Second World War: Marine Sergeant Helpful after V-J Day

Woman recalls making the train home courtesy of a Marine sergeant after the second World War.

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In 1943, I took off from work at Continental Oil Company's home office, terribly sick. The county health doctor confirmed that I had a severe case of polio. I went to the quarantine ward of St. John's Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I spent six and one-half weeks there and eight months at home gaining enough strength to go back to work, which I did in the summer of 1944. I worked in payroll accounting until V-J Day. 

I had heard of vocational rehabilitation grants for college. I applied and became a freshman at the University of Oklahoma.

My vivid experience came after classes let out for the Christmas holidays. The old south Navy base at Norman, Oklahoma, was still active as a separation center for Navy and Marine personnel. The base personnel and all the students were bent on going home for the first peacetime Christmas since before the start of the second World War.

I made an educated guess that the afternoon train north would be packed. I decided on the 10 p.m. train. As it turned out, it seemed the evening crowd waiting for the train was half the base and campus population. I had my old blue suitcase and was standing near the wall of the station. Polio had left me with an unreliable left knee, and I was seriously thinking of going back to my dorm and trying the next day.

All of a sudden, the biggest Marine sergeant I've ever seen came over to me and said, "Miss, you want on the train, right?"

I sort of stuttered, "Yes." He said, "I'll get you on it." He slung his sea bag over one shoulder, picked up my suitcase with that same hand, grabbed me with his other arm and elbowed our way onto the train. He deposited me on top of my suitcase in the aisle.

When I turned to thank him, he had disappeared.

My dad was waiting on the platform at Ponca City. I told him of my rescue by the Marine sergeant. He grinned and said, "Maybe it was Santa masquerading as a Marine."

Jane Curtis Waldroop
Norman, Oklahoma

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.