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"Why I Joined the Navy"
Submitted by Bill Bradfield

In 1941, I was just graduated from high school and going to Penn's Wharton School at night, while working at an insurance company in the daytime. On December 7, my brother and I were attending a football game involving our old high school and the Pearl Harbor attack was announced. We agreed that we would sit tight in deference to our parents. My brother had been in the 1940 Selective Service draft, was called up and deferred.

On December 8, I went to the Marine enlistment office and tried to join the Marines. When I came home that night, my father asked where I had been. I told him by showing the papers he needed to sign to make my enlistment final. He tore them up and suggested that I had missed the lesson his life had taught me.

In August 1914, he had done the same thing by leaving college in England and going into the English Army. By March 1915, he was back in an English hospital where he was destined to stay for over a year. He had been shot in the face, lost all his teeth and part of his jawbone, had a fractured skull, and had suffered immense loss of blood. He was 19 years of age when all that happened. He would say that those "fools hadn't learned anything" and that "they would do it all again in a few years." So, just before I was born he and my Mother and brother emigrated to the United States. In 1939, it turned out he was right (again).

On the evening of December 8, he suggested that I was a "bit young" and "surely the war could wait for me." Six months later, in 1942 at age 46, he was dead of complications from his wounds, and I joined the Navy. My two brothers also served; one in the Marines, the other in the Army. It would have broken his heart had he lived to see that. Luckily, we all three survived it.

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