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 Author  Topic: Trip Home to U.S.
CJ Willis

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of CJ Willis  Posted on: Jan 31, 2009 - 9:31am
Around Nov 1st, 1944 at Green Island our boat crew was relieved of our duties on P.T. 242. We bid it goodbye and a new crew took over. We had been together aboard 242 in the combat area for 15 months and had made about 85 patrol missions of enemy held islands. It was a great crew and fortunately none were injured. Some crews were not so lucky. We would never be all together again. We moved into tents on the base at Green awaiting orders to be sent back to the U.S. for rehabilitation leave. Guys on the boat started receiving orders to go home - finally after about a week our QM 1/c Bob Pratt and I were called over the loud speaker to report to the base office. This was about 9:00 AM. Our orders read - 30days leave plus travel time from Port of Embarkation U.S.A. to P.T. Training Station at Melville,RI. No transportation was provided and we were free to find our own way back to the U.S. I was boiling clothes in a cut-off steel drum with a wood fire. I guess they are still over there boilling as far as I know. Pratt and gathered our few belongings - caught a boat to the fuel dock at the Air base at Green. We reported in and they put us on a B-25 going to the Admiralty Islands. Upon arriving we tried to get a flight to Hawaii - they couldn't promise us anything so we went across the bay to the big Naval base at Manus. The next morning they put us on a Escort Aircraft Carrier which was loaded on the flight and hanger decks with damaged airplanes bound for San Francisco. On board we were given cots which Pratt and I set up on the hanger deck, under the wing of an S.B.D.dive bomber. We were the only passengers and had the whole hanger deck as our quarters. We had no duties and ate with the crew - sunbathed on the flight deck - read books from the library. (I think they felt sorry for us because we didn't look much like sailors with our army green pants, chambry shirt and marine "boon docker" shoes.) The ship stopped at Pearl Harbor for a couple of days - we wanted to go on liberty in Honolulu but had no white uniforms. The Aircraft Carrier officers gave us new white uniforms. We caught the bus to Honolulu and were not on the streets 15 minutes until we were arrested by the Navy Shore Patrol for not having rating badges on our uniforms. We told them our circumstances and they released us to go to a tailor shop and get the badges. We roamed the streets of Honolulu for the day. I remember buying a 5 cent bottled coke which we had not had in some time.
The ship proceeded on to San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge was a welcome sight. We docked at a Navy pier in Oakland - we were issued a sea bag of new clothes which we had lost. They issued our proper leave papers and gave us train tickets - Pratt to Portland, ME and Melville and my ticket to Vinita, OK and Melville. We were split up and not on the same train. After our 30 days at home when both Pratt and I were married - we wound up back together again with our new wives at Boston Fargo Building.( And that is another Story)

My second trip home was not nearly as eventful from Subic Bay, Philippines aboard a troop ship to Portland, OR. The war was over and I was anxious to get home to my wife Sue. We then began the task of rebuilding our lives as civilians with great enthusiam for the future.

C. J. Willis

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Frank J Andruss Sr

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Frank J Andruss Sr   Send Email To Frank J Andruss Sr Posted on: Jan 31, 2009 - 11:16am
CJ

Thanks so much for sharing this story, which seesm to have been on the plate of most PT Boaters. I was curious as to how you felt when you received theose orders home. Being a part of a PT Boat Crew one became a family and the boat home. How did you feel leaving these guys and the boat. I often wonder if you guys were sad when leaving the boat. Many guys I talked to over the years have expressed sadness when this subject is discussed.

Some tell me that they just wanted to get home, but were sad to have left their buddies. Some say they did not want to leave and tried to talk their way out of going. Yet others say they thought about the boat for years to come. I guess we just have to remember that those wooden wonders were home o so many. Living on a small boat for several years, I would say one tends to get close to the boys, which is why after some 64 years friendships still move on...........


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BobPic

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Jan 31, 2009 - 12:22pm
Thanks C J. Your story paralled my experiences about going home. It was unique among service men to be given orders to find your own way home from the front lines. And friendships cemented in a war do persist. I still correspond with four buddies. Our skipper was the crew's best friend and corresponded and visited with us until his early death I think about 20 years ago. I'm not a sentimental guy, but remembering those days is emotional. Thanks


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CJ Willis

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of CJ Willis  Posted on: Jan 31, 2009 - 1:36pm
Frank: I still have very strong feelings for all of our crew. We were close buddies and depended upon each other when we were on the boat. As far as I know there are only 5 of us left. I keep in close contact with three of them. Bob Pratt and our wives have remained friends for these past 64 years. I have now lost my wife Sue and Charlotte (his wife ) is in ill health but we still talk P.T. Boats and our experiences around Christmas time.

