William R. "Scot" Kinsman
Co. C, 1st. Corp. Medium Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division
A SINNER SAVED BY GRACE
I, William R. Kinsman, was born April 28, 1922 in Midlothian, Scotland to George Westwood Kinsman and Georgina Robb. George Westwood Kinsman was born June 22, 1883 at 66 Gavieside Row, West Calder, Scotland. Georgina Robb was born September 27, 1883, at Buchan Street, Glasgow, Scotland. They were married September 25, 1908 at West Calder Parish Church, witnessed by Alexander Kinsman (father) and Margaret Morton Young. The minister's name was J. Alexander Anperfon.
I had two older sisters and two older brothers. At the time we arrived in America, Agnes was 13 years old, Georgina was 11, Alexander was 9, George was age 4, and I was 9 months old. May 23, 1923 we came to Peoria, Illinois because my mother's sister, Devina Creighton and her husband, lived here. We lived on Elizabeth Street, then later moved to Reed Street, and while living there I attended Douglas School. We then moved to State Street, where my memory is more vivid of my growing up years. However, I have no memory of the following event, except as it was told to me.
My mother, Georgina, lost her life in a tragic accident in 1927, by being dragged by a streetcar, because her clothing caught in the door. She was pregnant at the time, and it not only killed her, but also the unborn child. I was 5 years old at the time. As my mother lay on her death bed, my sister Jean sat with her. Mom said to Jean, "If something happens to me, I want you to raise the other children in the admonition of the Lord." My dad and mother were both Christians. Sister Jean was only 14 years old when Mom died. Jean had become a Christian early in her life. While she was reading the Bible, she came upon Acts 16:31 "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved and thy house." She trusted God for that verse and it was the stepping stone for each of the family to be saved.
We rented a home from Mrs. Rediger. It did not have a furnace or indoor bathroom. It did have a pot- bellied stove in the kitchen and a two-seated out-house (shunky) in the back yard. I took a bath every Saturday night in a big round galvanized wash tub with P&G soap (good for hair shampoos and washing clothes) with everyone running all around (that is where I lost a lot of my pride). We were as poor as "Job's turkey," but the wonderful thing about it was that we didn't know that we were poor. We enjoyed life to its fullest. A penny was a penny and a nickel was a nickel. Back then my dad and I cut grass for 3-4 hours with a push lawn mower for $1, and were glad to get it. My father (hereafter known as "Pop") worked seven days and nights at the First Baptist Church in downtown Peoria for $22 a week. My brother George, Pop, and I would go to the grocery store once a week, with a wagon. We 3 all carried the groceries and filled the wagon for $12. We paid our rent of $30 a month, and never had anything left over, but we never went without food. Pop would do the dishes at the Church after a banquet, in order for us to get the leftovers.
We never had much in the way of toys, nor did any other child. I was quite content to have one skate, which I eventually made into a scooter with the aid of some two-by-fours. We would sit on the front porch every night and sing songs while brother George played his guitar and taught us songs that he made up. We also sang many gospel songs which Jean taught us. We had an old pump organ, too, which I would pump while Jean played that. The kids in the neighborhood would come over and sing with us Sometimes in the evening we would play "hide and seek" with never a quarrel or fight. Many a day we would walk to Rocky Glen (Kickapoo) and swim, then go to Kitchen-Maid Pies on Main Street to eat a whole pie (day old). They would let you eat all you wanted as long as you ate them there, and it was the same at Producer's Dairy where we got our free milk, as long as you drank it there.
When we lived on State Street we were in the Lincoln School District, but when we later moved to Seventh Street and it was in the Washington School District, and as I got older I went to the Roosevelt Junior High School. While we were still living on State Street, Al and Nan (Agnes) each got married and moved out. Jean also got married to Eli Heinold and he moved in with us. Pop was still working at the First Baptist Church and Eli worked at Peerless Painting Company.
Eli and Jean bought a house at 241 East Armstrong in about 1937, while I was attending Manual High School. My dad, George and I rented the upstairs apartment of this house. I was about 15 years old at that time. I was never too fond of school and in my senior year there came the Senior Prom. I had never been to a Prom before and was looking forward to going to this one. I washed my sweatshirt and pressed my pants and shirt. That evening I walked to Manual from my home on Armstrong, well over 4 miles. When I got there I stood at the door and looked in. Every boy there had a suit of clothing on and all I had was a sweatshirt and pants. I turned and walked back home without going in. I was very depressed and when I got home, I said to my dad, "Pop, I want to quit school." My dad said, "Billy, if that's the way you want it." I didn't have a "mama" to say "no" to me. Pop was working his head off just to make ends meet and couldn't afford to buy us clothes.
My first real job after high school was at B&M Clothing Store to help out with expenses. After that job I went to work for the Village Market in Peoria Heights driving a grocery delivery truck. It was a good job and I made $12.00 a week, which enabled me to buy a Ford sedan for $100.00.
Right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor George joined the Army, and I joined the Marines in 1942. George became a Staff Sergeant in the Medical Corps. We met two times during our years in the Service; once in California, and once in Hilo, Hawaii. It was a wonderful reunion both times.
There were 250 of us from the Peoria area who joined together and assembled at the Rock Island Depot at the foot of Main Street, for our trip to the Marine Corps Base, San Diego California. We are now known as 1st. Corp. Medium Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division Co. C.
Scot's boot camp platoon. He is in the back row, first on the left.
Boot training was very difficult. They looked for "Mama's boys" to make Marines out of them. We would drill until we almost dropped from exhaustion. Sixty mile hikes with full pack, 30 miles out and 30 miles back, running up every hill, walking an block, then running a block. For exercise we learned Judo. That got rough! Our other playtime was boxing which was really rough! You got into a ring with one man and you didn't come out until someone got a bloody nose. On other days four men got into the ring and that was rough, rough, rough! If you didn't punch like you meant it, the Drill Instructor (D.I.) had a little extra for you. We had a wedding ceremony - you got married to your rifle: "you eat with it, you sleep with it, you talk to it, you never, never let it out of your sight. Your also memorize your I.D. number (480938). I had the misfortune of forgetting it one time. I was told to put my bucket over my head and I pushed my rifle up and over, over and down until my arms were paralyzed.
