Ch. 3 — Ernie Pyle on Ie Shima

Link back to Ch. 2

 

The clock on the family room wall says that it is 8:30 a.m. The calendar beside it shows the current date to be Sunday, February 22, 2015.

Buck and Ladybuck Richardson have not yet arrived for the first day of experimentation activities.

“So, DJ, while we’re waiting for your granddad and grandma to get here, tell us what you already know and then you can figure out where to go from there.”

“Dad, according to yesterday’s notes, the major player buttons are pretty much worked out.

“The forward, reverse, and both sides COMPASS buttons cause horizontal direction movements; forward, backward, left, and right.

“The up and down VOL buttons raise, or lower the System, respectively.

“The forward and backward CH buttons move us through time.

“Holding any one of those eight buttons down causes the action to take place at high speed, which is what we were using yesterday, to go to and from the Japanese island.

“From last night, we know how to use the DELTA and ‘Page minus’ to back up through our recent time shifts, and DELTA + ‘Page plus’ to return by steps to our current position.

“Could you get Grandma to do the keystroke recording for us again, when she gets here, Dad, and then we can let Mom ‘drive’? I can do the writing in the meantime, but I’ll just list new buttons; ones we haven’t used before, except for the time travel moves.”

“Your show, Deej,” his dad says. “We can do anything you like … I had been wondering about whether we really needed to keep marking down every keystroke. That’s probably a good move.”

“You know, Dad, something occurs to me. Would you guys always remind our ‘chauffeur,’ before we ever go anywhere, to first ‘drive’ over to the newspaper’s offices, and double-check the date and time that the System thinks it is?

“Until we get used to the System, forgetting to do that might get us confused or even lost someplace. I guess we’re yet to discover whether that’s possible or not.”

“OK, Mom. Go slowly, and don’t press anything without first letting us know exactly which buttons you’re using. Be deliberate. Try hard not to press two buttons at a time. That might make us lose our bearings, and perhaps that would leave us unable to figure out what has happened at some later point.

“If you run into something you don’t like the look of, be ready to reverse out of it right away! If you’re not sure, just ask Lynz or me. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

#

When the doorbell rings, Russell remembers immediately who is expected, and says, “Hold it, guys; that’ll be Grandpa Buck and Ladybuck … Back in a flash!”

#

“Hey, everybody! Good after-nine, people,” Buck chirps, as the house clock ticks over 8:40 a.m.

“Hi Grandma! Hi Gramps! We’re just getting started. Mom’s ‘driving’ and DJ’s making the notes for now.

“I think Dad wants you to keep records instead of Deej, Grandma, if you wouldn’t mind.” Lyndsey updates the patriarch and matriarch of Russell’s side of the family.

“I’d love to. Thanks,” Ladybird says. “Anything,” she adds, “just don’t ask me to climb through the TV in my skirt!”

After the laughter dies down, “By the way, Grandma, DJ says there is no need to record keystrokes when they are just horizontal directions, or up and down. He thinks it would be good if we tracked those we use when we’re traveling in time.

“Otherwise, just the ones that are new, or when we’re doing the number thing, and selecting a specific year to travel to. Too, when we’re using the DELTA key, as you said last night.”

“OK! That’ll make things easier for you, Bird,” Buckminster comments, using his own pet name for his wife.

“Grandma, since you’re the keeper of the notes, DJ has asked us to always remind whoever’s ‘driving,’ to first take us over to the newspaper office, and double-check the date and time; so that we don’t get lost somewhere.”

“That’s a good idea! I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks, Lyndsey.”

#

“Say, how did you guys sleep last night?” Ladybird questions.

“Worst night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time, Mom,” Russell replies.

“Dianne and I barely slept a wink. A bit too much excitement, I guess.”

Dianne says, “I just couldn’t get the image out of my mind of DJ gallivanting all over the place on that island.”

“That bothered us a lot, too,” Ladybuck reports. “I never thought I’d ever see the day when someone would step into a television picture, at least, not from the front.”

