Mom and Dad’s Wedding License Story

by Robert Morel

Dad was stationed on the destroyer, USS Rooks (DD-804) from June 1951 to July 1953. He reported to her as a LTJG in June 1951 at San Diego, CA, they went via the Panama Canal to Newport, RI, where they operated up and down the East coast until April 1952, when they went back down to the Panama Canal and on to Korea where he spent four or five months operating in and around Korea.  They went into the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, and back to Newport, RI in April 1953

During that deployment, he proposed to my mom in a letter, and the wedding date was set for May 9th, 1953.  When my dad’s ship came in just a couple of weeks before the wedding, he was able to finally get off and head up to Massachusetts for the wedding that was to take place in the next few days. He realized he had forgotten his dress shoes and the marriage license in his rack after he arrived home.

He drove all the way back to the ship in Newport got his shoes and license, but when he got back up the Massachusetts, he couldn’t find the wedding license.  He went back down again and went aboard the ship where he scoured the compartment and his rack, to no avail.  Crestfallen, he had to go back without the license, but the office was closed for the weekend and he was unable to get another one.  Someone he knew pulled a few strings, got the guy to come back in and he got a license, so the wedding went ahead as planned.

In the early Eighties, my mother got a call from South Korea and the person on the line said they were breaking up a ship for scrap, and they had found a wedding license with her and my dad’s name on it.  They were scrapping the USS Rooks, and when they were tearing the compartment apart, they found it in a bulkhead.  Apparently what had happened, was my dad got the certificate, put it on his rack, raised the mattress up to get the shoes underneath, and when he did, the license must have slid down a gap into the bottom of a dark bulkhead where it lay for 30 years until they tore it down.  They offered to send it to her, but they declined for some reason.