I remember well maneuvers in the "boon docks." We had been hitting it hard all day, hiking, hitting the deck sort of thing. Finally the D.I. had a kind streak run down his back and gave us a ten minute break. I closed my eyes and I was out. Then I heard the D.I. screaming, "Hit the deck, let's go!" I jumped up and started running with the rest of my buddies and WHAM! I had run into a single strand of barbed wire with my eyes. When I hit, it was at a run and it knocked me flat on my back. All the rest saw it but I didn't. They called the Corpsman and he began to scrub out my eyes with a scrub brush. Then they sewed both of my eye lids shut with a needle and sutures. That smarted! I was blind for three days and wore patches for weeks. The doctor said each barb came within 1/16th on an inch from the cornea of each eye. I would have been blind the rest of my life. PTL!
After my eyes were healed we went out on maneuvers again. We would drive the tanks to break them down so we could fix them. The enemy was a bunch of old cars which we would fire at with 75 mm guns. These tanks weighed 35 tons and not knowing the terrain up ahead, when the tank flew off the ground into a ditch, since I was looking through a periscope at the terrain, my head crammed into the periscope, and even with a crash helmet on, I still got a bloody nose. At least the crash helmet protected the rest of my head. This was common in tanks for everyone.
At the end of the day we bivouacked our tanks under a tree, and put a camouflage net over them. As I was giving signals to the driver to do this, to maneuver the tank into position, I was walking backward with my two hands held up. Then I signaled him to come forward as I was walking backward, but he stopped and yelled and kept pointing toward me. Each tank had twin diesel engines and they were very noisy. I could not hear what he was saying but did turn to see what he was pointing to. What I saw sent a cold chill up and down my spine. Four feet away was a huge diamond back rattlesnake ready to strike on my next backward step. PTL! I picked up a large rock and hit it in the head. As he was twisting I held his head with a stick, took my knife and cut his head and rattles off, nine in all. I had this for some time but someone eventually stole it.
My girlfriend from Peoria, Rosemary Hoffman, surprised me by coming to California on a bus to visit me. My friend, "Josie" Josephson's fiance, Joan, came out to marry him. Somehow or other we got together and when we received our first liberty, and boot camp was over, we went out the front gate of the Marine Base (the four of us), walked up five or six blocks, spotted a small Christian Church, and asked the pastor (Pastor Cron) if he would perform a double wedding ceremony. He consented and we were married. We stood up for each other. We had a 72 hour pass and the four of us went to San Diego and went to a movie (some honeymoon). We found a one-night's lodging in San Diego and then returned to Oceanside, to catch the last truck going back to camp, as we had to be back by 6:00 a.m. Monday morning to Jacques Tank Farm. The wives both got a job and stayed in Oceanside at Rosecrusean Lodge, in separate rooms. "Josie" and I were only given five or six 72-hour passes, which added up to about two weeks in all with our new wives. It came time to ship out and our wives had to return home by train. Rose did not tell her mother that she was married and "much smoke went up the chimney" when she finally found out that Rose had married a non-Catholic.
The day before shipping out of course they gave us a night of Liberty. We went down to the Navy Boat Basin a couple of miles down the road, and it was filled with Marines celebrating at a Carnival that was there in town. There was quite a ruckus at the Carnival, so we went into a bar to get a drink. Some drunken Marine punched somebody in the mouth, and started throwing bottles at the bartender, breaking all the glasses, bottles, etc. in back of him. The bartender called the Military Police (M.P.). Many M.P.'s came in jeeps. It was late at night and very dark. They yelled on their "bull horns", "Come out, you are all under arrest." We pulled our belts out of the loops as they had big buckles. We all tried to go through the door at once. All you could hear was the swishing of belt buckles and the crunch of "billy clubs." There were a lot of "goose eggs" hatched that night. I dove under a big bush and laid there and watched the mayhem, until it all got quiet. Then I calmly walked away and caught the truck back to Camp. Many were thrown in the brig that night in a drunken stupor but were routed out the next morning ready to ship out.
Early the next morning our convoy of tanks of the whole Battalion were driven from Jacques Farm through Oceanside and then to the Boat Basin to board ship. Each tank would drive into a Landing Craft Tank boat (LCT). This small craft would only hold one tank. It would back off of shore into the sea. Our Company C consisted of 22 tanks in all. Then we went out to a larger ship called a Landing Ship Dock (LSD) named the Ashland Number 1. I have a picture of this ship in my files. The Ashland would let down its tail-gate and flood the well deck with water; then each craft would drive in. When they were all in, they would close the gate and pump the water out of the well deck. Then all craft rested on the well deck with no water. This was quite an experience for us young "boots." We pulled out and headed for the South Pacific. It took us 31 days to reach our destination, but we stopped at several islands.
Crossing the International Dateline will bring memories to anyone who has been in the Service for you must be initiated into King Neptune's Realm. It is called a "day to remember." Everyone goes through the gauntlet including officers. It is a time when if you hold a grudge against anyone, you have the freedom to unload. You fall out in "skivvy drawers" (under shorts). There is a long line with men standing on both sides and a high pressure hose is used on the buttocks of the helpless men. These men on both sides are holding paddles like ping pong paddles. They drill holes in them so when the make contact, they suck the blood right out. It is worse than taking a trip "to the woodshed." Then you may be called upon to sit in a chair while they shave off all of your hair, or paint it red or green or yellow. Some of the other crazy things they do are enough to make you not want to go through this experience again.
When we were one day from our destination we had a Japanese Submarine on our tail and had to pull into New Hebrides Island. This island was primitive. The men were all about 6 foot, 7 inches tall with a bone through their noses and big black bushy hair. They only wore a loin cloth and a machete. The women wore a sarong type of garment. We were there only a few days and I believe they repaired a broken rudder on the ship. We had Liberty to go ashore but wore our pistols when we went into the little town. It was very primitive with grass huts. One of the native women decided she wanted one of the Marines for a husband. She chased him all over town and hundreds of people followed them yelling and laughing. This Marine was scared to death, but finally escaped by running up the gang plank aboard ship.