Deej retorts, “Didn’t bother me a bit! How about you, Lynz?”

“My head hit the pillow and I was gone; it didn’t stop me from sleeping.”

#

“OK, LP, you get to choose! For our number one experiment; where in the whole wide world would you like us to take you?”

“Jessica sent me a text late last week. She said she saw a Killdeer plover on the school’s playing field on Friday. Can we go and have a look-see?

“It will restrict us to the St. Pete’s area, and will give us practice at both physical movement and time travel.”

“Holy cow! You’re easy to please … OK, how do you want to do this, Lynz? … Whereabouts on the field do you need us to go?”

“Well, Jess said the plover was halfway between the goalposts and the running track at the east end of the field. I thought that we could set up the System to run forward in time from about 8:00 a.m., just until the bird shows up.”

“You’re the ‘driver,’ Mom. Go ahead.” 

It is now 8:51 a.m. Very dutifully, Dianne travels in time to adjust the through-screen display of the Sunshine-Herald’s 2008 date and time from last evening’s operation (plus any time that has accrued during the overnight period), to match the house calendar and clock.

Following this, the family group now has an immediate requirement to match the journal’s calendar to Friday’s information for the bird sighting (February 20, 2015), which Dianne does faultlessly. It then takes mere seconds to back up to 8:00 a.m., and then to hightail it over to the goalpost at the east end of the playing field.

Lyndsey feels Jessica was unlikely to have been there any earlier than that hour, so it should make a good starting point. The rest is just a case of waiting while Dianne scans quickly through to around lunchtime, when the plover and Jessica both show up at what they estimate is around 12:30 p.m.

A DELTA to the journal office is not on this occasion going to solve the question as to the exact time of arrival of the bird.

As the folks learned last night, DELTA only brings them back to the moment of their last time-travel move, which, on this occasion, was actually a timeslot change that took place on the school grounds.

It’s somewhat like a regular TV. When one changes channels, the program on the first channel will continue to run while they are away watching the second channel. But, if the second channel is a video, and they fast-forward it, the first channel has no knowledge of the fast forward action.

Similarly, using DELTA to move back in time to the paper will still only display the time at which they last time-skipped at the journal, no updating will have been recorded. Hence, the DELTA button is limited in this way also.

As it is lunchtime at the playing field, several other people are loitering around also.

Not wanting to expose the time portal to her friend, or any of the others, Lyndsey encourages her mother to fast-forward until Jess finishes looking at the bird, and she, along with any onlookers, leaves; thus, the sixteen-year-old prodigy escapes notice.

Jessica’s Friday assertion proves to be correct. A Killdeer it is. Lynz, the family’s own bird specialist, is the acknowledged expert in this field.

Because Killdeers don’t seem to object to the human presence, Lyndsey, fancying her abilities as a photographer, takes her digital camera, and performs her own version of James’ earlier extra-vehicular activity.

Holding her skirt against her legs just above the knees, she does her best to be as graceful as possible, but she thinks to herself, “This is worse than getting out of Dad’s SUV.”

Nonetheless, she gracefully steps through the plasma TV’s screen, as if disembarking from a minivan, and is happy she is successful.

The high-school senior cautiously walks over to the plover, and, after a few words in a very calm voice, to reassure the bird of her good intentions, she takes a digital photograph of the bird.

Fortunately, the killdeer plover allows itself to be approached quite readily, so Lynz’s picture is a good close-up.

Having checked the results on the preview screen on the reverse of the camera, she picks her way over to where the portal, barely visible at the best of times, patiently waits.

However, before embarking, she holds up her right hand with index finger raised to the ‘driver,’ for this operation, Dianne, to say “Just a second.”

She walks slowly and thoughtfully around the portal, and then steps from the grass of the high school playing field back into the house.

“Wow,” she exclaims, “that’s fascinating! James, I asked you yesterday what the System looked like from the other side. Well, I just found out for myself. It looks like a clean, round hole that is simply hanging on nothing, and I could just barely make out the five of you inside it.”

