Today is a very special post that actually does not come from the Warbook. I was recently contacted by a visitor to this site named Betsy Bianchi. Her father, Maurice Stephen O’Connell, served aboard the USS Duane during World War II as a Soundman. We have been chatting on and off for several weeks regarding her father and my grandfather, when she came across an amazing discovery:
An interview with my grandfather in the ship’s newspaper “The Duane Torpedo” on his 27th birthday. Equally as amazing, she found it almost 68 years later to the day it was published – June 16, 1943. She sent it to me only days after what would have been his 95th birthday. A note regarding her father “Okie” just happened to be on the same page.
The interview with John Baker is on the 4th page below, in the right hand column. The full text is as follows:
Your Interview Reporter Interviews John Baker
That lad you see striking for Pharmacist Mate is John “Drummer Boy” Baker. His nickname you may well imply due to the fact that Baker spent nearly 15 years of his life before entering the service playing the drums with well known orchestras. He played with Blue Steel of sometime back and also with the orchestra that Jan Gerber is now leading. His last job was at the Arcadia Ballroom in New York. He declares his most exciting job was while he was appearing at Hotel Lasalle in Chicago. It seems as if the orchestra was in the midst of a riot. Baker hesitated about saying more. Your reporter can well see that Baker is in love with music. Of course it’s not the girls he admires at the USO in Boston it’s just the music that the 5 piece orchestra puts out. His chielf ambition is to run a night club close to Niagara Falls and provide pleasure seekers with good music. We hope that Baker’s ambition can be reached because we all agree “Baker’s a jolly fine fellow.”
Here are all four pages of “The Duane Torpedo”.
Thank you again to Betsy for sending this over to me, it really has made working on this blog even more special. Hopefully we can find some more picture’s of her father as we work through the Warbook!