We pulled out of New Hebrides and headed for New Caladonia Island. This island was so infested with mosquitoes that as soon as evening came, you put on a pit helmet, with a mosquito net to cover your face and neck. You had to tuck your pant legs into your socks and spray yourself with mosquito dope but they came by the billions. In ten seconds they covered your net so you could not see out. Dingy Fever and malaria was everywhere, but the strange thing about it was that the natives never wore anything and they never bothered them. We thought it must be their "B.O." that kept the mosquitoes away. We were there for a few days and pitched our tents on the side of a hill overlooking the jungle. One day one of the Marines saw a very pretty native girl go on a path into the jungle. He ran in after her. In about two minutes he came running out for his life with a big native male behind him swinging a machete and yelling. He ran up and stood behind one of the Lieutenants. That native wanted to carve him up for supper. The Lieutenant pleaded his cause and finally the native went back into the jungle. This Marine learned a good lesson, "Don't touch if you don't want to suffer the consequences!"
When we left New Caladonia we knew where we were going, TARAWA in the Gilbert Islands. This was a small island only one and three-fourths miles long, and three quarters of a mile wide. It was surrounded by coral reef. On board ship we were drilled all day for the attack. Each of us thought that this would be a picnic because of the way the island had been pounded all day by battleships and cruisers. We thought we would have coffee and doughnuts on the beach, but it didn't turn out that way.
Little did we know that the "Japs" had boasted that this island could not be taken by a million Marines in a hundred years, but we took it in 72 hours; however, we paid a terrible price for it.
November 20, 1943 - "The Day'. We all wondered what fighting a battle would really be like. This all seemed like a dream. It couldn't happen to us. These things always happen to other people. You ponder in your mind, "What in the world am I doing here, anyway?" You didn't start this war, someone else did, and yet it involves your life. My thoughts were about home, the good times, the family, a new wife. I had all kinds of things going through my mind such as: "What if I get killed? Then what?"
I was standing on the top deck at the crack of dawn. The battleships and destroyers were pounding the island with everything they had. The flashes from the guns lit up sky like it was daylight. I could see hundreds of ships in all directions. It is comforting to know that I am not alone in this battle, but there are many who are with you. Then over the ship's loud-speaker, "Go to your stations - prepare to embark!" I went below to the well deck to get my gear with the others. We got into the LCT craft and the ship let down the tail gate so the sea could come in. Each craft is floating now as they back out and rendezvous in a circle. The command is than given and all craft head for the Island. There are shells exploding everywhere, machine guns and rifles firing, grenades going off. The Island seems to be ablaze and the noise is overwhelming. I was scared half to death but would not admit it nor would any of the others. We were heading toward the beach and everyone seemed to be firing at someone. All of a sudden the craft stops about one thousand yards from the Island, and I wondered, "What now?" The boatswain lets down the front gate and the head sergeant said, "Let's go!" "No, there must be some mistake as we are about one thousand yards out in the ocean!" Yes, there is a mistake. They misjudged the tide and the craft can't go any further because of the coral reef around the Island. We all jumped into the ocean with our gear on, with the water coming clear up to our necks. We had to hold our rifles over our heads as we started in to that beach. This was the moment that we had trained for. The "Japs" had machine guns all along the beach pointing at us. There was a sunken ship to the right of us with "Jap" snipers shooting at us from it also. I heard the sound of a bullet, then another, and another. Then a Marine in front of me got it in the head and went under; then to my right, and then to my left. Marines were dropping like flies all around me. The water turned blood red.
The "Japs" were our enemy but there was another enemy, it was death and it was all around us. The Bible tells us that every man will taste of death and I feel certain that this is my time to die. Death is more of an enemy than the "Japs" because it ends all opportunity. I think of my little sister 14 years old that quit school to be a mother to me when Mom died. I could have thanked and loved Jean more for the untold hours she took to raise me until I could stand on my own two feet. Also for the spiritual input she gave me to put me on the right road of life. Death is an enemy because of grievous separation when a loved one is snatched from your presence and leaves an empty spot in your life. I saw death all around me. Marines were floating back and forth like birch wood wrapped up in barbed wire, purple, bloated and unrecognizable. These were Marines from the first assault. I knew I was going to die.
I looked up into the sky and began to pray. I prayed like I had never prayed before. I told God if He would spare me I would serve him the rest of my life. As I looked into the sky, I saw my sins projected like the sound of a typewriter, ta ta ta ta. I had an encounter with God and I will never forget it, as it is indelibly written in my mind. Well, here I am 68 years old ... did He answer my prayer? I like to think so, but I feel He answered my little sister's prayer when she prayed, "Father, save that boy that he may serve you in the days to come."
I went in on Red Beach Two next to a very long pier. I finally got to shore; how, I do not know. I has no strength left in my arms and legs. I tried to crawl out of the water but I was so weak that I had to take my knife and cut my backpack off. It was full of water and heavy. I crawled on my elbows and knees on shore. You had to stay flat with the ground. If you as much as put up you arm, it would have been shot off. There were dead Marines everywhere on the beach. I dug a foxhole with my hands and feet to get below the ground level, as I lost my shovel. I used two dead Marines as protection from bullets in front of me. Then I heard my buddy, Red Mulligan, call out to me, "Scot, I'm hit!" I spotted him about five feet from shore with a fountain of blood coming out of the water from his body. I called to him and said, "Red, you can make it." "No, I can't" he replied. I reached in my back pocket and got my New Testament Gideon Bible. I said, "Red, you can make it. Grab this Bible," and I threw it to him. He crawled out of the water into my foxhole. I dug another one adjacent to it. There was blood on his buttocks. I cut his belt and pulled back his trousers. There was a clean bullet hole in the buttocks. I took his first aid kit and put sulfa on it with a large bandage. I then proceeded to clean my rifle as it was loaded with sand, to make it operable. There was so much sand in the barrel of the gun that it would have caused it explode if I had tried to fire it.
We could throw grenades and fire a few shots but we couldn't move a foot. If the "Japs" had counter attacked, we would have all been killed. We were soaking wet, miserable and cold. There was so much confusion with the noise of exploding shells that one young Marine went out of his mind. He stood and starting shouting. When he did this a buck sergeant stood up and punched him in the face, knocking him down, but it saved his life. No one seemed to be in command. Everyone was on their own. Machine gun fire, rifle fire, grenades exploding - it was like a piece of hell and you were right in the middle of it. We were the living among the dead and I had a gut feeling we were about to join them.
