Summary

Conflict Period:
World War II 1
Branch:
Marine Corps 1
Rank:
Corporal 1
Birth:
07 Jul 1914 1
Death:
23 Feb 1989 1
Kansas City, MO 1
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Personal Details

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Full Name:
Bernard F McCarty Sr 1
Also known as:
Mac 1
Birth:
07 Jul 1914 1
Death:
23 Feb 1989 1
Kansas City, MO 1
Edit

World War II 1

Branch:
Marine Corps 1
Rank:
Corporal 1
Service Start Date:
10 Nov 1943 1
Service End Date:
08 Nov 1945 1
Enlistment Date:
10 Nov 1943 1
Enlistment Location:
U.S.S. Cowpens 1

World War II 1

Branch:
Marine Corps 1
Rank:
Corporal 1
Service Start Date:
10 Nov 1943 1
Service End Date:
08 Nov 1945 1

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Stories

First Marine on Japan during Occupation Of Tokyo Bay 30 Aug 1945

By Colonel D. Larry Patterson, USAF (Retired)

 

(Drawings pictured are Mac's own artwork)

My late father-in-law, Bernard F. (Mac) McCarty, had the (well-documented) distinction of being the first Marine to set foot on Yokosuka Air Base, Japan during the occupation of Tokyo Bay on 30 Aug 1945 at the end of World War Two. But more on that later.

 Mac was the quintessential citizen warrior of “Fightin’ Forties” America. He was representative of the hundreds of thousands of Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen who selflessly cast aside the safety and comfort of civilian life to risk everything in the all out struggle for the survival of their country. Mac quickly made the tough transition from civilian life to become a highly decorated Marine.

Like another fellow Missourian, Mac’s mentor and acquaintance former President Harry S. Truman, Mac was a descendant of the strong pioneer stock that emigrated from the British Isles and settled the Kansas/Missouri “Middle Border Area” during the mid-nineteenth century. Much as Truman, albeit a generation or two later, Mac grew up on a Midwestern farm; was regarded by a myriad of friends to be totally honest, almost to a fault, went to war at a much older than average age; suffered financial difficulty throughout most of his life; consistently immersed himself in civic affairs; and was extremely plain spoken (read that profane).

Although extremely proud of his service to his country, Mac made it a practice never to talk much about his many wartime experiences. He felt as though he had done no more than countless others, and did not like to dwell upon his deeds.

 Soon after his death in 1989, while going through some of Mac’s personal effects, I ran across a large cardboard box containing all of his surviving military memorabilia. As I sorted through the artifacts from Mac’s military past, I was suddenly reminded of the warm summer evening in 1967, when, for some reason he broke tradition and began reminiscing about the war. I vividly recalled our conversation of over forty-five years ago as clearly as if it had just taken place.

 On that particular evening, Mac and I were sitting in a couple of lawn chairs out on his front porch discussing my rapidly approaching departure for Air Force Officer Training School (OTS), and my upcoming marriage to his daughter Carol. Eventually there was a lull in our conversation. For a while we both just sat there listening to the familiar churr of the cicadas swell and subside, watching the dim phosphorescent greenish-yellow glow of the lightening bugs blink on and off as they quickly flitted in and out of the branches of the tall Missouri jack pine out in the front yard. After a minute or two, Mac stirred a little. He leaned to one side and picked up a slightly crumpled pack of cigarettes and a book of safety matches, which he had earlier tossed onto the table next to him. The chair groaned slightly as he fell against the back with a thud.

He pulled a Raleigh cigarette from the pack, stuck it in the corner of his mouth, lit it with a match, which he quickly extinguished with a vigorous shake of his hand and tossed over the railing out into the yard. He slowly took a long drag from the cigarette. As he turned towards me, he blew a large cloud of smoke my way, and finally broke the silence by saying, “You know, Larry, I was almost thirty when I went to Marine boot camp in 1943. I was ten years older than all the other young boots who were only eighteen or nineteen at most. They called me Grandpa. Hell, I was old enough that I probably could have gotten out of the whole war. And we already had Sonny (Bernard Jr.)—he was almost three. But, all three of my older brothers were already out there in the Pacific. John was in Hawaii running a train, Haddie was a gunner on a torpedo bomber out in New Caledonia, and Al was on the Enterprise out there in the Pacific somewhere. Hell—it was old John’s second war. He was in the Black Watch back during the First World War. He was underage to join up in America, so he snuck off to Canada, and then to Scotland, and joined up. The unit was nicknamed ‘The Fighting Ladies’. So anyway, after procrastinating for a year or so, in 1943 I went ahead and enlisted in the Marines.”