“While you guys are chatting over that experience, I’ll run upstairs and put on a pot of coffee, and switch on the kettle. We can have tea and refreshments.”

However, Dianne is not finished ‘chauffeuring’ for the day. “Come up in about ten minutes and it should be all ready for you.”

Everyone seems to agree that this has been an excellent first trial run; and all without leaving the area of St. Pete’s.

#

So, here it is, well over a half-hour later, with all much refreshed, especially those who had missed breakfast.

“Mom, this is to be our second practice run with you ‘driving.’ Could you take us slowly over to the Pier and back?

“You can try changing height levels as you go; up to 500 feet or so, and back down again, should be ideal.

“You know, if you do a good job of this, we might allow you to look around to see if there are any dolphins in sight in Tampa Bay.

“So, let’s see how you do that, and Grandma Ladybuck can write down any new keystrokes for this trip, too.”

Russell to Deej, “Did you want me to remind you to get your mother to ‘drive’ us over to the Sunshine-Herald, and make adjustment to the date and time, DJ?”

“Gosh, Dad! Already I had forgotten.”

“Mom, Dad’s right; the System thinks we’re still on last Friday at the school. Could you do that for us, first?”

The initial move is to go back to the newspaper in order to reset the date to February 22, 2015, at 10:35 a.m., which is in agreement with the wall-clock, and the house calendar, and then, ‘let’s boogie on down!’

Hence, Dianne is in the driver’s seat with instructions to go over to the Pier, just for practice, and no point in hurrying, right? Therefore, no rush it is!

The female Generation Xer intends to take the ‘scenic route,’ and so, first raises the view up a couple of hundred feet, then heads away from the Herald’s offices.

She points the unit west, toward the on-ramp for Interstate 375, slowly undulating as she goes, varying her altitude between 100 and 600 feet.

As she proceeds with each move, she calls out clearly which of the buttons she is about to use; how she is pressing them, whether once, twice, or more times, or holding them down, which, on a short trip like this, will likely be unnecessary.

This permits her son to choose which items he will get Ladybird to record for their files.

DJ admires the very professional ‘driving’ style his mother is using.

He notes for the whole group. “I hope you are noticing that Mom is able to direct the System forward and at the same time vary the height.

So the portal is able to handle the two instructions simultaneously.”

Dianne continues the oscillating course above the center lane of Interstate-375 for about one mile, and then turns north to follow I-275 for six miles to State Route 92, which leads the group to the causeway known as Gandy Boulevard.

Gandy includes a section of raised road surface that runs eight or ten feet above the waters of Tampa Bay.

Combined together, SR 92 and Gandy make a smooth trip of ten miles to South Dale Mabry Highway in the city of Tampa.

A two-mile southbound sector is all that is needed to bring them over MacDill Air Force Base. Finally, a 5-mile over-water run to the Pier in St. Petersburg.

She turns onto the line of 2nd Avenue NE, and ‘drives’ in the general direction of their home.

Fifty yards west of the Pier, she makes a 180º turn and, proceeding very smoothly, slows the System down to a crawl.

As is her custom, she thrills at the beautiful sight of the five stories of the inverted pyramid structure at the end of the causeway that juts out into the bay.

Now, the young mother comes to a full stop a little west of the edifice, without any untoward incident, so that the well-known landmark is fully in sight for all present.

Both north and south of the Pier, schools of frisky bottlenose dolphins busily show off.

The shiny creatures repeatedly leap out of Tampa Bay, only to plunge so smoothly back into the warm water.

The family always takes delight in such natural sights; they are so incredibly enjoyable to an appreciative eye.

‘That’s great, Mom,” Deej commends,

“Could you please take us over to Whitted? Just for a look around … for the guys.” he begs.

Dianne rotates the view so that it is toward the south, facing the adjacent Albert Whitted Airport.

This is a local airfield where small private aircraft and executive jets are departing and arriving repeatedly.

