Navy Life - a World War II Veteran's Story
Patriotism and the Greatest Generation
On December 7, 1941, the United States suffered a devastating attack on U.S. Military forces in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan. A wave of patriotism ensued, swelling enlistment in the armed forces as young people sought to do their patriotic duty.
December 7, 1941, a day which will live in infamy."— Franklin D. Roosevelt
Day of Infamy - FDR
February 8, 1942, Byron Moore and two of his high school classmates, E.C. Powell and Bobby Futch, took the bus from Valdosta, GA to a military recruiting station in Macon where they enlisted.
At 17 years, 10 months, young Byron was just shy of the minimum weight to join the Navy. He filled his pockets with rocks in order to meet the requirements.2
The Valdosta Daily Times Newspaper 1942
Shortly after returning home, the trio received their official letters to report for duty. They boarded the Southern Railroad to Portsmouth VA and took the ferry to Norfolk the world's largest Naval Base operating out of the original Jamestown Exposition site.
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.
After Boot Camp, the enlisted men received a three-day leave. Byron traveled to Washington, D.C. to visit his sister who worked at the Anchor Room in The Annapolis Hotel, a favorite service man's hangout.
The Anchor Room
As an active duty Apprentice Seaman, he earned $21.00 per month.
He received new orders for Tampa, Florida to serve aboard the Auxiliary Mine Sweeper, the USS Augury when the ship was put into commission after sea trials, making him a plank owner.1 His next assignment as Temporary Prison Chaser Guard included orders for New Orleans with 22 other Military Guards to escort prisoners to Portsmouth NH.
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. They traveled to New Jersey to pick up ammunition, then, headed toward Key West and his duty station as “Sound Man.” He completed a five-week course with the last ten days of class at sea practicing their new skills.
As an SoM3c, Sonar Man 3rd class, he earned $78.00 per month. Reenlistment in 1945 for 4 years in the Regular Navy earned him a raise to $119.70 per month.
A Military Family Tradition
Byron's older brother, Harold, enlisted in the Army during World War I. His other older brother, Ervin, also served in the Navy. After a tour of duty overseas, Ervin developed tuberculosis and was not expected to live. After losing a lung to the disease, his brother went on to become a lawyer and later, a judge in Marianna, Florida.
USS Augury AM-149
USS Augury AM-149 Minesweeper
Admirable Class Minesweeper, one of the largest and most successful classes of minesweepers ordered by the US Navy during World War II designed to locate and remove naval mines before the rest of the fleet arrived, thereby ensuring safe passage.
- Built: at the Tampa Shipbuilding Company Inc. December 1942
- Launched: February 23, 1943 and commissioned March 17 1943.
- Displacement: 650 tons
- Length: 184' 6"
- Beam: 33'
- Draft: 9' 9"
- Speed: 14.8 knots
- Complement: 104 (officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel)
- Armament: one 3"/50 dual purpose gun mount, two twin 40 mm gun mounts, one depth charge thrower (hedgehogs), two depth charge tracks
- Propulsion: two 1,710 shp ALCO 539 diesel engines, Farrel-Birmingham single reduction gear, two shafts.
When I Was 21 It Was A Very Good Year
Shake Down Cruise
The Augury’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. Between escorts they sailed Picket Duty or steaming in a Picket Square traveling north, east, south, then west, patrolling in each direction for an hour.
He was also on the USS Augury for his 21st birthday, and served aboard until its decommissioning in July of 1945.
After two years on the USS Augury, he served on the USS Siera (AD18), the USS Rich (DD820), NROTC Unit, Duke University (as an instructor), NTS Norfolk, Virginia, Sound School, Key West, Florida, Naval Pre-Flight Training, Natchitoches, Louisiana, Minecraft Training Center, Little Creek, Virginia before reenlisting in the Regular Navy.
Crew of the USS Augury AM-149
Mid 1945, Moore received orders for Okinawa. 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.
During his thirty-day leave in Texas, he met the woman who would later become my mother. They were married 9 days later in a private ceremony at the bride's family home in Fort Worth, July 15, 1945. Shortly after the marriage, he was deployed overseas.
Mr. Moore 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 49 of 60 classmates. Soon afterward, he headed back to the danger zone.
USS Rich DDE-820 Gearing Class Destroyer
USS Rich DD-820
After a shakedown tour in the Caribbean, RICH departed Norfolk in late October for a Mediterranean tour, most of which, December 1946 to March 1947, was spent on patrol in the Atlantic. Returning to the United States in March, she was converted to a specialized antisubmarine ship at the New York Naval Shipyard; and, in the fall, she resumed operations with the 2nd Fleet.
