The Chicago Home Front

It was a time I’ll never forget

Kent Schroeder    b.  1935

I was 6 years old when WWII started (Dec 7th 1941) and was living in Chicago with my parents and grandparents.  I remember hearing FDR’s speech and watched my father, who was 40 years old go down and join the Navy. Because of his education and background, he received an officer’s rank and has sent to Baltimore, MD to do officer recruiting for the Navy. My mother and I joined him and I went to elementary school (Montibello ). We stayed in Baltimore for one year until my father volunteered for more active duty and was sent to Amphibious Assault training in Coronado, CA. Mother and I joined him for 6months until he completed training and was assigned to the USS Napa (APA 157).
When he went aboard and left California, my mother and I returned to Chicago and spent the rest of the war there. My father went on to land the Marines at Iwo Jima. He led the LCM’s from the large ships into the beach for 3 days and nights, picking up wounded and dead personnel on the return trip.
The USS Napa and USS Logan collided during the battle and both ships were sent to Guam and Pearl Harbor for repairs, thus missing the invasion of Okinawa. When Japan surrendered, the USS Napa went to French Indo-China (Vietnam) and brought the Chinese Nationalist Armies to Formosa (Taiwan) My father returned home in 1946 and resumed his civilian life.
My family supported the war effort by buying was stamps and bonds and my elementary school sold enough bonds to purchase a jeep for the army. We saved papers, metal coat hangers, and every item that was needed for the war. There were no protestors and the country was dedicated to winning. News from the battles didn’t get back to us for days or weeks and we didn’t know where my father was going or who was winning. Blue and Gold star flags hung in windows all over Chicago denoting a loved one was serving and/or dying for his country. It was a time in my life I will never forget.
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