Wayne Bolitho: My World War II Service in the U.S. Navy

My scariest WWII experience in the Navy occurred when we were on our way to Seoul, Korea, through the China Sea, which had been heavily mined by the Japanese. The Navy had minesweepers in the area cutting mines loose and exploding each one as it was found. They were not visible from above the water despite their huge size, sometimes 10 feet across. They were laid so deep that you couldn’t see them until they bobbed to the surface. I’d pictured them in my mind as lying on top of the water, like in the movies. When the first one came to the surface I was amazed to see how large it was. No wonder one could blow apart a huge naval vessel. Very scary! Fortunately, we never hit one.

— Wayne Bolitho Continue reading

Leslie Goodwin: The Miracles that Saved Me in WWII

My wife, Virginia, taught German in high school. We took our students to San Francisco and made contact with a German company that sailed freighters. There was a captain there who gave our students a tour of his ship.

The captain came and talked to me – he had actually been a U-boat captain in the war. He told me, “Back in those days, we tried to kill you; you tried to kill us. But now the war is over, and we are friends.” And that was their attitude. They got drafted; we got drafted. We all had our jobs to do.

— Leslie Goodwin Continue reading

Richard Berry: My World War II Service in the U.S. Navy

After you were there for a couple of months you were used to the sirens going off all the time — when you were in Honolulu you were very conscious that there was a war going on. In bombing Pearl Harbor the Japanese had devastated many areas that you saw every day. It could happen again at any time.

— Richard Berry Continue reading

Lee Batt: My World War II Service in the U.S. Navy

My research after the war uncovered the fact that one in 26 Mariners died during WW II. Over two dozen ships were sunk off the West Coast, and about 300 ships along the East Coast. After spending time in the Merchant Marine, those numbers were not just statistics to me.

— Lee Batt Continue reading

John Balaban: My 30 Missions as a B-17 Pilot

One time I was in the hospital. A doctor there asked me, “How do you guys do it? How do you get in an airplane to fly a mission… go through hell and high water with bullets flying all over the place? You may make it back, but some of your buddies don’t. And when you’re called on, you climb back in the airplane, get behind the controls and fly another mission. How do you do that?” I told him I was trained to do that. To defend my country. And that’s what I did. Continue reading

Bob Allured: My Service as a WWII Navy Radio Technician

It was while I was in New York, that President Roosevelt died. I was at a canteen when some other servicemen and I saw the headlines in the paper. From the photo in the newspaper, I can see that I was just as upset as the other guys – even the English sailor displayed concern. We wondered how Roosevelt’s passing would affect the war. — Bob Allured Continue reading

Harvey “Dusty” Rhodes: My WWII Naval Service in the Pacific

By HARVEY “DUSTY” RHODES As told to Kathi Bramblett, Kathy Nunes and Chris Bateman Childhood on the ranch I was born in early 1918 in Banta, a small town just northwest of Tracy in San Joaquin County. My parents, Harry and … Continue reading