We soon learned that we were assembling for the invasion of Japan. Much later, we learned that our outfit was to land at the southern tip of Japan to secure and repair, if necessary, an airstrip for the American plans to land, and refuel in the battle for Japan. It would have been a very rough landing, and no doubt a lot of lives would have been lost.
About this time, something happened that saved over at least 100,000 young American lives, as well as many Japanese. It ended a war that the Japanese had started with their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, some four years earlier. We dropped “the bomb” and the war was over. WWII was the most deadly war we were ever in. The United States suffered over 600,000 killed and wounded, with about 300,000 having been killed. It is estimated that about 60 million people, military and civilian, from all countries, died between 1937 and 1945, in connection with the war. The Atomic bomb was a horrible experience for the Japanese, but it ended a more horrible war that the Japanese had started.
With the war over, the government developed a point system, based on time in service and time overseas, to determine who would go home first. I had enough points but I was declared “essential” and was tasked with a new assignment.
I was given an Ensign, a Chief Petty Officer and about thirty men. We were responsible for closing down the Construction Battalions on the Island of Luzon. I would go into a Battalion and report to the Skipper, usually a commander or Commodore. He would give me an inventory of every piece of equipment he had and I would sign a receipt for it. Then the Battalion of about 1000 men would vacate the base, go home, and leave everything to us.
We would evaluate everything and decide if it was usable or not. The usable we took to the nearest Navy Supply Depot. The unusable we dug a hole with one of the bulldozers, and pushed it in. After we had put all the unusable in the hole, we then covered it with dirt, and walked it down with the dozer. Most of the larger stuff like motor graders, draglines, trucks and jeeps we took to the depot. A lot of the broken office machines, desks, chairs, some jeeps and cars, went into the hole.
After a few months, I had twice the number of points I needed and I finally got my orders to board a General Class troop ship to go home. This was quite a change from the Evangeline. This was a huge ship, but I was soon to experience the worst typhoon the Pacific had seen in some time. Before we reached Hawaii, we hit this storm. I am prone to be seasick, but this time almost everyone on board was seasick, but I wasn’t even queasy. The ship pitched and rolled. The bridge was about 40 feet above the main deck. The waves were so high that they came over the bridge of the ship. This went on all night long with torrential rain and wind. Toward the end of the second day, things got a lot better, and after that we had an uneventful trip on into Pearl Harbor.
Photo of Supply Depot found here.