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Occupying Force: A Sailor's Journey Following <Br>World War Ii

Occupying Force: A Sailor's Journey Following <Br>World War Ii

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Occupying Force: A Sailor's Journey Following <Br>World War Ii

203 pagine
2 ore
Jun 19, 2003


A surprise attack on American soil and a holy war waged under the guise of an ancient religion-A nation of zealots indoctrinated to hate Western Civilization and a culture ignoring reason in favor of mindless violence-A cabal of militarists conditioned to elect suicide as a battle strategy and celebrate death for divine reward! Headlines from today's war on terrorism? No-these were the themes of America's war with twentieth-century Japan. Joining the Navy to face these fearsome enemies, seventeen-year-old Charlie misses the action in World War II by mere days. Then, directed to occupy the former foe's homeland instead, he remains behind when the war's heroes have all returned to a welcoming nation. Working and enduring through the months, Charlie records his daily thoughts while growing to respect the Japanese people-and does his best to find adventure along the way!
Jun 19, 2003

Informazioni sull'autore

Dr. D. Charles Gossman is a corporate executive and occasional college professor residing with his wife and teenaged son in South Florida. The author?s first book?Tales from the Oak Hammock?is a humorous memoir depicting his teen years growing up in the Miami suburbs.

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Occupying Force - D. Charles Gossman


All Rights Reserved © 2003 by D. Charles Gossman

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher.

iUniverse, Inc.

For information address:

iUniverse, Inc.

2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100

Lincoln, NE 68512

ISBN: 0-595-27995-3 (pbk)

ISBN: 0-595-65723-0 (cloth)

ISBN: 9781-4697-9477-8 (ebook)

Printed in the United States of America
















To Mom and Dad, authors of my life.


Many thanks to my wife Eve and daughter Kellie for their constructive criticism and help editing the manuscript. To Mom, special thanks for providing Dad’s keepsakes—especially his diaries—and adding details along the way.

In sharing Dad’s adventures posthumously, I found it awkward to document some of the accounts without the benefit of consulting him to add to the subtle detail necessary to bring them to life. Many were clearly associated with the stories I first heard after learning, when I was still a small child, that he was a sailor on a big boat. Still, there were journal entries that needed eyewitness explanations to clarify certain events. Fortunately, Mr. Clemens Beiring, a shipmate, fellow gunner, and one of Charlie’s best friends aboard the carrier graciously granted a series of interviews to assist me with firsthand accounts for many of the anecdotes. Promoted from Seaman First Class (S1c) to a Petty Officer rating before leaving the service, Beiring is an active member of the USS Antietam Association and has contributed several articles to that group’s newsletters. His help in understanding naval operations and personal insights were invaluable.

Recognizing that readers would gain no value from my limited views on the subjects covered in this book, I have included the comments of still other published eyewitness accounts and experts to lend credibility to the discussions. In particular, I reference the writings of Ernie Pyle, James Fahey and others with the intent of remaining within the constricts of fair use guidelines. These men lived through the war (although Pyle was killed just months before the Japanese surrender) and had many of the same experiences Charlie (Dad) had. Over half a century later, these gentlemen helped give voice to a sailor that could no longer offer his own oral history of wartime experiences. To further assist in recounting Charlie’s story from February through December 1945—the period during which he suspended his writings—chapters two through four also contain information originally recorded in the Antietam Diary and the writings of Marine Eddie Evenson. The Antietam Diary, archived with Charlie’s Navy memorabilia, is a one-page mimeographed sheet given to the Antietam’s crew in February 1946 to commemorate the carrier’s first year of service. Evenson’s diary, included in History of the USS Antietam published in 2001, contains information from the perspective of the Marine detachment assigned to the carrier at that same time.

I am not a professional historian, but I realize any author aspiring to that revered position must first research the work of others. Put another way, no one is born with innate knowledge and therefore cannot write about subjects he or she has not studied. With this in mind, I have carefully acknowledged all references to the work of the many authors consulted in the preparation of this book. Since charges of plagiarism recently tainted the reputation of one popular World War II historian shortly before his untimely death, I have chosen to document citations similar to the standards of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Style Manual. This convention is better suited to meticulous scholarly work than to a historical non-fiction book (like this) that would typically offer less rigorous citation methods. To be sure, the formal APA style is cumbersome in narrative passages but it leaves little doubt as to the sources of material incorporated by an author. To improve readability, I am employing a modified APA (primarily by dropping redundant publication dates and by taking certain other liberties) with the intention of presenting the sources as clearly as possible while preserving the narrative flow.

To ensure a clear delineation between my phrasing and the recorded words of others cited herein, I have loosely followed the format established in Pacific War Diary. Specifically, I have recorded the weekday name and date in bold typeface immediately followed by Charlie’s original words in italicized type. Where I present the words of others, I have clearly identified the sources. Where the diarists did not originally establish dated journal entries, I have included them with the label author’s entry. In addition, supplementary discussions are included as new paragraphs with standard typeface after the journal entries themselves. For the record, I did not alter or change content in transcribing Charlie’s diary with the exception of minor corrections to misspellings and grammar to improve readability. A recap of all references is included at the end of the book and although I have made every attempt to establish proper credit for quotations or the work of other authors, I remain solely responsible for any errors in the wording or sources cited in this material.

Regarding the graphics prepared for this volume, all vintage photographs (and original negatives) are the property of the author as heir to Charles J. Gossman’s estate. Charlie personally took most of the World War II snapshots while the remainder were made under his supervision with his camera. All current era photographs in the book are credited to the author and dated 2003.