Many “ooohs” and “aaahs” are heard from the three musketeers because of this sight. Especially is this so as Dianne closes in on the ‘east-west’ Runway 06, where most of the action takes place.

However, the cries of delight from the men are accompanied by expressions of boredom from the ladies present.

Dianne has a private thought, “One of these days, I’ll take these guys over to Windsor Castle, and check out Queen Mary’s old dolls’ house. That’ll make ‘em howl.”

#

“Kids, what is the default view for the System?” Russell inquires. He enunciates the words carefully; this is a drastic change of subject.

“You know, Dad, we don’t have an answer for that yet,” DJ responds. “But even if one doesn’t exist, it may be that we should get accustomed to using the Sunshine-Herald as if it is our default. We can simply wind up every trip by parking there.”

“Stationing ourselves outside the paper,” Russell agrees, “would be good. That will often be helpful for us.”

Ladybird is the note-taker, “Something else for you to give some thought to during the experiments, is, I guess, watching out for buttons that appear to give no response.

“They probably all produce some reaction, but that change could be so small, that it may not be immediately apparent.

“Too, it may be that some buttons only work in conjunction with others; as we found out in connection with the DELTA key.”

“Right, Mom!” Dianne adds, agreeing with her mother-in-law.

“That’s something DJ is going to have to work on. There are still at least ten keys on the remote that we haven’t tried yet.

“Listen, I was going to do us something special for lunch. Can Lyndsey take over the remote for a while? I need to spend a little time on the meal. Is that OK?” Dianne asks.

Deej, “Sure, Mom.”

“We’re still testing, guys, so, Lynz, if you’re OK to ‘drive’ for a while, can you take us to the newspaper office, just to check and see that our date and time are right on the beam?

“If you find everything is A-OK, then perhaps you could take us back to Iwo Jima.”

There is no adjustment to make; the journal’s clock and calendar both match the house data, as their prior activities consisted of simply ‘cruising’ around the area of St. Pete’s on real time.

After verifying the date display, Lyndsey ‘swings’ the System over to a westerly vector, and hits ‘warp factor one.’

In less than a half-minute the group is over the U.S. west coast, adjusting on the fly to be sure that the line of flight will be south of the islands of Hawaii.

While in flight, the youngster calls out “‘1-9-4-5’ and ENTER,” to allow her grandmother to record the time shift.

Through the screen, there is little difference between the ‘before’ and ‘after’ views.

Everything is proceeding smoothly, so far, until, “Ouch! Sorry! I nuked two buttons together! … I may have hit the extra button twice.

“Oh, no! For a minute, I lost track of what I was trying to do. I may even have held one of them down for a few seconds or even more. I’m just not sure.

“Why do these things always happen to me?” James’ sister moans.

#

Ultimately, a sharp pair of eyes spots a small island coming into their view on the edge of what they are able to see through the screen.

“Don’t worry for now, Lynz,” James encourages. “It doesn’t appear to have made any difference anyway.

“We are on the west side of this island, and the sea does look rougher than it was yesterday; and, come to think of it, this island looks smaller.”

As she closes in on what she hopes is Iwo Jima the scene of DJ’s initial confrontation with Bart J., others in the party spot another, much larger island off to the east of the smaller island.

That had not been in the view they had seen on their earlier foray to Iwo.

Lyndsey spots a small group of men in what looks like a cemetery.

She is still in hope of being able to find that same Missouri lad who had destroyed the family’s sofa.

Perhaps these men will be able to help her to find him.

Her parents really have no need to be placated any longer. Russell and Dianne appear to be thoroughly convinced, albeit still dumbfounded, by the sights the girl had displayed to them the previous evening.

The teenaged ‘driver’ cautiously moves in on the area of now devastated ground where she sees the group of men gathered.

They draw in closer, and the Richardson sextet is able to bring its eyesight into focus on the scene.

It again becomes obvious that, like the young marine whose shots had initiated this whole adventure, these young men are dressed in American fatigues from a bygone era.

