YMS-346 - Photographs of the Crew and Stories - Part 3
Updated: Sep 2
I have been corresponding with the daughter of Meyer H. Leavitt, the Yeoman who wrote the 1st Anniversary Celebration of the ship. She sent me photographs from her father's album. They are not labeled and I have been trying to identify the crew by comparing faces. I am pretty confident the crew members above are (top row, left to right) : Steve Mirizio, Dave Mulcahy, Warrington Stark, Mike Cicalese, Joe Prokopchak. (bottom row, left to right) Oscar Bond, Charles King, Jack Whiteman.
This photograph of Meyer H. Leavitt (Foxtail) was posted in an earlier post. His daughter had never seen it before and I was able to send her a duplicate original from my dad's loose photos. She also told me that his name was really Henry Meyer Leavitt but he didn't like the name Henry. He was called Mike throughout his life and Foxy or Foxtail in the Navy.
Among the photographs she sent me was this one. This is my dad, Jack Whiteman. I had never seen this photograph before.
I'm fairly confident I can identify some of the crew members in these photographs but not all.
Pictured below, left to right, is Meyer Leavitt, Madison?, Oscar Bond?, or Oscar Bond?
I believe this is also Madison. I'm not sure of his full name because he is not listed in the Anniversary paper as a crew member for either August 20, 1943 or August 20, 1944 but he is identified as Madison in one of the photographs from Jack's album.
I believe this is Joe Prokopchak (Porky), Dave Mulcahy, and I'm not sure about the other two, Oscar Bond?
Charles King (Cherry)
This next photograph is of Meyer Leavitt (bottom), Donald Shipp (L) and Fred White (R). I cannot identify the sailor at the top. Meyer Leavitt's daughter thinks he may have been the cook as she remembers her father stating that. The Navy rank abbreviation for Cook is SC and the Anniversary paper lists the cook as Joseph Rudolph Leinweber SC2c on August 20, 1943 and Vincent Michael Scianna SC3c in 1944. Vincent Scianna is identified in another photograph so I know it is not him. Another page of the Anniversary paper lists "a typical menu" and Vincent A. Scianna as Head Cook, William H. Buchanan as Assistant Cook and James Cook as Assistant to the Assistant.
Here he is with Donald Shipp again.
Interesting story about Donald Shipp. My Dad referred to him in his letters as 'the funny one" and "he's a riot". This photograph was among my Dad's loose photos. I never knew who it was until I started looking at the photos from Meyer Leavitt's album, comparing them to photos in my Dad's album. This is Donald Shipp. Interesting he would give a professional photo to my Dad. Mystery solved.
In addition to the photographs, she also sent a copy of a letter that her father received after he was discharged from the Navy. It was signed by the Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal on April 16, 1946. There are other examples on the internet of this same letter, sent to other sailors after discharge. All signed by James Forrestal, the Secretary of the Navy. It is not only a letter that expresses appreciation for his service, but it goes much further into the historical relevance of that service. I had never seen this before. The letter states:
My dear Mr. Leavitt:
I have addressed this letter to reach you after all the formalities of your separation from active service are completed. I have done so because, without formality but as clearly as I know how to say it, I want the Navy's pride in you, which it is my privilege to express, to reach into your civil life and to remain with you always.
You have served in the greatest Navy in the world.
It crushed two enemy fleets at once, receiving their surrenders only four months apart.
It brought our land-based airpower within bombing range of the enemy, and set our ground armies on the beachheads of final victory.
It performed the multitude of tasks necessary to support these military operations.
No other Navy at any time has done so much. for your part in these achievements you deserve to be proud as long as you live. The Nation which you served at a time of crisis will remember you with gratitude.
The best wishes of the Navy go with you into civilian life. Good luck!
After discharge from the Navy, Meyer Leavitt ran for the local school board and his daughter shared this statement he made as part of his election campaign.
"After serving 44 months in the navy during World War II, operating in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theatres, and receiving two bronze stars, and having observed at close quarters the destruction, waste, suffering and heartaches that are so common with war, I am fully convinced that the only way in which to avert such future catastrophes is by the proper understanding and education of our youth."
Wise words, from a seasoned veteran , that are still extremely relevant in today's world.
I'll close this post with a photograph of Meyer Leavitt and Jack Whiteman from 1944. Who would have ever thought that close to 80 years after WWII, two daughters of two sailors who served together, would be sharing photographs and telling stories about their fathers who were crew mates on the YMS-346.
Next: An Action Log from the National Archives reveals details of the ship's encounters before and after D-Day.