What Did You Do in the War Daddy?

This is mostly a compilation of the stories I was told about my Daddies service in WWII.  I will confirm only that this is the way I remember the stories I was told and the actual facts may vary as my memory does and because some of the stories were told after and during periods of alcohol consumption.  Sit back and enjoy.

When Pearl harbor happened, December 7, 1941 my parents has two little girls and my mother told my dad that he could not just go down and enlist.  It just made sense that he would wait until he was called.  I have little doubt that he would have volunteered for pilot training had he gone early.  By the time he was called, the Pilot program was full and he was drafted.

According to Dad, he was taken to Kansas City by train and after the physical and the testing, he was sent to the basement of the building.  They counted off 1-2, 1-2, 1-2...  The 1s were to be in the Army and the 2's in the Navy.  Dad said he was a 1 and he asked the Sergeant if he could be a 2 because he was a Aviation Mechanic and had worked for McDonald Douglas and he could repair most of the navy Aircraft.  I am sure that had they known he had worked for Steerman Aircraft he might have been sent to the Army Air Corps.  As it turned out the person in charge allowed Dad to go to the Navy line. 

Dad went to Great Lakes for his Basic Training.  There are pictures of his Brother, then an Air Corps Lieutenant visiting him there.  From there, he went to Pensacola Florida for Advanced Aviation Repair Training.  He spent a short time in Oklahoma at a Naval Airbase.  During this time, My Grandfather Lee died and Dad was allowed to come home for the funeral. 

Dad said that at one time he had to fill out a Dream Sheet where he was to be stationed.  He said it didn't matter to him as long as it was on dry land.  He was sent to Barber's Point, Hawaii.  The story I hear from there will be told here but this is at best stories.

Dad said one of his toughest job was to drink enough beer on the weekend so they would have beer cans to patch bullet holes on the aircraft the carriers brought into Pearl.  He said that when a carrier would land in Pearl, they would use their cranes and offload piles of shot up aircraft.  The planes that were flyable would fly to Barber's Point  and his unit there performed all the higher level maintenance needed.  When the carriers were to put out to sea, the pilots would come to Barber's Point and fly the refurbished aircraft back out to the Carriers.  While the carriers were at sea, Dad and his unit would continue to put together as many aircraft as they could.  Dad said he was a sheet metal mechanic but rated as an airframe and engine mechanic. 

Dad said that the only shot he heard fired in anger in the war was the time one of the guys on guard duty dropped his rifle and it went off.  He stayed in Hawaii until the end of the war.  He said that near the end of the war they asked him if he wanted to put to sea with the fleet as they were to go to Japan for the surrender.  He said no thanks. 

My story was that every time Dad would talk about his time in the service he would get a little tear in the corner of his eye.  When I was in Vietnam in 1968, I go an R&R to meet Barbara in Hawaii.  We went to Barber's Point and I too had a little tear in my eye when I had to leave there to go back to Vietnam. 

One funny story Dad told was the time he was on duty in the headquarters and one of the guys bet him that he couldn't open the security safe there in the office.  He said he worked on it for several hours and finally worked the right combination and it opened.  He thought it was funny as hell until he realized that he needed to work the combination to re-lock the safe.  he said he got that damned thing locked just before the staff reported for duty the next morning.  He said he would have been courts martialed for sure had he been caught.

I don't know if it was true, but Dad said that he made Petty officer third class twice.  He came home from the Navy and put his uniform in the cedar chest.  I think that most of us wore it for Halloween once or twice.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


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