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One more of my Dad's WWII stories #11918758 03/22/17
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huffmanite Offline OP
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As mentioned already, my father is in a Army light bomber squadron in the Pacific theater serving as the senior sergeant in charge of its armorer section. Those guys that prepped and load the bombs as well as the machine guns on their planes.

One day, back in the 80's, I'm driving home from another state where I'm been on business. My route to my home took me near where my mother and father lived, so I stopped at their house for a short visit.

Some more background first. Dad had met my Mom before he joined the Army Air force. She was the manager of a bus station cafe in the small Arkansas town she lived. Before joining the Army Air Corp, Dad worked for a beer distributor, living about 50 miles to the west of where my mother lived. Anyway, she will take a train to where Dad was stationed in Georgia and they will marry a couple of months before his squadron was shipped to the Pacific. Dad's in the Pacific and my older brother is born.

So, I'm visiting with my father and mom is in another part of their house. I'll ask Dad a question about being in the Pacific. "Dad, what did you and your guys do for fun in the pacific....play baseball, volleyball, football or something?" He smiled and quickly said, "We played poker." Mind you, I could remember a fair number of times growing up when Dad got together with his buddies to play poker, but his answer of Poker for fun in the Pacific kinda surprised me. Dad will explain, "son most of the time we were on some island with no where to spend the money we were paid." What money we got each month was useless. So, most of the guys in our squadron and the guys in the other squadrons on our airfield, began a poker game on the day we were paid. Which for you none military guys, was the first of each month and you were paid in cash too.

Dad told me the poker games could last for quiet a few days. They only ended when one or two guys had won everyone else's money. Mindful of my Dad's love of playing poker, I'll ask him if he'd ever been a big winner in the Pacific poker games. Keep in mind my mother had been absence from much of our conversation, but had walked into our room and overheard enough of our conversation to realize what it was about. She was standing behind my Dad and he did not know she was in the room with us.

Dad replied to my question about winning one of the Squadron's monthly Poker games by telling me of winning big for two or three straight days in the games, winning about $1500. But his luck turned on cards drawn and lost almost all of his prior winnings. With these words, my mother made her presence known to Dad and unloaded on Dad. Won't repeat my mother's words, they were quite colorful, so to speak. Basically, Mom yelled, there I was living with my mother in Arkansas with our baby Larry (my older brother) trying to live on your army pay and you didn't think to send us any money before you lost it....more yelling I can't repeat, before she stormed out of the room.

Kinda felt sorry for Dad, but asked him, well why didn't you send her any of the money? Dad just shook his head and tells me. "Son, even while I was a senior sergeant, I was an enlisted man and we could only send home the amount of money I was paid in cash...your mother already got most of my pay check, I received very little of what I was paid. Besides that, in the pacific we were paid in paper money of whoever owned the island in the Pacific before the Japs captured it. In other words, if he was on a Dutch owned island before the Japanese captured it and we'd taken it back, he was paid with Dutch paper money made by the U.S. treasury department during the war. So, it was worthless in the U.S. "Your mother couldn't have spent any of it if I'd been an officer and sent it to her." Yep, officer's could send more money home than they were actually paid.


Last edited by huffmanite; 03/22/17.
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Re: One more of my Dad's WWII stories [Re: huffmanite] #11923885 03/24/17
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Thanks for posting, I enjoy those stories.


Most people don't really want the truth.

They just want constant reassurance that what they believe is the truth.
Re: One more of my Dad's WWII stories [Re: huffmanite] #11926383 03/25/17
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Good story. Hope the dust has settled!


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Re: One more of my Dad's WWII stories [Re: huffmanite] #14892810 05/19/20
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Cool story...got more?

Re: One more of my Dad's WWII stories [Re: huffmanite] #14919376 05/28/20
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Thanks for posting. My step grandfather would agree with the poker and black jack games. Since he only made $50 a month he could only send home $50. He claimed that when they were taking some Marines into Iwo Jima he had $10,000 in his foot locker. Taken mostly from the Marines who were going to be hitting the beaches in just a few weeks or days. He claimed he lost most of it before getting back to the States as there was no where to spend it. That guy loved playing black jack. So did the old Sheriff, who was also in the Navy on a destroyer shelling Iwo while my grand father was unloading Marines. Between the 2 of them, you could go broke real quick and they laughed about it the whole time.

kwg


For liberals and anarchists, power and control is opium, selling envy is the fastest and easiest way to get it.
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Re: One more of my Dad's WWII stories [Re: huffmanite] #14923788 05/30/20
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I wish I had written down all the stories from WWII vets I heard. My hunting and fishing mentor was a Marine bomber pilot from Guadalcanal on. He served two tours of duty, the first on Guadalcanal flying a Douglas Dauntless, the second tour on an escort carrier flying an Avenger. He got drunk with Pappy Boyington on Guadalcanal, was courtmartialed for attacking an American sub (he was cleared), and had lots of other adventures.
My neighbor and friend was a B-17 pilot over Germany. He later flew in the Berlin airlift, worked directly for Jimmy Doolittle, and knew all the big names personally. When he worked for Boeing, he would call Chuck Yaeger to help sell a new airplane to congress. He had lots of stories. My father was a Seabee in the South Pacific. He had two ships torpedoed out from under him and his shipmates thought he was a "Jonah" - bad luck. I never knew that story until after his death. So many stories, now lost.


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Re: One more of my Dad's WWII stories [Re: huffmanite] #14930773 06/01/20
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Nice post!

