Thursday, September 22, 2016

UA to Have USS Arizona Memorial

From the September 16, 2016, Tucson News (Az) Now  "UA shares memorial plans with USS Arizona survivor" by Craig Reck.

Lauren Bruner, a USS Arizona survivor from Pearl Harbor, one of just seven remaining survivors of that doomed ship, visited the University of Arizona and received a personal briefing on plans for a USS Artizona Memorial on campus.

The names of the 1,177 sailors and Marines who lost their lives that day will be enshrined in bronze medallions and placed in a new memorial plaza in the center of the ship's outline, outside the open canyon walkway of the Student Union memorial Center.

The outline will be 600 feet long and almost 100 feet wide.

The UA is a repository for artifacts from the USS Arizona and one of the largest archives of memorabilia in the world for the ship.

The memorial is expected to be finished in time for a Remembrance Ceremony on December 4 at 3 p.m..

--GreGen

William Crosswell Croft, USNA Class of 1940-- Part 6: Pearl Harbor

""She (the USS California) began to list to port while at the same time, our lighting and power went off... the Utah and Oklahoma had capsized...the Arizona was on fire."

This is taken from William Crosswell Croft's memoir "My Impressions of the Japanese Attack On Pearl Harbor."

William Croft was a native of Aiken, South Carolina, born January 8, 1918.  Died March 21, 2009.  Attended the Citadel from 1935-1936 and then accepted an appointment to the United States Naval Academy where he graduated in 1940.

The Citadel only offered Army ROTC training.  If a student wanted a direct appointment into the military they had to attend the USNA or the USMA.

--GreGen

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

William Crosswell Croft-- USNA Class of 1940-- Part 5: At pearl Harbor

From the Citadel Memorial Europe:  William Crosswell Croft USNA Class of 1939.  (Although I had it that he was Class of 1940.)

Mr. Croft was on the battleship USS California when Pearl Harbor was attacked:

"On Sunday morning, I was suddenly awakened by the ringing of the general alarm....  I thought this was another drill and I ... looked out of my port hole just in time to see a Japanese plane strafing small boats in the channel not 100 yards away....  This was definitely no drill...

"About 8:10 a.m. an explosion similar to the firing of a turret occurred....  We had been torpedoed."

--GreGen

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

William Crosswell Croft, USNA Class of 1940-- Part 4: Boredom in Mothballs, Then Business World

Croft served on the USS Massachusetts for the rest of the war and ended up in command of the battleship while it was in mothballs at Norfolk.  He was in command of the ship for six months and beset by a major case of boredom and saw no foreseeable sea billets forthcoming, so he resigned in December 1946.

Afterwards, he held jobs with Anaconda Wire and Cable Company in California then in Los Angels.  In 1950, he moved to Chicago and joined Pyle National as plant manager.  He was elected president of Pyle in 1955 and served until 1977.

After that, he owned six companies in the Chicago area.

--GreGen

Saturday, September 17, 2016

William Croswell Croft, USNA Class of 1940-- Part 3: Collision of the Indiana and Washington

William Croft was detailed and ordered to PG School at MIT shortly after the collision between the USS Indiana and USS Washington (both battleships).  This is considered as the worst collision in U.S. Navy history.  Both ships were reduced to just 6 knots maximum speed.  This was made even worse due to the fact that they were within 90 miles of a Japanese airfield.

Croft arrive in Boston 30 days before MIT courses started and within three weeks of waiting, declared that he couldn't concentrate on school work.

He contacted BuPers (Bureau of Personnel and requested a sea billet.  he received a telegram to report to the USS Massachusetts within 12 hours--  a record for fast action by the U.S. Navy.  the USS Massachusetts was another battleship.

A Real Battleship Man.  --GreGen


Friday, September 16, 2016

William Croswell Croft, USNA Class of 1940-- Part 2: A Question of Marriage

He was detached from the USS California in February 1941 and ordered to the USSIndiana which was fitting out at Newport News, Virginai.

While there, he married Barabar Engh, his 1940 "Color Girl" in March 1942, before it was legal to do so.  He married the same girl again in April 1942 after it was legal so he could claim the $40/ month housing allowment without having to lie about the marriage date.

He served as the Turret, Division and Deck Officer on the USS Indiana until 1944.

