Prewar Life

Entering the Navy



Walter John Guyote was born in St. Mary Parish [Annotator’s Note: St. Mary Parish, Louisiana] in July 1925. He had three brothers and four sisters, and was the youngest. Two of his older brothers served in the Army. Their father was a rice and sugar cane farmer. During the Depression [Annotator's Note: the Great Depression was a global economic depression that lasted from 1929 through 1939 in the United States], they lived on a farm so they always had something to eat. He was so young that he did not know there was any different way to live. He worked in the fields and played ball for fun. He was working in the fields when his uncle came and told him about Pearl Harbor [Annotator's Note: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941]. At the time, he did not realize how many ships sank and what the effects would be. When he turned 17, Guyote tried to volunteer but was turned down because of his eyes. He tried again and was refused again at age 18. A few months later he got a draft notice. He wanted to go into the Navy. He was discharged in New Orleans [Annotator’s Note: New Orleans, Louisiana] on a Mardi Gras weekend. The man who discharged him asked how he was even able to get into the service. Everybody wanted to get into the fight at the time. Some of his classmates died. He chose the Navy because he had a very bad case of hay fever and figured it would be better on a ship.


Walter John Guyote cheated on the eye exam to get into the Navy. He was sent to San Diego, California for boot camp. He had been drafted in 1944 [Annotator’s Note: after trying to enlist twice and being denied due to vision problems]. It was his first time leaving home. Boot camp was not bad for Guyote because he was used to working hard. From boot camp, he went to Gulfport, Mississippi where he learned to be a machinist’s mate for about six weeks. From there, he went to diesel school in Cleveland, Ohio to learn about engines. He then went to Norfolk, Virginia for three weeks before going to a shipyard in Wilmington, Delaware. After that, he went to Philadelphia before going back to Wilmington to take off. They brought pilings to the Pacific aboard the USS LSM-430. The boat was only 23 feet long and flat-bottomed because it was a landing ship. It had an open deck. Guyote worked in the engine room. He did not mind his daily duty except when rough weather hit. He was in Oakland [Annotator’s Note: Oakland, California] when the war in Europe ended [Annotator’s Note: 8 May 1945]. They delivered the pilings to Guam [Annotator's Note: Guam, Mariana Islands], then went to Okinawa [Annotator’s Note: Okinawa, Japan], Saipan [Annotator's Note: Saipan, Mariana Islands], and the Philippines. He was on Okinawa when peace with Japan was announced [Annotator’s Note: 15 August 1945]. Everybody got drunk. He had never heard of an atomic bomb [Annotator's Note: nuclear weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, 6 and 9 August 1945].


After the war ended with Japan [Annotator’s Note: 15 August 1945], Walter Guyote made a few trips to Japan [Annotator’s Note: aboard USS LSM-430]. There was a bad typhoon. He was seasick for a long time. They made a trip to the Philippines and Okinawa before going home. Guyote was discharged and did not want to stay in. He would attend USO [Annotator's Note: United Service Organizations, Inc.] dances. Mrs. Truman [Annotator’s Note: Bess Wallace Truman, First Lady and wife of Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States] was present at some of the dances in Wilmington [Annotator’s Note: Wilmington, Delaware]. It felt good to get back to the United States. He was able to get his old job back at a Chevrolet dealership. He was discharged in March 1946 in New Orleans [Annotator’s Note: New Orleans, Louisiana] with the rank of Machinist’s Mate second class. When the Korean War [Annotator's Note: Korean War, 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953] began, Guyote joined the National Guard so he would not have to go back into the Navy. He used G.I. Bill benefits [Annotator's Note: the G.I. Bill, or Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, was enacted by the United States Congress to aid United States veterans of World War 2 in transitioning back to civilian life and included financial aid for education, mortgages, business starts and unemployment] for just two weeks. He had no trouble readjusting to civilian life.

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