|Hollandia, where Dad recuperated from his wound, was on the north-central coast of New Guinea. Dad had been elsewhere|
on the island during his service and also spent time in New Britain and the Admiralty Islands in the Bismarck Sea.
|Gen. MacArthur's headquarters at Hollandia.|
The new base included a tactical center, an oil depot, a recreation center for officers, two hospital with a total of 2,000 beds, an ice plant, dry docks to repair destroyers and General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters and radio station. MacArthur had been based in Brisbane, Australia, but intended to return to the Philippines. Hollandia was a step in the right direction.
It was an unpleasant place. Because of the mosquitoes, the Americans had to take the anti-malarial drug atabrine, which made their skin turn yellow. When it wasn’t raining, it was hot and humid and hard to sleep at night. In one letter to my mother Bernadine, my father wrote: “All it does is rain here. We sit out in the movies in it and everything else. We are used to it. I check my feet every once in awhile to see if they are webbed.” He was there during the rainy season, December through March, when monsoons affect the climate of the northern coast of the island.
But Dad did get to the beach. He was a good swimmer. The army had recognized this and trained him as a swimming instructor at Camp Adair, Ore. As his letters often mentioned, he also liked to loaf and lounge around.
He was lying on the beach on Feb. 25, 1945, when he heard two soldiers were in danger of drowning 150 yards offshore. The men were flailing and hollering for help. The lifeguard, a Texas private named Allen C. Gibbs, swam to them but could not haul them in. He left them his life belt and swam toward shore.
The citation with Dad’s Soldier’s Medal, an award given for “heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy,” tells what happened next:
Thus did Dad go to Imbi Beach one hot and humid day and come home with a medal for heroism.
Next: Naval envy.
Next: Naval envy.
|The first wave of U.S, infantrymen moves beyond the beach near Hollandia, New Guinea, on April 22, 1944.|