To all land lovers, who have always wanted to travel abroad, I truthfully submit this story.
In asmuch as I have not traveled around the- entire world, I will tell only my version of life aboard ship. From a small boy I had always liked to go boat riding and fishing in lakes and streams. And as a typical boy I had heard various tales of life on the seas and yearned for some of the same adventure. Boy! Did I-get fooled!
On leaving the States I, along with the rest of the boys, would hardly wait to get aboard. We got our wish at about 2100 or 09:00 A.M. On my back I had my pack, gas mask,
steel helmet, and cartridge belt. Slung over my shoulder were a barracks bag and duffel bag tied together. They were both full and believe me, I had all I could carry. I was met by a sailor as I struggled up the gang plank who directed me to my port hole. So down three flights of ladders I went until I reached my compartment. Here is where the fun started.
The bunks were five deep and as close together as possible. Mine was the second from the bottom. The Sergeant-in-charge yelled out, “Allright, you guys, stow your stuff in your bunk and climb in behind it.”
This so-called bunk was a two foot strip of canvas about six feet long. So, put in my battacks bag, duffel bag, gas mask, cartridge belt, helmet liner, helmet, and last but not least my soul and body, six feet and two inches in length.
After all bunks were taken and roll was called, we were at liberty to get out and arrange our things. How I managed this, I’ll never know. About then our compartment officer came in and told us , that the lifebelt on our bunk would be worn at all times. He stressed this very emphatically and we fully believed him.
I was asleep when we left harbor. Early the next morning, I awoke with a swaying sensation. It seemed I was being rocked to sleep. I jumped up and dressed and started upstairs to shave. Then I began to get the idea. The ladder had rails or I would have fallen off. But true to my boyhood dreams, I was out to sea.
After shaving, I stood out talking to some sailors and remarked that I didn’t think that I would get seasick.
Why I had been in lots of fishing boats before. After spinning my yarn I started to leave and return to my compartment. On reaching the door I stopped a minute to clear my head. It seemed I suddenly had a swimming of the stomach. Then I realized what was happening and found myself heading for the basins. That delicious supper I had eaten just before aboard was lost. The sailors, of course, has to laugh, but I couldn’t see anything about it. I managed to get back to my bunk and stayed there for four days before I left it again. I began to think that eating was just a foolish habit anyway. This went on for several more days and during the entire trip, I had four meals, which, of course, were lost to the fish.
Then one lovely bright morning we sighted land, the Hawaiian Islands. I thought this the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. We landed and were transported inland to our base. That evening I ate the best meal of my life. I don’t remember what it was but just that I could eat and stand still. During our short stay I began to rebuild my weary and bewildered body. But alas, we were off again.
The boarding of the ship was practically the same as before. I made a solemn resolution that I wasn’t going to get seasick again, but to no avail. I broke my resolution on the first hour on board. All that saved my life on this trip was being allowed to sleep on topside. I immediately took my blankets and secluded myself under a lifeboat. Here I stayed the entire trip. We had only two meals a day and yet it seemed we were always standing in the chow line. After a few days I began to get my sealegs and managed to eat. The fresh air helped me wonderfully. I read quite a bit and this helped to take my
mind off the water.
As time went by I began to enjoy, in a mild way, the fascination of the deep blue sea. And there’s a lot to enjoy, Perhaps in time, I would have become a sea-minded soldier, I doubt it.
To those who want to travel abroad I offer this advice- ” Stay home and go to the movies. ” Then go home and sleep on that soft feather bed-there you can dream of the beautiful deep blue sea.
Grady Edgar Daniels, my grandfather, wrote this and we found it in an old box with some of his Army things. He always told stories of all kinds, with a little twinkle in his eye and a crooked grin. We lost him in 2010. He received a bronze star for his service following an injury from the battle to take Conical Hill on Okinawa. (Many may know if from the movie Hacksaw Ridge)