This week we’re telling the stories of World War II service members using details found in their Official Military Personnel Files from the National Archives. Navy files are an absolute goldmine because, not only did the Navy document everything and provide photos, but those files were mostly untouched by the National Archives fire in 1973. Orin Queen’s file (shown in the three photos below), is an example of the folder that those records usually come in – a side pocket of miscellaneous papers and booklets detailing the service chronologically. His file had about 72 pages, and I hope you enjoy meeting him below.
Orin William Queen was born 19 July 1918 at Tuscola, Douglas County, Illinois to parents William Leslie & Cora Mabel Queen, who were both natives of Galia County, Ohio.
Eventually the family moved back to the Cincinnati/Dayton, Ohio area where Orin attended the University of Cincinnati for three years and studied electrical engineering. He left college in 1939, and by that time he had been working at Dayton Power & Light Co., since September 1937 as an Electrical Tester – a job he remained at until his enlistment. During that time he also married, his wife May Ellen.
Orin was 5″ 8 1/2′, with blue eyes and brown hair. His hobbies included hunting, fishing, and doing repair work in his home workshop.
Orin was inducted into the Navy on 22 February 1944 at Cincinnati, Ohio, but being married, was granted a family allowance and transferred the draft into a voluntary 2-year enlistment in the Naval Reserve. The following day he reported to US Naval Training Center Great Lakes (Waukegan, IL – north of Chicago), where he was rated as Apprentice Seaman, Class V-6 SV, and noted as a qualified swimmer. He was also identified as a qualified candidate for further schooling. Orin spent four months at boot camp at USNTC Great Lakes, and was promoted in rating to Seaman 2nd Class.
On 23 June 1944, Orin transferred to his first Naval Training School for Pre-Radio Material at Wright Junior College in Chicago. The course was four weeks long, and despite the fact that he spent a week and a half admitted to the Navy Hospital at Great Lakes, Orin graduated that training ranked 19th in a class of 655. He scored a 96/100 in Math, 100/100 in Slide Rule, 100/100 in Electricity, and 90/100 in Laboratory work.
From that training he was immediately sent to Naval Training School at Grove City College (Grove City, PA) for a 13-week course in Electrical Engineering and Radio Material. Upon this transfer he was selected as the man “in charge of the draft” of five additional men – meaning that he was responsible for the transfer of paperwork and pay during the transition. Perhaps unsurprising, given his intellect and aptitude for the work, Orin graduated that training first in his class of 41, and earned a second promotion to Seaman 1st Class (Radio Technician).
Upon leaving NTS Grove City, Orin was transferred back to Chicago to NTS Navy Pier on 11 November 1944, for a final 28-week course in Radio Material. On Christmas Day he earned a third promotion to Radio Technician 3rd Class. He completed the course on 15 June 1945 ranked 3rd in a class of 135, and qualified in Radio, Radar, Sonar, and Countermeasure subjects and equipment. He also “possessed a special knowledge of information valuable to a foreign power,” which essentially classified his work for a time. He also received his fourth and final promotion in rating to Radio Technician 2nd Class (T).
After NTS Navy Pier, on 15 June 1945, he was immediately transferred to Receiving Station Newport News, Virginia and a duty station aboard the brand new Cleveland-class Light Cruiser, USS Portsmouth (CL-102) for “further fitting and to be aboard at commissioning.” His role would have been to ensure that the radio, radar, and sonar, etc. were in proper working order and to make final adjustments and installations on those instruments. The Portsmouth was commissioned on 25 June 1945, and with exception of his annual leave home to his wife in Dayton in September, Orin remained aboard until 1 January 1946. This included two months at sea for the Portsmouth’s inaugural “shakedown cruise” off the coast of Cuba and her time as part of the Operational Development Force.
Orin separated from the Navy at Receiving Station Philadelphia, PA on 1 January 1946, and was honorably discharged at NTS Great Lakes on 6 January 1946.
Orin William Queen passed away at his home in Dayton in 2005, at the age of 86. According to a FindAGrave memorial, he donated his body to the Wright State University Medical School.
If you’ve been following the series, did you catch where LaVern Martin & Orin Queen may have known each other? Leave a comment below!
If you are a descendant of Orin W. Queen, I’d love to return his photograph and his service record to your safe-keeping. Please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m passionate about telling the stories of service members, particularly in World War II, and if you’d like to find out more about the military records of service members in your own family or obtain personnel records from NARA St. Louis, please see our services page. I’d be happy to answer questions and help you obtain those records in order to tell the stories of your own family.