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Cecil Rose served in the hectic time just after WWII

By Kay S. Pedrotti Before he went into the U.S. Navy in 1946, Barnesville’s Cecil Rose said, ‘the biggest water I’d ever been in was a washtub.’ During his three years of service, he had several kinds of jobs and served on three different ships. After boot camp in Norfolk, Va., he was sent to the USS Papago (AF-160), a seagoing tug headed for the port of Bremerhaven in Germany. ’It took us 17 days to get there, going through the English Channel with the help of pilot boats,’ he said. ‘They sent two tugs to bring a huge barge back to the west coast of the U.S.’ While in the port, the sailors were given a four-hour shore liberty. He said the port city had been devastated by bombing, ‘and some of the older people were praying to die because they lost the war.’ On the tug’s return trip, side panels had to be removed from the barge to get through the Panama Canal; that trip took 47 days, he said. Other trips were made by the Papago from Europe to the states, including one that was tragic – a heavy cable connecting the tug and barge was lost in heavy fog and bad weather, with nine hands aboard and could not be found. From Germany, Rose spent some time time in Bermuda and at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Then he was assigned to the USS Chemung (AO-30), an oiler that refueled other Navy ships. On the Chemung, it was ‘one run after another,’ he said. The trips included some into north Africa through the Suez Canal, where they were alerted to some Arab threats to ships, but nothing happened. Back in Newport, R.I., he transferred again to the USS Cadmus (AR-14), a ship that would take a smaller ship inside for repairs and maintenance. The remainder of his service he spent at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia. He had gained a promotion from Seaman First Class to Boatswain’s Mate, and was one of the U.S. troops given the World War II Victory Medal. After the war, he worked at Bristol Steel in Baltimore for 32 years. He related one instance when he and several other crew members were told to mix paint in 50-gallon drums for painting a tanker. ’Down inside, it looked all right to me and to the other guys, so the ship was painted. When the captain saw it from the shore, he said it was pink – so we did it again,’ he said. Rose married his wife Eleanor in Pikeville, Ky., where the two had been classmates. They were together for 67 years before she died March 4 of this year, and they had lived in Barnesville since 1995. They had three sons. Mitchell died at age 52, devastating the family and particularly his brothers Gary and Rick. Gary lives in Florida but Rick is in Barnesville. There are seven grandchildren, several of whom check on Rose, help with chores and bring him food – and have given him four great-grandchildren. Rose is independent, despite being wheelchair-bound because a bout with cancer and chemotherapy some years ago destroyed the nerves in his legs. He can transfer to his lawn mower and do his own grass-cutting, or to the golf cart to check on his mail. He is a member of both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He and Eleanor attended Milner Baptist Church, where Cecil enjoyed ‘making the gravy for the Men’s Brotherhood breakfasts, and Arthur Buffington’s Sunday School class,’ he said. ’I do what I can do, work on things and bruise myself up sometimes, but just keeping house takes a lot of time. I’ve had a good life and I don’t owe anybody anything. I read one chapter of the Bible every day, but it’s a quiet life I lead out here.’

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