Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Memories of World War II

Memories of World War II
T. Clifford Morgan
Warsaw, MO

I probably have a thousand different memories of the war, but briefly they are:

I was farming 160 acres north of Cross Timbers in Benton County, MO, when on this Sunday morning, a neighbor came over and told us that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. One of the many changes that the war made in my life was that I would never return to full time farming again. Much news of the disaster was kept from the public. One of the enlisted men that was on over-night leave from the U.S.S. Arizona, hurried back to find the battleship sunk. He stood helpless on the dock as divers tried to reach men trapped inthe ship. The divers could hear men pounding on the compartments, but couldn't reach them.

After making a crop in 1942, I enlisted in the Navy in Springfield, Missouri. Then I went to boot camp at Great Lakes for thirty days. The Navy gave enlistees a battery of tests and selected those making the top scores to go to aviation school.

Navy Pier Chicago - I was here for six months, taking a general course in all phases of airplane maintenance and repair. I received liberty on weekend days until midnight. During these weekends, I spent much time at the Art Gallery, Field Museum of Natural History, The Museum of Science and Industry, the USO, The Servicemen's Center, and the parks of Chicago, especially Grant Park and Garfield Park. The Chicago and the State-Lake theaters had live stage shows and I enjoyed seeing Roy Rogers and his horse and also Hildegard. Bing Crosby was the Master of Ceremonies at American Day at Soldiers Field. Servicemen were able to ride public street cars free.

87th Anthony in Chicago - Advanced Navy School - Those in the top ten percent of their class went on to this school. I took aircraft hydraulics there for three months. This was a new school, the food was the best and the instruction was good. During the time there, I was able to attend live broadcasts of the WLS National Barn Dance. I also attended dances at the beautiful Aragon and Trinon ballrooms.

After graduation, I was able to spend a few days at home. Then I took the Santa Fe to San Francisco to await overseas transportation. While there, I worked in the legal office for a Lieut. Williams and took some Red Cross tours of the Bay area. I sailed on a destroyer, the U.S. Bronson, which was later sunk by a submarine. The passengers slept on the gun decks with no blankets. During a bad two day storm, I slept with my arm around a steel post to keep from rolling when the ship was tossed by the waves. We sailed past Diamond Head and docked at Ford Island not far from the sunken Arizona. I took a sea-going tug to Kahului, Maui. This took all day, and after dark the tug tied up alongside a tall ocean liner. We had to carry a hundred pounds of gear up a rope ladder to the top of the liner, then down another rope ladder to the deck.

I checked in at the air base and was assigned to a barracks and issued bedding and a mosquito net which was badly needed if you were to get any sleep. Next day I was assigned to the hydraulic shop and worked the line checking planes for hydraulic leaks. Later, I was in charge of the repair of hydraulic units and operated the test bench. Most of the planes were F6F fighter planes and TBM Torpedo Bombers. While we repaired and maintained the planes, the pilots trained and then the squadrons would return to the carriers to relieve those squadrons that needed rotation.

The group that returned from the stricken Enterprise was the worst in plane damage and the morale of the men.

On liberty days, I took the scenic ocean drive along the coast to the old whaling town of Lahaina. I took trips to Wailuku, and took two trips to Haleakala Crater. This mountain is 10,032 feet high and the crater is 2,000 feet deep. I walked to the bottom of the crater, but hurried back as the clouds started to roll in.

The USO brought Bob Hope and his show to Maui, also Betty Hutton and her show. The Navy sent their All-Star baseball team and I especially enjoyed seeing School Boy Rowe of the Detroit Tigers. He had pitched in a World Series game against Dizzy Dean. Gene Tunney came to referee a boxing match.

As the war was winding down, I got on rotation list to return to the states for more advanced school in hydraulics. Then came that day when I was working on rotation number had come up. The return trip was by plane to Ford Island, then to San Francisco on an escort carrier. There were no storms at sea this time, just flying fish to watch, and we slept on cots on the flight deck.
(Source: Written by T. Clifford Morgan, Warsaw, MO, 50 years after the war)


Posted: 23 Sep 2009
File: MorCliff.txt

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