Fireman 1st Class Vernon Calvin Christensen was born Oct. 15, 1925, in Irene.
He enlisted in the Minority Cruise because he was 17 years old and his mother had to sign for him. His enlistment began in Yankton, with his physical being in Sioux Falls. Vernon then left Sioux Falls by train for Farragut Naval Station in Idaho. There he finished boot camp and was sent to San Francisco.
From San Francisco he went on a Liberty Ship to the Admiralty Islands, which was a supply depot. For a year and a half, Vernon made brake lines for trucks. There was an ammunition ship docked in the harbor. While it was there it was hit and blown up killing 500 sailors. At this time he saw a Vermillion sailor, Jack Stewart, who worked on a bulldozer.
The USS Boxer CV-21, an aircraft carrier was the next ship for Vernon. His duty was to make fresh water out of sea water. He did this by boiling the water. He boiled thousands of gallons of water each day because it was used for everything including the boiler on the ship.
While on the USS Andus AKN1 there was a battle at Leyte Island. His ship took aerial torpedo on the fantail which blew it off. Because it could still float, they took it back to Pearl Harbor where it was repaired and then went out to sea again.
When the war was beginning to come to an end, Japanese soldiers would abandon their prison camps. There was just such a camp off the Endes Island. A ship full of Marines were brought to the island to go to this camp. The prisoners were in such horrible physical conditions that they were unable to leave under their own strength. So, each Marine strapped a prisoner on his back and walked back to where Vernon's ship was docked. They laid them on the dock in the cargo area and hosed them down because they were so filthy. They eventually were put on a hospital ship that took them back to the states.
Vernon had a brother who was in the Army. His mother sent Vernon a letter telling him that his brother was hurt, so he asked for permission to go see him. He arrived one day after his brother had been sent elsewhere! There wasn't anything else to do but go back to the ship. He finally saw him a few months later when he got back to the states.
When looking at some of Vernon's memorabilia, I came across his liberty voucher which states:
This entitles bearer to leave ship on liberty if entitled to liberty; if ship is at a Navy Yard, to pass through gates. To be shown to D.D.D. When leaving, and dropped in check box on return to ship. Use of this card for other than authorized liberty or by other than the person named is an offense.
It had the name of his ship, his name, and the name of the executive officer.
Vernon honorably served his country through the fall of 1946.