In May 1942, the US Pacific fleet reduced to only three carriers by heavy losses at the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, the USS Wasp, having fought exceptionally in the Atlantic war, set sail to fight the Japanese in the Pacific. After a hard fight at Guadalcanal, she was hit head-on by three Japanese torpedoes. Fires caused by the incredible amount of gas and oil released from the tanks by the direct hits spread quickly, and it wasn’t long before the ship’s fate was evident to all. My grandfather, Harding Morefield, had to jump into the ocean when his hair caught on fire. When the Captain, Forrest P. Sherman, gave the order to abandon ship, the only major delays were caused by crewmen unwilling to leave until every single wounded soldier was brought to safety.
In December 1944, when the foundering, desperate Germans took the Americans by surprise in the Ardennes by launching what would be their last major offensive of the war, a young infantryman named George Kain (my wife’s grandfather), was severely wounded. The units in the area having been caught by almost complete surprise, Kain laid in the snow for twelve hours before finally being rescued. He lost his leg in the battle, but 19,000 others lost their lives. Throughout his life, Kain never once complained about his situation. In fact, he always said that he would gladly give his other leg for his country.
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