“Martha and Sonny came out to San Diego while I was in boot camp. Then I went out to the Pacific too, so they came back here to Kansas City. I was on the aircraft carrier Cowpens and was in charge of an antiaircraft crew. We had a 20mm Oerlikon triple A (Anti-Aircraft Artillery) battery. You know—you had to load the damn thing by hand. Well, it didn’t take me too damn long to figure out that if I used left-handed guys on one side, and right-handers on the other, we could load the guns a hell of a lot faster than any of the other crews. We could out shoot every other crew on the whole damn ship—‘til they all figured out what we were doing at least. Then there was a hell-of-a run on lefty gun crew members!”

Mac chuckled, and said, “I wanted to name our gun battery after Martha, so I painted her picture on the ammo box along with the name The Dutch Doll.”

“Dutch? Why Dutch?” I asked. “Martha isn’t Dutch, is she?”

“Hell no she isn’t Dutch,” Mac answered, cutting me off sharply. “But Martha’s maiden name was Anschutz, which of course is German, and during the war—hell—I couldn’t very well have called it the German Doll, could I?

“Ahhhhhhh, guess not,” I muttered, feeling like a dumb-shit for not having figured out the obvious for myself.

“I was also in some of the ground assaults on those stinking, God forsaken, malaria infested islands out there in the Pacific,” he continued. “We quickly learned to always keep our bayonets fixed and a round in the chamber, so if the bayonet got stuck in a Jap, you could fire off a round and blow him off the bayonet. I saw a lot of guys get killed trying to take war souvenirs off of the swollen, rotting Jap bodies. The Japs had a bad habit of booby-trapping their dead with grenades and it didn’t take much to set ‘em off. I always went well armed too. I really loved Thompson sub machine guns. But being just a Pfc I wasn’t really supposed to carry one, so it was damn hard to hang on to a Tommy gun for very long.” Mac laughed a little, then added, “But you know me Larry, I’m pretty resourceful, I damn well liberated a Thompson every chance I got.”

Mac was really warming to the subject now. “Hell, I stuffed knives in my boot tops, pistols in my belt, grenades clipped on my belts. I wore two ammo belts around my waist. I even slung ammo belts around my neck sometimes. I goddamn sure didn’t want to ever get to the point where all I had left to defend myself with was my bare hands. Even though they taught it to us in boot camp, I didn’t want anything to do with hand to hand combat—not me. And of course, I always carried that M1 carbine that’s in the house behind the door. I had that same one all through the war—never lost it.”

Mac paused and I asked, “Did you ever see any of your brothers out there?”

Mac laughed. “See them?  Jesus did I ever!  I never saw Al, but unfortunately I saw both John and Haddie in Hawaii one time.”

“Unfortunately?” I asked. “What do you mean? I would have thought that you would have been glad to see them.”

“I’ll tell you why, but first I’ve got to tell you how the hell I got to Hawaii to start with. I was wounded by some shrapnel—you knew I have a plate in my head didn’t you?” He thumped the top of his head vigorously several times with his left hand as he continued. “Anyway, after I was almost totally recovered, the Marine Corps came up with a real one-time good deal for me. I got to come home to the States on leave for a month or so, to finish recovering, but I had to play MP and escort a Navy prisoner back to the states for a court martial.”

“What was he being court marshaled for?” I asked.

“Oh, I guess he went AWOL or something. I don’t really remember anymore. Anyway, I got to lay over in Hawaii for a couple of days. I got the prisoner temporarily locked up in the base brig so I could go look up John. He was stationed there, running a train, hauling supplies around the island. Somehow, Haddie found out that I was there. I guess John told him. Well anyway, he stole a goddamned airplane and flew it over from one of the outlying islands. Jesus, he wasn’t even a pilot—just a turret gunner. Boy did he ever get racked for doing that—when they finally caught up to him.”

Mac paused momentarily as Martha suddenly came through the screened door, handed him a tall glass of iced tea, then disappeared back into the house without a word, as quickly and silently as she had appeared.

Mac took a sip from the tea glass, set it down on the table next to him and continued. “John and Haddie really fixed my ass that night. The three of us were in a bar downtown and John yelled something about a goddamn Jap standing behind me. Of course, I figured that Japs being little, this guy must be real small. I turned around and came face to face with the biggest bastard I’ve ever seen. He looked like King Kong in a sailor suit—only a lot uglier and meaner. I hit him over the head as hard as I could with a full bottle of beer, but he just blinked, shook his head and then began to take me apart. John and Haddie just stood there and laughed at me. They didn’t even help me!”

“As if that weren’t bad enough, in the next club we went into, Haddie snuck over to a table full of sailors and said, ‘Hey, see that Marine over there?’ pointing to me of course. ‘That Marine said that all sailors are fagots.’ Well, the fight was really on now. Fists flew, tables and chairs were smashed, and bottles sailed through the air like a flock of seagulls. The three of us just barely escaped the shore patrol.”

