Tracy, William B.


Tracy, William B.
William B. Tracy
Janet Fogal; Andrew Green
Like many young men of his generation, Bud Tracy served in the Armed Forces during World War II. Eager to see the world, he chose the Navy because he could enlist at seventeen and his uncle could help him through the process. He left high school before his graduation date, but made up the credits by enlisting. Mr. Tracy's wartime service was spent in the South Pacific including the Admiralty Islands. Tracy loved being in the service despite facing the same fears and frustrations that other young men encountered. For example, his first night on guard duty turned out to be one of his scariest moments in the Navy. Tracy mistook an anthill for a Japanese helmet and was told by his superiors to fire. Tracy did not want to alert other possible Japanese soldiers in the area of his location. As a result, he sat and stared at it, imagining the "helmet" coming closer and closer as the hours passed. His battle experiences were full of danger and adventure as well. Mr. Tracy was asked to go into the water and sink shell casings, swim up a river at night to scout the Japanese positions, and save his fellow sailors who were in trouble in the water. While completing his duties, Tracy was wounded on coral and was sent to Australia as a casualty to heal his legs which developed jungle rot. There were many enjoyable moments throughout Tracy’s time overseas. He and his buddies enjoyed pulling pranks on other men in their unit. In one instance, Tracy and his buddies rigged up a fake spider in the tent of one of their friends and surprised him with it when he returned from guard duty. USA Tours passed through the South Pacific while Bud was there and he was able to see Bob Hope and other performers in the tours. He particularly remembered a time when Bob Hope visited and ate a meal in the chow hall with the enlisted men instead of going to the officers' hall as was scheduled. Just as they are to American troops serving overseas today, care packages from home were highly valued during World War II. Mr. Tracy told an interesting story off-camera about a care package that he received from home. A couple of months after Christmas, he received his Christmas present from his family back home. When he got the box, the other men all crowded around because there is an unspoken rule that all packages are shared with the unit. The box was opened to reveal several cans of Spam that his mother had saved up her ration coupons to get for him. However, the sailors were regularly fed Spam for meals and were sick of it by that point. Tracy stated that once the box was opened and everyone saw that it was Spam, they left it for him, and never ever ate a single can of it. When Tracy returned home after his military service was over, he utilized the G.I. Bill to enroll in college. He had a successful career working for the phone company and raised a family. Despite this, like many of the men that he served with, Tracy still feels guilt over an incident that resulted in the deaths of fellow sailors, even though he did all that he could to save them. In many cases, those not involved in the situation can look at it and see that there is no reason for the person affected to blame himself, yet in his mind, he still does. Tracy was very humble in his accounts of his experiences during World War II, yet even in the short time it took to conduct the interview, there were examples of his bravery and heroism. Like so many veterans, he did not give the impression that what he had done was very remarkable in the grand scheme of things, yet it was. He risked his life to save others more than once in the memories that are captured in the interview and that can only be a tiny fraction of. what his war experience was really like.
Date Span
Dates of Service
Enlisted; United States Navy; Lion 4; World War, 1939-1945; Second World War - Pacific Theater; United States; Gunner's Mate Third Class
Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress
Collection Location
Spatial Coverage
Second World War - Pacific Theater; United States
Item sets