Co. 358, Radio Technician Company
Great Lakes Naval Training Center
5 Apr 1945
Boot Camp Photo
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An interview with Roger Thielking
The men in this picture are all Seamen 1st Class and were part of the Radio Technician ("R.T.") company. They include Roger Thielking who was 18 at the time this picture was taken. He is the fellow 4th in from the right side in the first (lowest) row of those standing. The other sailors training at the boot camp were all of the lower rank of Seamen and referred to the R.T.s as "Royal Turds"! Boot camp lasted 4-6 weeks.
All the Seamen in camp were young, with the exception of one man who was in his 40s, and about as old as could be drafted at that time. His nickname was "Pop", which is reflected in his signature on the back of the photo: "Mr. Nastal (Pop)". He appears to be the sailor standing 7th in from the left in the first (lowest) row of those standing. How young most of these men look!
The following names are signatures that were on the back of the photo. As you can imagine, some of these signatures were difficult to read and the spellings may not be correct. Even so, I've tried to provide a "best guess" even for the worst of them. Most entries also had a place name, which is where the individual "hailed from". The signatures were in no particular order and thus I do not know which face on the photo goes with which name and I reordered them herein alphabetically for ease of reading.
George Adams East Aurora, N.Y.
Edward Arnold jr New Orleans, La.
Garth Baden Kalamazoo, Mich.
John Bayer Wyckoff, N.J.
Earl Beady? Jr. Winster-Salem, N.C.
David M. Bentorado Bx, N.Y.
J. K. Berry Akron, O.
Bill Blonchek Cleveland, Ohio
Kenneth A. Bush Hazleton, Penna.
R. Butterfield Chicago
Edward J. Carson N.J.
Stanley Cedoff? B., N.Y.C.
Donald Diers Wash., DC
Alex Dwaranevich? Newark, New Jersey
Harry Edwards Birmingham, Ala.
Harry Escola? Jamaica, N.Y.
Vincent Fcentanzzo? "Roch"
John Fitch Barry, Ill.
Bob Forester Akron, Ohio
Chas. Victor Fryberg? Detroit, Mich. - U. of Mich.
Charles M. Fulbergst? Winston-Salem, N. C.
Arnold Gewirtz? Brooklyn, N. Y.
Dan Heideman Wanwatosa, Wis.
Karl M. Howser? Jr. Phila,, Pa.
William J. Huhtala? Mt. Snow, Minn.
Robert L. Jamison San Diego, Calif.
Ion Johnson Rome, Georgia
Kent Kaser Nila, Mich.
Eugene Kass The Bk, N.Y.
Jack Kearney San Mateo, Calif.
Jerry Kovermick San Diego, Calif.
Melvin LeClear Laning?, Mich.
Kenneth Lee Louisville, Ky
Bull Lehman Downey?, Calif
Arthur Little Louisville, Ky.
Jack McArolle? Brooklyn, N.Y.
Jim McMann Detroit, Mich.
Walter Merkel? San Francisco, Calif.
Jack Midling Kalamazoo, Mich.
Loren C. Miller Erlysia, Ohio
Walter Minkel San Francisco, California
Richard W. Mohler Pgh, Penn.
W. H. Moente New York City
Charles Monte Union City, N.J.
Bav? Muller Westfield, N.J.
Joseph Musick Minnesota
Claude H. Myers R-1 State College, Pa
"Mr" Nastal (Pop) Wash DC
Billy J.? Nie Amana, Iowa
Stanley M. Pie? Brooklyn, N.Y.
Clinton P. Pitts Towson, Nd?
Robert W. Polk San Diego, Calif.
Bob Poole Swanton, Ohio
John Purnia? Jackson, Mich.
Walter Pytel Cleveland, Ohio
Fred Radloff Wauseon?, Ohio
Dave Rhodes M'Keesport?, Pa.
Paul Ritchie Pasadena, Cal.
Dell Roberts Deer Creek, Minn.
George Rogers Cinderbook?, New York
Robert H. Ryan Dallas, Texas
Harold Schmitz Delta, Ohio
Joe Schneider Mass.
