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My Dad's Motorcycle Story

Here is an excerpt from my dad's unfinished memoirs.  I'm editing them for family posterity.  My father served in the Army for 27 years participating in three wars, WWII, Korea and Vietnam.  He worked his way through the ranks eventually ending up in the Intelligence wing as a liason officer to the CIA. Hopefully I'll be able to get my dad to finish the thing - so far he's gotten to the Vietnam era and the machinations around his retirement and the coming tragedy in our family and in his life. This is one of his stories he's told us over and over again.  The audacity represented between the lines is terrific; my dad was quite the rebellious soldier...

"At the end of our first week of training we were allowed a one day pass to town. A buddy and I decided we would go to a village about six miles from camp. We walked the six miles to the village and found the local pub. All villages seemed to have a pub, they were like local meeting houses. We stayed there the whole afternoon and evening drinking beer and playing darts. At 11 PM they closed and we were standing outside, thinking about the six mile hike back to camp. After a day of drinking beer we were worn out. As we started to walk we noticed a motorcycle parked at the side of the pub building. Both of us stood looking at the motorcycle and were amazed to see it there in Australia. It was a Harley Davidson. We decided we would "borrow" the bike, ride it to camp , park it out on the road and the police would pick it up and return it to it's owner. No harm done. We pushed the bike about two blocks up the road and I got it started. everything was going well until we arrived at camp. We noticed that the Officer of the Day and Sergeant of the Guard were making their rounds. We pushed the bike into the Motor Pool and hid it among the trucks with a tarp over it. We figured early morning we'd get it back up on the road.

The next morning presented more problems as we had early muster for field training and were unable to take care of the bike. Later on we were able to put it on a covered truck. The bike stayed on the truck for a few days until we thought the opportunity was right to get it off the truck and on its way back to the owner. The same day we planned on doing the switch we were told to pack our gear, we were moving out early in the morning for New Guinea. We left the bike on its truck and it made the trip with us. We shifted the bike from truck to truck in secret all the way there. this was fairly easy because I was the Motor Sergeant in charge of vehicle logistics so I was able to designate a truck each time we felt it was time to move the bike. We did this shuffling around for practically the entire Allied campaign in New Guinea and the bike survived without a scratch traveling from Port Moresby to Oro Bay to Hollandia and finally to Sansapore. We made our way finally to Manilla, Phillipines and after we secured the city I decided to take the bike out for a spin on Dewey Boulevard, the first paved road we had seen since leaving new Australia nearly a year earlier. I unloaded the bike, checked it out and took off down Dewey. It felt great and I was having the time of my life until I arrived back at camp where I found the camp Motor Officer waiting for me as I turned into the Motor Pool. He was a short, fat First Lt. who looked like a bulldog with a toothache. He glared at me as I turned the bike off.

He stalked up to me and said, "I don't know where it came from, or how you got it, but as of now that bike is MINE."

And that was that. The first and last time I ever "owned" a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Nothing was ever said or done about the incident. I never saw the bike again and the Motor Officer never mentioned it. I was too scared to broach the subject with him, figuring I had dodged a stay in the brig and possible demotion. In the midst of this adventure, while I was in New Guinea busily hiding the bike from truck to truck, I celebrated my 18th birthday in Oro Bay, New Guinea. At the same time I received a Dear John letter from a girl back home, which put me out of sorts for a while."

Oro Bay airfield base, December 1943


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Oct. 13th, 2011 11:11 pm (UTC)
You have your own episode of "The Pacific" right here. He sounded like a typical 18 year old. What is mind bending is thinking that he was there, trained to kill Japanese soldiers. Good on you for taking on your project.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )