My grandfather served in both World War II and the Korean War. He never talked much about either war. But when I was in college, I wrote to him asking for family stories. I was surprised when he sent a letter that included a couple paragraphs about surviving a typhoon while on a navy ship near Okinawa. I guess this one stuck with me because years after this story took place, I was born on Okinawa while my Dad was in the army. Those who serve our country endure so many perils day in and day out, and I am forever grateful for them and the freedom they protect.
Here is my Grandpa’s short story in his own words.
In 1945, I was at the island of Okinawa. A typhoon was coming and we were ordered out to sea to ride the storm out. At that time, I was on a small ship, LCSL-17. It was only about 25 or 30 feet wide and no more than 172-200 feet long. We had a flat bottom and in a storm, it shook you to pieces. The waves were thirty-five feet high. We could not cook or do any work. I found a five gallon can of mixed nuts and lived on that for about three days. My job was to steer the ship, and we had to be roped or tied to a metal round bar behind us so we could have our hands free to steer. There were two or three larger ships lost in that storm.
I was young, and I don’t remember being scared – but I should have been. It was en experience I would not want to do again. But I am glad that I went through it.
Originally posted Memorial Day, 2008