BECAME INEFFECTIVE OFF WOULD GO ANOTHER, ALL NIGHT UNTIL DAYLIGHT..

ONE DAY TONY LIBASCI AND I DECIDED TO VISIT THE SEABEE CAMP TO PICK UP SOME SOAP SO WE COULD WASH OUR CLOTHES WHICH WERE BEGINNING TO ACQUIRE A DEFINITE SCENT WHICH MIGHT GIVE AWAY OUR POSITION TO ANYONE DOWNWIND.. WE HAD TO HIKE ABOUT FIVE MILES OR SO, MADE OUR PURCHASES AND STARTED BACK. TO MY SURPRISE THERE WAS A SHOEMAKER THERE AND I HAD A NAIL PROTRUDING THROUGH THE HEEL OF MY BOONDOCKER AND ASKED HIM IF HE WOULD REMOVE THE OFFENDING NAIL. HE TOOK A LOOK AT THE HEEL AND SAID "GIVE ME THE OTHER ONE." WITH THAT HE REMOVED BOTH HEELS AND PUT ON NEW ONES. HE THEN ASKED US IF WE HAD EATEN YET AND WHEN WE ASSURED HIM WE WOULD SURVIVE UNTIL WE GOT BACK TO THE BATTERY HE SAID, "COME WITH ME." HE TOOK US TO THE C.P.O. MESSHALL AND WE HAD AN UNBELIEVABLE MEAL OF FRIED OYSTERS WHICH SOME ENTERPRISING SEABEES HAD GATHERED FROM THE REEF. THE REPORE BETWEEN THE SEABEES AND MARINES WAS VERY CLOSE. I DON'T KNOW WHY, BUT THAT IS THE WAY IT WAS. THEY WERE A DIFFERENT BREED FROM THEIR BROTHERS ABOARD SHIP. A FEW WEEKS LATER WE DECIDED TO TRY OUR LUCK AGAIN AND THEY TREATED US TO STEAKS FROM A COW THAT HAD JUST HAPPENED TO BE IN THE VICINITY. THE SEABEES IN THEIR INGENUITY HAD A VERY NOVEL WAY OF WASHING THEIR CLOTHING. THEY HAD A HUGE PADDLE [FOUR BLADED] THAT TURNED AN ECCENTRIC CRANK WHICH WAS ATTACHED TO TWO PLUMBING PLUNGERS WHICH [WHEN THE WIND WAS BLOWING] WOULD VERY VIGOROUSLY AGITATE THE WATER AND CLOTHING. ONE NIGHT WE HAD AN AIR RAID THAT WAS THE MOTHER OF ALL AIR RAIDS. I KNOW IT WAS NOTHING TO COMPARE WHAT WE DID TO THEM BUT BETWEEN THE CRESCENDO OF THE NINETY'S GOING OFF CONTINUOUSLY AND THE BOMBS DROPPING, THE RESULTING NOISE AND AIR PRESSURE MAKE YOU WANT TO MAKE YOURSELF SMALLER AND ALSO TO TELL SOMEONE TO STOP. WE HAD A VERY SMALL SAMPLE OF WHAT THE JAPANESE AND GERMAN CIVILIANS WENT THROUGH DURING OUR AIR ATTACKS. AGAIN, LET ME EMPHASIZE "VERY SMALL". TOWARDS THE END OF JULY THERE WERE VERY FEW AIR ATTACKS. THE JAPANESE WERE BEGINNING TO REALIZE THAT THE INVASION OF JAPAN ITSELF WAS NOT TOO FAR AWAY. WE WERE TOLD THAT WE WERE GOING IN AS INFANTRY BECAUSE THE SMALL AMOUNT OF AIRCRAFT LEFT TO THEM COULD BE TAKEN CARE OF WITH THE CARRIER PLANES. WE ALSO WERE INFORMED THAT WE WOULD BE FORCED TO KILL OLD MEN WOMEN AND EVEN YOUTHS WHO WERE WILLING TO DIE FOR THE EMPEROR. WE HAD BEEN OVERSEAS FOR THIRTY-TWO MONTHS AND DID NOT WANT TO DIE AFTER KILLING A BUNCH OF CIVILIANS OR WORSE YET HAVE TO LIVE WITH SUCH A THING ON YOUR CONSCIENCE. VERY UNHAPPY CAMPERS WE REALLY WERE VERY DOWN IN THE DUMPS AND HATED EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS WAR AND TOOK IT OUT ON EACH OTHER. CONSTANT ARGUMENTS AND FIGHTS OVER SMALL THINGS THAT PREVIOUSLY WOULD HAVE BEEN RIDICULED. LETTERS HOME IN WHICH WE PRACTICALLY SAID GOODBYE TO EVERYONE WITHOUT ACTUALLY EXPRESSING IT. THEN ONE DAY CAME NEWS OF A SUPERBOMB THAT HAD BEEN DROPPED ON JAPAN, WHICH WE DID NOT PARTICULARLY PAY MUCH ATTENTION TO BECAUSE WE KNEW THAT THEY WERE VERY HAPPY TO DIE FOR HIS NIBS, THE EMPEROR. LITTLE DID WE KNOW HOW SUPER THESE BOMBS WERE!! A FEW DAYS LATER THEY TOLD US THE WAR WAS OVER AND THE ELATION WAS BEYOND DESCRIPTION. EVERY GUN ON THE ISLAND OPENED UP A FILLED THE SKYS WITH TRACERS. SOMEBODY FORGOT TO TELL THESE PEOPLE THAT WHAT GOES UP MUST COME DOWN AND THERE WAS A LOT OF SHRAPNEL FALLING AROUND US. ONE OF THE KIDS THAT CAME OVER WITH US IN FORTY TWO WAS KILLED THAT NIGHT BY OUR OWN FIRE. I WONDER WHAT THEY TOLD HIS MAMMA. TWO DAYS AFTER THAT WE SAID FAREWELL TO THE EIGHTH AND HELLO TO SEATTLE WASHINGTON A WEEK LATER. WE DEPARTED FROM OKINAWA ON THE SAME DAY THE JAPANESE DIPLOMATS WHO HAD BEEN SELECTED TO DISCUSS SURRENDER PROCEDURE WITH DOUGLAS MAC ARTHER IN THE PHILIPPINES THEY HAD TO FLY FROM JAPAN TO IE SHIMA IN A WHITE PLANE WITH GREEN MARKINGS SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT BE SHOT DOWN BY TRIGGER HAPPY CARRIER PILOTS. AFTER LANDING AT IE SHIMA THEY WERE TRANSFERRED TO AN AMERICAN CRAFT AND FLOWN TO MACARTHUR'S HEADQUARTERS' BY OUR FORCES. HOWEVER ALL THIS INFORMATION TRICKLING IN TO US WAS MERE TRIVIA, ALL WE KNEW OR CARED ABOUT WAS THAT WE WERE GOING HOME.

