I am Marjorie Craig Young and I'm writing my recollections of World War II and how it effected my life through my late husband, Chief Petty Officer Lawrence Bradford Young, 36th Naval Construction Battalion, United States Navy. Bradford and I spent our entire lives in Decatur County. Before the onset of World War II, Bradford worked for the Iowa State Commerce Commission and I worked for the Decatur County School Superintendent. Neither of us had ever married. With the end of WWII, Bradford continued his career with the Iowa State Commerce Commission until a farm accident in 1961 physically incapacitated him for the remainder of his life. I became a public school teacher with the Grand Valley Community Schools in Kellerton retired in 1979.

The memories: Bradford and I dated and danced off and on for several years, but we didn't always get along well. He always said he had to give me time to grow up. Then bang bang came World War II and all lives were in a tailspin. All the young men I knew from school and locally drifted away one by one into the Service. They were scattered all over the world.

Bradford served four years in the Navy - South Pacific and Okinawa. He mentioned many times he was trying to enlist in various branches of the service. He ended in the Naval Construction Branch. I could not persuade him to tell me when he was leaving. One evening we went out to eat and see a show in Des Moines. When we got home, I asked him again when he was leaving. His reply was "Pretty Damn Quick." In fact, at four o'clock that morning, October 1942. He wouldn't tell me because he did not want to ruin our last night together.

He was sent to Camp Bradord in Virginia (which we later visited) and became a member of the 36th Naval Construction Battalion. After Boot Camp he came home, but he had many legal matters to settle, and I worked. Therefore, we couldn't spend too much time together. He gave me a world map, identical to the one he had, with numbers on it. Our code while he was in the South Pacific was use of a number in the second paragraph of his letters to indicate his location.

He returned to Virginia and was sent to Camp Peary, Virginia, for a short stay. On to the Embarkation Center at Huenema, California, and in January 1943, the 36th Seabees were off to the South Pacific. During February 1943 they landed at Espritio Santo, the largest of the New Hebrides Group. While there, they built airstrips, roads, hospitals, and a virtual base from a tropical island. In September 1943, they were shipped to Baniks in the Russell Islands, then in November to Bougainville and enemy (Japanese) territory.

They were subjected to nightly bombing attacks, perhaps the most trying of his enlistment. In March 1944, the Japanese gave them everything they had to knock out the airstrip, but the Japanese lost. In August 1944, the 36th went to New Caledonia for a short while then back to San Francisco in September 1944, and Camp Parks. He came home from Camp Parks on leave. His mother had died while while he was gone.

He had hoped to be assigned to the European Theater, but instead back to the Pacific and Okinawa. Again, they started another base from which to bomb Japan, but here they met with kamikaze — suicide bombers — that raided the landing base and airstrips. These were light planes sent from Japan with only enough fuel to make the journey and strike the bases, giving their lives for the emperor. While there the battalion was preparing for the invasion of the Japanese mainland, but the A bomb ended the war. However, the Japanese were defeated before the bomb was used because they were literally out of all supplies. Bradford returned to the States by way of Japan and he said they had nothing left with which to wage war.

His close war buddies and tent mates were John Allen Darnell, from Glen Allen, Mississippi; Willie B. Clark from Alabama; Everett Fuller from Minneapolis, Minnesota, all now deceased. They all returned home before Bradford because they had dependents. Bradford was the last one. He returned to Minneapolis, then to Leon the day after Thanksgiving 1945.

After four years in the South Pacific, my Navy man had come home. I guess I had grown up, as we were married June 15, 1946, at a small Methodist Church in Kansas City. I would now experience a very different way of life. I would fulfill my dream, that of many young women — a chance for a home and family. We obtained a comfortable home, but we did have to wait for our new car and home appliances as few had been made during the war years.

The G I's main concern (dream) was to return from war to their homes and families unscathed. The young men who returned dreamed of a lasting peace throughout the world. They returned to jobs they had previously held. Some chose to further their education using the GI Bill of Rights. Perhaps a dream they had.

After the war, those same buddies of the 36th Naval Battalion - John Darnell, Willie B. Clark, Everett Fuller, and Bradford Lawrence Young - formed the CDFY Club. Since two were from the North and two were from the South, they fought the Civil War over and over. They got together every four years in various cities to renew old acquaintances and share war stories. They formed a close bond after being tent mates. Bradford always said he would not have missed serving in World War II, the greatest show on earth.

