And I Can Tell You War Stories

And I Can Tell You War Stories

And I Can Tell You War Stories recounts Art Lowry’s experiences as a gunner’s mate in the Navy during World War II.

Lowry joined the Navy at the age of 15, thanks to an error on his birth certificate and a white lie to the recruiter.

warstories-frameHe was sent to basic training and gunnery school, then spent the remainder of his teen years on mine sweepers and amphibious transport ships in the Caribbean and the Pacific.

After his discharge in 1946, he preferred not to talk about his time in the service. His children and grandchildren rarely heard stories about the war when they were growing up, but after Grandpa went to Washington, DC on an Honor Flight in 2010, the memories came flooding back, and he started sharing his war stories with anyone who would listen.

I asked my mother-in-law to set up a tape recorder for Grandpa, and soon I had a couple hours’ worth of his stories on cassette tapes. 

As I transcribed the tapes, my husband and daughter drifted in and out of the room.  Keri was busy getting ready for a date, but kept coming back into the kitchen to hear “just one more story” from Grandpa.

Grandpa enjoyed the attention. He and Grandma sent me photos taken in Venezuela, Saipan and in Wakayama, Japan, where Grandpa worked Shore Patrol after the surrender. 

I did some supplemental research and wrote side notes about things Grandpa mentioned in his stories, including the Stage Door Canteen and Jack Dempsey’s Bar in New York City, two clubs Grandpa frequented while he was stationed in New York.

I located a list of the sailors who were missing from two ships which collided off the coast of Venezuela.  I included maps of the many small islands in the Pacific, and next thing we knew, we had an amazing narrative of Grandpa’s teen years in the Navy.

Our project meant more to Grandpa that I ever could have imagined.

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Lowry’s narrative, transcribed by Tracy Lawson, is folksy and entertaining, and full of anecdotes about pranks and minor disciplinary infractions, as well as his impressions of the conquered empire of Japan. Though he jokingly says the only actual combat he experienced during the war was a bar brawl over a pack of cigarettes, this Ohio teenager was forever changed by his experiences.

Loved the book and I don’t normally enjoy war stories. Pictures and documents to back up the story. Heartfelt and real. Great to read about history from the memories of a boy that went into the war at the age of 15.  –Reviewed by Keywest

Pictures of Art and Marion Lowry

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