Is This the Winningest Footlocker of World War 2?

Q: I noticed this footlocker at a yard sale in Pahrump, Nevada. My dad, now 98, is a World Warfare II vet and my spouse is a Vietnam vet, so we spent a variety of time speaking in regards to the footlocker and puzzled if Rocky was nonetheless alive or what his story was. I’d wish to return it to him or his household if attainable; are you able to assist me interpret its insignia?

—Phillip Berendsen, Pahrump, Nevada

A: This footlocker carries a startlingly spectacular pan-ocean victory tally that features each German and Japanese vessels. Not solely had been these enemy warships separated geographically, however in addition they ranged broadly in kind and dimension, from leviathan plane carriers and battlewagons to comparatively smaller destroyers and submarines. May one man have had a hand in sending all of them to the underside?

Rocky, the presumed proprietor of the footlocker, was a U.S. Navy man. The lightning bolts above his title are practically an identical to these seen on the score badges of sailors who specialised in radio and radar. 

These unseen electromagnetic waves passing by way of the sky had been vital to preventing at sea, giving ships and plane “eyes and ears” that prolonged far past the horizon. Radar might reveal an enemy submarine the second it surfaced to recharge its batteries or uncover a gaggle of kamikaze plane headed towards the fleet. At that vital second of discovery, navy communications specialists swung into motion to place counterforces on the scene. Significantly late within the conflict, few enemies went unnoticed once they had been inside a battle fleet’s digital attain.

The image “T” crossed by the bolts of lightning, although, is considerably mysterious. There isn’t any official specialty mark combining the icon and the letter. The “T” could stand for “technician” or “telegrapher”—maybe a method Rocky unofficially separated himself from the extra commonplace navy radioman. Within the U.S. Navy’s alphabetical vary of specialist letters, “T” additionally stands for “trainer.” May Rocky have had a hand in instructing a era of sailors learn how to detect and destroy seaborne threats?

It appears probably that the notable rating affixed to this footlocker represents the work of a couple of man, ship, or squadron. No single U.S. Navy unit can lay declare to aiding within the elimination of a number of Japanese carriers within the Pacific together with numerous German submarines within the Atlantic or Mediterranean. Even when our topic had the flexibility to switch from ocean to ocean and in some way labored with aerial, floor, and undersea forces, the tally is astonishing for a person. It makes extra sense if it stands for the mixed effort of many navy males plying their commerce all around the globe.

And simply who was Rocky, precisely? It’s tough to say. The title was fairly uncommon within the Twenties, when our topic was probably born. There’s a higher than common probability that Rocky was a nickname. His given title, the one which appeared on his draft card and navy enlistment papers, was most likely one thing completely different. 

—Cory Graff, Curator

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Your connection to the thing and what you already know about it.
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this text first appeared in world conflict II journal

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