About a month ago, I got emails and a book order from Brian Fair. His grandfather served on the ship, and he wanted a set of “Baked Beans.”
I shipped them off and then he sent me a few pics of his grandfather, a copy of his discharge papers, and a “bio sheet” that his grandfather wrote about his service in the war and on the Boston.
Ok – so you can see that Cloyd served on several ships in the War.
I’ve transcribed his “bio sheet” :
Cloyd L. Fair
Born 1913 in Gordo AL. Enlisted U.S. Navy in 1940. Trained at Norfolk VA. Served aboard USS Arizona Dec. 1940 then transferred to USS Nevada Jan. 1941. Also served these vessels and stations: NTS. NOB, Norfolk, VA. USS Phoenix, USS Boston, USS Colorado, USS West Virginia, US NAVECSTA, NAVSTA, Seattle WA.
Serving with the Third Fleet, I slept late Sunday morning – slept 1 deck below barbershop. Missed breakfast- was sitting in barber shop drinking coffee and eating coffee cake, only with my shoes and skivvies on when the first Japanese plane flew over Dec. 7. The color guard was just raising the flag. I saw planes with the rising sun emblem. I realized it was a Jap attack. The barber shop had 2 portholes. I looked out – the USS Nevada was under heavy attack but just got underway. I closed the porthole then started to my 5 inch battery station. I never made it. I was climbing up the ladder – met a gunner’s mate coming down. He asked where I was going. I told him and he said don’t go up – there are a lot of people already trapped. Then a bomb hit in the Ammunition box. Lot of people killed where I was supposed to be. I joined the first aid station. We ran out of materials. I was told to rip bed covers and sheets for use later. Later the chief came down the hatch – his right leg was almost blown off. I never knew what happened to him.
I was transferred to USS Phoenix Dec. 10, 1941, serving until May 1943, then served on USS Boston during invasion of Marshall Islands. I was discharged as SSMB first class, Dec. 1946. Medals: American Defense, 1 star; Asiatic Pacific, 15 stars; Good Conduct; Victory Medal.
Note: Cloyd did not only serve on the Boston for the Marshalls campaign. He was a plankowner – mustered aboard with all the others on Commissioning Day (June 30, 1943), and he served all the way through the War until after the Surrender in September, 1945.
A few days ago I published two clips from my interviews with Pat Fedele. In the first, he talked about his singing on the ship and his role in the “Three B’s” The second one finished with the a segment of the beautiful song he wrote, “Let’s Dance the Christmas Waltz” – it being two days before Christmas.
Now you can hear (over three clips) John Farkas talking about Boot Camp, reporting to Boston, getting snagged back into the Navy for duty in Korea, and back to Boston, eating an Italian meal, and seeing the ship for the first time.
I have hours and hours of interviews from 7 or so years ago. I was working on the Baked Beans books, and through a series of lucky breaks, I was able to interview six plankowners (and one Marine officer.) The guys were in their mid-80’s, and the interviews “tapes” are free-wheeling recordings. My intent was to get their words down accurately, so I could transcribe what they said accurately into the books.
The recordings are a mess. They were done casually, with plenty of ambient noise and yours-truly yakking away during these free-form “chats.” Only two or three of them were one-on-ones in relatively quiet rooms. For example, I met with John Farkas at his home in Florida; when I play back the tapes I hear John, me, John’s wife Theresa, his son Joe, and their dog. I visited Pat Fedele several times, and in his tapes I hear Pat, me, my sons (on one visit), Pat’s wife Sandra, phone conversations, gardeners making a racket outside the back door, etc. etc.
Anyway, I began (at least in spirit) the daunting task of listening to some of the tapes to see if anything is “salvageable” enough to publish bits and pieces of the interviews. The answer is a weak “yes.” I wanted to start with some of their answers to “what was it like when you got to Boston.” That caused me to start listening to the interviews, – all gazillion hours of them. You will be hearing some of these in the future (note: there is a serious file-size limit on audio files in WordPress – at least as far as I can tell.)
I am happy to share two highly edited and chopped to bare bones files of a small chunk of time with Pat Fedele. In the first file, Pat and I were talking about how he put together the ship’s singing trio, the “Three B’s,” as we looked at pictures in the Cruise Book. The second file needs no explanation.
To our friends and readers who celebrate Christmas, we wish you Merry Christmas. To our friends who celebrate Hannukah, we wish you Happy Hannukah. To our friends who celebrate the various other year-end holidays, we wish you peace. Happy Holidays!
Obviously, not every man aboard the Boston celebrated Christmas. But among the roughly 1500 young sailors (18 year-olds, mostly); being so far from home was an emotional time. The ship was “at sea” for three Christmases. 1943: Having finally left Boston, transited the Panama Canal, visited San Francisco, and arrived at Pearl Harbor two years to the day after the Attack; the men spent Christmas anchored in Pearl Harbor (next to the sunken Arizona.) 1944: The men had been in constant battle for the entire year, and had spent six+ months in various Philippines operations. They had survived the 1st and 2nd Battles of the Philippine Sea. During refueling in mid December, the Task Force endured the terrifyingly dangerous Typhoon Cobra, during which more than 800 men perished. On Dec. 22nd, the ship dropped anchor in the Ulithi Lagoon, where the men celebrated Christmas. 1945: Even though the bitter war finally ended on August 15, 1945, the Boston and her crew were assigned to Occupation Duty. While hundreds of men were mustered off the ship in October and November, hundreds more were still aboard on Christmas Day.
December 6, 1943
. . . On entering Pearl Harbor we passed through torpedo nets that are opened and closed by tugs . . . On our way in signs of the attack could still be seen. The Battleship Oklahoma was afloat but at a 45 degree angle and still pumping water out of her. The water and shoreline was covered with a lot of oil. We tied up alongside the concrete piers, which is called Battleship Row, alongside Ford Island. The Arizona is alongside the pier, on the inboard side. Looking over the side we can make out the outline of the hull and turret 1 and 4 still have their 14″ guns on board. A lot of oil is seeping out of the Arizona. Frank Studenski
Dec 7 – 43 Two years ago today Pearl harbor where we are now anchored was attacked. We can still see some of the ships half sunk. George Pitts
Interview memories (excerpts)
When we first got to Pearl Harbor, when we were going through the channel, I remember that you could see oil bubbling up, and it looked like smoke here and there. We tied up alongside the Arizona, and you could look down and see it lying there. Bob Knight
When we first arrived, it was hard to believe two years had passed since the December 7th attack. The Arizona was ghastly looking and some of the other ships were still half-sunk. George Pitts
Compliments of “U.S.S BOSTON in World War II (Baked Beans vol. 1)