Stories :: B

Rodney Barrett Ella Bass Wilmer Bass Winnie Bautista Lorraine Bayless
Chickie Berry Myrtle Bertrang Lucia Betancourt Robert Bilbruck Addeline Bjorklund
Walter Bortz Grace Bos Walter Bossert Bertha Brandstatter Lan Bregman
Johnathon Briggs Bill Brinkman Virginia Britt        

Rodney Barrett

U.S. Army

Born: 1945
San Diego, CA
United States

On August 14th 1945, I had just returned from my final trip to the hospital where I was treated for a gunshot wound to the shoulder I received during a firefight between the Japanese and my regiment, the 25th Infantry Division, 27th Wolfhound Regiment, in the Philippines. We were there training for the invasion of Japan after securing Balete Pass. We were all sweating the invasion, and knew we were being trained for a brutal situation.

That morning, at about 9:00, we were getting ready to go to the firing range when the word came that Japan had surrendered. When the announcement was made, we all started cheering. Someone said "it might be a false alarm!" But we were so excited and I was so relieved that it might be over; that we wouldn't have to make the invasion and would be heading home soon, it didn't dampen my hopes.

Shortly after that, the company Commander called assembly and we all got into formation. When he announced the fact that Japan had surrendered, there was screaming and we were patting each other on the back, now knowing it was true. After we got settled down again, the Captain told us about the big bomb. Up to this point I had not known anything about that atomic bomb. I wasn't greatly impressed with this bomb because at that time I did not know anything about the atomic explosions in Japan.

I and others thought we would be going home to see our family's and kiss the girls like we had heard happened when the war ended in Europe. We thought the boats would be coming over to take us back home.

But we were told that we would be part of the occupation of Japan and would not be going home. Instead, we were to start immediately to train to be an occupation unit. I had never thought about occupation after the war and was beginning to learn that the war was not going to be over for me soon.

Training for the occupation was kind of about-face to the training we had for the War. We were taught a few commands in Japanese and told that we would have to be kind and polite to the Japanese civilians.

After about a month of waiting, we were transported from our camp to Lingayen Gulf by truck and Philippine train. The ships that were to take us to Japan were anchored there in the Gulf. We were taken to the ship in landing crafts and there climbed onto the ship on the rope nets with everything we owned on our backs, which was our pack and duffle bags. This operation was just the reverse of what we would have done if we had landed and invaded Japan. The day we were loaded on the ship for Japan was September 22nd 1945 and my 20th birthday. I was so physically sick, I could hardly make the climb. After resting and heaving several times over the side of the ship, I revived. It was a year later before I finally did get home in August of 1946.

I praised God that the war was over and we did not have to be in the invasion that would have taken thousands of lives on both sides.

The day, August 14th 1945, is a very important day in the history of our nation, and should never be forgotten. The day the Japanese surrendered and a long war had ended.

Submitted by:
Rachel Perez
Chula Vista, CA - United States

Relationship to Storyteller:
Youth volunteer

Ella Bass

Wilmer Bass


Winnie Bautista


Lorraine Bayless


Chickie Berry

(Maiden Name: Shields)

Civilian, Other (American Orphan of WWII )

Born: 1938
Spirit Lake, ID
United States
Original home:
Pullman, WA
United States

I have been thinking and trying to remember all the details, but I was only 7 years old and had been successfully insulated against all things "war" since my daddy died in Australia ( he served in New Guinea) in 1943. Whenever news would come on the radio, my mother would send me to my room ...but sometimes I would listen at the door. The grownups were always so sullen during those times. I think I was sent outside to play when the actual end of the war came. I'm sure it must have been a bitter-sweet time for my mother....I don't remember her reacting or anything, but she had always been careful to never give me any reason to talk about the "war". I just knew that my daddy had died because of the war and I was the only little girl that had happened to. After joining AWON, American WWII Orphans Network <www.awon.org> in 1995, I learned that there were over 183,000 of us. American boys and girls left fatherless because of WWII. Our fathers died not in vain, but for a cause much greater than themselves. I have always missed not having my daddy in my life very much. I wish I could actually remember him, but I was only 3 when he left for the South Pacific and 5 when he died there. I am proud to be his daughter.

"In His Memory"
Chickie Shields Berry

daughter of
CWO John Coleman Shields
41st Div. 162nd Inf. , Bandmaster
12-6-43 Sydney, Australia

Myrtle Bertrang

War bride (Australia)

Brisbane, Queensland

I was at work in the City of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Everyone was happy to have "PEACE" again and thankful to America for coming to Australia to give us aid during the war.

We were pleased to have our brother come home from the war. He was wounded and healing in an army hospital in Brisbane. My husband was stationed on an island Hollandia and got leave so we could be married in Brisbane. He returned to Tokyo, Japan and this was in February 1946 to work at the post exchange in Tokyo. I was to go to Tokyo after my son was born but my husband's orders were changed to Michigan, USA.

Submitted by:
Linda A. Laurie
Poway, CA - United States

Relationship to Storyteller:
Adult volunteer

Lucia Betancourt


Born: 1929
San Diego, CA
United States

We fought Germany and Japan during WW II. I was 12 years old when Pearl Harbor was bombed and our President Roosevelt declared war on Japan and Germany. The country was not prepared for war so all the factories had to retool to make war supplies and bombs and tanks and clothing for the soldiers and sailors and build new airplanes...fighters and bombers. Women worked in the factories while the men went off to war which was very unusual. Women had worked as teachers and nurses and sales people but not in factories and they wore pants!!! Women even served in the military as pilots and many office jobs......not as fighters. Germany and Japan were hated people. Our government took Japanese/American families out of their homes and put them in 'camps' during the war here on the west coast. Very sad situation. The government thought that Oriental people would make trouble for us as we fought Japan. We never locked up any German people which always confused me. I was horrified that we dropped two Atomic Bombs on Japanese cities killing thousands of civilians in the cities. That ended the war with Japan....we had already beaten Germany in April of 1945. I was glad the war ended and we could all get on with our lives. I was 16 years old. We had rationing of food during the war so it was nice to see the war end for that too. And gasoline for cars was rationed so people did not drive very much.

Submitted by:
Hunter J. Forcier
San Diego, CA - United States

Relationship to Storyteller:

Robert Bilbruck


Addeline Bjorklund


Walter Bortz

Stanford, CA
United States
Original home:
Philadelphia, PA
United States

Sixty-four years dim only slightly my memory of the hot summer Tuesday, August 14, 1945, when I, a 15-year old, was on high alert.

I hung on every radio newscast. A few days earlier, we had dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On June 23, the Japanese had surrendered on Okinawa, having lost a hundred thousand casualties. Our B-29 bombers freely roamed the skies over Japan. More than 2,400 emergency landings had taken place on the landing strip cleared by the Marines on Iwo Jima. The Japanese sun MUST be setting.

I had maps of Iwo Jima and Mount Suribachi plastered on my wall. There really wasn't any front line as the Japanese were buried in a vast tunnel system. I tracked newscasts as best I could from my comfortable home in suburban Philadelphia. For my classmates the war was abstract. For me it was "Will I ever see my father again?"

My father, then 49, was a doctor, a captain in the Navy assigned to the Marines. Somewhere in the Pacific he was awaiting orders to begin the invasion of Japan. His letters were full of grim omen. A million further casualties were forecast. Mother and I were as close then to being religious as any time before or since.

Just six months earlier, Dad had been in one of the early waves of the attack when the 110,000 Marines landed on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. He wrote me daily of the ferocious combat and his personal encounters sleeping with a pistol under his pillow in case a Japanese soldier avoided the trip wires and prowled in. I could never imagine Dad pulling a trigger on any gun, and I'm sure he couldn't either.

