My dad yearned to be a doctor from the moment he saw ol’ Doc Weeks, the county physician, set a leg. At 16, he thumbed his way from Talking Rock, Georgia, to Atlanta, where he worked as an office boy. He was in a hurry. The war was on. Youthful impatience wore down his father, who finally signed the papers so Dad could enlist at 17.
He tested to be an airplane mechanic. Nevertheless, my father bumped into some brass and flatly told them he didn’t want to fight the war with a toolbox. He ended up as a pharmacist’s mate on an LST (landing ship tank). It was his first crack at hands-on healing.
After pulling wounded off Utah Beach on D-Day, Dad transferred to the Pacific Theater. The typhoons terrified more than the kamikazes. The LST crew could bellow clouds of smoke to camouflage the ship from divine-wind suicide, but they could not hide from nature’s fury.
A typhoon’s roar deafened, with seas crashing all around. In the valley between 35-foot waves, my dad and his mates would stare up at a wall of water curving overhead. Then the ship would ride almost perpendicular, surviving the crest before tossed into another valley.
My father could not bear what was to come. He would scoop up a few gentle creatures and stow them in his locker. Then the typhoon would rage again, battering most birds to death against the ship.
Life, after all, in the madness of death and destruction.
Patches from My Crazy Quilt © 2014 Catherine Hamrick. All rights reserved.
Pacific Ocean courtesy of NOAA/Department of Commerce
Flying birds courtesy of jvl!vo (Julio Maldonaldo Mourelle)