We know for a fact that my father was drafted into the U.S. Navy on August 14, 1945 – VJ Day! There are varying stories about how this happened. I am relating the one he told me about a month before he died. According to my father, he had avoided the draft for nearly the entire war since his radar research was clearly viewed as critical to the war effort. There were very few American radar experts. However, each of the departments of the U.S. Government were expected to “give” their fair share of able-bodied men to the draft for combat service. The NBS was not exempt. The request was passed down to each division within the NBS and eventually came to the small radar group in which my father was working. Since he was the only draft age man in the group, they reluctantly submitted my father’s name to the draft board!
My father was shipped off to boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Air Station. My father said it was an experience – not necessarily a good one. After six weeks, he was sent back to Washington DC to continue his work at the NBS and serve light Navy duty. He was allowed to keep his apartment. His Navy mailing address was the Woman’s Barracks at the Washington Navy Yard. He also said that he spent some of his time teaching new recruits to play the snare drum. Of course, my father was a trumpeter, not a drummer. However, as he told me, he only had to stay a week ahead of his students!
After nine months, my father was honorably discharged. He started as an Able-bodied Seaman and worked his way up to Aviation Electronics Technicians Mate 3rd Class.
Since he had served in WWII for an entire day, he was awarded the Service Medal and attained the status of a war veteran. This no-doubt helped pay for his subsequent education.
As mentioned previously, he received an M.S. degree from GWU for his work on radar. The degree was awarded in 1947. He then moved back to Ann Arbor, Michigan.