Pinky is the first book of a trilogy about my World War II experiences (but it was the last of the three to be published, in Jan., 2005)
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When I was a few months into my 16th birthday, the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor--and put an end to my dreams of becoming a great basketball player. Suddenly, all I could think about was joining the Navy and teaching those little fellows on the other side of the Pacific a lesson. I was a sophomore in high school (having fallen behind a couple of years because my family was moving about a lot). As soon as I was old enough I enlisted and, after boot camp in Farragut, Idaho, was sent to the South Pacific. I had red hair and was very fair-complected, but my nickname 'Pinky' was pinned on me by the quartermaster of the Subchaser 995 because I mistook the infamous 'Pink House' in Noumea, New Caledonia, for a Navy Ship's Store!
In New Caledonia I was assigned to Admiral Halsey's 'Service Squadron' (called COMSERONSOPAC), Which turned out to be the best duty west of Honolulu. Unaware of just how lucky I was, when a 'fleet radio school' was opened there on the island, I volunteered and, at the completion of the first class, was promoted to Radioman, Third Class, and assigned to NXZ, the ComSoPac base radio station. There I advanced from sweep-up boy to a code operator of a high speed 'split-phone' watch.
During the year that I spent on the island of New Caledonia, I had many exciting (some gratifying and some a bit hair-raising): I fell in love with the French governor's daughter, who, in her spare time, taught a course in French at the American Red Cross in downtown Noumea; on one daring occasion when I was swimming in the enlisted men's roped-off part of MOB-5 Beach, I ducked under the rope that separated that beach from the nurses' beach and swam under the water to the platform where the young women were sunbathing--and was mistaken for a 'very young' ensign (Enlisted men, of course, could not fraternize with nurses, let alone pretend to be an officer while doing it.
The Japanese had crippled the U. S. Pacific Fleet badly at Pearl Harbor in December,1941; and throughout 1942, thanks to good luck and the brilliant maneuverings of admirals Nimitz and Halsey, we were able to hold our ground, trying to appear bigger and stronger than we were. In the Solomons the U. S. Marines proved beyond a shadow of doubt that the myth of the invulnerability of the Imperial Japanese Navy was just that, a myth.