Seventy-nine years ago on this date, though it was actually a Sunday, my uncle John Willis had ridden his bike down to the Puyallup river and was fishing Clark’s Creek that morning when a car drove up and stopped.

The man yelled over, “what are doing; haven’t you heard?” “You need to get home right now!” My uncle “Jack“ was an avid Pacific NW hunter and fisher even as a kid so when he graduated high school that next year, he enlisted in the Navy. No surprise that he went on to Gunnersmate (GM) school.

After training he shipped out to the Pacific to an LST (landing ship tank) where they served in what he called “McArthur’s Navy,” until hostilities stopped. He saw action but only rarely spoke of it. His ship was in the group that was hit by the first Kamakazi attack. My mom said her big brother Jack came back from war in the Pacific extremely thin, would’t talk much, and would wake the house many night screaming. Mom never forgave the “Japs” for “trying to kill her brother.”

I had two other uncles but on dad’s side of the family that served in the Pacific after December 7, 1941. One an Army vet who also served in the next war, and never spoke about his experiences, and my other uncle was a Marine Corps gunner & radioman in dive bombers, awarded the DFC.

Lest we forget :s0042:
 

Dungannon

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My uncle Larry was civilian drydock welder at Pearl Harbor. Promptly joined the Navy and, after boot camp, was sent back to Pearl Harbor to repair damaged ships at a fraction of his civilian pay! His older brother Jess was already in the Navy, as an aircraft mechanic. Their younger brother Chet joined the marines out of high school. My dad and four other cousins joined the Navy right out of high school as well; three died in the war. Dad's last combat action was at Iwo Jima. Pic of his LCI [G] re-provisioning off Tinian before heading to Iwo Jima. It was shot to rags and sent back to Pearl Harbor for repairs, temporary damage control having limited it to 4 knots max. They were off Kyushu when dad decoded the message that the Japanese had surrendered. I got to meet his skipper in 2008 at an LCI reunion. They're all gone now.

LCI 457 provisioning before Iwo Jima.jpg
 
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I recently finished HBO's The Pacific, which is based in part on Robert Leckie's book, Helmet for My Pillow. The series follows a group of Marines from Guadalcanal to Iwo. It was done in a similar style to Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan (Tom Hanks Production). Pretty good show overall, I thought.

Those guys in the Pacific Theater fought in miserable conditions from day one, with little to no fanfare, and certainly no passes in London or Paris.
 

Dungannon

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I recently finished HBO's The Pacific, which is based in part on Robert Leckie's book, Helmet for My Pillow.

Great series. The book is better, of course, as it includes characters dropped from the HBO series. Later half of the series based on Eugene B. Sledge's book "With the Old Breed: at Peleliu and Okinawa." Both books are good, but Sledge's book is absolutely haunting. Big coin to buy an original hardcover.
 

solv3nt

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Great series. The book is better, of course, as it includes characters dropped from the HBO series. Later half of the series based on Eugene B. Sledge's book "With the Old Breed: at Peleliu and Okinawa." Both books are good, but Sledge's book is absolutely haunting. Big coin to buy an original hardcover.
Fun fact, the late Stephen Ambrose was the author of Band of Brothers, and his son, the late High Ambrose wrote the Pacific. Stephen Ambrose also has a number of excellent WWII books.

***Hugh***
 
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I say Remember 09/11/2001, Remember Pearl Harbor, Remember the Maine, Remember the Alamo, and finally Remember Valley Forge. There are a lot of other remembrances too, like the whole Civil War, but those five are watermarks for our national suffering.
 
It seems that each year on Dec 7 I get more irritated by the fact that the day is mostly overlooked. That day was the start of this nation coming together like never seen since the Revolution. This country can do great things, but.... Well, we all know that a good part of the people in this country would roll over and show their bellies if confronted with a challenge like that. That part really pisses me off.

Uncle Ed fought in Europe. He was a lineman for the forward observers. Wounded at the Battle of the Bulge, he received the Purple Heart. He never talked about any of it, even to Dad, his little brother. My cousins knew nothing of his Purple Heart until I'd mentioned it. They found it in a safe deposit box after he passed away. Aunt Lois, his wife was a WAC.

The only thing Uncle Ed ever said to me that would have been a reference as to where he went and what he saw was while I was chopping kindling. "Don't cut yourself. I hate the sight of blood". I was probably 7 or 8. I told Dad what he'd said and that's when I learned about his part in the war and the Purple Heart.

They truly were "The Greatest Generation"
 
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It seems that each year on Dec 7 I get more irritated by the fact that the day is mostly overlooked.
Agree! It was almost 4pm before I heard a word about it on TV.

My Dad was spurned on by the attack as well. Joined the AAF and shipped off to Snetterton Heath as a ball turret gunner in a B-17. He didnt speak much about it but i got a few stories out of him. I think that generation felt it was their responsibility to defend the homeland and they were only doing what was necessary and expected. He came home after the war and went back to work being a productive citizen without expecting any special entitlements. Did his duty and got back to the grind. Those men and women were the pillars of this country.
 
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Later half of the series based on Eugene B. Sledge's book "With the Old Breed: at Peleliu and Okinawa." Both books are good, but Sledge's book is absolutely haunting.

Just ordered, thanks for the tip

Those men and women were the pillars of this country.

Yes they were. I grew up in awe of those guys. In the 1980's there still a lot of them around. I met a lot of them at hobby shops and airshows. They could see I was genuinely curious and they would start telling me stories. I'm sure they thought it was weird some kid two generations later was so interested in WWII. I remember and cherish all of those conversations.

These days I am trying to talk to guys that served in Vietnam.
 

solv3nt

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Just ordered, thanks for the tip



Yes they were. I grew up in awe of those guys. In the 1980's there still a lot of them around. I met a lot of them at hobby shops and airshows. They could see I was genuinely curious and they would start telling me stories. I'm sure they thought it was weird some kid two generations later was so interested in WWII. I remember and cherish all of those conversations.

These days I am trying to talk to guys that served in Vietnam.
Nothing against Hugh's book, but IMHO, Band of Brothers was a better book. If you enjoyed that one, look into Pegasus Bridge and D-Day, the research was used to write Band of Brothers.

The Pacific theater books are incredibly brutal, it was a much different fight than the fight in Europe and North Africa.
 
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We had a family friend who was on the first Yorktown which was sunk by the Japanese at Midway. He would not talk about it, ever. Not even to his wife. I vividly remember the faded "USS Yorktown" tattoo on his forearm.

He was laid to rest at Willamette National Cemetery. It is one of the great honors of my life to have been a pallbearer for this man.
 

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