My Marine Corp career started in 1939 when Earnest Arnold
used to come in my dad's restaurant where I worked with
him. He got to talking about the Marine Corp, and I told
him that at a very early age that I was very interested in
So we got together and on December the 4th, 1939, we
left Fort Worth and went over to Dallas to the Allen
building and enlisted in the Marine Corp. We went to the
recruiting station there, and of course, we had to get an
application and fill that out and they were saying how
good the Marine Corp was and that they were going to make
a man out of you. And they really did. I was 21. We
enlisted on December the 4th, about 7 o'clock we took our
oath and by 9 o'clock we were on the train.
I rode the train from Dallas to Los Angeles and then we rode
another train from there into San Diego, and we got in late in the
evening. It took about three days to go by train in those days to
San Diego. We got into the barracks there, and then we started
training the very next day. Of course, you go into close order
drill and memorize the different ranks of the service, the Navy,
and the Army and the Air Force, corresponding with the Marines. Our
training was just the manual of arms and marching - the manual of
arms and marching - the manual of arms and marching. So just for
that period of time, we'd go into parades and do parades. We would
go on hikes and we started out with small hikes like 10 miles and
ended up doing 30-mile hikes with a pack, they made a man out of
you real quick.
The biggest surprise was the discipline. As long as you're a
recruit in training, if a Private First Class with just one stripe
on his arm happened to walk in your barracks, well then, the first
one to see him would holler attention and everybody would jump up
and just stand at attention. They were doing this all along just to
acquaint you with the officers you would run into in later years.
And our platoon leader was a staff sergeant and we had two
corporals as the assistant instructors and whenever they walked
through the barracks, you jumped up real quick.
After I graduated from boot camp, I was sent up to Mare Island,
California, which is a Navy Base and they made submarines there.
They bring in the ships, put them in dry dock, and work them over.
I stayed there about four months, then they made up the orders to
go overseas. I went aboard the U.S.S. Shona, which is a troop ship
for the Asiatic Pacific fleet and we proceeded -- as they told me
then that I was going direct to Shanghai, China. I didn't realize
at the time that when we got to Guam that they drew names, who was
going to stay in Guam and who was going to go on the Shanghai. We
just wanted to go to China because that's where the Old Salt
Marines were. But I was fortunate enough that my name was drawn to
go to Shanghai. In our trip over, we stopped at Pearl Harbor and
then we stopped at Guam, which we ran into a typhoon at the time
and had a rough trip there.
We did guard duty on ship but the Navy and the Marines never get
along on a ship. We always sit there and watch them work, you know,
swabbing and scrubbing and this and that and they get mad at us,
you know. But that's about all we had to do on the ship was just,
we had to pull our watch, and, of course, we were carrying the
Asiatic payroll at the time and then you take your turns guarding
the safe, which they had several million dollars in the safe. Of
course, nobody's going to get it in the middle of the ocean.
If you didn't have duty, why you could go up on the deck and
write letters if you wanted to. But then when you get close to the
180th meridian, well, then, if you haven't been over that, well,
then, that's when you're initiated. You're a pollywog before you
cross the equator and you go through the initiation, which is
pretty rough. We got up that morning, had our breakfast and then
right after that, well then all of the Trusty Dragons started
rounding everybody up and taking us to the bow of the ship and then
from there they started. They run you through a slop chute and then
they have rice paddles that they bang on you going through. They
cut your hair. They paint your face. And just do everything in the
world to just mess you up real good. And, I mean, that lasted most
of the day, you know. You'd go back through that chute two or three
times and it wasn't fun at all.
Then we went on into the Philippine Islands and ran into another
storm, which was the first time I've ever seen a water spout and it
rained fish because fish were falling all over the deck of that
ship. If anybody's been on the ocean, they know that what they have
is flying fish. As the wave breaks, then these fish come out of
that wave and they have little wings on them and they fly. Not very
far, but they fly, 20, 30, 40 feet, then back into the water again.
And the first time that I witnessed that water spout blowing, it
was just sucking up that ocean and fish going all over everywhere.
From there we went to Shanghai, China. At this point we started
seeing some passing ships at that time, the cruise ships that were
taking people around. We ran into foreign ships as well, the
Chinese and the Japanese. We were going into the Yangtze river at
that point. We got there July 26th, 1940.
In Shanghai, what really baffled me when we first got there,
they drive on the wrong side of the road, they drive 90 miles an
hour and the streets are just filled. I don't see how in the world
they couldn't keep from killing hundreds and hundreds of Chinese,
but they seem to manage to get out of the way. But the saying is if
you're driving a vehicle and you hit one and injure them or kill
them, you're responsible for that person. So you were double
careful not to injure anyone or anything else.
