Go back to beginning
Click to starboard for Letters Home: Letters Home
Tom's War Years (Continued)
30 April, 1945, Noumea, New Caledonia. Last Thursday, the 26th of April during the afternoon, I took a field trip to the vicinity of St. Louis Road, and then back into a wooded valley toward a high, projecting mountain somewhat in the shape of an inverted cone. This was about ten miles or so into the interior of the island.
Warner had told me about this region and had very kindly loaned me his field glasses. Birds I saw included: Mynah 12, Kingfisher 2, Green-backed White Eye 6, Crested Tern 2 and Silver Gull 1 (over harbor), a Fantail Warbler, White-breasted Wood Swallows, Scarlet Honey-Eater, Island Thrush, Rufous-bellied Whistler, Spotted Fantail, Melanesian Graybird, and several species I couldn't identify. I saw a Man-o-war Bird over the harbor once, and a Reef Heron along the coast.
30 April, 1945, Noumea, New Caledonia. A new way of looking at religion and philosophy has occurred to me. Not withstanding the most phlegmatic believers in God and the most sacred and "writ in stone" documents, changes must take place. I would call this the evolution of thought. New documents are published. New interpretations of old concepts come into vogue.
Like biological evolution, these changes occur very slowly, almost imperceptibly. After all, we are dealing with hundreds of different religions, and numerous concepts of deity. Changes take place in all of man's endeavors. Why shouldn't it take place in the way he perceives his place in the universe?
I say all of this in spite of Omar Khayyam's lines in the Rubaiyat about the "moving finger," but wait! maybe that's the very thing he was talking about. Hmmmm.
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: norz all your Piety nor Wit,
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your tears wash out a Word of it.
The theories of evolution must apply to out thoughts. Otherwise we would be fossilized. struck still in time. Dead. Our thinking moves like thevery weather of the earth. It ebbs and flows like the tides. For years on end there might be great lethurgy. Then, at other times, violent storms lash the waters and reshape the landscape. Slowy and inevitably, it happens. Yet, ironically, drastic changes can occur within an idividual person in one lifetime.
The churches of today are highly evolved from those of two centuries ago. A church-goer today is much more liberaal and broad-minded and tolerant than back when witches were burned at the stake in colonial New England. And, in our absorption with ourselves, it is so easy for us to forget the millions of people around the world who answer to other gods than we do. Is it not probable that they will be substantially different two hundred years from now?
On the other hand, the mass-thinking of our own kith and kin sloshes about, forward and backward; until it would seem that no pregress is ever made. Indeed, there are great regressions, retreats into the past that seemingly wipe out all forward pregress. This, in itself, is the essence of evolution. But, I for one, would be hard-pressed to swear that there is a pattern, that mankind will eventually emerge into a garden of tranquility and golden sunshine. No one ever said that "change" or "evolution" is always "onward and upward."
May 1, 1945: Left Noumea for Manus, Admiralty Islands.
4 May, 1945: Underway, Noumea to the Philippine Islands. Yesterday afternoon, I saw 2 Great Frigate Birds. Just before dark on May 2, a Common Noddy flew aboard and perched up on the 40mm gun tub - like a bird of peace? The weather was threatening, and shortly afterwards, it started to rain. Eventually, the bird flew off into the storm.
Monday, 7 May, 1945: Underway to the Philippines. At dawn we sighted the moutainous terraion of New Britain off our starboard beam, and this afternoon we sighted the massive dark outline of New Guinea. Some of the mountains are over 3,000 feet high and they seem to be covered with heavy vegetation. They are far off though, and I don't think we are going to get any closer. They are another world encountered, like a dream that will barely be remembered.
The temperature has hovered around 83 degrees all day, and the sky has been swathed in stratocumulous and altostratus.. I saw 12 Frigate Birds this morning. At 1645, a flag hoist was putup warning os a strange aircraft on our port side. After several minutes of searching through my bionoculars, I spotted some bursts of anti-aircraft fire over New Guinea - and a few minutes later I saw the plane, high in the sky. For twenty minutes or so we followed the flight of the plane, and several times saw additional puffs of anti-aircraft fire.
8 May, 1945: Arrived Manus from Noumea (1860 miles).
10 May, 1945: Left Manus for Leyte, P. I.
16 May, 1945: Arrived Leyte from Manus (1665 miles).
20 May, 1945, Leyte, P.I. Birds seen at Leyte include the following: Kingfisher 1, Rufous-colored Bittern, Dark slate-colored rail (white line over the eye), White Heron with yellow legs, Spotted Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper look-alike, but with white outer tail feathers, Large pigeon with black mark on back of neck, aWhite-rumped Swallow, a small yellow-breasted bird with black marks on head, a duck species, head bent down in flight.
Signalman James Olin McClain is on the right and
QM striker Booth is to my left. We're on the conning
tower of the good ol' LSM 245. A canopy has been rigged
overhead to shade us from the hot tropical sun. The signal light
can be seen in the background.
7 May, 1945: San Pedro Bay, Leyte, Philippine Islands. We've been in the Philippines about ten days now. I don't have the time or the energy to go into the details now. Maybe later. Impressions: Distant mountains, purple,shades of blue and gray, bright green palm trees in the foreground, yellow sunshine; hot, sultry, sweating days; blue seas, pale blue sky. Dark-skinned natives, dusty roads, thatched huts on stilts, Japanese occupation money, rot-gut whisky (not for me!), large military installations. We have enough TNT aboard to blow us all to Kingdom Come.
9 June, 1945: Left Leyte for Mindoro, P. I.
11 June, 1945: Arrived Mindoro (480 miles).
12 June, 1945: Left Mindoro for Pulupandan, Negros Island, P. I.
13 June, 1945: Arrived Negros, P. I. (203 miles).
14 June, 1945: Left Negros for Puerto Princessa, Palawan Island, P. I.
15 June, 1945: Arrived Palawan, P. I. (255 miles).
18 June, 1945: Puerto Princessa, Palowan Island, Philippines. I'll try to skim briefly over the past few eeks. We visited Samar for a day, then came back and stuck around the great Navy anchorage in San Pedro Bay, part of the time tied up to the repair ship Riegel. Half a dozen or so battleships were present, including the South Dakota, the Texas, the North Carolina, and several others I can't remember. Cruiser included the Mobile, Salt Lake City, Wilkes Barre, St. Louis, and others I forget. lots of destroyers and Destroyer Escorts, several aircraft carriers including the Essex, repair ships, APAs, AKAs, PT boats, LSTs, LSMs, and others. I have never seen so many ships.
