Service Number 964-29-04 Enlisted January 7, 1944 Discharged March 7, 1946
Dale B. Kirkham
Click HERE to read my WAR DIARY
Click here for PHOTOS OF
THE 2009 LCI REUNION IN PORTLAND, OREGON
THIS IS SITE IS DEDICATED TO THE NAVY SERVICE CAREER OF
DALE B. KIRKHAM WHO SERVED ABOARD THE LCI-222
Dale Kirkham May, 2003
||I went to boot camp at Farragut Idaho in January, 1944. I remember the long lines at camp. I was in the same company with my friend John Carson and we avoided the lines as much as possible. I remember going from Camp Farragut to San Francisco, California on a train which had a wreck in route. Personnel moved on troop trains in those days.|
First Navy Photo
was the first navy photo taken of me at boot camp. I looked
pretty young then. I was 19 years old.
camp was in January and February of 1944. This was the only time
in my Navy career that I ever wore a coat, having served most of my
time in the South Pacific. I kept the coat until 1995 when I
finally gave it to my oldest Granddaughter, Wendy Kirkham.
out of Boot Camp
my first and only leave, fresh out of boot camp, I stopped at home
this photo was taken at the home of our next door neighbor who was my
Uncle George Lewis. His house was Lehi, Utah which was my
hometown. I think I had about a week during that leave to say
good bye to my family after boot camp. For all I knew this was
the last time I would ever see my home.
view of Ocean
arrived in San Francisco in March 1944. This was my first view of
the ocean in my entire life. Now I was going to spend the next 3
years of my life
was my high school graduation photo. I was so proud of this Zoot
Suit as I stood with my brother who had just joined the Marine Corp.
brother Dean Kirkham, my Mother, Laverde Kirkham, and I went to
see my brother Avery Kirkham who lived in California just before I left
to go over seas. We at a wonderful reunion there.
a quartermaster on our ship (LCI 222) I was in charge of sending and
receiving messages from one ship to another. I had to be good at
sending both light signals and semaphore in Morris code. This was
the means of communication between ships in the early part of the
war. On ship we communicated by means of voice tubes that carried
the sound of our voice from one place to another. For instance
there was such a tube from the conning tower down to the pilot house
below so we could communicate. This photo was taken at Empress
Augusta Bay, Boogainville, Solomon Islands. We had just landed a
group of marines, and there was a great deal of enemy fire and shoot
going on over on the island just behind me.
I am wearing new dungarees it must have been early in my Naval career
because I seldom wore dungarees. Here I am performing some
routine duty aboard ship.
were under weigh in rough seas in a convoy column of LCI's. Because
these boats are flat bottom they do not ride well in rough water.
Sea sickness was a very common problem.
Thompson Machine gun
was my general quarters weapon and it was kept in the conning tower on
the wall behind me. Note that the clip has been removed because
we had a sailor who went crazy one day and took this gun and opened
fire in the officers quarter. From then on the clips were removed
from the guns and held by the captain. Someone who went crazy
aboard ship was called a 'psycho'. That was my station for
general sea duty and the place where I stood.
the war I caught malaria. I was stationed in the Russell Islands.
Malaria comes from mosquito bites. What happened was one day I
passed out while I was in the crew's quarters of our ship and I fell
from the top
bunk to the deck below, about 5' in all, and I laid there
unconscious. When they found me I was taken ashore and I was
placed in a 'dispensary' or M.A.S.H. hospital unit. It was no
more than tent. I had to lay in that tent with a high fever for
3 weeks until I recovered. That is where this photo was taken. By
the way, this was my typical navy dress.
went to visit my cousin, Cliff Beck, on Tinnian Island when we were
stationed there. I am pictured here with one of his friends.
was my first cousin. He was attached to a B29 squadron. They
stayed in the tents shown here in the background. Cliff took me
for a joy ride in a jeep and the time got away from us. He was an
officer and he told me not to worry that the ship would not leave me as
I was the quartermaster. Anyway it did and I was listed
AWOL. Fortunately Cliff was able to hitch me a ride on a B29 to
the island where my ship was headed and I was actually in the harbor
waiting for my ship when it arrived. No one on board could
believe I was really there ahead of them.
stopped in Hawaii for repairs on our return home. It was the only
liberty (outside of boot camp) that I had during my entire 3 year
service. I looked up my cousin Don McCaffee who was an naval
officer (Doctor) and he was able to get me off the ship. He was
able to get me into the officers quarters and I stayed there with him
for 2 or 3 weeks while the ship was being repaired. We attended
church and it was the only church I was able to attend in the 3 years I
was at sea. Note the 2 stripes on my shoulder indicating my rank
as quartermaster 2nd class. I was homeward bound. This is
the only time I ever wore this uniform.
