A change in direction | TheUnion.com

A change in direction

I was a 17-year-old steward’s mate/20 mm gun loader on the C-1 Troop Transport S.S. Cape Douglas, delivering 10th Army troops to the battle on Okinawa.

We were someplace between the atoll Eniwetok and Ulithi on May 8. I was in the ship’s walk-in vegetable cooler trying to cool off a bit, when Capt. Jerome Cherry (27 years old and had had three ships torpedoed out from under him), came on the ship’s squawk-box to announce that Germany had surrendered. Quite a celebration that the end was indeed near.

At Ulithi, the aircraft carrier Bunker Hill came, still on fire and listing badly from the kamikaze plane attacks on Okinawa. This was our first taste that the war was real where we were going.

The Army troops had guessed that they were going to the heat of Guadalcanal for further training for the invasion of Japan and had summerized their work boots into sandals. I remember them coming back to help unload supplies from the 5- to 10-inch-deep mud on the island in their cut-up boots. Not too happy.

Since May 8 had produced VE Day, the Cape’s orders were changed and she – I was much later to find out by the return of my V-Mail from all over Europe – went to Europe to bring troops home. I signed off in San Francisco June 17, 1945, to try and make my Fairfax High School class of ’45 graduation in Los Angeles. Missed by one day.

David Ward

Grass Valley

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