THE RETURN VOYAGE

THE TROOPS ON THE SHIP WERE A MIXTURE OF SOLDIERS, SAILORS AND MARINES. WE WERE IN THE MINORITY AND OF COURSE BEING MARINES WE HAD TO STAND WATCH ABOARD SHIP. AT LEAST THEY DID NOT MAKE US CHIP RUST FROM THE DECKS AS THEY HAD US DO WHENEVER WE WERE ON OUR PREVIOUS JOURNEYS. THE CRAP AND CARD GAMES WERE FAST AND FURIOUS AND HELPED WHILE AWAY THE HOURS. WE CAME INTO THE STATES BY WAY OF THE STRAIT OF JUAN DEFUCA, THEN INTO PUGET SOUND AND THE SEATTLE NAVY YARD. AT SOME POINT ON THE WAY IN WE WERE GREETED BY A FERRY BOAT WITH A BAND ON THE UPPER DECK AND SEVERAL RED CROSS GIRLS. THE GUYS JUST WENT WILD AS THESE WERE THE FIRST STATESIDE GIRLS WE HAD SEEN IN THIRTY TWO MONTHS. EVERYONE ABOARD SHIP WAS ON THE FERRY BOAT SIDE AND AS A RESULT IT LISTED TO THAT SIDE. SO WE CAME INTO SEATTLE WITH THE WHOLE SHIP AT A TILT. WELL , WHEN IT CAME TIME TO DISEMBARK THE BAND WAS THERE TO PLAY THE SERVICE SONGS AS THEY DISEMBARKED, THE ARMY WAS FIRST, AND MOST OF THE GREETERS DEPARTED WITH THEM. THEN IT WAS THE NAVY'S TURN AND MORE GREETERS DEPARTED WITH THEM. WHEN IT WAS OUR TURN TO BE LOADED ONTO THE TRUCKS TO TAKE US TO THE NAVY YARD, THERE WERE NO MORE GREETERS. OUR LUCK WAS STILL HOLDING. WE WERE TAKEN TO THE MARINE BARRACKS THERE AND GIVEN A NEW CLOTHING ISSUE, TREATED TO A DANCE THE NEXT NIGHT WHERE MOST OF US JUST STOOD AROUND BECAUSE WE KNEW WE LOOKED PRETTY GRUNGY WITH OUR ILL FITTING DRESS GREENS AND NO DRESS SHOES. AFTER SEVENTY-TWO HOURS WE BOARDED A TRAIN FOR THE TRIP TO THE SAN DIEGO MARINE BARRACKS. THE TRIP SOUTH WAS THE MOST DELIGHTFUL TRAIN RIDE THROUGH THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PART OF THE STATES. DOWN ALONG THE PACIFIC SHORE THROUGH THE HUGE FORESTS OF FIR TREES. DOWN THROUGH OREGON AND NORTHERN CALIFORNIA. THE ADRENALINE JUST WOULDN'T STOP . THEY KEPT US IN SAN DIEGO FOR ABOUT A WEEK WHERE WE HAD A CHANCE TO HAVE OUR "GREENS" CUT DOWN AND PICK UP SOME DRESS SHOES AND ALSO FATTENING US UP BEFORE MOMMA SAW US. WE WERE IN GREAT PHYSICAL CONDITION EXCEPT VERY THIN AND THEY WANTED TO PUT SOME FAT ON US. THE CHOW WAS THE BEST AND THEY HAD A LARGE POSTER AT THE HEAD OF THE CHOW LINE WHICH READ "TAKE ALL YOU WANT BUT EAT ALL YOU TAKE" AND A MARINE GUARD TO CHECK TO MAKE SURE YOU ATE EVERY SCRAP OF FOOD THAT WAS ON YOUR FOOD TRAY. WELL, WE FINALLY BOARDED TRAIN FOR THE TRIP HOME AND THE FRATERNITY THAT WE HAD ESTABLISHED SEEMED TO BE FALLING APART. GOOD-BYES WERE SAID WITH MIXED FEELINGS, NOT MUCH