King (Koenig) and I served aboard LCI 222. Since the name
'Koenig' was German he wanted to change his name to an English name
because we were at wart with Germany. Since Koenig means King in German
he went by that name later after the war. George came in with the
3rd crew who served on my ship. We were only together about 6
months. This photo was taken in Hawaii on the way home from the
war. George has since passed away now but he lived right across
the street from the Presbyterian Church in little town in
photo was taken by a street photographer in Hawaii. I was 20
years old when this photo was taken. I am on my way home.
photo was taken in front of the Royal Hawaiian on Waikiki Beach.
Up to this point in the war all photos were censored so these were some
of the only photos I have from the war.
a bench on the beach of lovely Waikiki. I remember how strange it
was to see women again after so long. We deeply wanted to hear
women's voices and to see them but there were none to be found in the
Navy in those days.
is a small model of a an LCI. One of my friends made me a wooden
copy of the ship and sent it to me a few years ago.
for the tide
the center of the ship you can see the conning tower or the pilot
house. This is where I spent all my duty time. I stood
watch 4 hours on and 4 hours off together with the officer on
duty. The Quartermaster assists in all the navigation. When
positions where sighted with the stars I would record and steer the
ship by these readings. Navigation was all done visually.
This is not my ship but it is similar to the one I served on. I
have included it to show how versatile this ship can be. As you
can see, the tide has gone out and has left this ship high and
dry. Here you can see that the ship is flat bottom which made it
so we could come in close to land. Our ship had a draft of 6 feet
of water which is an amazing thing when you think about it.
in the war we got radar which you can see in this photo. The big
balls hanging from the yard arm are anchor balls and show others that
you are anchored. We were taking on troops at Guadal Canal for
transport. Our job was to transport crews all over the pacific.
LCI's were the Navy's 'taxicabs' for the war.
flag flying in this photo is a 'baker' flag and there is also an anchor
ball showing that we are taking on fuel and water. My job was to
raise and lower the flags and I had to know what all the flags
meant. This flag was red and it meant danger and to stay
back. The ship pictured here behind us was a mine sweeper and it
would pick up the mines left by the enemy. When we made stops like this
it was to take on fuel and water. Our ship held 4000 gallons of
fuel. This was the only time we could get any fresh water.
Bigger ships could make fresh water but we were too small. Water
was very precious. We had to take saltwater showers etc.
is LCI-221 and these are marines returning to the ship. They had
to go though the water up to their waists. Once we got them on
board and went out to sea, the flat bottom boat would slap against the
water and make them as sick as dogs. They would turn three shades
of blue and the whole bunch of them would vomit over the sides for
hours at a time. I felt sorry for them as they were not used to
we are taking on passengers. This photo was taken later in the
war because the radar is on the ship. Often we would pull into a
harbor where there was no place to tie up our ship so I would dive off
the conning tower into the water and they would throw me a line and I
would tie our ship up to a buoy. The other guys thought I was
crazy and they were always afraid of sharks. I didn't worry about
it and I was never bothered whenever I went swimming which I did a lot.
photo shows the ensign on the bow which means we were not under
weigh. When under weigh we would fly the ensign from the mast (on
the conning tower). The pennant would only fly when we under
weigh. It would be displayed from the fantail.
|PHOTOS OF THE CREW|
were the men of the crew I served with. Besides our crew of 21
men and 3 officers we could carry up to 182 men and 6 officers or a
total of 188 passengers.
shows us taking on troops at Guadal Canal for combat in the northern
Solomon Islands. You can see me on the conning tower over the
signal light. Below me there are three portals. Generally I
would stand behind the center portal and steer the ship whenever we
were under weigh.
is my cousin Cliff Beck. He was from Utah and he was an B-29
took displaced natives that the Japanese had deported and mixed up in
the Solomon islands and we would sort them out and take them to their
native islands. They are shown here with all their belongings
with them. The women would carry their belongings on their
heads. Notice our ship in the background. These were
Melanesians and they are very dark black people. At that time the
common term for these native people amongst the navy sailors was
'Gooks' and because we could not understand their language.
is what is called R&R, which stands for rest and relaxation.
