Early in 1943, during WWII, our flotilla of 12 LSTs left Panama Canal Zone and made the long, slow voyage to Bora-Bora, a beautiful island near Tahiti. It took us two weeks. LSTs did not have the reputation of breaking any speed records. Throughout the entire voyage we saw no land, but we did see “flying” fishes constantly darting in and out of the water around our bow.
Many of us couldn’t wait to get to Bora-Bora as we were excited to see our first South Sea natives! The day finally arrived. Bora-Bora — such a beautiful sight! We dropped anchor and excitedly lined the rail looking shoreward. Look! . . . off in the distance! There’s a canoe coming toward us . . . with natives paddling! Then, as they got closer, we heard them singing . . . must be they’re singing a south sea tune. We were wrong. When they got closer – we heard.
Believe it or not, they were singing the “Notre Dame Victory March”!
We later found out that they learned it from the GIs on the beach.
PS: They came out to our ship to sell us fresh coconuts for 25 cents each!
Mike C., Clarksburg, WV