Skip to comments.VJ Day Open Thread: ‘My Father Served in World War II’(Tell Your Story)
Posted on 08/15/2010 5:59:12 PM PDT by PROCON
Today is the 65th Anniversary of VJ Day, or Victory over Japan Day.
Did your Dad or other relatives serve against Japan in WWII?
(Excerpt) Read more at bigjournalism.com ...
My FIL served in the Pacific in the Navy in WW2. I would tell you is stories, but, like many men, he refused to talk about it.
I think many of them wanted to forget.
When I went into the Marine Corps in the summer of '66, my brother's father in law (Guadalcanal) gave me his "lucky" Globe/Anchor emblem -- to be returned upon the end of my safe enlistment -----.
Back then, there were a few old salts left over from the end of WW II, and when they'd spot that on my pisscutter, they'd have two questions:
"Where the HELL did you get that, 'bootcamp'??"
"How much do you want for it?? I want to buy it!"
Yes, yes, war is not pretty!
Thanks for sharing.
I had two uncles and one great uncle who served in WWII. The great uncle earned a Bronze star after landing at Normandy. One uncle was a gunny’s mate in the Navy in the Pacific, the younger was in the Merchant Marine.
I’ll second that with a reply. I met an Indonesian man living in Santa Cruz Ca. who told me that he and his father were taken as slave labor by the Japanese, and that they would both have probably died if the bombs had not been dropped. He emigrated to the U.S. as soon as he was able.
I always took every opportunity to speak with these vets - now that they're gone I'm really glad I did.
My Father was in the Air Force as a mechanic.
Uncle Henry was a Truck Driver in the South Pacific Theater
Uncle Charles was in the in the engineers in Europe.
Uncle George was in the Philippines at the start of the War and was captured on Bataan. He lived through the march but died in the prison camp in August of 1944.
Sorry, I meant he was taken in the Colmar Pocket, not Courland...
My Dad was in the Army Air Corps 41st Photo Recon unit based on Guam. He was a P-38 pilot.
I have a letter he wrote to my Mom the night before they dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. It was interrupted and when he resumed he told of a mission that would probably end the war. He had been out taking photos of the devastation there.
I also have photos he took of the Missouri? while they were signing the peace agreement on my second birthday.
Dad stayed in the Air Force reserves until 1980 and retired as a Lt. Colonel. He is still living but says little about the war.
These heros won’t be with us too much longer. They need to tell their stories. I am proud to have had a P-38 named for me! Sure glad he didn’t drive a tank.
My dad served as an intelligence officer with the 509th Composite Bomb Group that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After he came home I asked him what the atomic bomb looked like and he drew an outline of Fatman but seconds later he destroyed the drawing.
No they won't!..:=(
Thanks for sharing!
My father was an electrician in the Navy - on a ship near Okinawa.
He never talked about his service.
Interesting, classified material, I suppose.
Thanks for sharing!
I had to read the first line twice before it sank in.
Guess I was expecting all the ‘relatives’ to have fought for the Allies. LOL!
That was the only time that I knew of where security was broken.
Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division.
Place and date: On Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 20 and 21 February 1945. Entered service at: Illinois. Born: 19 October 1920, Abingdon, Ill.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands on 20 and 21 February, 1945.
Defying uninterrupted blasts of Japanese artillery, mortar, rifle and machine gun fire, Capt. Dunlap led his troops in a determined advance from low ground uphill toward the steep cliffs from which the enemy poured a devastating rain of shrapnel and bullets, steadily inching forward until the tremendous volume of enemy fire from the caves located high to his front temporarily halted his progress.
Determined not to yield, he crawled alone approximately 200 yards forward of his front lines, took observation at the base of the cliff 50 yards from Japanese lines, located the enemy gun positions and returned to his own lines where he relayed the vital information to supporting artillery and naval gunfire units.
Persistently disregarding his own personal safety, he then placed himself in an exposed vantage point to direct more accurateIy the supporting fire and, working without respite for 2 days and 2 nights under constant enemy fire, skillfully directed a smashing bombardment against the almost impregnable Japanese positions despite numerous obstacles and heavy Marine casualties.
A brilliant leader, Capt. Dunlap inspired his men to heroic efforts during this critical phase of the battle and by his cool decision, indomitable fighting spirit and daring tactics in the face of fanatic opposition greatIy accelerated the final decisive defeat of Japanese countermeasures in his sector and materially furthered the continued advance of his company.
His great personal valor and gallant spirit of self-sacrifice throughout the bitter hostilities reflect the highest credit upon Capt Dunlap and the U.S. Naval Service.