This is a group of officers from two different ships. Officers
would stay together and would not fraternize with the enlisted
men. There were 3 officers on our ship. Our captain (far
right) was named Captain Thompson and he was the one who took all the
photos shown here in my memories. He was the only one who could
take pictures or have a camera. This photo was taken in the
Solomon Islands somewhere.
guys are playing poker. They would play night and day when we
were not under weigh. I never did gamble as it was a huge waste
of time and money. They were always trying to borrow money from
me do they could keep playing. If I had all the money I lent to
these guys I could probably retire. The officer whose back is
turned to us in this photo was the chief pharmacist mate. He was
an old Navy man and he was often inebriated as he had access to
medication and ethyl alcohol. The guy in the white hat was the
'gangway watch'. That is why he had to clean up and look sharp to
salute the officers as they came and went down the gangway of our ship.
His name was Worth. The other two guys shown here both
went crazy and cracked up. They were taken off the ship as
psychos. That was about the only way to get off our ship.
Instead of gambling when we got to shore, I would take off and explore
the island and swim. My crew mates thought I was crazy because of
the stories of Japanese who would hole up and wait to ambush sailors
but I never saw anything like that.
is me on the far right and we were with some of Cliff's friends
here. We went for a jeep ride while I was there on Tinnian.
It was great to get out in a vehicle and explore the island.
found some melons while we were on the Jeep ride and we stopped to
enjoy the treat.
I am again enjoying myself on Tinnian with my cousin Cliff. I
would always take my shirt off and I seldom wore it much for 3
years. When I came home I had a tan line that lasted for years
and years from when I served in the Navy
|PHOTOS OF THE ISLANDS|
was the cemetery on Iwo Jima.
is an old style LCI still flying its ensign but they are going to have
a hard time getting this boat off the beach it looks like to me.
This photo was taken in Italy and I include it just to show that the
LCI's were used all over the world not just in the pacific.
was the staging area in California before we would get shipped off to
our assignments. I met my father here in San Francisco. He
lived on 3rd street at that time and he took me out for a big
steak. Before we would go overseas they would check us for
venereal disease and other illnesses. There was a long building
where they would check us over very thoroughly. I hated
that. I never saw so many naked men in my whole life.
Santa Isabelle Island in the Solomons I was able to purchase a model of
a native ship. Understand this was not a 'tourist' sort of thing
as there were not that many Americans on these little islands where we
delivered the displaced natives. I still have this little
boat. It has inlaid with mother of pearl and shows remarkable
native craftsmanship. I also bought some war clubs and other
things from them. While we were returning one group of natives to
these Islands we found a Japanese seaplane base that had not been
touched since it was attacked by the marines. The Japanese used
these bases to keep surveillance on the Americans and they could hide
in these Atolls very easily. This base had been abandoned and I
explored the entire place. Their planes had been shot up pretty
bad but everything had been left in place.
natives would take us on their boats too. Everything they made
they did by hand and sealed them with black gum. We would see
these little tiny boats clear out in the middle of the ocean what
seemed like a million miles from anything. They were master
sailors. I am shown in the front and the man with me is named
||These natives took us on a tour of their island. At most of the islands where we would stop the native people would come out in little boats to get the natives that we were carrying. They were over joyed to see us! In some places we could land on the beaches. The islands in the Pacific are truly beautiful. On this island we were not far from the equator.|
went to New Guinea at one point during my tour of duty. We
visited the South East corner where we landed a group of marines.
We beached there and went ashore to check things out. There we
discovered a whole bunch of Japanese soldiers who had been badly shot
up in combat and were dead. Someone had lined them up along the
beach and had either shot them there or they had been dragged there
after they had been killed. I remember being very upset at the
sickly, bloody sight when I saw their badly mangled and shot up
bodies. War is truly hell. No young man should ever have
to see such a thing or be a part of such cruelty. This was the
only time I ever went to New Guinea
bloody beach on New Guinea.
we had some fun! I found a piece of flat wood, like a surf board
and I had my buddies pull me behind a Higgins boat
"Higgins Boat" is also called a LCVP which was a very small boat with a
square front that would go
about 15 knots, just fast enough to pull me up out of the water.
was the first time I ever water skied.
|Water Skiing||It was here at Garipan that I was able to get back to my ship after it left me and I had been declared AWOL. I actually beat my ship back to Saipan by taking a flight on a C47 (like a DC3). My cousin was able to arrange the flight but I had to get from the air base to the naval base after landing on Garipan. That wasn't so easy. My captains face was full of surprise when he saw me on the dock waiting for him but he never said a word and I never got in any trouble over it.|
water skiing! Great Fun!
met my cousin Cliff Beck on the B29 base on Tinnian Island. Cliff
was a mechanic.
I am in the cockpit of a B29. Note the bombs showing how many
bomb runs the plane had flown.
photo I got of a B-29. My cousin was an officer and he had access
to a camera.
