Aaron Ward (DM 34) - Naval Cruise Book

 - Class of 1945

Page 9 of 48


Aaron Ward (DM 34) - Naval Cruise Book online yearbook collection, 1945 Edition, Page 9
Page 9

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,un BIOGRAPHY 0F A LADY lt was only yesterday that we received orders assigning us to the Aaron Ward, DD 773, building in the S-an 'Pedro Sfhipyard of Bethlehern.Steel. Yet yesterday and today are significant dates in our lives spanned only by the many months that have witnessed "the evolution" of our proud man-of-war. Now that the story of World War ll has been written on the pages of his-tory, we can feel that our job, though tragic and costly, was well done. Time erases many wiounds, leaving only the physical scars of battle, but w-ho of the Aaron Ward crew will ever forget the ship's memorable experiences in the Pacific where the old gal survived the most severe tests that war with lapan hadto offer. She brought us back, for that we are forever grateful. 'And now to turn the pages backward and reminisce awhile. How many of us recall our precommissioning work, when we labored, studied, drilled, and prepared ourselves in our separate fields for our shipboard duties. First at Norfolk, where we attended school, learned about the intricacies of our ship's machinery, her damage control, and gunnery equipment. Here we were content to apply ourselves diligently, seldom distracted by thoughts of liberty and recreation. No offense directed at this town's Chamber of Commerce, but Norfolk and its 'lgay white way" tempted us slightly. And so we chose to restrict our theatre of operations to the "reservation" where we could indulge in a softball game, swim, or take in a movie. While some of us enjoyed the cool breezes of the East Coast, others had already migrated to that "isle of paradise", Treasure lsland, where Mr. Neupert had set up his headquarters. Here the future sailors of the Ward found a rigorous routine, a daily grind that served to train and prepare them for work ahead. Yet the reward was worth the effort, for only minutes away beckoned the town of 'Frisco-a ci-ty re-plete with that good stuff that liberties are made of. Yes, life here was truly Utopian, and before long we who had been East, went West to complete the "Aaron Ward round-up", and by the middle of September all 300 of us AW stalwarts were cozily berthed in Barracks N, under the friendly though austere supervision of our executive officer. An advanced guard, in the meanwhile, had reported to San Pedro to assist in the ship's construction. They, too, joined us in our disappointment and disillusionment when the Navy Department informed us, rather abruptly, that the Aaron Ward originally destined to ride the seas as a DD, had been converted to a DM. A period of mourning followed, when old DD sailors cursed their lot, and the "youngsters" reflected the mood of sullen resignation. But men of the sea, like their civilian counterparts, soon adjust themselves to their environment, and before l-ong the future loomed as bright as ever. . Then, and inevitable it was, the day of reckoning arrived. Drawing some odd 300 AW "veterans" under his protective wing, Lt. "Tom" Wallace, with a few flourishes and one or two skirmishes with the Red Cross, Shore Patrol and local Elks Club, departed from the nostalgic environs of "Tl" and arrived in San Pedro the next day. How many of us will ever forget that trainride. That interminable wait, the "cor- fortable and luxurious" troop trains that had their own private supply of anthracite for the cold night's ride. The intrigue practiced on us by a small clique of train "belly-robbers", whose evil intentions were thwarted by Lt. Wallace and Ens. Dillon, the latter's sacrifice comprising some 'leven sandwiches and an empty stomach. There were no medals for this detective work, but the gratitude of a well--fed group of transients still wells in their breasts. And so we arrived in Pedro. ln several days we all donned our suits, gave our shoes that old "spit and polish", and stood at attention, while our beloved skipper accepted the Aaron Ward as his own. That day will live long in our memory. Then it was when we assembled, all of us, from the skipper on down, to pledge ourselves to the holy task of serving a beautiful and proud lady. How willingly we escorted our parents and friends thruout the ship, showing off our 'ivast" knowledge and basking in the limeligfht of our new home. We discovered too that our doctor possessed an excellent taste in women, and had already embarked on a career that witnessed joy replacing gloom in so many of the fairer sex's lives. After a month or so Cin the Navy Yardl of "last minute" work, we sounded one long blast on the whistle, set condition Baker, and backed out of our slip, bound for San Diego and six wee-ks of shaking down. Here again life was pleasant, for seldom were we at sea more than several days at a time. Only when the mighty New York arrived on the scene, did we relinquish our hold on dry land for an appre-ciablef length of time. For the first time in our young life we felt useful, offering our protecting arm to an ancien relative of the sea. Yet after ten days of salt water, we returned to our gravey routine that included so many "invigorating" liberties in the town of San Diego. For that shakedown we are forever grateful. E or weeks we sailed our ship, participating in numerOuS exercises that bettered and hardened us for the tasks ahead. Under the skillful leadership of Lt. Eubel, our

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