Troy Earl Edwards and his twin sister were born in November 1925 in Scott, Arkansas. His younger sister was born two years after him. His grandfather and father were sharecroppers. Things got bad during the Great Depression after the stock market crashed in 1929. Before that, there had been a disastrous flood of the Arkansas River in 1927. The family was flooded out and moved to Little Rock as a result. That was the birthplace of his younger sister. His father delivered milk for a dairy company. In 1936, the family moved to another location in Arkansas [Annotator's Note: inaudible name] which was his father's birthplace. Timber cutting was the main industry in that area. Edwards' parents divorced. His mother and the children moved to East End, Arkansas. There were several moves for Edwards afterwards before he moved back to Scott with his grandparents. Edwards finished the 10th grade in high school at Scott. The family lived on 60 acre farm growing fruit and vegetables. It was hard work involving plowing with a mule. He left home in 1942 and enlisted in the Navy.
Troy Edwards entered boot camp in San Diego. It was a lonesome experience for him. He did find a friend to talk to while he was there. Completing boot camp in May [Annotator's Note: May 1943], he was granted leave to return home. Afterward, he returned to San Diego. He was attached to Alameda Air Station near Oakland. He was part of a Carrier Aircraft Service Unit, CASU-14. They attended commando training with rifles, helmets and other gear similar to that issued to Marines. They were taught to fight in case of enemy attack while they were building air bases. They never had to use the combat training. The unit was deployed in two troopships down the coastline to South America to avoid submarine attack. They sailed to Pago Pago in American Samoa. They were entertained by the local population upon their arrival. The ships continued on to Nouemea, New Caledonia where Edwards and a portion of the unit disembarked. It was a safe area outside of the warzone. It was used as an equipment and personnel staging area. While there, survivors from the cruiser Helena [Annotator's Note: USS Helena (CL-50)] were taken care of by the members of Edwards' unit. From Nouemea, the members of CASU-14 traveled to Tulagi and then Guadalcanal where they offloaded.
Troy Edwards and his unit [Annotator's Note: Carrier Aircraft Service Unit 14 (CASU-14)] loaded their equipment on shallow draft vessels at Guadalcanal and then transferred over to New Georgia in the Solomon Islands. They went to Munda Point where they staged and set up camp to assist the Seabees [Annotator's Note: members of a naval construction battalion] in building an air field. The Japanese had evacuated the area and their foxholes were used by the Americans. The men were billeted in tents. Rain water collected off the tents was used to shower. It rained a lot at Munda Point. Malaria was bad in the camp. The mosquitoes were bad at dark. Edwards had malaria twice in 16 months even though he took Atabrine. He suffered badly from malaria while based at Munda Point. He had contracted malaria as a child but it was much worse at Munda. The Japanese "Washing Machine Charlie" pilots attempted to bomb the camp 105 times. It was usually at night and the troops had to evacuate to foxholes for protection. Edwards sometimes sought shelter in bomb craters and watched the antiaircraft fire trying to hit the enemy bombers. The bombers never hit the camp. The enemy had a railcar mounted artillery gun that was hidden in a cave. It fired at the Americans and then rolled into its shelter. Eventually, the enemy gun was silenced. That was not before the gun hit the camp chow line. Edwards escaped into the jungle to evade the artillery rounds. He discovered an abandoned Japanese camp while doing so. He and a few friends stayed there overnight. They ate coconuts and sardines and Edwards ended up with dysentery. He has never eaten that combination since. The location had unburied dead. Flies were everywhere and they carried diseases. Jungle rot was particularly bad. Scars would get infected. Bougainville was the next stop in the American advance. The American bombing missions over Bougainville came from Munda. CASU 14 serviced only Marine aircraft. The Blacksheep Squadron [Annotator's Note: Marine Fighter Squadron 214 (VMF-214)] with Pappy Boyington [Annotator's Note: USMC Major Gregory Boyington] were there for awhile. Boyington would land with his aircraft all shot up and ask the ground crew to expedite repair of his plane so he could get back in the action. The squadron moved forward as airfields were built on newly captured islands. Airfields were quick to build for the Seabees on top of the coral base of the islands. Fighters mostly flew off the airfields although there were a few larger planes used by the Army. Things were secured by January [Annotator's Note: January 1944] so new bases had to be built. The planes carried extra fuel in drop tanks under their aircraft.
Troy Edwards and his unit [Annotator's Note: Carrier Aircraft Service Unit 14 (CASU-14)] reached Guadalcanal and set up to repair aircraft that the carriers could not repair quickly onboard. He returned home from there. He reached San Francisco and communicated with his family. His mother thought he was part of the landings in the Philippines. He let her know otherwise. He returned home on leave. Malaria struck him while he was there. He recovered and went to the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station. En route on a bus, he was involved in an accident during rainy weather. He thought it was ironic that he spent 16 months overseas and did not get hurt but was injured at home while traveling on a bus. [Annotator's Note: Edwards laughs.] He was in Corpus for two years in an airplane refit and repair operation. There were training facilities for airmen there. The work for Edwards was very repetitive. While on leave back home, he was married. His wife accompanied him back to Corpus Christi. After two years there, he was discharged. He drew 30 dollars a week for 52 weeks from the government which was better than any pay he could find. In June 1946, he obtained a job in a chemical plant. Finding a job with so many returning veterans was difficult. Edwards stayed with the chemical company for 19 years before he switched occupations. He worked for the postal service for 24 years and ultimately retired at age 65. He received retirement income from both the private sector and the government. He had two children who were 13 years apart. Edwards worked with dangerous substances while employed with the chemical company. It may have affected his health although he has had no major problems. He enjoyed his time in the Navy. When VE-Day came, a celebration was held and Edwards remembers dancing. Edwards went skating for VJ-Day since he was underage. His chief smelled of alcohol and told Edwards he was late to arrive for morning muster even though he had not been drinking. [Annotator's Note: Edwards laughs.]
Troy Edwards was an Aviation Metalsmith 2nd Class, an AM2c, while in the Navy. That rate in the Navy may no longer exist. He found a uniform at the Army-Navy surplus store to wear to church during a celebration of service men. He enjoyed his military service. Visiting The National WWII Museum is a good reminder of what happened back then. Many young children do not realize what happened back then. His grandson was born on 7 December. Challenged by his teacher to write an essay on a significant event, he chose the attack on Pearl Harbor. The student was then chastised by his teacher for thinking that the attack on Pearl Harbor was a significant event. Edward's son tried to make the teacher understand the importance of what happened on that date. It was to no avail. The teacher did not change his opinion and Edwards' grandson could not write about Pearl Harbor. Edwards has spoken in public about his experiences during the war. Edwards has a cousin who was shot down over Belgium. His cousin was never captured but was protected by the underground. He did not talk about it for years but when he started, he visited schools and told his story. People enjoyed hearing his story. He would have made a good interview for the Museum. Edwards was glad to contribute his interview to The National WWII Museum.
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