Title: Navy Seaman, World War II; Army Sergeant, Korea, Vietnam; Purple Heart recipient
Birthdate: May 1, 1926
Death Date: August 31, 1973
Plot Location: Section B, Range 5, Lot 3

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John and Anna Short were raising four children, one of them a teenager, by the time Fred was born. Twin boys followed in 1931 but one of them died at birth. 

When John wasn’t working as a steamfitter he was home with the family on Croskey Street in the West Passyunk section of Philadelphia. At least he was until a failed operation in 1935 left his wife a widow, with four children still at home. Thankfully, by that time there were two children in their 20s to help support the family.

When France fell to Germany in June of 1940, Fred just completed 8th grade, but he didn’t quite finish high school. He enlisted in the Navy in April, 1944 and was assigned to an “oiler,”  the USS Merrimack. Its purpose was to refuel ships and naval aircraft that were part of the main striking force in the Far East.

It serviced the ships that covered the landing on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Then the Third Fleet focused on Japan itself, thanks to fuel from tankers like Merrimack. After the surrender, Fred’s ship made several trips between California and Japan to refuel the ships supporting the occupation of Japan.

Fred was discharged in early 1946 but chose the Army to be his next employer. He went from Private to Sergeant during his time there, from October of 1947 to September of 1951. He also went from single to married status about this time, when he joined hearts with Matilda Mildred Keiter. A son named James was born in 1951, and they had two others, Fred and Diane. 

On the application for a military gravestone, his service during the Vietnam era was listed as  March of 1963 to March of 1966. He was awarded the Purple Heart but it is not known when, why, or where, and there is no comprehensive database of those who received the honor. As with many veterans of post-World War II years, biographical, census, and military data is often not available.

Other members of the Short family were proud to serve their country. Brother Bill was also in the Navy during World War II. His sister, Anna, was married to a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and her son was a Marine Corporal in Vietnam. Fred’s own son, James, was a Lance Corporal in the Marines.

Matilda died 19 years after her husband and was buried in her parents’ plot at North Cedar Hill Cemetery. Fred was the only member of his own family and extended family to be buried here.

Japanese maple tree in front of a monument at Mount Moriah Cemetery

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