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Navy Life - a Veteran's Story

Updated on December 05, 2016
PegCole17 profile image

Peg is the daughter of a military officer who served in the US Navy. She grew up in a variety of cities throughout the southeastern U.S..

The crew of the U.S.S. Allegheny ATA-179, Auxiliary Fleet Tug
The crew of the U.S.S. Allegheny ATA-179, Auxiliary Fleet Tug

Enlistment in the Service

The day after a brutal attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States declared war on Japan. During that time, a wave of patriotism swept the nation swelling enlistment in the armed forces as young people sought to do their patriotic duty.

Two months later in February 1942, my father and two high school chums, George Abood and H. C. McCormick, took the bus from Valdosta to Macon, Georgia to a recruiting station. Small of stature at seventeen, he failed to meet the minimum weight requirements. Determined to enlist, he stuffed his pockets with rocks to reach the minimum weight for acceptance to the Navy.

Apprentice Seaman Moore, 1942

Classic backdrop for photos in the forties.
Classic backdrop for photos in the forties. | Source

Shortly after returning home, the trio received their official letters to report for duty. They took the train to Portsmouth, Virginia, before boarding the ferry to Norfolk, Virginia headed for boot camp.

During the first two weeks of training, the new recruits of Platoon Unit 842 were administered shots, given dental and physical exams had their clothes stenciled and began a rigorous calisthenics program to prepare them for battle.

USS Augury AM-149, Admiral Class Minesweeper
USS Augury AM-149, Admiral Class Minesweeper

USS Augury (AM 149) Allied Warship

The US Navy Minesweeper,Admiral Class, AM 149 was built at Tampa Shipbuilding & Dry-dock Co. Inc. Tampa, FL, U.S.A. in December 1942 - Launched 23 February 1943, Commissioned 17 March 1943 - End Service 18 July 1945.

Decommissioned 18 July 1945 at Cold Bay, Alaska and transferred to Russia under terms of the lend-lease, renamed T-524, scrapped in 1954 (not reported by Soviet Union). It was reclassified as a Fleet Minesweeper (Steel Hull), MSF-149, Feb 1955. This picture was taken while docked at Kodiak, Alaska

Specifications: Displacement 650 t.; Length 184' 6"; Beam 33'; Draft 9' 9"; Speed 14.8 knots; Complement 104; Armament one 3"/50 dual purpose gun mount, two twin 40mm gun mounts, one depth charge thrower (hedgehogs), two depth charge tracks; Propulsion two 1,710shp ALCO 539 diesel engines, Farrel-Birmingham single reduction gear, two shafts.

Anchor Room Hotel Restaurant - Mickey McGuire, Leila Moore, Byron
Anchor Room Hotel Restaurant - Mickey McGuire, Leila Moore, Byron

Missing the Boat

After Boot Camp, the enlisted men received a three day leave. Dad traveled to Washington, D.C. to visit his step-sister that worked at the Anchor Room in The Annapolis Hotel, a favorite hangout for servicemen.

When his new orders assigned him to a ship that had already left port, he hitched a ride on board another ship, a WWI Destroyer heading toward Russia. The ship would first travel through New Jersey to pick up ammunition, then, headed toward Key West, where he was assigned for duty. There he was to be a “Sound Man” and complete a five-week course which entailed spending the last ten days of class at sea practicing their new skills.

Family Influencers

Young Byron next to his big brother in the Navy. Young brother Charles on the right of the photo.
Young Byron next to his big brother in the Navy. Young brother Charles on the right of the photo. | Source

His older step-brother, Harold, served in the Army in World War I and his other step-brother, Ervin, served in the Navy. After a tour of duty overseas, Ervin came down with tuberculosis. Dad told us about taking a leave to visit the hospital to visit. In those days, a red light was turned on outside the door of those patients not expected to survive. Although he lost a lung to the disease, his brother survived and went on to finish law school and later become a judge in Florida.

Turning twenty-one on board ship
Turning twenty-one on board ship | Source

Mid 1945, he received orders for Okinawa to serve on a Mine Sweeper, in dangerous territory to be sure. Taking a troop transport from Seattle WA to Denver, the young Moore boarded a commercial flight to Dallas on a Braniff PBO Hudson with one pilot and one stewardess.

He was aboard the USS Augury on his twenty-first birthday, and served aboard for eighteen months until its decommissioning in July of 1945. At that time, he took a well-deserved thirty-day leave in Texas. There he met my mother and married her nine days later; a true war-time romance.

