Marshall Ralph Doak Chief Pharmacist's Mate United States Navy
Before the Navy
Probably two or three weeks later, someone told me there was a possibility of going into the Naval Academy Prep School through the regular Navy. I went to St. Joe and applied there with the enlistment officer. I passed the exam, which was very limited. This was the depression period and it was very difficult to get in the Navy, even for that $21 per month. He said, "You're only 17, but with your scholastic and athletic backgrounds there is a good possibility that you'd go in as a Naval Academy candidate." This meant that once I was in the Navy they would give me tutors and eventually I would take the exam for the prep school at Norfolk. About 100 men from the fleet would go to the prep school every year, and this was basically where they got all their athletes. At that time the Navy was more athletically inclined. They had baseball and football teams, whale boat crews, boxing and wrestling. It was quite an athletic endeavor all the way through the fleet. So I agreed to this and it wasn't until November that I was called up. On November 9, 1938 I aised my right hand and I joined the Navy in Detroit, MI. I was taken to Newport, RI, and I went through my four months of basic training. I got my 10 days leave which meant riding the bus all the way back to Michigan which was quite a long haul on a bus. I spent time at home and returned to Rhode Island, where I was assigned to the USS Cimmaron, a fleet tanker. They then changed this because at that time they had the New York World's Fair and they were looking for someone around six feet tall to do the marching. I was then assigned to the world's fair. That was also changed, and eventually I was sent to the USS Houston. At the end of four months of service I was promoted (automatically) to Seaman 2nd Class, marking a $36 per month pay. I immediately made out an allotment of $25 per month to my parents to help them at home, and I lived on $10 a month. The USS Houston I took a trip to Charleston, SC, and I picked it up there. From Charleston we went to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Houston, by the way, was President Roosevelt's private Navy ship. He had his own elevator on board where he could take his wheelchair and go from the ward room up to the bridge, and to his quarters and so forth. I never saw him on board the ship, but after being on board the Houston for about a month, I was transferred to the USS Salt Lake City, another Heavy Cruiser, at Gitmo.