At midday it seemed that the "Japs" were being pushed back somewhat. I saw a deserted Amtrak on the beach and crawled up into it to get a better view of what was going on. One of our Navy planes saw me and thought I was a "Jap". He came straight at the Amtrak firing his 50 caliber machine guns. I dropped down into the Amtrak but the only thing that saved my life was the angle of his fire on the vehicle. I jumped up and waved at him to let him know I was a Marine, but he came back and fired again. This happened several times, so I finally stayed down in the vehicle. This was probably some crazy "90-day wonder" who was gun happy. He must have thought everyone was his enemy. It makes me wonder how many Marines got killed with his stray bullets that missed me, because there were a lot of Marines on that beach.
There was so much action and shooting all day. Later that evening the tide came in. The bodies were floating all over. We walked all over Red Beach Two and went through all that was in our area. Red Beach Two took heavy losses. There were still some alive so as many as we could, we put them on life jackets that had been tied together and floated them toward the long pier. When I came to Red Mulligan, he had bled to death. When we got to the pier there were corpsmen loading the wounded on small craft to take them out to the hospital ship. I remember a Marine sitting on a 16 inch armor piercing unexploded shell as if nothing had happened, smoking a cigarette, with his eye hanging six inches down on his cheek. I had blood all over my arms and knees from crawling on the wet sand. I was told to go with them to help them unload. I talked to a corpsman later on about Red's wound. He said there was nothing I could have done because that fountain of blood that I saw coming out of his body into the water was because it had hit the main artery so he bled to death.
When we got to the hospital ship it was quite an ordeal to get them aboard. I ended up in the room where they operate. It was unbelievable. A large area was filled with tables. The doctors were all covered with blood and they were going from table to table hoping to save the life of some young man. They were carrying them out as fast as they were carrying them in, some to be cared for by nurses, while some had died. I will never forget that sight. What happened after that or how I got back to my unit is a blank in my memory. Tarawa was a taste of hell! Many died and there were many missing in action. Those that went down in the ocean were most likely eaten by sharks for we saw many sharks around the islands. I can truthfully say this Island was no picnic.
The next thing I knew, I was at Hilo, Hawaii at Camp Tarawa to reorganize for our next battle. It was to be SAIPAN in the Marianas on June 21, 1944. This was a much bigger Island and there were too many things that happened to talk about, but there are some that stayed alive in my mind and in my dreams for many years. There are many I would just as soon forget. As we moved across the island many things happened very fast. It was a killing field. Someone was firing at you and you were firing at them. Once again, machine guns, flame throwers, mortars, grenades. You never know when one of those bullets was meant for you. It was like running through a gauntlet. You were going to get it but when? It seemed inevitable and frightening. The strange thing about it was that you always saw things that stayed with you.
Marines are trained to kill because they are commanded to kill. Some kill because they hate. I remember one Marine called "Toco" - as we were going overseas this man filed each 30 caliber bullet flat at its point to make it a "dum dum." A "dum dum" bullet will tear a good sized hole in a man, because the steel jacket shatters and the lead spreads. That is against International Law. He was caught and had to scrub the ship's deck for ten days in the hot sun with a tooth brush. As we were overseas he was killed in battle.
On Saipan Island they began to haul in tons of supplies and pile it in many piles throughout the island. These piles were covered with large tarpaulins. As I was standing guard one evening over these supplies, I saw a "Jap" come out of nowhere and he hid under the tarpaulin that covered the supplies. I ran over close to where I knew he was hiding. I used the Japanese word for "surrender." The tarpaulin moved around as though he was coming out, but all of a sudden there was a loud bang. The tarpaulin blew right out at me. He had held a grenade to his stomach and blown himself up. The thickness of the tarp saved my life, for the shrapnel did not go through it. PTL!
Days later when most of the major fighting was over but still alive with "Japs." A Lieutenant told me to take him into Garapan in a reconnaissance jeep ( a jeep with a radio ). I drove down into the center of town. A Mitsubishi Aircraft Factory was there, but not much was left of it. It was huge and it looked like a big erector set that had been pushed over. All the buildings were in shambles and the street was littered with glass and debris. All of a sudden a "Jap" cut loose on us with a .31 caliber machine gun. It splattered the ground in front of us, then stopped. We both flew out the side of the jeep and underneath the vehicle, waiting for the next burst of fire, but it never came. Lieutenant Largey said," Are you ready?" I said, "Let's go!" and we went. We hopped into the jeep and I left a streak of rubber on the street of Garapan. He could have easily killed us both, had he fired once more. PTL!
I had another close call on Saipan as we were going across the island. I felt a burning sensation under my left arm. I looked down and saw a hole in my dungaree jacket. Later when I took it off it had three holes in it. Then I woke up to the fact that it was a bullet hole. I had on a jacket, sweat shirt, shirt and tee shirt. In all there were nine holes, but it did not break my skin. PTL!
Marines remember what the "Japs" did on their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, where so many died. They sunk our ships and never apologized. The death march of Bataan, Corregidor, and the Phillipines. On Guadalcanal, Marines were found tied to trees with their penises cut off and stuck in their mouths then were bayoneted afterwards. Those are atrocities! So as we crossed this island it wasn't any different to see American Marines hang a "Jap", or crack their skull with a rifle butt, or pull their gold teeth out of their mouth when one was shot but still alive. There are always atrocities in war, even to becoming a bank robber. Yes, we robbed a bank in Garapan. We blew the vault open with a 75 millimeter Armor Piercing shell, went in and took all the money. We strapped it in suitcases in the back of the tanks after the island was secured. A month later came out that if anyone had "Jap" money, they would be Court Martialed, so we burned it. I did keep a few and in the months to come we were paid in their currency to keep their monetary system alive. Then we were able to send money home (sad day).
