Yesterday's Tractor Co.
Shop Now View Cart
   Allis Chalmers Case Farmall IH Ford 9N,2N,8N Ford
   Ferguson John Deere Massey Ferguson Minn. Moline Oliver
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   Traditional YT Forum ViewClassic View   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile    Log inLog in 

The Greatest generation


 
Post new topic    
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
YTSupport
Site Admin


Joined: 01 Jan 1997
Posts: 7142


Report to Moderator

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2016 9:43 pm    Post subject: The Greatest generation Reply to specific post Reply with quote

I have a memorial for the Yesterday's Tractors community. This man was not a member, in fact he never used a computer, but I believe that this community will "get it" far more than any other group of people we could approach with this. Nothing will go in the paper, because they won't "get it"... I know for a fact you will. Kim and I don't normally post on YT because as the keepers of the forums, we don't want to shade the forums with undue authority. We would ask that you allow this exception.

In late 1942, William "Bill" Pratt, had turned 18 at college studying agriculture, when, even though his number had not come up, he decided to put college aside and join up because it seemed like the right thing to do. He said he chose the Navy (Coast Guard, the President had already joined the USCG under Navy for the duration) because he wanted a shower every day... he wanted to serve his country, but he couldn't give up his shower. After completing his training, he reported to Long Beach where his brand new ship awaited, the Crater class Liberty Ship known as the AK-94 USS Mintaka (after the star in the Orion constellation).

He was assigned as coxswain of one of the ship's two LCM(3) tank lighters. On their first cruise, they made the run to the South Pacific Theater doing supply runs for the build-ups taking place in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea. After this initial shakedown, they returned to the West Coast to haul a portion of the floating dry dock needed for the Aleutians campaign, Kiska and Attu would still have been in enemy hands, and the North Pacific fleet was sorely in need of maintenance. As he described it, the normal plodding pace of 9 knots, dropped to about 3 that trip, towing a section of dry dock from Seattle, one that seemed as large as their ship.

On the way home, even though the ship was new, they were ordered to PSNS Bremerton, to be one of four AKs that were to be converted to carry troops. While that experiment failed, because neither the Army nor Marines would permit such slow cramped ships to be used for hauling troops, it did let the Navy have a resource for hauling Construction Battalions and soldiers from other nation's armies such as New Zealand. The other countries had to take what they could get Wink. It also added a duty for him, as he was assigned to command one of the four new Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft guns required and added to any ships designated to carry troops. Normally, an AK carried only a single 5 inch and 3 inch guns, mounted fore and aft, at that time. His ship now had a real AAA at each corner of the superstructure.

Returning to the South Pacific, they began what he said was the most boring time he had ever had in his life, shuttling cargo, CBs and other troops from Guadalcanal to new bases springing up everywhere as the island hopping began in earnest. He said that occasionally, troops bound for various islands yet to be conquered, and of course unknown to them, would have to stay aboard for two months at a time, sometimes even going back and forth on cargo shuttle runs, as staging for assaults weren't quite ready for them. This turned out to be fortunate, as work hungry CBs, would tear into any job they could find, not just doing maintenance to the ship, but dreaming up ways to improve every system they had. I can just imagine how quickly each AK would be made into a personalized and non-standard product of industrious CBs wanting to do engineering and craftsmanship and stuck on a ship. Even his LCM was hot-rodded by those guys.

Once, after the assault on Green Island (home of Richard M. Nixon's famous hamburger stand), the New Zealand troops, now having completed their part in island assaults, had to get back to NZ as soon as possible to staff the shortages in war production factories and on farms. The Mintaka stuffed a bit under 2000 soldiers in a ship modified to carry 8 to 900 troops. I'm sure they were glad to get that ride though, having lived through the amphibious assault and mop-up.

His shining moment came in May of 1945 when he and his gun crew, were at battle stations during Kikisui 7 or 8 (one of the massive Kamikaze blitzes that the Imperial Japanese forces were desperately throwing at the Okinawa anchorages). At one point, a kamikaze came in at the ship in a perfect position that his 40 could aim head on, he could not miss. As he told me finally after a lifetime of refusing to talk about it, "I guess I could have been killed" he said with a far away look in his eyes. The plane was aimed directly at the bridge and after being hit with virtually sucker shots, it was vaulted upward clearing the bridge to fall in the water to the rear. The ship received credit for the work of that gun crew and quite a few shipmates lived on to come back and be our fathers. It's quite interesting that one of his beloved professional caregivers, Alice, a Japanese lady, told me one day about how her uncle was killed... a suicide pilot. One can't help but wonder... yet the more interesting thing was to observe in 2015, the dependent interactions of these two cultures, an invalid needing help, and a helper so involved in the care of her charge, both coming from opposite sides of a horrific war.

