Updated: Aug 29, 2022
When my father died, my brother and I found an old briefcase hidden under a table on the patio of his apartment. His wife Madeline didn't know it was there and suggested that we just throw it out. In the briefcase was his old address book, a well-worn Cribbage board, the Scrabble game he played with me and my brothers over forty years ago, a couple of pictures of me and my brothers, pictures of my mother, and my children, and an envelope with over sixty photographs of his ship and his shipmates.
Like many impassioned young men of the time, my father enlisted in the Navy in July of 1942 with a falsified birth certificate. He was sixteen at the time, and had just completed his junior year in high school. After recruit training at the NTS Newport, RI, he was transferred to the US Navy Training School and received a completion certificate as a radioman with a second-class petty officer rating. After a quick trip to the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, he was transferred to the Amphibious Training Base in Solomons, MD where he joined his shipmates on a Landing Ship Tank: the LST 374.
According to Wiki and the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, LST 374 was laid down on 12 November 1942 at Quincy, Mass., by the Bethlehem Steel Co.; launched on 19 January 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Victor D. Herbster; and commissioned on 29 January 1943.
During World War II, LST 374 was assigned to the European theater and participated in the Sicilian occupation in July and August 1943 and the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. She returned to the United States and was decommissioned on 29 May 1945 and struck from the Navy list on 12 March 1946. On 14 January 1947, the tank landing ship was sold to A. G. Schoonmaker. LST 374 earned two battle stars for World War II service.
This morning, I completed a Flag Order Form and sent it and a check for $18.00 made payable to The Keeper of the Stationery, The Honorable Mark Pryor, 255 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510. I've asked that the flag be flown for my father and the men of the LST 374.