Another time on Garapan I was on the midnight shift (4 on, 4 off 8 hours in all). At night each guard was within calling distance of the other guards. The "Japs" had a unique way of sneaking in at night and slitting someone's throat. This night one of them came in on my post, but I did not see him. The guard on the next Post did and fired a shot and hit him. I called the Corporal of the Guard. He came and we were standing over the body talking, when all of a sudden the "Jap" reached out to grab me. The Corporal put one shot in his head and his eye popped out on his cheek. It killed him.
When the enemy is killed, you bury him, and I buried him face down instead of face up. I didn't think much of it at the time, for I have buried many ' Japs ," but this one was different. It convicted me and I later asked the Lord to forgive me and He has. On some burying parties we had Filipinos to do the digging. I remember one time when we came upon a ' Jap' who was burned to an ash by a flame thrower and welded to a tank as he had tried to jump off. His body was like a piece of burned toast. The burying party jumped off the truck and ran with their shovels. The first one who got there jumped up on the tank and smacked the body with his shovel . The body flew all over the place. They all laughed about it, as if they were getting even with the "Japs" because of the way they were treated while prisoners.
One night I was taken from the front and put on a 6x6 truck. I was told to go to the ammunition dump to load up with shells to take to the front lines. This was an all night job.
The truck was open on top and the windshield had a bullet hole right where you looked out of the windshield. Now I knew why I got the job. It was nerve racking; the truck was loaded with H.E. (High Explosive) shells. I drove down a cow path through acres of sugar cane that scraped the side of the truck as I drove. It only had night lights, two inches by one half inch, barely enough to see in the dark. I drove with my left hand and held a 45 Pistol in my right hand expecting a ' Jap ' to hop on board at any moment. If one stray bullet had hit that truck, it would hove exploded. With God's help I made it until morning. PTL!
At the end of the Island there was a large cliff next to the ocean. The Japanese women, rather than surrender to the Americans, changed their clothes, took their babies and threw them over onto the rocks below, then jumped themselves. Needless deaths! Death is an enemy even to the Japanese.
After Saipan we then went back to Hilo, Hawaii to reorganize for our next battle, OKINAWA, Ryukyu Island on April 1, 1945. I have viewed video tapes of actual battle scenes on this Island, made by Wallie Weiman and Oscar (Ozzie) Wissell from the archives in Washington, D.C., but to this day I cannot remember one thing that happened there. I have talked to many Marines who were there, also, but nothing ever sparks my memory, with one exception. A friend of mine who was a Captain of a large ship was telling me of the time they had to head out to sea because of a hurricane approaching Okinawa. This reminded me of our chaining down the tanks because of an impending hurricane. Everything else is a total blank. I talked to a Marine Sergeant about this and he told me, "It is battle fatigue!" He said it happens to many; that you close your mind down because there is too much going on and your mind will not take it. That is the only explanation I have.
The next thing I remember is that we are preparing to invade Japan. President Roosevelt had died and Harry Truman had now become our president. This president had enough sense to drop the bomb that saved so many lives. This operation was top secret and was called "Operation Downfall." Few Americans were aware of plans to invade the Japanese homeland, much less of their defenses. The previous islands we encountered were well defended, but Japan was something else.
This plan called for two massive military strikes; two amphibious assaults for November 1, 1945, 14 combat Divisions would land at Kyushu. The second invasion called "Coronet" should send 22 Divisions against one million Japanese defenders on the main island of Honshu and Tokyo Plain. More than one and a half million combat soldiers , with three million in support, would be involved in these assaults.
General Charles Willoughby, Chief of Intelligence, projected that one million men would be casualties by the Fall of 1946. The Marines had seven Divisions. They knew every Marine would die landing on their beaches in the initial assault. The Japanese Nation was prepared to die for their Emperor. Twenty Eight Million Japanese civilians were armed with old rifles, explosives, mortars, swords, bows, axes, and bamboo spears. The Americans would be outnumbered three to one. It would have been the biggest blood bath in the history of modern warfare. If the bomb had not been dropped, one hundred million Japanese would have been willing to die for their Emperor, and how many U. S. troops, only God knows. PTL!
Two weeks after dropping the bomb on Nagasaki, Japan we were on our way to Japan. We landed at Sasabo. It was an inlet with mountains all around. We felt like sitting ducks in a pond as we lay anchor. They had 240 mm mountain guns all along the coast. We disembarked, leaving the tanks aboard. We were then taken by truck to Nagasaki where the bomb had been dropped.
This was a scary sight as you looked at nothing but black burned ashes for miles. A large city that once stood here was gone. When we entered the area, on the outskirts we saw green grass, but where the atom bomb had exploded, it was ash. It made a definite line between the grass and the ash. Thousands died of radiation later. We pitched our tents there in the center of it all.
We were put on Work Detail; I was put on a 6x6 truck unloading things from ship to dock for many days. One day a lieutenant told me to go to a certain place in this 6x6 truck to pick something up (I don't even remember what it was). It was a couple of miles away and when I got there I found a rather large building like Caterpillar has, with a long loading dock. I got out and went to the only door there and opened the door. As far as I could see there were office desks, typewriters, chairs, Japanese flag banners, looking just as though they had all just gone out to lunch. No one was in sight. I opened another door going into the building and I couldn't believe my eyes. This warehouse was huge and all over it were cone-shaped piles of weapons; on pile was Japanese pistols and holsters, another sabers tied in bundles, another rifles, another machine guns. I said to myself, "I'm a millionaire!" These items were selling from $500.00 to $1,000.00 each. Suddenly I realized that I was in a very dangerous place. I could have gotten a bullet in the head by some lone "Jap" who would like to rid this world of one lone Marine, whom they hated with a passion, and I didn't care for it to be me. I was not going to leave without something, so I went over and grabbed a bundle of sabers, and "high- tailed" it out of there.
When I got back to my truck, I took the seat out and removed the 5 gallon cans. I put them in the back of the truck and put the sabers into the space below the seat, threw the cans in the back of the truck and I was "out of there." When I got back to the dock where I had formerly been working, there was a sailor there. I drove over to him and said, "How would you like a Japanese saber?" His eyes light up like a Christmas tree and he said, "Yeah, man, what do I have to do?" I said, "I haven't had a decent meal in some time. You get me a breakfast and you get a saber." He took off like a "roadrunner" and all I saw were his heels dashing up the gangplank. I don't believe it took five minutes and he was back with a tray with pancakes, sausage, eggs, orange juice, and fried potatoes. He must have worked in the mess hall to be able to produce food like that. He thanked me and I told him I would be back every two or three days. Every time I went back he was always there. I repeated this procedure until there was only one saber left. That morning he asked me if I had any more. I told him "only one more." He said, "The Captain of the ship would like to see you." So I stuck the saber in my pant leg and hobbled up the gangplank, down a flight of stairs, and into the Captain's office.
