Read e-book Just Doing My Job: Stories of Service from World War II

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Show more Show less. Their significant sacrifices and vivid memory make for engrossing narratives of perseverance and faith. Foreword 10 3 Arthur J. Jonna Doolittle Hoppes grew up an Air Force brat and developed a passion for preserving military and aviation history. The granddaughter of General James H. Her lecture series keeps her busy touring the United States and Europe.

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She lives in Newport Beach, California. General Arthur J. Log In New account. Got to Shopping Cart. You screen resolution is to small to fit the content correctly. In a period of one hour and fifty minutes of combat, the world had changed forever. Nothing would ever be the same again. The stream of victims continued to flow in, filling every nook and cranny.


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Triage duty followed identification of the dead in successive four-hour shifts—a pattern that would continue for the next 72 hours. The rumble of aircraft sounded overhead—and everyone who could dove for cover. With a pounding heart, I ran down the narrow steps into the basement and ducked under the window. From my position, I watched as tracer fire of antiaircraft guns lit up the sky. Just as suddenly as it started, the firing stopped. The silence that followed was complete.

Awareness of my circumstances dawned slowly. Believe it or not, I discovered that you can smell death. Alone in the pitch blackness of the basement, I realized that my companions, stacked so carefully in the deteriorating aisles, were all dead. Fear, the companion unrecognized during the endless hours of triage and body identification, made its presence known.

And I fled, tripping as I scrambled over the bodies, clawing my way to the narrow staircase and up into the chaos of the triage center. Upstairs, in the light, I had difficulty orienting myself and even breathing. My terror turned into profound sadness when the pilot of a downed plane arrived on a stretcher in the collection room. His flight suit soaked up the American blood that slowly drained away with his young life. At Pearl, the dead filled the underground morgue and overflowed onto the tennis courts behind the hospital.

Navy corpsmen were pulled from triage and reassigned to grave duty. I was one of the first given the new assignment. In the still of night, I helped load 35 bodies onto a five-ton stake truck for delivery to the Nuuanu Cemetery in downtown Honolulu. Rumors abounded, but there were none we could trust.

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It was commonly believed that the Japanese had landed somewhere on the island. Blackout rules were strictly enforced and, as I drove through the city of Honolulu, I was unable to see any of the damage or destruction. I worried about Mary Jo. Could she protect herself if the Japanese attacked her? At 17, would she know what to do? Would she be safe? The truck bounced over the pitted road and into the cemetery. A long trench, dug into the damp earth, waited for the downed Americans.

One by one, we gently lowered the men into their common grave.

The bodies were wrapped that night, but not placed in coffins. The sheer number of dead overwhelmed the system. In the following days, privilege followed the officers into death and, whenever possible, their remains were buried in caskets. These boxes were too small for the American sailors, but those on grave duty did what they had to do to make the dead fit into them.

The search for casualties over the next few days turned up fewer and fewer survivors. Soon, efforts focused on the gathering of the dead. Navy corpsmen, on loan from the hospital wards, assisted in the efforts to retrieve floaters: bodies of sailors drowned in the attack, some only recently surfacing from the salty depths. Many of these bodies were forced into the miniature coffins. After 72 hours, married men were given a short liberty to check on their wives.

With four hours off, I hitched a ride home. Fear mingled with fatigue. In three days so much had happened. Now, I would see for myself. The car barely stopped before I jumped out and flew up the front steps.

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Just Doing My Job: Stories of Service from World War II

My once white uniform was a mess. Mary Jo insisted I strip and then shooed me into the ancient shower. She stared at my stained uniform before carting it off to the trash.

When I climbed out of the shower, she sent me to bed for a couple hours of sleep. I slept soundly for the first time in three days. There was no time for conversation. Later, I learned about the butcher knife brigade, the wives in our group who had armed themselves with butcher knives for protection against the impending Japanese invasion, and all the other things the women did to protect themselves and their country.

December 7, , pulled Americans together. Carrying bedpans, helping to debride burn wounds and remove damaged flesh, they performed many unpleasant, but necessary, tasks. Their efforts were selfless and valuable. I would hear how my wife threatened to report the Japanese grocer to the military police when he closed his store, cutting off the only food supply, but continued to sell goods to his Japanese customers from the back door. The store re-opened.

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That afternoon, after far too little rest, I kissed Mary Jo goodbye, thankful for what little time we had to share. Upon retirement, he moved to Costa Mesa, California, and helped build Bristol Park Medical, a group practice for physicians. He also served two terms as mayor of Costa Mesa. Jack and Mary Jo have four children and six grandchildren. And that nickname stuck. I was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in the rolling hills of the Dissected Till Plains on the edge of the Great Plains where the sky goes on forever.

I grew up on a farm in a state landlocked by landlocked states. At 18, I decided to join the Navy. It was October Seven of us from five different states met in Des Moines, Iowa. It took three days to get to California by train. This was before Camp Pendleton. We trained at Camp Elliott, just east of San Diego. After boot camp and basic training, all seven of us signed up for Sea School. In the end, we were all assigned to sea duty on the USS Nevada, a 27,ton battleship built in Quincy, Massachusetts, and commissioned in March They sent us up on Nitro, an old ammunition ship.

That in itself was quite a trip. The old ship stopped at every port, taking on ammo or delivering it. The trip took us 18 days. We were aboard for so long that they started issuing us liberty passes so we could get off the ship and explore some of the coastal towns. About three weeks after I came aboard, she finished up her business in Washington and steamed down the West Coast to San Pedro.