Officer Candidate School Graduates, 1954
Officer Candidate School Graduates, 1954 | Source

Dad believed that the more training you took the more pay you could earn. He set out on a determined program of schooling and enrolled in every class he could get. After completing a five-week Sound Course, he was selected to take a ten week Sound Maintenance Course detailing how to repair, tune and maintain sonar equipment.

Later he enrolled in Flight School in Dallas, Texas. While he was learning to fly Piper Cubs and N3N Navy Peril craft at this sixteen week course, the war was raging overseas. When a surprise navigation test caught the student pilots off guard, he washed out of flight school along with forty-nine others in his class. Soon afterward he headed back to the danger zone.

Anchors Aweigh

His next assignment as Temporary Prison Chaser Guard included orders to head to New Orleans with twenty-two other Military Guards to escort prisoners to Port Smith NH. After that assignment, he received new orders for Tampa, Florida to serve aboard the Auxiliary Mine Sweeper, the USS Augury AM-149, which was to be put into commission after sea trials.

He was among the first crew aboard the new ship built at the Tampa Florida ship building yard. The ship’s shake-down cruise took them from Tampa to Norfolk VA, afterward, to the Panama Canal, then San Francisco, then to Hawaii. Nearing the Philippines, a new set of orders changed their destination to Kodiak Alaska for convoy duty. Their job was to escort Merchant ships back and forth from Alaska to Attu in the Aleutian Islands. 3

Between escorts they sailed Picket Duty or steaming in a Picket Square. That meant the ship traveled north, east, south, then west, patrolling each direction for one hour.

After graduation from Officer Candidate School he was assigned command of a vessel.
After graduation from Officer Candidate School he was assigned command of a vessel.

The Commander's life was a collection of roles which played out over eighty-one years: big brother; serious student; proficient teacher; avid fisherman; seasoned sailor; beloved father; cherished husband; talented carpenter; and devoted Christian. He could be stern, rigid, disciplined and aloof, yet, there were times his tender-hearted side came through.

USS Allegheny ATA-179

Dad served as Commanding Officer on board the Allegheny from 1958 - 1960
Dad served as Commanding Officer on board the Allegheny from 1958 - 1960 | Source

Dad fell in love with the silver screen as a young boy. Even into his eighties, he dedicated hours to recording and watching vintage movies, labeling and keeping them in alphabetical order on the shelves he built to hold them.

He lived the motto, a place for everything and everything in its place. He liked to keep things orderly drawing an outline around each tool where it belonged on the pegboard behind his workbench. We were taught not to borrow tools without asking and to return each to its designated place.

He was an avid reader who taught his children the value of books and the importance of good reading skills. He impressed on his children and others the value of discipline and hard work. He stressed the importance of honesty and loyalty and was an example of kindness and compassion to all living creatures.

Lieutenant Commander Moore, USN Retired
Lieutenant Commander Moore, USN Retired

USS Rich DDE-820 Gearing Class Destroyer

By USN (U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph NH 99851) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By USN (U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph NH 99851) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Many duty stations and military assignments followed over twenty-two years during which Dad served in World War II, Korea and the beginning of the Vietnam era. He worked his way up the ranks from Apprentice Seaman to retire as a Lieutenant Commander through hard work and sacrifice. A tribute to Commander Moore’s record of service is found on the web site for the USS Rich where he remains a Plank Owner of the ship.

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USS Suribachi, AE-21 Ammunition Carrier

Dad served as XO aboard ship for eighteen months during a tour of the Mediteranean, 1960-61
Dad served as XO aboard ship for eighteen months during a tour of the Mediteranean, 1960-61 | Source

God Bless the U.S.A.

Notes

  1. National WWI Museum Statistics
  2. USS Rich DDE-820, Plank Owner
  3. Attu, the Aleutian Islands

© 2009 Peg Cole

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    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      A very interesting article and a fine tribute to your father. You must be very proud. Thanks so much for sharing this personal history.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Coming from an incredible writer like you, lmmartin, this is high praise. Thanks for the encouragement. Yes, he was truly an interesting man. There are so many unsung heroes who fought to keep safe our freedom. I am proud of his career and accomplishments and miss him everyday. p

    • profile image

      peacenhim 7 years ago

      This has been a great tribute and a wonderfully nostalgic journey through time, and through the life of your father. I love all the old photos, especially the hand tinted. Happy Holidays to you!

