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Teds Story

INTRODUCTION After my kids read my book, "A Story Of Three Boys And How They Lived", they asked if I would write my World War II story. I told them that my war experiences were as dull as watching grass grow. Then I got to thinking that my story need not be a story of blood and glory but a story of our common day experiences and personalities which represented a cross section of the nation. The trick now is to remember what happened in that time so many years ago. At the time, three years and two months seemed like an eternity. Prior to "Pearl Harbor", I graduated from Ford High School in 1940 and was equipped for nothing but "grunt labor. I worked as farm laborer for relatives and neighbors. My one talent was art, which in those days was indulged only by little old ladies. The comics were my passion. I did comic strips. One was titled "Barney Co Bill" which was patterned after "Popeye the Sailor." There was no art training in any of the public schools at that time. I spent one year with no goal for the future. Then, one Sunday afternoon, my whole family was sitting in front of our True Tone radio listing to the New York symphony, when, out of the clear blue, an announcer broke in and said that "the Japanese just bombed Pearl Harbor". I realized then that I was the right age with no farm deferment and I was in good health, My future had come into focus. I, like all young men, had registered for the draft, but I did not want to enlist. How glad I was I hadnt because I could have been involved in some of the early battles where we suffered defeat because we were unprepared. I could have been killed or become a prisoner of war. In early November of 1942, I received my draft notice to report to Fort Leavenworth for a physical.

THE DRAFT AND ENLISTMENT That draft notice sort of put me into a panic. I really wanted to join the navy. Here is where I relied on my good old dad. Telephones were not as common as they are today so Dad went to Minneola to call the draft board to get permission for me to join the navy. They said that they didn't care as long as I went somewhere, so Dad and I went right up to the Navy recruiting office in the Dodge City Post Office. There we met the Navy Chief who gave me a short physical. He had to take my blood pressure twice since my blood pressure was so high (I still have problems with anxiety-induced high blood pressure). Once my blood pressure came down, he then had me sign some papers. He then announced that he had a group going to Kansas City the next day. I want to give that Chief credit for being a kind man. His kindness put me at ease that made it easier to go into the unknown. Now that I had enlisted, the problem now was to get to Kansas City. That problem was to
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get on the train to Kansas City. Dad saw the anxiety I had about getting on the train as I had not been on a train since I was five years old, so good old Dad volunteered to accompany me to Kansas City. When we arrived to our destination and got off the train, all of the recruits that got on the train in Dodge City followed Dad to the recruiting station like the pied piper, probably some to their doom. The recruiting station was in a building not too far from the Union Station. As we arrived there, Dad left for a return trip to Dodge City. The day I was sworn in to the United States Navy. I was supposed to be sworn into the United States Army at Fort Leavenworth. This is a decision I have never regretted.

THE GREAT LAKES BOOT CAMP The Great Lakes Boot Camp was north of Chicago. This is the place where military training began. This is where you became not much more than a number. The first order was to strip buck naked and run through a shower. One corpsman would yell, "Wet down, soap down, and wash the cheese off. Next, you were in line, still naked with one recruit not three inches in front of you and one "recruit" not more than three inches behind. You are checked from stem to stern.. Some of the terms used were: Bend over and spread your cheeks" or "Skin it back and milk it down". My friend Ray Pearce related to me that when he was taking a physical in the army, he noticed a recruit had some markings on his buttocks. Being a printer, Ray could read backwards. It read, "Home Comfort," The recruit told Ray that once he had fallen on the oven door of his kitchen range and was branded. After the physical exams, next came the shots. I cannot remember how many shots we received, but it reminded me of giving shots to cattle down on the farm. As we progressed down the line, we had all kinds of numbers and marks in iodine, just like branding cattle. Of course, we all got the traditional haircut. The haircuts were not as short as the Army, but you could see the barbers salivate when he had a recruit with long, black curly hair.

CLOTHING ISSUE The next procedure was our clothing issue. This is when you realize how the Navy is steeped in tradition that dates back to the Eighteenth Century. The number of issues I have forgotten, but I will guess how many per item: Two pairs of dungarees, now known as jeans Two Chambray shirts One middy blouse One bell bottom trouser-very lightly belled Two pairs of black shoes-one high tops, one oxford Several pairs of black socks Several pairs of white shorts-known as skivvies Several pairs of white T shirts- also known as skivvies One knit watch cap, two white hats, and one flat hat complete with a black ribbon
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with a gold inscription reading, The United States Navy. One pair of boots, which were leggings in civilian terms, fit with a strap under the shoe and laced up the outside of the leg Several clothes stops which were short cotton cords to tie up rolled up clothes One pea coat and one black rain coat

We were also issued: One safety razor and blades and shaving cream One comb and a sewing kit One toothbrush & toothpaste One bottle of Aqua Velva shaving lotion A shoe shine kit One "ditty bag, to hold the items listed above One sea bag which was our luggage for the duration One Hammock, which I never used in my entire Naval career