SENTIMENT OR EMOTION. WE HAD MADE IT "HOME ALIVE IN FORTY-FIVE" AND COULD HARDLY BELIEVE IT. AT EVERY LARGE CITY WE WOULD GET OFF THE TRAIN AND JUST WANDER THROUGH THE STATION TO ABSORB THE AIR AND GET THE FEEL OF BEING IN THE STATES. WE WERE CONSTANTLY REMINDED THAT IT WAS STILL A "TROOP TRAIN" AND ANYONE MISSING THE TRAIN AND LEFT BEHIND WOULD BE CONSIDERED AWOL AND SUBJECT TO COURTS-MARTIAL. THE INTENSITY IN CREASED AS WE CAME THROUGH NEW YORK AND THEN NEW HAVEN, THEN INTO BOSTON AND THE SQUANTUM NAVAL AIR STATION. THEY TOLD US WE COULD HAVE LIBERTY FOR SEVENTY-TWO HOURS. THIS WAS THE FIRST STATESIDE LIBERTY WE HAD SINCE ENLISTING IN THE CORPS. I BOARDED THE TRAIN IN BOSTON AND CAME INTO MANCHESTER NOT KNOWING WHERE I WAS BOUND, AS THE FOLKS HAD MOVED TO MANCHESTER. HIRED A TAXI AND CAME TO SCHOOL STREET WHERE THEY LIVED AND RANG THE BELL. I COULD SEE POP RUNNING AROUND NOT KNOWING WHICH ROOM TO COME THROUGH TO ANSWER THE DOOR AND THEN HE OPENED THE DOOR AND GRABBED ME AND I DIDN'T THINK HE WOULD EVER LET ME GO. MY MOTHER AND SISTER WERE AT A BINGO GAME AND WHEN THEY CAME HOME, ANOTHER EMOTIONAL GREETING. THE NEXT MORNING, WHICH WAS SUNDAY, POP AND I DROVE TO EAST HARTFORD TO SEE MY SISTER IRENE. SHE AND JOHNNY HAD PURCHASED THE BURNSIDE DRUG STORE. LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT ON THE WAY, AS WE CAME THROUGH BURNSIDE, WE HAD PASSED BY ROSEMARIE, WHO WAS WAITING FOR THE BUS TO GO TO CHURCH IN HARTFORD. SHE LATER TOLD ME THAT SHE THOUGHT I HAD BEEN HOME FOR A WHILE AND HAD NOT LOOKED HER UP, SO SHE WAS PERTURBED MORE THAN SOMEWHAT. WELL, FORTUNATELY AFTER GREETING THE KOCUMS AND VISITING FOR A WHILE I WENT TO FORTY-NINE BLISS STREET AND INQUIRED AS TO THE WHEREABOUTS OF THE GIRL I HAD BEEN COURTING FOR THREE YEARS VIA AIR MAIL. SHE HAD GONE TO CHURCH WITH HER SISTER RUTH BUT WAS PROBABLY ON HER WAY HOME. I WAS TOLD BY HER MOTHER THAT I MIGHT INTERCEPT THEM AT THE MARKET STREET TRANSFER. TAKING DONALD WITH ME, I STOOD ON THE CORNER OF MARKET STREET AND COULD SEE HER COMING ACROSS FROM THE BUS STOP. THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SIGHT I EVER SAW. I HELD HER SO TIGHTLY AND SHE ALSO SEEMED PLEASED TO SEE ME. I COULDN'T BELIEVE THAT I WAS SO LUCKY. NOT ONLY THAT I HAD SURVIVED THE WAR BUT THAT SHE WAS STILL SINGLE AND UNCOMMITTED. ON MY TWENTY FIFTH BIRTHDAY SHE MADE ME A PRESENT OF A BEAUTIFUL PAIR OF LEATHER GLOVES. I IMMEDIATELY PROPOSED TO HER AND SHE ACCEPTED AND THE REST IS HISTORY.

