Historians like to say that every war story helps flesh out the bigger picture, even the stories of clerks and truck drivers and cooks. Ed Shumaker, 91, did his part as a naval photographer who spent most of the war at Port Hueneme in Southern California.
On Dec. 7, 1941, he was a Sacramento Junior College student, a 21-year-old taking a class on policing.
"On the day the Japanese invaded, I was down in Isleton," he said. "Mostly, I was just interested in getting home to Sacramento.
"But when the war broke out, we knew we'd all get drafted. We closed up the class, and everybody signed up within a week. Some went into the Army, some went Navy or Marines.
"I had a friend in the Navy, so that's the way I went."
The Navy trained him to take pictures and make newsreels, and for several years, he photographed training runs and new equipment developed for the Seabees.
In 1943, he asked to go to sea and was assigned to the USS Cabot, an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific. "I didn't want to say I'd spent the war on land," he said.
Planes from the Cabot patrolled over Wake Island and Iwo Jima as the carrier made its way to Japan in preparation for the invasion that never came.
"We were patrolling there when they dropped the bomb," said Shumaker. "That was really the end of the war. I heard about it over the loudspeaker of the ship. Everybody was glad.
"We felt we got cheated not getting into the battle. But we headed back."
After the war, Shumaker came home to his wife and child, the first of their nine kids. The family settled in Woodland, where he built their small house and worked for the Sheriff's Department, then the state Department of Justice.