George A Bane Autobiography, Part 4


Update: The whole autobiography is now collected in one place in a variety of formats (as a web page, a PDF, and a printed book).

Read Part One Here
Read Part Two Here
Read Part Three Here

On the day of our Lord, December the Seventh, Nineteen Hundred and Forty-one, quoting our beloved president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the day that will go down in infamy.

As usual on Sunday mornings, I opened up the radio station and checked in the WVR for traffic. There were no messages to be sent or received, so WVR signed off with me about ten am EST. After we signed off, I turned on my broadcast radio and started piddling around in my room. I wasn't paying much attention to the radio, but I heard Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field mentioned several times. Like a bolt from the blue, it hit me, and I realized its us that's being attacked. Immediately, I opened the radio station and checked in the WVR. A few minutes later a GI came running in red-faced and panting like a hound dog. He said the Major was trying to get in touch with me and he wanted me to open the radio room and check in with headquarters in Atlanta. He also said the C.O. had been trying to get me by phone. I don't know why I didn't hear the phone unless he called while I was at the chow hall eating breakfast.

Tuesday morning I copied the official declaration of war. I wish I had kept a copy to show to my Grandkids.

Well, we are now at war! What happens to us now? Many will live to be old men and sit around and tell tall tales to their grand kids.

Many will never have that pleasure.

We could no longer go into town in Civilian clothes. Uniforms were the order of the day on or off the post. After we got over the shock of Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field, things settled down to normal. By the time, Christmas was only a few days off, and we started thinking about going home for the holidays. The Chief's folks lived only a short distance from Fort Jackson, so we agreed for him to go home a couple of days before Christmas and come back the day after Christmas. I left as soon as he got back, and it took me a full day to get home by bus.

I didn't get home until late in the evening. I was supposed to have ten days leave, but it didn't work out that way. My parents lived about six miles behind the post office and didn't have a phone. The day after I got there, around four o'clock in the afternoon, a taxi cab drove up and the driver came running in with an urgent message for me to call my Commanding Officer at Fort Jackson. I went back to town with him and told him to wait while I made the phone call. The major picked up the phone about the second ring. When I gave him my name, he told me to leave immediately for Fort Jackson. When I told him it would be the next day before I could get a bus going in that direction, his reply was, "You find a way. I expect you in my office tomorrow morning." There was not much for me to say but "Yes, Sir." I hired the taxi to take me to Meridian, Miss, a forty mile trip from Philadelphia. I caught a bus out of Meridian and rode all night.

The next morning around eight am, I walked into the Major's office. He had all the stuff I was to take with me on the floor in front of his desk. Mixed in with the A bag, B bag and Musette bag, there was a field backpack, unrolled. We had a little problem here--no one in our entire outfit had the faintest idea how to roll the dratted thing. We solved the problem by sending it over to an infantry outfit and got them to roll it for me. It stayed with me all the way to Karachi, India, still rolled up. I forget just what happened to it, but I think I checked it in to supply.

The Major said he would tell me all he knew. I was assigned to Signal Team C Tack Force X 5402. I would be traveling under sealed orders, and would wear side arms at all times. Upon arrival in San Francisco, I was to report to the C.O. Fort Mason, CA. I would turn my orders to him. I was issued a regulation 45 automatic with belt and holster. Also two full clips of ammo. The Major carried me to the train and gave me a good send off. He was one heck of a swell guy. I have never seen him since.

We had several hours lay over in Chicago, and to a country boy, Union Station was quite fascinating. While walking around taking in all the sights, an M.P. stopped me and wanted to know if I had delivered or was picking up prisoners. When I told him no, he wanted to know why I was wearing side arms. I told him my orders were to travel armed at all times. Then he wanted to see my orders. I told him that was the reason I was wearing a gun, to keep someone from seeing my orders. He informed me that he was taking my pistol. I unsnapped my holster, put my hand on my 45 and released the safety. By this time we had quite an audience, including a civilian policeman. I told the M.P. he had no authority to disarm me, and for us to call his officer of the day or Commanding Officer. The Corporal and I went to a phone and he got his O.D. on the line and gave me the phone. I explained the situation to the Lt. He was a real nice guy and said I was right, but if I wanted to prowl around some to check that darn 45 with the civilian police until I was ready to board my train. And that is what I did. Any how, it all turned out ok, the MP Corporal and I shook hands and went our separate ways.
(to be continued)

Read Part Five Here
Read Part Six Here
Read Part Seven Here


Just wanted to say, that I'm really enjoying reading your grandpa's autobiography. Thank you so much for sharing it!

Back in the day, when we did Postmortem, I would scour libraries for memoirs like this - that gave a more personal perspective of history.

I was forever trying to "get it right" versus getting it "factual." The facts were easy, it was expressing the feel of the time that was the challenge.

Can't wait for the next chapter!

Thank you so much! That means a lot to me. This is certainly an educational, fascinating, hilarious, and emotional journey for me, and I am so blessed to have these memoirs. I am learning so much, and each day I can't wait to read what happens next.