For quite a few months we have had a cute little dog aboard that we named Suzy. I think somebody brought her aboard at Leyte. Suzy was good-natured and a lot of fun. Everybody grew to love her, but I guess we all realized that a ship wasn't the best place for a dog, so we told her good bye and took her ashore at Negros - where she got hit and killed by an army truck. There were plenty of wet eyes, I'll tell you.
Our Chess Whiz
Another human interest story - and I failed to jot down anything about it at the time, so I'm reduced down to my memory, all of these many years later. On one of our landings where we stayed on the beach for an extended length of time, maybe in Luzon, some of our guys befreinded a Philippino boy. He was probably about 12 years old and his father and mother both died in the war. His father was Chess Champion of the Philippine Islands! I simply cannot remember his name - but ot might come to me later. He had an uncle and family on one of the other islands, maybe Mindoro, so we took the boy along with us on the chance we would visit his uncle's island - and we did! A couple of months later. We said goodbye to him and he went ashore prepared to hitchhike his way to whereever his uncle lived. Johnny! I'm fairly sure that was his name. And, Johnny was a chess whiz! He played a lot of chess while he was aboard and he very seldom lost a game. I hope he has led a happy and successful life. I hope he's still alive. Wouldn't it be something if someone tells him about this message from the distant past. Wouldn't it be greater still if somewhere along the line he reclaimed his father's championship!
A town square that suffered heavy damage from
American shells when the Japanese were still here.
Downed Japanese Zere.
25 June, 1945: En route , Agusan, Mindanao, to Iloilo, Panay, P.I. Here's an account of the landingss at Macajalar Bay that I scribbled on a piece of paper yesterday: The strange split bowof our ship nosed itself onto another beach today. Noy much oa beach, as beaches go, it's true. The sand is the color of dark chocolate and must have a lot of mud in it. Regardless of that, this amazing and revolutionary little craft has furrowed right up onto the beach and there she remains secure. Our stern anchor cable is paid out into the drab green waters, straining taunt, ready to retract us from the beach at our bidding.
Deep in the jungles of Mindanao, the wildest of the Philippine Islands.
A dead Japanese soldier is in this dugout.
Only recently have the Japanese evacuated this part of the coast. Our military prsence here is meager. It is our job to beef up the installations. So now we are doing something more useful, closer to the action. This part of the coast is without a port, without docks or unloading facilities of any kind. That is why ships of our kind have proved so invaluable. Tanks, half-tracks, trucks, bull-dozers - you name it - have been our cargo. We are winning the war out here in the Pacific.
I frequentlu decorated envelopes
of letters I mailed home.
Click here for some of my letters home.
26, June, 1945: Arrived Iloilo (244 miles).
28 June, 1945: Left Iloilo for Agusan.
29 June, 1945: Arrived Agusan.
29 June, 1945: Left Agusan for Iloilo.
30 June, 1945: Arrived Iloilo.
1 July , 1945: Left Iloilo for Leyte.
2 July, 1945: Arrived Leyte (360 miles).
8 July, 1945: Left Leyte for Davao, Mindanao, P.I.
10 July, 1945: Arrived Davao (439 miles).
11 July, 1945: Left Davao for beachhead at Sarangani Bay, Mindanao Island, P. I.
Thursday, 12 July, 1945: Talomo Bay, Davao Gulf, Mindiano, P.I. to Sarangani Bay, Mindanao, P.I. In convoy with ships of Sarangani Attack Unit, 76.6.11
0800: Proceeding toward designated "Blue Beach" as before.
)805: Ashore on "Blue Beach" approximately three quarters of a mile east of Sinoul River.
0809: Commenced unloading vehicles and personnel of 24th Signal Company, 24th Medic Battalion, and Headquarters 24th Infantry, U.S. Army.
0833: Completed unloading.
)835: Retracted from beach.
Blue Beach was mostly secured by the time we made our landing. However, we could hear the popping of small arms fire and see an occasional flash of gunfire. Our escort destroyers shelled enemy positions inland, and during the morning Navy planes bombed installations further inland and on the heavily wooded mountain slopes.
I can't begin to relate my excitement when I recognised many of the planes as SB2C Curtiss Hell Divers, made in Columbus, Ohio! How sleek they looked as a line of them swooped out of the clouds over the mountainside and dropped their bombs.
We were later told this was the last combat landing of Waorld War II.
Sending Messages by Light
I want to say a few words here about some of the enjoyable duties of a Quartermaster - and the key role that this rate plays aboard ship. Quartermasters are responsible for keeping the ship's log, which includes recording the weather, course changes, drills, cargos, any engagement with the enemy, geographical location. etc, etc. The job also includes editing and updating navigational literature, correcting charts, determining the ship's position by the stars (celestial navigation) and landmarks, and assisting the signalmen with visual modes of communication. These include semaphore (seldom used aboard our ship), signal flags, and the transmission of Morse code via signal lights. This was particularily enjoyable to me and as I became more proficient, I loved sending and receiving messages. We had a fine signal lamp probably about 18" in diameter mounted on the conning tower, with a well-lubricated, smooth action handle, and we could operate it while sitting in one of the two bucket seats.
Click, click, click, clickity-click. Oh, what fun it was. Sending message across the water to someone you had newver met and probably never would. During the war, sending light messages was restricted to daytime. Later on, it didn't matter. One time, after the war had ended, I received a nighttime message from a ship far across a large anchorage - and the light was being banked off a layer of low clouds. Like a message from outer space! What a thrill!
12 July, 1945: Left Sarangani By for Davao.
13 July, 1945: Arrived Davao (150 miles).
13 July, 1945: Left Davao for Parang.
14 July, 1945: Arrived Parang (289 miles).
15 July, 1945: Left Parang for Agusan.
16 July, 1945, Agusan, Mindanao, P. I. Twenty-four white-headed Eagle-kites in the air at one time. Seven in my binocular's field of view at one time!
17 July, 1945: Left Agusan for Leyte.
18 July, 1945: Arrived Leyte (179 miles).
24 July, 1945: Left Leyte for Agusan.
25 July, 1945: Arrived Agusan.
26 July, 1945: Left Agusan for Legaspi, Luzon, P. I.
Mount Mayon, the world's most perfect conical volcano.
A Night to Remember
28 July, 1945: Arrived Legasi (425 miles). Impressions of Legaspi: A picturesque small port city in southeastern Luzon, surrounded by agricultural lands and patches of wilderness - with ever-present Mount Mayon in the distance. Wisps of smoke were drifting off the apex of what is billed as the world's most perfect conical volcano. The town is named after Miguel Legaspi, Spanish navigator and conqueror of the Philippines. Iy is said he took possession of the islands with little or no fighting.