Bill came back tasked to get as many people processed out of a badly bloated Navy, and even before the final cruise, was put ashore to get sailors processed into civilian life. They apparently had taken note of his administrative acumen which makes sense, because he went on to be an accountant for the navy. Like so many, as he was taking a bus ride between Long Beach and Alameda, as he put it, the match-making bus driver, seated the girls and the boys in pairs, giving him the "hottie", who, like thousands of other guys, would become the love of his life for nearly 70 years. She preceded him in passing by almost exactly 3 years, but he was unable to walk after that, unable to hear from a virus caught in the South Pacific that plagued his hearing all his life, and virtually unable to see, yet being fastidiously taken care of by his granddaughter Abby for the last two years of his life, her coming from a generation that many criticize for being irresponsible, but did absolutely right by her grandfather, thus did right for her country too by caring for one of it's many heroes. His one wish was that he would never go to a nursing home, and he got it.

Bill passed on today at 10:45 am Pacific time. In typical fashion, he had stubbornly refused to die, going for 4 days after the doctor had said he would absolutely die. The doctors didn't know who they were dealing with, and they were wrong. In his last days at home, he hid the tremendous pain he was experiencing even through advanced dementia, stubbornly refusing to allow a doctor visit, knowing that if someone guessed what he was going through, he would have to leave his beloved home for the last time. Strong and stubborn till the last minute, my Dad, one of the very few left of this precious generation, finally had his peace.

A final note, and one I think is fitting. I called the VA today and regardless of what people think about our government and bureaucracy, they did not bat an eye, they are on it, he is going to be buried in a national cemetery with full military honors, as the hero that he is, a color guard from the active duty Coast Guard and military volunteers to provide gun salute. He WILL have his flag that he served. That may be a moment that I don't know that I can face with my dignity intact, but it seems extremely appropriate. He would have refused the fuss if he were here, but if observing, would have not held back his tears for his pride in his country. He was, indeed, part of the greatest generation, and YT will not forget them. I will not forget my Dad and the many he represents to me.
 
Back to top
View user's profile
Bob Bancroft
Tractor Guru


Joined: 05 Mar 2009
Posts: 7419
Location: Aurora NY

Report to Moderator

PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 7:14 am    Post subject: Re: The Greatest generation Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Thank you.
I often wondered if provided with someone who would really listen, if the vets would open up and talk. I assumed it would do them some good. But I finally understand their silence. I have read over the last five years several stories about the Pacific campaign. Unfortunately the only name I can remember is Sledge-"hammer". After reading these I finally understand that what they went through was so horrible, so inhuman, that they just had to try to totally put it out of their minds. Talking/thinking about it brought the horrors right back. I recall one fellow describing how he had to come up with a mechanism(in his mind) where he would immediately direct his thoughts, if any of the old nightmares tried to pop up. Thankfully, after enough years had passed, some of these guys could begin to share/write their experiences.
 
Back to top
View user's profile
Rich'sToys
Tractor Expert


Joined: 09 Feb 2011
Posts: 1757
Location: MN

Report to Moderator

PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 2:24 pm    Post subject: Re: The Greatest generation Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Please accept our deepest sympathies.
 
