Day By Day

Saturday, December 19, 2009

While I'm on a WW2 roll.....

My father passed away much too young and my family was devastated by it; I think it hit me particularly hard because, like so many boys, my father was the indestructible hero of my childhood, a retired USAF pilot, a veteran of Vietnam, the family provider who never failed to clothe and feed us, the smartest man I ever knew even if I didn't recognize that until my late 20's. A few years later my mother decided to remarry; she married a man who I didn't warm up to, he seem to be the used car or insurance salesman type, overly enthusiastic, pushy, obnoxious and who knows what else. His marriage to my mother took place as I was going through a separation and eventual divorce and he decided that he'd give me the benefit of his experience. That didn't go real well for either of us, words were said. Over the years I began to appreciate that he was good for my mother and since that's all that matters he and I began to warm up a bit. One Easter he mentioned his service in the USN, as a signalman 2nd on an LST in the WW2 Pacific. Like many veterans of any war, he hadn't talked about the war much. I managed to get him to tell me the "name" of his ship; it didn't have a name just a number LST-221. I had pressed him to tell me about it but he was reluctant, he did share a story with me that I'll try to reconstruct here.
I can remember one day I was on the bridge and we were carrying a load of bombs. We were unrepping those bombs to the USS Hancock. It was a beautiful day and I remarked to the Captain how beautiful the clouds were. The Captain turn to me and said "Goddammit Covert those are war clouds! Don't you ever call them beautiful again". 
That story stuck with me. For the next Christmas I decided to see if I could find about about LST-221. I searched the internet and what I found was this picture, a picture of that day in the Pacific taken from the deck of the USS Hancock.

I also found this picture was in a book about LST's. I gave Jim that book as a Christmas gift and when he opened the package I told him to turn to the page with the picture. Then I said "do you remember telling me about that day?", the look on his face told me that our relationship would be different from that day on.

Thanks for your service Jim!

Here is another pic of LST-221 loading men and equipment during a practice landing in New Guinea.

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