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US NAVY

LCI(L) 222

LANDING CRAFT INFANTRY (LARGE)


Dale B. Kirkham - Quartermaster 2nd Class
Service Number 964-29-04 Enlisted January 7, 1944 Discharged March 7, 1946

  Recollections

By
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 LCI 222 and Crew
Dale
First Navy Photo
Dale
South Pacific

When I was 18 years old until I was nearly 21, I had the adventure of my life.  I sailed over much of the Pacific Ocean on a boat that was just a touch bigger than the ship that carried Christopher Columbus to his discovery of America.  Like Columbus, I had a vast world of discovery too.   I discovered things about myself, my country, and the world.  My experiences in the US 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 the primitive natives of the peaceful Pacific Islands invaded by the Japanese.  For these island people the world was turned upside down by the ravages of war.  I saw our cunning adversaries plot to kill us and in many cases they succeeded.  I saw good young men go crazy and do things they would never do except under such 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"!

LINKS OF INTEREST

PHOTO GALLERY AND RECOLLECTIONS
Dale Kirkham 2003
Dale Kirkham May, 2003
CONTACT ME


After the war ended the LCI222 headed out on its last voyage from Hawaii to Los Angeles harbor.  This photo of Dale Kirkham, Quatermaster Second Class, was taken by the officer on duty at the time, Stuart Erlanger.  All the navigation was done from this conning tower.  The bars behind Dale were to keep sailors from falling off the tower.
PHOTO
TITLE
RECOLLECTIONS
farigut-sml Camp Farragut
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. 
dale_colored_navy_small My First Navy Photo
This was the first navy photo taken of me at boot camp.  I looked pretty young then.  I was 19 years old.
dale_blues_coat_1944 After Boot Camp
Boot 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.
blues1 Fresh out of Boot Camp
On my first and only leave, fresh out of boot camp, I stopped at home where 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.
dale_first view of ocean First view of Ocean
I 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
dale_dean_1943 Zoot Suit
This 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.
laverde_dale_avery_LA_ww2 California
My 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.
6zz Signalman
As 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.
6rr Life on Ship
Since 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.
temp7-1 copy Under Weigh
We 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.
dale_machinegun Sub Thompson Machine gun
This 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.
dale_russell_islands Russell Islands
During 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 about 3 weeks until I recovered. That is where this photo was taken.  By the way, this was my typical navy dress.
cb7 Tinnian Island
I went to visit my cousin, Cliff Beck, on Tinnian Island when we were stationed there.  I am pictured here with one of his friends.
Cliff & Dale Clifford Beck
Cliff 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.
hona2 Waikiki beach
We 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.
dale and george George King
Dale Kirkham
George 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 Wisconsin. 
dale_san fransico_1946 Hawaii
This 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.
waikiki_1946 Royal Hawaiian
This 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.
hona1 Same
On 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.


PHOTOS OF THE SHIP
lci model Model LCI
This 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.
lci214 Waiting for the tide
In 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.
boarding on guadalcanal tem Taxicab
Late 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. 
temp7-1 copy refueling
The 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.
lci221 Returning
Marines
This 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 it.
lci222 Taking on
Passengers
Here 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.
temp7-1 copy
This 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
lci222-1 The crew
These 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.
temp7-1 Troops
This 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.
cb6 Cliff Beck
This is my cousin Cliff Beck.  He was from Utah and he was an B-29 Mechanic.
natives transport Natives
We 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. 
temp9 R & R
This 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.
playing cards aboard ship Gambling
These 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.
cliff beck jeep Cliff Beck
This 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.
cb2 Melons
We found some melons while we were on the Jeep ride and we stopped to enjoy the treat.
cb5 Shirtless
Here 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
cb4 Cemetery
This was the cemetery on Iwo Jima. 
lci220 Sicily, Italy
This 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.
treasure_island Treasure Island
This 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.
dale_nativeboat_model Santa Isabelle
On 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.
temp5 copy Native ship
The 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 Kissinger.
temp5 copy Tour of Island
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.
temp7 Palms
We 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
palm beeches Bloody Beach
A bloody beach on New Guinea.
water skiing behind 222 Garipan Harbor,
Saipan
Here 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
6vvvv Higgins Boat
A "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.  This was the first time I ever water skied.
6vv 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.
6v Garipan
More water skiing! Great Fun!
tar6 B29 Base
I met my cousin Cliff Beck on the B29 base on Tinnian Island.  Cliff was a mechanic.
cv3 B29
Here I am in the cockpit of a B29.  Note the bombs showing how many bomb runs the plane had flown.
tar1 B29
Another photo I got of a B-29.  My cousin was an officer and he had access to a camera.
tar3 Tinnian
Here I am with my cousin Cliff posing in a Japanese arch on Tinnian Island.
tar7 South Pacific
This is a typical view of the beautiful South Pacific.  This is an Atoll and explains why the water is so calm.


SOUVENIRS
DSCF0014_1 Locker
Everywhere 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.
seabox Sea Chest Another 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 box.  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.
DSCF0015 Flag
This is one of the flags that was flown from the mast of our ship.
DSCF0016_1 Watch band
A 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. 
DSCF0018 Watch band
It was fun to put something like this together and helped to pass the time away.
DSCF0017 Watch band
Notice that my watchband still fits after 60 years!
DSCF0035 Knife
This 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
DSCF0021 Shell Casing
We 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.
DSCF0023_1 Detonator
This is the detonator from a Japanese shell that I picked up somewhere on one of the islands.
DSCF0024_1 Ribbons
These 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.
DSCF0026_1 Letter
At 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.
DSCF0027 Money Belt
I 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.
DSCF0028 Money Belt
This 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.
DSCF0029_1 Cat eyes
Cat 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.
DSCF0030 Pennant
This 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.
DSCF0031_1 My Ship
These 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.
DSCF0034 Sea Cap
This 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.
DSCF0033 Naval Hat
A close up of my naval hat.
Am_Pac_Campaign ribbon
This was the American Pacific Campaign ribbon.


MAPS & CERTIFICATES
certificate of equator crossing Certificate
This 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.
certificate of dateline Certificate
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.
map_micron South Pacific Map
There 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.
  photo of map Theater of war
1941-1945
This 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 Pacific.
GUAM Guam Map
I 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.
solomon map Solomon Map
The 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 Solomon Islands. 
saipnmap Saipan Map
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.
New_Caledonia_Map Espiritu Santo,
New Hebrides
This 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.
1941GUAM Old Pacific Map
This 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"!
This page created June 20, 2004 by Richard D. Kirkham, son of Dale B. Kirkham.   Keywords, United States Navy, Dale B. Kirkham, LCI(L)-222