Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- A Veteran's Service and Gravesite

 From Randy over at Genea-Musings:

Dear genealogists everywhere, it's Saturday Night!  Time for some Genealogy FUN.

Your mission this week, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  To celebrate Veterans Day, pick one of your ancestors or relatives with a military record and a gravestone.

2)  Tell us about your ancestor's military service.

3)  Tell us about your ancestor's gravestone - where is it, what is the inscription, when were you last there?  Show us a picture of it if you have one available. 

4)  Write your own blog post about this ancestor and his gravestone, or share it in a Comment to this blog post, in a status line on Facebook, or in a Google Plus Stream post. 

Here's mine:

(1)   I chose my maternal grandfather, Charles Morgan Tapley (1907-1973), who served in the United States Navy twice.

He first served in the Navy from December 3, 1923 to November 3, 1925.  If you do the math, he was only 16 years old when he joined.  The family lore is that he ran away from his home in Georgia, went to California, and lied about his age to join the Navy.  (Obviously, it was much easier to lie about your age back then.)  The story continues that eventually, he wrote his father and begged him to get him (Charles) out of the military.  I theorize that the the way his father did that was to let the U.S. Navy know that Charles was underage.

According to his military records, some of this story is true.  However, he actually joined in Raleigh, North Carolina and trained at Hampton Roads, Virginia.   From March 10, 1924 until his discharge in November 1925, he served upon the USS Arizona, which is probably how he ended up in California.  His record clearly states next to his discharge date:  "Underage - Honorable Discharge."  His rating was S2c at time of discharge.

The second time my grandfather served in the U.S. Navy was during World War II.  By 1944, he was divorced with a 12 year old daughter and re-married with a 7 year old step-son, an 18 month old daughter, and a wife that was starting to exhibit health problems.  He was trying to support a family by working any job he could find (including as an insurance salesman at this time).  Pearl Harbor was attacked in December 1943 and three months later, he got a government "greetings letter" (draft notice).  He had to report somewhere in Los Angeles for induction.  When he arrived, he knew he would rather go back into the Navy, with which he was familiar, rather than join the Army.  So he got into the Navy line, and when the recruiter found out he had served before, they signed him right up.  He spent the first several months of his service at training school in Toledo, Ohio.  At the end of that training, his rating was changed to S1c.  In September 1944, he was transferred to the S.S. Bataan and worked on the ship as a storekeeper.  The only thing he really said about his service is that the planes taking off overhead on the deck were terribly loud.  He was discharged in April 1945 because his wife's health had deteriorated to the point that he was needed at home.

Pop Pop is buried at Gumlog Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery outside Kite in Johnson County, Georgia.  Here are photographs of his grave.

Charles M Tapley
S1 US Navy
World War II
June 27 1907       Nov 12 1973

He is buried next to Grandma, Ethel Irene Ranney Tapley.  Nearby are his mother, Mattie Schwalls Tapley, two of his brothers, James and Gilbert Tapley, and sisters-in-law Reida Mae Poole Tapley and Alice Ranney Thornburg. 

The last time I visited Pop Pop's grave was this past March.  When I still lived in Georgia, I would meet my mother in the area to assist her in placing flowers on the family graves.

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