Coming from a Navy family and seeing an older brother join in 1940, another in 1942, Jeff joined in 1943, and two younger brothers followed their footsteps.
About Jeff Bourns
BRANCH OF SERVICE: Navy
YEARS SERVED: December 1943 to May 1946
Coming from a Navy family and seeing an older brother join in 1940, another in 1942, Jeff joined in 1943, and two younger brothers followed their footsteps. One brother would be sent home due to a spot on his lung, and another brother would lose his life to a canoeing accident while in the Navy. Jeff remembers December of '43 when he was sent to boot camp in Idaho, where there was 7 inches of snow for the new recruits to train and run in. Although he signed up for the medical corps, he was sent for torpedo training in San Diego and put into the submarine service. Being a good candidate for the submarine as a torpedo man, he learned to appreciate his good health when going through the water training that he says was difficult for all the men. Once aboard the sub, he shared his bunk with other men calling the procedure "hot beds" since there was always a body sleeping in every bed; one man climbed in when the other climbed out.
Jeff served on a lot of guard duty, especially on the tower, using binoculars that would bang him in the mouth when he was reentering the sub sliding down the stairs guardrail. The subs in those times needed to resurface to charge the batteries, leading to dangerous missions when those surfacing times came. On one mission, Jeff's sub, the Sea Dog, followed a newer sub that detected 39 floating mines while the Sea Dog only detected 6 of those mines. Jeff credits President Truman for ending the war and sending him home, since many of the subs did not make it back to port. He often wishes that he would have personally thanked Mr. Truman when seeing him on his daily walks around his Independence home. Jeff didn't want to bother him, so he just waved.
A funny story Jeff shares with us is when he went in for a haircut and was told he would need to wait since the barbers with enough points were already sent home. He soon found himself in a new position of barber that gave him a higher rank as well as let him cut into the front of the chow line. Everyone treated the barber really well so they would get a good cut.
Once back home in Arkansas, Jeff went out with a friend and saw his future wife, Betty Jean, who was now all grown up and looking good. They dated for 11 days and decided to elope. It was a cheap wedding back then, only $25 for the preacher and the license. After working for a year at the Ford Motor Co. in Texas, Jeff decided to use the GI Bill for college and went to school in Warrensburg, Mo., graduating in only three years. He taught school for several years before being hired at the newly built Van Horn High School in Independence. Jeff taught industrial arts, retiring after 33 years. He and Betty Jean enjoy retirement life by traveling. They have three daughters who have given them grandchildren, great grandchildren and even a great great grandchild.