David I. Hale, 1924 - 2003
USN, 1943 - 1946, GM2

Our father, David Hale, got engaged to our mother, Jean, and joined the Navy in 1943, all within a few weeks of his 18th birthday. The attached picture is of him graduating from Boot Camp in Farragut, Idaho as a Seaman, 2nd Class. Look at that face; it's hard to imagine we send kids like that to war. But we did it then, and we still do it today. We are a blessed nation to have citizens like that stand in line to fight for our freedom.

That picture of him was carried by our mother while she stayed at home and worked for a Pratt and Whitney plant that assembled aircraft engines for bombers. They made a formidable team. After Boot Camp, Dad went to Gunners Mate School, then to Brisbane, Australia to teach at an anti-aircraft training center. In August 1944 he was assigned to the USS Pyro (AE-1) where he served 18 months throughout the South Pacific.

He told stories of how the other ships would steer away from the ammunition ship when there was threat of enemy aircraft attacks, for fear it would blow up. We have a knife he made during the hours of boredom on the ship, with a handle made from the plexiglass cockpit of a downed Japanese Zero. Inlaid in the handle is the face of a 1944 Liberty-head dime.

In January 1946, he was transferred from the Pyro to Pearl Harbor, where he stayed until he was discharged from the Navy in November of that year. Dad lived the rest of his life in Missouri, raising a family, and enjoying his gunsmithing hobby. He died on December 31, 2003. His tombstone proudly indicates "USN WWII". When the preacher was preparing his eulogy, he asked the family what lesson he had taught during his life. Without hesitation, one of his granddaughters piped up and said "Squeeze the trigger, don't pull it." I guess he was a Gunners Mate to the end.

Our father was a proud American until the day he died, and was proud to have served his country. His folded Veteran's flag will hold a treasured spot in our family's home.

Proudly,
His family

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