Many of the folks who submitted to our War Era Story Project said a lot in just a few words. Below are some of the briefer, but no less important, stories we received.
"When the war broke out, I started working at the Springfield Mass. Armory for about $35 a week! My job was working on the Springfield Rifle, and it was piece work. My job was to sand the wooden part of the rifle on a machine. An inspector came around often to see if the wooden part of the rifle was very smooth. If he found the least little rough spot, he would pull it aside for more sanding. Sometimes, the rifles could pile up beside me, because the rifles were on a moving belt and I had to take them off the conveyor belt as they passed by me. There were very few men working at the armory because they were all going in the army or navy. I worked the 3 to 11 p.m. shift. We received gas coupons to get to work. I was picked up, at my home, with four others for the drive to Springfield from Holyoke." - Edna M. Cook, age 90, Toledo
"My birthday is Dec. 7. My family and relatives were gathered at our house for my birthday. As we prepared to cut the cake, someone turned on the radio. The somber news about the bombing of Pearl Harbor was being broadcast. That was a date that will always be remembered by me. I can still see the circle of hushed relatives around the radio." - David V. Drake, age 82, North Jackson
"I lived near Cincinnati, Ohio, and was 13 when Pearl Harbor was bombed. We heard it on the radio about 3 p.m. and did not know where Pearl Harbor was or how Japan could convoy that far and not be detected. I found a job in poultry processing at age 15. I was granted a driver license and could deliver products. Dad worked at G.E. My older brother joined the Air Force. My sister was employed making 50 caliber shell casings. At home, we all had ration books: gasoline, tires, meat, sugar etc. In 1946 at age 18, I enlisted in the Marine Corps. I served on Guam and Saipan in the Pacific for two years in Supply Company. The focus then was the United States sending supplies to Gen. Chiang Kai-shek in China to fighting the communist takeover. That effort failed and Taiwan became the nationalist Chinese country. We loaded all types of military equipment on ships being sent there." - Robert W. Ernsting, age 84, Aurora, IN
"We were on the island of New Georgia in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. I was told to take my platoon down a trail to see what or who was down there. We started out down the trail. In a short time, it split into two trails. We decided to wait and see if anyone came down either trail. I leaned back against a tree trunk and put a cigarette in my mouth. My sergeant turned his lighter on to light my cigarette. He kept his hands down low so if anyone came down either trail they would not see the flame. I bent down to get a light. After I had bent down about 5 inches, a Jap sniper put a bullet into the middle of where my head had been. Thank heaven he waited until I had bent my head. The guys in my platoon finished him off in a hurry." - Fred Haeberle, Delaware
"I was just in grade school during the war. I remember my dad patching inner tubes for flat tires. He carpooled with four other men to go to work. They all shared their gas ration stamps. We did not go on any trips or outings because of the gas rationing. My Mother had stamps to buy sugar which was very limited. She would board the sugar through the year for canning in the summer. In school we bought savings bond stamps to put in a book. This was a way to teach us to save money. When the book was full, we held them for a certain period of time to cash in." - Yvonne Herbold, age 76, Milford
"I think I was about a 16- or 17-year-old young girl when the school passed out names and addresses of WWII boys asking girls to write to them. I took two names and sent my first letter to each. Two letters came back, just so overjoyed that I had written to them. I don't think my letters could have been that well-written or exciting, but I did write again, and again they were so happy to hear from me again that one said he wanted to marry me. I again answered both letters, but never heard from either one again. I just thought as a young teenager, they figured I was not a good letter writer, now I wonder what ever happened to them, did they get shipped out or what? I always wonder!?" - Kathy Lehman, age 82, Dayton
"My uncle, Arthur J. Burdett, was in the Navy aboard a small aircraft carrier, the USS Coral Sea. He was in a number of the battles in the South Pacific. His normal job was to patch aircraft up during or after fighting. At Iwo Jima, he was given a rifle and told to prepare to join the Marines in the island fighting. This was due to the great loss of Marines in the fighting. Just prior to his departure, the island was secured and he was ordered to stand down. He had absolutely no training for this type of exercise." - Ray Thomas, Columbus
"As a 15 year old boy, with older brothers in the service and sisters working in war factories, most of the farming chores fell to me, as father was incapacitated. Milking the cows morning and evening before and after school, planting and harvesting crops, and other chores kept me busy, however I never felt 'put-upon' as this was my contribution toward the war effort. Upon graduation from high school, I did join the Army to serve my country. I was disappointed not to have the opportunity to serve in battle like my brothers. However, I did have the experience of serving from 1947 to 1949 in the Panama Canal Zone while we patrolled the Madden Dam to deter any enemy attack. For this service, I did gain a college education as a result of the GI Bill. After Army service, I continued to serve my country as a high school educator teaching science and math." - Charlie V. Wojcik, age 83, Milford
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