Tuesday, January 1, 2013

70 years ago this week, a chance meeting San Pedro

USS Zeilin AP-3 by Wayne Scarpaci

The transition of time for most of the world is now January 1st. As the celebrations of the year 2013 were ushered in from Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Dubai and across Europe as Paris, then London lit the night sky with the spectacle of fireworks worthy of any independence celebration or in the case of our own history, a nation born of martial combat.

It is also significant that we in the US mark the transit of anniversaries as they reach milestones. This year past we marked the bi-centennial of the War of 1812, the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, and as we move through this decade, the 70th anniversary of the events of World War II. This brings me to write about an event that occurred 70 years ago this past week, that is seminal to my existence. It was during the week between Christmas and New Years in 1942, that my mother met my father at a USO dance. The chance meeting came about when dad's ship the USS Zeilin AP-9, was attacked on the eve of the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal and escaped being sunk through the efforts their escort the USS Atlanta CL-51, and her own crew's gunnery who claimed two planes, and their efforts after a bomb glanced of off the side and blew out several hull plates.

USS Atlanta defending the USS Zeilin Nov 11, 1942

Jay B Wade, 1942

After temporary repairs, my father's ship returned to San Pedro, California, arriving on December 23, 1942 where she entered dry dock until March 1943, when she sailed for Aleutian Campaign followed later with the invasion of Tarawa and Kwajalein in the spring of 1944. My dad, was sent home on leave and joined the new carrier USS Bon Homme Richard CV-31 and ended the war off Japan.

My Dad returned from the war and in the first half decade of my life, left me to wonder why. I wrote the several posts in the early days of this blog about my memories of him, and how I came to discover that I had two long lost brothers from different mothers who have become as close as if we were raised together in the same home. My brother Vince, shares a love of history and the Navy, inspired by our father's service. Over time I was able to construct my father's service history and when the USS Iowa BB-61 became a museum ship in San Pedro, I began to spend all my spare time as did Vince. It was during this time that Vince quietly commissioned a remembrance that I will cherish forever. He had a mutual friend and gifted naval artist Wayne Scarpaci, make a painting of the USS Zeilin passing Angels Gate as she sailed into San Pedro, setting the stage for me to sit here typing this heartfelt thank you to my brother Vince, and Wayne, for a superb tribute to my dad's memory.

No comments: