16 September, 2012

16 September 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
16 September, 1945
Nancy      1100

My dearest sweetheart –

I’m kind of blue today – why I don’t know particularly except that I love you and as yet I can’t have you. The weekend has been terribly dull, probably by contrast. The French are celebrating the first anniversary of their liberation and they’ve had parades, speeches, dances etc. It makes me morbid to see everyone else having a good time while I go on merely marking time.

Today marks the completion of 22 months of overseas duty for me and you know as well as I that that is a real chunk of time. How much longer can it be? If they keep going at this rate – it shouldn’t be long, sweetheart. We’re down to 96 points on the officers and 80 on the enlisted men, and a new quota has been coming in every day or two. If they just keep it up – everything will be fine.

Well – I didn’t mean to complain, darling, but it is getting more and more difficult to take. I’m so anxious to get home to you – I just don’t know how to put it into words. Enough of it now – at any rate. I read with interest your reaction to the “Song of Bernadette”. First of all I was surprised you had just seen it. It must have hit Boston a long time ago. I saw it about a year ago in a little town we were in just South of Paris; it was the town where the Rothschild estate was – I remember it quite well. It was excellently done – but wasn’t received too well by the troops. We were driving along fast those days, everyone was keyed up, and what we needed was a fast moving musical comedy. The picture was very slow. Other than that – I enjoyed it immensely, although I can’t say I reacted to the Catholic theme quite the way you did.

Say – good news, darling – some one just came in and showed me the latest Stars and Stripes. There’s an item in it about doctors and dentists. There’s a new critical score out for actual release and the score is 80. Hell I had 82 and enough with the old score; now I have 90 and more than enough. It means this, sweetheart, that when I actually get back – I don’t have to sweat out a reassignment somewhere; I can count on being discharged. What a sweet word! Gosh – that news was just what I needed to perk me up from this low level I’m in. Hold tight, darling. I’ll be home before you know it and then I’ll show you how much I love you. You won’t have to read it; you’ll hear it, dear – over and over again.

Gee – they’ve moved the clocks back an hour as of 0300 Sunday a.m. and I don’t know if the mess is going by the old or new time. I’d better go see or I’ll miss out on our Sunday chicken. Sweetheart – it’s getting close and I can’t help but admit I’m getting keyed. It’s going to be a wonderful experience and I’m ready for it.

So long for now, dear, love to the folks – and

All my deepest love

P.S. Tonite is Yom Kippur and I’m going to services in the a.m., of course.


about Six Days on a Raft

World War II came to a conclusion on August 14, 1945, eight days after the first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan. The USS YMS 472 was one vessel whose job was not complete at war's end. They were assigned to Okinawa Island with orders to sweep the area and destroy active mines. The men were already having thoughts of home, family and togetherness. The weight of the war had, finally, been lifted off of their shoulders. However, not a single one of them suspected they would soon be introduced to a new type of enemy. On 16 September 1945, thirty-three days after the war, a category 3 typhoon named "Ida" would catch the thirty-one man crew of the YMS 472 off guard and send the ship to the bottom of the ocean. Bill Harrison was one of 10 men who made it onto a life raft.

On 25 February 2010, Bill Harrison told his story to the Fullerton Sunrise Rotary in Fullerton, California. Here is a photo from the Rotary's Newsletter about the event, followed by a review of Mr. Harrison's presentation.
Mr. Bill Harrison, a member of the Greatest Generation shared his real life story of being marooned in the South Pacific for 6 days in 1945, when the mine sweeper he served on ran into a Category 3 Typhoon. Able to flee the ship and make his way on to a life raft, he and 9 of his mates found themselves adrift in the South Pacific for 6 days without food or water.

With sharks circling the raft, Mr. Harrison recounted the long six days he and his friends spent on the raft. He described the incredible thirst that he had experienced and how his will power was able to overcome the temptation to drink the salt water that surrounded him. Mr. Harrison described the hallucinations that he and his friends experienced and how one of his mates had imagined seeing a taxi at sea and proceeded to leave the raft screaming for the taxi only to be devoured by the sharks that circled the raft.

With an island with a mountain in the horizon, Mr. Harrison recalled a Bible Scripture that his mother taught. “If you have the faith of a grain of an mustard seed, God will remove the mountain.” It was at that point that he realized that he should pray to God thanking God for being saved, rather than to pray to God asking to be saved. He convinced the rest of his friends also to thank God for saving them. About an hour later they saw 3 search planes on the horizon, the last of which had made a 90 degree turn. It had spotted them and eventually rescued them.

With help they felt was Heaven sent, four of the nine men survived.
Harrison published the complete story in a book title "Six Men on a Raft," published in paperback in February 2007 by Authorhouse, ISBN 1425983693, ISBN-13: 978142598368. It is also available from iTunes.

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