Early Life and Becoming a Marine

Life on Guam

Life After the War and Reflections


Bryon Carl Oliver was born in July 1922 in Buffalo, New York. As a child, he played sports including skiing, baseball and softball, and football. After graduating from high school, he started working at a donut shop. He was able to buy a new overcoat. He then worked for Spencer Lens [Annotator's Note: Spencer Lens Company], polishing lenses. Oliver heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor [Annotator's Note: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941] over the radio. He could not believe it happened. He knew he would be drafted. His father joined the Navy when he was 17 years old. His dad brought Oliver to join the Army. Oliver decided to join the Marine Corps because a neighbor had joined that branch. He took a train to boot camp at Parris Island [Annotator's Note: Parris Island, South Carolina]. Boot camp was an eye opening experience for Oliver, but he figured it out. His athleticism helped him in boot camp. While at Camp Lejeune [Annotator's Note: Camp Lejeune, North Carolina], a fellow Marine accidentally broke Oliver's leg. He had been training on radar. He was taught algebra and how the machinery operated.


Bryon Oliver boarded a ship in Norfolk, Virginia. Twenty one days after passing through the Panama Canal, Oliver was at Pearl Harbor [Annotator's Note: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii]. He spent a couple of months at Pearl Harbor. He was still able to see the ships under the water. Oliver then traveled to Guam [Annotator's Note: Guam, Mariana Islands]. By the time he got there, the island was secured. Bryon worked with his radar equipment on the beach. From his work space, he could see a cave used by the Japanese during the battle. He was nearly electrocuted while putting his equipment together. He stopped assembling it because he could feel a current running through the cables. His equipment could tell him if an incoming aircraft was a friendly plane or not. He would watch bombers take off for Japan. He lived in a wooden barrack. There was not much to do in his free time. One of his comrades made friends with a native girl. He lived near a village, but did not interact with the locals. There were about seven or eight people working the radar equipment. One of the soldiers made alcohol out of coconuts. They had to hide the bottles so they would not get in trouble. Oliver thought he would be shipped to China, but the atomic bomb was dropped. It took 17 days for him to arrive back in California, where he was discharged after three years and three months of service.


After being discharged from the Marine Corps, Bryon Oliver returned home. He returned to his old job, then moved to Philips, Oklahoma to be with his brother. He attended university there using the G.I. Bill. The two brothers roomed together. Oliver graduated with a degree in history. He then taught high school history. He likes all kinds of historical topics, but thinks American political history is particularly interesting. Oliver feels fortunate to have enlisted when he did. He was happy to be on radar and not with a rifle. He does not think people understand the sacrifice of his generation. He does not think people even think about it. He was able to pay for all of his education with his G.I. Bill. He did not even think he would be able to attend college. When he graduated, he found a job in Laverne, Oklahoma. He had experienced living in different places throughout his life.

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