Back to top
View user's profile
Keith Molden
Tractor Expert


Joined: 05 Mar 2009
Posts: 2089
Location: Pomeroy, Ohio (Meigs County)

Report to Moderator

PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 2:26 pm    Post subject: Re: The Greatest generation Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Please remember that shedding a tear in no way lowers your dignity. Tears are only rain that makes love grow. Being an old G.I. myself, I hope when it becomes my time to rest, there will be a few tears shed on my behalf. Not tears of sorrow but tears of gladness that I've gone on to a better place, and You can rest assured there will be someone telling your dad "welcome home and a job well done my son". Our prayers are with you in your time of sorrow. Just my thoughts, Keith
 
Back to top
View user's profile
larry@stinescorner
Tractor Guru


Joined: 14 Nov 2009
Posts: 23257


Report to Moderator

PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 2:44 pm    Post subject: Re: The Greatest generation Reply to specific post Reply with quote

very sorry,,thank you for the beautiful tribute to a great man ,,and a great family
 
Back to top
View user's profile
fixerupper
Tractor Guru


Joined: 12 Oct 2003
Posts: 16090
Location: Albert City Iowa

Report to Moderator

PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 3:47 pm    Post subject: Re: The Greatest generation Reply to specific post Reply with quote

You have my deepest sympathy. May he finally receive the peace and honor he deserves.
 
Back to top
View user's profile
Adirondack case guy
Tractor Guru


Joined: 04 Mar 2010
Posts: 13997


Report to Moderator

PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 5:30 pm    Post subject: Re: The Greatest generation Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Very touching tribute.
Sending our deepest condolences also.
 
Back to top
View user's profile
LarrySTN
Long Time User


Joined: 27 Apr 2006
Posts: 1038


Report to Moderator

PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 9:55 pm    Post subject: Re: The Greatest generation Reply to specific post Reply with quote

What a great tribute you have written. I'm sorry for your loss. Somehow we men have been taught not to cry, not to shed a tear. I have the
utmost respect for men that are able to shed a tear at the appropriate time, this is one of those times. Bless you at this time, thank you for
sharing.
 
Back to top
View user's profile
YTSupport
Site Admin


Joined: 01 Jan 1997
Posts: 7142


Report to Moderator

PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2016 2:54 pm    Post subject: Re: The Greatest generation Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Thank you very much for all of your support.

As Bob mentioned, if you haven't read Eugene Sledge's memoirs, I would heartily recommend that and Robert Leckie's, or in fact any of the 100s of memoirs out there. It's a great way to remember the sacrifice the WWII Vets made, and keep their memory alive.
 
Back to top
View user's profile
Ande
Tractor Guru


Joined: 01 May 2006
Posts: 6367


Report to Moderator

PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 3:57 pm    Post subject: Re: The Greatest generation Reply to specific post Reply with quote

I have nothing but full respect for this man, and honestly this was a breath of fresh air, as many really don't know the sacrifices these men gave. My hat is off to you Sir. I feel the Good Lord welcomed you with open arms
 
Back to top
View user's profile
casenut1
Tractor Guru


Joined: 08 Mar 2011
Posts: 4341
Location: North Central Ohio

Report to Moderator

PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:06 am    Post subject: Re: The Greatest generation Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Thank You for such a great story. I believe more of these stories need to be told. May God bless you and your families. Thank You again.Bill
 
Back to top
View user's profile
:   
Post new topic    Yesterday's Tractors Forum Index -> Memorials and Remembrance All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  

TRACTOR PARTS TRACTOR MANUALS
Fast Shipping!  Most of our stocked parts ship within 24 hours (M-Th). Expedited shipping available, just call! Most prices for parts and manuals are below our competitors. Compare our super low shipping rates! We have the parts you need to repair your tractor. We are a company you can trust and have generous return policies. Shop Online Today or call our friendly sales staff toll free (800) 853-2651. [ About Us ]

YT Home  |  Forums

Modern View Forum powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group

All Rights Reserved. Reproduction of any part of this website, including design and content, without written permission is strictly prohibited. Trade Marks and Trade Names contained and used in this Website are those of others, and are used in this Website in a descriptive sense to refer to the products of others. Use of this Web site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement and Privacy Policy

TRADEMARK DISCLAIMER: Tradenames and Trademarks referred to within Yesterday's Tractor Co. products and within the Yesterday's Tractor Co. websites are the property of their respective trademark holders. None of these trademark holders are affiliated with Yesterday's Tractor Co., our products, or our website nor are we sponsored by them. John Deere and its logos are the registered trademarks of the John Deere Corporation. Agco, Agco Allis, White, Massey Ferguson and their logos are the registered trademarks of AGCO Corporation. Case, Case-IH, Farmall, International Harvester, New Holland and their logos are registered trademarks of CNH Global N.V.

Yesterday's Tractors - Antique Tractor Headquarters