A Survivor's Tale
Some people are particularly gifted at describing the lives they have experienced. One man who had that narrative ability in large measure was Richard Harralson, who joined the Navy as an apprentice seaman in 1937 and retired 20 years later as a lieutenant commander. In between, as he related in his U.S. Naval Institute oral history, he lived through events that befit the term "hell on earth."
He enlisted at 17 after growing up in California during the Depression. Not only did the Navy offer him a steady livelihood, his departure from home also meant one fewer mouth for his parents to feed. He served in several ships before being lured by the call of the exotic Orient. Once overseas, he reported to the U.S. Asiatic Fleet flagship as part of the enlisted staff that supported the commander-in-chief, Admiral Thomas C. Hart. As time passed, Harralson took pride in his increasing skills as a radioman.