Comprehensive Officer and Crew Rosters for USS Tryon

21 Sep

 

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USS Tryon, the South Pacific Express

I have completed tabulation of Tryon’s officer and crew rosters, and at the bottom of this post is a link to the rosters.   They are made up of data found on Tryon’s Muster Rolls and Reports of Changes.  These documents are available on Ancestry.com and Fold3.com.  For the officer list I used the list compiled by Mac Perry in his book, “The South Pacific Express.”  Utilizing these records I was able to determine that from the time of her commissioning on September 30, 1942 to the time of her decommissioning on March 20, 1946, a period of  three years, five months and twenty days, Tryon was served by 1063 crew members and about 160 officers.

The muster rolls and change reports contain quite a bit of personal information on each sailor, and I tried to include as much of this as I could in a condensed form.

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Example of Muster Roll, USS Tryon, 9 October 1942

The crew roster reads as follows from left to right: sailor’s name, service number, ratings held while aboard Tryon, enlistment date and location of enlistment when available, the date received on board Tryon, the date the sailor was detached, and relevant notes pertaining to their time of service aboard Tryon.  Not all sailors have their enlistment date and location of enlistment included.  Reports of Changes stopped including this information in October, 1944; those joining Tryon from that time forward don’t include enlistment data.

I used a few notations to help add information to the roster.  An asterisk (*) indicates that there is a note regarding the preceding entry.  For instance, an asterisk next to a rating entry probably will lead to a note indicating that the sailor received a rating reduction; an asterisk next to the detachment date means there is a note regarding the reason for being detached or the location of re-assignment.

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Example of Report of Changes, USS Tryon, 19 October 1942

Some detachment dates are in brackets.  These are sailors who left Tryon for medical treatment (or in a few cases, temporary reassignment) and did not return to Tryon.  Most that left Tryon for these reasons did return, and in those cases I simply removed the detachment date and entered the date of their permanent detachment later.  But those that didn’t return I left in brackets.

Under Notes, occasionally you will find an entry similar to this: C20/F20:6/26/43.  This notation indicates that the sailor had received a disciplinary action.  The “C” indicates days of confinement – in this case, 20 days.  “F” refers to a fine, in dollars;  here it was for $20.  The fines were usually broken up into several payments – say, $5 per month for four months in this example.  The date that follows is the date of the disciplinary action.  Disciplinary actions on occasion also included bread and water rations during confinement.  This may sound a bit harsh and archaic to modern minds, but bread and water rations are still included as a non-judicial punishment in the Uniform Code of Military Justice today.

There are a few cases of sailors moving from enlisted status to warrant officer status during their time aboard Tryon.  In such cases I listed his “detachment” date as the date of his warrant.  Actually these men did not leave the ship on that date; rather, they were moved from the enlisted roster to the officer’s roster.  I admit, I did not compare lists to make sure every warrant officer from the enlisted list ended up on the officer’s list – but in the cases that I checked, they did.

I used color coding to highlight special cases.  In the “Received On Board” column, YELLOW highlighting identifies the men that were aboard Tryon at the time of her commissioning – or at least prior to her  initial cruise from San Francisco to San Diego.  These men qualify as “plankowners” – a Navy term for individuals who were part of the crew of a naval ship when that ship was placed in commission.

In the “Detached from Tryon” column, GREEN indicates sailors who remained aboard Tryon from the time of her commissioning to the end of the war – 2 September 1945 or later.  LIGHT BLUE highlights those that were on board Tryon at her decommissioning on 20 March 1946.  DARKER BLUE signifies a subset of the light blue group who remained on board an additional week to finish up the final tasks required for decommissioning.  There were two men who served aboard Tryon from her commissioning to her decommissioning, John Ralph Gibbons, Jr. and Herman Mike Gallelo, and they are highlighted in VIOLET; one lone sailor, John David Grandpre, was part of Tryon’s crew from day one at commissioning, remained aboard until decommissioning, and was among the group that remained aboard an extra week to complete decommissioning duties.  His detachment date is highlighted in PURPLE.  His story is worth reviewing.

