Navy and Marshall Flippo? Really? I never would have guessed that! Marshall Flippo had an amazing life with world experiences I would have never dreamed of for a boy from Abilene, Texas.
During our interviews, he quickly relayed how he volunteered to join the Navy at the end of World War II. It’s a poignant story.
World War II began on September 1, 1939 and ended on September 2, 1945. In 1944, the war was intensifying. Flippo’s sister, Helen, had already joined and was serving. Patriotism flourished across the country with Flippo experiencing his own version in his small west Texas town.
“I joined the Navy when I turned seventeen in 1944.” After Flippo shared this, he sat quiet—his thoughtful silence spoke volumes.
In reviewing the part in the first interview about him joining the Navy, I mistakenly thought he had falsified his records to join.
Quickly he answered, “Whoa, whoa, whoa!! What did you say about the records?”
From his tone, I realized I had made a mistake. “I thought you told me that you falsified your records when you were seventeen. That’s how you got into . . .”
He interrupted me with a resounding, “No!”
So he explained what happened. “Well, Dad had to sign for me, but we didn’t falsify it. I got in. Daddy signed for me, and I went in on my seventeenth birthday. I didn’t falsify anythang.”
Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, p39.
Before he signed up, Flippo’s friend, R. H. ‘Hub’ Evans returned to Abilene in his Marine uniform and this influenced the young impressionable teenager—Flippo was ready to sign up!
In Flippo’s biography, I divided the Navy section, The Texan Becomes a Sailor, into three chapters:
- You’re in the Navy Now!
- USS Lander
- Three More Ships and Baseball
Flippo’s easily made friends and connected with two men in boot camp, Thurman Curry and Harold Snodgrass. Thurman lived in Abilene, and Harold grew up in Tennessee. I loved his stories about hitchhiking with Thurman to Abilene from San Diego between boot camp and Amphibious Training. No one would dare do that today!
Then the three of them—Flip, Thurman and Harold—enjoyed Harold’s car driving around small towns around Abilene and a trip back to San Diego and then around San Diego.
After Flippo’s training, the Navy assigned him to the USS Lander, a destroyer tender. As he talked about his years in the Navy, he referenced his War book often. I regret that we never read it together, but I used it as a reference for his biography. The book’s title is USS LANDER 1945, so it had in-depth information about his time on that ship. What a treasure this was for Flip!
Interesting fact about the USS Lander: seventy-five percent of the sailors on the ship had never been to sea before! So Flippo fit right in! He looks so young in the pictures!
It was on the USS Lander, Flippo made his first trip to Japan which began a love affair he had with the country and people the rest of his life.
After the USS Lander was decommissioned, Flippo sailed on the USS Piedmont, another destroyer tender, and ended up at Yokosuka Harbor again, right back to Japan, right in the same harbor where he had left a month before.
Did you know Flippo was an athlete? Flippo’s sports career started on the USS Piedmont. They had a football team and baseball team, and he was on both.
Then the Navy transferred him to the USS Wiltsie, another destroyer tender. So, the Navy decided they’d make a team: DesPac, standing for “Destroyers of Pacific.” They took two guys off of all the destroyers who had baseball teams. They selected Flippo as one of the two players from the USS Wiltsie to go the USS Dixie for the DesPac team. They played Navy teams or Army teams who had baseball teams. He ended his Naval career on the USS Dixie, another destroyer tender.
Finally, the Navy wanted Flippo to reenlist, but he wanted to go home to Abilene—he was done! Laced throughout these three chapters in his biography, Flippo shared a bird’s-eye view of World War II and what it was like on a destroyer tender in Asiatic-Pacific Theater, providing support to the Marines on the shores of Iwo Jima and being a part of the occupying force in Japan.
These four years had a lasting impact on Flippo and his view of life. He entered the Navy a young naïve seventeen-year-old and left a seasoned sailor who had seen the world.
Have you read about World War II? Does seventeen seem young to go to war? Was it different back then? To make a comment, scroll down to the bottom of the page! I’d love to hear from you!
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~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com
~One-Year Anniversary of the Release of Flippo’s Biography! Join me to celebrate on May 10, 2021 from 7:00 – 9:00 PM Email me at email@example.com if you are interested!
~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A
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