Saturday, April 30, 2011

The USS Yorktown and My Family Tree

A few weeks ago, I went on a field trip with my Advanced Placement US History class to the Patriot's Point Naval and Maritime Museum, which has a pretty awesome website. If I'm not mistaken, it's playing the theme to The Pacific, which makes sense considering the USS Yorktown was in the Pacific Front during WW2. I've been watching a lot of WW2 documentaries (to the chagrin of my friends, who worry about my mental health watching all this war stuff), and seeing the Yorktown in action is pretty awesome. 

The field trip was cool, and the pictures in this post are from that trip. The students enjoyed themselves,  which is what matters. But I'm going to move on from that trip (because I don't want to violate privacy of the youngsters, they do well enough on Facebook on their own) and talk about my family tree and my first trip to the Yorktown

When I was fifteen or thereabouts, my parents took the family to Charleston. I think it was December, and it was very rainy. That is what I remember apart from the fact that my parents took us to Patriot's Point. The only thing I remember is going about the USS Clamagore, a WW2-era submarine, and being petrified of the enclosed space. 

I didn't like it. I don't like sleeping bags because my legs get tangled up, and I can't get out. I don't like submarines. I don't know how anyone on a submarine manages it, and I totally understand why they have to go through psych tests to determine if they're fit enough. That would be one test I wouldn't mind failing. 

Now, this was before the age of the internet, and my parents were intent on figuring out which submarine my great-uncle Ned Charles Cook was on when he went down in WW2. In the middle of the sub is a great room with plaques of the fallen submarines. My memory of the time thinks there was ten, but when I went a few weeks ago. I was wrong. There were at least thirty. This would explain why it took so long to find his name. I just wanted out. OUT! OUT! The sub was closing in, my brother was running around, my sister was probably trying to find a hiding place, and I couldn't breath. But no, I had to stay inside that tin can while my parents systematically looked for his name on thirty different plaques. 

And they finally found it. 

USS Barbel 
Cook, Ned C. 

I was so happy. We could leave now. I could breath sweet, fresh air, and harbor a grudge against my parents for the rest of the weekend and generally act like an ungrateful 15-year old.

Having been back on the sub, it is very much every nightmare I have in reliving my first experience. But, being an adult, I suck it up, quickly move through the ship, and ask everyone else for their photos.

As for the family tree, the internet has afforded a lot more information on Ned Charles Cook, MoMM, and the USS Barbel. I know that if my grandfather had the internet at his disposal while he was working on the family history, my grandmother would have been hard pressed to pull him away from the computer. It is a true labor of love.

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