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Battleship Row, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 10 December 1941. USS Arizona can be seen lower right, resting on the harbor floor, a heavy issue of fuel oil seeping from her submerged bunkers. At the other end of the row USS Maryland can be seen still moored to the quays; on her port side is the capsized USS Oklahoma.

Unlike most crewmen on board Tryon, John David Grandpre, who went by Jack, was regular navy (USN), not naval reserve (USNR).  Born and raised in Spink County, South Dakota, he enlisted on 19 November 1940, just three days after his eighteenth birthday.  His first ship assignment was the battleship USS Oklahoma, where he joined his brother, Arthur Matthew Grandpre, who at that point had already been serving aboard Oklahoma for about a year.  Both were aboard Oklahoma on the morning of 7 December 1941, moored in position Fox 5 on Battleship Row, Pearl Harbor.   Like so many others, they were probably just shaking sleep off and thinking about breakfast when they heard the whine of aircraft engines followed by massive explosions as bombs dropped nearby. Immediately following, three torpedoes struck Oklahoma, causing massive destruction.  Within twelve minutes she had capsized and sunk, hit by a total of twelve torpedoes in all, her hull held above the water as her masts struck the soft bottom of the harbor.  Japanese airmen strafed her crew as they frantically tried to abandon ship.  In all, Grandpre lost 429 shipmates that morning, including his brother Arthur, who was just twenty-one years old.

The remains of only 35 of the 429 Oklahoma sailors that lost their lives that day were identified; the remains of the remaining 388 were buried in local cemeteries.  In 1950, all unidentified remains from Oklahoma were disinterred and reburied in 61 caskets in 45 graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.  

More recently, due to modern advances in DNA analysis,  the Department of Defense determined that it may now be possible to identify remains that at one time could not be identified.  As a result, in April, 2015 they announced that remains of crew members from USS Oklahoma would be disinterred in an attempt to identify the remains and return them to their families.  In June, 2015 four graves were disinterred to begin this process.  In January 2016 the Navy announced that it had been successful in identifying the first five of these remains, and that they were returned to their families.

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Arthur Matthew Grandpre, brother of Tryon crewman John David Grandpre. The Grandpre brothers were shipmates aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma when she was sunk at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. John David Grandpre managed to survive the attack; Arthur did not. Arthur was among the 429 dead from Oklahoma. John David, who went by Jack, was the crewman aboard Tryon longer than any other.

The fact that Pearl Harbor was a shallow water anchorage enabled the US Navy to put all but two ships that were damaged that day back into service.  Oklahoma was refloated, but by 1944 the decision was made to decommission the ship, and she was sold to Moore Dry Dock, the same ship-building company that had constructed Tryon.  In 1947 Two tugboats were assigned the task of removing Oklahoma to the Moore Dry Dock shipyard in Oakland, CA.  On the return trip, 500 miles out from Hawaii, the trio of ships encountered a severe storm that caused Oklahoma to take on water and eventually sink, nearly taking the tugs down with her.

I, along with many Oklahomans, take special interest and pride in this ship that was the namesake of our great state.  In 2007 a friend of mine led a group of Navy JROTC members  to Hawaii to participate in the dedication of a USS Oklahoma war memorial on Ford Island.  In this way we know that USS Oklahoma is gone, but not forgotten.

Days after the Pearl Harbor attack Grandpre was transferred to the heavy cruiser USS Northampton, and seven months later to munitions ship USS Shasta for transport back to San Francisco.  Subsequently he received orders to report to new construction – USS Tryon.

After the war Grandpre remained in the Navy and served aboard several ships, including USS Renville and USS Hooper Island.  He achieved the rank of chief  warrant officer before he retired from the navy in 1960.  After retirement he and his family settled in Connecticut, and lived there till his death in 2004.

