Friday, March 13, 2009

Living Through World War II

by James M. Bramblet - 2006


Recently I was asked by a student to answer some questions about World War II. One of the questions was whether World War II was as bad as the current war in Iraq. I was flabbergasted that anyone would think there could be a comparison between the two wars. A few days later John Carlson, a conservative radio talk show host, said that an example of bigotry was the incarceration of the Japanese during World War II. Of course John wasn’t born when the incarceration took place but was basing his opinion on what he had read.

These two incidents caused me to realize that people who weren’t alive during the war do not really understand what went on. I decided that someone who lived during the war needs to write down what really happened and the feelings, fears and inconveniences that we all experienced. In a few years we will all be dead and people who come later will be expressing misleading opinions about what happened.

So in this paper I will attempt to tell it like it was even though I had a fairly easy time during the war. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor I was seventeen years old and a senior in high school, so I lived through the entire war. Nearly all the boys and young men that I knew spent time in the military and some of my best friends were killed. I was drafted and spent three years in the U.S. Navy.

Chapter One: Conditions Leading Up to the War

President Woodrow Wilson called World War I, “The war to end all wars.” Many people believed that and were opposed to us entering any more wars. During the time between the wars, support for the military waned and our defenses became weak. After all, if we fought a war to end wars why prepare for another one? Some knew better than this but the feeling was so strong in the country that it was difficult to get bills supporting the military through congress. Also since 1929 we had been spending nearly all our energies in trying to overcome the economic depression that gripped the country. Many felt that Europe was always going to have wars and that we should stay out of them.

In England there was a Prime Minister named Neville Chamberlain whose main purpose was to appease Hitler and other dictators by conferring with them and coming to mutual agreements. There was no television at that time, but I well remember a picture in the newspaper of Chamberlain waving a piece of paper which was a signed agreement with Hitler and proclaiming himself as “The man who brought peace to the world.” Of course Hitler took advantage of him and continued to take over country after country in Europe.

During this same time the Japanese had become militaristic and were taking over land in Asia and the Pacific Islands. Also Italy under dictator Mussolini, invaded Ethiopia and began to gain power in North Africa. In Spain the fascists under General Francisco Franco attempted to overthrow the democratic government. Democracy was being defeated all over the world but many Americans thought it would not affect the United States. President Roosevelt was aware of the danger but was afraid of public opinion and did not act as decisively as he should have. He tried to help democratic countries through “lend-lease,” a program of loaning money or materials to the warring nations that we favored, but wasn’t able to give direct aid because of his political fears.

It was at this time the Japanese, stealthily and without declaring war, in a surprise attack bombed Pearl Harbor and almost destroyed the entire Pacific Fleet.

Chapter Two: Conditions Immediately After Pearl Harbor

After the war was won and the United States became the super power that it now is, people don’t remember the situation we faced after our Pacific Fleet was decimated at Pearl Harbor. Our military was badly depleted and the country was still struggling with unemployment and other results of the great depression. Four days after Pearl Harbor, on December 11, l941, Germany and Italy declared war on the Unites States, and Congress declared war on them as well as Japan. America was now committed to global war even though we were poorly prepared for it.

As we looked out at the world, what we saw was indeed disturbing. The Axis powers, primarily Germany, had control of all of Europe except England, which was expected to fall at any time. Northern Africa was also under their control and even Latin America was strongly influenced.
In Asia, Japan had gained control of many countries as well as most of the islands of the Pacific. They were moving south toward Australia and north up the Aleutian Islands toward Alaska. Americans had the very real fear that we might lose the war and be taken over by ruthless dictators.

Both Germany and Japan used their citizens who happened to be living in the country they invaded to help them take over that country’s government. This was particularly true in Poland as well as elsewhere. If Japan should invade our West Coast, would Japanese citizens who lived there help them to conquer us? This idea seems ridiculous now, but it wasn’t then. It was in this climate that the Japanese were rounded up and put in internment camps. It probably was not the right thing to do, but it was not because of bigotry against the Japanese. I was never very sympathetic with Franklin Roosevelt’s policies, but one thing I can say for sure; he was not a bigot and neither were the men advising him! Our generation was probably not the greatest generation that ever lived, but neither were we bigots. We were simply trying to save our country and our way of life, which were both in grave danger.

