Radioman Second Class, U.S.S. Makassar Strait, CVE-91.
Gene boarded the U.S.S. Makassar Strait in May of 1944. The U.S.S.
Makassar Strait was an escort aircraft carrier, which had recently been
built by the Kaiser Shipyards at Vancouver, Washington. After the
shakedown cruise on the west coast, steamed via Pearl Harbor to the Marshalls
carrying replacement aircraft and personnel. She served in various capacities
in the Pacific until the end of the Second World War, including support
against enemy targets from Iwo Jima (Bonins Islands) to Okinawa (Ryukyus
Islands), air operations in the drive to capture Okinawa, and providing
refresher training for carrier pilots between Guam and Saipan. She
had over 15,500 landings on her flight deck during the war. At wars
end, she began “Magic Carpet” duty, transporting veterans back to the States.
The Makassar Strait received two battle stars for World War Two service.
Gene related an interesting event as the ship was going to cross the equator.
Those who had never crossed the equator were to be initiated into the domain
of Neptunus Rex. The following are excerpts by Gene about the initiation.
“The origin of the ceremony of crossing the Equator is lost in antiquity.
We know that the Vikings had a ceremony of some kind in crossing certain
parallels and it is probable that they passed on the custom to the Anglo-Saxons
and other sea-going nations. The bluejackets finally gave up their
belief in Neptune, but they kept the ‘propitiation’ and turned it into something
like a cross between an Odd Fellows initiation and the Second Battle of
the Marne. Today, the ceremony is simply and initiation of men who
have not crossed the line, by men who have, thus the ‘Pollywog’ becomes
a “Shellback.’ Contrary to supposition, the ceremony is not
brutal. The worst a man may get out of it is a goods dunking, a well-placed
paddling and perhaps a slight injury to his personal pride by having most
of his hair removed by a Royal Barber.”
Gene received a summons o appear before the Royal Supreme Court of the
raging main to answer the charges brought against him. The charges
were: “Charge I – did, hitherto, willfully and with intention to evade the
rigors of the sea, by devious chiseling and ear-flopping means contrive
these many years to remain in snug harbor and on the beach, thereby failing
in allegiance and reverence to our Royal Person, Nexpuntus Rex, Supreme Ruler
of the Seven Seas. Chare II – Earbanger, fugitive of field day, chow
hound, sheik of the radio gang, disrespect to all Loyal Shellbacks – BEARING
THE TITLE OF H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D BECAUSE OF HIS BEAUTIFUL H-A-I-R- (REPEAT)
H-A-I-R. Over 600 of us were issued Shellback cards plus the
ship had printed a 38 page booklet for every crew member with pictures and
the story of our crossing.” Gene was honorably discharged from the
Navy on March 9, 1946.
In January 1947, he joined the Naval Reserve Unit in Fargo, met the girl
he was going to marry, and a few years later found himself on the USS Haven
(AH-12) off of Inchon, South Korea, but that’s another story and another
University Archives, 701-231-8914
Published by the University Archives, NDSU
Last Updated: 8/27/04