Now we were only able to stay in what they call the
International Settlement, which was a very small place because it
was divided up with the Americans, the British, and the French that
patrol this area and the rest of it. Of course the outline areas we
couldn't go because the Japanese completely surrounded the
International Settlement, their ships were out in the Yangtze
River. We could go to the British sector or we could go into the
French sector, but then you couldn't venture beyond that at all
because if you did, then you run into the Japanese.
There were American citizens over there which we protected, but
most of our duties were strictly guard. Standard Oil Co. was over
there and we used to guard them. Then we had our own areas that we
to guard. We had to guard the hospital. The navy hospital. And so
it was one day on and two days off . The two days that you're off,
you did your close order drill.
The billets were what you call the mansions of Shanghai where
the rich Chinese were ousted. And, of course, the Marines took all
those over and made living quarters out of the whole thing. We had
a squad in each room and we had eight men in a squad. They had one
room that was quite large that they may have put two or three
squads in. It was just like a dormitory.
Each Marine had a Chinese person that washed your clothes and
blank hoed your pack and shine your shoes, press your clothes. You
didn't have to do anything. Of course, you paid him every month.
The only thing he couldn't fool with was your rifle. But everything
else they took care of. They'd shine your shoes and everything. So
it was pretty nice. And Shanghai was a real interesting place. They
had everything there. You wouldn't imagine.
When you're there you're buying this, you're buying that and so
the first thing you do is buy a teakwood chest. Then you go down,
you start buying this and buying that, whatever you could afford.
The ivory was the most important thing that we could buy. It was
real, real inexpensive there and you could buy like a Hamilton
wrist watch was like a Rolex today. You could get that for less
than a hundred dollars. Some silks, some kimonos, and just a little
bit of everything that you could. You just kept packing it and
packing it and hopefully we can get it home, you know.
The 4th Marines had their our own club in town, and, of course,
everybody would go to the club. If you would venture out to say,
French town, there were several bars. Most of them went to what
they call the Green Hall Bar. It was a popular place that everybody
would go there. And it was just a regular beer place, you know. So
everybody would get drunk as a hoot owl.
Our own MPs, they'd get them drunk. They'd haul them in and put
them in the brig, you know. And then, of course, the commanding
officer had to go down and try and get them out and find out what
was wrong. The French police is the one that you really have to
really be careful with, and if you got caught by the French police.
They would throw you in their jail and it's like being thrown in
jail in Mexico. You'd never get out of that place. Boy, it's
terrible. So you had to really be on your toes.
The Japanese would just test you and see what you would do. They
would come on into our settlement, and, of course, what we would do
is just force them back out again. And I think two occasions we got
into gunfire with them. It was not in our end of the field but
First Battalion, they ran into it. They had a gun fight with the
Japanese. Most of it, see, was down towards where the harbor was.
The Japanese were down in there with their destroyers and light
cruisers so they had a lot of run-ins down there. They thought that
they could just come on in and do it, and, of course, we had orders
that if they come into your sector, well, you're to put them out,
or, if not, then you get into a gun fight with them so that
happened a few times.
The Japanese would capture the Chinese people and would execute
them every other day at 5 o'clock in the afternoon. These were the
the Communist Chinese. Now, Chiang Kai-shek was down in Chungking,
but it was the communist regime that actually took over China. It
was Mao and his group that we would catch and then turn them over
to the Japanese. We watched a lot of killings over there.
We knew six months before the war started that the Japanese were
going to come in and take over the International Settlement. We
were going to try to evacuate the settlement and fight our way to
Chungking where Chiang Kai-shek was, which would be impossible to
do because that was quite a ways. But that was the plan. Then we
got orders to that we were going to leave Shanghai.
We heard that we were going to leave in November. We started
buying this and buying that and so whoever wants to send their
stuff home, tell us now and we'll box it up and send it. So we
wanted to go ahead and buy more stuff, fill it up and take it with
us. So, of course, not knowing what the outcome was going to be. I
took mine along with everybody else, quite a few, loaded them up on
a ship, and just went right along with us to the Philippine
The citizens started leaving on the president liners long before
that because they watched and said, when the Marines leave, then
they want to get out. And some of them stayed and they got caught
when the war started. They didn't think anything was going to
happen like that, but a few of them stayed. Most of them left. Of
course, we left there November 28th and we got to Philippine
Islands December 1st.