Harry W. Burt Jr.

Navy

1951-1954

Independence

78 Years Old

Harry W. Burt Jr.
Navy
1951-1954
Independence
78 Years Old

IN THE NAVY
Harry Burt was 17 years old when his mom and dad signed papers for him to join the Navy. When he left for boot camp in San Diego, Harry had never been out of Kansas City.
Harry was sent to Guam. The 14-day trip was difficult; the seas were very rough and everyone on board was seasick. Harry was stationed on the AFDB-8 floating dry dock that could take on a light cruiser. He saw the AFDB-1, which was the largest floating dry dock in the world at that time. While there he also saw the Battleship Wisconsin and was stunned at the size of it. Harry learned while in Guam,  how to stand watch, how to take care of all of the equipment on the ship, run the liberty boats, work in the engine room and most importantly, he learned how to keep everything secure.
Harry said the food on the ship was good and there was plenty of it. Letters from home arrived every three or four days and the medical care was excellent. When he had down time, he spent time at the U.S.O. going to dances and listening to bands. Harry rode out one hurricane while in Guam and stayed below deck for three days until it was all clear.
After Guam, Harry was stationed in San Diego aboard the USS Sperry  working on the “Black Gang,” the nickname for the engineers below deck doing many of the same jobs he had been doing while in Guam. The Sperry supplied all of the submarines for the South Pacific.

CIVILIAN LIFE
Harry married his first wife, Mary, in 1954 and she went to San Diego to join him. Harry decided it was time to leave the service and they moved back to Kansas City, where Harry took a job at the Kansas City Ice Co. and the Kansas City School Board. Harry then took a job working for the city of Kansas City and applied with the Water Department, where he worked for 25 years as a supervisor repairing water meters.

FAMILY
Harry and his first wife had three daughters and one son, and also took in two high school girls who needed a home when they lost their mother. Harry lost his first wife after being married 50 years, but met his second wife, Margaret, while volunteering at the Palmer Center where Harry volunteers five days a week at the Nutrition Site, and he enjoys every minute of it.
Harry has seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

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Peggy Sowders, who is on the staff for the city of Independence, compiles interviews with veterans from the entire area at the Truman Memorial Building. Contact her at psowders@indep.mo or 816-325-7979 if you are interested in helping a veteran tell his or her story.