Second World War: Basic Training to Pacific Theater

Californian describes her brother's experiences in the Philippines, Pacific Theater after entering basic training straight out of high school during the Second World War.

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My brother, Allen Wood, reached his 18th birthday on May 21, 1944. He graduated from high school the first week in June and 48 hours later was on his way to Camp Roberts for basic training. On completion of basic training, he was immediately sent to the Pacific Theater. 

My brother became deathly ill on the voyage, until it was discovered that he was allergic to sea water, which was used {or bathi1'.\g: . He was stationed in the Philippines and was an MP.

My brother contracted malaria in the Pacific and suffered for many years.

Every Japanese who was captured claimed to be Chinese, and the Americans had difficulty telling them apart. They finally learned to toss all captives in the stockade for 48 hours. At the end of that time, they separated those who had beards from the others. It was not a scientific way to pick out the Japanese, but they estimated it was about a 90 percent effective method.

On the home front, we on the West Coast observed blackouts and worried about the Japanese, who bombed the refineries at Richmond, California, and sent balloon bombs, which killed some unsuspecting Americans.

The FBI raided the house next door, which was occupied by a Japanese family who had lived in California for many years. Their children were raised here. They removed a shortwave radio transmitter and boxes of pamphlets and weapons as we watched. I often think of that family when I hear people berate the government for interning the Japanese. I am sure that injustices occurred, but I know of loyal Japanese families who did not dare let other Japanese know they had sons in the U.S. military, for fear of retaliation.

Mrs. Ralph Lindsay
Lancaster, California


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.