Skip to comments.WWII Navy vet, 86, provides glimpse of history
Posted on 11/11/2004 5:16:49 AM PST by SandRat
Quilt commemorates sailor/poet from the U.S.S. Northampton
An Oro Valley veteran was honored last week for connecting an uncle and his nephew more than a half-century after World War II prevented them from meeting.
Sherman Walgren, 86, served as a third-class radioman on the USS Northampton from 1940 to June 1942. It was his first ship but not his last.
Over the years, he has maintained a growing collection of Navy memorabilia from his time at sea to pass along to his grandchildren.
That history of life during the war was what Walgren shared with Texas resident Phillip Dean Bucklew, who posted an Internet message looking for men who served on the Northampton. The ship was sunk by a Japanese torpedo on Dec. 1, 1942.
Bucklew's uncle, Seaman 1st Class Earnest Dean Parsons, went down with the ship on his 19th birthday.
Bucklew, 58, grew up without knowing much about the uncle whose middle name he shared. He began searching for any record of Parsons.
"Then one day, I got an e-mail from Mr. Walgren," he said in a telephone interview from his Bridgeport, Texas, home.
Of the 1,000 men who were on the ship, only about 100 remain, Walgren said. Though he never knew Parsons, he wanted to share whatever he could in order for Bucklew to have some idea of what life was like for his uncle.
For example, the Northampton left Pearl Harbor before the infamous attack and was late returning. When it arrived, the sailors found themselves surrounded by carnage.
"I could get a vicarious impression through him (Walgren) of what my uncle must have thought and what he saw," Bucklew said.
Bucklew and his wife, Margaret, 58, run a Web site that markets personalized, commemorative quilts, all handmade by Margaret. The Bucklews decided to create a quilted wall hanging for Walgren, emblazoned with a giant portrait of him as a young sailor and with a smaller picture of Walgren as he looks now.
The piece, titled "Sail Easy" after Walgren's Navy nickname, took about 200 hours for Margaret to finish, Phillip said.
The Bucklews contacted the town of Oro Valley and arranged to have Walgren honored and presented with the quilt at the Nov. 3 Town Council meeting, in time for Veterans Day.
The Bucklews listened to the presentation over the Internet.
Following a brief video presentation describing the history of the USS Northampton and how the quilt came to be, about 60 people, including Walgren's teary-eyed daughter Carleen Miner and his wife of 59 years, Mella, stood to applaud Walgren as he accepted the quilt from Oro Valley spokesman Bob Kovitz.
Then Walgren, wearing his full Navy dress uniform, recited a poem he wrote while he was on the Northampton, titled "Sailing Home." In recent years, the poem has been read at four Navy buddies' funerals, and Walgren hopes it will be read at his own funeral even if he must pre-record it himself for that purpose.
Because of "Sailing Home," he is the poet laureate of the Northampton Reunion Association.
"There was a lonely side of the Navy. I love the Navy, proud of my service," he said.
Oro Valley Mayor Paul Loomis read a proclamation declaring Nov. 3 "Sherman E. Walgren Day."
Phillip Bucklew said he choked up when he heard that part of the presentation. "The ceremony meant a lot to me, and I couldn't be any more proud of him if he were my own father," he said.
Walgren said the council "made an old man feel very special."
"It's been a great life and it ain't over yet," he said.
A couple nights ago I met (supposedly) the only American pilot to fly under the RAF(not just with them). I got to hear some interesting stories. It was very awe inspiring to just be in his presense.
They still make men like these today, just not as many.
Veterans Day ~ Bump!
Thank you Sherman Walgren for your service to this country. You make me proud to be an American.
The only thing that's outdated for me is the APA. None around by the time I came in. The AKAs were redisginated LKAs but I was on one. Also LSTs, and LPDs and my next ship is an LSD. That's why I'm GATOR NAVY.
Ah yes,.... Large Slow Desks and Large Slow Targets.
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