Everybody Has A Story

Everybody has a story although most would probably disagree his or her life experiences would be worthy of being recorded.  What the story teller might consider as trivial could be a treasure to a writer seeking a suitable newsworthy topic.  My visit recently was with one of the slowly fading away number of veterans of World War II so this means that the story teller would be in his 80s at least.  Lifelong residents of Dillon, he and his wife are the parents of two children and both retirees having worked in a local industry for many years.   He and the “Feel So Good” Godfather of  Soul have something in common: their first and last names.
The Captain of the house still tries to pull his share of the household duties although he is limited in what he can now do to assist his Executive Officer wife with the outdoor chores.  A man of small statue, he says he still maintains the weight he tipped the scales when he was a ‘boy’ in the United States Navy.  He stated that during his more than three years of service in WWII, he often recalled the advice his mother gave him before he left for the sea, “Son you are making a big mistake.”  At the enlistment time, he was absolutely sure he was doing the right thing, but during some of the encounters with the enemy in the Pacific plus life threatening struggles  with the stormy Old Man of the Sea, he was almost ready to agree with his mother-knows-best sage advice.
He received his basic training in Maryland and was immediately sent to Virginia where he was assigned aboard a destroyer on which he served most of his naval career.  The ship was initially stationed in the Atlantic but later was ordered to deploy to the Pacific via the Panama Canal.  Some of his most frightening moments were in this theater of operations.
The ship was involved in numerous combat operations among them Japanese suicide (Kamikaze) attacks while dangerous; still, that enemy was not as overpowering as that of Mother Nature.  His ship was in the paths of several hurricanes or as they are known in the Pacific, typhoons.  To survive the violent movements of the ship, the crew was ordered to get in their bunks and strap themselves in with three belts, insurance from being thrown about in their quarters.
He was trained in food service as a third class petty officer (PO3)*cook (Ck).  The ship’s crew having a complement of 221 seamen had three meals each day as opposed to some of the larger ships such as carriers when the chow lines operate 24/7.  Although trained for a particular occupational specialty, he was also trained to handle other duties in case of an emergency.  He was not the only Sandlaper on the boat; one other crew member was from Sumter and another from the upstate area.
After the war, the 306 foot ship docked/decommissioned at a Florida port and most of the crew returned to civilian life.  Although given an opportunity to continue serving in the Navy, he elected to come home to be with his Mother, he said. The Little Pee Dee was all the water he wanted to see.
He is proud of his service and as a reminder he will show you his Navy keepsake cap which has the outline of his old ship  stitched on it along with with the words USS PARLE (DE 708).
According to Wikipedia, the ship was later refitted and served our country in various capacities until it was sunk as a target off the Florida coast, 27 October 1970.
To the ship and its crew, well done good and faithful servants.
Bill Lee
PO Box 128
Hamer, SC 29547

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