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A Rifle for the Road

Bill Bradfield
December, 2006

Who remembers what they did with the Japanese rifle given to us as we left EURYALE? Here's the story of mine.

On November 6, 1945, I was informed that I would be transferred to USS ANDROMEDA for the passage home. The notice came at 5 AM and I was very glad to be awakened with that great news. We mustered a small group on the afterdeck and our seabags were inspected to be sure that we hadn't purloined any GI stuff. (I had not...tho' the idea had occurred to me regarding a foul weather jacket that I had extensively personalized). Caution and the lure of Pennsylvania won out over avarice, and I gave the jacket to Romeo LaChance. Doubt he could wear it...I was VERY thin in those days.

As we stood on the deck awaiting the boats to ANDROMEDA, each of us was given a Japanese infantry rifle- liberated, we were told, from the Japanese Naval Academy near where we had been working. I think they were 25 caliber and had a bolt action. Not a hunter, I paid little attention to that. Lugged it onto ANDROMEDA and then on the train from Seattle (where we came ashore) and thence to Sampson for discharge, still toting that firearm.

I was so thin (believe it or not) that they held me an extra day to check whether I had some tropical disease...I did not, but just couldn't eat a lot in the tropical climate. Then the Lehigh Valley Railroad to Philadelphia...and a shave and a haircut in the station. I think it cost me about 2 dollars! Then the elevated train and interurban trolley to my home in Manoa, Pa, all the while struggling with a seabag (loaded some home bound gifts), carrying that darned rifle. (I was sick of it by then) and feeling a little foolish in the midst of all those civilians.

Six years and three children later, I had purchased a small home in the sticks and started to add a second bathroom- turned out we were going to need at least two! Much of the work I did myself, but plumbing obviously demanded skills that I lacked. A neighbor was a plumber and coveted my Japanese rifle which had languished in my attic since December 8, 1945. A swap was effected, "a rifle for a plumbing-assist" and we both had what we wanted.

What did you do with YOURS?

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