I went ashore along with a number of other guys from our ship and wandered around for several hours, taking in the sights, as they say. There wasn't much to do other than buy some souvenirs in a couple of small shops, including a picture of Mt. Mayon, of course.
In the harbor, we were tied up to several other LSMs in what is called a nest. One ship has its anchor out, the others are tied up to it, all riding on one anchor. I had the 2000 to 2400 watch up on the conning tower on what turned out to be quite an evetful night.
As soon as it started getting dark, numbers of sampans appeared off our stern, each one poled or rowed along by a man, each boat with two or three attractive young girls aboard. Quickly, the girls scrambled up the stern ladder and were soon escorted to erery conceivable part of the ship by enthusiastic crew members.
There were girls in the gun tubs, there were girls in the forward crew's quarters, there were girls in the aft crew's quarters, there were girls in the food lockers, there were girls in the galley, there were girls in the engineroom and, I suspect, there were girls in the wardroom.
Damn! And there I was on watch, the fate of the ship in my hands! No time for diddling around!
The signalman (who was on watch with me) and I estimated there were at least twenty girls aboard our ship that night. Once, when I went down to the galley to get some coffee, I almost stumbled across a young girl slumped against a bulkhead outside the head. She couldn't have been more than fifteen years of age, if that, and she was sobbing and crying her heart out.
"What's wrong?, I asked her.
"The men, she spluttered, they pass me from one man to another, and nobody pay me."
I told her to wait there and hurried back up on the conning tower where I told the signalman about the girl. We decided to take matters in our own hands. What we did was get a large empty tin can and we took turns going through the entire ship, even waking guys up, telling them what had happened, and collecting money. By the time we were through, we probably had a good deal more money than the girl would have made if everybody had paid her. When I gave her the money, she was elated, threw her arms around my neck and hugged me. Then she hurred back to the fan-tail with her loot.
Long before midnight, all the girls were gone. I remembere turning to the sigmalman and asking him with a grin: "If we were at anchor tonight, why was the ship vibrating?"
Japanese envelope purchased from a little stamp and novelty shop
in Legaspi, Luzon, Philippine Islands.
29 July, 1945: Left Legaspi for Leyte.
30 July, 1945: Arrived Leyte (330 miles).
2 August, 1945, San Pedro Bay, Leyte, P. I. 1800: Underway for Cebu City, Cebu Island. Stood the entire watch getting underway including a General Quarters drill. Boy, oh boy, I was really busy! Course and speed changes in rapid succession, taking bearings, keeping the QM notebook up-to-date, reading flag hoists, plotting our course, using the stadimeter, and more.
4 August, 1945: Left Cebu City for Leyte.
5 August, 1945: Arrived Leyte.
6 August, 1945: On this day, an atomic bomb
was dropped on Hiroshima.
6 August, 1945: Left Leyte for Davao, Mindanao, P. I.
8 August, 1945: Arrived Davao (439 miles).
8 August, 1945: Left Davao for Agusan.
9 August, 1945: Another A-bomb was dropped on a
Japanese city. This one on Nagasaki.
11 August, 1945: Arrived Agusan.
11 August, 1945: Left Agusan for Leyte.
12 August, 1945: Anchored off Tolosa Beach, San Pedro Bay, Leyte, P.I. Standing signal watch. The sun is blazing down and the heat is oppresive. Great masses of cumulonimbus clouds lurk on the horizon, while the sky overhead is lightly veiled in altocumulus and cirrostratus. The following LSMs are anchored around us:
Also present are DDs, Des, and APAs. Across the bay I can make out several battlewagons, cruisors, and hundreds of other ships.
We left Agusan yesterday at 1703. Seldom have I seen a more beautiful sky and sunset. Every type of cloud in the book must have been in sight at the same time. The dark, rugged mountains of Mindanao offered the perfect backdrop to the wild and vivid sky. Shafts of light radiated across the sky, occasionally illuminating some feature of the mountains. It seemed as if I had been transported to another world.
I have many conflicting emotions about the dropping of the a-bombs, and the subsequent turn of events. The thought that I share with all of the other men is that the war is over - and we will be going home, hopefully, sometime in the near future.
13 August, 1945, San Pedro Bay, P.I. We sailed over to the big anchorage this morning. Tonight we are anchored near the beautiful, big repair ship Ajax. It rained most of the afternoon and I went up in the pilothouse to wrote letters home.
Six battleships are anchored nearby: the South Dakota, the New Mexico, the Idaho, the Mississippi, the new York, and the Texas.
Loaded well-deck on the LSM 245
23 August, 1945: Left Leyte for Lemery, Luzon.
24 August, 1945: Arrived Lemery (350 miles).
28 August, 1945: Left lemery with 34 other LSMs and one LCFF for Manila, Luzon.
29 August, 1945: Arrived Manila (90 miles). Went into town on liberty one afternoon. Not much to do. The city was dirty, dusty, and war-damaged.
2 September, 1945: This is the big day! Left Manila and undreway for Japan after being delayed by three storm warnings. Yesterday the wind velocity rose to Beaufort's No. 6. This morning we were up at 0515 and underway a few hours later. If the weather was bas yesterday, it is really foul today. Low, threatening clouds, rain squalls, gusty winds, and rough seas. We are in a convoy of 34 LSMs, 1 LCFF, 1 APD, 1 and 1 PC. Japan signed the peace terms!
I don't go on watch until noon. Right after weighing anchor, I was on the conn for about twenty minutes - then wrote up the log and took it to the wardroom. This is a Sunday morning and some of the fellows are sacked in, others are reading or playing cards. The radio plays away in the background. We're making our way past Corregidor, some 20 to 30 LSMs. Later, we are supposed to rendezvous with a much larger convoy.
8 September, 1945: Tomorrow if I find the time, I will try to outline this historic trip in detail. It's a journey I won't forget for a long time to come.
While on watch this evening, I received a 53 group message without any repeats.
Expedition to Japan
(Much of this excerpted from a letter home dated Sept. 9, 1945.)
9 September, 1945: Arrived Tokyo Bay (1850 miles). At the first break of dawn, we saw the imposing majesty of Fuji San, the towering volcano that overlooks all of southern Honshu. All night our long column of LSMs has nosed their way through the approaches leading to Tokyo Bay. Don't think for a minute I wasn't excited for this was the culmination to a week's eventful sailing.
