KINSMAN - Daryl Maseck of Kinsman spent a lot of time training in Honolulu and Okinawa for an invasion of Japan that never happened.
''I didn't get shot at and nobody pointed a gun at me,'' he said.
Well, almost no one.
''After the shooting was over, I had a group of Japanese soldiers - they were Japanese soldiers that had surrendered - that were my six men. I drove the truck. They were the muscle,'' the World War II Army staff sergeant said. ''We were moving loads six miles away.
''I was talking to them one time and pointed out where (which building) I worked. One soldier said, 'Oh yes. I (once) had my gun pointed on you when you went into the door, but I didn't pull the trigger. I was hiding in that tree.' I don't know why he didn't pull the trigger.''
At his Kinsman Gift Shop just north of the township square, the same building where his father ran a pharmacy, Maseck, 87, sorted through a jumble of memories from nearly seven decades ago.
Maseck was class president when he graduated in 1943 from high school in Kinsman. He was in his first semester at Youngstown College when he enlisted in the Army. After finishing his semester, he boarded a train to a camp in southern Indiana.
''I was one of a bunch of scared kids when I got there,'' he said. ''None of us knew each other, and we were living in tar shacks that weren't very warm. It was bitter cold weather. They gave us lots of coal to put in the stoves.
''After a week, we got onto a steam-powered train and headed west. Nobody knew where we were going.''
Branch: U.S. Army
Rank: Staff sergeant, heavy artillery
Medals: Includes service medal, overseas medal
Occupation: Owner, operator of Kinsman Gift Shop; retired engineer
The destination ended up being Fort Sill, Okla., for basic training.
''We were up in the mountains of Fort Sill and one of the guys saw a rattle snake. He made great haste to kill it. I'm not one to kill a snake just because he's a rattle snake. I'm not one to kill anything if it's not hurting me.''
Training ended with a 25-mile march with heavy backpacks. Next came a stop at Camp Hood - now Fort Hood - Texas, ''where we parked in barracks and waited for them to tell us where to go.''
After a train ride to Seattle, they boarded a boat and "did what everybody did - got seasick.
''We landed in Pearl Harbor and went to a fort in at the top of a mountain. It was packed full. So they put us on a truck and drove us three miles away to a little town about the size of Vernon. We were living in wood-floor, six-man tents in a field. It was nice.
''They did have a library. So I shot right into it and borrowed a book. I even remember what it was - 'Alaskan Adventure.' It was a delightful book to read.''
They spent their time in Honolulu training on bigger artillery, howitzer cannons with 105 mm exploding shells.
''I was the guy who figured out which way to tilt the canon and how much charge to put in it. They'd shoot, not with accuracy, from here to Cortland,'' Maseck said. ''When the shells hit the ground, they made a big explosion.''
Finally, the soldiers were herded into ''a convoy of something like 50 ships. What I didn't realize until later was this was a convoy to be the invasion of Japan,'' he said. ''We ended up in Okinawa.''
The Allies had just taken the Japanese island in the Battle of Okinawa, from April 1 to June 21, 1945. Maseck's company set up on the south end of the island and continued training for an invasion.
''We had marvelous equipment and we had nice trucks with big tires that would carry 10 to 20 men. They had beautiful radios built into the trucks and at night, we listened to stations from all over.
''We got a program from China. It would start, 'Hello, American boys, this is Helen Lu from Chongqing, China, and here's your news.' And she always had some news from the U.S. I don't know how she got it. It was always fun to hear. Six or eight of us would gather in the truck to listen.
''After six weeks of that, Helen Lu had some real news for us. 'Hello, boys on southern Okinawa, today America dropped an atomic bomb on Japan.'''
The bomb was detonated over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. On Aug. 9, another atomic bomb was exploded over Nagasaki.
''And the next night, the war as over because they knew there was no chance of winning against atomic bombs. From then on, it was just a matter of waiting to go home. About six weeks later, a ship came in.''
After a ship ride home that included a few detours, Maseck said his parents greeted him at the train station in Andover and drove him back to Kinsman.
He soon enrolled at The Ohio State University, where he earned a degree in structural engineering.
''That was pretty much it,'' he said. ''I never fired a shot at anybody, nor was I fired at.''
Just almost, by a guy hiding in a tree, as he and his company constantly trained for an invasion that became unnecessary.