Stephen Jennison

Stephen Jennison

AFRH-W Highlight- Stephen Jennison
By Christine Baldwin, Librarian

Stephen Jennison was born in New York City 98 years ago. His father lost his job during the Depression, so they moved to upstate New York, when Stephen was a boy. His favorite memory then was when silent movies went to “talkies”. After graduating from high school, Stephen went to work for the Daily Mirror. Unfortunately, it was the night shift, which he didn’t like. However, Stephen always wanted to join the Navy. In fact, one time he got in trouble in elementary school and the teacher said “What are you going to do when you grow up?” Stephen replied “I am going to be in the Navy!” When the teacher told this to his mother, she replied “So, what’s wrong with that?”

Stephen went to Boot Camp at Newport, RI in 1941. His first ship the USS GLEVES (DD-423) sailed out of Boston, MA with all new recruits. Stephen had joined before Pearl Harbor and was stationed in Newfoundland. On that fateful day, he was fishing for flounder, when the announcement was made on the bombing. The question he and his fellow “tin can sailors” had was “Where in the world is Pearl Harbor?” It was then that they began running thousands of miles of convoys and became the ‘Galloping Ghosts in the Atlantic Coast’. Stephen’s next ship was the USS BELLEAU WOOD (CVL-24), an aircraft carrier sent to the Pacific Theater. After supporting the occupation of Baker Island and taking part in the Tarawa and Wake Island raids, they joined in the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. In 1944, Stephen was part of what is known as the “Marianas Turkey Shoot”, in which they decimated the Japanese fleet with only minimum losses. After some other convoys and an overhaul at Pearl Harbor the BELLEAU WOOD assisted in the last stages of the occupation of Guam.  Next Stephen went stateside to Norfolk, VA where he reenlisted. Then it was back onto aircraft carriers in the Pacific Ocean. Stephen finished up his 20 year military career in recruiting at Norfolk.

After retiring, Stephen worked in the U.S. Government with shipping and receiving supplies such as copper, lead, aluminum and rubber. He retired again and he and his wife moved to Florida. Stephen had always belonged to the Fleet Reserve Association and a friend from the group asked him one day “when are we going to the ‘Old Soldiers’ Home?”  Not then, but in 2002, after his wife had died, Stephen came to AFRH-W.  He has one son and three granddaughters, who he is very proud of.