After we were secured with our new clothes, our civilian clothes were packed in the luggage we came with and were shipped home. I suspect we had a short psychological test. I remember going in to a small room where I was asked if I liked girls. At the time I thought that was a dumb question, but later I understood why. As I stated earlier, the traditional uniform was not very practical for the 20th Century. For instance, the middy blouse collar would have been used to keep the tar that was used to smear on their pigtails. The bell bottoms, as well as the white hat, were used to catch air for a flotation device. The thirteen buttons on the trousers were to celebrate the thirteen original states. For dress, to go on liberty, the middy blouse breast pocket was to remain empty, the black neckerchief was to be tied in a square knot at the base of the V neck. The neckerchief was to be used as a sling in case of an arm or a shoulder injury in combat. Your comb would be carried in the lace up in the back of the trousers, your billfold hung over the waist band of the trousers, and if you smoked, the cigarettes would be carried in your sock. If you had to go to the bathroom, you had to unbutton and then button thirteen dumb buttons. The uniforms were wool and were a magnet for lint, but they were rugged enough to be scrubbed in soap and water. If you were slim and young, you could look "cute" in that uniform, but a person who was balding and portly could look ridiculous. There was one thing the uniform did very well, and that was to separate the enlisted men from the officers. This uniform must be enduring as it still is in use and has been for over 100 years. One thing we had to adapt to was Naval terminology. For instance, the floor is a deck, a wall is a bulkhead, the front of the ship is the bow , and the rear is the stern. If a sailor goes fore and aft, he will go front and back. Up and down the steps on the ladder (the stairway) takes you top side or below. If you need supplies, you go to ship stores, and one thing as important as anything is the toilet, which is called the head. The kitchen is called a galley, and the call to food is chow down.

Living with over one hundred men was a new experience for a country kid like me. There were recruits from all corners of the country and all nationalities, all white. Each floor was assigned to a Chief Petty Officer . Our Chiefs name was Grenfeld. Chief Grenfeld was a very kind man with a great deal of patience. As our company assembled in our new quarters, the Chief would stand up before us and would say, I am your mother and your father. If you have problems, call me. The Chief did not stay in our quarters. Instead, one of the older recruits was put in charge of our barracks. November in the Great Lakes is cold, and the day we got there it snowed. The snow stayed on the ground for nine weeks, the entire time we were there. Of course, any part of a new military routine involves marching. We were also assigned to watch duty, another basic military routine. The watches were four hours on and eight hours off. With so many men standing watch, your turn didnt come around very often. When it was my turn at standing watch, the officer of the day approached, and I was to give the spiel by myself. Something like, Seaman Carlson, Company 1742 is secureSir! But instead Im sure I stumbled all over myself. Of course there was coffee at every meal. I think the Navy fought the war on coffee. In fact, before every battle the ships cook would boil pots of coffee to have on hand. Every Sunday we marched to the hall for breakfast, and every Sunday we had a cake-like roll and Boston baked beans for breakfast, a new experience for me. The uniform of the day was work blues, high top shoes, and boots. The boot consisted of a canvas cover and laced up on the outside of the leg. The uniform also included a watch, a cap made of black wool, and a pea coat. After breakfast, we marched by twos to a drill hall. The drill halls were huge half rounds which probably would cover most of a football field. The floors were made of asphalt, and the roof supports were laminated two-by-twelve boards at least a foot-and-a-half thick. Even in the Great Lakes frigid air, the halls were quite comfortable. Our first visit to the drill hall was for exercise and gymnastics. One day they announced there would be a photographer present and asked us to pick out someone to have our photo taken with. I didnt know anyone, but it happened someone else was in the same situation, so we had our picture taken together. To this day, I do not know this persons name or where he was from. I still have that sixty-eight-year-old picture. One drill hall had a swimming pool. The instructor announced that All you men who can swim meet me at the deep end of the pool, and the rest of you go to the shallow side. A net stretched high over the center of the pool. The deep-water guys climbed to the top of the net, dived off, and performed other antics to help them to swim away from a sinking ship. We shallow water guys hung on the side and splashed water. In the end, it wouldnt have matter anyway in the big, wide full-of-sharks Pacific. Every recruit in the Navy was destined for the dentists office, and Im sure that a lot of poor guys from down south needed it very badly. It was soon my turn to go to the dentist office. Dentists were not a new experience for me because I had been to the ones at home.
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When I entered the dentist office, there were two young men there, ensigns by rank, and God knows how much training they had had. As I sat in the chair, the first thing they decided was to remove my fillings and refill my teeth. My brother Rolands experience with Ensign dentists was unique. They were so fascinated with his stringy saliva, they kept playing with it. Unfortunately, my condition wasnt so entertaining. I had to have a tooth pulled, and my previous experiences with that hadnt been so great. My teeth had hooked roots, and I had never had one pulled that didnt break, so I wasnt surprised when they had to dig for the root. We had Novocain, but it didnt help much. In that chair was a young recruit, a thousand miles from home, sitting in a chair at the mercy of two young Ensigns. Of course, when they pulled the tooth, it took an hour to dig out the root. Finally they let me out of the chair. As I went out the door in a lot of pain, a Bosun Mate said, Mop this floor before you go. Being a stupid kid from Western Kansas and a lowly 2nd class seaman, I did what I was told. I cleaned up the room, sat in my barracks, and ultimately healed pretty fast. I probably saw entertainment at the Great Lakes I would have never otherwise seen in my life. Everywhere we went, we would march. One day, we marched to a huge arena with a stage in the center. It was a lot like a football field, and there were a 1000 sailors there. The first performance was by Phil Spinaldi and His All-Girl Orchestra, which was firstclass entertainment. The only other one I saw was Eddie Peabody, supposedly the worlds best banjo player. He sat on a little stool with his banjo on his lap. His back was to me, but I could see him bounce on his butt and play the darnedest music you ever heard. He was a Lt. Commander, so he had rank. The other entertainment I saw came later, but it wasnt at boot camp. We spent a lot of time at the barracks. There must have been 100 men on each floor on double bunks. I had an upper bunk. The light was two feet from my face, and in the morning that light would come on, and theyd yell, Drop your cocks and grab your socks! A young man like me experienced smoking for the first time in the Navy. When it was time to smoke, someone would say the old phrase, the smoking lap is on and all the smokers would rush to the head. This phrase came from the old days when people used whale oil laps to light their pipes. Of course, we had lighters. The bathroom where everyone smoked had a row of stools and on the other side there were tubs for washing up our clothes where we would scrub our clothes with a ki-eye brush. There was also a sitting place where the smokers parked. Pretty soon youd borrow a cigarette from someone, then another, and pretty soon youd buy a pack for a nickel. Before you knew it, you had started your smoking career in the head. Conversations were held there about all types of things, and there were all kinds of men. One guy who was kind of a leader, bald-headed , portly, and a little older, but he was a very kind fella. There were a lot of hillbillies from Kentucky and Tennessee. Some of those boys were very ignorant and young. Sometimes I questioned if they were old enough to be in the Navy. I remember two boys in particular. One older and one quite a bit younger both from the hills. Anything the older guy would do, the younger guy would imitate, like snuffing his nose.

