September 2, 2015

USS Missouri – Then And Now

USS Missouri 1987

When I was growing up here in Washington state there were certain things we knew of about history and our surrounding area. One of them was that the famous ‘surrender’ ship USS Missouri was berthed here in Bremerton, inside (as it was then known) Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. You could see it from Navy Yard Highway as you came into town, and seeing it, you were impressed by its enormous size.

USS Missouri 1987

USS Missouri – (BB 63) 1987

I have a couple photos we took back in the mid 1980’s when Jim’s dad was here for a visit. He is a WWII veteran (see 

Low Moor, Iowa Honors WWII Vets

) and was anxious to take the tour of the old battleship. His ship, the Cape Esperance was a Casablanca class escort carrier. As with everyone of his generation, he knew well the name of the USS Missouri.

USS Missouri picture 2

Also in our party as we toured the ship was Loren’s daughter Lorrie and her son Brent, as well as our son Greg.  I doubt that the two young boys had as much interest in the ship at the time as their grandfather because they had no point of reference then.

USS New Jersey 1983

USS New Jersey – (BB- 62)

As an added bonus to this post, here is an additional photo, this one of the USS New Jersey as it looked in 1983. If my memory serves, it was stationed in California at the time at Long Beach. This Day in History – July1, 1985 the New Jersey was undergoing upkeep in Long Beach.

Sadly, the Missouri left the Bremerton area for good in 1985, but that wasn’t the last time she would see service in war time. She was reactivated in the early 1990’s to be used in the Gulf War. During one period of use her 16 inch guns fired over 800 projectiles. She was finally decommissioned in March of 1992. Her permanent berth is now adjacent to the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The New Jersey is located in Camden, New Jersey

Sources:

USN Ships — USS Missouri

USN Ships –USS New Jersey

Original photos in this article are owned by Carol Wilkerson

Before January 1950 Naval Discharge Papers Were NAVPERS 553

NAVPERS and DD214 info

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.)

Honoring Their Sacrifices In World War II

SonsDaughtersWWIIVets

The Sons and Daughters of WWII Veterans

An email I received today brought to my attention this site named Sons & Daughters of World War II Veterans Genealogy Society created in 2010.  Here is a snippet explaining their purpose and intent.

The Sons and Daughters of World War II Veterans is a program of the Admiral Nimitz Foundation and the Nimitz Education and Research Center.

The Admiral Nimitz Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit corporation whose mission is to preserve, interpret and teach the great history of World War II in the Pacific, that we may honor all those who, through leadership, exemplified by the character and service of Fleet Admiral Nimitz, courage, skill and sacrifice, won through to victory; and that future generations of Americans may be enlightened and inspired by their story. The Admiral Nimitz Foundation supports and manages the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas.

As there were over 16 million men and women who served during WWII, there’s little doubt this will be a popular site.  It’s purpose is to allow individuals to prove their lineal connection to veterans; to preserve the history of their sacrifices, and to create a public database of those records.
There is a one-time $125.00 Primary Applicant certification fee, with a reduced fee of $25 for individuals related to the Primary Applicant.
For more information regarding your application to join this site, please visit their home page using the link provided at the beginning of this article.  The Society can also be found on Facebook using this link.

MacArthur Left But Volckmann Remained

volckmann-and-valdes-07-july-1945

macarthur

Almost everyone from my generation (baby boomers) knows the quote by General Douglas MacArthur wherein he says, “We Shall Return” in reference to when he was ordered to leave the Philippines in 1942 to command allied forces in the Southwest Pacific Command.

What you may not know is that many men under his command didn’t just surrender as they were ordered, but instead they avoided the Bataan Death March and other atrocities by traveling to northern Luzon where they waged the fight of their lives. One of these men is the subject of this article. His name was Russell W. Volckmann and he was from Clinton, Iowa.

Volckmann

We first were made aware of Colonel Volckmann (his rank in 1941) after reading a small book published by the The Clinton Herald, and written by Gary Herrity. Herrity’s reference to the book written after the war entitled “We Remained” (1954) by Volckmann caught our interest, and after waiting about a week for an interlibrary loan, we were able to read this previously unknown (to us) account of Russ Volckmann’s three years behind the lines fighting against the Japanese invaders.

While Volckmann wasn’t the only person to remain on the island, he was one of four men to help build the guerrilla forces and lead them, along with many brave Filipino citizens, in a three year endeavor to survive and thwart the ruthless ‘Japs’.

volckmann-and-valdes-07-july-1945

Philippine Army Chief of Staff Major Gen. Basilio J. Valdes (L) posing outside command post w. legendary Luzon guerrilla leader Colonel Russell Volckmann (R).  LIFE photo

I would like to make a special point of mentioning that if it wasn’t for the extreme courage and sacrifices that were made by the Philippine people, the outcome of the war and the survival of Volckmann and his compatriots would never  have happened as it did.

Russell Volckman went on to become a Brigadeer General after the war, and is noted even now as one of the proponents of the use of guerilla warfare that has since become one of the effective methods of defence. Volckmann was often sought out as a military consultant on this subject.

Volckmann’s book is well worth reading, not only for American historians, but for Filipino historians too.  My husband is also from Clinton, Iowa.  He said that he never remembered hearing about Colonel Volckmann, or being taught about his importance  in American history in any of his classes throughout his school years.

We cannot forget these heroes!

Sources:

Golden Oldies of Clinton History, Vol. 2 – Gary Herrity (2003-08)

We Remained – Russell W. Volckmann (1954)

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