Rex Bain

Rex Bain said he could type 80 words a minute on a manual typewriter when he was tapped to help in fleet headquarters under Admiral Chester Nimitz.

Never volunteer for anything. That's the unwritten motto in the military. Rex bain had heard that. But it didn't stop him from raising his hand in World War II.

Rex Bain learned how to type at Ida School. So one year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Rex was lined up with the rest of some new sailors for inspection out in Hawaii. Then came a question.

"They wanted to know if anyone out there could use a typewriter, raise your hand. So I raised my hand. I was the only one. So they said fall out," Rex recalls.

Rex was whisked away in a Jeep and sent to headquarters where he would help handle office work for the Pacific Fleet, right next to the office of Admiral Chester Nimitz, who would sign a commendation for Rex.

"I was familiar with all the island attacks we had when took islands. And I knew about the shipwrecks we had. The battles we had. And all that," Rex says. "I got all the news. But I didn't get any of the action."

Asked if the skill of typing saved his life, Rex said, "I think it did. I think it saved my brother's life."

Not only was Rex saved from horrific battles at sea. Rex had enough pull to save his brother, Max, who was headed for Pearl and a battleship.

"He was scared to go to the south Pacific," Rex explained. "I knew all the big officers that could get things done. If you knew the right people you could get things done. If you didn't, you did what you was told to do."

Max wound up working in maintenance. Rex says saving his brother from the horrors of war was one of the best things he's ever done. But there's a twinge of guilt for himself because of so many young men -- including friends -- who lost their lives in battle.

"I feel like I did my duty. But I always felt bad that I didn't get in some of the fighting, get in some of the battles there."

Then, Rex added, "I don't know what would've happened to me."

What did happen was Rex came home and had a family, and has lived to age 97. And thanks to another job he had in the Navy in general supply, who turned that into a long career in Shreveport with the steel manufacturer Beaird.

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