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This is the S. S. Marine Jumper a WWII troop carrier. After I was discharged from the Navy in 1946 I became a seaman in the Merchant Marines. This is one of
the ships I was a crew member on. The Marine Jumper was a large ship, it carried a total of approximately 3,500 people not including the ships company. I left the Navy August 14, 1946 at Pleasanton, California. I was not sure what I would do in civilian life or if I would remain in civilian life.

I was a Gunners Mate in the Navy and because that line of work deals mostly with Naval artillery and explosives there is little demand for these skills in civilian life. The first job I got after leaving the Navy was stacking canned fruit in a food processing plant is Santa Clara, California. What the job amounted to was taking the cans of fruit off a conveyor belt, placing them in a cardboard box then placing the cardboard boxes of fruit on a wooden pallet. When the pallet was filled with the cases of fruit a forklift driver removed the loaded pallet and we, my brother Ted and I, repeated the process. I can't remember how many cans of fruit it took to fill a box or how many boxes of fruit it took to fill a pallet. I do remember it didn't take long for either. The cans came down the conveyor belt at an amazingly rapid rate. Ted stood on one side of the conveyor belt and I stood on the other. We picked the cans up two in each hand then placed then in the cardboard box. If we hesitated for any reason such as not getting a loaded pallet removed or an empty pallet on time we got behind. It was not possible to stop the line. The other end of the line was about 100 yards away and was full of cans.

Ted and I lasted for part of 3 days working at the cannery. On the third day when we broke for lunch we took our cold sandwich and soft drink outside, sat on the ground and ate in silence. Finally after several minutes I told Ted I was going down town to a pool hall, I was going to get a cold bottle of beer and was going to shoot pool. Of course Ted being a more responsible person than I, said he didn't think it would be right to leave the warehouse foreman in the lurch. I said I didn't have a problem with it and further that I thought the foreman was a little overbearing and it would serve him right. Actually Ted finally came around to my way of thinking and we left the plant never to return. I have often wondered what happened at the end of the conveyor line when the cans started arriving. Within a couple of minutes there would have been a very large pile of cans on the floor.

I have no excuse for my actions other than I had just spent 3 1/2 years in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the job seemed just a little demeaning. I remember there was a clock in the cannery warehouse I could see from where I was standing while working. I tried to not look at the clock because it seemed to make the time pass more slowly. I would try thinking of something to take my mind off of the tedium but nothing seemed to work. I would avoid looking at the clock for what seemed like 20 or 30 minutes but I finally couldn't resist, I would sneak a peak and it had actually been only 4 minutes. it was terrible.

After a few bottles of cold beer and a few games of pool the world looked a lot brighter. Ted had gotten out of the military several months before me so he had had a chance of becoming more accustomed to the routine. My mind was still out in the middle of the ocean much of the time. At any rate I was certain I did not want to work in a cannery and the only job I knew was on board a ship. I told Ted I was going to go to San Francisco, join the Merchant Marines and ship out on a voyage. I said I would like to go to Australia. I ask Ted if he would like to come with me, he thought it over for a while and decided not to go.

The next day I took a bus to San Francisco went to the hiring hall for the Merchant Marines showed them my Navy discharge papers and was told to start training to become a common seaman the next day. I finished the training period without a problem and was assigned to the Marine Jumper as a common seaman. The reason I said common seaman if that there are two categories of seaman, common seaman and seaman first class. After arriving aboard the S.S. Marine Jumper I was assigned to a watch crew. It just happened that my assignment was as helmsman. That meant while leaving port and while at sea I would be one of those that steered the ship.

While I was in the Navy during WWII, I experienced some memorable things most good, some not so good. My life on the Marine Jumper was one of the very enjoyable times in my life. I say this despite some anxious moments.

The helmsman on a large ship has the very best position for seeing what is going on. He has better than a 180 degree panoramic view of what is ahead and to the side of the ship. Both of my watch mates knew that I wanted to be the person steering the ship when it entered and left a port or harbor so they arranged it so that would happen.

I went aboard the ship is San Francisco Harbor in October 1946. I left the ship in New York Harbor May 1947. I ended up back is San Francisco for Christmas 1947. We left the United States sailing westward through the Golden Gate and returned to the United States sailing westward past the Statue of Liberty into New York Harbor. We sailed around the world. Later I returned to San Francisco going through the Panama Canal finally entering San Francisco Harbor. A true circumnavigation of the earth.

