4:26 | At the end of the Big War, Bill Bates served as commander at two Marine barracks including Lakehurst, New Jersey, where airships were stationed and where a famous zeppelin had crashed. Then it was back to Quantico for amphibious warfare school, where he learned the complex and difficult aspects of landing troops on an unfriendly beach.
The Army and the Navy offered him commissions in support units but there was a war on and Bill Bates was not going to let the adventure pass him by. It was the Marines for him.
New Marine officer Bill Bates was first assigned to the Marine detachment aboard a troop ship, then aboard the carrier Lexington. He sailed both oceans in the last year of the war, ferried missionaries and guarded German prisoners. He went ashore in Japan for occupation duty.
There were plenty of crashes aboard the USS Lexington says Bill Bates, who commanded the Marine detachment aboard ship. He describes the hazardous landings that were routine for Navy pilots and tells how the crew managed to shoot down a kamikaze before he could finish his work.
The Marine Corps was fortunate. When the Korean War broke out their numbers were greatly reduced, but back at Camp Lejeune, Bill Bates had been training reserves and they were ready to fight. He details the armament of a Marine heavy weapons company and praises his mortar platoon commander, Eugene Paradis, who devised a targeting method that was adopted by the entire Corps.
After long preparation, the complex Inchon landing was finally underway. Going ashore with his heavy weapons company, Marine Bill Bates joined the fighting in and around Seoul. The men were urged on by the most decorated Marine in history, Chesty Puller.
The North Koreans had retreated northward and Bill Bates and his Marines were finally able to take hot showers under the curious watch of a local crowd. They returned to the fight, pushing toward the Yalu River when reports of Chinese units started coming in.
He charmed his way onto a helicopter to do his reconnaissance so often, Bill Bates wound up with an air medal. The steep Korean mountains and frigid weather were difficult to deal with. The cold was responsible for the overnight ordeal of waking and massaging feet, ears, and noses.
Everyone else was scared of General Puller, but Bill Bates approached the legendary Marine to ask a favor, which he got, along with an earful. At this point in the war, he had become the operations officer, after the division had withdrawn from North Korea.
It wasn't written up, but the Battle of Horseshoe Ridge was a furious fight against advancing Chinese troops, who had entered the war and were now leading the push toward the South. Bill Bates tells how his men got through that ordeal and how they got out of it with a beautiful "retrograde maneuver."
Faced with a difficult assault, Bill Bates and his unit were able to walk away after a furious artillery barrage which drew on multiple batteries. This was his last big action of the war and he was soon on his way home.
Inchon did not have a deep water port. Ocean going ships had to drop anchor outside the tidal basin and offload the cargo and personnel to smaller vessels. Transportation officer Tom Pemberton expected to be sent up country, but he was given a job at the port.
Justice details a too-close-for-comfort interaction with a vehicle-borne IED. The IED came as a complete surprise and the entire F.O.B. fell into what Justice could only describe as “chaos” immediately following the explosion. She suffered several injuries and had to work with the nurses back in Bagram and depend on the friendship of comrade Colonel Ellison to come back from the injuries.
It was Bob Nash's job to provide security for supply trains running from postwar Germany to Austria and beyond. The main problem was Russian troops hijacking the trains and detaining GI's. They eventually put a stop to that. Another responsibility for the MP unit was guarding the Eagles Nest from possible damage.
The Austrians were very happy to see the American GI's, including Bob Nash, who was there as part of an MP battalion. He traded his cigarettes for some very nice souvenirs that he sent home. After his tour, he joined the reserve but quit over a pay dispute. Turned out he was just in time to miss something big.
Al Stiles was temporarily based in Argentina and his wife was with him there. As he was aboard ship going around Cape Horn, she was hospitalized and he was allowed to leave the ship and go take care of her. They had been told they would not be able to have children because of other issues, but a miracle occurred after they returned to the States.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved but the Cold War was heating up. The band at Fort Meade was broken up and Joseph Hudson had to return to more critical duties. He was sent to Germany for five years, where he worked in personnel, due to a surgically repaired back. He returned to Fort Benning to finish a twenty year career.
After recovering from wounds received in Korea, William Moncus had a few stateside posts before it was time to re-up, or not. He fancied a tour in Japan and they gave it to him. He had a fondness for the Japanese kids and helped build an orphanage while he was there.
Al Stiles didn't think he was qualified for a job as weapons officer on a guided missile frigate, but he was wrong. He was even offered his choice of ships. This was to be his last sea tour and, after one more assignment as an instructor, his long Navy career was at an end.
While an instructor in gunnery at the Dam Neck Fleet Training Center, Al Stiles put all his combat experience from Vietnam to use. He helped teach a new philosophy of fire control in which all of the ship's sensors are aligned to the same point.
While participating in the atomic tests at Bikini Atoll, Don Lacy had to change to new clothes frequently because they became so radioactive. The second test was underwater, which contaminated the sea for miles around. His job was to inspect radio equipment on the target ships, so he was fortunate to have no lasting effects on his health.
Tom Pemberton was serving in Korea when his tour was reduced from fourteen to twelve months. His next post was Fort Campbell, where his wife joined him for the first time. He next had a tour in Germany, but Vietnam was beginning to heat up the Cold War.
While in the Mediterranean aboard the USS Talbot, Petty Officer Al Stiles flippantly suggested to the captain that he should be able to learn to drive the ship and stand that watch. To his surprise, the captain did just that and the captain of his next ship agreed to continue. This led to an interesting exchange between the captain and Admiral Stansfield Turner.
At the Army port in Inchon, it was a 24 hour workday, with loading or offloading going around the clock until completed. Tom Pemberton started out as a stevedore officer, supervising the work on board. He later switched to the on shore job, coordinating the outflow of men and materials.
He'd been at sea for a while, so Al Stiles had some shore duty, first in Virginia and then Japan. After overseeing some major ship overhauls, he returned to sea on the USS Midway, his first time on a carrier. Meanwhile, at home, his wife found out some disturbing news about her health.
After two Vietnam tours, Tom Pemberton had an assignment at the Army Infantry Training Center at Fort Polk. The career transportation officer no longer had to worry about rocket attacks, he had to worry about dozens of buses and the occasional crazy recruit.
At the induction center, the men were told that some are going to the Navy, some to the Army. When the sergeant got to Stan Seaman, he laughed and said, "You know where you're going!" After basic training in Bainbridge, the next destination was Pensacola.