Because we wore high top black shoes with carbon black shoes, there were all kinds of marks on the hardwood, varnished floor. So, right before bedtime, we were each issued two balls of steel wool that we placed under each foot. Before we would go to bed, we would slide around until we rubbed the marks out of the floor. At bedtime (I suppose it was around 8:00), Id undress and roll up my clothes. Our clothes were always stored in a roll. Id put aside my sea bag, and crawl up to the top bunk. The lights went out, and youd hear a voice say Grab your cocks and drop your socks. We rested well until the next days routine which was approximately the same as the day before. Boot camp was traditionally three months, but, during the war, it was nine weeks. We learned how not to swim, how to march, and how to tie knots, something I never used my entire navy career. We were broke into being service men in the US Navy, which wasnt really a bad thing. Toward the end of our tenure there, Chief Granfield broke the news that there were no dress blues available. Of course, there were a lot of complaints because thats what the guys looked forward to going home in, but they just werent available. All of us recruits, on our own, had tickets to go home for nine days leave, plus travel time. We went to the loop in Chicago to take the train, and had some time to kill. There were a lot of Jewish merchants there with all kinds of things, and one of them had a dress blue midi blouse. I realized now that it was probably tailor made and not regulation (maybe even World War I vintage), but I bought it and wore it home. I was dressed in my dress blue midi blouse, my basic training trousers, my black socks, black oxfords, and my navy flat hat with a US Navy ribbon sewn on the band, and, of course, I had my sea bag which went everywhere I went. Soon I was on my way home. I had gone into boot camp a 2nd class seaman and had come out a 1st class seaman. Before we left, we were issued a test to choose our service profession. I decided I would choose to be a carpenter or a navy ordinance man, the guy who cleans guns and loads bombs on aircraft. Finally, when the test came back, I found out that I had been chosen go to ordinance school at a base outside of Memphis called Millington. In January of 1943, in the dead of winter, I headed home.

LEAVE Once I was home my cousin, Bud Esplund, and my brother, Harold, were still little boys. By the time I returned from the Navy, they were grown men. During this visit, my Aunt Oral, threw a big party for me down on the farm where her daughter and husband still live. Every relative that I had was there, along with friends of relatives, all in all, about 30 people. XXXXX(list here?_ Mildred Mrs. Weddle. John Larson, Grandma Larson, and even little kids.

