Wilder ‚ÄĒ¬†Gordan Crandall signed up to join the Navy at 18, shortly after graduating from Springfield (Vt.) High School.
He joined, in part, because he would get an education. Crandall, who was born in Randolph and is now a resident at Valley Terrace in Wilder, spent 28 weeks studying radar at a staff college in Norfolk, Va.¬†Soon he found himself involved in the Korean War.
He served aboard two ships, first the USS¬†Epperson, followed by the¬†USS O‚ÄôBrien.
‚ÄúThe were taking the O‚ÄôBrien out of mothballs,‚ÄĚ Crandall, now 90, said. ‚ÄúWe worked on her day and night.‚ÄĚ
He helped refurbish the destroyer, which Japanese kamikaze pilots hit twice during World War II, ‚Äúbut they couldn‚Äôt sink her,‚ÄĚ Crandall said.
On the way from Hawaii to Midway, the ship encountered a hurricane and, along with it, big waves. The men aboard had to eat their meals on the deck.
‚ÄúIf you sat at a table it would end up in your face,‚ÄĚ Crandall recalled. He said that, despite the rough seas, he ‚Äúnever got seasick.‚ÄĚ
In July 1951, as part of the siege of the North Korean city of Wonsan, Crandall saw action in the Battle of the Buzz Saw ‚ÄĒ ‚Äúthe largest ship-to-shore battle in naval history,‚ÄĚ he said.
Crandall was a radarman 1st class, and he said he enjoyed the work.
‚ÄúIt was interesting,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúWe were the first to see when there was going to be some trouble off our bow.‚ÄĚ
Crandall spent four years in the Navy: One in Korea, with the rest of his time spent in Florida and California. After he was honorably discharged, he earned a degree in archeology from Keene State College. In addition to working as an archaeologist, he also was a career agent for National Life Insurance Co.
Crandall, who had an older sister and a younger brother, was the only one in his family to serve in the armed forces. His favorite part of serving was the ‚Äúbuddies I had and the schooling,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThe schooling was great.‚ÄĚ
Crandall was active in the VFW and the American Legion. He has hats with the names of the ships he served on, as well as one that recognizes his service during the Korean War. The Navy taught him ‚Äúrespect for others,‚ÄĚ he said, and to ‚Äútry to accomplish something, make something of my life.‚ÄĚ
Those were lessons that have stayed with him his entire life: ‚ÄúTo respect your duties which you learn and use after you got out, in life,‚ÄĚ he said.
Liz Sauchelli can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3221.