From: Near Allentown, PA
I just posted this at the wargamer last night and Erik Rutins suggested I post here as well.
My grandfather, who died of lung cancer in 1993, served in the USN during WW2. My grandmother died last year and I inherited a few items which gave me a renewed interest in his service history.
His first ship was a sub chaser, The SC659. I was able to find a picture online.
I asked him about his service many years ago and he mentioned escorting convoys out of the Panama Canal, and having run ins with enemy subs. I don't remember which enemy (I was pretty young at the time), although considering Japans misuse of their sub force, the enemy were probably German. Later, he was transferred to a larger "boat".
That's BB62, the New Jersey. I don't know what his job on the SC was, but by the time he went to the Jersey he was a gunners mate. I used to imagine that he crewed the 16" guns, but I'm doubtful now. I have his graduation certificate from gunnery "A" school, Great Lakes, dated 1943. When the war ended he went home to his wife. Six years later he was recalled for the Korean War and served aboard the New Jersey once again.
I have his 1951 tour book, "Salvo." There are small, grainy pics of all the crew divisions, and repeated examination leads me to believe that he was assigned to 6th division, that handled AA batteries on the port side. I know that he was a GM2 in the Korean conflict, which rank he was given for reenlisting. There was only one man in the pictures that was likely to be him, based on the shape of the face and two chevrons + eagle on his arm patch, so he was probably an AA NCO during Korea. I assume he had the same job in WW2, but there's no way to tell now.
My mother now has a wealth of WW2 era family photos that I'd never seen until recently. Unfortunately many are badly faded. In one, my grandfather(Jack) posed with his brother, a marine. They traded uniforms for the picture and it took me a second to register what was going on. "Why is grandpa looking like a jarhead? and why does Uncle Leon look like he's about to split the seams of some skinny sailor dress blues?"
In another pic, grandpa is hauling a decent sized shark into a boat. It was most likely taken at Pearl Harbor, where he told me he had spent some time. One of his recollections was of swimming in the harbor and being told to get out of the water because barracuda had been spotted in the area. They were more feared than sharks.
The New Jersey is now a museum in Camden, NJ. Last year after my grandmother died, my wife and I took a private, guided tour. I wish we'd done it while she was still alive.
< Message edited by Ubercat -- 5/7/2010 7:19:35 PM >
"I’m not convinced that faith can move mountains, but I’ve seen what it can do to skyscrapers." -William H. Gascoyne