Just out of high school, Everett Spackman didn't get to celebrate, enjoy his friends.
In May 1944, two days after graduation, he was drafted and joined the Navy.
From then on, the military kept putting life on hold.
He spent seven weeks in boot camp and was assigned to the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in California. He was to be a coxswain, the one who guided LCM assault ships through the water to deliver tanks and personnel.
One day, when he was training on the beach, someone in the personnel department approached him. He had read Spackman's record, and it said he could type.
He asked Spackman if he wanted to strike to be a yeoman, end his coxswain training to become a typist. Spackman said yes.
"... Because I learned to type in high school, it may have saved my life," he said. "... When you go ashore on the beach on a landing craft, it may be a one-way trip. Quite often, it was."
Spackman doesn't know where the crew he was training with went. Likely the Pacific. He stayed on the amphibious training base for two years, typing and filing away secret and top secret messages for a communications office.
By now, what he typed has long since been forgotten. But he does remember his supervisor standing over his shoulder, waiting for the messages.
As the war went on, the base began to collect German prisoners of war. Spackman got out in August 1946 and started school just a month later at Colorado State University, then called Colorado A&M.
"After the war, when you were being discharged, they of course tried to get you to re-sign, stay in the reserves," Spackman said. "But I said, 'No, I think I've had enough.'"
He studied to become an entomologist, met a girl named Eunice. They married on Dec. 18, 1949.
Around that same time, a friend convinced Spackman to join the Navy Reserves. It would be easy, the friend said. You go to Cheyenne once a month and get $50.
Spackman was hesitant. He thought if war broke out again, they'd all get called up. But he signed the papers.
The reserves didn't call up Spackman's friend. By 1951, his enlistment was about done. But just two years into Spackman's marriage, the reserves called on him.
"It's one of those things," he said. "You sign up when you're single and raring to go, and then later on things happen and you become married and you have responsibilities and ..."
"Your life changes," added his wife of 60 years.
The Spackmans were expecting their first son. They were going to finish school at CSU and hoped to move to Nebraska so Everett could get a master's degree in entomology.
"I guess I just kind of take life as it comes. I was disappointed, of course, but ...," Eunice said. "We had that all planned, so we just had to postpone it."
Spackman worked as one of several yeoman onboard the USS Guadalupe AO-32, a service tanker that delivered fuel to the 7th Fleet off the coast of Korea. He did his typing up on the bridge, where the command was.
He got leave to come home for the birth of his son, who was expected in June. But Spackman had to keep extending it. His son wasn't arriving on time.
In July, Spackman eventually had to leave. He was on his way back to San Diego to ship out when the reserves got a hold of him. They had extended his leave one more time after all.
Spackman made it all the way back to the hospital in Akron, Colo., and his son was born that same day. Spackman got to hold him, and about two hours later, he was on his way back to war.
Ten months later, he came home for good. His son was already "a little tyke running around, curly hair."
The Spackmans did move to Nebraska. Everett got his master's. They followed through on all those plans that war kept postponing.
They had three more boys, and for the birth of every one, Spackman got to be there.
They Served With Honor
Some have said that 1,000 World War II veterans die each day in United States. History dies with each one.
"They Served With Honor" is a special project by the Star-Tribune to collect stories from Wyoming World War II veterans. We will feature one story each week, from Veterans Day to Veterans Day.
If you would like to suggest veterans to be featured, please send their names, contact information and a summary of their service to Kristy Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 80, Casper, WY, 82601.