My Memorial Day Toast to Dad

Right after Pearl Harbor, my Dad wanted to run down and enlist.  My Mother reminded him that he had a wife and two children to support and if they need him, they will get him in time.  I am sure that Dad wanted to get in on the action early but like me, he just wasn't sure what to do.   He did what Mom thought was right and waited.  Sure enough after a couple of years, his name and number came up on the Draft Board's wheel of fortune. 

Dad said that he went to the Reception Station in Kansas City and they were told to count off in order 1 or 2.  He was a 1 and then they were told that all the 1's were in the Army line.  He told the person in charge he had experience working on Navy Airplanes (he worked briefly at McDonald Douglas in California) and he thought he could do the navy a good job keeping the Navy flying.  The guy agreed and sent him over to be a umber two. To tell the truth, Dad worked at Beech Aircraft in Wichita and probably could have done the Army a better job fixing their planes but this is the story the way he told it. 

Like a lot of young men in the Navy, he went to Great Lakes Naval Training Center.  No, I don't have a clue where it was only that he said it was cold as it could be and he hated every minute of it.    Somewhere in all that processing and training, he was classified as an Aviation Mechanic and was sent to a Naval Air Training center in Oklahoma.  He was able to come home for the funeral of his Father-in-Law and was then soon shipped out for over sea's duty.  When he was asked where he wanted to go, he told them it didn't matter so long as it was on dry land.  He drew the worst assignment he could,  Barber's Point Honolulu, HI.   He told us great tales about his time in the Navy and said the only shot he heard fired in anger was the shot fired when one of the security guards dropped his rifle after a dog bit him out on the flight line. 

Dad at great Lakes Training Center

Dad said the toughest job for the guys was to drink enough beer to have the cans to patch bullet holes in the airplanes.  They were so spoiled that they wouldn't drink beer hot.  He said that a lot of times the transport pilots would take the beer up in their planes to cool it off.  They would rush it to the beach and have beer parties every weekend.  Dad said that the group he was in had the job of fixing the planes brought in off the carriers and returning them to duty.  He said that a lot of the junk came in on a truck from Pearl harbor and flew out to a carrier when they deployed.   By the time he was through, he said he was a certified Airframe and Engine mechanic.   When he returned to Beech, they made him an inspector in quality control because he could read plans and knew how to ensure that the parts were spot on.

Dad stayed at Barber's Point throughout the war.  He said that the task force that went to Japan for the surrender asked for Mechanics and his name came up on the list.  He said there were a lot of the other guys that wanted to go because they probably would get to go home earlier and on one of the carriers when they came back to San Diego. He stayed in Hawaii and was released in late 1946.

In case I don't mention it enough, I was born in 1947.  I guess he made it home for Thanksgiving. 

I don't tell this story in any way to belittle Dad, he was not a hero, but like a lot of the men that served went and did his duty when called.  Today I will go over to the cemetery and make sure there is a flag on his grave.  Anchors Aweigh Dad.


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