IIt is impossible for anyone who was not alive at that time to imagine the changes that took place in the United States after war was declared. Young men were drafted into the military. Factories were changed over from building cars, refrigerators, or washing machines to building planes, tanks, trucks and other military necessities. Unemployment suddenly disappeared and there were jobs for everyone. Many women who had never before worked outside the home took jobs in factories. The war uprooted people from familiar settings, exposed them to new experiences, and changed the direction of their lives. Because access to many things such as rubber and coffee were no longer available because of Japanese control of the areas where they were produced and because the military was demanding so much, there were many shortages. The government rationed most things. It was difficult to buy tires unless you were a doctor. One had to apply to the government for a permit to purchase many things. To compare this dramatic change to the little wars we have had since is ludicrous and shows a total lack of historical perspective.

Daily we heard of hundreds and even thousands of our boys who were killed on the battlefield as well as on ships at sea. I grew up in a very small community, but I can still list numerous high school friends who never survived the war. This was true in communities all over the country. For the entire war there were over one million casualties with nearly 300,000 deaths in battle.

Chapter Three: Interrupted Lives – Education

Almost everyone’s life was interrupted in one way or another. In my case it was particularly noticeable in my education. Pearl Harbor was bombed right in the middle of my senior year in high school. After graduating in June of 1942, I decided to attend the Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, Oregon from which my two older brothers had graduated. In March of 1943 in the middle of the school year, President Franklin Roosevelt sent me a letter. He was quite insistent that my time as a student was to end and a career in the military service was to begin—by reporting immediately to the nearest draft office. My home was still officially Deary, Idaho even though my father had sold the farm after my mother’s death. The draft board office was in Moscow, Idaho where my oldest brother lived. I reported there in just a few days and soon found myself in Farragut, Idaho in basic training for the Navy. This was not a unique experience, as most of the young men in school were drafted one right after another.

The Bible institute was enjoyable for me. I was learning a great deal about the Bible and also enjoying the fellowship of other Christian young people. The change from life in the Bible Institute to life in the naval barracks was quite a shock. I was used to prayer meetings and discussion of Bible topics and how to win souls to Christ. The young men who were fresh recruits to the Navy were from normal families all over the country. There were a few who were really rough characters who swore, used God’s name in vain and used sexually explicit terms. Within just a few days it seemed as though everyone had picked up on those words. This made life pretty miserable for me, but I tried to maintain my Christian testimony and didn’t participate in the dirty stories and other sinful things that went on.

During basic training we were not allowed to leave the base so church attendance was impossible. The so-called Protestant services on base were so ritualistic that they didn’t seem like worship services to me. We were not free to just attend on our own, but those who chose to go were marched to the chapel and forced to all sit in a neat little row when we got there. I finally quit going and tried to find other Christians for fellowship but with little success.

Basic training was only six weeks long, and when it was over I applied for hospital corpsman school and was accepted. The school was right there at Farragut and again the time of duration was short. The war was in full swing and they were rushing us through to supply men for the ships that were newly built. We got all the training that hospital corpsmen needed, but rapidly. The joke was that if you dropped your pencil, you would miss an entire semester while picking it up.

When hospital corpsman school was finished I was sent to the Navy Hospital in Seattle as a corpsman. I was so unhappy with the lack of Christian fellowship that my prayer was that God would get me out of the Navy to go back to school. That didn’t seem like a proper prayer because we were in a war and it seemed selfish to want out of it. Instead my prayer became a request—that I could return to Bible school. In my mind that was impossible without getting out of the Navy but God knew better.

