1. This is a photo of a plane that landed on the island for the men to repair. [Looks to be a Pan American commercial passenger airline plane.] If you look close in front of the plane there is a stock pile of bombs. Taylor said they were just laying on the ground and the plane would fly in and other people would load them on the plane. He didn't do any of this, he just took some photos of what was still just laying around. He said no one could have anything on the island to take home, so everything just sat there. He said there was all kinds of food and weapons, various kinds of things stored in the caves on the island.
2. Shemya basketball players. This photo is of a group of basketball players from the group of Army buddies on the island. They formed the group in their free time. Taylor is an alternate for the team and is the one taking the photo. They were good enough to go to Anchorage, Alaska for a tournament. He could not remember the names of all the players.
3. One of the hobbies of the men on the island was film developing and photo printing. A photographer is taking the photo of the men and Taylor with his camera. Taylor recalls the men had acquired a sheet of aluminum off of a P-38 airplane and after putting the film thru the chemicals, they would lay the printed photos on the sheet of aluminum under a light bulb to dry to a nice glossy finish.
4. Inside the hut.
5. Snow Day
6. View of Sea.
7. The Stockpile. Taylor said the stock pile contained drums of oil, some of fuel for planes, and drums of alcohol for the torpedos. He said it also contained torpedo tubes that the submarines and ships would come in and haul them off. He found it amazing these were just laying on the ground. He said he could believe it was still there in 1975, because they wouldn't let anyone have any of it and there wasn't a need for it after the war, and no place to put it. The island was used for refuel and repair and load up. [AKA “The Million Dollar Dump which was still there in 1975-76! gls]
8. These photos of a Tanker that got stuck and turned over in a strange fashion on the island, made Christmas day of 1946 an eventful day for the men on Shemya Island. The last photo is of the wrecker they used to get the tanker pulled to safety.
9. Another photo of the stuck tanker.
10. A wrecker pulling the tanker out of the ditch.
11. Some of the other men brought musical instruments too, and would join in on the fun of playing the latest songs. Views of the inside of the hut and its close quarters and bare walls brings back a lot of memories.
12. This photo shows a group of men from the 3063rd Ordnance Service Company taking a break to play with a local dog, who got lots of attention on the island. Taylor is on the back row, far left.
13. After a long day of working on greasy engines, Taylor is ready to head back to the hut for some much needed rest and relaxation.
14. Back in the hut after the sun went down, Taylor would grab a guitar he bought from a serviceman who wanted to sell it before he left the island. Taylor sold the guitar the same way when he left the island. Practicing a few cords and singing the latest songs was a way he’d spend free time.
15. This group of friends with Taylor on the right, reminded him about the snow. He recalls at night laying in his bunk he could hear the snow begin to fall, and it would snow all night. Something pretty rare in Texas where he came from. He said the door behind them in this photo, would open inward. Each morning when he opened the door to go to the other buildings, the first thing to greet the residence would be a wall of snow. They soon came up with the idea of placing a tarp on the floor inside the Quonset hut, open the door, shovel the snow onto the tarp until they reached the trail to the other buildings. They would drag the tarp out and dump it, then return the empty tarp to the hut and lay it out to dry. Taylor recalls that this happened almost everyday.
16. A look over the view of the island from Taylor’s hut is one of many huts and buildings and lots of trails. By the end of the day it was clear and cold. Soon it would be night and the snow would start and continue until morning, and cover much of this view.
17. The U.S. Army's San Leandro, a small transport boat. It carried the men to the US Army Transport MARSHALL VICTORY. For further information regarding the San Leandro, see:cable-car-guyDerekconantSFGate.com BNETNPS.GOV The photos 18-21 are of the U.S. Army Transport MARSHALL VICTORY.
18. The two photos of the USS Marshall Army Transport shows the ship docked at Adak Island. Taylor and the other men who were discharged and heading home were flown to Adak Island where they boarded the ship which would transport them from Adak to Seattle, Washington. They discovered upon arrival at the Seattle port that it would be hours before dock space would become available, so the ship's captain decides to continue on to San Diego, California to try to find dock space there. When the ship arrived at San Diego they found a space to dock and some of the men were finally unloaded. Taylor recalls it was going to be a long wait to get a ride home by either train or bus from San Diego since so many men were discharged there at the same time. It was going to be quicker getting a ride from San Francisco to each of their respective hometowns spread around the country. Civilians, sensing an opportunity to make some money at the expense of these returning GIs, were charging $100 for each passenger to drive the men to San Francisco from San Diego. Given that each car would usually carry four or five soldiers, the driver would take in as much as $500.00 for each trip. WOW! However, Taylor said he could catch a train from San Francisco that same day and therefore arrive home a lot sooner.
19. USS Marshall, Adak.
20. USS Marshall, Adak
21. USS Marshall, Adak
22. Taylor (L) and Toni Whitehead.
These photos are from Taylor Whitehead's personal scrapbook. He bought it on Shemya Island when he was stationed there during 1946 and 1947. It’s contents and stories are those that he has shared with me, his daughter Sharon Jett, about his time on Shemya during that winter. He was a member of the 3063rd service ordnance company. He was part of a vehicle administration group assigned to remove and replace parts of damaged army jeeps and airplanes. When he arrived on the island the war was just over and the island was full of miscellaneous wrecked items in various degrees. He had been drafted in March of 1946 and was sent to Camp Lee in Petersburg, Virginia for basic training where he was placed in a mechanic’s training program. He had worked on vehicles all of his life in Texas at his fathers garage. He was able to dismantle an entire engine and know which of the parts were useable and how to put them together to build a completely new engine or anything else on a vehicle. In April 1947 he recalls all army draftees were discharged and could go home. He left the island on a ship named the USS Marshall army transport going to Seattle, Washington, from there they went to San Diego, California, from there he went to Henderson, Texas where he still resides. Taylor Whitehead came home in April 1947, he went to the movies in Henderson, Texas, and here he met Toni Williams. It was love, and they were married on January 24, 1948. They built a house close to his parents, soon they purchased 12 acres of land, and over the years, he has used his many talents to make additions on the original house to achieve a fine home. Even though some of the trees the children played under have died, the old home place is a special corner in the road for them. Taylor and Toni had three children, two daughters, Glenda W. Harris and Sharon W. Jett, and one son, Randall Taylor during the 1950's. While the children were growing up, Taylor worked as a mechanic, driver of tractors, dump trucks, draglines, and he was a supervisor for a fiberglass production company. His last occupation was home construction. In 1989, he suffered a heart attack and after a triple by-pass surgery, he decided it was time to retire. He enjoys riding his motorcycle, fishing, gardening, and in the most recent years, he has returned to his love of singing and playing his guitar at the local bluegrass gatherings. In his group he is a singer, plays the banjo, mandolin, guitar and various other string instruments. They have made many new friends thru these "picking and grinning" meetings and it consumes much of their spare time. He has six grandchildren, and one great grandson.Taylor Whitehead