Monday, December 31, 2007


Some notes from the last issue of the Prairie Schooner.


In the parlor there were three -

She, the table lamp, and he.

Two is company, there is no doubt

So the table lamp went out!

Suzie: "With all the good men in the armed services, it's pretty hard looking for a husband these days."
Que: "Just the same, if I were you, I'd leave the husbands alone and look for a single man."


In accordance with the navy's policy that every sailor shall be a swimming man, the Wahpeton swimming pool at Chahinkapa Park is being used exclusively by the men stationed at the U.S. Naval Training School (MM), Wahpeton, N. D., each weekday morning. Expert instruction in the art of swimming is being given by Chief Bidwell and it is expected that every non-swimmer will soon be able to pass the Navy Standard Swimming Test.

In order to pass the Navy swimming test, each sailor must swim 50 yards.


Men, here's a real bargain! Here's a chance to save five cents every time you go swimming during liberty! If you will stop in at the Ship's Service Store before going on liberty, you can purchase a swimming tickets for only TEN CENTS. THAT'S A SAVINGS OF ONE WHOLE NICKLE. If you wait until you get to the pool, it'll cost you fifteen cents.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


The 2 July 1943 edition of “The Prairie Schooner” has the single world, “disappointing” scribbled across the top of it. Could that be in reference to the lead story?


Francis Patrick Sullivan, Who Was Also a Member of Co. 4, Was One of 28 Men to Go Down With the Ship

One of eighteen survivors of a ship sunk by a Jap submarine, Ivan LeRoy Moffett, Flc, paid a short visit to the Station Wednesday afternoon while on leave en route to his home in Ohio.

Moffett, a member of the former fourth company, was sent to Bremerton, Washington in October, 1942 along with Francis Patrick Sullivan. These two men were assigned to a tanker.

For months, everything went smoothly when suddenly one evening the routine was shattered by the intrusion and resultant explosion of a torpedo. Not a man had seen the submarine nor the slight wake of the speeding missile. The torpedo struck amidships and in just fifteen minutes after the explosion, the seas was again as calm and peaceful as it had been before hell broke loose. Of a crew of 46 only 18 men are today alive to relate the details of horrible aftermath to that dastardly attack. Sullivan was one of those men who made the supreme sacrifice in this second “war for democracy.”

Moffett and 17 other men, clad in life jackets, managed to get over the side of the ship before it settled in its watery grave. Forming a circle arm-in-arm, the men floated in that freezing water for 7 hours before being picked up by a destroyer, which deposited the battered survivors ashore. Moffett’s only injuries were a wrenched arm and great nervousness resulting from the ordeal.

In the sinking, Moffett lost all personal belongings. When the ship docked, he found it necessary to borrow a pair of trousers and a dress jumper and hat from a buddy in the Navy. With this borrowed outfit on his back and ten dollars in his pocket, which his captain had loaned him when he was granted a leave, he set out for home in Magnetic Springs, Ohio. Because that ten dollars was his only money, he was forced to hitchhike, and he did exactly that – using the ten dollars for good. In fifteen days his leave will end and he will return to await assignment to another ship. He’s going back – back to take an active part in the battle for freedom.

BLOG NOTE: You may recognize the name of the author of the next article from the last addition of The Prairie Schooner. Also, hold the news of the strikers in contrast with the letter William’s sister N. sent him about the striker in Barberton.


By En, Adna M. LeCount

July 4, 1776 Jefferson boldly brought before a group of foreseeing men the Declaration of Independence for the signatures. The second paragraph of this document says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” With this creed before them, our forebears fought and won the American Revolution.

Today we are in the midst of world battle to uphold these same truths, which to our forebears seemed “self-evident.” Before we were fighting on nation wide fronts; today we are fighting on worldwide fronts. Before, we were faced with very little economic backing; today, we are backed by the greatest economic structure in the world. Before, democracy had not been tried by these people; today we have had one hundred and sixty-seven years of democratic living to show that government by the people does bring about the greatest good to the greatest number. We have advanced so much economically, socially, and politically that surly we must win.

