Thursday, August 22, 2013

How It Really Was

"Now Hear This" by Dale W. Cox   GCF Publishing   154 pages   $16.95

Dale's recounting of his World War 2 is important because it tells what it was really like - not just loud booms, flying bodies and blood, but human behavior in stressful times.  People at war  retain a surprising taste for the funny things that do happen. 

This is an important book because those who were 18 or 20 in 1940 are now, what's left of them, 91 or 93 and who knows in what kind of shape?

Happily for the continuation of the history of that period, Dale was just fine, thank you very much.  His writing is crisp, clear and his voice is certainly authentic. 

Dale graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in June, 1942.  His was the first accelerated three-year war class.  He retired in 1962.  He fought in the Pacific during WW2 and piloted photo reconnaissance planes in the Korean war. 

Right out of the academy, he was put on a boat, headed for Kodiak, Alaska, to rendezvous with another ship going to the Pacific.  When the ship got to Kodiak, he was assigned to take 400 men on a picnic for R & R.  Each man was given a six-pack of beer.  The picnic ground was in actuality a rocky farmer's field.  Beer consumed, the men amused themselves by lighting a bonfire, playing cowboy with the bewildered cows and yanking upriver-headed salmon right out of the water with their bare hands.  The picnic ended when the farmer showed up, cocked shotgun at his shoulder.

In one incident that has to be a personal best for the Sea Bees, they built the officers' club on Tulagi okay...but they added a secret route into the vault where the liquor was kept locked up which was most definitely not on the building blueprints.

It interested me that they drank by their rank - ensigns got one beer; lieutenants three and commanders could swill down all of the hard liquor they could hold. 

Wives were not left out of the hierarchy.  One of the commanders ordered a meeting of the wives who were told in no uncertain words to be nice to their husbands, to never start an argument or contribute to one because their men were flying million dollar aircraft!  "Be nice for Uncle Sam" was the gist of the lecture. 

It really is an interesting read.  The reader is never harassed to "Remember this!" or any kind of lecture.  It's just a factual, funny account of Dale's very interesting life.  He had a good sense of humor and an unobtrusive way of presenting it. 

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