My older brother Brian recently came across a folder of family mementos that included some documents and photos from our dad’s service in the United States Navy. I don’t remember dad talking much about his years in the Navy, but I don’t remember ever asking him about them either.
He was assigned to Electronic Technician’s Mate (ETM) School, spending 20 weeks at the United States Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois.
After graduating from ETM School, he was moved to the Receiving Station (RECSTA) in Norfolk, Virginia.
In Norfolk, he was assigned to the U.S.S. Kearsarge (CV33), an aircraft carrier commissioned on March 2, 1946. The carrier was named for the Sloop of War Kearsarge, which was named in honor of Mt. Kearsarge in Carroll County, New Hampshire. It was the third ship of the U.S. Navy to be so named.
Aboard the Kearsarge, dad held the ratings of Apprentice Seaman (AS), Seaman 2nd Class (S2) and Seaman 1st Class (S1) while working as an ETM. His discharge papers indicate that his time on the ship was considered as “foreign and/or sea service World War II.”
During dad’s service on the Kearsarge he traveled to Scotland, Sweden, England, Haiti, Puerto Rico and Cuba. He carried with him a photo of his girlfriend, my mother, Catherine Latchford. On the back of the photo he recorded all the ports of call the ship made as well as the bodies of water traveled.
Among the other effects in the folder were pictures of the coast of Guantanamo Bay and a clipping from The Chicago Tribune showing the Great Lakes Glee Club “giving an impromptu program of Christmas carols in front of Tribune Tower” in Chicago. See the clipping here with a circle around the head of the singer that I’m pretty sure is dad.
Also among the items found was a crib sheet with useful words and phrases in Swedish, as well as a 40-page U.S.S. Kearsarge Personal Information Booklet. The booklet contains all the information a sailor would need while aboard ship. Sections include information on how to send telegrams, messing notes, a history of the ship, location of battle stations, important places and how to get there, laundry notes, and general information on mail, liberty, leave and more. At the bottom of each page is a tip or piece of common sense advice that any sailor can use.
Some of my favorites: “Put pep and snap in everything you do–it’s contagious!” “Know your battle station,” “Be a good sailor,” “Don’t tamper with ventilation ducts,” “Salute–when in doubt, salute!” “Don’t paint compartment check-off list holders,” and “Don’t confuse DOORS with HATCHES.” I’m guessing that last one could lead to disaster.
Following his time on the U.S.S. Kearsarge, dad was stationed at the United States Naval Hospital in Newport, Rhode Island. He was honorably discharged from the U.S.N. Receiving Station in Brooklyn, New York, on January 9, 1948.