Today’s veteran: Carl Lovell, 89
Born: St. Marys
Residence: St. Marys
Service: Navy, 4 years
Rank: Petty officer 2nd class
Recognitions: Korean Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Good Conduct Medal
Duty stations: Korea; Japan; San Diego, and aboard the USS Hamul and USS Hancock
His story: Carl Lovell was working on his father’s shrimp boat when he learned he would soon face a choice about military service.
His father, a World War I marine, told Lovell that a friend at the draft board gave him advance notification his draft notice was
Lovell decided to control his destiny and met with a Marine Corps recruiter. But Lovell was ruled temporarily ineligible to join the Corps because he had a boil on his knee. He was told to come back when his knee was healed.
Lovell said by the time his knee healed, his draft notice might arrive, but the recruiter said he could not make an exception. So, he went across the hall to a Navy recruiter. Thirty days later, Lovell was in San Diego for basic training.
His experience on his father’s shrimp boat was likely the reason Lovell was assigned to the USS Hamul, where he was trained as a quartermaster.
“I learned all about navigation,” he said. “I learned to read star charts.”
The ship shuttled between Japan and the West Coast for three deployments before he accepted an offer to swap ships with another sailor who didn’t want to complete a world tour aboard the USS Hancock.
During its voyage, the Hancock made stops in Hong Kong, Singapore, Ceylon, India, Persian Gulf, China, Italy, Germany and China.
The ship also played a role during the Korean War supporting other ships.
Lovell said he had an opportunity to visit one of the Japanese cities destroyed by an atomic bomb to end World War II.
“In Japan, there was nothing but steel standing. Everything else was ashes,” he said.
He also had an opportunity to visit German cities still recovering from bombing during the war.
“You got to see the difference in warfare,” he said.
The ship’s tour ended in Rhode Island, where Lovell said he had to make the decision about his future. He was engaged, but his fiancée was reluctant to marry him if he was going to be at sea for extended periods of time.
He chose love over the Navy, and it was the right decision. His marriage lasted 60 years, until his wife died.
His wife called him her “half-time husband” when he accepted a job on a tanker for Mobile Oil. He later took a job with Shell Oil, where he was the captain of a 375-ton tanker.
He later worked for the National Park Service for 12 years, when Cumberland Island National Seashore was established in the early 1970s, driving a landing craft to haul equipment to the island and bringing back trash to the mainland.
Lovell said he feels blessed to have served his country in the Navy and for the opportunities it provided that impacted the rest of his life.
“The Lord has been looking out for me since I was a little child,” he said. “Even today, he takes care of me.”
Our Veterans runs Wednesdays. Contact Gordon Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 912-464-7655 to suggest a veteran for a column.