Posted by: SJS | June 29, 2017

USN Beneficiary Slip – Making a will

In going through the paperwork in my father’s Navy file, I came across his Beneficiary Slip which would direct “the payment of 6 months’ pay to the widow, children, or dependent relative of any of the personnel on the active list of the Regular Navy…”  The form is dated June 25, 1943 when my father was about six months shy of his 19th birthday and still a brand new graduate of Northeast Catholic High School in Philadelphia.  The middle portion of the form did not apply to him so it is stamped “Not Married.”  The bottom of the form contains the name of his father, my grandfather, George F. Stahley who my father designated as his beneficiary.  I can only begin to imagine what must have gone through my father’s mind when he first held this form in his hands.

Despite it’s bureaucratic drabness and the artless hand stamps of his service number, hometown, and date,  this simple piece of official Navy paperwork carries the solemn and sober information about a young man who has joined the Armed Forces of his nation and will likely be in harm’s way and may never return.  George J (Red) Stahley had made his will on that late June day in 1943 and in another year, he would find himself in North Africa supporting the invasion of Southern France in the summer of D-Day.  There he would quickly realize that the prospect of not returning home was not a theoretical possibility but something he would live with every day.

Although it seems like just another piece of official paperwork in a personnel file with lots of other similar forms, this Beneficiary Slip has its own story to tell–and quite a serious story it is.   In simple, unadorned lines that must be completed, the US Government requires to know how to “direct the payment of 6 months’ pay” to whoever may be left behind should this sailor not return from the war.

As we approach the celebration of our nation’s independence on July 4th, I’ve found that this simple form makes for excellent reading about the real cost of freedom and those brave men and women who have been willing to lay everything on the line and do their duty on behalf of us all.  As we celebrate the day of our nation’s founding, let us offer a word of gratitude for all those who have served us with such dignity and courage in the Armed Forces of our nation.

Have a happy and safe July 4th!

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Responses

  1. An excellent post with a message we all should read and take to heart!

    • Thanks very much, GP. I always appreciate your supportive words. Hope you had a great July 4th.

  2. Six months pay…….if I am not mistaken, a month’s pay was about $50.

    • You’re probably right–pretty meager pay, even in those days. Thanks for posting.


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