HAVE YOU EVER…: A poem by a WWII sailor

DUKW unloading at Biak - free image of Hyperwar, a database of the US-military.
DUKW unloading at Biak - free image of Hyperwar, a database of the US-military.

HAVE YOU EVER…: A poem by a WWII sailor

by William G. Pearson
Boatswain’s Mate, Second Class V-6 USNR, Written May 1944 after the South Pacific Battle of Biak

Editor’s Note: Cindy Pearson Gates sent this Stars and Stripes. Here’s what she had to say: “Hello, my father, now passed, was a Boatswain's Mate on an LST in the Battle of Biak. When he was 19, he wrote a poem after the battle that is poignant and raw and honest. In his honor, I am putting it out there for you, in case you would be interested in it.” Cindy, we are very interested. Thank you so much for sharing a part of your father with us.


Have you ever…

Waited three months to catch up with your mail only to find it was sent back to your starting place?

Drunk brackish water and tried to scrub clothes with salt water?

Lived off of K rations until it all tastes like cardboard?

Spent three days in modified G.Q rain, shine, snow, or hell?

Fired a 40 mm until it’s red hot and the paint on the mount curls up and burns?

Stood watches till your thoughts run in 4 hour cycles?

Been promised a protective umbrella from the army and then learn it was recalled?

Been blasted so hard by concussion that your head aches for months and the sound of explosion still rings in your ears?

Stared into the open bomb bay of a Betty bomber, so close you could touch it with your gun barrel?

Been promised you could return to the U.S. after 18 months only to figure you got out lucky after 24?

Had chills and fever with Malaria?

Seen your buddies blasted to pieces and then had to scrape and scrub them off the cold steel a few hours later?

Piped a man over the side in military burial at sea?

Been the sole target of seven zeroes with nothing more than a fly swatter for protection?

Watched the second leader on your gun have his arm amputated in an emergency operation?

Had your gun jamb at a very critical moment and cut and burn your hands trying to clear it?

Paid $32 for a pint of whiskey?

Heard the inhumane cries of the wounded shipmate who sleeps right under you?

Sorted through piles of flesh, steel and guts looking for a dog tag or some means of identification?

Been so scared you couldn’t breathe, talk, or move?

Seen grown men bawling like two-year-old kids?

Buried a man in a bucket?

Seen tracers from shore batteries arch over you like sky rockets?

Wondered just why you are fighting and what this war is all about?

Drawn Navy pay and then hear of people in the States striking for higher wages and better living conditions?

You haven’t?

Well, you’re a lucky son of a bitch!

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