Samuel Herman Kirsch
Samuel Herman Kirsch

Samuel Herman Kirsch

The military life of Samuel Herman Kirsch

By Dan Ellis | AFRH-G Resident

Samuel “Sam” Kirsch was born on June 27, 1929 to Peter and Melder Kirsch in Burbank, California.  He was reared in Pueblo, Colorado, where he attended Hinsdale Elementary School through the 8th grade and completed one year at Centennial High School.

At age 15, he became a welder's assistant for a year and then a plumber's apprentice during the following year. 

On June 27, 1946, Sam’s 17th birthday, he joined the U.S. Navy and completed his boot camp training in San Diego, California.  Having the proper background experience, he was placed with the Seabees at the Naval Construction Battalion Center Port Hueneme, California, where he completed four weeks of carpentry schooling.  During this time he noted that the young guys were filling slots that led to relieving older Seabees, who were being discharged after World War II.

Sam's first overseas assignment was at Guam for six weeks before being stationed at Calicoan, Samar in the Philippines for six months with a primary duty of repairing and maintaining the water pipeline across the island.  While concentrating on his tasks, he had to be cautious of the Philippine farmers who had incurred the habit of shooting holes in the pipe in order to irrigate their fields.

Sam's next duty assignment was with the U.S. Naval Air Station at Sangley Point in the Philippines before being transferred back stateside in June 1949.  He returned to Guam, and was posted with the 103rd Seabees Mobile Construction Battalion for a year.

He returned stateside once more for three years during which he served in active reserve duty with the Navy Reserve Augmentation Unit.  While in his hometown and in the reserves, Sam took additional schooling in plumbing and received his journeyman's plumbing license in 1952 and master's license in 1953.

In 1954, Sam was recalled to active duty and was stationed in the Caribbean at Antiqua.  Achieving rank of E-6, he was transferred to Roosevelt Roads Naval Station at Ceiba, Puerto Rico, where he was in charge of refurbishing dependent housing units.  Following this assignment Sam was sent to Blackbushe, England as the utilities supervisor at the U.S. Navy operations base. In 1956, he was transferred to Malta while performing as a utilities advisor at the USN FASRON station.

In 1959 Sam was promoted to chief (E-7) before returning to Port Hueneme, California where he taught the plumbing phase of the Seabee curriculum.  In 1964 he was sent to Danang, Vietnam with Bravo Co., where he served as naval chief.  In 1966 he was part of the group that opened the Seabee Base Training Unit in Gulfport, Mississippi.

During this interim Sam was a mobile instructor, providing training at various Coast Guard stations throughout the Southern states.

In 1968, he returned to Vietnam to supervise the airstrip and runway construction for the U.S. Marines.  In 1970 Sam was sent back to the states, based again at the Seabee Construction Battalion in Gulfport, Mississippi.

He retired from the military in April 1972 and went on to his second occupation as an instructor with the Jefferson Davis Junior College, which later became the current Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.  He opened and conducted the first course in air conditioning.  During this 20 year period Sam worked in multiple departments, one of them as director of the evening college.

While active with the VFW Post 2434 in Biloxi, Mississippi, Sam rode as Uncle Sam on several occasions and was proud of his stars and stripes outfit because he had taken time to sew it himself.

In 2015, it didn't take much for Sam to choose Gulfport, Mississippi as his permanent retirement at the Armed Forces Retirement Home.