JACK HEYN IN THE SOUTH WEST PACIFIC
(MEMBER OF THE 3RD BOMB GROUP)
On about the first Sunday in April, in the afternoon, my train rolled into the Los Angeles station. Caught a bus to the Santa Ana Distribution Center and checked in with the proper authorities. They informed me I would be there at least two weeks, maybe longer depending on when and where I would be reassigned. Talked to a couple guys who had been there over a month. While there we would stand roll call every morning, there would be a few days of orientation sessions after which we could get passes off the base. Weekend passes would be available from Friday nite to Monday morning. We would have a regular mess hall, but there was also a 24 hour mess hall open to everybody, and you could order anything your heart desired -- this was the army??? Small recompense for three years in the S.W.P.A, two of them in what had become known as the Green Hell, New Guinea.
At one of the orientation sessions we were given a questionaire to fill out. One of the questions was; name three bases you would like to be reassigned to. This was right up my allley. I had been raised in the two Dakotas, where you enjoyed four seasons. Had just spent three years in those tropical paradises - never did get used to those perpetual summers and Green Christmases. My three choices were Selfridge Field, Mich.; Grand Forks Air Base, Grand Forks, N.Dak. and Great Bend Air Base, Great Bend, Mont. - all three right up against the Canadian border. In typical Army fashion, my reassignment would be Page Field, Ft. Meyers, Fla. They couldn't have sent me any further south and kept me in the States. More of that later.
Needless to say I took advantage of those passes and spent very little unneccesary time on base. One of my first visits was the Hollywood Canteen, which had become quite famous and every G.I. wanted to get to. The nite I went the only personage of note was Mercedes McCambridge. There were some lesser lights, but I didn't recognize them, and don't remember who they were. Did have an enjoyable evening, lots of girls to dance with and pretty good entertainment. Well worth the visit.
Another outing involved a home town girl. One of the ladies who lived in our apartment while I was in school had a sister who had moved to Long Beach during the war. She wanted me to look them up, and they had a daughter, who I remembered as a punk kid. I looked them up, and 'punk kid' had just graduated from high school, and turned into a pretty nice looking specimen. There happened to be an amusement park in Long Beach, so we made a day of it. Along about mid afternoon we decided to drop in a place that served beer. I asked her if she was allowed to drink a beer, the answer was yes. So I ordered two beers. I'm sitting there with a uniform full of overseas hash marks, and campaign ribbons -- the waitress wants to see my I.D., am I old enough to drink. 'Punk kid' sitting beside me - doesn't look over 16 - waitress doesn't say a word to her. We did get our two beers, and went about our business.
Another outing involved the U.S.O. Club in L.A. Went there one nite that first week and met Jeanette Johnston, a very nice young lady. Danced with her and hit it off pretty well. Danced with her friend, and didn't care much for her, she was one of these teasers that rubbed up against you all the time you were dancing. One dance with her and I spent the rest of the evening with Jeanette. Turns out it was her first nite to come to the U.S.O. club as a dance hostess. She had been engaged to an aerial gunner on a bomber in the South Pacific. About six months before he had been shot down, and she was just starting to come out of her shell. They were not allowed to leave the club with anybody. I guess they were brought in on buses and had to leave the same way. But I did make a date to get out to her home, meet her family and take in a movie. Spent the best part of the rest of my time with her and family.
The weekend that would mark my two week period I got a weekend pass, got myself a hotel room close to the Johnstons, they lived in Anahiem, and spent the weekend with Jeanette and family. Picnics etc. Told her I would have to check the shipping list when I got back to base Sunday nite, as there was a possibility I could be on it. But I hoped I would not be on it and could see her again in the coming week. No such luck. Got back to base about midnite, went to the orderly room to check the shipping lists - and there is S/Sgt. John F. Heyn's name bigger than hell. I would be shipping out the next day for Page Field, Ft. Meyers, Fla. Figured it was too late to call Jeanette that nite, but called her early the next morning, thanked her for a wonderful week, bid her a fond farewell. That afternoon I boarded a train for Ft. Meyers, Fla. and rode on out of Jeanette's life. That seemed to be the story of my 21 day delay-in-route -- riding out of peoples lives. On to Page Field and that will wind up my four year service to my country.
Jack Heyn in the South West Pacific during WW2 - The Full story
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© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 1 January 2001
This page last updated 08 December 2017