NEW BOOK!: Baked Beans Volume 3
Baked Beans Volume 2
Book: Baked Beans Volume 1
Book: A Bird’s Eye View
Okay, here’s the situation. You’re 19 years old. You had never been away from home, friends, family - on Thanksgiving Day before this. It’s November 25, 1943, and you and your 1,500+ shipmates are sharing Thanksgiving Dinner while steaming up along the Mexican shoreline, about a day away from San Francisco. You’re on your way to the War in the Pacific, via Pearl Harbor, by way of San Francisco.
Monday is Veteran’s Day. Veteran’s Day is a day of remembrance that is tied to Armistice Day, which marked the end of WWI, when hostilities ceased on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (1918). In 1954, the remembrance of veterans of WWI was expanded by Congress and President Eisenhower to include all veterans who served their country, thus changing it from “Armistice Day” to “Veterans Day.”
At this website, we honor the men who served aboard the heavy cruiser USS Boston through the harrowing War in the Pacific. But the Boston was one warship of the 97 that made up Fast Carrier Task Force 58. The carrier groups, sometimes four, sometimes five, were defended by circling heavy warships – cruisers and battleships. Each task group was ringed by a “picket” of 15 to 20 destroyers. Over 100,000 men were aboard these ships.
The task groups usually were “attack forces,” launching hundreds of bombers off the decks of the carriers. They were also “bombardment forces,” bringing to bear the heavy guns of the cruisers and battleships against enemy targets. Sometimes, they were “support forces,” providing air and heavy gun cover to amphibious landings of Marines and Army troops.
So, by extension, as we focus on the men who served aboard the Boston, we honor all military personnel involved in the Pacific War, and by further extension, everyone who has served this country.
Hats off to our Veterans!
Tomorrow (Oct. 28) is John Cooper’s 88th birthday.
John arrived on the Boston on May 30, 1944, and stayed aboard until June 8, 1946, when the Mighty B was mothballed in Bremerton, WA. He is a retired Union Pacific Railroad Engineer and is currently the Chairman of the Board of a railroad credit union and is very active in the Masons and Scottish Rite. Lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas and has four children.
photo and bio compliments of Mike Cooper, John’s son.
Anyone who has read (or is still reading) Baked Beans Vol.3 should recognize this picture. It’s at the very end of the book, (Christmastime, 1945) when the men still left aboard the Boston are celebrating their last Christmas on the ship. A month later, they were heading for home.
In this picture, then Major Norman C. Bayley, commanding officer of the ship’s Marine Detachment (shown seated left) is with two other officers. They are judging the “Prettiest Sweetheart” contest – submissions by the ship’s crew.
If you have not yet read Vol. 3, I am not going to spoil anything by telling you about Norm Bayley. His remarkable, amazing story is highlighted in my book.
I will tell you that Norm is one of seven surviving crewmembers who participated in the telling of the Baked Beans saga, one hell of a story . . . .
Did I mention that tomorrow (Oct 15) is Norm’s birthday? He’ll be 96 years young. If I tell you he’s still sharp as a tack, perhaps I’m understating . . . .
Happy Birthday, Norm. Thanks for telling me your story - so I could share it with everyone else.