BOOT CAMP
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While at boot camp, I visited with Jack Randall from Minneola who was stationed at Great Lakes as well. My brother Roland was also at Great Lakes, but I didnt know where he was. I didnt see him again until after the war.

LEAVE It was time to go back to the Navy. They had to take me to the train in Minneola. . As I left to go and get in the car with dad. Mom started to cry. I said, Please dont., and she didnt. That was the last time I ever saw her.

MILLINGTON I arrived at the naval air base at Millington naval air base in the later part of January. I remember how nice and balmy it was in Tennessee after being at Great Lakes. There was red soil and rain, and there were black men with mules and fresnos, a scoop the mule would pull. They were working at Millington which was still under construction. At Millington, I met a whole new body of men. I felt very lucky to have passed the test and been accepted into ordinance school. Some recruits were gun operators on merchant shops and many did all kinds of grunt work. I spent six months in Millington at ordinance school. I learned how to hang bombs, and I learned how a fuse works. I learned how to tear down a machine gun, clean it, and put it back together. I remember one instructor who discussed a sear, the part of a gun that releases the hammer . He said, This chere is a sear. He was a Southern boy. That was my first experience with kids from the South, or New York, or other parts of the country. All pretty decent guys. We had a barracks with double bunks, and, as I remember, I was still on the upper bunk. We had different classes as part of our training. One class was about radar. Radar was brand new, and they warned us, You do not mention this word outside this room. At that time the British already had radar that informed them when the Germans were coming. We had a round scope attached to an antenna. Youd watch that arm go around, and, every once in awhile youd see a blip which told you something was there. We also had lessons in mathematics, which was not my best suit, and our classes were small. Our school was just like going to college. For one class, a big guy name Holcomb was our instructor. One day he asked our class, Did you get any last night? He was fired, but later, I think he ended up overseas where I was. MEMPHIS Later, we got shore leave to go into Memphis. The first place most guys would go was a beer joint. I had no appetite for beer. My first experience with beer was in 1932 when Dad picked up a schooner of beer in Wichita. I tasted it, and I thought it stunk. On shore leave, I usually got a chocolate milk shake instead. Of course there were always girls wherever we boys went. At one bar, one girl said, He dont like beer. Dont make him drink it. I eventually acquired a taste for beer since it was everywhere. It was usually
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called Jacks beer, and it probably wasnt fully cured. There was also an amusement park in Memphis we attended many times. I never was a womanizer, but one time there was a girl who wanted to go into a tunnel with me. I put my hands on her hips and followed her through the tunnel, but then she put my hands on her breasts. I thought, Now what do I do? I got a taxi and took her home. I think she expected more than she was going to get. After all, I had to be back to the base on time! Thats about it for romance during my Navy career. Just like in boot camp, we poor country boys were exposed to first class talent. Two I remember in Memphis were Jack Teagarden and his Orchestra and Clyde McCoy. Teagarden was a well-known big band director and he gave us an outdoor concert. We had weekly concerts by Clyde McCoy because he was part of the personnel. He was a trumpet player and Sugar Blues was his signature song. McCoy was the director of entertainment at the Memphis base. He was slightly gray-headed and was an enlisted man like we were. When I was in Memphis, we continued to learn more about ordinance. We studied things about fuses, explosives, and all kinds of things that went on airplanes. At the end of term in Millington, we were all lucky enough to get a 3rd class rating, a rank basically equivalent to a Sergeant, which paid $78 a month. At one point, somebody got wind that I was a cartoonist, so I did a cartoon for the company paper. One exercise was swinging on a rope over a pool of water, so I drew one sailor swinging over the pool seeing all the white hats in the water. I turned the cartoon in, and I thought theyd print the caption, but they sent it back saying I needed to provide it. I cant remember what it was. After six months of study in Millington (March through September of 1943), I went straight to San Francisco on a troop train. One thing I noticed were the cranky conductors. They were absolutely asinine to the troops. Theyd yank them around, saying things like Get out of my seat. Here were kids going to fight a war for them, and they were simply rude. Of course, with hundreds of guys from all over the country, some of them managed to bring a bottle on board. The guys would learn how to get crushed ice and put in the bathroom sink for their whiskey. Our destination was Treasure Island, an area that had once been part of the 1939 Worlds Fair, a fair that occurred at the same time as the New York Worlds Fair. The symbol for that fair was a pylon and a sphere, and the old Treasure Island barracks had those markings. It was right on the bay, so I could see the Golden Gate bridge, all kinds of ships, and, for the first time in my life, I saw the ocean. The phrase ocean blue is a bunch of crap because all I saw was green-gray dirty looking water. Also, right off shore I could see Alcatraz, which in those days was occupied. In San Francisco, we. were pretty lax because, even though we had no idea where we were going, we were about to go overseas. A small group of us who had been in the school at Memphis were assigned to the same ship. One guys name was Howard Dreggers. Howard was a little short guy, pretty masculine, and, according to him, quite a womanizer in spite of his short stature. Howard and I cruised downtown San Francisco together. One time we thought we saw a Prostitutes house and thought Why not? Were going overseas. Howard, being the conversationalist, asked, Do you have something here to relieve a stiff? The woman said, I dont have any girls
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here. I went back to base a virgin. According to Howard, who was a Florida boy, he always had sex without protection, but he assured the girl it was okay. He told her that if shed lay on her side and press on her left side, she wouldnt get pregnant. Now I wonder how many little Howard Dreggers there are in the world! He told me one time that I had just never had a big bite out of life. With sailors like Howard, it was easy to see why movies about how to avoid venereal disease were shown at Boot Camp. One movie showed a fairly unattractive girl at a bar. As the sailor in the movie got more and drunk, the girl become more and more beautiful, until she looked just like Ava Gardner. USS BORES XXX check spelling for Nomia ?