My Dad was an Aviation Machinists Mate,I was just a twinkle in his eye in 1945.
Dad flew TBM Avengers and PBY Catalinas for the Navy. Never really talked about it, just said it was something he had to do.
He did tell me the story about coming home on leave and flying my mother under the Kanawah River bridge in Charleston, WV. She never got in a plane that he had control of again.
He has been gone three years now, and I will never forget his quiet courage he displayed all through his life. God Bless you Dad.
My FIl was navy first then army.
Explosion in the Aleutians got him a steel plate in the head and a medical discharge prior to Dec 7th.
After Dec 7th he enlisted in the Army.
Battle of the Bulge. Silver Star , I think at Bastogne.
Several Purple hearts.
It saved the lives of many Japanese, too.
Had we not taken out those TWO MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL CITIES, we would have had to kill far more Japanese by conventional methods in order to convince the Japanese to surrender. Once they saw that we multiple atomic bombs, they realized they couldn’t beat us.
And a weapon of that monstrous destruction enabled them to “save face” upon surrendering, as they could blame it on that bomb and not having lost the battles/war.
I’ll second that.
My father was in the SeaBees. He joined the Navy in early ‘42 and as he was very knowledgeable about explosives he ended up teaching demolition in Norfolk for most of the war. He was in California, due to ship out for the invasion of Japan in two days when the first bomb was dropped. He said they were told to stand by and await further word. The next he heard the war was over.
No prob, FRiend, not judging!
Your Dad was just answering your question.
My Dad, who has been gone for 5 years told me of him being in the engine room of his ship during the Battle of Saipan and waiting for the Kamikaze’s to hit his ship.
Who, IMHO is a hero, as are you!
Thank you for your Service to Our Country!
Popular belief is that Indiana draftees tended to get rotated to the Pacific War for that reason. Some small towns like Seymour had hundreds of men sent to the Pacific, and the European Theatre veterans were few and far between.
It's difficult to tell at this late date.
Regarding his uncle who interpreted for Camp Atterbury, he was undoubtedly there when the POWs rioted over being served "cake" every day. That was resolved easily when it was found (through the hard work of the translators) that they wanted rough brown bread ~ American white bread being too much like pastry to them.
The camp command put out requests to the German-American churches in Southern Indiana (gazillions of them) for German bread.
The riots stopped.
The command also put an end to housing Nazis with the enlisted personnel since they were finding reasons to stir them up.
My sister in law's father was sent to Germany in the Infantry. He appears in some combat films made during the war where the American troops and the Germans both encounter a dead cow which they then agree to butcher separately and avoid shooting at each other. Her dad spoke German and did a good job working this out.
PBS owns that material.
My Father who died in July 2008, served in the combat engineers. They landed in Normandy but fortunately for them, a few days after D-Day.
They made their way across Europe through Holland, Belgium, France, and Germany. They were in occasional combat, even sharp at times but mostly were building roads, bridges etc. until the final 3 months of the war. from then to the end they were right in the thick of it.
I have their official Army history. It is interesting and a couple of things stood out to me. First of all their officers (who my Father described as fine Christian men) were real engineers, not some yahoos out building things.
The most impressive thing to me was how fast the got things done. For instance the history would have an entry such as: Company A and C assigned to build a railway trestle across some river. A few days later there would be another entry. RR trestle complete, Company A assigned to repair road damaged by artillery fire, Company B and C assigned to clear mine field. Each time the job would be done very quickly and they would immediately be given another.
They put several pontoon and other types across various rivers including the Rhine and Elbe. The one across the Rhine was under continuous artillery fire.
My dad was a line chief for B-17s...he passed in 85.
My uncle is 88, he was in PBYs and PBMs in the pacific and mentions he was in a black cat squadron. When we A bombed those cities, he was stationed in Korea and said he was delighted the war ended not long after.
My great uncle was awarded the silver star for action in and around Bastogne. I don’t know more about his service than that as he died long ago (in a mugging).
My father was with the 24th Infantry Regimental Combat team, one of the historic black regiments -with white officers, (along with the 25th Inf Rgt, and the 9th & 10th Cavalry Rgts.- colloquially known as the Buffalo Soldiers). They deployed to the So. Pacific in early 1943 and remained there throughout the war. Islands where they were used as laborers because the higher brass did not think them sufficiently well trained and reliable to be used as infantry. He returned from the war in October 1945, having spent nearly 4 years there.
