Greensboro News & Record
by Doug Clark
November 11, 2015
My neighbor, Garrett Whitley, sometimes talks about his role in the war when I visit him at the care facility where he’s spent the past few months.
He’s 88 and doesn’t walk so well anymore.
As a very young man, almost as young as some of his great-grandchildren, he served on the USS De Grasse in the Pacific.
The De Grasse was a cargo/troop transport ship that saw its share of action during the last 18 months of the war against Japan.
He gets very emotional when he recalls the horror of seeing a Japanese fighter plane diving into a nearby ship, killing dozens of sailors.
“That could have been us,” he says.
He’s also grateful President Harry Truman gave the order to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, forcing Japan’s surrender. Otherwise, he would have been part of the invasion. Military planners thought such an operation could have cost a million American lives.
My conversations with Garrett are somewhat one-sided because he’s stone-deaf. Not that there’s much he needs to hear from me, but when I want to ask him a question, I have to write it down.