I am with my cousin Cliff posing in a Japanese arch on Tinnian Island.
is a typical view of the beautiful South Pacific. This is an
Atoll and explains why the water is so calm.
I went I carried a sea chest. This was not typical for most
sailors to have a sea chest but because I was the quartermaster I would
keep a ship commissary, or a store of toiletries like soap, shaving
cream, candy, razor blades, razors, watches, stationary, and so
forth. These were the things the navy would not generally supply
us in sufficient quantities. I would keep guys supplied with
these items. The way it worked is I would go to a big ship that
had the supplies we needed. I would stand in line and get a
supply from them. I would fill the chest with these items and
then take them back to ship where I would resell them to the crew when
we were under weigh. Sometimes we would be under weigh for as
long as 30 days at a time and these things often became necessary.
part of my job was to go and deliver and fetch the mail for the crew
when we were at port so this sea chest also became a sort of mail
I had to keep this locker secured at all times to keep guys from
helping themselves. I financed this enterprise with my own money
and generally made a small profit for my efforts.
is one of the flags that was flown from the mast of our ship.
leather watchband would corrode disintegrate in a very short time so I
made this watchband from the shell of a P38 aircraft that had crashed
on Guadal Canal to replace my old one.
was fun to put something like this together and helped to pass the time
that my watchband still fits after 60 years!
knife and a scabbard I made early in my naval career and I carried it
throughout my whole time aboard the LCI 222. I got to where I could
throw it at a coconut tree and hit a target the size of a quarter from
a good distance back. I thought it might come in handy sometime
but fortunately I never needed to test my skill. The aluminum in
the knife came from an old air plane that had crashed on one of the
islands we went to and the leather was some surplus leather from aboard
our ship. I can't remember where I got the blade but I put it all
together. I felt it was quite an accomplishment
had one 50 caliber machine gun aboard our ship and four 20 millimeter
guns. Thats really not very much defense when you think this was
the largest defense we had against enemy attack. This is one of
the shell casings that I kept from our gun.
is the detonator from a Japanese shell that I picked up somewhere on
one of the islands.
are the 3 ribbons I earned during my service. I earned one battle
star and it was for the consolidation of the Northern Solomons which
entailed a number of individual engagements. One ribbon is for
the asiatic pacific.
one point I sent a letter to Australia to buy a tailor made
uniform. This was a common thing for navy guys to do so
they would look good for their families and girls when they got
home. This is the letter I got back from the firm acknowledging
my order. Inside I noted all my sizes at that time including my
weight at 170 pounds. Since that time I have never varied more
than 5 pounds from that basic weight although I will say some of that
weight has shifted down a little bit.
carried this money belt the entire time I was over seas. I never
spent any money because there was not any place to really spend money
and I wouldn't gamble. I made $60 as month. I sent most of
my wages home to my mother for her to use on the farm asking her only
to pay my tithing for me while I was gone.
is the backside of my money belt with my name stenciled on the
back. I would even wear this to the showers since I wouldn't dare
leave this laying around. Many of the men in my crew had been
assigned to 'undesirable' duty because of their questionable police
background. You meet all kinds in the Navy.
eyes were a common souvenir for sailors. We would buy these cat
eyes and send them home to our girls or use them to make jewelry.
I believe certain natives used cat eyes as a form of money. They
are some kind of sea shell.
pennant was flown from the fantail of our ship when we were in
port. Since I was in charge of this kind of thing I was able to
bring this home after the war.
are some of the ribbons that my ship earned. My ship earned a couple of
stars before I joined its crew. Since an LCI was not a combat
vessel we did not often see a lot of direct combat. The Japanese
would often ignore an LCI rather than waist a shell on one. They
would never give away their position just to have the chance to shoot
at one of these tiny vessels. We had no significant fire power so
we were not a threat to anyone. Because of our rather harmless
reputation we were assigned to escort submarines into the east china
sea. Now this was an unusual duty for an LCI. Another
reason we were picked to do this was that American pilots could easily
recognize a boxy little LCI from the air and thus they could avoid
bombing our own subs.
is my boot camp hat. I still have it and it is as good as
new. In the background you can see a photo of my boot camp
company, company 58 at camp Waldron, Farragut Idaho. I am the one
with the orange circle around me. There are approximately 150 men
in a company.
close up of my naval hat.
was the American Pacific Campaign ribbon.
