Tag Archives: machinist

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

 

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

Surrender

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Captain Hanlon announces end of the war

Captain Hanlon announces end of war

“I was below deck when Captain Hanlon announced the war was over and I can still to this day remember him saying ‘Now here this, this is the captain’ and then he went into telling us. Boy, you talk about a roar that went up! I think the whole ship jumped about two feet out of the water! Admiral ‘Bull’ Halsey passed the word throughout the fleet that ‘Apparently the war is over, though nothing has been signed yet. So in the meantime, if any enemy aircraft come in your area, shoot them down in a friendly manner…’ So we were still absolutely ready at all times. “

Shortly after the end of the war, I was up on 20mm watch in Tokyo Bay and we were playing cards and not really worrying about anything when I noticed a bunch of sailors assembling something down on the main deck. I thought it looked like a boat or something and wondered where in the world it came from. It was actually a little 14 to 16 foot sailboat that belonged to the captain and had been all packed up until this time. He had made a vow somewhere that the one thing he wanted more than anything else was to sail this sailboat in Tokyo Bay. I watched them lower over and he walked down the plank and got on that thing and I could see him sailing around past all of our ships.

Robert L. Palomaris

“We got word over the public address system that the Japanese surrender. ‘The war is over’ and you could have heard us over in New York City screaming out there in the middle of the Pacific.”

Paul A. Wieser

“I remember before the war was over there was a man named Kaiser, a seaman in the 4th Division. He was a telephone talker, a stand-by telephone talker. A message came over and everybody was talking and sort of having a little fun. He wanted to keep us quiet because a message was coming over. It was something about an unusual type of bomb or heavy explosion that had happened to Japan. But it didn’t make sense to anybody there, and we make fun of him a little bit. He kind of got mad about it. A little later on we learned that the first atomic bomb had been exploded which was bringing Japan down to her knees at the end of the war…

We were wanting to get the war over with. If we were going to survive, we’d survive and if we didn’t, we didn’t. The main thing was to get it over with. I just wanted to get back to the hills of Tennessee. I just knew I was wanting to get off the NORTH CAROLINA, get out of the war, get back home, and pick up where I left off. I remember feeling proud. I had a lot of pride in the NORTH CAROLINA, even with the type of job I had. I felt that the war was necessary. I had no regrets of doing it.”

Ollie C. Goode