David C. Little, my dad, served in World War II like many in your family. When he got out he never talked about it. At least until the ’70’s, when he’d sit out in the backyard with a beer and tell me about it as I cleaned our motorcycles.
He was in the Coast Guard Artillery–part of the regular infantry now. Much of his time was spent waiting. Waiting for invasions or attacks or for some officer to make a decision. Part of that time he spent waiting on Liberty ships before they invaded Japanese held islands.
The soldiers passed much of their time gambling. They’d play cards until they were sick of it, and then gamble on anything else that occurred to them.
The Sound of a Plane
During the war, you could hear the sound of a plane coming way before you could see it. The soldiers on the ships used to bet on what type of plane was coming just on the sound. Once off Saipan my dad won so many of these bets that his commanding officer reported him to the captain.
The captain ordered him to the crow’s nest with a walkie-talkie. As he heard planes he radioed down to the bridge. While he was up there once, Japanese planes attacked the convoy.
He spent the whole attack ducking bullets in the highest, most unprotected part of the ship. He was awarded a medal for that.
And every time he told me that story, he used it as an example of “not doing something stupid.” He thought he was careless letting his commanding officer know his skills.
Doing Something Stupid
As a smart-aleck teenager I used to bring that up when I’d do something stupid.
That, of course, was stupid.
Happy Father’s Day, dad.