September 28, 2016

Honoring Dorie Miller – A True American Hero

 

"Above and beyond the call of duty" ...

 

 

Today, December 7, 2012 is the 71st Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. As we remember those who we lost that day, we also remember the heroes who made a difference. One of them was Dorie Miller. I hope you will click this link to Angela Walton-Raji’s blog post and read about this wonderful man.  Remembering Dorie Miller, An American Hero.

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Before January 1950 Naval Discharge Papers Were NAVPERS 553

Why Can’t I Find My World War II Ancestor’s DD-214?

I learned something new today about Naval Service Discharge papers and when they were used. We are trying to get my father-in-law’s WWII medals replaced so we can put them in a nice shadow box for him. When he came home from the war his siblings were allowed to play with them and they lost some of them. These things happened and it is possible to get the medals replaced one time for free.

Jim had talked to his dad about taking his DD-214 to have it copied so we could replace the medals but he couldn’t find any document with DD-214 on them. No wonder!

As I found out this morning, before January of 1950 the government issued NAVPERS 553 documents instead. (Not mentioned in the information I found at The Naval Inspector General webpage was that a smaller card of wallet size deemed the NAVPERS 554 was also issued.)

1955 Operation Wigwam Participant : John E. Wilkerson

David and John Wilkerson

We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to get military records for some of our older family members like Jim’s dad Loren, my dad Wm G Yates, and Jim’s uncle John Wilkerson. The fathers were both participants in World War II, and John (as well as his younger brother David Wilkerson) were in the military during the time of the Korean War. Loren, my dad and John were all in the Navy, while uncle David was in the Marines.

Operation Wigwam

My focus in this article is about John E Wilkerson though because we have documentation from his military records that he was on the Navy ship USS McKean during Operation Wigwam in 1955. In May of that year the ship and crew were one of 30 vessels and 6,800 personnel present when the underwater nuclear test took place.  The purpose of the test was to see if it would be effective for use against enemy submarines. No protection was provided for anyone.  In later years Uncle John told Jim the only thing that was done was to wash down the ship afterwards.

After Effects of Radiation Exposure

The USS McKean (DD 784) was in service for many years (In Commission 1945 to 1981) after Operation Wigwam, during which time it was probably brought into shipyards like ours in Bremerton. There, the civil service workers were also exposed to the radiation and most likely somewhat lesser contaminants as they worked on the ship during routine repairs and refurbishment. Ponder that for a moment and digest just how far-reaching the health effects might have been. [As a non-medical person I cannot say whether or not John’s health might have been affected by his exposure to the radiation during Operation Wigwam.] John is still living and his personal information is private.

Sources and Additional Documentation

For more information about Operation Wigwam, please visit this article by Thomas D. Segal The Wigwam That Kept Nobody Safe.

 

 

 

War Of 1812 Veterans KY – John Hurt and Josiah Beckett

These two veterans of the War of 1812 are listed in my new book Cumberland County, Kentucky yesterday and today. The citation is on page 112 in the Veterans section of the publication. While this book is new to me, it was first published in 1992.

The images were taken with my iPod camera, and if they are hard to read please let me know and I can try to do a scan. Clicking on the images will make it larger and you can also pin it to Pinterest if you like.

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