Tuesday, June 10, 2014

William T Young - The T is for TROUBLE

My dad rarely talked about his youth when he was alive. The only thing he left was a scrapbook with a lot of cool pictures. Luckily for me, he told my mother a few stories about his adventures in the Navy. And boy, he was trouble with a capital T!

William Theodore Young was born in Charleston, SC in 1935. He was the 2nd son to James and Frances Young. I get my brown eyes from him. William (he hated to be called "Bill") attended the segregated school district in Charleston County. He graduated from the all-black Burke High School in 1953. Here he is at the high school prom. Maybe someone can recognize this woman.

William was a teenage father when he graduated. Yeah, he got some girl in trouble. That's a story for another day. He enlisted in the Navy to pay child support. On November 5, 1953 he and his high school friends joined the 6th Naval District in Charleston. My dad served two tours of service (8 years) on the Andromeda Class Attack Cargo Ship USS Mathews AKA-96. He saw action during the Korean War.

I am looking for the descendants of these service men. I don't have their full names but my dad wrote down the following: (From left to right: My dad, Smith, Davis, Mack, Lobo, Louie and Samuel)

His rank was TN-Stewardsman. He was a cook on the battleship. He told us that his captain disliked the black guys on his ship. He and his buddies endured a beating once they crossed the equator and the captain called it a welcome initiation. What I did learn was that they got their revenge one night by spiking the captain's food with a laxative! Dad was thrown in the brig for that mess!

Ironically, he received two good conduct medals during his two terms. With his pay he sent money home for child support, his mother and grandmother. We even have fine china he shipped over to his late mother to this day.

Once the ship landed in other countries, my dad and his shipmates were treated very well by the locals. Dad especially liked Italy, the Phillipines, Japan and China. As you can tell by these pictures, they liked him too.

My dad did a lot of drinking and gambling on that ship. As you can tell, he was a hit with the ladies. I wouldn't be suprised if I run into some blasian Youngs one day. He told us in Japan there were co-ed public toilets with no partitions. It was no problem for women and men to share a bathroom. But their bathrooms consisted of a hole in the floor leading out to flowing river of sludge and human waste behind the building.


One night in Japan, he and his buddies played poker against some Japanese men and won big. The local ladies were all over them. A fight broke out and the Navy guys beat up the locals. What they didnt know was that they were fighting the Yakuza. Enraged, the losers left and called for back-up. The women told my dad and his friends to run for their lives! A chase ensued and most of the guys got away. My dad didn't. He was cornered by at least 4 guys. The only way he escaped was by jumping a fence into the sewer. There he stayed hidden for hours flowing downstream until the coast was clear. He got back to the ship hours late covered in feces. He was hosed down and thrown in the brig for being AWOL. Thanks for almost causing an international incident DAD! LOL!

Left to right: Scott, King, Wilkes, Young and Slaughter

William was discharged honorably from the Navy on November 4, 1961. He did not want to serve under that captain anymore. He was good at keeping in touch with his old Navy buddies for a while. After he left the Navy, he relocated to Brooklyn. He began working for the US Post Office, got married to my mother in 1962 and went on to graduate from Brooklyn College in New York with a degree in drafting. I find it amazing how certain skills get passed down genetically. My grandfather was in construction and built his own home. My father could draw and did carpentry on the side. I am an engineer and artist. My niece wants to be an architect. Funny how that works!

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 my father, mother, god-parents and his cousin all attended his funeral.

(First pic: Dad, Frank Young and Gerald Murray. 2nd pic: Frank Young, Mom and Gerald Murray)

My dad died of cancer on November 11, 1995 which is federally observed as Veteran's Day. He is buried at Calverton National Cemetery in Long Island, NY. I always get lost when I go there to visit him until I see that tree near his grave. I normally lay stones or coins on his headstone. It's a fitting memorial for him.

Happy Father's Day dad, I salute you.


  1. Happy Father's Day Mr. William! WheW! that got me. Him and Daddy. Daddy died on November 7th, 2009. That is something else how you all followed his traits like that and it's passed on. Who knew a Navy Man would do Drafting? Loved his overseas stories too. He really did look like a "YOUNG" too. A Young Man. That was sweet! Loved the Arlington and he was there for Kennedy. WoW.

    1. Thanks, I wanted to show him a piece of his life when he was just a young man. Glad you understood that.

  2. Wayne, you really need to write a book. Great oration of your family history! You really need to come to my school next year.

  3. It is amazing to see traits passed down in a family. There's no denying a connection there. My grandmother is buried at Calverton too, so I know what you mean about getting lost. This was absolutely beautiful Wayne. Thank you for sharing your dad with us.