Archive for Thursday, August 6, 2009

My brother’s Navy cap

August 6, 2009

For 55 years we have had this Navy cap. All of our children have played with it. It’s been in toy boxes, on their heads and on shelves in our house.

It’s one of those items you see but you really don’t see. Just the other day it turned up again next to the washing machine in the laundry room, so I put it in with load of wash. It came out nice and white inside out with the name “Young” on it.

It had to be my brother Art’s cap that he got in boot camp. My mother must have given it to one of our children to play with. I checked with my brother, Art, and that was the cap he got in 1943 at the Farragut Naval Station in Idaho, a short time after he graduated from high school.

The Farragut Naval Station was built on Lake Pend Oreille, 300 miles inland from the west coastline in fear of a Japanese invasion. It was built on 4,000 acres by 22,000 men working 10-hour shifts. It was home to 300,000 naval recruits. In nine months, 776 buildings were constructed.

My brother, with his white cap, left for radar school in San Diego and Boston. We at home had never heard of radar. He was assigned to the USS Edmonds, built in Houston by the Brown Shipbuilding Co. It was commissioned April 3. 1944, with Lt. Commander Christopher S. Barker Jr. as the commanding officer.

Art joined the Edmonds on May 24, 1944, in Boston and with his white navy cap sailed through the Panama Canal on June 13, arriving at Pearl Harbor on June 27.

For the next 16 months the Edmonds traveled the distance of four times around the world, operating continuously in every major campaign the last year of the war. The Edmonds rescued 378 survivors from the USS Bismarck Sea that was sunk by a Japanese suicide plane attack. Thirty officers and crew of the Edmonds entered the water to rescue the survivors, despite darkness, heavy seas and continuing air attacks. On Oct. 3, 1944, the Edmonds’ sister ship, the USS Shelton (DE -407) was torpedoed and sunk. That was the same day I lost my oldest brother in France. I could have lost both brothers on the same day.

Art got out of the service in 1945 and probably never wanted to see that cap again. But now he has it back and possibly it will either end up in another toy box for his own grandchildren or a museum.

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