EXCHANGE: Pleasant Hill man remembers WW11

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PLEASANT HILL, Ill. (AP) - Lynold Puterbaugh remembers his World War II service as if it happened yesterday instead of nearly 70 years ago.

Drafted but put on limited service because of a lazy eye in childhood, Puterbaugh was antsy to be part of the war effort in World War II, like his friends, so he enlisted in the Army in Pittsfield.

“I wanted to be a mechanic or something because I was working at a service station, but it didn’t matter. They put you where they wanted,” said Puterbaugh, 88. “I had no medical training. I was squeamish about it.”

Inducted at Fort Sheridan, he started training as an Army surgical technician at Fort Benjamin Harrison, worked in a hospital at Fort Knox, then went by troop train to Fort Lewis in Seattle, where general hospital units were being formed.

Sent to Camp Crowder in Missouri, he worked in the hospital there, caring for patients injured in the war overseas.

“A lot of the guys being transferred back still needed hospitalization. Some were in body casts,” Puterbaugh said.

Puterbaugh then became part of a general hospital unit stationed first in the Philippines, then in Japan at a key turning point of the war. By 1945, American forces were preparing to invade Japan. With its three air bases, Manila, in the Philippines, would be a destination for the wounded.

“That’s where we were going to build these general hospitals. There were going to be 10 general hospitals, 1,000 beds each. They were really expecting the casualties,” Puterbaugh said. “You train for one thing, and they have you doing everything else. We was bolting metal buildings together.”

As soldiers worked on the buildings, hospital supplies continued to arrive in Manila Bay, then were trucked to the hospital sites.

“We’d unload, day and night. We’d be at one end of a building, and down at the far end was all the sheets and that sort of thing,” Puterbaugh said. “We’d look down there, and the Filipinos would be stealing sheets, and then about a week or so later, we’d go into town and all the men were wearing white shirts.”

Then everything changed.

“When they dropped the atomic bomb, that all ended. We was through putting together buildings,” he said. “They began to break up the general hospitals.”

Transferred to a different unit, Puterbaugh was sent to Japan to replace other soldiers who had enough points to come home.

Underway from Okinawa to Japan on a hospital ship, “we met the USS Missouri, where they signed the peace treaty,” he said. “That was something to see. It was a big ship.”

In Japan, his unit took over a three-story, horseshoe-shaped Red Cross hospital in Kyoto.

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