Finally, our time was up on Treasure Island and on the 16th of June, 1943, we boarded an old 11 Knot Refrigerator Food Ship called the USS Bores (a ship probably built during WW I), and headed for Nomia (sp)xxx. There were only about eight of us from Memphis that took that ship. The trip took 21 days because the ship had to zig zigzag to avoid enemy submarines, but we had good chow to make up for it. We were on a food ship, so we worked right along with the crew. We ate all kinds of meat and other great food. We missed the pollywog initiation because of the war. In peace that was a hell of an initiation when you crossed the Equator. Each one of was assigned duty, and mine was four hours on and eight hours off. We occupied a round tub-like structure with a 20mm rapid firing gun at the front of the ship. The ammunition was about 6 inches long. In all my training in Memphis I had never had any training on this weapon. I didnt know how to fire one. You learned fast. If it came to shooting there were two big half round yokes that would fit on your shoulders. To fire the thing, you cocked it to charge by pulling a line, which is a Navy term for rope. Fortunately, I never had to fire the thing. I was issued binoculars and a pair of goggles with a knob where I could twist them and get polarized light. Being a Western boy who had only seen in the stock tank, I realized that the Pacific Ocean really is blue. There were flying fish in schools, hundreds of them that looped in and out of the water. I think I saw porpoises and I saw one passing ship, a Dutch ship with a curved bow heading the other way. During my 8 hours off, we had our discussions about everything. In the US Navy in WW II, the two major discussions were women and The Civil War. I remember the night time drill when everyone stood on deck ready for action. The skipper would pace back and forth on the bridge on the evening watch when the ship was alerted. One time, we were arguing about something on our watch, and the skipper yelled that, if we didnt shut up, hed put us below. They had a 6 inch cannon on the front deck that they would fire at night into the ocean to check it out. I realized what a splitting noise that was on your head when it fired. For recreation, on the fantail of the ship, theyd tie a glass jug and toss it over board. Theyd let it trail several hundred yards behind the ship. Then, wed each take turns
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shooting at it with a 30 caliber rifle. When I took my turn, I picked up the rifle, aimed it, and I broke the bottle! We were feed well, treated well, and became a small group of friends. It could have been a lot worse. Finally, after 21 days, we arrived at an island, but it wasnt Nomia. It was New Hebrides. The orders had been changed. I was in a receiving base on New Hebrides for two days. Then, boarded a DC transport for Guadalcanal. We left at dark and got there in the morning. Im assuming it was approximately a 4 or 5 hour flight. XXXSee discharge info on official documents. As we approached the island, I was in my tower, and I could almost touch the wings of a B24 that was checking us out. The island was jungle, but I didnt see much of it since we were only there in two days. Early in the morning, we boarded a DC3 for Guadalcanal. GUADALCANAL (a Spanish) look up miles from NH to GC The DC 3 had bucket seats lining each wall. We had to strap ourselves in and then we flew all night. I cant remember if we had a fighter escort, but Guadalcanal Canal was still considered a war zone. My memory of Guadalcanal had been from Life Magazine. I had remembered seeing Henderson Field, the main airfield of Guadalcanal. I saw the coconut grove trees and the jungle in the magazine. When we arrived, I realized XXXHF look just like the magazine. XXXX insert here When we landed in July of 1943, we took our gear and grouped together at a place called Air Center. There, we were issued square tents composed of a tent, ropes, stakes, and screens for around the tent to keep out the mosquitoes. We had no training on how to do it, but we raised the tent anyway. It was composed of a pole in the middle and was held down by four stakes on four sides. It housed four bunks for four guys. We had no assignments yet, so, for awhile anyway, we lived in leisure. The island had only been secured for about two years. We all found scrap lumber and made a made a deck for the tent. There Howard Dreggars from Tampa, Chris Christianson from Iowa, Lloyd Coal from Upstate New York, and me. We had arguments, but we were friends. Coal was touchy about things, and he wanted to fight, but Christianson told him to sit down and shut up. Cole had a girlfriend named Gennie, and of course Howard Dreggars had a bundle of girls. Christianson and I were single men. While on the island, we learned about a dive bomber called a SBD, also called a Douglas Dauntless. It had a bomb carriage rack below that carried a 1000 lb. bomb. It was hooked to a forked swing brace with hinges so when the plane went into a dive, it swung the bomb down below so it wouldnt hit the propeller. There was a perforated brace on the rear part of the wing that opened up to catch air to slow the airplane down. When they released the bomb, they pulled the stick to disengage the brace and would pull up after they dropped the bomb. It had a pilot and a rear gunner who had twin 30 caliber machine guns. That was
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the main plane we worked on. It helped win the war, but it wasnt a new plane. We eventually worked on the F6F fighters made by Grumman. It had just replaced the F4F fighter. It had three machine guns on each wing and was a hot, new plane. We also worked on the F4U built by Chance Vought. It had six machine guns and was very fast and agile due to the gull wing that raised the front of the plane up to accommodate a large propeller. Although not as much, I also worked on the largest engine plane built at that time, the TBF, also made by Grumman. It was designed to carry torpedoes or bombs in the bay. It had a pilot, a radio man, a rear gunner, and a tail gunner. All these planes had wings that folded up so they could be stored on the ship. The first thing you saw before they flew were their wings being unfolded. Basically, our job was to load ammunition and clean the guns on these planes. Ironically, we 3rd class ordinance men were being shown how to load these planes by seamen, kids with lower rank, but with more experience. They were the old-timers in this case. All squadrons were assigned a chief. Most of the US Chiefs I ever met were alcoholics. Our chief was a short, but nice guy, named Robbie. He was gentle but authoritative. The Chiefs were a unit of their own, not officers, not enlisted. They were the equivalent of Master Sergeants in the Army. They had their own clubs, khaki uniforms, and dress blues, just like an officer. I was on Guadalcanal from the fall of 1943 to January of 1944. When I got there we were at AirCenter, but then we moved to CASU 14. Every island in the Pacific was considered an aircraft carrier. CASU stood for Carrier Aircraft Service Unit. Near every tent was a foxhole. Foxholes were covered with palm tree logs which were heavy and solid. Every foxhole, because of all the rain, always had about a foot of water in them. Air-raids usually occurred on a certain date each month to harass us because Tojos son had been killed on that date. When we heard the sirens, we ran to the foxholes. The air-raids were usually at night and youd hear the drone of an airplane from way above. Then, the searchlights would come on and the plane would look like a little bug in the sky. Usually our days werent that exciting. Wed go to the ordinance shack and we would work on airplanes. We had to clean guns after each air-raid. Each time the planes the returned, wed clean the guns with wire brushes and would set the ammunition in the 50 caliber machine gun. Each gun had a lid youd raise up and lay the built cartridge in there and wait for it to be charged. Each gun porthole had to be covered with masking tapes because of the moisture so when the gun would fire, it would fire right through the masking tape. Each airplane had a plane captain who was mechanic. In the morning the planes would be running, lined up side by side, ready to go out on a mission. They would go the airstrip one behind the other with wings folded. Wings were folded so they could be stored on the ship. When they got to the strip, theyd unfold, and one by one theyd take off, pulling the landing gears up as cleared the ground, carrying 6 loaded machine guns and 1000 pound bombs. The SBD had twin machine guns in the back on a pivot. One gun on the front was on one side of the cowel. The plane was synchronized so that when the propeller blade was dead
