A Navy family

By John Pierre | Feb 21, 2013

Ahoy there, Matey.  Avast!  Batten down the hatches!  Yes I came from a Navy family.  Even my grandpappy, John Holder, on my mother's side and for whom I was named, was a Navy telegrapher,

Two older brothers had joined before I was old enough.  Shortly before my 17th birthday, I approached my dad with some trepidation and told him that I had quit school and had talked with the Navy recruiter who told me I'd have to have parental permission and, even then not before I was 17.

His response?  "When are you leaving?" So, on my 17th birthday, I was sworn in at Seattle.

Sometime later, dad joined the Seabees (as a Chief Petty Officer with rank on all of us) and much later my younger brother became Navy.  There was a time when the family was spread all over the globe.

My oldest brother had just been shipped back from Tsingtao China with tuberculosis, another brother was stationed in San Diego and I was in Aviation Ordnance school in Jacksonville, Florida (how to load and service 20mm wing cannons and to load bombs and rockets on Navy aircraft) while our pappy was in Port Lyautey, French Morocco.

My youngest brother was still at home in Rhode Island to where the family had moved from Washington.  My eldest sibling lived in South San Francisco as she had been married sometime before.

My poor mama looked after the four youngest siblings all by herself.  It must have been a chore.

Upon my graduation from Navy Ordnance school, I opted to travel to where my family was currently living, unannounced.

I finally found the small trailer where they had lived only to find out they had recently moved and nobody knew their current address.

It was cold, snowing and I was wearing my peacoat with the collar turned up and my flat hat pulled down tight, feeling very lost and wondering what to do next.

Then, to my great surprise, along came the '48 Chevrolet that I recognized as having been our family car for many years.

I waved my hand and my father, the driver, pulled over to pick me up.  He didn't recognize me bundled up as I was ... it's just that he occasionally picked up a sailor in that area to take them to Quanset Point where he as stationed between overseas assignments.

Not realizing that he was unaware of my identity, I asked, "How's ma?"  He snapped around as if to respond to what appeared to him to be a smart remark.  Then, he said, "Oh, it's you!!"  It's just sheer luck or providence that caused us to re-connect.

Then came Korea.  One brother was on a Destroyer off the coast and I was on an aircraft carrier loading AD-1 Skyraiders with ordnance.

Pappy was stationed in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.  Yup... we were a Navy family.


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