Monday, May 16, 2011

Maritime Monday - Service Record Pt. 3

This time we'll look at another page from the service record of my paternal grandfather, Estel E. Dillman.  Last time we looked at a page that contained several types of entry, and today's example likewise contains more than one kind of entry, one of which is significantly more interesting than the other.

Service Record Entry
We see some of the same data as on the previous post's example.  Service member's name, rank and service number are on most of the pages in the service record.  This facilitates keeping the records together in the correct person's folder.  We also see the same ships reported to and coming from, as this wouldn't change often.  We will see later that a change of duty station did happen on this page.

First, we see the important, significant entry: Estel was aboard on 3 Sep 1942 when the USS Brooklyn, as part of Task Force 38, was involved in the rescue at sea of 1173 survivors of the USS Wakefield, which experienced a major fire onboard.  As one of the diesel mechanics onboard the Brooklyn, my grandfather was essential in ensuring that the ship was in good running order to assist in rescue of the troops on the Wakefield, which was serving as a troop transport.  It took damage control people over four days to finally put out the fires on the Wakefield.

Fire is one of the worst events on a ship at sea, as there is nowhere to escape the fire.  Virtually everyone on modern Navy ships goes through some sort of firefighting training and is assigned at some point to damage control parties that would be responsible for fighting fires in case of emergency.  I personally went through Shipboard Aircraft Firefighting school not once, but twice during the three and a half years I was on Sea Duty.  I was trained in use of 1.5" and 2.5" high pressure hoses and a variety of firefighting chemicals.

The next event we see on this page is a transfer to US Naval Training Station in  Norfolk, VA, to attend Diesel Engine School (Surface).  As you can see, this happened on 27 Sep 1942, a couple of weeks after the end of the Wakefield rescue.  This was in the works before the incident, but the record does not say this directly.  It is hinted at in that the authorization listed is a letter of 4 Aug 1942.  As part of the transfer, we see the Ship or Station  being the new command, or N.T.S., NOB Norfolk (the Navy loves acronyms!  This one means Naval Training Station at the Naval Operations Base in Norfolk, VA), and the Ship From is listed as USS Brooklyn, where he was stationed.  This sort of transfer for schools happened fairly often, and was usually for a period of a few weeks or a couple of months, and then the service member would return to their originating ship or station.  Sometimes the training was in conjunction with  permanent transfer to another ship or station to report to a new job with fresh training.

These two events add more data points to the timeline we can develop from study of a service record.  Are you beginning to see some value to ordering a copy of  a service record?  While they can be fairly expensive, there is a lot of information you won't find anywhere else about your military relative!