George F. Dunn, Jr.
Ships Cook 3rd Class
U. S. Navy
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 02/1944 - 03/03/1946
Ship's Cook, USS Richmond

Forest was born in Plain Dealing, Louisiana, as an only child of George Forrest Dunn and Gladys Malone Dunn. After his parents' divorced, his mother worked as a waitress in Vivian and Rodessa before moving to Shreveport. Two childhood friends in Plain Dealing, he says, were Elma Jean Walker and Mary Louise Shipp, with whom he still has lunch "about once every two months." In his boyhood he witnessed a bank robbery, and saw the sheriff speed off after the culprit, Charlie Frazier, in a car chase. "I was walking down the street and cars were passing and they were firing back and forth and my mother ran out there and almost had a fit," he recalls. When his parents separated he moved in with his grandparents, Wash and Lena Dean Malone, whom he began calling "Papa" and "Mama." Among other chores, he gathered eggs and pumped water to bring into the house, which had neither running water nor electricity. A fireplace provided heat and his grandmother cooked on a wood stove. His grandfather raised cotton with horses and mules, and hired black workers to pick the crop. Forrest recalls the children of a black family of sharecroppers. "One of them was my best friend that I played with all the time," he says. Religion and politics played major roles in his childhood. Preachers from Cleburne Springs Baptist Church often had lunch with his grandparents on Sunday. On other Sundays at church the family enjoyed "all-day singing and dinner on the grounds." One day in Plain Dealing he saw Huey Long, then governor of Louisiana, make a political speech in the back of a pickup truck. Forrest recalls hearing his grandfather swear for the first time upon learning that Long was assassinated. "He loved Huey," he says. "Of course, Huey loved the dirt farmers because those are the ones that put him into office." His grandparents divorced, and his mother married Earl Chisholm a manager of a soda fountain at M&D Drugstore in Shreveport. Forrest moved to Shreveport with his mother and stepfather, living in a duplex, along with his grandmother and an uncle. Forrest held summer jobs at the Washington-Youree Hotel, including changing light bulbs in rooms. Once, he changed the bulb in the room of the actress Jeanette McDonald. "Gosh, she was gorgeous," he recalls. With two friends, Tom Dock Ward and Claude Gibbs, Forrest entered the U.S. Navy in February of 1944, when he was fifteen. His mother signed the papers, which gave his age as seventeen. "Quite frankly they weren't very interested in a lot of age or background or anything else," he recalls of the navy. "They just wanted volunteers. They wanted people in the service." After boot camp in Farragut, Idaho, he was sent to Bremerton, Washington, where he was assigned to duty aboard the USS Richmond, (CL-9) a light cruiser that was in dry dock for repairs. His two buddies with whom he enlisted were not placed aboard his ship. Forrest recalls going "topside" to the main deck at night and "crying because I was so lonesome," he recalls. The ship sailed into waters around the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, where it would spend the rest of the war, cruising the waters and bombarding Japanese-held Kuril Islands. Forrest was assigned as a fire extinguisher for a welder. For general quarters, he was first placed as range finder on a six-inch gun, then worked in the magazine, below the gun turret, sending up projectiles on a dumbwaiter. He later tested for and was selected as a ship's cook third class, and began working in the galley one day on and one day off. His workdays usually stretched from 4:30 a.m. to about 7 p.m., following menus that often included powdered eggs, milk, and "a lot of frozen food." He states: "We ate good. I enjoyed being a cook." The Richmond entered Japanese waters after the war in support of the occupation. It soon sailed to Honolulu and eventually to Philadelphia where the vessel was decommissioned. He was sent to New Orleans, where he served until he attained enough points for discharge. After the war, with his stepfather's assistance, he went to work as a soda fountain manager. "City Hall was right across the street on the corner of Louisiana and Milam, and that's where I had my first taste of politics," he says of the government officials who came to his business. Forrest enrolled under the GI Bill at Meadows-Draughon Business College. In 1946 he married Rachael Nelson. They would have three children. Early in his career Forrest worked for a tobacco company, Phillip Morris, although he never smoked. He soon opened Dunn Furniture Company, a store he ran for three decades. Meanwhile, he served in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1972 to 1984. In 1989 he was appointed director of the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum in Shreveport. In 2002 he married Donna Young.