William E Eickhoff

William E Eickhoff

World War II · US Navy

High School

  • Tippecanoe H.S. - Tipp City, Ohio

Bill graduated from Tippecanoe High School in 1935.  Above is his high school graduating class.


  • Portsmouth, Ohio

Rev. Dwight V. Nelson had Betty's dad's funeral and she was good friends with his daughter.  After Rev. Nelson moved to Portsmouth, she wanted him to marry them.  Alice Mae Judd and Larry Finch (later married each other) drove to Portsmouth to stand up for Betty and Bill when they got married.  Betty's mother, Cordella, didn't make it to the wedding but had a cake reception for them when they got home.  That night they left to go on a honeymoon to Niagra Falls.

Drafted into the Navy

  • Tipp City, OH

Bill had been married about 4 years when he was drafted into the Navy.  He was surprised that he was assigned to the Navy because most of the other draftees in town had been assigned to the Army. On May 10, 1943 he went to Cincinnati, Ohio to board a bus that would take him to boot camp at Great Lakes Naval base.  The photo above shows the bag he was allowed to take with him.

Boot Camp

  • Great Lakes Naval Training Base, IL

Bill spent 6 weeks at the Great Lakes Naval Training Base learning what it meant to be in the Navy. He became #855-39-94.   Sometimes he would be called in the middle of the night for guard duty and would be given only a couple of minutes to be ready.

Home on Leave from Boot Camp

  • Tipp City, Ohio

Bill was glad to be home on leave after basic training.  In the photos above are Bill and wife, Betty; Bill and dad, Ernest (Erniie); sister, Ann; brother, Ray; and Bill with dog, Cinders.

Training at Balboa Park Hospital

  • San Diego, CA

At Balboa Park Hospital Bill received hospital training where nurses taught them different things they might have to do when in the fighting zone.  They learned how to take blood pressure, pulse, temperatures, and how to wrap bandages.  They also learned how to do catheterizations, give enemas, etc.  After this training as a hospital corpsman he was transferred to Pensacola, FLA for duty.

Home on Leave after Balboa Park

  • Tipp City, Ohio

Bill is back from San Diego, CA and is in Tipp City before going to his assignment at the Naval Hospital in Pensacola, Florida.  He received his Hospital Apprentice 2nd class rating (HA2c).  The one photo above shows he and his wife Betty at her mother's house on Main St.  Notice the brick street.

Naval Air Station

  • Pensacola, FLA

Bill was now a Hospital Apprentice 2nd class or HA2c and was stationed at the Naval Hospital in Pensacola, Florida. He served about 18 months at Saufley Field working mostly in the dispensary office as well as in the ward where there were about twenty-five beds.  While at Saufley Field they took turns sitting in the ambulance when the pilots were making their touch-and-go landings at night.  One night while Bill was on duty a pilot crashed and was killed...not a pleasant experience to have duty that night.  His wife had a chance to come down to Saufley for about 8 months.  They rented a small one-room tourist cabin off base.  The rent was $8.00 a week for one-half of a double.  Later they moved to a one-room single cabin for $10.00 a week. It was good to have her with him for awhile.  While she was there he received notice that he was being sent over seas.  His ship, the USS Harry Lee, was leaving California for duty in the Pacific arena.

15 Day Leave from Saufley Field

  • Tipp City, Ohio

Bill was allowed a 15 day leave in October of 1944.  He spent it with his wife and other family in Tipp City, Ohio.

Betty Joins Bill for 8 months at Saufley Field

  • Pensacola, Florida

Betty moved to Pensacola for 8 months to be with Bill.  They rented half of a double, which was a very tiny 1 room cabin, for $8.00 a week.  A couple of pictures show their tiny Christmas tree and their Christmas gifts.  When one of their married friends went on leave Betty and Bill moved into their single cabin which was slightly larger.  Later on they would move into that cabin for a short time.  They were happy just to be together.

USS Harry Lee

  • Pacific Arena: Philippines, Japan, Hawaii

In August of 1945, Bill boarded the USS Harry Lee the day WWII was actually ending.  They still had to continue their tour of duty heading for the Marshall Islands where a tanker ship refueled them.  They then went to Manila harbor in the Philippines.  There were a lot of sunken ships in the harbor and they had to have a pilot come on board the ship to guide them through the wreckages.  They unloaded some troops and picked up other troops who had been there a long time.  They then went to Yokohama, Japan and on the way ran into a typhoon.  The sea was very rough and everything had to be tied down.  They also saw a floating mine. A destroyer escort sank it by firing at it.  They were able to go ashore in Yokohama and saw all of the devastation.  They were given some Japanese rifles that had the firing pins broken off.  Afterwards they  headed for Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.  They were able to go ashore for a couple of days and that is where someone stole all of their rifles.  Pearl Harbor is where the Japanese made the surprise attack on December 7, 1941 and sank most of the Navy's battleships.  Bill was on board the USS Harry Lee about 3 months working mostly in the medical office and dispensary.  When they arrived back in the states he was sent to Toledo, Ohio to be checked out of the Navy.  He was discharged on December 8, 1945 and found out that his 1st daughter had been born two days earlier on December 6th.

Censored letter

  • USS Harry Lee - Pacific Arena

The U. S. Navy censored letters during the war and even though the Japanese had just surrendered, formal paperwork wasn't signed until September 2, 1945. The Navy didn't want to take a chance of crossing things out and perhaps someone being able to read what was underneath so they used an exacto knife and cut out what they considered classified information.   Here is an example of a letter my dad wrote to my mom and how they censored it.

WWII Memoirs of Joseph John Miceli - USS Harry Lee

  • Uss Harry Lee- San Francisco

This is an exerpt from another shipmate, Joseph John Miceli, on the USS Harry Lee.  He was on board the ship for longer than Bill and you can read the rest of his story here:  http://www.ussharrylee.com/images/WWII%20Memoirs%20of%20Joseph%20John%20MiceliI.pdf

"We returned to San Francisco on August 8th, 1945 for overhaul.  During this period, the U. S. dropped the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

I was in San Francisco on V-J Day amidst its huge celebration.  And that was the first and only time I ever got drunk.  We bought a bottle of Three Feathers Whiskey and I ended up in a hotel passed out while my more experienced buddies continued to celebrate.

The next day we sailed for Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands.

We left San Francisco on August 24th, 1945 and went to Eniwetok, Marshall Islands on Sept. 1st, and then we were shuffling back and forth between New Guinea and Leyte in the Philippine Islands.

On October 4th, 1945, weloaded up in Luzon with a unit of the First Calvary Division of the U.S. Arm, 1500 soldiers.  We sailed to Yokonowa, Japan.  We arrived the on October 12th, 1945, the first ship to arrive in Tokyo Bay for the occupation of Japan.  Thir First Calvary Division erected a big billboard which said, 'First Calvary Division, First in Manila, and First in Tokyo aboard the USS Harry Lee.'  I have a picture of this.

While we were there, we were given liberty at 12:00 noon and told to be back at 6:00.  I was back on the ship by 3:00.  The city was a mass of bombed out ruins and burned tin shacks.  There were no people around that I saw.  We were offered a Japanese rifle that had the bolt action removed as a souvenir.  A few days later on October 17th, we sailed for home, landing in San Francisco on November 4, 1945 as part of the 'Golden Carpet Fleet' - being home soldiers who had accumulated enough points for discharge."

What Might Have Happened

  • Japan

This link tells what would have happened had the Japanese not surrendered.  My dad would have been a part of Operation Downfall.  I'm thankful that mission didn't occur.