December 27, 2002
Here's another personal recollection of how things were at the time of the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, this one from our friend Glenn Yahn. What follows is Glenn's memory of that fateful period when the Japanese virtually destroyed the U.S. Navy's Pacific fleet. Read on for Glenn's story:
"Elizabeth Willems recently wrote for the Northwest Corner: ĎAt the removal (remove) of 61 years, my memories of the week of December 1941 are blurry.' Now bear with me for just a few lines of blurry memories of a 92-year-old senior citizen. This was before television, panty hose, cars with running boards, women trying to join the Augusta Country Club - but we did have cars - even with radios. On that day, we were out for a Sunday afternoon drive with my wife, Eleanor, and her mother and Dad, Shapard and Auda Thornton from Pawnee.
"We were circling the Courthouse Square in Perry, with the radio tuned low. The announcer said: `We interrupt this program to bring you a very important news bulletin. Pearl Harbor has just been bombed by a large number of Japanese planes. We have no further report at this time as to the extent of damages, or loss of life - or how many enemy planes were shot down. Stay tuned to WKY for later news items as they develop.'
"At that time I was 31, years of age, married, and with a one-year-old daughter, as well I had two good friends on the draft board - Marsh Woodruff and H.C. Donahue - so I felt sure I would be deferred - needed at home to help the war effort.
"As the war in Europe grew `bleaker,' and with the Battle of the Bulge heating up, the pace of the draft was stepped up - we older folks were summoned. Among others were Bus Doyle, from Red Rock, Kenneth Reed, Ed Malzahn, Paul Cress and many others - it almost put an end to the famous old `Perry Poor Boys Club.'
"It was a great experience, but I was homesick after the first day. We were in a group at Fort Riley, Kansas - 18-year-olds and 35- to 40-years of age. Boot camp was geared for the young ones. I lost 30 pounds during basic training. The scuttlebutt was that `you older fellas would never have to go overseas.' A short time later, we were on a troop train headed to Fort Ord, California. In another few days we were on a troop ship, 55 Rawlins, headed for who knows where?'
"A little later (three weeks) we landed on the island of Leyte in the Philippines (where-General MacArthur landed in his return, as promised, to the Filipino people). Later we were sent to Luzon Island and assigned to the Army Air Corps at Clark Field. That was a nice assignment, but I was still homesick. I had a chance to remain with a nice advancement, or to come home. What was my choice? You know darned well!!! I wanted to see Eleanor and Bettye Kaye - and my dear Mom. God bless America, and make it a nation worthy of being blessed."
My thanks to Glenn and the others who contributed their memories of that difficult period 61 years ago when our country suddenly found itself in a life or death struggle with enemies in the Pacific and in Europe. You should know that Glenn, "Mr. OSU," submitted his recollections on an orange: letterhead with 38-28 38-28 38-28 across the top.