My father owned a grocery store in Indianapolis. My older brother, Jim, and I had the job of delivering groceries. We were
walking back home when we stopped to hear the newsboys hawking on the street corner. Clutching a bundle of Indianapolis Star
editions, a boy cried, Read it! Pearl Harbor has been bombed!
I turned to look at Jim. Where's Pearl Harbor?
He shrugged his shoulders. I don't know. Never heard of it.
When we arrived home, we realized something important had happened. Our parents were seated in the livingroom with their
heads bent toward the radio.
It seems odd now, not knowing where Pearl Harbor was. While war had been waging in Europe for some time, we in middle
America never expected that war would have an affect on us. Not until Pearl Harbor.
Once Jim and I learned that our country had been attacked by Japan, we decided to sign up. Jim would turn 20 the following
May, but I had just turned 17 four months earlier.
My mother refused to give permission for me to enlist. "I won't sign your death warrant," she said. My father
permitted me to enlist against her wishes.
Jim and I both planned to join the Navy; after all, it was the Navy that had been attacked. Before enlisting, I had to
undergo a medical procedure. As the war waged on, the government became more lax on these rules, but at the time, you had
to pass the physical. My mother did accompany me for the procedure, taking me on the streetcar.
I enlisted on May 6, 1942 at the Indianapolis Main Post Office along with many other fellows. We were hauled off by train
to the Naval Training Center at Great Lakes, Illinois, near Chicago. Boot camp held at least one surprise for me. I qualified
for the Navy Choir. Don't think I could carry a tune in a bucket now. That was my only experience in a choir. The choir was
led by celebrity: a man called the Banjo King, Eddie Peabody. He was popular in those days and fans of the banjo still know
who he was.
After boot camp I was sent to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois to train as a high speed radio operator. After
graduation I joined others on a train to the Amphibious Training Center in Portsmouth, Virginia. I remember that a Navy Chief
Petty Officer had been called out of retirement to take charge of recruits. He looked ancient to me then, although looking
back on it, he was probably younger than I am now.
I asked the commanding officer why the Navy needed a radio operator on a barge and all he said was, "This is the
new Navy and I dont know anything about it." Future questions would be answered in the same way, and when I later entered
the Army, officers had a similar statement.
After I completed my Amphibious training in Virginia I was shipped to Portland, Oregon to become one of the original crew
members of the USS LST 454. It came up the Willmuth River from Portland and was brought to be equipped and receive her initial
My travel in the Navy at that time went from boot camp at Great Lakes to the radio school at Northwestern University to
the Amphibious Training Center in Virginia to Portland Oregon to pick up my ship. I then went up the coast to San Francisco
then to San Diego to Pearl Harbor to Australia where they moved me to the LCI (L) 29.