“What was boot camp like?” I asked Bud. “A lot of rules,” he replied.
He spoke of his Barracks Commander who was nice, but very strict. If you got out of line, for instance, if your bed wasn’t made tight enough to bounce a dime, or if your clothes were not rolled in the precise, requisite way, you were punished with Holy Stoning. This was a stone that you would use to scrub the concrete floors in the barracks—on your knees. Hence, the word “holy.”
Bud rose at four in the morning. There would be one hour of calisthenics. One day a week he would work in the mess hall scrubbing pots and pans. Eight-man row boats would go out on the lake to build endurance. Bud already knew how to swim. However if you did not, you hadto learn to swim at least 50 yards. Boot campers had to learn to take off their pants in the water, tie the leg holes, and make a life jacket. Everyone had to learn to jump 30 feet into a pool. This was the distance from the deck of the destroyer to the water if you had to jump overboard. Then Bud would go to the rifle range where he was allowed 15 shots and remarkably would hit the bull’s eye 14 times!
During the thirteen weeks of boot camp, Bud, like everyone else, had no idea where they would be stationed or what their duties would be. While in school in Chicago, Bud had worked in the electrical shop so he took six weeks of electrical training after boot camp. Sadly, Bud recalls, it was in the same darn town.
After boot camp in early 1944, Bud was assigned to a destroyer, the USS Robinson DD562, where he served until June, 1946. His rating was EM 2/C (Electricians Mate Second Class.) USS Robinson was in combat at Saipan, Tinian, Guam, Peleliu, Leyte, Mindoro, Lugayen, Mindanao, the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea, and Borneo in the Pacific Theater in World War II.
[/caption] src=”http://coastalbreezenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Capri-3-206×300.gif” alt=”” width=”206″ height=”300″ />During the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea, the USS Robinson made a torpedo run on the Japanese battleship Yamashiro in the Surigoa Straights, and was credited with two hits. It was later determined that the Yamashiro sank along with two other battleships, four cruisers, and seven destroyers. After Borneo and at the end of the war, the Robinson went to Okinawa and then assisted in minesweeping operations at the mouth of the Yangtze River on the China Coast.
Bud was honorably discharged in 1946 and, upon returning home, met Ruth Olson. They dated for two years and were married in July 1948. Bud worked for Automatic Electric in Northlake, Illinois, for thirty years, ending up as manager of the Industrial Engineering Department.
Bud and “beautiful” Ruth moved from Addison, Illinois, their home of twenty years, to Isles of Capri in June 1978. They have one son in Illinois and one daughter in Arkansas. Bud is an active member in Post 6370. He’s a great cook too. Bud is a great storyteller. He told me of the time he was fixing a walk-in cooler on the Robinson. His assistant told Bud that he had shut off the breakers. He had not. Bud got knockedout by four hundred and forty volts of current!
Bud used to do extra duty on board by showing movies. He got paid fifty cents for this. He was playing a movie in the mess hall when the amplifier on the projector had a short which knocked him out. His ship mates wanted him to continue the movie after he came around. He said, “No way!” The projector weighed two hundred pounds. Ship mates would always help him set up the projector. However once the movie ended, everyone would vanish. One night when Bud was playing a movie (which had eight reels) he stopped and said he wasn’t going to show the end of the movie unless he had help taking down the projector when the movie was over. Not surprisingly, he received plenty of help.
I asked Bud, “Did you ever get shore leave?” He laughed and replied, “We got two cans of hot, near-beer (3.2 alcohol content) on a hot island for an hour. That was it.”
Bud can be found most days hanging out at The Island Market across the street from his home in Tarpon Village. Bud, along with his brother and brother-in-law, actually formeda corporation. They gave “Doc” Loach a check for $30,000 dollars which was the inception of the 56-unit Tarpon Village.
As I already mentioned, Bud is a great cook. He appreciates good food. His favorite restaurant used to be Jim and Eddie’s here on the island. Bud is like a bottomless cup of coffee. He has more fascinating stories that just keep getting better and better. We talked of the time when Ruth and he were newly married and were living in a rooming house. He had me doubled over in laughter as he told me about the incessant roaches who also resided there, along with “working girls” who lived in the basement.
More to come on Bud. He is an endless resource about the Isles of Capri, in addition to being a decorated war veteran. Most importantly, Bud and his sweetheart wife, Ruth, are the nicest people you will ever meet.
For more information about the USS Robinson, go to www.ussrobinson.org/Star_Four.htm. I read around fifty pages about this ship. Really fascinating!
Michael Yergin is a nationally known happiness guru, relationship and positive psychology expert, management consultant and life coach. He has been featured in Time, Fortune, Money Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, CNBC and WGN-TV as well as hundreds of radio stations. Visit his website at www.michael yergin.tv.