We arrived in San Francisco in the afternoon of May 6 and stayed there until the evening of the 8th when we departed for Seattle and arrived there on the evening of the 9th. Since we expected to remain there for at least 2 weeks, I grasped at the opportunity of having Hilda come out to Seattle and visit me. We hadn’t seen each other for over 8 months so we were both salivating at the thought of “touching” each other and more.
On the morning of the 11th, I went to pick her up at the train station. That morning I had to go to the bank to pick up Japanese currency which I will relate to later on. Whenever I had to go to a bank, I took my 45 caliber pistol strapped to my side in a belt and escorted by my 2 disbursing storekeepers. I had made a reservation for Hilda at The Olympia Hotel which was one of the better hotels in town.
I requisitioned a jeep for my trip to the bank and, with the 2 sailors in the rear of the Jeep, I arrived at the train station to reunite with my wife. After several minutes, I see Hilda coming towards me and crying, which I thought were tears of joy. Lo and behold, amid sobs she points to a Wave and exclaims “You see that girl? She is the worst anti-Semite I ever met”; and begins to relate to me the reason for her anguish.
It seems that Hilda had a seat on the train and she was sitting next to this bigoted Wave. Unfortunately many servicemen did not have seats and had to remain standing or sat on the floor throughout the entire trip. A young soldier standing next to Hilda asked her if she would allow him to sit on her armrest; and, of course, my gracious wife responded affirmatively; even suggesting that he take her seat for a while. Evidently, the young man looked and sounded Jewish so the Wave went into action with her hatred towards all Jews. She construed his request as a sample of Jewish aggressiveness; saying “He’s probably a NY City Jew”. Not knowing my wife’s religion, she spewed her venom for quite some time.
I didn’t ask her why she allowed the ‘bitch’ to get away with this conduct and also why she didn’t tell her that she was Jewish. I knew the answer and that was Hilda’s living in a Jewish “ghetto” in Brownsville all her life and not knowing any Gentiles, except for the Toscano family, the next door neighbor. The tirade emanating from the Wave actually scared her into silence.
After she calmed down she got into my jeep, sitting in the front with me. We drove to the hotel, checked in and went up to the room. I will leave it to the reader’s imagination as to what occurred immediately after we found ourselves alone. You can just envision the pent-up passion that engulfed us after 8 months of absence. After being in heaven for a short period of time, I left my beloved and rejoined my 2 storekeepers who dutifully remained in the jeep. They shot meaningful glances at me throughout our trip back to the ship knowing full well what went on in the room.
Hilda and I spent the most enjoyable five days together; it was just like a second honeymoon, although we never had a first. Of course, the time flew as usual because we were both so happy and on the afternoon of the 16th we said our farewells not knowing when we would see each other again. On that very same day we were off to Pearl and an invasion.
Because of the Japanese currency that I picked up in Seattle and also the top secret and secret communications that I decoded, I was able to fit pieces together and arrived at the conclusion that we were in the first phase of an invasion operation. The target was not known to me but it could only be one of two places – the mainland of Japan or one of the islands presently occupied by the Japanese, probably the latter.
We embarked about 850 Negro troops who were to be stevedores at the target and about 30 officers. Thus, the personnel that we were carrying consisted of sea bees, a Navy military government contingent, hospital personnel and Army working gangs. This all illustrated that we were carrying a rear echelon or echelons that would hit the beach a few days after D-Day; time would tell.
By coincidence, one of the military government officers, whose name was CDR Harper, was one of the officers who granted my commission at the NATTC in Norman Oklahoma. I finally had the opportunity to ask him why I was given a commission and my friend Nick Weinschel was rejected. Nick’s qualifications were at least as good as mine; he being an attorney and a top executive in a large mercantile enterprise. I really was not surprised at his response when he told me that although the selection committee knew that we were both Jewish, Nick’s physical appearance and manner could not be mistaken for that of a non-Jew while I did not look nor sound Jewish; so much for bigotry in the Navy.
