When war broke out, Bill Monk was 16 and living a quiet life in Kalamazoo, Michigan. When news reached him of the bombs hitting Pearl Harbor, he did not yet understand how that day would impact his life, changing it forever.
As a high school senior, an army recruiter desperately encouraged Bill to skip his finals. Forget about school. The Army needs you more than you need to graduate, son. Think of your country!
Although his first choice was the Air Corps, Bill ended up in the Signal Corps and eventually was assigned to the Advanced Specialty Training Program (ASTP). As pressure mounted to take on the Japanese with more fighting troops, the ASTP program folded and Bill was re-trained as a machine gunner. The Army needs you in the South Pacific, son. Remember Pearly Harbor?
But fighting the Japanese would have to wait, as Bill’s division was shipped to Europe where he saw his first combat action in Cologne, Germany. After VE his unit was sent back to the states to again prepare for the invasion of Japan, but Harry Truman ended the war with the atomic bomb. Bill was relieved. Grateful! Dropping the bomb spared the lives of so many soldiers heading for the South Pacific.