"So... am I eligible?" asked seventeen-year-old Walter Johnson. Walter was a bit of a scrawny boy, often beat up in alleys, picked on by other boys and denied by women. It was simply due to the fact that Walter never knew what to say, when to say it or how it should be said. Walter had gingerish blonde hair and the deepest blue eyes. He was currently being examined by a doctor in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York.
"Hmmm...," said the doctor that was examining him. "It would appear so." Walter smiled a triumphant smile. "But you know America's rules: you cannot join the air force until you turn eighteen." Walter's happy smile faded away quickly.
"Yeah," he sighed. "I know. Thanks anyway, doctor." The doctor nodded to Walter as he left the office, only to be pulled into a large, one-armed hug.
"There's my boy!" exclaimed Walter's closest friend, Charlie Dupree. Charlie was the same age as Walter. He had more luck with women, yet they still chose not to talk to him. Charlie had thick brown hair and hazel eyes. He came from a Jewish family. "So tell me, what did the doctor say?"
"He said that I'm healthy," began Walter. Charlie smiled a great big smile. "But I can't join the air force until I turn eighteen, and neither can you." Charlie snorted.
"Who in God's name said that?" he asked, laughing.
"President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the leader of our country," replied Walter.
"Who the hell gives a damn about what Roosevelt says?" exclaimed Charlie.
"Anyone who voted him for president," said Walter.
"Walter, we're seventeen!" said Charlie, as though Walter hadn't spoken. "We don't rely on our "mommies" to take care of us anymore! According to my father, turning thirteen makes you a man. Hello? That was four years ago!"
"Charlie, your father is Jewish. You had a bar mitzvah four years ago, which made you a man. But legally, in America, you don't reach adulthood until you turn eighteen," Walter told him. "According to America's laws, we're underage for everything! Drinking, driving, joining the air force..."
"Man, what crawled up inside of you?" Charlie asked. "We never follow the rules! Nobody does! I've seen fourteen-year-olds drinking and driving!"
"My brother, Leo is fourteen and he isn't drinking and driving. And besides, you don't see any fourteen-year-olds joining any branch of the military! Not even the navy!" Walter replied.
"Walter, do you wanna fight for our country or not?" Charlie asked him.
"Of course I wanna fight!" Walter exclaimed.
"Then is it worth it to break the rules a little bit and tell everyone we're eighteen? What tight security could the military possibly have? My neighbor was seventeen when he joined the Marine Corps last year," Charlie told him. Walter sighed.
"No, I guess not," he replied in a defeated tone. Charlie smiled, his arm around Walter's shoulders again.
"That's my boy! Now c'mon, let's go get a round or two, on me!" he exclaimed, and the two best friends walked down the road and into a nearby pub.
About a week later, Walter and Charlie had enlisted in the air force and were waiting in a group of several other men to be examined at a hospital tent at the military base in Pearl, Oahu, Hawaii. They were part of Company D, one of five of the companies on the five major airbases. There were fifty men on Airbase D, which was one of the smallest. The other airbases had fifty-five or higher, but Airbase E had only thirty-five men. Charlie breathed in the air.
"Ah, smell that?" he asked.
"You mean the smell of tobacco and other substances in cigarette smoke?" asked Walter, looking at a nearby man that was smoking a cigarette.
"No! I mean the smell of that warm, tropical Hawaiian air! And it's only November!" Charlie replied. He watched as a pretty nurse called in one of the men. "Maybe we'll find a couple of sexy nurses for ourselves!" Walter snorted.
"Charlie, who would want to fall in love with a couple of seventeen-year-old boys?" asked Walter.
"Eighteen-year-olds, Walter. Eighteen-year-olds," said Charlie. "And we ain't kids, we're men."
"Yeah, yeah," said Walter. A nurse with brown hair pulled back into a tight bun came out of the tent.
"Charles Dupree," she called. Charlie elbowed Walter in the arm.
"Watch and learn, Waltie. Watch and learn," he whispered to him. He walked up to the nurse. "That would be me, but you, baby, may call me Charlie."
"Oh, please. Don't make me sick," growled the nurse, going inside the tent. Charlie glared at a giggling Walter before following the nurse into the tent. Someone tapped Walter on the shoulder.
"You know that idiot?" asked a blonde haired man who was about nineteen or twenty.
"We grew up in Brooklyn together," said Walter.
"You're from New York?" asked the man. "I'm from Albany. The name's Steve Watson." He held out his hand.
"Walter Johnson," said Walter, shaking his hand. Another nurse came out of the tent, only this one was blonde.
"Walter Johnson," she said in a sweet southern accent. Walter walked over to her. "Follow me please." She walked into the tent, followed by Walter. "My name is Jennifer, I will be making sure that you're in full health."
"All right," said Walter.
"I'm going to have to ask you to remove your shirt please," said Jennifer. Walter nodded, taking off his shirt. "Where are you from, Walter?"
"Brooklyn, New Yor-aah!" Walter exclaimed as Jennifer inserted a syringe into his arm.
"Sorry, sweetie, but it has to be done if you wanna join the air force. Ya never know what kind of yucky diseases are out there in Germany," said Jennifer. "How old are you?"
"Se-eighteen! I am eighteen," said Walter, catching himself quickly. He winced as Jennifer inserted the second syringe into his arm.
"One more in the arm, sweetie, and then we move on to your bottom," she said.
"M-my bottom?" asked Walter. Jennifer nodded.
"You have yourself a sweetheart back in Brooklyn?" she asked, inserting the third syringe into his arm. Walter winced slightly.
"No, no girl has really ever spoken to me," he said.
"It'll happen, sweetie. The world has a funny way of making things work out. You can put your shirt back on," Jennifer told him. Walter nodded, putting his shirt back on. "I need you to lower your pants now." Walter hesitantly did as he was told.
"What is it like?" he asked, wincing as Jennifer inserted the first syringe.
"What is what like?" she asked him.
"Not knowing if you or a friend will live or die, shooting a Jap or a German and not thinking or caring about whose family you're hurting...," Walter finished as Jennifer inserted the second syringe.
"Sweetie, I don't know. I haven't been out there. You can pull up your pants now," she told him, and Walter pulled his pants back up. "Another nurse will be in shortly to check your eyes." With that said, Jennifer left Walter sitting there, thinking. His thoughts were interrupted by a young woman with brown hair not dressed in a nurse's uniform, but dressed in a normal, average dress you would see a woman of the 1940s wearing.
"Are you here to check my eyes?" asked Walter. The girl looked up at him, and Walter was a little shocked to see that the nurse checking his eyes was around his age.
"Oh, no, I'm not a nurse here," said the young woman. "My mother wants me to be a military nurse, but I cannot bear to be around all that pain and suffering. You must be very brave to go out there like that. Some of the soldiers that return here to the Pearl Harbor Medical Center look like they've gone through Hell and back. You never know if the soldier that comes in has a minor shot wound or is dying right there in front of you." She held out her hand. "Uh... I'm Krista. Krista Sheenan. And you are?"
"Walter Johnson," said Walter, shaking her hand. "Have any of those soldiers ever mentioned anything about what happens out there on the battlefield?"
"Some have, yes. Sometimes, they tell us to get it off their minds. Sometimes, they mumble it in their sleep. One man told me that he'd lost his closest friend in France. He said that they were talking about how hungry they were when then they heard a couple of gunshots. The next thing the man knew was that his friend's hunger problem was no longer an issue," Krista told him. "I should be going. My mother expects me to be at the medical center."
"Will I see you again?" Walter asked. Krista turned around and smiled at him.
"I think so," she said before leaving.