WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman recognized the service and sacrifice of veteran Herman Shirley in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.
Shirley, a lifelong North Little Rock resident, graduated high school after WWII ended but wanted to take advantage of the educational assistance offered to service members, so he enlisted in the Army when he was 17-years-old and inducted at Camp Robinson.
“I’d never been away from home except for a couple of trips to northern Louisiana, so this was all new to me,” Shirley said about his early days in the Army that took him to Fort Sam Houston, Texas and onto Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
He got used to the basic training routine and learned the Army vernacular for his M1 rifle.
“Never call it a gun. It was a piece,” Shirley recalled.
After eight weeks of training Shirley was stationed in Washington before a deployment to Japan.
“The word was don’t leave the base because you might be shipped out that day. I learned that wasn’t the case at all. You could sneak off to Seattle for one day. They were having a big basketball game. The University of Washington was playing UCLA and I wanted to see it so I went and saw that basketball game and they didn’t leave without me,” Shirley said.
Shirley was stationed in Occupied Japan, assigned to the 10th Information and Historical Section, the Division of Military Intelligence at the 8th Army Headquarters in Yokohama. He supported the mission to interrogate high ranking Japanese military officers as to their planning and execution of the War in the Pacific.
“I was a typist,” Shirley said. “The officers would interrogate the Japanese high ranking officers and they would pencil out what they said and send it to the typist’s room and you would be given that document and type it double spaced as fast as you can but make very with few mistakes. That was the order. It would go back to the officers and they would go over it with the Japanese and send it back for what was maybe the final copy.”
He was promoted to Sergeant and given the assignment to teach new typists. His Colonel was very pleased with his work and encouraged him to extend his enlistment for six months to help the unit complete its mission, but Shirley was committed to getting started with his education so returned home after completing his two years of service.
“I am grateful for Herman Shirley’s dedication and service to our nation. His memories of his military service are an important part of our history and I am pleased to be able to collect and preserve his stories,” Boozman said.
Boozman will submit Shirley’s entire interview to the Veterans History Project, an initiative of the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans.