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About Albert Emory McGarvey
Albert McGarvey was born in 1919 in Springfield, IL. to Stella Marie Gunn and Albert Leo McGarvey.
His mother passed away in 1923 from a beating by her husband. She was pregnant, miscarried and bled to death. His father put him in an orphanage...he was four years old. His maternal Grandmother, Viola Gunn Anson (Hess) took him in and raised him. He took her last name, Anson. He lived in Springfield until 1936 when he left Feitshans' High School to visit his father in Detroit, MI. Here he took the name of McGarvey again.
After staying in Detroit for only four months he left for Waltham, MA where his maternal Aunt and her husband, Alma and John Baiter were living. There he also had 3 cousins...more family than he had ever known. In Waltham, he became friends with Alice Christie and her family. Alice was my mother, Miriam Deneault's best friend and she introduced them. This was 1938.
In 1939, Dad was at The Great Lakes Naval Training Station going through Basic. Paul Papish was in the same graduating class and would be on the same ship the USS Houston ca-30.
Dad stayed attached to the Houston as Fire Controlman and boxed in competitions aboard ship in the welter weight class. At 5' 7" and 150 lbs .he was small but mighty. Three years into his tour the Houston was sunk Feb28/Marl 1942 by a Japanese armada in the Sunda Straits. He along with 367 out of 1167 of his shipmates who survived became POWs of the Japanese for 3 %2 years. Though starved and beaten they were forced into slave labor to build the "Death Railway" from Thailand up through Burma constantly being moved and watching comrades die.
Funeral Masses were said in Waltham, MA, and his name listed on the rolls of KIA. No one knew what had happened to the Houston or her men. My Mother's Dad refused to believe that Dad was gone and "knew" he would come home. Dad's only male cousin had been killed in a training mission in 1944 and it was a devastating blow to the family to have lost 2 young men. In August 1945 the war was over and he was liberated. He weighed 87 lbs and suffered from dysentery, malaria and nearly the loss of both feet from tropical disease. He considered himself one of the lucky ones.
Having been sent home via India, he and Mom were married December 5, 1945. Within 3 I/2 years there would be three children...2 girls, Sharron and Patricia and a boy, Robert. This was a wonderful surprise because upon release from prison camp military Drs had said he would never be able to father children.
Dad received less than $3000. in back pay , reenlisted, fought in the Korean War and went to Japan many times. In a total of 15 years we moved 11 times from one coast to the other while he served aboard the USS Philippine Sea CV47and the USS Hamul AD20.
We ended up inLong Beach CA. in 1961 after his retirement from the Navy in 1959. He was a CWO4. Things weren't so easy after retirement from the Military... even with 20 years service. Dad only had a high school diploma which he obtained while in the Navy. He sold Mutual Fund and cars...many cars, until he was hired on with McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach, CA. in the photography dept. His secret passion had been photography and he was able to fulfill that working there and actually getting paid while doing it.
His health hadn't always been great. In his mid 40's he had bypass surgery when both femoral arteries had blockages. Then in August of 1973 he started having TIA's (mini strokes) and by April, 1974 he was confined to a wheel chair, paralyzed on his left side...he was only 54 years old. Although his body and speech were impaired, his intelligence, memory and sense of humor were intact. His Vascular Surgeon said that he had the body of an 80 year old.
Things were pretty rough while Dad was ill...the VA had him classified as 20% disabled for a tennis elbow. Fight as they might, the VA wouldn't change his classification. Otto Schwarz and Max Offerle were contacted to provide some help and insight. Their suggestion was to bring Dad to Texas where someone at the VA cared. The Dr's, however, wouldn't let Dad travel. What a shameful way for the government to treat a man who gave up his youth in a Japanese prison camp in the defense of his country!
He "lived" this way for 8 years until his heart gave out on 30 March 1982. After years of putting her health on hold to care for my Dad, my Mother died 8 months later of Cancer.
Things we remember...
• Many cartons of milk and loaves of bread in the freezer
• Rationed T-P but always had lots of food on the table
• Lots of rice, it's what kept him alive
• Being told to eat what's on our plate "because some child was starving in China"
• Never badmouthed the Japs, wanted to get on with his life...had to forgive and forget
• Shore Duty was quality time
• Road trips...2 lane roads with the windows down and 3 kids in the back seat
Burma Shave signs
The Painted Desert
The Grand Canyon
• Fish faces...imitations of Woody Wood Pecker and Jerry Lewis...
• 3 little kids kneeling in front of him at night saying our prayers... fighting over the
middle spot to be the one to put his or her little clasped hands between his...
• He voted Republican...drove Fords...loved to cook and work with his
hands...wrote poems to Mom
• He loved his family to death...
What we never knew...
• Anything about those 3 '/2 years...
USS HOUSTON CA 30: “The Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast”, http://www.usshouston.net/stor/mcgarvey/mcgarvey.htm, 2/24/2008
Albert McGarvey's Timeline
July 26, 1919
Springfield, Sangamon, Illinois, United States
December 2, 1945
March 30, 1982
Long Beach, Los Angeles, California, United States
Riverside, Riverside, California, United States
Springfield, Illinois, United States