“After that, we hit some more clubs and I got so drunk that I stole a bicycle. John or Haddie, I don’t remember which, got on the handlebars and we went flying down a steep hill on the damn sidewalk. We ran smooth over a full bird Navy Captain in his dress uniform. Well, we didn’t quite escape the shore patrol that time. So ended my night of fun with John and Haddie in Hawaii. If they hadn’t needed me to take that Navy prisoner to the states PDQ I’d probably still be in the brig!”

“Damn, every time I got together with John or Haddie during the war, all hell broke out. It got so I hated to see either one—much less both of ‘em together.”

Mac stopped talking and took a big swig of iced tea. Then he lit another cigarette, took a long drag, and continued his reminiscing, blowing a fog of smoke out of his mouth and nose as he spoke.

“At the end of the war, after both of the A-Bombs were dropped, the Cowpens sent the first aircraft, a flight of TBM Avenger torpedo dive bombers, in to land on the Japanese homeland. I was on the first one to land on Yokosuka Air Base, and the first Marine to set foot on Japan. There were just five of us in that TBM: the pilot up front, a gunner back in the aft facing gun turret and down in the belly there was a Navy Captain named Duckworth, who was the Cowpens’ skipper, an interpreter and me. Ole Duckworth was Commander of Naval Air Operations in the Tokyo Bay area during the occupation of Japan. The pilot flew the TBM real low over Tokyo so we could look around a little, and then went over to the Jap Naval Air Base at Yokosuka to land.”

“Of course the Japs had surrendered a few days earlier, but we weren’t sure all the little yellow bastards had gotten the word yet. So, we didn’t know what the hell to expect, or what kind of reception we would be met with. When we parked the plane, the Old Man told me to get out first and check it out. I was so nervous I pulled the hatch jettison lever instead of the opening lever. The hatch came off in my hand as I climbed out, and there I stood, my Thompson sub machine gun in one hand, and the damn hatch in the other; looking like a goddamn Roman gladiator holding a shield. Fortunately, the Japs had cleared out and we were the only people for miles around.”

“After that, I stayed at Yokosuka as Duckworth’s driver and bodyguard. I hauled his ass around and saw a lot of interesting things and met a lot of Japs. I also found an old printing press and set up the first English language newspaper in Japan. I printed a little newssheet as often as I could. I set the type by hand and wrote the copy. I think I have a few copies stuck away somewhere. I guess Martha probably knows where they are.”

“After that, when I finally got to come back to the states, I brought several rifles with me. My M-1 carbine, an M1 Gerand, and a Johnson automatic. I didn’t know how to smuggle them ashore, so I just threw them over my shoulder and carried ‘em off the ship like I was supposed to have ‘em. No one said a goddamn word. I still got ‘em. You’ve seen ‘em. They’re in the house in the front hall closet right now.”

Mac took another swig of tea and lit another cigarette. “It’s a funny thing. When I got home—back here that is—there was a big elm tree down by the street—over by the driveway. I had terrible nightmares every night—woke up screaming. I thought there was a Jap sniper up in that tree shooting at me. Every time I saw that damn tree, a cold chill went right down my back. I finally got tired of that and cut the damn tree down. You know, I never had another single nightmare after that.”

Mac took one final drag from the half-smoked cigarette he was holding between his thumb and index finger, and then flipped it out into the yard. His index finger made a dull snapping sound as it propelled the glowing butt into a high, arcing flight, and we both watched it hit the ground and disappear into the high grass. He suddenly began to laugh so hard that he spilled iced tea in his lap. After he brushed most of the tea from his pants he finally said, “Martha’s cousin Melvin and I jerked the rear-end right out from under his car trying to pull the damn stump out. I tied the rope to the axle—bad idea, huh? Well anyway, what the hell, the bad dreams stopped. However, I was so gun shy it took damn near a year for me to quit hittin’ the deck every time I heard a loud noise—like a car backfiring.”

Mac got up out of his chair and stretched both arms above his head. He then picked up the pack of cigarettes and matchbook from the table in one hand and the tea glass in the other and said, “Well, I guess that’s enough war stories for one night. It’s gettin’ too late, night Larry,” as he went into the house, headed for bed.

 That long ago evening was the only time Mac ever mentioned his wartime experiences to me in any sort of detail. However, the box of his military memorabilia contained quite a few pictures he took in Japan, several military orders, newspaper articles, a few of his pen and ink drawings of the Cowpens and his 20 MM Oerlikon gun emplacement, and a bundle of letters he wrote to his wife Martha, all of which shed a little more light on Mac’s life as a marine.