The first three days out of Manila we tossed and rolled in the wake of a fierce typhoon that had raised havoc throughout the Northern Pacific. Not a day passed that we weren't buzzed by fast fighter planes sweeping low over our masts, and we often saw big super-forts high up in the sky. The last three days of the trip saw us dodging numerous mines in the water.
It was pitch black out when I went on watch this morning at 0400 and there was a stiff wind blowing which caused the waves to pile up. At about 0630, I obtained a bearing on Fuji San. We were pitching and rolling violently, and great sheets of spray were flying over the forward parts of the ship. As the sun came above the horizon, I could see the irregular hills and cliffs forming the mainland of Honshu.
Up until 2000 I didn't have much time to sightsee because I was very busy receiving light messages , plotting our course, and assisting the O.D. I did notice large numbers of strange white birds skimming low over the rough waters. After a breakfast of fried ham and eggs, toast, and orange juice, I finished off my other duties in double quick time.
Up on the deck again. So this is Japan! I still find it hard to believe that the war is over. At times, I thought it would never end - just one of those things that go on forever and ever. To tell the truth, I was more surprised when the Japanese called it quits than when they first started the war. And here we are entering Tokyo Bay without a single gun manned!
The invasion was originally planned for August 15 - and we were to have been in it. Because of bad weather, it was set back a month. If ever I had expected to see Japan it would have been under battle conditions. I repeat that I still find it incredible - and how fortunate we were to have not seen more action. Before seeing it through to a conclusion, I had expected to go through all kinds of hell.
Now, here we are in Japan - which probably constitutes the most important thing that ever happened to me.
As we entered the outer bay, a small junk came flying by on the wind - probably fishermen. A little later, we saw a squad of U. S. destroyers laying out to sea, and they were followed by a British battlewagon and destroyer. By this time, we were closer to land and I could make out a few houses and a lighthouse. We continued to come into more heavily populated areas. We were next to last in a long line of ships - and as far as the eye could see ahead, there were LSMs.
Presently, we were abeam and not more than a mile from the first of an extensive line of military fortifications, barracks, supply sheds, signal towers, and gun emplacements. Up in the hills we could make out a number of tunnels that housed big guns, and nearby were what appeared to be ammo dumps.
All along the coast were giant white surrender flags, but at one place, we saw the flag o the rising sun still flying. But the best sight of all was the stars and stripes flying over a lighthouse high up on a wooded bluff overlooking the bay.
We were now going by the huge Yokohama naval base and we could clearly see the giant cranes, docks, and repair facilities, not to mention a veritable city of what appeared to be mashine shops, warehouses, and the like. I expect we were too far away to tell if there had been any danage from bombing raids.
It was along this part of the coast that we saw one Japanese battleship afloat and another partially sunk. They look real good that way. According to our atlas, Yukohama has a population of 200,000.
Following the designated channel we almost ran down two Japanese buoys, not missing them by more than a couple of feet. They bobbed and rolled violently in our wake.
We passed close to three small islands that had been converted into veritable fortresses bristling with big guns. These had been partically knocked out by our bombing. A Japanese destroyer had run aground on one of these "concrete islands." In the inner harbor are anchored some of the most powerful ships of our fleet, about a dozen battleships, including the Missouri. on which the peace treaty was signed, a number of large carriers, and many destroyers and auxilliary vessels.
Ahead, we could now see the port of Yokohama, pne of the great industrial cities of Japan. There, stretched along the coast for miles were factories with towering chimnies, oil and water storage tanks, shipyards, power plants, and all the other installations of a great industrial center. From off the coast, we couldn't see the terrific amount of devestation that had been visited upon the area by our bombers.
I saw a number of cases where clever camouflage had been employed to delude the American planes. A classic example was a large water tank that had been painted to give the impression that one side was caved in. That's what I thought, until I looked at it carefully through my binoculars.
One large building along the waterfront had been completely gutted by fire. Someone (more recently, I'm sure) had painted across the upper stories: "3 Cheers for U.S. Navy."
On our second day in Japan we unloaded our cargo and I had the opportunity to go ashore. Outside of Capt. Mauter and two of our other officers I was the only person on our ship to leave the beach area. Where there's a will, there's a way.
From the sea wall where our ship was tied up, I walked to the main road between Yokohama and Tokyo. There were plenty of inhabitants around, most of them older men, or very young men, or women. Most of them seemed to be preoccupied with one kind of a job or another: quite a few of them seemed to be keeping an eye on stockpiles of raw materials that hadn't been damaged. They kept strictly to themselves and attended to their own business.
Not too far from the waterfront, I was walking through the bombed out ruins of what might have been some kind of machineshop or sub-contractor, two or three low buildings, much of the roofing gones, many of the walls blown out, some work becnches still standing, patterns of light and shadow mixing in weird patterns of silent testimony. And, suddenly I noticed the figure of a man, an older man, wearing what appeared to be an old army overcoat. With a sad face he was slowly walking through the debris. He nodded to me and walked on. as if taking an inventory of the rubble. Maybe what was left of his life's dream.
Back outside, I continued walking through the destruction which stretched for miles in all directions, almost nothing standing stanfing untouched, like walking through an endless landfill. Finally, I arrived at a main thoroughfare I saw a jandmade sign that said "Tokie 6 Miles." Since the war started, I have seem lots of these signs, but most of them read in the thousands of miles instead of just six. Another strange thing I noticed: On every street post there was painted a large eye. I believe that they have some mystic significance.
Along this road, I walked and rode in army vehicles for a considerable distnce into Yokohama. Well, I should say what is left of Yokohama - and that's not much. Hardly a building is left standing. The strange exception to the general rule of massive destruction: the electric railroad system is still operating. The train cars are much like those in the big cities of the U.S. , went speeding by evry few minutes pecked with cummuters. The trains averaged half a dozen cars each and, to my eye, they seemed very up-to-date.
I saw plenty of people and they acted like there had never been a war. They showed absolutely no animosity towards the American occupying forces. On the other hand, they had as litle as possible to do with the Yanks. Mant of the men ans boys wore army uniforms, but I think this was more a matter of necessity than the fact that they had been in the service.
With the exception of one or two rather pretty women, most were older or plsin looking. Few of them wore skirts. Loose=fitting slacks or pantaloons seemed to be the universal form of attire for females.
One old woman saluted me, smiled, and asked me for a cigarette.
There were no stores where one could buy anything - but there are restrictions against having transactions with the populace.
