Amy and David McKinstry's Ancestors

Robert McKinstry's Service in WWII

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Robert McKinstry's Service in WWII

My Dad, Robert Mckinstry, served in the Second World War. These are some things I remember about what I was told.

Wayne McKinstry

Dad joined the army before the USA was involved in The War. For his generation, it was always The War. I think he just wanted to get off the farm and see more of the world. His Dad had died years before, and the family was rather poor.

Dad did not have a middle name. When asked to give his name he had to say “Robert no middle name McKinstry”.

Dad was almost at the end of his enlistment. His brother Elmer had already finished his own enlistment and was back home on the farm. Then came the attack on Pearl Harbor. No one was expecting that, least of all the leadership of the American military. I think when the news came, people from one end of America to the other asked:

"Where is Pearl Harbor? I never heard of Pearl Harbor, where is it?"

So Dad was stuck in the Army "For the Duration". For the duration of the war, that is. Actually it would not have mattered if he had been discharged, because anyone with recent service was pulled right back in. His brother Elmer was soon back in, despite having been discharged.

I know Dad was in an Army camp in North Carolina, and maybe other places. On September 25, 1943, he married my Mother. Soon afterwards, he was shipped overseas. They did not see one another for two and a half years.

Dad was in Hawaii for a time. It made Mom mad when years later someone asked if Dad enjoyed Hawaii. It was not a vacation!

Then he was sent to the Palau Islands, east of the Philippines. One time they had to set up their tent after it was dark. When morning came, they saw a leg sticking out of the ground. A group of Japanese dead had been (apparently) buried there in haste. Dad said they moved their tent rather than complete the burial.

It was hot in those islands. Dad said there were showers, but by the time you dried off and got dressed, you were all sweaty again.

Dad did not actually see combat. He said that one time they were sure the Japs were coming, but nothing came of it. It sounds like they were in a state of constant tension.

As the American forces closed in on the Japanese home islands, my Dad’s “not seeing combat” was going to end. They were issued ropes so that they could climb up a cliff as the Japanese shot down on them. Dad was afraid of heights due to a childhood accident but the Army does not care about things like that.

Then the atomic bombs were dropped and the Japs surrendered. I understand that their divine Emperor spoke up and said, “Hey let's not fight to the last man”. The war was over.

My Dad was shipped back to the USA. There was a point system for who got to go home first. Dad had a lot of points because he had been in for a while. He said that it was very hot on the troop ship coming back and everyone was very sweaty.

He got back to Illinois in November. It was a very cold November and he nearly froze because his body was accustomed to the tropics.

So my Father resumed civilian life. He always was careful to notice which men had served in The War and which had not. His was the Greatest Generation, for sure.