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thank you for the kind words, peacenhim. It was my pleasure to scribe the early years of his military service. We sat on his Florida lanai while he gave me the details. He still remembered it all, even into his eighties. Still hard to imagine the abrupt journey into manhood that this young man faced. The photos are treasured remembrances that he left behind. Blessings to you and yours.

    • Jaspal profile image

      Jaspal 7 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Peg, this is such a wonderful hub, and it made me quite emotional ... thinking what my children must be making of some of the stories they've heard about the military career from me or my friends.

      But that apart, your dad was no doubt a great man, with an admirable service .... and I salute him for that.

      Must read all your hubs ... how did I ever miss out?

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      You encouraged me early on here at the Hub. Thank you. So glad you came along to read this Navy story.

      Your children will cherish the stories you share with them now about your military service. Each will remember it differently. The photos will make it real for them and they will delight in your history.

      Thanks for the salute to my Dad, Jaspal.

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 7 years ago

      Peg, this is a lovely hub. I am a huge advocate of sharing history like this. You have done a great job and your attention to detail would do a Genealogist proud. Add to that the personal interest for you and the wonderful tribute to your father.

      Loved it!

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Duchess, thank you for reading this Naval history hub. I've tried to recapture the details from my vague notes over the years. Wish I had paid closer attention and asked more questions when I had the chance. Hopefully I haven't slandered the facts too badly. My journals are full of partial information and I'm trying to piece together the rest. If only I had Dad's ship logs, now that would make for some interesting reading.

      Again, thanks for your continued encouragement and comments.

    • Unchained Grace profile image

      Unchained Grace 7 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Peg, now I see the roots of your feeling for veterans.

      Your recreating of your Dad's military career was an act of love and admiration to be sure. It is up here for all to see. A time when this country cared about its military veterans. I also now see why that quote from Ike on my Hub had meaning for you. Great work!!

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      James, that was a time when our country cared about veterans. But as time rolled on, the promises that were made to them became diluted and reworded. Their rewards were diminished and adjusted with each new administration. As I'm sure you know quite well.

      Bless you in your work with veterans! I look forward to reading more hubs by you. And thanks for dropping by and reading this piece of nostalgia.

    • Springboard profile image

      Springboard 7 years ago from Wisconsin

      It's always great to see these kinds of stories of the sacrifices of the men and women who serve in the armed forces. So many people take every freedom they have for granted, and forget how it is that each and every one of those freedoms came to be.

      I served 4 years in the United States Navy. My father spent 23 years in the Navy. My sister spent 10 years in the Air Force and did a tour in Iraq.

      Your father was a patriot to be sure. My thanks go out to this fellow shipmate.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thank you Springboard. Patriotism, we were both raised in the midst of it. It's nice to have a fellow Navy kid to swap stories with. Glad you liked this one about my Dad. I bet you have some great tales yet to be told about your Navy experiences. Nice to meet you here on HubPages.

    • profile image

      Mike 6 years ago

      Great article -My grandfather was on the USS Astute AM148, I believe this was the sister ship since dates and specs all match up! I have the exact picture in Kodiak of the ship except its of the 148 which was probably docked right next to it! His ship was given to the Russians as well. They also went to the same places so I believe they were in the same convoy

      My email is brandx411@hotmail.com

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Mike - Thanks for stopping by. I'll bet your granddad and my dad shared some sea duty together along the way. So nice of you to comment.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 6 years ago from South Africa

      This is so great! My dad was also in the Navy (South African, that is) during WWII. I have put his reminiscences up on a WordPress blog (ref in my profile)

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      tonymac04, I look forward to reading about your Dad's Navy adventures. Thanks for taking time to read and comment on this article.

      All the best to you, peg

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 6 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      They were named the 'greatest generation' because of guys like your Dad.

    • PegCole17 profile image
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      Peg Cole 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Mckbirdbks, Thanks for that information and for dropping by. I hadn't heard that phrase. Nice to see you here.

    • profile image

      kada94566 5 years ago

      I really enjoyed your story. You did such a great job putting it together and the music is wonderful.

      I haven't even posted my profile, been to busy reading such great stuff and trying to clean up my computer. Thanks for being so patient with me. I know I'll love being part if you all.

      Kay

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thanks Kay. I loved the music too! Here's hoping you post your profile and start writing soon. Thanks for stopping in and welcome. I think you will like it here.

