Samuel Lunsford Jr.
Electrician’s Mate, Second Class
Birthplace: Dorchester, Virginia
Marital status: Single
Acknowledgements: Ted Lunsford, Jr., nephew; Mark Lunsford, great nephew, Bill Lohmann, Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch
Samuel Elisha Lunsford, Jr. was born to Lilly and Samuel Lunsford on December 12, 1919 in Dorchester, Virginia. He was the youngest of six boys, three of whom served in WWII. His brother Edward served in the Pacific. Forest was in Normandy and North Africa. Sam enlisted for four years on September 30, 1938 at the US Navy Recruiting Station, Richmond, Virginia and received his recruit training at the Naval Training Station, Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia. He was assigned to the battleship U.S.S. New York (BB-34) on January 6, 1939, where he rose to the rating of Fireman Third Class. He transferred to the destroyer U.S.S. Buchanan (DD-131) in February of 1940 where he received Fireman Second Class training. On August 18, 1940, he transferred to the submarine U.S.S. S-22 (SS-127) where he was appointed Fireman Second Class. In February of 1941 he advanced to Electrician’s Mate Third Class. Starting in June of 1941, he received additional submarine training at Submarine Base New London, Connecticut on the submarine U.S.S. O-3 (SS-64), and on the submarine U.S.S. O-8 (SS-69), commanded by Lt. John S. McCain, Jr. In December he advanced to Electrician’s Mate Second Class. In March of 1942, he was assigned to the U.S.S. Grunion for its fitting out and became a permanent crew member at its commissioning on April 11, 1942.
Nephew Ted said that Sam was loved by everyone who knew him. His parents replied to Catherine Abele’s letter, “We know that the Grunion must have made a wonderful record if she is lost, but we must always believe that they will return. Our dear boy was the flower of the household, and it is unbelievable that he is lost at sea. He was a born sailor, that was his life and I’m sure that he does not want us to take it lying down. It has helped me so much to hear from you and the boys. And with your help and God’s we can only hope that someday they will return to us. But we must be brave and keep fighting until our son and your husband and your sons’ father is avenged and the enemy is wiped out. Again, thank you and your boys for the fine letter and encouragement. With deepest sympathy, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Lunsford.”
Another part of Sam’s life was a young woman from Portland, Maine whom he had met at a USO dance in 1939. They corresponded until March, 1942 when his letters stopped. When the war was over and everyone came home, she still had not heard from Sam, and her letters started coming back. In March, 1943, Millie wrote to the U.S. Navy. “Will you please help me get in touch with Samuel Lunsford, EM3/C? I haven’t heard from him since March 1942. He was transferred from the O-8 to the Grunion. I’ve received all letters back since he’s been transferred on the new ship. Won’t you please help me? I’ve known him since 1939. I just pray and hope you will help me get in touch with him.” The Navy responded, “It is with deepest regret you are informed that Samuel Lunsford has been reported ‘missing’ following action in the performance of his duty and in the service of his country, U.S.S. Grunion, being long overdue and presumed lost as of August 1, 1942.”
Millie died knowing only that he was “lost at sea.” She never married and suffered effects of a nervous breakdown for the rest of her life.
Copyright © 2012 Mary Bentz. All Rights Reserved.