My watch partners were both interesting persons for different reasons. One of the fellows, Ollie, was a true seaman, he was about 70 years of age, was tall, slim but had the physique of a prizefighter. He was healthy as a horse. If you were making a movie and wanted to cast a sailor in the movie you would choose this man. He spoke with a heavy Nordic accent, had sailed on ships when they were powered by sails and knew everything there was to know about ships and the duties of crew members. He was a wonderful partner when he was at sea, he had a serious problem with alcohol when he was ashore. He was a wonderful person to talk to, he had many sea stories to tell. I could listen to him for hours. The reason he was on the ship was because the tourist trade in the Caribbean was slow. He usually worked on yachts, but found it necessary to go on our cruise for financial reasons. On our trip he would try and convince me to go with him when we finished our cruise. He told me there were rich older women looking for companionship. I enjoyed knowing Ollie and loved his stories but was never tempted to seek out older women on yachts in the Caribbean as companions.

My Grandfather George Mayfield Sharrock, a wonderful man, honestly believed the earth was flat and if you went in one direction long enough you would fall off the edge. Grandfather had told me that for many years when I was a small boy. I did not believe him but did not argue with him I would say I don't think so. After I returned to California traveling westward around the world. When I told grandfather what I had done he said did you make any turns during your trip, I admitted we had, he simply said there is you answer. My grandfather was a wonderful man.

The Marine Jumper made an uneventful crossing of the Pacific Ocean and landed in Tokyo Harbor. Since I had already been in Tokyo when I was in the Navy, I knew the city fairly well. The purpose of the voyage of the ship was to was to take any persons of German ancestry in the Orient to Germany. The overall purpose of the project was that those of German decent were somehow responsible for aiding the Japanese and German government in their conduct of the war, and that because they were of German ancestry they must be punished. Most of the people we transported to Germany had never lived one day of their life in Germany nor had they aided the Japanese or German government in the war effort against the Allies. Some of the passengers would be tried in the Nuremberg Trials. A temporary brig or jail had been constructed on deck near the stern of the ship where three high profile prisoners would be placed after we brought them aboard later in the voyage. These prisoners were guarded 24/7 by United States Marines. After they came aboard they would be allowed to exercise in the presence of the guards. The exercise routine amounted to the prisoners running from one end of the ship the other several times.

The second of my watch partners was a young man about my age. I was 21 years of age, he was about 25. He had decided to make a career of the sea. At that moment in time he had been going to sea for about 3 years, his name was James, we called him Jim. Ollie was an avid reader and a scholar he knew about an awful lot of things, Jim was none of that. Ollie was a wonderful story teller Jim was not. Now that I think about it Jim was content to do his job on the ship and nothing else. Many of the sailors I knew when I was going to sea were either problem drinkers or alcoholics Jim was neither at that point in his life. He was just a loner. He didn't talk about his family or any of the people he knew before becoming a sailor, he never spoke of a girlfriend. Ollie was Norwegian, he would talk about his experiences when he was at home in Norway, when he went to sea as a boy. I was 17 when I first went to sea Ollie was younger. Earlier in his life Ollie was a maritime officer at one time he was a ships captain but alcohol had done him in and an accident at sea had made him loose his captains papers. The ships officer on our watch was the second mate meaning he was two levels below the captain, he knew Ollie's history but never spoke of it.

The ship spent several days in Tokyo taking on a cargo of displaced Germans before we proceeded to China. Our time in Japan was uneventful, The Japanese people were still suffering from extreme poverty. Many of the Japanese people were on the verge of starvation, however there was evidence everywhere that they were starting to rebuild their country. For those that did not see the devastation first hand that was cased by our bombing raids on the homeland it is hard to describe the effectiveness of our bombing raids especially the large cities in the Tokyo Bay area. Yokohama and Tokyo were very large cities located about 50 miles apart in Tokyo Bay. The area between the two cities had been a very large industrial area. The first time I traveled between the two cities there was almost nothing standing. The only evidence of what had been there was rubble and partial smokestacks. I spoke to several young Japanese students that incidentally spoke better English than I that said during the height of the bombing the sky was darkened with bombs and planes. The one place that had been spared was the Imperial Palace Grounds. We were not allowed onto the Palace grounds but what we could see from a distance they were beautiful. They reminded me of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. At the time I was in Japan the first few times I was impressed in two ways. First how poor the people were and how dedicated and energetic they were. It was obvious they were going to recover from the devastation.

The second stop on our trip was Incheon, Korea, when we were there in 1946 it was before the Korean war. After the war Incheon was in South Korea, as you may remember Korea was divided into North and South Korea, the dividing line being roughly the 38th parallel. Korea was the poorest country I had seen in my travels around the world. Because of the political unrest in Korea the ships company was allowed only a brief stay ashore ashore. It would be 3 more years before I returned to Korea. That time I was on the U,S.S. Pine Island, a seaplane tender, during the Korean War.

The most vivid memory of Korea in 1946 as I have said was the poverty. Everywhere you looked people were begging. I remember standing along the railing of the ship and watching Koreans in small boats (sampans) scrambling to catch food scraps being discharged into the water from the ships galley. The one thing that amazed me was the skill the men in the sampans used to propel (skull) their boats through the water. This was accomplished with the use of (one oar called a skull) at the back of the boat. This technique is used by boatmen through much of the Orient.

