Title: Navy Damage Controlman Chief Petty Officer, World War II, Korea, Vietnam
Birthdate: February 5, 1906
Death Date: July 6, 1971
Plot Location: Naval Plot Section 4, Row 3, Grave 31

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It was in the year 1926 when Germany joined the League of Nations, Adolf Hitler began strengthening his control over the Nazi Party, and Joseph Goebbels became the party’s chief propagandist. It was also the year Fred left the country, the place of his birth 20 years earlier, to build a new life in New York. 

Three years later his brother Walter joined him in a boarding house in the Bronx owned by Germans. They adapted to the new culture and both worked in a factory as furniture polishers. A few other Germans lived there along with a Polish rabbi and his family. In due time Fred met a Swedish girl, Edith Weonerstram, and they exchanged vows in a June wedding in 1932.

The couple moved to 237th Street in the Bronx, which is about as far north as possible and still reside in New York City. They remained childless but Fred made a good middle-class income as an organ builder for a local manufacturer.

To comply with the new Selective Service System regulations, Fred registered for the draft in 1940, joined the Navy in 1942 and was discharged in 1945. His rank and station during World War II is unclear but he returned to the Naval Reserves in 1946 and remained for nearly 20 years as a DCC, or Damage Controlman Chief Petty Officer.

The Navy Department describes damage control this way: “While all Sailors are trained in the basics of damage control and first aid, Damage Controlmen are the first responders who are critical to preventing accidents. Trained in firefighting, ship stability, and chemical, radiological, and biological warfare defense, these Sailors are masters of it all. Whether there’s a burst pipe on the mess decks or an explosion on the flight deck, you’re there to keep the ship and its crew out of harm’s way.”

Fred continued to make a good living and moved farther north to Yonkers. His job, according to the 1950 census, was “building sets for a picture studio” which may have been a motion picture studio or a photography studio. Either way, he made a comfortable $6000 income in 1949 (equivalent to $79,000 in 2024).

There are no other military records available to give a snapshot of his life in the 50s and 60s except that he was a Reservist during both the Korean and Vietnam wars. Sometime after his retirement he was cared for at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital and it was there he died in 1971 at age 65. Edith died 32 years later in California.

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

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