Archive for category Subject Matter

M.V. Rhea Tally Cap, Shoulder Flash and Stories

In correspondence with Vernon “Vern” A.C. Mills, he’s been giving me some more bits of information about the post-war doings of the ship as a cadet training facility. Among his saved trinkets are a cap tally (a band that would have been worn around a sailor’s hat) and a shoulder flash (patch). Thank you to Vern for sharing these!

M.V. Rhea cap tally (band) and shoulder flash (patch); 1970s

M.V. Rhea cap tally (band) and shoulder flash (patch); 1970s

Vern served on the ship in the 1970s, alongside Charles Donaldson, the other former cadet whom has sent me a great number of photos of the ship.

Vern also pitched in this humorous bit of information:

I just remembered something that will give you one hell of a good laugh. During my time on the Rhea, I always worked in the galley with another guy named Brian Shuart. It was Brian who got the rest of the crew and even the officers to call me, “Captain Heartburn”.  Oh yeah, my culinary skills have improved since then. (I think)


M.V. Rhea Cadet, Vern Mills

I’m here! I apologize for the delay in posts. The holidays were a whirlwind and I’m just getting back to going through the documents again.

I’ve been contacted by another post-war cadet from the 70s. I’ll see if he has anything great he’s willing to share with us. I’m particularly interested in the interior of the ship lately, only because I have no photos of it.

I recently found a blueprint for the ship, as well as a model-maker who does custom WWII ships. The model-maker has made sibling boats of the YMS-299, so I’d like to get my hands on a fairly accurate model of the ship with gun turret placement and all. That would help me paint a more clear picture of battle, when my grandfather talks about what gun he was using and where chaos was happening around him.

To Vern, I have a number of other documents/stories from Charles regarding the cadet service. I’ll work on getting them posted quickly for you.


After transcribing a few letters, I wanted to take a look at all of the stamps together. It turns out, I only have four unique stamps across the batch.

6 cents; Air Mail

6 cents; Air Mail

Read the rest of this entry »

Imperial Japanese Currency

Tucked into one of the letters home following the occupation of Okinawa, I found a wad of Imperial bills. They are pretty nifty, I must say.

Imperial Japanese currency (front); one

Imperial Japanese currency (front); one

Imperial Japanese currency (back); one

Imperial Japanese currency (back); one

Read the rest of this entry »

Another Photo and a Painting

These came from Chuck Donaldson as well.

Rhea 52 in Welland Canal, 1959

Rhea 52 in Welland Canal, 1959

More information on Welland Canal in Ontario: on Wikipedia

Rhea 52 painted by Chuck Donaldson's brother by memory in 1992. The dock was owned by the government of Canada and rent was  per year.

Rhea 52 painted by Chuck Donaldson’s brother Bob by memory in 1992. The dock was owned by the government of Canada and rent was $1 per year.

A Brief History of the USS Rhea (MSC(0)-52)

NOTE: This history was included in the packet of photos and stories from Chuck Donaldson. It is actually labeled as an appendix, but I’m not sure what it was an appendix to.

The U.S.S. RHEA was built by William F. Stone and Sons Company of Oakland, California. She was launched on 14 November 1942 with Mrs. Lester F. Stone of Almeda, California serving as sponsor.

The U.S.S. RHEA (AMS 52) was originally commissioned as the YMS 299 on 7 April 1942 with Lieutenant F.H. GENTRY USNR as the first Commanding Officer. This ship is a Wooden-hulled minesweeper with an overall length of 136 feet and a beam of 25 feet. Her displacement is about 300 tons, her draft nine feet. Two 500-Horsepower General Motors diesel engines turn her twin propellers for a maximum speed of about 15 knots. She is fully equipped with modern electronic devices including Radar, Sonar and Loran. One 40 millimeter and two 20 millimeter rapid fire anti-aircraft guns comprise the armament of this vessel. While this type of ship is very seaworthy, it is not unusual to experience rolls of from 45 to 50 degrees. The complement of the ship is four officers and 30 enlisted men. Read the rest of this entry »

YMS-299 Additional Photos

As a follow-up to the previous post (, I’ve been sent a handful of additional photos of YMS-299 in post-war service as a cadet-training ship in Canada. Photos provided by Charles “Chuck” Donaldson.

I’ll come back to this post and update with as much date/location info as I have for each.

Rhea 52

Rhea 52

Read the rest of this entry »

Calm Before Battle, Soaking Up Hawaii

I have a handful of photos of Chuck with his friends stationed in California for training, then in Hawaii. I’m not sure if any of these guys are still alive. I don’t have all of their names, but their nicknames and such are on a few of the photos.

Photos include (in order of appearance):

  • William “Bill” Loren McIntyre, RdM3c (Svc. #896-64-93), of Hattiesburg, MS
  • Charles Dean Paul (CDP), MoMM3c (Svc. #660-35-65)
  • William “Bill” “Red” Hatch Davis, SoM3c (Svc. #884-88-90), of Salt Lake City, UT
  • Joe Aragon, S2c/RM3c (Svc. #381-95-02)
  • Welch
  • Richard Millington George, S1c (Svc. #564-97-25), of Los Angeles, CA
  • John, Eugene, Charlie, and Barbara (in the car photo)

Update: I found a family member of Joe Aragon and confirmed this is him on Find a Grave (1926–2012).

