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(12/10/01 3:42:50 pm)

. No spot on earth during World War Two was subjected to as many air raids per week as we were on Okinawa. The Destroyer picket line sixty miles offshore took ceaseless punishment at considerable cost of lives and ships. In one day 168 Japanese planes were shot out of the Okinawa skies. Every day saw Kamikaze planes striking for ship or shore instillation; Every day saw a few Japanese planes get through our outer air defenses to harass men and machines at work.

I met the man we young Seabees called Lindy Mac way back in 1951. That was early in
own Naval career. We were students at the Naval Schools of Construction (NAVSCON) in
Southern California. Most of us guys were in our teens--I had just turned eighteen.
Lindy Mac
was a lot older than the rest of us. He told us he had been called back to active duty
the Korean War and that he had served in the Navy during World War II. Lindy Mac was
full Seaman while all of us newcomers were just lowly, Seaman Apprentices. He wore
and threadbare bell-bottomed dungerees and we were stuck with new clothing that
denoted our recent ‘boot’ status. He was a nice enough guy---had that strange first
of Lindy and his last name was an Irish name like MacDonald or something like that--he
could just a well have been a Mac, but the strange first name of Lindy was kind of
fitting for
him. He said he had been born in 1927 in New Jersey---Charles Lindburg was in the
about his solo flight across the Atlantic so his parents named him after ‘the Lucky
Sleeping in the student barracks as we did, we were treated to some fearful carrying on
from Lindy Mac. During the nighttime, we would sometimes be shocked awake with
bloodcurdling screams---alarming until we got used to it. Lindy Mac was always
assigned a
lower bunk because his nightmares were so horrific no one wanted him to harm himself.
finally told some of us why he was that way. Along toward the end of the WWII, the
fanatical and desparate Japanese launched suicide planes called kamikazes at the
American warships during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. Lindy M. had a heavy cruiser
out from under him. Many other ships and lives were lost to that battle, but Lindy
thought that the Japs had personally ‘punched his ticket’ and being that he had
thought some action from them still may be in the offing. Strange you remark---sure it
but it made sense to Lindy Mac. We younger Navy men loved to hear Lindy tell that
He’d tell us the heavy fuel oil called ‘Bunker C’ , that would float on the surface and
to burn and how he’d have to dive under those burning patches---how that gooey old
‘C’oil would stick onto his skin and get into his hair. He said that many of the swimming
men would scream when they would be stung by the Portugese man-of-war. Lindy even
told us about sharks coming into feed on the swimming men, but the way he would grin
he told us that trash, I believe that he was making that up---you know just yanking our
chains. After we graduated from school, we all scattered to the four corners of the Earth
to speak. In 1957 I was stationed with a Mobile Construction Battalion in French
Morocco. I
was TAD’d over to Rota, Spain to haul back some leftover construction materials for our
Moroccan projects. I run into Lindy Mac there in Rota---I was E-6 at the time, but Lindy
still just E-4. Lindy had a lot of ‘baggage’--he was still haunted by having to go into the
there at Okinawa--. It was a damn shame too, for Lindy was a good man encumbered
too many terrible memories. In 1968 when I went to Vietnam the first time, Lindy Mac
there ahead of me. He had just made E-7 with a battlefield promotion, and was pushing
crew assembling water storage tanks. All of the military combat bases that far north
within the cone of fire of the North Vietnames gunners just over the DMZ. They
hammered all
the military bases, almost at will, with 122 rockets and very accurate 130 mm artillery.
company in the battalion had an assigned defense perimenter. Chief Lindy Mac had
Company as he was the designated Company Chief. In addition to the fighting holes
the slit trenches, each company had a bunker assigned to them. I was the S-2 Senior
enlisted person, so my duties and my battle station was in the Battalion bunker.
This one day in February 1968, following a especially bad rocketing, one of Lindy Mac’s
squad leaders come to me. He seemed very troubled and ashamed, but he finally
out to me that his Chief was hiding out in the company bunker---that he wouldn’t come
for meals, or to shower, or take care of his duties. I thanked the squad leader and told
that I would take care of the situation. I went to report to the Medical Officer and we in
got the Chaplain involved. The poor man was a pitiful shell of his former self. His
sunken eyes
told the story---that staring out at nothing, but seeing everything past in it’s worst
light. There
was no shame in Lindy Mac. It seemed that pure, unadultrated fear had masked any
feelings the poor soul would have had. Of course my part of being involved was over.
Medical Officer and the Chaplain made their reports to the Battalion CO. For several
Lindy was kept in the Medical bunker until he could be medi-vaced out to Danang. The
went on of course, and others run their gauntlet in some fashion or other. I retired from
Navy in 1971 and stayed in the California area where our Seabee base was located. I
into business for myself--I become a plumber and drain cleaner. One day a service call
took me to a new customers home. That new customer was my old navy friend Lindy
and it was a grand meeting of the old fellow. The years since Vietnam had not been
kind to
him, even though he seemed to have recovered. We ‘shot the bull’ about those early
we knew each other and both agreed that then, they seemed centuries past. We did
speak once of those events in Vietnam however, and I concluded then, what a blessing
was that he had obviously put that part of his life behind him. Those blue Irish eyes
have that ‘devil-may-care’ smile though, but thank God they didn’t still have that
klick stare that I recalled they had in 1968 when I saw Lindy Mac last. I told Lindy Mac
of all
the men I had ever met or known, that he was the only one named Lindy. We both
that was kind of an unusual thing, but he remarked that maybe someday a relative
think enough of that unusual name and call one of their kids Lindy. There it was! Those
Irish eyes smiled for ever so brief a moment, and then that haunting look flushed back
them again. When I think back to times like this, I can’t help but wonder what ever
happened to those players that were there in those days of my life past. Wilborn
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