Segment 6


They lost a lot of cruisers in a short amount of time. Four heavy cruisers in one night and a carrier out of action within a short amount of time. After the USS Wasp went down they had no carrier to protect; it was all gunnery, no planes. In 1940 the USS Philadelphia was moored in Philadelphia. It took about a year to overhaul a ship. There were about four or five mess attendants very unhappy with their job in the Navy. Back then they did not what they do today in order to entice people to join. The Navy did not tell blacks that they could do anything. Ward did not know until he got to boot camp what was expected of him. Ward never realized until they took him to unit B-East, which was a segregated unit. There was a ten foot chain link fence surrounding the compound because according to Ward they did not want niggers running loose out there. There was a glass type house that housed guards to make sure people did not come and go. B-East was where the blacks were finally told that there job was going to be cleaning shoes and basically serving any officers request. They were told that the only way for advancement was to display the proper attitude and then they might hold out hope of becoming a cook. These were the only available options. The only thing that was equal was the pay scale. When Ward left boot camp he left as a mess attendant 3rd class, the seaman apprentices left boot camp as seaman 2nd class and took home 15 more dollars per month then Ward. It was up to Ward to be receptive to his job. Ward hated the work. Sometimes Ward would work in the pantry, and at all hours of the night officers would request coffee and whatever else. Usually he had to prepare coffee for 2 people, the officer of the deck and the junior officer of the deck. Ward notes that it is incredibly hard to navigate the bowels of a ship while carrying a tray of coffee. Ward hated it. Ward lost the tray twice when the wind took it. They never gave Ward cheap crap about it because everyone realized they were on a ship and that it was hard to walk around with a tray of coffee. The officers acted like it was a country club or a restaurant. That was the scope of what Ward had to do in terms of service. Ward did not make a good servant. Ward looks back on it now and realizes if he was a civilian doing the same job he would have been fired multiple times. On a volunteer basis he might have done it twice before deciding to do something else. Ward never finished college because of mortgages and children. Ward found that he could not handle working and going to school at the same time.


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