THE LEATHER GLOVES DID IT.

I WILL MENTION THAT FOR THE FOUR WEEKS THAT I DID DUTY UP AT THE SQUANTUM NAVAL AIR STATION AND AT THE HINGHAM NAVAL AMMUNITION DEPOT THAT I HAD EVERY NIGHT OFF AND WEEKENDS ALSO. WHEN WE REPORTED IN TO THE SQUANTUM NAVAL AIR STATION THE SERGEANT IN CHARGE ASKED IF ANYONE COULD TYPE. I DID NOT VOLUNTEER. HE THEN STATED THAT THAT WAS TOO BAD BECAUSE ANYONE THAT COULD, WOULD GET EVENINGS AND WEEKENDS OFF AND NO WATCH. I SUDDENLY REMEMBERED MY ABILITY TO TYPE EVEN THOUGH I HAD NOT DONE ANY TYPING FOR THREE YEARS. SO I BROUGHT MY CHEVY UP TO THE STATION AND TOOLED AROUND EVERY NIGHT JUST ENJOYING BEING BACK IN THE STATES. I REMEMBER ONE NIGHT, GOING INTO A VERY NICE HIGH CLASS BAR WHERE THERE WAS A GAL PLAYING THE PIANO FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT OF THE CUSTOMERS. I WANDERED OVER AND SHE INVITED ME TO SIT NEXT TO HER AND SING ALONG. SHE ALSO HAD SEVERAL DRINKS ON THE PIANO WHICH HAD BEEN SENT OVER BY ADMIRERS. SHE TOLD ME SHE COULD NOT CONSUME THEM AND INVITED ME TO HELP MYSELF. THIS WAS MY KIND OF A LIBERTY. I ALSO REMEMBER HOW DELICIOUS THE FRIED CLAMS WERE IN THIS TOWN OF SQUANTUM. I HAVE NEVER HAD THEM PREPARED SO WELL AND THERE WERE MANY SMALL STANDS IN THIS TOWN THAT SOLD THEM AND THEY WERE ALL GOOD. AFTER TWO WEEKS WE WERE TRANSFERRED TO HINGHAM AND IT WAS THERE I HAD THE JOB OF TYPING OUT THE DISCHARGES FOR ALL OF THE MARINES STATIONED THERE. THESE WERE VERY NOSTALGIC AS SOME OF THESE FELLOWS HAD BEEN ON GAUDALCANAL AND BOUGAINVILLE. EVERY BATTLE THAT THEY HAD BEEN IN WAS DOCUMENTED. "THE BATTLE OF THE NUMA-NUMA TRAIL. THE BATTLE OF PIVA FORKS. BATTLES AND PLACES THAT TODAY NO ONE REMEMBERS. MAYBE IT'S JUST AS WELL.

A recent photograph of John Vollinger

FOOTNOTE: ENLISTED SEPT 13, 1942, DISCHARGED OCT 19, 1945, THIRTY SEVEN MONTHS AND SIX DAYS OF SERVICE OF WHICH THIRTY THREE MONTHS WERE OVERSEAS. NO FURLOUGH  FOR WHICH I WAS PAID SIXTY DOLLARS EXTRA ALONG WITH MY MUSTERING OUT PAY. I NEVER WAS ABLE TO REDEEM MY FIFTY DOLLARS OF INVASION CURRENCY WHICH I PURCHASED IN KAUAI. ROSEMARIE AND I WERE MARRIED ON JANUARY 1, 1946. TONY LIBASCI WAS BEST MAN. GORDON FISH AND "FIBBER" MCGEE WERE USHERS. ALMOST LIKE A REUNION.

 
 
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