One of the duties available was working in the ward at night and sleeping during the day. Most people didn’t like this duty, but I applied for it with a sneaky little idea in the back of my mind. I knew Simpson Bible Institute was in Seattle because I had attended a Bible conference where one of their teachers was a speaker. This was in September when school was just starting, so I went down to Simpson and applied to attend during the morning hours. Three morning courses were available that allowed me to get back to the hospital in time for lunch, sleep all afternoon, eat my evening meal and get to the ward in plenty of time to begin duty at 9:00 p.m. Once all the patients were asleep, there wasn’t much for the night corpsman to do except wake people up occasionally for a shot or other medication. A study table was placed where the entire ward was in view and I spent my time studying and writing papers. This was over 60 years ago but I still remember some of the teachers. One was Dr. Arthur Petrie who taught doctrine and other Bible courses. Another was Mrs. Glocester who also taught Bible. Especially enjoyable was a course in Bible Geography taught by Mrs. Hawley. For many years thereafter I used the text and especially the maps that were included in the text. That year was an enjoyable time of my life and I thank God for arranging it for me. Simpson was a place of wonderful Christian fellowship and great Christian unity.

Life was really enjoyable again, but I knew it couldn’t last long. Corpsmen were trained, given a few weeks in a hospital, and then sent off to a ship or other permanent assignment. Even though the time might be short, why not enjoy it as long as possible. As it turned out, time went on and on and my name never seemed to come up for another assignment. People of low rank like me were not assigned by name, but the officer in charge simply asked for a certain number of corpsmen and a man in an office picked the ones who had been there the longest and sent in their names. This man found out I was going to school, decided it was a good thing to do and never put my name on the list. God uses mysterious ways to answer our prayers. This situation continued for the entire school year. Hitchhiking was my sole means of transportation between the hospital and the school. During the war people were encouraged to pick up service men so this wasn’t a problem. One person who gave me a ride a lot was Mike Martin who was a student at Simpson at that time and who later started The King’s Garden in Seattle. We became good friends.

While in the service there were numerous opportunities to advance my education. Basic training was educational as well as the training received to be a medical corpsman. When school was out in June, I applied for training as an x-ray technician and was accepted. This training was for five months, and during the war that seemed like a lifetime, so Vivian, my high school sweetheart, and I got married. How the war upset married life will be explained in the next chapter.

After becoming a certified Roentgenoligist Technologist (according to the diploma), my assignment was to a brand new ship, which immediately went to sea where I remained until the war ended. The ship was the USS Cleburne, a troop carrier. We had an extra large sick bay with two doctors and a dentist. My primary responsibility was the dark room and the portable x-ray machine. We were supposed to haul troops into battle, and when they went ashore, one doctor and half the corpsmen were to go ashore and set up a first aid station. Injured people were to be sent back to the ship where we would take care of them. Actually the war ended before we ever had to do this, but we were set up with an extra large staff of corpsmen and doctors. The result was that we had lots of spare time.

Since time was plentiful, I decided to take a correspondence course from Moody Bible Institute. My choice was The Schofield Bible Correspondence Course, which consisted of an in-depth study of the entire Bible plus a section on Bible doctrine. There were three textbooks and a large notebook full of lessons. Research had to be done to fill out the answers to detailed lessons. When finished, the lessons were mailed to Moody Bible Institute and someone there corrected my work and assigned a grade. Most of these lessons were done in the South Pacific where it was hot so some of the papers were stained with sweat from my arms. Necessary books for research were a Bible concordance, Bible dictionary, and some other books. The problem was--where to keep this stack of books? Every time we had an inspection they said they had to be removed. There was an empty drawer in the dark room large enough to hold them. The books were put in that drawer with a sign, “DO NOT OPEN IN THE LIGHT,” and from then on the problem was solved. My conscience bothered me for a little, about being deceptive, but not for very long. After all, David pretended to be crazy when he really wasn’t.

The interruption of my education was just a small example of what was happening all over the country. Young men were drafted out of college everywhere. After the war many went back to college under the G. I. Bill that gave us a free education, and the colleges that had been emptied were suddenly overflowing with veterans. I went back to Multnomah, graduated, and had enough G. I. Bill left to complete my education at the University of Idaho. There was a problem getting into the University because my father had sold the farm and moved to Pasco, Washington. My residency hadn’t been in the state since high school. They were finally persuaded that if Idaho wasn’t my home state, then I was a man without a state.

