Can anyone help me?

Discussion in 'Remembering' started by Georgia Girl, Apr 12, 2006.

  1. Georgia Girl

    Georgia Girl New Member

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    I am looking for anybody who might remember my grandfather, Matthew Conner. He was a Gunner's Mate 1st Class in the Navy during WWII and the Korean War. He didn't like to talk about the wars that much, and he died five years ago, so I would appreciate any old shipmates who could tell me about my grandfather during this period. Thanks!:)
  2. Yoge Mountain

    Yoge Mountain New Member

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    Your Search

    Georgia Girl,

    It's almost impossible to locate anyone who served with someone else in the military from WWII anymore. But don't give up trying to learn as much as you can about your Grandfather's military service.

    Maybe start by asking your parents for a copy of your Grandfather's military separation papers, or DD214. That record may list the naval units your grandfather served with along with any battle campaigns.

    Do as much research as you can. Did your Grandfather live in Richmond Hill Ga? Did he attend Bethesda Scool For Boys as a youth? If so, then he also attended Georgia University- probably on the GI Bill when he got out of the Navy. Check at the GUV library to see if their alumni newspaper has any old stories about your Grandfather's military service. Maybe check with their records department too.

    Also, he may have joined the Fleet Reserve Asscociation.

    Its a real nice thing you're doing, trying to learn about your Grandfather's military service to his country. You should be very proud of him.

    Good luck,:)
    Yoge
  3. Georgia Girl

    Georgia Girl New Member

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    Thank you!

    Yoge Mountain,

    Thank you so much for your suggestions. Nana is trying to find me Papa's discharge papers. She said that she thinks that the names of the ships he served on are on there. Papa did live in RH, and he grew up at Bethesda, so I will try that next.

    Thank you for taking the time to help me out. And thank you for your service to my country. I appreciate both. :)


    Georgia Girl
  4. larrydfagre

    larrydfagre New Member

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    God bless you child for seeking out more info on your papa. Feel free to email me if you need anything. I was a Chief Gunner's Mate in the Navy and can maybe make some sense out of terminology you may encounter.
  5. Georgia Girl

    Georgia Girl New Member

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    Thank you for your offer, and I think that I am going to take you up on it. This is going to sound really stupid, but no one else seems to be able to tell me. What would Papa have done as a Gunner's Mate? All I know about it is that it is a rank. Not much, huh? Did it have to do with some special branch of the Navy? Again, thank you for your offer and for taking the time to write.:)


    Georgia Girl
  6. TinCanMan

    TinCanMan Active Member

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    Actually, it's not a rank at all, it's a rating (job description). His rank would be in addition to his rating such as Gunner's Mate 1st class or Gunner's Mate 3rd class usually abbreviated GM1 or GM3 or possibly Gunner's Mate Seaman. Gunners Mates are the Navy's weapons.experts. They maintain and operate weapons as small as hand guns on up to the 16" cannons on the former battleships.

    What you really need to do is contact the National Archives and request his Personnel Record, Medical Record and Report of separation. These documents will tell you where he served. There's probably an association and a reunion for just about any unit. There you will find the folks that know him.

    If you are next of kin you can get these records but you need to know his full name, including his middle name. and preferably his service number. Every serviceman from that era had one. If you don't have his SN, provide as much info as you can such as place/date of enlistment, Date of Birth, Rate/Rank. Understand there are lots of folks with the same name. Their archivist has to identify your guy from the others. If you have his service number, it's a slam dunk. Look around the house for his Report of Separation or any military documents that may help to identify him.
  7. mzjasco

    mzjasco New Member

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    Grandad's info

    Georgia Girl:

    You might try on Google; type in last name & family genealogy; you'll be amazed at the folks searching each other & oner may have some help.

    My husband was a radioman aboard the USS Auburn & thank goodness he was a pack-rat; we have pictures of the the ship & it isn't even in Janes Book of Ships! We have a Christmas Day menu & other memorabelia. Keep on lookin for your Grandad's info; we owe are freedoms to all of those men & we don't express it enough.

    Let me know if I can help. I had a stroke 1 yr ago & have time to help search.

