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    Posted June 5, 2014 by
    BrendaOlson
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your World War II memorabilia

    More from BrendaOlson

    HE WAS ONLY 17: MY FATHER’S NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE IN OKINAWA JAPAN IN JUNE 1945

     

    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     BrendaOlson told me, 'I have three photo albums full of pictures taken between October 11, 1944 and April 25, 1946. Most of the pictures were taken either by my father or one of his buddies. I have no idea how he managed to have the film developed. When I was younger, I did not take an interest in the photos or war stories and basically took my father's participation in the war for granted. It wasn't until I got older and realized the self-sacrifice he and the other young men of his era suffered in order to fight for our freedoms that I really became interested in the history of WWII. When I think of him enlisting before he graduated from high school and at the young age of 17, it just blows my mind. I can't imagine what his mother went through either. When my son was 17, all I had to worry about was his driving, but my grandmother had to worry every second of every day because her son was in harm's way all the time. He was across the ocean in another country fighting a war, using guns and ammunition against other young men. The horror that they went through - I am just speechless when I think about it. I know my father suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for years after he returned home to the states and it saddens me that his youth was taken from him. Every time I look at the pictures, I am awestruck to realize my own father was there and experienced this war first hand. He almost died. The medical core that stitched him up on the beach not only saved my father's life that day, but because my father survived the war, he was able to have me and my brother and we in turn were able to have three more children so the doctor who saved my father's life, saved five more lives.” '
    - hhanks, CNN iReport producer


    When Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, my father was only 14 years old. During his high school years, he and his school buddies desired to be a part of the war effort and believed they could make a difference. In reality, they were too young and inexperienced with life to realize what was in store for their future after they enlisted.

    My father’s name was Myles Robert Lee. Shortly after he started his senior year in high school, at the mere age of 17, he enlisted into the service. On October 11, 1944, he and 52 other future soldiers were on a train from Boston heading to Geneva, New York. He spent ten weeks in boot camp before being shipped over seas. He was part of the Seabees Battalion and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan.

    My father shared many war stories with my brother and me when we were growing up in the 1960’s, and one particular story still brings me chills.

    My father’s ship was docked along Brown Beach in Okinawa, Japan. His military job was to mechanically fix the trucks if and when they broke down, drive them to certain locations and most importantly, protect the cargo. He was responsible for a truck carrying ammunition, bombs and other explosives. During the Invasion of Okinawa in early June 1945, the Japanese planes were flying overhead and the ship was under attack. I remember my father specifically telling me he could actually see the whites of the Japanese man’s eyes as he carried out his suicide mission crashing into the ship. There was massive fire surrounding the truck prior to the explosion. My father was able to drive the truck off the ship during the attack in order to protect the cargo from the fire. My father had difficulty driving off the deck with the weight of the cargo on board. He made it to shore, but the cargo shifted and he was forced to stop the truck along the beach and climb on top of the cargo in order to tighten the security straps. During the attack, a nearby crane operator was trying to take cover, but the crane snapped from its ties and was in direct line with my father’s truck. The crane’s hook struck my father at full force sending him air born into the water below. His fellow Seabees watched in horror as the crane catapulted my father leaving him face down in the water along the shore. The waves were splashing over him, and it is a miracle he survived. The few Seabees, who witnessed the accident from the safety of a bomb crater, believed my father died that day, but the unit listed him as “Missing in Action.”

    Luckily the Marine Medical Core found my father face down on the shore bleeding and unconscious. It wasn’t safe to transport him to an infirmary until after the attack ended, so my father was forced to undergo surgery to stitch up his head wound right on the beach during the attack. My father’s amnesia kept his identity from being known for a period of time, but thankfully, my father did survive and was able to return to the states in October 1946.

    The slideshow features several pictures in Okinawa, Japan as well as a snapshot of the Japanese Surrender on September 2, 1945. My father passed away on June 22, 1995 and left a trunk full of pictures, personal letters and other memorabilia from World War II. The letters are currently being compiled into a diary from 1944 through 1946. My mother donated some of my father’s uniforms, badges and other memorabilia to the Wright Museum located in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

    God bless all our military men and women of yesterday, today and tomorrow. We owe our freedom to their bravery and dedication to our country.
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