And yet, some of our strongest and most vital industries are being weakened by striking workers – the steel and coal industries. In several areas we are cursed with race riots, which are a strict reversal of our belief that all men are created equal. Some workers in defense industries are slacking on the job, taking unnecessary days off. Food shortages are appearing everywhere. Internal rumblings of discontent are slowing us down, crippling us. On the fighting fronts, however, our men continue to fight bravely with the equipment and supplies they have at hand.

We should each examine ourselves and ask: “Am I doing my part”? “Is there anything I can do to make the part of the fighting men easier”? “Am I wholeheartedly helping this fight for our ‘self-evident’ truths”? If the answer is “yes,” then there is true cause for celebration. If the answer is “no,” think back to our forebears, to our nation’s tradition, to our whole history! You’ll find that you do not want to answer to be “no.” Will you do something about it?


Section “P”
By Harold Nichols

Well, it looks like Sections M and N are pretty quiet now. Could it be that 14-12 defeat handed them by Section O and P in softball?

It seems we have a few “60-minute” men in our section. One being our great baseball catcher, “California” Moise while another is our pet, “Joker” Valencheck. Val has played so many tricks on the boys that they think he stay awake nights thinking them up.

Section “E”
By J. E. DeVito

Fyda and Stanish must really have something on the ball. Last weekend they went to Fergus Falls and returned Sunday with not only a couple of nice looking “Playmates” but driving a ’41 Packard. Not bad, boys.

“I don’t mind when a sailor loses his hat to get a girl but when he loses both his hat and the girl I have no respect for him.” These were the words of Co. Adjutant A. R. Johnson after escorting Benson, Wierson, and Hovel back to the base, when they lost their hats while talking to some girls on liberty last week.

When the fire whistle blows, drop everything and get to your fire post. A good example of this is G. Stole of Section 5 who was resting comfortably in his bunk when the alarm wounded during a recent Fire Drill. Within a matter of seconds he was at his post with a blanket around his waist and ready for action.


Brown evidently goes for the intellegencia. Hear tell he’s now squiring a little school marm from Great Bend and also hear tell she thinks he’s the berries.

Looks like Mr. Whitehouse started something when he got that convict hair cut. Brown, Gall, Selid, Younger, Kwansy, Tilly and Parrett have followed suit. Tilly’s evidently wasn’t too well received for ‘tis rumored there’ll be no more “butches” in Sick Bay. It was rumored that a certain Lt. (jg) would have his head shaved if a certain Yeoman 1st class would get a butch. Guess they’ll both keep their hair.

Monday, December 24, 2007


This letter was sent to the parents of sons selected for further training which did serve Mr. Valencheck very well throughout the rest of his life.


April 6, 1943

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Valencheck:

As you probably know, your son has been selected for advanced training as a Navy man. He has been enrolled at this school for this purpose.

During the sixteen weeks he will be here, he will be given a specialized course of shop instruction and related class instruction which will prepare him to work for an advanced fireman's and machinist's mate's rating.

This letter is to assure you that we are intensely interested in giving him valuable training. Upon successful completion of the course, he will be eligible for promotion in rate and pay. He will have an education in a skill which will increase his value to the Navy and be of great worth to him upon his return to civilian life.

Please feel free to write us for any information you may desire regarding his welfare or his progress in school.

Sincerely yours,
George Fender III
Lieut. Commander, USNR
Commanding Officer

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Highlights from 18 June 1943 Volume II, No.2


When Dorothy Askew, Y3c, WAVES, former secretary to Mr. Riley, walked into the office last Monday, everyone thought she was one of those WAVES whom, according to rumor, we were supposed to get months ago. However, she soon revealed that she was home on a nine-day leave.

Yeoman Askew is at present stationed Washington, D. C. Although she is not too fond of Washington, D. C. and its over-crowded conditions, she says, “The WAVES is a wonderful organization.” For those who are not “in the know” the correct translation of the letters WAVES is Women Accepted for Voluntary Enlisted Service.


