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The Cooperator Shares Stories of Service

Veterans make sacrifices for the good of country
9/30/2019

Editor’s note: Last month in the Snapshots column, I asked readers to share veteran stories from their own families

in observance of Veterans Day, Nov. 11. On the following pages are just a few of the stories we received. We’re humbled by the response to the request, and while we could not print each andevery one, we intend to include some additional stories as a recurring feature over the next several months. If you have a story you would like to share, please send it in. I hope these stories cause all of us to pause for a moment and give thanks for the sacrifices of the many who have served, both in peacetime and war. Their efforts have allowed us to have the freedom, the lives, and the country we all

enjoy. I hope, too, these accounts inspire you to talk with your own family members who have served to learn

about their experiences. All who have served deserve our solemn respect and our thanks.

Journal entries

WWII sailor leaves details of submarine experiences

After Hershel Hall of Burns in Dickson County died in 2006, his family began sorting through his personal belongings. Amidst the piles of a lifetime of “stuff,” they found a collection of handwritten pages where the World War II veteran had recorded his experiences on the USS Snook, a Gato-class submarine, for its first seven patrols in World War II from March 1943 to Nov. 18, 1944. As one of the three lookouts, he was often the first one out of the submarine upon surfacing, and the last one back in.

“We knew he had been in the Navy in the war,” says David Moss, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative general counsel and nephew of Hall. “But I don’t think anyone knew the full story.”

The carefully scribed journal details Hershel’s enlistment in the Navy on Jan. 12, 1942, just over a month after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Since so many young men were enlisting at that time, he had to go home and wait two weeks before the Navy could accept him. He spent six weeks in basic training in Norfolk, Va., before he was sent to Signal School in Chicago, then on to Sub School in New Loudon, Conn.

According to Hershel’s journal, only nine of 107 applicants were accepted for the intensive two weeks of physical and mental screening, which eliminated another 25 to 30 percent of those nine.

“The main reasons for rejection were claustrophobia and the inability to withstand the increased pressures,” he wrote. “We had to endure 55 pounds of pressure at 130 degrees, which would equal a depth of 100 feet. Many of the applicants developed bleeding from the nose and ears due to this.”

After graduation from Sub School, Hershel was assigned to the USS Snook submarine, which left New London and crossed through the Panama Canal to travel to Pearl Harbor and duty in the Pacific theater. He noted how the submarine passed the sunken battleships in Pearl Harbor as they headed to their dock on the opposite side of the harbor.

Hershel provides details on his seven patrols aboard the Snook, noting how many enemy ships were sunk by the submarine. He recounted how the vessel at times dodged depth charges, its own torpedoes that would sometimes circle back at the Snook after they were fired, and bombs dropped from planes. Hershel and the rest of the USS Snook crew narrowly avoided disaster time and again.

He recounted one incident in particular when the submarine surfaced to exchange fire with an enemy craft, and a bullet smashed through a speaker on the coning tower where the young sailor would have stood if he had been on duty.

Hershel’s journal briefly addresses the depth charges that the submarine endured: 

“On one of the patrols, they (the enemy) had us in shallow water and we went to silent running. This is cutting off all equipment that wasn’t necessary and laying on the bottom of the ocean. They had us down for 72 hours. After they went past, we would move out a little and finally got away. Tokyo Rose reported us sunk! Guess we did receive about 300 depth charges in that 72 hours. In all of our patrols, we received approximately 500 depth charges.”

After being transferred from the snook after its seventh patrol, Hershel returned to New London where he began training new recruits. He said the duty was often more dangerous than the depth charges he had dodged earlier in his service as “you didn’t know what the recruits would do.”

“They didn’t realize that every person on that ship depended on you to do the correct thing,” he wrote.

– Submitted by David Moss, TFC

‘Drive to serve’

Family tradition leads to time in Navy

Five days after turning 20 years old on Aug. 10, 2011, I joined the Navy. I had been working as a correctional officer at the Grainger County Sheriff’s Department and decided that wasn’t for me. Ever since I was a kid, I played Army or Navy on the boats. My grandfather, James Smith, was a radioman in the Navy during the Korean War. And I had an uncle, Mike Smith, who was in the Army. So I always had this drive to serve. I finally decided on the Navy as a tradition.

I went to basic training in Illinois at Naval Station Great Lakes near Chicago. From there, I went to Pensacola, Fla., for Air Traffic Control School. I realized quickly that with me being a farm boy, I didn’t like the idea of sitting behind a desk. I left there and went to the U.S. 7th Fleet in Sasebo, Japan. I was stationed on the USS Denver, which, at the time, was the oldest warship still active in the Navy. She’s since been decommissioned.

