Snapshot of a Time Gone By
Memories of Wartime in the Eyes of a Veteran
In the early 1940's, William L. Ray, or as his friends call him "Bill", was a young man entering into his twenties, enjoying life and not taking it too seriously. He lived in Corpus Christi and worked at Gene Hammond Service Station. Bill felt that it was his duty to join the Air Force and in 1942 he did just that. At the time, Bill shares that he "felt like [he] could win the war [himself] at this time."
He was first sent to Po Valley, Italy, as a switchboard operator with a title - Private First Class. He witnessed the victory over Europe and then was sent to Japan. Shortly after he arrived the war was over. His days as Joe or GI Joe as they were called were behind him. He was one of the fortunate ones.
His best memories were of the joy and laughter of Red Skeleton, an American comedian who went around the world bringing laughter to the military. Bill was on a ship with Red between Italy and Japan and even carried his autograph on a $20 bill for years.
Once home everyone greeted Bill warmly. He was an American soldier who had saved America! The owner of the station had saved his job for him. "They were so good to me, they used all of their red points to cook me steak," Bill shares. Food rationing points were a part of a point system during war time.
When asked to describe the war, Bill shared,"It was bad...I don't like to talk about the nights on the ship with men who had gone hand to hand screaming with nightmares over and over. This wasn't to be talked about. I feel blessed every day that I open my eyes."
Life has gone on for Bill. It has been a good life. War molds people. Times were very different then.
May all our Veteran's have a feeling of appreciation this Veteran's day!
"It has been well said that no man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear. Never load yourselves so, my friends."
"Out of every crisis comes the chance to be reborn, to reconceive ourselves as individuals, to choose the kind of change that will help us to grow and to fulfill ourselves more completely."
"I will try to open my hands and my heart — to life as it is now."