Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Daryl Anderson

Born July 1932 in Trimont, MN
Currently lives in Sherburn, MN
U.S. Navy Korean War Veteran

Daryl Anderson spread out all his wartime memories on the kitchen table of his Sherburn home as he recounted his time serving our country during the Korean War.

“I graduated from Tri-Mont High School in 1950,” Anderson says, noting the name of the town and school at that time were hyphenated to reflect two towns combined into one. “My buddy and I both got 1-A draft cards, so we decided if we were going to go in (to the military) we should go somewhere other than the Army. So, in November of 1951 we joined the Navy.”

Following 16 weeks of boot camp at the USN Training Center in Great Lakes, Ill, Anderson was shipped out to Long Beach, CA and was put right on a ship, the USS Helena (CA-75), a heavy cruiser assigned as the flagship of the Seventh Fleet in the Pacific. The USS Helena sailed from the west coast to Hawaii, then to Kuska, Japan, where they joined up with the rest of the Seventh Fleet.

“Our ship was stationed two or three miles off the coast of Korea,” Anderson remembered. “There were 1,500 men on board that ship. I was assigned to the boiler room as a Fireman Apprentice in the Engineering Department making $76.00 per month pay.” He said when out at sea, money was easy to save, since most of a sailor’s needs were provided for. “They charged 50 cents for a carton of cigarettes. If you wanted Lucky Strikes, they were 75 cents,” Anderson remembered.

The veteran sailor recalled his ship did a lot of shelling, aiming the big deck guns towards Korea as directed by U.S. Marine spotters. “It would be hotter than hell down below, so you would go up topside at night with a pillow and try and get some sleep under the ship’s 8-inch guns,” Anderson said. “But, if the turret began to turn, you got up and got the hell out of there because you knew they were going to start firing!”

Anderson did three tours of Korea, each time spending nine months at sea. “The last time, the war was over and we were there doing policing action,” he said. “Compared to the Army and Marines boots on the ground, it was a totally different experience for us. It was pretty much dull routine,” he continued. “You spent a lot of time standing, staring out at the water.”

He did recall some excitement onboard the USS Helena in 1954. “At one point Present-Elect Dwight Eisenhower was on our ship. We picked him up in Japan and took him to Korea on a fact-finding tour.” Anderson tried to find the photo in his vast collection of wartime clippings, ship’s books and faded snapshots. “When Eisenhower was on the ship, they had the newsreel cameras rolling. As the new President was being filmed, a sailor is seen popping up out of a hatch. That was me,” Anderson said with a big smile.

After four years of service, Anderson was discharged from the Navy and headed home. “I farmed with my dad for a while, but found out I didn’t like that much anymore,” Anderson said. Anderson met his wife Dee at the Fox Lake Dance Hall; they were married in 1958 and have three daughters.
He eventually landed a job at the Interstate Power Company’s 110 megawatt Fox Lake power plant. “I took care of the boilers at the plant. The turbines at the plant weren’t much different from the ones on the ship,” he said.

Looking back, Anderson says at times he wished he had stayed in the Navy and advanced up the ranks to Chief Petty Officer. “I’m still proud to have served in the military,” he said. “Of course, it’s a little different now than when I was in there. They improved the (sailor) pants!”