Woodbury County

William T. Himes



Sailor Visits Parents
Saw Action in Battles of Pacific

Was at Pearl Harbor, in Coral Sea, Marshall Islands, Aleutians

By Neil Miller

When Stalwart young sons come home safely from far off battlefronts and exchange reminiscences with the father, who is a veteran of a previous world war, the occasion is bound to be a memorable one for everyone concerned.

Although William T. Himes has been in the Navy only 19 months, he has seen more violent action than the average civilian is likely to encounter in a lifetime. He was attached to the battle fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese made their first attack on December 7 and came in for his full share of bombing.

Confident of Victory

Pearl Harbor experiences still are too harrowing to his memory for easy discussion. He says, however, that several of his shipmates were lost in the attacks. Later, he took part in the raid on the Marshall Islands and was in the thick of the fighting in the Coral Sea. Still more recently he took part in an engagement against the Japanese off the Aleutian Islands.

But these numerous encounters with the enemy are difficult to discuss. William is home for a well deserved rest. During most of the six months which have elapsed since the Pearl Harbor attack he was on constant duty, which consisted of four-hour periods on guard, interspersed with two-hour rest period.

“It was tough going,” he admits, “But the Navy will win out. If we can get the planes and equipment, we can clean the Japs out of the Pacific.”

Breakfast in Bed

At the end of his 10-day furlough, William expects to go back to the battlefield for another crack at the Japanese. For the present, all he wants is plenty of sleep and rest and lots of mother’s cooking. His first breakfast at home was served to him in bed.

“I’m not used to this sort of thing,” he protested, “Hard tack and canned tomatoes were the usual fare on the Pacific.”

William is a native Sioux Cityan. He attended West Junior School and Central High School before enlisting in the navy. A younger brother, Edward, 18, is eager to get into service and probably will follow William into the navy.

Father A Veteran

The father, Truman J. Himes, saw service in the Mexican campaign and later spent 18 months in France in the First World War He came home with three stripes and several decorations. Old wounds still trouble him. He returned only recently from the veteran’s hospital in Des Moines.

One of William’s prized possessions is a Bible, which his father carried on three battlefields in Europe. The Bible suffered from immersion in salt water during the Pearl Harbor attack and William descended below decks of a leaking ship to rescue it.

The pages are loose and the inscription on the flyleaf has been washed out, but, when William goes back to the fleet, the Bible will go with him.

Source: The Sioux City Journal, June 21, 1942 (photo included)