Posted by: SJS | March 1, 2011

Youth

The crews of the PT boats consisted mainly of very young men.  Red Stahley graduated form Northeast Catholic High School in Philadelphia in June of 1943.  By June of 1944, at the age of 19, he was assigned to PT Squadron (or Ron) 15 and serving in the Mediterranean.  By the time he turned 20, he was already on his way to the South Pacific and an assignment to Ron 27 where he would assume the duties of Radioman Third Class on PT 373.  With his close friend and fellow radioman, Tom Saffles, he would experience the full range of danger, excitement, and camaraderie that came with service on the PT boats.

Red at the wheel of PT 373

Red at the wheel of PT 373

Becoming familiar with my father’s life as a sailor through military records, the accounts of veterans who knew him, and an exploration of the history of the PT boats has opened up a dimension of his life that was largely unknown to the family.  The photographs are a striking reminder of just how young he was during the war.  With a crew of other enlisted men approximately his own age, he took on the challenges that came as simply the ordinary life of a sailor.  By the time he turned 21 in December of 1945 he was a battle-tested veteran who had travelled almost all the way around the world.

Learning about his military career before marriage and family life has been a revelation.  As my sister Marguerite said, “How curious and fascinating it is to learn about Dad before he became Dad.” Amen.

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Responses

  1. Steve, this is a great perspective on your Dad’s service and all the other young men who served our country.

    • Lis,

      Thanks much. The exploration into my father’s navy days has been a deeper and richer process than I could ever have imagined. I appreciate your support when I made those trips to Memphis and Birmingham to do the research and meet Tom & his family. You tended to hearth and home while I was on my “mission of discovery.”

      Steve

  2. Good luck! I’ve forwarded it on to quite a few people so far and will continue to send it to others as well.

  3. Mare,

    Thanks for getting the word out. I never knew that blogs had such power to build community. This is a remarkable process. Thanks again for all your work behind the scenes to bring this blog into being.

    Steve


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