Reunion VII took place on September 21-24, 2004, in The Sunny Side of Louisville in Southern Indiana.
Mary Ellen Anzelc is on the left with Mary Anzelc in the middle and John Anzelc on the right. John was an electrician on the Caldwell. My father and John were great friends on the Caldwell. My brother, born after the war, is very probably named John for John Anzelc. This was John's first Caldwell Reunion.
I will add some photocopies of correspondence between John Anzelc and George Whitney in a later version.
For many years, we tried to call John Anzelc but had forgotten the "c" at the end of his name. Now with the advent of the computer and searching for names, we got a hit the first time we searched. They have spoken by phone on occasion in the last few years. Mary Ellen tells us that the name is Slovenian. Some of her relatives pronounce the "c" and some don't. Among those who do pronounce the "c", there are also variants.
Warren Bacon was an electrician on the Caldwell. Warren tended bar along with Edward Murphy. These two did a magnificent job of keeping everyone happy and lubricated, so to speak. Warren was the first person at the reunion to recognize my father. This photo is probably the only photo I have with Warren having a beverage in his hand other than a Budweiser.
While Warren is not a Plank Owner, Warren did join the Caldwell in 1942 and remained on the Caldwell through 1945 or 1946. He certainly was on the ship after the Ormoc Bay repairs.
John and Delores Bates have been an active force in organizing and collecting information from the various sailors on the Caldwell. It was a phone call from John that reminded me that I had not sent in my reservations. John seemed to help run the business meeting and took care of various background tasks (getting Wilma's permission to reprint an article, and so on). John had been and may still be in Commercial Real Estate. While he now lives in Florida, he used to live in Connecticut. In the business meeting, John read a letter from Stan Adams (and Stan's wife). They could not make this reunion.
Cecil and Bernetha Baumgartner are shown here. Cecil is also a Plank Owner for the Caldwell. Bernetha is in the process of retiring from a division of Honeywell. She has also programmed computers dealing with JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratories) in the area of communications. Various satellites have to "talk" to us or we don't know where they are! Cecil is one heck of a keyboard artist. He convinced George, the musician, to let him try out his Roland! Cecil has also developed the very valuable spreadsheets that have the names, addresses, and phone numbers, and the like, of all those who have served on the Caldwell.
Glenn Baumgartner was raised in Toledo, Ohio. Prior to attending this reunion he had visited friends in Detroit and Toledo. While in Toledo he convinced Marguerite Squibb to attend. For that also, we are very thankful. Glenn is one of the few sailors who weighs as much now as he did when he joined the Navy. Glenn married early on in California. Upon returning to Toledo after the war, his wife helped Glenn realize that these cold winters may be for some but they are not for us! Ever since they have enjoyed the Los Angeles area.
Eugene Elliott came to the reunion from Spokane, Washington. Eugene is also a Plank Owner for the Caldwell. Eugene was a radar technician on the Caldwell. Eugene has the distinction of being the very first person off the ship. Now I don't have in my notes the time at which he was the first off. I assume that he was the first off after the war.
Eugene has another distinction -- that of being one of the very oldest football players on the Caldwell. It seems that a football game between rival teams in his part of the state of Washington did NOT play each other because of war preparations. Some 50 years later the two high school teams, Colfax and St. John, played each other -- the players who should have played. Colfax won 6 - 0. This time it was touch football, no pads.
John and Nellie Fullerton came in from Arkansas for this reunion. John, at 16, weighing 110 pounds tried to join the Marines in December 1941. They rejected him but the US Navy accepted John. For this we are very grateful. John served in various capacities. One was in the "mess" area. On one occasion, John was delivering some foul smelling sauerkraut to an officer. John carried this meal wearing a gas mask. John was about to be severely reprimanded for this until the judicial officer asked: "Son, why were you wearing a gas mask?" John replied: "Because it stunk, sir." And the case was dismissed. John has a whole "boat load" of other stories and experiences. Not the least of which is trying to deliver fresh hot coffee and many cups to those standing watch when the Caldwell was in the Aleutians at unbelievable angles.
During the business meeting John suggested something about sharing information on what the sailors did after the Caldwell. I called John to get some of his biographical information as a start on this tangent. From my notes of that conversation, I have the following:
John was a Gunner's Mate on the Caldwell. John left the Navy on November 1, 1945. In 1951, John joined the U.S. Air Force. 20 years later John retired from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel. So, in the military, John went from Seaman to Lieutenant Colonel. In the Air Force, John's specialty was nuclear weapons. He worked in the area of inspection, storage, and maintenance, among other things, always with nuclear weapons. The only downside of this was that for 20 years, John had to be available within 15 minutes. This is similar to ALWAYS being on call.
After the Air Force, John joined FEMA for another twenty years. Here his job was to assess and appraise disasters. He retired from FEMA in 1991. John worked for the federal government for over 43 years in one capacity or another. He loved it all!
After John read this on the web, he had some corrections to make. Rather than edit John's comments, I offer them in their entirety. John wrote:
Because I was groggy following a nap yesterday when you called, some of the info needs to be changed. I was serving my three month stint as a mess cook (KP in the other services) that recruits are subject to. I was assigned this duty rather than compartment cleaning. The "Smelly Sauerkraut Incident" should be changed to say: The main course for chow one evening was canned sauerkraut, and it stunk up the mess area. To spare my sensitive lungs, I donned a gas mask while serving this redolent mess. The mess officer put me on report for this deed and I was summoned to Captain's Mast, a non judicial court. When Captain Lincoln asked why I did this, I responded "Because the sauerkraut stunk, sir". The Captain said "I don't blame you for that, case dismissed."
I was not a Gunner's Mate, but a gunner's mate striker and that was on the USS SARGENT BAY, CVE 83, after being transferred from the CALDWELL early in 1944 for assignment to new construction. I was a "swabby" or deck hand on the Caldwell. My GQ station was number two 20 MM anti aircraft weapon and my normal watch was on the bridge as a helmsman. The Bering Sea is notorious for its cold, foggy and stormy weather, which made the steering of the ship very difficult. Many times the waves broke against the bridge and occasionally over the lookout station. The crew was unanimous in wanting to move to more pleasant, from the weather standpoint, South Pacific, which we did in September 1943.
When the war ended I was 19 and had only a 10th grade education. I didn't want to finish high school at such old age. I found that I could take a GED test to determine whether or not I could be accepted by college. I passed the test and was accepted by the University of Arkansas. I received my diploma, my commission and my Air Force active duty orders in May 1951. In 1954 I was sent to Sandia Base, Albuquerque, NM for training in the fairly new nuclear weapons field. I served in this field for the rest of my time in the Air Force, (except for a year in Vietnam commanding a Munition Maintenance Squadron) with two three year assignments to Germany, a one year extension from Germany to Paris to work with US European Command in helping to set up American detachments at non US NATO bases to maintain US custody and care of nuclear weapons deployed to them for use in an all out war with the USSR. Thankfully, the use of these weapons was never necessary. I retired from the Air Force in April, 1971 in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
After less than a month of idleness, I sought and received an appointment to the FEMA Reservist Cadre. This cadre did virtually all the field work, and much of the office work, after the Presidential Declaration of a disaster anywhere in the US and its territories. This cadre was manned by retirees from a multitude of experiences who shared my restlessness. In my second career with FEMA I was deployed to disaster sites from Maine to the Territory of Guam.
If I had it to do over, I wouldn't change a thing!
I know I have rambled on too long. Make any changes that you want to, and keep up the outstanding work you are doing for old salts like me. I intend to strongly recommend you for the first Honorary Caldwell Crew Member.
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