- Category: USS Arizona Survivor Stories
- Created: Wednesday, 14 May 2003 00:00
- Last Updated: Saturday, 21 November 2015 21:36
Galen Owen Ballard
F1/c Fireman First Class on 7 Dec 1941
Submitted by Mary Ballard-Verlee
Galen Ballard was Salutatorian of his class in Lake Orion, MI. He enlisted in the Navy in Nov. of 1935, and was due for discharge on Dec. 31, 1941. No more discharges were given after the attack on Dec 7, so Ballard was kept in the Navy until the end of the war.
Galen had written a happy letter to his family in Nov. that read something like this: "I'll be out soon. Weekend liberty in Honolulu is a bore. There are only two big hotels here, the Royal Hawaiian and the Moana. The town's so crowded, I have to have a written invitation to a home in order to go ashore. I won't be going again. Good old USA and my discharge -- less than a month!"
On Sat, Dec. 6th, though he had written his family that he had no desire to see Honolulu again, Galen states, "I had this strange urge to go ashore." He did not rate liberty. "I had no weekend invitation, and though I had a friend who would have given me one, I forgot to ask for it. I waited to see whether one sailor who was expecting money for his liberty would receive it." The mail came -- no money from home. He couldn't take liberty without it.
Galen was on standby and switched with the friend who rated liberty. "I put in for liberty and wrote out the invitation myself. Then I hand-carried the request through the channels -- Chief Engineer to the Executive Officer. Ordinarily it would be put into a box earlier and forwarded. This was only my second weekend liberty in almost two years in Oahu."
A friend accompanied him. Galen's Hawaiian friend in Honolulu, Hazel Kamehameha, Jenkins (first and last names are fictional) had a Portuguese-Hawaiian cousin whom the other sailor was to date. (You may recognize Hazel's middle name as that of the first king of the islands, Kamehameha I.) Hazel sang, accompanying herself on a stringed Hawaiian instrument, at the Moano Hotel. This beautiful Hawaiian native with the royal heritage also worked at the base supply depot. Ashore, the men hurried to the locker club to change into civilian clothes. "Sailors didn't stand out that way," Galen said.
The men planned to escort the women to the Saturday night dance at Honolulu's American Legion Post No. 1. That night they joined the Legion in order to attend. Usually easy-going with an infectious sense of humor, Galen is like a lot of us; at rare times instantly set off by some annoyance too trivial to recall. "At the dance, something happened," he said. "I can't remember what it was about, but I got angry, went outside the Legion hall, and headed down the street intending to go back to the ship."
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