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center of the gun, it would fire. As the bullet would proceed the propeller would be out of the way. One day, I was working on the gun. There was still a round in the chamber of the gun. As a guy was turning the propeller, it fired and blew a hole in the propeller. It was aimed toward the tower, but missed. I thought, Oh boy, Im in trouble., but nothing happened. At least the gun was synchronized. To keep these guns aligned, we would boresight them which meant they would have to converge on a target in the distance. We had to raise up the airplane so the tail was level, and youd open up each chamber and had a periscope device youd put in the barrel of the gun. You made adjustments on the gun that would set the sight on the target. Toward evening the planes would come back. If they had shot a Japanese plane theyd take a barrel roll for every plane they shot down. The ones that did the most barrel rolls were P38s. Theyd make all kinds of barrel rolls. One night after dark some bombers came in. Our planes were equipped with a device called IFF which identified the planes as our planes when they came in from a raid. One night a Japanese plane followed a bomber in so he could get past the IFF and dropped a bomb on a merchant ship out in the bay. We could see it in flames since it wasnt that far off the coast. Amongst us on Guadalcanal were the natives. They were short with kinky hair. They put something on their hair to make it red. Their feet spread out like ducks and their legs were scaly. The women were topless with long hanging breasts and they carried their babies in a sling made out of burlap. They were very docile and were smart enough to sell knick knacks to us. They lived in hills, but frequently came to the base. After all, it was their land. Guadalcanal was a volcanic island, and the sands were black-gray, made up of volcanic ash. The Australians and New Zealanders had set up plantations of coconut groves there. Rarely was there a tree without a shrapnel mark on it. We lived among coconut trees. Any time you wanted, you could pick up a coconut. You had to figure out how to break it open, and some guys got diarrhea from eating too much coconut. They could fall on you too. There was a mountain ridge all through the island, but I only saw one part of Guadalcanal and that was on Lunga Beach. You could see a little volcanic island across the bay called Salvo. The ocean was calm and very blue, very different than my San Francisco view of the ocean. In Guadalcanal, you might see a small white cap, but the bay was very smooth. Guadalcanal had two seasons, rainy and dry. In the rainy season it rained all day; in the dry season it rained in the afternoons. Youd see a little squall coming in across the ocean. When I first got to casu 14, every man had a beard. The dress code was atrocious. Jeans were cut shorts, shirts sleeves were cut off, and shirts were worn open. Most men wore white caps, and the shoes were leather work shoes. Some of the men cut up the shoes and made sandals out of them. The United States Navy was very autocratic. Thats probably why the enlisted men got away with whatever they did. Thats why we called it officers country. We got the
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beer and the Pepsis, and they got the whiskey. We got nothing, and they got the nurses. Because we served in such close quarters on a ship, they felt like they had to maintain their place of authority. It was not unusual for an officer to have an enlisted man to take all of the ammo out of a fighter plane and put their beer in the canister. Then, theyd have the pilot fly several thousand feet to cool it. After several weeks, the order came out that all beards had to be shaved off because the men couldnt wear the gas masks. I woke up one morning and was among strangers! I didnt recognize any of those guys. The only black men on the island were Navy Stewards. They tended to the officers. They were very few though. However, there was a black company that managed a PX where we bought our cigarettes, candy bars (called pogybait), and basic toiletries. Cigarettes were 5 cents a pack, and everybody smoked. We had name-brands like Lucky Strikes, Camels, and Old Golds. The only problem with Old Golds was they had added moisture and that caused them to get moldy. If you didnt want to buy a pack of cigarettes, outside of my tent there was a crate of vacuum packed Chelsey cigarettes for free. Thats why everybody smoked. We were bored and cigarettes were free. We had outside showers that were heated by the sun, just like back on the farm. A few places in the camp had hanging canvas Lister bags for drinking water. They were supposed to help cool the water but didnt do much. Next to them were salt tablets for us to take. Chow was good. The mess was a huge screened-in tent with netting. The Navy always had pretty good food. However, the scourge of the South Portland Islands was Malaria usually treated with quinine. When Japanese took over islands that produced quinine, we were given a substitute called adabrine. Adabrine had a tendency to turn you yellow. Some idiots didnt take it, so at the beginning of chow line they would make us open our mouths and take it. My Air Center tent-mates and I bunked together at CASU 14 as well. One corner of our tent starting leaking water, and then I happened to think about the butter they used that was designed not to melt in the tropics. I dont even if it was really butter, but it stopped the leak. Every sailor had his own duty when it came to laundry. It was a little hazardous. On the islands there was a lot of high grade gasoline for the airplanes. It was easy to get ahold of. Sometimes youd fill your lighter from gasoline dripping off the wing. One of the handiest pieces of equipment we had was the box that was used to carry ship ammunition. The boxes were about 1 x 2 x 10 inches and were lined with metal liners. Those boxes could be used for cupboards or chairswhatever you needed. We also utilized the metal inserts for laundry. We took one can and filled it with 6 inches of gasoline. We dropped a match in and started the fire. Wed take the other can and put it on top until it boiled. Wed stir the clothes in the water with a stick and they out pretty clean. It was a little dangerous though. My brother, Roland, got burned doing this. He was lucky it wasnt
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serious. The miracle of World War II was bringing all of these young kids from all over the US to do a job on an island. All kind of guys with all kinds of personalities. One guy I knew was named Hutchinson. He was a little fat and dumpy and always quietly said his prayers before he ate. Dreggars was a nice guy with his own philosophy. There was Lloyd Cole from upstate NY. He was dark -complexioned guy with a little bit of a temper. Christianson (Chris) was a regular guy from Iowa. He had a little trouble with arthritis in his foot and got shipped back a little early. There was Tom Carnes from Ohio. He had been an ace basketball player at his high school. One young man was name John DeBaun. John was from Brooklyn and he always tried to sing like Frank Sinatrabadly. XXX The enlisted men improvised for refreshments. Torpedoes ran on around 110 proof alcoholpretty powerful stuff. Youre not going to stop young men from having a drink. The men would go to the torpedo circus and buy alcohol. Theyd get lemon extract as a chaser and would drink. Some guys were known to have gone blind drinking it. One guy, Otto Hate, went on a three day drunk. You could hide in your tent and no one would know. I drank a little bit of it, but not much. I bet there was more alcohol that went through sailors than ever went through a torpedo. XXX We would load bombs whenever there was mission going out. Guadalcanal was vital to US interest since we were still trying to take the Solomon Islands, island by island. XX When we first arrived, the Marines were still cleaning out the back jungles. I saw a few Japanese prisoners on Guadalcanal. A few had been hiding in the hills and were subsequently captured. The orders finally came down that casu 14 was to go to New Georgia on Munda Air Strip which was about 500 m North. It was the opposite of GC, no palm trees and all jungle. Instead of sandy beaches it was coral. As a matter of fact, the air strip there was a big wide piece of coral air strip.a long white shiny air strip, esp. shiny at night. The Japanese liked to bomb it because they could see it so well. Here we had to start over and find material to build our own tent. New Georgia had land crabs and they had a tendency to migrate to the sea via the airstrip. The planes would smash them and they would stink there lying on the field. I had a metal fuse box and when I reached for something I immediately pulled my hand back because there was a crab in there. They werent small and had big pinchers.

