10 october 2020


AUTOBIOGRAPHY. June 1942. Battle of Midway and Dad turns 18.

We pulled into Pearl, and took aboard ammo, fuel, and provisions, and made ready for sea. Admiral Bull Halsey took sick, and Admiral Spruance transferred his flag to the Enterprise. We sailed. This time we had a full complement of correspondents aboard, Bob Casey from the Chicago Daily News, Ralph Morse from Life Magazine. And a couple of others. We figured it was going to be a big one. One day out to sea, and the Captain came on the PA system and advised that the Japanese were mounting an offensive against Midway Island, and we would be intercepting their forces and contact was expected within the next thirty-six hours. We would go to condition two and remain in this status until such a time as contact was made, at which time we would engage the enemy and destroy them. I won't go into details of the Battle of Midway, as the historians, and movies have left for history a much better record than I. I will say it was the turning point in the war. My personal observations were only of enemy air attacks, and a great sadness in watching the Carrier Yorktown succumb to her wounds and sink beneath the sea.

The war was 6 months old, I had turned 18 sailing along the International Date Line, and have the unique remembrance of being 17 and then 18, and then 17 again as we re-crossed the line and then once again 18. In that six months we had crossed and re-crossed the equator. On one occasion we had crossed the equator and date lines simultaneously thereby becoming a Golden Dragon. We had gotten new members of our little detachment, and I moved from my hole in the wall, to a bunk in the main compartment. I had served a 90-day period on mess duty, which I hated, as it relieved you of none of your regular duties or watches, but forced you to spend your days in the stink of the mess hall. I ran my finger into the bread slicer and though it was an accident, I prayed it would get me out of mess duty. It didn't. I had a few stitches and a bandage and all in all missed less than an hour. I was offered and took a job in the laundry where one night a week the Marines had the presses, and four of us would spend the entire night pressing khaki uniforms on the steam presses. This paid me an extra $12 a month. Each member of the detachment paid $1 a month into a laundry fund, and we laundry workers split this pot. It was hot and noisy, but it was fun too. I was learning the ropes. My coordination was improving, and I was developing into an adequate, if not good first loader. Corporal A.A. Brown, Marine cook, the regular first loader, was transferred off and back to the states, and I was named first loader for our gun crew. It was a proud moment in my life. I asked for a chance to strike for the position of Marine cook, but my request was turned down. Even then I had a fascination for the culinary arts.