Q: I noticed this footlocker at a yard sale in Pahrump, Nevada. My dad, now 98, is a World Warfare II vet and my spouse is a Vietnam vet, so we spent a number of time speaking concerning the footlocker and questioned if Rocky was nonetheless alive or what his story was. I’d prefer to return it to him or his household if potential; are you able to assist me interpret its insignia?
—Phillip Berendsen, Pahrump, Nevada
A: This footlocker carries a startlingly spectacular pan-ocean victory tally that features each German and Japanese vessels. Not solely had been these enemy warships separated geographically, however in addition they ranged extensively in sort and dimension, from leviathan plane carriers and battlewagons to comparatively smaller destroyers and submarines. May one man have had a hand in sending all of them to the underside?
Rocky, the presumed proprietor of the footlocker, was a U.S. Navy man. The lightning bolts above his identify are almost equivalent to these seen on the score badges of sailors who specialised in radio and radar.
These unseen electromagnetic waves passing by the sky had been vital to preventing at sea, giving ships and plane “eyes and ears” that prolonged far past the horizon. Radar might reveal an enemy submarine the second it surfaced to recharge its batteries or uncover a gaggle of kamikaze plane headed towards the fleet. At that vital second of discovery, navy communications specialists swung into motion to place counterforces on the scene. Significantly late within the warfare, few enemies went unnoticed once they had been inside a battle fleet’s digital attain.
The image “T” crossed by the bolts of lightning, although, is considerably mysterious. There isn’t any official specialty mark combining the icon and the letter. The “T” might stand for “technician” or “telegrapher”—maybe a manner Rocky unofficially separated himself from the extra customary navy radioman. Within the U.S. Navy’s alphabetical vary of specialist letters, “T” additionally stands for “trainer.” May Rocky have had a hand in instructing a era of sailors find out how to detect and destroy seaborne threats?
It appears seemingly that the notable rating affixed to this footlocker represents the work of multiple man, ship, or squadron. No single U.S. Navy unit can lay declare to helping within the elimination of a number of Japanese carriers within the Pacific together with plenty of German submarines within the Atlantic or Mediterranean. Even when our topic had the flexibility to switch from ocean to ocean and one way or the other labored with aerial, floor, and undersea forces, the tally is astonishing for a person. It makes extra sense if it stands for the mixed effort of many navy males plying their commerce everywhere in the globe.
And simply who was Rocky, precisely? It’s tough to say. The identify was fairly uncommon within the Twenties, when our topic was almost certainly born. There’s a higher than common probability that Rocky was a nickname. His given identify, the one which appeared on his draft card and navy enlistment papers, was most likely one thing totally different.
—Cory Graff, Curator
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this text first appeared in world warfare II journal
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