--GreGen

Thursday, September 15, 2016

William Crosswell Croft, Class of 1940 USNA-- Part 1: At Pearl Harbor on the USS California

From the USNA.com-- Class of 1940: William Crosswell Croft.

This is the man who selected Barbara Engh to be "Color Girl" of his Color Company in 1940.

After his graduation, William Croft joined the USS California while it was in drydock in Bremerton, Washington, Naval Shipyard.  He served as a turret officer until the California was sunk at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.  So, he was at Pearl Harbor.

The USS California was anchored by herself on Battleship Row, just south of the Oklahoma.  It received two torpedo hits that caused much damage and a 551-pound bomb exploded on her killing about 50 men instantly.  The ship sank, but its superstructure was above the water.  Total casualties were 100 killed and 62 wounded.

"Color Girls" -- Part 6: Barbara Engh

The USNA Nimitz Library has a photograph of Color Girl Helen Barbara Eagle from the Class of 1940.  I believe this to be a misprint of the name Engh.

It said that William Croswell Croft married Helen Barbara Engh, a 40s Color Girl in March 1941.

Of course, his being in the USNA Class of 1940 would have put him in World War II.  Perhaps he was at Pearl harbor.  I'll have to look him up to see what became of him.

--GreGen

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

This Date in 1940, Selective Service Act Passes

September 14, 1940:

Congress passed the selective Service Act, providing for the first peacetime draft in United States history.

Even though we were not yet at war, we sure were preparing for its eventuality.

It is Good to be Selected.  --GreGen

"Color Girls"-- Part 5: Barbara Engh

From the True Republican of DeKalb County, Illinois, from 4 June 1940 (or 1941).  There is some confusion here.

Her family had lived in Sycamore, Illinois, but now resided in Irvington, New York.

Barbara Engh was selected by William C. Croft of Airken, South Carolina, commander of the 2nd Company at the USNA, the school's "Color Company."  She is a sophomore at Sweet Briar College, in Sweet Briar, Virginia.  The Engh family is well-known in Sycamore.

--GreGen

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Back Then: Anniversary of Church Established During the War

From the September 5, 2016, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then" by Scott Nunn.  I am glad they started doing this column again.  Always interesting to look back at old newspapers.

In the September 2, 1956, newspaper there was an article about the Sunset Park Baptist Church marking their 14th anniversary.  It was formed on September 6, 1942, with 39 members and was located in one of the busiest parts of Wilmington at the time, the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company.  By 1956, the church had 1,200 members.

The N.C. Shipbuilding Company grew to have a huge work force making many naval vessels, especially Liberty Ships.

--GreGen

Shorpy Photos of the Home Front: Air Raid Drills in New York City

Remember, you can go to the site and look them up or just use Shorpy In a Jiffy for your search.

July 24, 2016, IN A JIFFY: 1942--  November 1942, New York.  "Nurse training.  Hospital preparations for air raids involving the training of street accident units for increased efficiency.  Nurses wear coat and skirt that can be put on over uniform in a jiffy."  Fritz Henle, OWI.

Two women are wearing helmets and have on Civil Defense armbands.

--GreGen

Shorpy Photos of the Home Front: Swimming and Reading

August 5, 2016, Shorpy  GUYS AND DOLLS  June 1941.  Greenbelt, Maryland.  "Sun bathers at the swimming pool."  Marjory Collins, OWI.  What every well dressed boy and girl (I'm guessing high school students) wore to the local swimming pool.  You can see a person dressed in a soldier's uniform in the background.

Shorpy July 29, 2016, WORK, READ, WASH 1943--  March 1943.  Barstow, California.  "Railroad worker in the wash room of the reading room in the Santa Fe yard."  Jack Delano, OWI.

--GreGen

Monday, September 12, 2016

Famous "Kissed Woman" in the Photo, Dies

From the September 10, Yahoo! News, AP  "Woman in iconic WWII Times Square kiss photograph dies at 92" AP.

Freta Zimmer Friedman died Thursday, September 8, 2016, in Richmond, Virginia.

She was a 21-year-old dental assistant in a nurse's uniform on August 14, 1945.  She went to Times Square when she heard reports that the war was over and found an impromptu celebration underway.

A celebrating sailor, George Mendonsa,  grabbed her and planted a big old kiss on her face (perhaps lips).

Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt was on hand and captured the moment in what became one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century.

