My military records show that I was born January 4, 1925, at Peru, Iowa. My mother was Sylvia and my father John T . Porter. Peru has an interesting background. At one time it was a thriving community having a church, post office, gas station, grocery stores, and theater; but it has changed, like so many other small towns in southern Iowa. It is listed as "East Peru" but there is no West Peru. It came about because the town was moved. Its first location was at the top of the hill, but for convenience it was moved to the east, closer to the railroad tracks. My father's employment all his working years was with the railroad.

Even though it is not always given credit for it, Peru was the birthplace of the Delicious apple. A man named Hyatt was always grafting one kind of tree to another. One variety was called None-Such. When someone tasted another product of the grafting he said, "I have never tasted an apple so delicious!" That was the name they gave it, and it remains so today, although the present fruit is much smaller than the original. There was talk for awhile of putting a fence around the tree and making it a historical site but that probably didn't happen. The original tree died but a sprout came up so the variety lives on. Its origin is sometimes given as Winterset, but the tree and Hyatt were in Peru.

My military records pretty much sum up my life before and while I was in the service. They tell that I completed grade school and high school, graduating in 1942. I am listed as having waited tables in a café before I was drafted in 1943. I was 18 years and four months of age, single, stood 69 inches (5 feet nine inches) tall, and weighed 177 pounds. My service time is given as May 21, 1943, through January 25, 1946. This involved me in what has been called the most devastating war in human history. It began as a European conflict but widened to include most of the nations in the world. It took me thousands of miles and life-styles from Peru, Iowa.

My first assignment was to Camp Carson, Colorado. This was called a "mule outfit," and it was from being kicked by a mule that my left leg was broken. Instead of sending me home like that should have, they shipped me down to New Caledonia, near Australia. All of us who were injured were sent there. It was a training place for guys who had been hurt. I found out where I was, when one time we were out in the boat and as we were going along, I looked up in the air and saw a bunch of airplanes that all had big red circles under the wings. We didn't know whose they were until they started shooting at all us cripples.

There are several things that were different then than now. When I see the protection fellows have today with uniforms, boots and helmets appropriate to the climate and duty they will be called to perform, I think of ours. We had nothing but ourselves. Also, when I mention being out in the boat, every time we went on board or off, we had to climb a rope ladder they threw overthe side and we'd go up or down hand over hand. The rope was sticky and gummy. It would have been hard enough to do if the water was still, but the waves were jumpy. If we took too long, the waves scraped us off and we were killed. There were dead guys floating all over the place. Most times we left the boat to get on a landing craft. There were several different kinds but a usual one was a tank on which the front came down. One time when we landed, the Japs had their guns pointing at us, but they had been tampered with so they exploded and we were spared.

I am not sure how long we were at that location, but it was quite awhile, then came the assignment to Leyte, which was a replacement center. A lot of guys in the Quartermaster Corps of the 7th Division were killed, and I was drafted — again — into the 7th Division, and given a rank of T/5. Leyte was an island on the east of the Philippine group. The biggest naval battle in history took place in the Leyte Gulf in October 1944, with U.S. Navy being the obvious winner and the Japanese Navy virtually destroyed. The island was secured December 25, 1944.

I was on the U.S.S. Alpine, which was in the thick of the fighting. The ship was launched July 10, 1943, and transferred to the Navy September 30, 1943. She joined the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor and soon thereafter began onloading the personnel and equipment of the 77th Army Division. She sailed June 30 to support the seizure of Guam. In the Marianas, on July 17, she began offloading her assault troops and equipment off the west coast of Guam. Six days later she returned to Pearl Harbor. Her next assignment was to carry troops in support of the invasion of Leyte. With 1,416 soldiers on board, she left Pearl Harbor en route Manus. She arrived October 3 and began unloading troops to small landing craft. With 791 troops aboard she arrived in the

Leyte Gulf on October 20. On the 21st, despite intermittent air attack warnings, she finished off­loading her troops. She left Leyte and sailed to Hollandia to transfer casualties, and returned to Leyte on November 18.

She soon spotted an enemy aircraft, and the transport gunners opened fire. The plane banked to the right and was observed splashing off the starboard quarter. Later, a second plane approached and Alpine again opened fire. The plane was hit and went into a full power dive toward Alpine's bridge. The airplane burst into flames and crashed into the transport's port side.

Firefighting crews brought the flames on the ship under control in a half hour. Five members of the crew were killed and 12 injured. Alpine finished unloading and retired to Manus for repairs. Following exercises in New Guinea, she sailed on December 31 for Luzon. She reached Lingayen Gulf on January 9, 1945. She left the area on the 11th. After a trip from Leyte to Luzon, Alpine spent the next month providing logistical support to small aircraft. Her next assignment was to support the invasion of Okinawa and Nansei Shoto. She sailed on the 27th for Okinawa.

On April 1, Alpine began lowering her boats. At 1908,a Japanese plane approached Alpine from the port quarter. At 1910,she took a bomb hit on the starboard side of her main deck and by 2200, the transport was listing seven degrees to port. With help from other ships, the fires were under control by 2300. The crew then began to search for casualties and discovered that 16 men had been killed and 19 injured. Alpine returned to the States and entered dry dock at Seattle, Washington. Following refresher training, she loaded supplies and personnel for shipment to Okinawa. While steaming to Ulithi on August 15, she received the announcement that hostilities had ended. She remained at Ulithi through September 3. Assigned to the 7th Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, she sailed for the Philippines and took on troops to help occupy Korea. Alpine was decommissioned on April 5, 1946. She was awarded five battle stars for WWII.

