Uncle Ted joined the Washington State National Guard in 1936, the first year the National Guard size was increased since 1926. He had wanted to join the Civilian Conservation Corps but his father told him there was enough work to do right there at home. For four years Ted attended weekly meetings and two-week/year shifts drilling and learning military history and defense. At $1.25 a meeting it wasn’t much, but it was something. In 1940 he got his brother to join and a few months later they were ordered into active duty with the United States Army.
Private FC, Theodore Roth served in 205th Coast Artillery (AA) (Olympia). His brother Walter was a Private in the same company. (The Official History of the Washington National Guard Volume 6, pg 169.) Ted and Walter served at Fort Lewis and Fort Worden, then left Washington after about a year and then came down to Riverside, California serving in Coastal Defense. By this time Ted was the Sgt. in charge of radio and line communications for his unit. He hung line in trees and up poles. He set up radios and made sure communications were getting into and out of his unit. The communication units were trained independently where possible, through local telephone and broadcast companies. They established contacts with amateur operators, both voice and flash so that all possible stations could be included in emergency communication and early detection.
One night the were on duty and off the California coast the watch started seeing lights out in the dark. They couldn’t tell what it was but the lights just stayed out there so the signal went up the line and pretty soon the plane took off with a bomb and the lights went out. Ted doesn’t know what they hit and never heard another word about it.
There was a line of trees paralleling the airfield out in Riverside and it was Uncle Ted’s job to string communications line up in the trees. One afternoon he was up a tree when a big plane comes flying overhead to land at the airstrip. The tree starts swaying and Uncle Ted just grabs on with both arms for dear life. When the swaying stopped he climbed down and said “I think I’ll take a bit of a break.”
Aunt Susie met Uncle Ted through a blind date set up with one of the service men in Ted’s unit and while that story will hold for another time, it’s just one more piece of my uncle’s story.
After leaving Washington State, Uncle Ted served in Santa Monica, Camp Haan (where my father served for a short time), Simi Valley for part of his tour and in all, spent 5 years protecting the Pacific coast after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Western Defense Command played a critical role in safeguarding the aircraft manufacturing plants of Lockheed, the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego and of course, the civilians. The Western Defense Command were the long thin line between the enemy and our shores. Though only two submarines and one exploding weather balloon are kn own to have been stopped, there is no knowing what would have happened if they had not been there, day in and day out for all those years.
My Uncle Ted and his brother Walter did not go overseas. His other brothers Ray and Harold would as part of the Air Force and Navy. All four Roth boys served their family and their country with honor. And with a little good, clean fun on the side when they could get it. They were, after all, just boys.