Veteran Bill Garber

Bill Garber

If you are looking for a quiet, unassuming person, who is not easily rattled, has a brilliant mind and a strong work ethic, and is a patriotic American to the core, you can find such a person right here at Sunnyside -- Bill Garber is his name!

Bill was born to Harry J. Garber and Fannie Talmar Arehart in Rockingham County, Virginia on October 19, 1922, the youngest of four siblings, one sister and two brothers. At that time, the days of the great depression which impacted the lives of virtually all Americans,  was right around the corner, and  was one of the major influences on Bill's early years.  However, for him this was offset by a stable and loving family life, and happy days on his father's farm.

The farm comprised about two thousand acres and was mostly an apple and peach orchard; however, there was a feed mill producing feed mostly for chickens and to a lesser extent for cattle.  His dad employed up to fifty workers on the farm.

Bill remembers one sad story of those days brought about by the depression. A man walked over from West Virginia and his shoes and clothes were in tatters.  He said he just had to have a job; his family was hungry and he was desperate.  Bill's dad told him that he did not need anyone, and the man asked how much his men were paid.  When his dad told him, he said he would work for half that much. But his dad told him that if he was hired, he would get full pay; he repeated that he could not use any extra people at that time.

Bill graduated from high school in 1939 but continued to live at home and work on his dad's farm until 1945 when he was drafted into the Army. His life in the Army turned out to be so unusual that it did not have much in common with his life on the farm, or even with other soldiers in the Army.

Soon after finishing basic training in Spartansburg, South Carolina, he was sent to Baltimore for special training in Japanese customs, culture, and language. He said that he was simply selected for this without having any idea as to the reason why he was selected, or what the training was for. This training lasted for 10 months.

Undoubtedly, the Army saw great possibilities in the young Bill. On his official record, the Army says:

Managed and had part interest in his Father's 2000-acre farm and orchard estate near Timberville, Virginia.  Directed grazing and cultivation plans. Bought needed farm implements. Rented livestock and fruit through market channels. Managed property from1941 to 1945       prior to entering the service.

This background was probably the grounds for his selection. Apparently his training had in view the necessity for America to take the lead in establishing a peaceful government in Japan.

Bill was being trained for a very important duty, he would be among Army personnel on assignment in Japan immediately after the war; an assignment involving the security of American personnel stationed there, the investigation of war crimes committed by the Japanese, and the investigation of Japanese politicians running for office in the provisional government.  His “Separation” papers from the Army says this about him:

INVESTIGATOR: Served with the 441st Counter Intelligence Corps in Tokyo, Japan. Investigated and apprehended Japanese war criminals. Worked on civilian status as a security agent for the Army of Occupation of Japan. As indicated by this statement, Bill did not wear his Army uniform   while in Japan; he wore regular civilian clothes.

Bill made some observations about his post-war work in Japan. He said that the model for the provisional government set up under General MacArthur was based on the American government, and he remembered that the operation was run very efficiently and smoothly.  He said that there was no trouble with the civilian population, although there was one rumor that proved false, that there was to be an uprising.  He helped to investigate that rumor.

He spoke of the Japanese Americans, some of whom were among those sequestered in California, who were of great help in enabling the Army of Occupation to understand the language and ways of the Japanese. In his job as security agent,  he was once asked to check the security system of headquarters, and his report was that “Security stinks.”  When asked about his reason for saying that, he produced a classified letter he had taken from General MacArthur's desk.

Upon discharge from the Army on January 16, 1947. Bill returned to work on his dad's farm, and continued there all during his working years. However, in order to secure his financial situation after he passed retirement age, he took a job with the US Postal service in 1958 as a Mail Carrier on a Rural Route.  Since the job only required that he work in the mornings, he was able also to continue managing the farm. He retired in 1990, but counting his time in the military, he had 33 years of Civil Service Retirement.  He married Marianne Linhoss in 1950, and they have three children, Terry, Susan, and Tim.

In assessing his own life, Bill spoke of the virtues of honesty and hard work which his dad taught him, and which was a guide to his life.  But Harry Truman, in a letter to Bill after his discharge, summed up Bill's life better.  He wrote: answered the call of your country and served in the Armed Forces to bring about the total defeat of the enemy; I extend the heartfelt thanks of a grateful Nation.  As one of the Nation's finest, you undertook the most severe task one can be called upon to perform. Because you demonstrated the fortitude, resourcefulness, and calm judgment necessary to carry out that task, we now look to you for leadership and example in further exalting our country in peace.

And Bill has made good on Harry's expectations.

As told to Dick Young