Not all heroes fired a shot in battle. Many men left their homes to go overseas during World War II, and Milton Laub was one of them. With four brothers already in service in the Army, Navy and Coast Guard, he volunteered with the United States Marines at the age of 17 and spent four years of his life from 1945 to 1949 in service. Although he applied in late 1944, “Milt,” as he is known in the Village of Fleischmanns where he lives with his wife, Agnes, was called up for training in February of 1945.
Paris Island boot camp in South Carolina had a tough reputation and word was that if you have a son at Paris Island, “pray for him.” Milt survived his initiation into the Marines and was subsequently sent to the LeJeune base in North Carolina and then on to Pendleton in California for “combat conditioning” where, Milt says, “they kept you moving.”
After six months of training, Laub was sent to active duty. He was on a ship heading for Guam, which was a staging area for U.S. troops going to Japan, when his crew got word that a bomb which could decimate a city was dropped on Hiroshima. Their awe was tempered with the thought that the war couldn’t last much longer. His journey then took a detour as their ship was sent to China, where Japanese were being rounded up to be sent back to Japan. On route, he heard about a second bomb going off in Nagasaki and later heard from an eye witness, who had observed from a distance, that “everything shook.” The impact of the two atom bombs resulted in the official end of World War II on August 15, 1945.
Stationed in China
Laub spent 23 months in China, where the troops stayed in order to “keep the peace.” At that time, General George Marshall was there on a mission working to unify Chinese nationalists and communists, as a force against the Soviet Union. His efforts, though, did not prove successful before returning to the United States under President Roosevelt.
In China, poverty was so great people could not even afford rice to eat The locals were glad to get work and were hired to unload ships, make beds and pick up after the solders. While in China, Milt helped transport heavy equipment, and learned from fellow soldiers how to use cranes and bulldozers. He says that during his time in service, he benefitted from the give and take upon which their work depended.
After working to serve others, Laub, at 90, is in great shape. He said that he never had an experience of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and reminds readers that in those days they didn’t have a name for it when soldiers woke up screaming and yelling in the middle of the night—they didn’t know what that was. He attributes his good health to his doting wife, a lifetime of working closely with others in the Marines and with the New York Fire Department, and activities that keep him going. Milt says that he skied downhill until age 83, maintains good posture and keeps in mind an old saying….”Once a Marine, always a Marine!”