John “Big Mack” McConnell who just had his 92nd birthday sent this story in via his great grandson John the 4th, who is 9 years old. The story takes place in June of 1944 on board the hospital ship The USAT John L. Clem. They had just entered the Mediterranean Sea for service and were tasked as a transport ship. They would take injured personnel from Sicily or Naples and then take them to either Oran or Algiers. It was a rough time in that area. Constant battles meant constant movement. They even came under fire from time to time.
The John Clem was an old ship, had various names during her travels, and she had served in both wars. She was built in 1917 as a cruise ship and Big Mack was it’s most recent ship’s engineer. The crew had come to believe the ship was haunted. Everyone on board including crew, support troops and patients all could tell some kind of story.
Here is Big Mack’s Story:
We were the only Hospital Ship in the area that day in August. So, it was up to us to take both American and German injured. We would have to come fairly close to shore to load the victims of this bloody assault. There were so many that it was all hands on deck loading them. A man, clear as day, took my hands in his and pulled me to the deck. A second later a round of machine gun fire hit the lifeboat that I had been unloading. If I had been standing there I would have been hit and probably killed. Unfortunately, this was a common event (stray gunfire happened a lot).
I looked around to thank the man and I found that not only was I alone, but the soldier I was helping was gone too. I don’t know what happened, others who saw the event told me it looked to them like I had just fallen down. Lucky fall and all. I kept the truth to myself, but I know I just hadn’t fallen down.
John “Big Mack” McConnell
To “Big Mack” I say thank you for sharing your story with us, and more importantly thank you for your service.
This Week’s Podcast: The show this week Sylvia Shults is back with another round of stories for us. This time we tackle the subject of The Time Slip. A window into the past and a phantom fist fight are among the stories you will hear. You can listen to this podcast on Thursday at Ron’s Amazing Stories, download it from Apple Podcasts, stream it on Stitcher Radio or on the mobile version of Spotify. Do you prefer the radio? We are heard every Thursday at 10:00 pm and Sunday Night at 11:00 PM (EST) on AMFM247.COM. Check your local listing or find the station closest to you at this link
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