Finally, a word to acknowledge date conventions: I have employed the accepted military format which lists the day of the month first, followed by the name of the month and then the year. Furthermore, most historical dates are in keeping with western date convention (the date in effect in the western world—actually the date on the east side of the International Date Line toward the US). For example, the attack on Pearl Harbor recorded as 7 December 1941 in the United States occurred on 8 December 1941 according to the date in Japan. On the other hand, Charlie’s journal entries were generally in keeping with the eastern date convention while he was in Japanese territory and western date convention while on the U.S. side of the line.


In preparing this book, I had the opportunity to visit with my father again. Although he passed away some six years ago, I came to realize that as I studied his diary and poured over his Navy keepsakes I was meeting him as a young man at precisely the same age as my son. As I type these words, my son is one week from his 18th birthday, the age at which Dad joined the Navy during World War II. As I type these words, the United States is engaged in a war on Middle Eastern soil, originally ignited by the first major attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor exploded into World War II. And, as I type these words, my eighteen-year-old nephew, a National Guardsman, stands his watch at an international airport in response to the September 11, 2001 day of infamy.

It is unimaginable that young men—boys, really—must be violently jerked into manhood by a device so cruel as war, but mankind has survived this way throughout history. How different our world might be had we somehow avoided the loss of millions in World War II, but that world can never be known. It is enough to know that men of reason prevailed.

In looking to the past at my father, I have seen my son. As I look at my son in the present, I have seen my father. It is enough to know that men of reason still prevail.

D. Charles Gossman December 2001


Suffering a surprise attack on American soil, we have faced a holy war waged under the guise of an ancient religion. Confronting a nation of zealots indoctrinated to hate Western Civilization, we have attempted diplomacy with a culture that ignores reason in favor of mindless violence. Then, facing a cabal of militarists conditioned by tradition to elect suicide as a battle strategy, we have watched in disbelief as our adversaries seek death for divine reward. These are the themes not only of today’s Al-Qaeda, but of early twentieth-century Japan as well. Whether examining Japanese troops of the 1930s and 40s, or Jihad terrorists in the first decade of the twenty-first century, the similarities are unnerving.

Despite these parallels, the lessons our nation learned while engaged in twentieth century conflicts may not serve us in facing this millennium’s enemies. In World War II, the Potsdam Decree implored the Japanese to return to reason, but can a similar declaration influence today’s adversaries? Some will only recall the role the atom played in changing Japan’s mindset, yet we can never underestimate the sacrifice many millions made in securing peace during the last century. In simplest terms, individuals fight wars. Regardless of the size of a nation’s combat force or its access to sophisticated weapon systems, individuals accept ultimate responsibility. Accountability and sacrifice—the qualities demonstrated by so many in World War II—will continue to translate across the generations.

Even ten years after World War II, many individuals who fought in the conflict did not feel comfortable sharing wartime experiences—however sani-tized—with their children. This changed for me one Christmas when I was five years of age. In fact, the earliest Christmas present I can remember was a large toy aircraft carrier Santa delivered. To be sure, our Santa presented matching carriers to my younger brother and me on Christmas Day, 1955. Sporting a sharp-edged, sheet metal flight deck four feet long and a foot wide, the unwieldy little ships were assembled with hundreds of miniature nuts and bolts—some of which were undoubtedly misplaced in the construction process. Their four undersized rubber wheels (no bigger than a quarter) begged us to propel them at high speed into the furniture on opposite sides of our living room.

An unlikely color scheme of yellow trimmed in black and red cast the little ships in a decidedly unmilitary light. To complicate matters, they were equipped with diminutive airplanes molded from blue plastic. These were not the fierce-looking Navy fighters of World War II fame—they were instead small four-engine Constellation airliners modeled to a completely different scale. For convenience, at least, the little planes could be stored neatly in a compartment on the side of the ship’s hull, just above a small label that read Made in Japan.

Oblivious to the contradictions in this series of facts, my brother and I were delighted with the toys and immediately began waging all-out carrier warfare in and around our home that Christmas morning. Half a century would pass, however, before I was to realize that exactly a decade earlier our Santa spent his Christmas Day on a somewhat larger aircraft carrier moored in Tokyo Bay.

Fascinated by Dad’s World War II Navy stories, I began inquiring about them from the time we first received the toy carriers. Even at that tender age, it was clear to me that his navy experiences formed a fundamental pillar of his life. Somehow, his enthusiasm was infectious and I felt the need to share his experiences as well. I recall boasting to my first grade friends at recess, My dad was on the biggest ‘sip’ in the navy! To my dismay, I discovered they could not quite interpret the word sip nor could they grasp the concept of the navy. I also recall making the mistake of mentioning that these kids really liked Dad’s mysterious money during Show and Tell. This of course evoked howls of complaint from a father who had no idea I departed for school that morning with samples from his collection of World War II era foreign currency and coins. I had discovered the treasure in a special chest in his bedroom closet and immediately secreted it to school in my pocket. To this day, I am not sure I successfully retrieved all the coins after passing them around the room and chasing several that rolled under the rows of school desks.

In retrospect, I regret never taking the time for a more formal discussion with Dad (Charlie) about his experiences in the Navy. Unfortunately, he will never have the opportunity to offer his observations in the tradition of the oral histories collected from our World War II veterans. His death in 1996 after a prolonged illness seemingly made that impossible. Then, quite by accident, I discovered that something else was stored in the same secret chest that had contained his exotic coins: Dad’s World War II diary. The truth is, I was unaware he had maintained this brief journal

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