Serving at Pearl Harbor

From the Rev. Thomas E. Eisenman, of Lima



In a small town of Weston, Pennsylvania, were a few men in high school wanted to join the US military service. So we traveled to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on April 7, 1945, and we joined. As we stood up to be sworn in one recruiter said, “Look at that kid with the fat cheeks.” Little did they know I had the mumps. Even so I was in the Navy and sent to Sampson, N.Y.

When we arrived in Sampson Naval Base, the first thing they did was shave off all our hair. There I stood bald headed white kid who lost his wonderful head of hair. Not only that my name disappeared and I became No. 248 79 23, a number I shall never forget. No name calling, just your name.

While I was in Sampson training, I was short and therefore the guide that in front on the left hand side. Right behind me were these tall men therefore when we marched the man behind me enjoyed stepping on my heels. He was much bigger than I. I lived through it.

From Sampson we were shipped to San Francisco on a train run by coal. We had a lot of coal dust on us. We would have given $10 for a Hershey bar. I met a Marine in San Francisco where he and I went to town. He had a world, the Marine sign tattooed on his right arm. He said to me, get a tattoo. I got an anchor of the US Navy tattoo on my right arm. I wore long sleeve shirts for about 20 years.

On a transport we were shipped to Pearl Harbor. It wasn’t long before we dropped those bombs on Japan. They quickly surrendered. We stayed there for 11 months. While there I made a friend, Julius, who still is in touch. He’s now 90 and I am 91. He has been on oxygen and I am still serving a church, now serving as pastor for 69 years.

While at Pearl Harbor I went to Waikiki Beach where I fell asleep and got sunburned. Never did that again even though the view was good as we could see Diamond Head.

When in Pearl Harbor I desired pepperoni so I wrote to my grandmother, who raised me since my mother was deceased, to send me a stick of pepperoni. So from Weston, Pennsylvania, to Pearl Harbor I received through the Post Office a stick of pepperoni. It was the best pepperoni I ever had.

As Petty Officer I typed out passes for the men and then we mothballed the ships that were in the harbor. We threw typewriters, ammunition overboard and into the Pacific Ocean.

Any films they showed us during the war showed the Japanese as rats with Japanese faces.

Thank God for the GI Bill. I got married, had three sons and college education. I’ve been a pastor for 69 years and still serve a church in Kenton where I have been for 29 years.

I have been given the American Theater Ribbon, the Pacific Theater Ribbon and the Victory Medal.

By the way, while in Pearl Harbor my high school, because I wasn’t there upon graduation, sent me a $25 bond in appreciation.

They told us we were fighting the war to end all wars. This was important to me.

All I say is “God bless America” because it’s a great country. I’m glad for what I did for my country, and I appreciate what they did for me.


From the Rev. Thomas E. Eisenman, of Lima

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