BOBBY G. MATHEWS, Class of 1954

Seeking shipmates aboard the U.S.S. Helena

 

 

A telephone call from Millers Creek, N.C., recently brought a story from a former Denisonian, who attended Denison High School in the mid-1950s. A check of the Yellow Jacket Annual in 1951 found Bobby G. Mathews as a member of the class of 1954.

Bobby said he joined the Navy in Denison on Jan. 3, 1952, at the Post Office, where his father had to sign for him to enlist instead of go into the Army during the Korean conflict.

Bobby, in a follow-up letter, said he hasnít been back to Texas in many years, but heís traveled all over the world with the Navy and other jobs and now is retired. Heís planning to visit Denison again this summer.

A veteran of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, he first attended Sam Houston and Peabody elementary schools, then Denison High.

In 1952 while Bobby was on a tour to Keelung, Taipei, Formosa, Denison-born President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower came aboard his ship, the U.S.S. Helena. Bobby and three other sailors from Denison had an opportunity to meet Eisenhower and have their picture taken with him. Bobby said he has forgotten the names of the men who were from Denison.

In November 1952 the Helena was relieved of her normal duties at Yokosuka and five days later sailed on a special mission, first to Iwo Jima where on Dec. 1 Admiral Arthur Radford, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, boarded the ship by helicopter. Two days later the Helena went to Guam, where President-elect Eisenhower and several prospective cabinet members and Admiral Radford joined the ship for top level policy conferences on board as they sailed for Pearl Harbor, where they arrived on Dec. 11.

Bobby sent copies of several photographs of Eisenhower and cabinet members on board the Helena and of the men on board the ship, however he didnít have a copy of that picture taken with the future president. Unfortunately the photos were dark and would not reproduce.

He said he hopes someone else who may have been one of those Denison sailors will see this article and get in touch with him. We will be glad to make the connection. He can be contacted at 336/262-1652 or I will be happy to pass along a message. I can be contacted at dhunlimited@texoma.net. - Donna Hunt

 

 

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