Chauncey Penfold Trained at Electrician School at University of Minnesota

On the first Monday of December 1942, Chauncey Penfold commenced his twelve weeks of U.S. Navy’s Electrician School at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis. That morning the commander called a meeting for the 120 (divided into groups of 10) of our company to inform us of what we needed to do. Each group was given their schedule of classes. So while one group of ten attended math, another group went to blueprint reading class. We had math, wiring lab, blueprint reading, electrical theory, and motor/generator testing lab.

The whole company had breakfast, lunch and dinner together. Our laundry was sent out. We had dress inspection on Saturday mornings. For the first two months, the co-eds (ladies) served the food. After that, the Navy cooks and cook strikers took over and the lines moved a lot faster.

In the wiring lab, they assigned us our lab partner and gave us a list of what we needed for the wiring project. My lab partner was smart. He instructed me to get two of the first half of the list and he got two of each of the last half of the list. With this time management technique, we finished first and received another lab project which we usually completed. My lab partner did house wiring before he joined the U.S. Navy. In one of the labs, they gave us the mechanical parts to a small motor. We had to wire it up and make it run.

We got liberty on Saturday afternoons and Sunday. I enjoyed going to the USO in St. Paul by streetcar on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, the laundry came back which I rolled my clothing and placed it in my seabag. I studied my homework and also the U.S. Navy’s basic handbook, The Bluejacket’s Manual.

On liberty. I went with Richard Heater to his friends’ house for Christmas Dinner. Classes were not held on New Year’s Day. Because of World War II, training/education continued between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

We finished our twelve weeks of Electrical School at the end of February 1943. I graduated and earned a rating of Third Class Electrician’s Mate. I was particularly good at labwork and reading blueprints.

 Electrician's Mate 3rd Class - U.S. Navy WW II
Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class U.S. Navy World War II

The following Monday morning in a meeting of the 120 of us, the commander announced that all of us got delayed orders, except a few. I was standing with Richard Heater and Clifford Trezise, whom had come with me from Farragut NTS, Idaho. I said to them, “I am one of the few”. They asked me how I knew. I said, “Just wait and see”. Right after the meeting ended, I received the paperwork to go to the Pudget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, Washington along with four others who were cooks and cook strikers. I was assigned to the U.S.S. Halford DD-480. The five of us packed our seabags and were put on the train to Bremerton Washington.

Chauncey Penfold Trained at Electrician School at University of Minnesota
Chauncey Penfold Trained at Electrician School at University of Minnesota
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Chauncey Penfold Trained at Farragut Naval Training Station, Idaho

A U.S. Naval Training Station was established at Farragut, Idaho to be far from possible coastal invasion and/or coastal bombings. Our company was on the bottom floor of our barracks in Camp Waldron (one of six Camps). Each camp had between 20 and 22 two-story barracks, drill field, a mess hall, recreation building, sick bay and dispensary, administration building, and a drill hall with a swimming pool (ours was not finished). In some areas/camps, not all of the barracks were finished. When I was there, a lot of building was still being done. After I left, they eventually finished even the hospital. Also, there were very few WAVES while I was there.

We arrived at Farragut Naval Training Station (Farragut NTS) at the beginning of October, 1942. The next morning after we arrived at Farragut Naval Training Station, they took two of us at a time to the Barber to get our hair cut. The young man that I went with had 2 inch long hair and he asked the Barber to give him a light trim. The Barber said, “O.K.” and then the Barber shaved a path from the front of his head over the top of his head and then down the back. After that, the Barber shaved the rest of his hair off. The Navy’s induction cut for new boot camp participants is a clipper cut with no guard (number 0) all over the head, leaving a short stubble-like finish. Also on the first day at Farragut NTS, we had to mark all of our clothes, etc. with the stencils that were given to us with our clothes, etc. the night before.

We marched in the morning and in the afternoon. We went to classes on Navy rules, regulations, and what was expected of us. This included classes on knot tying, how to pack clothes in a seabag, etc.

On liberty, I went to see my sister Ruby and her husband Weston Justice in Spokane, Washington. Weston was an instructor on airplane engine mechanics. Weston took me back to Farragut NTS.

The first four companies were graduated on November 26, 1942 and Ross Hall took the company group pictures. I belonged to Company 4, 11th Battalion, 3rd Regiment. After graduation, we were all given seven days of leave. I went home on the Greyhound Bus to help my parents with the dehorning and branding of the calves.

We were given aptitude tests before graduation. So the morning after I arrived in Farragut NTS from my leave, I was put on a train with two others for electrical school training at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis.  We were on the train for that day then the night and the following day. It was really cold on the train through Montana even with our Navy Peacoats on and the heat on all the way because it was the beginning of December 1942. We arrived into Minneapolis at 9:00 p.m. and we had a cold walk to the dormitory from the train station because the streetcars had stopped running.

Chauncey Penfold Trained at Farragut Naval Training Station, Idaho!
Chauncey Penfold Trained at Farragut Naval Training Station, Idaho!
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Chauncey Penfold Joined the U.S. Navy!

There were only radios when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941. Nonetheless, everyone was informed about it all across the United States and were talking about it.

I decided to enlist in the Navy so I pre-registered into the Navy in June of 1942, because I did not like the idea of carrying a pack. I was helping to thresh grain at Arnold’s in September of 1942. The Navy Recruiting Officer picked me up off the stack of grain and we passed by my house to pick up my suitcase that I already had packed. He drove me to Salt Lake City, Utah and put me up in a hotel that the Navy paid my bill. The next morning, the Navy Recruiter took me for a physical. When they check me, the Navy’s doctor found that there was wax in my ear and said I would have to see a private doctor to have it removed. When I told the Navy Recruiter, he said, “You don’t have to go to a doctor. They can wash it out.” He sent me back in for them to wash it out. A couple of Pharmacist Mates washed it out. I signed the papers to join the Navy right after the wax was washed out of my ear.

The next day, I boarded a train with nine other enlisted men for Farragut Naval Training Station on the Southern end of Lake Pend Oreille in Farragut, Idaho in Northern Idaho. It took the train three days to get there because the train kept getting side-tracked so that other regular trains could pass.  We did not arrive until 9:00 P.M. at night. So they took us to the supply building and issued our clothes then took us to the barracks. It was late. The Commanding Officer asked if we had our bunk numbers and we said no. So he said, “Grab the closest bunk and we will straighten this out tomorrow.” A guy by the name of Day was standing next to me and he said, “You take the top bunk and I can have the bottom one.”

Chauncey Penfold Joined the U.S. Navy!
Chauncey Penfold Joined the U.S. Navy!
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