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   Robert Lorrain Hempstead
Image of Robert Lorrain Hempstead
Robert Hemstead [detail from video]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Navy
Unit: USS Key, USS HASE
Service Location: Pacific Theater
Rank: Petty Officer First Class
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Raised mostly by his grandfather, a former rear admiral in the Navy, Robert Hemstead developed a lifelong fascination with the sea and ships. The attack on Pearl Harbor, which occurred when he was a young teen, was very personal to him, as he had visited some of the ships with his grandfather. In 1944, at the age of 17, he enlisted with the help of a friend, who forged a fake birth certificate. He wanted to be a gunner’s mate, but when officers discovered that he had learned celestial navigation at 14, he was assigned to duties in that area of the ship. Attached to the Fleet Marine Force, he also did duty as a Pharmacist’s Mate. The most dangerous part of his wartime service came during the historic Philippine Sea typhoon of December 1944, which sank and damaged more ships than any battle in the Pacific Theater.

Interview (Video)
»Complete Interview  (57 min.)

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Home » Robert Lorrain Hempstead
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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