Saturday, November 22, 2008

New Guinea For Sam

I have this Pharmacist friend whose name is Sam. I’ve known him for about a year, I guess. Actually, I met him right after we moved in with John and Tonya the end of September, 2007. I think Sam is maybe half my age, or less. I can’t ever tell. A REAL nice guy!

I don’t know exactly how it started, but Sam got interested in my Second World War experiences. I think somebody mentioned Army life or something, and it seems to me that Sam asked me if I was in World War II. I told him I was.

“Where?”, he said.

“New Guinea and Manila, principally”, I replied.

Before the next customer came up, he wanted to know if anything interesting had happened. I told him I wasn’t in a fighting zone, but rather farther back, installing and repairing Airplane radios. He was “wowed” by that, so the next time - and several times after that, he asked me to tell him something interesting that happened. I did some of that when I went into the Pharmacy, but some time later, Sam was transferred to a Pharmacy in a neighboring town, so I kinda lost track of him.

After John and Tonya got me started on this “blog thing”, I thought about Sam, and his interest in my experiences overseas. So, today I inquired as to where Sam was “stationed” now, and when I found out, I went there and “accosted” him. After caring for a few customers, he came over and gladly greeted me. I gave him my card that now has my “blog” site address on it, and told him he might find some interesting stuff there. Although I hadn’t yet posted any of my overseas experiences here, but, for his benefit, I was going to. (By the way, when I saw him today, and after talking about that possibility, he said, “I could sit and listen to you for hours.” ) Poor guy. Little does he know.

For Sam, and anyone else who is interested, this is the first of my “blogs” that mentions New Guinea, Manila, or other places I was stationed. Sam, I may have told you some of this already. Anyway, here goes:

When we left the USA, our ship sailed from Newport News, VA, and though we GI’s didn’t know ANYTHING, we were SURE we were going to Europe.


Before long, we headed south along the east coast, and ended up going through the Panama Canal. That meant the “Far East” probably. Fortunately, our ship went through the Canal during daylight hours, so we stood by the rail and “gawked”. It was the first time I had seen “locks” for water level control, and it was intriguing.

We were a month aboard ship, when we finally docked at Brisbane, Australia. “Better than New Gunea”, someone said. We took down our bunks (stacked 3 high in our area), and waited for orders to debark.

“897th Signal Company! Put your bunks back up, you’re leaving before the day is out.”

“Whoa! What about the nice people down on the wharf who were waving and throwing flowers at us?” No matter. We were going somewhere else!

Before long, we set sail again, much to our chagrin (I had never heard of that word then. I was only 19.) But, after some days (I don’t remember how many), we ended up in the harbor of some land, and “dropped anchor”. We thought “How will we get ashore while we’re ‘parked’ clear out here in the harbor”. The answer: “Ducks!” We looked ashore, and saw some funny looking trucks driving right into the water, headed our way. They WERE called “Ducks”. I’m sure there was a technical name better than that, but since it was 64 years ago, can you expect me to do better? Of course not! They traveled on land with wheels, but on water, they just floated - having a “screw”in back, of course.

It turned out that we went ashore at “Milne Bay, New Guinea”. The “Ducks” hauled us inland quite a ways to a place called, “Dobodura”. (How does he remember that stuff?) Before dark, we unloaded our tents, set up our cots, then dumped our 2 duffel bags in the corner, and went to sleep.

So, how was New Guinea? Well, it was hot and stuffy, as well as an interesting place that had not only Natives and GI‘s, but there was an Australian base there, providing “groceries” for us. Since we were not yet at our eventual base of operations, we had no radio work to do.

“Anybody here who has driven a truck?” I had FORGOTTEN the GI adage that you should NEVER volunteer, so I said, “I did - right after high school.” “Ok, you’re in the 'Motor Pool'". “Better than KP duty”, I thought. That gave me a couple experiences I wouldn’t have had if I were on KP - or even in the Radio Shop. These are the kinds of experiences that Sam likes.

One time I was driving a “weapons carrier” by myself at night, not really knowing where I was going, but had to pick up some supplies from Milne Bay. I didn’t know how to get there, but I was directed. On the way back to our camp that night, (dark as pitch. Good thing there were lights on the truck.) Suddenly, an air raid alert was given, and right away an Aussie yelled at me, “Turn off those ‘blankety-blank’ lights” I stopped and doused them. It was dark all around. Shortly, I heard a plane not far away, but I think the whole thing was a “false alarm”. I neither saw nor heard any bombs. No danger. “Some guy forgot to turn on his IFF!”, one of the Aussies said. (Identification, friend or foe). Though now, I REALLY didn’t know where camp was - in the dark. I didn’t know whether there was an “all clear” or not. So, “following my nose” in the moonlight, and turning where it seemed right, I did get back.

Another time,-----But, riggghhht therrrre, I see our space is gone, and we’ll have to stop until next time. You’ve been listening to………….” Sorry, I thought for a minute there that I was Miron Canaday presenting “Continued Story Reading" on WMBI.

What verse? How about, “….our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us…” Daniel 3:17 (I DID get home safely. PTL!)


kelly said...

P.raise T.he L.ord!!

Sam said...

Mr. Maddex, thank you so much for sharing everything that you have. It has been a pleasure getting to know you over the last year. In time I hope to hear more stories from you. As I read over the bogs you have posted I have been able to take something from each one - thank you.

Carinjean said...

What a great communicator. Please write more soon!! Love You