Our next stop was Shanghai, China. Shanghai's status within the overall Chinese nation has changed many times in it's history. In December 1946 it was a municipality. On 27 May 1949, the communist People's Liberation Army took control of Shanghai and made it a part of communist China.. As a result of the Civil War in China brought about by the People's Liberation Army Shanghai, a city with a normal population of approximately 1 million people had grown to a population of roughly 10 million. The city was overwhelmed and not able to accommodate that many refugees. This caused wide spread hunger and a certain amount of chaos. Up until this trip as a Merchant Marine which is a civilian part of the U. S. maritime community I had worn a Navy uniform when I was ashore in a foreign land. Now I was ashore in a foreign land with civilian clothes on. Wearing a uniform suggest a certain safety zone created by the uniform itself. It's kind of like a cop, the uniform gives him a certain status. In the case of the Navy uniform foreigners dare not attack or harm the wearer under threat of retaliation. At any rate the ship is now in Shanghai harbor and my younger watch partner and I have shore liberty, and find ourselves ashore in this huge overcrowded city.

My partner has been told by one of our shipmates about this wonderful place in Shanghai we must not fail to visit. At that time the common means of public transportation was a Chinese man pulling a rickshaw. My partner who has taken over as our tour guide negotiates with the rickshaw driver to transport us to our desired destination for a certain amount of money in U. S. dollars. At this point in time our driver speaks enough English to carry on the negotiations. And at this time it is still daylight but that is fading quickly. So, we bounce into the rickshaw and off we go. After several minutes of travel my buddy and I are totally lost of course and it is getting very dark. Our driver has decided he needs to renegotiate the terms of our fare. The talks in the negotiations become very loud which attracts many Chinese onlookers,. Within minutes we are in the middle of a huge crowd of people all talking at once in an agitated manner and not one including our driver able to speak one word of English. In many harbor cities around the world finding someone that speaks English is not a huge problem. You can usually find someone that speaks enough for you to get by. That was not the case where we now found ourselves in Shanghai. To this day I am not certain how we got ourselves out of the mess and back to the harbor area where we could get a water taxi to the ship but somehow we did not with the help of the rickshaw driver but on our two feet.

Actually where we were originally headed in the beginning was a British section of the city. In the 1830's the British and French opened up settlements in Shanghai. Later the United States settled in communities in China. Some might remember Herbert Hoover was a mining engineer in China and developed much of Chinas mining industry in the 1920's and 30's. At any rate we were not just blindly wandering at least not until our driver decided he needed more money. We were never actually able to find the place we were looking for.

Shanghai is actually a municipality or state rather than a city. It is located at the entrance of the Yangtze River on the coast of the East China Sea. I spent just under 2 years in that sea during the Korean War on the USS Pine Island. The Pine Island was a mother ship for a squadron of 4 engine seaplanes. The planes were spy planes that flew over the east cost of China, Korea and Russia. We lost about 6 of the planes during our time there, about half of the loses were the results of weather related crashes. The Pine Island was anchored in the ocean. The planes took off and landed in the ocean. While the planes were near the ship in the water they were anchored to anchor buoys.

I can't think of many positive things to say about Shanghai other than the beauty of the harbor, the city built on the mountains and the boats and ships that were in the harbor. Many thousands of people live their entire lives on sampans in the harbor and there is a tremendous amount of activity within the harbor. There were just about every imaginable kind of water craft from very small boats tied together in nests along side of ancient docks to huge modern ocean liners such as the Marine Jumper. Many of the small boats were propelled by the use of a skull or very small inboard steam engine. Even though many of the boats were quite small entire families lived their lives on the boats. If you have ever see the Movie Sand Pebbles you can get an idea of what we saw,

Actually the ship stayed in Shanghai for about two week and we did go ashore several times and did have pleasant times. The biggest problem with Hong Kong at that time was the huge numbers of refugees. The Peoples Republic of China was chasing Chiang Kai-shek into exile. It was obvious that Shanghai had been a beautiful city at one time. It was also obvious that most rickshaw drivers spoke very good English. I am certain the fellow that took us on the wild goose chase was making some sort of point that I am still uncertain of. After we got our bearings and discovered the English section of Shanghai we spent most of our time there. The problem was the number of people in the city and the poverty. Millions of Chinese were moving ahead or the Civil War within china. Before the war was over Chiang Kai-shek would end up in Formosa the head of a government neither China nor most of the rest of the world recognized. Mao would be the head of the Communist government in China.

The next port of call was Hong Kong. Hong Kong was somewhat like Shanghai in that it was a municipality and a financial center in the Orient.

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George Myers

Born 08/13/1925
Died 08/18/2014

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