Thursday, February 7, 2008

Sea Legs



As a sailor during WWII, Newt became proficient at the welding trade. He spoke little of his years aboard ship. It seems to take a shipmate to draw the stories into the open. One experience that he shared was the Normandy invasion. Newt was on a repair ship that participated in the invasion. He spoke of being off shore as the landing craft hit the beach. A ship near by was struck by enemy fire and sunk. He then said that their ship was signalled that they were at the wrong beachhead and directed to move further off shore. I don't recall if he told whether they then sailed to the beach they were intended to support. I recall one snapshot in his photo album that showed the deck of a ship with a large hole which he claimed was caused by a bomb that failed to detonate. He returned with one momento of the invasion, a seashell inscribed with the name of his vessel, Normandy, and the date. Besides his duffle bag and uniform, the only other item relating to his naval service was his seaman's handbook. The knots and splices and pictures of different classes of ships were the most interesting to me. He told of shaping a file into a knife blade then tempering and hardening it. He plied his trade in his driveway building boat trailers. He would salvage an axle from an old car and frame the rest of the trailer with pipe. for rollers he used old washing machine rolls. He'd custom fit the trailer to the boat. He had a boat for a while. One day he was backing down to the water at Great Salt Lake and submerged the car engine in the salty water. The old engine sat in his garage for years afterwards. Later he bought a boat to sail at Lake Powell. Then he had to buy an airplane to get there and get his pilots license.

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