EARL T. FRAWLEY

Sergeant | Infantry

 

The only reason Earl joined the Army in 1948 was to secure an assignment in Japan and return to the girl who he had fallen in love with.  They were a unique couple who were constantly being pulled apart from one another by forces they could not control.  Yoshiko was a tiny girl, dwarfed even more next to Earl who stretched over six feet.  She spoke no English, and he did not know Japanese, yet they found ways to communicate.  They both quickly overcame the idea that their countries had just recently come to peaceful terms at the expensive of thousands of innocent lives.  To part ways was heartbreaking for both, and Earl swore to return as soon as he could.

He thought the Navy would take him back to the Far East, but in the post-war demobilization he was mustered out despite his best efforts.  He was at sea for nearly four years after joining in February 1944 just after his seventeenth birthday and his first assignment in April was to LST-208 bound for the invasion of Europe.  The vessel delivered troops to Juno Beach on June 6 and continued to make trips between France and England until late July when she was struck by another ship in the Channel.  The whole month had been stressful, with four on and four off watches at all hours of the night for fear of U-Boat attacks, and the damage to the hull had been a real blessing since all hands were given a five day pass upon return to the docks in England.

The allied invasion was filled with anxiety and excitement, and Earl was happy to return to the United States before sailing for the Pacific on LST-1055.  Duty in the eastern hemisphere was much different than in the Atlantic, filled with steamy days under a blistering sun and dull work.  But, it was this fate that first brought Earl into the company of Yoshiko.

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A couple years later, Earl had managed to talk the Army into sending him to Japan for an assignment with E Company, 7th Cavalry Regiment.  At this point he did not care what capacity he was serving in or with which branch or unit, as long as he found a way to get shipped overseas to find Yoshiko who promised to wait for him to return.  They spent about a year together and were talking of marriage when the war in Korea broke out and once again, the couple was separated.

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Duty as a B.A.R. man was horrible compared to Earl’s Navy days where he always had a warm meal, a bed, and only had to worry about bumping into bulkheads.  Korea was too wet, too dry, too hot, and altogether too dangerous.  The North Koreans were continually pushing the Americans back each day.  By August, the line was barely holding along the Pusan Perimeter.  A tremendous attack came to the 2d Battalion on August 12 which they repelled until August 14 when the 10th NK Division attacked across the river again.  During this action, a grenade rolled between Earl's legs and blew him skyward, peppering his legs with small bits of shrapnel and embedding a decent sized shard into his left knee.  It was second time in a month he was been blown up, but the first only damaged his hearing for a few days.  These wounds ended his combat duty.

Such a wound was distressing to those who yearned to return to their unit, but Earl only wanted to be back with Yoshiko.  The couple did not waste time after he was released from the hospital and they married in early 1951.  Earl wrote home after the fact to see how his Rhode Island community felt about him bringing a Japanese bride back.  Not everyone felt kindly yet towards the former enemy, and he was resolute in saying that they would stay in Japan if not welcomed in the States.  But he received good replies and in June 1952 they came home to a warm welcome New England.

Yoshiko brought much of her culture with her – their home was simple and adorned with Eastern art and the dog obeyed commands only in Japanese.  The two were devastated to learn that Yoshiko could not carry children.  After all of their efforts to reunite multiple times between two wars, it was sad news.  However, they lived 58 wonderful years together, enjoying the company of each other they fought so hard for.

    EXHAUSTING & DIRTY WORK - THE RCM COLLECTION

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