    Marilyn (mzjasco; translated is Joint Assaut Signal Company; the "Auburn was a communications ship during the efforts on Iwo Jima, Okinawa etc. I'm blessed to still have my sailor with me.)
  8. Georgia Girl

    Georgia Girl New Member

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    Thank you both so much for the information and offer of help. I found Papa's service number, so I am going to write the National Archives. I did try Google, but none of the Matthew Conners it came up with were the one I was looking for. I have one more question. Since the rank was the 1st class, and not the Gunner's Mate, how high or low would that have been? I was just curious and not sure how that worked. Thanks again!



    Georgia Girl
  9. TinCanMan

    TinCanMan Active Member

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    There was only one enlisted rank above 1st class Petty Officer at the time and that was Chief Petty Officer. For Gunner's Mate that would have been Chief Gunner's Mate, abbreviated GMC.

    Once you have his Service Records, search for whatever unit (Ship or Station) he was attached to. When you have that, Google on it and you will undoubtedly find an association for it. One of the ships I was stationed on was commissioned in 1942 and has held an annual reunion since 1947. I occasionally attend and it amazes me that I can't tell the 40's crew from those in the late 60's by looking at period pictures.
  10. Georgia Girl

    Georgia Girl New Member

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    Thanks, TinCanMan. It is so neat that I might finally be getting to find out some more about Papa. Nana is grateful for everyone's help, too. Both of us wish now that we had tried to find some of this stuff out while he was still alive. Could one unit have been attached to several ships over the duration? Or would he have been joining another unit everytime he was assigned to a new ship? Because we know that he served on at least three different ships. One of them was sunk during WWII, and he spent three days in a lifeboat before he was rescued. Thanks for your help!:)


    Georgia Girl

    P.S. I have been wondering,(and you don't have to answer if you don't want to), but where did your screen name come from? It really is OK if you don't want to say, my curiousity just got the better of me. :)
  11. TinCanMan

    TinCanMan Active Member

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    I used the term "unit" to describe any command to which a sailor could be attached but more appropriately, most sailors are attached and serve in ships or on shore stations. Ships are attached to various organizational units such as Squadrons, Battle Groups, Fleets. Task Forces etc. Squadrons and Fleets generally concerned themselves with maintenance and training while Battle Groups and Task Forces were concerned with fighting the ship. As you've discovered, your grandfather served on several ships and he would only be assigned to one at any time. That ship could move between organizational units frequently as the operations dictated. When in my homeport of Pearl Harbor we were assigned to 1st Fleet and when we deployed to the Western Pacific we were assigned to the 7th fleet and simultaneously became a Task Unit of Task force 77. All of that is pretty much useless information to anyone not part of it. It is the ship where you may find find your grandfathers shipmates. Since you already know their names, Google on it like this; "USS Renshaw". You will be presented with many results. Somewhere in and among them you may find an association for that ship. Go to their web site or contact them via e-mail and/or attend a reunion. Just ask questions like you did here.

    Oh, OK. The name. I served in many ships during my career, Tenders, Aircraft Carriers, Experimental Ships and Destroyers. A ship is much like a family and for what it's worth, destroyers were the most memorable for me.

    Destroyers are very simple ships, no radio, no TV, entertainment consisted of sitting on the fantail, watching the water go by and maybe listening to someone play a guitar or harmonica. One third of the ship was devoted to weapons, one third to engines and what ever was left to berthing and messing (sleeping and eating).

    I was a young adult while serving in destroyers. They were my family and their crews were part of my other family. When we were in our homeport, they ate at my table, watched my TV and helped raise my children. I will always consider myself a destroyer man. They were a big influence on me and are part of who I am today.

    Destroyers generally have thin hulls, mostly 1/4 inch steel plate. They seldom stop even the smallest of projectiles and sometimes not even small arms fire. Sort of like a tin can. Destroyers are known in the fleet as tincans and since I identify with them, TinCanMan

    We even have our own association Tin Can Sailors, The National Association of Destroyer Sailors.
  12. Georgia Girl

    Georgia Girl New Member

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    Oh. That is a really interesting name. Thank you for explaining it. :) It sounds like being assigned to a destroyer was a dangerous job. Did you ever get to pick your assignments, or did you just get what you got? Oh, and I am grateful for both your help and for your fighting for me before I was born. :) Oh, yeah, and what was the fantail? I have heard the term many times before, but I didn't know what it was. I guess I never thought to ask anybody before.