Monday, June 21, will be a genuine “red-letter” day in the history of the U. S. Naval Training School at Wahpeton, N. D. On that date, Ensign Adna M. LeCount, W-V (S) USNR will make her appearance on our station as Assistant Disbursing Officer. Miss Lecount will have the distinction of being the first member of the WAVES to be assigned to active duty in the State of North Dakota.

For many months “scuttlebutt” was prevalent to the effect that we were going to be invaded by members of the Women Accepted for Voluntary Enlistment Services, but it is only now that the Bureau of Naval Personnel has seen fit to actually send us a member of the fair sex as Ensign Hughes’ assistant.

Ensign LeCount has just completed her training at the Naval Supply Corps School, Graduate School of Business Administration at Harvard University, Boston, Mass.


The Editor of the PRARIE SCHOONER:

Just a little note from those two wandering pharmacist Mates to let you know that haven’t forgotten the old school back in Wahpeton. Last time we received mail I received a copy of the SCHOONER from some kindly soul back there and it made me feel very good to read all the news and gossip; just like being home. Honestly, though, I keep every copy and reread them several times, so keep them coming.

Our sea duty so far has been just swell. Neither one of us has gotten sea-sick so it goes to show that we had some good training on the good ship “Wahpeton.” Our duties aboard ship are very similar to those at Wahpeton but we did have an exciting thing happen. Baker and I both assisted in an operation out at sea. It was an emergency appendectomy and a pretty ticklish job. However, everything went smoothly and the patient is up and about now. Otherwise our life is routine but if keeps us pretty busy.

Chow is good aboard ship and for recreation we go topside and work out with the punching bag and rowing machine. We have movies every night and aside from the above-mentioned things that is the extent of our recreation.


Well that’s about all there is to tell so I’ll close.

c/o Fleet Postmaster,
San Francisco, Calif.

By R. C. Jones

First of all the fellows say they can hardly wait until the softball tournament gets into full swing. They feel confident that will go pretty far toward the finals. Now if we can win just one game before this is published, this write-up won’t look so foolish.

Many of the boys have acquired some new nicknames since being in camp. Section Leader Mulready is widely known as “Chief” in his section, although some still insist he should be called “Wolf”. Then there is “On the Hour, Every Hour” Pederson. We took a vote whether or not we should call a certain fellow, “Rabbit”. Twenty-nine fellows voted we should and Recknagel said we shouldn’t so Recknagel will be known as “Rabbit” Recknagel from now on.


Note to Trainees: Without crowding the Emily Post field of endeavor, it can be mentioned that one way of showing your Navy savvy is to take off your hat in theaters and restaurants. Only green hands think they can wear their hats anyplace.

The type of boatswain’s pipe now in use in the Navy is reputed to have been designed by King Henry VIII when he was Prince of Wales. The pipe itself dates back to the days of the Crusades when it was used as a signal for attack.

For every woman who makes a fool out of a man, there are a hundred who make a man out of a fool.


Well, the men in Sick Bay have finally taken Simonton’s name off his bed there. They decided he looks so healthy since his marriage that he’ll cause them no more trouble.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


The Prairie Schooner” was “An Occasional Log of United States Naval Training School Operating at North Dakota State School of Science, Wahpeton”. It was mailed home to “B-town” with a circle around the paragraph that mentioned Valencheck’s name.

In Volume one, number 24 dated 15 May 1943 it is reported that, “Cooper’s Band Jives for Formal Dance in Gym.”

Our newest company, the 13th, was welcomed aboard at a formal dance held in the gym on Wednesday, May 5. The local gals donned their finest long dresses to come out and jump with this newest group of hep-cats (and some of the old ones).

Bunky Cooper’s band of collegiate musicians from Moorhead State Teacher’s College furnished the jive, and jive it was because they left their music in Moorhead and had to jam most of the pieces to cover the parts they forgot. Maybe I shouldn’t have told you that little secret because most of the rug-cutting jitterbugs didn’t seem to know the difference.

