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A. L. Sherrer
A. L. Sherrer

A. L. Sherrer

A. L. Sherrer was born on August 16, 1917 in Nelson, Oklahoma.  That winter his family moved to Snow, Oklahoma.  He attended school in Antlers, Oklahoma, and graduated from Antlers High School.  Mr. Sherrer joined the Navy in January 1940.

After boot camp Mr. Sherrer was trained as a barber.  He was then sent to Pearl Harbor for duty aboard the USS Houston.  One of his duties aboard the USS Houston during battle stations was to man an 8" gun.  After a year the ship went to Marie Island Naval Ship Yard in Valejo, California where the USS Houston had an overhaul.  Following the overhaul, the ship sailed for Manila to relieve the USS San Francisco.  Mr. Sherrer was then transferred to the USS Marblehead because they needed a barber.

Before the start of hostilities between the U.S. and Japan, the USS Marblehead's home base was Manila Bay.  They stayed in the southern islands and hid for two months.  The Captain and the Admiral knew that something was going to happen, so they lay at anchor.  Supply ships would drop by, and they had gunnery practice.  Sam pans would pass by taking pictures of the ship, possibly as reconnaissance for the Japanese.  The USS Marblehead left Manila Bay three days before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and Manila.

They proceeded to Tarokion, Borneo for refueling and escaped being attacked by a few hours before the Japanese captured the oil fields.  The USS Marblehead joined several Dutch and English ships and made a few runs to Macassar Strait where they encountered the Japanese bombers in the Java Sea.  The USS Marblehead took two direct hits.  A third bomb missed and exploded, coming up through the bottom of the ship.

Mr. Sherrer was in the munitions area where the three-inch ammunition cart was located when the USS Marblehead was attacked.  Three or four other sailors and Mr. Sherrer were sending up ammunition on a pulley and line to the guns.  (They did not have an automated hoist.)  One of the sailors was Joe Dalute, a tailor.  When they were escaping up the ladder, Joe was caught on the tripod on the ladder.  Water and fuel were coming in.  Joe was a big, heavy man, but he finally got through.  The Marblehead was lucky to stay afloat.  It had 28 compartments flooded.

The ship sailed for Trincomalee, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).  The Marblehead pulled up stern to an English floating dry dock.  They poured concrete in the bow and performed a few other repairs that got the ship to Simon Town, South Africa.  There was a fair naval yard located there, and they performed further repairs on the Marblehead.  Then they proceeded around The Horn of South Africa to the Brooklyn Naval Yard where the USS Marblehead underwent five and one-half months of repairs.  Following the repairs the USS Marblehead and Mr. Sherrer sailed to South America and the Caribbean for anti-submarine duty.  They also participated in the invasion of France and shelled Omaha Beach.

The Captain of the USS Marblehead during the shelling of Omaha Beach did not believe in moving around, so he laid anchor and shelled the beach from the same spot.  Mr. Sherrer was on one of the three gun turrets and states that it was scary to see the shells the Germans were lobbing at them from the beach.  When a gun from the number three turret was fired, if you saw the shell come out you could follow it all the way to the beach.  However if you did not see the shell come out you could not find it.  They were never hit by any of the shells fired by the Germans from the beach, but it was a relief to get out of the area.  In the hot zones they had four hours on and four hours off the guns.  They would drop depth charges, and they would be detonated close enough to the surface that when the charges went off they shook the light bulbs out of their sockets in certain areas of the ship.

Following the action in Europe the USS Marblehead returned to the Brooklyn Naval Yard, and Mr. Sherrer was give a 30-day leave.  The USS Marblehead was decommissioned in Brookly, and the guns were removed.  Mr. Sherrer was told that the ship was sold to the Gillette razor blade company, but he never confirmed this.

Mr. Sherrer's orders were delayed, so he went to New Orleans, Louisiana for a couple of months, then to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for discharge with the rank of Ships Service Second Class / Barber.  A few months later Mr. Sherrer signed up for the inactive reserve.

Mr. Sherrer then moved to Oregon where he married Pennie Wright in 1949, with whom he had his first son, Larry.  Then the Korean conflict erupted.  Mr. Sherrer was called to duty and proceeded to San Diego, California.  He served aboard the USS Manuel.  He went to Cuba for gunnery training, then through the Panama Canal to South Boston Naval Yard for discharge in 1952 with the rank of Ships Serviceman.

Following the Korean conflict Mr. Sherrer had his second son, Jerry, in 1953.  He moved back to Swiss Home, Oregon, to his barber shop.  He also had a partnership in a fishing lodge.  He stayed there until 1956 when they moved to Prineville, Oregon, and opened up the City Barber Shop in the Veterans Building.  Mr. Sherrer stayed there for 37 years, then semi-retired.  He spent a couple of winters in northern Mexico and Arizona before cancer claimed the life of his wife Pennie in 1997.  He spent the next year in Prineville, Oregon, around friends, his son Jerry, and family.  He became close to his companion, Wanda Mays, a long time family friend.  They are snowbirds and spend winters in their home in Yuma, Arizona, and summers at their home in Prineville.  He is still a part-time barber.  Mr. Sherrer has four grandchildren and one great granddaughter.

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