U.S. Army Veteran David Shade reflects on service in World War II
April 18, 1944 is a day that Jenks resident David Shade will never forget. May 5, 1949 is also a day Shade will never forget.
The first date was the day he was drafted into the United States Army and the second date was the day he was discharged.
At the time he was drafted, Shade was living in Portland with his family and working at the Oregon shipyards following high school. Shade was sent to Camp Abbott in Bend Oregon for basic training.
“We were there for about 8-10 weeks,” Shade said. “It was a rough experience at boot camp. It toughened us up.”
Following basic training, Shade was sent to Washington, where he attended clerk school for eight weeks. He then was sent to Oakland, California and shipped out to sea as he sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge to go and defend the freedoms of the United States of America in World War II.
“We sailed the seas for 20 days,” Shade said. “A lot of guys were seasick, but not me.”
They made a fueling stop in New Guinea before hitting the sea again for the Philippines.
“When we arrived, all the palm trees were all shot up along the shoreline,” said the now 94-year-old U.S. Army Veteran.
After a month waiting to be assigned, Shade was assigned to the 107th Medical Battalion Company D that was attached to the 32nd Infantry Division also known as the Red Arrow Infantry Division in the Philippines.
Shade talked about some of the more intense moments of his experience in the war.
“One evening, a Japanese bomber dropped a bomb a block away on a medical supply tent and blew it up,” Shade said. “That was only a block away from us. We also had Japanese fighter planes fly by all the time and shoot at anything they could, so we had to quickly jump into our fox holes to dodge fire. We all just prayed that we wouldn’t get hit. It was pretty scary.”
Shade talked about how excited they were when they heard the war had ended.
“When Hiroshima happened in August of 1945, we all thought the war would end then, but the Japanese did not surrender,” Shade said. “Then, another bomb hit Nagasaki and they surrendered, and the war was finally over.”
Following the end of the war, Shade became a part of the Japanese Occupation Army for six months before returning home.
Shade was born in Salem, Oregon in 1925. He grew up in Salem and delivered the Liberty Magazine as a child and had 100 customers. His final two years in Salem in his early high school years, he had a newspaper route for the Capital Journal in the afternoons following school.
He then moved to Portland with his family for his final two years in high school because his father, who was in the Air Force, was transferred during the earlier years of WWII.
Shade said during the war, everyone back home in the entire country was working to help the war effort.
“Everything was rationed,” Shade said. “It was rationed to help with the war effort. Young kids today do not understand what this nation went through during that time.”
After he returned to the United States following his service in the Army, Shade attended the University of Oregon with his G.I. Bill. He graduated from Oregon in 1950 and met and married his wife of 58 years, Blanche, before moving to Blanche’s home state of Oklahoma to teach at a private school in Oklahoma City.
After two years in Oklahoma City, the Shades moved back to the west coast, this time to Washington, where they started a family. After their daughter Linda was struggling with earaches because of the cold weather, the Shades decided to move to southern California, where Shade got his master’s degree from the University of California Los Angeles.
He then went on to teach at Fontana High School in southern California for 35 years and also during that 35 years, taught at a local community college.
Following his retirement from teaching, the Shades decided it was time to make another move, this time back to Oklahoma, but to the Tulsa area to be closer to their daughter Sandy.
The Shades lived in a senior living center for several years, before purchasing a house in Jenks. Blanche passed away in November of 2010 after battling dementia for nearly a decade.
Shade’s daughter, Linda, who was still living and teaching in California at the time, decided to move to the Tulsa area and move in with her father to help take care of him.
Shade said even at the age of 94, he is still very active and enjoys getting out and doing things and has several hobbies.
“I have a collection of stamps and coins and I love watching Oregon Ducks football,” Shade said.
He has taken several trips back to the west coast where he visits his younger brother in California and then makes his way north to go back to Oregon and see his favorite college football team in action.
“I just thank God for leading and directing my life,” Shade said. “I have had a good life.”
Before returning to the United States following the conclusion of the war, Shade said they had the chance to visit Hiroshima.
“Before returning to the States, a few of my buddies and I went to Hiroshima,” Shade said. “We put an Army personnel carrier on the train and then were able to drive around the city to see the results of the atom bomb. It was total devastation. When I rotated home, I departed from Yokohama for a 10-day trip by boat. The morning we arrived in Seattle, it was like a little bit of Heaven, green grass, painted houses and a big city, especially after seeing brown huts for the previous 18 months. The treated us to all we wanted to eat. After being discharged from Camp Beale in California, I traveled home to Los Angeles. It was a great day.”
Publisher’s Note: This is a feature article on a U.S. Army World War II Veteran and current Jenks resident David Shade in honor of Veteran’s Day Saturday. Thank you to all of the United States Military Veterans for your service and sacrifice protecting our nation’s freedoms.