An addendum to Seymour Indiana ~ they still hold a VJ DAY PARADE and here’s the latest story on the matter: http://www.tribtown.com/news/war-23663-lead-prisoners.html
I'm regretful of the racism that existed back then!
Your Dad was a hero, in my book!
We here at FR, with few exceptions, REFUSE to look at someone's color, it doesn't matter, just the character of their politics!..:=)
MarineBratDad was on a troop ship headed to invade Japan when the bombs dropped. His exact words were “they dropped the bomb, the war was over, and that was all right with your father.”
I have a Japanese, Arisaka, Type 99, 7.7 mm bolt action rifle that he took as a souvenir of war as a part of the occupation force. He (or the USMC) had snapped the firing pin off to neuter it, and all of us kids played with it when we were growing up.
South Pacific. One of the Founders of the Ford Island memorial. A cousin.
Also, troop transporter. (another one)
Then there are the current or recently separated ones.......
And the pre-American ones, Civil War, etc.
A long line of blue, gray, green and camo.
When WWII started, my dad had a deferment. He was a civilian engineer designing bombers.
But that wouldn’t do. He insisted that the draft board remove the deferment and reclassify him as 1A. As soon as they did, he enlisted.
He served as the landing gear officer on the aircraft carrier USS Wolverine. The Wolverine was based in Lake Michigan and was used to train novice Navy pilots.
I was blessed that he lived into his late 80’s. So I was able to appreciate, as an adult, his stories of the depression and the service years.
As many have mentioned previously, it truly was the greatest generation.
And thanks PROCON for starting this thread.
My father served in the Chemical Warfare Service during WW2 and was prepared to go to Australia to help in CW preparations should the Japanese use them during the invasion of the mainland.
My father-in-law fought at Saipan, Tinian, Eni-Weitok and Iwo (75th JASCO, Army Signal Corp, the only Army assault company there). At least three Purple Hearts plus many other medals during his 20+ years of service).
I was a research journalist, on our side, in SO. Vietnam and Cambodia, Fall 1970.
My son was one of the first American soldiers to cross into Iraq (ahead of the armored units, to mark pathways thru the Iraqi minefields) on 3/20/03. Fought at Objective Peach/Hindinya on the Eurphrates. Various medals including a Presidential Unit citation. No Purple Hearts, thank God.
Other family members served all over the world in WW2 from India to Hong Kong to European Theater.
Glad to learn of all the other great American heroes on this post.
He reported in June 1942 and spent the next year and a half in training. In late 1943 he deployed to the Pacific as a dive bomber pilot in Air Group 15, eventually assigned to the USS Essex. He fought in all of the major campaigns in 1944 and was awarded the Navy Cross for gallantry during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
His Air Group was rotated back to the US at the end of 1944, and he and other experienced pilots were assigned to new squadrons in preparation for the invasion of Japan. He was stationed in the San Diego area when the war ended. Needless to say, he never had anything bad to say about the atom bombs dropped on Japan.
Another one. Chosun Reservoir. Frozen lungs & then, a disability. USMC.
Another. Cousins. Nam.
Iraq I. Iraq II & Afghanistan (field promotion). (others).
I forgot the black & khaki uniforms & jackets. Oops.
I forgot about my mom’s step dad...he landed at Okinawa with the Army and his only comment about it was that it was brutal.
His sister's husband an LT was killed at Normandy about a week after D Day.
Another brother in law was a bomber pilot flew 36 missions over Europe as a B 24 pilot.
Two of my Dad's cousins were Army infantry in the Pacific in MacArthur's island hopping campaign and another cousin was Army Airborne in Europe.
My Mom was 12 in 1945 and she, along with her parents were at a hotel ballroom having dinner in Atlantic City. Many of the hotels had been commandeered for use by troops recuperating after being wounded.
The band leader stopped the music, asked for quiet and then announced that Japan had surrendered. Needless to say pandemonium ensued. My Mother looked over to her Mother who had dropped to her knees beside the table to pray.
Shame on me. I forgot my FIL who passed away on June 1, 2001. He was SeaBee somewhere in the Pacific.
My father served in the 8th Air Force, stationed in England. He flew as a waist gunner in a B-17. Like many of his generation he didn’t talk much about it.
My Dad was one of six kids. 3 boys and 3 girls.
Dad was on a Gunner’s Mate on an LST in the Med. His younger brother was Army. Uncle Len was stitched by a German machine gun at Anzio. Uncle Len survived his wounds. His older brother was a MM, but I am not sure where.
One of his brothers-in-law was an LTC in the Army Signal Corp who ended up with the OSS before the war was over.
