Friday, July 1, 2011

Dropping the bomb

This term is sometimes used when giving bad news. Men have used it when they were told they were a father, or about to be one, usually from a relationship other than marriage.

I was contacted recently by a woman who said she was the daughter of my wife's uncle, Reginald Eugene Glenn. The fact that she was 63 years old and the uncle had been dead for 50 years qualified the news as dropping a bomb. She found me via a Google search that turned up a story I did about the uncle.

We didn't know where to start with the information. Neither my wife or I had ever met the uncle much less this woman and no other family members had ever heard about her or her mother.

As I looked into it I found her mother had died in 2009 in Washington state. The woman sent me a copy of her April 5, 1947 birth certificate from Blanchard, Washington and sure enough, there was the uncle's name and identification, listed as the father.

This brought more questions on why no one ever knew about her or why she had never known anything about her father or his family. She sent other personal information and I sent her the one photo I had of the uncle.

My wife obtained a box of old photos and letters from the uncle to his mother, from 1944 to 1949. I also wrote to the National Archives and obtained a copy of his Navy service record. The letters and service record showed he was stationed in San Diego, Vallejo and San Francisco California during his years in the Navy. It also showed the names of the ships he was on. The faithful letters he sent to his mother over those years talked about where the ship was located. He was on the USS Pennsylvania during WWII and moved from Island to Island.

After the war the letters showed he came back to California but they also indicated the Pennsylvania was sent to mothballs in Washington State. In fact there are letters either postmarked or mentioning his being in Washington both in the spring and fall of 1946.

To be the father, according to my math would mean he was in Washington 9 months before the birth or July 1946.

This is where the bomb comes in. In the letters was one dated July 1, 1946 (64 years ago today) that I have scanned and attached. It says he was part of Operation Crossroads at Bikini Atoll in the pacific. The US government started dropping atomic bombs on the small island to see what would happen, as if the two in Japan didn't tell them enough.

The first one was on July 1, 1946 and they dropped a second one on July 25th.

He was aboard the USS George Clymer, twenty miles from the island when the bomb hit. A subsequent letter talked about watching the second bomb. Since he was about five thousand miles from Blanchard, Washington I think it is safe to say he is not the father. Based on the personal information about him on the birth certificate I think he knew the mother and maybe she thought he was the father, but the math is off.

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