Idiot Out Wandering Around
Idiot Out Wandering Around
Who'd ever heard of this place? This far away crescent-shaped island and tiny speck on the world map was where my life began...sort of. I was conceived there. Deep in the southernmost part of the North Pacific sea and about half-way between Hawaii and Australia, lie two chains of islands all by themselves called the Marshall Islands. During World War II, this small unknown piece of land on the planet gained notoriety when the United States overtook it from the Japanese and then developed Kwajalein into a formidable military base. Once that happened and the islands were then owned by the U.S. government, no tourists were allowed on them. The only residents were the native Marshallese people, and Naval and Marine personnel and their families.
At that time, my father, Claude L. Rescola, affectionately known as Res, was a lieutenant in the United States Navy and was assigned to Kwajalein (pronounced Kwaj-a-leen).
I really loved my dad. I still feel his love almost as strongly as if he were alive today. When I needed reassurance he never hesitated to pick me up, hold me in his arms. He was a man of few words, walked with a fast pace, yet had the patience of a long-legged egret standing beside a brook when waiting for its dinner. Dad was born on October 22, 1912 in Meeker, Colorado, and grew up in a large farming family with four sisters and three brothers. Situated in Rio Blanco County in the northwestern corner of Colorado, Meeker was a small town. Its whole area was only less than three square miles all together. The town and surrounding area lay in a wide and flat fertile valley with the big White River flowing along one side of it, and huge, breathtaking white bluffs on the opposite side. Back then, Meeker was pretty much isolated from the other towns around. While living here, he and his siblings had to get up early every single morning to help with the farm chores before and after school, and with this hard-working routine, he gradually developed a very good work ethic.
When Dad became a young man at the age of fifteen, he was 5'9" and for some reason he developed a strong passion to enlist in the United States Navy. I never found out what sparked this desire, but the only thing holding him back at that time was his age.
Our family lore tells it that he wanted to join the service so badly that he had begged his parents to give their permission by signing a waiver for his enlistment as a minor. As fortune would have it, he was successful at this, and on his sixteenth birthday of October 22, 1928, he dropped out of school and became a member of the United States Navy. The interesting fact is that all of the Naval records found on him state that he was born in 1910 and not in 1912. Could it be that the Navy made a typographical error when he was signed up, or did Dad fudge the truth this one time by saying he was eighteen years old, and not his real age? We'll never know the facts. Nevertheless, he was now a proud and happy sailor when he was accepted.
Dad was a very focused and hard-working man, two attributes he developed while attending to all of his farm chores. He was intelligent and always lived by a code of honesty and kindness. Starting from the very bottom as a seaman, he gradually worked his way up through the ranks and became what was called a Mustang, which was known as someone who enlists and then rises up to eventually achieve the rank of a commissioned officer. His highest position was lieutenant.
I was always proud to know that Dad was a Pearl Harbor survivor. Apparently, at that point he was a first lieutenant boatswain, and was performing duties as a supervisor of the deck crew on the U.S.S Seagull , during the infamous 1941 attack. He and his mates narrowly escaped with their lives only because, when the