Photograph of my grandfather
Photograph of my grandfather

My grandfather was one of 13 children growing up on a farm in rural Louisiana, where his family lived in extreme poverty. As a child, he was often woken up in the middle of the night and shuttled into the back of a pickup truck with his father and grandfather. They traveled for hours to Texas on these voyages for the purpose of migrant work. Although his education was interrupted, my grandfather finished high school. At this time, the only options available to him for work were farming or logging- neither path appealed to him, so he went to the Air Force recruitment office. The Air Force recruiter wasn’t in, but there was a Navy recruiter- he offered my grandfather a cup of coffee and a donut, and asked him to join the Navy. My grandfather said yes. This turn of events shaped the rest of my family’s life.
Our story would not be the same without my grandfather’s decision, made at just seventeen years old. He was the first of his family to leave Louisiana, and was ultimately stationed at the Charlestown Navy Yard. When I look at this photograph, I think of how my grandfather must have felt at that time- 18 years old, floating between two starkly different worlds- and I wonder about the experiences of all the others who served with him aboard the USS The Sullivans. 

– MO

Relationship:  unknown unknown