At ease in Seattle

With dad's attack transport delayed for repairs, his part of the battalion suddenly had three weeks free time on their hands. Since nothing offends the Army more than men with nothing to do, it was decided to form them into working parties and have them assist the loading and unloading of ships up and down the docks.

Dad's particular party was not met with open arms. It was not that they didn't try, or were troublemakers. But working the docks was a complex job for experienced men, and they didn't know the rules.

At the end of the too-long, awkward day, the dock supervisor called them together. "Look, it's not your fault, but you're in the way. I'll make you a deal. You show up tomorrow like you're supposed to. Then you can take off. Just be back by the end of the shift. And keep out of trouble - if one guy screws it up, you'll al be here moving boxes from one side of the pier to the other and back to keep you out of my hair."

Dad and the rest of the engineers knew a good deal when they heard it. And so for several weeks they toured Seattle. There were some complications - no one had any money. They were, after all, supposed to be in the middle of the Pacific Ocean by now, so nobody kept any amount of cash. And they wouldn't get paid again until they caught up with the rest of the battalion on Okinawa.

Fortunately Seattle was geared up for servicemen. An entire park was set aside for them, and there were usually free donuts at a number of places that would tide them through lunch. Dad remembered wandering the Seattle waterfront, enjoying the beauty of the setting, with Mount Rainier looming in the distance.

The dock supervisor was not disappointed. No one got into trouble, everyone made it back on time, the Army never knew, and he got his work done untroubled by bumbling engineers. Truly a win/win situation.