On the afternoon of May 16, we departed from Seattle. Hilda had a plane ticket for N.Y. to leave at 2000 that night hoping that she would not be bumped for a military officer. I received a letter from her when we arrived in Pearl on May 23 that she was taken off the plane in Billings, Montana and had to resume her trip by rail. We stayed in Pearl 1 day and debarked about 287 officers and 60 troops. We said good-bye to “Rabbit Tracks” Romanick, our executive officer and received our new “exec” LT McGlothlin. We took on 8 additional boat crews and some new passengers and at noon of May 24 we shoved off for Eniwetok, an eight day cruise.
Meanwhile, getting back to the European theatre, the Russian offensive in the east was in large part coordinated with a similar Allied offensive in the west that started Feb. 23, 1945. Some eight Allied armies swept up all the industrial cities on the west bank of the Rhine River. German resistance had become ineffectual and the Wehrmacht appeared thoroughly demoralized and disorganized. As a result the Allied armies raced at will through the Reich, meeting only scattered opposition. Exploiting this chaotic situation in the west, the Russians opened their march on Berlin on April 19. The Russian and Allied armies met on April 26, while other Soviet columns to the north had already broken into Berlin on April 21. On April 28, Benito Mussolini was executed by Italian anti-fascists. Three days later on May 1, the German radio announced that Hitler had died in action in Berlin. On May2, the Russians captured Berlin. Five days later (May7) the Germans surrendered unconditionally; the following day, May 8, the war in Europe ended.
We arrived at Eniwetok on June 1 for what we thought would be a short stay; however, evidently there was a change in invasion plans and we remained there for 18 days. While there, I went swimming every other day and visited the officers’ club on the beach every day where I learned how to drink hard liquor. The cost of a full glass of bourbon, scotch or rye was a dime and when I see a bargain I take advantage of it. I didn’t know the difference among the various whiskies but when I discovered that bourbon was 100 proof, I thought that was a bigger bargain than the others. Every day I returned to my ship, which was anchored in the lagoon, and slightly inebriated. I would immediately go to my bunk and sleep until my watch.
At this time, I would like to relate my religious activity aboard the Bollinger. Of the entire complement of our crew consisting of 50 officers and 550 enlisted men, there were 10 Jews, 3 officers and 7 sailors. The other 2 Jewish officers were Ned Siner, an accountant from Spring Valley, N.Y. who was the executive officer of the beach party engaged in amphibious invasions. He was a very nice fellow who never made his religion known to others and never attended services. The other Jewish officer was Lt. Mendelsohn, the Marine officer attached to our ship. Having such a name, he could hardly hide his religion; he too never attended services and neither did the Jewish sailors.
When we were carrying troops, which was quite often, I had the opportunity to hold Friday night and Holiday services in my office. It was always in the mimeographed “plan of the day” which was given to everyone on board. When services began at night after dinner, a boatswain would use his little “pipe”- a little whistle- and then announce over the loud speaker: “Jewish services are now being held in the disbursing office.” The first time this announcement was made, the entire crew immediately knew that Mr. Prager was a Jew and, from that time on, I received nothing but the greatest respect. About a year after I returned home, I received a large certificate from the Jewish Welfare Board thanking me for my efforts in bringing God into the lives of those who were going into the “valley of death”. I remember vividly when I intoned Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur eve, a young Marine of about 18 or 19 years of age hugging me and crying “I have never been to a synagogue in my life.”
On June 18, we left Eniwetok and headed for Ulithi. On the evening of June 21 around dusk, both DEs-destroyer escorts-, who were our protection against attack, picked up submarines on their sonar detectors and sped immediately each to their target. Both began dropping “ash cans”- drums containing explosives- as depth charges were then called. After a long interval, this operation ceased with no definite evidence that the enemy was hit. That very same morning our radioman picked up SOS calls from ships in the area in which we were cruising; one was a merchant ship and the other was a ARL (repair ship-landing craft) who were attacked by subs. These waters were the most dangerous in the Pacific since this area were the Caroline Islands, still held by Japan, and a haven for submarines. Incredible as it may seem, I was a spectator to the entire event standing on deck and cheering for our boys.
