By Jennifer Martin - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - David Harvey volunteered for the Navy at 17, before he could be drafted. He was assigned to a destroyer, the USS McKee.
"I went aboard ship. I was on the deck force. We did a lot of scraping, painting, and whatever. And then I was assigned to a battle station of a director operator of a quad 40mm gun on the port side.
I was in the gunners division. We took care of all the 5 inch 38s and the 40mm and the 20mm's.
We was in the Battle of Iwo Jima, Okinawa & Tokyo.
A destroyer goes along with an air craft carrier to pick up the pilots that either crash or get shot up so that they can't land on an aircraft carrier. If you're not on that duty, you're sent out on what they call picket duty, which is about 50-75 miles past the fleet. We're out as a decoy and when the Japs find you, they make it rough on you.
9 times out of 10 there is a combat air patrol waiting to help you out. But if they don't get there in time, you go down.
The kamikazes. That was a mean enemy. Because they left home. They didn't have enough gas to get back. The torpedo man, he's going to get as many as he can. So he's gonna drop his torpedo and go and crash into the next ship. So that means, he got two.
And we stood and watch the torpedo go under the ship several times. And you know it's fixing to hit. So what do you do? You just stand there and watch it. And sometimes they would drop 500 lb bombs on you. And when they release those --we had one go off on the starboard side and one on the port side, real close, give us a good bath. But that plane went on and crashed into one of our squadron force."
Harvey is quick to point out that he had plenty of good times in the Navy too.
"Sometimes we'd come in to the Carolina Islands. That was the largest anchorage in the world. We'd get a couple of days off and go on the beach. We had two cans of green beer each to go ashore. Now the hospital ships would come in also. And those nurses --they were beautiful."
They were moving into Tokyo when they received word of the Japanese surrender.
"When the declaration was being signed, we carried Admiral Halsey, Admiral McCain, which is John McCain's father, and Admiral Burke and put them on the Missouri. It was really an honor. Out of 97 destroyers that we got chosen to do that."
Six months after he left the Navy, Uncle Sam came calling again. This time for Korea.
"I decided I'd join the army, where I could dig a hole and get hit."
He was stationed at Ft. Campbell, KY.
"I was a cadre, which meant I was training other troops as they came in. I was a First Sergeant. I was in the airborne artillery, cause I was in the big guns in the Navy. And I put in for Korea several times, but they told me I was key personnel, so that was out."
After he left the service, he became a farmer and moved to construction in the 1980's.
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