I always knew that my uncle, George Hushman served in the United States Navy during World War II, but like many of the men who fight in wars, discussing what happened during their deployment is something that few want to talk about. My family spent quite a bit of time with Uncle George and Aunt Evelyn, who was my mom’s sister, and their family, but in all those visits, I never heard my dad, Allen Spencer, or my Uncle George ever talk about their time in the war. In fact, had it not been for an old picture of the two couples going to the Military Ball, I don’t think I would have even known what branch of the military Uncle George was in.
Recently, while researching my family history, I came across some Muster Rolls for the United States Navy, for one USS Gurke. The USS Gurke was a DD Type destroyer whose mission was to provide anti-submarine and anti-surface defense to other surface forces. The Gurke is one of 103 Gearing Class destroyers that were built at 8 different shipyards. It was originally laid down as USS John A. Bole in October of 1944, but was renamed USS Henry Gurke (DD-783) prior to her launching on February 15, 1945 at the Todd-Pacific Shipyards, Inc, in Tacoma, Washington. The ship’s sponsor was Mrs. Julius Gurke, mother of Private Gurke, for whom the ship was named. The destroyer was commissioned 12 May 1945, under the command of Commander Kenneth Loveland. It was to this ship that my Uncle George was assigned beginning May 12, 1945. Prior to that he had been a S2c V6 on the USS LCI (G) 23, which was a transport ship.
On the Gurke, Uncle George had a rating of S1c V6. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I’m sure that any navy veteran would know. A V6 is a person who volunteered in World War II. As a V6 they had to be discharged by six months after the war was over. An S1c was a seamen first class. So now I knew what my uncle did during the war. Seaman first class was the rank right below a Petty Officer. The Seaman did a variety of jobs onboard the ship and could have worked anywhere on the ship. I suppose it would be a rank similar to the private, or in non-military verbiage, a laborer. That was the rank that many men went into the navy with, but a seaman first class was no longer a trainee. He had been trained to do his duties, and didn’t have to be told.
After a shakedown along the West Coast, the Gurke sailed for the Western Pacific August 27, 1945, reaching Pearl Harbor on September 2nd. From there she continued west to participate in the occupation of Japan and former Japanese possessions. Returning to home port of San Diego, in February 1946, the Gurke participated in training operations until September 4, 1947, when she sailed for another WestPac cruise. Two further WestPac cruises, alternating with operations out of San Diego, and a cruise to Alaska in 1948 aiding the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Yukon gold rush, filled Gurke’s schedule until the outbreak of the Korean War. Of course, I assume that upon Gurke’s return to her home port of San Diego, my uncle was either assigned to another ship, was at home port, or discharged. I am very proud of his service. Today is Uncle George’s 93rd birthday. Happy birthday Uncle George!! Have a great day!! We love you!!