Lt. Comdr. Fender and nearly all the other officers attached to the school were present with their wives to help make this a gala occasion. The dance was sponsored by the local USO with the smiling “Mrs. K” right there to greet her boys. Each departing company pays tribute to the fine work she is doing in making their liberty periods more enjoyable. Dances like this are just another contribution of the USO toward the welfare of the armed forces.


Big Sailor (Paul): “Thay myster, than you tell me the time?
Little Sailor (Carter): (No response.)
Big Sailor: “Thay, I asked you the tyme.”
Little Sailor: (Still no response.)
So as Big Sailor walked away a bystander asked Little Sailor why he hadn’t answered, his reply being – “Thhink I wanted a punth in the moth?”

Joe Yardbird answered the phone in his Norfolk apartment, He said: “I don’t know. Call the weather bureau,” and hung up.
“Who was that?” asked his wife.
“Some sailor, I guess. He wanted to know if the coast was clear.”


It has been noted lately that “Chief Chef” Holtz can cook something other than ham or beef.

That little bird who gives out with the correct dope has it that Gil Landis and Simonton are going to take the long trek on the same day come June: Why not make it the same church and have a race down the aisle?

We’re going to miss the Cook and Baker Strikers in the chow hall. So long mates, keep Tex out of trouble and don’t let Ossie get another “heinie.”


The boys from Section “P” and some of the boys from Section “O” wish to thank all those who made it possible for us to have the new head up in the penthouse of Barracks 1. It’s very convenient for all.

We don’t want to seem unreasonable but the tables that were “extracted” from the recreation hall are getting worn pretty well and we would appreciate a few “new” ones. How about it? Very subtle aren’t we?

Well, the boys of Section “P” are getting along fine and are saying that North Dakota has California beat completely for screwy weather except Seaman Volk who is a native “farmer” of N. Dak.

Everyone was certainly surprised to hear that Coastguardsman Valencheck is attending church supper at Wahpeton next Sunday. I wonder what the attraction could be? Maybe a little something called “Corky.”

Congratulations, Mr. Whitehouse and Mr. Davis, on your promotions as we feel that you both deserve them.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Having finished a run on the Ball Brothers it was back to Cleveland for evaluation testing that separated William from some of his boot camp buddies and led him to North Dakota to what he referred to as the Naval Trainings School to learn engineering. As near as we can tell this would be the University of North Dakota School of Engineering and Mines. Here is the picture of the school in the summer of 1942.

In the 1940's the school's enrollment dropped dramatically to about 775 students most of whom were women. "The campus became a virtual military camp, with thousands of military men and women training here."

And down they go!

Harold Nichols sporting an expert swing with a tennis racket is the only man identified in these pictures from the scrap book.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


After boot camp the new recruits were assigned to guard the ship Balls Brothers as it sailed the Great Lakes. The Balls Brothers was a laker ship built by the American Shipbuilding Company in Lorain, Ohio in 1905 and was still sailing the Great Lakes in 1942 when William was assigned to sail aboard and guard it as it made its way up through Lake Erie through Sault Sainte Marie to Duluth, then back to Buffalo, New York, finally ending at a Coast Guard Station. (The ship was scrapped in 1963.)

During this time he sent his sister “Oh” (pictured with him here) three postcards. The first is postmarked Gulliver, Michigan, 21 November 1942. Over the “PLACE STAMP HERE” box in the upper right corner the word “FREE” is written.

From: Wm. Valencheck A.S.
c/o Steamer Ball Bros.
Marine Post Office
Detroit, Mich.

Hi Oh

We are now in Port Island and from here we go to Buffalo. I’ll drop you a card at each port so until then, Adios.


The second postcard addressed much the same way is post stamped Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, 2 December 1942.

Hi Sis,

Another card for you. The next one you get from me will be big enough to write a short story on it.