Several experiences before and after the war, before and after Bradford's war experiences, stand out as examples of how World War II affected our daily lives. For instance, when he was leaving for duty, he tore an old paper two-dollar bill in two parts. I was to keep my half in my billfold, he would keep his half in his billfold, and when he returned, we would put the bill back together. One evening after he returned we remembered about the bill, I took mine out of my billfold and it was fine. When he opened his billfold, his half had disintegrated to dust and small fragments. The heat and humidity had reduced his to nothing.

June 15, 1946 - our wedding day. After a long day of traveling to Kansas City and obtaining our marriage license, we were tired and hungry. We went back to the hotel for a light lunch and to get dressed. While I took a bath, LB went to get my flowers. When he came back he said, "You mean I have to buy these things. I picked dozens of kinds of orchids for you down in the South Pacific." They grew wild in the South Pacific.

When he opened the drawer of the nightstand he said,"Oh, did you get to go shopping while I was gone?" I had no idea what he was talking about. He pulled out of the drawer two little brown sacks. In each were two little vases about three inches tall. Someone had bought our first "wedding presents." Which brings up the China tea set from Okinawa that was to be a wedding present. He had mentioned the tea set and couldn't decide whether to risk sending it or bringing it back himself. When he got ready to come back to the States from Okinawa the officials would not let him bring the set. He knew they wanted it for themselves so...rather than give it up to the officials he took it out and buried it. My China tea set is buried in Okinawa.

Bradford took a 4x4 picture in a Navy frame of me when he left for overseas. In some pictures he sent of the tent, the picture was on a makeshift nightstand perhaps an ammunition box. When we went through the few things in his nap sack, he said, "I threw your picture in the Bay when were under the Golden Gate Bridge, as I knew I would soon be with you.

Bradford was a participant and a strong advocate of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He spent hours as commander of the Leon post. The two groups bought the old cleaning building and renovated it for their meeting place. A great deal of the work was done by members - hour after hour of manual labor. It has since been torn down for the Community Building.

As commander, he had many duties. Many men were sent to the Veterans' Administration Hospital through his efforts. The arrangements for military funerals became almost impossible. It was such a struggle to carry out the wishes of the family members that he made it implicit he did not want a military funeral. Over the years Bradford and I spent hours and days each year before Memorial Day making sure all of the veterans had flags flying over their graves.

He butted heads about the gambling that took place after the meetings Post meeting hall. They finally decided as a group to stop the games at midnight. One night he came home from the meeting and said he was not going to bed. He stayed up until midnight then returned to the hall. His surprise return caught the gamblers off guard as they assumed he was home in bed. Father Harkin, the chaplain, and a good friend, knew of the plan.

Over many years Bradford led the effort for Decatur county's young boys to participate in Boys State. We often escorted the boys to the week long camp to participate in a mock state government organization - what a wonderful learning experience for our young people.

Bradford never failed to vote in any and all elections. He believed it was an honor and privilege to be a United States citizen and always abhorred the thought that too many people seemed to take our freedoms and privileges for granted. He remained quite active in the Republican Party always attending conventions and supporting strongly HIS candidates for public office.

I've related only a very small number of the experiences created by World War II. Bradford and I experienced 39 years together. I lost Bradford, my hest friend, on March 6, 1986. He is buried in the National Military Cemetery in Keokuk, Iowa. I have written the following tribute:


A Tribute to Lawrence Bradford Young
A Life of Service

A man who cherished the family and home.
Loved nature, wildlife, and conservation of the precious soil.
Maintained a lifetime interest in good cattle.
Enjoyed all clean sports; participated in some.
Regarded education as paramount for all young people.
Befriended people from all walks of life.
Pledged honesty in business dealings - a man of his word.
Revered and served his country.
Honored the flag and his war buddies.
Chose to lie among them.
Respected the American political system.
Considered voting a rare privilege and a profound duty.
Shared dreams that were shattered and never fulfilled.
Endured adversity and suffering with little complaint.
Complied with the laws of man and worked to enforce them.
Believed the laws of God were supreme and to be obeyed
Lived up to basic values and his commitments in life.


Under the harsh voice was an honorable man with an understanding heart. Of course he had
flaws. He was a human being, but a unique individual to whom my destiny is forever bound.
He gave a life of service. Isn't that what God asks of all of us?
How do I know all these things?
He was my best friend.



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Last Revised April 13, 2015