October First was always a remembered day when I was growing up. On October 1, 1940, Marcus G. Klein (my dad), enlisted in the US Navy, the “old navy.” As a young boy I would listen with great interest, inspiration and imagination as Pop would tell stories of his navy in the early days. There was no UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice). The disciplinary system then was “Rocks and Shoals.” Sailors would spend their entire career in the “Asiatic Fleet” or in a gun mount on a battleship or cruiser, never being transferred anywhere else. He often said of the Asiatic Fleet Sailors, called “China Sailors,” that once they were a China Sailor, they often never came back but lived out their lives in the Orient.
Pop enlisted in the Navy to fight the Nazis. Hitler was killing Jews. Pop’s family was a second generation German Jewish immigrant family, and he felt it was his duty to join the efforts against Hitler and Germany. At the time, he was 23 years old and working at Anis Furs in Detroit Michigan. Upon his graduation from Boot Camp at Great Lakes, he was not sent to Europe to fight the Nazis, but to the USS Medusa, which he described as a Battleship Tender stationed in the Hawaiian Islands…Pearl Harbor to be exact. His rating was Blacksmith Apprentice at the time.
He met my Mom in Hilo when Medusa was visiting in early 1941, they married in Honolulu by a Justice of the Peace in June that same year, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor and two submarine war partrols in the South Pacific…and in 1949, while still stationed in Pearl, had me. The naval influence in my life was immediate…I was born in Aiea Naval Hospital in Pearl City…grew up as a “Navy Junior,” and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1972, followed by 5 years on active duty as a Surface Warfare Officer. These are some of the unintended consequences of Marcus G. Klein enlisting to go to fight in Europe on October 1, 1940.
Pop never made it to Europe, and I for one am glad that he didn’t.
I salute you Pop.