Category Archives: Romance

Commission Day

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New Battleship – A Symbol of Might

Worldwide press

On April 9, 1941, the “world’s fightingest ship” was commissioned at 11:30 a.m., in the New York Navy Yard. The event received tremendous media attention.

Ship's Company on April 9, 1941

“The 35,000-ton battleship NORTH CAROLINA, solid, gleaming symbol of America’s awakening from a sleep naval holiday of 18 years…. 29 minutes of ceremony in dazzling sunshine formally placed in service the $70,000,000 battleship it had taken nearly four years to build.” The commissioning was four months ahead of schedule.

“As bugles blared and white-capped officers and bluejackets saluted, a pennant was run slowly up the flagstaff to show that the ship was in commission. Millions listened over the radio as the mightiest battleship afloat was put into service.”

The Young Catholic Messenger, April 25, 1941

Colors raised April 9 1941

Battleship by artist Henry Billings, April 1941

“May the NORTH CAROLINA be a symbol of progress through strength,” wrote President Roosevelt.

Commision Day Menu Navy Yard

Commission Day Graphic

Following the ceremony a buffet luncheon in the Wardroom included “NORTH CAROLINA APPLE PIE.”

Invitation to Commission

Souvenir program April 1941

April 10, 1941

“Dear Husty: It was with great pride that I sat down to my bacon and eggs this A.M. after seeing your beaming countenance griming at me from the pages of the L.A. Times. There you were aboard the new battle wagon North Carolina. I pray that your ship will never be called upon to hurl her salvos against an enemy. But, if destiny rules otherwise, I know she will more than give an excellent account of herself in upholding the glorious traditions of our Country and the Navy for which all of us who are real Americans are prepared to battle and, if needs be, die for.”

Edward Sedgwick, MGM Pictures, letter to Captain Olaf Hustvedt, commanding officer USS NORTH CAROLINA

On the cover of Newsweek April 1941

 

The New Yorker magazine April 1941

“The commissioning was a great day of excitement. All the dignitaries around and high ranking admirals. Every sailor had to be on his toes and everything was ship shape the best way it could be on board. We were all dressed in blues for photos and the commissioning. It was a great day.”

Paul Charles Wenck, Seaman 1/c

 

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Knox, Hustvedt and Broughton

“I think that the ovation that ended the celebration in New York when the ship was commissioned was a tribute to a bunch of hard working people that our shipyards were. Our sailors and men were ready to go out and do whatever had to be done to win this war. And they did it. They really did it.”

Admiral Alfred Ward, USN (Ret.)

Raising the colors April 9, 1941

Raising the colors April 9, 1941

The Ship’s Birthday over the Years

April 9 1942

 

April 1942 field day

April 1942 jamboree

1942 – Casco Bay, Maine

“The good ship U.S.S. North Carolina celebrated her first birthday anniversary in a most enjoyable manner with a big party. The day dawned bright and fair, with sufficient snap in the air to add zest to the Field Day events. The afternoon jamboree completed the day’s festivities and as the curtain fell the entire ship’s company expressed in words or actions their thanks to all. Thus was another link forged our chain of important events. When our baptismal fire is upon us, we feel certain that by such displayed unity of action our anchor of faith in our purpose will find all tried and true.”

Tarheel, April 11, 1942

1943 – Pearl Harbor

“0700 Following message was addressed to all hands – Happy Birthday NORTH CAROLINA. May we serve you as well during the coming years as you have served us during your first two years of life.”

LT(jg) Ed Gallagher, USN, in the Ship’s Deck Log

1944 – Anchored in Majuro Atoll. Mr. Howard Norton, war correspondent for The Baltimore Sun, reported aboard. In honor of the anniversary the ship’s company dined on mixed olives, sweet pickles, cream of tomato soup, croutons, roast young tom turkey, oyster dressing, baked Virginia [ham], pineapple sauce, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, candied sweet potatoes, whipped potatoes, buttered asparagus, French peas, cardinal salad, parker house rolls, bread, butter, apple pie ala mode, coffee, oranges, apples. Cigarettes, cigars.

1945 booklet

1945 – Steaming with Task Group 58.2 operating east of Okinawa

The Ship issued a booklet highlighting bombardments, air attacks and campaigns to date with a list of the commanding and executive officers. “It is our wish that all who have contributed to our cruise be honored by this anniversary publication.”

April 10 1945

November Wedding

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Shefveland

Norma Peterson and Stan Shefveland both grew up in the town of Clarkfield, Minnesota. It was at Clarkfield High School where their paths first crossed. Norma started high school in the fall of 1939 where Stan was working part time as a hall monitor to earn extra money for his education. Norma recalls distinctly, “I had my eye on him from the beginning.”

After Norma graduated from high school in 1943, she worked as the “ration girl” selling gasoline ration stamps to farmers in western Minnesota. Norma and Stan both ate at the same restaurant daily, but it took a horror movie to bring them together. “One evening I went to a show in town there and happened to sit alongside him. It turned out to be kind of a scary show, so we started holding hands. I saw him the next noon again at lunch and he had enjoyed the idea and we became better acquainted and started having dates.”

Stan left for boot camp right after Christmas in early 1944. After a short leave in March, Stan was assigned to the NORTH CAROLINA. Through newspapers and radio, Norma kept informed of the latest developments in the war. Stan and Norma also kept in touch by writing letters, which Norma received almost daily.

When NORTH CAROLINA docked in Bremerton, Washington, Stan returned to Clarkfield and proposed to Norma on September 1, 1944. After the war, the couple was married on November 18, 1945 and honeymooned in Minneapolis.

 

Love Story: Jean & Paul Wieser

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Jean and Paul Wieser

Jean Coddington and Paul Wieser grew up in the town of Linden, New Jersey, in a neighborhood where the only thing that separated their two houses was a picket fence. Although Jean and Paul had the opportunity to go on a couple of dates before Paul joined the Navy in 1941, it was the exchange of letters that fostered their relationship and love.

When NORTH CAROLINA came to Pearl Harbor for repairs, Paul made a trip to the store on base to purchase Jean’s engagement and wedding rings. Since two more years would pass before Paul would get to see Jean, he sent the two rings to his older brother and asked him to propose to Jean in his place.

In August of 1944, NORTH CAROLINA docked in Bremerton, Washington. There she would stay for 60 days. After two long years of being apart, this short break gave Paul the chance to be reunited with his sweetheart. On Saturday, August 16, 1944, Paul and Jean were joined in marriage at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Linden, New Jersey.

The newlyweds then took off for their honeymoon in New York City. After a three-night stay at the Hotel Imperial, the couple headed out for Washington. Jean and Paul were able to spend another 30 days together before NORTH CAROLINA returned to the South Pacific. When the ship left, Jean returned home. She lived with her mother until Paul was discharged from the Navy in December 1946.

Jean passed away in 1957 and Paul followed in 2006. The Battleship’s collection includes the letters that Paul wrote Jean everyday during the war.