Connellsville veteran recalls Navy service during WWII
Every veteran has a story to tell. Harry Porter of Connellsville is no exception. The World War II veteran recently shared his experiences about serving from 1943-46 with the Navy in the South Pacific.
“I initially wanted to join the Coast Guard, when I was drafted,” Porter said. “I reported to Greensburg and learned that the Coast Guard was full. I was sent to the Navy instead.”
After completing boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill., Porter went to National Tube Co. in McKeesport, where he trained to be an electrician. He continued his training at Hadley Electrical Institute in St. Louis. He soon put his skills to use in San Pedro, Calif., where he worked in a prison for Navy men who had deserted.
Porter soon moved on to the Small Craft Training Center, where he trained in minesweeping operations.
“There were two types of mines,” Porter recalled. “Magnetic and acoustic. We went over the magnetic mines to explode them.
“To detonate the acoustic mines, we had to hook a tube onto them and drag them. We never knew what we were getting until we got it.”
In 1944, Porter boarded the Yard Oiler Compel for his next assignment in Honolulu, which was to protect the destroyed ships that still lay in Pearl Harbor.
“Pearl Harbor still was a mess when I arrived there,” Porter said. “It took years to rebuild Pearl Harbor, because America was fighting against the Japanese and the Germans. We didn't have the resources for restoration.”
Porter remembers that the mast of the USS Arizona still was above water.
“We still raised the flag every day,” he said.
For the duration of the war, Porter helped to fuel ships.
Coming home was an adjustment.
His parents had moved during his service, which meant that Porter had to return to a home that he had never seen.
“I had changed a lot during my time away,” Porter said. “My mother hardly recognized me.”
He recalled getting off the train at the former Youghiogheny station.
“I arrived late at night. There were no buses or taxis,” he said. “I had to carry my bags nearly two miles to my home.”
Porter's service still remains a formative experience for him.
“I believe we should stay out of any war unless it's necessary to protect the mainland,” he said.
Porter is an active volunteer with the Connellsville Historical Society.
Barbara Starn is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Woman killed in Fayette County van-motorcycle collision
- Purple Heart recipient from Connellsville Township soldiers on
- Defense: Friendship led to death penalty pursuit in Fayette case
- Living History: Uniontown man aboard USS San Diego duing Japan’s WWII surrender
- Fayette SPCA closure causes void
- Fayette County chop shop operation nets jail time, payment of restitution
- Connellsville Health Board revisits proposed blight ordinance
- Parade of Mustangs to kick off Connellsville’s Mum Festival
- Quarantine lifted for most Fayette dogs
- Area Scouts earn badge at Connellsville airport
- Connellsville walkers get dose of railroad talk, tracing trains’ track