Tribute to Rex Hallock
Branch of Service: US Navy
Rex Ellis Hallock was born November 28, 1918 on a farm near Ada, Kansas. He attended High School at Minneapolis, Kansas, and was a student at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina when his education was interrupted by the war. He enlisted in the Naval Air Corps on February 2, 1942. After basic training and ground school in Kansas City, he became a communications instructor for the ground school cadets at Olathe Naval Air Base.
On February 28, 1943, he married Evelyn Stutzman in Salina, Kansas, and lived in Olathe, Kansas until October 1943 when word came he was to be shipped out. His first baby was expected the first part of December so it was hard to leave a pregnant wife and head west to the great unknown. In San Francisco he became part of an Amphibious Communications Unit where they had firearms and radio equipment training.
On November 26, 1943, Rex received a telegram announcing the birth of his daughter, Carolyn, but no leave could be granted since they would be shipping out in 2 days. Instead of holding his baby daughter, he boarded a Dutch ship and spent 28 days zigzagging across the Pacific to the Russell Islands, which was secured by US Forces and used as a staging area.
They eventually arrived on Guadalcanal after the battle for the island had been going on for several months. His unit set up their transmitter and circuits in a tunnel on the steep side of a mountain and began operating. This tunnel had been used by the Japanese when they were in control. Next stops were Tulagi and New Guinea, each time transporting their "radio shack" on an LCM (Land Craft, Mechanized) onto the beach and then mostly burying it so as not to be a target. They had one stop in between Tulagi and New Guinea at New Caledonia which the Navy described as "R & R". Getting to New Guinea was not easy. They were on a passenger ship, but noticed that the crew was zigzagging the ship and throwing depth charges over the side all night. They found out later that a Japanese submarine had chased them all night. It was the rainy season in New Guinea and the jungle was very dense and caused some concern.
Below is a photo of an LCM, courtesy of the Historic Naval Ships Association.
many islands in the Pacific and many would be bypassed. The Japanese would
often come to surrender because they were hungry. On the island of Los
Negros, they were issued tents for two with cots and mosquito netting around
them. Rex and his tent mate, Bill Johnson, got up about 4AM on morning
since they couldn't sleep and took a walk down the beach. While they were
gone, their tent was demolished. Japanese would often run through an area
at night trying to find food.
The last stop was Manus Island. Manus was one of the first to be secured, long before his group arrived on the island. This location became more permanent. Quonset huts, a church tent, and a stage were built. Bob Hope came with Patty Thomas for a USO show.
In the last few months of the war, Rex became a traffic manager. An incoming message would be routed for all to receive and delivered to the operator for that area. They were on Manus for six to seven months until August of 1945 when the message came that the war was coming to an end.
As it was time to come home, Rex had some extra "points" since he had been in the Navy for four years (two overseas), was married, and had a child. It took about four days to get to San Francisco. Then on to Norman, Oklahoma where he received a physical and was discharged. He had to stand on the bus all the way to Wichita, Kansas where he met Evelyn and then on to Salina where he would see his two year old daughter for the first time. He is still very proud of the things he did for his country even though it took many to win the war. He also feels fortunate that he got to come home, as many did not.
Rex and Evelyn have been married almost 67 years (Feb. 28, 2010). They have 2 daughters, Carolyn and Joyce, 5 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren. At 91, they are still active in their church and in activities with their family and friends.
Submitted by the family of Rex Hallock