entered the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1938 and was assigned
to the Denton Camp #2738. When the Denton camp closed, Joe and the
other men were transferred to Bridgeport CCC Camp. After Joe completed
his two years in the CCC's, he went to Scottsbluff, Nebraska, to work
in the potato cellar. In 1943 he received a draft board notice. Joe
kept a daily diary from the day he left the United States until he
landed on his first of three invasions against the Japanese in the
Western Pacific during World War II. He wasn't able to continue his
diary because every minute was spent in fighting and trying to stay
alive. His diary begins on July 8, 1944, and ends September 23, 1944.
He gave a copy of his diary to the Denton Community Historical
Following are some of the events Joe experienced while serving his country. You can read Joe's entire diary in the Voice News. was also a swimming instructor. He instructed pilots and crews on water safety and self-preservation in the water. Joe was assigned to I 884th Aviation Engineering BN and received training in warfare--i.e.: gas attacks, chemical warfare living in pup tents and under fire. The 1884th went by USS Sea Flasher to Hawaii which took seven days. They camped next to Hickham Field in Hawaii. Nothing had been cleaned up after the Japanese had hit Pearl Harbor. The men in the 1884th received more training in Hawaii. When they paraded down the main street in Honolulu, President Franklin D. Roosevelt watched.
Joe said he had the opportunity to shake hands with President Roosevelt as they passed him in the parade. Then the 1884th loaded their equipment on the LST#606 for a journey of 53 days. The ship stopped in Guadalcanal and they went ashore to see a Bob Hope show. After leaving Guadalcanal, they headed for the Palau Islands. They landed first on Palau and later on Anguar Island. When they arrived at the Palau Islands they stayed offshore for two days while the warships and aircraft carrier planes bombed and shelled every inch of the islands. Anguar Island was their first invasion. They were preparing the island for their landing. As their LST #606 headed toward shore, they plowed through many hundreds of American dead troops who didn't make it to land.
The men knew what they were heading for, and they were terrified. Everyone prayed for fear the end was near. Out of the first three waves of the American troops going ashore, each wave had 1,000 troops and not one man made it to shore. They estimated that the first island they landed on had at least 10,000 Japanese troops on it. The island was only 1 1/2 by 2 1/2 miles. The island was swamp and solid jungle. The infantry 81st division went in first and then Joe's unit came in to clear the jungle and build an airfield for U.S. bomber and fighter planes. Their outfit of Air Force engineers built an airfield from a solid jungle in 29 days and earned a presidential unit citation. They left the Palau Islands and went to the invasion of Guam.
This island was an American possession that was lost to the Japanese earlier. Their job was to build the first B29 air base. They had to clear out many acres of palm trees. Joe had an opportunity to go to town, Agana, which was the capital and see the wreckage from the bombing. He didn't think it was as bad as that of Palau Island. Okinawa was the 1884th' s third and last invasion. Joe is proud to have served his country. He wants his children, grandchildren and future generations to realize what he and many other men went through to preserve Americans' freedom. Thanks, Joe, for helping to preserve our precious American freedom.
Webmaster - Kathie Harrison
Denton Community Historical Society of Nebraska