Bio: Shaw, Bob (Service Recognition - 2014)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Shaw, Roosevelt, Warlum-Robinson, Darling, Kvasnicka

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co, WI) 11/26/2014

Shaw, Bob (Service Recognition - 1 December 2014)

Shaw to received recognition for military service

Bob Shaw of Neillsville will be recognized at the Dec. 1, 2014, American Legion Post 73 monthly meeting for his service to his country as a member of the U. S. Navy (Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press)

By Todd Schmidt

WWII veteran Bob Shaw, 89, of Neillsville is the latest member of American Legion Post 73 and the Neillsville VFW to be recognized for his service to his country.

Shaw will receive a certificate of honor Monday, Dec. 1, 2014, at the American Legion monthly meeting, which is also the official potluck party, starting at 5:30 p.m.

The soon-to-be Navy recruit was born July 21, 1925, in the ‘Dutch Hollow’ neighborhood in Neillsville. He attended the North Side School through sixth grade, the South Side School through eighth grade and Neillsville High School for two years. The family moved to a farm in the Riverside area in the late 1920’s. The farm was sold via auction in 1930.

Shaw worked in Milwaukee for one year and did farm work until he decided to borrow his dad’s car and volunteer for the draft board. He enlisted in the U. S. Navy in March 1944. One of his friends went into the Marines and ended up in China on border patrol.

Shaw was called to duty June 23, 1944, with his first stop being the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. His U. S. Navy Company 1433 went on to boot camp at Camp Green Bay, followed by gunnery school in Gulf Port, MS. Shaw learned how to operate 20mm and 50mm surface and antiaircraft machine guns.

Bob Shaw strikes a pose in 1944 at Camp Green Bay during a break in boot camp drills.
(Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press)

“We did a lot of marching and learned a lot about fire control and how to stand watch,” Shaw said. “I remember having extra soles put on our shoes because they were worn down from all the marching we did.”

The unit moved on to the Algiers Naval Base near New Orleans. The gun crew of 32 men and a merchant crew shipped out on the “American Merchant Marine” with a load of sulfur, cotton and vehicles to be delivered overseas for war supplies. They sailed for New York in the final leg for their first overseas stop at Liverpool, England.

The vessel unloaded half-tracks and trucks in Liverpool and sulfur and cotton at a munitions plant in Glasgow, Scotland.

Shaw said the ships traveled in a convoy of 120 vessels. The trip from New York to England and Scotland took 12 days.

At times, weather was rough. On one occasion as enemy torpedo narrowly missed impacting Shaw’s ship as it traveled in the middle of the ocean.

“We spent three days on high alert after that incident,” Shaw recalled. “During the day our ships would travel a zigzag course under protection of battleships in the convoy.

There was no imminent danger, but the men always felt threatened. Another huge factor was the volatile weather at sea.
“There were terrible and violent storms,” Shaw said. “The storms were most powerful in the middle of the ocean. It was frightening to think you couldn’t go anywhere. There was no land in sight. The water was so cold you would freeze.”

The convoy returned to New York to load ammunition and other cargo. The next destination was Cardiff and the Bristol Channel in Wales. The British Shore Patrol detected enemy submarine activity and was dropping depth charges as the ships entered the channel. The Cardiff area featured a huge coal mine. The ships loaded some shale to be used for ballast to help when riding high in the choppy seas.

Later in 1945 Shaw and his unit returned to Algiers. They moved on to Port Everglades in Florida to board the steamship “SS Thomas H. Wheeler.”

At this point in the interview Shaw got out a globe to explain the next leg of his naval journey.

They traveled to Aruba and the Panama Canal Zone to pick up crude oil that was delivered to a refinery in the Houston/Galveston area in Texas. The oil had to be heated up to 140 degrees so it could be pumped off the ship.

Shaw then got a seven-day leave to come home on the train. He had to pay his own fare, which was $40 round trip.

It was then on to Shoemaker, CA, via troop train and to the naval base in San Francisco, CA. They boarded the “Treasure Island,” a former troop carrier turned into a cargo ship for a trip to the Philippines. Men bunked in racks up to five-high.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed away during Shaw’s mission to the Philippines. “It was sad,” Shaw said. “President Roosevelt got us through the war and couldn’t see the end of it.”

They stopped at Samarra Island. Shaw was assigned to a Seabee camp for several weeks and was then transferred to a yard repair vessel. The ship turned around and headed for Pearl Harbor, making two more stops during the two-week voyage. They encountered a number of huge storms on this trip.

Shaw returned to the U. S. in January 1946. The shop was docked in the Oakland, CA harbor. Shaw hitchhiked to San Francisco and then took the train to Chicago. He eventually received his honorable discharge at Great Lakes in May 1946.

Shaw started a career in manufacturing, with stints at Nelson Muffler in Neillsville, the Borg Company in Delevan and the Heil Company in Milwaukee. He decided to return to Neillsville, where he began working for Neillsville Milk Products, making butter, cheese and dry milk and doing maintenance work.

In 1950, Shaw started with the Warlum-Robinson Corporation, a plumbing, heating and electrical contractor. Shaw did much of the sheet metal and electrical work at the Neillsville High School and the Clark County Courthouse remodeling.

In 1954, Shaw moved to Fond du Lac to do sheet metal work at the Born Company. He became a skilled ductwork maker, with the largest company project being the Union High School.

In 1958, Shaw decided to move back to Neillsville and start his own business, Shaw’s Heating and Air Conditioning. He sold the business in 1988 to Jim Darling, who eventually sold to Custom Heating and Cooling. Shaw worked part-time for both businesses.

“We started the business with our household goods, a truck and about $600 cash,” Shaw said.

He and Lorraine were married Aug. 14, 1948, at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Neillsville. They have two children, Lori and John. Lori (Jerry) Kvasnicka now lives in Rochester, MN, while John resides in Hopkins, MN. Bob and Lorraine have two grandchildren, Dylan and Lauren.

Shaw is a member of the Masonic Lodge in Merrillan and the Neillsville American Legion and Neillsville VFW. He is an active member of the Legion Color Guard, participating most recently in the rescheduled Veterans Day Program Thursday at Neillsville High School.

Bob and Lorraine are members of the Neillsville United Church of Christ. They were actively involved in the fundraising effort to build the church.

They both enjoy fishing. Mounts of past salmon fishing expeditions to Lake Michigan and other outings adorn their cozy Park Street home, along with prizes from many hunting expeditions.

Bob became an avid woodworker. He once made a sawmill from scratch. They own 130 acres of wooded land with a small cabin south of The Highground. The cabin’s siding consists of boards made from the trees on the land with Bob’s own sawmill.

They used to cook maple syrup; of course, Bob made his own sap pans.

At the end of the interview Shaw summed up his life and service to his country.

“You don’t have to be shot at to be scared,” he said. “We feared the ships would break apart during the violent storms. I’m glad I volunteered. Most of us had no regrets. I might have stayed in the Navy after the war if I would have completed my high school education.

“I think the two greatest experiences I had in my life were joining the service and marrying my wife Lorraine.”



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