Russell Wilson Anderson
When Russell was 18, and he weighed 110 lbs., he got drafted into the Army. For a while he didn’t have to leave with the others who were drafted at the same time because
was missing in action. Eventually he was compelled to go and he left
by train from Blackfoot to Denton . There he
stayed a couple of days at Salt Lake
City for physicals
then he went on to Fort
Douglas , for basic
training. His training was in field
artillery where he used a 105 howitzer.
After basic training, he came home for a few days then it was off to Fort Sill,
and then off to Fort Ord, California,
on a boat. The boat was a Merchant
Marine vessel that had a terrible boiler that broke down several times during
the trip. On the way to Manila they pulled into Manila Pearl Harbor the day before the first A-bomb was dropped
on . They were all hopeful that the war would be
ended immediately and they could go home, but that wouldn’t happen yet. It was pretty scary when the boiler was down
and the ship was dead in the water. They
felt like sitting ducks for the Japanese submarines. The captain was absolutely fanatical about no
light being visible from the ship at night and no garbage being thrown
overboard to try to avoid any attention.
Somehow, no cooks had been lined up to feed the crew, so they had cold
cuts and cheese for several days until someone volunteered to cook. It took 35 days on the boat to get to Japan and they faced
some really rough seas. Barrels were placed in the room where they slept, to be used for the
soldiers to lose their lunch in. At one
time the storms were so intense that the barrels would scoot across the floor
and splash around. Russell was not happy
to have to be in the top hammock (of five layers of hammocks) until the seas
got really rough. When the men were
throwing up before they could make it to the barrels, and all of the men in the
lower bunks were getting the runoff caused by gravity, Russell was happy to
have the uppermost bunk. Manila
When they got to
they slept in tents. There were Japanese
soldiers in the jungle who would set booby traps in the downed airplanes around
Clark Field. One day a scruffy-looking
Japanese man fell in with their chow line.
He got carted off to the brig immediately. Russell worked on detached service fixing the
phone lines that went through the rice paddies.
The food was decent because he worked with officers. He had a house and his own jeep. Manila
He next was sent out to another place with 15 other guys in a truck and the driver of the truck got lost. The driver dumped all of them off at a place he thought they should be. Those in charge at the new place hadn’t expected them, but they made a place for them anyway. One man had always gotten a letter from his wife every day, but all of a sudden he quit getting the letters. After 30 days the man complained to a visiting inspector that he wasn’t getting his mail. Eventually the men found out that they had all been AWOL for 40 days.
While in the
Russell had a monkey for a pet. The
monkey sat on his shoulder. The monkey
had to be given away when Russell was transferred. Philippines
The men in Russell’s unit were training to be the first soldiers ashore in the event that there was to be a landing on
. They were to set up a communications system
before the other soldiers were sent in.
Thankfully the Japan
landing never materialized. Japan
He was next sent by boat to
. They went through the Korea China
Sea in January and it was terribly cold. He was used to living in a warm environment
they slept out in tents and wore suntans (khaki tan uniforms). All of a sudden they had to wear wool
clothing. It was so cold that the pipes
froze on the ship. To keep warm, Russell
put on every stitch that he owned and crawled into the mummy sleeping bag that
he was issued. Once in Manila he was
put on a train to Korea . There was no heat in the cars and no food
that day. Seoul
There he was back to the switchboard. He got put on the night shift, which was really nice because he seldom had any night time calls. He would turn up the sound on the switchboard and pull his cot over next to it. He could sleep on the job and then spend the day doing whatever he wanted to do. Once there was a nail sitting on the top of the switchboard and Russell must have bumped it off as he turned on his cot. The falling nail somehow managed to make every phone on the base ring at once, causing him a few moments of panic.
the situation was getting a little bit tense with the Russians and the 38th
parallel. Guns were actually issued to
the soldiers. Russell knew that all of
the vehicles in the motor pool there were not in running condition because no
one had any knowledge about mechanics.
He was nervous about a possible attack when there was nothing available
to drive away in, so he talked to the man in charge of the motor pool. The man said that if Russell could get
anything to run, he could have the use of it.
After looking around Russell found one “6 x 6” that was only missing a
fan belt, so he charged up the battery and had it going soon. Immediately following that incident, he lost
his cushy job at the switchboard and got put into the motor pool. He got almost everything running and then
things calmed down with the Russians. Korea
One day there was a posting on the bulletin board that said that anyone with a family member who had been injured, missing or killed in the war could apply to come home. Russell immediately applied because
was still considered missing. The others
were jealous that he was able to go home.
Because Russell had attained the rank of corporal, he didn’t have to pull
KP duty aboard the boat like everyone else did. The duffle bags of all the
debarking soldiers were loaded up into a cargo net. The sea got really rough and all of the
duffle bags were washed overboard and forever lost. Denton
The boat came in to
There he had to get new clothes issued to him. He had heard that there was milk and ice
cream to be had in the PX. In order to
visit the PX, the men had to be in their dress uniforms. When he opened up his clothing he had been
issued a black tie, instead of the khaki tie everyone else had. He put the black tie on and set out to the
PX. A guard stopped him and said he was
out of uniform because of the tie.
Russell was threatened with a trip to the brig. Fortunately, a sympathetic man who worked
there gave Russell his own tie, making Russell eligible to get that longed for
milk and ice cream. Bremerton, Washington
Russell was drafted into the Army, but he got discharged from the Air Force. How is that possible? He was switched midstream by the military.