CB Boger: serving his country and his Lord

Published 7:58 pm Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Looking through his scope, C.B. Boger watched as General Douglas MacArthur walked across the deck of the USS Missouri to the table where he accepted the Japanese surrender on Sept. 2, 1945.

It was quite a sight for the young Davie boy, who had enlisted in the Navy at age 17. Although the youngest, he was the first of three brothers in the family to serve in the war.

Today, age 91 and battling cancer, Boger remembers those days well. He remembers shooting at Japanese war planes from the USS Baxter, where he was stationed for his time in the war.

Did he shoot any down? It’s hard to say. Boger said while the rockets had tracers to follow the trajectory, most of the time the planes were being fired at by several guns – some aboard his ship and some aboard others.

“I thought, most of the fellows my age were going up, so I should,” he said about enlisting at age 17. “I had finished high school (Cooleemee) and was as green as a gourd.”

His parents had to sign for him to join, and they did. “They knew I wanted to, and they wanted for me what I wanted. I had a praying mom and dad back home.”

He chose the Navy because he didn’t like the idea of living in a foxhole. “I went in by myself. I was mostly a loner.”

He grew up quickly, training to recognize Japanese planes before being sent to the Pacific Theater.

Boger was a gunner, but aboard the Baxter he was assigned various duties. “Whatever needed to be done,” he said.

The Baxter was an attack transport ship, and made several trips from Pearl Harbor transporting troops and cargo, taking part in operations at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, the Leyte Gulf and San Felipe, Luzon before heading for Okinawa.

Boger remembers the good times and the bad. A lonely teen-ager on the ocean, aboard a ship full of strangers brought on plenty of homesickness. The ship endured a typhoon.

Boger also remembers the good times, when they would go swimming in a calm ocean. He had the idea he could jump from the ship into the water. He did, but the impact was so great, and the distance so far, a smaller boat had to be sent to rescue him after a homemade boat he boarded capsized. The story brings a chuckle.

He wrote to his parents as often as he could. They wrote back, but those letters were censored before he could read them. He knew his brothers had been drafted, but he didn’t know where they were serving.

While he was watching the end of the Pacific portion of the war, Dorothy, whom he has been married to for the past 20 or so years, remembers she was working in town. “People were shouting and singing, confetti – a big celebration,” she said.

Boger cries when thinking about the ship coming under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on the way home. There was a large boulder with lights spelling out, “Welcome Home. Well Done.” Fire boats were spraying water in celebration. Music played.

Boger had decided he wanted to go to Catawba College and then become an airplane pilot. That didn’t work out.

What did work was his salvation. At age 22, he turned his life over to the Lord. He even graduated from Piedmont Bible College, thinking the Lord was calling him to be a preacher.

That wasn’t the case, but his faith sustained him for the rest of his life. “The life you’ve got, take good care of it,” he said. “Eat right, behave right …”

When he goes out nowadays, he often wears his Navy Veteran hat. It strikes up conversations with other veterans, which is a blessing. Sometimes, strangers thank him for his service, others buy his meals.

After retirement from Western Electric, he and Dorothy traveled the country, volunteering for Amazing Grace Mission, setting up and working at booths at fairs and festivals, ready to share the love the Lord has for everyone. He had a cabinet with three doors, labeled numbers 1-3. If someone would ask, he would say those are the three things God cannot do: as they opened each door, they learned that God cannot lie, change, or let you into heaven unless you are born again.

“God has been good to us,” Boger said.

And Boger has been good for his fellow man.

He served his country before he went to work. After retirement, he served the Lord.

“I was fortunate and blessed,” he said.