WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman recognized the service and sacrifice of Herbert ‘Lucky’ Page, a WWII & Korean War veteran in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.
Page, a Lake Conway resident, was born in Little Rock. He spent much of his childhood in an orphanage. When he landed a job at a sporting goods store when he was 13-years-old, he was able to afford a room at the YMCA.
When he was 17-years-old, Page enlisted in the Marines and went to basic training in San Diego where he underwent rigorous training before deploying to the Pacific.
“They really thoroughly trained us good, especially with bayonet fighting because you had to use a bayonet an awful lot of times,” Page recalled. “No Japanese were ever able to shoot me. The fact that I’m sitting here now, none of them ever outfought me with the bayonet, but the bombs you can’t fight,” Page said.
During his deployment, he wrote letters to his sister, and the pair devised a code to let her know he was going back into battle.
“On my letters instead of just saying love, I’d say love, love, love. She knew that was a tip off that we were going back into battle,” Page said.
Page served under future Senator Joseph McCarthy. He remembers fighting behind him as members of his unit positioned themselves behind rocks for protection against enemy fire.
He earned his nickname during a battle in the Pacific after he was thought to have been killed in action and placed with the remains of deceased Marines.
“I woke up and I was on the ship. I thought I was blind. I couldn’t see,” Page said. “They were cleaning my eyes out and I asked what happened to me. They said some Marines were walking by the dead Marines, and they heard me moaning so they pulled me out. They had pulled my dog tags, so they didn’t have a name for me. The doctor who was working on me said I was lucky.”
During his recovery stateside, he had a chance encounter one evening with the most famous WWII pinup.
“I was sitting on the bench. Some lady was down at the other end and I kept talking with her. Finally, I asked her if she was visiting one of the patients and she said she was there to entertain the troops. I looked real close and it was Rita Hayworth,” Page fondly recalled.
From the hospital ward he was assigned a mission that one sergeant called a special assignment.
“He said how many of you can stand up and go to the bathroom, so eight of us stood up,” Page remembered. “I wound up on Iwo Jima.”
Page’s two younger brothers enlisted in the Marines during the Korean War. He reenlisted to take the place of one of his brothers but that wasn’t permitted. He served in Kodiak, Alaska from 1950-1951.
The horrors of the war still haunt Page.
“All these years I still completely have bad dreams. Sometimes they’re almost real, I’m back actually on the frontlines again, fighting,” Page said.
“It was an honor to interview Lucky Page and hear his memories of his time in military service. He is an American hero whose time on the frontlines offers a critical perspective of history from members of the Greatest Generation who defended the world against tyranny,” Boozman said.
Boozman will submit Page’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.