Prewar to Iceland

Segment stub for 71125

To The Pacific

Closing Thoughts


Raymond A. Reed was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He moved to Summerville, New Jersey when he was three years old. His father was a waiter for the Elks Club [Annotator's Note: Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; fraternal social order]. He had four brothers. [Annotator's Note: The interviewer asks Reed what happened after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941.] He enlisted the next day. He was talked into going in the Seabees [Annotator's Note: members of US naval construction battalions] which was new [Annotator's Note: 1st Construction Detachment, formed 5 January 1942]. He did not want to go in the Army. He was in the amphibious section and did four D-Day invasions [Annotator's Note: the day on which an operation or invasion takes effect] in LSTs [Annotator's Note: Landing Ship, Tank]. He went to basic in Camp Allen, Virginia [Annotator's Note: Norfolk, Virginia}. He was sent to Iceland and he hated cold weather. They formed a 90 ship convoy in the Hudson River [Annotator's Note: eastern New York state]. They knew German submarines were waiting for them. They got to Torpedo Junction [Annotator's Note: also called Torpedo Alley, area of the Atlantic Ocean with high numbers of German submarine attacks] and there were 12 to 15 subs waiting. They sank eight ships there. Reed was going to Iceland to build a new airfield [Annotator's Note: Patterson Field, Naval Air Station Keflavik, Keflavik, Iceland] to be able to attack the u-boats [Annotator's Note: U-Boot, Unterseeboot, German for submarine; specifically, German military submarines in English]. Reed did not last three days due to the wind. They put him inside and he worked with the cooks.


Life on the ship was boring. Raymond A. Reed was on 15 different ships in 35 different countries. He was a lucky Seabee [Annotator's Note: members of US naval construction battalions] in that he had two tours in Europe and did not go to the Pacific [Annotator's Note: right away]. There was only one outfit that went on D-Day [Annotator's Note: D-Day; the Allied invasion of Normandy, France on 6 June 1944]. Reed's was the only other outfit in the European Theater. He finished his second tour in Europe and got a 30 day leave [Annotator's Note: an authorized absence for a short period of time]. He went to the Pacific afterwards. He was at Okinawa [Annotator's Note: Battle of Okinawa, codenamed Operation Iceberg, 1 April to 22 June 1945] on D-Day, 1 April 1945. He was to go into Japan next and was on USS LST-913. Thank God Harry Truman [Annotator's Note: Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States] saved his life. Reed was glad those bombs [Annotator's Note: nuclear weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan on 6 and 9 August 1945] were dropped. He did the right thing. The war ended and Reed was sent to Korea and dropped the pontoons they had in Incheon, Korea. They were used five years later by MacArthur [Annotator's Note: General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander, Southwest Pacific Area]. He returned to the United States from Korea.


[Annotator's Note: Raymond A. Reed served with his youngest brother during the war.] They were separated during invasions. They both made it home. Reed was discharged the last day of 1945. He went in at the beginning on 8 December 1941 and he stayed until the very end. He says he is not owed anything, he did it for freedom. He returned to New Jersey. He got married three times. His first two wives were lost to breast cancer. He used the G.I. Bill to become a printer for newspaper. He worked for Gannett [Annotator's Note: Gannett, Co. Inc.]. He gets five pensions in his retirement. Most companies did not give them anymore. [Annotator's Note: The interviewer asks Reed what he thinks of The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana.] He thinks it is wonderful and wants to return. [Annotator's Note: The interviewer asks Reed what the lesson of World War 2 is.] We did what we had to do. Both Hitler [Annotator's Note: German dictator Adolf Hitler] and Tojo [Annotator's Note: Hideki Tojo, Prime Minister of Japan] jumped on us. He went in the next day. [Annotator's Note: The interviewer asks Reed if the thinks Americans understand what he went through.] Some people do. There are 40 World War 2 veterans who live where he does. Most are in poor health and do not go out. Reed is the President of the 90s Club. They meet once a month. Most of them are World War 2 veterans.

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