Veteran Remembers The Pacific, The Railroad And Pan Am

 

By Derek Maul

The Bridges_IMG_3601At 95 years of age with an excellent memory, Roy Nyquist has enough interesting stories to illustrate his own history book.

Born in the Bronx, Nyquist finished growing up in Brooklyn before going to work with the Seaboard Air Line Railroad at New York’s Penn Station. “I attended the Brooklyn Polytechnic at nights,” Nyquist said. “Then, for a while, I worked the dining room for the Hudson River Day Line steamboats.”

Nyquist was back with Seaboard, selling tickets at Rockefeller Center when he joined the service in early 1941. “They sent me to Alabama,” he said. “When I made Private First Class they gave me a big Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) to carry and a guy to carry the ammunition.”

Then he set his sights on the Military Police. “I remember maneuvers on dusty roads,” Nyquist said. “We’d see MPs stopping traffic under an umbrella with a table of juice and girls hanging around. I said, ‘Hey, that’s for me, buddy.’”

His first duty was Anniston, Alabama. “That’s where I was December 7, 1941,” he said. “That night everything was like martial law; we even stopped the movies. Then we were off to defend California, jumping on buses, checking people. We had no idea what was going to happen.”

Nyquist then toured the Pacific. “We’d land behind the infantry,” he said. “We were in charge of taking care of prisoners.”

He repeated the routine at Saipan, was sent to the New Hebrides and finally got home in late 1945 and was honorably discharged as sergeant 57 months after he first signed up.

During his Hebrides stay, he received a package from the young woman who eventually became his wife. Back in Brooklyn, Nyquist was rehired by the railroad then switched to Pan American Airlines, launching a 27-year career that took him worldwide. “From Guam I was able to visit all the places I’d gone in the war,” he said. “I remember seeing airplanes still in the sand.”

Back in New York, Nyquist worked with the team looking at new technologies for reservations. “They had these cathode ray tubes,” he said. “It was like playing with new toys.” Nowhere near ready for early retirement in 1973, Nyquist moved to Amtrak reservations. After troubleshooting in New York, Chicago, and California, Nyquist finally moved to Florida.