[Excerpt from the book ‘Dad’s War with the United States Marines’]
Author: Peter H Green
In order to expedite his transfer, instead of being assigned to Armed Forces Radio Service – the unit that ran broadcast operations in the Pacific – [Ben Green] had been attached to Island Command, which operated two radio stations.
One was K2XO, CINCPAC Radio, a short wave channel used for official communications that connected Guam with other headquarters throughout the Pacific theater, San Diego and San Francisco. It was situated at Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet – Pacific Ocean Area [CINCPAC/CINCPOA] headquarters on the top of Nimitz Hill, a vantage point just south of Agana overlooking Apra Harbor.
A short distance away was the AM Armed Forces Radio Station. He was assigned a bunk in Headquarters Company barracks, a collection of Quonset huts not far away, and a desk at the station. The AM station was housed in a standard Quonset hut originally set up for offices, intersected by another hut forming ‘wings’ at the far end and topped by a large painted sign “Armed Forces Radio Station” and the call letters, WXLI.
Continuous shutters along each of the curving side walls were propped open, giving this awkward cruciform-plan complex the impression of a huge goose spreading its wings and preparing to take off. The building was entered through a door next to a picture window in the semicircular front end.
Once inside, makeshift as the physical set up was, Ben immediately recognized it as a radio station. A control room, with its consoles of glowing dials, knobs, switches and turntables, was curiously located at the center of the building and accessed by a door in each of its four walls – making what should more properly be a quiet nerve center into a busy trafficway.
Nevertheless, through large glass openings in the partitions, it overlooked rooms of different sizes on two sides, each of which, he could tell by the presence of standing and desktop microphones, was obviously used as a broadcast studio. Small offices, with filing cabinets, telephones and desk model typewriters lined the perimeter of the building on both sides. Furnishings were of standard Government Issue: green metal tables, desks and chairs.
A few men in various states of uniform from different branches of the service could be found working at their duties: the engineer in the control room, a copy writer clacking and dinging away at his typewriter and a couple of officers conferring in a larger office. One of them was Captain Cisler, the man in charge of the station, the Marine captain [in the Navy this rank would have been the equivalent of an Army or Marine colonel] who had interviewed Ben about the assignment, and an army corporal, discussing the day’s schedule.
“The station is virtually stateside in its equipment,” he wrote. “It’s brand-new… has a large studio and two smaller ones. I’m in an office with the captain… I gather I can do anything I take a shine to… for example, an anniversary program July 21 on the invasion of this Island… which I have already started thinking about…”
“The station will soon be operating on a 1,000 watt basis [it’s 300 now] and is going to run from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM starting July 8. We’re off the air for three hours in the morning at the present time… ” As he assumed his duties, he began by making the daily broadcast schedule and a transcription log: “Naturally, we use scads of transcriptions. They arrive in one huge package and when we’re through with them we send them on to another station.”
‘Dad’s War with the United States Marines’ is the faithful account of the charming and hilarious misadventures of PFC Ben Green – a low ranking but quick witted individualist who battled the system in order to serve his country with honor, yet saved his neck to return home to his family, as told by his devoted son, who [just barely] survived to tell about it. We’re grateful to Peter H Green and his publisher Jim Rock for giving permission for the use of this extract from his book and the illustrations of his fathers time working at WXLI.
There is a lot more about the operations of WXLI in the book, the characters [such as Durwood Hyde’s Sack Rat Serenade, Russ Beggs [‘Rock Happy Roger’ of WXLG Kwajalein] and Bud Blattners Sporting Chance], the stories and the biggest news item of the Pacific war – which Ben broke over WXLI hours before the main American news networks picked it up – the news of the Japanese acceptance of surrender terms.
This highly recommended read places the operation of a wartime AFRS Pacific Ocean Network outlet in the context of the family story of Ben Green, plucked from his senior radio advertising industry job in Chicago and going through Marine bootcamp before becoming ‘the highest ranking private on Guam’ and running WXLI.