All three of my older brothers proudly served in the military and I thank each of them for their service to this country. My father served during WWII in the South Pacific, but I'm afraid his service included more shenanigans than it did service. His father served in WWI, but I know very little about that side of my family, so I don't know anything about the capacity in which he served, but I don't think he served overseas. I have an uncle who was in the 1942 Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean during WWII. He was on USS Barton, a destroyer that was cut completely in half by the Japanese. My great uncle, Waldo "Wardie" Ingalls was one of the "losers" who survived that horrific battle. Forty-five years later my great uncle was laid to rest in 1987 at the age of 69.
As the story goes:
At approximately 1:30 am, both sides finally made visual contact with each other as the first Japanese ships emerged from the squall line only 3,000 yards away from the entire US formation. Despite the Americans having steamed directly into the middle of the Japanese force, neither side opened fire for almost ten minutes as they passed by each other, with the Japanese ships enveloping the American battle column as they emerged from the darkness in three separate groups. In the second position of the rear, US Destroyer van USS Barton began to train her deck guns and torpedo tubes on several Japanese ships in her immediate area and awaited the order to open fire from the flagship. At 1:48 am the order to open fire was precluded when Akatsuki lit its searchlights onto the cruiser Atlanta, causing both sides to immediately open fire on each other and starting the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
Now fully enveloped by Japanese battle lines, Barton and Monssen steaming astern, broke to the northwest into the main group of Japanese ships while firing at point blank range on nearby Japanese destroyers and making violent maneuvers to avoid collisions with both friendly and enemy ships in the melee. Barton had just fired a full spread of torpedoes at the battleship Hiei when the light cruiser USS Helena appeared suddenly out of the darkness and cut directly across the bow of Barton. Making an emergency stop to avoid colliding with Helena, Barton found herself at a dead stop as her engineering crew tried to get her engines back into gear to get her moving again. However, before she could get underway two 'Long Lance' torpedoes fired by the Amatsukaze slammed into the midsection of Barton; one in her boiler room and one in her engine room. The massive explosions broke the Barton in two, and both sections sank only minutes after the first torpedo struck, carrying with her 164 men: 13 officers and 151 of her crew. Forty-two survivors were rescued by USS Portland and twenty-six by Higgins boats from Guadalcanal.I have another great uncle, John Nichols IV who served in World War II. His military story goes like this:
John went to 2 years of High School in Harrington, Maine before he shipped out as a Merchant Marine. He consigned on iron ore freighters in the Great Lakes before he journeyed on ships traveling back and forth to Europe, across the Atlantic Ocean, transporting war time supplies. His father encouraged him to stop shipping because merchant ships were war time targets, so he decided to join the US Army in December of 1943. He was sent to the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre. He was a Buck Sergeant, serving in the 24th Infantry Division where he was Squad leader in charge of 28 men operating 30 caliber Browning machine guns. He was awarded a Campaign Ribbon with Bronze Service Arrowhead, a Philippines Liberation Ribbon with Bronze Service Star, a Good Conduct Medal, a Victory Metal, a Combat Infantryman Badge, an American Campaign Ribbon and 2 Purple Hearts during his service. John eventually received a Red Cross early discharge in 1946, because his father was dying.
May both men RIP along with all their other fallen comrades and may the United States always have a strong military manned by people willing to serve proudly for our country.