Cover of 1961 Navy Yearbook

We raised the flag at home this morning for Veteran’s Day.

When I went for the flag there was an old book lying next to it in the back of my closet.  The book was my Dad’s and I got it when we kids divided up his keepsakes.  My brother, Kevin, brought it to our house last year.

It’s his Navy training yearbook.  Earl “Pat” Ward was a new recruit in 1961, at the Naval Training Center in San Diego.

I remember some of Dad’s stories from the U.S. Navy.

In one story, he talks about riding out a storm on his ship USS Goldsborough.  The storm was so violent the destroyer would roll way over with each wave.  Dad said it went past 45 degrees – more than half way over.  For a ship 430 ft. long to roll that far must have been terrifying.  The crew were worried seawater might wash into the funnel (aka smokestack) and stop the engines.

I would like to hear Dad tell that one again, with the detail and drama I heard over the years.

Dad’s first assignment after training was at the Navy yard in Bremerton, Washington.  His company did the final commissioning and maiden voyage of the Goldsborough.

There was another story he didn’t tell.  That one I learned about when I looked through the yearbook.  On the pages I was surprised to find he was selected Honorman for his training company.  While I couldn’t find a direct definition of Honorman, I did see this quote in a letter from 1963:

The Commanding Officer takes pleasure in commending you for your outstanding performance of duty while undergoing recruit training.  During this period of time you have displayed the qualities of initiative, perseverance and devotion to duty.  You have been selected from your company as the Company Honorman.

I shouldn’t be surprised, really.  Military men don’t usually boast about their bravery or skills.  Most just do the job.  I’d like to think there was something special about Pat, though.  He was such an honest hard worker.  My mother used to tell a story from his days working in the Louisiana and Texas oil business.  Some guys gave him the nickname “the White Knight.”  I guess the idea was that he was so upstanding that he was like a knight.

Hats off today to all the men and women who have served.  And a special hats off to Pat Ward.

Below are photos I copied from “The Anchor” yearbook.

Dad in the third row, third from the left. That’s my Mom’s handwriting (“Pat”) on his left shoulder.


USS Goldsborough DDG-20, guided missile destroyer