    • pelt545 profile image

      pelt545 5 years ago from Hampton Roads, VA

      I do understand that young people join the military because of shortage of jobs, abusive parents, and other negative reasons.

      They want a better life and career and they know that staying with parents is not going to make that happen.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Pelt545,

      Those reasons do influence a person's decision to join the military along with many others. In this case there was a strong wave of patriotism and a spirit of cohesion in our country that motivated young people to join the war effort. It turned out to be a good career move which allowed him to retire at 41 and explore other careers. Adjustment to civilian life was tough, as I clearly recall.

      Nice of you to stop by and thanks for your insightful comments. Sounds like you have experience with making career decisions. Staying with parents never appealed to me once I turned 18.

      I wish all the best for you in your choices.

      Peg

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 4 years ago from Sittingbourne

      A very written article with the sort of detail that shows a close family. I had a short career in the Royal Navy until I was injured, but it set me up for my later work in pharmaceutical chemisty.

      Kind regards Peter

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thank you Peter. Sounds like you have a few stories of your own to be shared. Glad you were able to develop your training into a career in the pharmaceutical industry.

      I appreciate your stopping in to read and thank you for your nice comment.

      Peg

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      I consider it an honor to have the opportunity for reading about your wonderful Dad. It is so reminiscent of my Dad, who was also a Navy man in WWII. He was too young to enlist on his own and his Mother reluctantly and with tears in her eyes signed the permission slip. I am in awe of such amazing young men such as your dear Dad. He showed bravery and patriotism at such an early age. To endure what his eyes witnessed is almost too much to thin of. How impressive and honorable a man your Dad was and I am thankful he was on our side.

      While reading this hub I had goose bumps. I have researched endless hours of WWII and am always left with such an inspiring impression as well as utter awe at the bravery of men so young they were really just boys. Most, like your wonderful Dad came from a world no bigger than their home town. The nerve it took to venture into dangerous and unknown territory is an amazing feat in itself.

      I will be forever grateful for honorable men such as your Dad who gave me the right to live a free life.

      Blessings

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      It was an honor to remember him here on this page. The whole story is not here and maybe one day I'll do enough research to do that story justice. You are certainly kind to read this and thanks for letting me know that it was meaningful to you. Goose bumps. I cannot think of a higher compliment to this tribute to Dad and all those who served and continue to serve our country.

      You've really picked up on a key point, Shining, that most of these men were really just boys, never having left their small world. My Dad was raised on a farm, milking the cows before he went to school in the morning. We are all indebted to those men. Thank you so much for your deeply thoughtful comment here and I look forward to reading about your research on WWII.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      As always, I strongly encourage you to follow through on providing me the pleasure of reading more about your wonderful and stellar Dad.

      Regards

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thanks so much for the encouragement!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      You are so lucky to have all these photos and documents and information. I think I have 7 uncles from both sides of the family who served in WWII. A great tribute to you father! Going to post this on FB.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Sounds like your family is strongly into service in the Military, too, Au fait. Thanks for the kind words and visit today, and for posting this on your Facebook page. I really appreciate you.

    • patinkc profile image

      patinkc 22 months ago from Midwest

      I found the link to this page on my WW2 page about my dad in the Navy.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 22 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Patinkc, I look forward to reading your Dad's story, too. Sometimes related hubs show up on the side bar of our articles. I'm glad you found this one about my Dad.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 3 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      This story is just as compelling with the second reading. You basically describe the 'All American Life' and your pride shows.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thanks, Mike. I've been thinking about him a lot lately and wishing I had been a better note taker. His stories were a source of entertainment to us as children and later in life. I recently listened to a tape recording of him telling the family history and it was both nostalgic and eerie.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 3 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      I have always felt you are a power house - I think I may know the source or at least part of it. This is a great bit of history.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 3 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Peg,

      So glad you spruced up this evergreen tribute...I had not come across it originally but am ever so glad to learn even more about your father now.

      I can see that our dads may have truly known each other in their younger days in the Navy - even more for them to chat about on that fishing boat in the heavenly skies today.

      The memories you share are precious and treasured. Love, Maria

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Dearest Mar,

      It's so nice to have you visit this memory. I often think of our dads together fishing and telling war stories. I imagine they shared some of the same sunsets across the water. Dad had a million stories. I wish I could remember more of them and do them justice in the telling.

      Thanks so much for coming by to check this out. Hugs.

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