Jack Welch reported aboard the USS BUSH on May 19, 1944 while the ship
was at Mare Island (in the San Francisco Bay area) for repairs and upgrades.
Seaman 2nd Class Welch was just about three weeks from turning 25 years of age.
Welch had been sworn into the U. S. Navy in mid February, 1944 and promptly headed to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center for boot camp. He left behind his wife Frances and three small children (Jacqueline, Patricia and Cleon) as he answered the call of duty.
Jack Welch was among a number of new sailors fresh from basic training that were reporting aboard ship in May, 1944. The Navy was transfering some experienced sailors to new ships and and assigning new sailors to help fill the needs of an ever growing fleet of ships.
Jack B. Welch-S1c
By April 6, 1945 Jack Welch's rate had increased to Seaman 1st Class. He would
survive the three kamikaze strikes on DD-529 and the ship's sinking, but not his time
in the water. His
remains were found adrift in the sea by the crew of the LCS(L)-37. That ship's
Pharmacist's Mate, Gil Molstein-PhM1c, remembered "It was a very dark night and
someone aboard our ship said they saw bodies floating in the water. I went to the
starboard side and that was so true. Ensign Robert J. Wisner, some of the crew members
and I used grappling hooks to pull the bodies from the water. We would hook into
their life jackets and pull them aboard ship. They were carried to the fantail of
the ship .... I remember one who had his family picture tucked inside his life jacket."
The remains of those recovered by the LCS(L)-37 would be transferred to the transport ship USS APPLING (APA-58) and eventually to Okinawa Orange Beach 2. In 1949 the remains of Jack Welch were returned to the States for burial in Sunbury, Ohio.
Jack Welch wrote the following letter home to his folks just 13 days before the ship's final action. It provides a nice glimpse into his world and his life as a World War II sailor.
U. S. S. BUSH (DD-529)
25 March, 1945
It’s Sunday again, believe it or not and more than likely the last Sunday you’ll be getting long letters from your son.
Got to cut this short but at least it’s a letter. Right?
Went to church this morning over on another ship and after this ... and a few little jobs in this office I got ready for chow.
We had chicken for dinner today and tonite for supper we had ice-cream, which makes a sailor very happy as these are two delicacies we don’t see very often.
From Your Favorite Son,
Jack Welch S1/c
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