Tag Archives: WWII

A Patriotic American

Like many young—very young—men in the early 1940’s he tried to enlist in the Navy.  He was only 17 and suffered severe myopia; thus was deferred at that particular time.  However, soon after his 18th birthday, the inevitable letter arrived starting with the hackneyed phrase “Greetings” (the request to report to his draft board)

Miraculously, the eyesight was no longer a problem but he was fortunate enough to be the last one in the lineup that day to pick his service.  And so he was inducted into the United States Navy and sent to Boot Camp at the Great Lakes.  Boot Camp was that unpleasant place where the military whipped everyone into physical fighting shape and obedience training.  Unlike dogs, however, the participants did not receive treats for good behavior.   He was granted a short leave between boot camp and radio school.

His description of radio school was hilarious – he said “if you dropped your pencil and had to bend down to pick it up, you would have missed two weeks ‘worth of lectures.”  This was called accelerated studies and usually about half the class didn’t make it.  Flunk one test and you were shipped somewhere else.  He often said he had an advantage because he had taken typing in high school; that fact allowed him to spend more time in learning to send and receive Morse code.

After another brief hiatus at home he was off to find his ship the USS Oklahoma City, a light cruiser; first a shake-down cruise and then down the east coast, through the Panama Canal and on to the war in the Pacific.    Many battles, Kamikazes attacking, typhoons, danger from all sides—most of which he never talked about.  It was a war in which the combatants were not rotated back home or back anywhere for R & R (except for pilots).  He didn’t know when or if he would ever see home again.

There were strange little aberrations on the ship due of course to the inability to be resupplied.  Each sailor was allotted 4 pieces of toilet tissue a day; for some reason those who had duty during the night hours were not allowed to hang their bunk down during the day; they just had to find a hiding place to go to sleep.  Seems impossible in view of the accommodations on board ship these days.

The USS Oklahoma City was the first ship into Tokyo Bay after the surrender and its crew acted as a police force armed with billy clubs, until the soldiers could arrive.  He along with shipmates visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki within 40 days of the destruction with the atom bombs.  No one knew the effects of radiation at that time.  According to his service record, he was stationed in both cities at least for a short time.

He returned to the United States aboard a ship loaded with returning servicemen—so many that the crew received three meals a day, but passengers only two, and every day they were served beef stew.  It seems redundant to say that he never (capitalized and underlined) touched beef stew again in his life time.  Along with everyone else they cheered loudly and some wept openly as they passed under the Golden Gate Bridge.

As far as he was concerned, he had performed his patriotic duty, was proud to have served his country and his country owed him nothing.

Like most of his generation, he settled down, married, raised a family, and after a number of unhappy years sought a divorce.

He married his best friend and she had different thoughts on the matter of his cancer.  After he passed away in 2007 she did some research on his exposure to radiation all those many years ago.  The VA benefits had included a radiation register in one of their brochures.  Everyone had heard of Agent Orange and some of the chemicals from the Gulf War, but his wife could find no one who knew about the radiation.   With a somewhat guilty conscience because of his strong stand on “he had just performed his duty” she applied for benefits. 

He had many medical problems but died of lung cancer that seemed to appear from nowhere.  The VA determined that radiation had definitely contributed to his cancer and therefore he is considered to be a casualty of World War II.  He is a hero, a patriot, and he died for his country.

I am proud and happy to have been his wife for over 30 years and to know the legacy he has left for his children and grandchildren.


Leave a comment

Filed under Hang the Witch

A Different Slant on Remembeering

As an octogenarian, I grew up in a Patriotic America, supporting our troops through World War II.  Joyous when one came home and immeasurably saddened when one was taken away  from us.  This huge worldwide war took many lives and separated many families for years.  The survivors, for the most part did not want to discuss what they had done or what they had seen

The tragedy of that war was followed by a Police Action (euphemism for war) in Korea when we continued to send the promise of our future off to war one more time.  And then Vietnam, and still continuing to the Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

During Veteran’s Day weekend just past, there were very few programs and/or movies that honored our veterans being shown on television.  The news covered the placing of the traditional wreath at the base of the unknown soldier.

On the other hand, just days later, we arrive at the fifty year anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, President of the United States.  A despicable act on the highest officer our country.  Worthy of remembering.  Most of our young people do not remember him or how we as a nation mourned him.

It did not matter whether we were Republican or Democrat; his assassination was not to be tolerated.  TV has been running commentary all during this week of November 17, 2013 noting the 50th anniversary of his death.

The man may have been the best president we could have had, but with his death he had only served for a little under two years and, therefore, did not have time to implement any important programs.   His greatest achievement was inspiring our country to explore outer space which he never lived to see and the establishment of the Peace Corps.  He is remembered more for inspiring words than particular acts.

This is a personal feeling for me.  What is more important?  Honoring the Hundreds of  thousands who have served our country to protect our freedoms?  Or the anniversary of a man cut down in his prime and is now just a fable to many like Abraham Lincoln?

It is my opinion we should do more honoring and remembering of those who have fallen in battle and of those who still serve to keep us free as well as those who have returned to us and rejoined the civilian population.

Thank you to each and every one of you who served to protect me and my country.

Leave a comment

Filed under Hang the Witch

A Few Gray Hairs

On this remembrance day for all who have served our country so honorably, I remember. I remember the draft notices, the starred flags in home windows, the gold stars when a loved one was lost to us forever. I remember a city coming to an absolute standstill on what was then called Armstice Day, at 11 a.m., on the 11th day of the 11th month as a tribute to our military. The twenty one gun salute heard in the distance made my heart beat faster. I shall never forget.

I am old enough now to have survived much–financial disasters, internal strife, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan and — well you get the picture. My pride in my country is great. And every time there is a call to arms for ourselves or for those who cannot protect themselves, our military rises to the occasion. The puzzle is why do so many peoples of the world hate us and want to destroy us.

My family has contributed many to the military starting back in the Revolutionary War. But of those I know personally: My mother enlisted in the Navy in World War I as a yoeman (one of 11,000 non-nursing military women). My father was in the Army. My brother served in WWII. My heart gave a big bump of relief when none of my children had to serve because that’s just the way mothers are. Two grandsons enlisted in the Marines. A nephew served in the Air Force and was stationed for a long period of time overseas. And, of course my wonderful husband, who is considered to be a casualty of WWII because of radiation poisoning while serving in Hiroshima and Nakasaki, even though he lived to be 82 years old.

Gratitude for their service and for all the others is too tame a word. Pride in their accomplishments can never describe the feeling. So I spend time remembering that because of them I can sit here at my computer and honor their service and their lives.

Perhaps, a simple thank you says it all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Hang the Witch