Jim Post, Shawnee, has had a variety of experiences in his 81 years.




Being invited by legendary coach Bud Wilkinson to try out for the OU Sooners football team and private visits with his Shawnee High School friend Gordon Cooper when the astronaut was in town, were among them.




Quail hunting jaunts with the top bosses of most of the organizations he worked for were others.




A momentous one was when Post joined the U.S. Navy on Jan. 4, 1945, eight days before his 18th birthday.


Jim Post, Shawnee, has had a variety of experiences in his 81 years.


Being invited by legendary coach Bud Wilkinson to try out for the OU Sooners football team and private visits with his Shawnee High School friend Gordon Cooper when the astronaut was in town, were among them.


Quail hunting jaunts with the top bosses of most of the organizations he worked for were others.


A momentous one was when Post joined the U.S. Navy on Jan. 4, 1945, eight days before his 18th birthday.


 “I volunteered because I didn’t want to get drafted,” Post said. He volunteered a few weeks later and became a Seabee.


World War II fighting was still intense — so intense that three months after enlisting, Post was landing on Okinawa, shortly after the April 1, 1945, invasion.
“They started unloading us off the ship. We had to crawl down the side of the ship,” Post said.


After seeing a sailor get crushed when something struck him on the climb down, Post said, “I jumped, and landed in a boat and made it onto shore.
“The Japanese were still shooting. Americans had taken the island but Japanese were still there, trying to get it back.”


Post’s basic training was brief but rigorous. The Navy sent him and the two SHS friends he’d joined with, to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station.
“Boy, it was cold,” Post recalls. “It was 16 below zero.


“One day we were all standing outside, the whole company, when the guy in charge said, ‘We’re going to ask for volunteers. It’s for a different organization known as the Seabees.’


“He said those who want to volunteer take one step forward. Boy, I wanted to be out of there,” Post said. He stepped forward.


Then he looked down the row of men. “Only one other guy had stepped forward. I thought we’d really screwed up,” Post said.


The two new Seabees were sent to Camp Endicott, near Providence, R.I. “They sent us through training you would not believe. Under barbed wire, with machine guns firing over us.


“We’d only been in the service a month or two at most. After two or three weeks of that, they put us on a cattle car” full of servicemen. “We went clear across the United States.”
At night they slept in bunks placed in the old freight car. Post made friends with a serviceman who said, “this is my hometown,” as they were passing through North Dakota.


“He jumped off the train and just left,” Post said. “I never heard from him again.”
Post’s destination was the all-Seabees 4th Special Naval Construction Battalion in the Los Angeles area. “This was probably February 1945. We were there maybe a week or two


“Then they loaded us on a ship — thousands of us — and we didn’t know where we were going,” Post said.


The 20-plus day trip, his first on a ship of any size, was to Okinawa.
Post, who later spent his career as a commercial artist, became the battalion painter. His interest in art sprung from classes taught by Marjorie Dodge Tapp, art teacher at Shawnee High School.


On Okinawa he painted such things as signs and Jeeps.


“Okinawa was honey-combed with caves,” Post said. Japanese “were hiding everywhere. When we had some free time, we’d go looking in the caves.
“It wasn’t dangerous, but stupid.” He did run into some of the enemy. “They were hiding out and were whipped. They just wanted to stay alive.”


Some were even caught in the chow lines, he said, because they were starving. “Most Americans don’t turn anybody down, even though we were fighting,” he said.
The Seabees in Post’s unit had all been through earlier South Pacific battles and were older than him. When the war ended in August 1945, they had more points and began going home.


Post became head of the paint ship, “which was unbelievable because I was 18 years old,” he said.


One day, Post was called in to see the commander of the 4th Special Naval Construction Battalion.


“I’m going to have to let you go,” the commander said as he assigned Post to be the ship’s painter on the USS Columbus, a newly commissioned heavy cruiser that had just pulled into Naha Bay, Okinawa, from the United States.


“They had lost their ship’s painter. On a ship, it’s one of the most important things because they’re painting all the time,” Post said.


Post received a higher rating and rode out to the big cruiser in the captain’s own motor boat.


