Matching family tree profiles for MUS2c Harry Gregory Chernucha
About MUS2c Harry Gregory Chernucha
Harry was a graduate of Wellington C. Mepham High School, the class of 1940. His yearbook picture bore the description, "Hilarious, Athletic, Verbose,"
He was a member of the Senior Band for four years, and played saxophone with the Mepham dance band, the Jolly Rogers. At times he conducted the band.
He played the part of Bill Cooper in Little Miss Fortune and wrote a gossip column for the Mepham H.S. underground newspaper Trade Secrets.
Harry was on the cross-country track team and was a varsity wrestler for two years,
Many boys who dreamed of being professional musicians learned of the The United States Navy School of Music, but admission entailed meeting rigorous entrance requirements and tests as well as a six-year enlistment; the usual enlistment was four years. Harry Chernucha was accepted at the music school, and after a short boot camp, attended the school in Washington, DC. Harry, who had won the New York State wrestling title in 1940 was welcomed by the other band students at the school since there was intense competition at the Navy Yard and the School of Music was often tops in wrestling. The other band students nicknamed him "Cherry" and "The Mad Russian." He then spent four months at band training in Washington until he sailed to Long Beach, California to join the USS Arizona, a World War I battleship. In June 1941 they sailed to Hawaii.
Hawaii was not a pleasant place for sailors. There were no available girls, and entertainment was too expensive for sailors living on $21 a month. Their life centered around their duties on board the ship: preparation for war, duty in the first aid station at sea, loading ammunition in battle drills, and rehearsing or performing (many hours each day.) They were on duty seven days a week, playing for the raising of the colors at eight o'clock every morning and playing music on board or on the military stations ashore.
Chernucha's parents were White Russians who escaped from the Russian Revolution and were proud to be Americans. After the war started in Europe they said to Harry: "You know how much this country has done for us, now you go down and sign up." He then applied for the Navy Band to continue with his music.