Botchagaloop and the CeeBees

Naval recruits in 1943My father came from a family with three brothers and one sister. His mother was a single parent his father having died in 1935. On Pearl Harbor Day he was less than two weeks from his 18th birthday.

One brother, Bob, tried to enlist on December 7th. In the end his two older brothers enlisted in early 1942. My grandmother got a draft-deferred job for my dad. He soldered two wires together. By 1943 he was bored to tears. People would point at him in the subway.

He finally went down to his draft board local and volunteered. Of course, he didn’t tell his mother what he had done. Eventually, he letter arrived from ‘Uncle Sam’ arrived and his mother gave it to him.

On the appointed day he went to the Hotel Commodore in Manhattan to be inducted into the armed forces of the United States. Fortunately, it was the one day of the month that draftees were allowed to pick their service. Both of brothers were in the Army so he didn’t want to go there. He didn’t want to be a Marine so the Navy seemed to be his one choice.

The Navy recruits after taking their physicals and tests were directed to a large ballroom. As they sat there reading the newspapers a guy looked in and saw a friend. “Joe, what are you doing here?” Joe answered that he was in the Navy. Botchagaloop responded that he wasn’t in the Navy. “You’re not in the Navy. You’re in the CeeBees.”

Botchagaloop told him to jump out the window and run down the block. Meanwhile, everyone looked at the front page of the newspaper which reported the loss of many CeeBees on a Pacific beachhead.

Well, the recruits started to get agitated. The petty officers calmed everyone down and marched them through the tunnels to Grand Central Stations and the trains. The CeeBee recruits went south to Quantico while the regular Navy went to Newport, Rhode Island. Once once on board the recruits were told to pull down the shades. After an hour or so they were allowed to pulled up the shades and realized that they were heading to Newport.

When they asked the petty officer about what happened he responded that they had been in the CeeBee’s for about an hour. The next group were in the CeeBee’s. My father ended up assigned to the Brooklyn Navy Yard where he sailed on a number small utility ships that protected the largest harbor in America. We’ll take a look at that next.


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