"What did you do during the War?" This was a title for a movie, books and stories that always come with an answer.
Let me tell you a story of something that happened to me during WWII. Because I was only seventeen and looked much younger I was often transferred. For some reason I ended up on Ulithi Islands awaiting transfer to somewhere else. There was an ship with smoke coming from it and people took off afraid the ammo aboard might explode. Now on the Ulithi Island of Mog Mog, you couldn't go very far. Due to my innocence or gullibility or what, my friend and I went to the ship, there were two men working on it and they were leaving. One was working in the hold loading ammo boxes on an elevator and sending them up. The other guy took the boxes from the elevator and then he removed the boxes so they could be placed on barge next to the ship. The smoke was coming from the opposite side of the ship where the ammo was so I went aboard with my friend and went down in the hold and started loading ammo into the elevator and sending it up to my friend on the deck.
It was hot as H-ll in the hold, not so much due to the fire as to being in the middle of the South Pacific where it does get hot and Ulithi is near the Equator so the guy in the hold came up for a breath of fresh air and to get cool in the 95 or higher temperature outside. A Navy Lieutenant came over and watched for a while and took our names, rank and serial numbers. Someone relieved us a while later and we went back to our tent.
The next day we were given Letters of commendation and we were thrilled to have done something we weren't punished for. Later things were not so calm and our records were blown up or lost or something and the Letters of Commendation became a thing of the past to talk about to our skeptical mates like we were weaving a tale of near heroism.
Like so much we hold onto and never, never tell anyone, this story belongs where it is, in my memory of long ago at an Island where people still say, "WHERE?"
GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired
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