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Former Marine recalls time at Hastings ammunition depot
It was 70 years ago the United States Naval Ammunition Depot of Hastings welcomed its very first Marine guards. While some have passed away one story still lives on.
"I can remember coming from Lincoln this way. They used to have the old coal-fired engines and I can remember that smoke laying in a streak like that across there. The next morning, boy, we hand four inches of snow," said Bernard York.
Bernard York, a Pennsylvania native was one of the first Marines to land on the Naval Ammunition Depot on December 23rd of 1942.
"They changed our orders and sent us over here," York said. "We were in the barracks about 4 days before they finally got the heat turned on."
Each Marine lived off an allowance of $1.35 a day.
"We was all eatin hamburgers in Hastings until we got some pheasants out here and then we were making our own pheasants," said York.
Here at Central Community College, just a portion of the 49,000 acres of land, York was a part of the Naval Ammunition Depot's first operations.
"I set up the motor pool and got everything going for motorized patrols."
After a year and a half at the NAD, York served for five more years in and out of the States until an explosion on a ship in Okinawa that left him blind for several months.
"Somebody fished me out. I can't tell you how I got back to Saipan. I don't remember how I got to Saipan. That's where we started out from to go to Okinawa."
York was discharged from the service. He then married in 1947. But there was something about his experience in Hastings at the NAD that left a lasting impression.
"People invited Marines into their homes and churches, sent food to the barracks. And I got here and I said, boy, I'm going out where there's real people. And I've been here ever since."
2013 will be another year of celebration for the local Naval Ammunition Depot. In January 1943 the Navy began to hire men and women for the manufacturing and storage of ammunition.
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