One interesting thing happened while enrolling at the University. I had used two years of my entitlement in finishing Bible school. With my previous credits it was going to take three years to finish college. As it turned out my entitlement would run out a week before I had gotten half way through the last semester. The law was that if a student was within one half semester of graduating, the government would carry him to the end. If he fell short of that, he would be dropped. Being a married man with two children, we really needed the help. The man at the university who advised veterans suggested registering a few days late each semester and that would gain me the extra days. This seemed a little dishonest to me but he assured me the government was not anxious to drop me, but that was the way the law was written. Following his advice my graduation took place in the spring of 1952. ALL of my G. I. Bill was used.

Chapter Four: Interrupted Lives – Marriage

Another area where people’s lives were interrupted was in their marriages. Vivian and I were married while in the service but it was even more stressful for those who were already married, often with children when drafted into military service. Wives were fearful their husband might be killed or badly injured. Husbands were concerned about who would protect their wives and children while they were away.

When it became certain that I would be around for five months while training to become an x-ray technician, Vivian and I decided to go ahead and get married. We had planned to wait until the war was over, but my mother had died and Vivian’s folks were separated so neither of us had a home. We decided to make our own. I rented a little upstairs apartment on Aurora Avenue in Seattle and Vivian had the furniture sent up from Vancouver. After the separation and divorce, Vivian’s mother gave us most of her furniture. The truckers put all the furniture in the apartment except Vivian’s piano, which they couldn’t get up the stairs. A number of my Navy friends helped me, and with ropes we were able to get it into our apartment. The owner of the building was amazed we were able to do it. My friends were all single and they were envious of the neat little home we were starting.

The weekend we were to be married, I hitchhiked from Seattle to Vancouver, Washington where Vivian was living. This was before there was a freeway so it was quite a trip on the two-lane highway. The man who had been Vivian and my pastor in Deary, Idaho when we were in high school, now was pastor of a church in Vancouver. Pastor and Mrs. Reynolds helped us a great deal in arranging the wedding. Travel was difficult during the war so the only relative that attended the wedding was Vivian’s father. Sunday morning (June 4, 1944) after church and while the congregation was still there Pastor Reynolds called us up to the front of the church and performed the ceremony. Vivian was 18 at the time and I was barely 20. Pastor Reynolds did a good job as next June (2006) we will celebrate our 62nd anniversary. Two days later (June 6) our troops stormed the beach at Normandy and invaded Europe.

That afternoon we boarded the train and returned to Seattle. Neither of us can remember how we got from the train station to our apartment but some how we made it. The next morning I hitchhiked to the hospital to continue my work. I wasn’t able to go back to the apartment until Tuesday evening because I was on duty every other night and every other weekend. In spite of this, we were a happily married couple for the next five months. Vivian had been a waitress and soon got a job in a restaurant. We also discovered that married men in the navy get a little more money than single men, so my meager salary went up some. The apartment was completely unfurnished so we had to buy a very small electric range. In June, July and August it was nice and warm but by September we were feeling the cold. We needed an oil stove but such things were rationed, so we had to go through the process of getting permission to buy one. We managed to get permission and bought a small oil heater. As I recall the new stove cost $40. Many food items, such as meat, were also rationed and we were issued stamps to get meat. Actually we were issued more than we needed. We had more steak in those days than we have ever had since.

At the end of the five months when my training to become an x-ray technician was finished, I was immediately assigned to a new ship that was under construction at San Pedro, California. They allowed me to go home and say “Goodbye” to Vivian but I had to be back by midnight. That evening was sad in our apartment. In those days Vivian was writing daily in her diary. She describes that evening very graphically. I hesitate to include what she said because it is so personal. Young couples like us were being torn apart all over the world by this war, so to tell you what it was like, here it is:

Mon. Nov. 20, 1944 – Jimmie came home at 2:30 with his shipping out orders. I cried a little when I wondered when I would see him again. We just wanted to be near one another. We went to the store together and bought some ice cream. We ate supper of sandwiches soup and salad. We undressed, set the alarm for eleven and lay on the bed and loved each other. We had prayer about 10:30 and Jimmie and I both cried. He left at eleven, he kissed me and kissed me. I cried after he left. I couldn’t sleep from thinking about him.