I was an undesignated seaman, and I liked the work so much that I became a boatswain mate. We got to tie up the ship, drive it, drive cranes, and lower boats into the water and drive them. We got to do all the dangerous stuff your mother doesn’t want to know that you’re doing overseas. That was right up my alley. Instead of driving a tractor, I was driving a crane of 21-foot boat with dual Cummins engines in it.

I was fortunate enough to be selected for the Visit Board Search & Seizure Team, which would be taking over vessels suspected of having illegal drugs or guns. I got to see a little bit of everything out there.

My favorite place to be was open ocean. It’s something I still miss today. You see things you’ll never see on dry land, like a whale breaching across the stern of the ship. You would go to bed at night, and the ship would be rocking ever so gently, putting you right to sleep. I loved going to Australia and Hong Kong. Those are two of the craziest, most beautiful places you’ll ever see. I’m still in touch with all of my closest friends from the ship. I’ve gone to weddings and birthday parties across the country just to have an excuse to hang out with my buddies. We spent a lot of time together out on that open ocean.

I grew up a lot during my three years in the Navy. I went from being a 20-year-old know-it-all kid to having to figure things out the hard way. When I came out, I had a much stronger work ethic. We called it “the hustle.” That “got to get it done” attitude is very beneficial for working in agriculture. I’m now the manager for Tennessee Homegrown Tomatoes. I’m in charge of coordinating our grafting, which is like grafting an apple tree but on a much smaller scale. We usually do about 2,560 plants a day. I’m also in charge of getting trucks loaded for local deliveries, running our Facebook page, and doing anything else I’m asked to do. It’s a pretty non-stop operation.

Serving my country is my proudest accomplishment. I felt the need to do it because it has been done for me. If I had it to do all over again, I would in a heartbeat for the people I met and the places I got to see. It was definitely a life-changing experience.

– Submitted by Justin Brooks, Grainger County

Family ties

World War II Navy veterans return home for Co-op careers

Cousins R.H. (Tim) Stinnett and Carl and Tom Maples of Sevier County all enlisted in the Navy, serving in World War II before coming home and enjoying a lifelong career with Co-op, working at the Tenco warehouse and fertilizer facility, says Carolyn Sue Perkins, daughter of Carl Maples.

R.H. (Tim) Stinnett was a year-and-a-half older than his two cousins and served on the USS Missouri, an Iowa class battleship best remembered as the site where Japan surrendered to end the war.

Carl and Tom enlisted in the Navy in November 1944. They completed basic training in Great Lakes, Ill. Tom left Great Lakes on Dec. 20, 1944 and arrived in Shoemaker, Calif., on Dec. 24, where he was placed in the 79th Seabees Battalion. After training, he was sent to Saipan in the South Pacific, where he stayed until the U.S. invaded Okinawa on April 1, 1945. The Seabees were sent to Okinawa four days after the invasion to build roads, airstrips, and other needed infrastructure for the war effort.

Upon his discharge from the Navy on March 4, 1946, in Memphis, Tom returned home to Sevier County. Almost a year later on Feb. 22, 1947, he married Stella Wright Maples, whom he had known since childhood. Within five years, they had four children: Sue, Paul, Reece, and Bill. Their son Paul was drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam, where he died on April 6, 1969. Reece served in the Navy as did his son-in-law Tom Perkins during this time. Bill was 4-F and unable to serve and went on to do well in his career in business. The family grew to four grandchildren, seven great grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren.

Tom, Carl, and Tim went to work at the

Co-op when the cooperative built the warehouse at Tenco in Rockford. In February 1958, Tim was the third man hired at this new warehouse, and he recommended Tom, who became the fourth. Tim prepared tickets while Tom was in the warehouse pulling orders and loading trucks for delivery. Carl worked at the nearby fertilizer plant. Between the three men, they logged approximately 95 years of service with the Co-op. Tom retired in June 1988.

Tom and wife Stella shared 70 years together as man and wife until her death on July 21, 2017. Tim, his wife Eunice, and Carl have all passed on. Carl’s wife Eveline is in her early 90s and still lives in the Seymour community.

“Tom celebrated his 93rd birthday on June 11, 2019, and still enjoys an occasional visit to the Co-op to meet the employees and make new friends there,” says Carolyn. “He is still very active: driving, mowing, and loving his family and his church family.”

– Submitted by Carolyn Sue Perkins, Sevier County

 
 
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