He said, "Are your the man with the sabers?" I said, "Yes, Sir, and this is my last one." I took the saber out of my pant leg and handed it to him. It was a beauty; the handle was studded with jewels, and the blade was beautiful. It must have belonged to a high ranking Japanese officer. He took one look and reached down in his desk drawer, brought out his check book and said, "How much?" I could have said any amount, but I said, "Sir, money doesn't do me any good, because we can't send anything home, but I will take food." He said, "Do you want whiskey too?" I said, "No, just food." Then he said "Do you have a truck?" I said, "Yes." He pushed a button and a sailor came in. He told this sailor to load my truck with food. I backed my truck up and he loaded it to the brim with gallon cans of peaches, pears, ice cream powder, and all kinds of food, and I drove off to camp. I would like you to know that we ate very well for some time. We had lived on "C" rations for so long that this was like a royal banquet. (Sometimes I think I should have joined the Navy!)
HOMEWARD BOUND - PTL! We were in Japan from September 22, 1945 to December 16, 1945 in the occupation of that Island. Now it was finally time for us to go home. Most everyone else got to home when the war was over, but our "Gung Ho" Captain volunteered to go to Japan.
We came home on a smaller ship that the one we came over on. It only held five tanks. It was a long trip with our minds filled with questions about "what now?" We were away from home a long time. When we arrived in the States at the Boat Basin, Oceanside, California, from which we had departed. The ship opened its gates and I was the last tank to come out. There was a large group of civilians standing on shore. I got a wild idea to give the crowd a thrill on my last trip. I shifted into second, and floored it to third, fourth, and fifth gear. I flew off that ship without touching the ramp. Boy, did I hit the deck! I don't know what the people thought but I felt good about the whole thing, for I could kiss that tank goodbye.
The doctor on the Base put me through many physical examinations and the doctor wanted to keep me in the service for a while yet to build me up. I only weighed 130 pounds. After all, I lived on "C" rations most of my time overseas. I said, "No way, I'm going home!" They gave me $100.00 and a free train ride home, what a bonus! They said we could buy a tank or a jeep for $100.00, but how would we get a tank home? Quite a bargain.
I was on the train and homeward bound. When we pulled into the Rock Island Depot, my family was waiting; my Dad, my sister Jean with Eli, brother George, and Rose, my wife. What a moment of joy, to see my family, whom I never thought I would ever see again. I was so sure of that in the last year overseas that I had quit writing home to anyone, but now here they were before me. I was discharged in January, 1946. PTL!
My Dad, being a Scotch man had a brogue and I couldn't understand him at all. Jean, Eli and George were a sight for sore eyes. But there stood my wife. She was like a total stranger since we only had a few weeks of marriage before I shipped out. I didn't know if she had changed from the sweet, loving girl I once knew, or what she thought of a tall, thin Marine, who looked like he had been through a war. I threw my arms around her and kissed her and that brought us back together again, like we had never been apart. She had rented an apartment upstairs in her Mother's house with room and board provided, so that is where we lived for about two months.
My older brother, Al, was Dispatcher for the Yellow Cab Company and gave me a job driving a cab. I worked there a couple of months and then got a job on the P&PU Railroad. Rose and I moved to the housing in the South End of Peoria, and it was there that Rose became pregnant. However we lost our first child through the carelessness of the doctor. Rose had this baby and all of our other children by Caesarian section. When she came home from the hospital we were very saddened at the loss of our child, as we both wanted children very much. A little girl in one of the other apartments knocked at our door and told us her mother sent her to tell us we could have one of her children, if we wanted, for she had too many. Rose thanked her but said she wanted children of her own.
We had to wait such a long time for a child. Finally Scott Lee was born September 13, 1950, after eight years of marriage. We lived on Third Street at the time, and I was still working at the P&PU Railroad. Scott was such a blessing from the time he was born, helping with the other children as they came along. Later when we built our home he was a big help, besides being a good student at school. He had a mind of his own and he was very meticulous about what he did in his art. We loved him very much and I still do to this day.
William Robb Kinsman, II, was born October 18, 1954, while we were living on Marietta Street in Peoria Heights. At that time I was working for A-Z Graphic Arts in Peoria Heights. Bill was a very quiet boy who loved to sit and rock in his rocking chair. In school he would never write an answer if he didn't understand it, and also was a good student. This loving boy also had his place in our hearts and I so appreciate his love.
It is now 1956, ten years from the time of my discharge, and I had never forgotten my vow I had made to the Lord at Tarawa. We always went to Church when we lived on Marietta Street (Olivet Missionary). It was only half a block away and the boys loved it, as Mrs. Whitaker, the Pastor's wife, was an excellent story teller, and they loved Bible stories.
Sister Jean and Eli lived next door and we had a wonderful relationship. Jean had never ceased to preach to me about the Lord, but I never took her seriously. She prayed much for me and to this day I believe it was her prayers that brought me through the war. I had counted ten times when my life was hanging on a thread, plus the hundreds of bullets that were fired at me. Every one of them missed its mark, and only God could protect me from something like that. Jean's prayer was answered, but not entirely fulfilled. There was more to come. When you vow to the Lord, you must keep that vow. Jean vowed to raise us in the admonition of the Lord, and I vowed to serve Him the rest of my life. Just going to Church didn't seem to fulfill my promise.
