My name is Walter Allsop, and I was born in 1928. I served in the Navy as a Seaman 1st Class on the Aircraft Carrier USS Valley Forge CV-45.
I had graduated high school mid-term, and I was working part-time in a machine shop and also delivering by motor scooter for a drug store. I chose to enlist because I wanted to be in the Navy, mainly because my father had been. Older friends from school felt the Navy had been the best choice for them, as well, so in April of 1946, I enlisted in Los Angeles. My parents took me to the “Enlistment Ceremony" at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, which had a large class. From there, we were bussed to the San Diego Naval Base for training.
Boot camp and training sure was a new way of life for me! Every day was different, but always regulated. We were tested for water safety, up early, and participated in military drilling. I had a short haircut, which led to sunburn on my nose and ears. I missed home and my girlfriend, Mary. I also missed my car, which I had given to my brother. The food was plain, and some days better than others, but we had little choice. The barracks and routines were preparing us for military life. There were no weekend passes until toward the end of training.
Finally, the long hours of basic training ended. We left by train for Rhode Island (by way of Mexico and Canada). There was no travel priority for a troop train, and it took almost a week. There were no showers or bunks, and the food was brought aboard on certain stops.
Everything was new to me on the East Coast. I felt the "Petty Officers" in the First Division were fair and reasonable, resulting in a "tight-knit" group, and I made lasting friends. We went to New York many times on "leave" from Philadelphia. We saw the Empire State Building, Ellis Island, and much more. Often at the movies, there would be entertainers on stage, such as Billie Holiday.
An amusing incident comes to mind. Several of our group were returning to the ship from a "Night on the town." One of our group wanted to bring liquor on board with him, which was strictly against the rules. Bradley was ordered to throw the bottle overboard. He quickly removed one of his new shoes and threw it over. The officer on duty didn't see the shoe go, but heard the splash. He took it to be the liquor.
While waiting for the Valley Forge CV-45 to be commissioned, I had three weeks of leave, and I sent for Mary to come to Philadelphia, where we were married. After our wedding, we stayed in Philadelphia. We often had friends from the ship visit us to play cards and join us for dinner. My friends were as anxious to start the cruise as I was.
Once underway, I was so impressed to be onboard this huge carrier as we went through the docks! I had been trained in firing the 5" cannons in the “Gun Tubs,” which needed to be removed for passage. We were on the way to San Diego. As soon as we got there, I was taken off the ship and sent to Balboa Naval Hospital where I had surgery on my knee. It wasn’t long until I was aboard the next ship leaving San Diego for Hawaii to rejoin my crew. Arriving in Hawaii, I could see ships that were sunk in the bay, and there was much destruction. From there, our ship was soon headed for the Panama Canal.
I wrote many letters home to my parents and Mary. I gave them much information about the Valley Forge maiden cruise: a good will cruise around the world. There have been three Valley Forge Aircraft Carriers. I have a "plank" from the flight deck of the original ship that I was on.
I was discharged in February of 1948 at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Alameda, California. I flew home from Hawaii to San Francisco for it. Mary had found an apartment; and there was so much to do: start school, work, and family. After I left the service, I returned to work at the machine shop. I entered John Muir College, graduated, and applied to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and was accepted. I applied to USC, using the GI Bill of Rights, and I stayed in college until I received my master's degree.
Mary and I went on to have two daughters, and now we have eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren!
-Walter Allsop, Claremont Manor Retirement Community
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