I haven’t gotten any letters for two weeks since we haven’t been down to Detroit for that period of time. We should be there Thur.


The last post card in this set was indeed a long one. In fact it was three feet long. It was postmarked in Buffalo, New York in December of 1942 and addressed to Miss Olga Valencheck.

December 4th, 1942

Hi Sis,

I got your letters today and nine others. The others were mailed last week some time and I couldn’t get them until today.

Here is that card I was telling you about and I think you will need a bigger scrapbook to put this one in.

The last trip we made was the roughest trip I ever went on. When we got to Duluth our boat was covered with ice and you would think it was a floating iceberg. Every wave that came along would cover our deck and almost the pilothouse. When I get home I’ll tell you more about it and about going through Sault Sainte Marie. I think I did mail you a card from there.

We are going to hit Lake Erie now and they say that it is stormy and that a boat and its crew went down.

This is the only letter I got from you so if you mailed one Monday, I didn’t get it.

We had a swell Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, ice cream and pie, and a bottle of beer and cigars and cider too to top it. It was plenty good. (hic burp)

I got a letter from Stan and he gave me all kinds of hell for not writing to him. I guess he forgot that he sent me a card and telling me not to write until he finds out where they send him.

I’ve got a lot to say but I (will) wait until I get home and tell you all about it so until again,



Friday, December 7, 2007


On the back of the picture dated February - March 1942 are some of the names of the men in this picture.
Row one - 1. Pinkley 2. F. Vinel 3. Bomboti 4. Hanson 5. Morrcillo 6. Bonner 7. Daily, Chief P.O. 8. William Valencheck (None of the other men are listed in this row.)
Row two - 1. (not listed) 2. C. W. Prepelica 3. A. W. Smith 4. Joe Kroll 5. (not listed) 6. C. E. Rhodes (None of the other men are losted in this row.)
Row Three - only the last man is listed in this row. His name is J. Delia

Thursday, December 6, 2007


The most impenetrable black out of information was during the time of boot camp in Marblehead and the time immediately after. About the only information from this period comes from a long letter sent to him from his sister N. Part of that letter is reproduced for you here.

Post marked 10 October 1942, Marblehead, OH. Addressed to A. S. William Valencheck.


Hi Brother,

What do you suppose we have in our office?? Cuspidors!! Hundreds of them! They perch bold as you please, one at each desk - - grim reminders of the pre-war days when the B & W offices were the daily workhouse of only those humans who wore trousers. Now we women have invaded the joint, and try as we may, we can’t get rid of these “spit-tunes”. I find “Adolph” at my desk every day. Now I’m resigned to the fact that he’s waiting for his old “boss” to come back - - so I’m not trying to get rid of him anymore. Because I want is old owner to come back from the war some day just like I want you and Stan . . . to come home.

(edited paragraph)

Now - - your last letter was swell. Everybody says so - - even “your sister” Mary from 4th street - -she’s still in on all our family happenings. We’re glad that you’re getting along well at school because we all want you to make good. Especially Dad. Man - - that guy is so proud of you and Stan, he wears a smile on his face every time he talks of you just as if it were a badge of honor. You know, Bill, if you and Stan could understand just how much Dad is counting on you, you’d never let him down for even a minute. And Mom too – She “nags” too much at times but under it all, she wouldn’t trade sons for the world.

And talking of Mom - - Gee, did you make her happy on Mother’s Day! She was so pleased because you remembered her - - and the rest of us were please with you because you pleased her. You’re just proving that we’re right when we think that you’re a pretty swell fellow. The only thing was that your card didn’t come till Monday – Mom didn’t say a word but we knew she was disappointed. (edited) Mom had a nice day – Joe got her the most beautiful bouquet of mixed flowers you ever saw. Tee got her a dress, Oh gave her $5 and so did I. She got a permanent and looks snazzy - -she always did, if you’ll remember, when she took time out to dress up. We still have to give her “hell” every time she goes out of the house, in order to get her to dress up. Mothers!!

