In your Dec. 26, 2018 edition of the Whidbey News-Times, you had a nice long (letter) by Terrence P. West of Coupeville. Some of the numbers cited were interesting but made good propaganda material.
He states, “It was not career military that bore the brunt of the war, it was civilian sailors that steered the Navy ships to victory.”
At the war’s end, all branches of service were top heavy with civilians versus career military. With civilians making up the bulk of the military, it is only logical that the civilian military would have a greater number of losses. Simple math.
Mr. West overlooks the fact that most of World War II was a ground campaign thus the military that “walked” did most of the one-on-one combat. Army and Marines placed more of their personnel in harm’s way.
Mr. West also makes a strong point of the civilian military. My family had one at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, career military. We had many more who put on the uniform after Pearl Harbor and fit Mr. West’s category of civilian military.
But while these civilians were beginning to fill up the ranks of a growing military force, there was a bunch of career military fighting for a time on Wake and Guam Islands and a place in the Philippines known as Bataan. Those career military slowed down Japan’s advances through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific.
A Navy guy, Admiral Halsey, took Jimmy Doolittle and 79 other Army Air Force flyers on an all-expense paid trip to Japan. Japan did not like that visit, so they changed their tactic for the Pacific. The Japanese Navy and the U.S. Navy met at the Coral Sea, resulting in a major blow to the Japanese movements toward Australia.
The Japanese Navy put together a great carrier fleet and headed for Hawaii. Admiral Nimitz’s code-breakers picked up on Japanese signals and figured they were heading toward Midway, en-route to Hawaii. The Japanese fleet suffered greatly, no more “target Hawaii.” No civilian sailors steered those ships and planes at Midway. They were all career military.
From Pearl Harbor to Midway, the fighting was career military. There were no civilian military. They were still back in the U.S. learning military skills.
Civilians from all walks of life begin to fill the ranks of the military. Bob Feller was the top pitcher in baseball, but as the story goes he was at the Navy recruiting office when it opened on Dec. 8. Jimmy Stewart gave up Hollywood to be a private in the Army, in time reaching the rank of colonel.
Audie Murphy, a sharecropper from Texas, gave up farming to join the Army. The Germans wished he had stayed down on the farm. It was not long before the civilian military outnumbered the career military. Hand-in-hand, the reached Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945.
Mr. West did a lot of reorganizing military facilities in the Northwest. Even got Glasow, Mont., back as an active military base. Like so many, me included, he has it all figured out how to do things right if he was running the show. By following the TV nightly news, one can see how fast the White House staff changes. Maybe Mr. West should have his resume updated and ready and as soon as President Trump fires the next staff member, send in his resume and apply for the job.
If accepted, he could show the White House how some things should be done. I started my resume once but like the story of the little kid and his school homework: my dog ate it.
Robert D. Brown