August 10, 2005: Headlines: Staff: Hisotry: World War II: Greatest Generation: Legacy: Project Tools: Jack Crandall writes "Golden Anniversaries Relished in Wake of WWII Generation"

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Photography: Archive: Hugh Pickens' Photos of Peace Corps Training in Brockport, 1969: August 10, 2005: Headlines: Staff: Hisotry: World War II: Greatest Generation: Legacy: Project Tools: Jack Crandall writes "Golden Anniversaries Relished in Wake of WWII Generation"

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - 4:55 pm: Edit Post

Jack Crandall writes "Golden Anniversaries Relished in Wake of WWII Generation"

Jack Crandall writes Golden Anniversaries Relished in Wake of WWII Generation

"This summer—from May through August—has become a season of golden anniversaries for the World War II generation. They have triggered vivid reminiscences of those climactic events—V.E. Day, V. J. Day, the signing of the treaty—which marked the successful conclusion of the war 50 years ago and have evoked a nostalgia, even celebratory mood." Jack Crandall headed SUNY Brockport's Peace Corps/College Degree Program from 1967 to 1971. This article was written in 1995 shortly before Dr. Crandall's death.

Jack Crandall writes "Golden Anniversaries Relished in Wake of WWII Generation"

This summer—from May through August—has become a season of golden anniversaries for the World War II generation. They have triggered vivid reminiscences of those climactic events—V.E. Day, V. J. Day, the signing of the treaty—which marked the successful conclusion of the war 50 years ago and have evoked a nostalgia, even celebratory mood.

Just as those events which have been shared by millions provide us with collective memories so were individuals the beneficiaries of personal experiences which form the basis of each person's own golden anniversary. In my case, I was the beneficiary of an amazing concentration of circumstances which, 50 years later, constitute a special golden anniversary and has become one of those true Stories People (like to) Tell.

In February 1945, after serving 18 months in the Southwest Pacific, I became eligible for stateside leave if I were properly relieved of my command of the LCI(L) 430 and if I could obtain transportation back to the United States. As you can imagine, I was inclined to take advantage of that opportunity of getting to the "Golden Gate" before '48 and seeing my wife, Jill, at the earliest possible moment.

In fact, I was so eager that I impulsively wrote Jill, who was teaching at Jamestown High School, urging her to resign her position and prepare to meet me in San Francisco. Because of the multiple uncertainties vis-a-vis the availability of a replacement, the impact of operation plans, the censorship restrictions on personnel movements and transportation arrangements there was no way a date for the rendezvous could be determined.

Moreover, the transmission of such information was strictly forbidden even if it had been available. Yet, in a fit of intuition, or impetuosity, I did designate a specific time for her to come to the Golden Gate. The designated date? "My father's birthday." No further disclosure was necessary and my communique was not subject to censorship.

The projected date, my father's natal day, was May 13. I had no rational basis for selecting that day other than it was known to Jill and non-censorable and that it was three months away, providing time for hoped-for developments. Actually it was simply an arbitrary item on my wish-list.

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Jill responded to my arbitrary request with the traditional Navy "wilco" (will comply). Thus, the die had been cast marking the beginning of a painful period for watchful waiting while days turned into weeks. The first break came a month later when my replacement was approved by the flotilla commander.

Caption: Jack Crandall in the South Pacific in 1943 as Skipper of LCI(L) 430.

Now I was transferred to a floating dormitory filled with other officers awaiting transportation. The days dragged on: March evolved into April. Finally as "the cruelest month," neared its demise, a returning convoy was assembled. A colleague, Dick Hughes and I were assigned berths on the USS Octans, a pre-war "banana boat." At long last the ships weighed anchors and struck out in an easterly direction through Pacific waters. As April metamorphosed into May the convoy slowly but inexorably traversed the broad Pacific, bypassed Pearl Harbor and headed for the mainland. For another feverish fortnight we continued to plow the waves.

At first light on May 15, we spied the headlands of the California coast. Minutes later, the sunrise illuminated the girders and cables of the Golden Gate Bridge, a sparkling jewel on the eastern horizon. Two hours later, the USS Octans glided under the magnificent structure, moved up the bay and docked at 10 a.m.

