Pearl Harbor/Guadalcanal Survivor Story
Pacific Veteran find Japs Bad, and Insects Worse.By Margaret Ann McCoy this article was taken from a Beckley West Virginia Newspaper around 1945.
Pvt. Lennie Knapp Nicely Jr. b.1922 of the U.S Army living survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Pvt. Nicely entered the service on September 13,1940 and was immediately sent to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii for his training in the infantry.
When Pearl Harbor was bombedon Dec 7, 1941 he was in bed sleeping and thought the Air Corps was putting on an exhibit.When he found out what it was all about he immediately went to duty.
December 6,1942 Pvt. Nicely was sent to Guadiacanal.When he arrived there ,the American's troops were already there, and were pushing the japs back.
Asked about the condition on the Island Pvt. Nicely said that the Island was very Beatiful and it rain all of the time.The insects were terrible.For food we usually had powdered eggs and if we could get flour we would have hot cakes.Dinner time we would have coffee and doughnuts.The butter tasted like wax.The cook would take canned bacon,powdered eggs,and dehydrated onions and mix them together and try to make something out of that ???
When we were in combat duty we had a ration that consisted of three types which were packed in cans .They were meat and beans,vegetable stew,vegetable hash,hard tack bicuits,three pieces of hard candy and a small can of coffee.We were allowed two lump of sugar,but no milk.
We usually got to wash or sometimes take a bath every week or ten days or when ever we came to a steram of water.
The Japenese are sneaking .At night they tried to get behind our lines so that they could hide in the trees and they would dig holes under the trees, and hide so the next day they could pick our men off easily.They would scream, and holler at night and try to frighten us.
A Japenese radio broadcast to us almost every night.they tried to tell us about the conditions at home and that the wives and sweathearts of the fighting men weren't waiting for them.A women broadcasted every other night and told us we were losing the battles and wanted to know what we were fighting for.
The majority of the Japenese are small, yellowish and have a large number of gold teeth, which are buck.
We took a few prisoners: one was an officer who was in perfect health but wouldn't walk and he wanted us to carry him.He wouldn't talk.He was sitting along a stream of water and we made motions for him to get up and walk but when a soldier was passing with an armload of supplies he jumped up and hit the soldier with his fist.Our men then jumped on him and almost killed him.An American officer came along and ordered them to let the jap alone.
All the time the Americans were beating the jap he didn't let out a sound or whimper.Then he took another stubborn spell and wouldn't walk,so they dragged,jerked,and force him into camp with bayonets.The Army had dropped leaflets to the Japenese and told them when they surrendered to take all of there clothes off, so that they couldn't carry any weapons to kill anyone after they had surrendered.
The Japenese have Chinese laborers to slave for them.They were captured some were in China.They would work theses Chinese laborers
until they were exhausted, and when they fell they would shoot them.One Chinese whom they had shot and left for dead escaped,and it took him four day to drag himself to the American camp.He told us how they were allowed a hand full of uncooked rice everyday.The conditions got so bad that they weren't allowed any food ,so they ate insects and tree roots.
Once a Japenese overheard an officer talking about a command that he was going to give the next day and that night the Japs slipped in the camp and gave the order.One would also slip in the chow line with the boys, but if anyone saw him he was a dead jap.A Mexican solidier slept with about six of them one night and they didn't notice him.
We had mail call about once or twice a week,and we were glad to get packages and letters from home.The Australian Red Cross sent us a package every once in awhile.It consisted of shaving cream,which we never had time to use,a small can of hard tack candy,dried fruits and cookies.The soldiers would collect souveniers from the dead japs but would test them first for booby traps,and then trade them to the pilots for whiskey.
Pvt.Nicely doesn't know whether he killed any japs or not.He shot at quite a few who fell but he deosn't know whether the fatal shot was fired from his rifle or not.
After being in Guadcanal for 40 days Nicely caught Malaria fever.Then he was moved back behind enemy lines and hospitalized.There are no nurses,only Doctors and ward-boys he said.Later he was flown to New Hebrides to a Naval Hospital and then moved to the Fiji Islands where every soldier is know as joeto the natives.He remained there doing limited service and during that time he had Malaria six times.
The Guadacanal vetrans arrived on the America homeland on Feb 10.Since then he has been to several hospitals and has been station at FT.George Meade,Maryland,Where he will report back to duty May 3.
Pvt. Nicely has campaigh ribbons for Good conduct,Gold Star for service before Pearl Harbor.Asiatic Pacific theater Star of War,and three stars for The battles of Midway,Guadacanal and Pampaign.
In 1991 at the 50th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor.I would like to congratulate you on being awarded the Congressional Medal for Vetrans of the Attack on Pearl Harbor.
For every generation there is a moment burned in memory that can never be erased.These shared moments create the most intence sense of national unity,because no matter where we were or what we were doing,we held our breath together and the story of each of our lives was marked by the common punctuation of a single moment.
A small,shallow-water harbor named pearl in a lanquid,island paridise called Hawaii was an unlikley place for such a sudden and wrenching event.But that contrast between peacefulness and war tells the story of the vetrans and the generations that bring us together today.In a very real sense almost every day after the sneak attack these past 50 years,we have been remembering Pearl Harbor as a matter of public policy.Because unlike other shocking events in our national life,Pearl harbor forged more than sorrow,it forged resolve,will,and unity of purpose.
The commemoration of survivors of the attack on pearl harbor is long overdue.Your brave participation as a member of the armed forces in combat operations on December 7, 1941 is a source of national pride.again,Congratulation on recieving your well-deserved Congressional Medal.
and with warm regardsSenator:Donald W.Reigle Jr.
Let us never forget this very important part of American History remember our Veterans.
Veteran and Proud Grandson. Dwayne Nicely.