I had to leave the next morning on a ship bound for San Pedro. Vivian put our furniture in storage and went to live with her brother, Dean, who lived with his family in Van Nuys, California. My assigned ship was the USS Cleburne, which became my home for the next year. Vivian and I were able to get together very rarely from then until the end of the war. Vivian saved all the letters I wrote to her. In one of them I discovered the following poem that was written over sixty years ago.

My Empty Space

All my life theres been, it seems
A place within my breast,
That never filled but stayed quite bare.
Though full were all the rest.

And though I enjoyed my work and play,
And loved my family, dear.
Still this one lonely spot would stay.
To me it seemed quite queer.

For as I grew, the world took shape,
And things fell in their place.
Within I felt quite satisfied,
Except this one peculiar space.

I accepted Christ as Lord and King,
And He satisfied my soul.
Great happiness to me he’d bring,
And filled me-- all but this tiny hole.

And then one bright, sunny day,
The Lord gave me a wife.
I’d loved her now for many a day,
It seemed most all my life.

I took her home with me that night,
From then our love really grew.
And soon I found to my delight,
My space was growing shut too.

Soon my breast was full to the brim.
Such happiness I’d never known.
And all the praise we gave to Him,
When He, my wife and I met alone.

Then I received the Navy’s call.
They said to sea I had to go.
I left her standing in the hall.
My darling, how could I love her so?

But as I left I felt a pull,
And then a wrenching pain.
No longer was my breast so full,
My space was back again.

That sudden pain soon went away,
And left a nagging ache.
No matter what I do or say,
It’s there within the break.

Now all I do is look above.
Just look and hope and pray.
That God will give me back my love.
Then wait that blessed day.

While researching for this paper Vivian finally allowed me to read her diary after 60 years. On the back page I discovered that she also wrote poetry about me. Following is the poem she wrote.


Dear God, please take good care of him,
Wherever he may be.
Watch over him and comfort him,
And keep him safe for me.

Please give him strength and courage, God,
To bear the aching pain,
That he must feel for all things here,
He longs to see again.

Thank you, dear God, for love like ours
That reaches o’er the sea,
And thank you God, for keeping us
Together spiritually.

Please keep him trusting, loving me,
Until we meet again,
And tell him every night how much
I love him, God. Amen.

By the time my orders came to leave Seattle, Vivian was already pregnant. On March 28, 1945 our oldest son, Tim, (Timothy Lee Bramblet) was born in the hospital in Van Nuys, California. My ship had been at sea for several weeks and letters only arrived from Vivian when we came to shore. We docked in the Philippine Islands, and there was a stack of letters from Vivian. The top one said, “Timmie and I came home from the hospital today.” I heaved a sigh of relief and knew for the first time that my newborn was a boy. In those days there was no way to know the gender of a baby until he was born.

From then on I was even more anxious for the war to end. It finally did--on September 2, 1945. Our ship was at sea when the announcement came. President Harry Truman’s voice came over the loudspeaker and he announced the surrender of Japan. All the sailors cheered, and I found myself cheering right along with them. We had signed up for the duration and six months, but it was much sooner than that when servicemen began gradually to be discharged. A point system was developed based on how long you had been in the service and how long you had been overseas or on board ship. My time came on a certain day in December. Our ship was scheduled to make a trip to China just two days before that. As it turned out, the repairs on the ship took several days longer than expected, so about thirty of us in that category got out before it left. They sent me to Bremerton, Washington to be discharged.

When the war ended, the USS Cleburne and a number of other ships were anchored at Eniwetok. Eniwetok is simply a large circle of sandbars in the middle of the South Pacific. No one lives on the circle of islands so there was no place for us to go on liberty. The end of the war caused all our orders to be canceled until they figured out what we should do. We were left anchored there in that hot place for what seemed like a month. When a ship is at sea, its forward movement makes a strong breeze and even though the weather is hot, it is bearable. When a ship is not moving in hot weather, it is like a tin can floating on the water and gets hotter and hotter. This was a miserable time. Not only was it uncomfortable, but the war was over and we wanted to go home. A boat took those who wanted to go over to the sandbar where they stood around in the sun and drank beer. I didn’t go. When we finally got orders, it was to pick up troops in the Philippines and take them to Korea. We made several trips doing that.

