Sunday, November 11, 2012
Happy Veterans' Day
I've been through Dad's letters home and that training mission is in there, but there were a couple more stories that he told that I can't find more details or evidence of. I'm not disputing that he did these things, but I don't know how much he confused because he was just a teenage Private and how much he lost to the years.
He told the story of being deployed to a small island off China. I do know that there was a long running "Warm" fight over the Straights of Formosa. The hotter fight predated '63, but they were still under dispute when Dad would have been there. Artillery was lobbed from the mainland to the islands and vice versa.
According to the story, they sent Dad's Battalion to the island, but not all of them could land because a big storm blew in. The portion of the Battalion that did land had to secure what they had and just wait.
They didn't have all their supplies and the only things they had to eat and drink were ice tea and rice. Dad never wanted to consume these things ever again after that.
On the first day they were there, their platoon held attack drills. On a command everyone had to make their way to the bunkers and hunker down until they got the all clear.
They all moved very slowly and slugishly, so when they were all in the bunker their Platoon Sergeant reamed them out.
"When I say move, you move. You never know when the Chinese could start shelling, by God I wish they would shell right now just to teach you maggots a lesson!"
Lo and behold shelling did start.
Dad said that he thought, "Oh my God, the Gunny can even call in fire from the Chinese!"
That certainly lit a fire under their butts, and they were never sluggish again.
While they were on the island they had equipment to either build or repair an airfield. They didn't have all the pieces and didn't have all the people to put the pieces in place, but they had huge crates.
After a while they noticed that each day the crates were a little bit closer to the jungle around them. The Marines eventually figured out that the natives on the island were trying to steal them by coming in the night and moving the crates a few inches at a time. They put an end to that.
The funniest part of this story is that eventually they were releived when the other ships finally made it to the island. They passed out loaves of bread and set up showers. The Marines on the island had spend several weeks without showering.
There was a camera there (I think it was Dad's) and someone captured the revelry as the Marines delightfully ate their bread and stripped naked to take their open air showers.
The film of that shower day was actually on the back half of a film my Dad had started of him and his friends in and around the base in Japan.
Somehow he didn't know the back half of the film was there and he sent it home for his family to see how their Billy G was doing away in the Marines. They gathered the whole family together to watch the movie. Little did they know that it had a shocking surprise ending.
Happy Veterans' Day and Thank you!