Tag Archives: lieutenant

Crew Memories

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Crew Memories of military service from some of the men who are no longer with us this Memorial Day

“When I was in high school, I thought the greatest thing in the world was to be a soldier. At that time, back in the late 1930s, the government had a program called CMTC, Citizens Military Training Corps. As a high school student, you would go for a month to be trained by the Army. I went to what is now known as Fort Dix, but was then called Camp Dix. I went there for a month. I said to myself, ‘You know what you can do with this Army. I ain’t going out there to lie in that wet grass and march all day in that sand and get sand in my shoes.” When the jobs didn’t work out, I decided to enlist in the Navy rather than risk being drafted into the Army. Things were heating up in Europe and who knew what Hitler would do. You heard the news over the radio, saw it in newsreels at the movies, and read it in the paper.”

-Paul A. Wieser (died 2006)

Paul Wieser 1941 The late Paul Anthony Wieser
Paul A. Wieser

“Well, I looked to military life for a long time before I was old enough to enlist. I tried to lie and enlist. I didn’t make it. They caught me. They could look at me and tell that I was too young. Then along comes the draft of 1941. I was just seventeen and they wouldn’t take me without a guardian’s signature. Finally, I talked my mother into signing the papers to let me go. I told her that I didn’t want any part of the Army. If the draft got me, I wanted to get what I wanted and not what they wanted me to have. I wanted to come into the Navy.…”

-Theron T. Nichols (died 2010)

“I enlisted in the winter of 1941, in January. I had always been interested in the Navy as a boy, and you could feel the trouble over in Europe that we were going to get involved sooner or later. I enlisted with my parents’ consent.”

- Larry Resen (died 2006)

“I was born and raised in a little town in Wisconsin named Kimberly. It was a home base for a paper mill and paper-related products…. I went to the paper mill several times. I would see these slots where people kept their time cards. People who were there for eight- hour shifts, day in and day out, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. I said that is no life for me. I said, ‘There must be a better way’…In November 1936, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy.”

-John P. Van Sambeek (died 2006)

“Well, I lived on a farm in New York State. I went to a one-room country schoolhouse when we first started. Six grades in one room. Later on after a certain age, they bused us to another town seven miles away. That was the high school. After high school, I couldn’t live with my Dad. One day he said, ‘Men join the Navy.’ So I got tired of pulling that cross cut saw and I joined the Navy. This was April of 1941 right after my eighteenth birthday.”

- Henry Okuski (died 2009)

“I’m from Brooklyn. I had just graduated from high school in January of 1941. I was walking downtown on Fulton Street. I saw the sign ‘Join the Navy and see the world.’ This was in the beginning of March before my eighteenth birthday. I went upstairs and talked to the person in charge. He said, ‘How are your eyes? Can you read this?’ I said, ‘Fine.’ He said, ‘Why don’t you go in and see the doctor?’ I went in and saw the doctor. Everything was fine except he said. ‘I see you bite your nails. We can’t take you in because you bit your nails. Here is a pair of gloves. Put them on and come back next week. If your nails are not bitten, we will take you in.’ I guess it (the concern) was nervousness, I don’t know. I went back the following week and they took me in and that is when I enlisted.”

-Edwin L. Calder (died 2006)

I was born in Little Rock, Arkansas in December 1922. I first enlisted in the Navy on the 6th of June 1939. I guess the main reason was because I was a young kid who wanted to get out of Arkansas and see the world.

-Charlie Rosell (died 2009)

Many of your friends have already answered your country’s call to service. More will be going. Choose a service that will give you action, thrills, adventure, travel. A service where you will live a rugged, healthy & outdoor life. Many men who have delayed too long in volunteering for the Navy now regret it. Don’t wait until it’s too late. You can choose the Navy right up to the actual moment of your induction.

- Navy Recruiting Bureau, July 1942

Recruiting graphic

WWII Draft Lists – 10 million men were inducted into military service between 1940 and 1946

October 1940:  all men aged 21-36

July 1941:  men who had turned age 21

February 1942:  men aged 20-45

April 1942:  men aged 45-65

June 1942:  men aged 18-20

December 1942 men who had turned 18

 

Divine Services

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First Easter Service First Easter Service program

“When the ship was commissioned, we only had one chaplain, Captain Albert, a Protestant. Later on after the war started, we had two chaplains, one Protestant and one Catholic. The chaplain’s office was located inside the library and the library’s head (bathroom) served double duty as the confessional for Catholics. When we had a Catholic priest, he held mass nightly in the warrant officers’ mess. Some people started up Bible study groups. The chaplain was in charge of morale and personal welfare. The chaplain also helped with the (ship’s) paper and library.”

-Paul Wieser, Boatswain’s Mate 1/c

“Religious service was usually held in the mess compartment aft on the starboard side. It was held on Sundays and special occasions. The attendance of the service was dependent on what we were headed for. If action was immanent, the attendance would go up. If not, only those who attended service regularly would be there. The chaplains were always there to help you. It was a tense time in our lives. They would comfort us and tell us everything would be all right and to just trust in God, which we did. Being a Catholic, I could go to confession and communion whenever I wanted and the chaplain was always there, for me and for the rest of the crew.”

