Source: Sherman Publications

Jim's Jottings
Holidays prompt Navy memories of WWII

by Jim Sherman, Sr.

June 06, 2012

Dad was a soldier in WWI. My brothers went into WWII ahead of me, one in the Marines, the other Navy. So, before I became of draft age Mother let me join the Navy.

Things I was asked to do by mom, dad, coaches and teachers, never seemed as demanding, even as threatening as orders given by some cocky, uniformed guy with a stripe on his sleeve

“Fall out!” “Head back, sailor!” Eyes, right!” Each said with the threat of something bad, like work or push-ups.

On March 29 we picked up a load of beer in Norfolk and sailed to Panama. Once through that zone, another sailor and I went up to the crow’s nest to play chess.

Of course, they found us and confined us to quarters, meaning we didn’t get to go ashore in Hawaii or Eniwetok to have a beer. Our ship’s hatches were welded shut, so we didn’t get any of the beer carried.

In Pearl Harbor, our ship was loaded with 3 and 5 inch ammunition. That was comforting.

On to Ulithi enroute to Kerama Retto, about 10 miles from Okinawa. The Japs were bombing Okinawa every day. My brother, Dair, was on a supply ship on the north shore of Okinawa.

I learned that while listening in our radio room.

Remember now, I’m still only 18. I have yet to reach a reasoning age, and I concluded that since we had 24 boats on our ship, someone could take me 10 miles to see my brother.

Only my buddies agreed with my decision. I didn’t expect our USN Captain Folk to agree, but certainly one of the USN Reserves would ok the trip.

Oh, no. A World War was going on, they reminded me. So what? He’s my brother.

Things were apparently happening elsewhere, outside my world, because on July 21, 1945 our shell-ladened ship was ordered to go to Siapan, then to Guam to unload.

After “THE” bomb was dropped, and the war ended August, 15, we transported servicemen to Leyte, Cebu, Yokohama, Otaru, Tokyo Bay, the three Japanese Islands-Honshu, Kyushu, Hokkaido and up the Hai Ho River to Taku-Tientsin, China

Heading back to the United States, Captain Winston Folk concluded we crossed the international date line, and gave us two turkey dinners.

One last service story, maybe.

Our Captain made arrangement with somebody to have a movie shown aboard ship.

The crew sat on the deck, officers and cameras were a deck higher. A big screen was set so the projector’s beam was just over our heads.

The Captain and a couple other officers invited female nurses aboard to enjoy the movie.

This did not go over real well amongst the crew.

The opening cartoon was uneventful.

So were the opening scenes.

However, when an actress appeared on screen

a sailor’s arm would go up from the deck, into the projector’s beam, hand open, reaching toward a bosom.

That gesture was an immediate crowd pleaser, which was copied by several onwatchers. Then came the whoops and hollers.

Actually, that interruption didn’t last that long. The movie became more important.

The next day an announcement came over the loud speaker: “Hereafter, when there are guests on board you shall refrain from using words that rhyme with dart, sock, bits” …and there were more.