Photo 3 – WWII: Dad and Tommy Meade

This past December 7th, we remembered the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In honor of those that lost their lives, let’s talk about military service during World War II.

My dad, Ambrose Augustin Morrissey Jr, served during World War II in the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the Sea Bees. We have records of him on Guam, but knowing the roll of the Sea Bees, Bud probably island hopped quite a bit.1)Report of Changes, U.S.S. General George O Squire, 27 Dec 1943, San Francisco to Guam, pg 93 [stamped], line 15, Ambrose A Morrissey Jr; Fold3, (www.fold3.com : accessed 22 Dc 2016) U.S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, 1943, NARA microfilm publication, roll 32859-243489. Sea Bees are the Navy’s engineers and one of their primary duties was to created infrastructures on the thousands of small islands across the Pacific Ocean from the west coast of the U.S. to Japan. Think airstrips, piers, warehouses, hospitals and barracks.

That my dad was qualified for service to begin with is a little hard to believe. Dad was a little bit of a genius when it came to electronics, in particular radios. You can understand that value. But, dad was also pretty deaf. Hearing aids allowed him to communicate normally. Often at home though, the aids weren’t worn. Family learned to flicker the lights to get his attention. The television volume was so loud, neighbors across the street knew what we were watching. Whole conversations at the dinner table were spoke at normal volume without his knowledge. How he managed in the military, I don’t know.

One of my favorite photos of dad is one from his military service time. The story goes that dad was sitting by a pond or lake on an island in the Pacific somewhere enjoying a short break at the end of a long day. All of the sudden he’s tackled from behind. Both dad and his attacker land in the water. Dad stands to address the gentleman and discovers that it’s his best friend from back home, Tommy Meade. Tommy lived with his parents on North Shepherd in Richmond, a block or so away from the Morrissey family home at 3025 Kensington.2)Hill’s Richmond Virginia City Directory, 1935, vol 71, p 685, Thomas J Meade, 519 N. Sheppard; Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Dec 2016), U.S. City Directories, 1882-1995, Richmond, Virginia, 1935.

In the photo there are clearly tropical trees in the background. Dad is a full head taller than Tommy. Both are a little worse for wear in attire. Tommy seems tan and cheerful at having a run-in with his best bud. I can only imagine what it must have been like to see by chance an old friend from home. Dad was never in danger due to the background role he played. I can’t say the same for Tommy who enlisted in the Marines in 1943.3)Beneficiary Identification Records Location Subsystem (BIRLS) Death File, U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Washington, D.C., Thomas Meade, (18 Jan 1923-10 Jul 1972); Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Dec 2016), U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010, Thomas Meade.

We’ve lost so many of our World War II veteran’s already. This greatest generation will be gone entirely in the coming years. There is a lot of historical information out there about World War II in general, but a horrible fire destroyed most of the its personnel records. Please, if you have a World War II veteran in your family who is still with us, gather their memorabilia, their stories, old uniforms and souveniers. Get it all and record it, please. These invaluable individual memories are in danger of permanent loss without our individual efforts to record them.

 

 

References   [ + ]

1. Report of Changes, U.S.S. General George O Squire, 27 Dec 1943, San Francisco to Guam, pg 93 [stamped], line 15, Ambrose A Morrissey Jr; Fold3, (www.fold3.com : accessed 22 Dc 2016) U.S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, 1943, NARA microfilm publication, roll 32859-243489.
2. Hill’s Richmond Virginia City Directory, 1935, vol 71, p 685, Thomas J Meade, 519 N. Sheppard; Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Dec 2016), U.S. City Directories, 1882-1995, Richmond, Virginia, 1935.
3. Beneficiary Identification Records Location Subsystem (BIRLS) Death File, U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Washington, D.C., Thomas Meade, (18 Jan 1923-10 Jul 1972); Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Dec 2016), U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010, Thomas Meade.

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