MY SERVICE TO GOD AND COUNTRY
by Rev. Harold W. Story
I had begun studies for the Presbyterian Ministry at Bloomfield College and Seminary, Bloomfield, New Jersey, in 1944. I had an exemption from the military draft as a student preparing for church ministry. I received a draft notice, so I volunteered to go into military service (choosing the Navy) during World War II, serving from 1945 to 1949. I became a Photographer’s Mate 3/C—had served at Camp Detrick (Chemical Warfare), Frederick, Maryland, after training at Boot Camp, Bainbridge, Maryland. Trained at Naval Photo School, Pensacola, Florida. I then served at Naval Air Field at Jacksonville, Florida. Assigned to the Naval Photographic Center, Washington, D.C. I worked on printing machines doing reels of film—top secret motion pictures, including atomic tests and missile tests.
I resumed study at Bloomfield College before summer of 1950, when I was recalled into the Navy. I reported to the Brooklyn, N.Y., Navy Yard. We boarded a train at Hoboken, New Jersey, taking us across the country to San Francisco, California. There, we went onto a transport ship taking us over the Pacific Ocean to Yokosuka, Japan. We rode by train across Japan to an as-yet-unknown destination. During that train ride, we crossed the city of Hiroshima. I looked out the window to see the horrible destruction that had been caused by one of the atomic bomb blasts. (The other was at Nagasaki.) I shall never forget those sights—reminding me of some of the most extreme kinds of human warfare. Will we never learn from war that peace is so much finer?
In 1950, we were taken to report aboard the USS Eldorado—a communications ship (Admiral’s Flag Ship of that fleet of ships). We still were not told where we were going … I was below decks as we crossed the waters … finally, we were one of many ships joined in the amphibious attack against the Communists. I was in a war! This was the invasion by our forces at Inchon, Korea.
I could not see the war, being below decks … but I had fear as I heard the sounds of gunfire from the battleship and other ships as the troops went ashore.
I just had to see what was happening, so I went up the ladder to the main deck above. I prayed for those who were directly fighting the enemy and for the support of the other military men engaged in the war. I attended services held by the Chaplain. I was thankful that I had faith in God to help me.
Later, I was sent ashore to photograph landing craft, the many homeless refugees, the destruction. As I walked on the shore a man yelled to me, “Watch out!” There was a mine wire sticking up out of the mud a few feet away from me. I owe him for saving me. I went into a courtyard of an orphanage which was surrounded by buildings. I stood there alone when suddenly many children were looking at me from the windows. They were laughing at me … I was told they had never seen a red-headed person like me before.
Back at the photo lab aboard the Eldorado, I processed, developed and printed many pictures. One most interesting thing we did—a South Korean spy came back from the headquarters of the North Korean enemy with microfilm pictures which gave information, including numbers of troops, ships in North Korea and China. We processed these. General Douglas MacArthur wanted the U.S.A. to attack within China. President Harry Truman called MacArthur back home, refusing to attack China—although many Chinese had killed and wounded our American military personnel.
One day I became very sick. Yellow jaundice had colored my skin…I had acute hepatitis. I was put on a stretcher, put onto a line from our ship taking me across to another ship. I was taken to a Naval Hospital in Japan…near death. I was brought back to health and life with good care and a time of rest and recuperation at a small camp in the Japanese countryside.
In 1951, the war was over for me, as we left by ship for return to the U.S.A. We were at San Diego where I served at the Naval Air Station until my medical discharge on December 6, 1951.
After my experiences, good and bad, in the Navy, I was granted a discharge from the Naval Reserve to resume my ministerial studies at Bloomfield College and Seminary.
I graduated from Bloomfield College in 1954. And best of all, on September 11, 1954, I was married to Ruth Haycock. I chose her to be my wife. She has been so good to me for these years, 56 years this September 2010, we have been together.
I was graduated from Bloomfield Seminary in 1958 and ordained to the Gospel Ministry of the United Presbyterian Church on my birthday, July 1, 1958.
I have been honored to serve as a Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Pittston, Pennsylvania (April 13, 1958 – June 24, 1962); the Memorial Presbyterian Church (after a merger, becoming the Memorial-West Presbyterian Church) of Newark, New Jersey (June 24, 1962 – May 27, 1969); and the Burlington Presbyterian Church of Burlington, New Jersey (May 27, 1969 – June 3, 1979). Clergy member of Lackawanna, Pennsylvania; Newark and West Jersey, New Jersey; and Long Island, New York, Presbyteries, respectively.
I received a call to become a Chaplain at the United Presbyterian Residence at Woodbury (Long Island), New York in the spring of 1979, starting in June of that year. This was a Geriatric Medical Care facility. Then I was a Protestant Chaplain at A. Holly Patterson Home for the Aged at Uniondale (Long Island), New York (November 1, 1989 – January 1, 1992). I last served as a Protestant Chaplain at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Northport (Long Island), New York (August 2, 1993 – January 31, 2001). Active member of Long Island Presbytery, New York, now retired.
These were some of my experiences serving God and Country.