- Launched: October 5, 1945
- Commissioned: July 3, 1946
- Length: 391 feet
- Beam: 41 feet
- Draft: 18.7 feet
- Speed: 34 knots
Commissioned Ensign USN
Officer Candidate School 1954
USS John S. McCain (DL-3)
USS John S. McCain DL-3
- Class: Mitscher Class Destroyer
- Named for: John S. McCain
- Complement: 403 Officers and Enlisted
- Displacement: 3,675 tons
- Length: 493 feet
- Beam: 50 feet
- Flank Speed: 30 plus knots
- Final Disposition: Sold for scrap January 1980
"John S. McCain spent the first year of her commissioned service undergoing sea trials and shakedown training in the Atlantic and Caribbean. One of the new Mitscher class of large and fast destroyer leaders she carried the latest in armament and embodied new ideas in hull design and construction. The ship arrived Norfolk 19 May 1955 to begin service with the Operational Development Force in testing new equipment and tactics. She operated out of Norfolk until 5 November 1956 when she steamed from Hampton Roads bound for the Panama Canal and San Diego. After her arrival 4 December 1956 she spent 5 months on maneuvers in California waters."3
USS Thrush MSC-204
USS Thrush MSC-204
Redwing Class Motor Minesweeper
- Laid down: May 7, 1954 as AMS-204 by the Tampa Marine Co., Tampa, FL
- Launched: Jan 5, 1955
- Reclassified: as a Coastal Minesweeper MSC-204, Feb 7,1955
- Commissioned: USS Thrush (MSC 204), November 8, 1955
- Displacement: 320 tons
- Length: 144 feet
- Beam: 28 feet
- Draft: 9 feet
- Speed: 13 knots
- Complement: 39
- Armament: Two 20 mm Mounts
USS Allegheny ATA-179
USS Allegheny ATA 179
Sotoyomo Class Auxiliary Fleet Tug reclassified in 1944
- Launched: June 30, 1944
- Commissioned: September 22, 1944
- Assignment: Asiatic-Pacific Theater, Participated in consolidation and capture of the Philippines.
- Earned one battle star for WWII service.
- Laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, Texas Group, Orange
- Named: Allegheny (ATA-179), 16 July 1948
- Recommissioned: 25 July 1949
- Length: 143 feet
- Beam: 33', 10"
- Speed: 12 knots
- Complement: 5 Officers, 40 Enlisted
- Armament: one single 3"/50 dual purpose gun mount, two single 20mm AA gun mounts.
USS Suribachi, AE-21 Ammunition Carrier
USS Suribachi AE 21 Ammunition Carrier
Suribachi Class Ammunition Carrier deployed in the Mediterranean where Lt. Cmdr. Moore served as Chief Executive Officer 1961 - 1963. The ship traveled from Bayonne NJ to Norfolk VA, to Key West to patrol the Atlantic during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Set in the center of the 6th Fleet in a 50-mile square, it was surrounded by 3 Carriers, 21 Destroyers, 3 Cruisers, 3 Oilers and a second Ammunition Ship, the Yosemite AD-19.
- Launched: November 1955
- Commissioned: November 1956
- Displacement: 9,758 tons
- Length: 512 feet
- Beam: 72 feet
- Complement: 20 Officers, 324 Enlisted
- Cargo booms to load fully equipped trucks, carried a full war load to outfit an Aircraft Carrier or 3 - 4 Destroyers.
- Armament: 4 twin 3"/50 dual purpose gun mounts
Duty Stations and Ships
- 1942-Mar 1945, USS Augury AM-149, Plank Owner
- 1945 USS Sierra AD-18 as a Senior Sonarman
- 1946, USS Rich DD-820, Gearing Class Destroyer, Plank Owner
- 1949 NROTC at Duke University, Sonar Instructor
- 1950-1953, Fleet Sonar School, Key West, FL, Instructor
- 1953 June - Mar 1954, USS Wilkinson DL-5 1947, Ensign, Plank Owner
- 1954, Mar 17-Aug, Officer Candidate School, Newport, RI
- 1954, Aug to Aug 1956, USS John S. McCain DL-3
- 1956, Aug to Mar 1958, USS Thrush MSC-204
- 1958 Mar to Oct 1959, USS Allegheny ATA-179, as Commanding Ofcr.
- 1961 Oct - July 1963 USS Suribachi AE-21 as Chief Executive Officer
- He served separate assignments at the Fleet Sonar School in Key West, FL as Instructor, Assistant Director of Enlisted Training, where he reviewed the training plans of officers who were instructors and later was promoted to Director of Enlisted Training. He worked there until his retirement in 1964.
Fleet Sonar School
Roles in Life
The Commander's life was a collection of roles played out over eighty-one years: brother; student; instructor; fisherman; mariner; beloved father; husband; carpenter; and devoted Christian. He could at times be stern, rigid, disciplined and aloof, yet, there were times his tender side came through.
Dad lived the motto, a place for everything and everything in its place. He drew a penciled outline around each tool on the pegboard above his workbench. We learned not to borrow tools without asking and to return each to its designated place.
He was an avid reader and shared 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.
Commander Moore served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Korea and the beginning of the Vietnam era. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal (3*), American Theater, European Theater, Pacific Theater (2*), Victory Medal, European Occupation, China Service and United Nations medals. He worked his way up the ranks from Apprentice Seaman to retire as a Lieutenant Commander. He was awarded a post-retirement commission to Commander.
Do you know anyone in the military?
Navy Cadence - Johnny Be Good
For the bulk of this research, the information packet received from the National Personnel Records Center in 2011 was used along with notes taken during Mr. Moore's lifetime. Gathering the information on ships served and duty stations was truly educational. To begin your own research, reference the article, How to Find Military Service Records for your relative who served in the Military.
- Plank owner, also called a plank holder, is an individual who was a member of a crew of a US Navy ship or US Coast Guard Cutter when it was put into commission
- NCBI, WWII Height-Weight Standards at 67 inches was 140 pounds with a minimum weight of 125.
- Hullnumber dot com
- National WWI Museum
- USS Rich DDE-820, Plank Owner
- NavSource online
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2009 Peg Cole