We arrived at Ulithi, which is at the north-western part of the Carolines, at noon on June 22. We then received a report from one of the DEs that it sank one of the subs the previous night and the other escort stated that its contact was not a sub at all.
We finally left Ulithi at noon of June 28 and headed for Okinawa and a little excitement. In the late afternoon of July 2, we arrived at Okinawa and saw a very large island well inhabited by the Army, Navy and natives. There were many well-built roads already constructed and it looked like we had done a good job in making this island one concentrated air base with many air fields. They were already flying B-24s from there and soon they would be flying 1000 B-29s daily. Their fighter support came from Iwo Jima.
Our ship immediately went into a 6 hour watch-6 hours on and 6 hours off- and all 40mm guns were manned. We disembarked the troops at night and very soon thereafter began to unload our cargo holds. One of my military duties was one of the debarkation officers. We had 10 debarkation stations, 5 on each side of the ship; my station was called “yellow 8”. I held a yellow flag and when the troops at my station were ready to debark, I would wave my flag to the LCVPs that were rendezvousing about 100 yards from the ship and one of them would arrive at my station to load the troops. Five men at a time would scale down a large rope net into the landing craft.
While I was on my watch (midnight to 6 a.m.) in the coding room, we received a FLASH RED (air raid) alert and all cargo lights were immediately extinguished; the ship had already been blacked out. This occurred at 0330. Each ship in the harbor had 2 of their boats circle them and make smoke to hinder visibility to the attacking enemy aircraft. It was a very effective defense against air raids. In a few minutes, you couldn’t see the sky or more than 20 yards on either side of you.
The FLASH WHITE (all clear) sounded at 0500 with no ships being hit. The following morning the Captain announced that one Kamikaze (suicide plane) had been shot down and he made no mention of any damage to our ships. Unfortunately, this news was incorrect as we later learned the Navy suffered its greatest losses of the war at Okinawa from the Kamikaze attacks. Ships all around us were sunk and we were just lucky in not being one of them. The Japanese, knowing that the war was lost to them, resorted to suicide attacks.
After we embarked elements of the Sixth Marine Division –about 1500 officers and men- we left in the afternoon of July 8 headed for Saipan. We arrived there on the 12th and hung around there just overnight and on the following day sailed for Guam. Two days later we arrived at Guam and immediately began to disembark our troops and cargo.
We received word that day that we were to leave for San Francisco upon completion of our discharge of the troops. This, of course, raised our morale 1000% and the air was filled with jubilant outcries. Even though I was not to benefit personally by this trip back to the mainland as much as the officers and men who had wives and family on the west coast, it still felt good to know that civilization was only 15 days away. We were to sail alone –not in a convoy- directly to San Francisco doing 17.5 knots which was a very good speed.
On the afternoon of July 15, we set sail for the U.S. and a bit of relaxation – drinks and entertainment. After a very pleasant, enjoyable and cool trip, we arrived in San Francisco on the morning of July 29. We stayed out in the stream for 2 days and then moved to Oakland for some minor alterations and repairs. During this time, generous liberty was granted and I had a fairly good time but kept thinking of home mostly.
On the night of August 9, we returned to San Francisco and stayed there one day embarking 1700 Army officers and men who were replacements for troops at some Pacific island. We sailed from Frisco on Friday night August 10 for our next stop Eniwetok. On the morning of Aug. 23, we anchored in Eniwetok harbor after a very uneventful trip from the States except for a slightly important announcement on August 14 and that was that JAPAN SURRENDERED UNCONDITIONALLY !
Incredibly, the news aboard ship was received with no display of joy or enthusiasm. It was the feeling evidenced by a very tired man after a long, arduous task and success was finally achieved. No hilarity, no gayety –just thankfulness and inward relief. Of course, our feelings were somewhat curbed by the knowledge that we would still be out here for a while. Some said six months – others guessed at two years. I felt that I would be released in about a year. My hope, and that of my shipmates, was that I would serve out my time in the States; that was merely a hope and as days passed I felt my hopes were in vain.