One set of orders (copy in “Orders” chapter) states that Mac participated in “Naval Operations” during pre-invasion strikes against the Paulau Islands 9/6-8/1944, Naval Operations against Miadnao 9/9/44, Neporos 9/13/44, Miadano 9/14/44, Luzon 9/21-22/44, Tacaoi 9/24/44, Celebes 9/15-16/44, Nansei Shoto (Sakishima Island) 10/10/44, Luzon 10/11/44, Formosa 10/12-13/44, Repulsed enemy attacks on 10/12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17/1944, action against Japanese Fleet 10/25-26/44, Luzon and Manila Bay 11/5-20/44, Mindoro 12/14-16/44, Commended by the Commanding Office for “Heroic Performance of Duty” during a typhoon in the Philippine Sea 12/17-18/44, Formosa attack 1/3-4/45, Luzon invasion 1/6-8/45, French Indo China 1/12-13/45, China and Hong Kong Island 1/15-16/45, Formosa attack 1/21/45, and Nansei Shoto 1/22/45. Man, that must have been one hell of a busy five months!

 Another set of orders (copy in “Orders” chapter) titled “PERSONNEL LOADING PLAN – U.S.S. COWPENS SABA FIRST RELAY” lists the names and ranks of the crewmembers of the first nine aircraft to land at Yokosuka during the Tokyo Bay occupation on 30 August 1945. The crew of T81, the lead TBM, was “Capt H. S. Duckworth USN, 57530; McCarty, B. F., Sr.; Pfc, USMCR, 905301; and Lt. H. L. McMasters, USNR, 241833. Crews of the 4 TBMs of the “second relay,” were listed on a separate order. Oddly, the pilots of the aircraft were not listed with the other “crew”.

 A yellowed article (copy in “Articles” Chapter) from the Kansas City Star proudly proclaims, “Pfc Bernard F. McCarty made history today by becoming the first Marine of the American occupational forces to set foot on Japanese soil at the Naval Plane Base at Yokosuka.” The article was accompanied by Mac’s official Marine Corps photograph that looked as though it had probably been taken when he was at basic in San Diego several years earlier.

In another article headlined “PRIDE IN MARINE ‘FIRST’.” The Kansas City Star interviewed Martha about her reaction to the news about her husband, and included pictures of her and four and a half year old Sonny (Bernard F. Jr.) at their home on the east side of Kansas City looking at Mac’s picture in the newspaper. (Copy in “Articles Chapter”) Another Kansas City Star photo shows “Officers and Men of the 4th Marine Regiment (including Mac) raising the Stars and Stripes at Yokosuka. Mac said, “I dropped the halyard and the news movie cameras filmed me chasing it around the flagpole like a dummy.”

Another article (copy in “Articles” Chapter) from the Arizona Daily Star dated 15 September 1945, states that Pfc. B. F. McCarty was the first Marine to land on “Yokosuka Naval Plane Base” in Japan, on Occupation Day, 30 August 1945 shortly after 9:00 hrs. It explains that Mac was the personal bodyguard of Navy Captain Herbert S. Duckworth, commander of the U. S. S. Cowpens, and mentions that the aircraft pilot was Lt. H. J. Connors of New York, and that crewmember Lt. H. L. McMasters of California was a Japanese interpreter. The articles further explain that seventeen Air Group 15 aircraft from the Cowpens followed shortly thereafter. Then, at 10:00 hours, the entire 4th Marine Regiment landed and assumed the total occupation of Tokyo Bay. Mac and the other Marines flown in from the Cowpens immediately “secured the airfield,” and, according to Capt Duckworth, “By 1100 hours we had it functioning like a sewing machine.”

 

Marine Corps Chevron

Volume 4, Number 43

3 November 1945

 

First to Hit Japan, Claims Marine

A seagoing Leatherneck who beat the 4th Regiment into Japan to become the first Marine to set foot on the Nipponese fortress at Yokosuka Naval Base arrived at MCB this week for discharge. “I beat the 4th by about 30 minutes,” claimed Corp. B. F. McCarty of Kansas City, Mo., who served as personal bodyguard to Navy Capt. Herbert S. Duckworth, commander of naval air operations in the Tokyo Bay area during the occupation of Japan.

 

Proved By Clipping

McCarty’s claim was backed by a news clipping of a story by the Associated Press describing the landing at Yokosuka. Capt. Duckworth’s plane, a TBM “Avenger,” had hardly stopped rolling on the naval base airstrip before Corp. McCarty armed with “tommy-gun,” jumped out to survey the situation and become the first Marine at Yokosuka. Three fellow Marines from the carrier Cowpens, on which the quartet was doing duty, followed in other planes a few minutes later. They were: PFC. Herman S. Moore, Corp. Henry C. Stock and PFC. Sylvester J. Mullady. All of the Marines were acting as bodyguards to Navy officers.

 

No Jap Trouble

“We had no trouble with the Japs,” McCarty said, “but I darn near let fire at an American photographer who whipped onto the field with no identification. If he hadn’t let out a few choice American cuss words when he saw the “tommy” aimed in his direction he probably would never have lived to take any more pictures.”

Mission of the navy landing party was to organize landing fields in the area to speed up the air-evacuation of Allied prisoners of war and to pave the way for the landing of the Army some time later.