We boarded a Navy bus full of exuberant returnees and proceeded into Union Square, site of the St. Francis Hotel, our designated message center. Rushing up to the information desk, we breathlessly blurted , "Any messages for Lt. Hughes or Lt. Crandall?" The receptionist's answer was almost indifferent, "Yes, they were here about half an hour ago. Said they'd be back about noon." That news so casually delivered struck us like a thunderbolt. It was 10:30 a.m., an hour and a half to wait. Twenty-one months and 90 minutes. Now that 90 minutes stretched before us like 21 months.

How could we fill that yawning gap? We entered the main dining room, ordered but couldn't eat the extravagant breakfast and paid the bloated bill. We wandered around the main floor corridors of that luxury hotel painfully aware of how shabby we looked in our hand-pressed khakis alongside a group of senior army and navy officers in their resplendent dress uniforms acting as aides to the delegates to the conference organizing the United Nations. We continued to pace the lobby floor like the restless expectant fathers.

Then at 11:45 a.m., our wives came through the revolving doors of the lobby entrance. We rushed up to meet them, embraced, but spoke not a word.

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Jill and I walked out of the St. Francis, started up the street to Nob Hill, climbed the sidewalk leading to the Mark Hopkins Hotel, rode the elevator to The Top of the Mark and went into the elegant restaurant with its grand view of the city by the bay. Not until we were seated did we speak. Even then I have no idea of what was said. I was in a trance, enveloped in euphoria.

Caption: Jack and Jill Crandall at the Top of the Mark in the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Fransisco after Jack's return to the United States in 1945.

Finally we commenced a coherent conversation. I learned that she had just arrived that morning, that she had crossed the Oakland Bridge on the Union Pacific's City of San Francisco at the same time the USS Octans had moved under the Golden Gate Bridge.

It appears that the remarkable developments which reached their culmination that morning were rooted in my impulsive and cryptic identification of a designated date. Despite an intervening time span of three months, and over 10,000 mile space dimension and countless uncontrolled variables of wartime conditions, we had achieved simultaneous arrival at the point of rendezvous.

Uncanny intuition? Romantic coincidence? Deus ex machine? Whatever it was, its culmination consisted of golden moments not far from the Golden Gate, leaving golden memories behind. This summer has provided us with a special golden anniversary as it has for many others.

The Greatest Generation

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The fathers of the Peace Corps, John F. Kennedy and Sargent Shriver, both saw combat in World War II as did many other "Peace Corps Giants" like Jack Vaughn (photo above) who fought in the Marines in the Philippines and who, at 85, is now the last surviving member of his company. No one hates war more than a veteran and it was because they hated war that out of their sacrifice they created and sustained institutions like the United Nations and the Peace Corps.
"Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe. Now the trumpet summons us again--not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need--not as a call to battle, though embattled we are-- but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation"--a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself. And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country."

You were, and are, the Greatest Generation. On this, the 60th Anniversary of the end of World War II, we salute you.

When this story was posted in August 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Military Option sparks concerns Date: August 3 2005 No: 698 Military Option sparks concerns
The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is allowing recruits to meet part of their military obligations by serving in the Peace Corps. Read why there is rising opposition to the program among RPCVs. Director Vasquez says the agency has a long history of accepting qualified applicants who are in inactive military status. John Coyne says "Not only no, but hell no!" Latest: RPCV Chris Matthews to discuss the issue on Hardball tonight.

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170,000 is a very special number for the RPCV community - it's the number of Volunteers who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961. It's also a number that is very special to us because March is the first month since our founding in January, 2001 that our readership has exceeded 170,000. And while we know that not everyone who comes to this site is an RPCV, they are all "Friends of the Peace Corps." Thanks everybody for making PCOL your source of news for the Returned Volunteer community.

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Story Source: Project Tools

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Staff; History; World War II; Greatest Generation; Legacy


By Michael F. Driscoll ( - on Wednesday, August 24, 2005 - 2:54 pm: Edit Post

The Peace Corps was actually the idea of Hubert Humphrey and Henry Reuss in the late 1950's. Much to his credit, JFK picked up on the idea after Humphrey introduced a bill in late part of the 1960 Presidential campaign, specifically calling for a Peace Corps.

While JFK was my inspiration to actually join the PC in 1964, as a Minnesotan, I was already familiar with the concept.


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