Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Nashviller Nephew Writes...

From Colonel Clifton H. Aldrich, United States Army, Retired

Mr. Bustin,

I applaud your research and publication about the USS Nashville. I too have become interested in the history of that ship. You see my uncle CFC Edward B. McGettrick, may have served on that ship longer than any other. He has passed (2003) now and my talks with him about the war were too few and too brief. He served from Jun 1938 until November 1944, departing the Ship on 27 Nov to attend a chief fire control school. He came aboard as seaman 3d class and left as a Chief Fire Control being promoted in Aug of 1944. Obviously, he was not on board when it was hit by the kamikaze attack on 13 Dec. It haunted him that he was not there but conflicted him because he probably would have been killed if he was. The information I have comes mostly from my conversations with him, my Father's conversation with him relayed to me, my Mothers stories, and the reading of his letters to my Mother and Father during the war, his younger sisters stories. She was a Navy Lieutenant nurse at the Chelsea Naval Hospital where he was treated and discharged in late 1946. And the Navy ships musters recently released. I have recently requested his military records and awaiting to know more about him.

I was the only nephew he ever talked to about his service most probably because I spent 32years in the Army. Entered as a private and retired as a Colonel in 1993. I was shocked when attending his funeral that I was the only one there that knew any more than that he had been in the Navy. And many would not have known if it were not for a portrait picture of him and his sister in uniform that had been taken by my Father. Only his sister (also now passed) could talk about his Navy service. It was then that I became determined to know as much as I could about his service this great Ship and his life during those eight years.

My Uncle was silently proud of his Naval service and attended a number of reunions. One I was able to talk to him on one of my infrequent visits about was one at Nashville Tennessee. He was quite proud that he was recognized for having been the longest serving crewman at that reunion. He like all you highlighted in your book loved the USS Nashville and for him actually grew up as a crewman on the Nashville.

I find myself trying to place myself in his shoes, responding to General Quarters, living on board ship moving from point to point at risk and in harms way, growing with increased responsibility and providing fire support. I was trained and served as a Army Field Artilleryman and to this day cannot imagine the simultaneous and continuous firing of the equivalent of nearly two battalions of 155mm Artillery within a area of 200 meters. I feel I really would have liked to be there to serve.

I regret that I was not able to sit with him and his brothers an sister to document their service. He had a brother who served on the USS Finnegan, a brother who was a merchant marine, a brother who landed with the 9th Army Artillery on Utah Beach on 10 Jun 1944, and his Sister the nurse. He was one of eight and the other three girls were at home with their children.

I am sorry if this rambling has gone on but the purpose was to determine if in your research you came across any reference to my Uncle. I am going to try to chronicle his service in some way so that the rest of the family will know him and of his extraordinary service to our Nation.

Clifton H. Aldrich

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