[ USS CHENANGO ]  A Personal Account of WWII First Assignment Creeds Field Virgina
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  First Assignment ~
Creeds Field Virgina...
(Journal 3 of 14)

I receive a short leave after boot camp and arrived in Norfolk Virginia for assignment. I was told that it would be temporary until a more permanent location was found. I put in for sea duty to speed things up. I also learned that a group of us would be sent to an air base CREEDS FIELD about thirty miles from Norfolk. I was glad to hear that because Norfolk had enough sailors already. Norfolk had a very large Navy facility. I have never seen so many sailors in one place. Over time, the people living in Norfolk grew to have a dislike for Navy people. There would be signs out saying SAILORS NOT WELCOME. To day you could not do that, but remember this was in the forties. I did not see that anywhere else. In fact, it was just the opposite. Most people went out of their way to be nice to service people. I was glad that my work detail was outside of Norfolk, and I limited my visits to a few week ends. I could write a whole book about those weekend passes. Norfolk on the week ends could be a very rough place. It was on one of those weekends I found out that a world famous tattoo artist set up shop in Norfolk. To have him do a tattoo was an honor. Four of my friends on one week end, and after a few drinks, decided to get a tattoo put on our arms. To day it’s that blue glob on my right forearm. "BAD IDEA."

I was told that Creeds Field was an old air strip that was built in the thirties by the C.C.C. project men. President Roosevelt developed the C.C.C. program in the time of the great depression. There was an ample amount of manpower doing nothing, and the president wanted to use that manpower for projects that needed to be done. We have all seen some of these projects in our National Parks, forests, military, etc. This could have been one of those projects. I think it may have been built for W.W. I. But I am not sure. It looked like the facility had been built on a marsh. Part of the marsh must have been filled in to build the air strip. There was an old barracks on posts in the marsh, and an old wood boat that must have been used to get to the barracks. The boat was a leaker, but a few of us wanted to see that old barracks building so we took off our shoes and socks, and found a pole and poled our way out to that old building. None of us were ready for what we saw. When we pushed the old rickety door open, the floor of that empty building was covered with snakes, I found out that there were cotton mouth and other snakes that lived in the area. There were large cracks in the floor and some of the snakes dropped through those cracks, and fled in the water. We had been told to watch out for snakes. (I guess so.)

There was a relatively small detail working at Creeds Field. The place looked like a dump. The job was to move the material around with shovels picks wheel barrows and disperse it in the marsh. GRUNT WORK. I noticed a shed and looked inside it when we first arrived. There was a small tractor with a side sickle bar for maintaining the grass around the air strip. When I asked about it, I was told that no one knew how to run it. I talked with the petty officer, and said that I was raised on a farm in Wisconsin, and that later moved to West Allis WI. Where I worked at Allis Chalmers tractor company (that part was true.) I told him I would Sharpen the blades on the sickle bar and keep the grass cut. I had talked myself out of the GRUNT work, and had an interesting job. I had always liked tractors.

So it went, me and the tractor. It was not a shinny orange one, or a shinny green one, but an olive green, government issue from JOHN DEER. It was not like any tractor I had ever seen. The hood was a short piece of sheet metal. It had a twin cylinder engine, the tractor was controlled by a hand clutch lever. The whole thing was in a state of neglect. With tender care I slowly cleaned and polished, and wiped and greased, and oiled till it started to look and run like a real tractor. I did like what I did and so did the petty officer. I had made points. During my brief time about two months, I had the grounds looking good. I had been noticing that the grass was higher right up to the run way, no one ever cut there. I knew that there were lights along the sides of the run way, but I did not know that the reason for that was because all of the wiring for the lights was on top of the ground. You could not see it for all of the heavy grass, and in that marshy area it did grow fast. I went real slow, and cut around all those lights right up to that run way, and it did look good. That night a plane was scheduled to land. When they turned on the lights, SURPRISE, no lights. An electrician was summoned to find out what was wrong. I found out the next day that the mower had cut through the wire about a dozen times. The electrician did not complain, he told me that the whole line had to be replaced anyhow it was old. The petty officer was not too happy about it, and let me know. There was a lot of YES SIR’s going on for a while.

Shortly after that I got my orders to report to San Francisco California. My ship was in dock waiting for her new crew. I learned it was an AIRCRAFT CARRIER U.S.S.CHENANGO cve 28 Wow I was going to sea, I had hoped it would be in the Pacific, maybe because I had lost a good friend to the Japanese, all I knew was that I had a ship, and I WAS GOING TO SEA...

Next Journal: "Transfer to California"

NOTE: While in Virginia I had the chance to have a GREAT weekend with My Brother Ralph.

I just recently found this excerpt, and thought it interesting:
"The only remaining original building at Creeds is a curious little single-story concrete structure which sits along a circular concrete road along the southern edge of the large ramp area at the north end of the airfield. Two signs say: "Warning. Bio chemicals. Keep out. Gas mask eye protection required." The original purpose of this building is unknown. Creeds is not depicted at all (even as an abandoned airfield) on current aviation charts, but is shown as an airfield on local road maps."

Journal 1
Journal 2
Journal 3
Journal 4
Journal 5
Journal 6
Journal 7
Journal 8
Journal 9
Journal 10
Journal 11
Journal 12
Journal 13
Journal 14