Early Life, Enlistment and Training

Assignment on Truk

Looking Back


George Scholes was born in Endeavor, Wisconsin, and had a typical childhood there with his three siblings. His father had a feed mill, and went bankrupt during the Great Depression. They moved to a farm outside of town, and didn't starve. He remembers when the family got home from church on 7 December 1941, and turned on the radio, President Roosevelt [Annotator's Note: President Franklin D. Roosevelt] was telling the public that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor and there were many casualties and many ships sunk, and that he was going to ask Congress to declare war on the Japanese and also on the Germans. When Scholes was a high school senior, he passed the Navy's V-12 program test, and went to Appleton, Wisconsin to Lawrence College for 16 months. [Annotator's Note: The US Navy's V-12 College Training Program was designed to supplement the force of commissioned officers in the Navy during World War 2.] After more education, Scholes emerged as an ensign in 1945. He was sure he would be sent to invade Japan, and sure he was never going to survive, because the Japanese were such ferocious fighters. Instead, he was sent to gunnery school in Washington, D.C., and while he was there, President Roosevelt died. Scholes said nobody knew who Truman was, and everybody was concerned about what kind of president he would be. Scholes declared that Truman turned out to be one of the finest presidents of his lifetime. When he dropped the bomb, it took a great weight off Scholes' shoulders. Scholes studied aviation ordnance in Florida for a short time then was deployed to Pearl Harbor.


George Scholes was flown to Pearl Harbor, which was just a muddy mess then. Much of the damage from the attack had been repaired, and the naval base was fully operational. After a week, they Navy flew Scholes out to Guam, where he was assigned to the ACORN 52 unit. [Annotator's Note: ACORN is an acronym for Aviation Communication Ordinance Repair Navigation. They were advance units that constructed, operated and maintained bases in the Pacific.] The unit was being resupplied to go down to Truk Atoll and take over that series of islands. The Japanese had 40,000 service people on Truk, as well as 9,000 civilians. The job was to get the Japanese military personnel on transport ships and back to Japan. Scholes spent almost a year there; he sometimes drove the prisoners to the outgoing ships, and became friends with one Japanese officer. Scholes regrets that he did not keep up with him after the war. He said the Japanese took their defeat as best they could. A lot of them had been slave labor, and the Americans treated them fairly and often gave them coffee and cigarettes. Scholes notes that President Bush [Annotator's Note: President George Herbert Walker Bush] was shot down near Truk Atoll, although he does not know the circumstances of his flight. Scholes and his wife went back to Truk for a visit in 1989. It is hard to find evidence that there had ever been a military airfield.


George Scholes went back to the United States and led a group of sailors on a troop train back to Great Lakes for discharge. He was discharged out of Great Lakes as well, and Scholes feels his time in the Navy was very pleasant, once he knew he wouldn't have to participate in the invasion of Japan. Scholes went back to the University of Wisconsin to get a degree in engineering. When he looks back upon the war, he thanks God that Harry made the decision he made and saved so many lives. [Annotator's Note: Scholes is referring to the decision made by President Harry S. Truman to drop the atomic bombs on Japan.]

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