From Proceedings Magazine, June 2008:

…I never have to strain my memory to recall the day I decided to join the Navy. It was 7 December 1941. I was driving from my home in Van Meter, Iowa, to Chicago to discuss my next contract with the Cleveland Indians, and I heard over the car radio that the Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor. I was angry as hell…

…But it makes a difference when you go through a war, no matter which branch of the service you’re in. Combat is an experience that you never forget. A war teaches you that baseball is only a game, after all—a minor thing, compared to the sovereignty and security of the United States. I once told a newspaper reporter that the bombing attack we lived through on the Alabama had been the most exciting 13 hours of my life. After that, I said, the pinstriped perils of Yankee Stadium seemed trivial. That’s still true today….

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  • RADM (Ret) Ben Wachendorf

    My father was a West Point Graduate, Class of 1942. He had another baseball hall of fame pitcher, Stan Musial, in his company in combat in Europe.

    I was senior officer at Submarine Birthday Ball in San Diego in 1997. Our guest speaker was the actor, Tony Curtiss. He gave a great speech about getting his mother’s consent to join the Navy on his 17th birthday. He went to submarine school and was a sub fill crew signalman waiting to go on the next war patrol when the war ended. He was on board a sub tender with direct line of sight to the surrender ceremony on USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Tony Curtiss always credited the Navy for his acting career because after the war he went to acting school in New York City. Marlon Brando, Walter Mathau and other later to be famous actors were in his class, but Tony said he got a movie contract before any of the others in his class because the Navy fixed his teeth and the others had a lot of dental problems.

    Can anyone imagine Lebron James, Cam Newton, Tiger Woods, or any Hollywood star today interrupting their careers like Cpl Pat Tillman did to fight for their country?

  • Byron

    Sad to say, RADM, but I truly think today’s pampered youth and especially sports stars wouldn’t even consider it.

  • Lowly USN Retired

    American society today has glamorized athletes, rappers, pop singers, especially the morally corrupt ones and reality TV. Is it any wonder why many of the youth of America are morally bankrupt? These children have been neglected and failed by their parents, their government school and society in general by allowing the children to become programed and brainwashed by these so called celebrities. Has the dumbing of America reached its apex; or, is it continuing in Battle Override at Flank III?

  • Fouled Anchor

    “Can anyone imagine Lebron James, Cam Newton, Tiger Woods, or any Hollywood star today interrupting their careers like Cpl Pat Tillman did to fight for their country?”

    Sadly sir, I cannot, but Cpl Tillman serves as a recent example, so maybe all is not lost.

2014 Information Domination Essay Contest