Thursday, August 5, 2010

I received my initial Naval training at Great Lakes Naval training station in Chicago, Illinois. I left there with the rate of fireman third class. I was given 90 days leave and sent to the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, for a crash course in diesel engineering. I studied Physics and Chemistry as it pertained to diesels along with diesel fundamentals. I graduated 13Th in a class of 250, and promoted to second class Motor Machinist. I also learned during this time I was to become a father. I was given another short leave, then sent to Gray Marine school, a division of General Motors to specialize in their Marine engines. After completing this training I was sent to Norfolk, Virginia, to work at a Naval Repair base. Here we rebuilt engines sent back from the African invasions. I was here when our son Robert Eugene was born. I got a nine day leave for that joyous occasion. In early November, I was sent to Boston, Massachusetts, to wait on my ship that was being completed at the Quincy, Massachusetts shipyard. Our ship was turned over to us the last of December, 1943. We headed out to sea, down the east coast, on the shake down cruise. On New Year's Day, 1944, we encountered a hurricane off Cape Hatteras. The ship would break over a big wave then the screws (propellers) would come out of the water causing the engines to rev up for a second. Then the governors would slow it down. They really got a work out that day. Sometime around dinner we had an engine problem, I don't remember now what it was, but I stayed in the engine room through dinner until the problem was solved. I went to the galley for dinner and all I could find was cherry pie filling. I made my dinner on this and went back to the engine room. Shortly after getting back down there I became as sick as a horse. I gave up all the pie filling, my breakfast, and part of my stomach lining. The crew said I was sea sick as most of them were, but I know it was the pie filling because I was okay until after I ate. Anyhow, I still don't care much for cherry pie.

The ship and crew proved their sea worthiness and we returned to Norfolk. Here we were assigned to training other crews on the Chesapeake Bay for six months. On completion of this training duty we were assigned in the Pacific theater of war. During this training mission our gunners had become crack shots. They sent many sleeves and buzz (radio operated target) planes into the drink. I had several 72 hour passes while on the east coast. It took 19 hours by train each way. This gave me about a day and a half at home with Alberta and Bob. Bob took his first steps during one of these trips home. During this time on the coast, Alberta made a few trips to Norfolk and one to Baltimore, Maryland.

On one of her trips, we rented a room, that after we went to bed we soon found out had bed bugs. They wouldn't bite her, too sweet I guess, but as soon as the light went out they would pop me. We decided to sleep with the light on but that didn't help either. They would watch for me to shut my eyes and here they would come again. I finally gave up and went to my ship. Alberta rented another room the next day.

Note: K.C. and Aunt Kathleen found out the name of the ship for me (it's a ship, not a boat) to add here. Grandpa was on the LST-1008. Scroll down and you can see a few photos of the ship, one being taken in 1946. Grandpa may have been on there when the photo was taken!

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