Wesley Northey reported aboard ship at the time of commissioning,
May 10, 1943. Then a Seaman 1st Class, his rate would advance
within the Deck Division to Bosun's Mate 1st class by the 1st
of April 1945.
When the ship returned to Mare Island in May of 1944, Wesley Northey's rating had risen to Bosun's Mate 2nd Class. While at Mare Island, he used a 16 day leave beginning on May 21st to visit and wed Mary Ann Federman. Nine months later, in late February 1945, their son Dennis was born. Wesley Northey was ecstatic when the news of his son's arrival reached him in March 1945.
Wesley Northey - 1944
On April 6, 1945, Wesley Northey was lost with the USS Bush.
Wesley Northey would posthumously receive the Silver Star for
his efforts that day. He was part of the volunteer crew to
man the two forward 40MM guns after the ship was first hit.
Specifically, he assisted with action on the
port side #42 gun. When the last plane struck the ship, he
remained at this station until just before the crash not 10
feet from his gun. His legs were broken. Even so, he remained
cheerful and inspirational for his shipmates. Shipmates were
able to get him into the water before the ship went down. He
would die in the water while encouraging another shipmate with
him to hang on.
In March 1945, just three weeks before his death, Wesley Northey composed a letter that someone hand delivered for him to his wife, Mary Ann. The letter noted his obvious pride in his wife and new son; his enthusiasm for what their future held; answered a few of his young bride's questions; noted his expectation that his rating would soon increase to Bosun's Mate 1st Class. The letter also provides a glimpse into the routine censorship that took place for mail that traveled through normal channels, and Wesley Northey's desire to bypass the normal channels. The letter would reach his wife after she'd received word of his death. She would not remarry. Below are excerpts of the thoughts shared in this letter.
Wesley & Mary Ann Northey
Spring - 1944
|March 18, 1945
My darling wife & son:
Today you know I am the happiest man alive. Never in my life (have) I ever felt like I wanted to get on the roof tops, and tell the world oh what a wonderful wife I have and all that she means to me. How she keeps me alive now waiting to be near her. Always think of me.
You write, why should I worry about you? If anything happened to take from me all of my happiness - the only one who understand me - I couldn't stand it. But I know something told me you were well. How do I know? I can see it in your writing. The excitement to tell me of our son. - I knew that it was love at first sight. Even when we first met. I want you just like you were then. A laughing and carefree girl. - I wanted to be loved by this person so much. Never did I think that I would be lucky enough to have her for a wife. I have been in a trance ever since until now she makes me blind with happiness by giving to me my only desire, a son. I have always wanted a son. To see him grow, and to try to make his life easy for him as he grows up. And now my only wish is that I will be able to see him when he is small. So that I may enjoy being a father.
Now you may think this letter is funny. Nothing like I have
ever written before. But you can only keep something like this
locked up inside for awhile. Then it has to come out. And this
letter is the only way I have at my disposal at the present of
letting you know how I feel. Nothing could be any greater. I
would ask for nothing more to be home with you now.
I am sending you this letter by means of slow travel. So when you receive it let me know. I am in the Philippines. In Leyte, as a matter of fact. We expect to move soon. And as to where I don't know. It may or not be long before I am home again - depending upon how this next operation comes out. We are well here. But the weather is hot and it rains every day - that's why I had a cold. Was never much of a man for rain. Makes me blue. And gives me too much time to think of you and to worry.
As for the rate Hon, I will make it this time. Just for you and Dennis. Glad you are well, and came through everything alright. Do you feel like you want to have another? Or is this one enough? Just in case we do, I want to wait until I am home for good before we do. As it takes all the kick out of married life.
Hon, I can't think of any way of writing to tell you how much I miss you.
I will explain why I write this letter to you, and sending it to you the way I am. I have a bunch of officers. Just kids. No fooling, I am at least ten years older than most of them aboard ship. And when they censor a letter like this, it is the talk among them for weeks. It gets around. After awhile it makes a person feel he has no private life.
Must close now. Miss and love you always.
Yours with love to my wife & son,
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