The dungarees definitely do not have the appearance of twenty-first century U.S. military-issue battle dress.

The helmets the men are wearing (to protect their heads from flying shrapnel and projectiles,) seem to have a different silhouette to the headgear American soldiers wear today.

Nary a flak jacket or bulletproof vest in sight.

The young prodigy halts the forward motion before the family gets in too close to the soldiers.

Voices can be heard, but not with any clarity. The Richardsons strain with all of their ears, but are unable to discern the words being spoken.

They are infantrymen, gathered around a small wood-plank marker nailed to the top of a one-by-three-inch piece of lumber planted in the ground.

A solitary vintage American army helmet stands on lone sentry duty before the stake; as if to denote that this spot is the final resting place of a fighting man.

The assembly appears solemn, as the men seem to be grieving.

The gathering concludes abruptly, when one man, whose apparel bears the uniform markings of an officer, throws a pouch-like object into what has recently been a cluster of trees and bushes.

Subsequently, the men leave on foot in several directions.

Lyndsey, “Deej, this may not be the same place. These men don’t have the same appearance as the boy on Iwo Jima.

“Their uniforms are different. I can’t say why, but it might be that they are a different color.

“Maybe that’s why you also noticed that this island seemed to be different from the one we visited yesterday.”

With the meeting ended, the men gone; and with the sun getting ever higher in the sky, Lyndsey negotiates the System in to where the lone marker stands. It bears the crude but simple caption:

AT THIS SPOT

THE 77TH INFANTRY DIVISION

LOST A BUDDY

ERNIE PYLE

18 APRIL 1945

 

That name strikes a chord! The folksy words are very touching, but that name. It rings a bell with Ladybuck, unlike all the others in the group.

“Ernie Pyle?” she says questioningly. “He’s not a soldier … or, at least, he wasn’t.

“There was a program on TV yesterday; I watched it while you were at your appointment at the hardware store, Buck.

“Russell, I’m pretty sure they mentioned that gentleman’s name, or a name very similar to it.”

“I’m going to check the Internet on my mobile phone again, Russ, to see if I can confirm that,” Ladybuck adds, as she lifts herself from her seat and strolls down the hallway for some peace and quiet.

Buck calls after her, “Bird! Could you also check where Pyle is buried; that might be important, too!”

Buckminster, “Russell, you know, what your mother said makes me recall having some information about this man. It could be that he was a war correspondent during the last war.

“My granddad told me many years ago that Ernie Pyle was shot on Okinawa by the Japanese toward the end of the fighting in the Pacific theater. I’d forgotten all about that,” he concluded.

Ladybird calls from down the hall, “Russell! I have a military Website on my cell phone. It says ‘Ernie Pyle … war correspondent … Pulitzer Prize … World War II … Japanese shooter … April 18, 1945 … Okinawa campaign … island called Ie Shima … neighbor island to Okinawa.’

“Buck,” she reports, “it says Pyle is buried at the Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu.”

“Thanks, Bird.” Buck acknowledges her research.

“Lynz, try this for DJ.” Russell asks. “Can you push the DELTA and ‘Page minus’ buttons? Just one quick press and let’s see what happens.”

“Russell, before Lyndsey does that, you’re going to want her to come back to Okinawa later,” Ladybuck calls.

In returning from the hallway, she has noted the drift of the conversation.

“We’ve got to make provision for that.

“She’ll have to move one time-click up. Remember, we ‘drove’ here.

“We all have to make a point of doing that every time we arrive somewhere.

“Each stop we make, unless we arrive with a DELTA click, we need to register that arrival with the System, if we think we are going to want to come back to that moment.”

James, “Thanks, Dad, and Grandma . . . Alright, Lynz, can you do what Grandma says?

“Hit the DELTA and ‘Page minus.’ … Great.

