The Research Library recently received a small collection of correspondence between a son, Glen Whaley, and his family in Stanford, IN during his time enlisted with the Navy during World War II. Library volunteer, Lee Ehman, recently went through the letters and wrote up a bit about the contents of the collection and about Glen’s life.
Glen Whaley was born in Monroe County on February 4, 1913 and married Thelma Dunlap on September 7, 1940. He died at age 81 on May 13, 1994. The 1920 and 1930 census shows him living with his parents, William and Vivian [Emerson] Whaley, in Van Buren Township.
There are two sets of letters, presumably kept by his parents. The first is a set of condolence letters regarding the death of Glen’s 10-year old brother on Feb 23, 1935, the result of being hit by a car.
The second set of letters is from Glen to his parents, with the exception of one written to his wife, which she forwarded to his parents. They date from August 2, 1944 to December 17, 1945. There are three other pieces of correspondence, a card from his wife to his parents, a change of address card from the Navy, and a letter to his parents from a chaplain who met him during his discharge process in January, 1946.
Glen was a Navy machinist’s mate during 1944 and 1945 in World War II. He probably enlisted before 1944 but there is no record of that in the letters.
Starting in July 1944 he attended an 8-week training course at the Packard engine company in Detroit to learn to maintain torpedo boat engines. After that he went to San Bruno, California, to await being shipped out to Okinawa to a torpedo boat base. While in San Bruno, where his outfit was housed in a horse barn at a former race track, he worked nights for the railroad at a locomotive overhaul shop. The railroad picked up him and his mates in the evening and dropped them back off at 4am. He made $1.05 an hour. During this time he was promoted from 3rd class to 2nd class machinist’s mate. His wife Thelma visited him for 5-6 weeks.
He went on a Navy AKA troop transport ship and arrived on Okinawa in July, 1945, shortly after the battle for that island ended. While there the war ended in August, and the letters contain details of his work repairing trucks, sightseeing on Sundays, and wishful thoughts about coming back home. He related damage from a hurricane in October, and the file contains newspaper pictures of the storm damage. His last letter of November 30, 1945 told of preparing to sail in the next couple of days. He was discharged at the Great Lakes naval station in early January.
Throughout the letters, he commented on the news from his parents’ farm, going to church, and much about sending and receiving letters.
If you are interested in reading through the letters please visit the Research Library at the Monroe County History Center and ask to see the Glen Whaley letters.