    Georgia Girl
  13. TinCanMan

    TinCanMan Active Member

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    Dangerous? Well, that depends. It certainly was during your grandfathers era in WWII because the destroyer of that time was considered expendable. It was open ocean warfare and the destroyer was fast, plentiful and cheap. They were intended to protect capital assets like Battleships, carriers and cruisers and would be deployed around them to protect them from attack by submarines and aircraft and if necessary, take the hit instead. We built 175 Fletcher class destroyers and over a hundred Gearing class destroyers during WWII.

    After WWII, there was pretty much no nation that could challenge the USN at sea so much of the danger went away. During the Vietnam era. we could pretty much sit offshore and fire our guns at will at inland targets. The enemy pretty much didn't have ships but they could attack by air and with cannons from the shore. My ship took a hit from a 3" shell in the aft deck house that did minimal damage but most ships were never hit. It was, however, a very spartan and austere lifestyle.

    Today, destroyers pretty much act as a screen for the carriers and while there's still no adversary that can challenge us on the ocean, the Persian Gulf is a different issue. It's very small and the enemy can attack with missiles from ashore, patrol boats, mines and even small boats loaded with explosives like what happened to the USS Cole. So the PG can be very dangerous for the destroyer. Destroyers today are 4 times the size of their WWII counterparts and no longer cheap, but they are still expendable and still built like tin cans.

    Prior to the 60's, no one got to pick anything. But then things started to change. Everyone was assigned to a detailer that mad the assignments based on what we called a "dream sheet" which asked us to outline 3 choices. I was stationed on shore duty in Philadelphia and picked Any sub tender in Rota, Spain or Holy Loch, Scotland and any ship stationed at Gaeta, Italy or Greece. I got a destroyer in Pearl Harbor. Later I was on shore duty in San Diego and asked for any destroyer in San Diego or Long Beach. They tried to send me back to Pearl until I raised hell, then they gave me a carrier. I should have taken the can in Pearl. They tell me it works much better today.

    The Navy has it's own language we don't have floors, walls ceilings, stairs or rooms. Instead we have decks, bulkheads, overheads, ladders and compartments. Ships have a bow and a stern (the pointy end and the roundy end). We don't go to the front or rear. Instead we go forward or aft. We don't go up or down in a ship. instead we go above or below and if we are going to the main deck, we go topside. The very aft most portion of the stern is called the fantail. Almost nothing on a ship is called what you would expect. We sleep on a rack and eat on the messdecks. The stewburners cook our food in the galley and we go to the bathroom in a head. Our physician's assistant is called a corpsman and he works in sick bay. The list goes on forever but you get the idea. If you come across a term you're unfamiliar with, just ask.
  14. Georgia Girl

    Georgia Girl New Member

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    Help!!

    Hi again, TinCanMan. (I like that name, now that it has been explained. :) )
    I need help. I am CONFUSED, which is no surprise considering it is over government forms. :) I am trying to fill out the SF-180 request for military information form from the National Archives website.

    First, where it says check officer or enlisted, as a GMM1, Papa would have been enlisted, wouldn't he?

    Then where it says "Is (was) this person retired from military service?" do they mean did they retire after a full career in the military or do they mean are they out of the military now?

    Then on section 5 where it says "Service, past and present", they have spaces for active service and reserve service, and a section for a different service number for that period. I have no idea if Papa was ever in the Reserve or not, and if he was and he had a different service number then, I wouldn't have a clue how to find it! So what do I do?

    Lastly, where it says "Other information/documents requested", I need to know what to put there if I want everything they have on him. Pictures, medical records, unit names and dates, all of it. I think that that was all I was confused about. (As if that wasn't enough!:) ) If you could clear any of that up, I would be VERY grateful.


    Georgia Girl
  15. TinCanMan

    TinCanMan Active Member

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    Retired means either a full career or a medical retirement. If your grandmother isn't getting a monthly paycheck from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) for his service, he wasn't retired.

    Back in the 40's all enlistments were processed manually and it was possible to have a different service number for each enlistment. If you know of different service numbers, put them down, other wise just the one you know of. If different numbers were used, it's possible records are stored under each. Most enlistments were regular navy during wwii. Unless you know better, skip the reserve business.

    You want to specify:
    Military Personnel Record
    Service Medical Record
    Report of Separation (any/all)
    any records available for S/N ###-##-####
  16. Georgia Girl

    Georgia Girl New Member

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    Ok, I think I have it fixed now. Thank you for all the help!

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