“Now Lyndsey’s clicks have brought us back to the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

“Remember, DELTA takes us back to our last time shift, and so we’ve gone back to the location in the Pacific where Lynz hit the wrong buttons. One of those buttons was obviously a time-shift.”

Still viewing the mid-Pacific scene, Russell clarifies, “OK, so the DELTA key isn’t going to help us with what is recorded on Pyle’s memorial, and we have no way to verify what it says.

“His marker says he died on April 18, 1945, and those guys were behaving as if they had just buried him!

“Back to Okinawa again, Lyndsey, if you would, please,” Russell requests.

“Thanks. … So, Deej, this is Ernie Pyle’s memorial on Ie Shima, on or sometime after, April 18, 1945. What we need to know is, how long after?”

“Well,” Russell continues, “what is the date here on Shima?

“Thinking about it, I guess the best procedure we have, in order to have accurate time and date info for a visit somewhere, would be to use the journal’s calendar or clock, reverse to the date and time we need, and then do the traveling.

“In other words, the Sunshine-Herald can only show us the status at the time of our previous visit.

“If we make a time shift while we are away from the journal’s offices, we lose the opportunity to get directly back to the paper with the DELTA key.

“Does anyone have a suggestion as to how we can overcome that?”

The gray-headed Richardson is the one who next elects to take the bull by the horns.

Buck picks his way through the legs and feet over to the TV, and, begins a repetition of DJ’s extra-vehicular activity of the previous day.

Mirroring the activity of his grandson from his extra vehicular activity, Buckminster first sticks his hand deeply into the screen, withdraws it.

Next, he put his left foot into the HDTV and eases his middle-aged body out of the family room, onto the battle-ravaged island where war correspondent Pyle had taken his last breath.

He quickly, yet carefully, looks around to make sure there are no eyes, and, especially no gun barrels facing his way, then Buck sticks his head back into the room and asks for James’ camera, which his wife passes to him.

He strides over to the small wooden marker dedicated to the 44-year-old Dana, Indiana-born man, checks the viewing screen, lines up the camera, and takes a photograph of the humble memorial.

He finishes, as has become the custom by now, by panning around the scene, taking a few seconds of video.

Buck walks to the remnants of the trees and bushes, shot to pieces during the recent brutal fighting, and fishes around on the ground.

Moments later, he re-emerges holding in his left hand the leather briefcase the 1945-issue American Army officer had thrown there.

His right hand contains none other than an M1911A1 .45-caliber Colt automatic pistol.

Buckminster steps from the violent world of Okinawa of seventy years ago, back into the family room, and is immediately met by James, who takes the .45 pistol out of his grandpa’s hand.

James, pistol in hand, steps out of the house, onto the 1945 island through the HD set.

Following his grandfather’s example, he takes a rapid, yet cautious glance around to check for possible unwelcome hardware in the area.

Deej proceeds to perform an administrative unload of the pistol.

After pointing the weapon in a safe direction, away from the System, and his family, he deftly removes the magazine to get the unfired ammunition out of the handle of the weapon. He slides the clip into his pocket.

“Hey, whaddya think you’re doing?” a stentorian voice demands. A voice belonging to a huge American army sergeant, who now strides into view from behind the portal; a direction in which neither Buck nor Deej had checked.

A teenager holding a .45-caliber automatic pistol under war conditions would normally represent a potential enemy – big time!

Nevertheless, the sergeant has no fear; he knows something of which DJ is completely unaware, but that the lad is about to find out.

The blue jeans and tee shirt the lad is wearing make up an unusual uniform, however, and the big soldier is very curious as to ‘what’s up’ with David James Richardson.

“Why are you out of uniform?” No mention of the pistol the lad is unloading! Is it possible he could have mistaken DJ for an errant soldier playing with an automatic?

“Sorry, Staff, I just arrived on the island and can’t find my uniform. I’m a bit disoriented, and I’m starved; could you direct me to where I could get some chow?”

“Sure, young ’un. The mess hall is in that tent over there,” he drawls, as he points to a long canvas structure, again to the rear of the System.

