THE RARE BREED |
Recognizing Area Veterans Of World War II
Al Alcorn Qualified For OCS;
Served In Navy and Coast Guard
MACHINIST MATE AL ALCORN
Sam Jerald (Al) Alcorn was a 19-year-old cadet attending Allen Military Academy at Bryan, and had returned from attending a movie in Bryan when he learned of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
Due to his Military Science studies at Allen Academy, then at Texas A&M, he was deferred from service until July 30, 1943. At that time he went to Houston and volunteered for active duty with the U. S. Navy Air Branch Reserve as an apprentice seaman. That started a military service career of 33 months and 24 days. Twelve years after that he started a 20-year tenure in the U. S. Coast Guard Air Reserves.
Al was born Sam Jerald Walker, Jr., in Saratoga, Texas, on Feb. 22, 1922 to Sam Jerald and Gladys Independence Spell Walker. Before going into service he legally changed his name to Alcorn in 1943 at Wharton, in honor of his then stepfather.
At the time of entering service his hometown was Boling, where he had attended high school prior to Allen.
"After Pearl Harbor, I was taking third and fourth year Military Science in one year at Allen in order to qualify for Infantry Officers Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Ga.," Alcorn says.
"I was sadly disappointed, when though I qualified, I was told my lack of seniority would not entitle me to go to OCS. I have been a squad corporal, squad sergeant, then cadet Second Lieutenant. I consoled myself, for I knew OCS school was rough and that I might not have made it."
Boot camp for the Navy Air Branch was Main Base, Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi. Since Alcorn had qualified for OCS, he was placed in command of a platoon.
Upon completing boot camp, Alcorn was shipped three miles south to the U. S. Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Waldron Field.
"Though I qualified to go to Aviation Machinist Mate School in Norman, Oklahoma, I remained at Waldron. I attended lectures, studies and took tests, advancing from Apprentice Seaman to Seaman 2nd Class, Seaman 1st Class, Aviation Machinist Mate 3rd, 2nd and 1st Class," Alcorn said.
"Except for the last several months of my WWII Naval Reserve career, all my service was at Waldron," he said.
"My desire was to be a Seaman Plane Captain on the aircraft line. I finally got that job. Every morning, Captains had to warm their plane up. Magnetos were checked and the plane determined air worthy, the plane was filled with fuel and oil -- and the aircraft had to be kept clean."
Being someone who worked on aircraft engines, Alcorn made several flights with pilots in Training Squadron 16 Able, which increased his pay. "The higher your rate, the more you got orders as a passenger," he said.
Finally, in August 1945, Alcorn and his close sailor friend, Frank Joseph Balusek, received their overseas orders. They were granted a 3-day liberty pass. When they returned to base, ready to go, they found their orders had been canceled.
"Japan had been atomic bombed!" Alcorn said. The war was over.
Shortly afterwards, Alcorn and Balusek received their discharges at Camp Wallace at Hitchcock, Alcorn with the rank of Aviation Machinist 1st Class.
"We hitchhiked home. I went to Boling and Frank went to Sargent, where his daddy was a shrimper," Alcorn said. Years later, Alcorn made several unsuccessful efforts to locate his friend.
After receiving his BS degree from Texas A&M in 1950, Alcorn went to work at Alcoa's Point Comfort Operations the same year. He retired after 34 years and one day on Nov. 1, 1984. He also served approximately 20 post WWII years in the U. S. Coast Guard Ready Reserves, before retiring from that service in 1980.
Alcorn had been a "part time" resident of the Palacios area through his parents' summer home on Turtle Bay. He became a full time resident in 1973 with the construction of his home, also at Turtle Bay.
Alcorn and his wife, Mary Lou Rohan Richards, whom he met in 1970 at Corpus Christi, have three sons, Kenny Richards, a carpenter at Victoria; William "Billy" B. Alcorn, a mechanic in Leesburg, Ga.; and Sam Jerald Alcorn, Jr., retired from the U. S. Air Force, of Rockport. There are also five grandchildren.
Al Alcorn, resident of
Turtle Bay Community
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