As a 96th Infantry
Division Quartermaster Company Truck Driver, I had an
opportunity to confiscate supplies. I would take large cans of
fruit cocktail, peaches and pears and put them in my toolbox,
behind the seat or wherever I could find a place to stash
Once in a while I was assigned the
job, along with other drivers, to drive up near the front
lines to haul out spent troops. As soon as we got behind range
of enemy artillery fire, I would stop the truck and dig out my
stash of canned fruit and toss the cans into the back of the
Those men had been on the front
line for around 30 days, as I remember, and had not had the
opportunity to wash their hands, let alone bathe. They would
cut the cans open with bayonets and with bare hands, grab the
fruit and devour it.
around the island (Okinawa) quite a bit. In my travels I
picked up a pair of Japanese style sandals as a souvenir and
had them on the seat of my truck as I backed onto an LST to
A sailor saw them and
offered me ten dollars for them. I declined his offer. Another
sailor stepped up on my running board and asked what I would
take for them. I told him they were not for sale. Then he
asked me, "What can you think of right now that you would most
like to have?" I thought for a moment and said, "A loaf of
fresh bread." He left without a word and soon returned with
three loaves of fresh bread. He claimed the sandals and I was
But the first sailor was not.
He gave me a bad time and asked why I hadn't told him what I
wanted. The fact is, the sandals were not for sale, but three
loaves of fresh bread as a great price for them!
July 1945, I was in the first part of the 96th Infantry
Division that embarked from Okinawa on some LSTs for the
Philippines to rest up and prepare for the invasion of Japan.
I was with the 96th Quartermaster Company and my truck and I
were in that group.
About July 24,1945 as
we were between Formosa (Taiwan) and the Philippines when the
convoy was attacked by submarines. I was on the deck of our
LST looking back at a destroyer escort moving rapidly forward.
I looked forward to see what they were after and when I looked
back, I saw a column of smoke, flame and debris about 400 feet
in the air where the ship had been. They rammed a suicide sub
that blew up, with the loss of the ship and about 118 men. A
couple of smaller ships picked up survivors and deposited
about 55 of them on board the ship I was on. Of the men
we had aboard, two of them were buried at sea the next day and
many were wounded.
My hat is off to the
Navy and particular to the men of the USS Underhill,
Comment: A sailor's recall of the attack on this convoy is at