Veterans Day was Friday and though most of my friends and relatives know of or are themselves veterans of military service, I focused this year on my dad’s service in the Navy.
I don’t know as much as I should about Thomas G. Edwards. Jr.’s active duty or reserve years, I his service to the US.
As soon as Daddy graduated from Rice University (having received his scholarship through the Naval ROTC) he obtained his commission and married my mom, Harriet Rose Minter. In a whirlwind of activities, the newly married couple traveled from Houston to San Diego in my grandparent’s car – as passengers. Grandpa Edwards was attending a medical convention in San Diego. Yes, Daddy and Momma’s honeymoon was a 1,300 mile trip to their new home – and Naval assignment with the “parents.”
Okay, this is leading to Daddy’s service. As a mechanical engineer, he served on the aircraft carrier, USS Kearsarge from 1954-1958 (or there about.)
I am fuzzy about the date, mainly because I wasn’t born until 1957. Daddy and Momma did reminisce about my visiting the ship with Momma during a family dinner in port. They said aircraft were taking off and landing during dinner. I made it clear with my very healthy lungs that I objected to the noise.
Daddy served as a JAG for enlisted men on board and in his professional capacity on the ship’s engines. He served in the lull between the Korean and Viet Nam wars. He did not see combat as far as I know, yet he served with distinction and pride.
I am glad to have those memories of him and appreciate his military service.
USS Kearsarge, a 27,100-ton Ticonderoga class aircraft carrier, was built at the New York Navy Yard. She was commissioned in March 1946 and spent her first year of service in training operations in the western Atlantic and Caribbean. During the later 1940s, Kearsarge made two trips to Europe, the first a summer 1947 midshipmen training cruise and the second a mid-1948 deployment to the Mediterranean Sea. In early 1950, the carrier was transferred to the west coast, where she decommissioned in June for extensive modernization work.
Recommissioned in February 1952, Kearsarge now had a stronger flight deck, new island and many other changes to her appearance and capabilities. She made a Korean War combat cruise in September 1952 – February 1953, during which time she was reclassified as an attack aircraft carrier and redesignated CVA-33. From mid-1953 to 1958, Kearsarge had regular tours of duty with the Seventh Fleet in the Far East. Her 1955 deployment included supporting the Nationalist Chinese evacuation of the Tachen Islands. The carrier was again modernized in 1956-57, receiving an angled flight deck and enclosed “hurricane” bow to better equip her to operate high-performance aircraft.
Kearsarge was assigned a new role in October 1958, becoming an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) support aircraft carrier, with the new designation CVS-33. In that capacity, she operated ASW fixed-wing airplanes and helicopters to protect the fleet against the threat of hostile underwater attack. Regular Seventh Fleet deployments continued through the late 1950s and the 1960s, including indirect involvement in the Vietnam Conflict. In 1962 and 1963, Kearsarge carried out a new mission, serving as recovery ship for the orbital flights of astronauts Walter Schirra and Gordon Cooper. Made redundant by the general fleet drawdown of the late 1960s and early 1970s, USS Kearsarge was decommissioned in February 1970. Following three years in the Reserve Fleet, she was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in May 1973 and sold for scrapping in February 1974