There were a  handful of sailors that I could find no detachment date for.  These men were all aboard after 1/1/1946.  I’m guessing that a two-page Report of Changes is missing from the hundreds of pages of documents I went through.  This would account for the twenty four or so sailors without detachment dates.  In any event, these are highlighted in LIGHT RED.

In the Notes column one entry is highlighted in ORANGE.  It is the note for  John Willis Hill, Jr.  What makes his story noteworthy is that he was discharged from the crew of Tryon for being underage!  He was detached from Tryon on 12 July 1944, a week before his SIXTEENTH birthday!!  One can’t help wondering what tricks were used that allowed him to enlist at such a young age.  Hill enlisted on 5 February 1944 in Lubbock, TX.  He made it through boot camp and training, received a rating of Seaman Second Class, and was transferred to New Caledonia where he joined Tryon on 29 May 1944.  He sailed aboard Tryon for a month and a half, visiting Guadalcanal and Auckland, but while Tryon was anchored in her assigned berth in Great Roads, Noumea, New Caledonia, orders came through for his transfer off the ship: “Transfer to nearest receiving station on West Coast of U.S. for discharge due to enlistment as minor without proper consent.  Dated 22 May 1944”  Apparently the order preceded his joining Tryon but didn’t catch up to him until after he’d spent time aboard.  World War II history is replete with anecdotes about underage warriors.  Some, such as the story of sixteen-year-old medic Virgil Mounts that was killed on Omaha beach, end in tragedy.  Mounts used his older brother’s driver’s license as proof of age and joined the Navy at fifteen.  He joined the Sixth Naval Beach Battalion as a corpsman; the Sixth provided triage and casualty evacuation for Army assault troops of the 1st Infantry Division (the “Big Red One”) at the Easy Red sector of Omaha Beach.

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Retired Hospital Apprentice 1st Class Frank H. Walden, partner of Virgil Mounts on 6 June 1944 and D-Day survivor. Photo taken on 6 June 2012 when Walden received a Bronze Star for his valor on that 6 June sixty-eight years before.

That morning, Mounts and his partner, Frank Walden, made it safely  ashore.  From a position of cover they witnessed the explosion of a German shell  that injured two army personnel carrying a stretcher.  Without regard for personal safety, Mounts and Walden left the relative security of their shelter and crossed open ground to render aid to the wounded men.  A second shell hit nearby; shrapnel from the second shell killed Mounts instantly.  The shrapnel that killed Mounts also hit Walden in the arm, collarbone, back and leg, but Walden survived his wounds.

Thankfully, the story of John Willis Hill, Jr. has a happier ending.  He was sent home, and I can find no indication he made further attempts to join the war effort.  After the war he entered the ministry and was credentialed in the Church of God in 1954.  He pastored in thirteen churches, and ministered as an evangelist in nine states and several countries around the world.  He married Mildred (a marriage that would last 71 years), and they had five children.  One of them, Tim, followed his father into ministry in the Church of God.  He currently serves as the General Overseer of the denomination.

At the time of John’s passing he and Mildred had ten grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, and two great great grandchildren.  John Wallis Hill, Jr. passed away just this year, on 19 May 2016, at 87, having lived a long, full, rewarding life.

Two young warriors – one life ending in tragedy, one in triumph – but both young men demonstrating tremendous courage and honor and patriotism, offering their lives in service to their country.

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Less explanation is required for the Officers list.  Officers are grouped according to the position that they held on Tryon.  Where possible I tried to include the date received aboard and date detached, however, these dates weren’t available for all.

In some cases officers held more than one position during their time on Tryon– that of Commander Carl E. Morck, for instance, who served as both executive officer and commanding officer – and those are listed more than once, in each position held.  If an officer was received on board holding one positi0n but detached in another, I recorded the date they were receive on board next to the first position, and placed x’s in the date detached column next to it, and visa versa in the second position held.

So that’s it!  I hope you find who you’re looking for!!  Please leave a comment if you do.

