My Trip on the USS Osage to Fight in the Philippines (continued from previous page)
The following are some of my memories of this first ocean trip:
The total distance across the Pacific from San Francisco to Leyte was approximately 7,775 miles. We stopped to refuel in the Marshall Islands about 2/3rds of the way across. I remember how I was so impressed by the deep blue of the mid-ocean waters, and how the sky and water both turned a beautiful golden orange color at sunset.
About halfway across the Pacific, it was announced over the "squawk" box that Japan had surrendered. We all cheered. Several years later, I would wonder how my life would be different if we had not dropped the atomic bombs on Japan. It is very likely that I would have been killed during the invasion of Japan if the bombs had not been dropped.
We were on limited rations (two meals per day) and some of the troops broke into the cargo compartment to steal rations. There was a big fuss about it and I was in the detail that was assigned to search duffle bags for stolen food. I didn't find any.
August 19 – September 1: We landed on the beach at Leyte near a small village called Palo (Pay-low). We lived in tents on the beach for approximately two weeks. Just a few months before this, MacArthur's forces had landed on this same beach and many men had been killed here in the fighting. During this time of living on the beach in tents, our living conditions were pretty primitive. We didn't have a mess hall, but just wooden "counters" where we stood to eat our meals. I got sick on some of the "island" food.
September 2 – December 31: After a couple of weeks on the beach, we were moved into a camp not far from the village at Palo. Our barracks were thatched huts with palm-leaf roofs and open sides. The floors were dirt and we slept on cots. It sounds primitive, but it was a lot better than tents on the beach. We now had a mess hall with tables and benches.
Except for the cleared areas of the camp, we were surrounded by dense swampy jungle. The camp was designated as our "company" quarters and our Company Commander was a Major Crawford.
Our company mission was to guard and administrate a large group of Japanese POWs who lived in a nearby containment area that was very similar to our own camp.
I was assigned to the headquarters office at the POW Camp to do whatever clerical duties that were required. The man in charge of the headquarters office was Captain Davis (from New York) and my supervisor was a Lt. Angwin from Berkeley.
Some of the things I remember about my 4 months at the POW camp at Palo were:
The time somebody saw a Cobra in camp and the mad scramble by several guys to catch and kill it (it got away).
The local natives who would come into our camp to go through our garbage cans looking for food. To them, our throw-aways were a treat.
The "water-buffalo" farmers cultivating the surrounding fields to plant their rice crops.
The local "moonshiners" who produced an alcoholic brew called Tuba Juice. They would shimmy to the top of tall coconut palms and cut holes in the coconuts. Then, they would leave the coconut on the tree for several weeks to allow the "milk" inside the nut to ferment. Later, they would climb the tree again and pour the fermented milk into a container. With additional processing they would produce a potent alcoholic drink.
Our GIs were warned not to drink it because it had caused several to go blind. Needless to say, some of our men drank it anyway.
We always had a large special meal on Sunday afternoons (often it was chicken), then for the evening meal we had cold cuts. We had a tall skinny Lieutenant from Texas who loudly referred to the cold cuts as sliced horse-cock.
I really liked the army chow. In fact, while I was on the island of Leyte my weight zoomed 150 lbs - the most I have ever weighed.
A sister ship of the U.S.S. Osage
It was the Kaiser built “Liberty Ship” that took me across the Pacific.
On leave just before I was sent to the Pacific
With my family in Oakland - My little brother Tom was 3 years old.
The Golden Gate Bridge
We sailed out under the bridge to begin the 7,775 mile journey to the Philippines.
One of the local moonshiners on Leyte
He gathers fermented coconut milk from the native trees and processes it into a potent alcoholic drink called Tuba Juice.
Soldier boy Bob on Leyte
I gained a lot of weight eating the Army chow.
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