A visit from Melvin Harold
Submitted by Jyllian Stapleton & Isabelle Scoby
Sabetha Elementary School fifth-grade students
Melvin Harold visited the whole fifth grade on May 14. The visit was for Mr. Harold to tell us about his experience during WWII. He is a great veteran that still lives in Sabetha today, he is 99 years young. During his tour of duty, he earned two purple hearts and many other military awards. The stories that he told were great and the students had many questions.
Melvin joined the Army at age 20. After joining he and his comrades first went to Alaska. They spent many days unloading ships until the water froze. Melvin said that they were given many types of rations while they were there. The rations contained hash, coffee, and cigarettes to name a few. The rations weren’t great, but they kept his stomach full.
Next he traveled to Hawaii, he said that it was great to feel warm weather. One item that was often served to the army in Hawaii was SPAM. Melvin said it wasn’t very good, but if you are hungry, you eat it! The people in Hawaii loved the SPAM that the soldiers brought with them and you can buy various types of SPAM today if you travel there.
Cigarettes were sometimes included with the rations. Melvin never smoked a cigarette, so he would trade the cigarettes for bananas. Melvin thought this was a good trade.
To help pass the time while waiting for the next orders, Melvin made jewelry for his wife, Irene. The jewelry was made by taking chunks off of a crashed plane’s propeller. He had a small jewelry kit that provided him the tools to shape, indent, and sand his jewelry. He made rings and bracelets the most.
There was a time when there was a furlough lottery and Melvin won. He was able to come back home, which was really lucky for him because there were many people in his group. Melvin flew to San Francisco then traveled by train back to Kansas. The trip took quite a while, but worth it to come home and be with his wife, Irene, and his family.
Melvin Harold was first wounded by a grenade while fighting in the Philippines. This put him in the hospital for three months. When he was released, he went to fight in the battle at Okinawa and had almost met his “checkpoint” when he was hit a second time by a knee mortar. This wound caused Melvin to go back into the hospital again. During this battle, he could see the whites of the Japanese’s eyes. After Melvin’s second wound, he was placed in the kitchen to help organize stuff. After five years of service, he returned to the United States.
Hearing about WWII was a great experience to meet a great veteran. Melvin is a hero ,and we appreciate him serving our country and telling his story. It’s really hard to tell stories of war, but Melvin did a wonderful job and we thank him.