Navy World War II veteran Bob Kimberling of Prairie City was 16 when he heard about the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.
In 1944, at age 18, he signed up for the selective service.
He and his friend Vernon Reynolds drove together to Pendleton then rode a train to Portland where Kimberling signed up for the Navy and Reynolds for the Army.
Entering the service in September of 1944, Kimberling went from working on his dad’s ranch, to boot camp in Farragut, Idaho, to the Pacific Fleet Radio Strikers School at Pearl Harbor.
He was in radio school for 22 weeks, he said, learning to send and receive Morse code.
Kimberling was a part of the Air Support Control Unit Amphibious Forces Pacific Fleet.
“We were in a unit invasion of an island,” he said. “We might be in the communications ship in the harbor and have a small ship go in and tell them where to fire.”
He added, “You’d be copying all the messages from the planes and boats in the invasion, and we were supposed to copy that on a typewriter and turn it over to the superiors.”
When asked if his ship ever came under fire, he said, “We may have dodged a torpedo or two.”
Toward the end of the war, he was aboard a ship headed to the invasion of Japan, he said.
“When the Japanese surrendered, the ship turned around back to Maui,” he said.
He said, after his ship came back to base camp, “It was kind of like a vacation — it was Maui.”
Kimberling was honorably discharged June 4, 1946, a radioman third class.
His friend Reynolds returned earlier from the war after being shot in the thigh in Okinawa, also receiving a Purple Heart. He passed away in 2002.
When Kimberling returned from war, Reynolds urged him to join Prairie City American Legion Post 106.
Now 92, Kimberling has been a member for 70 years.
He said his dad was unhappy at first when he signed up for the service, but not long after he joined, he received a letter from him.
“He said he was wrong, and he was proud,” Kimberling said. “... At that time, you needed to go defend the country as a duty.”