The entire nation was at war after Pearl Harbor
By Ray Westbrook | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas | Published: January 13, 2014
Jan. 13 -- Not all the battles in World War II were fought in Europe or the South Pacific.
Virtually everyone in the nation was suddenly involved in some way in the war after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Those who served at home still remember the response.
Tom Moore of Lockney, who later became an airline pilot, remembers he had his pilot instructor's license when the attack came, and that the nation responded immediately to the war.
"On Sunday, we were bombed, and on Monday everything was falling together. It seemed like everybody knew they needed to go to work or do something," Moore said.
"I was 18, and I was flying and had to make a little extra money to stay in Texas Tech. If you had 15 cents in your pocket, you were lucky.
"I went to work that morning after the bombing, and President Roosevelt spoke. Everything in the country, I imagine, stopped and listened to Roosevelt. He was a very dramatic person."
Moore remembers, "It was kind of a thrilling time seeing everything falling together. I remember he appointed these guys who were good -- Harry Truman was appointed to all the manufacturing stuff, converting Ford Motor Co. to a B-24 factory and such as that. They were good men, good leaders -- they had to be."
He said, "It was a highlight of our country's history. We don't have the leadership, in my opinion, in the country now to approach what we had then."
Women were pilots
With the war underway, Moore began teaching WASPS -- Women Airforce Service Pilots -- how to fly a plane at Avenger Field near Sweetwater.
"They ferried airplanes from the factory to bases. Also, they towed targets for the training of cadets."
He said, "Most were patriotic -- they just wanted to do something. I trained men and women at different fields, and I couldn't tell there was any difference in their learning.
"They did a good job."
He said the military didn't put instructors on active duty. "They needed all the flight instructors they could get. And they even had some Lubbock businessmen -- Harold Humphries, Jack Henry and Fenner Tubbs."
He added, "Clint Breedlove had the contract for their training."
Men went to war
Louise Harper of Plainview, a writer and an eyewitness of the war years, remembers every man in her family was in the war: "My daddy, my brothers, my uncle and my husband."
Because her husband was in the Merchant Marines, and wasn't initially considered a part of the military, she had no allotment payment each month like that received by many of the wives.
"I had a little girl, 2 years old, and I didn't have a car."
She was living in Anton at the time and would walk to take her daughter to her mother's house, then walk to the school cafeteria where she worked.
"You couldn't buy cars much. Gasoline was rationed. Sugar was rationed."
Her father, Charlie W. Hooper, was in his 40s when the war began, and had already served in World War I.
"Daddy was on a battleship in the South Pacific, named USS Cleveland. He was a turret gunner," she said.
"Daddy was so proud to be in the Navy at his age."
In later years, Harper wrote a self-published book in which she described some of the women she knew who served as volunteers supporting the military.
"Lucile Hill Walker was a leader in Plainview. She was president of the Women's Club, and she was appointed to be head of the school children who bought bonds.
"She was a talker and a pusher and a leader -- in Texas and Plainview."
Women also were able to handle farm work that traditionally had been left to men before the war.
John Zahn of Lubbock remembers that when he was taken into the Army to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, his father, Paul, had become seriously ill and disabled. That left his mother, Carrie, to do the farm work alone.
Before he left for the service, Zahn had set up the planter boxes on the tractor with the right plates for the cotton seed, so that his mother could handle the planting after he was gone.
When planting time came in the spring, Carrie Zahn put her wash tubs on a four-wheel trailer that had no sideboards, then poured cotton seeds into the tubs, and hitched the trailer to a tractor.
She pulled the equipment to the field, took a bucket and dipped the seeds out of the tubs and filled the planters.
She was able, alone, to plant the family's cotton crop.
In the fall, others were hired to handle the harvest.
"In addition to doing the work in the field, she milked the cows and fed the hogs and did all those things," Zahn said.
It was part of the way life continued on the home front while the war was fought overseas.