(edited paragraph)

The Valve is out on a strike again! Recently the government stepped in and it was decided that the whole shop would get a 9-cent raise. They still haven’t gotten it. Now some guys didn’t pay their union dues and the committee wouldn’t let them in to work; so the Valve fired the committee. Now they’re on strike again for that. Darn it, I hope they make it a darned good one this time and get everything they want. That joint is so stinken in its employee policy they ought to lite a match to it - - it’s own smell would be enough to blow it up!!


Just about there the bell rang yesterday and my time wasn’t my own anymore. Was going to finish this at home but did my washing and ironing (aren’t you glad you aren’t a woman?) and by the time that little job was finished it was 11 bells and I was too sleepy to write. So there you are.

Bob Johnson is home again. He must have had a 14-day furlough this time because he’s been home for about 10 days now. Johnny was supposed to be home too but won’t be able to make it till tomorrow so the boys will be together for a while anyway. I wonder if the furloughs mean that they’ll be leaving for overseas soon?? With the good news of the war over in Africa (comes the realization) that things will get even worse now with fighting in Europe and then in Asia with the Japs. We’re all praying that it won’t take long now but we’re afraid things will drag out.

Yesterday Mrs. Heimbaugh was here and she gave us the news that both Art and (?) are going to be fathers soon. My goodness, they still seem like kids, don’t they? The one that’s in Calif., now he is going to have to come home soon because he’s gonna have to go into the army. We saw some pictures that his wife sent form Calif. and now I can understand why you liked the place so much. It’s beautiful. I guess everything is pretty (high) now (though), so outside of the beautiful scenery and nice weather, I don’t suppose people there are any better off than we are. And then we don’t have earthquakes! Oh yeah - - - what about our tornadoes? Oh told you about that - - we never get in on the excitement! I slept through the “slight” earthquakes that shook Barberton.

(edited paragraphs)

We saw Galie Sunday and he told us that he’d be leaving for the service in two weeks. He asked about you boys. I guess he feels left out of things at home . . . he’s anxious to go. I guess most of the boys are because things at home just aren’t like they used to be and the sooner the war’s over (the sooner everyone does his part) the sooner things will be O.K. again.

(edited paragraph)

Do you suppose you might be able to come home next time Stan comes? It would really be wonderful if both you boys could be home at the same time - -we’d really have a family reunion!!

(edited paragraph)

Has Oh told you about how well Tee came out at bowling this year? With their league winnings, tournament money and everything, she won over $35. Pretty good, no? Oh and I haven’t done much bowling but I’m gonna join a league next season again - - or sell my ball.

(edited paragraph)

You know, Bill, I’ll just bet you do get a Petty Officer’s rating. That would be swell. I know a girl whose husband is a P.O. in Norfalls and it’s a stationary position. He’s making pretty good money too! It would be swell if you could get into something like that. But you’d be put into something which would include duty at sea, wouldn’t you? We all love to hear of your schooling and what things are like there - - so make your letters longer and tell us all about it.

Gonna have to close in order to mail this on the way home. I know that I’ll think of lots more to tell you but it will have to wait. Until your next letter then, love from the whole family and lots from me.


You remember Mary Bruriski - - Her stepmother died so Mary is home now. And Maine Zadel & Joe Nayeste got married. So did Ann Garbor. And Fran Udovich (DeBevec) is gonna have a baby. Time goes on (and life) war or now war doesn’t it??

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Like many veterans after the war, William never spoke much of his experiences in the Coast Guard. Even letters from home at the time were constantly imploring him to write more often and to tell the family how things were with him and what it was he was undergoing. Both the letters (at least the ones that survive) and they few stories that he would tell later on were largely concerning the less gruesome, even pleasant aspects of being in the service. As a result, his children would never have a firm grasp of what took place during those war years in the life of their Father. Histories of the ship, well documented pictures (thanks to his sister “O”), numerous letters back and forth, and newspaper clippings help piece the story together during the upcoming years, but these early years still remain murky.

