Jun 27, 2012

An Unusual Chief Petty Officer - John F. Morrissey

At the beginning of World War II, it was the practice of the military services to enlist or commission people at a rate or rank that was appropriate to their civilian occupation.  When I served on the USS Maloy (DE-791) in 1964-65, we had a Chief Petty Officer who had never been anything but a CPO!  John F. Morrissey had owned a successful office supply business in the Boston area before the war.  When he volunteered for the Navy immediately after Pearl Harbor, he went through some abbreviated "boot camp" and was granted the rating of Chief Yeoman.  He was around 44 years old when this took place.

The Chief served his country for the duration of the war and stayed in the reserves afterwards.  After a few years, he decided to come back on active duty to finish up twenty years of active duty and earn a normal retirement.  He did this through the so-called "TAR" program, which stood for Temporary Active Reserves.  Because he was over 65 years old when I made his acquaintance, he was actually on some kind of official waiver to be assigned to sea duty.  He loved going to sea on a ship.

During the 1930's, Chief Morrissey had invested some money with a schoolmate of his who was expanding his restaurant business.  That fellow's name was Howard Johnson.  The result was that when I became acquainted with the Chief, he was an extremely wealthy man.  That wealth led to something that seemed fairly bizarre at the time.  We would come into port from a month out at sea.  A long chauffeur-driven limousine would appear at the end of the pier, and Chief Morrissey would be whisked off for his weekend.  His home was in Cohasset, Massachusetts, as I recall. And his wife was bedridden with some long-term debilitating disease, for which she had round-the-clock nurses.  He would spend his weekends with her when we were in port and then he would return to the ship in time for Monday morning muster.

Typical Ship's Office
We decommissioned the Maloy in 1965, after which the Chief was transferred to a shore duty assignment to complete his career.  He was a real gentleman, a good shipmate, and a beloved member of the crew.

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