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Cover of Spring - Summer 2003 Issue

 

I Have Never Forgotten

Jeanine McKenzie Allen, Class of 1962

Jeanine McKenzie Allen, Class of 1962
Jeanine McKenzie Allen '62
The perceptively written request for World War II experiences of Longwood Alumni, in the Winter 2000 issue of Longwood magazine, brought a flood of memories, prompting me to write concerning our family's experience during and since that war.

To begin with, I wanted to preserve my father's memory, and that of others who made the supreme sacrifice, or took the risk of doing so, allowing us to continue to live as a free nation. I wanted to find out all I could about his life away from us (15 months covering four war patrols, at one point), his service to our country, and the circumstances of his death in combat (I wondered if he had ever been a prisoner of the Japanese, as had other submariners lost in battle). My search began in 1986, but I ran into a lot of dead-ends until attending a submariners' convention in 1994 and learning about all the records, including original deck logs, declassified since 1971. Also, important contacts were made in 1996 at the Navy's dedication of a memorial marker for my father at Arlington National Cemetery. After placing the marker and finding most information on my own, I came across the American World War II Orphans Network, (www.awon.org) a humanitarian, nonprofit, nonpolitical public service organization, founded by Ann Bennett Mix, from which have come cherished friendships with war orphan friends and knowledge of current rights and resources for war widows.

Because of my own research and proximity to area resources, I had the great privilege of being asked by Commander David R. Hinkle, USN (Ret), Editor-in-Chief, Sonalysts, Inc., to research material for a new book, United States Submarines, to be published by the Naval Submarine League. This book, which has been in bookstores since spring 2002 is valuable as a study of not only history, but of philosophies, as well. It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with Commander Hinkle and all of the staff at Sonalysts, Inc.; with Mr. James O. Muschett, Project Editor, at Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, Inc.; and with archivists and submarine veterans who have been very helpful.

I am most proud of my mother for the strength she showed in trying to pull together the pieces of our lives, during the months following receipt of the telegram, then through the years of not knowing whether my father was alive or dead. I'm proud of her for helping war widows and children learn how to cope and how to survive ... for making connections with the government to obtain the best possible situation for each. My education at Longwood is a treasured legacy of my father, under the United States' War Orphans' Act, which allowed $110 to be applied to each month of college education for the four-year period following high school graduation, from 1958 through 1962.

At one point in my life, I was a pacifist, thinking that no war was worth the pain of loss experienced. After spending time in a host of countries where I've learned of unspeakable atrocities occurring at the hands of cruel conquerors within the last 60- plus years, I am convinced that a strong defense is necessary, and I know that my father's sacrifice was not in vain.

In recent years, I discovered a letter from my father to his mother in which he wrote, shortly before his death, "Elna says that Jeanine still remembers me. I hope she doesn't forget." I have never forgotten.

A website, http://www.erols.com/tritnmia/ , the USS TRITON, SS-201 homepage, has been established for finding the families of TRITON's 74-man crew. Commendations, awarded 54-years late, are being forwarded to the families of these heroes. Biographies and photos are being added to the website. It has been a privilege to be in contact with many families of the TRITON's crew.

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