was the certificate I received for crossing the equator on April 11,
1944 aboard the SS Cape Victory. The 'salty' sailors who were
taking us to sea would always do very mean initiations on us. These
initiations were terrible. For example, they would blindfold us
and put us on a plank and walk us out over a big tub of water and make
us jump. Of course we thought we were going overboard. It
wasn't very funny. We felt like monkeys and they would make us do
tricks. Anyway, this is the certificate they would present to us
and once we had this certificate we could keep these initiations from
happening the next time we crossed over the equator went. Of
course I am speaking about a time early on in my navy career before I
was assigned to the LCI 222. I received this certificate when I
was on a large troop transport ship. They would give you a wallet
version of this to carry with you. The transport ship would zig
zag its way to avoid enemy submarines. It was a tiresome trip.
||This was the certificate I received for crossing the International Date Line. It was called the ancient and sacred order of the Golden Dragon. 180 degrees longitude. I crossed this in May of 1945 and by that time I was on board the LCI 222.|
are many places on this map where I served including the Caroline
Islands, Truk, Yap, and the Solomons. This is a VERY vast
area. One has no idea how big an area we are talking about
here. Its bigger than the whole united states.
old map shows the general area of the war. The blue shows the
area the Japaneses occupied and the red shows the various
campaigns. The Japanese had about 1/2 of the Solomons when I
arrived in the war and during the time I was there we recaptured the
entire pacific area. It was an exciting time to be the the
went to Guam while I was in the Navy. It was secured by the time
I got there. I remember going to the little town of Agana which
is the harbor and then I went down to Apra Heights which was the main
town in those days. The little town of Apra Heights reminds me of
what you might imagine a little Mexican town to look like. There
are no beaches to speak of on Guam. While I was there the US Navy
sank some ships off the north end of the island to get rid of
them. I don't recall if they were damaged US Ships or if they
were captured enemy ships. All I know is they said that the deepest
part of the ocean is just off the north end of this island. I
remember watching that sight and I was surprised how quickly those
ships went down after they were blown up. It was a sobering sight
and I imagined myself sinking in our little ship. I have no idea
how you would ever get off during such an event. But as the
saying goes you can go out into the ocean and be just fine as long as
you never let any of it inside. The same is true of your mind and
heart. You can go out into the world and find an ocean of evil and hate
but it can never sink you unless you let it in.
major part of my time in the Pacific was spent here in the Solomon
islands. I have been on all the major islands in this
group. I got my star for the consolidation of the Northern
||Our headquarters for a good long while was in Saipan. This is where I did the 'water skiing' that I mentioned earlier. It was from here that we escorted submarines. It was also here that I caught up with my old friend Earl Grey who I knew from home. He was with the 4th Marine division. We were both from Lehi, Utah and he was one of the few folks I ever saw during the service that I knew from home. Off Saipan we often patrolled for downed B29s. I would keep a look out for them from the conning tower. One day we were fortunate to pick up one crew that had been shot up out there. They had been forced to crash land in the water and we picked up part of the crew. We went from Saipan to the Marcus Islands once to do a strike but when we got there the Japanese were gone. That is not too far from Tokyo and everything was still in place but much of it was booby trapped so we left it alone. Marcus was the most northerly place that I ever went during my pacific tour. We did various shuttles from one island to another from Saipan. Note that on the northern end of the island there is a place called Suicide Cliff where the Japanese jumped to their deaths rather than surrender to the Americans. I saw this solemn place and imagined the lives of so many that were given up there.|
was my first place of assignment just of the coast of Australia.
Today it is called Vanuatu. Here we were issued mosquito nets,
guns with bayonets, helmets, and other combat gear. Within a few
days we were shipped out to the PT-Boat Base in the Solomon
Islands. That is where President Kennedy was stationed with PT109
in the Treasure Islands, Carter city. It was also there that I
was assigned to my ship, the LCI 222.
map shows the entire area that I covered when I was 19 and 20 years
old. I covered this entire area on a boat that was just a touch
bigger than the ship in which Columbus sailed to America. My
experience in the Navy changed my life forever. In the Navy I
grew from a boy to man. I saw death and suffering for the first
time. I saw primitive men and women whose homes were invaded and
whose worlds were turned upside down from the ravages of war. I
saw cunning adversarys who wanted to kill us and in many cases
succeeded. I saw men go crazy and do things they would never do
except under those brutal conditions. But I also saw much of
patriotism, loyalty to country and to the cause of freedom. I
never doubted that what I was doing was right and proper. I was
always proud to be an American. I am grateful I was able to serve
my country. I have always had a rewarding feeling in my heart
because I defended out nation's flag. And I have taught my children to
likewise be proud and patriotic and to stand tall when they sing "My
Country Tis of Thee"!