Becketwood Cooperative
An Active, Independent 55+ Community of Owners in Minneapolis

Good Eyes: a Memoir of World War II

We Remember:  World War II

by Ken Masters, Becketwood Member

I graduated from Washburn High School in 1941, and began college at the University of Minnesota. After Pearl Harbor, I tried to enlist but my eyes weren’t good enough. Then they changed the rules and set up a program called Limited Service so in spring of 1942 I enlisted and was put in the Army Engineers—the 671st Engineers.

After basic training in Fort Leonard Wood and other training at Fort Belvoir near Washington, DC, we were shipped overseas. The 671st main job was to make and print maps for the combat troops—we constructed the maps of the terrain from aerial photos. Ironically, I used my “good enough” eyes a great deal. We were first in New Guinea—there was still some fighting there—and then based near San Jacinto, Luzon, the main island of the Philippines. Eventually, I was given the job of company photographer.

Although my memory of those long years is fuzzy, what stands out in memory is the camaraderie in my company, and the strength we found working together in hard places. I remember, in this picture I didn’t take, Jim, Rusty, Dexter. The guy at bottom left is me.

After the surrender, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we were part of the occupying forces in Japan, based near Osaka—but we traveled around a lot. Japan was a beautiful country, though I also photographed a lot of ugliness and destruction.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.






Leave a Reply

  • Vanjie Bratt May 19, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Thanks Ken for sharing your experience in World War II. I enjoyed your photos. Vanjie

  • dick juhl May 21, 2017, 1:44 am

    Thanks Ken. My brother Allan, was in the Navy at that same time. He was on shore patrol in Nagasaki, which I think led to many of this ailments later in life By-the-way Ken, I am a Washburn grad too,. Dick Juhl

  • David Liddle May 23, 2017, 5:00 pm

    Ken, thanks for serving our country and for writing a blog about some of your experiences, because it’s hard for those who weren’t there to imagine what it must have been like. You and your eyes made a difference! I enjoyed the photos too. You were certainly a handsome dude!