For their work, McCarty said, 51 naval personnel and six Marines in the unit known as S.A.B.A. (Streamlined Air Base Activities) were given certificates by Adm. Halsey.

With only two years in the Marines, McCarty is eligible for discharge mainly on the strength of 35 points accumulated by participation in seven seagoing engagements.

 

Mac remained on the Cowpens until its triumphant return to San Diego on Saturday, 27 October 1945. On that day, the city of San Diego honored the men of the Cowpens and the six other ships docking that day with a huge “Navy Day” celebration. (Article in “Article Chapter”).

Mac was discharged a week and a half later. He immediately headed home to Kansas City, Missouri. A faded yellow Western Union telegram still happily proclaims:

 

WILL ARRIVE AT 9 PM SAT ON ROCK ISLAND TRAIN 44 MEET ME AT DEPOT ALONE DONT TELL ANYONE IM COMING HOME I LOVE YOU= BERNARD.

 

Like thousands upon thousands of other returning veterans, Mac quickly put the war behind him and got on with his life. Simple as it sounds, this was no easy task. Every G.I. returned home a different person then they had been before the war. The returning vets also found that the people and things back home had changed as well.

Mac entered Kansas City University (now the University of Missouri at Kansas City) under the GI Bill. In order to support his growing family he held down two jobs. Also, still feeling the need to continue his military affiliation, he enlisted in the Kansas City, Missouri 10th Automatic weapons battery, a Marine Reserve unit.

After graduating from college with a BA degree in 1950, Mac applied for a commission in the Marine Reserve. However, being thirty-six years old he was over the maximum age for commissioning. Shortly thereafter, his term of enlistment ran out. Being extremely busy coping with the responsibilities of raising a family and getting his new printing business/small newspaper organized he chose not to re-enlist. Despite this, Mac always considered himself a Marine until the day he died. His uniform perpetually hung in the bedroom closet, and his M1 carbine was always close at hand; clean, locked ‘n’ loaded, and ready for action. I now have it in my closet.

Mac was certainly not a unique individual. Actually quite the opposite is true. Like all four of the McCarty brothers, almost every able-bodied man and many women of Mac’s generation shared similar wartime experiences. Many were less fortunate and gave up much more than just two or three years of their lives. After the passing of well over sixty years, recounting Mac’s military experiences now serves as a reminder to us all of the similar sacrifices and countless contributions made by those other nameless thousands who also answered the same call, and those thousands of patriotic Americans who still choose to do so today.

 

Thanks Mac.

 

Occupation of Tokyo Bay in Mac’s own words

Mac wrote a lengthy letter to his wife a few days after arriving in Japan. It is an extremely interesting and eloquent description of his landing at Yokosuka. The letter gives his first impressions of Japan and the Japanese people, and life as a member of the initial American occupational forces.

His handwritten letter is transcribed below verbatim, with no spelling or grammatical corrections.

 

My dearest Martha,

Sept 1 1945

 This letter is being written in the administrative building of the Yokosuka naval air station on the outskirts of Tokyo. So you see when I told you the last time I left that I had a date in Tokyo I was not speaking figuratively.

This is my 3rd day here and I am beginning to become oriented to the entirely different mode of living. Because I have been so very busy I have not been able to write my daily letter so I’ll go back to the morning of the 30th and try to put down the events in chronological order.

At 0800 (am) I took off the Cowpens in the gunners turret of a TBM. It was quiet a sensation to be catapulted off a carrier. In a space of about 30 to 45 feet the plane attained a speed of 75 miles per hour so you can imagine the terrific pressure on your body. As soon as the entire group was off the ship we flew over downtown Tokyo and the surrounding area and I was somewhat surprised to find that the parts of the city not destroyed by bombs looked very much like any American metropolis with street cars and trains and other things which seem so commonplace at home but which we are apt to imagine exist only in our particular locality. The vast number of people walking or riding bicycles seemed rather unusual but I saw what may have been part of the explanation later. There are quite a number of canals navigable for small craft in downtown Tokyo which is one thing we don’t usually have in our own coastal cities. There were news reel photographers taking pictures of the flight so if you see a movie showing “A 81” that is the plane in which Naval Captain Duckworth (who was in charge of all air operations in the Tokyo area), myself, our interpreter, Lieut McMasters, were being flown by the pilot Lieut (jg) Connors. We hovered over Tokyo bay while the Marine assault forces (composed of Seagoing Marines from the ships in the fleet and the 4th Marines from Guam) were getting their landing craft into formation. When the first landing boat headed for the beach the Captain gave the word to land the aircraft on Yokosuka airfield. At 9:17 am I stepped out of the plane ... and was, according to the war correspondents the first Marine to land on Japan. But since we landed ahead of the photographers there were no pictures of the occasion. I can’t tell you the sensation I felt as I stepped from the plane on Japan. Landing anywhere would have been a novelty as I have been at sea for 61 days and over a month prior to the day I was ashore in Reyte.

