My Grandfather

March 30, 2008
By Brittany Frega, Alpharetta, GA

Mr. M. was born in Trenton, NJ on March 13, 1928. I interviewed Mr. M. about his involvement in World War II. Mr. M. was 13 when Word War II started. He remembered being at a roller skating rink when the President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war. There was no television at this time, so the news was covered in the paper and radio. At 13, Mr. M. did not fully appreciate the conditions that created the war or the serious ramifications of what would happen to them. Men waited in long lines to volunteer for military service. The nation rallied around the President.
Because of the war, many things changed during his teenage years. First, gasoline was rationed. His household was given a sticker to put on the front windshield which entitled his family to 5 gallons a week. This was only enough gas to get his family back and forth to work and maybe church on Sundays. Rationing also included a variety of food items. Sugar disappeared completely. His family was issued stamps and they could only purchase a small amount of meat each week. Tires for cars were not available at all. Everything went to the military first. Even the headlights on his family car had to be painted 50% black. This kept the headlights toward the ground as to give no target for airplanes.
After high school, Mr. M. decided to join the war at only eighteen years old. During this time Mr. M. had no family. His military service in the Navy began in June 1946. Occupation troops were stationed in Germany and Japan. He went to boot camp in the U.S. Navy training facility in Bainbridge, MD, for 16 weeks. He was then shipped to San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Island for transfer to the Pacific fleet. He was initially assigned to the USS. Topeka as a Hospital Corpsman for a few months, then he eventually transferred to the USS Duluth both were light cruisers and had a crew of about 800.
He traveled the Pacific Ocean to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; then to Okinawa; Shanghai, Amoy and Tsingtao, China and on to Osaka, Yokusuka, and several small ports in Japan. He became part of the occupation forces. Mr. M. stated that the Japanese were completely docile after the bomb. He then traveled to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to view the effects of the bomb. He reported the bomb essentially obliterated those cities.
Mr. M. served in the medical unit aboard ships working in the dental unit, sick bay, pharmacy, and emergency room working towards a pharmacist’s mate rating until his honorable discharge in spring of 1948. He earned a “World War Two Victory Medal” and “Japan Occupation Medal” since the war was still on during his service. He did not serve during any major battles. By serving in the Navy, Mr. M. received a college education and a pharmacy degree.
Mr. M. is my grandfather. It was a great experience interviewing him because I learned more about him than I have ever known. I am very proud of my grandfather and he is considered a hero to me.

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