Who Were We...Who Are We ?...
Most of us have come to a point in our lives where recalling those many years past is becoming more difficult. There was a time when each and every event was branded into our memory tank and could be brought forth with out any effort. I imagine there are still those, like this old salt, who can recall events...but not the time table in which they took place, or even where. Even some of the events that took place are getting dim. I suppose that things are meant to be.
What we were we can clearly define...we were the young men from 17 to the early 30s who for some unknown reason chose to serve in the Navy. All of us who ended up in the Amphibious Forces did so because that's where they sent us. When I went in the service I wasn't even aware that there was an Amphibious Force... never heard of an LSM, LCT, LSD and all the others that I can't even remember. This was something new and we were a part of it. What we did shaped how the war was fought. Through each engagement we learned from our mistakes... and fought a type of Naval warfare that was new and untried. What we had was basically on the job training.
There were no ports or harbors that we could pull into and unload at our leisure... We had to land on beaches into areas that were mainly uncharted. With no facilities there that we could out to use to assist us. We were the ones who made all the landings... on all those beaches. We were the untrained soldiers who very quickly became skilled in the tasks that were given to us. Most of us didn't have the foggiest notion what to expect. Those of us that went to the Naval Training Schools learned our trade and were adept at it. But what we were to do and how we were to do it as members of the Amphibious Forces... only time would unfold this process before us... like I said... on the job training.
But, we soon became a part of a lean, mean, fighting machine. Point us in the direction you wanted us to go and we did the rest.
It took each and every one of us working together on each individual ship as a whole unit. We were the Amphibious Forces...and we got the job done. So what does it matter that we sometimes can remember all that we did and when. Without us, things surely would have turned out differently. That was a magnificent era of your life... you were part of something grand. Something that probably will never occur again.
We came from all walks of life...from every part of the States...from big metropolitan cities to small rural areas and farm lands... some quit school, as I did, to join... others finished high school and then joined. There were those in college who dropped out to enlist. The Navy was primarily a group of volunteers... they chose the Navy... they were a unique group of men. They were then and still are. Though memories are faded... in your hearts you know who you were and what you did. Knowing that will help each and every one of you through many a tough time as we walk through this life. Those were some of the greatest moments of your life. You did good!!!!
What are you? You are the product of all your life's experiences. Some of you, when you finally returned to what they called the life of a civilian again, went on back to school... some had definite plans as to what they wanted out of life. Some of you went back to jobs that you had before. Some of you farm boys and ranchers went back to what you new best. Most of us had no training in anything except as a part of the Amphibious Forces... Which we didn't find much demand for. Many went from one job to another trying to find the spot that fitted in best.
You became construction workers, plumbers, manufacturing assembly line workers, mine workers, stock market employees, electricians... workers in the retail trade, etc., etc. Most starting at the bottom and worked up over the years. You became a member of society... and it takes many skills and trades working together to make a society... each and every one of you held a position that was necessary for this society to function as a whole. Some of the jobs were just temporary as means to another. Stepping stones on your path ahead.
Hopefully most of you found what you were looking for. What you settled for is an individual concept as to what you considered life is worth. If you felt that you had to have wealth, position, power...so be it...that was your choice. Others of you wanted and sought for that which gave you the most pleasure and satisfaction in your daily life...so be it for you. But I imagine that the majority of us just tried many different ways of expressing ourselves... in most cases the rating that you held in the service had no big demand in civilian life. We went into the service without any marketable skills... especially the younger ones of us. But through trial and error most of us finally settled down into a manner that was easy for us to accept.
Whatever it was... it was something that someone had to do to make a community and society function as a whole.
There is no better or worse... from bus boys, the street cleaners, sanitary engineers, fireman, policeman, doctors, lawyers, preachers and on and on. All of it is necessary, all is essential to our communities, towns and cities which make up our society and way of life.
The one thing that you can count on, is that which you were so many years ago, helped from that which you are today. That experience of your term in the Amphibious Forces helped mold a part of your character that carried you through many a difficult time since then. You learned to accept difficult and the unexpected as part of every day life. That term in the United States Navy out backbone in your framework with the knowledge that you carry on through it all.
So, that which you were and that which you are, has come together. You are a whole being now... older, wiser (hopefully), looking forward days of calm, mild weather, sitting in the sun, thinking back to those times so long ago... saying to yourself...I DID GOOD... and so you did. So long for now... until we sail again.
William Ewertz GM 1/c
21451 E Charter Oaks Rd.
Luther, OK 73054-9605
© March/April 2001
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