There was no way of knowing what kind of welcome we would receive. We had the Japanese assurance that there would be no hostilities but have had occasions in the past to form the opinion that assurances mean little or nothing. I was prepared for any eventuality and landed with my Thompson Sub machine-gun loaded and ready and my pistol holster opened.

As soon as the photographers and the first wave of assault troops had landed the Japanese officials turned the airfield over to us. We had a ceremony on the rising of the flag. Herman Moore raised the flag and I held it. Talk about embarrassing moments:  while the movie cameras were grinding and the cameras clicking I dropped the lanyard and had to chase it around the flag pole. I doubt if you will ever see that part of it, but you may see other parts of the ceremony. Whether I can get prints of any of the pictures remains to be seen. The ones taken by the war correspondents I can never get but if you see any in the paper and have the nerve (which I doubt) to go down to the office you can get a copy of the picture. But I have been trying to make arrangements to get copies of the prints taken by the Navy Photographers and I am pretty sure of reasonably good chances of success. Since this is by far the most exciting series of events apt to ever occur in my life I am anxious to have as complete account of it as possible.

Immediately after the flag raising ceremony we dug in and started to build an airfield along the lines conceived by Americans. This differs from the Jap method in several ways chiefly that we insist on cleanliness which seems of no value to them. The entire area has been sprayed with disinfectant to kill the lice etc. but it was not at all effective on the large bugs and rats. I am not sleeping on my Jap bed as its looks are not at all conducive to restful slumber and its construction makes it impossible - it isn’t long enough. The first night I slept on the deck and fought a loosing battle with the mosquitoes and the bugs but since the Sea Bees have moved in I have managed to procure a cot complete with mosquito net. Tonight I may be forced to weaken and use a Jap blanket as I found that even by doubling mine I was much too cold for comfort. We are still eating canned rations but I manage to do a fairly good job of eating as the Jap officers galley was on the same floor as I am quartered and I have access to their open charcoal oven so I can heat my food and have hot coffee. Of course even though we are using their quarters the medical officer will not permit us to use their water. For the time being we are getting our canteens filled at one of the landing craft on the beech but the C.B.’s will probably have a water purifier working in a day or two. It’s pretty tough trying to scrape along on what little water I can get when I am away from the galley where I can boil as much as I need. You are allowed to use water for bathing and washing up so I can manage to keep myself at least reasonable clean. There are no showers but we have rigged up a hose arrangement which does very well indeed. The “heads” here are very dirty and it was only with the greatest possible amount of cleaning up and disinfecting that we could make them useable with any degree of safety. The higher officials all had private toilets of the conventional American type, but the lower officials have the French type which is built on the floor level and are “squatted over” rather than “sat on.”  I noticed other contraptions along the plumbing line that I have not yet conceived the purpose of. I may later learn.

Perhaps by now you have begun to wonder about souvenirs. That is going to be somewhat of a disappointment. When I first landed I had to stay with the Captain and he is very definitely not a souvenir hunter and by the time I was relieved from duty they had guards on most of the spots where souvenirs were to be had. Of course I will have some mementoes for all the folks but it will not be at all a choice selection. What I wanted most of all was the flag we raised. I had it too, but the Captain asked for it and I guess you know who has it now. When I refer to the Captain I do not mean the Marine Captain in charge of our detachment. He is ashore with the rest of the boys but in another sector from us. The six who were left aboard for so long are attached to the Captain’s staff as guards and orderlies.

My second day here was spent almost entirely in driving the Captain around in a Cadillac limousine with the steering wheel on the right hand side, the gear shift on the left side of the steering wheel, and no low gear and no brakes ... and a tank full of alcohol. It seems there was a shortage of gasoline after our B29’s started visiting the place. My other car is a Dodge “carry all” with 4 speeds forward and reverse. It’s really a truck. You would probably consider the outstanding event of the day the trip I took driving the Russian Emissary to look at the Jap Boca bomb. (actually an “Ohka Bomb”) In case that word means nothing to you, it is a small jet propelled suicide plane that is carried underneath a twin motored bomber and released over the target. It attains a speed of 600 to 800 miles per hour. The admiral (3 stars) was a very snappy military looking individual and seemed to know what he was about, judging from the way he took in the sights and the questions he asked. It was on that trip that I drove the Cadillac for the first time and I might add I was rather nervous. We also went to look at a 2 man submarine. I believe you have seen one on display but I took pictures of this one any how.

