Gerard Henry Fanning - Homeward Bound
While all seemed bright Uncle Jerry injured his knee while in the redeployment camp. The injury was sure to hospitalize him and miss his voyage home. Surrounded by his comrades of the Yankee Division the GIs would not allow their medic "Doc" to be left behind. On December 12th, after boarding the Rockhill Victory about 10:00am, several GIs returned to shore around 2:00pm. Without much ceremony they whisked Uncle Jerry on board. Once the ship sailed they told the officers he slipped on deck and injured his knee. Had he and the others known what was in store they might have opted to wait for another ship.
As the ship headed for a seven-day voyage to New York it ran into a hurricane. The ship had to reroute south towards Africa and was tossed about like a toy. Soldiers who endured the worst the war and the Wehrmacht had to dish out fell victim to the ravages of the sea. Captain N. D. Scull said the 52-degree roll was a new record. Five soldiers suffered bone fractures and many many more were seasick as the 18-day voyage was plagued by bad weather for thirteen of them. The Portland, a second ship, which transported troops from Southern France at the same time, saw 22 injured, one missing, and two fatalities. Soldier, Thomas Lancian of Everet, Mass said the crossing was worse than the Battle of the Bulge. Pfc. John Rocciolo of the 36th Division an East Bostonian said, "it was a hell of a lot worse than Salerno!"
The Rockhill Victory arrived in New York December 29th, a little late for Christmas, but not too late for the tremendous welcome offered in New York Harbor.
Unfortunately, when Uncle Jerry arrived back in the States he would spend another 70 days in the hospital recovering. On March 12, 1946 he was officially discharged.
Top: Purple Heart
Bottom Row, L to R: Good Conduct, ETO w/ two stars, WW-II Victory
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Gerard Henry Fanning
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