Earlier today I started on a post about Thanksgiving, how it is my favorite holiday, a truly American holiday, etc. Then my aunt forwarded this little excerpt about Thanksgiving that my grandfather wrote a few years before he died. Boy did my post look stupid.
I’ll stop writing now. His words are much better than mine.
In 1944 as a soldier in the U.S. Army, we left San Francisco, California in February headed for somewhere in the Pacific Islands to do our bit as Air Borne Engineers to rid the islands of invading Japanese.
It was a sad sight as we stood on deck looking back toward the U.S. to see the Golden Gate Bridge sink slowly out of sight as the Pacific Ocean water raised in the horizon. I think our thoughts were unanimous that we may never see The Golden Gate again.
After 22 months of service in New Guinea and the Philippine Island, we had finally liberated the islands and the Japanese had surrendered and the Army began demobilizing.
On November 5th, I boarded the USS General Collins in Manila Bay to start the long journey home. We took the Northern route which according to the curvature of the earth was the shortest route. Somewhere around the Aleutian Islands, we hit a typhoon. Reports were that waves of 50 foot engulfed the ship and we were hold bound for a long period of time. This was the longest period of scare that I went through. Most scares were short lived. Here I was headed home but can we make it? Thank God, we did. It took us 16 days to get back to the United States.
The last day of our 16 day journey we were in the chow line for our Thanksgiving Day dinner with turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, a regular Thanksgiving meal feast. It was Thanksgiving Day, Thursday November 22, 1945. A call came down from the watchman in the crows nest that the Golden Gate was coming into view. The chow line disappeared. Remembering the time involved watching it sink, I knew I had time to eat so I went straight to the serving counter and had my choice fill.
I went out on deck after I had lunch and the Golden Gate was slowly rising out of the water. The closer we got to it, the higher it rose from the water. As I watched and my heart beat became faster and I became happier. It dawned on me that the majestic portals under the canopy of heaven which we must pass through was the reward of peace that we had victoriously won as victors of the “War to End all Wars, WWII.”
Dinah Shore was on the deck of the tug boat which met us to help with the docking. She sang and welcomed us back to the state side. We debarked on to a ferry which carried us to Pittsburgh, Ca. There, we were picked up by trucks and carried to Camp Stoneman.
For the dinner that night, we had steak fried to order with all the trimmings and all the fresh milk we could drink and all the ice cream we could eat. Quit a treat after 22 months in the tropics.
Thanksgiving has a lot of special meanings to me. A lot to be thankful for. I love to be with friends and family. I love to eat, hunt, relax and be selfish when I boast that Thanksgiving means more to me than any one else in the world!
This time of year is a very sentimental time for me. November 5th leaving Manila headed home, November 11, Veterans Day, November 22nd, landing in the USA. Every Thanksgiving is November 22nd for me. December 5th, I was discharged from the Army, December 7th reached home. Remember Pearl Harbor.
I really should post more of what he wrote in the future. This one little piece says a lot about him.
Remembering the time involved watching it sink, I knew I had time to eat so I went straight to the serving counter and had my choice fill.
If I’m lucky I’ll one day develop the patience and common sense that he had.