Year 1942. Junior in High School at Grafton, North Dakota working as a messenger for Western Union and learning the Morse Telegraph trade.
1943. Senior in High School. After school working without pay as an apprentice railroad telegrapher at Northern Pacific Railroad depot. Passed exam to be an Agent-Telegrapher upon graduation from high school. After graduation had assignment from Northern Pacific to go to Gwinner, North Dakota to relieve the regular station agent for vacation. The following day received Greetings in mail from Uncle Sam to report to Ft. Snelling, Minnesota for induction into the military. END OF RAILROAD CAREER FOR TIME BEING. Accepted for duty in US Navy on June 18,1943. Took boot camp training at Camp Farragut, Idaho, then to Radio Operator service school at same camp. Graduated from school as a Third Class Petty Officer Radio Operator.
One of my classmates who also earned a third class rating was assigned to the Battleship West Virginia. Because of my railroad telegraph experience and third class rating I then had visions of being assigned to a large ship or shore station which handled heavy communications traffic. This was not about to happen.
On March 22,1944 John "Fred" Kline, from my radio school class,and I received orders to report to Pier 91 in Seattle for duty on the Net Tender, USS ANAQUA AN-40. The ship had recently been commissioned. Fred, as he was called, was also in my boot camp barracks at Farragut. Someone told us that all tenders were quite large (Most other classes of tenders were). We were walking down the pier, with our seabags on our shoulders, looking for a large ship. Then we saw this small wooden ship with the hull designation AN-40. Fred laughed, I almost cried. Anyway in the end it turned out to be good duty. He and I served our entire time in the navy together.
After a shakedown cruise and temporary duty repairing nets between Seattle and Bremerton, we received orders to go to Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. We were to replace a sister ship USS AILANTHUS AN-38. On Feb 26th she had ran aground during a severe storm in Alaskan waters. She suffered such extensive damage that she was declared a total loss. It was the only Net Tender lost in WWII. From Seattle we sailed north through the beautiful inside passage to southern Alaska, thence west across the Northern Pacific to the bare and foggy Aleutian Islands. We reached the Dutch Harbor Naval Base on May 20th. The harbor there was about 2 miles long and 1/2 mile wide.
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