December 8, 1941, around 4am, Cornado Island, near San Diego, California.
The entire day before and through the night, marines were preparing as quickly as possible for a possible invasion of San Diego; Concertina wire was spread across the beach, machine guns emplaced, foxholes dug, mortars emplaced, field telephone wire strung, ammunition stockpiled. He said on reflection it probably wouldn’t have done much against an all-out invasion attempt, but it was the best that could be done at the time. And, like he always told me, “You prepare for the worst as best as you can….and hope for the best.”
At 4am, in the heavy fog, a strange tapping was heard coming from behind their lines. The marines were tense and especially so because the visibility was near zero. Pistols and rifles were trained toward the noise. Dad, by then a corporal, very quietly, “Hold Fire. Hold Fire.” to the marines around him. He had decided that if anyone was trying to sneak up on them, they wouldn’t be making so much noise.
The tapping was getting louder and louder. Soon, they saw that the noise was coming from a red tipped white cane. A blind man was out for an early morning walk. Everyone suddenly went back to their “normal” tenseness.
“Sir. You need to go home. You’re in amongst a bunch of very nervous marines. I’ll have someone escort you so you don’t get shot.”