A point system of discharge was released by the Navy and it was terribly unfair. Firstly, no credit was given for overseas duty or combat service. Thus, the man who sat at a desk in a shore billet for three or four years was discharged as quickly as a man who was at sea and had engaged in several combat operations. Also, a man who was married and had 3 children and a single man claiming a mother as a dependent received the same number of points, 10 for dependents.
To make matters worse, Admiral Jacobs, the chief of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, when confronted by civilian and Naval criticism about the injustice of not granting credit for overseas duty, responded with an incredible reply. This erudite and venerable Admiral, without cracking his face, stated that Bu Pers had no way of determining who had or hadn’t sea duty. That statement was so ridiculous and utterly fallacious that a young seaman exclaimed: “that old boy is nuts”. In other words, if his Bureau is inefficient, the men who had seen action were to suffer. This was an illustration of Navy justice.
During our twelve days of cruising, an ALNAV – a Naval announcement – was published requesting 30,000 USNR officers to transfer to USN and remain in the Navy. Not one USNR officer on the Bollinger even contemplated doing so. In fact, none of the USN officers, except for Lt. Zell, the Supply Officer of our ship, intended to remain in the Navy when their enlistment expires. The Navy had to learn that autocracy and plain meanness was not considered to be discipline. During war time, they could get away with stupid regulations that didn’t make any sense and only increased the dislike of the men and officers for anything that resembled the Navy.
The main reason for the Japanese surrender was the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6 where over 78,000 people were killed. A second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later. There is absolutely no doubt that the number of Japanese casualties caused by these attacks pale in comparison to the number of dead and wounded that would have been the result of an American invasion of the Japanese mainland. The estimated number of American casualties was beyond belief, considering the ferocity and loyalty of the Japanese soldiers in defending their homes. On August 15, Emperor Hirohito accepted the Allied surrender terms.
That same day, Gen MacArthur was made supreme commander of the Allied forces in the Pacific to receive the Japanese surrender. On Sept. 2, 1945, a Japanese delegation headed by Mamoru Shigemitsu, the foreign minister, and Gen. Yoshijiro Umezu, of the Imperial General Staff, boarded the battleship U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay and there signed the document that officially ended World War II, six years and one day after it started.
On August 27, we left Eniwetok for Ulithi and arrived there 4 days later. We departed for Leyte in the Philippines on Sept. 3 and arrived there on Sept. 7 when we disembarked all our troops and cargo and were ready to sail to Manila to pick up supplies. We left Leyte on the afternoon of Sept. 8 and arrived in Manila two days later. After loading supplies, we refueled the ship and left one day later for Subic Bay which was a 4 hour trip. There, we unloaded our 2 LCMs – landing craft medium tanks- and immediately left for Lingayen Gulf where we arrived on the morning of Sept.12.
I went ashore at Lingayen and was horrified at the prevailing conditions that met my eyes. The place was extremely dirty and full of insects. The natives were fairly well- dressed, if you call a plain cotton dress the latest fashion. Most of them were bare-footed; children smoked and the women smoked large, fat cigars. The women also carried large and heavy bundles on their heads without balancing them with their hands.
Morality was low or non-existent. The girls and women had sexual relations with any sailor or soldier, either for no compensation or for some food or toilet water. Young girls could be seen loitering around the tents that housed our soldiers and lying on the cots having intercourse. I saw a young girl of no more than 9 years of age performing oral sex on a soldier. No doubt, poverty was the cause of this promiscuity. The venereal disease rate was very high in this area and it was no wonder. The natives sold a very strong brew or liquor that made the imbiber drunk in a very short time. In this state, the soldiers were unable to take any prophylactic precautions and just did what comes naturally. As a result, they contracted a VD from most of the women.
