Thankful for our Veterans
Resident Donald Hatfield served in the U.S. Navy from 1944–46. He enlisted at the age of 18, during World War II.
His most dangerous time in the Navy was during a typhoon in September 1945. He was on a 175-foot ship with around 50 other sailors. The typhoon pushed most ships onto the beach. Donald’s ship took to sea to try to ride out the storm.
The next 48 hours brought no sleep and a constant storm that pushed them 200 meters back, even though they were trying to move forward the entire time. The below-deck doors came off, but luckily the ramp is what keeps the bottom deck sealed from the water.
Donald’s time in the Navy created lifelong friends. Even though he hasn’t seen many of them throughout the years, those few years serving together created a bond that lasted a lifetime.
We asked Donald to share a few memories from his service to our country:
- He thanks God that Truman dropped the atomic bomb, or else many of his friends and himself wouldn’t have made it much longer.
- Don said the ship he was on was called a Teddy Roosevelt ship because it was a “rough-riding SOB.”
- He served in the area from Guam to Okinawa.
- He received his Navy papers the same day as his draft papers. He said he took the Navy papers and ran. Like most people in the Navy at the time, he said he wanted to see the ocean. He ended up hating swimming in the ocean, though.
- “O Lord how big is your ocean, how small is my boat” is a quotation they repeated quite often.
- New recruits would often say, “Man, that’s a lot of water!” The veterans replied, “And that’s just what’s on top.”
- Don also had a brother who served in the Army and made it his career.
- Don left high school to join the Navy. After he was discharged, he returned to finish high school.
- When he got back, Don joined Clay Center’s National Guard.
- I asked Don if he would serve again, were he asked to do so. His answer: ”I love this country and I’m glad to live in it. I would do anything to protect that and the freedom we get.”
- Don turned 95 in late September.