|Twenty-Two Months by James Reding
| In 1940, the population of the United States was a little over 132 million. In 1945,
when the war was over, we had over 12 million Americans in our Armed Forces
(almost ten percent of our entire population). As a teenager, I was one of them and I
was not alone, there were tens of thousands of other teenagers like me that were in the
military during those critical years.
Most of the books that I have seen about World War II are second or third party
versions of what happened during that juncture point in history. The book,
Twenty-Two Months, gives a first party version of what it was like to be a young
person during the war. The first chapter begins on December 7, 1941. It describes how
the bombing of our ships at Pearl Harbor changed America and the world, as we knew
it. Through a teenagers eyes, the book relates the dramatic lifestyle and infrastructure
changes which occurred in the San Francisco Bay area from the onset of the hostilities
to my seventieth birthday when I left high school in my junior year and enlisted in the
The book relates my military experiences as a 17-18 year old from August 1944 to
June 1946. During those intense twenty-two months, I went through recruit training at
Farragut, Idaho and served as a crew member aboard the USS Fergus, APA 82, an
amphibious personnel attack troop transport that carried combat troops to the war zone.
We crossed the Pacific Ocean five times (twice during the war and three times after the
war was over). We were stalked by Japanese submarines, went through two typhoons,
Kamikazes attacks at Okinawa and mine fields off the coast of Japan. All of this
occurred before my nineteenth birthday. I was still only eighteen years old when, with
twenty months of sea duty, I had accumulated sufficient points to receive my
honorable discharge from the Navy.
If you were or knew a young sailor serving in the Pacific Theater of Operations
during the final months of World War II, this could be your/their story. As teenagers
under the stress of hazardous sea and combat conditions, we held our own and did our
jobs alongside the older guys. We grew up fast, had to survive.