One event that speeded the end of the war was the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and two days later another one on Nagasaki. The decision to drop these bombs was made by President Harry Truman, but before he died President Roosevelt had determined to do the same thing as soon as the bomb was ready. Later generations have criticized the President for this decision, but those of us involved in the war never have. The USS Cleburne was one of several ships that had been chosen to be a decoy south of Japan while the main fleet invaded Japan from the North. Almost certainly the decoy ships would have been sunk and we would not have survived. Also many thousands of sailors, marines and soldiers would have been killed in the invasion and following occupation. If those who do not remember the war want to criticize Harry Truman for his resolute decision, they have every right to do so. However, I would advise them to wait until people like me are in our graves because we don’t think you know what you are talking about and will tell you so. The terrible effects of the bomb were demonstrated so vividly that it has never been used again. Without Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it undoubtedly would have been.

I have used my own experience to try to explain the effects the war had on marriages. Those who were already married and had children had their lives much more disrupted than mine. This happened all over our country to thousands of married couples.

Chapter Five: Interrupted Lives – Moral Standards

I have already mentioned how when young men were thrown together in boot camp those who used blasphemous and sexually explicit language soon dominated. It seemed like everyone began to talk like that, although there were some who didn’t. This continued in every situation where I was assigned. I tried to find other Christians with whom I could fellowship.

Aboard ship I soon discovered that the dental technician was a strong Christian. His name was Walter McCoy. Walt and I became fast friends. We met every evening at a certain time for Bible study and prayer and invited others to join us. Since our ship was a troop carrier, we from time to time had large numbers of soldiers or marines aboard. When that happened we would leave a notice about our prayer meeting on various bulletin boards where they could be seen. We always had some Christian boys attend our prayer meeting. Sometimes there were as many as fifteen or twenty. Mostly they were the only Christian in their unit and were hungry for Christian fellowship. We had prayer, testimonies and Bible discussion, sometimes for hours on end.

When we didn’t have troops aboard, there were only about 400 in our ship’s company. That wasn’t enough to be assigned a chaplain so there was no organized service on Sunday. Walt and I decided to ask permission to conduct a Sunday service. The Executive Officer gave us permission, so we began having a service out on the deck. It was quite noisy with the wind in the super-structure of the ship, but the Lord gave me a strong voice so they were able to hear me. I did the preaching and Walt led the singing. When we had troops aboard, they usually had one or more chaplains who led the service. Mostly they ignored us except for one Nazarene chaplain who came to our prayer meeting and included us in the Sunday service. He congratulated us on what we were doing.

On April 12, 1945 President Roosevelt died. An order came out that every ship was to have a memorial service for him the next Sunday. Since we didn’t have a chaplain, the Executive Officer called Walt and me into his office and asked if we would do it. He had been ignoring what we preached, but this time he wanted to see my notes when I had developed a sermon. I prepared a sermon that compared Franklin Roosevelt with Moses. Roosevelt had led us through the war but was not allowed to see the end of it. Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egypt and for forty years in the wilderness but was not allowed to go into the land. Then I pointed out that only one leader had overcome death and come back to finish His work. That, of course, was the Lord Jesus Christ. I went on from there in my notes with an outline of the gospel.

When I was finished outlining the sermon, Walt and I went back into the Executive Officer’s office to show him our plans. He seemed like an old man to me but was probably about fifty. He was a large, athletic looking man who physically reminded me of my father. He sat at his desk, chewed his pipe, and carefully looked over my notes. He liked what he called “the first two paragraphs,” but he didn’t think the last part was necessary. He thought I could give a very good moral message about the life of Franklin Roosevelt without bringing in the last part about Christ. I told him I probably could. but I had dedicated my life to preach Christ and I couldn’t change and preach Roosevelt for even one day. He became a little offended and told me it wasn’t just about me but he had to think about everyone on the ship. At this point Walt intervened. He was afraid I was going to ruin our neat arrangement of having Sunday services. He assured the Executive Officer we would plan something more suitable. We planned a very short service with taps, prayers, songs and a eulogy. The officer thought it was fine and that’s what we did.