On the morning of Sept. 20, we left for Osaka in Japan with elements of the 33rd Division of the Sixth Army. We had undergone rehearsals several days prior to our departure and were all set to “invade” Japan. This was the first occupation landing on the shores of this city, the third largest in Japan with a population of 3 million.
After 5 days of cruising at 12 knots, the convoy which consisted of 25 ships, steamed into Watkayama Bay adjacent to Osaka. We arrived there at 0600 on Sept. 25. We immediately set condition I-able –invasion condition- and the debarkation of the assault troops began. About 1/3 of the troops were in the assault phase and the balance were in the reserve phase. Everything went according to plan and thus we all felt good. It seems that the “invasion” at Watkayama was to have taken place sometime in November, had the war gone on. A plan had already been formulated and we were following that operational plan to the letter, except for the exclusion of aerial support and naval bombardment.
Upon gazing around at the terrain, we all felt mighty grateful to the Almighty that we were not coming in here under actual combat conditions. The terrain was all mountainous and our troops would have had to look up into the muzzles of Japanese guns. The casualties would have been catastrophic. Also, upon further examination, one could see concrete gun emplacements all over the beach that seemed to have escaped any effects of our aerial attacks. Along the beach were many industrial plants that looked like those of steel, refining or smelting establishments. They appeared quite modern and were fairly large. Near them were homes black with soot. We used about 1000 POWs as working parties to unload our cargo and that of the other ships in our task group.
At 1700 of 26 Sept., we got underway with about 20 ships that were already unloaded as we were and headed for the Philippines. The trip was uneventful except for hitting the fringes of a typhoon. This occurred the afternoon of Sept. 29 and lasted until the night of 30th. This was the first real storm that the Bollinger ever experienced and it was a bit rough, to say the least. Fortunately, there was no damage to the ship nor to any of the personnel.
We arrived at Subic Bay on the afternoon of Oct. 1 and picked up our 2 LCMs that we left there prior to going to Japan. We stayed there 4 hours and proceeded to Leyte where we arrived on the morning of the 3rd. A day later, I received my promotion to Lt. (jg) after a long wait of 19 months. I went ashore at Samar and went to the officers’ club which was the largest and nicest that I had ever seen in the Pacific. The liquor was very good and the brands varied.
We left Leyte on the morning of Oct.7, and sailed for Tolumo which is right near Davao, the capital of the island of Mindanao; and on the afternoon of the next day we arrived at our destination. We embarked elements of the 24th Infantry Division and a week later we set sail for Matsuyama on the home island of Shikoku, the smallest of the Japanese islands and on the afternoon of Oct. 21 we arrived there.
We just hung around until 0800 the following day and commenced disembarking our occupation troops. Everything went smoothly and by the following day we completed unloading our cargo. The following day liberty was given to 1/3 of the personnel and similarly done for the next 2 days so that everyone had an opportunity of stepping foot on Japanese soil.
Three days after our arrival at Matsuyama, I found myself with large Japanese yen denominations which I had to convert into smaller ones to distribute to our crew to spend on liberty. Therefore, I had to go to a bank ashore. What intrigued me most about my task was the thought that I could just envision Germany or Japan entering a conquered nation and changing their currency for that of the occupied country. They would just appropriate the money at the end of a gun.
Since we were anchored off shore, a boat from our ship took me and my storekeeper Lynch to the beach and then we walked through a small town. I was very much surprised at what met my eyes even though I had an idea as to what Japan would look like.
The homes were all 1 or 2 story wooden dwellings; the entrances were sliding doors and the interiors were very crudely furnished. Of course, I couldn’t really say that what I was seeing was a typical Japanese home because the island of Shikoku was considered to be the poorest, least educated and least modern of all 4 Japanese home islands. There were no chairs, beds, bureaus, tables, etc. The natives ate, slept and sat on mats. They did not wear shoes in the house; instead, their feet were covered with slippers or nothing.
The men wore clothing like ours, except for their shoes which were wooden. I assumed that this was a war-time necessity and not the normal foot covering. The women wore blouses and trousers which were pegged around the ankles. The very old men and women wore kimonos and a few younger women wore the same.
