Veteran's Story: Kentucky native found Mansfield after World War II 
News Journal 

MANSFIELD -- One of the most famous photos taken during World War II 
depicts General Douglas MacArthur wading through the surf at Leyte in the Philippines. 

Arthur Gee says he saw MacArthur do his wading bit. But not in the Philippines. 
"He did it at Borneo," Gee said. "It was the last invasion of the war and when 
MacArthur came ashore our troops were already 20 miles inland." 

Gee, 84, of Hastings-Newville Road, was a Kentucky kid serving as a gunner's mate 
first class aboard a landing craft and gunboat. 

He served for 27 months in the South Pacific, with stops at Guadalcanal, 
Bougainville, Okinawa, Korea and China. 

Gee said his ship, LCI G24, was originally designed to carry troops and land them on beaches. 

But the 24 was redesigned as a gunship with an array of 3-inch .50-and .40-caliber guns that could provide extra firepower on the beachheads. 

"A regular LCI had a crew of 22 men and two officers but a gunship had 60 men and four officers," Gee said. 

"The only passengers we ever carried anywhere were Australian coast watchers. We'd unload them and their equipment in the Solomons." 

As he watched them leave the beach and disappear into the jungles, Gee said he reckoned these men had one of the loneliest jobs in the world. 
His was working as a pointer or trigger man for one of the 24's .40 caliber guns. 

He got plenty of practice. 

"We did a lot of patrol work. We were close inshore at night but stayed further out in the channel by day 
to avoid being hit by Jap shore batteries," he said. 

The 24 and other gunboats supported the speedy PT Boats that intercepted armed Japanese supply barges that moved 
by night to bring food and ammunition to isolated Japanese bases 

Gee said more than one PT boat came to grief in the night fighting and the 24 nearly did the same trying to rescue the PT crews. 

One day, he said, the 24, with the help of a spotter plane, destroyed several Japanese shore batteries. 
That work earned the 24 and its crew a Bronze Star, he said. 

In the long campaign that took the 24 and its crew to the Philippines, Okinawa and Korea, there was one terrible typhoon 
and nightly visits by the Japanese intruder plane the crews called "Washing Machine Charley." The enemy never managed to 
damage the 24 but Gee said, "Charlie would keep us up at night." 

A native of Morehead, Ky., Gee grew up during the Great Depression and quit school when he was a 10th-grader. 

"I went to work with the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) out in Montana," he said. "We built irrigation ditches, dams 
and parks up in the mountains." 

Back home in Kentucky, Gee was driving a bread delivery truck when he met his wife, Eula Faye Crawford, who worked in a 
store he delivered to in Olive Hill. The couple married after he got home in 1946. 

They had two daughters. Darlene and Drema. Drema died in 1996 and Eula Faye in 2006. Gee's daughter, Darlene Hassinger, lives with him now. 

After he was drafted, Gee decided to volunteer for the Navy and was trained at Great Lakes. 

He eventually joined the newly armed LCI G24 at the recently captured island of Bougainville. 

There wasn't much to do there. "You'd stand in line in the hot sun for three hours outside a place," he said. 

But he does remember when Bob Hope and his troupe of entertainers came to the island and still has a photo of a buddy, 
Roland GilVard, dancing the jitterbug with one of Hope's chorus girls. Gee kept track and found that GilVard died in California in 1991. 

Gee, who had just had an operation to remove his tonsils, had a front-row seat. He vividly remembers a performance by singer Frances Langford. 
"It was a really good show," he said. 

Gee also won a lottery aboard ship and was given an 11-day leave in Sydney, Australia. In Down Under's biggest city, Gee said he had a good time. 

The crew of the 24 never made it to Japan. Instead they were sent to Korea and then on to China to pick up American Marines. 
After that they headed for home. 

"I remember that when we entered the mouth of the Columbia River, there was a barge in the stream with a band on board to welcome us home," he said. 

The 24 anchored in Portland, Ore. 

And Gee headed for Great Lakes to be discharged. 

Then it was home to get married and start a new life. 

But like so many people in Morehead and Olive Hill, Gee discovered Mansfield. 

"I was on vacation and came up to visit relatives. While I was here I stopped by the employment bureau and they got me a job at Ideal Electric," Gee said. 

That job last for 30 years. While he was there, the Gee family built a home on a high knoll off hilly Hastings-Newville Road. 

Gee retired in the early '80s so that he and his family could travel around the country. Until a few years ago the family spent winters in Florida. 

Gee was formerly a member of the American Legion and still enjoys fishing. 

He still has his Navy uniform, complete with all his medals and battle stars. 

And it still fits him. 

Originally published April 7, 2008

Submitted by: John Cooper

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