The day after Pearl Harbor, Dec. 8, 1941 Warren and I enlisted in the USNR. We thought it would be a short war and our enlistment was for the duration. Regular navy was for 6 years. Because we both knew how to sail, swim, row, port from starboard and tie a few knots we were given a rate of Seaman 1/c (First Class) and did not have to attend boot camp. I am not sure when this picture was taken nor can I recall why I had the white stripe around my shoulder.
I’m not sure how common it was to skip basic training, at least early in the war. It certainly speaks to the urgency the Navy faced in filling its ranks. The white stripe on Charlie’s right shoulder indicates that he was a Seaman. Charlie was still friends with Warren decades later, and I met him when I was a child.
Another angle of the same pose. Talk about two baby face kids! I think this photo was probably taken on a weekend I came home from Newport. Warren had not been assigned as yet [and] was doing duty at the Navy Yard.
I assume he is referring to the Boston Navy Yard, which likely would have been a very busy place in early 1942. The former yard is now a national park and home to the museum ships USS Constitution and USS Cassin Young. The latter is a Fletcher class destroyer much like the one the Charlie would later serve on.
I was assigned to the section base in Newport, RI and reported for duty in Feb. 1942. I had my physical examination and drew my uniform and supplies from Small Stores as it was called. As I write this 48 years later I can’t help but noticing my weight and waist size at the time. Notice on the clothing requisition we had to get a whisk broom and shoe brush as well as a scrubbing brush. I do not remember if the cost of this equipment was deducted from my pay or not. If it was it took me almost 5 months to pay for it!
After a few months of escorting ships to moorings and other boring jobs at Newport I wanted sea duty. A bulletin was posted on the base that asked for volunteer for the Armed Guard. This was [a] little-known unit of the Navy that consisted of naval personal stationed as gun crews on merchant vessels. It was considered hazardous duty because of the many ships lost to German subs. I signed up anyway and was sent to Navy Pier in Chicago for gunnery training. I was given a crew of 9 Seamen 2/c (Second Class) just out of boot camp at Great Lakes. None of them had ever seen the ocean. We trained as a team and after several weeks of classes and some firing on Lake Michigan we were ready for action. Our orders were to report to the Armed Guard Center at New Orleans.