My first trip into civilian Tokyo came when I had to drive the Captain over to the Navy yard to one of our ships which had anchored at the dock. Driving down the left side of the road was hard to do as I’ve spent so many hours driving down the right hand side. There was little civilian vehicular traffic but quite an abundance of pedestrians. I was surprised to see so many military uniforms, presumably discharged soldiers with no other clothing to wear. The woman I saw mostly wore what I would call bloomers. It was amazing how strong they are. Women less than five feet tall weighing less than 100 lbs. carrying their big babies on their backs in a harness that seems to be a loop sash going around the baby’s bottom, under the mother’s arms and around the back of her neck (can you picture that). In addition to this load many of them carried huge bundles on their heads and sometimes additional packages and parcels under their arms. Their politeness is not at all exaggerated. I saw one elderly gentleman meeting a family group and all bowed very deeply 3 or 4 times. I got so interested, in fact, that I almost amputated a slice of the elderly gentleman’s bottom on his last bow. Everyone salutes every Marine they see including the Jap naval officers who should know better. It was rather an unusual exit we made upon leaving the Navy yard. The Marine sentry refused to let us past and when I explained that the Captain was in charge of all operations here he admitted that I might be right but he still “had to take orders from a second lieutenant.”  When I insisted that we still must be allowed to pass he said he wouldn’t let us past but his buddy on the next post would let us through ... which he did. Since I had no light on the truck I had to drive with my head out the window to see. The area is full of long dark damp tunnels. The Captain stuck his head out the other window to help me watch. In the middle of one of the tunnels I saw a bump that I couldn’t miss so I pulled in my head. The Captain didn’t follow suit and consequentially got his head banged on the top of the window. He didn’t blame me, however.

During the day, I found that a Captain’s orderly must be a very versatile individual and I had very many diversified jobs to attend to. When we came ashore we brought “K” rations enough for 2 days with the thought that we would by that time be able to get additional supplies from the Cowpens which is, by the way, anchored in Tokyo bay ... the only U. S. carrier to come into anchorage. The supplies were not forthcoming and we had no chow for the Captain’s breakfast. Immediately it became my job to obtain food which I did by the simple expedient of stealing it from the Sea Bees. Of course it was “C” rations but they are better than “K” rations. In the past I have heard a number of people exclaim that it will be mighty hard to have to go back to the grub we had aboard ship. Since I had such good luck getting this food I have had the job of seeing that food is provided. However, yesterday, the Cowpens’ boat arrived with some fruit for the Captain and us and is due to return with coffee and bread.

By being busy elsewhere I missed my chance to see “Bull” Halsey when he came ashore to look over our progress but I have concluded that these fellows are all pretty much alike. My next day gave me the final test of my driving ability as we had to deliver a convoy of trucks over to the Navy yard and as I had made the trip before I had to lead the parade. The nice part of it was that the gasoline tank truck (which was full of gas) would not run and I had to tow it all the way. We left at 20 til’ 12 and had to deliver the convoy at noon as they wanted the Cadillac for some admiral. The previous day it had taken me 40 minutes in the Cadillac so it looked like we would be late. Since I had an interpreter along to ask directions if we got lost I took a short-cut which allowed me to deliver the equipment on schedule with 23 seconds to spare but I can guarantee you it was a wild ride. We had to piddle around there for about 45 minutes on business and get back to pick up the Captain and some “Nip” officers at 1 o’clock so the ride back was not mild by any means. If we had been 2 seconds later we would have missed the Captain who had already started out in a jeep. By the way, the “Starred” officers traded him a jeep for his Cadillac ... which in my opinion was a good trade except for the fact that he likes to drive the jeep himself and makes his orderly ride in back. I had a chance later in the day to explore some of the subterranean passages or caves which you have heard so much about. These nips burrow back in the hills like moles. The tunnels go 2 or 3 thousand feet into the hills. Had we found it necessary to forcibly occupy the place using infantry tactics it would have been a long costly job. Of course while it is hard to conceive a bomb doing any great amount of damage I suppose that an atomic bomb would have done the job if we had known where to drop them. They even have a system of under ground hangars and runways that was apparently done mostly by manual labor  ... and if you have any conception of how large a hangar must be you can possibly guess how big a job it was. You would at once think that by merely blasting the entrances shut the nips would be trapped like rats ... which by the way are very large and plentiful. This is not the case, however, as they seem to all be connected in some way. It’s quite a novelty to go into one of them and try to guess where you will come out. The caves house living quarters, supplies, and even such jobs as do not require too much space. If the rest of Japan is “dug in” like the Tokyo area I’m damn glad we have found occupation unopposed.

