That's my Grandpa in a photo from April 1944, on or very close to his wedding day. He had just turned 24, and the photo was taken shortly before he left for sea during WWII.
I was thinking about him today, Memorial Day, as I thought about veterans in general. His ship, the USS Wasatch (AGC-9), was the flagship of the 7th Fleet, stationed in the South Pacific. Being the flagship meant that admirals used the ship as their command post, as Admiral Kinkaid did to command the naval forces of the 7th Fleet during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle of all time. This log of movements chronicles the Wasatch from its departure at Norfolk, VA June 27, 1944 until its return to San Diego, CA November 28, 1945. I also found a more detailed description of the Wasatch's action in the South Pacific as I was looking for information.
I didn't know much about my grandfather's war experience — he never talks about it, not when I was little, not now. But in less than an hour poking around online, I was able to uncover more than I ever knew about where he'd been and the battles in which his ship had been involved. And for the first Memorial Day in a long time, I actually did some good hard thinking and reading about the sacrifices men and women have made throughout history to ensure, "that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." To my grandpa, and veterans everywhere, thank you.
Originally published May 27, 2002