The Uncles' Military Service

I arrived at Logan Airport, picked up a rental car and drove to Worcester, Massachusetts to visit my uncles Ray and Henry.  Ray and I went to get a bite to eat and Ray started to tell me about his time in the military service.  At this point, I realized that I didn’t have a pen or paper with me and I particularly thought a digital audio recorder would have been useful.  A little late to think of these things, I guess.

When we returned to Henry’s house, I grabbed a notebook and a pen and started taking notes.  Ray and Henry talked mostly about World War II, but spoke about a few other things as well.

Ray volunteered to join the Coast Guard.  On the same day he entered the Coast Guard, the cops arrived at his house to announce he had been drafted.  Ray volunteered to take training as a signalman, and was one of two men to earn a grade of 4.0.  As a Signalman First Class, Ray was assigned to the Destroyer-Escort DE-325, the USS Lowe in an Atlantic convoy to the Mediterranean.  It took 22 days to cross the ocean.  He was later assigned to the Landing Ship Tank LST-795 and traveled to Okinawa and Iwo-Jima.  At the end of the war, his ship picked up POWs in Japan.  Most of the POWs were Australians who were malnourished.

Henry was drafted into the Army.  In the year he became eligible for the draft, he turned 18 years old in May, took his physical in June, and was drafted in July.  His first assignment was to Fort Knox as a tank destroyer, and later was assigned to a troop ship in the South Pacific.  It took 30 days to cross the Pacific.  Still later he was assigned to the Philippines and finally he was assigned to the military police in Osaka and Kyoto, Japan.

Ray and Henry’s brother Fred (now deceased) entered the US Naval Armed Guard and was assigned to the Murmansk Run, delivering war supplies to the Eastern Front.

All three survived the war.

Tomorrow, more of what the uncles told me.

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