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Life on Munda was about like that on Guadalcanal, with a fair amount of time off. One time, I was walking in the coral hills and one guy asked if I wanted my picture taken. I got up on a high spot on the coral, and its one of the best portraits Ive ever had taken. (See photo) On NG we had large foxholes like those on GC, but instead of palm logs they were another kindand they too were full of water. Just like on GC, every moonlit night there was an air raid. Once there were two Japanese planes. A Marine pilot went up, shot down one and then the other. You could hear the airplane whine as it went down and crashed. The pilot got grounded because he went up without orders. Our bombing raids were island stepping. Wed bomb one island, then take the next one in the Solomon Islands chain. The scariest island was Raboul. It had the Japanese fleet there. XX Wed load three different bullets on a belt clip. Several bullets were followed by a tracer so the pilots could see where they were shooting. If we had ever seen a ship armor-piercing bullet, we would have known there was going to be a Japanese Naval invasion, but we never did. The same thing would have applied to ship armor-piercing bombs.

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Dear Rol, Well, after damn near two years I finally made it home. I am writing this by the oil stove. Dad has gone to Dodge to see Dr. Jannie about some sinus trouble. I have developed a heck of a cold. I hope I get rid of it but quick. It seems that Dad was calling and sending telegrams to you and I so that we could get together out on the coast. When I wrote him a litter from Frisco I put my old CASU 41 return on it. So, he sends me the telegram with my old return. Ill probably get the telegram, alright, in about two years. Should I have known for sure your address I could have easily taken the Santa Fe south and dropped off to see you. I suppose you would like to know where Ive been? Heres a brief description (the straight dope.)

