Keeping Her Father's Voice Close

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Mayor Barbara Brewer's father died in 1995. She was a grown woman then, with a family of her own, so she had him with her through childhood and the teen years. He had seen her marry and have a child of her own.

But there was a part of her father's life that was a mystery to her -- Richard M. Martin served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during World War II. He served aboard the U.S.S. Pathfinder, one of the small ships that carried the dive teams that secured harbors before Marine landings.

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The late Richard Martin left school to go into the Navy during World War II. He trained at the Great Lakes Naval Station, served briefly on a submarine, then on the U.S.S. Pathfinder in the Pacific.

"He never talked about it," Brewer said.

"But he had nightmares for years afterward," said Brewer's mother, Grace Martin.

"He was even jumpy while we were growing up," Brewer said. "One time I hid behind a door and jumped out and shouted ‘boo!' at him and he swung around, his fists up and nearly punched me under the chin."

Now Brewer can hear her father's voice sharing some of his war experiences as she reads the small diary he kept between March 1945 and the war's end.

Notes of Interest

Made reconnaissance landing at Casaquran Mar. 13, 1945. This is the first landing of U.S. in Luzon area.

Plane crashed Apr. 2, 1945 -- pilot died on board Apr. 3, 1945. Had 13 plasma and 4 raw blood transfusions.

Left Casaquran Apr. 5, 1945.

Out of chow.

Arrived in Leyte Apr. 7.

No Mail -- Loaded supplies.

Left Leyte Apr. 8, 1945.

Arrived Ulithi Apr. 11,

Left Ulithi Apr. 26.

Arrived Okinawa May 1

1 air raid May 1

5 air raids May 3. No sleep for 59 hours, 5 planes made suicide dives into DMS.

4 raids May 4.

5 raids May 5. Suicide plane crashed on fantail causing slight damage and killing one man. Only one gun left aft.

4 raids May 6.

3 raids May 7.

NO Raids May 8 (rain).

3 raids May 9, all night without stopping

9 raids May 10, no sleep.

3 raids May 11.

3 raids May 12.

4 raids May 13, one plane made direct attack on us but got a singed tail for his trouble.

May 14, 3 raids.

May 15, 2 raids (rain). We are finally getting air support.

May 16, 3 raids. Rammers are raising hell.

May 17, 3 raids -- one lasted 5 hours.

And the raids continued, Martin noted two and three a day in his little diary.

May 23, 3 raids. It seems that they have our number again as they are hunting for us.

May 25, 4 raids -- one lasted 7 hours, a plane passed a hundred feet over us at nite and crashed into another ship. Luck we didn't open up. Bomb hit 1,100 pounds of mail.

May 29, 3 raids -- one lasted 5 hours ...

June 1, 1 raid -- Japs are about finished ...

June 11, 1 raid -- Pilots are laying 5 to 1 that Jap Air Force will be knocked out in 5 to 7 weeks ...

June 13 NO Raids

June 14 " " ...

June 21, 3 Raids -- U.S.S. Barry hit and sunk ...

June 25, 5 hour raid -- Saw three planes explode. Had eclipse of the moon ...

July 6, No raids -- Done on transport. All kinds of personal stuff ...

July 10, No raid.

July 25, Have been having a raid every night since last entry. Nothing much to talk about though.

July 27, Received answer to Potsdam Conference -- 3 raids, up all night.

July 30, Nips still knocking off 3 ships per week average.

Aug. 6, Raid every night ...

Aug. 7 Up all night -- 3 raids -- Afraid Japs will use gas. Russia declared war.

Aug. 10 Japs willing to surrender. Guns & flares lite up sky. 6 killed, 22 wounded.

Aug. 14 Japs accepting terms. Still having one or two raids per night.

Aug. 15 WAR OVER -- 1 raid.

Aug. 19 Jap envoy passed thru to Manila for signing of peace treaty.

Sept. 2 WAR OVER official

Sept. 20 Admitted to S.A.H. #7

Sept. 22 Operated on.

Oct. 7 Returned to ship.

Oct. 9 98 knot typhoon.

Martin, by then a Gunner's Mate 1st Class, returned to U.S. soil in Seattle where Grace went to meet him.

"I toured his ship and had the worst coffee of my life there," she said.

He had a dog with him, Hydro, who had been with him all through the war. But the animal never made it to civilian life. The dog got loose and was run over and killed by a car in Seattle.

The couple had know each other since childhood. Grace's aunt was best friends with Dick's mother and had brought the boy home with her one summer for a visit. Later, when Grace graduated from high school, her present was to go to visit her aunt where she met Dick again and they went out on one date.

His mother had died and his father was on the road all the time, working for Montgomery Ward, so he quit school and joined the Navy.

While Dick was in basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Station in the fall of 1942, Grace visited him there and wrote to him regularly.

When he finished training he was stationed on a submarine, the U.S.S. Jenkins, which shipped out from New York in November 1942.

The couple married Oct. 28, 1944. Dick had leave in Oakland. He called Grace at her family's home in Michigan and asked if she wanted to get married. She did and he said he come back on the train.

"My mother had surgery scheduled for that weekend, but she canceled it," Grace said.

"I got up early the day he was to arrive and went down to the train to meet him. He wasn't there. So, I came home, put my hair back up in curlers and went to bed.

"A knock on the door woke me up and I answered in my robe and curlers and there he was.

"He had hitchhiked from Chicago, thinking he could get there faster."

The newlyweds wrote to one another every night, she said. They had put up a big map and noted the time changes on it.

"He would write during the night watches. But when the letters came they were all in shreds from where they had been censored."

Brewer not only hears her father's voice as she reads his diary, "I hear the guns and think how mentally exhausted, as well as physically exhausted he must have been."

"He never talked about it, or all the lives that were lost," she said.

When she first read the diary it was a very emotional experience for her, she said. It still is sometimes and those feelings are close to the surface when she meets veterans.

"It was real emotional to meet these gentlemen from the different branches (of the service) and hear their experiences," Brewer said of the recent Memorial Day ceremonies. She was the guest speaker at the program presented at Mountain Meadows Memorial Park by Messinger Funeral Home on May 30.

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