A World War I Veteran’s Extraordinary Sea Stories

Looking for something appropriate to post today, Veteran’s Day 2009, I stumbled upon this extraordinary oral history/slide show which World War I veteran Lester Hillegas tells in his own words. From YouTube:

World War I veteran Lester Hillegas (my grandfather) recalls his experiences joining the US Navy and serving aboard USS Florida. Recorded around 1980 with pictures from his time in the Navy. In this section he talks about enlistment, traveling to boot camp in Portsmouth, NH, and the crossing to the Scotland. Parts 2 and 3 he talks about service in the North Sea, the surrender of the German fleet, and life in the Navy. He passed away in 1989.

Here are videos worth watching and listening to.

Thanks to YouTube user ly776 for posting these incredible recordings and slide shows of his/her grandfather’s service for our country.  Sea stories like these help us understand and appreciate the dedication and sacrifices made by soldiers and sailors . But more importantly, they humanize what is otherwise a pretty abstract concept for most Americans who have not served.

On this special day, don’t forget to thank someone who’s served your country!

Published by

Peter A. Mello

Father, son. Lifelong mariner, student of leadership, photographer. Professional creative placemaker.

3 thoughts on “A World War I Veteran’s Extraordinary Sea Stories”

  1. Thanks for referencing this about the video I made about my grandfather. I guess this was put up years ago, but today is the first time I am seeing it. One of the things not mentioned, was that his ship was also one of the stopping points for the crossing of the US Navy sea plane NC-4, the first plane to cross the Atlantic. My grandfather had many, many stories – and we were lucky that he put these few on tape. He was a warm, joyful person who served as a Methodist minister for 67 years after leaving the Navy. He also had an amazingly remarkable memory – as when I put together the video – and had to search for images – his descriptions and dates were spot on. An odd coincidence in my family is that my grandfather witnessed the end of World War 1 with the surrender of the German fleet, and my father’s Army Unit (in the Philippines) printed one of the three Instruments of Surrender that Japan (specifically General Yamashita) signed that ended WW II. Again, thanks making folks aware of the video and my grandfather’s story.

  2. Readers may also be interested in the writings home from the front of US Sgt. Sam Avery. Fascinating eyewitness history from the hot sands along the Rio Grande to the cold mud along the Meuse. Letters are posted on the same day they were written from the trenches 91 years ago. Long before the Greatest Generation there was the Most Gallant Generation. Come visit the blog and march along.

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