Pin A Medal On Me

Book Summary

by Geil Evans Butler

Pin A Medal On MeIn 1954, only a few years after the end of World War II, Geil Evans Butler and her young daughter, Bonnie, traveled to Japan to join Butler's husband, who was an Air Force sergeant stationed there. Apprehensive and homesick at first, Geil Butler describes her life in a new and different culture, as well as the journey of personal growth she experiences with a range of emotions.

"Geil Evans Butler has captured the chaos and joy that comes from moving around the world and building a life in a different country. But what is special here is the country, Japan—less than 10 years after WWII—Geil, her daughter Bonnie and husband Bill, move to Tokyo and begin daunting task of having a life. Butler is candid about her fears, her homesickness, and the plain brutal truth that she was half way around the world with a 10 year old daughter. She doesn't pull many punches and we are left to wonder how she coped."

- Rodney J. Ley, Fort Collins, Colorado

The Author: Geil Evans Butler

Geil Evans Butler was born in 1920 and raised on a farm near Rantoul, Illinois. When her family returned to the Central Illinois area from Japan, she later worked as a legal secretary for 19 years and owned an arts and crafts shop in Rantoul called Rainbow's End before retiring in March 1989.

As a wife, mother, grandmother, widow and great-grandmother, she has enjoyed many activities, including sewing, sketching, costume design, painting, genealogy, creating scaled miniatures, and, of course, writing. Her work has been published in craft and miniature magazines and area seniors publications. She also regularly publishes historical columns in local newspapers.

In 1999, Butler was an Illinois recipient of the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award for her role in helping preserve the history of Rantoul, increasing public awareness through her newspaper columns and working with the Rantoul Historical Society. Also, the Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce presented Butler with the 2000 Marvin Remmers Volunteer of the Year Award.

Read an Excerpt

If I'd only known how to swim, I'd have jumped overboard. But I lay there, cuddling my little daughter, Bonnie, to keep her from being thrown to the floor, sorely aware of where I was each time I was rolled against the bunk railing as our ship tossed and turned.

It was November 24, 1954. We were aboard the U.S.N.S. General M.M. Patrick, a military transport ship converted for conveying about 700 servicemen's dependents and 300 Army GIs across the Pacific Ocean. I hadn't been so naive as to expect a government-sponsored voyage to be as glamorous as those touted in travel folders. But neither had I expected the first day at sea to be so physically cruel.

The day had started at dawn. After a sleepless night of worrying about how to survive aboard ship for two weeks without any underwear of other essential clothing, I got an early start to try to find someone who would help me locate and return our missing laundry. About thirty minutes before we were to check out, the laundry arrived. There was more than I could pack in my remaining empty luggage, so I had to make a quick trip to the PX and buy another bag.