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Once ordinary men left their ordinary lives,

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Friday, November 06, 2020

went off to save the world and returned to their ordinary lives.
Their journey has finally come to an end

I knew this had to happen but the arrival of the final reunion booklet hit me hard.
The crew of my Dad’s WWII ship, The USS Philadelphia, met annually after the war from 1964 until 2019.

My parents were married 77 years ago today - November 6, 1943
My Dad had a 3 day pass before shipping out overseas.

He returned exactly 1 year later when his ship docked in Norfolk, VA
They celebrated their 1st anniversary and back to the war he went.

The USS Philadelphia (CL41) crew held reunions for 56 years meeting at locations all over the US. Children and grandchildren grew up with the organization and heard the stories of the “Galloping Ghost.” The title was earned because the ship was reported damaged multiple times and even sunk by the Nazis. But each morning she “sailed out of the fog to fight another day.”

In 2007 I created a website as a Tribute to those who served on “The Philly”
It began with only my Dad’s album and diary and then grew and grew as others submitted photos, documents and artifacts.


As the number of crew members dwindled over the years, I wondered how long they would vote to continue reunions. My belief was that each old sailor wanted to be the “last man standing.”

This was the photo of their 50th reunion with the commander of the Norfolk base.

Last year only one sailor was able to attend. He is 3rd from the left slightly behind the others
and now 100 years old. All others in that picture are gone.

I’ve blogged often about the travels of my husband and me.
One goal of our trips to Europe is to visit the places my Dad wrote about in his diary and recreate the photos he took.

This was Antwerp, Belgium in July 1945.
The Philadelphia escorted President Truman to the Potsdam Conference to meet with Churchill and Stalin.
(Thanks Dad for dating your pictures)

Below is our cruise ship docked in the same place 72 years later (June 2017)

Even though there was no bridge, I knew how to get across the river to recreate Dad’s picture. Dad wrote in his diary that there was a tunnel deep under the river. It is still there and well used by pedestrians and cyclists.

Another trip took us to Normandy where we spent 4 days walking the 50 miles of the 5 D-Day beaches
(except where dangerous cliffs sent us back to the car for a go-around)
It was a very intense experience as others will attest.

One of Dad’s brothers came ashore at Omaha Beach but fortunately not in the 1st devastating wave.

Still, I had an additional destination in mind – the nearby city of Le Havre
Once the war in Europe was over, Dad’s ship was refitted as a troop carrier to bring the boys home.
Here is a photo from Dad’s album

Below I located the site of their embarkation.
It is now memorialized by this plaque to “Operation Magic Carpet”

The reunions are over but thanks to the Internet the Philadelphia will sail on in cyberspace forever.

Note: Dad was the youngest of 4 brothers to serve in WWII
Very different experiences.
The oldest was assigned stateside.
The next fought in Europe, including Normandy.
Number 3 was in the Pacific Island campaign.

My Dad, the youngest, joined the Navy. That’s why I have so many photos.
The Philadelphia earned 5 “Battle Stars” in battles where many sailors on other ships lost their lives. However. by the time the sailors went ashore. no one was shooting at them.
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