7 Stateside

The Rochambeau landed in San Diego on July 27th; just a week later I left on a thirty-day furlough. While I had been overseas my folks had moved from Myrtle Creek to Monmouth. I spent most of my time with them, but also went to Myrtle Creek to look up friends. Most of those friends were girls, as by this time almost everyone else I knew was in the service.

While at Monmouth, the American Legion Post in Corvallis learned that I was home and asked me to make a speech. This rather pleased me as there was a whole Army division in training just outside of town, but at this time of the war very few men had returned yet from combat duty.

On September 4th, I returned to San Diego and was assigned to Guard Company at Camp Elliott. When it was discovered I could type I was made a clerk in the office. The major benefit of the job was that I was given a bunk in an adjoining room so I would be more available in case of emergency. It was wonderful to have a room of my own as one of the major drawbacks in the service was the constant lack of privacy.

Jim McCrory, my good friend from the Solomons, had also been sent back to the States and was stationed at Camp Elliott. Jim had married just before enlistment and he and his wife, Thelma, had a small apartment a few miles north of camp. I frequently went home with him in order to get a few more hours off the base.

About this time the sergeant's exam became available and I was declared eligible to take it, which I did. I passed, and while I never learned my score, I was told I did quite well. I had visions of becoming sergeant by the time I had two years of service, but that was not to be as I wouldn't be around long enough.

Figure 43. Leonard and his father, Rollo, while on leave in Oregon.

Figure 44. Len on leave.

When I returned to the States we were guaranteed at least six months of stateside duty before being sent overseas again; however, the Marine Corps was experiencing heavy losses and replacements were badly needed. When I had been back just over four months, the length of stateside service was shortened to three months. In just a few days, on December 7th, I was transferred to a casual company. The only thing that could stop me now from going overseas again would be to flunk my physical. I knew I would pass that, but I didn't realize I would do so by such a margin. When I appeared before the doctor the conversation went like this. "Can you breathe?" "Yes, sir." "Can you walk?" "Yes, sir." "Next man." That was it - two questions. I knew then how desperate the Fleet Marine Force was for men.

On December 14th, I was sent to a replacement battalion, and on the 21st I went aboard the aircraft carrier USS Langley, bound for Hawaii. We were jammed aboard the carrier, which of course was never designed to carry troops, and were assigned three to a bunk--one sailor and two Marines. The sailor had priority, and depending on his duty hours he got to pick his choice of which eight hours he could spend in his bunk. The two Marines split the remainder into two additional eight-hour shifts. That was not for me so I went into the hold and found a huge pile of sea bags. I picked a soft spot among them and slept whenever I felt like it.

On Christmas Day, December 25, 1943, I sailed into Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii.

Last Modified: 01/01/2019
One Man's View by Leonard E. Skinner (2001)