Here is page one of his original application for enlistment. It is dated 22 July 1942, though by his own recollection, William lists the day he actually joined the Coast Guard Reserves as 10 September 1942, not too far from his 22nd birthday.

Orders came soon after this application was accepted. The following letter is perhaps the least well preserved of everything that was saved over the years. It is well worn and ripped at its folds as if it were kept in a wallet for some time. The letter is reproduced in part below this scanned copy for easier reading. It is hard to imagine what the young man was thinking as he began reading this letter from the Coast Guard soon after enlisting, aware of war breaking out all over the world.


From: COPT, Cleveland, (Sandusky, OHIO)
To: Valencheck, William
Subject: Orders; armed guard detail aboard Steamer Ball Brothers.

1. Upon receipt hereof, proceed immediately to the Steamer Ball Brothers and report to the master for armed guard duty aboard that vessel.

2. You will be quartered and subsisted at Government expense and you will remain aboard the vessel until properly relieved. Liberty will be of secondary importance and may be granted by the master at his discretion for a period not to exceed four (4) hours while the vessel is in port.

3. You will be governed by the regulations contained in the reference (c) and you are directed to learn, understand, and fully execute your duties as set forth therein. You will be furnished a copy of references (c) unless a copy is already in the possession of the master. In the latter case, the master will make his copy available to you for your information, study, and guidance.

4. You will be furnished suitable small arms unless Coast Guard firearms are already in the custody of the master. In the latter case, such arms will be made available to you when required for the proper execution of your duties. You are directed to handle, use, and store such arms in full compliance with the safety precautions set out in reference (c).

5. Travel under this order will be performed by Government conveyance. No mileage expense is indicated and none is authorized.


Randolph H. Thompson
By Direction

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


The Greatest Generation is disappearing. According to Veterans Administration at the beginning of this year there were approximately 5,032,591 veteran of World War II still living in the United States but they are dying at the rate of 1,136 a day. As they die so do many of their memories.

Sometimes the memories die before the veteran does himself. Our Father, MoMM3c William Valencheck who served aboard the USS Pride DE 323 and who is now confronting the ravages of Alzheimer’s at the age of 87, has lost much of his memory. Though he never would talk much about his experience of WWII, he cannot now even if he were so inclined.

In putting his estate together there was revealed a sizable cache of his memorabilia from WWII. There were letters from old girl friends, pictures of fellow guardsmen, drawings, and other mementos that for us are disconnected from actual people and events. Unsure what to do with all of these images of memories that are in some way treasures, his children thought to begin this blog and post the various items from week to week.

The intention is not so much to focus on MoMM (Motor Machinist Mate) William J. Valencheck or even to give an in depth historical analysis of the war, but to give a snap shot of some of what a crew member aboard a U.S. Coast Guard ship during the great war held on to as memories.


World War II broke out on 1 September 1939. The world was already in great unrest when Germany invades Poland without a formal declaration of war. But for those living in the United States, it was a war taking place “over there”. Though tense times, this was not yet seen as something that Americans as a whole felt a need to be involved in.

That all changed on 7 December 1941 when Japan attacked our naval forces at Pearl Harbor. On 8 December the United States declared war on Japan. A few days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S.

Perhaps the darkest period for the Allied forces was the late summer of 1942. In the Atlantic Germans subs were sinking Allied ships at an alarming rate even up to the shores of the States and the Gulf of Mexico. It was during this time that William Valencheck, age 21 without informing his parents, enlisted to serve in the United States Coast Guard Reserve.

Those who were approaching a recruitment office for the Coast Guard would have been given this information sheet. It is interesting to note the changes in the requirements made in red, which is not unlike what we are experiencing today. The top of the age requirement was raised from 34 to 54 and the level of education was lowered from a high school graduate to completion of the eighth grade:

Of course a physical examination was necessary:

Then it was off to training. Here we see Wm Valencheck on leave before being deployed with his Mother and Father.