I was on the boat for two hits from the arrow torpedoes. As told just above, there were casualties and I was just lucky. According to the records, there is no mention of the Alpine being sunk but I saw the familiar "92" sticking out of the water and it indicated to me it had been sunk.

It wasn't until the Leyte invasion was over, that my leg got well. We were in the Philippine Islands about a month when they told us we were going to Okinawa, which was a group of islands closest to the homeland of the Japanese. It was there that they had to call all of us guys that weren't infantry for duty. The largest island, Okinawa, was taken at great expense of life. It was a bad deal! We didn't have any ammunition. 40,000 Americans lay there dead. Not 40-hundred, not 4,000 but 40,000 guys that came from all the little towns in Iowa, Nebraska, and other places. They didn't even know their names, their rank, or their serial numbers; they just sent them up there and told them half of them weren't coming back. The Japs had that place fortified till hell wouldn't have it. The parade ground appeared all nicely trimmed but every one of them had a hole in it that went back to the main Japanese fortification. It was there they all got killed.

When we were on Okinawa we saw typhoons out in the ocean every day but we didn't get hit by one. However, after we left, Buckner Bay got hit by one of them and tore hell out of the island. By then we were gone.

After that we went back to the boats and loaded to go to Japan which wasn't far away. But Japan had a lot of troops in Seoul, Korea and that is where I was sent in 1947. This was at the time when the atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945. They had a bunch of Piper Cubs, little teeny airplanes, that went ahead of us from Okinawa to Korea. I lacked one point of having enough to come home when I was sent there. That is where Japan surrendered and we took over the Japanese who had been there a long time. I came home from Korea in 1947.

I have tried to tell my story as accurately as I can but it has been so long ago that I have forgotten a lot. There is a lot more I would like to forget because I still have nightmares. My separation papers say that the date was January 25, 1946, but I was in the Reserves another four years. My discharge took place at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and tells that I was a driver of light trucks, that I served 16 months overseas in the Asiatic Pacific Theater with the 71 Quartermaster Company. I operated a 2 1/2 ton truck used in hauling personnel and material, that I drove all types of roads through all weather conditions and made minor repairs on truck chassis and engines.

I have framed a certificate I am most proud to have I received from the President of the United States, signed by him personally and indicating that it was being given to:

Johnnie G. Porter:

To you who answered the call of your country and served in its Armed Forces to bring about the total defeat of the enemy, I extend the heartfelt thanks of a grateful nation. As one of the Nation's finest, you undertook the most severe task one can be called upon to perform. Because you demonstrated the fortitude, resourcefulness and calm judgment necessary to carry out that task, we now look to you for leadership and example in further in exalting our country in peace.



Unfortunately, the peace was short-lived. In six months we were in another war.

I have another certificate I am proud of. I haven't known of anyone who has one like it. It is from the State of Iowa, called a

Certificate of Recognition. It reads:


Having been brought to our attention by the Honorable Representative Mike Reasoner that Johnny Porter deserves recognition on his 80th birthday:

Now therefore in consideration of the foregoing, we the undersigned do hereby extend our congratulations.

Witness our hands, 1/4/2005. Signed by Governor Thomas J. Vilsack
Lt. Governor Sally J. Pederson and Representative Mike Reasoner


One paper shows that I was awarded two bronze service stars for the Leyte and Ryuikyus campaigns, the good conduct medal, the Philippine Liberation ribbon with one Bronze service star, the Philippine Independence ribbon and the Philippine Presidential Unit citation badge; but I had many more than that. I have the Presidential Unit Citation Badge from the United States Government. I have ribbons from the President of the Philippines, one from the United States, I got the Notorious Unit signia, American Defense Service medal, American Campaign medal, Asiatic-Pacific- European and WWII Victory medal. I have them on my uniform jacket which I have asked to have buried with me. I also brought home a Japanese saber as a war trophy legally acquired in Korea. I have a flyer with instructions in Japanese but on the front are these words, "The bearer has ceased resistance. Treat him in accordance with international law. Take him to the nearest commanding officer." However, in the battles I told about, we took no prisoners nor did they. It was a fight to the finish.

My company Commander's name was William Canon, a lawyer in Des Moines, I used to go visit him often. He died in 1955. Now I wear a cap that has a flag that says "These colors don't run. Never have, never will."

When I came back from the service, I worked for the railroad like my father had done. In 1952, Marie Decker and I were married. She came from a large family — nine children — who lived on a farm south of Peru. After we were married, Marie and I lived in Peru, Des Moines and El Reno, Oklahoma, where Marie's great-great grandparents homesteaded when the land rush was going on. We moved back to Iowa, to Osceola in 1981.

We have two children, a boy and a girl. Johnny James ( Jimmie) lives in Waukee. He had two children — Ann Marie and Kristopher James. Our daughter, Judy, lived in Auxvasse, Missouri, but lost her husband and came back to Waukee.

Marie worked in a nursing home, now called the Rehab Center, for 18 years. She worked on the Alzheimers Unit where they had 13 residents in that unit. She quit when she turned 76, and has been out four years.





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Last Revised June 13, 2015