Wally's Index

Wally Nadel
World War II in the Aleutians - Shemya (APO 729)
January 26, 1943 to January 27, 1946

1. Recap of Army Facilities

Ft. Benjamine Harrison, Indiana

Ft. McClellan - Anniston, Alabama

Camp Shenango - Pennsylvania

Ft. Lawton - Seattle, Washington

Fort Sheridan - Illinois

Port of Embarkation


2. Conscription - the Draft

3. Selection Process

4. Shemya

5. General S. B. Buckner, Jr.

6. Major A. Brindle

7. My Outfit

8. My Buddies

9. Supply Sergeant

10. Army Medical Experience

11. Civilian Contractors

12. Potpourri

13. Returning to the States

14. Coincidences

15. Unspoken Concerns



Most people, especially those who haven't moved around the country

often, seem to think that most of the population think and have the same

values as you do.  Sort of an inbred mind-set.


It's quite a revelation, in an environment such as the Army, to discover how

different others are, in respect to politics, beliefs, use of language, moral

standards, family values, - - - you name it.


A few recollections that are still with me - - - - -


The guy who wasn"t sure whether he would return to his wife and children,

or his single sister-in-law, who he has been writing to.


The soldier who showed snapshots of trees and tried to convince others of

the "divine" faces hidden among the branches and leaves. Eventually, our

C.O. on Shemya, when the soldier demanded that his religion be recognized,

pointed to a tiny shed and said- - - - this is your new church!


The young lad from Tennessee who, in casual conversation tried to convince

others that Roosevelt's real name was changed from Rosenfeld, as part of

some Jewish conspiracy.


The fellow who described his pre-war vocation.  He worked four minute

intervals, a total of 12 minutes a day.  This took place in a facility that

produced powdered milk in vast rotating vats.  For each of the four segments,

he donned a new white outfit, tied a rope around his waist (so that he could

be rescued quickly) since the vat could not be stopped for too long. The

temperature was horrific while he scraped the residue from the sides, top,

and botton, then exited before the possibility of passing out.


An alcoholic who would offer his monthly pay for a fifth of whiskey. We found

it prudent to hide hair tonic or anything containing alcohol, and tried not to be

around when he drank and became violent.  When sober, he was an apologic

pussy cat. He left his home town with another draftee who ended up in the same

unit.  Before they left, his wife implored his buddie to please watch over him.


The character who was obviously born at the race track.  Talked from the side

of his mouth  -  in a low secretive voice - not wanting others to know about

the winning mount- but never looked you in the eye.


The Master Sergeant, with more stripes than a zebra, when addressing the

men, "you people".  He was in the Army about 25 years, hated draftees,

especially the boys from Brooklyn, who were brought up questioning

every order instead of being submissive.  They often paid for it


Previously, I mentioned "friendly fire".  My take on it is that there were many

more deaths for that reason, in this and previous wars, than we can imagine.

In the battle area, when a unit commander, the one who informs the family,

has a choice to say to the mother or wife;

"a nervous buddie of your boy saw some movement, then shot him by mistake"

       OR    "In the field of battle, this brave and patriotic boy served his country

with the ultimate sacrifice".

    You know which one he will use!


Ft. Mc Clellan - Anniston, Alabama

This training camp was named after General George B. Mc Clellan of the Union

Army.  He rated second in his graduating class at West Point.

The General enjoyed the reputation of being an excellent trainer of soldiers.

When major battles began in the Civil War however, he proved to be too timid

and failed to press his advantage over Confederate troops.


Lincoln, it is said, sent him a telegram (which I'm paraphrasing)  - - - -  "Sir, if

you're not doing anything with your army at present, we can use it to greater

advantage elsewhere".


In the battle on the Island of Attu, we first experienced a phenomenon which

occured later in the South Pacific.  One must understand the Asian mind to

believe and comprehend this.  The thousands of Japanese fought bravely,

in the handful of battles - - - but, in those battles where it was obvious that

they were going to lose, rather than lose face with the Emporer, they committed

suicide en masse by holding hand grenades to their chests. Because of this, of the

thousands of Japanese, we only captured 28 alive.


Although, in the American Army,  there may have been a few suicides, the most

famous suicide bomber, a 4-engine bomber pilot, Colin Kelly, ordered his men

to parachute out, and crashed the bomber into a Japanese warship. Songs have

been written about this act of courage and sacrifice.


A Japanese Shrine - Either Kiska or Attu

At the time in the 40's, when the Japanese occupied some of the Aleutians, the fear that they planned to invade the United  States "through the back door" was almost a given.  It took many decades after the war to figure out that it was a diversionary tactic to tie up a quarter of a million men and keep them out of the South Pacific where their real interests were.

The first generation American Latino with a hugh chip on his shoulders,

perhaps justifyably.  "They hated me in Texas - now they hate me in the

Army".  I'm not sure this was completely true, but we had millions of

Japanese and millions of Germans who hated him, as well as the rest of us.


© Wally Nadel 2007

Dr. Will R. Eubank - Adak 1943    Map of Alaska