Thursday, September 22, 2016

What Did Your Dad Do In The War

Well, I didn't get out to fish this week, but starting Sunday I've got 4 days at Upper Lake to fish my little heart out.

I'm posting this because I don't have anything to write about and Mike (Troutrageous!) already hit on the new Star Wars movie. 

Most of you either had a dad that was in WWII. Korea, or Nam. Being a Geezer, my dad was in WWII. All my younger life I was under the impression that my dad was at the Normandy invasion. Not sure where I got that from, but it was all I remembered. Not so.

My dad was in the Coast Guard and was a Chief Machinist Mate on a troop transport called the USS William P. Biddle. That's all I really knew.

Image result for uss william p biddle
USS William P. Biddle
As the Internet grew, every so often I would Google the ship's name. All I got was stuff about William P. Biddle, but nothing about the ship. Then I hit gold.

Somewhere in the area of 2002, I found a reunion for the ship late that year. Once I contacted the reunion committee, the rest, they say is history.

Then the information came in, wave after wave. The one item I did discover is that the ship was all over the world. I also found out that the William P. Biddle spent some time at Mare Island Ship Yard in Vallejo, California in 1941 (that's even before Moi). We pass this island every time we cross Highway 37 going to Hendy Woods State Park or any of the other destinations up the North Coast.

One of the stops it made was at Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides. If you watched the TV show "Black Sheep Squadron" you're familiar with Espiritu Santo. I just watched a show on the Smithsonian Channel (I think) about the F4U Corsair which was the staple of the TV show, the war in the South Pacific,  and about Pappy Boyington who in his later years lived and passed away in Fresno, California just South of where I live.

Another place the ship stopped was Sicily. From there it went to Oran in Algeria where it picked up German and Italian prisoners of war for transportation to the US. You knew that there were prisoner of war camps in the US, didn't you? In fact, there were more than 511 of them all over the United States. At the end of the war in 1945, there were 425,871 POW's held in the United States.    

Some of the island landings she was part of were well known places like Tarawa, the Marshall Islands, Guadalcanal, Guam, and Leyte in the Philippines.

I don't know what time period my dad spent on the ship and the paperwork I have doesn't list any, only that he was a member of the crew at some time during the life of the ship.

So here is a little piece of my history.Hope you enjoyed the ride.


  1. It's always interesting when we can find out what our dads did in the war. Mine never talked much except about the fun times he had on leave. I do know that he burned up the barrel of a machine gun and the government was going to make him pay for it.

  2. That's some interesting backstory. I love learning about WWI & WWII. Appreciate you (& Howard) sharing.

    In my case it's my Grandfathers that were in WWII. I was able to learn that my one Grandfather flew over Europe as a tailgunner in Operation Carpetbagger. Pretty neat. I think he flew several missions but was fortunate to have never faced live fire.

    He had his old WWII leather bomber jacket hanging in the basement of his house. I wish I knew what happened to that...

    My other Grandfather, I unfortunately don't know much about his tour of duty. I know it was short, he lost his leg in battle in North Africa, but don't know much more than that. He was a real character, would talk your ear off about anything, but don't recall him talking much about the war, if at all.

    Whomever coined the phrase "The Greatest Generation" was not kidding.