Posts Tagged ‘Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum’

Postcard from the Dead

The Exhibit, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Dec 04 2010

Flier is still sitting in Coco Solo waiting for the pilot to take her through the canal, and the men are thoroughly enjoying Panama.  How much are they enjoying it?  Dunno, but we know they behaved well enough that there was no official record of it.  In fact, today’s deck log is dull.  I’m not going to bother post the actual log.  It’s that boring.  I included the transcript below.

——————————-

Saturday, 4 December 1943

Pg. 48

Zone Description +5

0000-0800

Moored starboard side to another submarine on west side of Pier A NO.B (or NO. 13) COCA SOLA C.Z. 0545  Moored startboard side Pier A

J.W. Liddell, Lt. USNR

0800-2400

Moored as before.

——————————-

While on liberty, the men of the Flier were free to send letters for the first time for days, but this included more intrigues.  All letters sent by military men had to be read and censored before they were permitted to be mailed home.

Flier’s radioman, Walter “Bud” Klock, had been in the Navy since 1938.  In the first few years , he wrote home frequently, informing his mother of the cities he was stationed in, the name of the submarines he was posted on, the places he visited.  But following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and the beginning of letter censorship, Klock started telling his mom that he was in that place where it was never winter (Hawaii) or he was assigned again to the first place he was right after boot camp (San Diego) or that his first real boat had been lost at sea. (USS ARGONAUT).  At times, when he heard of a military man heading home on leave, he would write a letter in plain language and give it to the guy leaving for him to mail from a civilian mailbox once home (where it wouldn’t be pre-read).  Klock never said anything that would have been considered treasonous, but it was easier to talk plainly to his mom when he got the chance.

It became a game of cat and mouse with the censors who were, of course, looking for any information that might tell and enemy when and were a ship had been or might pass through.  Sailors had to resort to codes, or shared memories of the recipient to relay where they were and what they were doing.  Since the return address was always the boat, and the postmark was always Honolulu or San Diego for a Pacific sailor, that didn’t help either.  Things got quite creative.

It might be the fact that a postcard from another Flier man, Oliver Kisamore, clearly showed the Panama Canal that caused its hold up.

This card is intriguing and a little creepy.

The front is simple enough.  It’s a colorized engraving of the USS Pennsylvania as she crossed the Gatun Locks.

This might be Pennsylvania’s 1937 crossing, but there’s no date marked on the card.  The back of the card is a piece of stationary, flipped over and taped to the back of the card. Oliver Kisamore, a Motor Mac from Andover Ohio, wrote a quick note to his father:  “Dear Folks:  Just a few lines to let you know I am O.K. Hope you fellows are too.  Is it ever warm here.  I’m pulling out soon.  I’ll write you when I reach my next destination.”  Love  [rest of name cut off]

Seems rather innocuous, and Kisamore mailed it from the Cristobal Post Office in the Canal Zone, and likely never thought about it again.  The Cristobal Post Office postmarked it “December 4, 9 30 AM, 1943, CRISTOBAL CANAL ZONE” and passed it on to the censors to pass inspection before they released it to the civilian postal service.

This is actually the Christobal post office that Kisamore mailed this postcard from.

But for whatever reason,( maybe it fell on the floor, or the censor thought the picture and description revealed too much information, who knows?) the postcard was not passed into civilian postal service, and it wasn’t delivered in 1943.  Or 1944.

There are two more clues on this card:  In the upper left edge there is a faint blueish stamp: “Released by O.N.I”  .  O.N.I. in this case, is most likely “Office of Naval Intelligence”, the department responsible for the search and censure of all communications between military and civilians.  Below it, is the date of the release:  Sep 4-1945.

Two days after Japanese representatives signed the surrender of Japan on the deck of USS Missouri.

And Kisamore had been dead for over a year.

I can’t even imagine how his family felt, seeing this last missive from their son in his handwriting so long after they had been informed of his death aboard the Flier thousands of miles away somewhere in the Pacific.

But today, sixty-seven years ago, Oliver Kisamore mailed what would become his last letter home.

My thanks to the families of Oliver Kisamore and Walter “Bud” Klock for sharing their family’s letters to help flesh out the story of the Flier for a new generation.  We’re still looking for photos and other letters from  Flier men, if you are interested in donating them for the purposes of research, preservation and education here on this site, for the Flier exhibit at the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum.  If your family would rather hang on to the original letters, I happily accept digital scans or photographs of the originals, or am more than willing to receive originals, photograph them and return them.

BREAKING: DIVE DETECTIVES TO BE SHOWN IN USA!!!! (Plus: News from the Museum)

And now for something completely different..., The Exhibit, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Oct 19 2010

We interrupt my blog post I’ve been desperately trying to put together for the last few days to announce that YES!!!!  YES! YES! YES!!!!  Dive Detectives will FINALLY be coming to the USA.  Dunno when, dunno on what station, but YAP Films announced on their site (not the Dive Detectives site if you’ve been checking there) that the series has been purchased by an American broadcaster and will be shown later this year!!!!

WOOOO   HOOOO!!!!!

