Linn County

Paul Shanklin



THREE MEMBERS…of a single family, all in the Navy and all serving in the Philippines are shown above.  At the left is Verne Sorenson, a veteran of the other war, who is with the Seabees and who went down to the South Pacific almost two years ago on the same ship with Johnny Fryrear. He has seen action at Guadalcanal, Bougainville, the Marianas and now in the Philippines.  He’s the stepfather of Paul Shanklin, F1/c , (right), and Cecil Shanklin, CMoMM, both of whom are old Navy hands and once served together on the New Orleans.  Cecil has been in the Navy eight years while Paul enlisted after doing a hitch earlier.  The only member of the family still at home is Mrs. Sorenson, who lives at 1422 First street NW.  Paul made headlines some years back when he pedaled a bicycle from Cedar Rapids to Florida, 1,970 miles, in 20 days.  His wife, the former Hazel Parents, of Cedar Rapids, lives now in Van Nuys, Calif., where she works in the Lockheed plant.

Source: local Cedar Rapids newspaper, Jan. 28, 1945 (photo included)

Paul Shanklin Sends Wife a Vivid Account of South Pacific Experience.

Longtime readers of The Gazette may recall an account, about 10 years ago, of a youth who bicycled to Florida right after his graduation from Roosevelt high school.  It took him 23 days, and he topped the experience by sending back an eyewitness account of a tornado.

Now, at 28, that same youth, Clinton Paul Shanklin, F1/c, who is in the South Pacific, somewhere near the Philippines, has written a description of a surprise Jap raid.  The account was in a letter to his wife, the former Hazel Parents of Cedar Rapids, who is now in Van Nuys, Calif.  She forwarded the letter to his mother, Mrs. Bertha Sorenson, 1422 First street NW.

“We were dive bombed at 8:30 p.m. Sunday in a surprise Jap raid,” wrote Shanklin. “The Japs were in twin-motored Bettys.”

Main Hits in Center.
“Main hits were in the center of the island, hitting the food supply piles, tents, mess hall and water towers.  Most of the men were in the movie area.  The who island shuddered…flying rock, debris and steel filled the air.

“Twelve men were killed, 132 injured.  Many of the injured suffered burns by spraying gas when a Jap plane exploded only 20 feet above the food stores.  Tents, coconut trees, cases of canned goods and the Jap ‘Betty’ filled the air over an area of a quarter of a mile each direction.

“One 500-pound bomb crater measured 50 feet across and 20 feet deep.  Part of the Jap motor went through the mess hall, another part lit at the end of the island. Largest single piece was only three feet long.”

Fires Out by 10 P. M.
“Nearly every tent and building on the island was damaged.  All fires were out by 10 p.m. At that time all small arms were also secured.  Pieces of three Japs were found scattered over the island……..

“I have several pieces of the plane to send home.

“When the first bomb hit, I broke several records heading for shelter.  But not quickly enough, for my arm went numb on the way.  Dove behind a coconut tree, and I must have been the fastest man because I was bottom man in a pile of six. My glasses came off --- face covered with blood from the man above me.  My own head was cut.  At the same time I was pawing in the sand for my specs, cussing the Japs and praying to God.

“It seems very humorous now, but I assure you that there was nothing funny about it at the time.

One fellow swore he was halfway to the next island before he even sank up to his knees in the water.  Skinned knees, hands and noses are common, because when the men dived for the ground, they didn’t waste time looking.”

“Everyone acted with remarkable coolness throughout the ordeal.”

Just before the raid the sky was clear, with stars twinkling above and the men in a joyful mood watching a movie after an hour of hot jive from men of a battleship, Shanklin wrote.  Suddenly the film broke.  Darkness, then a warning, thought at first to be only drill.  The movie resumed, and the men were laughing, less than a minute, at antics of Jack Carson, when the screen turned red.

Everything Goes Quiet.
“Men rushed to the beach edge---lights went out---and a sudden silence enveloped the island.  Far out in the bay, great gobs of flame shot upwards to velvet darkness.  Aircraft carriers were silhouetted against the bright orange holocaust.  A ship hit near the island with a 500-pound bomb ---

“---dark turns to day.  The sky becomes the entrance into hell with the imps of Satan searching each dark hook with torches of flame and fire.  Tortured metal screams in fiendish glee through fiery air---men dive for shelter.

“Crash and roar, crash again! The ground is hugged with spread arms as the earth shakes in what seems to be never-ending tremors.  Muscles and nerves strain with expectancy as sudden stillness descends.  The spine quivers for continuation of this sudden inferno, but no—a pause of vacuum quiet.  Then, once more, the curtain lifts upon confusion.

“Crackle and snap of burning wood, hiss of gas being consumed, speaker systems crying instructions.  Dark palms stand out against reddening sky.  Tents are in flame, trees appear to be candles of light, incandescent metal starts conflagrations anew in a spreading circle.  Stores of food provide new fuel.

“Screams of agony mount above the roar as burned men call for help.  Others are gashed and torn by hurtling bits of metal and rock.”

“Medical men rush into the smoke and chaos with stretchers, gathering the wounded with tender hands and no thought of personal safety.

‘’Streams of water are playing upon all with mounting force. Willing hands help with coolness and dispatch.  Soon only smoldering embers mark the area of destruction.

“In the hospital, doctors work with skilled haste upon tortured bodies, working under the flickering beams of hand torches and lanterns.  No slightest breath of life must weaken.  Five minutes, ten minutes, twenty, thirty minutes pass. Weary arms fall to the side, bent backs rise slowly, triumph gleams in the glance.  Peace lowers its mantle again---night takes command with its scepter of darkness.  A bad dream ends. Hanging by a tattered canopy of silk from the jagged coconut palm, a puppet swings slowly in the soft Pacific wind.  The culprit has paid the price.” 

Source: Cedar Rapids Gazette, April 28, 1945

Paul Shanklin reporting from the Philippines:  “Saw Anson Burlingame two hours this past week and he looks real well, tan and ready to go home after 25 months out here.  Jerry Sprynel is running a speed boat for the captain of a battle wagon.  My brother, Cecil, hitch-hiked 500 miles by plane to see yours truly two weeks ago.  He came down to see our stepdad, Verne Sorenson, but found Vern headed for home for discharge and me holding down the spot instead.  Vern was aboard a boat to come and see me when a yeoman ran out with word that he was to pack at once for home.  So I didn’t see him after all, after chasing him all over this darn ocean.:  Paul sent along a picture of the outdoor meat markets where he’s located.  What a mess!

Source:  local Cedar Rapids newspaper, July 29, 1945

Paul Shanklin, proud because his outfit got a unit citation, reports from the Philippines:  “Just pitched my ninth softball win in 10 starts tonight (in the Philippines), winning 7-1 and giving two hits.  Won eight in a row before the odds caught up.  Pitched a no-hit game for my eighth win, struck out 12 and no walks.  My first perfect deal.  Tonight’s win gave me 35 and 7 in the Pacific.  I can hardly see over my chest now.  I have been in command service squadron 10 from the start, the outfit supplied the fleet at Ulithi and Leyte and was known as Halsey’s secret weapon.  Had a writeup in TIME in August.  We are getting a unit citation.  We repaired ships of fleet in floating drydocks and with huge floating repair shops.  Hundred of LCM’s and VP’s supplied the fleet without a single dock.  And each little job was really a “big” one and important.”

Shanklin was hit by a siege of dysentery that pulled him down from 164 to 137 right now. 

Source:  local Cedar Rapids newspaper, September 23, 1945