I joined the Navy in 1980 and did all of my cruises in the Med. It was a little odd to talk to my Dad about place we both went to....... that we shouldn’t have gone to.
If you haven’t done so, please find a copy of the book “ONE LAST LOOK”, a pictorial of the Mighty Eighth. The men who fought in the air over Europe were astoundingly brave. The flew straight and level and took all the Germans could throw at them and kept on flying. The 8th Air Force took more killed and more wounded than any other unit in WWII. Something like 150% casualties. My wife’s father was shot down on his 13th mission and spent the rest of the war in Stalag 17B. Heroes to a man.
Your dad could have served with one of my brothers as he took the same route and spoke of the Germans floating boats loaded with explosives toward one of those bridges so they would shoot at the boats as they drifted down the river. One night a ricochet off the water killed a officer on the other shore and they had to stop the shooting. I would really like to know what information you have on that unit as I have nothing. That brother died in 1985 of kidney failure from high blood pressure.
When he returned he got a job guarding German POWs who were in a camp in western FResno county where they were picking cotton. The camp wasn’t far from our home and I think I have some photos he took of it. Another brother was shot down over Germany and spent 10 months in Stalag III et al. A sister was a Wac and served in a Army hospital in Long Beach and her husband was in a unit of the 9th air force and they built the first P47 airfield on Normandy and many others.
My Dad saw combat on Okinawa, along with my Uncle, and Iwo Jima. His outfit was being outfitted for the Invasion of Japan when the War ended. The easiest way to make my Father mad was to say that it was wrong to drop the A-bomb on Japan. He would reply, we’ll if they hadn’t dropped it I wouldn’t be here today. He and my Uncle would whisper stories to each other but would only tell us the funny things, though few. My Mother said that he never talked about the war until the nightly news about Vietnam.
He was in the 10th. Mountain division first then was shipped to the Pacific. From 10K feet in Colorado to sea level was quite a change.
My Dad served with the Navy in the Pacific (Solomon Islands).
He dropped out of High School to join the Navy, and as the youngest in his group became the cook.
I thank Harry Truman for his courageous decision.
My uncle who was sick in England on DDay served with Patton into Germany. His best friend became a POW in Germany, yet would never talk about it.
My father fought in WWII (and Korea, and Vietnam, but that’s another story ) As a young Marine fresh from boot camp, his first introduction to the Japanese occurred off the coast of Okinawa.
Lacking a mutual friend to perform the formal introduction, a Kamikaze pilot took it upon himself to do the honors unassisted.
My dad’s job was column operator, clearing spent drum magazines from one of the 20 mm anti-aircraft guns at the base of the #3 turret of the Maryland. It’s very mechanical work, the moment the last round is chambered pull the drum and discard, clearing the way the loader to instantly put on a new one, wait for that one to empty, remove it and repeat. It is not exactly quiet work but it requires rather zen-like focus and concentration. He saw the Nate bomber as it flew down the line of battleships then turned and made its way directly towards him. He saw the tracers from the ship’s guns focus in on it. While keeping is actions focused on caring for the gun, he had what seemed like weeks to contemplate the incoming Kamikaze plane with the 550 lb bomb strapped to its belly. He couldn’t look but he was peripherally aware of that bomb laden plane growing larger and larger, closer and closer.
Then it flashed bare feet over his head and struck the top of the #3 turret. (A few feet lower and I really would be null and void)
The explosion polished the antiaircraft gun crews off of the top of that main gun, instantly killing all the sailors manning those crews, but one. (The survivor managed to get down the ladder and collapse on the deck near my dad. His badly mangled leg had to be removed later that evening) Rivets popped loose and ricocheted inside the turret injuring the men inside. A tire from the Kamikaze bounced down and hit one of the men manning his gun crew, knocking him out cold.
The net results were grim. He recalls the Bosun hanging from a bosun’s chair and having to use his Kabar to cut out the remains of his close friend, the Bosun’s Mate, from between the main mast louvers. He recalls the remains of multiple casualties outside the entrance to the mess hall, covered with tarps prior to proper burial at sea . He recalls, as he so eloquently put it “being puckered for days”. He earned his combat star that evening, before he became a PFC.
He learned a lot more about the Japanese on the beach at Okinawa. (In one of life’s little ironies, he would one day be stationed at NAS Atsugi, the very base that this Nate had departed on his way to greet the Americans)
Today he holds no animosity towards the Japanese, indeed, he rather likes and even respects them.
They really are the Greatest Generation.
(I just read this to him, with typical understatement he said, “That was a scary night”...)