Back To San Diego & Vernon's Overseas Deployment

In the early fall of 1944 the Quartermaster Refrigeration Unit (Vernon’s Unit) was issued thirty-day passes as they waited for overseas orders. We set our sights for San Diego. Vernon acquired a 1935 Chevrolet for our transportation. We called it the “Terrible Chevy”. The early pioneers probably didn’t have many more problems than we did covering those miles of desert and mountains. It was by the grace of God, Vernon’s astounding Rube Goldberg talents, sheer determination and youthful risk-taking that we made the trip. There’s no telling how many thousands of miles that old chevy had made before we even started out. Vernon coaxed it along with ingenuity, imagination, wire and spare parts – it was a miracle that we made it.
We visited with his family and Daddy and tried to have as much fun as possible during the short time we had, not knowing what was ahead.
When the leave was up Vernon returned to Cheyenne, I remained in San Diego with the remains of the old chevy. I knew there was no way for me to keep it running so I advertised it for sale. A man came to look at it. When he opened the car door it fell off in his hands. I was so embarrassed I gave him the car – thankful to be rid of it. I’ve wondered what happened to the old chevy, could be that the man kept it running for some more miles. All America’s manufacturing efforts were going into making war machines, not new cars, so people made do with the old ones.
The overseas orders came in January of 1945. We didn’t know where. I remember waiting and wondering and praying that it would not be a more dangerous area of the Pacific war. After what seemed like a very long time I learned (much to my relief) that they were in Honolulu. That’s where he stayed until VJ Day, August 14, 1945. We were greatly blessed that Vernon only had to undergo boredom and loneliness – not bullets or bombs.
Most of Vernon’s time there was spent operating a crane dumping supplies into the ocean in and around Pearl Harbor. This was the main site of the supply for the troops in the Pacific so there was mountains of supplies stored in that area. As the winds of war shifted, some of the supplies became obsolete to the current needs of the war effort. The higher ups of the War Department thought it was more economical (or maybe just less trouble) to simploy dump the surplus supplies into the ocean rather than ship them back to the United States. In many cases these were some of the same things that were rationed and in very short supply on the mainland. At any rate, for day after day, month after month, Vernon operated a crane dumping crates and boxes of brand new supplies into the ocean – not exactly the kind of war story that Hollywood uses for movies.
When Vernon left for his overseas assignment I began my assignment, which was to keep the home fires burning until his return. I went back to my trusty Civil Service, going to work for the Navy, Headquarters of the Commandant, Eleventh Naval District. It was in a six-story building at the foot of Broadway. It was an exciting grand-stand seat to sit out the war in the Pacific. From my fourth story window I could look down as bands played “Anchors Aweigh” music for the troops as the ships were embarking for, and returning from, the Pacific. It was the perfect place to experience the thrill of patriotism without the blood and horror of the war. The work was challenging and interesting, peppered with “secret” and “Top secret” terms.
It was considered the patriotic duty of us young wives to use our waiting time to help in the USO (United Service Organization). Some of those duties were to bake cookies for refreshments, and – (the part I liked best), to serve as dancing partners for service men on leave. The ration of service men to female dancing partners was about twenty to one, so that meant jitterbugging to exhaustion!