David Peabody Guion
We got down to Ulithi, which was a weird-sounding name, and they started talking about someplace called Okinawa. They said, “we’re going to Okinawa and were going to invade Okinawa.” At dawn they were going to send in a flotilla at the center of the island but the real invasion would be on the other end of the island, further up. I said to myself, “What kind of outfit would do something as stupid as this? Why did they think the feint would work?” I was attached to Army Headquarters at this point, at least our company would be when they got there. What happened was that the feint worked so well that we were supposed to go in, I think it was the third day, we were supposed to land. We didn’t land for ten days because the Americans went through so fast that they left snipers behind and they couldn’t afford to have us valuable people in Army Headquarters get shot. So, we didn’t get in for some time. (Dave and his group spend those days on a ship in the harbor.)
When we were ready to go in, my Sergeant, who was a buddy of mine, came up to me and he said, “Dave, I have a special assignment for you.” And I said, “What’s that?” He said, “When we get on land your job is to bunk with and take care of Marvin.” Now Marvin King was a guy who was so stupid he wasn’t bright enough to get a Section 8 and get out. I can remember when ever we were on the ship and they called out the anchor detail, he would run to the side and start throwing up. We hadn’t even moved yet, and he was already seasick. My job was to take care of him. When we got to Okinawa, finally landed, we dug ourselves a little two-man foxhole. I was bunking with Marvin. My job at that point was to go and get water and the mail – – ho, ho, ho … there was no mail – and bring it back to the company. Now some time had gone by and Marvin and I were in close quarters. Needless to say there was not a lot of friendship between the two of us. So anyway, one night, near dawn, a plane came over and obviously was hit. It was a Japanese plane, he was hit and so he was jettisoning his bombs which were small twenty-five-pound anti-personnel bombs. One guy didn’t believe in being in a hole, so he was in a hammock. When he woke up in the morning, he looked up, put his hat on and realized that half of the visor was gone. So, needless to say, he decided he was going to sleep in a foxhole. That morning, when I went to get water, I went alone. I usually went alone. When I came back the hole that we had dug was now two levels – – one level where I was and one deeper level where Marvin was. It was very, very easy to dig, like clay, no stones like we get in Connecticut, so it was easy to dig out but he wasn’t about to dig me a place, so I was one level above him.
On August 25th, I think, we were all watching a film in a kind of natural amphitheater and one of the guys from Brooklyn had a buddy, who was also from Brooklyn, and I remember this just as if it was yesterday, he came running over – we had gotten some rumors that the Japs were going to quit – and this guy came running over and says, “The signing has been comfoimed.” I never forgot that.
But anyhow, between the time of August 25th and September 7th, when they signed the treaty, I left Okinawa and went down to Manila. Here I am now – the war is over – all I have to do is go home and they’re shipping me out in a plane to Manila. The pilot spent about twenty minutes, maybe, trying to start one engine and I said to myself, “I’m going to die in the ocean and the war is over.” Anyhow, we got to Manila. That was quite a sight – buildings where the first floor was completely gone and five or six or seven stories would be on top of it, canted … all kinds of destruction. If you went in to City Hall and looked up, you’d see a room with curtains on the windows. That was MacArthur’s headquarters. So he had curtains on his windows and the Filipinos were watching dead bodies float down the river.
I would say I was in Manila for probably six months. Well it would’ve been August, September, October, November, December, January, February, March, eight months. I came home in March of 1946. I got out of the service the day Chiche (Paulette (Van Laere) Guion, who married Dan wile he was in France) gave birth to Arla, Danielle, as the case may be . (Dave got out of the service on May 6, 1946.)
In my Blog Category, World War II Army Adventures, you will find all the letters dave wrote to Grandpa. He was as outspoken as only an eighteen year old can by.
Tomorrow, I will begin a week of letters written in 1940. Lad is working in Venezuela for the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company as a mechanic, working on their vehicles and Diesel engines that run the pumps to get the oil out of the ground. Dan and Ced have travelled to Anchorage, Alaska, where they have found jobs. All three boys are sending home money to help Grandpa, who is raising the three younger children.