Photo Story: Dad, the Navy, and the USS Indiana

The USS Indiana Bombarding Kamaishi, Japan, July 14, 1945
Plank Owner's Certificate for the USS Indiana
(Photo of the USS Indiana is available at Wikipedia and is in the public domain. Plank Owner's Certificate Privately Held by Cynthia Shenette; Text, Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette) Dad joined the Navy in February of 1942.  He was assigned to the battleship the USS Indiana and served in the Pacific Theatre.  It may sound naive to say I knew a battleship was big, but I had no idea how big until I started researching the Indiana to learn more about my dad.  Five thousand, six hundred, fifty-three (5, 653) men served on the Indiana.  To put it into perspective the total number of sailors on the Indiana was one third the entire population of the town I currently live in.  For more information about the USS Indiana check out the USS Indiana BB-58 Homeport website which has wonderful photos and information, including the ship's log, about the ship.  You can also see a photo of my dad with other members of the Gunnery Department here.

My dad received the plank owner's certificate above on April 30, 1942 as one of the 2,109 men on board when the ship was put into commission.   Plank owners didn't actually "own" a plank of the deck.  It was an honorary title and part of a tradition which dates back to the time of wooden sailing vessels.  The Homeport website has a list of the plank owners.  My dad's name appears here.

My dad participated in 11 major battles in the Pacific Theatre.  He spoke very little about the actual battles, but I do remember him talking about a major fire on the ship.  When I started researching the Indiana I learned that the fire was caused by a collision between the Indiana and another ship, the USS Washington, which you can read about here.

My dad received two silver stars and two bronze stars for his service. Again, he never talked about what he did to receive his honors.  While he was proud of his service he never bragged about what he had done. He didn't "trot out his glory bars" as he use to say.  He was just doing his job. I did learn from someone years ago that he received one of his silver stars for throwing a live shell that had misfired off the deck and into the ocean. He was just doing his job.

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Michelle Goodrum said...

Just doing his job - that was very typical of that generation of men.

Cynthia Shenette said...

Michelle - You are so right. While every generation has something for which to commend itself, I truly believe the World War II generation was the "greatest generation." They were ordinary men (and in some cases women) who were just doing their job.

Thank you for your comment!

devleigh said...

I found this blog entry today as I was looking through images of the USS Indiana. My grandfather who we lost two weeks ago also enlisted in February 1942 and served on the Indiana and is a plank owner. I found particularly striking what you said about just doing his job. I heard him say the same thing. Thank you for sharing.