Tryon Comprehensive Crew Roster01_1

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     If you or your family member served aboard Tryon, or if for another reason you’re interested in Tryon, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment so that we can communicate further.
     If you have a comment, correction, anecdote or story related to this or any other post, please be sure to leave a comment. I enjoy nothing more than hearing from others that share an interest in this most pivotal time in world history.
     And thanks for taking time to check out my blog. I sincerely appreciate it.
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8 Responses to “Comprehensive Officer and Crew Rosters for USS Tryon

  1. Mary D November 20, 2016 at 11:43 pm #

    Hello. I am happy to come across your blog. My grandfather (ENS T. J. Lardner) served aboard TRYON. I wrote a paper about him while I was in college in 2000 and struggled to find any information about the ship. I’m grateful that you have shared so much information here. I’m eager to look through it and read more. Thank you!

    • rememberthetitans November 22, 2016 at 1:14 pm #

      Hi Mary – thanks so much for visiting my blog and for your kind words. It is my desire to provide information and details about this great ship that isn’t available elsewhere. I trust you were able to find your grandfather on the officer’s list that followed the crew list. Unfortunately his listing didn’t include additional information for you, but it does confirm his service aboard Tryon. I have access to quite a bit of info on crew members, but comparatively little about the officers.

      If you have any questions about Tyron I’d be happy to try to answer them for you. Also, if you happen to have a photo of your grandfather, particularly if he is in uniform, I’d love a copy to post on the honor roll.

      Thanks again for your comments, and Happy Thanksgiving!!

      Tim

      • Mary D November 22, 2016 at 9:42 pm #

        Thank you, Tim. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well! I’m happy to send you a photo. How do I get it to you? Do you have my email address from my comment?

      • rememberthetitans November 22, 2016 at 10:02 pm #

        I do indeed have access to your email address and will send you an email. Looking forward to adding T.J. Lardner’s photo to the honor roll. The honor roll was something I wanted to do from day one but has only recently has taken form. I’m excited to be adding to it!

  2. Dallas Allen November 22, 2016 at 3:43 pm #

    Hi, Thanks so much for your blog! I’ve been having a blast reading about the USS Tryon.
    My dad, Dallas V. Allen, was aboard and served as Electrician’s Mate. I actually found a picture of him along with eight other crew while doing an internet search.
    Thanks again and looking forward to any new posts.

    • rememberthetitans November 22, 2016 at 5:14 pm #

      I’m so happy you’ve enjoyed the blog, Dallas! I’ve received a tremendous amount of pleasure researching this special ship. I’m happy to answer any questions you have about her, so far as I’m able. Did you happen to see my response to your earlier comment? I updated the photo to include identification of your dad in the caption. Also, did you realize that the one other person that I was able to identify in that photo was MY dad, who was also an electrician’s mate? I wonder if all of the guys in that photo were EMs. I’ve always wondered who they all were.

      I’d love an individual photo of your dad, particularly in uniform, if you have one you’re willing to share with me. I’d like to post it on the honor roll.

      Thanks again for your comments! I appreciate them very much. And Happy Thanksgiving!!

      Tim

      BTW – The next post I’m planning to do is, “Christmas Aboard Tryon.” I’ve planned to do this for the past three Christmases, and it hasn’t happened, but I’m committed to getting it done this year. Hoping to get it posted by this coming weekend! Your dad had the “pleasure” of spending three Christmases aboard Tryon, and came within a few days of spending a fourth! All I have to report on the matter he would have been a part of.

      • Dallas Allen November 23, 2016 at 11:36 am #

        hI Tim, I bet you’re right about that picture being the Em’s. Small world that our Dads worked with each other. I do have a pic of him in uniform. How do I get it to you?

  3. Darrell Floate November 15, 2017 at 7:26 pm #

    Hi there. I am looking for information about operations and missions when my father served aboard the USS Tryon in 1944-5. His name was HM3 Edwin Floate Jr. Any help would be appreciated.

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