June 14, 1941
Beam 60 ft
Draft 26 ft
- 5 in / 38 DP
4 - 3 in / 50 DP
8 - 20mm AA guns
United Fruit Co.
the nation celebrates the dedication of the new World
War II Memorial in Washington, DC, and pauses to reflect on the 60th anniversary
of the D-Day invasion, little will be said about the less publicized efforts of
thousands of men and women who, made no less a valuable contributions to Allied
Americans, both in and out of uniform, also made sacrifices and many shared the
risks. Many of us have heard about
Rosie the Riveter, a
symbol of the American factory worker, "..she's
makin' history, workin' for victory..".
there were others...
like John Zuzik, who was aboard the Mizar at the same time as my grandfather.
John's daughter Pat Powell was kind enough to share some family photos
from John's time in the service.
Kuhn found this page and kindly sent a photo of her father Lt. Kuhn who also served
aboard the Mizar..
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grandfather, George, pictured above holding my dad, served aboard the USS Mizar.
He never spoke in detail about his time in the Navy. Over twenty years after his
death, I have been able to learn something of his military service during World
Archives operates records center in St Louis, where it is possible for
family members to request service records. In this case it consists only of his
DD-214, Notice of Separation from the US Navy.
the name of the ship, I was able to use the Internet to locate a shipmate in California,
who served aboard the Mizar prior to George. Charlie was kind enough to send me
more detailed information about the ship and it's travels.
It ( the photo above ) is the picture
that I used when I made my model of the Mizar. I was part of the crew when the
picture was taken and when we went into commission.
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Soon after we made our first convoy to Iceland.
In the convoy were two army transport that carried the first US troops to Iceland.
They were afraid that the Germans would take it over which would be a disaster
for their planes to attack North Atlantic convoys to Murmansk. We made 3 trips
in all to Iceland.
We also went to Newfoundland, Bermuda, Guantanimo, Puerto
Rico and the Virgin Islands before we went through the Panama Canal to Wellington
New Zealand. I still keep in touch with some of the fellows, but we are now down
to a few. Originally there were 65 men in the 17th Naval Reserve Div. in Indianapolis
aboard. About six of us still had two more weeks to graduate from high school,
but they did give us our diplomas.
I kissed Betty good-bye at the train
station. While stationed in Bremerton I almost married a girl from Seattle that
would have been a disaster. Fortunate I was shipped out to a shore station in
Okinawa. A year after the war was over, Betty and I were married in Indianapolis,
took off for Los Angeles in a 65 hp 1937 and are living happily ever after.
enlisted in the Marine Corp and spent 2 years in Camp LeJeune. She is a great
gal and we still laugh a lot. She has major health problems, but gets no sympathy
because "you don't look like you are sick." We traveled a lot in the seventies
around the US and five trips to Europe. We were fortunate to have a couple that
we grew up with that went with us.
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Today, Charlie likes to shop yard sales
and flea markets for treasures like the one pictured.
childhood friend and USS Mizar shipmate, Everette Johnson has committed to paper
his war time experiences. The scanned documents can be viewed at the Library of
History Project. It's well worth the time.
Mizar and the|
17th Division USNR (Indianapolis)
|In May, 1941, the
17th Division, U.S. Naval Reserve Unit at Indianapolis, IN consisted of men who
had served one or more hitches in the regular Navy plus a larger group of men
with no sea experience. Some of these were still in high school.|
to Active Duty |
May, 1941, the 17th Division received orders to active duty. 70 men of the Division
left by train from Union Station on May 21st and after brief layovers in Toledo,
OH and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, boarded the Navy store ship USS Mizar.
the next five years, first in the Atlantic, and then the Pacific, the Mizar carried
personnel and cargo to front line bases and ships.
Big Dipper |
for a star in the handle of the Big Dipper constellation, the Mizar was placed
in commission June 14, 1941 at Staten Island, NY on the same day that most of
the crew reported for duty.
in 1932 and owned by United Fruit Co., the ship was originally named SS Quirigua,
a fast mail steamer operating between New York City and Caribbean ports. She had
accommodations for passengers and all four holds were refrigerated to handle perishable
Officers and Crew |
17th Division supplied almost 30 percent of the entire crew which numbered 238
officers and men. The remainder were regular Navy or Fleet Reserve retirees called
to active duty, as well as individual Naval Reservists from other locations.
(JG) Leroy H. Higenbotham, former commander of the Indianapolis Reserve Unit,
was appointed Gunnery Officer and other 17th Division men were assigned to various
ship divisions above and below deck.
Fruit Personnel |
is interesting to note that several officers including the Navigator, the First
Lieutenant and the Chief Engineer were employee officers of United Fruit Co. on
Quirigua who were called to active duty on the USS Mizar. |
Mizar joined the Atlantic Fleet for the first of three voyages to Iceland which
established the American base near Reykjavik. She visited many Atlantic coast
ports from Norfolk, VA to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Mizar also sailed to Caribbean
ports including a voyage to bring servicemen's families from foreign bases back
to the USA. The early part of 1942 was particularly hazardous because of German
Mizar is mentioned in connection with an incident involving the
battleship USS Washington BB-56 and two ships of the royal navy. It was also
part of Task Force 16, which included the carrier USS
10, 1942 the USS Mizar sailed with Task Force 39 from Norfolk, VA to Wellington
New Zealand with a battalion of Marines who later landed on Guadalcanal.
Mizar was then assigned to the small group of ships in Gen. MacArthur's command
and commenced operations from Australian ports to ships and bases in New Guinea.
of the interesting items I turned up during my research was the narrative of Lt.
James K Nance of Texas.
seems that during his time aboard the USS Whitehurst he was on duty while escorting
a convoy that included the Mizar. One night radar reported ships on a collision
course. As it turned out, the ships passed each other without incident.
Nance passed away in November 2009 after a distinguished legal career in Houston.
His passing was noted by former President Bush and his wife Barbara.
July 1943, at age 33, my grandfather entered the US Navy. After basic training
at NTS Great Lakes, IL, he was assigned to the USS Mizar, where he served until
his discharge in late 1945.
his time aboard ship, the Mizar made several trips between Australia, New Guinea
and Admiralty Island. At the same time American Forces were engaged in the Solomon
Islands, Tarawa, Kwajelein and the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
the war he returned home and went back to work for the Pennsylvania
Railroad, where remained until his retirement in the 1970's.
to George McConnell |
Asiatic-Pacific 1 Star |