I don't know if I have adequately described the extent of the damage that I have been witness to. It is really too great and too extensive to describe with words. Mile upon mile of the city have been completely leveled and the impression is of a great dump or landfill. Here and there, little improvised dwellings have been erected amidst the ruin. Occasionally, I would see some poor soul clearing away bits of wreckage, or one their hands and knees cultivating a tiny garden that usually measored no more than a few square feet.
I remember seeing the ruins of what had once been a city block full of modern banks. Amidst blocks of stone tossed about were the vaults, charred and blackened.
On the way back to my ship, I wrode part way on a trolley car with a couple of soldiers and another sailor. The ride came after a fifty-yard dash to catch it. We rode hanging on the back of the car for several miles in this fashion. The people inside the car smiled at us. Let me hasten to explain that riding on the outside of the trolley car seems to be a common practice when they are overly crowded.
To sum up: It is a strange feeling to walk through a devestated city as a conqueror. I couldb't help but wonder how the inhabitants must feel. I should not have used the word "conqueror." There is hardly a vestige of military take-over - compared, for instance, with the Naze occupations of country after country in accupied Europe. There is no feeling of "superiority" on our part. Inexplicably, it is almost a feeling of partnership, a helping hand to get these people back on their feet - and maybe, in the process, get their minfs straightened out a bit.
I expect that within a short time the people here will grow to like G. I. Joe. They will learn to laugh at his funny antics and his humanitarianism - but, they will also be in awe of the vast military establishment that we pit in place.
Already, the streets of Yokohama are full of army vehicles, and the number will increase. The Japanese people have seen the sky full of our bombers - and soon they will see it full of our transport planes.
Yet, when all of this is said and done, the complacency of the people is something not easily understood. They don't seem to be shocked or stunned, or even burdened with the gravity of their own dowfall.
The only conclusion I can come to is that they are embodied with the spirit of their emperor and that he has told them that all is well. "The conflict is over."
12 September, 1945: Left Yokohama for Manila, Luzon with 32 LSMs, 1 APD, and 1 LCFF. On the 16th, we had to change course to avoid the full brunt of a typhoon that is beating its way up through the Pacific. When it became apparent that we were in the path of the gigantic storm, our convoy of LSMs turned about last night and headed for Okinawa. Instead of stopping there, as we half expected, we passed right on by, and we are now making our way down through the china Sea.
The barometer is falling like it was full of lead instead of mercury. The seas have been rough all day.
All afternoon the barometer continued to plummet and the seas became more turbulent. Fortunatley, the wind and the waves were behind us, saving us from a terrific beating, thaanks to our earlier course change. By 1600 we were receiving a great deal of the storm's force. I calculated that the center of the typhoon was only about 200 miles from our position.
By now, the sea had become like something alive, wild beyond imagination. The wind increased with ever-growing fury, whipping the sea into chaotic confusion. Dense sheets of foam flew from the breaking waves, and the surface of the sea began to take on a white appearance, as if we were in the midst of a blizzard.
With the coming of night, the storm increased in its intensity. Great swells that I estimated to be sixty to seventy feet high often hemmed us in on all sides, completely obscuring the other ships with us, Again and again, I would see the ships around us rise up out of the sea - like phantoms, or sea-monsters - only to disappear again.
Some of these huge swells and breaking waves would sweep us almost straight up, seeminly intent on leaving us suspended in mid-air, but then we would plunge and shudder back to the depths again. And so, pitching deeply and heavily, and banged about by the by the unending onslaught of smaller waves, we labored through the frenzied and nightmarish mountains of water. I will never forget the constant ringing of the ship's bell - because we were rocking and rolling so wildly, careening from one side to the other by as much as 45 degrees. Just a miracle that we didn't capsize. Sometimes we would actually slide back in the water, the bow lifted high, the buffeted ship tossed about as if it was a child's toy suffering the abuse of a demented giant.
On watch in the conning tower, we could not face into the rain. It was coming at us horizontally, like speeding pellets. At the same time that the ship was rolling wildly with the swells, we were being pounded unmercifully by an endless succession of brutal waves that sent shock waves throughout the ship , - from stem to stern. It was truly a wonder that every bolt that held the ship together wasn't jarred loose and that we weren't literally ripped apart. I will remember that wild night as long as I live. It was a nightmare - and, yet, I felt the presence of something wonderful: living to the fullest , defying the worst the gods and the elements could conjour up. Above all, amidst the uproar of the storm, I will never forget the constant ringing of the ship's bell.
21 September, 1945: We arrived at Manila last night around 2200 after passing the shadoy outline of Corregidor and the rugged mountains of Batan. We trmained in Manila for perhaps 24 hours, and then we were off again, this time for Subic Bay, up the coast, the site of a big navy repair base.
23 September, 1945: Moored alongside a repair ship with 11 other LSMs in Subic Bay, Luzon. P.I. This is a splendid anchorage, and from some points appears to be land-locked. The bay reminds me a lot of Hutchison Creek on Florida Island in the Solomons. It appears to be faoely wild country. The mountains are formidable and densely forested. Dense clouds of vapor hover over the lower valleys much of the time. There are some fine examples of large trees to be seen. An almost full moon plays hide-and-seek behind a high bank of alto-cumulous clouds.
There was plenty of evidence among the anchored ships of the recent typhoon. A couple of aircraft carriers had their forward flight decks rolled back like the lids on sardine cans.
Last night we had a "smoker" on the well deck. There were six fights and all of them were good. One was a grudge match between a white boy and the short, but powerfully muscled Steward's Mate (the only black person aboard our ship). Iy was a six-round fight, each round lasting two minutes. The white boy seemed to have the upper hand all the way - until the fourth round when he was the recipient of two hard blows that put him on the deck for the full count.
After the fights, we had beer. Whitley, Smith, and I drank ours in the pilot house as per custome. Whitley and I ahve been planning on an experdition after the war down through Mexico to Panama by jeep.
24 September, 1945: Subic Bay, Luzon, P. I. Loaded supplies aboard this afternoon and evening. I wrote letters home earlier today. Bought about $8.00 worth of small stoes off the repair ship today. I haven't had to stand any watches lately so I've gotten plenty of sleep.
28 September, 1945: Underway, Subic Bay, Luzon to Legaspi, Luzon. The first light of day revealed the magnificent cone of Mayon volcano. Yesterday afternoon we sailed through the Verde Island Passage, between Luzon and Mindoro. How can I begin to describe the tranquility and beauty fo theta lovely passage? That part of Mindoro is like a paradise of pictureque mountains reaching for the clouds. The tumbling slopes of gold and green are nade kaleidoscopic by cloud shadows. They descend to the white sandy beach that follows the coast in all its windings. Along the way, there were dozens of beautiful and mysterious looking coves and inlets - each one begging to be explored. At one such place, I saw the rusting hulk of a Japanese ship broached on the shore.
