Jun 13, 2017

A Glimpse Into The Memories Of An Old Man's Youth

Common Sense Commentary: "The memory of the just is blessed...." Prov.10:7 The word "just", in the Hebrew, means, "to be declared right or righteous". That does not mean "innocent" but "forgiven, and made right" with God.... justified.

I turned 19 that year....
In winter of 1949-50, after 10 months of combat training at Camp Pendelton, Calif., my battalion was sent, on flat-bottomed LST's, to Alaska. We sailed up the inside passage to Juneau, Alaska and then west across the Gulf Of Alaska to land on Kodiak Island. We were there for Extreme Cold Weather Training. Being a West Texas boy, that was my first experience with sub-zero temperatures ... and we were living out in it, in that mountainous wilderness, with the famous Grizzle Bears. To my knowledge, the Marines had never fought a war on a battlefield that cold and weren't likely to. So I now see that timely experience as God's preparing me and those few Marines for the Battle Of Chosin Reservoir, exactly one year later, in the frozen, mountainous wilderness of North Korea. I learned things on Kodiak which would help me survive minus -30-40 (below zero) temperatures a year later during the Chosin battle. I suffered less frostbite in North Korea than any Marine I know of. Before leaving Kodiak Island, we were allowed to visit Kodiak Village, up the coast, which had a Trading Post/General Store.  It was there I bought my girlfriend, Bettie, an engagement ring and had it mailed to her in Texas with my proposal of marriage. That way she couldn't refuse me. We were married when I returned home that Spring and she later joined me at my new duty station at Camp Lejune, North Carolina .... 67 years ago this month.

Since I had no rank, no money, no free time, and no sense, we could hardly even afford our small bedroom in someone else's home. The few times I did get to be with her, on weekends, there in Jacksonville, N.C., we couldn't afford to do much but sit on the porch or walk in the town and maybe have a coke. Jim (Leroy) Story, who had become my best buddy at Camp Lejeune, joined us a couple of times for a coke and sandwich and walking in the town.... doing nothing. We did get to attend a Bluegrass stage show, by the famous Bill Monroe, one Saturday. Jim was a real Bluegrass fan and had a good voice.

Then, from bad to worse, my company was sent on bivouac, to the rifle range, miles from Camp Lejeune and the town, where my new bride had little to do but wait for me to come in and deal with morning sickness. She was, as we called it back then, "With child". But, in her case, she was "With children" ... twins. All the while, I was kept busy 12 to 15 hours a day in the boondocks practicing war with competing Marine Companies. Then, in the late evenings, while Bettie sat in that one little room, alone, Jim, Lucky Don Henderson and I were singing Blue Grass to entertain the troops out in the middle of nowhere mosquito land.

One evening, after shooting the rifle range all day, our commanding officer called us together to tell us war had broken out in Korea, and it was likely we Marines would be involved in it. Our training was halted and we were returned to Camp Lejeune and those of us who had wives in Jacksonville were advised to send them home. Within days we were on trains headed for California... and Korea.

As the troop train, Jim and I were on, passed quickly through my hometown, Arlington, Texas, one midnight, he and I were hanging out between the cars to see my sleeping little town. Jim promised to return with me, when the war was over, to meet my family. I was thinking what a good brother-in-law he would make. But God had other plans. Neither Jim nor Lucky Don Henderson would make it home alive.

The following email is part of an exchange between me and Jim's younger brother, Bob Storey, concerning my Memorial Day post dedicated to my two buddies, Jim and Lucky Don.
How interesting, Rayburn!  I often wondered what our lives would have been like had Jim lived.  Things were tough (although we didn't realize it) when we were kids.  Jim at times took a ribbing because he was at an age when he could help mom tend for a large family.  We cooked and heated with wood on that old farm, and to make things worse we never had, it seemed, enough wood "up" and nearly a nightly job for Jim and me was to saw wood as soon as we got home from school.  And the old cross cut saw seemed never sharp.  Jim and I used to talk about how we would do it when we had a home and family--we would have more than enough wood cut and stacked to do for the whole winter like our German neighbors did,  Some four or five months before Jim enlisted in the Marines, he had bought a used Oldsmobile car that he was so proud of, even though the payments ran nearly everything he made.  'Dad was unable to make the payments for Jim and I recall the sad time when the repo truck came and picked up Jim's car.  Mom finally had to write Jim and tell him what had happened.  Sad times.  But, I remember Jim writing Mom to tell her not to worry, that he would get a new one after the war.  I'll let you go, brother.  Bob.
Well, Bob, if Jim still wanted a new Oldsmobile when he got to heaven, he surely got an upgrade. I can see him now, roaming the universe in a golden Chariotmobile, and ten thousand times more happy than any of us mortals... still here in these old worn out bodies. Jim has a new one to go with his glowing chariot's wings of fire and universal, rapid transit. Hey, Jim, show me around when I get there. Your Buddy... Rayburn ... Psm.115:1

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