Sailor tells how he saw the world
060517…R McINTYRE 1…Howland…06-05-17…Veteran Ralph McIntyre holds a photo album with a photo of him during his time in the service during WWII …by R. Michael Semple Editor’s note: This is part of a weekly series published every Monday between Memorial Day and Veterans Day honoring local veterans.
WARREN — Ralph McIntyre’s service in the United States Merchant Marine gave him a view of the world he would have never thought possible. Before the U.S. entered World War II, McIntyre worked at the Great Lakes Fleet, raising money to attend college. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, McIntyre said he volunteered at the age of 20 to join the Merchant Marine, hoping to become an engineer like his father in the Great Lakes Fleet.
In 1945, McIntyre began his service at sea, sailing on tanker ships that transported oil to Allied Forces fighting the war. This took him to places such as the Persian Gulf, Venezuela and Curacao. Although this didn’t place him directly in combat, there was still a danger of being attacked by Axis ships or aircraft, he said.
The scariest moment throughout his service was when McIntyre said he was in bed at about 10 a.m. and the general alarm sounded, requiring him to run down to the boiler room three decks below. Later, he found out the convoy his tanker was in may have destroyed a German U-boat. “We used to sail in convoys because it was safer,” McIntyre said.
Another time, McIntyre was in Curacao, slated to be aboard a cargo ship bound for British West Africa. At the last minute, McIntyre was assigned a different ship, but found out later the tanker bound for Africa never reached its destination. During his service, McIntyre began as third assistant engineer before being promoted to second assistant engineer, first assistant engineer and eventually chief Engineer.
As an engineer, it was McIntyre’s duty to operate and maintain the ship’s boilers, though his rank of Chief Engineer placed him in charge of the entire engine room. Among the other perks of being a Chief Engineer were McIntyre was allowed his own cabin, which included a bedroom and living space instead of having to share sleeping quarters with other sailors. However, McIntyre still ate at the galley with the rest of the sailors, where the main meal was always a different kind of soup, including potato, vegetable or French onion.
“I got kinda tired of the same old food,” McIntyre joked. When the Germans surrendered on V-E Day, the Allied fleets continued acting as if they were still at war, because it was believed some German U-boats at sea may not have received the surrender announcement. However, McIntyre was later in Philadelphia and met his brother for a trip to New York City.
At that time, the Japanese surrendered and allowed McIntyre to see first-hand the V-J Day celebrations in person. “I was surprised by how many people there were,” McIntyre said. “It was worse than Times Square at New Year’s Eve.” After the war ended, McIntyre went to school at the Ohio State University for engineering, an interest he developed while in the service.
He worked for Sun Oil Company in South Texas for about three years, until 1952 when he went to work for the Warren Tool Company until his retirement in 1987. The time at sea with the Merchant Marine had a lasting effect on McIntyre, who continued to travel to many countries around the world, including Denmark, Sweden, Scotland, Italy and China. “Scotland was my favorite country,” McIntyre remarked.
In his spare time, McIntyre was an avid golfer before his physical difficulties prevented him from playing, but he remains the oldest member of the Trumbull County Country Club.