“They’re serving non-stop meals all day today, because the island has just been declared ‘safe’ by the commanding general. So you can haul yourself over there at your leisure for a meal.”

“Swell, Sarge.

“As I mentioned before, I am quite disoriented … I can’t even remember the date … Can you help me with that?”

Pointing to the Pyle plaque, he says, “See that memorial, son. That happened yesterday, April 18. We just buried the man this morning, April 19.”

“Thanks so much, Sarge; I appreciate your help.”

The large body disappears out of sight behind the portal, so James continues to unload the automatic pistol.

With his finger positioned alongside the trigger guard, he operates the slide to remove the contents of the firing chamber, which renders the gun completely inert.

Finally, he lowers the hammer gently to its rest position, and picks up the single ejected round of ammunition from the ground.

Our young, international traveler, and first-class diplomat, now returns to the modern-day world. He hands the firearm, and the ejected clip, along with the single .45-caliber round, to his grandfather.

Buck is delighted at recovering his belated souvenirs of the Okinawa campaign; also to have gotten such magnificent items of military hardware at such an incredibly low cost.

“Thanks for doing that, James. I ought to have thought of it myself … Actually, I should have known better.

“I’ve wanted to begin a collection of handguns for a long time …this will make a fine start. I can display these things along with the M-1 Garand clip and the eight cartridge casings young Bartlett James left behind.”

The family gathers around to inspect the brand-new artifact and the cartridges retrieved from its inner parts.

“You know, Dad,” Lyndsey interjects, “I was about to suggest that the only real way open to us, is to back-pedal to the day or time that Mr. Pyle was actually killed.

“From there we could have moved forward to the point when the group of men around the memorial finally breaks up.

“Then, we would have been able to calculate the exact date of that event. Now, of course, we don’t need to do that anymore.”

“Come on up for lunch, everyone!” Dianne calls down the stairs to the rec room.

“Coming right away!” calls back the straw boss.

James seems to be getting a little more comfortable with his new responsibilities.

First backing off from the Okinawa scene, the group heads upstairs for a lunch of croissants, ham, cheese, imported pickles, pound cake, angel cake, coffee, tea and other goodies that really hits the spot.

While enjoying the munchies, Lyndsey is running her eyes over the antique leather pouch Buck recovered from the bushes on Ie Shima.

The badly tarnished clasp releases at a touch, and the folder opens to reveal a bundle of both handwritten and typed notes.

There is mention of “GIs,” “grunts,” “leathernecks” and many other references, most of which carry no meaning for Lynz.

“Dad,” she asks. “What are the possibilities that these papers are valuable?”

“I’d forgotten about the pouch, thanks to the big soldier. I guess it belongs to your granddad; he’s the one who found it. Let me look at what you’ve got there in your hand.”

She hands him the whole pouch, with the papers on top. “Thanks,” he acknowledges.

He riffles through the papers, paying particular attention to the signature at the bottom of most pages. “The majority of these is signed ‘Ernie Pyle,’ with a nice clear signature and a flourish under each name.

“If these are genuine, they would be a real find.”

“What would the Ernie Pyle Museum think about a donation of these papers? That way, the burden of proof would be upon the folks there. Then we would really know whether or not they were genuine,” Buckminster volunteers.

“That’s a really good suggestion, Gramps,” Lyndsey commends.

With everyone partaking of lunch, Ladybuck tries not to appear rude as she continues to look with interest at the digital photograph on the small screen of DJ’s camera. Using it, Buckminster had taken the photo of Ernie Pyle’s memorial.

It suddenly hits her! “Click!” she beams. “I’ve got it!” says the Richardson matriarch with glee.

The lunchtime crowd stops its chatter, and gives her its full attention; each one wondering what she has to say.

“It’s the uniforms; you noticed that they weren’t the same. Young Bartlett James, who almost shot our darling DJ, was with the U.S. Marine Corps.

“The others, the men we just saw, were from the 77th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. It was the army people who erected the Pyle memorial that Buckminster photographed.

