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.