The colors are intense, the marvelous, almost electric green, enhanced by may shades of blue between sea and sky. And, speaking of the sea, yesterday it was as smooth as glass - and, oh so blue! These are amazing sights and sensations for a boy from Ohio.
A flock of small ring-necked plover, perhaps thirty of them, winged their way across our bow, sketching an intricate pattern of flight across the water. I also saw a white heron drifting through this ethreal paradise.
30 September, 1945: Legaspi, Luzon, P. I. Someboy slipped up - there wasn't any cargo here for us. What went on during the night, emanating from the aft end of the ship for three straight nights was really something though. See my earlier account, "A Night to Remember."
Went into town one afternoon with Whitley. Bought a picture of Mount Mayon erupting, a fan from a little Spanish shop, and the largest and most beautiful pineapple I have ever seen.
Pineazpple: one peso
Photo: two pesos
Fan: four pesos
4 October, 1945: Beached at Agusan, Mindanao, P. I. Arrived here yesterday to pick up a load we haven't laid eyes on yet. We also don't have the slightest idea where we're going next. For the past monthI have seen many white herons. Last night at about sunset, I saw five or six flying over in formation much in the manner of geese. White-headed eagle-kites are quite common. :ots of blue-backed swallows and two new shorebirds. One with some of the characteristics of a Spotted Sandpiper. Black throat very noticeable. I thought at first that they were turnstones. Saw about a dozen this morning. The other new bird might have been a curlew. It was very large, seeminly a uniform light brownish plumage and medium length gownturned bill.
Like a latter-day Darwin, I am struck by the basic similarities of many of the birds I see here with those I was familiar with at home. Similar, but different. Little changes that have occurred through the years due to isolated populations, but many with a common ancestry.
I had better mention here a few of the birds seen on the way back from Japan, principally south of Okinawa. There were large numbers of a pipit-like bird with yellow underparts and white outer tail feathers. Also, more of the little shrike-like bird. Grayish crown, black mark through eyes, lightly barred buffy underparts. Two of these lit aboard ship at different times. In Japam, I saw a lot of Japanese Gulls and numerous cormorants.
Beer and movies last night. No mail for a long time.
Went ashore this afternoon and went past the Del Monte plant. At least a dozen trucks of Japanese POWspassed by, each truck jammed to capacity. The prisoners were in uniform and had their field packs on. For a while I was following right along behind one of the trucks, having obtained a ride for myself. Everyone drives like mad and the dust rises off the roads in great clouds.
The POWs were being loaded aboard the M.S. Snug Hitch at the pontoon dock by the Del Monte plant. There were several thousand of them being shipped out - sailing for home I hope.
Those were turnstones I saw this morning. This evening I observed two of them up close. When I went ashore, I took a pair of the small binoculars ashore. The complete list of birds I saw follows:
one curlew-like species
15 black-throated turnstones
one white heron
a dozen or more eagle-kites
numerous Pacific swallows
half a dozen small warbler-like bird with yellow breasts and black throats
a ground-walking bird, yellow underneath, white-tipped tail
two long-tailed noisy birds with black and white markings
one gray-headed bird the size of a catbird
a grouse-like bird
a bird with wing and tail markings like a mockingbird
a marsh inhabiting bird similar to a kingbird
I bought a pair of 6 x 30 binoculars from a soldier for 30 pesos.
7 October, 1945, Anchored in San Pedro Bay, Leyte, P. I. LSMs 247 and 235 moored alongside us. Arrived here this morning with men and vehicles of the 12th Special Service Company and 234th QM Salvage Collecting Company aboard. We got a small bag of mail today, but no letters for me. Mr. Adair left today to take command of the LSM 235. Mr. Macht is noe executive officer.
A Death by Drowning
15 October, 1945, Tolosa, San Pedro Bay, P. I. A man died aboard our ship last night. A small boat from the LSM 226, intended for not more than six or seven people at the most, but over-loaded with thirteen, capsized in the choppy water right off our bow.
The unfortunate fellow was a married man with two children and, doubly unfortunate, couldn't swim - either that or was a very poor swimmer. As the boat turned over, he also had the misfortune of hitting his head, either against the small boat or some part of our ship. While the rest of the men clung to the still floating boat, this poor fellow floundered in - and probably under - the water.
For at least twenty minutes he was in the water, most of the time evidently unconscious, but kept afloat toward the last by several of our men whi had jumped in to save him. Our ramp was still dogged and the Captain was said to have fouled it up by trying to operate it before the dogs were unsecured. Finally, after more delay, it was lowered.
Finally, once aboard our ship, the man was given artificial respiration, water squirting out of his forced open mouth, his face ashen, sometimes a twitch of his facial muscles gining hope that he was still alive.
What a ghastly scene it was under the glare of hastily hooked up floodlights, the man's dungeree-clad body sprawled there like an over-sized marioette on our steel well deck. Our pharmacist's mate and several others of our crew kept trying to revive him for a couple of hours. It was as if they hated to lose him, to forfeit his life to Death the relentless stalker, mankind's common enemy. Their endeavors were heroic, but eventually it became apparent that all their efforts were to no avail.
What a damned shame. He had survived the war only to lose his life in a stupid accident. I wondered what he had done in civilian life. I wondered if they owned a little house somewhere, and what his wife was like. I wondered if she was a kindly woman, if she was attractive or plain. Which ever, the bad news would take a while reaching her and her two bereaved children.
31 October, 1945: Underway, Yokohama, Japan to Saipan, Marianas. D.R. position at 0800: 26 - 01 North; 14' 52 East. The sea is still very rough from yesterday's and last night's storm. My second visit to Japan - I will try to write down my impressions when we fet to Saipan. No use trying now since I've been spending every available minute in the sack. It looks like this might be the first step on the way to the States.
11 November, 1945: Underway, Saopan to Marcus Island. Left Saipan Friday, November 9 in company with the LSM 382 for Marcus, a tincy fluff of an island that was seized from the Japanese at the end of the war. Marcus is only five miles in circumference and 60 feet above sea level.
We've labored through reough seas all the way and most of the doggies as well as a lot of the crew have been sick all the way. There couldn't be much rougher duty in the entire Navy. The terrific beating this ship takes, it's a wonder she hasn't broken in two by now. It's not only the violent pitching and rolling, it's the infernal breaking of waves - the awful pounding . The whole ship bounces, shakes and quivers in every last joint. When the bow drops off through space and hits an oncoming wave, there is a great crash and spray flys back over of the length of the ship and every metal plate, every bulkhead pounds, pounds, pounds . . .
