At first glance, it’s a recipe card inserted in a photo album with pictures from the 1930s through the 1950s. But it turns out that the 3-by-5 card is an official communication from the U.S. Navy, complete with ship’s seal.
The date on it is 30 July 1945, not long before the end of World War II. Here’s what the small document says:
USS LCI (G) 565, Fleet Post Office, San Francisco
MOORE, Gayland Alton Jr. MoMM2c 823-25-01
This is to certify that the above named man has completed course and examination for Diesel Engineering for MoMM1c with a grade of 3.3, and is qualified in all respects.
R.A. Van Horne, Lt. (jg) USN
The card shows that my dad, a motor machinist’s mate 2nd class on the Landing Craft Infantry 565, a gunship serving in the Pacific Theater, was qualified for an increased rating of motor machinist’s mate 1st class.
He wasn’t discharged from the Navy until December, but with the war ending, his superiors devoted their energies to bringing him home. I never asked him whether he had considered trying to make a career out of the Navy, but I didn’t have to. Whenever I asked about places he’d been and whether he’d like to live there, he was emphatic that Maine was the only place to live.
I know what he did as a motor machinist’s mate 2nd class — he worked on the engines of the LCI 565, or he went up on deck to “make smoke” for the 157-foot ship during battles. He also was an occasional diver, going beneath the ship to cut loose a giant rope that got wound around a propeller. He kept the knife he used all his life, and it’s still in the family.
The ship participated in the battles of Leyte Gulf, October 1944, Philippines; Luzon, Philippines, January 1945; and Okinawa, Japan, April 1945.
So how did he find time to study for and take the exam for an increase in rating? He told me that his ship left Okinawa in late June and arrived in Oahu, Hawaii, on July 25. The crew members took turns going to “rest camp” on the island while repairs were being made to the ship before what they all expected would be the next operation of the war, invading Japan.
My dad said that every spare moment he had in Hawaii, he spent watching military baseball games featuring major leaguers such as Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Ray Lamano, Johnny Pesky, Schoolboy Rowe, Cookie Lavagetto, Bob Scheffing and Billy Herman. The Navy wanted its men to watch baseball as a way to help morale.
Back to the ratings for my dad, who was an enlisted man. His discharge paper, NAVPERS-553, Notice of Separation from the U.S. Naval Service, lists the ratings he attained, in order: AS; F3/c; F1/c; MoMM3/c; MoMM2/c. He was an apprentice seaman, then a fireman before becoming a motor machinist’s mate during his 2 years, 5 months and 13 days of service.
Also listed on his discharge paper, under “Service Schools Completed,” are Diesel School, Richmond, Va., eight weeks; and Gray Marine Diesel, Detroit, Mich., four weeks.
Training class photos augment the information from his discharge paper. There are 47 sailors and one officer pictured in the photo marked Naval Training School (Diesel), Co. 24 Sec. 2, Richmond, Va. Sept. 11, 1943. Foster Studio. The photo was taken next to Barracks 4.
There are 99 sailors and one officer pictured in the photo marked U.S. Navy Class Nov. 1943, U.S. Naval Training School, Gray Marine Diesel, 7891 East Jefferson Ave., Detroit, Mich. The picture is dated Nov. 2, 1943.
I share this information because much of it came from revisiting items that have been in my possession for years, much of it gleaned from a photo album. Our efforts in genealogy are enhanced when we can peruse such information one more time, and find a little something new.
As for the “recipe card” of info on my dad’s Navy rating, a copy of that will go into my notebook of “vital records” along with birth, marriage and death certificates, and family Bible records.
While libraries and other facilities are closed for Memorial Day, some resources are open 24 hours a day. These include newer town honor rolls on display in communities such as Abbot and Holden.
In addition, names of the 245 Mainers killed during the Korean War are listed on the Maine Korean War Memorial in Mount Hope Cemetery off Mount Hope Avenue, Bangor.
Mainers killed during the Vietnam War are listed on a stone next to the Maine Vietnam War Memorial at Cole Land Transportation Museum, 405 Perry Road, Bangor. The museum will hold its annual Memorial Day program at 1 p.m. Monday, May 28, with music by the Bangor High School Band at noon.
For information on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at bangordailynews.com/browse/family-ties. Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.