Archive for July, 2008

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Naval Air Station, Norman, Oklahoma

July 3, 2008

The following letter was written to David Wilson, Dave’s father in 1954 by Capt. Johnson, Commanding Officer.  Dave had just reported to the Norman Oklahoma Naval Air Technical Training Center for training.

Dave Wilson

 


Original, and very rare Norman NAS patch

norman-banner_nas A rare Naval Air Station banner

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MORE TO COME!

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Two Ships in the Sea…

July 2, 2008

 

 

…a natural, classic beauty

Sara, Dave’s wife, lived in Memphis, Tennessee, as part of a very large, loving family.  She was blessed with two brothers, one older and one younger, an older sister along with two younger sisters.  Her father worked for the Southern Railroad for over 30 years for about a dollar a day. He had two brothers who also worked for the same company, also for over 30 years.  In addition to his job with the railroad, he was also a barber, cutting hair for a quarter (that’s 25 cents, folks) to supplement their income.

Sara (left) never knew what was to be… who was about to sail into her life!  

…a sailor was soon to rush into her life and sweep her off her feet.  

 

Sara grew up in Memphis.  That is where they met – in a funny kind of way.  It couldn’t have been ‘just chance or an accidental meeting.’  It had to have been a match that was just meant to be written in the stars, no doubt. This is their beautiful story.

 

Sara worked at Robinson’s Department Store in downtown Memphis while finishing high school at Messick. She continued working there after she graduated. Memphis was filled to the brim with sailors because of Millington Naval Base but Sara would never date any of them. They were “here today… gone tomorrow” she said. But she had a friend who was dating a sailor and had a friend by the name of Herman Mills. Because he was such a mannerly , nice guy, she made a rare exception, leading Herman and Sara to begin double-dating with their friends. Soon after, Herman left for Guam and wrote to Sara almost every week.  In one of his letters, he requested that she send him a pin-up picture of her for his locker.  Having just returned from a vacation at the beach with her older sister, Sara obliged and sent him one of the photos.  Dave was stationed in Guam at that time and happened to catch a glimpse or two of this beautiful pin-up posted in his fellow sailor’s locker. The beautiful girl it featured caught his fancy.  He wanted to meet this girl.  Dave was soon transferred to Memphis and asked Herman for Sara’s phone number, telling his friend that he wouldn’t know ‘anyone’ there.  Being the good buddy that he was, Dave generously offered to stop by and say hello to Herman’s beautiful friend.  (Herman wasn’t thinking straight, it seems!)

Sara, talking on the telephone to Dave

Dave called Sara at work and invited her to lunch.  Using sympathy as his weapon, he told her that he was new in town, didn’t know a soul and that Herman, his friend, had given him her number.  Trust, established; sympathy, successful; his plan, a slam-dunk. She accepted that invitation!

Dave, photo taken on one of their first dates.

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When Sara stepped outside to meet this mysterious sailor who came out of nowhere, he was leaning against the showroom window, looking quite dashing. She walked up, asking if he was Dave and he replied yes, he was!  They went to Kay’s Drive-In for lunch and then Dave took her back to work. He quickly called again and asked if she would go to a movie. Sara agreed and picked a movie called Napoleon, which Dave did not enjoy – he hated it!  It was obvious that he was bored. But despite the awful movie, he called her once again.

Kay’s Drive-In, where they had their first date.

Dave and Sara on one of their first dates, at her parents home.

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On the next date, they decided on a nice drive and took some pictures, including the one above.  Later they went on a double-date with one of his buddies and a friend of hers. After the date, he went to Sara’s house to meet and visit with her family.  Dave was comfortable and seemed to feel right at home.

Often, Dave would go to Arkansas to visit with his own family.  He tried to spend as many weekends with his parents as he possibly could.  This created a problem though.  Sara continued to date and when Dave would call her only to find her out with another, it didn’t sit well with him.  But she was not one to sit home and wait for ‘anyone’ to call.  She didn’t need to sit home either!  Her date book was always full and it just wasn’t her nature.

