Arthur R. Bloxom
Gunner's Mate 3rd Class
U. S. Navy
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 02/08/1943 - 11/08/1945
Signalman, USS Maryland
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Arthur was born in Shreveport as an only child to Adron Arthur and Francis Eugenia Pickens Bloxom. He describes his mother as "one of the best friends I ever had." His father worked for the fire department where he retired as captain in 1945. Although the young Arthur "spent half my teenage life in that fire station," his father talked him out of a career in that profession. Arthur graduated from Fair Park High School in 1941, and went to work as a lineman for the telephone company, where he would remain for forty-two years. Arthur married his high school sweetheart, Betty Bass, in 1941. They would have two children, two grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. He joined the U.S. Navy on February 8, 1943, and was sent to boot camp in San Diego, where he was given boxing lessons as part of his physical instruction. His instructor was boxing champion Jack Dempsey, who Athur remember as "real nice." Trained as a signalman, the young seaman shipped out on the USS Pueblo with 3,000 troops aboard, "elbow to elbow, shoulder to shoulder." He describes most meals on that voyage as "weenies and sauerkraut and a piece of bread and an orange. And they'd punch your ticket. And that was it! The other meal they served was breakfast. It was a slice of toast and an orange. And they'd punch your ticket." After a 19-day voyage he arrived in Noumea, New Caledonia, where he strung telephone wire and built a cold storage area for food. Sent to the island of Efate, he was there ordered aboard USS Maryland where he was first assigned to "sweeping and swabbing the deck." He later served as a striker, or helper, on a 40-millimeter gun crew before his promotion to gun captain. During action, he often bled from his nose, eyes, and ears from the concussion of the 16-inch gun just above his station. In one battle, Tarawa, the Maryland served as the flagship from which General "Howling Mad" Smith directed the action. The ship returned to Pearl Harbor, then headed for the landing on Kwajalein. Needing new guns, the Maryland sailed for Seattle, where Arthur received a 21-day leave. Astoundingly, he recalls, he was awarded a commercial air flight to Shreveport. After his leave the Navy sent Arthur to a three-month advanced gunner's mate school in San Francisco. Then he was ordered to Port Chicago where, he later learned, he loaded components of the first atomic bomb. Next he was placed in the surveillance lab at the fleet's underground storage area for ammunition, where of his jobs was testing the gunpowder. Arthur was discharged at Port Chicago on November 8, 1945. He returned to the telephone company and eventually served as a "test desk man." He retired in 1982.