Segment 10


By 1944 Ward had added some stripes to his arm. Ward was transferred to an AK ship, a big liberty ship. It was a clunker. It would load up with 9,500 tons of groceries. The tanker would get escorted past the buoy in the harbor; after that they steamed away by themselves. Ward could never figure it out until later, but he realized that the Japanese did not hunt merchant ships. They prized the bigger US capitol ships. Each time they steamed out with a load and never had a problem. They would get to Kwajalein, or Ulithe, meet the fleet, unload their goods and make another run. By the time they finished with the last ship they would wake up and they would be gone. Sometimes the airstrip would want food. They would stay out there with the food until it was all gone. When they returned to the states they were riding high in the water. It took 9 days to load the vessel. It was near the end of the war. Ward sent his wife money to come to California thinking he had at least 9 days to load the ship. The ship loaded early and they left. Ward had to go ashore and tell his wife that they were going to be gone sooner than expected. The liberty ship only made 10 knots with a stiff wind going downhill. It was an old steam engine. Ward knew if they took a torpedo it would be time to swim. The Japanese wanted warships, they did not want to target logistics. The Japanese did not target logistical ships until Okinawa. The gasoline tanker ward was on hopped around in the war zone and never had any problems. They had to dump fuel at Palmyra because the 14th Air Force was there. When ward was in the tanker he used to sleep with his life jacket on. That was life in the service force. Ward thinks being in the service force saved his life. Ward had put in a request for submarine duty but was denied. Ward got in a fight with the medical officer on board the USS San Francisco and was labeled temperamentally unfit for duty. Ward thinks this saved his life. Ward had been to the Philippines; they had serviced the fleet. They were then moved to another harbor just off of Manila. They dumped the remainder of their cargo. They started heading back for the States. The USS Indianapolis was sunk a few days before the war ended. Ward finds out on August 14th that the war was over and that night was the first time he saw a lit ship at sea in four years.


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