If you’ve followed the blog for any length of time, then you probably know that the World War II era is my favorite in history – I particularly love any and every photo of service members and their wartime experiences that I can get my hands on, so I’m back today with two Navy photos rescued from E-Bay (and these have names!) and a little mystery to solve.
These photos of two Navy Seamen are from a photographer’s studio, and printed on post cards with the names Orin Queen & (what looks like) LaVern F. Martin. Since the photos are both signed “a/your buddy,” we can probably assume that they were souvenirs from a 3rd individual. We can also tell, by looking at the photos, that they are enlisted Navy Seamen by the uniform – blue jumper with a white stripe on the right shoulder, and no patches or insignia. Since I have names this time (and Orin’s Dayton, Ohio address written on the back), I did a little digging to find out more about the men in these great photos.
Orin was fairly easy to identify given his unique name and Dayton address. He was Orin William Queen, born 19 July 1918 in Tuscola, Illinois to William L. & Cora (Hall) Queen. By the time he enlisted in the Navy on 22 February 1944, he was living in Dayton, Ohio.
Orin was part of the Navy Reserve (USNRS – Newport News, Virginia), when he transferred onto the USS Portsmouth (CL-102) on 28 June 1945 – the ship had been commissioned 3 days prior. Orin was a Radio Technician, 3rd Class.
Since this ship photo was taken less than a month later, Orin was likely aboard at the time. He finished out his time in the Navy on the Portsmouth, and was released from service on 6 January 1946. Orin went back to Ohio after the war, where he was married and had a family. He died in Dayton in 2005.
Our second photo is where our mystery comes in, as I have found two potential candidates to be the LaVern F. Martin in our photo (LaVern is my best guess for the writing – if you have any other ideas about the first name leave a comment below!).
I have found a LaVern F. Martin who was in the Navy from 1944 – 1947. LaVern Francis Martin was born 2 June 1926 in Capac, Michigan to Harold C. & Gretel (Chapin) Martin. The only Navy muster roll I have found for LaVern places him on the USS General W A Mann on the way back to the US for discharge from service in 1947. He was listed as an Aviation Machinist’s Mate, 2nd Class. LaVern died in Lapeer, Michigan in 1984.
The second candidate is Leffie Martin (Born 9 May 1919), who appeared on the USS Portsmouth muster roll with Orin Queen in June of 1945. Leffie had also been in the Navy Reserve, and reported to the Portsmouth from the United States Naval Training School (USNTS) Newport, Rhode Island on 25 June 1945 – the day of the ship’s commissioning. Information about Leffie has been more difficult to come by, because I’m nearly positive that “Leffie” was a shortened name or nickname that he went by, and the only other information I’ve found so far is a request for a Navy headstone for Leffie, who unfortunately died shortly after the war in November 1948. The requester was a Mary Lean Martin of Bassfield, Mississippi (Leffie was buried in the Sweetwater Cemetery there).
Since we don’t know when or where these photos were taken (only that they were taken in the same place at one point!), I think there’s a mystery to try and solve about who is in the photo! I’m going to take advantage of a new service that we’re offering, and order the Official Military Personnel Files for these individuals to try and gather more information. While we attempt to solve the mystery, I’ll also be taking you through the process of getting those records from the National Archives, St. Louis Repository and showing the kind of incredible information that is available in those files.
In the mean time, I’m curious to know which candidate you think is in our photo! LaVern or Leffie? Leave a comment below!