Oral Histories

John William (Jack) West


Jack West

But, anyway, we got back to Del Monte and went into this final school. As a result of my age and my having a family, then, by points within,, oh hell, it was November I guess, I was eligible to get out of the program. Well, in October, October of ‘45 this happened. They still had to place me so they sent me back to Great Lakes Naval Training School which is just North of Chicago on Lake Michigan. This program involved training to advise the people who were getting discharged. I went through that school the navy guys who were getting out on points. So I went through that school and then came back to Ogden and, but I didn’t come on a troop train, I got a ticket to come back on the regular train. Then in Ogden I picked up Helen, Ann and Lillian and we took the ‘39 Plymouth and finished driving onto San Pedro. In Chicago, as you left, this Great Lakes Naval Training, if you wanted you could drive your own car, which was the other way to go rather than on troop train, and I told them what I was doing. I had my own car which I didn’t pick up until I got to Ogden. But it was legal, legitimate and we got there in the latter part of November, because we were in San Pedro for Thanksgiving.

I reported in and what it involved actually is that we had a booth, each one of us that had that rating, Specialist X, discharge DI, discharge interviewer. As these guys who were coming out of the Navy from all over the world on points would come, you could take your turn, and they would come to the booths. You would tell them what rights they had, what their discharge pay would be, their travel pay and whatever they had available as a veteran. Then the last thing you asked them, “Would you like to sign up again?” Boy, there weren’t many of them that went for that. Once in a while you would get one that would want to make the Navy a career, but that was the one question that most of them really resented.

We had a house, it was similar to the modern trailer homes, up on a hill at Banning Hills where we overlooked the big boat harbor where they were still building ships. Man, what a lot of activity. And Lil and Helen and I and Ann were there. It was real crowded, but it was nice. Then I worked down on Terminal Island. That’s where I actually did this duty where these guys came through for discharge and that went on until March. I had seen some of these guys come through and, if they had been to the hospital rather than be reassigned until they only had a month or two left, they would discharge them. One of the guys who was with me wanted to go to the Long Beach Hospital and have his hemorrhoids checked and I was having a little trouble. So I went along with him. I says, “Well, let’s go do it.” We went over there and his were just minor, but they decided I needed an operation, much against my desire. But I went ahead and had it and it has been very successful. As a result, when I went back for reassignment, I only had about a month/six weeks left, so I got discharged. It was March. I had been in about a year.

We packed up and Uncle Ray, my brother and your uncle, had just been discharged from the Coast Guard. He was at Treasure Island, up by San Francisco. That’s where he got discharged. He pulled a few strings so he could get discharged just at the same date so we could pick him up on the way and bring him home with us. And that’s what we did. We picked Ray up and came home, came back to Ogden. That made quite a big carload in that old Plymouth, but we made it good.

Well, picking Ray up in San Francisco to bring him home makes me think about why, how he got into the Coast Guard, and what happened prior to that. Our lives were pretty close from the time Dad died. See, I was nine and a half years older than Ray, but after Dad died, Mother didn’t have a home. They had never bought a home and practically, I guess, no insurance. She was really in rough financial shape. But she got some jobs and had a little rental apartment I remember, one time in Ogden. Then she went to Murray and lived with a cousin, Lou Doran. But as for Ray, between us we decided that the best thing for him would be to come to Provo and live with Helen and I and Ann and work for me in the service station. So he came and the house we had had an apartment upstairs. Dad died in ‘41, so in ‘42 Ray would have come. He had got out of Junior High School the year Dad died, and he had two more years to go. So he came in ‘42, after I had leased the station. He came to live with us and work for me. That was it and he went to B.Y. High School and finished his two years there, which is long gone, B.Y. High. But he worked for me, a super good worker, and he got out of high school in ‘43 then (’42 or ’43, I’m not sure of my dates but if he was born in ‘25, he got out in ‘43 ). But he had worked for me and finished up his high school at B.Y. High in Provo and, as soon as he got out of high school, him and two or three other of his friends joined the Coast Guard. So that’s how and when he got into the Coast Guard and from then on, of course, he took a course in Pharmacist’s Mate in Columbia University after he got into the Coast Guard. That’s what he chose to do (or they chose that he should do) and he got to be a Pharmacist Mate. He and a group were stationed out on Nehqu which is the farthest island out in the Hawaiian chain and they had a radar station there for warning of anything coming from that direction from the Japs. He was stationed there and, of course, they called him “Doc.” He was the doctor. If there was anything serious they had to send them on into Hawaii, but it was an Island that had no harbor. The boats would anchor out a ways and they would have to go back and forth in small boats. I remember him talking about that. But that’s where he stayed until the war was over, let’s see ’44 or ‘45? He came back to Treasure Island in San Francisco. All this happened in a short time because I wasn’t in long enough. But while I was at Del Monte having this second session of my electronic technician training, he got back to San Francisco. A couple of times, I am sure that I hitchhiked up from there to visit him and hitchhiking, incidentally, was a breeze. Boy, we never gave it a thought to hitchhike 300 or 400 miles. People were just so good and picked us up. But I went up there to visit him and while I was there (I presume being in the Navy had a lot to do with it) they treated me like a king. Boy, they put me up in the officers’ visitors’ quarters. Of course, I would go eat with Ray, but it was real good duty.

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