Bob: You too know how it was to hitch hike 7000 miles back home to the good old U.S.A. We were close to our buddies on the boat but we were all thrilled to get our orders to come back home. I can't describe the feeling of getting back to civilization away from the war. I will never forget. It was really tough when I had to ship back out the second time to the Philippines, not knowing if and when you would get back to the U.S.

C. J. Willis

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Russell Pullano

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Russell Pullano   Send Email To Russell Pullano Posted on: Jan 31, 2009 - 6:09pm
Mates, I too was given my orders to get to Treasure Island and delayed orders to get to Melville. Un fortunately, I wasn't lucky as some of me fellow mates Of the four of us , one was sent to Miami where I guess the shakedowns were performed. One was sent to Fort Lauderdale. and the other one was sent up the Hudson river on a bond tour.. I ws sent to the Fargo and then to the Philippines. . My entire tour of duty spent at Melville was three days. I never went to Melville for training as most of the pt sailors did.
When I think of it today I am amazed that the navy told us find your way home and then to melville. I can't remember how I got from Mios Woendi on a transport to San Francisco. I also had nothing but dungarees to wear. I went to see the chaplan on TI and he sent me to the brig to pick up some used dress blues so I could go on liberty while waiting for my orders and train tickets.
I don't remember where my sea bag was. I still nave my seabag and my home address is stencilled on it.
Oh what I'd give for a full memory of my war days.

Russ



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Frank J Andruss Sr

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Frank J Andruss Sr   Send Email To Frank J Andruss Sr Posted on: Feb 7, 2009 - 6:05am
Russ

One of the most important things you can do is record these events. Grab a Tape recorder (from your local Radio Shack) and jot down these memories when they enter your mind. Memories come and go, so trying to remember things from 60 plus years ago is difficult. I would recommend this to anyone from WWII. Your sory will always be with us and your Families. Or, if that is nt an option for you. Write it down on a piece of paper. I have several of those records in my Exhibit from PT Boaters. Just a thought Russ.................


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CJ Willis

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of CJ Willis  Posted on: Feb 7, 2009 - 8:13am
Frank: Several years ago after I had retired from business. My granddaughters prompted me into writing what I called "My Navy Career". They said "Grandpa write down all the things you did in the war". I started writing down stories that I could recall and my wife added some things that I had told her about that I had forgotten I compiled it into story form from the time I joined the Navy until my discharge. Most of the stories I have written on this board are from "My Navy Career" I would probably have forgotten some of them if I had not written them down. My son and granddaughters still ask questions about my time in the Navy and P.T. Boats. I am proud to have served in the Navy during the war. It was my duty, honor and love of country.

C. J. Willis

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BobPic

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Feb 7, 2009 - 9:22am
CJ. Sounds like your service parallels my own. I was happy to get sent home after the Philippine invasion, but viewed the home visit as a "Goodby family" visit. As a QM, I was given charts of Tokyo Harbor to study before I left and it looked like sure suicide. I haven't screwed up the guts to write my story, its still very emotional. I regret I did not even talk to my wife about the tough stuff and my kids still ask me to write it down for them. Maybe some day...


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Frank J Andruss Sr

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Frank J Andruss Sr   Send Email To Frank J Andruss Sr Posted on: Feb 7, 2009 - 9:47am
Do it Bob. Don't wait till you cant remember. Your Family and future generations will forever be grateful for the job you did. I have C.J.'s story and it is a wonderful account into his life as a PT BOATER. It really helps us young pups to understand all that you went through to keep us free. Please do it soon...........


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Wayne Traxel

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Wayne Traxel   Send Email To Wayne Traxel Posted on: Feb 7, 2009 - 6:06pm
Frank is right on this one. Do it soon. Especially if You're family is asking you to. I knew a lot of PT guys that are no longer with us and I wished that I had asked them more than I did. Do it soon, before its lost forever.

Wayne Traxel

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