On duty he was executive officer of an evacuation hospital on the beach and encountered many of the 25,851 casualties of the battle. Nearly seven thousand of them died. Some of the Marine companies lost as many as 75 percent of their men. Of the 22,000 Japanese men who were garrisoned on the island, less than 1,000 survived. There were 32 days of fighting on Iwo Jima, which means that on both sides almost a thousand men were killed and wounded every day.

Dad had seen the flag go up on Mount Suribachi on February 23, and sent me a precious picture of him with the Star Spangled Banner waving proudly in the background.

When on Tuesday, the radio crackled with the announcement that President Truman was about to make a major address, Mother and I trembled in anticipation. And when the surrender was announced, and we were jubilant. As Danny Kaye said "If I were any happier, I would be in an institution."

The whole neighborhood erupted, horns and shouts. Father was coming home! No son could ask for a richer reward, always proud then as now to be an American. I think I grew two inches overnight.

Dad actually went on and wrote the official Marine March for the Fifth Marine Division, "Men of Iwo Jima" and maintained contact with his many of his fellows Marines in later years.

To this day, I have his picture with the flag waving over Surabachi on my piano to this day.

August 14, 1945, a day to remember and cherish forever.

Submitted by:
Warren C.. Hegg
Los Gatos, CA - United States

Relationship to Storyteller:
Adult volunteer

Grace Bos


Walter Bossert


Bertha Brandstatter

War bride (Germany)

San Jose
United States
Original home:
Possan, GA

The war for me and my family ended during the last days of April 1945. We lived in Passan, which borders on Austria and Czechoslovakia. During the last days of the war we retreated to a little farm about 40 km from Passan. We could hear bombings and artillery shootings in all directions until finally my mother and I risked a bicycle trip back to town. The hightway was filled with American supply trucks and we walked in ditches-my mother telling me to keep my eyes to the ground and pull down the babuschka. I was 18 years old!

The most important thing: the Americans had arrived and not the Russians- which was our biggest fear. My father follwed military movings daily on the map.

The town was very quiet, people walked around in a daze wondering what to expect next. Soon there was turmoil everywhere, the town filled up with people of different nationalities to refugees to desterters, etc. Stores were empty, there was no electricity- and the Black Market was born! However, life went on and we lived in THE AMERICAN ZONE!

P.S. One thing I will never forget is watching the GI's eating at their soup kitchens. Never did I see bread SO WHITE! Were they eating cake?

Submitted by:
Linda A. Laurie
Poway, CA - United States

Relationship to Storyteller:
Adult volunteer

Lan Bregman


Johnathon Briggs


Bill Brinkman

U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps

Born: 1926
San Jose, CA
United States
Original home:
Long Beach , CA
United States

August 14, 1945, was a very happy day for me. I was stationed in Fort Ord, California at the time. I was getting ready to leave for the invasion of Japan, and the news brought me a sense of relief because honestly, I did not want to go. I remember somebody coming in with a newspaper, exclaiming "The war is over!" And I looked around me and saw happy faces of my fellow soldiers. After I heard the news, I hurried upstairs and started to pack. It took about 3 days before I was able to go back home, where my girlfriend was waiting. My home at the time was in Long Beach, California.

After the war, I went to college and studied Psychology for 12 years. Upon finishing my studies, I went to teach at the Jefferson Street Elementary School in Los Angeles, California. I practiced teaching the 6th grade in this school. After that school, I went to Paramount, California and taught 5th grade at the Henry Worth Elementary School for 7 years. Then I retired, got married with the woman I waited my whole life for, and had 3 children, 2 girls and 1 boy.

There are many words that describe my feelings on that day. Happiness, relief, and joy. However, the one word that perfectly describes my feelings is happiness, because I was able to go back home and see my family and my girlfriend.

Submitted by:
James I. Chung
San Jose, CA - United States

Relationship to Storyteller:
Youth voluntee

Virginia Britt


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