The Columbus, flagship of the 7th Fleet, took Post to Tokyo, Shanghai, cruised up the Yangtze River and around the side of China the coast of Japan.


There they destroyed four captured Japanese submarines. “They let these Japanese man the submarines and told them if they made any funny moves they’d blow them out of the water,” Post said. The men were taken off the subs before the vessels were destroyed.


 Post went ashore in Tokyo. “It was all blown up. It was just like it disappeared.”
He was in Shanghai several days. “It was a big, big city. You couldn’t speak anything they knew, so you just looked,” he said.


The Japanese he saw, so soon after the war, “acted like there was nothing wrong,” Post remembers.


Shortly after the last captured sub was sunk, the Columbus commander announced that “at 0800 the USS Columbus will leave for the continental United States.”
“The ship rocked. You can imagine what they all did.A lot of yelling and hollering.We headed home — back to where we started from —Terminal Island in Southern California.”


Post was discharged in California July 16, 1946.


He rode back here with five Seabee friends he’d met on board ship. One, from Alabama, bought a car to drive them all home. “He’d drop off guys as we headed east,” Post said.


First one to reach home was from New Mexico. Post was second. “When we got to Shawnee, we pulled into my dad’s home at 133 N. Cleveland. They stayed there with my folks one night before going on east.”


Post enrolled in the University of Oklahoma that fall of ’46. His mother had picked up his diploma at the SHS commencement after he joined the Navy — as many other family members of servicemen did.


“Some of them didn’t come back,” Post said. “I was lucky to get back.”
He studied art at OU four years and ran the 100-yard dash, low hurdles and broad jump on the Sooner track team.


“The biggest honor was one day as I was walking back from running the 100-yard dash,” Post said.


 At that time, the track was on Owen Field. Coach Bud Wilkinson was watching his football team work out just south of it.


“Somebody said ‘Post.’ It was Bud Wilkinson. I said, yes sir? He said ‘how would you like to come out for the football team?’


“I said, I don’t know. He said if you’d like to try, go tell Gomer Jones to give you a uniform.”


Post told his track coach, John Jacobs, who said, “I’m not going to tell you not to but if you do, they’ll just cripple you up.”


“So I didn’t do it,” Post said. “I kind of wish I had. You never know. But I only weighed 145 pounds or something like that.”


Post’s first job was as a commercial artist with DX-Sunray Oil Company in Tulsa.
“The president of Sunray was an avid hunter. He discovered I was and he wound up taking me to South Dakota pheasant hunting.


“He’d pay my way because I had the bird dogs — an English setter and a pointer,” Post said.


Post and Mary Lou Jenks Post were married at Shawnee’s Immanuel Baptist Church in1952.


 It was on Friday, June 13, but they’re still married and have four daughters: Cindy Post and Cathy Stephens, Shawnee, Penny McClung and Patty Buckmaster, both of Springfield, Mo.


They also have nine living grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren scattered from Portland, Ore. to Fort Rucker, Ala. Grandson Jim McClung flies a Black Hawk helicopter at Fort Rucker, while grandson-in-law Reed Knight of Fort Sill must return to Iraq in September.


After their marriage, Post took a job with Service Pipeline in Shawnee “because our folks were living in Shawnee.” He later did art work for Jonco Aircraft until it closed.
Post and Paul Willis, head of Jonco, hunted quail together. “He’d find some birds and we’d take off,” Post said. “It helped me in my first jobs. I loved it about as much as they did.”


After Jonco closed, Post worked 26 years at Tinker Field, first as illustrator, and at retirement in the late ’80s, as head of the art, engineering technicians and drafting departments.


He was also real property officer at Tinker, responsible for 80 buildings all over the base and some beyond.


Since then, the Posts have lived 12 or 14 years at a home in Branson, Mo., they still own but left to return here because of Mrs. Post’s health.


Post and the late astronaut Gordon Cooper were classmates and good friends while at SHS.


“Every time he would come to Shawnee, he’d always call me and I’d meet him,” some place here, Post said.


Post designed two first day covers commemorating Cooper’s 22 flights around the Earth in the Faith 7 space capsule. He gave Cooper the original art.


“I’m just happy I’m in good health, have a good family, good kids, good friends. I’ve got everything,” Post said.