© 2017 Bill Murphy
My deep interest in World War II history began in George Elementary School. In the library I discovered a book relating the exploits of Naval Aviators during WWII. In this book was a photo of the ill fated Torpedo Squadron Eight – which was decimated early in the Battle of Midway. Only one man, Lt. George Gay, survived. For some reason, this story made a deep and lasting impression on me. Today, I have an autographed copy of his book about the battle. This began my collection of famous aviator autographs, and aviation history books.
I was born 10 months before the United States officially entered the war. My early childhood toys were mostly war-related toys. One such toy eventually led to my long and endearing friendship with Art Simmons, a WWII war veteran. My kiddie petal-car was styled after the Curtiss P-40 Flying Tiger.
And, I have several photos of me in a kaki Army uniform – and also in a white Navy uniform. But a few weeks ago, I learned something truly amazing, and of deep significance to me.
We were in Carthage, Mississippi at the annual Murphy Family Reunion. I was chatting with my 1st cousin Ray Cochran, a little less that 2 years younger than me. We were discussing family heirlooms and mementos that we own. Ray then told me a story that I had never heard before.
His father had served in the Navy, in the Pacific. When he returned home after the war, he brought home his uniforms. Because my mother was a seamstress, his mother (Aunt Joy) gave my mother a set of Uncle Raymond’s white uniforms, and had her make from them a little sailor suit for Ray.
Ray then told me that not only was he photographed in this suit, but also all of his sons, and all other young tykes in his family. He still has the original little suit! WOW!
I sent Ray copies of my photos in ‘my’ little Navy suit – and he tells me that they look to be the same! His only concern is the possible size.
Personally, I choose to believe that this is the same suit. Why would my mother make two suits? But, possibly she did. After all, from a uniform belonging to an adult male, it would be all together possible to make two kiddie uniforms! At any rate, Ray’s story thrilled me to the very core!
All these years I’ve thought that this was perhaps just a photographer’s prop, or simply store-bought. But no longer. No!
Now I see myself in those photos, proudly smiling in a little US Navy WWII Sailor Suit made from fabric that actually saw combat in the Pacific! And that makes those old photos all the more special!
Thanks Uncle Raymond. Thanks Aunt Joy. Thanks Mother! And thanks Ray for the story of that little sailor suit!