After graduating from Morse Memorial High School [in Brooks] in 1942, I worked for the next two years. On April 8, 1944, I married my classmate, Helen Smith.
Men were being drafted into the military. I received a deferment in 1944 until the winter, when I received the notice, “Congratulations, you have been selected to serve.” I passed the physical in Portland and was asked what service I preferred. I told them the Navy, as I had two brothers in the Navy.
I was then sent to the Navy boot camp at Sampson Naval Training Station in New York, near Seneca Lake. I left behind my dear wife, who was pregnant at the time, to travel by train from Belfast to Burnham and then a troop train to New York.
It was very cold that winter, and we had to wear heavy underwear as we were out in the cold a lot for training. I came down with the measles in mid-February 1945.
My daughter, Paula, was born on Feb. 23. When the basic training was over, I was given one week to go home to visit my family. Then I returned to Sampson NTS, and we were sent by troop train via a southern route to the Navy base in San Diego, Calif.
Our troop train was on its way west at the same time that President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s body was being transported by train to Washington, D.C. for his funeral. Our troop train had to be “side tracked” to let the “special” train pass by before we could continue on our way to San Diego.
When my training in radio-teletype was over, I shipped to Hawaii for more training. I was granted shore leave to go to the USO Club in Honolulu to write some letters.
I took a walk down the street in Honolulu and walked right by my brother Edgar. His ship was at Pearl Harbor for repairs and resupply prior to returning to Norfolk, Va., where Edgar would be discharged.
I recognized “Hooky” (his name from high school days) and rushed back to grab him with a big hug. We spent a little time there on Waikiki Beach before he had to return to his ship to get chow for the crew; he was the master cook. I went along with him to the ship to help out for a while.
While I was on one of the Hawaiian islands, I ran into my best friend, Franklin Littlefield, who was on temporary duty as a shore patrolman while awaiting orders to return to the States for discharge.
My group, called Gro-Pac 13, headed for Tangku, China, up the Tangste River, where we would work with the Third Marines. We were assigned to an area hospital complex formerly used by the Japanese. We worked with radio-teletype communications from our base to Japan, where landing craft were transferring Japanese prisoners of war to be released.
Our assigned rooms came with a Chinese boy, about 10 years old, who had learned English very well. His name was Tang-Yan Foo. He spent the money that we gave him for housekeeping our rooms to feed his family. He washed our clothes and did many chores, including running errands down to Tangku.
There were so many germs and diseases all around us that we were constantly warned about them. Apples had to be thoroughly washed. We found out that the little restaurant where we ordered burgers was skinning cats and dogs and selling the meat as hamburger, so that put a stop to ordering hamburgers.
About the only safe snack was a bowl of soup consisting of just vegetables.
We came back by way of the Panama Canal when I had acquired enough points to qualify for a discharge. I was sent to Boston for my discharge and then sent home by train to Brooks. Glen Hamlin brought me on the passenger train to Brooks to the underpass road, where I got off and walked the last half mile to my home.
The first to greet me was Sammy, our pet dog, who recognized my footsteps and did not even bark.
Frank Reynolds lives in Brooks.