Today’s post is written by student technician Robert Finch.
While working on the Navy Deck Logs (RG 24, Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel) project I called my uncle and asked him which ships his father-in-law, “Mr. W.”, served on during World War II. “Mr. W.” was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and is still alive today. I remember meeting him a few times when I was little at my cousins’ weddings. My father would constantly reminded me when I was younger not to mention anything about World War II to “Mr. W.” because he still has nightmares and flashbacks from his time in the service. He later became a Silver Star recipient and was up for the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in the Pacific Theater. (ARC Identifier 594258)
“Mr. W.” served on the USS Dobbin and the USS Cushing during the war. While I was processing the deck logs, I made sure to locate those ships and view their contents. I examined the entry for December 7, 1941 for the USS Dobbin when “Mr. W.” was at Pearl Harbor. I read that ship’s account of the traumatic events and viewed the listing of service personnel on board who died or were injured in the attack. I later discovered the deck logs for the vessel “Mr. W.” was transferred to later in December 1941, the USS Cushing. He was one of the newest crewmembers to report for duty and to search for enemy submarines. The USS Cushing sunk in November 1942 and it was disheartening to see that the deck log for that month did not exist.
It was fascinating to have this personal connection with the naval deck logs. The fact that I know someone whose life was dramatically transformed by the events of December 7, 1941 is very invigorating. The descriptions in those deck logs reminded me of the importance of their place in our own history. I am sure there are many more personal and exciting stories that can be told from reading the naval deck logs.