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.

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