“The two groups are from different sections of the American military. They would not necessarily have identical uniforms and battle dress outfits.”

“Great spotting, Grandma,” Lynz and DJ commend.

Ladybird volunteers, “The military Web site I checked, said that shortly after the Ie Shima fighting was done, the American forces placed a permanent marker there in place of the temporary one.

“That was back in 1945, so if we were to come back there at any time after mid-’45, that new memorial would be in place.

“It apparently still bears exactly the same wording as the wooden one, but it’s now a much larger stone marker with a metal plaque attached to it.”

Russell queries, “So what you’re saying, Mom, is that what we’ve been looking at is 1945 before the stone memorial was positioned there?”

“That’s what that Web site seems to indicate. It may be that the monument is still there to this day.”

“We need to move ahead a month or so in time; but we can’t use our DELTA key to check out the date.

“Anyone have a suggestion as to how we can time-shift ahead to a specific date, without counting the periods of daylight or darkness?” Russell questions.

“You know, what we need is an old watch; one with a calendar display on it.” Dianne responds. “Preferably, with ‘year’ digits included; and still working, otherwise my idea won’t work.”

“What are you talking about, Dianne,” Ladybuck asks.

“There’s an old watch like that in my room,” DJ volunteers. “I’ll go get it.” The youngster heads for the stairs.

Dianne, “What I am thinking is, if we can set DJ’s obsolete timepiece to a date we know is accurate, and then put it on the ground on Ie Shima, inside the System. That will put it within the influence of the time shift in the historic scene, and will register according to the passage of time on Ie Shima.”

“So, Mom,” Russell clarifies for his mother, “we can set the date, even the time, to match what we know of the historic moment on the island, say, for example, April 19.

“From there, we can just run the System forward until the date on the old chronometer matches what we’re looking for.

“We might go looking for a date in August, or September, for example, of the same year.

“We’ll have to run an experiment or two to find out if we can use it to go back to 1945. The movement may not be programmed to show years.

“Even if it does, if it was made in the 1990s, it may only show years starting during that decade, but we can worry about that later.

“Fortunately, in this case, we’ll only be moving forward a few months, not years.”

James hears some of this explanation as he works his way up to his bedroom to retrieve the aged chronometer.

Returning, he resets its calendar to April 19, the date the big soldier had supplied.

His dad also said the actual year is immaterial, since the time shift is to be only a few weeks.

He hands the watch to his dad, who checks it, then leans into the System and gently places it onto the ground on the Okinawan island, with its face still visible to a person looking at it from the house.

Again, U.S. military authorities declared the island safe from April 19 forward, so there shouldn’t be any hostile action to threaten the family anyway.

“Lyndsey,” Russell asks, “could you please move ahead in time until I tell you to stop. I’m keeping an eye on the old timepiece and I’ll let you know when we have moved far enough.”

Centering the Pyle memorial marker through the TV screen, our ‘chauffeur’ complies with his request.

Lyndsey slowly moves forward from April 19, 1945. But, her dad did not need to say stop. The change to the memorial is almost instant.

The Web site report again proves true; just days after the island was declared safe, the plain wooden notice was indeed replaced by a heavy headstone.

Awesome! “Just as you said, Bird,” proclaims Buckminster.

“The Pyle marker has changed over from the plank of wood, to a large stone monument with a metal plaque. The same wording is on it,” the older man states.

“Better still,” James observes. “Don’t forget Mom has given us an accurate way for us to time shift for short periods, using the old watch trick. We’ll have to keep that in mind.”

“Can I offer a suggestion here?” Dianne asks. “I know I recommended it, but, instead of setting the thing on the ground, why don’t you bend a coat hanger and place it outside?

“That way, you can hang the timepiece on it facing the ‘driver,’ and we won’t need to stoop over to keep an eye on it.”

Suggestion accepted and acted upon immediately.

####

Link to Ch. 4 Collision in Nowra, Australia

 

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