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Arendt, Laurie (ed.) / Back from duty 2 : more stories from Ozaukee County's veterans

[Profiles],   pp. 11-148 ff.

Page 19

Ed    Barlow        As told toVicki Schanen
Navy Clerk on the U.S.S. Helena
Grafton's Edward Barlow served with the Navy from June 25, 1948 until May 29, 1952. He graduated from
his Baltimore high school in 1948, after the end of World War II.
There was nothing unusual about my induction except that I was asked if I would do an interview for someone
because they wanted to do an induction/trainee interview for one of the radio stations. Whether or not that was
ever played, I don't know. I left.
I was sent to Great Lakes, Ill., which was the first time I
had really ever been out of Baltimore, except for the few times
I'd gone to Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. In my class at
Great Lakes we ended up having two squads because we were
so big and we only trained for 10 or 11 weeks. We had the
guys who could march well and they were the "drill squad." The
guys who couldn't march very well were called the "goon
platoon." That was my squad.
I wanted to be what we then called a "radioman" because
radios were very popular in the 1940s. I thought it would entail
fixing radios, but what "radio" meant in the Navy was that you
were a communications person. You had to learn things like
Morse Code. That made me a little wary, so I transferred into
clerical school, which was just fine with me. I knew how to type.
I was assigned to the Navy cruiser U.S.S. Helena in
California. That summer when I arrived, we took a bunch of
Reservists and ROTC on a six-week cruise up to Seattle and
down to Panama. The Canal is just north of the equator, so they
took the Helena down there. The Navy has a ceremony that
recognizes that you are no longer a "polliwog." Once you
crossed the equator, you become a
member of the Ancient Order of the Deep.
In 1959, we went over to Japan and
the Philippines, which also included a few-
month tour to Manila. We cruised to a lot                           Ed Barlow served as a clerk
of different ports and islands because we                           on the U.S.S. Helena CA-75.
were occupational forces and making our                             He spent much of his time in
presence known.
We did get out to Nagasaki, which was where we had dropped the bomb a few years earlier. We also went to
Nagoria, which was the inspiration for the opera, Madame Butterfly. I also went horseback riding in the snow.
I once pulled a prank on a fellow shipmate. We were waiting in the chow line and I told him he had mail buoy
watch. We received mail from home from planes that would drop buoys in the water and we would have to fish
them out. After he went on watch, I had the master of arms put him under arrest because he had "missed" the
mail buoy. We told him that he was very fortunate because there was a guy on the fantail who had picked up the
mail, but the captain would be very upset because he almost missed some very important mail - letters from his
wife. After they put him on report, they told him it was all a prank. He didn't talk to me for a few days after that.
Pranks were quite common, particularly those played on new recruits. Deckhands would get sent down to the
engine rooms for a bucket of steam; others would be sent to the electric shop for a bucket of kilowatts.
I remember we also opened our ship on Armed Forces Day in 1950. Some Army friends of ours from Tokyo
came to visit. We were complaining to them that it was going to take 22 days to get back to the States. We had
been overseas for 10 months and we would still be playing war games on the way home. When they heard us
complaining, they said we should be "very happy we were going home." After we got back to the States and I went
home on leave, I was riding in a car with my friends from home and we heard them talking about Korea on the
radio. I returned home and found a telegram telling me to report back to the ship. We ended up going back and
running up and down the China Coast for 30 days because we were expecting the Chinese to invade Formosa
(now Taipei). We then returned to Japan in August and until November we ran up and down the Korean coast. The
North Koreans were pushing the South Korean and American armies to the southern part of the peninsula. The
American forces were preparing for war.                                    BACK FROM DUM2 19

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