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I left Treasure Island on the 16th of June aboard an old eleven knot refrigeration food ship. The trip took us 21 days, however, we had good chow. We worked right along with the crew. We also missed the pollywog initiation. The ship put in at port at New Hebrides. We stayed there for two days in a receiving ship. We were then boarded on a DC-3 (transport) and sent to Guadalcanal. I was on the canal for about four months. We experienced air raids every moonlit night. I did see a ship in the harbor get torpedoed and a jap plane shot down. Next we flew (DC-3) again up to Munda Point. The air raids were a bit thicker there for awhile. I was at Munda for 3 months. Munda is where I left archenteron and joined CASU 14. Casu 14 went back to the canal and I was there until I came home. I missed the draft with CASU 14 by one day so, I was transferred into Casu 41. I received my orders for state side November 15th, however, I stayed over until the 20th so that I could have my rate go into effect the 15th in Casu 41. I came back on an Army troop transport (made it 16 days) and docked in the Frisco Bay. From there we went to Alameda for two weeks to receive our next orders. I received a 30 day leave plus 5 days traveling time. From here I will go to Jacksonville. I dont know just what kind of duty, nevertheless, it says for duty. I ought to get at least six months out of it anyhow. Two years sure makes a difference. I could hardly recognize Harold or Bud. As yet, I have only seen Clarences and Ottos, Tuts and Sis left the night before I got there so I missed them. Oh, yes, I got into Minneola about 2 o clock New Years Day. Incidentally, I got in on the family secret about you and Betty Gene. As for
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me, there is no one on earth I would rather have for a sister in law than her. The house seems awfully lonely and dreary now. Ill probably get used to it. Well, Rol, Ill close until next time then. As for my overseas experiences, I havent seen too much action yet. It was enough. As soon as you get this please write.

Love, Ted PS. I wish you would explain your address a little. I thought you were in a Patsu?

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