Posted by: Jim E | October 3, 2011

A HoneyCrisp Apple…WWII…My Dad…And The USS Cinnamon…

And before I can really write anything today…I have to say, we have had the most beautiful weather here in Little Rock…its not unusual this time of year…the TV weather guys, usually say, the only cure for the beastly, brutal, hot weather in the summer here in Arkansas is…October…and it’s true…I must admit this has been this nice even the last week or so of September…but this is what we live here for…spring is nice, beautiful and long but…tornadoes…it can’t rain without severe weather…damaging winds at least…and summer is brutally hot, ’nuff said…but fall is long and just beautiful…(I’ll skip winter for now)…today is about 75 or so…dewpoint in the 30’s…it is wonderful…the house is open and out on the porch we went and spent some time…it was coffee time…so we had coffee…Judie and Jeremy made pumpkin bars yesterday…so it was a pumpkin bar…and our first HoneyCrisp apple of the year…Oh, I’m sure they have been up north already…but it was finally great to have one…here is a picture a couple left over…on our countertop…I just couldn’t let that go as I write about something totally different…here goes…

I have been going to write something about my Dad and his being in the Navy during WWII…I have too much to write in one sitting so…I will do just some things and let it go for now…my Dad went in the Navy October 28, 1943…he had a wife and two boys at home…I was not quite 2 years old and my brother was about 5…so my Mom had her hands full as he left…this country was in dire straits at that time of the war…there were a few victories, but precious few…and it would take many lives in the next year or so, to really see things turn around…my Dad had his basic training at Great Lakes Naval Training Station near Chicago…lots of sailors and naval aviators were trained there…and still are…not many people know about Great Lakes but in fact, tens of thousands of recruits go through there every year…( President George H.W. Bush trained to be a flyer there, during WWII)…after basic training and a visit home, Dad was shipped to San Diego…where he was assigned to the USS Cinnamon…a net laying ship which served in the South Pacific theatre of operations…here’s a picture of his ship…

Its job was to lay torpedo nets or submarine nets around ships at anchor or across the openings of harbors…to protect the ships from Japanese subs…my Dad was never really “proud” of what he did…because he was not “in battle”…but the truth was those men who served always, as my Dad did, said the only heroes were the ones that didn’t come back…he was a hero to me in that he served and he went far away from home…to a place he had never heard of before…left Minneapolis, Minnesota and home, as a very young man…and didn’t know what he was going to face…or if he was ever going to come back…by 1943, already there were “boys” in the neighborhood that had given their lives…

After training, the USS Cinnamon left for the South Pacific…and Milne Bay, New Guinea, where she was awarded one battle star for service there…this was the closest that the Japanese got to Australia…they attacked at Milne Bay to acquire the airfields there in 1942…after a protracted battle the Australians pushed the Japanese out of that area…and later the USS Cinnamon arrived there to protect the harbor…then it was on to Manus in the Admiralty Islands…in June and July 1944 she laid almost 9,000 yards of torpedo net to protect the harbor…

Now there were hundreds of battles in WWII…but no doubt you have never heard of the Battle of Milne Bay…though it, like all of them, was very important…being one of the first to prove that the Japanese were not invincible…like many in America were thinking at the time…just take some time and “find” the island of Manus or Milne Bay on a map…and see how far away it is…and how small it seems…but it was real to my Dad…he was there…Milne Bay to Manus, the USS Cinnamon supported operations in the New Guinea area from May 18, 1944 until January 17, 1945…she then sailed for the Philippines…and remaining until November 17, 1945…(the Japanese surrendered August 15, 1945)…they then sailed for San Francisco and arrived December 22, 1945…and we were there to meet him…

My Mom loaded both of us boys on the train, along with her, from Minneapolis to San Francisco…travel was not like it is today…most of the trains were being used for troops…and though I don’t remember much about that time…being about 3…she told of the trip…that it was dirty, long and no fun…but the rats on board rode free…steam was still around at the time…the cars were old…but we were going to meet my Dad…we lived in San Francisco for a few months waiting…and then some time after…but they made the decision to go back home to Minnesota…and that is were they spent the remaining years of their lives…

Dad was honorably discharged on January 5, 1946…just a few weeks after he returned to the States…his ship, with different crew, sailed from San Pedro, California to Pearl Harbor in November 1946…then on to Wake Island, then to Guam…then Shanghai…arriving March 15, 1947…was decommissioned and transferred to Nationalist China…

It seems so long ago…well, I guess it was…but it was in my lifetime…I’m almost 70…and my folks both lived long lives…my Dad died in 1999…my Mom in 2004…both into their 80’s…both experienced almost all of the 20th century…with all its history…it was a long and eventful journey…a lot like yours and mine…

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Responses

  1. I know it is beautiful in AK in the fall and the spring as well as winter. But it is so beautiful here this fall. Temps in the 70’s and color every where. Just thought I would throw in a good word about MN. Usually I can’t but this fall has really been nice. Loving it!!!

    • Oh, Arkansas is beautiful…but it doesn’t have the “color” that Minnesota does…or Wisconsin…or Michigan…the colors here are a little subdued but still very nice…but we miss Minnesota color in the fall…although Arkansas has in newer areas planted maples…so there is more color in the cities now…after years of planting them…our street just comes alive with color in the next few weeks…probably by the first of November or so…we don’t loose leaves for the winter until later in November…a long fall here…but you make me a little homesick with you post…I know in Minnesota fall can be short or non-existent, so enjoy this year…with all its beauty…I also have noticed the warm temps you have been having…have a great fall…Jim E

  2. A very interesting story about your Dad- kids growing up now will have little idea of what it was like before the Internet, let alone how things were in WWII. It’s good to pass along these stories from the past, Jim. Glad you wrote about it!

    • I’m trying to put down what will be lost in only a few more years…like you W.S., you are putting down things that your family, plus the rest of us, will always remember…not necessarily every word….but the meaning behind them…there is beauty in every story…yours, nature and all that is around you…for me and others…a myriad of experiences and stories…and our stories live on…even if only, in part…thanks…

  3. My dad was on the USS Cinnamon. According to him, the ship was involved in some pretty hairy battles, as well as many on-shore island battles. He had several bayonet wounds to prove it. He performed a diverse number of jobs on the ship. He was a frogman(where he laid buoys and net), a signalman, a cook, and sometimes operated the laundry room.
    He was 17 years old when he joined the Navy, of course with consent from his parents. I’m sure both our fathers must have served at the same time.
    He didn’t get married until he was 29 in 1954. My parents had eight children together and never divorced. He reluctantly told some stories of the USS Cinnamon, where after an attack, he and other shipmates would have to clean the decks of the aftermath. Using high-pressure water hoses would have to blow the blood and body parts of their buddies off the ship. My father died in 1989 at the age of 64. My mother died in 1996 at the age of 65. My dad claimed to have killed 65 Japanese in the short time he was serving on the USS Cinnamon. He became very versed in poetry while on the USS Cinnamon. He was very fond of Robert Frost and Ruyard Kipling. My siblings and I all learned the poems by heart, as he would recite them all through our lives. I’m not certain how many sailors were on the ship, but it would be interesting if they actually knew each other. Thanks for posting.


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