Sister Jean did not give up as she believed God would keep His Word (Acts 16:31) if she kept hers. She invited me to a little Church in East Peoria to see a chalk artist, George Sweeting, Preacher, and Harold DeCou played the organ. I was sitting on the front row when George Sweeting drew a beautiful picture with chalk. When he was finished, he took a piece of white chalk and quickly put in three crosses. Then he turned and pointed right at me and said, "Did you know Christ died for YOUR SINS?" WOW! That hit me like a ton of bricks! He then gave an alter call. A man came to me and put his arm around my shoulder and invited me to go to the alter. I took his arm and threw it off my shoulder, stood up, and walked right out of Church, went across the street, got in my car and drove home. I was under such conviction that I was miserable. When I got home no one was there. I knew what I had to do and I went into the bedroom, got down on my knees and poured it all out. I told God every sin I could ever remember and then said, "Lord, forgive me of my sins, come into my heart, and save me. In Jesus' name I pray." Then I wept bitterly, but when I got up from that bedside, I was one hundred pounds lighter.
I pondered that in my mind all the next day, not knowing what had happened. Just to show you how God works, my sister Jean had made a phone call to Pastor Gibb at El Vista Church and asked him to make a house call on me. That evening he and a traveling Evangelist by the name of Gene McAllister came knocking on my door. I invited them in and we talked. Pastor Gibb then quoted John 3:16, "For God so loved the world He gave His only Begotten Son, that if Bill Kinsman believeth in Him, he shall not perish, but have everlasting life." He had me confused. Why did he my name in there? He kept talking, but I didn't understand. He quoted that verse again and put my name in it. Why did he put my name in it? What did it mean? Then the third time he said it again ... and then God revealed to this sinner the meaning of it. "God so loved ME that He gave His only Son to die for my sins on the cross, that if I believe Him, I will not perish, but have everlasting life." How plain and simple is the message of salvation, to open the eyes of an ignorant man like me to understand the depth of His love. -14-
"Calvary Covers It All" the song says. I told Pastor Gibb and Gene McAllister what I had done the evening before and we all sat and cried with tears of joy. PTL! Born again! A SINNER SAVED BY GRACE (Acts 16:31). My Mother's prayer to her daughter, a sister's prayer for me, my life would never be the same from that day foreword.
That weekend while driving my car I went down to the river to be alone and think. As I was sitting there, I heard some singing, so I pulled over close to a small group of men who were holding a Church Service there at Eckwood Park. The chorus of the song went like this, "Years I spent in vanity and pride, knowing not my Lord was crucified, caring not it was for me He died at Calvary; Mercy there was great and grace was free, pardon there was multiplied to me, there my burdened heart found liberty ... at Calvary!" I got out of my car, walked over to them, and said, "Fellows, I don't know what organization you are with, but I want to join you." It was the Fishermen for Christ, an inter denomination of men who loved the Lord, and their ministry was an arm of the Church to preach the gospel in jails, missions, nursing homes, churches, and street corners. There were about 20 members at that time and they held business meetings, assigned places to go by two's, had county and city jail meetings, Peoria Rescue Mission, Szolds, Belwood Nursing Home and other nursing homes, Court House (Monday night), and the Warner Homes. All of these places were a blessing for many came to Christ.
I had previously attended El Vista Baptist Church, been baptized there, and was regular in attendance. The Baptists always had testimonies as to what God had done for them. I can still hear Pastor Gibb say, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so." At that time I didn't have a "say so" and I was not one for public speaking. I went for some time and my inferiority complex seemed to be getting worse, until I thought I had enough of this "say so" business. I prayed about it and at the time the City Mission had just opened. Fred Lawrence, one of the Fishermen, spoke the first message. I asked the Lord if I could go to the Mission and wash dishes. It seemed as if He said "Okay", so I went to the City Mission.
On August 19, 1957 Robb Roy was born while we were still living on Marietta. He was one of the cutest little guys you ever saw. He would wear a black derby, and a gun and holster over his bathrobe. My dad lived with us there at this time and would sit at the bottom of the stairs and Robb would drop things down on his Grandpa's head. "Pop had to sit with his hat on in the house for protection. He would say to me, "Billie, why does that boy do that to me? He knows I love him." Just a short time after Robb was born we moved to Duryea, still in Peoria Heights.
Two good friends of ours, Mrs. Holshoe and Helen Durdle, had opened the Mission. They found this empty building on Adams Street and split the rent. Everything was going fine down there. I passed out tracts, did the dishes, made coffee and sandwiches, and I felt that this is what the Lord wanted me to do. There was one thing wrong with me though - I still had a lot of starch in my shirt and God had to take it out of me. I will elaborate on this.
On this particular night at the Peoria Rescue Mission as we sat at the table, a rather large man sat down opposite me. He was the dirtiest and most foul smelling man I had ever been close to. He was a "wino" and "wino's" stink. He kept staring at me as I glanced at him off and on. The blessing on the food was said. He reached out his filthy hand and grabbed a doughnut, thrusting it in front of my face and said, "Here, eat it, Christian, unless it's not good enough for you!" Perhaps you are wondering if I ate it? Yes, I ate it and it didn't kill me, nor did it fatten me up. Right then and there I realized that I had come down off of my white horse, in fact, I had been knocked off by God. It brought me to the level of the Cross. It was by the grace of God that it was not I sitting in the seat that man had been sitting in. God had to strip this pride and arrogance out of me before He could use me. That is one of the problems in the Church today. If we do not see the needy or those who are poor, hungry, naked, and blind, how can we know the love of God? "But who so hath this world's goods and seeth his brother have need and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him (I John 3:17)". "He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love (I John 4:8)."
All was going well at the Mission until one day Jack Martin, the Mission Superintendent, asked me if I would bring the message the next Saturday night. I couldn't say no to my Lord. For I had made a vow on Tarawa to serve Him the rest of my life. I was a nervous wreck. I laid off work for two days, I studied John's Gospel and had a stack of notes. Saturday night came and the Mission was always filled on that night. The Service started, they sang, then turned the Service over to me. I stood behind the podium, opened my Bible, opened my notes, opened my mouth, and nothing came out. I could not find one word to say. I paused and said, "Let us pray." I prayed "Lord, the fear of faces bringeth the snare of the devil, open thou my mouth that my lips may show forth thy praise," and the words came out of my mouth like milk and honey. That was 42 years ago and I haven't shut up since.