All the people appeared ugly to me, more than I had anticipated. Of course, there were a few exceptions and, occasionally, I would see a fairly pretty girl or a good-looking boy but they were rare. I was impressed favorably with the appearance of the little girls who looked like dolls, they were that cute. They all were their black, straight, lustrous hair in bangs over their foreheads. Most were chubby and possessed healthy coloring in their cheeks. Surprisingly, none of the people seemed poorly fed. The women were fatter than American women and there were few skinny ones among them. This could have been a result of the fact that the entire island was agricultural and farmers’ wives usually are better fed than city women. The men were short and thin, although broad-boned.
The city of Matsuyama had a population of 130,000 and was 50% destroyed and the rest was pretty well shot up. Requisitioning an Army jeep, I drove through miles of rubble and debris caused by our aerial bombing. It was amazing how some buildings remained undamaged amid the ruins of acres of land. The schools, shrines and public buildings were intact giving evidence to the pin-point bombing of our planes. It was incredible that our attacks were so precise that these edifices were intentionally permitted to go unscathed.
Yet, upon further analysis, you must realize that there was a reason for this type of bombing. The public buildings were needed when the occupation forces arrived. Schools house children and shrines are religious centers even if they were worshipped by the “sons of heaven.”
Finally, arriving at the bank, I saw a financial institution that looked like most in the U.S. The men and women appeared more intelligent, much cleaner and better dressed than the average Matsuyaman. The bank’s staff consisted of 1/3 men and 2/3 girls; the latter all wearing blue smocks. Upon our entry into the bank, I found all the officers dressed in formal dress like those worn by their diplomats and they and the girls standing at attention in 2 lines and bowing to us. My transaction was conducted with one of the bank officers who spoke English very poorly but who understood my request. The men and the girls were constantly eying us as we were the first Americans they had ever seen.
I would describe the feelings of the inhabitants of this island to the American occupation as that of fear coupled with wonderment. I don’t think that many of them were very angry at us or resentful; perhaps, because they were mainly farmers and fishermen and not very knowledgeable of nor interested in politics. To them, the end of the war brought relief, even in defeat. If they were more educated or sophisticated, perhaps, they would have hated us more but those whom I saw seemed like a very simple people. They did what their government decreed and they all were scared to death of the military establishment.
I understood what MacArthur meant when he said that the occupation was progressing smoothly. The Japanese seemed very anxious to cooperate; whether they were sincere or not only the future would tell. Fortunately, history proved that this occupation was the most successful and beneficial to both the victor and the vanquished.
On the morning of Oct. 27 –Navy Day-, we and 3 other APAs left for the Marianas on Magic Carpet duty. This was the name given to the operation of returning military personnel from the various areas of the Pacific. We arrived in Guam on Oct. 31 and saw a large group of marines awaiting us. They were the lucky men going home, most of them to be discharged from the service. We embarked 2050 enlisted marines and 120 naval officers.
On the morning of Nov.15, we arrived in San Diego and there awaiting the marines was a marine band and a large welcoming crowd. We immediately disembarked them and then we received orders to go to Long Beach for repairs and availability. We stayed in San Diego until that evening and then left for Long Beach where we arrived on the following morning.
We had our engines overhauled, boilers re-bricked, ship painted and additional bunks installed, allowing us to accommodate more passengers. We stayed in Long Beach until Dec. 11 when we departed for Eniwetok. While at Long Beach, 27 officers and about 150 men left our ship, thus, cutting down our complement as we no longer needed them.
A very joyous note was added on the morning of Nov. 30 when Carter Alston Printup, our commanding officer was relieved and replaced by Capt. William Julius Richter USN. The change was definitely for the better, even though we knew nothing about our new CO. There just couldn’t be two Carter Printups in the Navy. Our new skipper seemed like a nice guy and we all emitted a long sigh of relief when “old sourpuss” was piped over the side for the last time.