I found a Japanese printing press in one of the caves and finally figured out how to use it. I also found a goodly supply of paper so I printed up some souvenir leaflets for this outfit to take home. I will be sending you a copy one of these days. I shouldn’t have done it as now similar services are desired for the clerical work that must be done. Yesterday I flew over the bay to look at another larger airport that needs building up. We may get the job done too but nothing is definite on that score. If I have to go on that job I will go nuts for sure. I have had enough trouble so far to make me go grey headed. With only 6 men I have to run 2 watches 24 hours per day as well as furnishing a guard and a driver for the Captain. I went on watch yesterday morning at 4 am and stood till midnight. That would be a long stretch under any circumstances but with my foot sore as it is it was quite an ordeal. My toe feels like is was a yard wide and a foot thick and as sore as a boil. I got quite concerned about it and ask the Pharm. mate about it and he said he could do nothing till we got back to the ship so I opened my first aid packet and dusted it with sulfathiazole to keep it from becoming infected, and bandaged it up and let it go at that. I hope nothing comes of it. I finally decided to let things sort of run themselves for awhile and took a trip over to see the other boys today. They are going back to the ship tomorrow early but we are going to stay behind for I don’t know how long. Probably only a few days and then fly back. I have already asked for flight pay for the month but I doubt very much if I will get it. Yesterday I drove Capt Duboun, the old skipper of our ship around the base to see the sights. He said I looked like this life agreed with me. I know of course I’ve lost a little weight. I’ve worried off at least 10 lbs. I know. Here’s my problem. The Marine Captain told the skipper I would be in charge of this outfit but the Lt. told the senior P.f.c. he would be in charge ... which gratifies his ego quite a bit. I try to always keep a check on what is going on but there are sometimes that I just can’t be around. This fellow was on watch ... or supposed to be ... this morning and he didn’t wake us up to raise colors (the flag) and the Captain got mad at our negligence. That is a cardinal sin in the Marine Corps, and of course I got the blame. Yesterday I was on watch and there were 3 Japs waiting to see the Captain when all of a sudden we heard a boom which startled all of us. It proved to be that one of the new boys was playing with his pistol and the damn thing went off. He was in the galley with the cook watching the C. B’s modernize the place and it is a wonder to me that someone didn’t get hurt. Of course the Captain wanted to know what happened and it was all my fault. We have a couple of fellows that should know better who have a habit of playing cowboy with their guns and practicing “quick draw.”  Only a few minutes after the firing one of them walked up while I was eating his apple which he had laid on my desk. He started his usual playing around by making a grab for his pistol. The Japs evidently didn’t understand our system of fun for they jumped back to get out of the way. Since this type of play is distasteful to me, also, I jumped up and grabbed his pistol and took it away from him. In the meantime the Japs were dancing around like rats on a griddle. I unloaded the pistol, threw the ammo in the waste basket and handed him back his empty pistol. Since then he hasn’t pulled his pistol on me in fun as I made it clear I would shoot the next man that did. We sure gave those nips a scare though for a minute. I flew again over the bay to land on another airport for examination of the facilities. We may get a chance to occupy it as it has advantages over this place in size and facilities. I took a few pictures of the “Mighty Moo” (Authors note: Cowpens’ nickname) as well as the Missouri where the treaty was signed, the field both while landing and taking off. In addition I’ve been working with the ship’s photographer in odd moments, so I should have some very interesting photos for you. There will be very little of anything other than military backgrounds for, as yet, I have left the field only on business. Some of the boys have been to the “jiro” houses ... thinking, of course, they were Geisha houses for which Japan is famous. However they are nothing better than American whore houses, while Geisha girls are a little higher type comparable to our chorus girls and actresses and considered as desirable an occupation as the same class at home. When we first landed it cost a dime or 25¢ a shot but they got wise quickly and now want the usual 2 bucks. I landed with $1.50 and I still have it but even if I could stand the tariff I am afraid to run the risk. It’s not just the two usual venereal diseases to worry about but these people have tuberculosis, elephantiasis, and leprosy also. In many cases the boys feel they have to visit these places in order to maintain their prestige but I certainly don’t want any souvenirs such as they are apt to get even though I have, too, been at Sea for 61 days straight.

I went over to the Marine “sick bay” this morning with that toe I’ve griped so much about and I find I had acted wisely and in time when I doctored it myself ... after the pharmacist mate had told me to wait until I got back aboard ship to have it treated. It pained all night last night and I could not stand the pressure of the covers on it. This morning it was purple so I thought I’d better not wait longer so I went over and found it was badly infected. They cut off part of my nail and some of the putrid flesh and sterilized it good. I have to have further treatment 2 times a day now as long as I am here. Perhaps you wonder how long that will be and I can answer you I don’t know but as long as the Captain is going to stay out I’d rather be here than aboard. It appears certain that the ship will not go back so that means I will have to wait until I get relieved before I can even start back which should keep me away from home until about Christmas. But as I’ve told you before that picture can change any minute. At least I am getting some good mail here. I have received 5 letters so far and they are the type I expected but hoped I would not receive. That is letters that indicate that you are nervous and excited and expecting me home at any minute, after the peace was signed. Really, Martha, I can can understand it and I do sympathize with you but for some reason I got into this occupation force and will later be in the patrol fleet so I don’t know exactly when I’ll be home but I will bet it is before Christmas. I am back aboard ship now and on my way out to sea so I’ll close now and start another letter later. I love you baby and I miss you.

Bernard

 

 

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