William E. Conklin was a Signalman assigned to the Navy Armed Guard Service. He served on the SS Monterey, USAT Mexico, SS Plavnik, SS Hovenweep and two Victory Ships. He participated in the invasion of Casa Blanca on the Monterey and in the invasion of Palermo, Sicily on the USAT Mexico. He also served in the North Atlantic, one of the most dreaded assignments.
Bill passed away in the state of Washington 29 march 2003 and is survived by his lovely wife, Dorothy. His Obituary is at the end of this Honor Page.
From the Scrapbook kept by his Mom:
William Earl "Bill" Conklin had planned a career as a mining engineer while in high school, but the war temporarily has postponed his studies and for the time being he is applying his mathematical brain to the intricacies of naval communications. When the war broke out, Bill, son of Mrs. Hazel Conklin of 14 Branciforte Avenue, Santa Cruz, was too young to enlist. But the urge to get in there and do his bit became so strong that he finally secured the approval of his mother to join.
And so in February, a month before he was 18, he swore fealty to his Flag and was whisked to San Diego for training. Assigned at once to a communications school, Bill graduated with a record of 93 and forthwith became a quartermaster-signalman, expert in wigwag and blinker communications. He spent four months in San Diego, one month in Noroton, Connecticut for Advanced Communications training and then entered the armed guard and was shipped out of New York on his first trip to England and Scotland.
Later he made several trips to Africa, was on convoy duty from Africa to Sicily for several months, made several trips to the West Indies, was stationed on Czechoslovakian ship for some time, in charge of communications and was in fact one of the three Americans aboard.
When he was transferred, Bill received a fine letter of commendation from the captain of the ship. Altogether Bill figures that he spent two and a half years in the Atlantic, his last trip being to Cape Town, South Africa, where he says the climate is very similar to that of Santa Cruz.
Winter on the North Atlantic was pretty strenuous and on one trip their ship became separated from the convoy, and Bill spent eight hours on duty watching for the lights that would guide them back to their station.
While on the Atlantic, Bill received three Battle Stars for participation in major battles, one in Africa, one for the Sicilian campaign and the third for action in the North Atlantic. For action in Sicily he received the following commendation:
"Performed creditable service as a member of the armed guard crew of a merchant vessel during action against enemy aircraft off Palermo, Sicily, on August 1, 1943. In the face of many near bomb misses and the constant danger from machine gun fire and flying shrapnel, the men of the navy gun crew manned their guns courageously scoring several direct hits and sending one plane to its destruction."
February 1944, Bill was home on his first leave, and following it he was transferred to the Pacific. He sailed from Seattle on the SS Hamlim Garland, relief bound ship for Shanghai. Also sailed on SS Chapel Hill Victory, troop transport to Yokohama.
Bill Conklin, second class petty officer, in the navy, has been awarded the Bronze Star medal for action in the African-European-Mediterranean campaigns in which he participated.
William E Conklin, SM2c, USN, received his honorable discharge from the United States Navy, November 8, 1945 at the naval separation center at Shoemaker, California. Members of the VFW initiated four new members at their meeting: Bert Chipman, H. G. Patterson, William Aiken and William E. Conklin.
WILLIAM E. CONKLIN Born 20 March 1924 to Earl Craig Conklin and Carrie Hazel Titsworth, in Whittier CA. Parents both deceased. Only sibling, sister, Helen Delia Conklin (Sgt. Veteran of Korean War), also deceased. Survived by wife Dorothy L Conklin and pet Siberian Husky, Yukon. There are so many facets to Bill Conklin. This obituary will give you only a glimpse of the individual that he was but will not do proper justice to his character. Simply put, Bill loved life and lived it to the fullest. He was very humble in his outlook in life but never politically correct. He believed God gave us all intelligence and talents to use wisely for the good of all. His father died when he was at the age of fifteen which caused him to drop out of school and take over his father's trucking business in order to support his mother and sister, thereby interrupting his high school education. He was the youngest member ever to enroll in the teamsters union. He enlisted in the US Navy when WWII broke out even before he was of draft age. While he was in the Navy he took advantage of the educational courses offered, completed his GED and went on to higher learning: Navigation and Communication. After his honorable discharge he took graduate courses in cargo handling, maritime law, ship construction, stability etc. He also completed a full course in Business Law at the University of Hawaii. As a Veteran of Foreign Wars he participated in the invasion of Casa Blanca on the Monterey and in the invasion of Palermo, Sicily on the USAT Mexico. He also served in the North Atlantic, one of the most dreaded assignments. While on the Atlantic, Bill received three Battle Stars for participation in major battles, one in Africa, one for the Sicilian campaign and the third for action in the North Atlantic. For action in Sicily he received the following commendation: "Performed creditable service as a member of the armed guard crew of a merchant vessel during action against enemy aircraft off Palermo, Sicily, on August 1, 1943. In the face of many near bomb misses and the constant danger from machine gun fire and flying shrapnel, the men of the navy gun crew manned their guns courageously scoring several direct hits and sending one plane to its destruction." More details on Bill Conklin available on the armed guard website: http://www.armed-guard.com/conk.html After the war, Bill made Hawaii his home. Surfing, sailing and fishing were his hobbies, along with periodic fortnight long Hawaiian style luau beach parties where nobody took showers until the party ended. He had a sport fishing business and was noted for his prime catches of 220-500 lb marlins, 55lb mahi mahi and tuna. He also pioneered the glass bottom boat tours in Hawaii. Worked for