Donald W. Christ
Seaman 1st Class
U. S. Navy
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 07/14/1942 - 06/01/1946
Higgins Boat driver, USS Okaloosa. APA 219

He says he had "rarely been in a boat" when he joined the U.S. Navy. Donald was born in Shreveport, and entered the military on July 14, 1944 at age sixteen. He said he was paid $21 a month. Donald trained as a Higgins boat driver, serving in the Pacific aboard the USS Okaloosa (APA-219), an assault personnel transport. A deck hand and a machinist's mate helped him with the upkeep of his Higgins boat, one of twenty-five on the Okaloosa. Donald's first action was the last big battle of the war, Okinawa. He landed Marines as well as supplies, ranging from typewriters to fruit cocktail. He also witnessed a kamikaze pilot crash into the USS Comfort (AH-6), a hospital ship that was "painted white with big red crosses on it." He also took wounded out to the Comfort, and later landed troops ashore in Tokyo Bay. "We landed them just like we were going in an invasion," he recalls. After hostilities ended, Donald took soldiers home to America, and returned with replacements and supplies. He left the Okaloosa on March 21, 1946 at Little Creek Amphibious Naval Base in Virginia, where he received what he says was his first leave since boot camp. After a month he reported to the USS Kapok, an admiral's flagship. There he had to wear semi-dress blues while helping to assemble the pages of a book the admiral had written. It took him "a dadgum week," he recalls, to complete the task. Donald was discharged in New Orleans on June 1, 1946. He came to Shreveport and built a business, Federal Insulators and Contractors, where he worked for thirty-five years, retiring in 1992.