I really enjoyed cruising around the AE-5 site.
My Dad was in Chicago [Great Lakes Training Center] about 50 years before you were. He enlisted in 1918, retired as Chief after twenty years in 1938, and was recalled to active duty in 1939. He retired again in 1946 or 1947. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, my Dad was in the process helping to re-establishing the 8th Naval District in New Orleans. Among other duties, he brought the stored records by train from Charleston in his own private boxcar - not exactly first class. I remember December 7, 1941 very well, even though I was only seven-years-old. Mother was at a brunch with some ladies and Dad was baby-sitting me. Upon hearing the news, he shaved, put on his uniform, and paced the floor until Mother arrived home.
He received orders for sea duty aboard the USS Rainier and left before Christmas. Where was the Rainier in December 1941? I seem to remember Dad thinking he was going to Greenland or Iceland. He woefully packed long underwear, wool shirts and sweaters for the trip - he was miserable in cold weather. As soon as he was aboard, the ship headed for the Pacific. He sent all the woolen clothing back to us almost immediately and spent the duration of the war in the Pacific.
I remember there was a Christmas party for children at the Algiers Navy Base. I was picked up in a grey Navy van and taken to the party. My gift from "Santa" was a beautiful doll. Even though I was seven I could see that my gift was much nicer than the other children's presents and I was embarassed. It took me a long time to realize that my Dad was one of the first to receive orders to go to war and that was the reason I was treated so special.
Anytime Dad's ship came into port, he called us and Mom and I were on the train the next day. We usually had to stand or sit on our suitcases the first day. Eventually, passengers would get off and we would have a place to sit. I think those early days in the Pacific must have been dreadful.
I remember Captain Raliegh B. Miller - Mrs. Miller and their two sons lived next door to us in California. I believe we were the only two families that moved to be near our fathers. Sometime in 1943 or 1944, Dad spent six months in San Deigo teaching men how to be supply officers. Then, it was back to the Pacific in AE-3 USS Lassen. After the war, the Lassen, Shasta, Mazama and other ships anchored in Discovery Bay in the Puget Sounds waiting to be decommissioned.
Oh gosh! I just remembered something: Al Moore, one of the officers on the Lassen taught me morse code. We lived in a little house with windows across the side facing the bay. On New Year's Eve, 1945 I think, I turned off the lights and sent "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" with the light switch. Every ship in that bay turned every light they had on our house for at least an hour. WOW! Of course, I couldn't read a thing they sent with their signal guns.
I remember being invited to dinner aboard the Rainier and how I had to be on my best behavior. I also remember getting to see an Abbott and Costello movie on deck.
I remember another interesting thing: my parents were avid baseball fans. Mother would listen to the World Series, and write a play-by-play in her beautiful teacher's best blackboard hand and send them to Dad. He posted them for all the guys to enjoy - I wonder if any of those young seaman who were baseball fans remember that.
Dad was promoted to Lt.Jg and later Lieutenant - they were mighty short of experienced CSK's in those days and he made a very good supply officer.
Dad used to say he longed for the day he would come home and his little girl would again ask him for a nickel, but when he got home I asked for quarters and he thought it was funny - something he had forgotten to account for.
Sorry, didn't mean to ramble on. [As if she could ramble too much for us...this is great stuff!] I might be able to find some old WWII pictures, but honestly, I don't know if they are from Rainier or Lassen. [Here are a ] picture of me that my Dad took aboard the USS Lassen and a 1942 Christmas Card from the Rainier.
Patricia Kenney Anderson
Thanks, Patricia. [Webmaster]