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Taken from The Gorgon, circa 1998

Pier 92 Survivors Can Tell You War Is Hell

Radio commentator Walter Winchell used to beam his rata-tat-tat broadcasts to "Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea." During World War II, he branded Pier 92 in New York as the only concentration camp in the United States. More than a few Euryale men spent time at the Pier 92 receiving station, awaiting assignment to sea duty. They have their share of horror stories. Here's one, from shipmate Russ Redfield:

I was transferred off the USS Antaeus (AS 21) in August of 1943, and after a short leave reported to the Philadelphia Naval Base and was sent to Pier 92. Three other guys were reporting in at the same time, and just then the word was passed that there would be a personnel inspection on the drill field in 30 minutes. We had no time to prepare, and were told to drop our gear and seabags beside a large baggage cage in the center of the pier.

We did as we were told, and hurried to the drill field for the inspection. The four of us were chewed out for having dirty uniforms, unshined shoes, and I can't remember what else. We were told there would be no liberty for us that weekend.

Returning to get our gear, we discovered that all of it was missing. We asked around, but nobody seemed to know what had happened. Reporting our loss to the chief master-at-arms, and then to the executive officer, we were told in a sarcastic tone: "So you lost your seabags, eh? Tough crap! Go buy a new one!"

Pier 92

My pay records had been delayed from Philadelphia. I had no money. So on the following Monday, I gave a pint of blood to get enough money to go home and borrow the money to buy new clothes. Until I did get home, I got some used clothes from the lucky locker (which everybody remembers as the lost and found) and I got some from midnight stores (which, you'll recall, means stealing stuff off the clothesline). And some of my new gear I came from pawn shops and from bars where other sailors had forgotten their peacoats and hats.

I don't know how the other three men managed, but when USS Euryale was commissioned, I had a full sea bag again. I never heard what happened to my gear, although there was plenty of identification with it. Walter Winchell had it right. Pier 92 was some place all right. I've got other stories that I'll tell in San Diego.

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