And now back to that blog post I’ve been working on…

So I’ve been off the reservation for several days now.  Vacation was fun, but of course, when you bring the children, there’s a limit to the fun to be had.  I’m starting to understand the various veins and twitches I saw in my parent’s faces while growing up.  Goodbye sitting in the sun for hours blissfully reading or dozing, hello panicked dashing after children convinced that plugging a fork into an electric socket would be fun.

Oh well, it was a fun time.   Back to some updates…

The interview with James Alls is, if all goes according to plan, this weekend in New Castle, Indiana, the hometown of Flier Chief Kenneth Gwinn. Gwinn’s parents owned a diner that I hope is still in business.  If you have a question you’d like to ask Mr. Alls, be sure to comment or e-mail me at ussflierproject@gmail.com  I can’t promise we’ll get to it, but I’ll sure try.  I’ve already got questions about how the Flier was decorated, if they had any pets, did some sailors think Flier was unlucky (survivor Earl Baumgart later claimed he thought she was from day one), if they had any Crossing of the Line Ceremonies,  and on.  If you’re curious about anything, be sure to ask.  I will be filming, audio recording the session and if he gives permission, will be posting excerpts here and on YouTube.

The museum is (tentatively) hoping to open the exhibit this summer. Everything, of course, depends on money, time and schedule, but winter is our best time to build something like this: we’re less busy.

Now, since the Flier story is almost over, I thought we could do something interesting on here for the next while.  I’ll be delving into the stories of some of the Lost Submarines, but in addition, courtesy of Lt. Liddell, his son Kirk, and the National Archives, I have the complete Deck Logs and War Patrol Logs of the USS Flier (of course, the ones about the second patrol were lost in the sinking.)  They’re an interesting read, and I thought we’d start here on the 18th and 19th of October: the day Flier was commissioned into service, and started taking on food.  (There’s an eye opener!)

This is the record of Flier's first day as a Naval boat. The names of all the commissioning crew are written here: Officers first, by rank, the Enlisted alphabetically by last name.It's amazing how many of these men would still be around in ten months for the second patrol, and which ones wouldn't be. There is a second page for this day, but all it says is: "2200: (hours, or 10 pm): Finished Fueling. Received 50,138 gallons on board." You can click on the image to get a MUCH larger one if you're curious about reading it.

This is the record for the following day, when they started to take on stores while still testing systems at the dock. That's a lot of food, and that list will only get longer, not to mention all the stuff they'll unofficially get their hands on if the Fliers were like some of the other boats I've been told about! Then, as newest boat in the fleet, she was toured by some of the top commanders, including Admiral Daubin. (See Entry for 1300 hours). Interesting, since eleven months from this date, he would be investigating the same CO that's giving the tour of Flier, over the loss of this same boat and crew.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the photos taken of the Commissioning parties.  If you see someone you recognize in them, comment or e-mail, that’s what we’re trying to do, identify people, and tell this story.

Flier Memorial Film!

Memorial Ceremony | Posted by Rebekah
Sep 23 2010

For those who were not able to come to the Memorial Service and those who want to relive it or share it with friends or relations, I’m proud to anounce the whole Memorial Ceremony was posted on YouTube yesterday by the people who did the recordings.

Part 1 of 5  (The intro is rather long, the service starts around the 50 second mark)

Part 2 of 5

Part 3 of 5  (  The rest of the Keynote speach plus the Flier Roll Call begins here)

Part 4 of 5  (The rest of the Flier Roll Call)

Part 5 of 5  (The closing, the 21-gun salute, Taps, benediction, running of the Silversides’s engines)

Fun with Graphics

The Book | Posted by Rebekah
May 13 2010

As anyone who has ever worked with the graphics presentation for a large project can tell you, it’s a lot more complicated than you may think.  When working with a corporation, they tend to have standards for presentation and colors that can be used, and those colors are VERY specific.  U of M is not just Blue and Gold, trust me, they have a VERY specific blue and gold in mind, down to the amounts cyan, magenta, yellow and black that are in each color.  (Heck, it would not surprise me at all if they named it “U of M Blue” and “U of M Gold”.)

So I did that for the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum a while back for their main exhibit hall, and when the Flier project ramped up suddenly this winter after the announcement of her discovery, I did a related one so this unit has a distinct feel that is still related to the Main Exhibit Hall below it.

And that graphics standard has passed into the look of this website, the letter head, the business cards, and now, the book.

I’ve been monkeying around with the cover for  a while now, and I think I really like this one, so I thought I would put it out there to see what some of you think.

When  first started working with graphics and ideas for the Flier, the image of a set of footprints coming up out of the beach really struck me, but it took me a long time for me to get it to work.  I also colored the jackets and faces of the guys on the Flier, as an attempt to kind of bring them to life a little bit more.  Sometimes, I know at least for me, since color photos were so new during WWII, and we see so much black and white footage and photos of WWII that they always seem removed from modern life.  I love seeing the few color photographs of WWII that I can find since that vivid color always seems to reach out to me, make the scene more tangible, more realistic.  So I colored the men on the cover.

I don’t think I’ll do it to any internal photos, both due to extra cost and because the coloration IS just guess work, but I think I rather like this.

It ended up being more colorful than I originally planned, (and now that I’ve pasted the cover in here, it’s a LOT more vivid than it is on my Photoshop program, I may have to re-adjust before final publishing) but these colors are still within the graphics standards.

What do you think?