John W. Fitzpatrick

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U.S. Navy

Name: John W. Fitzpatrick

Place of Birth: Chickasha, OKlahoma

Interesting Home State History: Indians. Good Football teams OU and OSU.

Place of Recruitment: Kermit,TX

Branch of Service: Navy

Class: AMMZC

Service History, Stateside or Abroad: El Paso, San Diego, Norman, Dallas, Cape Canaveral
From 1944 to 1946

My story is a lot different than any of the other guys as I was stateside all of my time in the service. I was allowed to finish Kermit High School (West Texas - Named after Kermit Roosevelt). During WWII myself and three other guys volunteered to go to the Navy as soon as we graduated from high school. We were all to go together so we would have friends around us but none of us got to stay together. Well, lo and behold everyone of us went to a different base. I was sent to El Paso to be sworn in and take my physical.

Since I had been in the high school band and had 5 years of experience they wanted me to go to the Navy band. I was young and wanted something to do for my livelyhood after the service, so I declined this offer. I was sent to San Diego for my boot camp (the Tarmack where we did our exercise was really hot.) Never being away from home was a really jolting experience. I wrote a letter to my two old maid aunts and on my envelope I put my name and followed it with as my ranking - The aunts really were concerned as they thought that meant at sea but it really meant Apprentice Seaman. After my 6 weeks of boot camp I was picked to go to AMM (Aviation Machinist Mate training to work on aircraft as an aircraft mechanic) at Norman, Oklahoma.

I finished this 16 week course and was sent to Dallas to work on Stearman planes (one made our of wood and canvas.) While there we had a bunch of frenchman come over to train on these planes and they would ground loop and tear up the wings most every time. So we stayed busy working on them. If we had to replace a wing there had to be a mechanic to fly with the test pilot. So one day I volunteered and told the pilot I had not been up before. Well these planes have open cockpits and when we went up I looked around and was enjoying myself and about that time the pilot turned the plane upside down.

Needless to say, I had only a milk shake when I went up and so all of that came out of me outside the plane. Then the pilot wiggled the stick for me to fly and I was so sick I shook my head "No". A little later I volunteered again and told the pilot I got sick the last time so he turned the plane upside down pretty quick and I grabbed ahold of the seat and hung on for dear life. Sure is bad to cut your hands. Met my wife downtown Dallas when another sailor and myself went on shore leave.

After that I was sent to Banana River Naval Air Base which is also called Cape Canaveral or Cape Kennedy - in Florida. We has a lot of funny stories to tell when we tried to get a house to live in. First one was Tennessee house. It had 6 couples living there with one bathroom. I had to be in the house by 10pm. We got one teakettle of hot water to wash our clothes in outside. Once a week we could have food in the room and we would slip some in and then when we went to work at the base landlady would come in and check us out and then we came home she would really ream us out. Then we moved into a trailer house that was up on blocks. We had a Kerosene stove to cook on, no ice box, had to raise the top of the table to hook to roof so we could get in the bed. Of course we had to go outside to the washroom to go to take a bath. Also, the cockroaches were big and you could hear them falling on the floor at night when
we tried to sleep.

My wife got pregnant and she came back home on the coal burning train that got soot all over you and your clothes. But before she left we got an apartment with 16 other couples. Kentucky house housed 8 couples upstairs and 8 couples downstairs. We still had a kerosene to cook with and the hot water heater was a small one that didn't work so we had to heat the water for our bath. We did have an ice box one that you put a block of ice in. It was on the back porch. If the ice melted and overflowed the pan we were in trouble with the landlady.

Before my wife came home we were in the apartment above the landlady had just gotten rid of a lady that was pregnant and then here we come with the landlady not knowing my wife's condition. She hit really hit the ceiling when she found out. After the war I was sent to Jacksonville, Florida for discharge. I also had to ride a coal burning train and had to use blue clothes as the white ones would be ruined. When you don't go overseas you really don't want to tell about your experiences as they are not very exciting. 

Honors & Commendations: None - tried to stay out of trouble.

Present Location: Retired - Carrollton, TX