The effect of the moral breakdown during the war was especially brought to my attention when shortly after the end of the war we anchored at one of the cities in the Philippines. We had just come from Eniwetok and everyone was anxious to go ashore. The Japanese had only recently been driven out of the Philippines, and things were in terrible shape. All the buildings were in ruins and people were living wherever they could find a shelter. The first night half the ship’s company was allowed to go ashore. I had duty in the sick bay. About midnight when the sailors began to come back aboard, many of them came to sick bay to be treated to prevent venereal disease. The Navy provided prophylactic kits with condoms and antibiotic ointment for those planning to have sex with the local prostitutes. Those who came to sick bay were those who hadn’t taken the kits because they really hadn’t planned on it but got caught up in the excitement of the group. As soon as they went ashore, a throng of little boys who were advertising for their sisters and mothers met them.

I asked several of them why they did such a foolish thing and they tried to explain to me the power of the social pressure that was brought to bear. One young man was especially repentant. He sat with his head in his hands and wept. This was his first sexual experience and he felt bad that it had been so sordid. I was thankful to God that He had spared me from this and that my first experience was with my beautiful, virgin bride after we were married and that the word to describe it was sanctity not sordidness. The next day I asked one of the doctors if he thought any of them might get a venereal disease, and with a disgusted look on his face, he said they would be lucky if some of them didn’t get leprosy.

The next night the other half of the ship’s company went ashore and that included Walt and me. When we got ashore and were confronted by the little boys, we talked to two of them. We asked them about the missionaries that had been in the Philippines before the war. Of course they didn’t know, but very soon a grown man interrupted our conversation to see what we wanted. It was then we realized this whole operation was organized by adults in order to get money from the sailors.

The social pressure to have elicit sex that was present at that time in the military has now crept into our high schools, colleges and even down into middle schools. Any more the only sin is not using a condom. Parents need to be very specific in instructing their children on this subject as well as setting a good example for them. Those who refrain from sex until marriage, don’t get a venereal disease, don’t have babies out of wedlock, have a healthier attitude toward sex and have more successful marriages, as well as many other advantages. God created our bodies, and His commands are the only correct ones. Sexual temptation is very strong, and our young people need to hear this message in order to develop strong convictions on this subject.


The results of the war did not end when peace was declared. Vivian and I and little Timmie were soon together. Three more children came along and each became an important part of our little family. Sixty years later they each have their own homes, but Vivian and I are still together. As she said in her diary, “We just wanted to be near one another,” and we still do.

Just as I went back to college, so did thousands of other veterans, and the colleges became crowded. All those love-starved veterans also wanted the families they had been missing, and the result was a large crop of babies called the “Baby Boomers.” A few years later every community had to enlarge their elementary schools and then the high schools and then the colleges. Today this large crop of babies is about to turn 65 and will surely bankrupt Franklin Roosevelt’s social security plan. Just about everyone recognizes the problem, but most politicians lack the courage to do anything about it.

I trust these few words will cause those who were born after World War II to realize how the war effected everyone’s life. Every individual in this country and all over the world was effected and inconvenienced in some way. The dry presentation of historians somehow fails to communicate the personal feelings that were involved.


  1. I too lived during World War II; it is the premier world event of my life. Several years ago, I met James Bramblet and Vivian. I am pleased to own one of his books. I very much enjoyed this article.

    1. Anonymous: He read your comment and would very much like to know who wrote it.

  2. Jim Bramblett was one of my mom's best friends, and was a college professor to me. He told the "do not open in the light" story to us dozens of times in class. He was also leader of the bus ministry at Tillicum Baptist Church near Fort Lewis, and we spent months of Saturdays walking through base housing together on Ft Lewis visiting our bus kids. Looking back at my time with this very wise man, I thank God that I was able to be personally mentored by him in those times. Of course, Jim has a coarser side was he who told me what S.O.S meant (chipped beef on toast) in Naval parlance. I nearly wwt myself laughing once when he fluffed and said that there must be a buck snorting in the woods. Great man. I understand from his neice that he is not doing so well, but I am sure he is looking forward to his reunion with his beloved Vivien, as well as my mom, Sally Burchard.


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