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Where the Fleet Goes, We've Been.

Updated: Feb 3



Where the Fleet Goes, We've Been - YMS-346

My Dad, John Patrick Whiteman, served in the US Navy from November 21, 1942 until March 4, 1946. He earned the rank of signalman and served on a minesweeper, YMS-346 during WWII.

Dad was known as Jack to his family and friends but his crew mates called him "Flags". He married my Mom, Pauline T. Cederle on September 17, 1949. They had 5 children, John, Joseph, Thomas, Mary and James. Jack passed away on January 18, 2008 at the age of 85.

In January 2021, while preparing to sell our family home in Seaford, NY, I came across a box of letters in the basement. These are letters Jack wrote to his siblings while in the Navy. They begin with his naval training in New York, through his discharge. The letters are a chronological record of his experiences as a young seaman. His ship, the YMS-346, was among a convoy of YMS ships sweeping mines during the Normandy Invasion to ensure a safe landing on the coast of France. Hence the motto of the minesweepers "Where the fleet goes, we've been." No ship could have entered those harbors on D-Day unless the minesweepers had already been there.

In the letters, Jack details some of his day to day experiences, his love for his family, and his pride in being a sailor for the US Navy. He had a camera on the ship and kept an album with photographs of his family and the crew. The film would be mailed home to be developed and the photos were then mailed back to him on the ship. He had four pages of autographs from his crew mates and a copy of a First Anniversary Celebration paper, written by Yeoman Meyer H. Leavitt. The anniversary paper lists all the officers and crew and details what they did and where they were from August 20, 1943 to August 20, 1944. It not only provides historical content, but also portrays the camaraderie among the crew.

It is my hope that by sharing some of the historical content, photographs, and letters, the families of the crew may find something more personal about their loved one's service not found elsewhere. These pages are for our family, for their families and for the generations of families to come. In many respects we are, because... THEY'VE BEEN.


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