Bunn, John, PNC

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Last Rank
Chief Petty Officer
Last Primary NEC
Last Rating/NEC Group
Primary Unit
1960-1961, PN-0000, NAVSTA Bremerton
Service Years
- 1961

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Home State
New York
New York
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Connie Chapman, CM2 to remember Bunn, John, PNC.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address

Date of Passing
Nov 02, 1971
Location of Interment
Willamette National Cemetery - Portland, Oregon
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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Last Known Activity
My Old Man and the Sea

Sunday, June 17, 2007
By Timothy D. Bunn
For 22 years, my father was a sailor.

Today he's buried in plot No. 1035 in Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. He's been there, alone, since November 1971, when a handful of strangers lowered him, inside a $40 fiberboard casket, into the ground.

No one from his family witnessed his burial. I'm his only family who's ever visited his grave. And both my visits came well over 25 years after his death.

None of his friends, if he had any, ever visited. He died alone and has remained so. If anyone else ever stopped at plot No. 1035 these past 36 years, it has been someone who, like my father, had lost his way.

His life was over at age 46. The Navy paid its retired chiefs a small pension. When he shoved off, he didn't have pennies for his eyes.

He's one of two father figures to whom the child inside me is moored. The other is Uncle Frank of Felix Service Welding, whose ad in the Yellow Pages once read, "We Mend Anything But a Broken Heart." Uncle Frank, Felix and Felix Service Welding, long on Townsend Street in downtown Syracuse, are gone now, too.

Uncle FrankFatcheric built a house for his family. He cut the trees, milled the lumber, dug the cellar, poured the concrete and framed it with nails he scrounged and pounded straight with a hammer.

Neither I, my brother nor our two sisters ever lived in a house our parents owned. Uncle Frank finished his house around 1941. But I know his cement front steps, which still stand, couldn't have been built until at least 1951. That's the year Uncle Frank gathered the pebbles that decorate that porch. He picked those pebbles from a beach in Charleston, S.C., that year, when he drove his family to Charleston to visit us after my mother and father first reunited. They had separated when she was pregnant with me, and got back together when I was 4.

I don't recall us having a car of our own when we lived in South Carolina. But I do recall one lovely evening with my parents returning from somewhere. The sky was inky, exploding with stars. It was quiet, save for the sound of bugs and frogs and other animals tuning up for their nighttime symphony.

We walked quietly. My father carried me on his shoulders. I tipped my head back to marvel at all the stars.

It was a perfect temperature, neither hot, nor muggy, nor chilly enough for a long-sleeved shirt. I don't know what time of year it was, but the air was sweet with the sea and plants that grow thereabouts.

My mother had an arm around my father's waist. His hands held mine so I wouldn't fall from his shoulders. Whatever little was said was said with sweet affection. This was a moment like no other.

And one not destined to last. My parents divorced a decade later. My father proved to be more sailor than family man. He disappeared from Syracuse, where my mom and dad grew up and where we all returned in 1961, after he retired from the Navy.

I suppose he loved us the best he could. So he said in the suicide note he left for us 21 years after that loving Charleston night.

I've often thought of chipping one of those South Carolina pebbles out of Uncle Frank's front porch as a souvenir of my father.

But then I think, "Why bother?" Those stones were on this planet a billion years before mankind, and they'll be here a billion years after humankind is gone.

Man has moved those stones before, and what has come of it?

The tide still comes in at Charleston harbor, bringing ships to port.

And it surges out again, taking its sailors forever back to sea.

Timothy D. Bunn recently retired as deputy executive editor of The Post-Standard.
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 Duty Stations
US NavyNorfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY), Portsmouth, VANaval Ship Yard Philidelphia, PACommander Navy Reserve Forces Command (COMNAVRESFORCOM)
USS Kula Gulf (CVE-108)NAVCOMMSTA - NAVCOMSTA - NCSNAS BrunswickUSS Canberra (CAG-2)
USS Decatur (DDG-31)NAVSTA Bremerton
  1946-1947, YN-0000, Reserve Training Center (Staff) Corpus Christi, TX
  1947-1948, YN-0000, USS Charleston (C-2)
  1948-1949, YN-0000, Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY), Portsmouth, VA
  1950-1952, PN-0000, Naval Ship Yard Philidelphia, PA
  1950-1961, PN-0000, NRC Charleston, SC
  1952-1953, PN-0000, USS Kula Gulf (CVE-108)
  1954-1954, PN-0000, Newport, RI
  1955-1956, PN-0000, NAS Brunswick
  1956-1957, PN-0000, Boston Navy Yard
  1957-1958, PN-0000, USS Canberra (CAG-2)
  1958-1959, PN-0000, USS Decatur (DDG-31)
  1959-1960, PN-0000, USS Bristol (DD-453)
  1960-1961, PN-0000, NAVSTA Bremerton
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