A Sailor Goes Home and a Ship is Decommissioned
Updated: Jul 3
On March 4, 1946, Signalman John P. Whiteman was officially discharged from the U.S. Navy. The YMS-346 was decommissioned two months later in May of 1946 and stricken from the Navy's register on June 19, 1946. In his book, my brother Tom writes:
Dad transferred to another minesweeper, the YMS-44 for a short time and records also show that he was on the minesweeper USS Incredible AM-249. This was probably the ship that brought him back home across the ocean as the Incredible had returned to San Pedro, California from the East China Sea-Ryukyus area on February 17, 1946. And Dad was discharged only fifteen days later at the USN Personnel Separation Center in Lido Beach, L.I., N.Y. on March 4, 1946.
The following letter, dated December 1945, is the last letter found that Jack wrote to his sister Bess, before he was discharged in March 1946.
12/4/45 Wakayama, Japan - Dear Bess: ....Well! We received notice that the points have gone down a little more. Thirty eight points Dec. 1st and thirty seven points Dec. 15th. I will have 37 1/2 on Dec. 20th. Since I am overseas, I am eligible for transportation home now. The only trouble is that all men on minesweepers are "frozen" for 90 days after they are eligible. That means I am stuck until March. However, news came that a whole ship-load of replacements are on the way and maybe it won't be too long. If I was any place else but here, I'd be put ashore for transportation home tomorrow but --- just a bad break. I really can't complain because I had five months right there in New York (home) and not many fellows ever had a break like that. So ---no complaining.
In February 1946, John Patrick Whiteman was aboard the U.S.S. Incredible (AM-249), the ship that would finally take him home. These are the medals he was awarded for his service.
American Theater Medal - European African Middle Eastern Theater Medal 1 star - Asiatic Pacific Theater Medal
Victory Medal - Good Conduct Medal
In March 1946 Jack received an Honorable Discharge from the United States Navy. The document was recorded in the County Clerk's Office, Bronx City, N.Y. on March 12, 1946. The document states:
This is to certify that John Patrick WHITEMAN a Signalman Third Class USNR is Honorably Discharged from the U.S.N. PERSONNEL SEPARATION CENTER, LIDO BEACH, L.I., N.Y. and from the Naval Service of the United States this 4th day of March 1946. This certificate is awarded as a Testimonial of Fidelity and Obedience. It is signed by J. W. EDLER, LT.USNR FOR SYDNEY S. BUNTING, CAPTAIN USN(RET) COMMANDING.
The Notice of Separation from U.S. Naval Service document lists:
Service (Vessels and Stations Served On)
NRS NY NY
NTS SAMPSON, NY
RS NYD PHILA PA
NH PHILA PA
NMWS YORKTOWN VA
RS NYD CHARLESTON SC
NRS JACKSONVILLE FLA
USS YMS 346 44
USS INCREDIBLE (AM249)
RS NOB NOR VA
MINE ASSEMBLY BASE WEST LOCH, T.H.
PSC LIDO BEACH LI NY
The YMS-346 was decommissioned in May of 1946 and stricken from the Navy's register on June 19, 1946. Originally she was considered for transfer to China, but this was never carried out. Finally she was sold in October of 1948. Some of the YMSs were transferred to China and some were reclassified as AMs, given names and served in Korea. Seven YMSs were sunk in a typhoon off Okinawa on October 9, 1945. The YMS 359 was purchased by a private owner who kept her at the University of Washington. There she caught on fire and now sits intact, on the bottom of Lake Washington. The YMS 328 was converted into a luxury yacht, named "Wild Goose" and belonged to John Wayne. The last YMS of her kind in US service was the YMS-327. She was struck from the Navy list in November of 1969. Whatever happened to Dad's YMS-346 doesn't really matter now, as she shined during those years in Normandy and Japan. Actually the glory goes to the men who stood on her deck.
After Jack came home, he began dating Pauline, one of that "mob of girls" he often referred to in his letters. They were married in September 1949 and they had five children, left to right: John Jr., Jim, Mary, Tom, and Joe. When he died at the age of 85, he had 9 grandchildren. Since then, 14 great grandchildren have been added to our family. In 2021, when Pauline died at the age of 94, she and Jack were reunited once again. Their legacy lives on...
After the war Dad built a small scale model of the YMS-346 out of balsa wood. My brothers remember playing with this model as children and Tom wishes they hadn't because he thinks it was destroyed. Tom said Dad staged photographs and used cotton to make the wave cutting through the bow. The photograph below is of that first model in a simulation photograph taken by Dad. The second photograph is that same model, staged and taken by my brother Tom, when he was young.
Many years later, at the age of 77, Dad built another model. This one was larger in scale and extremely detailed. He even included little men on the deck pursuing their minesweeping operations. This model is encased in clear plexiglass and is a family treasure. A photograph of this model is featured at the top of this post. The photographs below show more of the details including the insignia Jack painted on the smoke stack.
Next: The Realities of War