North High School Wall of Honor
John Harry Connors
Graduated in Class of June, 1942
John Harry Connors
Research done by Claradell Shedd, Class of 1953. PAGE IN PROGRESS
John Harry Connors
John graduated in the North High class of June, 1942. He enlisted in the US Merchant Marines in 1942 in Des Moines. His next of kin is listed as Mr. John J. Connors, 2100 Olive Avenue, Des Moines, IA. John's service number was ________.
John Harry Connors
Year   Rank   Status
June, 1942   x   Graduated from North High, Des Moines, IA
1942 x Enlisted in
US Merchant Marines
x In the Merchant Marines in Des Moines, IA.
1943 x Enroute x Train/Des Moines to Chicago to New York.
April, 1943 x Basic Training/
*Merchant Marines/ Messman
x Basic Training; Sheepshead Bay Training Station,
Brooklyn, New York, which was active from
September 1942 to February 28, 1954.
date x x x 1-1/2 months' training at Great Lakes Naval Training Station,
Great Lakes (Chicago), IL
x x x x Additional correct information to be entered below coming from family.
date   Enroute   HITCHHIKED from Great Lakes to Long Beach, CA
late summer
x Enroute x Long Beach, CA to Bombay, India on
**S.S. Uruguay
1945 x On Location x In Philippines during first atomic bomb drop
1945 x Family x Married Marjorie Leonard
1946 x Where? x "Unofficially" left U.S. Merchant Marines.
1950-1977 x Employed x Des Moines Fire Department. Des Moines Fire Captain. Retired in March, 1968
1950-1977 x Employed x President of Local 4, representing fellow Des Moines firefighters for 20 years
1972-2004 x Employed x Elected to Iowa House of Representatives, retiring in 2004.
NOTE: x re Military
x In 1988, the US Government officially (and finally) recognized
the U.S. Merchant Marines of the U.S. Maritime Service as "military service."
x x x Iowa Veterans Cemetery; Van Meter, Dallas County, Iowa, USA; Plot Wall 1, Row B, Site 46. Find A Grave Memorial #61080260
*The USMS (US Maritime Service) was first established under the Coast Guard and later supervised by U.S. Navy officers. Many of its first recruits in 1938 were from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Men, caught up in the patriotic fervor of the time, came forward to serve in the fledgling U.S. Maritime Service. There were 37 Official U.S. Government Recruiting Offices set up around the country. Radio and newspaper ads brought in the thousands of young patriotic men, as young as 16 years of age, from every State who answered their country's call to serve. Some Offices were located next to Navy and Coast Guard Offices. Many men were sent to the USMS by U.S. Navy and Coast Guard recruiters who said, "That's where your service is needed."

Thousands of active and retired mariners, Navy, and Coast Guardsmen were pressed into duty to serve as administrators and instructors in the U.S. Maritime Service. They believed then, and still believe today, they joined a uniformed, armed service! Many of these were cheated out of service and retirement time. [They are still seeking veteran status from the Air Force Secretary. The USMS was an official U.S. Government organization, while the WASPs and most of the other groups who received veteran status were either under contract to the Government or unofficial organizations. WASP instructors and women who failed the training program received veteran status.]

The USMS took over 250,000 raw recruits and turned them into fighting mariners. They taught them operation of anti-aircraft guns and cannon. They taught navigation, engine operation and maintenance, and deck operations aboard training vessels that operated in hazardous waters subject to mines and attack by German and Japanese submarines.

The United States Maritime Service trained men for the U.S. Merchant Marine, and U.S. Army Transport Service to transport supplies and personnel in the largest fleet of freighters, tankers, and transports in history to bases all over the world for U.S. and Allied forces. Men at the fronts depend on this important service for bombs, gasoline, shells, ammunition, food, guns, vehicles, planes, medicine, and other materials for warfare.

The ships of the U.S. Merchant Marine and U.S. Army Transport Service were on the frontline as soon as they left their docks and harbors. The enemy mined some harbors, and submarines and raiders waited for their prey outside of the harbors, especially on the East and Gulf coasts of the United States.

top: S.S. Uruguay (Moore-McCormack);
above: Iowa Veterans Cemetery, Van Meter, IA; Plot: Wall 1, Row B, Site 46
Gravesite photo above by Larry Kinyon, 11/03/10.
**S.S. Uruguay/complete history of S.S. Uruguay
The California was sold to U.S. Maritime Commission and refurbished (including removal of one funnel) for passage from New York to Buenos Aires by American Republics Line, operated by Moore & McCormack Lines. To carry out President Roosevelt's wishes for good will with South America, the California was renamed the S.S. Uruguay, and became the flagship of the Good Neighbor Fleet.

February 12, 1943:
While transporting 5,000 troops in an Atlantic convoy crossing, the USAT Uruguay was rammed U.S.S. Salamonie creating a 70-foot wide gaping hole. The tanker had steering equipment problems and hit the Uruguay amidships with a force that drove the tanker's bow into the ship's hospital. 13 Army soldiers were killed (7 dead and 6 missing) and more than 50 soldiers were injured. The impact lifted a soldier from his cot, dropping him on the tanker's deck. The ship withdrew and the transfer of the soldier was not known until after the troopship had turned towards Bermuda for repairs. (Note: Based on information provided by Jan Narkiewicz, we have determined that there were in fact three soldiers dropped on the tanker's deck. Two of them were lost at sea.)

A temporary bulkhead was constructed and three days later the ship was brought into a safe harbor. Master Albert P. Spaulding saved many lives, his ship, and her cargo. At a later date, the President of the United States took pleasure in presenting the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal to Albert P. Spaulding, Master of USAT Uruguay.

U.S. Merchant Marine

U.S. Maritime Service Seal

US Merchant Marine Seal

John Harry Connors
U.S. Merchant Marines
U.S. Maritime Service

(1) The World War II Army Enlistment Records contain information on more than nine million indivdual enlistments. These records can be found online at

(2) The comprehensive list of names from North High's 1893-2018 graduation classes are from Claradell Shedd's North Des Moines High School website. The names of North High School graduates can be found online at: John Harry Connors's 1942 class page is:
03/07/09. Died 03/07/09. Des Moines, IA 50316.
Music: "Heave Ho! My Lads! Heave Ho!"
Home | Back/allyears | WWI | WWII | Korea | Vietnam | Afghanistan/Iraq | Lyrics | Refs/Awards | Contact

©2018-csheddgraphics All rights reserved.
All images and content are © copyright of their respective copyright owners.