World War II Letters & Papers of Jack Raymond Oxley
The letters in this collection were written by my father, Jack Raymond Oxley, while he was in the service during World War II. Dad enlisted in the Merchant Marines in 1942 as soon as he graduated from North Side High School. His goal was to be a radioman and he was told that he had the best chance at getting that job if he signed up with the Merchant Marines. Unfortunately for Dad, he did not get to train as a radioman. Instead, he was trained as a pharmacist mate or medical corpsman. He was in the first class of pharmacist mates that graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy at Sheepshead Bay New York in 1943. Because the Merchant Maritime Service was not considered an official military branch by the United States government and because he needed to have seaman's papers in order to ship out, he was enlisted in the United States Naval Reserves. His first assignment with the Merchant Marines was on board the merchant ship Cefalu. He served as a bursar on that ship. He ended up in Australia where he eventually enlisted in the United States Army.
In the Army, he served as a medical corpsman with the 196th Station Hospital on board the Maetsuycker. The Dutch-owned liner had been commandeered by General MacArthur in the South Pacific for use of the United States troops serving in that arena. The ship was refitted as an Army hospital ship and Dad served on her until the war ended. Dad started a newspaper, The Star, aboard the ship to keep his shipmates entertained and informed. Dad was awarded five Bronze Stars for his service on board the Maetsuycker.
Later Dad was called up by the United States Air Force for service in Korea but he was found unfit for duty due to recurring bouts of Malaria incurred while in the South Pacific. Dad passed away on February 11, 2001 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
In addition to his letters, other documents, such as his address book, and photographs from a number of his scrapbooks are included here.
~~ Maureen Oxley Gaff
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