Re: OT Operation Case White

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Message posted by Peter Merlin on September 02, 2019 at 9:05:21 PST:

My father served in the Navy during World War II, first on a cruiser-minelayer during the Atlantic-North Africa Campaign and then on destroyers in the Pacific. He took a 1-inch piece of Japanese shrapnel in the leg but refused to apply for the Purple Heart because his wound seemed inconsequential compared to those suffered by so many of his shipmates.

He had a lot of interesting stories about the war, like the time he saw a dead giant squid that was nearly as long as the ship or when he and his buddies played catch with a dud grenade while on the beach at some coral atoll. Once, he was sent home to New York because he had stopped talking to pretty much everyone. At home there was no one who could relate to his experiences.

Back at sea he continued with the Pacific Campaign, island-hopping toward the Japanese mainland on a different destroyer. At Okinawa he saw a kamikaze plane take out what would have been his duty station on his old ship.

Following the Japanese surrender, his destroyer squadron cleared mines from the Inland Sea in preparation for the occupation. They made port near Hiroshima, where he was sent on shore patrol amidst the ruins of the devastated city. It was there he discovered a Kabuki theater where, improbably, a show was taking place. He was so moved by this experience that he resolved to become an actor after being discharged from the Navy.

I have a photo of my dad as a young sailor, walking with two buddies along the Ginza in Tokyo in 1945. They look happy. He told me it took four years of combat to make him a warrior but just four weeks of peace to turn him into a tourist.

My father is 94 years old now and his light is fading fast. I am grateful for the time we had together and I take comfort in the words of a song by The Kinks: "Celluloid heroes never really die."

In Reply to: Re: OT Operation Case White posted by Gregos on September 01, 2019 at 15:47:47 PST:


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