Kenneth K. Carson, W.I. “Shorty” Williams

Editor’s note: World War II officially ended Sept. 2, 1945, when the Japanese signed surrender terms. We’re honoring the war’s area veterans over the next several months with these brief profiles.

Kenneth K. Carson
Date of birth: Sept. 26, 1918
Dates of service: Feb. 5, 1942 to Oct. 3, 1945
Hometown: Waynoke, Okla.
Lives in: Clovis
Theater and locations of service: Hawaii, Australia, New Guinea, Philippines
Branch: Army
Rank: Tech sergeant
Unit and specialty: 24th Infantry Division, platoon sergeant

In his words: After being assigned to the 24th Infantry Division, Carson found it a seasoned and established division that didn’t readily accept the new replacement troops.

“Those old soldiers wouldn’t speak to us or buddy up with you till you had been there for a month or longer.”

Carson was involved in many of the invasions in the islands of the South Pacific, including Leyte and New Guinea.

He said the conditions in New Guinea were particularly difficult.

“It was jungle and no civilization. It was hard fighting in it, you were fighting in grass (that was) shoulder-high.

“I tell you what: When you went into a beach-head for a landing, you didn’t know what to expect. I always prayed that if the good Lord would get me out alive, I’d never ask for anything again, and here I am, 80-some years old and still asking for things,” he said with a chuckle.

W.I. “Shorty” Williams
Date of birth: Aug. 20, 1920
Dates of service: 1942 to 1944
Hometown: Clovis
Lives in: Clovis
Theater and location of service: South Pacific
Branch: Navy
Rank: Aviation electrician 3rd Class, firefighter 2nd Class
Unit and specialty: USS Intrepid; aviation electrician

In his words: The Intrepid earned the nickname of “drydock Queen” due to the fact it was “the most-hit ship in the 6th fleet.”

Primarily an electrician on planes, Williams often served as a firefighter during attacks.

Following a horrific kamikaze attack, Williams recalls responding to the “ready room,” where the pilots would go to wait for orders to “man” their planes. He recalls they were all still sitting in their chairs, some with half-written letters to their loved ones in their laps — others in various positions of waiting.

“None of them made it. I’m under the impression that there was 65 men. It may not have been that many, but it was a lot of men.”

Even after the room had been remodeled and repainted, he said the memories would flood anytime he entered it, bringing back the smell of that unforgettable day.

Williams said there were also some good times, including dancing with a woman in Chicago, who later became his wife of 61 years.

World War II profiles are compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson. Contact her at 763-6991 or by e-mail:
sharna_johnson@link.freedom.com