WWII veterans recall service time


For Lee Rhyne, there was no question about taking up arms and heading to war during World War II.

All he had to do was see the horrible things that German leader Adolph Hitler was doing and that was all he needed to see.

“That was worse than anything that I know of. We saw pictures of the things that were happening to the Jewish people in the camps, and boy was that bad,” Rhyne said. “Men like me volunteered to help end the war. We all wanted to get it over with. All the atrocities that the Germans and the Japanese did, but that was war.”

Rhyne served in the Navy in an aviation rescue boat.

“What can I say? We were running around picking up [crashed] planes. Rescuing pilots if [we] could. I was a diver too,” he said. “I could hold my breath pretty good.

“A plane went down and the pilot was still alive when I dove down to him. He was trying to pull the canopy open and I couldn’t help him. He drowned right in front of me,” said Rhyne.

Rhyne was almost 18 in 1943 when he went overseas to the South Pacific during WWII.

“We did a lot of celebrating when [the war] was over with. I was overseas for three years,” he said.

For Navy nurse Emily Preibisch, she remembers the courage of the soldiers that battled for freedom in World War II.

“[The sailors] were young but they were under a lot of pressure. They thought they were going to see the world. They were excited in a way,” Preibisch said.

The nurses were in charge of different wards, Preibisch said.

“The core man worked under us, we supervised them. They were all so well trained and efficient,” she said.

Preibisch’s first assignment was at the Chelsea Navy hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.

“It was located on the Boston Harbor and the ships would bring the patients in. The patients were all from overseas, from the warzones,” she said.

Next Preibisch headed to a naval training station in Virginia.

“They had 10,000 men and seven nurses. [Us nurses] were a close group. We came from different hospitals and areas in Boston,” Preibisch said.

The injuries at the naval training base were mainly backaches and things like that, said Preibisch. If there was ever a more serious injury, the soldier would be sent to a nearby hospital.

“The [soldiers] would panic when it was time for ship out. They had many illnesses around that time. They were so tense about what they were going to go [through],” said Preibisch. “Yet they knew what was ahead, they knew it wasn’t going to be a party.

Preibisch was scheduled to go overseas, but at the time the Navy didn’t allow married nurses to go overseas. Preibisch then put in her resignation.

“Most of the soldiers at that time were so young. A lot of them had lied about their age to be accepted. It was sad,” Preibisch said.


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