Growing Up

Jean Clark was stationed at NAS Lake Washington for two and a half years. She said her experience in the Navy changed her outlook on life:

Well, I think it helped me to grow up a little bit. You know. I said, you know, I was 19 when we were married and well, ’45 I was 24. And during that time, I think was pretty green, I was, you know, about the rest of the world and after that,  we sort of took advantage of some things and got to go a little farther then we might’ve before.

This is a photograph taken at NAS Lake Washington of WAVES and a sailor relaxing between assignments. It comes from the collection of Jean Clark.

Flight Pay

WAVES typically didn’t get flight pay, or extra money for serving aboard an aircraft. But Jean Clark did receive some extra training so that she could get the flight pay, as seen in this copy of her certification.

The officer at Lake Washington NAS thought that Jean deserved the extra money. But that meant that she had to fly sometimes. One flight was particularly memorable:

One time he said, “We’re going out. You might want to go.” I said, “OK.”  We’re going to deliver a captain to a flatop. That means we’re taking the captain back to the aircraft carrier.  He says, “They’re out there off the coast,” he said, but he says, “It’s top secret. So you have to keep still about it.”  So we took the captain out to the carrier.  Off the coast of Seattle. It was a rough rough sea. The waves were coming in like crazy.  You might think that landing on water is a soft landing?  It’s like landing on a pile of rocks if you hit water. And it’s bumpy. So we hit down and they put down a small boat from the aircraft carrier to come out and get the captain. They captain came out on the pontoon of the little widgen waiting to get picked off as they came by. They made several swipes. The commander says to me, “You know, they better get him pretty soon. Those waves  are getting pretty high. We may not get out of here.”  I thought “Oop, well, this is it.”  It did look pretty dangerous. Pretty soon, they did grab him and get him off and take him back. The commander says, “Hold on!” And here was this big wave coming towards us.  I mean, big. So he, I could see us heading right into that wave, and we went right into it and right through it and on and we’re airborne.  He says, “Well!  We made it!”  (laughs)  That was the most exciting thing that happened to me when I was in the Navy.

The certification comes from the collection of Jean Clark.

NAS Lake Washington

Jean Clark was stationed at NAS Lake Washington for the duration of the war. The facility is no longer a Naval Air Station, but is a public park. It’s located in Seattle, along the shores of the lake near the University of Washington’s Seattle campus.

Jean was in charge of the Link Trainer Instructors.

I think probably because I was one of the first ones there.  I had a little more training than, I guess, well I had been retained for instructor, too, there. So the commander decided I was going to be in charge of the whole group. We didn’t have that many at first, only four. But then we increased to nine. We had a full complement of all we could use. By that time, when we had nine, we were pretty loaded with personnel.

We were all good friends. All nine of us, still, went out to Seattle when we had liberty and we also after we were discharged, I was the first one to be discharged, we were writing letter. I think we wrote letters for 35 years probably. They came maybe twice a year. We called them a round robin letter. They were sent to the next person you know and we had a mailing list that you followed. It’s interesting. I used to keep all these letters, but I don’t have them any more.

The photograph comes from the collection of Jean Clark.