-Jim Masie, Firecontrolman 1/c

Presentation of Ship's Bible April 1941 from Hustvedt to Albert

“We had some fantastic officers on board. The man that comes to my mind first of all was a Lutheran chaplain named Everett Wuebbens. He was a man who got along with everybody on the ship. He didn’t force his religion on you except at chapel on Sunday, and you didn’t have to go there unless you wanted to. I happened to like him so much. I don’t believe I ever missed a service. When he was detached from the ship I liked him so much and thought he was so good that I wrote to the chief of chaplains and suggested him as the chaplain for the Naval Academy.”

-Commander Joe Stryker, Executive Officer

“They had the organ down where they held the services. Before the service, (one of the ship’s band members) was playing light classical numbers. I would always run down early, because he was such an excellent organist, to enjoy the music before the church service.

At that time, the senior chaplain was a Lutheran minister and the assistant chaplain was Catholic. He had been a boxer prior to the time that he had gone into the priesthood. He was a honey and when it came time and we had problems, he was Johnnie on the spot. Although I am not Catholic, I admired and loved the man. He was just great.”

-Lieutenant Stansel DeFoe

Divine service on deck

Midshipman Abram D. Harrel onboard the Ship-of-the-Line North Carolina, April 8, 1838:

“At 10 am inspected the crew at quarters, performed divine service. There is something particularly sublime in witnessing the performance of religious devotions at sea. How very effecting to see, these tempest tossed sons of the ocean obeying the summons of the bell and assembling at the altar, doffing their tar-paulins and beginning in solemn manners to chant their simple songs to that God who is the protector of the poor mariner. How the invocation of the poor sailor to the father of the distressed goes to the heart. The consciousness of our insignificance, excited by the voice of infinity; our songs, resounding to a distance over the silent waves.”

Pearl Harbor

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USS OKLAHOMA Damage

USS OKLAHOMA Damage

“The ship went immediately into war regulations, even though the United States did not declare war until December 8, 1941. Censorship became for the crew something difficult to live with. It was like taking away our freedom; it was something everyone had to abide by. The sound bite was ‘Loose lips sink ships.’”
Leo O. Drake

“The day war was declared, we were in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In fact, I had the duty of sounding that war had been declared. We got the word ‘bogeys’, and we went to General Quarters in the yard. We had ammunition in the mount. We got the word to ‘stand by.’ We heard this many times before in our drills. Our next order would have been ‘commence firing.’ Just then, we got the word to ‘Rest easy,’ the plane was a ‘friendly.’”
Paul A. Wieser

“December 7, 1941, I was at home in Jersey City and planned to take my mother to a New York City movie. The radio had a bulletin about Pearl Harbor, details were sketchy and we proceeded to take the bus to New York. As we exited the movie, it was dark and people came up to me and said “You better get back to your ship sailor.” I took my mother to the bus depot and then returned to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I remember distinctly my surprise when two guards with rifles accosted me as I walked to the ship. Things had changed.”
Larry Resen

Sheet Music

“December 7, 1941. I had the duty this weekend, and was asleep in my top bunk when the word came. ‘This is not a drill. The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor. We are in a state of war.’ We went to General Quarters and started setting up guard posts throughout the ship. I was given a 45-caliber automatic and duty belt and stood watch outside a lower 5-inch handling room. Some patrolled the opening to the Navy Yard in our launches, watching for anything that might float in that was suspicious. I had no idea where Pearl Harbor was, and knew little about the Japanese. I soon learned.

Before Pearl Harbor, the public didn’t have too good an opinion of a sailor; even my girlfriend’s mother didn’t trust me after I joined. But Monday when I headed home, I couldn’t put a nickel in the fare box. I was being treated like a hero, what a difference a war made. My family didn’t expect me, and they were all gathered as if they wouldn’t see me again till the war was over. When I walked in you would have thought I was gone for years: ‘Home the Hero.’“
Bill Taylor

“I had lunch with mom and dad and some friends. I said good-bye and kissed them. I came back to the gate and the Marine at the gate said, “Get back to your ship, Pearl Harbor has been bombed and we are at war.” Running back to the ship, there were guns going up on the buildings and the Brooklyn Navy Yard boats going out into the East River.”
Edwin L. Calder

“I remember the day the war broke out. I had just got off watch at 4 o’clock. I changed my dress blues, got showered and shaved. I was standing on the deck waiting for my buddy and that is when the war broke out. We were all standing in line for inspection and they passed the word that all leave was cancelled.”
Edward Hall

“Received electrifying news of the fact that Japan had bombed the U.S. possession Pearl Harbor! U.S. declared war on Japan (12/8/41). My birthday today and feel very lonely and sort of thrilled because war declared on my birthday.”
Mike Marko