Dave was sent to California for training and he asked Sara to marry him.  They had only known each other a few short months.  Her heart might have been saying YES, but her head said NO!  She told him she wasn’t ready for that but that she would wait for him to return.  During that period of time, they both chose to not really date many others.

One day, Dave sent her a beautiful bouquet of yellow roses with a card that said, “I love you.”  He had received new orders.  He picked her up and drove her to work.  They said their goodbyes and Sara went into the store.   She promptly announced to her fellow workers and sister, Geneva, who also worked there, “he’s gone” and she fainted dead away! Her sister immediately thought this sailor had dumped her and began saying, “Where is he, I’m going to kill him!”

Dave drove for a full day until he couldn’t drive any further.  He knew he wanted to marry her and he would not take no for an answer.  He turned around, driving back to Memphis as fast as he could go to marry his gal.  In the meantime, Sara spent a miserable day crying and upset, not believing he was actually gone.  And then the phone call came.  The next night, he called her at the store and told her, “We need to get married and I will be there soon!”  Sara said, “I don’t have anything for a trousseau” to which Geneva said, “You can have mine!”

The beautiful bride at her quickly arranged wedding reception.

The good looking couple with Sara’s mother, Icy, who looked to be in shock.

The next day, Sara and Dave went to Hernando, Mississippi and they were married by a Justice of the Peace.  it was raining when they went in but when they tied the knot and walked out, the rain stopped and a big rainbow appeared.  Sara felt like it was a sign from God, blessing their marriage and life ahead together.

They spent their honeymoon in the mountains with Dave’s parents… not the ideal way to spend a honeymoon but at least they were together. Dave left after that weekend for Hawaii.  It was March, 1955 and in July Sara was flying to Hawaii to join her groom.  There was a transportation strike going on at the time, and she had no idea what to do.  She said, “I must have looked like a deer in headlights.”  A lady at the San Diego airport noticed her, approached and asked her if she had nobody to meet her there.  Sara expressed her need to get to Oakland to fly on to Oahu, having no idea how she would get there.  The kind lady took her to her car, whereby her daughter and son drove Sara all over the city of San Diego sight-seeing.  They drove around showing her the home of stars and Grumman’s Chinese to see the footprints in cement, taking pictures of her which they later, so kindly mailed to her.  Then they took her to the airport to catch her flight.  They were wonderful, generous people.

At the end of the flight, Dave was waiting anxiously for Sara at the airport.  He had worried all day that the older car he bought would not impress his new bride.  But Sara only had eyes for him.  She didn’t care what he was driving.  All she saw was HIM!  And so it was with the two ships sailing in the sea…

Oh… and yes, unfortunate for Herman… there was a “Dear John letter” written.  Herman, most likely, second-guessed his decision to publicly post Sara’s pin-up photo in his locker after receiving that letter.

One day, while still in Hawaii, Dave ran into a buddy from Guam who wondered what had happened to the girl Herman Mills was writing to.  Dave said, “She’s standing over there.  I married her!”

Dave & Sara, at the Memphis State Fair.

Check back often!  More to come.

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Memphis NAS Millington

July 2, 2008

More (pictures & stories) to come – PLEASE CHECK BACK OFTEN!

 

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Dave, before joining the Navy

 

 

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More on Dave

 

 

Dave attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas for a short period of time, selecting Liberal Arts as his major, before entering the Navy.

Postcard of the Memphis Aircraft Repair Line

NOTE:  I will be writing an interesting story about the planes shown on the above postcard.

 

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Enlisted Mens Quarters – Millington Naval Base

Memphis Naval Air Station-men peeling potatoes

 

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Dave’s Memphis Operators Permit

 

(altered for privacy/security purposes)

(back of permit)

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The following reference letter (below) from G.R. Luker, Captain, U.S.N., was written to Dave’s parents in 1955, praising his efficiency and performance – finishing first in his class.

NOTE:  The following recommendation letter was one of several written for Dave’s benefit by Charles F. Baldwin, LT, USN, Assistant Maintenance Officer. Mr. Baldwin was a Navy pilot. ANYONE who has any information about this man is asked to please email Dave. He would like to get in contact with him, if possible or find out what happened to him.  Any information would be appreciated.

 


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