Before I joined the Navy, my job was plumbing by day and musician by night. My plumbing job was not too desirable, because my boss was a drunk. One day as I was driving through Red Bank, New Jersey, a sign caught my eye. It read, "Uncle Sam Needs You!" Two weeks later, October 9, 1940, I was in boot camp at Newport, Rhode Island. The Navy didn't need plumbers, I guess, because I was sent to aviation school in Norfolk, Virginia. My records were already on the USS Ranger, so when I finished school, I went aboard the Ranger to VS-41.
My first year on the Ranger was not a great one, pushing planes, doing flight deck fire duty. My promotion finally came for AMM3/c. A few months afterward, Torpedo Squadron 4 was formed. From its beginning, VT-4 was a good outfit to be in. Most of the men came from squadrons aboard the ship. We all got along very well. The enlisted men got along with the pilots, most pilots were enlisted men in the early years.
Every day, Lt Sherrell would start a game of volleyball; some days he had his hands full.
I think back on the good times we had with J. T. Rushing, Val Morris, Andy Marge, Fred Muller, D. L. Sandford, G. Lightfoot, and A. G. Stork (the first enlisted man to crash). Also, there were R. H. Miller, J. L. Zalom, and others I did not know. All are gone, but the memory will live forever.
My education in VT-4 was High Altitude Bombing Training and Turret Gunnery and Radar School to become a combat air crewman while still being a mechanic.
VT-4 spent time on neutrality patrol. We shadowed the German battleships for the British. We sunk a few whales, their spouts looked like periscopes on our radar. Some of our best duty in the early part of the war was protecting Bermuda from the Germans. Not one German got on the island!
VT-4's claim to fame was the raid on Bodo, Norway. Bowman and I flew with Buck Barnett. It was so cold, the bomb racks froze, guns jammed, and electric turrets wouldn't work right.
While in VT-4, I logged about 400 hours flight time. I flew with about every pilot in the squadron. On March 2, 1943, I flew with Gerald Thomas on 2 hops for tactical and familiarization.
There was a comradeship among the men of VT-4 that no other squadron could compete with. In 1944, I made ACMM and was transferred to Quonset Point, Rhode Island. I spent 2 years there, not a nice place. About October 8, 1946, I had a disagreement with old Captain Miller and on October 9, 1946, I was discharged—my enlistment was up.
When I got home to Long Branch, New Jersey, a plumbing job was waiting. We moved to Seekonk, Massachusetts, where I worked as a plumber. I have a Master Plumber license and am Plumbing and Gas Inspector for the town of Seekonk.