By Paul French
September 22, 1943
At Sea, forty-four Nautical Miles north of Manus, Admiralty Islands
Three Amphibious Assault Ships (APA’s) are in the convoy. Each carries 800 to a 1,000 Marines, plus tanks and equipment. Several Destroyers are seen on the horizon from time to time. Aboard all three APA’s a similar meeting is starting. Navy Coxswains and Boson mates, Marine Corps NCOs gather aft of a Higgins LCVP Landing Craft lashed into its cradle on the deck. Marines and sailors try for casual conversations: “You know where we’re going?” One response is, “Another Jap invested island.”
A Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant and a Navy Chief Boatswains Mate arrive at 09:00. Next, a Marine Colonel and a Captain along with the ships Executive Officer join the group. They spread charts and photographs on a table. As they do, conversations resume among the enlisted men. The conversations stop when the Master Gunnery Sergeant quietly says; “OK. KNOCK IT OFF!”
Now they are somber; ready to hear final instructions on invading a Japanese held island. The Marine Major names a Pacific Island no one has heard of. “We go ashore there tomorrow morning.” We have three landing beaches; red, green and yellow.” Information on which marines will land where and what boats will take them there follow. Marines and sailors have questions. One question; should the boat carrying the underwater demolition team be an LCVP or the LCP? An argument ensues.
The Red Headed Coxswain of the LCP speaks up; “My LCP is faster. I can get us away quicker.” Other Coxswains loudly challenge the assertion. The ships Executive Officer speaks up. “KNOCK IT OFF, we all have the same goal. Namely take this damn island and live to tell about it. Put the demo guys in the LCP, it is a faster boat.”
A Chief Boatswains Mates asks; “Sir, I guess that’s all the questions. Can we KNOCK IT OFF now?” The Bird Colonel looks to his peers, they nod agreement. The Chief says; “But any of you guys that’s got a question, come see one of us. And; there’s Baptisms at 14:00, today.”
A buck sergeant asks; “Sarg, about the Baptisms? I got a kid in my squad who don’t know if he’s been Baptized or not. He wants to know, can he get baptized?” Many of the NCOs and Officers respond with affirmatives; including a MGySgt who proclaims; “My Savior, Jesus Christ will be glad the kid came. Tell him to get his butt up to that service; even if it is for seconds.”
Today, the USS Germantown, one of our Navy’s newer Amphibious Assault Ships continues this WWII tradition of offering Baptisms before an assault landing. The USS Germantown’s ship’s bell is now and in the future will continue to be engraved with the names of the men baptized before an assault landing.
Today, “KNOCK IT OFF” continues as part of the Navy and Marine Corps common vocabulary.
Today, “KNOCK IT OFF” can become our Nation’s Anti-Political Partisanship war cry. We can force the leaders of every Political party to KNOCK IT OFF; stop the inane, partisan motivated criticism of the ‘other’ party.
Today the devastating results of strictly partisan legislative votes are all too evident. Today, rather than vocally supporting suspicion and distrust, we all get on our knees and each of us pray to our God, pray for our county and the success of our President Elect. The ideology of any political party is neither relevant nor does any one party have a patent on the only way to save our nation.
If we don’t make both parties stop the strictly partisan slander; stop it today; then that Star Spangled Banner may no longer wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave. Today, will you KNOCK IT OFF and start praying every day for the USA? Hundreds of thousands have died to give you that right to pray.