By the time I came into this world… World War II had been over for eleven years. By the time I was old enough to understand what my father had to say about his time in service he had stopped talking about those days. Until his last weeks… then he spoke of the transport troop ships and how the confined space caused some to just leap overboard. And about his desire to return home.
Being in a general service unit he came back with the ability to work every piece of heavy construction equipment you can imagine. He knew how to build, paint, repair, and work with stone, electrical work… auto maintenance… which would seem obvious if you spent your time with the Corp of Engineers. The thing is that the official records have been lost and this range and level of expertise was not expected of a “colored” general service unit.
So I have to go by his discharge papers… and the medals… and campaign pins to re-construct a possible history. He arrived in the Pacific Theater 6 April (Australia), three campaign stars: 1) East Indies 2) Papua 3) New Guinea. U.S. history books show the bulk of the 91st Engineers General Service going to Papua until December. However, Australian history books show elements of the 91st in Papua on April 15, 1942. The Presidential Unit Citation was for work done during the Papua campaign which indicates work being done on Hospitals, Ammo Storage Areas and Wharf/piers… which would indicate he was in Papua before the arrival of the main group… since I can find no other way to explain the high level recognition unless he was there early in the events at Papua instead of the tail end.