At about 10:00 this morning, an exhausted Pacific Golden Plover dropped out of the sky onto the well deck. Aside from being too tired to fly any further, there was a gash on his breast. He has been quietly confined in a makeshift cage. This evening he ate some bread dipped in salmon salad. When he came aboard , our dead reckoning position was: 20 - 30 North latitude; 150 - 20 East longitude.
18 November, 1945: Anchored off Saipan. I am happy to say that the plover lived and seemed to have regained most of his vigor when I released him on the beach at Marcus Island. I also noticed several other Golden Plovers on the beach there. So that was good: he was with his fellows.
Marcus Island turned out to be not much more than a sand spit - an isolated outcropping of coral far, far out in the Pacific. The entire island is surrounded by a coral reef that is broken only in two places where channels have been blasted. Along the beach facing the one channel that I saw were lots of tank obstacles planted in orderly rows in the ground. A few yards back from the water line and completely surrounding the island is a slight ridge which was converted into the front line of defense. This consisted of dugouts, pillboxes , and extensive earthworks of one kind or another. These were supplemented by even more formidable strongholds and gun emplacements. There were a number of big calibre guns at strategic points - five and eight inchers.
There are two airstrips in the center of the island that have already been repaired so as to accomodate large skymasters. I also noticed two large radar detectors that the Japanese had installed. The beaches have all been heavily mined. The shattered hulk of a bulldozer on the beach was a grim reminder of that fact. Another American will never return home.
The surf and the breakers here at Marcus are magnificent. Like living entities, they thunder in, leaping over the shoals and reefs, flinging themselves forward and twirling upwards into the air. We have all done a lot of fishing from our ship, and I caught a beautiful rock bass that must have been eighteen inches long and weighed two or three pounds. (Jim Lipari said it was all of two feet long and must have weighed five pounds.) I also caught a fair-sized "skip-jack" and several beautifully colored "coral fish." They had bright yellow tails and wavy purple lines in back of their heads.
The trip up to Marcus was an ordeal, but the return trip was very pleasant, the sea at times being as smooth as glass.
I just looked out the porthole of the pilothouse and beheld a scene of lovliness - a full moon about thirty degrees high, riding over Saipan and casting its light on the rippling waters, a multitude of red and white ships' lights, friendly lights twinkling ashore , and a fresh breeze flirting with the water.
This morning we passed within two miles of Farallon de Meduilla (Medeiniijato) a small volcanic island 45 miles north-east of Saipan. I told Captain Mauter that I would have given anything to have gone ashore there. By the charts the island has an elevation of 266 feet, most of which drops off in sheer cliffs to the sea. The fantastic thing was the undermining that the unrelenting sea had done - giant caves and arches, some of them the size of the Holland Tunnel. The island was undoubtedly a bird paradise for in the immediate vicinity - let us say for a radius of ten miles around the island - the sky was full of birds. I observed the following:
Brown Booby: hundreds of individuals with a ratio of about one adult mae in ten. Fascinating to watch these birds fly. Many of them pirouetted and cut their capers right over our ship. Others pursued schools of flying fish and, now and again, I would see one make a lunge at some luckless little fish. Or, as likely as not, one would dive right into the water after his prey. The females (and possibly immatures) are a uniform brown color. Bills range from yellow in males to gray or olive or even light blue in some individuals.
Laysan Albatross: There were at least a dozen of these graceful and outstanding flyers seen. Characterized by slimmer light blue or gray bill than the Boobys, dark back, white wings and underparts, front of wing with dark spots.
Man-o-War Bird: One of these was soaring high overhead.
Also several individuals of a white tern.
I am now reading The Counterfeiters, by Andr¢ Gide. Finished Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maughm last week.
I've been in the Navy almost two years and during that time I've planned and dreamed of the day when I fot out and what I would do. Some of the plans - or dreams - were elaborate, others romantic and probably impractical, like the proposed trip through Mexico and Central America with Whitley, but now that the day approaches, I'm at odds with myself as to what I really want to do, or should do - or I might say, what is expected of me to do.
I can truthfully say that there is no girl in my life right now, and the idea of marrying within the next few years, though attractive, is impractical, and I'm not at all sure I want to get married before I'm thirty anyway. As for love - outside my own family - I have none, and it is probab;y just as well. It boils down to this, either I try to finsih college - presumably in journalism or wildlife conservation - or I go to work. Ane that raises the question of whether or not there will be any jobs to be had.
If I go to school, I'll be getting the biggest past of my education gratis, plus a seventy-five dollar a month allotment to boot. I might even be able to get a part time job to help matters along. Regardless of what I do, I have to assure the well-being of my mother. I owe that much to her - and more.
Then I'll have to contend with that wild streak in me. I wonder who I get that from? My father? Or, maybe, my mother's father? I don't know. It's the part of me that wants to bum around the world, go on expeditions, and to chase every good looking girl I come across.
I haven't forgotten my program to map a philosophy of living for myself. I think about it every dayand I am constantly searching, seeking, and absorbing new ideas in my reading. Some day soon I will be ready to put my conclusions down on paper - and thereupon, I'll probably lose all of value in the whole project - like trying to catch soap bubbles.
A rough outline of the proposed work would go something like this:
Fitting myself into the everyday world of people and places.
Understanding the relationship between life and death.
A code of living, diferentiated from plain existing.
The purpose of life and its relationship to my own existence.
A code of ethics in dealing with other people.
Solving the question of religious diversity.
Arriving at a satisfactory personal religion.
War and peace - what is their relationship?
Happiness and despair - where is the balancee?
Forulating a personal future.
The final goal to all this searching? I wish I knew!
22 November, 1945: Saipan, Marianas. I received Mayr's book on the birds of the Southwest Pacific that Dr. Walker so kindly sent me. The book arrived in a pitiful condition - water-soaked and beat up, but not beyond reading. We got paid this morning and I drew $100.00.
29 November, 1945: Moored in nest with LSMs 22and 136 to ARL 13, Tanapay Harbor, Saipan. All kinds of skuttlebutt going the rounds, but nothing very definite. Some of the rumors have it that we are going to the , some to Guam, or elsewhere. I went on liberty yesterday to the Fleet Recreation Park. Played softball and drank several beers. Thirty-two more days and I will have enough points to for a discharge. I'm getting awfully tired of this life, and I'm afraid that I'll forget the good things and my appreciation of them. QM Allen will be leaving in a few days, and I hope to make QM 2nd. Class before leaving the ship.