Thomas R. Schroeder Milwaukee, Wis.
Jim Scott Wis.
Norman Seller Savage, Minnesota
Steve Stadler "Beantown", Mass.
Harry Stanley Brooklyn, N.Y.
Frank J. Sweeney
Robert D. Vessels? Low? Beach, Calif.
Bill Vos Burlington, Wis
Irv Weiman Phila, Pa.
Paul R. Young Cohoes, N.Y.
Warren Young Cleveland, Ohio
21st and 23rd Regimental Band at Boot Camp 11 Apr 1945
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Roger was also in the Regimental Band at Boot Camp. He is one of the two Baritone Sax players in the last rows in the picture. It is too difficult from the photo to tell which one he is. At boot camp it was difficult to get good reeds for his sax. Most of them were second hand, well worn and difficult to play with!
After boot camp, Roger had one week of leave to visit home. During this time he was taken ill. He had to be visited by the Red Cross to verify his illness and obtain an extended leave. On the 7th of May Germany surrendered and VE Day was declared for the 8th of May, 1945. Of course, Japan was still a threat and when Roger continued on to pre-Radio school he was transferred into the R.T. company which was then starting the course work as his previous company had already moved on.
Pre-Radio school was held at a former Junior High School in the then mostly Italian section of the city of Chicago. The mess for the school was handled by women who were hired from the local neighborhoods. They were typically middle-aged and likely many had their own sons and possibly daughters serving in the military. They treated the soldiers like royalty and Roger felt that this was the best food that he had while he served in the Navy. He spent approximately 2 weeks in pre-Radio school which consisted of basic algebra and other similar course work.
Next the company attended the Radio school in Dearborn, Michigan. It was held at the Ford River Rouge plant and lasted about 3 months. This course consisted primarily of very basic electronics. During this time, VJ Day occurred on the 14th of August, 1945. That evening all the sailors were given liberty for the evening. Roger went into downtown Detroit. There were sailors were riding on top of cable cars and rumors of nude couples dancing in the fountain in the downtown park. A girl tried to steal Roger's cap and he wouldn't let her.
Although the war was ended, the Navy continued the education of Roger's R.T. company and they soon headed to Radar school. This was held at the Naval research lab at Anacostia, a suburb of D.C. and lasted about 8 months. It was taught in 2 week segments. The teaching method was by rote not by concept.
In Radar school the executive officer tended to bore down on minor misdemeanors. There were two incidents which Roger specifically recalls. The first was a time when there were sailors posted in the bathrooms who would write down names and serial numbers of some of the men as they exited and the following weekend was a list of sailors restricted to base for weekend for the offense of not flushing the urinal. The second incident involved the inspections of the barracks. It was typical that surprise inspections would occur and the company had figured out a system to watch for and spot the inspectors prior to them getting to the barracks, relaying the information through the barracks. This came to the attention of the officers and in retaliation they came through with a surprise inspection that was not detected and went over everything in the barracks very, very thoroughly. There was an empty room nearby where Roger was and he overheard the conversation. One inspector said something to the effect that "This locker looks like a rats nest." Another inspector said something to the effect that "This one hasn't been clean since 'Christ was an ordinary Seaman'." The following weekend the entire company was on restriction.
Once the company graduated from Radar school, the war was long over. They were sent to Little Creek, VA, near Norfolk, to the demobilization center for the Navy. Over the course of the next 2 months they helped to discharge returning Navy personnel. After which they discharged themselves. Roger's specific duties were to determine where the sailor was originally inducted into service and to facilitate the return to the same location. In most cases, the sailor was provided compensation for rail transportation to the induction location. It was an easy clerical job. Often the sailors would be done with their work early and given the rest of the day off. Liberty was normally taken in Norfolk.
After his discharge, Roger went back to the University of Rochester and finished up his college studies, married had 2 children and found a carrier in Engineering at GE in Syracuse, NY and later taught at a community college. He currently resides in Rochester, NY.
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