World War II, Prince Bud Revelle

January 25, 2012

Prince Bud Revelle wanted to keep his promise to his mother, but his desire to serve took over.

“I promised my mom that I wouldn’t go, because she had a son over in the South Pacific anyway. She was worried about him all the time and I knew she’d be worried about me too. I was her baby,” he said.

Two weeks after he graduated from high school, he decided to enlist in the Navy. He boarded a train at the age of 17 to St. Louis. He chose the Navy because he had a background in building.

“I wanted to be like my big brother (who was in the Navy). He was very important to me. He was 10 years older than I was,” he said.

Revelle served in the Seabees and did his basic training at Great Lakes, Ill.

“They found out I could run machinery, so I was assigned to the carpenter’s shop,” he said.

He served two years in World War II. He said the scariest part of his service happened after he left Pearl Harbor for the Philippines.

“The third day we hit a 100-foot tidal wave... They turned the ship right into the wave. As the swells came in, it raised the ship. As the waves increased, that ship just keeps on riding up... Then it just drops. That’s the most frightening thing there is,” he said.

He was stationed 50 miles south of the equator at Manus on the Admiralty Islands. He was supposed to be on a surveying team. Their mission was to build a landing strip on the Samoan Islands, but that was canceled after President Harry S. Truman ordered the Americans to drop the atomic bombs on Japan.

“President Truman saved my life. He dropped the bomb on Japan and I was headed toward the Philippines. The Philippines were a hell hole. That’s where all the bad things happened,” he said.

Though the war ended, Revelle had signed up for a six-year enlistment in the reserves. He was a civilian for two years and nine months. After he got married, he was called back to service. He said leaving his wife was the toughest part. He was sent to Adak, Alaska, to work in the carpentry shop.

“From 130 to 55 below. I was wondering what they were trying to tell me,” he said with a smile.

Adak is 150 miles from Russia. The Americans used the location as a spy station. They had civil servicemen working there.

“Those guys really got paid good. I got Navy wages, which wasn’t very much,” he said.

They built 4x4 buildings with a tin roof on them with a heater and a telephone inside. They put them every 25 feet along with road. The reason was if anyone got stranded, they’d only have about 12 feet to go for help. That’s about as far as one could go.

“At 55 below, your breath freezes and your tongue will freeze in your mouth, if you open it. You have to really cover up your face. There ain’t much talking going on,” he said.

Revelle was a hard worker and his superior officer noticed. While two civil servicemen made one telephone booth a day, Revelle could make three by himself.

“Of course, I had experience in building, so it was easy for me,” he said.

The chief in charge of the shop told him he needed to slow down and finish one booth a day.

Then he could take some time off and visit the recreation room. Revelle was given a permanent pass and was allowed to go anytime he wanted. That’s when he got interested in bowling. The room had two bowling lanes in it and Revelle swore he was going to build a bowling alley when he got back home. He did exactly that with his brother’s assistance. He also built more than 300 homes, after he got out of the service.

He is now a resident at the Missouri Veterans Home in Warrensburg. He said he’s proud he chose to serve and that he’s still very patriotic.