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Chapter 19 - Army of Lumberjacks

On Pearl Harbor Day, yours truly was employed as a pond monkey at a sawmill in the little town of Sisters, Oregon, near Bend and Redmond. Had been there since 1939. I had seen World War II coming ever since the Spanish Revolution. US Governmental policy had been to passively aid Franco and his pals Hitler and Mussolini. I had made the bucket[1] up in Seattle for being on the picket line trying to prevent scrap iron from going to Japan. Prior to that, had been pinched in Seattle for participating in demonstration against war and fascism. Oh yes, it was plain that war was coming all right. British, French, and American policy at that time was to aid and abet the struggle of the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan) in their efforts to "abolish Bolshevism".

Hitler took a long hard look at the Russian Red Army and he decided that the safest bet was to attack France, Britain, and the Low Countries[2], which he did. It was at this point that the British, French, and American Governments fell out of Hitler's bed.[3] The US began in earnest to help the British and French, instead of Herr Hitler. The French were betrayed by their own high command which was Pro-Hitler and they left the town of Sedan undefended thus allowing the Germans to outflank the Maginot line.

The Hitler made the granddaddy of ALL mistakes by attacking the Red Army, thereby sealing his doom as he now had a two front war, with practically the whole world lined up against the Axis.[4] I can plainly recall being the only man in the town of Sisters who saw defeat for Hitler at that time (1940). They were all listening to military "experts" who had it that "Hitler would be in Moscow in 30 days."

And then-Pearl Harbor! The little town of Sisters was, like the rest of the world, electrified by the news. The sawmill shut down on Monday as several of the crew wanted to go over to Salem and volunteer for the army. Two of us of [World] War I vintage went over together to volunteer. The recruiter took one look at us and rejected us because of age, as "too old" My partner says, "Hell Scrib, let's go on over and join the German army as they ain't so particular."

The recruiter yells, "You guys get the hell out of here as we got a war to fight."

Old Whitey tells him, "well, from the looks of guys fighting it we're gonna lose it for sure as hell."

So-we go back to Sisters to work in the mill. A few days later, Oregon State begins to beef up its State Guard, so a meeting is held at Bend, Oregon to organize a battalion of Infantry for Central Oregon in order to "defend the two mountain passes in case of Japanese invasion". There is to be a Company each at Bend, Redmond, and Sisters.

The meeting at Bend was a "riot". There was a big discussion about ways and means of organizing the battalion, [and] about the possibility of a Japanese attack on Oregon and Washington. Then one 'wise guy' from up Sisters way says, "What the hell are you guys worrying about? Let the damn Japanese come if they want to, as we'll just put 'em to work in these sawmills and starve 'em to death!"

Then another guy chimes in and says, "Hell no, shut the mills down and put 'em on unemployment compensation, and that WILL get 'em!"

After this bit of levity we got down to business and organized the three companies. Myself and the man who went over to Salem to volunteer were made Lieutenants and we drilled the company on weekends on the school grounds. And what a company! Half of them drunk and none of them taking it too seriously (the drill, that is). I had them at what passed for "attention", then gave them a "right face" and a "forward march" then a bit later, "halt", then a "left face". There they were, scattered like a lot of damned geese so I says, "Well boys, looks like we'll have to shut her down until we get more men to fill up these holes."

The drill WAS stupid, as our main plan of defense was based on bulldozers and dynamite, plus power saws to block the passes, with our company acting as guerillas in the brush. You didn't have to know how to march in cadence for THAT. We drilled the men until they were drafted, then we would get new recruits in. Finally the war came to a screeching halt and thus ended the Sisters company of the Guard.


[1] Jail

[2] The Netherlands

[3] And yet, some American corporations STILL traded with Germany.

[4] Napoleon made almost the same mistake one century earlier; it seems that both Hitler and Napoleon underestimated the strength of the Russian military forces and the cold Russian winters.