Title: W. S. "Bill" Ware
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00005711/00001
 Material Information
Title: W. S. "Bill" Ware
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Subject: Second World War, 1939-1945
World War II, 1939-1945
Temporal Coverage: World War II ( 1939 - 1945 )
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00005711
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'World War II' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

William S. (Bill) Ware
Retired Pharmacist
Born 11/22/1921
Graduate, University of Florida 1943
United States Army 2/43--3/46
Resides in Branford since discharge from Army.

I enrolled in the University of Florida in September 1939, the year
the war began in Europe. My first two years at the University were
enjoyable and productive but the prospect of our involvement in the
war was always in the back of my mind.

During the summer of 1941, between my sophomore and junior years,
I worked at Koch Drug Store in Starke, earning twenty dollars a week.
Those were busy days in Starke......nearby Camp Blanding was filled
with soldiers in training and most of them came to Starke on pass.

One Sunday in December 1941 I hitch-hiked to Starke to visit some of
the friends I had made while working there. Hitch-hiking was a way of
life for university students in those days. Our orange U of F "rat
cap" was a ticket to catch a ride most anywhere. After having lunch
at Koch's I went to the Florida Theater to see the movie "One Foot In
Heaven", the story of a Methodist minister and his family. A short
time after the movie began it was stopped and a message was displayed
on the screen: Japanese Attack Pearl Harbor!. We were at war ..... and
our lives were changed forever.

The week after war was declared our Pharmacy class of twenty-two men
was called to a meeting by B. J. Otte, the curator of the Chemistry
Department. He was a member of the Alachua County Draft Board No. 2
and he advised us that if we would register for the draft with his
board that we would not be drafted until we graduated... as long as
our grades were kept up. We were told that our program would be
accelerated so that we would continue classes during the summer of
1942 and graduate in February 1943, Between December 1941 and
February 1943 our class of twenty-two dwindled until only six of us
graduated. By a process of elimination by the draft board, our class
of six graduated with the highest class academic average ever in the
Florida School of Pharmacy ... and the record still stands.

Mr. Otte and the draft board kept their word to us, in two ways..... I
stayed in school until I graduated, and ten days later I was in the

I was inducted into the United States Army in mid-February 1943 at
Camp Blanding and traveled by troop train to Camp Wolters (near the
town of Mineral Wells, Texas), where I was assigned to the 61st
Infantry Training Battalion for eight weeks of infantry basic
training. ':i-t an experience! At Camp Wolters the saying was "If you

don't like this Texas weather, just stic] around for an hour or so and
t will be different". Heat, cold. rain, dry, dust, mud; we ad it
all. From before dawn until after dark., it was close-order drill,
calisthenics, ma-.reading, military tradition, rifles, machine guns,
bayonets, hand-to-hand combat, infiltration courses. Did I have four
years of Pharm.acy for this???

At the conclusion of basic training we boarded a troop train for an
unannounced destination on the west coast. On that trip I met two
fellow privates who would be my closest friends during the rest of my
Army career: Harry Zeigler, from St. Matthews, South Carolina and
Andrew Johnson from Huntingdon, Tennessee. We arrived in Seattle to
learn that the three of us were being assigned to the Medical
Detachment of the 63rd Coast Artillery (Anti-Aircraft) Regiment. The
63rd was an old Army outfit whose home station was Fort Bliss Texas,
but the personnel now was drawn primarily from the New Jersey National
Guard. Harry, Andy and I quickly became known as "The Southern

Operating under the Western Defense Command, the mission of the 63rd
was anti-aircraft protection of the Boeing Aircraft Company, builders
of the B-17 and later the B-29 bomber. Our equipment included 75MM
guns, 40MM automatic weapons, barrage balloons, smoke generators and
search-lights. All this equipment seems so primitive fifty years
later! We spent many nights on alert due to indication of
unidentified aircraft in the vicinity, but we never had any real enemy
activity. After a year or so the Seattle defenders were reorganized
and our unit became the Medical Detachment of the 63rd Anti-Aircraft
Artillery Gun Battalion.