She will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery next to her late husband, Dr. Misha Friedman.

That Was One Neat Photograph.  Wonder What Dr. Friedman Thought About It.  --GreGen

Bedford Man Recalls Attack on Pearl Harbor

From the June 7, 2016, Fredericksburg.com  (Va,) by Rachel Smith.

Leonard Peverall, 94, had this to say about it:, "If I was a foot taller, I would have lost my head."

He was on the USS Pennsylvania about to have breakfast when the attack began.  He ran up to the top deck.

"We didn't have any idea what was going on; it wasn't until we heard the bombs that we knew.  I was on the top deck and could see airplanes coming over and the commander said to 'man your guns.'"  The Pennsylvania was strafed and shots hit about a foot above his head.

Afterwards, he served the rest of the war on the USS Canfield and steamed into Tokyo Bay in mid-September 1945, after VJ-Day.

Before joining the Navy, he was a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Shorpy Home Front Photos: Memorial Day and a Train Bridge-- 1943

From the June 12, 2016 Shorpy.

MEMORIAL DAY: 1943.  May 31, 1943.  "Gallipolis, Ohio.  Young horn player at the Decoration Day ceremonies."  Arthur Siegel, OWI.

Comment:  Probably in high school band.  Plays a Sousaphone.  Still calling it Decoration Day then.

From the June 3, 2016, Shorpy Photo site.

DRY RUN: 1943.  March 1943.  "Crossing the almost dry bed of the Canadian River along the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad in Texas."  Jack Delano, OWI.  That Jack sure took a lot of train pictures for OWI.  he must have been its main train man.

Comment:  Actually the bridge in the photo was a highway bridge by today's US-60 and US-83.  Jack must have taken the photo from the train window.

--GreGen


"Color Girls'-- Part 4: Her Duties

May 21, 2001, Laura Sullivan.

Color parade honors the USNA company with the highest academic and athletic scores during the year.   They are known as the Color Company.  This company then gets to pick a female to be its "Color Girl."    The Naval Academy buys her dress after the Color Company's commander has chosen the "Color Girl."

The "Color Girl's" duties include handing the color flag from the previous year's company this this year's color company, kissing the Color Company's commander if he is her boyfriend or fiance and accepting flowers and a string of pearls from school officers.

She can also join the Association of Color Girls of the Naval Academy who have a luncheon once a year.

In 2001, however, there was a problem because the commander of the Color Company was  Josette Fedor, a woman.

--GreGen

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Firemen Raising That U.S. Flag Found in the Rubble of TwinTowers/ Iwo Jima Flag-Raising

One of the moments really pressed into my memory was seeing that U.S. flag being raised in the rubble of the Twin Towers.  Kind of reminded me of the Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima.  A moment of pride in an otherwise dismal time.

And, speaking of other famous photos, I see that Thursday, the girl who was so well-kissed in Times Square on V-J Day in 1945, died this past Thursday.  I will write more about her tomorrow.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

"Color Girls"-- Part 3: Still at USNA, But Now Called "Color Honorees"

This occurs during what is called Commissioning Week, when the graduating class gets their commissions in the USN.

A little further research and I found out that this is one tradition that still, in effect, remains.  Although now, the person so honored by the commander of the color company at the academy, is called "Color Honoree."  And instead of being girl friends or wives of the company commander, they have been their mothers in at least 2013 and 2016.

In 2013, the color company commander was Brooke Pitcher of East Hampton, Connecticut.  She chose her mother as "Color Honoree."

In 2016, the "Color Honoree" was Claire O'Garro, mother of 13th Company Comander Greggrie O'Garro.

So, The Tradition Continues.  I'm All For Tradition.  --GreGen

USNA "Color Girls"-- Part 2: A Dying Tradition?

From the May 27, 1992, Baltimore Sun "Color Girl tradition may be drummed out" by Joel McCord.

Barbara Engh was the USNA's "Color Girl" in either 1940 or 1941.  There is some confusion in accounts I've come across concerning the year.

However, by 1992, it was thought that the tradition was about to come to an end.

According to the article, the tradition was falling to "changing sensibilities."  Even though it had been a 121-year tradition at that point, having become a part of Commissioning Week activities in 1871.

By 1992, there were now graduating women from the USNA.

I came across mention that it continued into 2001.

--GreGen