Letter from Udell Cunningham, July 2006 Part 1

In this continuation of writing about thing[s] I recall I may write about things previously written. Please remember that old men suffer from memory lapse. Also, I may even embellish tales previously written. These two faults were discussed recently on a T.V. program. Historians say that us old WW2 Vets do this a lot. We tend to remember a little but lie a lot and we tend to embellish stories every time we repeat them. These were discussed at length when the Smithsonian tried to put the Enola Gay B29 bomber on display with the placards saying that the U.S. did not need to drop the A-Bombs as Japan was ready to surrender. They implied that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed needlessly. The uproar from WW2 Vets made them change their stories. [See Wikipedia’s article on the Enola Gay for a discussion of this exhibit.] On the personal side of the issue I am thoroughly convinced that the A-bombs saved my life. I was in training at a base on Samar for being used as an underwater demolition job in Tokyo Bay during the second invasion of the Mainland of Japan. (The First was down on the very south island.) UDT men or commonly called Frogmen have a very short life. They were met by Jap frogmen who had spear guns — or from the demolition charger. When I was not needed to give my life during the planned invasion I was returned to “Seabee” duty. We — those in training — were placed on inter-island Ferry boats and taken to Cavite Naval Base in Manila Bay.

At Cavite we were placed on trucks and taken on the route to the big naval base at Subic Bay. Along the route the commander of the Convoy of truck[s] tried to “give” us to other units along the way. He couldn’t give all of us away and we wound up [as] surplus work slaves to existing unitls at Subic Navy Station. I was assigned to a work crew at the “lumber yard.” Actually I was called a rigger on a mobile crane used to lift lumber off trucks. Then the Filipino workers sorted and stacked the wood. The main job I did was play cards — to be interrupted when a truck of lumber arrived. Really rough duty.

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