"The Southern Delegation" had some great times seeing the sights in
and around Seattle, but my activities changed one momentous night,
July 12 1944, on a crowded city bus when I took a seat beside a pretty
Swede from Iowa. My life was changed forever, again! Doris and I
soon decided that we were meant for each other, but we agreed to
remain just sweethearts until the war was over. Our meeting surely was
preordained. On several occasions we had been aboard the same bus,
and had nodded or smiled in recognition, but on this night the only
vacant seat was beside her. The ice was broken and we exchanged phone
numbers. The next day my unit was transferred to another site in
Seattle, and I would never have a need to ride that bus again!

In July 1945 our unit sailed from Seattle aboard the Navy transport
ship USS Zeilin (APA-3) which in civilian life had been the "President
Jackson" of the U. S. President Lines. Our route unknown, we were
bound for destiny. The War in Europe had ended in May and the war
against the Japanese was drawing nearer to Japan itself. After
sailing alone, we joined a convoy in the mid-Pacific. We arrived at
Ulithi Atoll in the Caroline Islands around the tenth of August. It
was here that the fleet for the invasion of Japan was being assembled.
So ianv shins there~!..I didn't think there were that many ships in

the world. The day after we arrived at Ulithi it was announced that
the first atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Then, the
second one on Nagasaki, and finally........ The war is over!!!

But we are not going home! After thirty-days aboard ship we arrived
at Okinawa where I was to spend the rest of my military career. The
following months were spent in various ways. For three or four weeks
we were part of am amphibious task group assigned to accept the
surrender of Japanese troops on several small islands between Okinawa
and Japan. In accepting their surrender and enforcing its terms we
encountered no problems. Our only real excitement was in surviving a
murderous typhoon which reached its peak during the night when we were
anchored in a pass between two small islands. At the height of the
storm our ship, an LST, was rammed by a sister ship which had lost its
anchorage and gone adrift. Our bow doors fell open and the loading
ramp fell down. This caused us to lose our anchorage and go adrift,
finally running aground on a reef. We then heard the order "prepare
to abandon ship". When I reached the top deck the seas, rain and wind
were so heavy that it was almost impossible to tell what was sea
water and what was rain. I was afraid that I would drown right there
on deck! I crawled to the edge of a hatch cover and for the next half
hour, while the storm slackened, I remained face-down so I could
breathe. Thank God, the order to abandon ship never came. We
survived the night there and were refloated at high tide the next
morning. We were told that winds had reached 160 miles per hour. The
rest of our time on Okinawa was spent in providing emergency medical
care for the troops.

In March 1946 I sailed for the States aboard the U.S. Army Transport
"Sea Ray", bound for Seattle...and Doris! In mid-voyage our
destination was changed to San Francisco. After fourteen days of very
rough weather I was happy to see the Golden Gate Bridge pass overhead
but very sad that Doris was in Seattle.

In San Francisco we boarded a ferry for a trip up the Sacramento River
to Camp Stoneman, California. It was there that I called Doris to
tell her of my arrival. I formally proposed to her and we set the
date, April 12, 1946. She said she would quit her job with the
telephone company and leave by train for her home in Burlington. From
Camp Stoneman a troop train took us to Camp Gordon, Georgia, where I
received my discharge after thirty seven months as a soldier. My
final designation was: Technician Third Grade William S. Ware, Army
Serial Number 34543856.

After arriving at home I began to assemble a civilian wardrobe,
including something to get married in. White dress shirts were
impossible to find, but former college room-mate Stewart Morrison let
me borrow two of his. I bought a pair of black shoes (no more brown
or khaki for me!) and a suit. And Daddy had bought a new 1946 Ford
coupe which I could use for our wedding and honeymoon!!

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