My father apparently learned the poker playing thing in the Army as well during WWII..I know he shot craps for money. At any rate he was good at it, when he got home after the war he went to college and poker was his sole source of income....paid his whole way through college and had enough left over to buy a new car and marry my mother, whereupon he promised her never to gamble again for real money.
( little did she know some of the risks he took in later years in the stock market....but he did well at that too...)


He spoke in tears of 15 years his dog and him traveled about. The dog up and died. She up and died....After 20 years he still grieves.
Re: One more of my Dad's WWII stories [Re: huffmanite] #14932587 06/01/20
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My wife's Grandfather served in the 26th ID (The Yankee Division) in WW-I and on the troopship home made enough money playing craps he was able to put a down payment on his first house in Providence RI.

It's a tradition ! grin


To be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three hobbies, and they must all be real.”― Winston S. Churchill
Re: One more of my Dad's WWII stories [Re: huffmanite] #14971655 06/15/20
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My wife's grandfather Jim served with the 25th ID in the Pacific. He got wounded at Guadalcanal and sent to New Zealand for treatment and recovery. The most lengthy part of Jim's treatment was for battlefield fatigue. He spent months at that hospital and was given a part time job working in the alcohol warehouse at the local exchange. While the enlisted and officers were allocated certain amount of beer and liquor, the amounts being distributed varied by the number of casualties. He would receive a certain amount which was almost always more than the actual amount of able bodied men still fighting. Enlisted men were often accompanied by an officer when they would come in for their monthly allocations and the officers had a by-name roster of the men still able to fight and receive alcohol. Jim would separate the excess alcohol and put it all in one corner of the warehouse thinking that sooner or later he would receive orders to leave and it would be someone else's problem to deal with. Well there was one officer that would repeatedly ask him what he planned to do with the excess. Jim always told the officer that he was under strict orders to keep it separate and not to give away any of it. One day the same officer came back in and Jim knew his days working in the warehouse were nearing an end. He told the officer to come back in a few days with a larger vehicle. Days later Jim helped them fill up the larger truck with most of the excess alcohol that was in the separate corner of the warehouse.

A year later the war was over and Jim was out of the Army and moved back to his hometown of Ottawa, IL. He was married and running out of the money he had saved during the war. While serving he had gained alot of experience working with communications equipment like radios and such. He went to his local Illinois Bell Company and inquired about employment. They told him the manager was on vacation and that he would need to talk to the district manager in Rockford. So Jim called to that office and was told to come in on Monday (he called on Friday) for an interview. He arrived promptly the next Monday morning dressed in a pressed suit and was anxious as all get out about the interview when the district manager's door swung open and lo and behold, it was the same officer he unloaded that bunch of alcohol onto back in NZ. The man said, "Jim, as soon as I received the message about today's interview I thought that was you!". "Not only are you hired, but your pay started last Friday." Jim went on to work for IL Bell for nearly 40 years. It was his career and livelihood that supported him, his wife, and three children.

He shared that story and a few others with me after my first tour in Iraq. While the stories were shared in the living room with his son, a daughter, daughter-in-law, and his grand daughter present, they had never heard him share any stories about the war. He even pulled an old scrapbook out that he had assembled 30 years earlier that contained pictures from during the war that none of them had ever seen before. The best we could surmise is that he felt more comfortable sharing with someone who also had experienced foreign combat and could relate. After that story there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Jim passed in 2012 just a few days after I returned from Afghanistan. We still think he was holding on until I returned home safe.

Thanks,Dinny

Last edited by Dinny; 06/15/20.

Medics bury their mistakes..
Re: One more of my Dad's WWII stories [Re: huffmanite] #14972448 06/16/20
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Dinny Offline
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I also remember a story a former coworker Charlie shared of his time during the Korean War as a crewmember in a bomber aircraft (the designation escapes my memory). He told me before every mission he had to report to the arms room where he was issued a M1911 45ACP pistol, 2 loaded magazines, and a leather shoulder holster rig. Upon returning from each mission he would turn it all back in to the arms room. He always turned in the same amount of ammunition. One evening after returning after dark, he was walking back to return his weapon and ammo when a Jeep drove by and the headlight's beams caught something in his immediate path. The Jeep passed and he walked up to the item and found it was a rusted M1911 that had been dropped some time ago and had been in the moon dust-like path the vehicles took through their camp. He picked it up and slid it inside his flightsuit out of sight. Once back at his tent he inspected it more closely and found it was rusted pretty badly and he couldn't rack the slide. He oiled and polished the outside in secrecy for the next several weeks of his tour. Each mission thereafter he wouldn't bring back any ammo. The armorer would always ask what he's suddenly doing with his ammo while other crewmembers were still returning with all their ammo. He always told him not to worry about it (pulling rank likely) until one day the armorer reported him to the CO. When called onto the carpet and asked about the ammo, he told the CO everytime the bombay doors opened he would open fire with his M1911 in hopes the bullets would come down onto the heads of the enemy. His CO scolded him and he was ordered to stop immediately. After his final mission he returned to his tent and swapped the M1911 he was issued for the one he found and polished clean. He returned the M1911 inside the holster and boarded a Freedom Flight shortly thereafter with a fully functional M1911 and close to 300 rounds of ammo. He returned home to Kentucky weeks later and presented that M1911 to his father who fired it a few times and later traded it for a fifth of Jack Daniels. To say Charlie was disappointed would be an understatement.

Thanks, Dinny


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