The monthly theme for Elizabeth O’Neal’s Genealogy Blog Party is All Things November, which covers a broad spectrum, from family holidays to military to remembering those who have passed on, honored on Día de Los Muertos.
My topic choice for today is a combination of the suggestions – my grandfather’s first cousin, Charles Adams Chadwick. I’ve written about Charles in the past. I knew Charles and he was the single most important family member who encouraged my early interest in family history. Charles was also the keeper of many of the Adams family stories on the maternal side of my family tree.
Although Charles was my grandfather’s first cousin, he was a contemporary of my mother and my aunts, having been born in between the births of my Aunt Barbara and my mother on 20 January 1923.
Charles was the only child of Perce Chadwick and Vera Pearl Adams and I’m sure he was given Adams as his middle name to honor Aunt Pearl’s father, Calvin Adams.
Charles’s father died when Charles was only ten years old and Aunt Pearl never remarried. I understand she was never too keen for Charles to marry and leave her either, so Charles apparently broke off an engagement to a young lady from Calais, Washington, Maine.
However, being born in 1923, Charles was a prime candidate for service in World War II and that’s the piece of his life story I’d like to share today.
Rather than being drafted, Charles enlisted in the United States Navy and was sent to the U.S. Naval Training Center in Sampson, New York, where he was part of Company 54I.
From there, Charles was deployed to the Pacific Theater to the island of Guam, a U.S. Territory taken by Japan immediately following the Pearl Harbor attack, where he spent the last two years of the war.
Guam was actually under Japanese control until August 1944, so Charles might have been among the first Americans to arrive after liberation.
Charles saw no combat on Guam, but the island was strategically important as a Pacific supply center.
Ever the family historian, Charles saved war mementos and several items eventually came to my hands. Aside from the letter, I’ve actually donated the booklet and program to the World War II Museum in New Orleans.
First, there was a historical booklet created to document the war years on Guam and the work that the men did.
Next, the soldiers celebrated V-J Day on 2 September 1945, the official end to World War II after Japan surrendered.
I can’t find any estimate of the number of naval personnel assigned to the Supply Depot, but it was likely well into the hundreds, perhaps even a thousand, so their V-J Day celebration would have taken place outdoors. That certainly wouldn’t have dampened the mood of anyone, knowing that the war was finally over and that they’d be going home soon.
I’ve no idea how the U.S. Navy decided which men were to be assigned to the supply depot, rather than sent into combat. If any consideration was given to the men’s status, perhaps Charles was deployed there because he was an only child. May it was just coincidence.
However, on the program page on the far right, Captain Buernschmidt felt it necessary to comment on the non-combat status of his men:
His words were definitely spot on – how would the naval ships cope with combat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with no supply center within reach?
I am sure that Charles wrote many letters home to his mother, but only one has survived, V-Mail Valentine’s message to Aunt Pearl:
I haven’t had a chance to write lately, so thought I had better drop you a line to let you know that two more boxes have arrived, one with the can of fudge in it and one with my “birthday cake.” The cake is in perfect shape, but the fudge is a total loss, it having all melted into a rather sticky mass. Thanks for the reading material, but my locker is bulging with all the rest of the books, etc., that you sent which I haven’t had a chance to look at yet. All this must be pretty discouraging to you after going to all that trouble, but I do appreciate everything you have done and please keep on sending things, but no more soap, please!
I have a lot more responsibility than on the other job and while it is a step up, it is time-consuming so for tonight,
Notice that Charles’ address was the San Francisco APO and, due to security, no mention was made of where he was stationed or what his jobs actually entailed.
I can only imagine how much soap Aunt Pearl must have been mailing off for Charles to say “no more soap, please!”
I never asked Charles, but I assume other than realizing that her son was somewhere in the Pacific, Aunt Pearl had no knowledge of his actual whereabouts until Charles was honorably discharged on 9 February 1946 and returned home to Calais, Maine.
It was his naval training that gave Charles direction in his future career. Notice that he was an Engineering Specialist Draftsman.
Charles later attended the University of Maine on the GI Bill and became a civil engineer.
I find it sad that Charles never married and had a family of his own. Aunt Pearl lived a long life, passing away in 1973, a few days after her 86th birthday, and Charles remained a dutiful son, caring for her in her old age.
However, Charles was a wonderful, thoughtful and generous person, encouraging me in my newfound genealogy obsession and choosing me to be the caretaker of all the old family photos and stories.
More importantly, on 11 November 2022, I’ll remember him as a member of The Greatest Generation.