My Dad was in WW2, also joined at 17. Joined the Navy and was assigned to a squadron of dive bombers on the aircraft carrier, USS Swanee. They bombed an island (don't remember the name)in the Marshal Islands to weaken the Japanese forces prior to the Marines landing to take the islands. The Japanese were hiding in a series of tunnels and enough of them survived the bombing to inflect extremely heavy casualties when the Marines landed. He was a radio man on the carrier and also a gunner in the belly of the dive bombers. When a plane failed in take off the gunner was the first to go because he couldn't get out but my dad survived. His best friend, however, wasn't as lucky when his plane went down at take off. My dad was 18 and saw his buddy go down. He went out to the bow of the ship, alone, and cried for the rest of the day. Shortly after my dad was transferred off the Swanee to Waikiki several kamikazes hit the Swanee and totally took out the radio room. My dad never heard from the rest of his friends.