William 'Bill' Loren McIntyre, RdM3c, of Hattiesburg, MS and CDP; December 1944, Hawaii

William ‘Bill’ Loren McIntyre, RdM3c, of Hattiesburg, MS and CDP; December 1944, Hawaii

Read the rest of this entry »

HBO Series: The Pacific

If you haven’t heard, HBO is airing a new mini series tonight about the Pacific War. It is in the style of the Band of Brothers series. One of the neat things about the website is an area for people to post their own stories.

You should read through them, or post your own:
HBO’s The Pacific, Stories

I don’t have HBO, so I’ll have to watch the episodes in delay, unfortunately.

Campaign Medals

Chuck was awarded three medals and a bronze star for his service in WWII. The medals would have been the same as those below. One of these medals would have had the bronze star pinned to the middle of the ribbon, though I am not sure which.

World War II Victory Medal

This medal was awarded to any member of the US military to serve between December 7th, 1941 and December 31st, 1946.

The medal’s front depicts Nike standing victorious, holding a broken sword, representing the broken power of the Axis, with one foot upon the helmet of Mars, the Roman god of war, representing the end of the conflict. Behind Nike is a sunburst, representing the dawn of peace. The reverse recalls the “Four Freedoms” speech by President Roosevelt, with a laurel sprig, surrounded by the words “United States of America”, and the dates of the conflict, “1941-1945”. The edges of the ribbon revisit the multi-colored rainbow ribbon of the Allied World War I Victory Medal. This again honors all the allied nations. The wide red center represents the new sacrifice of blood by World War II combatants. The thin white lines separating the central red band from the outer multi-colored bands represent the rays of new hope, two of them signifying that this was the second global conflict.

World War II Victory Medal

World War II Victory Medal

Read the rest of this entry »

48-Star American Flag

Measuring smaller than a sheet of paper, this flag was tucked into the personnel file. It has holes in the corners, as if it were attached to something, though no rivets or visible weathering. With that in mind, it was probably not a flag hung anywhere on the exterior of the ship, but was more likely a rally flag that would have been attached to a stick at a parade. None-the-less, it is period and a neat little trinket.

48-Star, Handheld, American Parade Flag

48-Star, Handheld, American Parade Flag

Curious Receipt or Subscription

If anyone reads Japanese, I am very interested in finding out what this is. It was amongst the rest of the naval paperwork. It appears to be a postal receipt or subscription to “The Rocky Mountain Times“.

Update: Thank you to Jeff Hannan of Cheshire, UK for the information on the history of the paper (see below).

Update: Thank you to M.S. for transcribing the receipt (see comment).

The Rocky Mountain Times

The Rocky Mountain Times

History of Rocky Mountain Times

Based in Utah, with a Christian focus, Rocky Mountain Times was one of four Japanese-American papers that published in the United Stated during the WWII. It was originally published by Shiro Iida, until it was absorbed by Utah Nippo (another Japanese-American paper) in 1927. Utah Nippo was a collaboration of husband and wife, Uneo and Kuniko Terasawa, begun in 1914. In 1939, when Uneo died, his wife took over the publication. Soon after, she added an English section to the paper that caused it to peak in circulation during the war. Then running three times per week, the circulation was up to 8,000 during the war. After the war, the paper steadily declined in circulation until Kuniko’s death in 1991.

Questions to Answer:
  • What country is this from (or what language is it in)?
  • What is it? A subscription receipt? A postal receipt?
  • Does it have a date anywhere on it?
  • What is the watermark at the bottom? (There is part of a block-type watermark facing backward at the bottom. It reads “MMERMU”.)

Cadet Charles “Chuck” Donaldson (post-war)

Chuck Donaldson (not Chuck Paul, my grandfather) joined a junior sea cadet group when he was 13, to learn good seamanship. He was posted on the YMS-299 (then USS-Rhea) for 14 years, until it sank in 1983. Having started in the engine room and worked his way through jobs on the boat over the years, he knows everything there is to know about the boat. Intrigued, I asked him if he had a couple more photos, particularly of any inside the boat. He didn’t have any inside, but said he’d send me a couple anyway.

Well, I was expecting an email at some point, but I was expecting incorrectly. I was surprised today when I checked the mail, to find a scrapbook of the ship with professional photos of the ship sailing, a full history of the ship issued to the cadets in 70’s, handwritten memories aboard the ship, photos of himself as a boy on different parts of the deck, a beautiful painting of the ship his brother made and the sad newspaper article of its unexpected sinking at dock in 1983.

I’ll be typing up these stories and scanning these documents for inclusion here as quickly as I can. Thank you, Chuck!

Map of Japan

This map was originally tucked (glued) into the journal, but had since been divorced from the book. I found it amongst some other paperwork. I am guessing it was standard issue and something most naval troops had. I have Googled the document number with no hits to find out more about it. If anyone knows more, let me know.

The map’s legend reads:





Read the rest of this entry »


The following are a handful of the photos I have of YMS-299 (later renamed AMS-52 Rhea). The first of which came from my grandfather’s keepsakes. The rest I found online or were sent to me by former crew members (or the family of).


YMS-299 in front of the Eastern portion of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge. The Berkeley Hills can be seen faintly to the East (on the left side of the bridge) with the Port of Oakland and (now gone) Alameda Naval Air Station to the right of the bridge. (notes from Rich Warren)

If you look at the photo in full size, it has a couple dozen crew posing and waving.

YMS = Yard Minesweeper. Mines had magnetic force to make them attack battleships. The YMS was made of wood to skirt around the mines and destroy them. Read the rest of this entry »