Warner Bros. on their movie, Sea Chase; ran a launderette business. While these various businesses supported his hobbies the income derived was not stable due to the seasonal nature of his business activities. He was also getting his fill of the beach parties and decided to take stock of his personal inventory. Coming up negative, except for trophies, he then enrolled in the US Maritime School and earned his graduate degree in cargo handling, maritime law etc. His first job was with Hawaii Tug & Barge, which was bought over by Young Brothers and then by Dillingham Corporation. This was during the period of 1956 - 1966. He advanced from Contract Navigator to Tug Master to Assistant Superintendent of Operations to Agent of Dillingham Corporation of America, San Diego Operations within a space of ten years. He was solely responsible for the success of their offshore transport division, in raising their annual revenue level from $50,000 to excess of $1,000,000.00 annually. He accomplished this by procuring and successfully completing turn-key project of moving all cargoes for Holmes and Narver, contractor to Joint Task Force Aid of Johnson Island, which included movement of sophisticated missile cargoes to gravel by tug and barge. A project requiring top security clearance. In 1967 Alaska Barge & Tug engaged him to troubleshoot and eradicate financial problems facing their transport division in South Vietnam. He held the position of Port Captain in Saigon. Within six months AB&T realized a positive turnaround of cash flow and Bill Conklin had in his charge 24 towing vessels (19 of which were ocean going tugs) and 30 barges. He was subsequently transferred to the parent company PAC in their International Division as Managing Director, to research commercial opportunities for tug and barge operations in Southeast Asia. Success also breeds jealousy amongst peers. So when Bill Conklin's advice to invest in South East Asia was disputed by some members of the Board, Bill parted company with them and ventured out on his own. In 1968 he entered into a joint-venture with Veneer Products in Singapore dealing with timber transportation, with just $10,000.00 of his savings. When oil exploration began, he advised his partners to switch to servicing the oil industry instead. They were reluctant to deviate from their lucrative timber business, so Bill Conklin requested that he be bought out, which they did. In 1979, with his share of dividends, he opened the first of his eight corporations, four of which were organized under an offshore Trust, two Singapore corporations and one US corporation which was the sole agent for all his offshore and onshore operations. As owner and agent, he built tugs and barges, converted LSTs to manned beaching barges, chartered the vessels to oil companies engaged in onshore and offshore drilling projects throughout Asia & Middle East. Manufactured portable housing for the drilling crew. Successfully bid against Bechtel and won the contract from Mobil Oil to install the largest LNG plant in North Sumatra requiring extensive beaching operations. Other clients of his included, Flopetrol a division of Dowell Schlumberger, Smith Towing and World Vision. He also managed agencies for Delong Jack-up Platforms and hovercraft. When the oil producing countries in South East Asia began nationalizing industries in their countries he realized it would be only a matter of time before they extended it to the oil industry as well. He subsequently alerted the maritime community in Singapore of this possibility predicting that the days of free wheeling in the oil industry were numbered. Good times always bear the folly of complacency setting in. Nevertheless, Bill Conklin, ever prudent, managed to salvage his equipment from being nationalized by downsizing his operations. He braved some financial losses by breaking the charters and paying the penalty vs. losing his equipment all together; and then breaking even by selling the equipment to Middle-Eastern countries. Most of his counterparts lost their equipment in entirety during the nationalization that took place in Indonesia in the late 1970's. While his business ventures thrived, Bill's personal relationships suffered as a result of his over developed sense of responsibility in fulfilling his business contractual obligations. His shrewd acumen in the maritime industry, warranted his presence onsite which wasimperative for the success of his businesses which in turned produced and maintained employment... all these were achieved at the detriment of his personal relationships. But he was never one to complain. He took his gains in his stride and he suffered his losses in silence. In 1984 Bill Conklin, newly married again, returned to the mainland USA in semi - retirement. He toured the NW Pacific and central USA with his wife Dorothy who is from Singapore. This lasted for about a year or so and the itch to get back into business surfaced once more. He delved into manufactured housing in Skagit Valley and received award for best energy efficient built homes. His talents were once again sought in offshore business ventures which he continued until his demise. However, he limited his involvement in these businesses in the capacity as a consultant/coordinator on performance based payment structure. On June 5th 1993, Bill Conklin was baptized and received into full communion in the Catholic Church by Father Gerry Clenaghan, OMI. Each year he strived to learn more about the Catholic Faith, he looked forward to the weekly homilies given by Fr. Harris. Christmas 2002 he asked his wife to get him a bible (the one thing he never possessed) that he could take with him to the Adoration Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. That was all he wanted for Christmas. Father Harris in his Lenten message to the congregation encouraged everyone to fast one hour daily from 9 am - 10 am from whatever they are doing, so that they can attend daily Mass. He stressed on the importance of making God a priority in our lives. Bill began Lent 2003 attending daily Mass until he was hospitalized on March 27th. He was called home to God on the March 29th. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. May the souls of all the faithful departed in the mercy of God, rest in peace. Pall Bearers Doug Tibbles Dan Maffuccio Paul Leahy Don Root Robert Wentworth Dorothy Conklin
Click to return to Home Page