Christine Ann Kinsman was born February 19, 1965. We had wanted a girl after having three boys, God gave us our heart's desire. When I called Pop from the hospital, he wept with joy. Being the youngest, she got the most attention. I think we all spoiled her, just as she spoils her two children today. She was very close to her Mother and after she died, Chris passed that love on to me, and I just gobbled it up. She was a very good little girl growing up, a good student, and became a good mother to her children. We had built our home on Laurel Lane in Sunnyland just before Chris was born. I was working at Fleming Potter then in Graphic Arts.
Well, getting back to sister Jean's Covenant Promise, and God's promise (Acts 16:31). Brother Al was a "rounder." He never took anything seriously. Many times I used to say, "If God saves Al, He will save anyone. It was not that I was any better than he, but that Al would never listen. I was never close to Al, for he was much older than I. We did not run in the same circles at all and Al didn't attend Church until he met Edith.
One day while we were living on Laurel Lane, brother Al called me and said quickly, "Bill, do you have a record player?" I said, "Yes, Al." He said, "I'll be right over," and he hung up. He was at the house in record time. We went into the bedroom where the record player was and he put on a record and pushed the "play" button. The song was "The Cross Made the Difference To Me." When the song finished, he threw his arms around my neck and wept bitterly. I could hardly believe this was my brother. He had been "born again." A SINNER SAVED BY GRACE. Al became a soul winner in his Church. Edith, his wife, played a part in his conversion.
Not long after we sold our home on Laurel Lane and were going to have another one built in Lake Long Bow, we had our plans drawn up and were ready to go to the bank. But interest rates went up, so we decided to hold up for a while. Our boys were all married now: Scott and Dawn were married June 20, 1970; Bill and Tahnia were married on April 26, 1975; and Robb and Jackie were married on July 15, 1978. Rose, Chris and I moved in with Scott and Dawn who had a house built at Lake Long Bow. Pop died while we still lived on Laurel Lane in 1969.
THE DARK YEARS! Grandma and Grandpa Hoffman, Rose's parents, lived on McQueen Street in Peoria. Grandpa Hoffman died of a heart attack in 1974 and there was no one to take care of Grandma Hoffman, so we moved in with her. Robb was still with us then until he married in 1978. Then Grandma Hoffman died and left the house to Rose. It was then that Rose developed ovarian cancer. We sold our printing business and the house on McQueen and moved into a Condo off of Reservoir in 1980, where Rose finally died in 1981, after her 4 year battle with cancer. Chris and I lived there until we finally moved in with Scott and Dawn at a large house on Barrington. Chris got married in 1983, her senior year in high school, to Dan Turner, and after graduation they moved to the Great Lakes Navy Base, as he was in the Navy.
Rose and I had been married 38 years and she was a wonderful wife and mother to our children. She came to the Lord at the Mission, A SINNER SAVED BY GRACE. It was a great loss to each one of us when she went to be with Jesus. I was preaching at the nursing homes at the time and finally quit holding the services. I thought God had left me. I had asked the Lord to heal her in my prayers. I prayed, "Lord, as the Centurion of old said to Jesus, 'Just speak the word and my servant shall be healed.'" I prayed that way, "Heal her, Lord, and dry the cancer up," but it did not happen my way, rather it was God's way.
Many friends came to the funeral. As one lady stepped up to the casket, she said, "Praise the Lord, she is alive and well!" That opened my eyes of understanding. I was selfish because I wanted her back, but God wanted her home. If she had been healed, there would always be more to come as she grew older. But God answered my prayer. She is healed and well in the presence of an Eternal God! What more could I ask!
I went through two years of loneliness and sadness of heart. Finally I was introduced to a lovely lady, A SINNER SAVED BY GRACE, Barb Gannon, who attended Christ Bible Church.
I welcomed someone to talk with, to eat out with, to fill the lonely hours of life. She filled that empty place and was instrumental in my preaching again at the nursing homes. We were married July 1, 1983 at Chesterton, Indiana with Jean and Eli standing up for us in a little Church. She became my better half in my ministry of serving the Lord and is a great inspiration as my prayer partner. She is filled with compassion and love to satisfy this old man's heart, and to share with others in need.
Brother George moved to Vermont after his marriage to Lydia and became quite active in his Church, but I never got to talk to him about Christ. When we got married Barb insisted we drive 1000 miles to Vermont to hear my brother George, and Lee, his wife, say they both had received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives. PTL! (SINNERS SAVED BY GRACE).
To end the story, we have one more final completion of Mom's prayer, Jean's faith, and our household saved. Sister Nan was a good woman all her life. She left our family at a young age and married Russell Kurfman. They had five children and raised them well, but never went to Church. Jean never ceased to pray for each of us. Nan was mopping her kitchen floor and had hanging on the wall in the kitchen behind her a picture of Christ in Gethsemane. The handle of the mop came back and broke the glass on the picture. She looked at the damage an saw that it had broken across and down in the shape of a cross. She followed the break down to the bottom and the word "Inspiration" appeared there. She did not know the meaning of it, so she got her Dictionary out and looked it up. It read "The supernatural work of the Holy Spirit." She dropped to her knees and cried out to God for forgiveness of her sins, and invited Christ into her heart. She became a great soul winner and a pillar in her Church. (A SINNER SAVED BY GRACE.)
Well, does God answer prayer? I can tell you assuredly that He does! He has been a part of our family life even before we were born and still is and will be for "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." That is God's desire for each one. It is not His will that any perish. He loved us so much that He gave His only Begotten Son to die on Calvary's cross for our sins that we might have eternal life. It is called the Gospel. Paul, the Apostle, said in Romans 1:16 "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto Salvation, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith, for the just shall live by faith." He who knew no sin, became sin for us and bestowed upon us His righteousness, and it is His righteousness that gets us to heaven, not ours. The Gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God's Son. Paul said in Romans 10:9, 10 "If thou shall confess with they mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thy heart that God had raised him from the dead, thou shall be saved. For with the mouth confession is made unto salvation and with the heart man believeth unto righteousness."
It is my prayer that you will receive him now! Before it is everlastingly too late, and join the untold millions who are SINNERS SAVED BY GRACE! Amen!
Thanks "Scot" for your inspiring lifestory!!
Email Scot here.
copyright 2000 T.O.T.W.
Created 22 March 2001 - Updated 26 March 2007