To illustrate the type of person our new CO was, I will relate an incident that occurred on the first day our new Captain took command of our ship. Sometime during the late afternoon, I heard my name called over the loud speaker requesting my presence on the Captain’s deck. When I arrived there, he asked me if there was any evidence of anti-Semitism aboard the ship. The question astounded me because I couldn’t understand how he knew I was Jewish, being on the ship only one day. Secondly, in the midst of a war, I assumed there were more pressing issues on his mind besides ascertaining the presence of a universal evil in our midst.
When I answered in the negative, he began to tell me the reason for his question. It seemed that he, when attending Annapolis, had a very close friend who was Jewish and, when the latter arrived at his first billet upon graduation, he was met by the grossest anti-Semitism and many times ostracized by his colleagues. Consequently, after being in the Navy for one year, he resigned his commission and left the service. Capt. Richter vowed that, when and if he became a commanding officer of a ship or a base, he would eradicate any semblance of this horrid behavior.
After 2 days of sailing towards Eniwetok, we received diversion orders sending us to Samar in the Philippines to pick up a Naval contingent and bring it to San Francisco; we were due there on Dec. 20. On Dec. 15 we again received a change in orders advising us to go to Tacloban on Leyte Island to pick up an Army group instead.
After a very rough trip, we finally arrived at our destination at 0800, Dec. 20. On the next day, we loaded the Army personnel consisting of 54 officers, 30 nurses, 2035 enlisted men and 40 enlisted Naval personnel. At 0800, Dec. 22, we left for San Francisco.
I would now like to relate two interesting events that occurred on this trip. Whether the end of the war created a devil-may-care attitude among the Army men and the nurses or whether the latter saw an opportunity to make a buck, many of the women made a small fortune doing what comes naturally with the Army soldiers aboard and the sailors of our ship.
Since New Year’s Eve occurred on the trip and the only custodian of liquor aboard ship was the medical department, Dr. Irbe, my friend, invited me to a party in his office that night. The male participants in the festivities were the two of us and the other doctor; while the three females were Army nurses. Already being a veteran drinker, I did not fear getting drunk so I had a great time in imbibing. Each of us paired off with a girl and as luck would have it, my companion for the evening was a Jewish nurse from Brownsville in Brooklyn. I can still remember the two of us sitting on the floor and reminiscing about our neighborhood. The immediate thought that came to my mind was that the Almighty was again protecting Hilda or perhaps me as well.
After a very pleasant trip, we arrived in Frisco on Jan. 6 at 0900. We immediately disembarked all our passengers and then anchored in the stream. Now, a very serious problem arose relative to my being discharged. Being a disbursing officer and the custodian of large amounts of cash and checkbooks, I could not be relieved of my duties until the Navy could find a replacement for me. Almost all supply and disbursing officers were in a hurry to go home and were not interested in remaining in the service. I could see myself hanging around for a minimum of 6 months.
Perhaps my daily prayers helped. When Capt. Richter heard of my dilemma, he assured me that I would be relieved in a few days. He had a friend, a Lt. Cdr. WAVE in San Francisco at the Twelfth Naval District who would help me in getting home. He made an appointment for me to see her which I did a day later. She, too, was a doll, and empathized with my predicament. She asked me if there were any supply officers aboard the Bollinger who were USN or USNR staying in the service. When I answered in the affirmative, she wrote orders directing my Captain to transfer all my funds and public property in my possession to Lt. R.C. Zell USN, the Supply Officer of our ship. Had Richter not intervened, a long time would have passed before my release.
On Jan. 16, the transfer was consummated and I was detached as Disbursing Officer of the Bollinger and assigned to the Twelfth Naval District for temporary duty for separation from active service. I was supposed to be detached from the District 3 days later and proceed to the Separation Center in New York; however, not being able to get transportation, I left Frisco on the evening of the 22nd and arrived home on Saturday morning on Jan. 26. Perhaps, it is only a coincidence or an act of God that on the same day I returned to my son, Kenny, his zivik orbasherta, as we would say in Yiddish, was born. Jeannie entered this world on Jan. 26, 1946.