Back to women. Well, it is hard to keep your mind off them. When I get back to the States, I'm starting a-fresh. No Mary, no Jonsey, no Pat - I'm not, and have never been in love with any of them. My little dream girl will come along someday , and when she does, I'll know about it.
1 December, 1945: Saipan, Marianas. Still waiting around for some word. Lots of ships left during the last week. Our time must be coming soon. Got a swell letter from Jonsey the other day - can't understand it - she seems to be leading the way in the romance department, which is ok with me. I'll let her take her turn now.
Bill Allen left today. Although I'be been pissed at him often enough, I hated to see him go. However, it does enhance my chances of getting two stripes.
Sunday, 2 December, 1945: Saipan. Six LCIs left today with bright homeward bound pennants flying. Nothing much else. Work is going smoothly - and I've been thinking of J. a lot.
Words from The Razor's Edge
"Ramakrishna looked upon the earth as the spirit of God. 'It's like a game,' he said. 'In this game there are joy and sorrow, virtue and vice, knowledge and ignorance, good and evil. The game cannot continue if sin and suffering are altogether eliminated from the creation.'
"I know by personal experience that in nothing are the wise men of India more dead right than in their contention that chastity intensely enhances the power of the spirit."
- from The Razor's Edge, by Sommerset Maugham
Thursday, 6 December, 1945, Saipan. We got word by radio that we are to leave for Guam tomorrow. This might be the break I've been waiting for, the first step to going home.
13 December, 1945, Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands. I thought we were supposed to go to Guam, so what are we doing here? Don't ask me! The word is, from here we're supposed to go to Truk with a load of small boats. Nothing much here at Ulithi - a couple of PCs, some LCIs, LSTs, and the IX 103 (the Edgar Allen Poe), and nine LSMs.
It was a great disappointment when I found I wasn't going to be taken off at Guam. It might be several more weeks now - and every day that goes by is a day lost . It will be at least the end of February before I get home now.
Captain Mauter, Mr. Macht, and I do all the navigating. Not to brag, but I do 80% of the work.
18 December, 1945, Ulithi Atoll. Remember about six weeks ago?I had hoped to be in the States by now - but here I am. Christmas? - probably here or at Truk - if we ever get there. We are scheduled to take the four LCVPs we now have on board. Home? Probably sometime in March.
The added responsibility of my work hasn't proved a burden at all. Since being here at Ulithi , Mr. Macht and I have been working out sun sights almost every day. The ease with which I work these difficult challenges is pleasing to that secret vanity that I harbor - which is somewhere distantly related with the prestigious role of navigators since the dawn of travel.
It's going to be a great adventure going home. Come to think of it, I will be almost like a stranger in my own hometown. I get pleasure just from thinking about my first meeting with various people. My family, of course. Secondly, old school acquaintances. And, finally, some of my old flames. Believe it or not, it's hard to imaagine myself a civilian. Harder even than it was to imagine myself in uniform when I was a civilian. Well, I don't think that line of reasoning proved a damned thing.
Christmas Eve, 1945, Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands. Here we are stuck in this dreary, dismal, uneventful place. The waters are limpid and are various shades of blue, depending on the time of day. I hate to complain, but there is too much light here. There are no defining shadows. From horizon to horizon, it's a glare. Not much better even on cloudy days. Too much sea. Too much sky. It becomes bloody boring when you're not underway, when you're just stuck here - like a museum butterfly, stuck on a pin, in a brilliantly lighted display case. Not a very cheerful or happy ship's crew, either. Lots of resentment and anger among the enlisted men And the officers. But this is Christmas Eve, no time to be angry or unhappy. God bless everybody . My family. My shipmates. My friends - and everybody else in this crazy ol' world.
Christmas Day, 1945, Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands.This marks my third Christmas in the Navy, and the second aboard this ship.
Loftin, Wildman, Hicks, and Truax left today to go aboard the LSM 254 which is returning to Guam. That makes me the highest point man on the ship.
Next Christmas I guess I'll be going to school and living a more normal and happy life - I hope! With Loftin leaving that leaves only Jim , Tony, and myself to stand signal watches. That means four on and eight off night and day. Last night, I had the eight to twelve, this morningt I had the eight to twelve, tonight I will have the eight to twelve.
I miss my old life. The long hikes, and the "inner fire" that was always burning. That was the real life, the life of freedom - and probably the closest to God I have ever come. I was young and footloose, walking home from school along the banks of the Olentangy, my room full of books and bird nests, my head full of dreams.
3 January, 1946, Moen Island, Truk Atoll, Caroline Islands. Arrived at Truk after an agonizing trip that took over a week, towing a barge, averaging two to five knots an hour. I worked hard the entire time - stood all the 4 to 8 watches, took morning and evening sights with Captain Mauter, etc., etc. I did the great portion of the navigating and related work.
About all it does here at Truk is rain - and then rain some more. There are still lots of Japanese here, even though many of them have been sent home. Everything looks pretty primitive and I didn't see anything that looks like much of a base. Probably around the corner. There are lots of white terns and Noddys.
7 January, 1946, Moen Island, Truk Atoll. A giant Japanese crane built on a pontoon barge came alongside this afternoon and unloaded the four LCVPs we had aboard. There were about twenty Japanese, including a lieutenant in the navy. He had on a white uniform with short pants, a dark naval cape with two stripes, and on his feet what looked like tennis shoes. On the collar of his uniform were two stripes with three little stars.
After unloading, half a dozen of the men swept swept the well-deck, then put up the catwalk. They worked efficiently, and they were good-natured. The evening, fifteen Seabees came aboard as passengers to Guam. We are scheduled to leave in the morning.
16 January, 1946, Separation Center, Guam. After days of anticipation, I finally got released from the LSM 245 last Saturday the 12th of January. Saturday night we arrived here after a day of catching rides, lugging our heavy gear all over the place, and waiting around for hours at the Receiving Station. The chow here is the lousiest I have ever encountered in the Navy. What it boils down to is stew twice a day, sometimes camouflaged as something else, but still recognizable as yesterday's stew, and probably on its way to becoming tomorrow's stew.
Also leaving the ship with me were: Robert Hamilton, Radioman 3/c; Jim McClain, Signalman 2c; George Long,Machinist Mate 3/c (from N. Carolina), and Olson (Can't remember his first name) from California.
The troopship I came home on .Got on board at Gaum, got off at Seattle.